Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What if others don't care....

I personally believe in certain things which are related with environment and impact of human activities on it. I try to follow certain lifestyle where I try to minimize impact of my behavior on environment, I personally believe that every living thing lives at the cost of other living thing ( vegetarians and vegan people should stop thinking that they don't kill anything to feed themselves, we all do that...:). So our existence it self on this planet is bound to have some impact on this planet whether we like it or not. We all need to consume things to survive, we all generate waste and our consumption and waste generation capacity is increasing day by day. Do we think about this? Do we care? Most of us don't, we think that why should I care if others don't? Whatever will happen to others will happen to me also so why to care?

Whenever possible I share my thoughts with my kids and people around me about this topic. During my discussion I encourage them to reduce their carbon footprint, there are some people who care to listen, some of them care to follow certain things but most don't care...they think if they can afford the luxury then why not to use it? they are perfectly right in their thinking and this whole thing is not at all about whether you can afford to enjoy certain luxuries or not but it's all about whether you care about this planet or not? You can enjoy most of the luxuries and at the same time contribute towards welfare of this planet, showing concern towards our planet doesn't means going back to stone age.

We can practice many small small things in our life which can bring huge change, things like not using elevator for climbing up anything less than 5 floor or not at all while coming down from any building, walk wherever possible or use public transport if possible, try to share a ride or car pool whenever possible, use lights in home more efficiently, etc. If many people follow these things it can save lot of energy, and some of these even have health benefits. Energy (in the form of electricity or fuel) consumption is at its peak on this planet and it's going to increase as more and more people will start using vehicles and big homes because they can afford it. Because of this it becomes even more important to use available energy more responsibly and efficiently. Justifying our own high energy consuming life style by saying that everyone is doing that is not proper thing to do according to me, I know that one person can not create a huge impact or change the things but he/she can definitely can have some impact and that's what my goal is. I know people might laugh at my ways, they might dismiss it as some crazy american fad (just because I reside in US currently), or might even question my understanding of current Indian living standards (as I am away from country for last 9 years) but that's not going to stop me from practicing what I believe (and my stay in US has very little to do with this thinking). I am not talking only about India here but people all over world need to be conscious about tier carbon foot print. In US also there is huge wastage of energy, people all over world need to analyze their use of energy and try to bring necessary changes. India has huge population so if people here care for energy and manage its consumption I believe that its impact will be huge. We call our planet 'Mother Earth' and we show so little concern about her health and welfare. Everyone is concerned about their own biological mother and her health and do whatever is necessary to take care of her. Our mother earth has so many kids but unfortunately very few care about her and most of her kids think that it's not their responsibility, poor mother earth even after having so many kids, providing them almost every necessary thing is facing abuse at the hands of her own kids.

I know that it's not that easy but as per my experience it's not that difficult. It's little inconvenient to travel in crowded city buses and trains but things are much better than they were 10 years ago. I traveled in PMT (city transit bus in Pune) bus few days back and it was not that bad, at least it was better than experience of driving a four wheeler on crowded roads in Pune. Water wastage is another issue which bothers me, administrators in India just don't want to accept that we need better water management system, we face same problems repeatedly, water cuts every year in Pune but refuse to learn any lesson from them, now at least some people are thinking about rain water harvesting and other options to conserve some water which is a welcome sign but in general there is no general awareness about this issue. Traffic on roads is horrible, every one complains about it but no one is willing to set an example (and again same explanation that no one cares then why should I?). Honking has become habit of Indian drivers, there is hardly a minute passes by where you won't hear honking on road. I just don't understand that why people need to honk so much (unless they believe others are driving in their sleep and they need to honk to wake them up)....yesterday I rode our bike for the (first time on this India visit) and didn't felt the need to honk even once, I don't think people understand how to use vehicle horn properly here, I wish they know and care about the noise pollution which is caused by this unnecessary use of vehicle horn.

My aim is not to list the problems which I see around me  and complain about them, problems can definitely be solved but I want to question the attitude, if others don't care why should I? We don't ask this question while buying a car, if someone is buying fuel efficient car then why shouldn't I? We don't ask similar question when some one is doing some philanthropic work, I can list many more instances like this, under most of these situations people do whatever they want to do, they don't follow others but whenever it comes to follow the rules, care about environment everyone want others to start first, there no one asks the question why shouldn't I? I think we need to ask this question and ask it very honestly. I am sure even if others don't care many of us do care and we need to show that in our actions. Let's show that we do care.

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

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

Monday, August 20, 2012

When the bird starts loving its cage....

I wrote few posts dealing with the situation of women in our society (with special focus on Indian society) and also about effect or contribution of various religions or scriptures towards secondary treatment of women in this world. Attempt to give women equal rights, to prove that they are equal to men are going on from many centuries. I am not the first or the last person to talk about this issue, many men, women and organizations are involved in this moment. Very often I used to think that why many these women who are subject of this prejudice and injustice don't feel themselves that something wrong is going on and resist it? Why after so many years of work by various men, women and organizations still situation is not very different in some parts of the world. Why still it is expected that women should behave like women (and we all know what this line means)?

When I talk with women around me (including women from my family) I see that they themselves believe that women have certain 'defined role' to play in society or family and there are certain things which are forbidden to them and they are not supposed to venture into those areas because it's not for them. These women resist, criticize and even attack other women who are trying to break these boundaries and enter into that forbidden land. I wonder, if this is the case where after living in the cage for centuries the bird starts loving the cage, feels safe inside the cage, starts thinking it belongs to that cage and the world outside the cage is not for him/her and because of this mentality scared to come out of it. Many of these women are very comfortable in their world, they don't even think that society or their own family is treating them unfairly, they totally believe that women should be treated in this way only. Few kind words or even nominal respect is enough for that women to forget all her pain or insult and work again with all dedication for same man or family who mistreat, insult or even beat her...the bird loves her cage so much that she is going to pay any price to remain in that cage because she thinks that there is no place for her other than that cage.

This is result of suppression for centuries, male dominated society always treated women like a physical object, propaganda by many religions and their books about women and their role in society also didn't help women, they made women sacred but not equal to men. Many religions and scriptures who consider 'moksha' or liberation from this cycle of birth and death as ultimate goal of human life consider women as major obstacle for men in achieving that goal, I don't know what is the logic for this. Why it's not other way? All major religions of the world don't treat women very kindly, still they all have many dedicated women devotees. I wonder if any of these women loving their cage think about this or not, situation won't change until these women start asking these questions whenever they read or hear anything discriminating against their gender anywhere. They should question any theory or hypothesis (no matter from which religion or culture) which discriminates them based on their gender. Many feminist movements which are going on from centuries are important and are playing their role in making things better for women, trying to empower them but what I feel lacking is role these suffering women themselves should play in this war. If these women start asking these questions, confront these issues whenever they face them this will make task of these movements comparatively easy. If even after all these movements and attempts to make them aware of their rights many women are not willing to fight their own battle, this makes me think that somehow they are comfortable with their situation in society and don't want to change, that means they are scared to come out of that cage or they started loving it.

Only women themselves can solve this problem, no one can force them to come out of that cage and fight, if they are not willing to fight then the battle will be surely lost. According to me it's wrong to force someone to fight if he/she is not willing to do it. They should realize that it's not about hurting their family or against any culture or they should not worry about what people will say about them if they rebel but it's all about their self respect and rights. They can choose which way they want to fight but they should fight, these things are not going to change on their own, as I said for centuries these efforts and movements are going on but still lot of work needs to be done and major reason for this situation is lack of full cooperation from women. If the bird in cage wants to fly in free sky fist it should have desire to come out of it's cage and take efforts to open the door if it's closed, until it does that cage is not going to disappear on its own. I am waiting when the bird will start fighting it's own battle rather than waiting for someone else to rescue it...if it fights its own battle then only it can make itself totally free. Only women have power to make themselves free, enough help and encouragement is available now they have to step up, I hope after few years from now I or no one has to write about women suppression and their condition in society, I hope that this bird will stop loving its cage and come out of it and start flying.

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

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

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why do people cheat?

Actually no one teaches basic us art of cheating (here, I am not talking about cheating involved in a professional crimes like some big monetary fraud), even as a child many times we try to cheat or lie to cover up our mistakes or to get some things, many times we label them as child pranks. Lying is an integral part of cheating, they are two sides of the same coin, above question can be reframed as why do people lie? We all use different excuses from time to time to get away with some things which we want to avoid, technically we all lie at some time or other in our life and we don't even notice it or don't even realize that we are lying and even if somebody points us out our mistake we don't take it seriously because we believe as long is doesn't harm any one or if we are not using it for some personal gain or very selfish motive it's fine. We strongly believe that it doesn't qualify as cheating or lying if it doesn't harm anyone. 

We start act of cheating or lying at very young age without even knowing that we are doing it and if you observe carefully it comes to us naturally, we have to teach kids not to lie or not to cheat but they learn these things on their own or we can say it is natural. No parent teaches their child art of cheating or lying but all kids do it as a child, even if we read ancient scriptures like Mahabharat or Srimad Bhagavatam we can see that there are many instances where characters like Krishna used cheating or lying (or telling partial truth) to their advantage. Krishna as a child was involved in many pranks which involved stealing, telling lies to her mother and things like that. All Hindus read these stories with very devotion without realizing that somewhere it creates a impression that its OK to cheat in some cases. I am not saying that because of Krishna's character or some stories in scriptures where cheating is justified we learn it, then people from other religions who read scriptures without such stories (in which all acts of heroes are glorified including their acts involving cheating or lying) should not cheat or lie, but that's not the case, that's why I believe that this tendency of cheating comes naturally to us.

Normally we use or perform act of cheating or lying to coverup something which we don't want others to know or in some situations where we think telling the truth might put us in some trouble, so we do it out of fear of getting exposed or out of greed. Even in very serious and honest relationships (like husband-wife) people cheat, they try to cover up their dishonest acts or mistakes. Many use cheating out of fear of getting caught (this is common for children and kids), many use it to cover up their dishonest acts (in relationships) and many use it just because it's convenient to do it (we call it harmless because it doesn't hurt anyone). Temptation of cheating or lying under many circumstances is very difficult to resist, suppose you are planning to spend all your Sunday at hone and your friend call you for a game of tennis at 6 AM in the morning, you don't want to wake up that early on weekend but also don't want to hurt your friends feeling then you make some excuse like you are not feeling well or you have to go somewhere at 7 so cant come, we give some excuses like this many times, under different situations and we don't even realize that we cheated or lied to our friend. 

So, if it's natural, is it OK to cheat or not? I think we should try to avoid it as much as possible but honestly it's impossible to not to do it totally. I think it depends on situation, as long as it doesn't harm anyone for me it's OK. I am not going to go in technical details what qualifies cheating or lying and what doesn't. I think people cheat or lie because it comes naturally, it's a act of defense which our brain uses with an intention to avoid certain uncomfortable situations. Does this means we can teach our kids that it's OK to cheat or lie under certain situations? and then who will decide what are those situations? what if they develop this habit of cheating or lying? aren't we teaching them something unethical or dangerous? it's very complicated... I think we can compare it with drinking (alcohol), it might be useful in moderate amounts, should be allowed after certain age where one can use their judgement when to use it and when not, but better to avoid it totally if we can..and my view is we should try to avoid it as much as we can because always remember that if we tell the truth we don't have to remember what we said last time...

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

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

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Difference between understanding and agreeing..

Last week I had a long chat with one of my friends on the subject of religion and God. This was not the first time we had this discussion and I also know that this subject is never ending subject and almost everyone have very strong beliefs or opinions about this subject. During this discussion many times my friend said that I am not able to understand what he is trying to tell me. I was surprised by that because we were talking in English (the language which I understand reasonably well..) and I understood very well what he was trying to tell me, but I didn't agree with him on some of his points and that's when he repeatedly used this sentence. I think this happens during most of our discussions, whenever someone doesn't agree with what we say we tell them that they are not able to understand our point that's why they don't agree with us and if they really understand it then they will or should agree with it. It might be true in some of the cases (that they really don't understand and that's why they don't agree) but this may not be the case all the time. Many times (like in this case) other person may understand totally what we want to say and may still disagree with it. I think this is very normal in most of the arguments and we don't take it personally when that happens but if we are arguing or discussing about something which we totally believe or passionate about (like religion or God) then we don't want to accept the fact that our core beliefs can be wrong (as other person is opposing it or arguing about them) or people might have some alternatives to these beliefs (their own beliefs which are totally different than ours). 

This made me to think about topic of today's post, why we always think that if people don't agree with us they don't understand us? or they don't know about that subject as much as we now? Why can't we live with the fact that we all have different personalities with different thinking patterns and bound to have totally different views about the same issues. It's always good to share our views with others and discuss them or to debate about them, it helps us to update our knowledge and improve our thinking process, improves our communication skills. Discussions and arguments are very essential art of our life and very necessary for our intellectual growth, but why can't we agree that we can have some disagreement and that's totally fine? I guess root cause of this problem or belief again lies in our traditions or the way in which organized religion is preached. If you read most of the popular scriptures they have their own style of preaching and most of them want their followers to believe that all people who don't follow that particular religion (about which the book is all about) are living the life of ignorant or fool. Non followers are often considered as people walking on wrong path, who fail to understand what is 'real' or 'ultimate truth' which that book claims to reveal to us. The same mentality makes us believe that people who don't agree with us don't understand what we want to say.

I discuss with many people about various subjects ranging from science, politics and religion. My aim is to share my views and get to know others views, I started this blog also with the same intention. This helps me to improve my own knowledge. I don't want everyone to follow what I say or believe, that's not the purpose of my discussions or blog posts, I just want to share my thoughts. Many times during our discussions I and other person involved in discussion agree that we both are right and there can be more than one ways to solve same problem. But this rarely happens when the subject of discussion is related with religion or God and I can understand why, because we are never taught in those books that there can be any alternate way to whatever that book wants to teach us. I think still human race has not evolved to such a level where we all  understand that it's foolish to kill others over religious difference. I agree that it never happens as frequently as it used happen in past but still religious intolerance is one of the major problems and reason for riots and hatred in many societies and cultures.

So how to solve this problem or is there any solution for this? Of course those books are not going to offer any solution even though they all try to teach us kindness, truthfulness and love because they never teach us that there can be more than one way to reach to the same destination (at least they don't sound like that the way people interpret them in today's world). So even after learning about love, kindness, tolerance, patience and many good things from those books people are ready to kill others just because they don't agree with some of the things mentioned in that book or they follow some other book. It is true that in general people are tolerant towards each other and that's the reason our race still exists on this planet otherwise we have enough power and weapons to destroy this whole planet. In business no company can say or accept that other company's product is better than theirs, are we doing the same thing in case of religion? For me best possible way to solve this problem is to accept the fact they there is bound to be some disagreement on whatever opinions or beliefs we have and that's totally fine. If other person understands my point of view then it doesn't matter to me whether he/she agrees to it or not. I can explain to him/her my point of view until he/she understands it and after that it's totally up to that person to decide whether he/she wants to agree with it or not. Discussions and debates are not battles or wars where one party has to win and other should loose. Why can't it be like a duet song, where both say their part and express their feelings and end it with some or no conclusion. Lets stop fighting wars and start singing duets....:)

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

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Alternative medicine...does it really work??

Ayurveda is a Indian system of traditional medicine, it is also considered as Hindu system of traditional or alternative medicine. It is still very popular in India and few other countries from the same region like China, Srilanka and they have their own system of alternative medicine. Before origin and popularity of allopathic medicine most of the diseases and alignments were treated by using traditional medicinal knowledge. Ayurvedic texts are very old and they contain very detailed information about various diseases, their symptoms and ways of treating or preventing them. I think it pays more emphasis on prevention rather than cure, it recommends to lead very disciplined life style with balance of work, exercise, proper food and peace of mind. But in today's world it is often impossible to follow such routine, there are some people who can still manage to do that but most of us find it very hard.

Because of technological inventions new methods of diagnosis and treatment are developed in modern medicine. Since birth of pharmaceutical industry and some major breakthroughs in drug discovery there was continuous supply of new drugs for life threatening diseases. I think this revolution lead people to believe that anything can be cured by available drugs and they can get away with their erratic lifestyle and food habits with the help of pills. In this scenario there is little scope for traditional medicine as it doesn't offer instant solutions or reliable cure for may of diseases (like cancer, high blood pressure, AIDS, etc.). World population suffering from these alignments is increasing day by day and cost of drug discovery is also increasing because of many reasons. This lead to situation where practitioners of alternative medicine (as well as its manufacturers) started making tall claims that they can cure cancer or AIDS with help and herbs or some other methods to attract patients towards them. There is no scientific study or reliable data which can validate these claims. Many people from developing countries (like India) who can't afford expensive treatments or medicines choose to go with this alternative medicines. Many of them even claim to get benefited or cured by these treatments. I think placebo effect plays major role here, may be I am wrong because there is no data to prove this but this is what I think. Most of the formulations of traditional medicines are not tested in lab for concentration of their active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and very often clinical trials are not performed. It's not that allopathy or modern medicine is full proof cure without any problems, these medicines have side effects (some times very serious and life threatening), some times pharma companies do some mistakes or there were some instances of professional malpractices (like they exist in medical doctors profession), but over all pharma industry is doing decent job in serving patients. Modern pharma industry have set protocols for drug development and its clinical trials. Agencies like FDA (in US) try to monitor drug development and introduce new regulations from tie to time to make the process of drug discovery and consumption more safe and reliable, but similar things can not be said about traditional medicines as they don't have any controlling or regulating authority like FDA and because of this there is lot of inconsistency in their quality and performance.

In today's world we can not depend on some system which was in use several hundreds of years ago, it's really sad that in India we could not make proper use of this knowledge to develop drugs of our own. Many big pharma companies developed drugs from natural products (Ayurved is all about using natural products) but in India we failed to use this traditional knowledge and also failed to use modern discoveries in various fields to improve this knowledge. There is still hope that this situation can be changed but people should not be emotionally attached with this knowledge and should be open to accept some criticism and able to analyze it without any bias, if we can do this then I am sure we are bound to gain many good things out of this. Every culture has tremendous amount of traditional knowledge, we need to explore these resources and use these treasures for our own benefit.

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

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayurveda
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allopathic_medicine

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

Friday, August 3, 2012

Listening...very important gift...

Listening is one of very basic skill which most of humans possess...but how many of us think that it's one of the very important qualities which we have? We all love to speak, express our opinion, many of us take classes or courses to improve our public speaking skills but not many of us are patient enough when it comes to listening. If we see our development from childhood, most of us fist learn to listen and then slowly we learn to speak. So most of us are born with power of listening, without that it's very difficult to learn art of speaking. As the life progresses we forget that listening is an art and very important quality to have, all of us focus heavily of speaking, expressing our self but totally ignore listening part. We take it for granted that whatever we speak people will listen and very often forget that we also need to listen others.

Many times it happens that we are in some meeting or with conversation with some person or listening a song  (for example on car stereo), physically we are there, but our mind is somewhere else, we don't realize when one song ends and other begins or we wake up only when people start clapping at the end of seminar. So it seems it's very difficult for most of us to focus our attention at one place while listening. Now a days we love to do multitasking and specially we like to check our emails, update our Facebook page or browse internet while listening seminar, sitting in classroom or even while chatting with our loved ones. We are almost sure that listening does not require our full attention and many things can be done while listening, but the funny thing is when someone else does same things while we are talking then we get upset and blame them for not paying 'full attention' to whatever we are saying. Very often a nice discussion turns into fierce argument when both parties involved in discussion stop listening to each other and try to force their own opinion on other person, so one can see that lack of patience (and listening requires lot of it) can create troubles anywhere and believe me practice of listening improves our patience a lot.

Listening offers many benefits, one of the major one is it improves our knowledge, it's very rare that you can get in trouble because of listening, speaking can land us in trouble if we are not careful with our words but listening won't do that. It also improves our patience, I think we all will agree to the fact that it requires a great deal of patience to listen what others say. Most of the time it's very difficult to control the urge of interrupting the person in between to refute his/her argument and prove them wrong, this attitude many times turns most of the discussions into argument and both people involved in this act miss the great opportunity to learn from each other.

I believe that we all need to work on our stamina of listening to what others say. If we learn to listen each other I believe we will start understanding each other better, whenever we listen to anything attentively and with patience it is possible to understand many minute things which we might miss and many times these minute things make all the difference between understanding and misunderstanding. According to me the easiest thing which we can do to avoid most of the misunderstandings in our life is to listen patiently and then think over it before responding. It's not very difficult to do but also not as easy as it sounds. It can definitely solve many of our problems...so worth trying.

Thanks for reading and please share your views.

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