Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
Remember the time…
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With just three words, we absolve ourselves, of a crime, we are about to commit. Yes, crime is a very elephantine word, but given the circumstances, there is every possibility that it could just become true.
If you havent come across this phenomenon, you are probably not active on one of the many social media platforms, specially some of the biggies like whatsapp, facebook, or twitter etc. Given the prevalence of these, it is likely that only a few small sections of humankind has been spared from this plague. And in which case, you are also less like likely to be reading this post.
The SocMedia is taking the place of the gossip circles and rumour mills that existed before, only it is able to proliferate misinformation at a much faster rate. And thanks to all the education, or i should say literacy, we have become predisposed to news, even before it converges on us. We either believe, or we dont. Simple, there is very little scope to change opinion with just one news item. One swallow does not a summer make. What do you make of it, when you see the next swallow, and the next, and the next? Oh then, slowly but steadily you give in.
SocMedia has exposed us to so many view points, that it is difficult to be ever satiated. A paradox? Yes. Its a typical problem, with the choice of plenty. You never know if you made the right one. And so in a bid to contribute, we end up bringing more sand to the beach. We crow louder than required, without thinking and reflecting upon one’s action, we drop the grains of sand, and walk away purportlessly.
When you come across another news on your fav SocMedia, dont just shoot it off into the www of nothingness. Think before you do. If there is any truth, it is that the information you recieved today, is old, rehashed and most importantly a sham. If it quacks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and looks like a duck, the chances are it is a duck.
The only possibility of rebuilding any trust is not to forward, unless you subscribe to the information a 100%, or have verified the content yourself. If you have any doubt left, then it is best simply left alone. When in doubt, Dont!
Today is Jan 26th, 2018. It is India’s Republic Day. The day, India effected its new constitution and declared itself a “sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic Republic”.
For many years, Republic Day to me meant, “march past”. During my school days at Asan Memorial, i used to be a member of the Scouts (Digbe Beste Sea Scouts). And when the new year begins, we scouts and whole of lot of others begin our annual marching parade at the Marina, in preparation for the Republic Day. It was a profound honor, at least to me, to march with my battalion on that day, salute to the Governor, who would be stationed at the Gandhi Statue, to receive the guard of honour.
I also used to be enamoured by a similar parade, that is held in Delhi, on the Rajpath. And to be selected to participate in that parade was the ultimate honour for any scout or cadet. For me, that always has remained but a dream. And so every Republic Day, when i was older, i would wake up and wait to witness the parade telecast live on TV. It was always special if only to rekindle memories, and to bask in the glory of the nation i was born in, and to celebrate freedom we fought so hard.
Over the past few years, irrespective of the government that as ruled the country or the many different states and territories, their respect for the rule of the law has been scant to say the least. And since the emergence of the hindutva party, what little of such law was left, has been dumped on the wayside. Today unless you are rich, belonged to the upper class, or part of the ruling party, you had no rights worth protecting. If you belonged to the ‘other’ religion, which included Hindus, Muslims and some others, and if you raised your voice against this atrocious behaviour, you were treated as an anti-national, and showered with choicest blessings in foul language at best, or beaten up.
My misgiving of today didn’t happen in a day. It took a couple of years of constant eroding, of our constitutional values. A slow but steady, erosion of the value systems that were encoded in the constitution, which was developed after learning from our own past, and the many democracies that were established already. Fundamental rights, Human rights, Civil liberties, and many more were adopted from teachings and philosophies in human social advancement that were already in place. The Indian constitution also went further than most its times, for example making it one of the few, if not the only one that granted universal franchise from the very first day. And yet today all of these are being questioned, and whittled away. All in the name of hindutva, and taking the country back a few decades or even centuries. The post of contention was effectively moved from the middle, to a point, which would lead one to believe that one half of the country marched to a different band altogether. A religious hate mongering and terrorizing one at that. Where they wished the other half didn’t exist, and were ready to go to any extent to eliminate, remove or simply silence their voices.
I should be celebrating. Yet i contemplate. I worry of what we have made ourselves today. How much we have progressed, and yet how far backward we have regressed? I worry about the legacy we leave behind for our children.
I hold a prayer in my heart, as i close this. It is poem written by Rabindranath Tagore. It was also the very first blog i wrote in my life. We can pray, we can hope and we can fight to make them true.
Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Its Saturday. The second one, for this December. After relaxing, or I must say rusting, almost the whole day, I decide to venture out. I need some eggs to add to the granary at home. Yes, thats it. I also had to get the usual weekend coffee, at my local Peets. I decide to finish the shopping before I relax with my coffee and a book (a new-found toy).
So it is December. It’s there for all to see. There is also a dusting of snow today, the first this winter, a bit too early for the DC area. So there again if there was any doubt, that would clear it up. If it is December, then its time for the big festival in this part of the world. Its Christmas time. Most every year, since I have known it has fallen on the 25th of December, like clockwork, as some would say. You might wonder why I bring up this obvious fact, that everyone takes for granted.
Its simple. If everyone knows its Christmas time, then why do the stores have to remind me. In the mall, at the grocery store and even at the Peets where I am now seated, tapping this stodgy tale. Everyone is singing or playing the christmasy tunes. The most rankling of all, probably the favorite of many, is “Its the most wonderful time”. Oh my god, please save me from hearing that again. Todays trip to the mall, grocery store and the coffee shop, has so far spared me of this repetitive tune.
In the US, these tunes begin wafting through hidden speakers in the shopping places the day after Thanksgiving. Basically you cook most morning, gorge yourself to near death and then race to the stores, wearing your best running shoes, to get you in sooner than anyone. Well that used to be the norm, till the likes of Amazon and other online shopping killed the last of the traditions.
Then why? Why these songs? Why this repetitive tedium? Why oh why?
The answer is Christmas Carols. These songs keep alive the tradition of carol singing. While I have not yet seen carol singers, in all the many years I have lived in the US, I am sure there are many that go door to door in smaller neighborhoods. Growing up in India, I had the opportunity to witness and experience a few. It’s quite common in Kerala, and used to be so in Chennai, where I have lived. But these days I guess they only visit Christian homes, and so unless you have many Christian neighbors, you are unlikely to see any.
And so, I let my defenses down, let my soul soak in the music. But please spare me the “Its the most”, unless you want me humming and croaking it, at every spare moment.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller
Since 2014, when Narendra Modi and his BJP came to power, they have steadily worked towards eroding the ethos of a democratic society. Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom of religion and Right to equality, all guarnteed as part of the our own Constitution have been challenged, and with its Executive power and support of State machinery, these have been reduced to mere words on an old parchment in a library.
In this age of WWW, ie Whole Wide World, where nothing is a secret anymore, and where citizens are no longer bound by a geography, ideas circle faster than the speed of light, emotions unite classes, thoughts break language barriers, and it in this new brave world people have to expect different. Today basic human and civil rights are considered as important, if not more important than food and water. In this era, it is therefore impossible to accept and live with rules and norms as expounded by regressive governments and or their followers.
Followers? Yes! Through out history, no one has been able to impose restrictions or upsurp rights without support from a section of the populace. These people are common folk like me, lured by an idea, swooned by charisma or spurred by simple hate. If by hate, there is usually a personal bias that allows this emotion to gain an edge over empathy. Some people are influenced by past experiences, and probably justified in their actions, because of the private imprints on them. But many others are simply swayed by emotions, of fear of the unknown, what if the worst that happened to them, happens to me. Collective conscience imparts the most heaviest burden on most average folks. It is easier to succumb to this, and be at peace, rather than try to revolt and rationalise feelings.
But protest we must. Rationalise we must. We are humans only because we possess a sense, a unique sense of intellect that would allow us to discriminate; as in allow us to analyze a situation and take different action, that is required based on all information that is immediately available and those that can be discerned. It is important for sanity to speak, and must not be suppressed in all the din. Narendra Modi and his Bhakts (as they have come to be known on social media), may attempt to hijack prudence, but there is a duty upon those who are not influenced to stand up and speak up.
I am writing this, because many of my friends and family are in this realm of influence. Thankfully in varying degree. And so when i speak up, if it causes even one to stop and reflect, i have probably served humanity. I have felt intimidated by the overwhelming support sometimes, but more often it is the nagging question, of “why do you have to question everything?”. Then there is the narrative to compare and equate wrongs, and thereby silence my voice. People who oppose these thoughts are even branded, tagged and name-called. Subtly by friends, but with blatant abuse on the anonymous social media.
Wake up! Speak up! Let it not be too late!
I was there, in the Path of Totality on Aug 21st 2017, at Columbia, SC. All predictions for cloudy skies proved false and the heavens cleared up, to give me and many others around me, an unhindered view of totality.
It was a sight to behold. I had a camera, to help capture the moment, and it did, but only a fraction of the the image i witnessed. Typical, i’d say of how camera sometimes fail to impersonate a vision. Maybe before i curse my camera so much, i might as well direct some or more than required indignation towards the photographer. Me! A camera is only a tool, and best held by someone who knows a thing or two about photography.
I had planned this trip almost a good month and half before today. I had barely witnessed one or two partial solar eclipses before. And so, when i knew i would be in the US around the date, i had to be there. Never a person who plans travel in advance, i did this. And it all worked out, every step of the way. Till this moment at least. I am sitting here in Columbia Metropolitan Airport, waiting for the inbound aircraft, so i can leave here, and be back home. Usually this would have made me grumpy, but today my mind is in a better place. And to think, darkness had some good reasons for this heavenly feeling. [Update: We departed late, but arrived home safe, and soon enough to get a good night’s sleep.]
All this happened in the shadows of some sad events around the world. Splitting my life between the US and India, i track events here and there very closely. But it wasnt just here, but in Spain and also the ticking clock being constantly jiggled by an idiot in North Korea, who was responding to the rat-a-tattle by spoilt brat here in the US. All these were somehow small. The vision i held, dwarfed all these for a good few moments.
If only it could last longer. The Moon sure knew a thing or two. To cover up the Sun for a good two minutes. There is a lesson in it for us, size, intensity, volume and power sometimes dont matter as much, perspective does. When events around us, disturbs peace and sanctity, remember it will pass. Other times it is delight and exhilaration that overcomes us, lest we forget that it may not linger around. Hopelessness, deserves exactly that.
Let me end this with “tamaso ma jyotirgamaya“, meaning “lead us from darkness into light“.
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With just three words, we absolve ourselves, of a crime, we are about to commit. Yes, crime is a very elephantine word, but given the…
Today is Jan 26th, 2018. It is India’s Republic Day. The day, India effected its new constitution and declared itself a “sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic…
Its Saturday. The second one, for this December. After relaxing, or I must say rusting, almost the whole day, I decide to venture out. I…
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists,…