Sunday, April 17, 2011

Its a Boy!!!

The moment when Ram semi-opened his eyes for the first time and the lady in white rejoiced “It’s a boy”, Ram knew he had won HALF the battle.

The second half of the battle, called life, was an intense struggle for freedom and superiority. Ram was constantly subdued by the overachieving Sita. While he was forced to go to school and study, she had it simple with little coercion towards education. She could afford to get low marks (which she seldom did) but he would be scolded, insulted and threatened and he had to get high grades (which he seldom did). While he had only to play games, she also got to learn household activities. Sita even got first preference to worship the almighty Gods (and Goddesses), doing puja and getting first darshan, while Ram had to be satisfied with the prasadam in the end.

No matter…he vowed to have his vengeance later on.

But even later, Sita had life simple and handed on a silver platter. Early retirement from education, no remarks when being jobless at home, complete rest for the 10 months of torture and excruciating pain and don’t even get started on the attention after that! Earlier, it was still OK when Sita used to do all the household work, take care of the house, children, Ram, relatives, guests and herself, while Ram worked tirelessly and came back home. But now, thanks to gender equality, She took control of working tirelessly as well…along with household work, taking care etc. What a biased world, wondered Ram!? No amount of compensation during marriage seemed to suffice the takeover of life by Sita.

Finally, illness passed along and Ram got sick; Sita tried to redeem herself of her past deeds with dutiful servicing and unconditional care, but to no avail. The circle of death eventually took Ram’s life away and that’s when Sita realized… she had lost the other HALF of the battle too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Decoding the 'X'

Rewind a decade back…a group of about forty odd students wearing uniforms, different shades of the same colour, trying to understand the complex mathematics (the dreaded subject) and trying to solve the equations to find ‘x’. Hundreds of problem questions, thousands of equations, multiple ways of finding the answer, everything to solve for the mysterious X. This has been central dogma of most of man’s ways to solving problems; and in many cases, creating.

A situation demands an immediate need for finding the X first, giving a name, avoiding the blame. It becomes so much easier once the name has been assigned, the culprit identified. For now, everyone can work in peace knowing that they are not the ones going to be in the soup. Suppose a bridge fails at a central area possibly leading to a catastrophic disaster, the first statement by the cement providers is an assurance of non-defective resource used by them. This is not a statement aimed at finding the error by way of elimination, rather a self-defense of clearing out one’s own name. They were forced to take the action because the higher management wants a name, a source whose mistake caused the mishap. A terrorist attack immediately leads to naming a group/gang that was supposedly responsible. Because people can’t work in the unknown dark, there is no stability, no clarity.

This dogma however has some flaws. The way should not be to approach the answer, but to break down the problem. The stress should not be to converge to a solution but to diverge from the problem. People crave for finishing up a job, the false satisfaction of arriving at a solution, any solution. Results matter most, irrespective of the methods and it is an ends to the means. But stress of the problem will give way to more understanding, innovation and better preparedness for the future. Right now, it is about ‘reactions’ to situations. The first question asked after a situation is ‘what action has been taken?’ But it should be ‘responses’ to situations. The reaction to two boys fighting over a chocolate is to punish them and distributing it to them; and matter solved. A response however would be to understand the source of the fight; insufficient chocolate, incompatible behavior of the two, etc. Why is there so much fear of the problems, so much that everyone runs away from it? End results have always been glorified; the FINAL exams, XII boards, Graduation, Promotion, Retirement. Answers are the refugee’s destination from the terror of crisis.

Alas, humans are arguably the most adaptive species to grace the planet. The demand of today is to find solutions and so people do. The need of the last minute of eleventh hour is to find a scapegoat; so be it. The order from above is to decode the X; and so be it. So until the change is initiated in the system itself, people will still be following the road and a few brave men who don’t will be glorified or crucified based on their results.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Worth of a Criminal

'Better 10 Guilty Men go FREE than to CONVICT a single Innocent Man'

This is the root principle that the judicial systems follow around the world. It was first expressed by Abraham Lincoln, and has been echoed by other notable persons like Benjamin Franklin. Even in India, the Indian court of law states that an accused has to be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt to be convicted. This "reasonable doubt" is where most people try to take advantage, of its subjectivity and complexity.

People with connections and power are 'misusing' this constraint and this is also one of the primary reasons for the long court rulings and backlogged cases. Subsequently, there is innocent people's loss of interest and faith in the judiciary system and poor man's monetary inability to fight long cases and lack of mental strength to sustain the duration. Circumstantial evidences and situations further complicate the tangled up cases.

It would be however unfair to the judges to be tagged along the same lines. Among the most intelligent and sharpest brains in the country, it is only understandable to be handed the fate of people, into their power. The judgement, blindfolded against all biases, has to be of utmost rationality and from a neutral perspective oblivious to all emotions and considerations involved. The cornerstone followed is important to keep the faith of the innocent, to make sure that the Right doesn't go the Wrong way.

The rules seem perfect, principles on virtuous path and actions based on considerations. But when it strikes a blow on the same entity it is trying to protect, faith, voices start coming out, mixture of retaliation and resignation creep up and people start having second thoughts, opining about having amends. Every major trial brings up the same complaints of having a slow judiciary system; and inefficient.

Suppose, you knew that an accused is innocent, but he is going to be charged guilty. And if you have an option of saving him, only at the cost of letting 100 criminals, the most dangerous and treacherous you can imagine go free from prisons....will you save him? Are the damages that can be caused by the would-be-acquitted person taken into account while following this principle?

But, is a quick fix judgement the right solution, or atleast an optimal solution? The despair of supposedly “criminals” being acquitted does not amount the desperation of an innocent standing in the box, falsely accused, and the relief and hope of the innocent freed of charge. It is for that one person’s faith; the belief that you will not get unfair treatment. Maybe the process slows down; maybe too many people walk free, maybe the crime rate increases but the righteous cannot be bogged down. The solution is freeing the principles, but other measures to quicken up process and bringing up transparency which do not compromise but only improvise. Even in school and college days, we walk away with petty cheatings and ‘crimes’ feeling happy and satisfied, and feel jealous of the persons, and their courage, who get away with unfair actions. But nothing compares to the rage and fury of being caught in something which we did not do, or being falsely trapped into some misconduct. That is why it is important to uphold the values; because the Apex of the nation cannot be slanted, the life of a person cannot be left to chance and some people's wrongdoings cannot be allowed to affect the destiny of the innocent. We can live with the missed opportunity of the criminals acquitted, but not with the burden of guilt of charged innocents.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

180 vs 360 degree minds

There are two kinds of minds - the 180 degree mind and the 360 degree mind. While the first one has fixed viewpoints, the latter does not have any preconceived notions - not even the preconceived notion that there should not be any preconceived notions. To make this more clear, let me pass on to you a short and insightful story:

Kabir never accepted any gift from his disciples. But his son Kamal never refused anything that his disciples brought to him. This made Kabir unhappy.
One day, he reproached his son: "I do not accept any gift because gifts mean nothing to me. But it pains me to know that you grab all that your disciples bring to you."
Kamal said: "Father, if gifts mean nothing to you, why are you bothered whether I accept them or reject them?" Here, Kabir had an 180 degree mind, and Kamal a 360 one.

This is where it puzzles me the most. The saints and holy mortals 'leave' everything to 'attain' moksha. We have to do acts of 'selflessness' so that everybody 'loves' us. God is impartial and divine beyond the horizons of imagination, so be 'grateful' to Him and 'worship' him. Specks of valuable wisdom have rippled across generations. But a more critical and closer look reveals the fact that most, if not all, people have a 180 degree mind only.

The more I think about it, the foundations and concepts of all religions seem unreal and based on a few selfish needs. Power, money and fame seems to be playing a role everywhere including the divine areas supposed to be devoid of 'power, money and fame' and all the human materialistic temptations. Religion is a shepherd ruling the lambs tied to the pole of enlightenment and fenced by fear. "Without God's will, you cannot make the slightest move" is also a 180 degree mind viewpoint. But then again, insisting that everything is free will is also the same. When something happens, it just happens. How you perceive the happening is a matter of choices (bound or unbound) and perspectives.

On the other hand, isn't it better not to have a 360 degree mind. 'Total' disjunction doesn't really mean attaining the highest level of Maslow's hierarchy, rather a transformation into something entirely different, scaringly inhuman. Why would someone want to be so selfless and detached from the world. Maybe the selfishness of a higher goal makes one selfless on smaller things. If religion is able to bind countless people, isn't that itself a huge success, irrespective of the true superior motive. One's gain is not necessarily one's loss and in the end, it is just every man for himself. The path is chosen that 'seems' more rosy and perspectives are made that are more 'rational'. True 360 seems surreal and unattractive. It can never drive you forward because thats what it stands for.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Islam and Stereotypes

One month into the new college, still on the learning track and thoroughly enjoying the fast life here. Most of the professors are good but this blog is dedicated to one Mr. A.F.Matthews, who teaches the course of 'Social Transformation in India'.
Prof Matthews has been teaching about the different 'inconveniences' and blockages in the society today and has so very compassionately spoken about how very backward we are and how very modern we think ourselves to be. To just describe His thoughts, even a huge book wouldn't be enough. His course is probably the only course that doesn't have compulsory attendance, yet sees students rushing in and eagerly awaiting the next class. He doesn't dwell too much on the course and describes it in examples and personal experiences. His knowledge is immense and will make you feel really small with guilt and regret at having wasted so many years without having a slight knowledge of anything. When he is speaking, it is like - Oh my GOD!!! how on earth does He remember the names of all the directors (of many regional and internation movies), authors, writers, historians, rulers, mythical characters, war heroes and non heroes, activists......
He was particularly moved with 'anger' when he touched the topic of religion (on a note, dont argue with Him about religion unless you can take in hard facts and digest it without falling into the pit of disbelief). The topic started with Him stating a couple of myths -- "Islam is the most conservative religion, and Christianity is the most open and advanced religion" and "Islam religion signifies polygamy". The answer the both the statements is totally the opposite. The polygamy was started when the ratio of men to women became so low because of war as a 'temporary' solution. The very idea of no idols to worship signifies the purpose of religion. Prof Matthews' favourite line -- "you are all such wonderful Christian children". The Indian society is so very conservative and we are being RULED by stereotypes. The stereotype of women as meek and humble; black as athletic and 'machine-type' and white as beauty and elegance; the stereotyping of all the religions; of sexuality and orientation; of taboos and sins...and when you look at the facts, the very basis of all these sterotypes is shaken.
I would love to just write and write about Islam and stereotypes, but owing to time and space, leaving it here...just feeling the constraints of the written communication to vocal. And to top it all, it is just more disheartening to realize that none of us is going to be changing anything, and the rush will still be to the company coming on the day zero offering mutiple zeros and people will become the slaves of that very system. Change is inevitable, the time is the constraint. The least I can do now is to gather knowledge and awe at the system and how perfectly imperfect the world is.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lies of a Student

We are entering into that part of the life when we are supposed to be matured. The transition from UG to PG, a stage when grass no longer means greenary and education no longer means learning. The application of all the values inculcated in us from childhood to go from one door to another. Having gone through the placement processes and interviews for mba schools, one thing that struck me right in the centre of my funny bone was the effortless lies of the students...and what more-- we are trained to do so. The lying start way way back in school when the "punishments" were set for defaulters. 2 options: lie and go free; be honest and take the punishment. You don't need strategic calculations to decide which one. And then ofcourse, the liars who beat the system become 'studs' and the poor little honest fellow is a 'dumbo'. Fast forward to the present, now we are matured. We learn to lie judiciously, in a beautifully organized synchro that fits with our profile and the whole part of us fits into their company/college. Its just that now it is not lying, it is called 'tactics', 'presentation skills', 'marketing skills'. The 'CV' (curriculum vitae- I can bet more than half the students don't know the full form) is where they judge as to how good one can lie in exactly 1 page in an organized way in a particular format. And then they all expect the organizations to be ethical and moral and to keep values above everything else. Just to present the idea, here are some of my favourite lines that i heard/used/witnessed -->

Q. Why this company/college?
A. This has been my dream company all my life .....
(My dreams are directly proportional to the pay package)

Q. Why MBA?
A. My skills suit this profile and an MBA is the missing part of me....
(Bcoz i tried everything else, and failed miserably)

Q. Why should we choose you over the other 40 people sitting outside?
A. I have skills better than them that are perfect for this profile....
(They all already have 1 job)

Q. Why is your academic scores average?
A. I believe that only academics is not the solution, you have to be good in all....
(some people have to get low to balance out the average)

Q. Describe yourself in 1 word.
A. Honest
(no comments)

Q. Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line.
A. As a project leader in your company in ....
(please keep me in 'your' company for 5 years atleast)

Q. If another company pays you better package, will you leave ours?
A. Absolutely not. Loyalty is ....
(I am very satisfied as long as you give everything I ask)

There are plenty more but just can't remember now...but you just start to wonder how good a liar are the people on top, our 'idols'.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pursuit of Happiness?

Time and time again, we come across people saying "the ultimate goal in life is Happiness". How many teachings that money isn’t the goal, success isn’t, power isn’t…these are all steps to reach the goal- ‘happiness’, the one thing that drives every person towards the unseen future.

But then, do people finally achieve the goal, or is that people who have achieved cease to exist. Has anyone ever reached ‘happiness’ or the ‘eternal bliss’? And what happens when one does find. Or rather how does one know that he has found, that he has reached the milestone, the milestone set by life? No one does. And that’s because the one thing that drives every person ahead into the black-hole called destiny is the belief—the belief that tomorrow is going to be better.

Every man has the unshakeable faith that his future is better and ecstatic. Even the low morale pessimist who thinks that his life is over is still waiting and hoping that he is wrong. The religious says ‘God has planned the future’…the philosopher ‘the cycle of life must rotate’…the scientist ‘man is progressing fast forever’…the businessman ‘now that I know my mistakes, I am sure to win’…the child ‘just let these exams pass, then I’ll improve…

But the fact is, every one of the belief has a common view: the better future. Men are not pursuing the long lost happiness or the ‘objects’ in life. Everyone is just running from the past and the present to reach the future—the unforeseen mystery that gives the extra punch. The eagerness of horoscopes and the belief in stars—a way to convince yourself…that you are on the right path, on the verge of glory, unseen and mysterious but unimaginably attracting. It keeps one going, overlooking failures, haunting memories, ‘petty’ successes and events, towards the dreams and the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.