Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yes, We all are guilty..

She died, yes, finally she died...and I know that I don't have to mention her name, there is no need of it...we all know who was she..we all are mourning for her, we all are sad for her, she was just 23 years of age, one night, one incident, one bus ride changed her life...but she was not just another helpless girl who suffered tragic death at the hand of few psychotic men of our society, she was representative of all women and kids who suffer sexual abuse every day. 

We all are directly or indirectly responsible for her death. Those six men were not alone when they were raping her, there was this age old mindset which thinks that women don't have choice to wear what they want, their exposed bodies tempt men to loose control of their mind and gives them right to rape her, abuse her, these dented and painted women don't even have right to protest, they are our prized possessions and we should cover them from head to toe to hide them from others eyes so that they don't get stolen, they are objects of our family's and our personal honor, how come a woman can dare to challenge a man's authority, doesn't she know her limits? and many beliefs like these were with those six men, they helped them, fueled their ambition, they encouraged them to brutally rape her, beat her, WHY..because she was a woman who dared to resist them, who dared to challenge their authority, who dared to hurt their so called male ego...she need to be taught a lesson...and based on what we see in our movies, in our society..the best way to punish any woman is to rape her, abuse her sexually, even if she survives the assault it kills her spirit, her honor, she will remember it for rest of her life..abusing her sexually is ultimate victory for a man, it shows his masculinity  power, after all man is not a man unless he is capable of sexually dominating a woman, unless he is able to produce kids..these all are not lines from any book from medieval era or some C grade movie but thinking of our own society, it is part of our belief system. 

Even today we have to have debate on TV on issues whether women in cities should walk alone on streets after dark? Whether they should wear makeup or clothes of their choice?...guilty are not only those men who committed this crime...definitely they deserve strictest possible punishment...but guilty is also the system which produced them..and we all are part of that system..we can not escape the blame..killing these six men won't stop this because there are many like them who are waiting for their prey..how many incidents of rape were reported even after this rape which was widely covered in all forms of media? did we see any drop in number of cases? Rape is not just a sexual act, its a act of violence...we need to kill this mindset which looks at women in such derogatory way and its not easy..because that evil resides in all of us in some form or other...its not easy at all but unless we do this we will be standing at this juncture again and again looking in the mirror at the same image and wondering why these things happen? How to stop them? From where these people come? Why they do this? every time same questions and same answers. 

I wrote many posts related with issue of women suppression and attitude of our society, all religions towards women and how all these things share the blame for all the bias and prejudice which still exists in people's mind against women and their sexuality. I support most feminist movements and for all those who criticize these movements blindly without even taking an effort to understand them, feminism is not female chauvinism, it's a simple demand of equal treatment and equal rights, nothing more or nothing less than that. All these TV debates, blogs, protests, discussions are definitely going to have some effect, we need all these resources and methods to solve these problems, but we need to persist with our stand until we take it to some logical conclusion, we need to keep pushing for our demands until they get due consideration, just hollow promises, diplomatic answers are not going to help, we heard these type of responses many times in past and now they are not at all acceptable. Once any politician or public figure makes some statement then they should explain why they said that and face the consequences, just withdrawing it and apologizing for it is not enough. 

In a country like India where scams of thousands of crores of rupees is becoming a regular event we don't have a well equipped hospital where we can provide world class care to our patients, we still have to airlift a patient in a very critical stage to a country much smaller than ours for better treatment, who is answerable for this? What is use of all economical boom and progress if we are not able to do anything for substantial for safety and health of our people? Let's bring some accountability in our day to day lives, we all need to be accountable for our actions, which post, which office doesn't matter. We need to ask questions and we need to keep on asking them until we get right answers.

I have many things to say, but I am struggling to find right words to express my feelings I am feeling numb. I also wonder if this is going to help in anyway? I am feeling sad, angry, even slightly helpless but I am not going to give up this fight, silent majority like us needs to speak up, our opinion does matter, lawmakers can not ignore it, we have to make sure that they listen to our voices. We all are guilty and our punishment is to stand and fight for justice, for reforms so that we can protects many others like her from getting abused and murdered, we have to do this there is not choice just accepting our mistake is not enough now. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic, please raise your voice, we kept quite for too long.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thank you Sachin for everything...

Sachin Tendulkar declared his retirement from one day cricket on Sunday December 23rd 2012, this day marked the end of 23 year long and very successful career of best batsman of one day international cricket. Sachin's entry into cricket world and his partial exit (he still intends to play in tests) can be called as one of major events in modern era of cricket. He redefined the excellence in both forms of cricket, his passion, commitment, hard work and humility is something which everyone can learn from him. He is the one man who inspired the entire nation to dream big, to believe that they can achieve excellence if they are willing to work hard, he also taught us how to remain humble and down to earth even after being so successful. His retirement is not just a another event in cricket history, it's end of an glorious era, which every cricket lover who followed cricket for last 20 years or so Indian or non-Indian will remember forever.

My cricket following days can be divided in two eras first was Kapil Dev's era till 1989 but unfortunately I never got chance to watch much cricket live on TV that time, only read in news or heard from people around me, but back then Kapil was regarded as best all rounder India has ever produced and he was a real game changer. Second and much longer era is Sachin's era. When he emerged as a 16 year old young boy on international cricket scene, every one saw the glimpse of a genius cricketer in his batting style and temperament, but very few realized that time that this young man will rule the cricket world for more than two decades in both formats of cricket (one days and tests). No one ever did this for such a long time in the past and may not be able to do in future also. He inspired entire generation of cricketers in India to believe in themselves, cricket was already a passion in India he turned it in a big craze almost to madness, his popularity rose so much that if we consider cricket as a religion then certainly Sachin he is a God of cricket.

I grew up watching his batting and following Indian cricket just because of him, India never dominated international cricket like Australia or West Indies did when they were in their prime form but Sachin always kept our hopes alive, as long as he was there on the crease every Indian felt that any target was achievable, and I dia can win that match if he stays there this was the power of this one man, and I am not exaggerating the fact. I have seen people switching their off television sets after his wicket because they believed that now there is no point in watching the match because without Sachin India doesn't stand a chance to win the match. Whenever people used to inquire about Indian batting score no matter how many wickets India lost they always ask "Abhi Sachin hai ki nahi" (whether Sachin is still batting or not?), this question sums up the expectation or belief people had in him because if Sachin is still batting then India have a chance, if he is out them it's all over. This situation changed after entry of some other talented cricketers like Yuvraj, Sehvag and  Dhoni, but for long time this was the situation. 

His retirement was expected but all his fans including me didn't expect that it will be so sudden. Like many initially I also believed that he mistimed announcement of his retirement because of current social/political environment in India. There is huge outcry among public against the brutal gang rape of young girl in Indian capital New Delhi, and many people thought that announcement of Tendulkar's retirement in the middle of all these protests and struggle might dilute this movement and divert attention of media and people from this very important issue. This is the same reason I also thought that he mistimed his retirement from ODIs but on second thought I realized that this might be the way he wanted to go, quietly, without creating any fuss. Very high pressure series against India's arch rivals Pakistan is coming up very soon and may be he doesn't want to divert attention of players and media from that series. For him cricket is most important thing in his life and may be he wanted Indian cricket to move on without crating too much fuss about his retirement. Normally people believe that extraordinary people deserve extraordinary farewell and should take grand exit but may be some greats like leave the stage very quietly without creating much fuss.

I can go on and on writing about so many memories I have about Sachin's performances in one day cricket which I enjoyed and all are still very fresh in my mind but rather than doing this I want to end my personal tribute for this greatest batsman one day cricket ever saw, one cricketer who developed passion of cricket in me, one sportsman who made many movements in my life special just because of his talent and performance by quoting some lines from an article in Times magazine about Sachin,

"It seems while time was having his toll on every individual on the face of this planet, he excused on man.
Time stands frozen in front of Sachin Tendulkar.
We have had champions, we have had legends.
But we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will"

Thanks for reading.

Some more articles about Sachin:
References:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sachin_Tendulkar (statistics speak themselves about talent of this cricketer)
2. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/35320.html

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Violence is not an option..

One police constable (47 year old Subhash Chand) who was said to be injured during the protests against Delhi gang rape case died because of injuries he sustained during police action against these protests, this is a very sad news, as sad as the rape case itself. One police officer who was performing his duty died at the hand of mob which was trying to resister their protest against inability of their government to protect their citizens. Now whose fault it is? There are already photos in social media, on internet which show protesters, specially women protesters getting brutally attacked by police, many people might think posting these photos as an attempt to justify the attack of protesters on police but I don't think the matter is so straightforward here. The blame game in this case has already started, police arrested few youths in this case and Arvind Kejriwal came out to defend these youths saying that there is no proof against them, I hope that both these tragic events don't get politicized, no one should use this events for political gain because safety of citizens of any city or country is above any politics or political party. The constable is dead and something must have caused his death, they should find the real reason of his death, then find the criminals who committed this act and punish them. 

During many protests in India the crowd tends to get violent because they can not control their anger, get too emotional about the issue, this is very common case in India. It's very easy to organize protests but very difficult to control the mob. The most infamous incident like this happened in 1922 (pre-independent India) during non-cooperation movement which Mahatma Gandhi started. Angry mob burned a police station in Chauri Chaura (a town in UP) after police firing, in this incident around 48 people died (26 in police firing and 22 because of burning of police station, police firing happened first). Gandhiji wanted this movement to be strictly non-violent so because of this incident he called this movement off, he received lot of criticism for taking this step as many leaders felt that non-cooperation movement was really working very well and the violence was not started by protesters. Similar things happened many times, not always resulting in deaths but many times resulting in lot of public property damages, disturbance in public life, lot of inconvenience to general public, it's very strange that this all happens in a country like India who achieved her freedom via non-violent freedom struggle movement. 

So the questions we need to ask here is, do these violent protests work? Do they produce desired result? What good they do to our country? Do they help in creating awareness about the issue or just help in spreading hatred and anger? The answer to all these questions most of the time is big 'NO', violence only results in more violence nothing else, it spreads hatred and anger, it spreads fear not peace. Our own freedom struggle movement has demonstrated the power of non-violent protests to us, so why we don't use the same method? How come we are loosing faith in same method which we used successfully to win our freedom from foreign regime? People definitely have right to express their anger against their government, they have full right to protest and register their demands, but they absolutely don't have any rights to disrupt public life which creates unnecessary inconvenience to many people, damage public property or attack police for no reason, violence is not an option in any democratic country. I hope that our government, people who are protesting as well as police department all understand this and act accordingly. 

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)

References:
1. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/constable-injured-in-india-gate-protest-dies-in-hospital/article4237638.ece
2.  http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/policeman-death-no-evidence-against-arrested-youth-says-kejriwal/article4238310.ece
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauri_Chaura

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Is there any way to reduce rape and sexual abuse incidents?

Recent brutal rape case of young girl in Indian capital New Delhi has sparked huge debate and discussions in social media, parliament and news papers. People from various sections of society offered so many suggestions about how to put brake on these type of crimes, what type of punishment might help to prevent these type of incidents, how to deal with the criminals who commit such heinous crimes. Suggestions cover very wide spectrum, some say capital punishment is only right punishment for such crimes, some say hang them in public so that others won't dare to commit such crimes, some say no trial directly hang them or shoot them, some say castrate these males so that they wont be able to engage in any such acts in future even if they want to, some say women should be more careful with what they wear, where they go and how they conduct themselves, there are many suggestions like this, by just surfing the net and one can find many passionate posts which are very critical about India's law and order situation, politicians, government and blame them for this situation and crimes.

No doubt that it's government's responsibility to protect its citizens from antisocial elements and make them feel that they are safe and free to carry their day to day activities without any fear. These type of incidents definitely shake confidence of common man on government's ability to protect their interests. Unfortunately what we are seeing this time from government's sides is not very promising  they are trying to play blame game, trying to suppress protests and are not willing to take any substantial steps towards finding a solution for these type of problems, this is very sad but this is what is happening. Another issue is as a society what are we doing to protect our women and kids? How are we training our women and men to tackle these type of issues? What they think about each other? How women are projected in main stream media and movies, etc.(this projection is very important as it mainly forms image of woman among general public)? How are they treated in their families? All these are very important questions and somehow directly or indirectly related with the question that why these type of crimes happen in our society?

Rape is not only about sex, if it is only a question about sexual desire then there are so many ways to satisfy that desire legally, without harming any person or at least by using means which won't land that person in such a legal mess, then why people choose this route? Rape does involve sexual act but it's not sexual encounter where two people voluntarily surrender to each other, sex is integral part of love between adult couples but rape is pure violence. It's not only about lust or sexual desire but it's like hunting the prey, damaging or crushing other person physically and mentally, it's very brutal act and that's why it demands very strict punishment. There is no age limit for rape victims they range from young kids to old women, it can happen in homes, bedrooms, moving buses, cars, almost anywhere, it seems no place is a safe place now a days.  The people who commit rape are definitely not normal people, for sure they have some psychological issues, they are not fit to roam in society freely, they need treatment and as well as punishment.

I don't think capital punishment or hanging these rapists in public will reduce this crime, already these type of punishments are practiced in some countries and situation of women are really pathetic in most of these countries, there is a capital punishment for murder but that doesn't stop many from committing this crime. Rather this approach of capital punishment for all rapes might back fire and might increase incidents of  murder of rape victims, many rapists kill their victims in a hope that they worn't be caught because there won't be any evidence and law also can not hang a criminal twice, so I think that capital punishment may not be a very efficient way to stop this crime. Hanging rapist in public or torturing them in front of public are very gruesome and inhuman acts which any democratic country will not like to practice publicly and most probably these punishments will produce the same result as normal capital punishment. In most of sexual abuse cases the offender is male or group of males (in case of gang rape), then why not to make them incapable of committing this type crime again and keep them imprisoned, we have modern medical techniques and methods available to do this, why not to use them? It will be less gruesome and more effective punishment and there is very high possibility that this fear of loosing their so called manhood might deter others from committing this crime.

Along with this punishment social and economical independence of women is very important, they should get equal respect and fair treatment in their own families, boys and girls should be treated equally there is no other alternative to this. Girls should not be considered as soft targets for sexual abuse, we need to start sex education so young kids know what is proper and improper contact, what can be considered as sexual harassment and what is not, this type of education and training should be integral part of high school curriculum and this training should me mandatory at all work places. The solution to this problem is not so straight forward, the problem is very complicated so it should be tackled at multiple levels, we should utilize all resources which we have in our hands to tackle this issue, it might take long time but we should start working towards it as soon as possible, I think we already waited too long and should not delay any longer.

Let's start by changing our attitude towards women and lets start this change from our self, from our own families, if we can change them then only we can dream of changing the society or whole world. Government  also needs to step up, they have very important role to play in this whole process, law makers should show the courage to take necessary steps to tackle these issues. Huge protests and widespread public outcry clearly shows that people are fed up with just hollow words and fake promises they need some solid actions, they need responsible and accountable administration which can respond to their demands and understand their needs and I don't think this is too much to ask from any government in any democratic country.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Where was God when I was raped and murdered?

Recently tow tragic incidents happened first one here in Connecticut and another in New Delhi, India which caught lot of media attention and there is huge unrest in public about both these tragedies or crimes because of brutality associated with them. Along with protests, debates about why these types of incidents happen very frequently now a days, there were many prayer meetings at temples, churches,  other religious centers, even on the streets to express sympathy and support for victims and their families. People prayed to their respective God to save the victim who was struggling for her life (in Delhi rape case) and to give courage to families who lost their loved ones (in school shooting case). This is a regular pattern after tragedies or incidents like these be it 9/11, 26/11 terrorists attack or any bomb explosion, mass killings or rapes, people come together and pray but these incidents don't stop, so it raises one question in my mind, where is God when people need him/her most? I am sure many of these victims must be wondering the same, where was God when I was getting raped or murdered? Why he/she didn't come to help me? I know that many people have asked this question before and many people have tried to answer this question but non of those answers are convincing. I know putting blame on destiny or praying to God after any tragedy helps to deal with the loss, it helps to deal with death and the incidents which are out of our control, but apart from this what purpose these gatherings serve? According to me they are like counselling sessions which help to deal with these tragedies psychologically, nothing more, they don't serve any other purpose.

Many of these terrorist attacks are carried our in name of God, in name of protecting the religion from evil forces which these groups believe are trying to destroy their religion, they also pray to their God, get it's blessings before going on these type of missions, they believe that their  God will help them to fulfill their missions and many times they are successful, so technically God does listen to their prayers at least in some cases. I am not talking only about any particular religion like Islam which is continuously targeted now a days as major cause for terrorism but other religions like Hinduism (Babri Mosque demolition and communal riots, etc.), Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, Communism and many others were also engaged in many violent incidents all in the name of protecting their religion, philosophy and honor of their God or messenger. Many innocent people suffer during all these missions and attacks, they suffer lot of physical and mental trauma, many die or loose their loved ones and most of these victims prayed to their God, many of them were really devoted towards their religion and God. All these victims who suffer and perpetrators who brutally commit the crime or carry on the attacks both belong to several different religions who believe in different faiths and Gods. 

All these incidents (including the attacks and peace marches or prayers after those attacks) raise many questions in my mind, if it is really there then on which side God is? Where is God when all these victims suffer or get attacked for no fault? Why God doesn't help these victims when they are getting raped or getting murdered brutally? Why these innocent kids get killed with the hands of some insane man? Why helpless women get raped and brutally attacked? Is there any power who controls this universe and our lives or this world works on itself?

Do people even think about these questions or they are too blinded by their faith and beliefs? I don't think God or any other superpower is responsible for any of these crimes or attacks, these all are human acts, people like me and you commit these crimes and heroes who fight against these criminals or terrorists are again people like you and me. It's our job to step up, accept the responsibility, take the charge and work towards solving all these problems. All these issues and problems are created by people like us and we need to solve them our self no one else is going to do this for us. So if any God or any other superpower is not responsible for all these attacks or problems then does it make any sense to ask any help from them? Is it right to blame them or give any credits to them, and that too when we see clearly that it's not working and not providing us with any answers or solutions, this is the question which I want put in front of you today, this is the topic on which I want you all to think today.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic.

Link for Speaking Tree post:
http://timesofindia.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/self-improvement/where-was-god-when-i-was-raped-and-murdered

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)  

Friday, December 21, 2012

My favorite scene from movie OMG..

Few weeks back I wrote a post about movie Oh My God (OMG) few days back. I really like this movie and watched it multiple times as I do with so many other movies which I like. There are many scenes which I like from this movie and I feel that they are really funny and at the same time they comment directly or indirectly on current malpractices, superstitions and fears associated with almost all organized religions. The story of this movie is set in Hindu family and mainly uses Hindu characters, may be this is one of the reason why some people think that this movie was trying to insult or criticize or make fun of Hindu culture or Gods while conveniently ignoring other cultures and faiths who also have many superstitions associated with them. I think this is the limitation of the medium, I think the movie makers intend to comment about general misuse of religion and use of God to exploit people but due to time constrain and to add some entertainment value in movie (after all it's a business and they have to recover their money) there are certain limitations on how much a movie like this can accommodate, so one should not see this movie as an attack on any particular religion or culture but should be taken as a general comment about several malpractices which are rampant among all organized religions today. 

Movie delivers a heavy blow on cult movements and all those so called gurus who try to use people's emotions to sell their own ideas and beliefs in the name of religion and God. No where in a movie script writer or director directly attacks or questions the existence of God, they only question the methods or the rituals which are used in name of God. My most favorite scene in the movie is towards the end of the movie where main character Kanjibhai (Paresh Rawal) wants his family to meet with Lord Shrikrishna (Akshay Kumar), he wanted to show them that in spite being an atheist God himself came to visit him and helped him to come out of all his problems, but by the time he takes his family to the spot where Krishna was with him just moments ago, he (Krishna) disappears only leaving that fancy key chain as a token which he used to rotate with his fore finger (like sudarshan chakra). Kanjibhai realizes futility of his efforts to show his family members that he indeed met with God, but he collects that key chain and starts thinking of keeping it as a souvenir of God. While he is thinking about keeping that key chain with him, the voice in background tells him to throw that key chain away and not to make the same mistake which many others did, that is making different idols out of their own imaginations  and turning them into God, forcing their own concept of God on others, worshiping idols or that invisible supreme entity rather than showing sympathy and love towards their fellow citizens. Kanjibhai realizes that this is against his principal and also against what he practiced as atheist through out his life and then he throws away that key chain without any remorse and returns back to his normal life.

According to me this scene delivers very powerful message, why to search for God in temples, idols, churches, mosques, holy books or any other place, why not to search for that power within our self? It also comments on how all these cult movements turn their founder into another deity and start worshiping him or her, all these leaders of various cult movements were very knowledgeable people, they found something which gave them peace and happiness, tried to share that philosophy with people around them but their followers created a holy book out of their teachings and made them God, turned them into something divine, they started worshiping them, formed very exclusive groups with different names.In India we have so many of them, in every city, village, town wherever you go you will find some Guru, Baba, Maharaj or Prabhu who is being worshiped, this all sounds very crazy but there are many uneducated as well as educated people who are actively involved in these type of movements. I hope that many more movies like this will come in future and try to comment on these type of superstitions in our society which will help us to come out of these illusionary movements. Movies like this and many documentaries related with this subject try to show us the mirror but only very few of us are willing to look at the picture which they show, most people like to live in denial mode and reject the reality but hopefully this will change and we will move towards more kind, liberal, loving and accommodating world.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic.

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing) 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We should have zero tolerance for violence against women and kids..


Two recent incidents in tow different countries one here in Newtown, CT, USA,  and one in New Delhi back in my home country India, both incidents left me sad and disturbed. In first incident 20 innocent 1st graders lost their lives at the hand of some insane young kid who got access to guns easily and used them to execute this heinous crime, in second equally gruesome act six men gang raped a innocent girl in moving bus on streets of Indian capital New Delhi. The girl was not only gang raped but badly beaten with blunt objects and is battling for her life as I write this blog. 
Both these incidents raised many questions first of all are we failing to protect our women and kids from danger they face from such erratic behavior by some senseless individuals? Are our personal and political beliefs are more important than our social responsibilities? There are many questions like these and I wrote my concerns about gun policy in US in my last post related with the first incident (shooting inside a school in Newtown), along with the gun law society's attitude towards mentally challenged people should be improved, more resources should be made available to them to deal with their issues. Problems like this don't have only one reason or solution we have to look at all angles associated with it and try to act accordingly, and if we fail to do this then incidents like this will keep on occurring again and again in some form or other and after every incident we will engage in same debates, same deadlocks and same conclusion "something should be done" but no one knows what that 'something' is. These issues need to be discussed and debated openly, only through proper discussion and consideration of all aspects we can expect to find any solution for problems like these.
The second incident which is equally disturbing, it's also not the first case of this type of crime, New Delhi is on a verge of getting labeled as 'rape city' of India where incidents like this heinous crime against women are becoming a regular event, it seems that statistically one rape case is reported in every 14 hours in Delhi alone and we are only talking about reported cases here. After looking at these numbers it clearly seems that there is no fear among these criminal minded people about the law and punishment associated with this type of crime. They are pretty dam sure that they can run away from law or if get caught they can escape using loopholes in law or after lengthy trial in Indian courts if at all they get convicted they can get away with very lenient punishment. All this is happening in a country which claims to respect women and worships female goddesses like Lakshmi, Saravasti, Durga and many others. In reality our society has drifted away a lot from even normal standards of treating women with dignity or equality. The country where female idols are worshiped is slowly becoming one of the most unsafe places for women, so ironical. 

Where did we mess it up?? What is responsible for this scenario where female idols are worshiped but real, living females are humiliated and insulted on streets, in homes and so many other places. The physical and mental trauma associated with any sexual abuse is terrible, and surprisingly in India we don't have very strict law to deal with these type of offenses, one can easily get bail in all cases related with sexual abuse. Very recently I saw an episode of reality show KBC (Kaun Banega Crorepati) which Amitabh hosts on TV where they showed a victim of acid attack, Sonali Mukherjee, her story was horrible, but the brave lady survived that attack and is still fighting to get justice and the most horrible part was the culprits who committed that crime are roaming free in society (they are out on bail). This raises few very serious questions about the way law and order machinery works in India. Why we don't have strict laws to punish these criminals? If we already have proper laws in place then why they are not followed in many cases? How these culprits can get away in many cases with very minor punishment (if at all they are convicted)? Why victim has to wait for so many years to get justice in these type of cases? If there are loopholes in law then why can't lawmakers work towards removing them? In India parliament has amended constitution so many times for so many reasons, isn't any form of violence against kids and women in strong enough reason for them to sit and discuss about this point?
We as a people and society also have to think about this issue, when are we going to say enough is enough? In many of these cases it was notoced that common people hesitate to offer any help, just witness the crime as mute spectators considering it's not their business, when are we going to change this mentality? Why common people are still scared to contact police department? In case dealing with of child sexual abuse also situation is very pathetic, very few cases of child sexual abuse which actually happen get reported to police, very few of them manage to reach the court and only small percentage of it result in actual conviction.

I received very hard hitting post on my Facebook wall I am going to share it,
You stay silent when your mother is treated like shit by your father,
You stay silent when your friend takes dowry from his wife's family,
You stay silent when your classmates sits at a nukkad whistling 'maal' at passing women saying it is innocent fun.
You stay silent when a million women every year in this nation are murdered before birth or their breath dunked in milk before god after it, 
You don't report the drunkard husband who beat up your maid servant because it is not your business, 
You stayed silent when your boss hit upon a female colleague and you told her to grin and bear it because it happens everywhere, 
You sing along with your favorite male stars as they call their 'items' chikni chameli and halkat jawani etc., 
You stay silent when our police and paramilitary gang rape tribal and lower caste women and shove stones inside their rectum saying that that's an aberration of the system,
You did not protest the lower pay that your female colleagues got just because of their sex, 
You helped your parents arrange a marriage for your sister against her wishes saying she doesn't know her mind,
You stayed silent when in a family discussion a woman’s voice was silenced by the cacophony of male voices, 
You force a woman to wear burqa in the pretext of sharia law or justify their domesticity because some asshole called Manu wrote some asinine laws hundreds of years back, 
You think feminism is shit and feminist loud mouthed 'bitches' who have not better work to do than cry victim,
You applaud as Hindu right wing men barge into a hotel and slap ‘immoral’ women with the intention of ‘reforming’ their ‘maa’ ‘behen’
You stay silent when females in a party are sent away to discuss 'childish' things even as you discuss 'important' things like politics and all in their absence,
You stayed silent when your father directly and sarcastically showed your mother that she's lower then men in intelligence time and again,
You objected loudly when your girlfriend, wife wanted to put her life and career ahead of yours saying yours was more important,

And now suddenly you have become a man because ONE woman was brutally beaten and raped while you conveniently forget the hundreds of women whose psyche you were responsible for brutally beating and raping directly, or indirectly through your inaction... and now you evoke the same 'maa' and 'behen' argument to protect them... 

Thanks to the serpent of your awakened manhood, that woman in Delhi will perhaps get justice. But what about the millions of other women in the country of different religion, region and sect united by their shared injustice who will perhaps never get justice precisely for the same reason - your manhood?
This message is like very tight slap on our faces, if this doesn't make us to think then I don't know what will. Perpetrators of this particular crime and any such crimes should be punished severely so that people will think multiple times before engaging in any of such acts, according to me we should have zero tolerance towards any type of violence against women and kids in our society. We worship many Gods, there are many religions out there which teach love and compassion towards our fellow humans but seldom it's practiced, I think now it's time to practice all these teachings of love and respect in real life, lets show same compassion and love towards everyone around us which we show towards our loved and dear ones regardless of their gender, age, race or nationality. May be one day we won't need any posts like this, any messages like this and let's hope that day will come very soon.
Thanks for reading please share your views on this topic.

References:
1. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/gangraped-in-moving-bus-girl-fights-for-life-in-delhi-hospital/article4208833.ece 
2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2174288/Sonali-Mukherjee-Acid-attack-victim-pleads-justice-let-die.html
3. Story of child sexual abuse victim who bravely fought legal battle for six years to get justice,
http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/girl-gets-justice-after-a-longdrawn-struggle/article4216829.ece

Friday, December 14, 2012

Guns are not toys...they kill people.

Today is very sad day for people in US, one more massacre happened where mentally sick person armed with automatic or semiautomatic assault weapon opened fire on unarmed, innocent people, small kids at Sandy Hook Elementary school, Newtown CT killing 20 kids and 7 adults including himself. This is not one isolated incident, similar incidents happened not that long ago, there was Colorado theater shooting, Virginia Tech massacre and many more. In all these incidents one thing is common that people with unstable state of mind got access to dangerous assault weapons very easily which they should not have got. Many innocent people got killed in all these incidents, it was not their fault they were just living their normal life and it was cut short by some senseless act by some senseless violent act of a mentally unstable person. Yes, I know that we can not control anyone's mind, we can not predict anyone's behavior under stress or depression or any other mental trauma but we can definitely try to restrict their access to these assault weapons, these weapons multiply danger associated with their unpredictable behavior.

Why we need to sell automatic or semiautomatic assault weapons to general public? Why they need them? How can 'a right to carry a weapon' can be a fundamental right in civilized society? There are many questions like this which needs answers. I hope that this incident is not also brushed aside as one unfortunate incident where few unlucky kids lost their lives, followed by condolence meetings, lot of tears and prayers, candle march and then slowly people forget it until something like this happens again. All they are suggesting on TV are to pray, I know that this will help to tackle the grief associated with the tragic loss but any amount of prayers won't help to stop incidents like this. Any amount of prayers, condolences, candles or flowers are not going to bring back those kids and adults who died in these massacres, they are gone for no fault of theirs. God didn't kill them, and people who survived also were not saved by God, so please don't ask God why this happened, rather ask law makers, people who are in charge of this country, they might have answers for these questions, WHY THIS HAPPENED? WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS? and please tell them to give some real answers this time. How many more people should die to make them realize that they need to modify the gun opposition law to save lives of thousands of innocent, unarmed people? A country where sale of Marijuana is illegal but lethal assault weapons which can be used to kill hundreds of people can be purchased legally, does this make any sense??

I know there are many people who support gun law, and feel it's their fundamental right (awarded to them by their constitution) to carry a weapon of their choice. But why a civilized person living in very civilized country would like to buy a semiautomatic or automatic assault weapon? Just for fun? Is it a toy? NO, it's not a toy, gun kills people, once bullet is fired it doesn't see who is getting hit, kids, adults, animals doesn't matter. Whether it was fired by mistake or purposely doesn't matter, once trigger is pressed the matter is not in anyone's hand. Do people want these weapons for personal protection? really? a semiautomatic rifle for personal protection? a weapon with so much destructive power? that too in a country where law and order situation is not bad, police respond very well. I think one can not justify possession of such destructive weapon unless one is expected to get attacked by a mob or armed goons very frequently in their daily lives and I don't think people in any part of US face these types of situations in their normal lives. 

This is not the time to have a gun debate or to play blame game but this is definitely time to take some action, we need some step to stop these type of incidents. Senseless acts of extreme violence are not new to humans but in today's world where we have so much control over our lives we can definitely minimize risks associated with such type of senseless behaviors, making availability of assault weapons more difficult or impossible can be definitely one of possible solutions to this problem. In many of these cases the person who carried our this senseless act was found carrying multiple weapons, it's that easy to get them, we should do something to stop this. Gun regulation may not be able to stop these type of acts altogether but it will definitely help to reduce them, and any step necessary towards saving lives should be taken doesn't matter which party is ruling the country.

My heart goes out for all those families who lost their loved and dear ones on Friday and also in all those previous incidents, we need to make sure that people with uncontrolled emotional behavior can not get access to lethal weapons so easily, we need to protect ourselves, our children and giving guns in everyone's hand is not a solution according to me. Thanks for reading and please raise your voice to express your concern about this issue.

Reference:
1. http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2012/12/14/news/doc50cb434cac3ab117605387.txt

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why women are not allowed to lit pyre during cremation?

I think very few people are comfortable to talk about death and issues related with it but this topic is not only related with death but mainly it's related with gender discrimination. It’s not that I am trying to link almost all topics on my blog with gender discrimination but many of these things are really closely related and understanding them in more detail might explain society's heavy prejudice towards women. 

Cremation is an extremely important ritual for Hindus and people belonging to most of other religions. It is an ancient custom among Hindus to cremate their dead. Hindus believe it releases an individual’s soul from its temporary physical body so it can be reborn. If this process is not done properly, then it is thought that the soul will be disturbed and won’t find its way to its proper place in the afterlife and come back to haunt living relatives, so it has huge significance. After a person dies (male or female doesn't matter), it is understood that the lighting of the funeral pyre will be led by the eldest son of the deceased, if he/she don’t have a son then grandson, and so on but it has to be some male adult or child from their family. 

One of the primary reasons that Hindus wish for a son is that only sons can carry out funeral rites which can give them mukti or moksha. It is possible to substitute another relative for a son but this is generally regarded as much less effective. Traditionally women have not been allowed at cremations because it is believed that they are emotionally not as strong as men and they might cry and can not handle the emotional trauma associated with this act. Women are not even supposed to enter the cremation area or even watch what goes on inside it. This includes close women relatives and family members of diseased person. They are allowed to help to lay out the body at home and some other rituals but carrying the body, gathering the wood and lighting the fire are all considered as man's work. One might wonder why was so, and is there any explanation for this or it is again example of gender discrimination? It seems there is some explanation for this, we all know that during early days of our civilization, fire used to be started by rubbing sticks or stones against each other. Therefore lighting any fire afresh used to be a difficult, time-consuming and laborious task and required a lot of physical effort and energy. May be that is why women were not allowed to do this job because physically there are weaker than men. This practice of a strong male (usually the eldest son) lighting the funeral pyre slowly grew into a custom, which over time became quite rigid almost like a law along with time too many superstitions also got attached with it. I think this is what led to the belief that the last rites for a parent or any person would not be acceptable to almighty God religiously unless the deceased's son or any other legal male heir had carried them out. This thinking put more pressure on the families to have sons while undermining the importance of daughters, even many Hindi movies used to have this emotional dialogue where person used to say to his/her son 'my son if you won’t be there then who will lit my pyre?' (बेटाअगर तू नहीं रहेगा तो मेरी चिता को आग कौन लगाएगा?), and even by mistake also they don't say this to their daughters, so the prejudice remains even in movies and this belief is very strong.

So one can almost see a pattern in all these issues, most of these customs, rituals or some superstitions are something which started because of unique situation (social and economical) and requirement at that time (some thousands of years ago), empowering particular gender with certain status and responsibility and slowly it became rigid rule and a way to suppress other gender (females), it needs to stop somewhere and I think our generation has power and capability to do that. I am not saying that now make women to lit pyre and kick men out, this not my definition of women liberalization but what I am saying is give them an option, give them equal treatment, remove that prejudice and bias against them and then it will be women's choice what to do but at least let them choose, allow them to say no, but let it be their choice.
  
Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing) 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

गीता अर्जुन को ही क्यों बताई गयी?


कुरुक्षेत्र मे मौजूद तमाम लोगों के बिच श्रीकृष्ण ने गिता बताने के लिए अर्जुन ही क्यों चुना? वहां पर कई वीर और विद्वान मौजूद थे तो अर्जुन ही क्यों?...

You tube link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZIpEs4RXdE&feature=plcp

Friday, December 7, 2012

Worshiping while Menstruating- What's wrong in it?

Some cultures and traditions are very old, since thousands of years certain traditions are in practice and people still follow them with a lot of devotion and belief. I am very proud of India's rich culture and traditions. There are many good things which one can learn from these traditions, but at the same time, there are certain rituals or traditions which need to change or should be abandoned altogether. I personally believe that customs and rituals need to change with time. There is one custom where women and girls are not allowed to enter temples, or take part in many religious functions while menstruating or during periods (the term mostly used for menstruation). This tradition is still practiced in many families and many women also believe that it is their duty to follow this ritual. They feel guilty if they don't do this, such is the effect of this tradition. Every religion has put some restrictions on women while there are menstruating, so this is not related to any particular religion. Some forbid them from entering temples or mosques, some restrict their physical and social behavior, different religions have different type of restrictions. There are many justifications for why these restrictions were introduced. Some of these explanations sound logical and must have been relevant to that era and time but the strange part is even after so much progress in the area of sanitation and personal hygiene many people still practice these things. 

In Hinduism, menstruating women are not supposed to enter the temple because they are believed to be ‘unclean’, menstruating women are also supposed to keep away from sacred objects even in their own homes. According to Old Testament of the Bible, menstruating women are unclean for seven days (Leviticus 12). A woman had to 'purify' herself after she finished menstruating until then anything that she touched would be considered as unclean (as would anyone who had touched her, or had been touched by a person who had been in contact with her). I have read somewhere that Buddhism has no menstrual restrictions at all (menstruation is just seen as a natural bodily process). However, some Buddhist temples do restrict menstruating women from entering them (probably because of the influence that Hinduism has had on Buddhism).

I spent most of my life in Hindu neighborhood in India, women were not allowed to go to the temple, to do poojas, or not even offered prasad (offerings from temples). They were not allowed in churches or mosques also during those days. In some very orthodox families, women were forbidden from even entering in the kitchen during menstruating days. She had to depend on somebody even to take a drinking water from a vessel as it was believed that her touch might pollute that water, the belief was so strong and rigid that it was beyond and rational or logic. Technically she was ostracized or quarantined. The effect of these beliefs is so strong that if any woman dares to challenge them every attempt is made to make her feel like a sinner. There are so many explanations and justifications for why this practice was started; some say it was because of hygiene (remember those were pre-sanitary pad days), some say the in those days women's basic lifestyle required more physical effort and put more strain than today and this practice gave them much required physical rest. These explanations indeed sound very practical and valid for 'those days'. Maybe it was required back then, but why are we still practicing them even today? Today in the era of sanitary napkins very sophisticated and reliable methods of sanitation are available. Women are empowered and capable of taking decisions about their own life then why these things are still in practice?

The hold of these beliefs is so strong that many women still believe that there is something wrong with them during those days. They feel they are really polluted or dirty during that period and should not take part in any of these activities. I have seen my mother, my wife practicing these things for years and no matter how much I question them, how much I explain they are just too scared to break this religious dogma or superstition. Now after my continuous questioning at least they accept that this practice is wrong and should be discontinued but they are scared to do it. I already wrote one post related to pure biological nature of pregnancy, similarly, menstruation is a purely biological process, there is nothing dirty, or sinful in it and definitely this has nothing to do with any god or religion, it's just simple biology. 

Many people who believe in the supremacy of God don't even think that how a God can become unclean or polluted by a touch of a menstruating woman. Does this mean that a woman in her periods has more power than their all powerful God? Why god should fear a menstruating woman? Womanhood is a gift from nature to females and they should cherish it and feel proud about it. Shame or guilt should not be associated with any gender's biological function. This practice of seclusion of women in this way due to some biological processes associated with their gender should stop. It is a duty of all of us together to put a full stop to such discriminatory practices. Let's show some courage to eradicate this practice, let's confront these things wherever we see them and let's start this from our own homes. 

I understand very well that many times it's not fair to judge past societies with current social values and knowledge. Here, I am not trying to do this, rather I am questioning beliefs of present societies which are based on past social or religious values. Because of these types of beliefs and superstitions, women already suffered enough. They are treated as inferiors or like a burden in many societies from the moment the fetus is known to be a female. I think time has come to get rid of all these types of customs and rituals. We have come very far from those medieval times. As far as I am concerned I don't care what any religion or scripture says about this topic, if I see this type of prejudice and discrimination I voice my opinion strongly against it, I question it. I know it may not change anything immediately but I do it anyway. Unless women themselves start questioning these type of beliefs we can't bring that change. I hope that more and more women will start doing it. I am sure we all can create a prejudice-free environment with our efforts and I am very optimistic about it.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holy cow...myth or reality?

I get regular posts on my Facebook wall from some of my Indian FB friends about their anger against cow slaughter, how we need to save cows from getting slaughtered and how it is evil to eat cow meat and so on, basically all these posts say that it's our (all Hindus) duty to save cow because she is a sacred animal in Hindu religion. Eating or selling cow meat (beef) is a big no no in most parts of India, cow is considered as a sacred/holy animal by most of Hindus and killing her is considered as a big sin, above that selling her meat is greater sin and then eating that meat is unforgivable sin. But this should not give anyone an impression to that Indians are vegetarians (plant eaters) or they don't eat any meat or they are very protective about all animals, and believe me many foreigners do get this impression that if you are from India you must be a vegetarian, I still wonder from where and why they get this impression. So the the question to ask here is if many people in India are not against eating animal flesh then why they are so against cow meat? What is so special about this particular animal?

If any country or religion or community is against animal slaughter or using any animal products (as vegans are) then one can understand their opposition for eating animal flesh, but here opposition is not about eating animal flesh but flesh of only a particular animal (cow in case of Hindus and Pig in case of Muslims), the question is what is the logic or rational behind it? I understand that Muslims or some Christians don't eat pork just because it's mentioned in their corresponding holy books (Qu'ran and Bible) not to eat it, so it's a very simple thing, there is absolutely no logic behind this, just follow the instructions, don't ask why, just follow the book, very simple, even if this instruction was given in a book written some several hundreds of year ago (when pig was considered as dirty, filthy animal), just follow it. In this case also people are not against eating pork because they are against animal killing or care about these animals but just because some book (and remember this is not any medical science or diet book) says not to eat it without giving any logical reasons. Then what is the reason for Hindus not to eat cow? Well for Hindus there is no single book which can be called as Hindu religious text, there are many books and some of them even clearly indicate that cow sacrifice was very common practice in those days when these texts were written, so the origin of this belief (sacred cow) is not some particular book but there must be some other factors also.

So for me the question was how cow became holy or sacred in India or Hinduism? I think the main reason why cow attained this holy status was because of agriculture based economy. Cow is very useful animal in agriculture based economy as she can provide milk, cow dunk (used in dried form as fuel, insect repellent), ox/bullocks were used for farming. Cow was a very important animal in economical and social life of any family in agriculture based economy, it was very useful animal and if people kill it just to eat her meat then it would have reduced their number and in turn harmed the economy. It was economically more productive to use them as agriculture and dairy animal rather than killing them for their flesh. But then the problem was, how to convince people to stop their killing just for meat? How to solve this problem? Difficult option was to explain people the importance of cow for welfare of their family and tell them to follow some sustainable lifestyle and where they can strike a balance between number of cows so that their ratio is not adversely affected (lot of economics and complicated stuff which common people don't want to listen). We all know from experience that this strategy is very difficult to implement, we see many species becoming endangered (plants as well as animals) and some even getting extinct because of aggressive hunting or killing by humans for so many reasons (flesh, skin or for any other body parts). The easier option was to declare the thing holy or sacred, this automatically protects that object (animal, land, tree or anything). This practice is still used in India, any land or tree or any thing one wants to protect or occupy, built some temple or mosque or any religious center there and then one can see that people of that religion are willing to sacrifice their life to protect that structure or tree or animal but if one tries convincing people about necessity of having sustainable lifestyle hardly anyone pays any attention...it sounds ridiculous but it's the reality..I am sure this will change in future but right now this is the case in most parts of the country.

People who are against cow slaughter or think she is sacred animal equate cow with mother, the reason they give is we drink her milk like we drink our mother's milk as a infant, but they don't give same status to buffalo, goat (these are also animals whose milk humans drink) or to soybean or almonds (vegans and many people with lactose intolerance problem only drink plant derived milk), can they explain why they use this double standard? Why preferential treatment only to cow but not to other animals or plants? I know that they may not like this question but I am curious to know their answer (logical answers, not just a reference to some thousand year book which is no more relevant today).

Some of these people are willing to massacre people who kill cows and all this in the name of saving the holy cow, does this make any sense? What's use of killing poor people who are trying to earn their living by doing their job (I am not talking about the owners of slaughtering houses but people who work there). I used to feel really gross when I used to see people drink cow urine (because they believe it's sacred), I still can't understand the logic behind it. I know the uses of cow dunk but I never saw people eating it, but drinking urine of some animal was totally illogical and foolish act according to me, but people used to do it (may be they still do it, as many still believe that cow is sacred). Book "The myth of holy cow" written by D. N. Jha, where he discussed various aspects related with this issue is already banned in India (as expected, no surprise) and even author was threatened, and any one can guess the reason, people just don't want to read about the other side of the story, it hurts their religious sentiments?? it's a sensitive subject, culture, tradition...regular reasons...opposition to cow slaughter is not at all related with Hinduism, this religion is much more than that but somehow few people are using this issue for their personal and political benefit. If people are so against animal killing then they should request government to ban all meat based products and make a law to enforce this action, but to create a drama using cow slaughter as a religious issue doesn't make any sense to me.

People of that time found this easy solution (declaring them sacred or holy objects) to protect cow as well as some trees (in India specially in villages still some species of trees are not cut just because people believe that they are sacred and cutting them will bring bad luck to them or their village), it was need of that time and I think this trick worked very well and served its purpose. Then the question now is, do we still need this same trick to save cows in India? After so much progress in animal husbandry and science do we have any logical reason to stop people from eating beef or pork? I am not advocating non-vegetarian diet (specially eating of beef) or slaughtering of animals for food here, this post is not in support of any particular form of diet. I am just putting a question, why a meat of only a particular animal (which is legal to sell) is forbidden for people who want to eat it? People who don't want to eat meat should not eat it, no one is forcing them but they should allow others to eat it as long as it's legal, we should learn to respect each others feelings and choices.

People who oppose cow slaughter for whatever reasons put the argument that then people will also demand human meat, will that be OK? This question doesn't have any logic, people say this just for the sake of argument. My point is, if it's legal and allowed by law of that land then people don't have any right to dictate what others should eat, diet is a personal choice like clothing. There is nothing wrong in encouraging vegetarian or non-veg diet by showing their merits and demerits but to ridicule one form of diet for some illogical reasons doesn't make sense to me. Whatever food we eat, it should be a healthy food, according to me it is hippocratic to kill and eat some animals of our own choice (like chicken  goat, sheep, deer, pig, duck, etc.) and force others not eat animals of their choice (pork or beef).

I also don't accept the logic of vegetarian people that their diet doesn't involve killing of living things, so called vegetarian diet just doesn't include animal flesh and doesn't involve animal killing, but all plants are living things and people do kill them to consume them, so these two categories are named according to their origin or source from where food originates and there is nothing pro or anti life in both of them. There is simple rule in nature, every living thing survives at the cost of other living thing, and this is true for everyone including humans. I hope that people around the world realize and acknowledge this fact and learn to respect each others choices, we need to adopt a sustainable lifestyle which is good for the health of our body, our planet and its environment, rest all is secondary.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

References:
1. The Myth of Holy Cow- D. N. Jha (http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Holy-Cow-D-Jha/dp/1859844243)
2. http://www.ted.com/talks/christien_meindertsma_on_pig_05049.html 
3. http://themuslimvoice.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/why-is-pig-haraam-in-islam/ 
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unclean_animals
5. http://my.opera.com/liquid%20snake/blog/pork-forbidden-but-why (another example how Dr. Zakir Nayak uses his medical degree to fool people)
6. http://ebooks.iskcondesiretree.info/pdf/Voice_of_Cows/Voice_of_Cows_-_Newsletter_Vol-01_-_Issue-05_-_2010-02.pdf
7. http://books.google.com/books/about/Hindus_Ate_Beef.html?id=PjLxHAAACAAJ

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing) 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am neither a theist nor atheist..

Normally people who believe in God or the one who don't believe like to divide the whole world in two sections, one set of people who believes in God and its existence are called 'theist' and other section who don't believe in God or existence of some power like that are called 'atheist'. There are many subgroups among both these groups but normally people like to associate themselves with any one of these categories. Both groups are very passionate about their beliefs and have very strong points to support their hypothesis. I love to hear both the sides, both have many very good points and that's why it really amazes me when I see that both sides feel that other side don't have any logic  or rationale behind their hypothesis and funny thing is that both feel that other side is totally ignorant and stupid.

This post is not about supporting or criticizing any of these groups but it's about what I think, it is about my views, many theist people who know me think that I am atheist who doesn't believe in God or don't follow any rituals of any organized religion. Because of this behavior theist put me in 'atheist' category and above all this some posts on my blog clearly show my views about organized religion and traditional concept of God which is preached by many sects and groups. But at the same time many who see me and meet me at some poojas, festivals, religious gatherings, see me singing bhajans or aaratis (devotional songs), involved in so called spiritual discussions and gatherings think that I am kind of religious guy who needs a little more push to become a full fledged devotee. And because of many questions which I ask they also think that I need some proper guidance and a Guru so that I can also become one of them, a devotee who accepts everything without questioning (or minimum questioning). They say that if this happens then I can enjoy all benefits which come from being part of organized religious group. Many of my atheist friends like my posts and views where I question some religious concepts and traditions which are still practiced, I target specially the one which result in discrimination or suppression of particular class of society or particular gender.

I personally think that I don't fit in any of these groups, may be there is no proper definition for people like me, I am sure there are many like me who have all inclusive philosophy who are fine with concept of God or no God, any religion or no religion as long as it maintains peace, harmony, mutual respect, dignity of all beings and allows healthy discussion to improve knowledge. I also agree that my views about current from of religion and concept of God are more closer to atheism rather than theism. The problem with the conventional definition of theist or atheist is that it puts too much emphasis on presence of deity, people who believe if at least one deity exists are called theist and who don't believe in existence of deities are called atheist. Both these groups don't meet an eye to eye and try to score point against each other wherever they can. Both of them are becoming quite fanatic and extremist in their views. I don't like this constant tug of war and continuous attempts to insult or humiliate each other. I think both can learn a lot from each other and can peacefully co-exist but current format of organized religion or many cult movements or fanatic atheism doesn't allow this. As far as I read about religion, I found that Hinduism (not in its current form but in its early stages when it had no name) was the only civilization which not only allowed but encouraged questioning as a way to gain and generate knowledge. Back then it also gave the option to reject all current theories and philosophies and find something new. Thinkers of that time never forced any particular method of self realization but some how this tolerant thinking lost its ground as it developed in organized religion which we call Hinduism today. Many things changed and today it is not very different than most of other religions practiced around the world.

I feel that people of both these groups can learn lot of good things from each other. The best scenario will be where both can co-exist together and get benefited from each other. There are many who don't need religion or God to live their life, they are strong enough to live their life without need of any such support. At the same time there are many who need religion and God desperately and can not imagine their life without these things. We all no matter which group you associate with need to be sensitive to feelings of both these groups and understand their views. If people ridicule each others beliefs all the time then how we can understand each other and share our ideas? I think even common people (who are not involved in research) need to adopt the scientific mindset and logical thinking. Scientists listen to new concepts and ideas from all fields of science, don't ridicule just because they don't like it or think it's crazy. In science any question or objection is not taken as offense but an opportunity of improve and learn more, what is wrong to have this type of mindset in our real life? If everyone can think like this then slowly these labels even if they exist will stop to have rigid meanings and stop dividing people based on their beliefs. In science chemists don't hate physicist or biologists just because they belong to different field, rather they help each other and borrow ideas liberally from wherever they feel necessary, isn't it a beautiful philosophy? Isn't this thinking or approach helped us to solve some great mysteries or problems? This interdisciplinary approach lead us to invent great things which make our life more comfortable and happy. I am not preaching any new philosophy here, rather I am saying we can use same philosophy which is already in use, so no matter which religion you follow, whether you consider yourself theist or atheist but try to think like scientist and I think it can do wonders, let's be happy and make others happy.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

Links:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theism
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Balasaheb Thackeray- Ek tha Tiger

Today on 17th November 2012, Shivsena chief Balasaheb Thackeray (or Thakre) passed away in Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra, the city which he loved and cared for. I am sure there will be mixed reactions from various sections of society, media as well as regions of India about this news. This news has great significance for people from Maharashtra, because he was one leader from Maharashtra who focused only on this particular state and its people. I guess he was unique political leader who never even traveled outside Maharashtra for any reason, it was like a tiger who never left his den. People from other states may not understand the importance of his personality because they view him from totally different angle. One may or may not agree with his ways or policies, may hate or love him but one thing is sure one can not ignore him.

His personality and movement which he started for Marathi manoos (which brought him in lime light), his speeches had a great influence on people of Maharashtra, he made his quest to fight for problems of 'Marathi manoos' and that's what made him popular among masses, as I said one can question his methods or even criticize him for some of his actions but according to me his intentions were honest, he totally believed in his philosophy and was totally focused about his goal. He made his own place in state politics without any godfather. I first heard his speech when I was still a school boy, never understood much apart from that he was a really good orator with very good grip on audience. His style and way of delivering his speech was unique and people loved it. Even media used to wait eagerly for his speech which he used to deliver at Shivsena gathering on occasion of vijaya dashami every year.

Maharashtra and specially Mumbai was facing unprecedented load of immigrants from other parts of India when Balasaheb entered in politics, he started his political career with his movement against immigrants, it was about attack and dominance of immigrant population from other states in Mumbai over locals. National media projected him as one of the most divisive figure of regional politics, may be in technical terms he was but for me there was always some substance in his allegations, as I said his methods might have been wrong, but his intention wasn't and he raised quite important issues which mattered for locals and that's the only reason he got support form people. 

Painting him as the political person playing only divisive politics or preaching intolerance is utterly misleading and wrong, he was definitely much more than this. In Indian politics every political party caters its own vote bank and he did the same to survive in this game, so what's wrong in it? No one calls it divisive when Mayavati or Mulayam does it, or Congress does it, but it seems it's divisive only when Thackeray does it. He played by the same rules which other parties play. He raised some valid questions like what locals should do when immigrants reject and insult their local culture, what to do when they don't even learn the local language but rather try to impose their own? Can anyone imagine living in USA for 25 years but not knowing English, or in Tamilnadu (or Chennai) and not knowing Tamil rather making fun of these languages? But there are people in Mumbai who are living there for last 20-25 years and don't even bother to learn or respect Marathi rather make fun of it, is it right? May be but Thackeray didn't think so and based on the support he got there were many people who thought like him. I agree that it's their choice to learn or not to learn any language but to mock the local culture is not a right thing to do and that's where he came into picture, they (locals) found their voice in him, terming him as dictator or a man who injected culture of intolerance is insult to all people who supported him. 

I am not trying to justify his political career or all of his activities here but trying to explain this phenomena called Balasaheb from my own point of view. I disagreed with his views on some issues and supported him on some and I think that's the way I look at every person or situation, there will be always good and bad things, I like to take all that is good for me and leave the rest. I never voted for Shivsena in any national election but I always favored their candidates in local elections as long as I was in Pune because they took active interest in our day to day problems and they were one of us. One can definitely analyze and criticize his political career and show many flaws in his political philosophy but in spite of all these things he stood out and attracted big fan following, developed one regional party which is controlling Mumbai municipal corporation for last 15 years or so, his party along with BJP was the only party which ruled a full term (5 years) in Maharashtra which is continuously ruled by INC (Indian national congress) and by any standards these are not a small achievements.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)