Category Archives: Current Issues

Does secularism mean we dont need any religions?

The current context…

The debates and issues related to secularism are gaining big momentum as of today in India. I will not overplay it since I believe that there is still a pretty good working relationship amongst multiple communities. People do not react until something directly affects them. There are such situations occurring once in a while but those, I believe usually are local issues which probably get sorted out in some time without any major issue being made out of it. Those in positions of power or those wanting attention though, seem to be provoking trouble in the name of picking up issues and the news media faithfully amplifies these issues leading individual citizens to think whether there really is such a problem.

Some of the issues being debated today are

  • Teaching of Bhagavat Gita in schools
  • Fatwa against Surya Namaskar
  • Quota for minorities within quota

As you can see, none of these are issues that have cropped up from the ground level scenario. The first was a decision by a govt., the second a fatwa issue by a cleric, the third a statement made by a central minister. These are ones that media picks up and blows up… while I as a citizen do not have any issues of such magnitude with those of other religions and communities working with me or living near me..

Do we need religions?

Quite clearly, unless one wants to be blind and take extreme views, we as humans do need religions. Every community across space and time has come up with some vision of a supreme power and who they call god. It could have been the communities which regarded nature and it’s powers as supreme and accorded them godly positions or the major religions that came up. Broadly speaking, religions are a means for society to feel secure and control itself rather than allow each to go one way and thereby de-stabilise the society. After all, each of us individuals are unique. Religions brought those living together under one umbrella of faith to ensure some cohesiveness. Morality and thereby law and order were intrinsically linked with religions. Primarily, religions apart from having a theory on how and why humanity came about, who or what created it etc, also imposes a moral code which all are expected to follow. The first is only a theoretical aspect. The second is the one we face day in and day out. Each religion also had a blasphemy concept whether mild or severe to ensure that almost everyone conforms to the rules and does not jeapordise the system. They valued the system more than the individual beliefs. This certainly was necessary to some extent since each of us may start thinking wildly, not take any lessons from the past and come up with crazy rules to live. This will of course, kill the communal harmony, even within a single small community living isolated from most others. So, even tribes have some form of religion if not one with great theoretical standing and big volumes of written sacred texts.

The major point we see is that religions were born to bring together individuals and to them, give a sense of security and establish a moral code of conduct. It was a uniting and stabilising force.

When did problems start?

As we can easily imagine, when each group living in isolation evolves it’s own religion and runs the society there and then, there are no issues. Problems occur though when people of various faiths come together or else, two or more religions are born in the same place and time. All religions have a commonality in purpose. There is no dispute there. The dispute is in the way it has to be practiced and the rules. Differences are hardly even on ‘WHAT’ but most often on ‘HOW’ .

If religions had been used only for their main purposes as illustrated earlier, there would not have been issues. Trouble started brewing though when it became a tool for oppression and power struggle. Religions never had this purpose. ‘Power’ has always been a great attraction for humans across time and is..  Some religious heads, who already wielded some power craved for more and tried to bring some other communities under their fold. Some believed that theirs was the best religion and that others need to be saved by bringing them into their fold, irrespective of whether they already had one. So, religions which were meant to stabilise society and define a common way of life became reasons to fight and die for.

What is our scenario now?

Coming to today’s scenario in India, being a large country and one which has faced multiple imperalistic attacks across time has many religions and faiths being practiced. When we got Independence, we already had the many religions amongst us. So, in time, our constitution also got the word ‘Secular’ into it’s preamble itself. (If I remember right, through the 42nd amendment in 1976).

We had Hinduism from many centuries. We had also many tribes who had non-codified religions of their own. We got Islam when invaders came in. We got Christianity when the Europeans came in to do business and then decided they were the best to rule the place. We had others come in like the Zoroastrians who come to seek shelter when persecuted. We saw the birth of Buddhism and Jainism here. So, we today have many many religions and even within each, have many schools of thought and thereby sects.

There are also others who have long contended that humanity needs no religion. The atheists in their various forms, whether influenced by Karl Marx or others have stood on the other side, although highly outnumbered.

Hence, we obviously are a highly pluralistic society and today, no more live in isolated pockets. We are thoroughly mixed up and each state or district has a population with most of these religions. This clearly means that we need a way to live together without fighting. Once we start fighting on these lines, we can not live comfortably.

What we would do by living amicably is a different question. Essentially, a peaceful existence is the platform for evolution. Some may consider discovering planets and stars as evolution, some finding new ragas in music as evolution, some others in genetically engineering humans and yet others in seeking the goal of life in various philosophies. Those are irrelevant here. The common base though is that to do any of these, a peaceful co-existence is essential. I will stop at that.

So, is it better to be secular?

Given the fact that we are highly pluralistic and thoroughly mixed up, interactions among people of various religions are a day to day issue now. Since our constitution also says we are a ‘secular’ country, all political parties which today fight to govern the country have to declare that they are secular. They do so. Just that, each one has a different definition.

Yes. It is better to be secular. We do not have a choice. We cannot become a ‘hindu’ nation or an ‘Islamic republic’ or something else. We need to evolve a good definition of secularism.

My view on what secularism should mean…

What choices do we have?

  • Take the atheist definition and remove all religions
  • Try to make all religious communities equally powerful
  • Each keeps their religion but we evolve a good working relationship

As we have seen, the first option is out of questions. Humans need religions and they will not let go of it. Even the atheistic view still serves the purpose of religion by defining a social code of conduct. Just that they do not recognise any god existing above the clouds. The communist parties who have advocated this and still do remain a minority. There have been attempts in other places. I am given to understand that ‘basavanna’ in Karnataka attempted the same to remove caste differences but we still live with it. So, I rule out option-1.

Can we make all religions equally powerful? Not really. The numbers count. We are supposed to have about 80% hindus, 13% muslims, 6% Christians and so on. I am not too sure that 80% are hindus in the sense that they follow hindu books and traditions. I understand that many tribes who do not have a codified religion but follow practices similar to hindus are classified under hinduism. In fact, the ‘dalit’ community as it is called has become the bone of contention with each wanting them to belong to their religion and each political party wanting their votes as they really are a huge number.

However we look at it, we can never have all religions wielding the same amount of power.

The final option. I call it final. Some others may come with others though.

Religion, social structure & conduct, governance and thereby politics have always been closely linked and will remain so.

This really is why much of our political fights are to do with religion and caste centered fights. It is a power struggle. The one with power governs. To gain power, you need the backing of people. The largest scale of grouping people is on the basis of religions. I do not want to delve much in the political games. I am only interested in a peaceful social structure which can form the platform for development, whether it is capitalistic or philosophic or artistic or whatever.

What we can clearly see from above arguments is that while religions were meant to unite people to give a stable society, power struggles have hijacked them and have made them into a divisive power. Those looking for power (politicians mainly) are playing with religions to gain or retain power. Each has their definition of secularism. What is important though is what we as citizens of India want to choose as the definition of secularism. Can we have a sane understanding and one which works to our benefit rather than drag us down? The final purpose is clear, to have a peaceful society allowing all persons equal opportunity to evolve and live comfortably. To do this, there is no choice but to let each person practice his/her religion but to learn to live together amicably. We cannot get swayed by what politicians choose for us. We as citizens should choose what we want.

Who am I?

I am a Hindu and happy to be one. I consciously choose to say ‘happy’ to be one rather than ‘proud’ to be one. Not that I do not have pride in being a hindu but that is not what is important. Pride is always associated with a sense of superiority. Hinduism in itself does not preach that. Hinduism clearly brings out the fact that our enemies live within ourselves and ‘ego’ amongst all is the toughest to defeat. The great Vishwamithra had to finally bow down to gain the accredition from the even greater sage Vasishta. I am very happy to be a hindu since that has provided me the opportunity to learn the many good things from the various philosophies associated with including those from the Bhagavat gita.

I have read the Bhagavat gita more than once and revere it as a great text, full of insight on how, we as humans should conquer our enemies within. It illustrates clearly the many paths one can take to achieve the goal of reaching the supreme. It does not in one place deride any other religion or belief system. It is not so much a part of religion as it is a part of philosophy. We cannot easily separate religion and philosophy in their existence but can easily separate the content. Yoga is defined within the bhagavat gita and it goes beyond the physical exercises which form part of ‘hatha yoga’. It is thus a text which helps us find a good way of life and go beyond it too. When we are trying to go beyond life, it would be crazy to believe that we can go there with a sense of superiority. So, obviously, the Bhagavat Gita itself teaches one to kill pride and ego. So, it would be self-defeating if anybody who understands the Bhagavat gita claims superiority. All religious communities have humans of similar mix of knowledge and ignorance. Our common goal is to kill ignorance and ego; not others and their beliefs.

Philosophy is not a common man’s game. It is way too complex. So, let us leave that out. ‘Hatha yoga’ though is something to do with health which all of us wish and need. I realised one thing recently. When I was trying to do ‘Vajra Asana’, I realised that this is the same pose which a muslim uses when doing namaz. So, each community has evolved ways of life and some common aspects are bound to exist. We certainly have uniting factors across religions too.

I am also a child rights activist.I also see the role of social science in education as a very key component, more so than natural sciences. I am very interested in what children learn at school and what we as a society teach them. We certainly build the platform for a good society at the schools. So, we need to very careful about what we teach at schools.

How do we live out ‘the most helpful form of secularism’?

I will not define a ‘true secularism’ as this ‘true’ version will always have contenders. I am interested in the utilitarian aspect of how it can be helpful for us to achieve a peaceful co-existing society. Thus must ‘most helpful’ definition of secularism.

I have to now come back to the current issues I highlighted; that of teaching bhagavat gita in schools, or the fatwa against surya namaskar or quota within quota. These clashes are bound to arise. They are are power struggles. They will not be an issue between two individuals belonging to different religions. It is always a fight between leaders who wish to amass people and power on their side. Media will go behind the powerful. So, such issues will crop up. We as a society should learn to live with it.

Solutions? Let me try…. (I cannot claim to solve it sitting in front of a PC in the comfort of my room)

Teaching Bhagavat Gita in schools: I am in favour of it but at the same time, I would go beyond it. If we teach the bhagavat gita alone and tell students that this is the only and best theory of life, then we would be doing a dis-service to our society and our children. We should teach ‘Religions, social structures and social conduct’ as a subject. In that, the Bhagavat gita will certainly be a part but this subject should be taught in a non-judgmental manner. The facts that we have so many religions, the reason they were born, their nature and how they hope to build a society with stability and peace, how they give strength and courage to humans, how it works against crime is to be taught. Certainly, the Bible and the Quran will also find a place as will the teachings of Buddha. but in all that, we should not be judgmental to say that one is better than the other. This is where we will build unity amongst our children and respect for each other’s faith. Are we as a society mature enough to do this? I doubt. We are still swayed by what the politicians and others in power say and what the media echoes. I hope we get the maturity to do this.

Fatwa against Surya Namaskar: I think this was unnecessary. I do not practice surya namaskar but that does not make me a non-hindu. It is my choice or laziness that leads to me not doing it. If a muslim likes it as a good form of exercise, then why not do it, even if he wants to call it by another name? I,  as a hindu do not want to claim credit and superiority because some muslim people adopted surya namaskar. That would not be appropriate and it cannot be blasphemic for a muslim to do surya namaskar.

Quota within quota: Reservation is a major issue. It had a purpose when it was built but certainly has been hijacked by politicians. Now, they want to use it as a carrot to get votes. No more. I do realise that many communities may need some extra help and that minorities including muslims may need additional support to claim their due representation in every field but that can happen by universalising good education and making govt. schools better. I am fine if we have time limited quotas for communities. If we want to see ourselves as Indians having quota systems 100 years down the line, it worries me. Can all of us not come to an equal level even in 100 years? 100 years is 3 generations; more than enough to equalise any imbalances that exist.

In conclusion, I would say that secularism needs to be defined in a utilitarian manner that helps us and not kills us. We can certainly live together harmoniously and ask our politicians to focus on development issues rather than keep playing religious and casteist cards.Each of us can practice our religions and still remain respectful of others. Most of us do that on the ground. Just that those greedy of power are trying to split us and media follows and blows up what they say and do.

All religions have a common purpose,  just like the many languages we speak. May we mature as a society to start seeing religions as uniting factors rather than divisive factors.

Jai Hind !!!

Open Letter to the Editor of Deccan Herald on child rights reporting

I sent this to “” but it bounced back. Hence, I put it up as a public open letter here.


Hello Sir,

I wish to bring to your notice a comment which I wrote on the article titled “Class VIII student turns kidnapper” dated 02 Oct 2011 (link given below). I write this mail in addition to the comment since I am not sure if the comment is just for public view or whether you read it and take action if necessary.

Text of the comment:
To the Editor,
I switched from buying another newspaper to “Deccan Herald” a few months back so as to be able to see more local news. We certainly expect a newspaper like yours to do “Respectable Journalism”. The above article though seems to me as pure sensational stuff. I have written personally to Shri Nitish Kumar, CM of Bihar about the issue about the child rights scenario there and the need for their police to act lawfully. The above case is a serious violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 as amended in 2006. A boy less than 18 years of age cannot be put behind bars and questioned by the police in treated like a criminal.
While you do not control what happenned on the ground, I would expect your journalists and yourself as Editor to say that while this happenned, it is in violation of law and that their police has to act more responsibly. I see ignorance of the law on your part while reporting this and mere need to catch the attention of the reader. I take serious objection to this. Kindly ensure that while reporting such issues, one is firstly sensitive to the child and then also know what the law says and how we should treat children. Even if one does not know law, is it not apparent that such treatment to the boy is wrong? Hoping to see better sensitivity and professionalism in research and reporting.

My suggestion:
I understand that your reporters cannot be proficient or even always aware of what the law says on such issues. It would be nice though if you have your reporter on child rights issues study that subject before he/she writes about it. In the event that is not possible, the minimum that the reporter could have done is consulted someone knowledgeable in this field, taken their opinion and then written accordingly. I am sure there would be quite a few people knowledgeable on child rights in Bangalore who would be more than happy to give you the information about the law which you can quote in the article.
Well. There may be those who may wish that you mention their name also so that they get publicity or those who may ask you to pay them for their opinion but certainly there would be others who would not ask such favours. Otherwise, you certainly have the option of consulting govt bodies like the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights or the Child Welfare Committee and Juvenile Justice Board members.

Immediate action:
I understand that space is a premium for you but it would be great if you could write at least a small follow up article on this tomorrow and convey the message of why such action by the police was wrong and why they should immediately release the boy from jail and produce him before the Juvenile Justice Board (if present) in Patna.

Doing responsible journalism is in your hands. Media is very strong and needs to be so if democracy has to survive but the power has to be utilised properly.


Jai Hind !!!

Karnataka Jnana Fellowship – My experience…

Can instinctive action mislead us? Or will it always lead us to the right path?

This is the question that occupies my mind now. That is because, I have acted purely on instinct in the case of the Karnataka Jnana Fellowship. I saw an article in the newspaper sometime in June this year and immediately went over to the computer, went to their website and applied. The force of instinct was so strong I could not resist it. I did not try to resist it either. One part of my mind was asking though whether I was doing the right thing. I asked back. “Why not go ahead?”.

Recently, i did a little bit of financial calculations too. This project if we can call it one (of taking up Jnana fellowship, if I do get thru) has a negative net present value (in financial terms) of a significant amount of money. In simple language, it was a cost to me and not a financial gain. Do I still want to do it? Yes. It is corporations which look at profit and loss. Government looks at cost-benefit balance. I too had to see a cost-benefit balance. Benefit not only to me but benefit to the community at large. After all, living for oneself is so boring. I have written in one of my earlier blogs too (my previous blogspot blog) about why it should be the aim of every individual to ‘give more to society than he/she draws’. This was my chance to give. I cannot let this go… At least, I had to give it my best shot…

I was fortunate enough to get through till the interviews (past a lot of scrutiny and a good written test) which happened yesterday. A full day at Vikas Soudha… Starting about 8:30 am when I got in till about 6:45 pm when I got out, the time I got before the panel of eminent people asking me what I could do if I were selected was miniscule. Whether I managed to convince them, the result will tell. The lessons I learnt from this whole experience though were great. Never before had I sat before a panel of about 15 members. One does not get time to think (being a bit of a slow thinker had me a little troubled). So, it clearly boils down to what is deeply embedded in our minds. Only those points will come forth. Its a test for our ability to stand our ground and not let our thoughts be hijacked by what is being asked. Its a test of conviction, of strength of belief. Quite rightly so. It is an experience that has brought in more energy, conviction and strength to me. My instinct to work with the community at large has only grown stronger.

One aspect to be highly appreciated is the strength of the process the Jnanaayoga followed. The transparency levels have been very high. Sometimes, I wonder if it was a little too high. Criteria for selection was very clear, although I was a little surprised at the weightage given to our 3 answers on purpose given during the application. Arrangements were great. They have shown how well things can be conducted from within the government too…

Lastly, let me come to what occupied me over the whole day minus the interview time and the little time I took out while sitting there to prepare. This truly was energising. Never before have I got to know more than a dozen people in a single day. This was such a day. A very unusual day for me. I have at least 8 new contacts in my mobile now. I met people working on enhancing science education, on youth related issues,  those teaching management, those training teachers, teachers, people running a school, those working on getting the soil right for horticulture, …. Civil society is not sleeping. By no means. Each one has a passion and is striving to contribute in their own way, with a positive approach. Cool !

We discussed at length on each of our experiences and on the possible road ahead, in the education field mainly but even on horticulture. Like minds coming together… If I said that we came up with solutions, that would be obviously wrong. If solutions to the problems plauging the primary and secondary education were simple, it would have been set right long back. We even came up with plans on working together outside the fellowship scheme too.

I wish to say one thing at the end. Lets get the cynicism out. Lets get to work, whether inside the government or outside but towards the welfare of our great nation. If we think that putting the education system right is a 10,000 km journey and give up, we will never complete the journey. We have to walk our talk… Good thing is that we are not alone in the struggle. If one goes out there looking, one would find so much of good work happening. So many are working. Lets give our bit…

Jai Hind !!!

Addition on the 30th Sept, 2011: After the results came out…

Its been a tough day… a day of gloom….. The fact that I did not make it kept haunting me through the day and still is haunting me. I understand that the other person who made it to the department I was looking to get in to, is more qualified than me and quite likely has more experience. That is comforting…. Still, at a personal level, its a loss that is somehow difficult to get adjusted to. I am sure that the commission has done a very good job of screening people and all those who are in deserve to be there. I still cant reconcile myself to the fact that I didnt make it… This is the battle thats been going on all day.. One moment this way, one moment that way…. :-|.

Quite clearly, my inability to hold my ground during the interview let me down. I got drawn a little away (towards pre-primary education) from my focus area (child protection) and i was less guarded in the new territory…. and got shot down… I will remember to hold my ground next time, probably in another context..

There is the NGO platform for me in any case…….. and I pledge my support to those who are in. Am here to help if required.

Jai Hind !!!

A date with history for India: 27th Aug 2011


Today, truly would be seen as one of the important days in the history of India. The 27th Aug 2011; a day when parliamentarians cutting across party lines came forward, having recognised the public sentiment to speak in favour of a strong lokpal bill…. Truly heartening….


I do not want to be naive and believe that the movie is over with a happy ending. No. There is no ending in real life and the struggle will continue. I know. We all know that. But today is a day that will give us much belief and strength. We, as Indians probably have been sleeping for long and not asking of our representatives, what we should have. This movement lead by Shri Anna Hazare ji has woken us up. I cant speak for all but I guess that is fairly true for the most of us. We have learnt how to voice ourselves. We know that come next time, we have a defined path, a precedent to look back to and take our movement forward. Why more??? Well.. There are many more things we need to change to become a truly great nation. I am quite sure that most people into this debate already recognise that the next movement is going to be on ‘Election Reforms’. It will come and we know how to handle it. That we have to be part of it. Peacefully. In the Gandhian way; in the Anna way. I hope we can spare Anna ji from those movements and that we wont demand another 13 day fast from him. Hats off to him for pulling it off in Great style. He has the energy to stand up and sing the national anthem after all this. You cant but respect him. Salute him. Hail him…. Jai Anna ji….


This also calls for an important recognition. While most of us have been left to feel that all institutions we have including the parliament, the government, the judiciary, the police are all pathetic to say the least, we should rise above that. We have to sit back and think about it once more. Are we just pouring our hatred of some of the people in these institutions on the institutions itself. Most likely yes. Believe me. I have read a little bit, if not much of our Constitution and you know what? Its a great document. We truly must be proud of ourselves for having such a great constitution. Following debates on news often, I can also read between the lines and see how good our parliamentary system is as an institution. How one uses it is another matter but the institution in itself is laudable. The judiciary off late has been very active and very rightly so. It is one of the best institutions we have. Our efforts should be to strengthen it and not to be disparaging.


We need to get the UPSC exams reformed, the elections reformed, our schooling system changed and so on… We have our task cut out. Are we ready to venture and get onto the job or are we going to remain on the sidelines and keep cribbing? Let us not crib. Let us act. Let us prepare ourselves for the struggle. How? Study the systems, work on the ground; not for a day or two but for years. We, only then will be powerful enough to do anything about it. Anna ji did not become what he is in just one day or even the last 6 months starting April when he came to limelight. Its been a lifelong struggle. We. the youth of India need to rise. We need to shoulder the burden. Building institutions is no joke. We will know when we do it. We will certainly do a better job than our predecessors. I am sure. But we must struggle to get it done. Nothing happens like in movies…. We need to motivate more of our youngsters to join the police, the government jobs, the judiciary and even become parliamentarians. We also should strive to be so. Then, we will see a truly powerful nation. A great India….


Jai Hind !!!

South Indian Marriages today: Is symbolism reigning supreme???

Are we a confused society today??????

is the question that comes to my mind when I go to attend south indian  marriages today.  I speak only of brahmin marriages since that is what I know to some extent and that is what I draw my thoughts from. I am not sure if I am the one who is ignorant or whether most of the people involved, including the seniors ignorant and confused about how a marriage is to be conducted and why we do many of the traditional procedures in a marriage.

I am quite sure many of us do not understand why some procedures are done in some way and even if known, is that relevant today? Culture has to be a dynamic entity and not one bound hard in an era which we for some reason like to cherish. Let me deal with specifics so as not to lose focus.

There is an event called the ‘Kashi yatra’ which is held. The story goes that in early does, boys used to go to gurukula and learn vedas and other stuff. That stage is called brahmacharyam. Once he completed the initial training at the gurukula, he would need to embark on a journey to the himalayas for further training and practice. He leaves home and is headed to the himalayas. Seeing a nice guy going off, a father of a girl approaches him and asks him to postpone his journey by a few decades. He asks the guy to get married to his daugher, take care of her and then may be later in life, he could resume his journey to the himalayas. The guy agrees and hence the marriage happens. Great!!!! Makes a lot of sense in that context. Is that relevant today? Why do we still have to make the guy ‘SYMBOLICALLY’ get started on his journey to himalayas (which he no way intends to…) , put a person with an umbrella behind him and then get the girl’s father to come and stop him enroute. All the while, the purohit or pandit instructs each of them what they are supposed to do. Obviously so, because neither the guy nor the father know what the script is until the last moment when the purohit directs the movie.. Yes. It is a movie because there is a camera rolling…

I do not want to be cynical and demeaning of what is done. Just that I am amazed why we have to live in the past and do stuff as it used to be done ages ago. Can we not be original? I am left confused as to what we are trying to achieve. What I illustrated above is just one of the great series of events that fit to form the marriage script. What troubles me is the sense of ‘artiificiality’ in the whole event. Apart from a top few experienced people, few know the sequence and much fewer people understand why many of the things are done. Since experts (pundits) are available to direct the show, the actors (including bride and groom) care little to learn anything about the age, the context and the history behind the tradition. For the actors, it is only a matter of a one day or two day event where they get to meet a lot of their family and friends and showcase their prowess in holding a marriage in a ‘nice’ way. The events per se and their meaning has little value for them. The seniors though are very serious about getting it done the ‘right’ way but what the ‘right’ way is, is driven by the one who calls the shots.

I dont want to keep writing too much. I felt strongly about this and hence am writing. Its been many many marriages I have attended and this sense has been growing all the time. Two things reign supreme, ‘symbolism’ and ‘copy-cat’ nature. I would much rather like to see an event driven less by what ‘ought’ to be the ‘right’ way and more by what the two families getting united like and feel the ‘right’ way is to express their respect for the other and to ‘break the ice’ so that a lasting relationship can flourish.

In our culture, marriage is more a union of two families than just the union of the couple getting married. Its absolutely fine. Good. Forms a good support structure for the couple. Social instinct is in all of us. Most like to get together with all of near and dear ones, establish new relationships etc. All that is relevant. Why not stick with just that and do it in a way we all feel it is good to do?

Food is a big part of marriage and rightly so. The greatest respect one can show to another is to call the other to their place and serve them good food by one’s own hands. That is great. I love it. I am just back from a marriage where even the cooking is done by the family members themselves. They themselves cook for then hundreds who come and serve by their own hands. Nothing better to start off in a new relationship. That though does not happen in most marriages. It has become increasingly difficult with the way we live now and with the number of people attending a marriage. That is an area which is ruled nowadays by contractors who do it all…. Just that the vastly important personal touch is lost. The host now just comes around to see that you are having a good meal….

I am not writing in a very organised manner. Started writing only because the force of the thought really is too high for me to resist writing. I am not sure how much of what I feel i have been able to echo in the above lines but am quite sure many of us would relate well to the topic.

In the end, I only want to see why we are doing what we are doing and why we should probably change. May be, may be we are just too happy to ‘hail’ our ancestors and attribute great laurels to them for establishing great traditions. Yes. They certainly were great because they started off a tradition based on original ways of doing things as suited to their context. It is we, today who are demeaning them by not being worthy descendants. We instead of again establishing great tradition as per our context today are just living with a ‘those-were-good-old-days’ feeling. In our enthusiasm to hail our ancestors and our traditions, we are losing out on an opportunity to bring realism into our culture. Hope we do not end up destroying the respects for our great ancestors among the coming young generations. Wish we could borrow the nice principles set forth in tradition, adapt it and conduct marriages (and other functions too) in a more original and relevant-to-today manner. Hope that would bring back the much needed realism and ‘genuine’ relationship amongst the families coming together. (It is much easier to show respect in a ‘formal’ way than in an informal instantaneous manner.)

We have had great ancestors who set forth great traditions. Living upto their status, we today as their descendants should establish traditions that would last a few generations ahead. If it lasts for too long, then tradition would become a burden rather than a boon. Culture and traditions need to be dynamic, changing to the needs of today or else, they risk dying and being consumed by other cultures or traditions.

Hoping to see more marriages which we can understand without the help of an ‘expert commentator’ sitting beside us and relating to us the script in the absence of who, we come back from the marriage function with not just a stomach full of good food but also a mind full of questions and confusion…..

Jai Hind !!!

Review of the Jan Lok Pal Bill V2.1

Please find inserted below, the Jan Lok Pal Bill V2.1 with review remarks of mine. I am not a legal expert by any stretch of imagination but understand a few basics of law and systems of justice in India.

(Please look at ‘review comments’. Document is in MS word format)

I have not completed the whole thing. Will do so and update.

Jan lokpal bill 2.1_Reviewed_partially

Some global remarks / observations:

  • Lok Pal certainly seems to assume unduly high powers, powers of courts to issue orders / enforce order in many cases. This has to be avoided in my view. I think that Lokpal should be able to receive complaints, take suo-moto notice etc and investigate but passing order should be left to the courts.
  • Not needing permission to investigate is essential and that is good.
  • Lok Pal appears to be empowered even to look at wrong decisions taken by public servants. That is undue power. In general, actions of any of us may be subject to 3 problems; Inefficiency, wrong judgment, malafide action. Only last point should come under purview of Lokpal. If for instance, a municipal officer wrongly judges the need for a bridge in a place and gets it constructed and 2 years down the line, it is seen that it is not used much, should we accuse him of unduly favouring the private player who got the contract to construct it. No !!! . Unless, the officer has received favours from such private player, he should be immune.

Jai Hind !!!

Support Anna Hazare…. Ready the weapon against corruption

We dont anymore have to be lacking in imagination or feel helpless. We have the beacon to guide us towards curbing corruption in India. Hail Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejrival, Kiran Bedi and others….

The Jan Lok Pal Bill, 2011 is our weapon. We will still have to use it and fight to kill or even curb corruption to a large extent but without this weapon, we would be powerless and helpless as we feel today… Hail the concrete Bill drafted by experienced and eminent people with great integrity…

We need to back this bill and get the joint drafting committee. That would be the first step. We trust the eminent team which has started this movement. When 5 of them are in the joint drafting committee, we can certainly hope for a good bill that will go to the parliament to be passed in the monsoon session.

This is our second freedom movement. Freedom from corruption which restricts every step of our growth.

Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, I hear that workers are paid Rs.30 and made to sign a voucher for Rs.100. I have personally overheard a lady boasting in a public bus that she can get you a loan of Rs.25,000 from the govt under some scheme which you need not pay back, and for which she will take Rs.3000 as commission. If we go on like this, how will we progress???

We should stop giving in to the demands of bribe at every govt. office from now on. Its ok if our land registration gets delayed by a month, its ok if our no-objection certificate takes 3 months to come…. but I will not pay a bribe.. Lets tell it straight and clear to every govt official or politician who demands it. We have the Right to Information Act too. We can file a RTI to find out what happenned to our application. The Information officer at the office is bound to reply. If we get no reply, we can file a complaint with the district Information commissioner. (Guess I got the title right.) If there has been undue delay (as against service level agreements which are published at some offices), we can seek redressal.

If we are in a hurry though, then India would have to wait for long to be free of corruption.

Lets stand up against corruption….. and support Shri Anna Hazare ji and others…

Jai Hind !!!


Read the bills

Jan lokpal bill by Expert (Eng).pdf

Lokpal Bill by Government of India.pdf

Are government schools dying in India?

I am hearing this sentiment more and more, at least in Karnataka….


I hear that in kolar district, the government officials themselves acknowledge that government schools are running out of favour of parents. Parents today, in rural areas clearly seem to favour Private English Medium Schools. They perceive that the poor quality of education in the government schools and moreover, the local language being the medium can be a disadvantage to their kids in the long run. They seem to be going far to pay significant amounts of fee to get their children admitted to such private schools who teach in english medium. The problem though is that this is spawning many poor quality english medium schools. Even then, the medium of instruction seems to hold enough value and parents are willing to bet on it. Last year, apparently, many government schools got closed down since their strength came down to less than 5 children in total. More are said to be in the risk zone.

I heard the same sentiment in Hassan. I understand that many government schools are running with less than 10 children in a class. Here too, the english medium seems to be the main factor.


I am sure that no state government in India would acknowledge this trend and switch to english medium in their schools. I am not saying that we should do so. There is actually a big potential for promoting local language heavily. Today, unfortunately, jobs seem to be highly skewed towards the population that knows english. The government should also strive sufficiently to make studying in local language viable by promoting such businesses and services which create jobs that can be handled well with the local language. There is little on the internet that one can do without english. This also needs government intervention and promotion.

Another factor is India’s structure itself. We are a combination of states that speak different languages. Hence, english becomes a unifying factor. If one knows english, he/she has a better chance of getting  a job in many states rather than just knowing the local language and being restricted to his/her own state.

Government itself functions in the local language and that is good. Unfortunately though, government in itself cannot create enough jobs for the burgeoning population.

Given this scenario, a parent would certainly feel that if he/she is betting on the education of their kid, then why not bet on english medium private schools even though their quality of teaching may be as poor as that in government schools. Obviously, this leads to the fact that government schools in India could be dying a slow death unless revived.

The right to education act, 2009 seems to show the will to provide a big push but how much difference it will really bring in is to be seen. The karnataka government recently announced that 8000 school teachers would be recruited. This is required to see that the right to education act can be implemented well. The government has said earlier that they would implement the act starting in the academic year 2011-12. Lets see what happens.

The fact though remains that the government schools, even though constituting about 93% of all schools in the country today are an endangered species just like our tigers.


Jai Hind !!!

Will China ever become a democratic country?

Yes. If my guess goes write, China will be a democratic country by 2020.

Well !!! Firstly, let me acknowledge that I am no political expert. I do follow international news quite avidly but that’s about it. I have told this to a few of my relatives / friends and they have dismissed me outright. I still stick to my theory though 😉

Why do I say so?

It goes on some simple principles and precedents as stated below…

a) Need for Freedom is the biggest need and this will surface over the long run. The general public will realise that even though they can be exploited in a democracy also, it is in democracy that they stand the best chance of getting their own rights fulfilled. This will form a major force when a significant part of the population realises this. We are already seeing some signs I guess.

b) Human greed will ultimately triumph. Only in a democracy can a significant percentage of people comfortably swindle other people’s money. As long as power remains within few hands, they will either remain good or they alone can swindle. This would be a second important force because the greed to make a lot of money exists among many and those with the talent / skills would relish such an opportunity. I am not at all being cynical. I am looking at it as an independent observer (though myelf being a human 😉 ).

c) The Soviet Union did not survive. It had to give way to the need of many people wanting their due for the effort they put in. “Give according to capacity, take according to work” is a principle that cannot last how much ever we wish it survives. People will start defecting from the state and moving to other democratic countries that allow them the freedom and potential to uplift their standard of living.

d) A country so large will have so many views. Each person is different. If all are to stick to the same ideas, it is impractical. Each person would like to be heard and see his opinion respected. One can only keep everyone saying the same thing with a lot of force and using so much force costs a lot of money and resources and sometime sooner or later, the state will find itself unable to cope with this.

e) International capitalistic market forces would try to get democracy installed because that is when they can use their patents to make money and ensure that people dont reverse engineer their products and deny them the money they feel they deserve. They want all nations to sign treaties that help them make money and being sharks, keep swallowing the small fish and remain the ruler of the seas of market. Even political leaders of big democratic countries would feel the pressure from these forces to push for ‘democratisation of the world’. I can see that they already are doing so.

If I am not wrong, it was the greek philosopher Descartes who said that the world is run by only three forces, “Power, Pleasure and Religion”. I think he was quite right. Most people would desire these and what better system than a democracy to offer this.

One recent event shows further signs of this. The Nobel Peace prize being given to a person who speaks this language. He might truly have done very good work. I have no knowledge of that. China certainly did not like that as one would expect.

Please treat this as a purely academic statement. I am completely neutral to this issue. I am neither going to be happy nor sad if China becomes a democracy. I have nothing to gain or lose by this except probably for the fact that I can claim that I predicted this. 😉

I would conclude by saying just one thing. “Loka samastha sukhino bavanthu” which means “May the whole world be peaceful”.

Jai Hind !!!

Convicting people for criminal negligence…

“Do we have courage to convict people in Sub-Inspector Vetrivel’s case? “ is the question i think. I have read through our Indian Penal Code and this is what is relevant. This is regarding the recent incident of Sub Inspector R.Vetrivel who was hacked to death and when nobody including many responsible people helped him soon enough to save his life.

I quote below Sec 304 A and General Explanation no. 32.

General Explanation no. 32. under Chapter II of IPC, 1860

32. Words referring to acts include illegal omissions
In every part of this Code, except where a contrary intention appears from the
context , words which refer to acts done extend also to illegal omissions.
Sec 304A. Causing death by negligence
Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not
amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either
description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

My personal belief from what little I know is that we can theoretically convict people for criminal negligence leading to death of a person… But…

If only someone has the courage to file an FIR against the responsible people, and if some police station is ready to register the same or if a Magistrate under Sec 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code is ready to take a direct complaint and if a lawyer is ready and if evidences are forthcoming and if an honourable judge or a bench of honourable judges are ready to pronounce a conviction, we can see some light. Else, we remain in this gloomy scenario….

I understand that we, general citizens of the country do not have a direct Locus Standi in this case but I note that possibly Sec 304A of the IPC when read along with ‘General Explanations’ No. 32 under Chapter II of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 as mentioned above are sufficient grounds for convicting the people who showed little responsibility to save the life of the brave officer.

It is very disheartening as a citizen of India and more so as a Tamilian to note such incidents and also see that so many people go scot free despite showing such little respect for a human life and that too a police officer. Reading and seeing such news, I wonder which youth would like to join the police and serve honestly. Respect for the Honourable court and for the Law of the land takes a beating if nothing is done in such cases.

Posted on : 11th Jan 2010.

Jai Hind !!!