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Sense, Sensitivities and Sensibility

It's easy nowadays to get offended - and it's also easy to offend someone. So when I read the news about some politician having made an 'indecent' remark about a Hindu goddess, I simply ignored it to be a political slugfest of trying to win the votes of one audience, by offending the other. It probably is indeed so - I honestly do not know.  However, as the news unravelled I came to know that the source was not this politician from the opposition parties but an Indian-origin film-maker based in Canada who apparently made a movie on Maa Kali and a poster of her film which created the waves. Apparently, the poster showed Kali smoking cigarettes - the filmmaker wanted to showcase Maa Kali as a badass hero and smoking was the way to show off the adjective! As I pondered over this, several thoughts ran into my mind - which the title of this post represents. But the very first image which flew across my mental retina was that of Gajanan Maharaj - a saint from the 19th centur

A trip down the early 20s memory lane

  I am just back from a 24-hour trip to Bhopal, my hometown and my mind is full of several nostalgic moments I experienced in the last 48 hours. It started with a taking a red-eye flight alone - it's been some time since I've taken one of these red-eye ones alone; last few years I've either travelled with family or with some colleague in tow. As a solo traveler, there's that eerie botheration that I may take a nap and miss some important announcement like the Gate of my flight changing or boarding being announced. While I've never had any trouble like this, but the anxious botheration is a part of travelling solo and I experienced this anxiety after a long long time.    Then, of course, the emotional rush of being in your city of your birth and upbringing hit me as I took a taxi from the airport towards my destination. When the Taxi guy took a road different to what I'd usually take to get around, I gave him some instructions, only to realise that roads and land

The Story of Article 371

The making of the Indian union is a very interesting story. If the efforts of Sardar Patel and VP Menon in integrating princely states into India are the first chapters, the subsequent states (re)organization efforts and the pacts, impacts and outcomes of the States Reorganization Committee’s work were the later chapters which not only formed India as it is today but continue to impact how the relations between the Union and the States playout.  The impacts of the subsequent chapters are much long-drawn and persistent. They can be as severe as the persistent rise and ebb of violent separatist activities like in Naga, Bodo or Maoist districts or even as mundane as the impact on how Power Distribution companies in States get disciplined by the Union government schemes or how farm sector reforms percolate to the State level. One of the most important chapters in post-integration was Article 370, which after its abrogation on 5 August 2019, has gained a lot of media focus. It is argued tha

Education for the sake of education

Photo by Ben White   Do you remember when you last walked for the first time on your own?  Maybe you don't - probably a memory far too away for you to keep. I remember the first time I was able to sit cross-legged - had been trying for so long and my plump thighs won't allow me to. I remember I was around 4 and returning home with my mom after taking one of those vaccination shots, and as we reached the front door, my mom must have let me sit by the door, and lo, I sat cross-legged. That's my earliest memory of pure joy on having 'achieved' something I tried for. I also recollect the first few days of my daughter learning to walk - she was all joy, simply walking around. The joy of mobility on your own, the joy of being able to 'discover' the whole house on your own without needing anyone to carry you. Oh the joy! That joy defines for me what education should be like for all of us - joy! As I read this article , I realised that in today's world where we

Misinformation and the Republic

Photo by Gabography When India went from being a British dominion to a Republic on its own, two parallel but interrelated events shaped its contours and personality. The first, was of course, the formulation of the Constitution of India - the first modern document which encapsulated the ethos, principles, and aspirations of Indians as a whole. And the second was the formal political unification of Indian territory from 600 plus splintered states and provinces into one nation. It is notable that India is one of the world's oldest republics - of the 16 Mahajanpads which formed India 2500+ years ago, two were Gantantra i.e. Republics. The world's oldest self-governing systems were in India (and not in Greece as is popularly believed). While little is known about the Indus Valley Civilization - it is very likely that this civilization also practised some form of the republican political system. Similarly, when it comes to a unified India, the earliest unification of the Indian subc

17th Anniversary

This blog completed 17 years today -  started this blog online in 2004. But I've been writing since far before - I had a lot of my handwritten posts locked in my drawer, even one unfinished and one completed science fiction. I was 22 when I started blogging and had gained access to a computer with a 24x7 internet connection only a few months ago. The first version of my blog from 2004 Over the last 17 years, I've written on several topics and in the process discovered myself. My writing style has undergone changes, personal posts with memoirs got replaced by views and viewpoints. Off late a lot of my thoughts find their way to Facebook and Twitter rather than here. But writing in prose is still my preferred method when self-musing on a subject. Whenever I've felt to think deeply on a subject, I start researching about it and the researched material usually lends itself to a blog post. To me, 2006 to 2012 was the golden period for blogging - this was a time when blogging we

The evolutionary outcomes of Covid-19

We've evolved - from monkeys to Chimps to Neanderthals to Homo Sapiens and now to Homo Sapiens wearing masks!  Jokes apart, I am truly curious about ...  What would be the long term impact of the pandemic on mankind's evolutionary future?  To be sure, I am not claiming that two years of Covid-19 impacted lockdowns mean anything in the millennia-old human evolutionary chain. But as many experts are predicting, Covid-19 is one of the impacts of the combination of global warming, climate change, increased globalisation - as glaciers melt, several microbes and other viruses will start getting unlocked from them and increased globalisation would make the proliferation of these viruses ever faster. And hence Covid-19 is not the end, but the beginning of a long chain of pandemics which will continue to pervade mankind's destiny for the foreseeable future. Assuming the above is true, how would mankind evolve? We're observing different kinds of behavioural patterns among popula

A Guide to Privacy on Social Media [apps]

The recent announcement by WhatsApp to update its privacy terms - and 'accept or leave the app' stance - led to an exodus of users from Whastapp to competing, privacy-conscious apps such as Telegram or Signal. A week after the exodus began, Whatsapp clarified its stance - and WhatsApp's CEO went about providing a long Twitter clarification . And then, many returned, many who considered moving stayed put on Whatsapp. This post is meant for those who are still sitting on the fence - it clarifies questions like: What is this all about? What do I do? Is Whatsapp safe? I've heard Telegram is Russian - so how is it safer than Whatsapp? I can't move because my business contacts are on Whastapp - how do I secure myself? PS: I've modeled this post based on several conversations I've had with friends and family on this subject, dealing with the chain of questions they ask, then objections they raise, then clarifications they seek - and finally the change resistance

Lal Quilla - a citadel with a cursed history

The Lal Quila or Red Fort was in the news recently when a tractor rally by farmers, against three contentious farm laws of the Modi government, turned violent after protesters deviated from the route approved by the Delhi Police, entered the city and reached the Red Fort located in central Delhi and one of the protestors put the Nishan Sahib on the dome at Red Fort. The Lal Quila has an interesting history; the Fort was built by Shah Jahan, who in the struggle for succession, was imprisoned by his own son Aurangzeb. Subsequently, th e Mughal Dynasty declined rapidly after Aurangzeb. After Mughal decline, Jahandar Shah took over the Lal Quila in 1712 - within a year of beginning his rule, Shah was murdered and replaced by Farrukhsiyar. In 1739, Persian emperor Nadir Shah defeated the Mughal army, plundering the Red Fort, including the Peacock Throne. Less than a decade after that, (upon return to Persia) Nadir Shah was assassinated (probably) by his own nephew Adil Shah who replaced

Cities, Planning and freedom!

 As I glanced through this article on my newsfeed, the picture caught my eye - so elegant, so mesmerising and so neat! Wow! What a view of Paris - the city of Love. Compare this image of Paris to any Indian city and the Indian city will look ugly, disorganized and pitiful - you'd probably use these images to label cities as First World and Third World countries.  But scratch under the surface of your reactionary thoughts, you will realise that the pictures reveal a very different story. Paris or for that matter any city which looks well organized are usually a result of one regime, one ruler being dominant at the time of development of the city - such that the ruler could convert huge swathes of land from private ownership to state ownership, and then develop them into planned cities. A chaotic disorganized city, on the other hand, is a result of common people having exercised their individual rights, their ingenuity, their individual personas, their likes, dislikes to create a ch

How Covid-19 will expedite the march of humans to Mars

The Covid-19 pandemic rages on - a new fast-spreader strain was discovered in the UK last week leading to a fresh round of lockdowns and flight bans across the globe, but the good news is that a vaccine is on the anvil. News reports say that it's been approved in the UK and even if the vaccine is delayed but launches by Q2-2021, this will be the fastest developed vaccine in the history of mankind. This is not surprising - medical science has been making rapid progress since 2003 when the Human Genome Project got completed. Since Covid-19 impacts different people in different ways , its vaccine development also needs to take this into account. In fact, this is true of almost every vaccine and while there may not be a direct correlation between the Genome project and Covid-19, but the completion of Human Genome sequencing along with other medical strides has helped our ability to react to diseases and come up with cures faster than ever. What has happened in medicine is but an indic

Need for Compassion in politics and its relation with success of countries

7 years ago today, Nelson Mandela left us - committed to ending differences in human race and a keen follower of Gandian values, Mandela is a powerful role model for leaders in the 21st century.   But before there was Mandela, there was Robert Mugabe, the Premier and later President of Zimbabwe who was heralded as the statesman of Africa and the model for good governance. [ 1 ]. As history tells us however, Mugabe and his politics failed miserably.  The reason why Zimbabwe became a failed state and South Africa a successful one was because of the Gandhian values, mainly ' Hate the Sin, Not the Sinner ' imbibed by Nelson Mandela, and a contrasting revengeful reign by Mugabe in Zimbabwe (especially in the 1990s). The story about how Mandela used the Rugby World cup [ 2 ] to reconcile and reach out for his erstwhile oppressors is a case in point [The subject was used in the movie Invictus , which is titled on one of Mandela's favourite poems - and mine too!]. Mugabe vs Ma