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Namaskar, Secularism and Hindu Pakistan

My sage-like friend, who I respect not just because of his age, but experience and wisdom, sent me below video highlighting the importance of Namaskar (नमस्कार:) in Hindu culture.

While I understood and liked the video in principle, I found it flawed at multiple levels, and thought of writing my views because it serves as a perfect example of what I find wrong about the Right Wing ideology.

I’m not going to talk about far-fetched analogy between name of athelete (Hima) and snow (what would have happened if her name was Mary Kom?)

I will highlight two specific areas I find objectionable and elaborate on them.

The first objection is this:

The person says that if celebrities and youth show in public these identities (such as Namaskar with folded arms) of Indian culture (भारतीय संस्क्रुती) it will be great encouragement for all other youth.So very cleverly the person has mixed Hindu culture with Indian culture and made it synonymous. They are NOT. The right wing in subtle manner want to emphasize that everything Indian is Hindu.

Most common people use these words interchangeably because they do not notice the subtle difference. RW people do it with specific intention. They want to establish that India belongs to Hindus and other religions, other ethnic minorities can live here peacefully provided they accept that this is a Hindu nation.

This is not the idea of India our forefathers thought of, or majority of people identify with. And that’s why there is a secret mission to change the Constitution.Pakistan was born on two-nation theory and it’s a Muslim country by design. We (India) did not choose that route. We chose to remain a multi-religion, multi-culture, pluralist society – a secular state (which was added in the Constitution later, however the ethos was the same right from beginning).That brings me to the second flaw in the video:The person says: Today the environment is such that one should not identify with any culture or religion. This is what is called as secularism. This is not Bharatiya (Indian) culture.This is completely false and the RW harps on this version because it suits their agenda.Here is a note on Secularism from Wikipedia page:

Secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries (the attainment of such is termed secularity). One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs or practices

Note two important aspects above. State should be separate from persons. Secularism DOES NOT mean that “one should not identify with any culture or religion” as the person in video was asserting. It only says that the state, the government institutions should not identify with any particular culture or religion. Otherwise, we may have Muslim religion/culture in states where Muslim political parties are in power and Christian where Christian are in power and so on. And this may keep changing as power shifts hands from one tenure to the other. That is not good for democracy and stability. The state should be neutral to all religions and cultures…neutral does not mean insensitive or disrespectful. State should not impose religion or religious practices on people.

Second aspect is that Hindu is not same as India. If traditional Hindu practices, rituals are constantly referred to as “Bharatiya”/Indian, slowly the two get equated. That is what has happened in India. We consider the two as synonymous. They are not. RW wants them to be synonymous – and this goes back to their hidden agenda of “India belongs to Hindus and other religions, other ethnic minorities can live here peacefully provided they accept that this is a Hindu nation.”.

My economics Professor at IIM-A, who is a Christian, debated this point openly, and at length. He said that installing a Saraswati idol in a Government run institute (because Saraswati is Goddess of Education and Wisdom as per Indian culture) is wrong and subtle oppression. Some students argued, what’s wrong in that? It is commonly accepted local symbolism which goes beyond religion. Well, imagine having a tall statue of Jesus or Paigambar or some other saint from other religion in such institutes – not in place of Saraswati, but along side. Most people would find it difficult to digest.

Professor said that if people of other religion keep their religious idols in their cubicle or confined workspace, that would be “allowed” (some may have objection even with that). But having such idols at prominent public place is difficult to digest – let’s accept it.

Professors’ point was, religion and rituals are strictly private and personal and should not be brought in public domain. I agree with him completely.

As I am writing this blog, heavy sounds (actually noise) of Dhol and Taasha are disturbing me. The noise is from the practice sessions of troupes from Ganesh Festival, which is still 2 months away. These goons and rowdy people start their “practice” two months in advance, break all rules related to noise levels, deadline of 10 PM and yet nobody feels that there is anything wrong. They call is as their “cultural right”.

Imagine a Muslim or a Christian group doing such thing everyday for two months and it would be considered as an act of inciting or causing trouble intentionally. But when a Hindu group does that in the name of “culture” it is legitimate and “expression of sentiments of majority”.

That’s a good example why many say that RW’s agenda is to create a Hindu Pakistan (most recently reiterated by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and Ashutosh). All it means is to establish India as country based on religious identity (Hindu in our case) just as Pakistan was born on basis of a religious identity.

The fear is that the next logical extension of Hindu Pakistan would be conversion into Hindu Taliban – if (actually not if, but once) Hindu fanatics take over the control of Hindu Pakistan. Some may argue that the process has already started and there is enough substance in that argument – lynchings, attacks by Gau Rakshak, brutalities against minorities, threats to and murders or prominent thinkers from other ideologies, rape threats by trolls (even IT Cell members), abusive and demeaning quips by Union ministers and key leaders and above all – top leaders patronizing these incidents and supporting silently.

I have argued vociferously with many of my friends and almost all of them (after enough rounds of mental gymnastics and verbal diarrhea from both sides) have  conceded that they would like to see “Hindu” India. They would like to be known as Hindustan, where other minorities can live peacefully. And this is the true face of Hindutva – not Hinduism, which is totally different and sacred.

And we, I and people who believe in “idea of secular India”, oppose this idea of Hindutva and continue to fight it in our own capacity, across different forum! Hindutva is not Indianness (भारतीयता). Indianness is more plural,  all-inclusive and respectful of other religions and cultures. Let’s not allow a bunch of people to hijack the idea of India and impose rule of Hindu Taliban…

 

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Mujhko Bhi To Lift Kara De… (Lift Me Too) and The Raising of Chicago

If you are a fan of Hindi Pop music (which I am not. Hindi Pop is similar to Indian Chinese food…it’s Indian. Chinese is for namesake. Similarly, Hindi Pop is just Hindi song, Pop part is misleading!), you might remember a song composed and sung by Pakistani singer Adnan Sami – Mujhko Bhi To Lift Kara De (Lift me too). Here’s the song:

The song basically says that God has blessed any Tom, Dick and Harry in this world and given them all the beauty and bounty. Then why not me? Lift me too and take me out of my dismal condition. It’s nice mediocre song, which many people (including myself) can connect with, at least some of the times.

The reason for remembering this song was a news I read recently about a house in my city Pune. A man in my city literally lifted his house by using 200 jacks to avoid rain and drainage water entering his house! Here is the news in English and Marathi. Here is a photo (taken from English news report) of how it was done.

703520-bunglow-in-pune-being-lifted

I also found a Youtube video of the same house which shows it in much more detail:

I found it very astonishing, a real marvel of Engineering and Technology! I then researched on what this technology is and since when it has been in use, and found some interesting information.

This technique was used way back in 1850s and 1860s to raise the entire central district of Chicago in the US. During the 1850s and 1860s engineers carried out a piecemeal raising of the level of central Chicago. Streets, sidewalks and buildings were physically raised on hydraulic jacks or jackscrews. The work was funded by private property owners and public funds.

Here is a good article about the story:

Raising the Chicago streets out of the mud

I also found an interesting video by Matt Parker, my favorite “stand-up mathematician“! I’m sure you would love it…

 

Wish there were similar ways to lift ourselves in career, in social circles, and in personal relationships

樂

Bullshit Jobs, Bullshit Bingo and Anti-Bullshit Me

Bullshit Jobs

Few years ago I wrote a blog titled “TLAs: Which is your favourite?“. TLAs or Three Letter Acronyms are typical management jargon which you cannot escape in your corporate life. Technically there can be only 17,576 TLAs (26^3 i.e. number of ways of choosing 3 letters out of 26 letters, with repetition allowed).

TLAs are one form of bullshit buzzwords. There are many other types. And there are interesting tools around this concept. One of them is a Bullshit Buzzword Generator. For example, this: https://www.atrixnet.com/bs-generator.html

The BS Generator generates three cool-sounding but totally meaningless phrases which can be fitted into any corporate communication!

Then there is a game called “Bullshit Bingo” created by someone like me (who is totally anti-Bullshit). It’s an interesting concept and there are several versions!

For example, this game:

BullshitBingo

The reason I remembered this was an interesting article I read in The Economist: “Are you stuck in a “bullshit job”?

The article is based on a new book titled “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory” written by David Graeber. I have not read the book yet; though I read the Economist article and got the gist of it. It’s really thought-provoking idea, and something that hits at the root of phrases such as “value addition”, “corporate efficiency” etc.

I started my career in a renowned IT Services company in India. Many of my family relatives had no connection with this new age industry. So a common question they would ask me was: What do you (actually) do? What do you produce and ship and sell?

They had seen factories and they had seen workshops and shops. But a work location which didn’t get any visible raw material, where there was no movement of goods or no smoke, no chimneys, and yet which “exported” millions of dollars of output was difficult for them to digest. So I told them that we make CDs and DVDs. Then they were OK. They had seen CDs and DVDs.

Similar question was repeated when I had moved up the ladder to become a Manager. What do you do now? was indeed a tough question to answer honestly. I often felt if I was adding the value (in true sense) compared to the paycheck I get?

Then there is typical question that haunts many mid-level managers (more so in IT sector): Is my job/role really needed? If I go away on vacation for a few days/weeks, would the work not get done at all?

The book, I suppose, tries to address such questions. This extract from the Economist article is really insightful:

Mr Graeber defines a bullshit job as one “that is so completely pointless, unnecessary or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence”, though they may have to pretend that they believe in it. This definition, and indeed much of the book, combines two categories of roles. In the first are jobs that Mr Graeber tends to think are socially worthless, such as corporate lawyers or investment bankers. (Some of those workers may take an equally dim view of the utility of anthropologists.) In the second group are jobs where employees find themselves with little or nothing to do and, worse, must still look as if they are frantically busy.

To be honest, I have felt this often in my job. And then I have tried to change company, or my job role. Because it is really difficult for me to sustain in a bullshit job for too long.

Some people manage to spend entire career in such bullshit jobs. Most do it unknowingly, and few others knowingly. Some even master the art of bullshitting and create a fortune!

When I visit public sector (Government owned) businesses – such as banks, insurance companies, power or telecom, I can see Bullshit jobs all around me. Most of them are really not needed. Even in private sector, there are plenty of bullshit jobs – and surprisingly many are in the top management!

In fact bullshit jobs are omnipresent! They are there in academics, in places of worship (temples etc), in Government offices and ministries, in arts (Movies, Music, television), in Sports, even in charity and philanthropy!

However the two that stand out, according to me, are:

  1. Government of India has created a Ministry for river Ganga Rejuvenation! There is already a Ministry of Water Resources and River Development. But the Government decided to add “Ganga Rejuvenation” so that river Ganga (or the Ganges – the most revered river in India) can be cleaned and transformed from its current state of sanitary canal into a living stream of water. The Ministry was meaningless right from the beginning, because they could achieve the mandate through the existing ministry of water development. Four years have now passed and Ganga is equally or more dirty! This definitely was a Bullshit job in the first place.
  2. The second is actually a case of irony. I mentioned that most of the Public Sector enterprises (Government owned companies) are extremely bad. They have no efficiency, lots of bureaucracy, unions, poor customer service and they suck a lot of taxpayers’ money. So the government, rightly decided to get rid of these PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings). This was in 1991 when India started process of economic liberalization. And ironically a new ministry was added: Ministry of Disinvestment! The mandate for this ministry was to identify and sell PSUs and generate some money for the Government. 27 years later, the Ministry of Disinvestment still stands tall and has a lot of work to do! This clearly was a useless job…but it has become bullshit job because they have not been able to do their job even after 27 long years!

It often reminds me of BBC Classic “Yes Minister” and the Department of Administrative Officers and the episode on empty hospitals, called “The Compassionate Society”. Do watch it! It’s hilarious and equally relevant after 3 decades…

 

 

 

Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger’s Funniest & Wittiest Moments

This is far from the complete compilation of the funniest and wittiest moments of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger – not even 1% of what the duo have given over their combined life of 182 years!

But it is a good place to begin exploring…

 

What is a Foley artist?

What is a Foley artist?

Here is a very nice clip of a prominent Foley artist in Bollywood/Indian Hindi Film Industry.

It would be interesting to see foley artist from Hollywood in action and how they create their sounds/tones

Berkshire Hathaway Annual General Meeting Videos – 1994-2018

Few weeks ago I posted a blog on CNBC’s Warren Buffett Archive. I recently saw that Berkshire Hathaway Annual General Meeting videos of years 1994-2018 have been uploaded on Youtube.

It is such a wonderful experience to see more of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, especially in their prime (though they were 60+/70+ then). Hope to see more such videos uploaded on Youtube. Meanwhile do watch these AGMs:

 

 

Explosive Interview of Barkha Dutt

Are we living in “an undeclared emergency” as senior journalist Arun Shourie often says?

It seems we are.

Watch this explosive interview of Barkha Dutt on insidious intimidation by section of BJP party and Government of India,

 

Shashi Tharoor Interview

Dr. Shashi Tharoor could be a controversial person in many sense – he is an accused in his late wife’s suspicious death. He is a politician of a party (Congress) that is currently out of fashion and favor. He is a butt of joke on Twitter because of his extremely complex and esoteric use of English language and words.

He is also not the best scholar or communicator or writer in India. But I have always felt that he is passionate about India’s pride, positioning India in good light, and asserting the glorious past.

Do watch this interview of Dr. Tharoor in Singapore…

मराठी वेब सिरीज: “भाडीपा” चा “कास्टिंग काऊच”

वेब सिरीज हा प्रकार तसा नवा आहे, पण क्रिएटिव्ह लोकांसाठी तो खूप चांगला प्लॅटफॉर्म आहे… म्हणजे ज्यांना स्टुडिओ, प्रॉडक्शन हाऊस, टीआरपी वगैरे बंधनामुळे ज्या गोष्टी, जे प्रयोग टीव्ही वर करता येत नाहीत ते वेब सिरीज मध्ये करता येतात.
ऍमेझॉन, नेटफ्लिक्स हे आता खूप मोठ्या स्केलवर एक्सक्लुसिव वेब कन्टेन्ट मोठ्या प्रमाणावर बनवायला लागले आहेत. आपल्याकडे AIB वगैरे काही निवडक ग्रुपनी वेब सिरीज मध्ये जम बसवला आहे. पण मराठी मध्ये असे प्रयोग नसतील…असं आत्तापर्यंत वाटत होतं.
पण नुकतीच अमेय वाघ आणि निपुण धर्माधिकारी यांची “भारतीय डिजिटल पार्टी” उर्फ “भाडीपा” ह्या बॅनर खाली बनवलेल्या “कास्टिंग काऊच” ह्या वेब सिरीज चे काही भाग बघितले. २-३ भाग छान जमून आले आहेत, काही अगदीच ओढूनताणून केले आहेत किंवा फसले आहेत…पण एकूणच प्रयोग नाविन्यपूर्ण आणि स्तुत्य आहे!
मला आवडलेले २-३ एपिसोड इथे शेअर करत आहे
Ajay-Atul
Radhika Apte
Mithila Palkar

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