Worth less life…

My new blog on Times of India – http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tiger-trail/entry/worth-less-life

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37 Responses to “Worth less life…”

  1. Aishwarya Says:

    Touching post, beautifully written…

  2. I’ll touch the post when I see it here. 🙂

    Meanwhile, the title is rather open and I am unable say what it refers to. I don’t mind the suspense for two days.

    Hmmm…

    Worth Less Life. Or is it worthless life??? or is it Worth Less-life??? Or is it Worth-Less-Life????

    Who knows…

    I just heard a news piece on BBC about a guy called Edward in Switzerland who opted for assisted suicide. It is legal in Switzerland. Reportedly, he did not want to live in a vegetative state and chose the option while all his senses were still functioning. It’s called something… something ‘you’ and something ‘India’… I have heard the word… what’s it… yourendhi..no.. your-end-or-mine… no no.. not hyphenated… hmm… I think I’ll need to choose that option for myself before I forget my own name…

    But “worth less life” reminds of my last resignation letter that I wrote in 1991.

    I had written: “I am bored. I hereby resign with effect from …/…/…”

    In those days, I was working in a construction company in Mumbai. I had witnessed the Lokhandwala shoot out and the shock was sinking in slowly. My boss realized that and suggested that I seek transfer to Bangalore on the Kengeri project. I considered the advise and decided against it. I loved Mumbai, it’s furious pace and never-say-die spirit. Bangalore couldn’t offer me that rebellious environment.

    Those were dismal days. Life seemed worthless. My work seemed worthless. My values seemed worthless.

    I walked away from the project and my assignments without looking back.

    A few weeks later I was back in action. After all, it was that spirit that had caused the shoot-out. The virtues were right, the ethics were wrong.

    Quotes:

    Many people wish to die before their nominal reality ends. XXII

    A metaphysical denial is not a philosophy XXVII

    I am aware of the conditions in which I live. I choose to live. XIV

    From The Creator’s Testimony

  3. Anand Khare Says:

    My condolences.

    Zindagee kaisi hai pahelee…

  4. Aishwarya Says:

    The value of a person’s life is an absolute that is defined by the person’s choice – to establish a philosophy based on a studied knowledge of reality or an imaginary speculative hypothesis.

    The choice decides if one subjects life to arbitrary whims and force or to a state of rational consciousness.

    Evil lives in our lives the same way that goodness does – with the consent of the victim.

    Hostile environments are often those that require a person to suspend his own judgement and serve the ends of whims.

    The Creator’s Testimony, X & XIX.

    • Aishwarya,

      The consent of the victim plays a very large role in the chain of events.

      There is only one word that can break that sequence. The word, “No!”

      A person has to simply say, “No!” and get on with his/her life.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        It’s not easy to make decisions for our tomorrow. We don’t know if the conditions that we made the choice in will prevail then.

        More often than not, many wish to go back in time and replace that emphatic ‘Yes’ with a firm ‘No’, instead of branding it a ‘learning experience’.

        Sadly, many don’t survive to look back on their choices. It’s too late…

      • Aishwarya,

        I have to admit that my words are often like the perfect vision in hindsight. They rarely make sense while one is actually going through the process.

        Nonetheless, that doesn’t take away the truth in them. They serve my purpose.

        I have made my mistakes. I am only trying to ensure that I don’t repeat them again.

        Adolescence is a funny stage of life.

        In my case, I spent hours brooding over things that bothered my parents and I would mostly consider them irrational and meaningless.

        There was one occasion when we were visiting my father’s younger brother in his village after grandmother had died.

        I was playing on the terrace when mother called us down and the whole family marched out of the house. There had been some altercation between the two brothers and they parted ways forever.

        As we were going in the horse cart, tonga, father was furiously cursing his brother and mother was trying to cool him down.

        And yours truly, the Einstein in the making, suggested politely that we should all go to a Bachchan movie.

        Mother and the two brothers erupted all together as if I had called for a celebration.

        “Idiot!”

        “Shut up!”

        “Stupid!”

        Now, note this.

        24 years later, when uncle died, I drove my parents back to the village in my own car.

        The aunt sobbed quietly in a corner. Mother went into the house and cooked food for everyone. Father blew his fuse again, cursing the dead man for his wanton lifestyle and carelessness. My cousins cried in silence.

        Father gave them some names and addresses with his recommendation letters to get jobs in the local government. He asked me to take them in my car and do the needful.

        Later in the evening, as we were returning to take the highway back to Pune, I said, “Let’s watch a Bachchan movie at Sholapur on the way”

        “Shut up!” said mother

        “Let’s go!” said father.

        You see? I won!

        I think it would have worked even 24 years ago. But at that time no one had asked my father what he wanted!

        I was not going back in time. I was only re-living a moment in the way that I had understood it back then.

        In my own way, I was saying ‘No!’ to that moment.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Einstein, 🙂

        Remember what you said about Universe and stupidity? Well, I may prove you right…right here, right now. 😦

        With that infinite ‘limitation’, here are a few things I picked up:
        1. Men blow their fuse often.
        2. No one listens to their child until he/she is an adult.
        3. We often forget to ask what our parents want.
        4. AB movies were famous when you were an adolescent and 24 years later… 🙂
        5. Adult fights are irrational and meaningless.
        6. Children perceive and understand right. It’s good to listen to them.
        7. “Life is driven by volition; death is not.”

        In my earlier comment, I was thinking of marriage and ‘consent’ – a woman’s married life being the subject of the post to be put up.

        Some mistakes are bad enough when committed once. The person may not re-live the moment or live to see that it not be repeated…

      • Aishwarya,

        Let’s wait for the post to appear here.

        I am not sure what is the subject. Ninad’s comment below gives me the impression that Sharmila is planning to play pink panther on a real life event.

        I wouldn’t support her to do that. Activism against cultural failures does not deliver justice. It creates more disharmony than the prevailing one. When life is not justified, where is the need for philanthropy?

        Marriages between men and women are an old tradition. Both the persons agree to the terms and conditions of the contract. There are many cases when one of them regrets the decisions and seeks to terminate the deal.

        The laws of governance rule in favor of women for obvious reasons. She needs social security and the children’s protection under normal circumstances.

        When this seems unjust to an individual man, he moves against the law.

        He may even indulge in crime and violence against the woman because she is called his wife and he doesn’t know how to get rid of that fact without suffering further. Sometimes he is prepared to go to the gallows.

        He is not prepared to wait for God’s intervention either. For him, justice is here and now; God is a gamble after death.

      • I can give you my own example. I studied the Hindu Law for a whole year before drafting and filiing my petition for separation. I eliminated all those factors that were measured by Time. I retained only the vedic beliefs that were the basis of the marriage.

        The result was as expected. The whole institution of marriage collapsed. The court decreed in favor of the divorce after just two hearings.

        The lawyer who submitted my petition is using that as a template for drafting other cases. He has now got a new reputation in Pune as an ideal , ethical family-court lawyer for getting decrees in favor of the man, without indulging in mud-slinging, abuse or crime.

        The Hindu Marriage Act is outdated by about 3000 years. And the Indian Civil Code does not allow religious feelings to be hurt.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Clever lawyer… 🙂

    • This is our new age bible, and I am yet to get my hands on it!

    • Aishwarya Says:

      Reader,

      Generally speaking, I feel in our culture a man in a marriage is bound by the rules of the law. A woman married is bound by the rules of tradition and culture. I am not sure which is worse and which is easier to break free from, if at all there is a need to do so…

      Yes, let’s wait for the post…

  5. Anand Khare Says:

    Reader,

    I have received the book today. Kudos to you on this beautiful creation. Its a collector’s item.

    While, I prepare for another day of sacrifice. I will write to you later after a full reading of the book.

    However, I remain,forever in gratitude, for this gift…

    Regards,

    Anand

    • Anand,

      I am relieved. At last it reached you safely.

      I am honored by your feelings. Please do not be grateful. This book is an honest confession of all that I have felt about so many subjects in so many years.

      If anyone asks me now ‘Who are you mister?’ I can give him this book and say, “This is who I am!”

      I am glad that I was able to express it and see it in print!

      • Anand Khare Says:

        It is very interesting to read a book on applied philosophy from someone who studied and practiced applied mechanics in his profession. The content is amazing. By and large, you are successful in what you intended.

        I was waiting for the book for last one week. It took me sometime to understand how Aramex operate in India. Once I was sure that I will not get it easily, I shook everyone in their New Delhi office. My experience and connections working in Government sector in India became handy. After getting this book, I felt like this,

        Anand

      • Anand,

        Unfortunately SMC router on the office server is blocked. Youtube is unavailable. Shall see this one tonite as soon as I get back home.

        You are right about the transition from applied mechanics to applied philosophy. It was so simple, I didn’t even realize how easy it was.

        For example, there was a time when I wanted to know why I should know anything at all! I didn’t want to know anything. I kept asking my mother, “What for?”

        She didn’t say anything. She never replied to purely stupid questions. I guess that had something to do with her belief system. She had strong reasons to believe that I had fallen out of the cradle when I was an infant and landed on my head.

        Well, anyway; be that as it may. The point is, I continued to do what I liked. Statics and Mechanics was a subject I understood easily. I stuck to that.

        One day, I came across Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and I read the whole thing in one sitting. That long phenomenal poem switched on a bright light in my head – like darkness invaded by a big bang.

        I realised in an instant why Milton called it a curse to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. We, the people, are going in the wrong direction!

        Instead of creating new stuff, we are doomed to discover what is already created. We call it knowledge!

        That lead me from applied mechanics to applied philosophy.

        If applied mechanics is knowledge, then creativity is applied philosophy.

  6. What do you mean by you are going to get to the bottom of this…what are you planning to do ?

    • Ninad, I am sourcing information from the family and neighbors right now. I am then planning to lodge a complaint with the local police who have already shut the case to reopen it before I leave and I have somebody who will follow up. And more than anything, I need the Mother to let me know exactly what her daughter has been through in the last few years, she is keeping mum.

  7. Anand Khare Says:

    Reader,

    I am ROTFL.

    Mother knows the best about her son. However son’s wife may dispute that fact.

    Anand

  8. Before the invasions of Moghuls, Portugese, French and pork-eating Engllishmen, the Indian sub-continent was made of small kingdoms with towns and villages planned on the caste system.

    The King lived in a fortress along with his army on the top of a hill. The village temple was on one bank of a river. The lanes closest to the temple were reserved for priests. Next to them were the traders and merchants adjacent to a central market place.

    The pagans lived on their farms in small clusters.

    The cleaners and sweepers lived on the other bank of the river with brooms attached to their waists for identification.

    Rest of the land was used for farming, warehouses and pastures for grazing animals.

    Education, specially language skills etc were restricted to certain classes. Vashishtha and Gautama’s Dharmasutra prevailed as consititutional laws. One of the edicts for educationists was: Select your disciples with care. Do not teach an adversary how to speak. He might use the same words to think.

    Those were the days when discrimination and divisions had reached extreme finesse. It covered genders, castes, age groups, lineage etc complete.

    There was no united nations of fire worshippers or a nation of one god. The occasional Robin Hood was converted to non-violent Buddhism or Jainism.

    In general, it was time for peace, prosperity and stagnation. Work was not a business opportunity. Work was a way of living. The wheel of Karma went through a full cycle.

    Industrial engineering was yet to break into the systems. There were no employers and employees. There were feudal lords and pagans.

    In due course of time, civilisation was taken over by watch dogs.

    The Brahmins migrated. The Kings were defeated by invaders. The armies were enslaved. The social order was re-structured. Perestroika!

    A new era of change rolled out.

    The Moghuls were construction maniacs. They built huge forts and roads all over the northern country. The portugese were savage pirates. They emptied entire territories by killing anything that moved. The French were lead by armies. They colonized systematically. The Englishman was a snake in the grass – the merchant trader.

    No one ever said life is fair.

    Back then, human rights did not include women and children. They were assets and liabilities like everything else that a man obtained and protected through his effort. The effort to live was valued, not life.

    Today, things have changed dramatically.

    Women and children have equal rights. They are expected to have the same feelings as a man, and vice versa. Equality of genders is equality of feelings. A man does not have to own or protect anything. It’s the government’s responsibility. His self-respect does not depend on his wife or children.

    • Aishwarya Says:

      In the olden days, there were two people who walked with the upper class – one held the Olakuda (umbrella made of palm leaves) over the chap’s head and the other held a Kolambi (spitoon) to spit the betel in. The lower class working in the paddy fields would bow down with folded hands till the important guy passes by.
      Look at the situation closely and it is not very different from the employer-employee relationship today. Thank Heavens there is no Olakuda and Kolambi to hold.

      • Wonder why the guy needs a spittoon while walking across an open farmland. May be some law for environmental protection.

        You are right about the situation being the same. The classes have different names. But essentially nothing has changed. Technology has failed in its mission, at least in India.

        In my childhood, there was a strict discipline about certain things in the house. If I played outside the house with backward class children or if one of them came to see me at home (which would be in the garden or the gates, not inside), I would have to wash my hands and feet before entering the house. We were not allowed to touch them or eat or drink water in their houses.

        The difference between today and those days is that, back then, it was done only because they belonged to a defined class of toilet cleaners, gardeners, christians and muslims. I never subscribed to that. But it was a ritual and it had to be done. For me, the real pain was in attending a christian mission school and taking bath 3 times in a day!

        Today, I do the same but without distinguishing the people by their caste. Even without the caste system there are many unhygienic and disease prone people around us. I know several priests who indulge in worse activities than a toilet cleaner.

        Going a step further into the conceptual aspects, nowadays I consciously switch my thoughts when I see someone whose character is despicable. It keeps me clean.

        The caste system was definitely a catastrophic degradation of human rights. But it still prevails in different ways.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Beautifully said.

        The caste system was to avoid ‘pollution’ – of the body and the mind. To prevent dilution of wealth, knowledge and power that the upper class believed belonged solely to them.

        The related rituals were perhaps to hammer in practices of cleanliness and hygiene, many of which we follow to this day…

      • Aishwarya Says:

        In these days of water scarcity, I wonder what a couple in an inter-caste marriage does.

        “Honey, it’s all good. You are beautiful. And…I need a bath. Oh Lordy, there is NO water…aarrrggghhhhhhhh!”

        Kidding. 😛

        Thankfully, the majority of us have evolved…

      • That’s right. In other words the caste system will always exist in one form or another. It doesn’t matter which one holds political power.

  9. Related Governance:

    PNS | New Delhi

    The Government on Thursday decided to carry out a BPL census to identify poor people, both in rural and urban areas, and collect information about their caste and religion also —a demand of major political parties — to ensure that the benefits of the targeted subsidy programmes reach the deserving people.

    The Union Cabinet gave approval to BPL census along with caste enumeration for socio-economic profiling of the people. This result of the census will be utilised in the 12th Five Year Plan starting next year and also for other special schemes meant for socially and economically backward people.

  10. On the subject of castes, here is an old article by Nirpal Dhaliwal in The Guardian, UK: (All Italics are mine)

    Caste is a contentious issue in India, but not a predictable one. In 2008, I watched television footage of violent protests in Rajasthan, as rioters clashed with the police in battles that cost dozens of lives. Their outrage was driven by the government’s refusal to categorise their caste as one of the lowest. They were fighting to be relegated to a lower social rank. India has the most comprehensive affirmative action programme in the world and downgrading would have qualified the protestors for valuable quota schemes in welfare, education and government jobs.

    As with so much in India, caste is an ancient institution that pervades everyday life, the mechanics of which remain a convoluted mystery. There was a buzz in 2007, when a dalit (the caste formerly known as “untouchables”) was Bollywood’s first-ever lead character in Eklavya: The Royal Guard, but the character was played by Sanjay Dutt, a scion of one of India’s leading film dynasties – his father Sunil was a brahmin and his mother Nargis a descendant of a “tawaif”, an aristocratic courtesan. Despite there being more than 150 million dalits in India, not one has made a major dent in Bollywood.

    Still, Bollywood is one of the most campaigning and progressive forces in Indian society. Stars such as Amitabh Bachchan are outspoken in their opposition to casteism, and most major figures are associated with some humanitarian activism. Preity Zinta, for instance, sponsors an entire school of lower-caste girls.

    However, discussing caste is hampered by official taboos. One cannot refer to anyone as an “untouchable” in India, the term being analogous to “nigger” in the west. But while “nigger” can be employed in western cinema to make a social point, “untouchable” will be edited out by the censors there.

    Its not surprising that India’s cinema has been so reluctant to tackle it. The first major attempt to deal with the subject was Achhut Kanya (Untouchable Maiden) in 1936. Like most films that have dealt with caste since, it framed the topic in a Romeo-and-Juliet tale of star-crossed lovers, undone by the gossip and intolerance of their families and surrounding community.

    The brutal realities of caste, its violence and sustaining context of superstition, ignorance and social neurosis have rarely been addressed head-on. The 2006 Bollywood movie Omkara, again borrowing from Shakespeare, remade Othello in the frontier regions of northern India, with a lower-caste political gangster substituted for the Moorish general. The theme remains that of a powerful outsider, paranoid about his status and manipulated because of it, rather than the banal cruelties and thoughtless traditions that blight everyday life across India.

    India’s own political correctness also stifles the debate. In the mid-90s, the novelist Arundhati Roy vilified the makers of Bandit Queen, the most realistic and politically challenging film ever made about caste. The heroine was the real-life Phoolan Devi, whose gang-rape by the men of a higher-caste village turned her into a mass-murdering vigilante. Roy objected to Devi’s sexual abuse being shown (albeit very inexplicitly) on screen while Devi was alive – despite the fact that Devi had given her express consent. Roy’s hyper-sensitive Indian sexual mores dominated the larger debate on caste.

    “But gender and caste could not be separated,” says Farrukh Dhondy, who wrote the film. “The fact is that Devi was raped because she was lower caste and those men thought they could get away with it. A woman’s life in India is very much defined by caste.”

    After 60 years of Indian democracy, lower castes have now established themselves as powerful voting blocs, leading to the rise of Mayawati, the first dalit woman to be elected to India’s parliament and chief minister of its largest state, Uttar Pradesh – one of the most powerful figures in the country, able to make or break a government.

    Dhondy is currently working on a treatment for her biopic. “I want to show how she and her ancestry were treated and how, under democracy, she has galvanised the dalit vote to become such a political phenomenon,” he says. “She is empowering them and radically transforming society.”

    Caste will become an even bigger issue in India as the historically downtrodden consolidate themselves and take power from traditional elites. Even the habitual timidity of Bollywood will have to change as it is forced to address a subject it has previously kept to one side.

    • Aishwarya Says:

      A daunting prospect – the downtrodden taking power. I have seen SC/STs in government posts misusing their positions to get back at the elite and to even scores. That is no good either.

      • Funneir than that, I have seen them cleaning up the drawing room and asking their children to wear new clothes when a brahmin visits their house!

      • Aishwarya Says:

        😀

        We could have an R.K.Laxman style of cartoon humor/satire based on some of these…

  11. Alleged News:

    In a tragic turn of events, the IPL finals are likely to be missed by three luminaries. The supreme court has disallowed the release of Maddy, Aye Raja and Kani Munni. In another goof up, the CBI produced copies of the tickets to the IPL finals in the name of the three applicants while, in a statement to a news channel BCCI announced that they were yet to print tickets for the final match.

    CBI spokesperson admitted that the tickets produced before the court were leftovers from the Common Wealth Games.

  12. Courting News:

    Kanimozhi’s bail plea rejected; arrested for involvement in the 2G scam. Munni badnaam hui, DMK ke liye…

  13. Amazing Politics:

    Long ago when Sonio allowed DMK to join the central government I was surprised.

    DMK is the same party whose cadre supported LTTE Prabhakaran who assassinated Rajiv Gandhi. Vaiko was one of the outspoken sympathisers of the LTTE movement.

    Frankly, I did not understand the politics. Norwegian and Swedish intelligence were working as mediators between the Lankan government and the LTTE. The IRA and Mossad were reportedly facilitating anti-craft guns, naval boats and aricrafts for the LTTE. DMK leaders had funding routes through Malaysia and Singapore.

    The massive organisational network was defeated by Rajiv Gandhi’s IPKF intervention in Jafna. Rajiv hiimself was assassinated eventually.

    And Sonio went ahead and formed a coalition government allowing DMK to participate and hold cabinet positions. I was further confused when Priyanka requested for a presidential pardon for the assassins.

    Something did not add up. The Gandhi family and Mahatma Gandhi have nothing in common. Indira Gandhi got the surname from her husband who was not related to Mahatma Gandhi in anyway.

    Today, as I see it, it seems remarkably simple and efficient. Prabhakaran is dead. LTTE is broken up. Vaiko has withdrawn. DMK is being blown to smithereens.

    Nationalist politics is winning hands down.

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