Sunday, February 24, 2013

Can man and woman be just friends?

Recently my Facebook friend Lalit Kumar wrote very wonderful and thought provoking post on his blog related with this subject (, I highly recommend this post for readers who can read and understand Hindi. I found this post very interesting may be because I myself faced this dilemma or question. This subject is not something very new but the issue discussed in post is still very relevant and affects all of us, the question is very real and many people have very strong and different opinions about it. Many people feel that there is strong physical attraction between heterosexual males and females which overpowers simple friendship that's why it's not easy for them just to be friends  Many think that except some very close blood relationship (like brother sister) all other relationships between man and woman are bound to face the problem or challenge of physical attraction, many fear that no matter what society will always look with suspicion to any man-woman relationship outside immediate family, many believe that it is indeed possible to have pure and healthy friendship but it needs lot of understanding, maturity and commitment.

I was born and raised in very conservative atmosphere where normally friendship between boy and girl (or man and woman) was not approved by our society, by today's standards it was very narrow minded and restricted environment as far as man-women relationships were concerned and this was till I graduated from college. I could never make any female friends because of this, unwritten rule was 'stay away from girls'. I always felt it's not appropriate thing to make female friends and people in my neighborhood will laugh at me or think that I am a person of loose character if they see me with any girl. I think all those restrictions and taboo was because of strong belief that male-female relationship (whenever I use this term I mean relationship between them outside immediate family) is always for one reason, and this relation is always physical in nature. May be society is scared of man-women relationship because it is related with creation of new life, that is why many times it seems that whole burden of morality or character of society rests on man-women relationship. This belief was so strong and dominant that it took me lot of time to shook it off and I am sure many people living in India and many other countries during that time (or even today) must have felt the same, because it was not my family or parents but whole society forced this belief on people like me, and this included many movies, books, etc. There were very few and rare examples of pure man-woman friendship around me that time and this whole thing contributed to my belief that they can not be just friends, either they have to be related or lovers there can not be any thing else.

But then as I grew up I started reading many books, met many new people from different cultures and backgrounds and slowly got to know about world beyond my family and neighborhood. I met with some very good friends who showed me other side of life where there was possibility that boy and girl can just be friends and very good friends, it took me some time to understand this beautiful fact but finally I am very glad that I could get over my inhibitions and won that battle. But I know that there are many who can not get over these inhibitions and still think that pure friendship is not possible between man and women. This not only creates lot of problem for them but also creates lot of trouble for people around them. The real problem with this mindset is not only the person who thinks like this can not form friendship with opposite sex but he/she also looks with suspicion towards all people around him/her who have such relationships and this approach pollutes the environment for everybody to some extend. I am telling from experience that its good to get rid of this inhibition and there is beautiful world around us. Friends and friendships are very important part of everyone's life, friends are friends it doesn't matter what their gender, race, caste or sexual orientation is.

This narrow mindset also to large extend contributed to the thinking that women should behave and dress in particular way so that they don't provoke any unnecessary feelings of men around them, so men who can not control their own animal instincts blame it conveniently on women. This world is a beautiful place because of all men and women in it, we all make this beautiful society and we only give different names and meaning to all relationship. Let's give new meaning to the word "friendship" by removing any restrictions of gender, race or anything else, lets believe in our ability of just to be friends and enjoy true friendship, because it's very beautiful thing and believe me you won't regret 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, February 22, 2013

Creationism..real science or just a myth?

Few months back I attended a presentation by Michael Cremo, a renowned creationist and author of few books in this area (like Forbidden Archeology, Hidden history of human race, Human devolution, Forbidden archeologist, etc.) all these books deal with similar subject, they claim to present lot of 'scientific data' in support of theory of creationism. His presentation was interesting, he presented things mostly he already discussed in his books but as this was gathering of ISKON devotees he gave a religious touch to his presentation which is not there in all the books, people who attended loved it because it was designed to confirm their belief in the ideas which their society preach, everything was linked with ancient texts from India and an there was pathetic attempt to prove Darwin theory wrong and there was even a sentence in his slide which called Darwin stupid. So, as I said it was very interesting, I mean it's not easy to call Darwin stupid, to do this either you should be totally blinded by your faith that you can not see obvious proofs around us which point towards process of evolution or you should be dumb enough to reject anything which doesn't agree with your line of thinking without even trying to understand it. 

Everyone has right to express their views and share their ideas and creationists definitely have right to propagate their views and share it on any platform they want, I have nothing against it. At the same time I feel that while sharing these things instead of targeting Darwin, his theory of evolution and other scientific theories without giving any evidence they should focus their efforts to produce some reliable evidences which can support their own theory. As far as Mr. Cremo's presentation was concerned, like his books in this presentation also there were many references to research papers some of them were more than hundred years old which concluded that very advanced human civilization existed on this planet millions of years ago, which contradicts theory of evolution but it matches perfectly with some texts like Vedas and other scriptures. These research papers are really old and the techniques used to calculate age of some specimens were not that accurate, these type of books and such presentations also fail to mention (may be purposely) some recent publications which use more reliable and modern techniques, I think they ignore it just because they don't support their hypothesis. They cherry pick the references which only suit to support their own hypothesis and then accuse other people for knowledge filtration?

These people love to accuse entire scientific community for knowledge filtration where they accuse that most of modern day scientists don't allow these people's research to be published in reputed journals and text books. They also accuse them for lobbying against their research which doesn't allow them to get government funding and many other things which are aimed to sabotage their research. Publishing research in any scientific journal is done through a peer review process where experts in that particular field evaluate research work submitted and then judge whether it is acceptable for publication in that particular journal or not, normally to get balanced view there are at least two referees for each article  and if both give contradictory reports then it goes to a third reviewer, so as much as possible care is taken to get unbiased evaluation. This process is common with most of reputed national and international journals and every submitted research paper has to go through this process, sometimes it gets accepted and many times they get rejected, and referees are supposed to give detailed explanation why they accept or reject any article submitted to that journal. I am sure rate of rejection is more than rate of acceptance for most of reputed journals out there in all research fields. If authors are not satisfied with referee's reports for some reason they can complain against the decision of editor and there is a procedure to follow and most of time this results in fair evaluation. We all know that no system is perfect so there can be few isolated instances where there can be some complications or issues but in general this process works smoothly. But even after all this surprisingly only this group thinks that this system has serious flaws and only they are being targeted and victimized but they don't bother to present any evidence to support this claim.

In the field of science the source of knowledge or information is not at all important, it doesn't matter who has proposed the theory or equation or hypothesis if there is no enough data or evidence to support it then that thing doesn't stand. But in religion its not like this, there source of knowledge is very important or I must say is the most important thing, if it belongs to the book which they follow then no matter what, it has to be true and they expect scientific community to accept this attitude which is not possible as it's against basic principle of scientific thinking where everything can be questioned and discussed. 

If they have enough  reliable data to prove theory of creationism they can publish it in scientific journals or anywhere on the web where people can read it, evaluate it and then decide whether it's true or needs more evidence, because of tremendous progress in communication technology it's really easy to reach people all over the world and communicate with them, so why don't they do it? Why it happens  that except people from their own belief system (that is people who follow that particular religion or sect) no one accepts their hypothesis? Even there is huge disagreement between various religions about the details of theory of creationism, so the big question is which one among them is right? Why don't they first settle the differences between themselves and come up with some common theory which they can claim as common theory of creationism and then try to prove it? Why they insist their work should be in textbook without going through proper verification process? 

I asked all the questions which I mentioned above to many people who believe and support creationism but didn't get any satisfactory answers for any of them, I also didn't see any scientific data presented during that presentation, not that I expected to see it but then at least don't claim it as a scientific research just say its plain religious presentation, if you claim something to be scientific then present it in that manure, they should not try to mix things as per their own convenience and please don't blame entire scientific community for your own failures and shortcomings.

I am interested to know more about creationism and eagerly looking forward towards some evidences which support this theory but please don't present some quotes from some book without any reliable proofs and data, I don't care who said it but what was said matters to me. I hope they understand this simple fact and then act accordingly, it's easy to accuse others but they first get their acts together and then complain about others and if they have something worthwhile to share please share it I think all scientific community is interested and looking forward to it with an open mind (at least I am interested).

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

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

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj- a self made leader and King

Today is a birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, I am sure it will be celebrated in grand style with lot of fan fare, there was some dispute over the date of his birth but that's very trivial issue and I still don't understand why this issue even started few years back but I remember reading about that in news. I studied about life of King Shivaji and his heroics as a part of our history syllabus in 4th or 5th grade, it was not easy to remember all the dates and exact chronology of events, we have to memorize all these details and then write in our history exams. The exam pattern of that time tried their best to make history subject as boring as possible with so many dates and names (and compulsion of remembering all of them) but still his story and heroics thrilled me. I was impressed the way he created his own army and from very young age he fought with all the odds to become a king of masses.  

There are many books, some by very eminent authors which discus very detailed accounts of his life, there are many movies and plays specially in Marathi based on some incidents from his life. All these are excellent resources to learn about this great personality and understand importance and greatness of his work, there is no doubt that he is one of the most influential personality from Indian history. He was not born in any royal family, he also didn't inherit any kingdom, rather his father used to work for Mughal emperors of that time (Adilshah or Nizam). He has to fought with these employers of his own father to rescue people of his region from all troubles which they were facing because of miserable policies of these rulers. He was not only a brave warrior but also was very good strategist and knew very well his own strengths and weaknesses as well as knew his enemy inside out. His sharp brain and very good presence of mind helped him a lot whenever he was in trouble. He was a leader with sharp mind, a very big and brave heart and great vision.

Shivaji Maharaj is sometimes described as 'The great Hindu King' or 'The great Maratha King' these two terms exclusively refer to the religion and caste he belongs and some how I feel that both these terms don't do justice to the greatness of this man. He never ruled or even envisioned his kingdom as Hindu or Maratha kingdom, as far as I think he was very secular king in his kingdom people from all religion and caste felt really safe and welcomed. I did not know any instances from his life where he mistreated any person or group just because of their religion, caste or gender that's why I feel it's totally wrong to give him some label like this. I feel this is an attempt to claim ownership of his character by some groups for political or personal gains. His name and image has been used or many times misused by many political and non-political organizations for their own benefit, I am sure he himself would not have approved such things in his lifetime.

We have such a great example of self made person, who fought with all the odds all his life and almost won all the battles, his enemies were much, much stronger than him but he never go scared or lost confidence on his own power and his people. We need such heroes today who can guide masses, we lack such personalities in today's world. Today's leaders are slowly loosing touch with common people and there is huge communication gap between these leaders and common people whom they are supposed to lead, but Shivaji Maharaj was not like that, he did whatever was necessary for people of his kingdom even if it meant risking his own life, we don't see such commitment and loyalty in today's leaders and that's why I feel in today's world it's more important to remember people like Shivaji Maharaj.

I wish that people or political parties who claim exclusive right over Shivaji and use his image for their own benefit would also learn some important lessons from his life and try to serve people like him. Just publishing books on him or printing his posters or raising his statues on every square is not going to serve any purpose. We need to remind people for what he fought, what principles he believed in, how he treated with respect even his enemies and people related with them after war, he never played politics of revenge, never insulted any religion. We all need to remember his great qualities which made him great king and I feel this will be real homage to him and this will be real celebration of his personality and existence.

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

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

Monday, February 11, 2013

Afjal's hanging: How strong is the message against terrorism?

Finally death sentence of both Ajmal Kasab and Afjal Guru is executed both are hanged till death, punished according to the law for crimes they have committed. Kasab's case was straightforward he was caught red handed while committing that heinous crime on the night of 26/11/2008. Afjal Guru's case was more complicated, he was arrested as conspirator or master mind behind parliament attack which happened on 13 December, 2001, killing seven people and five attackers. Right from 2005 when supreme court upheld Afjal Guru's death sentence some section in media and social circles are saying that he didn't get fair trial and even supreme court in its judgement that the evidences against his are circumstantial and there is no direct evidence against him about his involvement and 'maximum' punishment had to be given to Afjal 'to satisfy the collective conscience of the nation'. Some regions of Jammu and Kashmir are tense, there is curfew imposed to tackle any unpleasant incidents which might happen in reaction to Afjal's hanging. Many articles are in media questioning real purpose and timing behind Afjal's hanging, and there many who are supporting it, both sides are passionate about their argument. In Afjal's case his family was also not aware of his hanging when it happened and they didn't get chance to perform his last rites, which I feel was little unusual because in most of the cases family is informed before executing death sentence of any convict and they are allowed to perform last rites. 

What is this 'collective conscience' which supreme court has mentioned in its judgement? Do they mean feeling of revenge, blood for blood? I am not questioning the judgement here or judiciary process, I am sure supreme court must have takes all necessary steps to assure fair trial. This was the first time our parliament was attacked, it's one thing when common people get attacked and die but it's dam serious when office of legislators is under attack. No doubt it was serious security lapse and by any standards this was not the first terrorist attack, this was not first time people got killed because of act of terrorism, similar or sometimes even worst incidents happened in past. Various communal riots killed many for no reason, people got killed for some mosque, temple or some other trivial religious issues most of the time these incidents happened for some political reasons, so many people, even some very 'Big' names got accused in some of these riots, even some has to go to court in some cases, some committee or commission was formed to inquire about these incidents, they submit their report, sometimes more violence happens against some things mentioned in these reports and then really nothing happens, everything goes on as if nothing happened and this has become a regular pattern in most of these type of cases. May be because of all this some section of society feels victimized or targeted  May be that is why some of these accused get some sympathy from some sections of society because they feel that these people fight for their rights, try to get their voices heard and in case of Kashmir these things happen very often making situation more complicated day by day.

The issue of Kashmir is not that simple and it has long history, threat of terrorism which our country faces today is mostly because of unsolved issue of Kashmir. I know there are no easy solutions out there for this problem, but at least our political leadership should work towards maintaining peace in that region and release some of tension which is prevailing in that region for last two decades or so. I am not here to discuss who is right or wrong as far as issue of Kashmir is concerned, I have my own opinions about this issue but this post is not about that. 

If the government want to take tough stand against terrorism there is noting wrong in it, but they should be consistent in their reactions, Muslims should not feel targeted just because they are minority. All acts of terrorism or communal riots in India are not performed only by Islamic terrorist outfits, in India there are many extreme right wing Hindu groups who are also engaged in these type of activities and nothing seems to be happening against them, terrorism doesn't have any religion or face so please don't try to give it one. Let's hope that our government is really serious when they say that they are going to act tough against terrorism, I hope execution of this hanging was not just for political gain, I hope this is not the case of selective  implementation of justice, and I am eagerly waiting for their next steps in this direction, let's wait and see, only time will give answers to these questions.

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

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


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Dear Mr. Nandi, now prove what you said or back off....

It seems its a season of making controversial statements, offering unsolicited advice (specially to females on what they should or shouldn't do) in India, in the middle of all other events like fatwas, protests, noted author Mr. Ashis Nandi made a very strange statement at the Jaipur Literature Festival, he suggested that the ranks of the corrupt in India were made up entirely of those from the Other Backward Classes, the Scheduled Castes and the Schedule Tribes, as expected this statement generated array of reactions from different sections of society some supporting Mr. Nandy and many ridiculing his statement, all these reactions are as expected but I want to point attention of readers to the statement which he made. I wonder what data and logic he used to come to this conclusion, it sounds very ridiculous and rather than protesting against it or trying to get him arrested for this people should prove him wrong and force him to take his statement back.

There is no question that Mr. Nandy have right to express his opinion and I am not in favor of arresting him or making his life difficult just for making this remark. Any statement like this get condemned in India, different sections of society register their reactions differently, but these things never get discussed properly, freely in open environment, I think we need to do this. Rather than  threatening people, attacking movie theaters people should debate over the issues these people talk about, if they are wrong try to prove them wrong, make them to apologize and accept their mistake but not by force or threats but by logic and solid arguments.

Corruption is very rampant in all sections of public life in India, one can not generalize that people belonging to any particular caste or religion are more involved in corruption compared to others. Outlook magazine published one table (see reference 1) where they listed caste or religion of people involved in different corruption scandals which were reported in last decade or so and one can see that there is lot of variety there, people from all sections of society are part of this great crime. This chart itself in enough to prove Mr. Nandy wrong and if he is an sensible guy he will accept his mistake. There is nothing wrong in making mistakes, we all do it, we all mess it some things at some stage of our life, but after realizing that mistake not correcting it is another big mistake, I hope Mr. Nandy won't do this second mistake which will be worst than his first one.

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

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

1. Data by Outlok

Friday, February 8, 2013

How singing can be against any religion?

Recent news about controversy related with all female Kashmiri music band 'Pragaash' caught my attention in electronic news media. This news came during same period when there was controversy related with Kamal Hassan's latest movie "Vishwaroopam", I wrote a post related with cultural terrorism where I discussed this issue. This is another very good example of same thing, some person called Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmed said that singing and dancing is unislamic therefore these girls should stop their band, I wonder whether he meant it's unislamic only for females or for all Muslims because I see many Muslim artists in India, Pakistan or all over the world performing music, dance, drama, etc but they didn't face anything like this. I wonder where he was then and how come suddenly his religious conscious decided to speake about this girls band? India itself produced very famous  Muslim artists like Mohammad Rafi, Amjad Ali Khan, Bismillah Khan, Dilip Kumar, Shahrukh, Amir and Samlan Khan, these are just few names among many others and they all sing, dance, paint, play music and act. I wonder what he has to say about these people? But it seems these things are not unislamic when done by men but just because that band was all girls band, that too teenage girls, it became unislamic and it was easy to scare them, pressurize them that's why they targeted them.

Can some one please explain me how singing or dancing or any performing any art can be against any religion or can be branded as anti religious activity? Even if any book says that its against that religion then simply that book is wrong or it said it by mistake, no doubt about it, this doesn't make that book irrelevant and it is not in any way disrespectful to point out some mistakes from any book, just ignore this part of that book and move on. May be when that book was written these things were considered as social taboo in that society and that's why was not recommended or permitted, but haven't we came far ahead of that time? we have left that era far behind, we acquired so much knowledge and our society is much more civilized now. We still continue to practice many good things which were part of out tradition but at the same time should get rid of all things which are totally outdated and not required any more. But for some people its not that easy to understand this simple logic, they still want to bring back those days of gender discrimination, they still want to rule the world based on that one single book, they still dream to convert whole world to their own religion and they are willing to go any extend to do this.

Finally this band was disassembled, these girls quit under pressure, they say that they did it on their own and quit singing because of people of Kashmir but I think everyone knows the real reason behind it. It's sad but what else they can do? Their options were very limited, I don't blame them, they chose to continue with their peaceful lives rather than risking their and their family's life just to run some music band whose future they don't know. Is this what that religion want to teach to its disciplines? Do they have some logical reasons to explain why singing and dancing are against their religion? In our country why don't we have any proper system or mechanism which can work efficiently to protect such individuals if they decide to continue with their passion even if it's against some religion or sect if that passion or hobby is within the framework of law? Freedom of expression is very important part of democracy, it allows it to grow and evolve, if we stop that or in some way restrict that we restrict growth of our society and growth of country, why people are so interested in pulling country back in those dark days rather than helping it to move forward?

There are many questions but very few answers, people themselves need to provide answers for this. We can not always look outside for reasons or solutions of problems, we need to understand that we all are part of problem and have to be part of solution also. We need to start from our self, we need to acknowledge first that there is a problem and it needs solution and we all are responsible for that problem and then we can work towards the solution, playing blame game will not lead us anywhere, it can make matter worst but definitely won't offer any solution. I hope no other band have to close just because some people think that music and arts are against their religion, I hope some movie maker or artist don't have to edit contents of his/her creation just to avoid blackmailing by some particular group. I hope these are just isolated incidents and don't become modern day norm in our society. I just hope....

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

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

1. After fatwa band calls is quits
2. All girls band from Kashmir quits- The Hindu
3. Singing in unislamic, says Grand Mufti
4. Girls say they quit because of people of Kashmir

Monday, February 4, 2013

Is there any relationship between terrorism and religion?

Recently Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde claimed that BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) are promoting something called "Hindu terrorism". This is not the first time when someone tried to link some religion with 'terrorism', even the above mentioned term  (Hindu terrorism) was used in the past by some leaders but I still wonder what is logic behind using terms like this? I guess what he meant by this was these parties are using Hinduism to create communal rift in society, but isn't all political work based on same philosophy? Similar to this term there are some other terms like "Islamic terrorism", all these terms are used to describe terrorist groups or organizations who use particular religion to misguide people and spread communal tension. To associate only a particular religion with terrorism is wrong, they all are equally good or bad in this aspect, therefore just to single our any one for this is just stupidity or at best one can call it a very opportunistic approach to get some political mileage.

Religion and politics are two sides of same coin, they both work on many similar principles and ideas. They both are man made organizations, they can be compared with a big corporate organizations which try to maintain their hold on their customers by heavy advertising and brain washing, their main intention is to grow their customer base by using all available resources and techniques. All organized religions present today have long history of violent conflicts with each other, with nonbelievers or even with factions within them. Depending on their strength and attitude weaker religions (or minorities) suffer at the hand of more powerful ones (majority), there are many reported incidents in history where these conflicts become violent and many people lost their lives. Use of divide and rule strategy is also not new in politics, most politicians are in search of something which they can use to divide people, polarize their opinions, this helps them to create their own loyal vote bank, they know very well that most people don't think rationally when they become emotional and they love to exploit this weakness. Religion, caste or race are very powerful tools to challenge people's emotions, they polarize their opinions which create divisions among them and this technique is used very cunningly in politics all over the world. It is often used to appease vote bank which considers these things as the most important thing in their lives.

Very strong hold of religion or caste or race on people's mind works in favor of these politicians who want to use these things for political advantage. People form very strong association with these things like religion, caste, race or anything with which they like to associate their identity and these things are exploited not only by politicians but also by various cult movements, so called religious institutes or organizations (temples, Churches, Mosques, etc.), gurus and many other entities for their own selfish purposes. Many times these emotions are also used to organize people for doing something good but if we look around these types of events are very rare, mostly these emotions are used to scare people, blackmail them emotionally or to financially exploit people and extract money from them or for political/personal gains.

For me the most interesting part of this equation is that it works every time these people use it, I have not seen this trick failing, this high success rate makes this tick very attractive. Even after all these years of advancement in knowledge, understanding of our surroundings people fall for these things regularly. I can understand people's dependence and their need for religion and God but I fail to understand why don't they question when these things are used to divide them? Why they put blind faith on these books and their authors? Why they still search for their identity in all these things? Why for many of them its not enough just to identify themselves only as humans? Why we need separate tags of some religion, race or country, if it divides us and create rift or enmity among us?

As long as people don't ask these questions and find their own logical answers to these questions these things will be used to divide them. They will be used as cards in the game of politics and religion where they will try to beat each other  kill each other without even realizing for what and for whom they are doing all this, ultimate winners in any cards game are not those cards but the players who use those cards to their advantage. Cards might think that they are powerful where king beats queen, higher number is more powerful than lower but they don't realize that it all depends on which game they are part of and how those players who are part of that game use them, if the cards stop listening to the players who use them then whole game collapses and there is no meaning to play this game, this is what we need to do in order to stop exploitation of these emotions by these politicians and religious organizations.

Terrorism or violence doesn't belong to any particular religion, sect, community or country, every religion, race or country has used it as per their own requirement and desire, some times for their defense and sometimes to attack others. All are equally guilty, no one can point finger at others as there is blood on everyone's hand, instead of playing this pointless game endlessly which we all know no one is going to win why don't we stop this game and take a break? Why don't we focus our attention to more important topics like social reforms, women empowerment, finding solutions to many problems which still trouble humanity, tackle issue of global warming, the list is very long, why not to discuss about these things? As long as people are going to give unnecessary importance to these things there will be people or organizations who will exploit them for their own benefit, we ourselves give them this chance so why to blame them?

Let's make one thing very clear to these people that we are not going to fall for these things any more, let's tell them that they can not fool us by using these emotions any more. Terrorism or violence has not face or identity, it knows only to hurt, we can not preach peace by using violence, let's diffuse this bomb permanently which is being used to divide and ignite us so many times. 

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

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


Friday, February 1, 2013

Cultural Terrorism...How much longer?

Kamal Hassan's recent movie "Vishwaroopam" is in news for protests against it by some Muslim groups about its content which they believe shows their religion in bad way and then Tamil Nadu government promptly banned it even though it was cleared by censor board. This is not the first (and I am sure not last also) time some movie or book or article or painting is facing this problem, there were similar incidents in past, by people from all religions please don't get an impression that only conservative Muslim groups indulge in these type of activities, there are no exceptions to this type of behavior. All these religions and their agents who claim that their religion teaches love, compassion and tolerance behave in such intolerant and violent way when there is a time to display some of these qualities. These so called religions groups are so sensitive that their religious feeling get hurt by any small unfavorable comment made about anything related with their religion in any context.

All these incidents raise many questions, why we have censor board in place if the fate of any movie like this will be decided by these people and some fundamentalist organizations who do violent protests and can create law and order situation? Why government doesn't honor decision of its own body (censor board) but surrenders to the pressure of some of these groups who openly blackmail them? Why courts don't want to give clear verdict about any of these issues? If court is not willing to get involved in these type of matters or is not the place to settle such sensitive/controversial issues then why the heck they accept the petition filed to them in first place? Is India really a secular republic? If it is they why caste and religion are so important in politics and social life?

These issues tend to become so sensitive and complicated that even courts, government bodies or even governments (state or national) are not willing to deal with them directly, uniform policy is to delay the decision indefinitely and allow the problem to persist or die its own death. It happened with M F Hussain when people objected to some of his paintings, so many cases were filed against him in so many different courts all over India, finally he had to leave the country and take shelter in some other country, now even Kamal Hassan is thinking of living his home state (Tamil Nadu) and look for another secular state and if he can't find any state like that in India he is thinking of living his own country and settling somewhere where he won't face such problem. One can clearly see the agony and frustration of these artists or citizens who are feeling betrayed by the system which is supposed to protect their fundamental rights and make sure that vandalism or this type of cultural terrorism doesn't dictate what people should write, wear,  think or what type of films they  should make.

Most feature films are made exclusively for entertainment and business purpose, they don't intent or claim to change the society, at the most they reflect some current sentiments of society or culture, this medium has its own strengths and limitations. Any artist or writer tries to express him/herself through his/her creation, they have freedom of expression which is given to them by constitution of our country, there are various bodies and legal departments to keep an watch on these things, but these issues arise even after having so many check points and they get heavily politicized. Ultimate sufferer is not that religion who is claiming that its being targeted or people who are protesting against these movies or books but that artist and our liberal values get hit by these actions. When the society which claims to be liberal, secular, patient and peace loving when reacts in this way it contradicts its own image and values. After all no film, book, painting or an article have power to destroy any religion or country which survived for so many centuries. For every book or film which says something bad about any person or religion (according to their supporters) there are so many other films or books which say something good, so what's the problem here?

Followers of all these religions, sects or people forget that directly or indirectly this freedom of expression was responsible for origin of all these things, it helped them in their survival and propagation. These all philosophies or people who proposed new ideas contradicted views, clashed with current belief systems when they were introduced. All these sects and religions cherish their own struggle and feel proud about their own fight with establishment but are not willing to allow new thoughts to be expressed when they are in control, then what is the difference between them and people who tried to suppress their messengers or Gods when they were delivering some different message which contradicted current belief system of that time? These people are so blinded by their faith and power that they don't even realize this contradiction in their own behavior.

I hope these people who are threatening to take violent path understand the meaning of tolerance and peaceful coexistence which everybody claims that their religion teaches. They show some respect towards the law of land and try to reform their own religion or culture rather than worrying about some movie or book doing some damage to that age old system. The question is not only about this one movie or one artist, the question is about allowing this form of cultural terrorism to take control of our society and dictate the terms, this is not acceptable at any cost and we should oppose it wherever we see such incidents happening.

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

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

1. The Hindu- About ban on Vishwaroopam
2. Kamal Hassan- Tamil Nadu wants me out
3. Salman Rushdie-Jaipur literary festival
4. M F Husain and controversy related with his paintings
5. The Politics of Deepa Mehta's 'Water'