Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tharoor Tangle

The Tharoor Tragedy (3T) is of great significance for the polity of Indian nation. After years and years of suffering substandard politicians, Shashi Tharoor’s surprise contest from Thiruvananthapuram (TVM) came as a whiff of hope in Indian politics. Since 1960s’ the biggest curse in Indian politics has been the advent and growing control of good-for-nothing politicians (including family members) over the parliament and government. The new breed of career politicians, who are fully dependent on politics for their livelihood, has become the real retardant that is holding back India. Democracy is no doubt the most civilized form for human governance, but it will blossom only if there are well meaning politicians with brilliance and calibre. Whatever be their background, those who decide to be in full-time politics immediately after completing their formal education can never do anything good for the country. The present state of India, especially its most literate Kerala state, is the best example for this. Career oriented leaders in the Communist and Congress parties of Kerala have literally brought down the God’s Own Country to a zero-development state.

Career politicians, who make up 95% in all the major political parties in India, are definitely not doing the country any good. Given their complete dependence on politics, it is not at all surprising to note that all such politicians are at all times striving for the next higher post in their party or government hierarchy. An ordinary member wants to become a panchayat member, then a district panchayat member, then an MLA and so on. Side by side they want income to take care of themselves and their family. Naturally the desire grows with age and so also the monetary requirements. In the process the only sure thing that can happen in the fixed tenure in any elected capacity is a frenzied scramble for amazing wealth for the entire future because of great uncertainty that underlines any political life. Another sinister offshoot is their determined attempts to cut down all prospective competitors while in power. In any case one thing is cent percent guaranteed – any elected career politician will never do anything good for the society at large and the nation. Those who plotted 3T from within Congress party are sad examples of this curse on Indian democracy.

Welcome Change

The entry of Shashi Tharoor in Indian politics was a welcome change because of so many reasons. First of all, he is not one of those career politicians. He volunteered to join politics at a time when all politicians with some ‘transfer value’ were running away from politics which was getting murkier day by day. The quality of debate and law making process in the Indian parliament had come down to ridiculous levels in the recent past. In the age of globalization, there is not even a single Indian parliamentarian who is well known and quoted in other world parliaments. None of them have produced nor have the potential to produce any significant work that will enhance the working of democratic process of governance. Very few had the moral authority to command respect among their peer group for educational qualifications and erudite achievements. Most of them were respected out of fear or for their oratory gimmicks. In such a scenario, Tharoor’s decision to contest for Lok Sabha rather than seeking a back door entry into Rajya Sabha was nothing but a miracle in Indian politics.

Dr. Sashi Tharoor had achieved almost everything that an ordinary middle-class Indian could in his entire lifetime when he decided to enter politics. He was already on top of the world with his foot firmly on Indian ground when he decided to take the plunge in the most politically sensitive state of Kerala. He needed a platform and he chose the Congress (supposedly because of his admiration for Nehru). Many were unhappy with his choice of the political party but all democratic Indians were happy to welcome his refreshing entry into politics. Many were unhappy with his writings but few doubted his erudition and calibre. Many disliked the foreignness in his words and looks, but nobody had any reservations about his intentions. Tharoor was the best that could have happened to Indian politics and all the political parties envied Congress when they offered the TVM seat to Tharoor. And the fact that he won it by over a lakh votes in a four-cornered contest shows the democratic resonance he could establish with the aspirations of ordinary Indians.

Unwanted Fall

Though Tharoor’s name cropped up in so many controversies in the past one year, it was always victory for him at the end. He had the integrity and intention to succeed against all types of allegations and efforts to get him out of the ministry, parliament and politics. Career politicians in all political parties were mortally afraid of the new trend he has set. All of them were afraid of the entry of bright and educated Indians into politics after having achieved something in other fields. If Tharoor succeeds in Indian politics, the consequences can be devastating for the entire system of career politics. Tharoor was using Twitter and speaking on TED platform. It was too much for the street smart dirty politicians who are interested only in electoral victory based on their family name or vote manipulation. None of the career politicians would have slept properly for the last one year because of anxiety. The BPL (Below Poverty Line) addicted communists and BPO (Bofors Pay Off) addicted congressmen are really no match for the likes of genuinely talented Tharoors.

Tharoor’s South Indian background is a major factor that has contributed to his current downfall. Power structure in Indian democracy has always been dominated by Hindi politicians (rather than Hindu politicians), thanks mainly to demography and volume of business in the North. Tharoor touched the wrong nerves when he could snatch an IPL slot from the powerful North lobby. In the past, it was considered almost impossible for any consortium representing a state like Kerala to have raised USD 333 million and beat the competition from the North. Only a Tharoor could have raised so much confidence for anyone to bet so much money on behalf of Kerala. Whether he has any direct monetary participation in the IPL bid is for the enforcement agencies to find out, but to have triggered the confidence and won a competitive bid is no crime at all. And personal relation between Sashi and Sunanda is not for Congress Working Committee or Polit bureau to decide.

It is unfortunate that 3T happened at a time when politicians and bureaucrats from Kerala are supposed to in dominance at Delhi. There has been no time since 1947 when Kerala had so many ministers and powerful bureaucrats in the government. Yet no one came to defend Tharoor for a Kerala cause is something that must not go unnoticed. And the moral credentials of the core committee itself that asked him to step down are highly suspect. It is like a set of shameless pots calling the shining kettle black. It had only the shame of India at the helm and a few family retainers who have entered the parliament through the back door. They have shown it is easy to bring down a Tharoor, but many of them have inadvertently contributed to the premature death of an Indian dream for rapid development through democracy with intelligent leadership and informed consent. And Kerala could have achieved a paradigm change in its development if only it had nurtured talents like Tharoor in its politics. Democratic Indians have failed once again in promoting genuine democracy in India.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Faith Formulations

It was an eye-opener when someone told me that I am in a world of my own creation. Though he was taking me to task for a questionable doing, I realised that he was cent percent true. All tangible and intangible items in my world are my own which I have acquired through my own five senses and same is the case with all living beings. Anything can make sense to me only if I am aware of it in the first place. And everything in my world cease for me when I am no more. The tangibles include the entire physical world around me including my own possessions, relatives etc. And my own knowledge, concepts, languages and thoughts make up the intangibles. The crux of this irrefutable argument is that each and every one of us is living in a different world, each of our own making. And we make sense to each other only when the commonalities amongst us are substantially high. We should be happy that such commonalities do exist and are increased over a period of time due to accumulation of knowledge from the surrounding environment. If a new born child could be brought up in a completely isolated environment, the world that it will progressively develop will be highly revealing to all of us who take many things for granted.

The isolated child (let it be a male) will survive only if it is cared for till it can manage of its own and let us assume that it shall be arranged. The first impression that he will develop about the world will be his self-primacy - that everything else exist for his use. He seeks no further explanation about why it is so. He feels superior, intelligent and happy. He becomes a truly atheistic Marxist communist. In the next stage he starts bothering about the other things around him, especially the living ones. Invariably he sticks to his own primacy and concludes that other living beings are something lesser and everything is created for him by some unknown Creator. He feels no qualms about harming and even killing others. He becomes a true follower of an all powerful but formless and merciful Creator who rewards and reprimands. He attributes more qualities like compassion and forgiveness to the Creator who can also speak and instruct in human languages. He develops the concept of sin and starts to believe in pleasing his Creator for achievements. But as he grows into more wisdom, he realizes that there is nothing else other than what is already within him and surrounding him that makes his own world. His irrepressible urge to understand the omnipresent God (not Creator) overpowers him. He begins to indulge in faith formulations to achieve the same and becomes worthy of being a human being. My own faith formulations may be of interest to some.

My God

If we are alone in this world we need no culture and no God. When we have one more to share this world with, we need to confront, adjust and compromise in order to live on. Our culture begins at this point and the need arises for a formless, indifferent and an all powerful, super intelligent impersonal entity (God) that can explain everything and for us to fall back on. Though many of our saintly leaders claim to have seen, heard and even talked to God, nobody could ever demonstrate it convincingly to another person. The nearest we have heard of is arranging a feel of God, like what Ramakrishna Paramahansa did for Swami Vivekanand. The underlying truth is that God is not someone who is compassionate, merciful etc., who is directing our actions, keeping a log of everyone’s activities and ever vigilant about what all of us are doing. God has no rewarding mechanism for sending us to heaven or hell after our death. God is something that exists among everything in this entire universe which neither cares nor bothers about what we do. But its very existence must definitely mean something to each one of us. It is entirely upto each individual to reach out and realize God.

Our failure to clearly define something which cannot be defined is not a failure at all. The nearest we can reach in terms of defining God is by analogies. One such wonderful analogy is that of God with Electricity. In today’s world, there is nowhere that is out of reach for electrical and electromagnetic energy. It is invisible, all powerful, but only when used or misused, to each according to their intentions. To me, God is something like this. An all pervasive and all powerful energy that can be used for our own good (misused for our own bad). It is estimated that the number of electric impulses generated in a human body on a single day is much more than those in entire telephone network in the world. In a similar fashion, the energy or logic of God is all pervasive and all our actions call for a reaction that fits into the overall logic of the universe. We are all born with a piece of that logic and what we achieve individually and collectively are based on the fuzzy logical results of all those in interaction. I believe that we are all like metal tops rotating on a magnetized environment. It can collide and fall off or it can rotate till the starting energy gets exhausted.

My Religion

Religions have already been defined as paths to reach God. Having agreed on the existence of God and its nearest analogies it is inevitable to look for a way to understand and reach it if possible. If we analyze the available world history, we can find several ideas, suggestions and concepts for approaching God - some rational and some others purely irrational based on the perceived notions of few individuals. There are those who claim to have heard from God and given us revelations that makes no meaning to ordinary folks. And that bred a set of interpreters who are attempting newer and newer versions of their interpretations of these words, each suiting their own private agenda. The do’s and dont’s in these commentaries exposes their real intentions most of the time. The political and powerful aspirations hidden in these interpretations are making today’s world a very dangerous place to live in. It is time we ignored these doubtful interpretations and each one of us attempted to define a path of our own. The desire to know God is instinctive in every living being, but as humans who are endowed with more intelligence we should create our own paths.

God has always been there and will continue to be there. Given such a nature of God, how can we approve of any suggested paths that contain gibberish words from some olden days making no meaning to many of us. If God can utter words, it must be meaningful, never ending and must continue at all times. It should be theoretically possible for any living being to interact with God at any time without any mediators and agencies. This is exactly what happens in the case of those who demonstrate miracles and unexplained capabilities. Those who desire and strive to establish such contacts with the immense energy reservoir can always look forward to success at some time. The techniques of praying, sacrifices, rituals and practices forming part of the established religions are nothing but some of the ‘proven’ methods to achieve this contact. All may not work for all and it is upto each of us to select the methods best suited to one’s character.

During these long years of attempting formulations about God and Religion, one thing became crystal clear to me – that there is no easy way. Those who are selling easy formulae of just believing in a few words, doing a few rituals, living in particular ways etc., to reach or realize God are only taking themselves and their followers for a ride. Making contact with the vast resource of (God) energy, that is least concerned about us and our affairs, is a rigorous, skilful and intelligent one-way act. Only intense, systematic and sincere efforts (termed ‘upasana’ in Sanatana Dharma) can take anyone nearer to God. And only by a progressive process of approaching God can anyone achieve anything of their needs. All other happenings in our lives are purely on account of the fuzzy logic of constant interactions with others (living and non-living) surrounding us, which we believe as our own destinies. Only a miniscule percentage among us can establish the contact with God and dissolve in it by realization. If the contact can indeed be made, the advantage of divine outpours can be enormous. But those who are unsuccessful continue to be born and re-born again.