Friday, May 24, 2013

Gods and their books...

While reading many scriptures or holy books (like Bhagvad Gita, Qur'an, Bible, Ramayan, etc.) I always wonder why these books are considered or called as holy or sacred? Most of these books which claim to dictate message of some particular God which is also supposed to be the creator of this universe in most cases (Allah in case of Qur'an, Krishna in case of Bhagvad Gita, some other God in case of Bible and so on). Surprisingly all these books are not written by the person (or God) whose message it claims to deliver, I wonder why these super powerful entities didn't bother write these books themselves if that message was so important and necessary for human species which these books claim they created, after all if you can create a complex living being like humans and whole universe how much effort it takes to create a book? These books are not also written immediately after these people delivered that message so that if these great entities can't create book on their own at least they can verify the content and attest it as a 'true copy', rather they came into print after many years the reported divine incident in all these books happened (where someone received that message). Followers of these books (and sometimes some books themselves) claim to deliver (or I should say dictate) 'absolute knowledge' for mankind. In today's world most of these books are property of some organized religion or other and they are used as manuals for framing rules and regulations (dos and don'ts) for that particular religion anything mentioned in those books becomes sacred or divine for its followers and anyone challenging them is evil or atheist or danger to them.

As such just as a literature all these books about which I am talking are good to read, they are quite entertaining and full of nice stories, they try to teach many good things via these stories, the only problem is they are written in some ancient language (the original text) which are either no more in use or are spoken in very few regions of the world but then the good part is there are many reliable translations easily available and one can read them in his/her won language if one wants, most of them are reasonably prized (or even sometimes free) and easily available. I read many of them and they make a very good read if one read them just as books (keeping aside divine or sacred aspect of them), they teach some very good things (as most of books which we read do) and also help to understand other faiths and religions apart from your own (in which we are born). But things are totally different when people or organizations take these books and form societies (called as religions) based on them, they make their own concept of super almighty God which is supposed to be a ruler of this world. They form their own definitions of many things (like marriage, role of women in society, etc.), they have their own rules about many things like how to pray, whom to pray, what to pray, what to eat, what to wear, etc. These rules are preached nicely in the beginning and once they gather enough strength, power and become dominant then these rules are forced on people in the name of religion (or God and its commands) and people who don't follow them or challenge them are considered as outliers and face discrimination and many other problems, even death.

So I think people need to ask themselves, why to give so much importance to these books? after all these are just books like many other useful books written by some intelligent people or group of people who wanted to share their knowledge and wisdom. Any single book can not contain everything required to know, it can not teach everything required to live human life, every human is different and they can have different needs. I agree that they can be great in some subjects like philosophy, religion or history but there is huge amount of knowledge outside the scope of these books which is equally important and equally relevant. Actually source of knowledge or information doesn't matter much but its relevance and contents do matter a lot, it doesn't matter who said  but it matters what is said and how relevant the content is. Good and relevant information is good and useful no matter from where it comes and bad, outdated or wrong concepts are useless no matter from which book or which person they come, it's as simple as that. I hope that people will understand this simple fact and at least stop fighting based on what is written in some book and what is not, we humans are much more than just a book, we should learn to read and respect each other then only any book can teach us something, as long as we lack some of these basic human qualities like love and respect for each other no matter which book we read or follow it's not going to make us better person.

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

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Junk food marketing to kids...a very serious issue..

This issue was mentioned to me by my friend Vishnu couple of years back, that time he was working in the area which specifically dealt with this issue when he told me about this I didn't think it was that serious or major issue. I used to think that after all most of parents decide what they want to buy and what not for their kids so as long as parents are aware of these things it should not be a big problem, but I was wrong things are not that simple. There is a nice TED talk on this issue by Anna Lappe, I encourage everyone reading this to listen to this talk, it's really educating, she nicely explains from her personal experience how these big food (or junk food) firms strategically target kids to sell their products and develop a brand loyalty. They got their mantra right "catch them young" and once you develop a passion and likeness about your brand among kids you have a loyal customer who will promote and use your product no matter what. Sounds like great marketing strategy of 21st century but somehow I feel that this great marketing mantra which all big corporates are following is invented long long ago by people who wanted to spread their religion or cult movements, these organizations know how well it works so everyone is using this formula to their advantage.

All these big corporates who want to substitute everything on your dining table with products produced by them are pretty successful in doing this, they have already established their brand value and all these brands have huge fan following and loyal customers. We can clearly see that more and more people eat out, don't like to cook their meal in home and amazingly even naturally available, free drink water is substituted by variety of soft drinks, energy drinks and there are so many zero calorie flavored water products sold in market. Because of all this heavy marketing in today's world people prefer to pay money to buy water rather than drinking freely available, easy to purify tap water. Many terms like zero calorie soft drinks (like diet Coke and Pepsi) or chemical free products (I wonder what they mean by this, because even pure water is a chemical) or 100% natural, etc. are used as marketing tricks to attract and mislead customers. These terms are used to make people feel that they are consuming very healthy stuff which is good for their body. There is no limit to what extend these advertisements can go to target their customers and they also use all those popular cartoon characters and very attractive packaging to attract kids to their product. I am not against marketing, they have total right to promote their product and market it to potential customers in fair and legal way but if they purposely target customers who are not in a position to evaluate their product and judge their claims (kids and in some cases teenagers) then it's unfair to target them so aggressively. Even many educated adults also fell prey to many marketing gimmicks then just imagine about kids who don't even know that they are being targeted as potential customers and have no idea about the product which they demand. Once they fall in this trap then it's very difficult to come out of it, this is some sort of addiction, a very bad one but done by using legal means so that no one can question this.

Till now there was no public awareness about what can be the result of this targeted marketing on our society but now we can clearly see the effect of these things on world population, health issues resulting from poor diet choices and sudden change in lifestyle are putting enormous pressure on public health system in various countries (obesity, heart diseases, diabetics are some of examples). For the first time in human history there is a possibility that life expectancy of next generation might be less than their previous generation, and all this because choices they make in their diet and lifestyle, this aggressive advertising has huge influence on choices they make. The issue is serious enough that it should get wide public attention, it should be discussed at every level as population of all ages is going to get affected because of this. Public debate is required and some solid policy making is also required before it becomes too big problem to handle. It's all about our own health and health of our future generations if we don't talk about this then I wonder who will.

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

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

Links:
1. TED talk by Anna Lappe
2. Amount of sugar in some average sized bottles.
3. http://www.sugarstacks.com/

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Why so much emphasis on biological motherhood?

The post is not only about biological motherhood but in general about biological parenthood, I specifically mentioned motherhood in the title as it gets more highlighted everywhere and is more glorified term compared to fatherhood. So, this is the topic about which I want to discus today, do we over glorify or give so much importance to biological parenthood? No doubt that parenthood (becoming mother or father) is one of the most beautiful thing in this world but why we give so much importance to biological part of it? Any capable adult can become parent either by biological means or legal means (adoption), but our society puts so much emphasis on biological parenthood that all other forms of parenthood are given secondary status and have become kind of social taboo and even some of modern techniques (like in vitro fertilization, test tube baby, surrogate mother, etc.) are subject of heavy criticism by various conservative religious organization because they think some of these techniques directly interfere in the area (reproduction of humans) which their God has total control or exclusive right.

Biological part of parenthood seems so important that if for some reason couples who can not conceive the child naturally (even after medical treatment) feel very depressed (which is natural) but then they start thinking that they lost something big in their life, start running to temples and so many so called Gurus to get biological child, but some how many of them don't think about other options available to them to become a parent. The main reason they feel hesitant to consider other options is the stigma associated with those methods as well as lack of knowledge. They also think that it (other type of parenthood) can not be as rewarding (socially and personally) as natural parenthood, then they eventually start feeling that something is wrong with their life, people or relatives start feeling bad for them, people feel sympathy for them (even if they don't want that sympathy it is offered to them). Those women are labelled as barren (like a barren land which cannot produce anything) and many times face problems and emotional trauma, sometimes these women are not invited to some social functions as they are considered as bad omen.

Generally the entire blame of couple's infertility is put on woman (specially in non developed countries or conservative societies), I have seen this happening in India (and I am sure it happens in many other countries also), and most of the time this happens without even doing any proper medical check up. If a couple can not conceive 1-2 years after marriage then in most cases blame is automatically  put on wife but not on husband. In many societies for men to have some medical problem related with infertility is something very shameful,  something which questions their manhood. They are called impotent or so many other names (most of them are insulting or derogatory terms), because of this many of them don't even like to go for any medical check up for this type of problems, they try to avoid this issue or try to hide these type of problems, so much is the social stigma associated with these things in some societies. Actually there are so many reasons for male infertility or female infertility and there is nothing shameful in either of them, many are treatable medical conditions, it is entirely a personal matter and no one should be judged or treated based on their medical history. I think just because our society gives so much importance to biological parenthood somehow the act of becoming parent is considered as a proof to confirm one's manhood or womanhood and failing to do so is considered as something shameful or case of incomplete personality.

In many societies still women's main duty is considered as giving birth to kids after marriage (specially a male child as heir to family), if they fail to do so then they face many problems. Even if for whatever reasons (like career, personal unwillingness, financial or anything else) they don't want to have a child they are pressurized in various ways, reminded very often about 'their most important duty' and 'obligation' as a wife or daughter-in-law, this pressure is so huge that most women (educated or uneducated doesn't matter) surrender to it and few who don't budge under this pressure face many problems and survive only when they have total support of their partner. I wonder why so much importance is given to biological parenthood in many societies and cultures? If we look at ancient stories or some famous mythological characters (like Krishna, Jesus, etc.) many of them have unknown biological origins or lived with adopted parents and still lead very normal and successful life. We like their stories, recite them again and again, love these characters, but even after all this some how believe that life is not complete without having 'our own' kids, biological heir to family is must for many, why?

Many people make a big mess of beautiful concepts like parenthood  by overemphasizing on biological aspect of it (another good example of this is marriage), parenthood is a beautiful thing, very rewarding for both, child and its parents but parenthood is parenthood no matter what, whether it's via adoption or child birth or any other means, any adult can become a great parent if he or she wants, all parents can enjoy this process equally well and if there are some who are not interested in this process, then also it's perfectly fine no need to bother them, they can live complete lives as they choose with or without kids, we should respect their choice. We have already stereotyped many things let's keep at least this out of it, many children need parents and many people need a child to fulfill their desire of parenthood, we all can help them by removing social stigma associated with other forms of parenthood. I salute to all parents who adopt the child even though they can have child by biological means, not everyone can or is capable to do this but people who do this are according to me great social reformers. I believe that there is definitely more in life apart from biological parenthood, I am not trying to diminish its importance but really I feel that sometimes people give way too much importance to this, so lets keep it simple.

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

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

Links:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

India Untouched...a must watch for every Indian

I watched parts of this documentary before, for the first time I saw some parts of it on Amir Khan's TV show 'Satyamev Jayate'. India Untouched is a must watch documentary film according to me for every Indian. I am not recommending just because of it's subject which is practice of untouchability in Indian society at various levels and in various ways but also to understand and see how deep rooted this problem is, how brainwashed people are, even after all the economical and intellectual progress which we have achieved over these years, even after presence of glorious past which we all Indians proudly mention everywhere our present society (and also our previous generations) is still engaged in practicing this heinous discriminatory culture. 

This documentary is very well made and doesn't target any particular religion or religion of India rather tries to show how this social evil is practiced all over India and by almost all religions which exist in present India. This practice is not only among uneducated or poor people as normally we all educated people would like to think but people from all sections of society engage in these type of discriminatory activities. The documentary shows very nicely that how these things are cultivated in people's mind as a part of tradition and culture, even if they know this is not right still they feel obliged to practice this because they were told to do so, even two best friends don't drink water at each others home just because they belong to different castes. They love each other, help each other but can not cross or break this barrier and they don't even feel that they should break this tradition, this shows how deep rooted this discriminatory mindset is and how challenging it is to remove it. The documentary also does a good job in showing how kids learn about these things at very early age from their elders or surrounding and start practicing it even in their schools where it should not be allowed at all. Even people from so called lower castes discriminate among themselves, they get discriminated by so called upper caste people but in turn they also discriminate some castes who are supposedly even lower than them and don't even feel they are doing anything wrong. There is no surprise that women are discriminated at every level doesn't matter which caste group or religion they belong.

Today many people like to believe that untouchability is outdated concept in Indian society, we don't see it anymore so it doesn't exist. I agree that it's not visible in its old form but one can feel it in many different ways, the way of expression that feeling has changed but I feel that that feeling is still very much there. The mindset is changing very slowly but still there is something which stops many people from forgetting about their caste and their social status because of that caste, still many are there who feel that they are superior or inferior to people around them just because they belong to some particular caste. We can still see many associations, groups and even Facebook pages based on castes and religions, here people like to sing glories about their own superiority and qualities of their caste or group, this looks very harmless activity but some of these actions breed feelings of hatred towards others who don't belong to your group and then this is the same feeling which leads to untouchability or discrimination. Untouchability is horrible practice and it should not have any place in today's society, wherever we see it we should question that attitude and protest against it, if we remain just a silent witness then this is indirect approval from our side, so lets have zero tolerance for such discriminatory practices. This horrible practice can be eliminated only by people, no law or punishment has capacity to change the mindset of people, fight against this social evil going on from decades but still this thing managed to survive in name of culture, religion or tradition. Please watch this documentary and get educated about this issue and lets try our best to eradicate it from this world.

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

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

Reference:
1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgDGmYdhZvU

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Narendra Modi is only a temporary solution...

On 9th April we had a nice group discussion with Prof. Anand Kumar, member of the National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at one of my friends apartment in New Haven. It was nice informal gathering over dinner with people of common interest, discussion was about topics which we all who gathered care about. Prof. Kumar nicely explained the purpose of APP and reason behind their party contesting the elections, he also discussed major political and social issues which are ignored in of current political set up and the way Indian politics works now a days. He also advised how NRIs who are not physically present in India but share deep bond and care about their country can contribute to this cause of reforming the system. 

He very correctly pointed out some of the problems which India and its people are facing today, like corruption at high level, jobless economic growth, lack of proper and affordable education opportunities, no proper plan for future energy needs of people, no water management, etc. The discussion on all these and many other related issues went for very long time, it's not easy to list all the points here and there is no single solution for all these issues but it was really nice experience. It was nice to see people belonging to different political ideologies coming together and having nice dialogue where they were willing to look beyond their own party lines or beliefs, seldom we see this happening in India, this doesn't guarantee any solution of problem but at least it's the sigh that people are willing to work towards finding some solution..

Apart from many other points which were discussed and debated during this discussion issue of phenomenal success of Mr. Narendra Modi as Gujarat's chief minister and his possible selection as BJP's prime ministerial candidate was also discussed. Mr. Modi already have huge fan following in India and abroad, specially among youth he is very popular and many believe that if he can deliver in Gujarat there should not be any problem for him to replicate same model of success in Delhi to transform whole India. No doubt some of his achievements as CM of Gujarat are spectacular and he deserves full credit and praise for that but India is not Gujarat, it is much more diverse and complicated than that. Gujarat is unique state where its people are culturally more inclined towards entrepreneurship than getting salaried job and in his state Mr. Modi had an absolute majority in assembly which helped him to run his government as per his own wish and style but in center the possibility of any single party getting absolute majority is very rare so I don't know how people expect Mr. Modi to function in same way without any absolute majority in hand, I am sure it is next to impossible task. This is just one of the problems which he have to face in center along with many others.  

If the whole system is broken and and entire institution needs a major rehaul then even if we bring some one who can drive the same system to do some good work is the only temporary situation, because whatever good effect or results that same rotten system might generate will be because of presence of that particular personality but not because the system itself has become any better. So it might work as long as that person is operating it but the time that person leaves or changes his/her attitude we will be back where we were. Such system will heavily depend on that particular person and doesn't guarantee the results. When the system it self is the problem then bringing expert technician who is only going to some how to tune the system so that it will create less problems is only a temporary situation. Having any leader who is indispensable is very dangerous for any country or institute, because then in absence of that leader the whole institute will collapse or start malfunctioning. This mainly happens because the system itself is not perfect but somehow someone manage to run it well but that doesn't mean everyone can and we need system which runs with much less problems on its own no matter who is operating it as long as operators have minimum skills required to handle it.

So according to me unless citizens of India (a very important component of this whole system which is equally corrupt and broken currently) revive their own attitude, not only they understand their rights but also their responsibilities, understand and think about all issues which are affecting them now or will affect them in near future it will be difficult to bring any desired change. Bringing Modi or any other charismatic leader who doesn't promise to change the system but try to run the present system as much efficiently possible is only a temporary solution we tested this trick before by selecting Rajiv Gandhi or V. P. Singh or even A. B. Vajpayee  but nothing worked to solve this problem, this system didn't allow them to do anything substantial but they were forced to fight for their own political survival. So the problem is not only the people who run this system but the whole system itself. There are many areas of concern like, the way money is collected by parties, the way election tickets are distributed, the way elections are fought, the way parties design their election manifesto, the way they play vote bank politics (based on caste, religion or any other issue which divides people), all this needs to change and I think that's where AAP needs to play major role, they need to change the way this game is played currently, they need to change the rules of game and force everyone to play fairly and once all teams are forced to bring all good and talented players in game then automatically system will start improving and will show desired results. Prof. Anand Kumar very nicely elaborated some of these points and I hope his party is really serious about the things which he mentioned, they might sound bit socialistic in their approach but the good part is he was willing to discuss and hear any alternative views, criticisms directed towards them and even told people to challenge their policies, debate them and point out any shortcoming which they might see which is a good sign and attitude according to me. I think next few years will be interesting in Indian politics and presence of AAP will have some influence in coming years. It's hard to predict how slow or fast that change will be but I am sure there will be some positive change, I am optimistic and willing to contribute in whatever way I can and I invite all of you to be part of this change, together we can.

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

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

Links:

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Religious fanaticism- Let's talk about it...

Recent incident of Boston Marathon bombing is another example of how religious fanaticism can drive people to do totally insane things. This bombing is not the first example where some crazy person (or a group) attacked innocent civilians to take some imaginary revenge for some incidents in past where they feel their religion or people following their religion were targeted unfairly. Everyday we read news about these type of attacks all over the world, some places are more prone to these type of attacks than other but technically this happens all over the world and no country is an exception to this.

Religious fanaticism can  drive people crazy, it has capacity to push them to do unimaginable things, they can do extremely good things (Mother Teresa is one example of this according to me) or can do extremely crazy or cruel things (mass killings of non-believers, religious riots and terror attacks are some of examples). The problem is not the religion itself but the feeling of 'fanaticism' which is encouraged in almost all relations with the hope that it will motivate people to become a devotee and totally surrender to their God, create a group which will practice and defend those beliefs without questioning it but it doesn't work in positive way all the time. No other discipline preaches fanaticism as much religion does, the closest second can be politics (actually both are like twin brothers or sisters of each other). Religion needs devoted followers, who don't question basic foundation of that religion, submit themselves totally to serve the purpose of that religion, that is to propagate it and protect it against any danger, these things sound very divine and noble but can instill fanaticism and feeling of hatred about others who don't subscribe to the same ideology. This hatred can be in many forms, subtle form of it makes people to discriminate others based on their faith, they form exclusive societies which only caters people with particular beliefs and mindset, they stereotype particular gender or group (like gays or transgenders) and extreme form of this hatred can result in violence. But the problem is there is very thin line between these things, you never know when any person can cross that line and start doing crazy things.

Many people who carry out all these barbaric attacks look and behave like perfectly normal people most of the time, only difference if at all they have is they are very passionate about their beliefs and faith which is not very unusual thing as many religious groups like this type of devotion but then there is no way to control this feeling. We need to remove this fanaticism from religious teachings and gatherings, they should absolutely abstain from preaching hatred of any type against any group. All religions need to update or revise their syllabus, the one which they are using is too old, totally outdated and not at all suitable for current world in which we live.

Just for the sake of not hurting feelings of its followers or for diplomacy many people say that in reality no religion teaches hatred, they all teach truth and love, NO, this is only the half truth, they all teach love and compassion for their own followers not for others, in some way, directly or indirectly every religion in its current form says that people who don't follow path prescribed by them are either on wrong track or are misguided that's why we see so many attempts of conversion (from one religion to other), riots, killings in name of religion, otherwise what can be the reason for all this? Where is the love which they claim to teach? If they all teach only love then from where this hatred and violence is coming? Time has come to acknowledge that this current system has a problem, a serious problem which teaches people to hate or discriminate people with different sexual orientation, which also forces particular gender with so many restrictions. Even kids in these families or groups are not spared of such teachings, from very young age when they cannot decide what is good or bad these kids are fed with heavy dose of sectarian beliefs which kind of isolates them from rest of society and limits their intellectual growth in so many ways, by doing this these groups feel happy that they created ideal role models who follow their respective beliefs and rituals to the core but at the same time some of these kids become like time bombs (with so much hatred in them about non-believers of their own sect or religion) which no one knows when it will explode. I think there is enough risk in this methodology that they should totally abandon it and think of something new.

Many of these religions and cult movements teach one totally ridiculous thing that any crime (no matter how heinous it is) if done in the name of religion or to protect it is forgivable or rather rewarded lavishly by their super powerful almighty and highest authority God. They all also promise some totally imaginary, unrealistic and outrageous after death rewards and just to encourage conversion (that is to attract new customers) to their own sect or religion many of them (be it Islam, Christianity or cult movements like ISKON) they even promise that all your sins and crimes will be immediately pardoned/forgiven once you surrender to their deity or God and not only that you will also be eligible for lucrative rewards just for surrendering to that super almighty, sounds so stupid, outrageous, something like super bumper offer to wash all your sins but this is a very desperate and clever marketing tactic, many people believe in this false propaganda and fell for it and this turns out to be a big selling point for all these organizations.

Fanaticism in any form (not necessarily all are violent) is ugly side of all religions and cult movements, it shows its presence more than often in various forms some times in the form of suppressing particular gender or group, sometimes in form of physical or psychological violence, this is one aspect of religion which its followers don't even want to discuss and many don't even accept that this even exists and is a problem, as long as we keep on pushing this issue under carpet under the name of diplomacy or for the sake of not hurting others sentiments it will keep on hurting all of us in some form or other, lets first acknowledge that this problem exists and then search for its solution, we need to talk about this and talk loud so that everyone concerned with this issue can hear it because our silence was way too long and if we remain silent then it will be considered as our approval to these type of activities.

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

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

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Justice or revenge, What is it?

Two recent incidents one in Pakistan and one in India, where a prisoner was attacked and seriously injured, out of them Sarabjit Singh succumbed to injuries and died on May 2nd and second one Sanaullah is battling for his life in hospital. The attack and death of Sarabjit has created furious reactions among people in India and even Indian government registered its protest in very strong words. Because of so much public outrage and sensitive nature of this issue Sarabjit' s body was brought to India and was cremated with full state honors. Both these incidents and reactions of people and governments of respective countries (India and Pakistan) clearly show the kind of difficulties both these countries and communities face in dealing with each other. Recently I wrote a post about many similarities and differences between them and if you read about these two incidents one can clearly see how similar people from both countries feel and react.

The uproar in general public over attack and death of Sarabjit is perfectly understandable, it was definitely sad that he was held in prison for more than 20 years, but before demanding his release and getting emotional they also should take a not that he was tried and convicted by supreme court of Pakistan for bomb blasts in Lahore and Faisalabad which killed 16 people in 1990. All his mercy petitions were rejected and he was on death row, none of this information justifies attack on him and his subsequent death but I am giving this information to show the complete picture of this complex problem, whether Sarabjit actually carried out those bomb blasts or not can be argued and discussed endlessly but courts in Pakistan found him guilty and we don't have any option other than to respect their decision. Imagine similar convict in Indian prison with similar charge (a Pakistani national accused of bombing and killing few people in some Indian city) I don't know how many people who are shouting or protesting for Sarabjit's release would also protest for this person's release, rather I am pretty sure they will demand execution of his death sentence immediately and would label anyone protesting for his release a traitor and enemy of India.

So in one case people really feel injustice has been done by not releasing that prisoner rejecting his mercy petitions and in another case same process is deemed as fair and considered as proper justice, just because of their respective nationalities and place of crime they committed. Any Pakistani killing Indians hailed as hero in Pakistan and similarly Indians promptly reciprocate the feelings, both feel they are doing justice by punishing the accused, no doubt the person who commits any terrorist activities deserves harsh punishment but this is job of judiciary and legal system of respective countries. Actually by displaying such attitude both these communities are trying to take revenge on each other and we all know that revenge is a endless process, it keeps on going from generations to generations because no one is willing to forgive and forget. Indians and Pakistanis are trapped in this endless vicious cycle and now I see same thing happening between USA and some other Islamic countries.

It's a job of respective courts to decide whether Sarabjit was or Sanaullah is guilty of their charges put on them or not, but it seems people in their respective countries have already decided that they are national heroes, in fact just because of this attitude many terrorists also get this honor in both these countries so one can understand the level of hatred for each other among people of these countries. This all is result of lack of proper understanding and interaction between them and also use of people's emotions for political gains by few people with vested interests in both countries. There are some groups in both the countries who benefit from this type of rift and hatred between people, they survive on these type of feelings and don't want them to go away and we all can see that they are pretty successful in this, their strategy is really working.

I don't see any easy solution for this because as I said the main problem is no one is willing to forgive and forget and unless any one takes some initiative in this direction peace is a very long distance goal for both these countries and main sufferer in all this are the common people. All these organizations and people who spread and preach hatred (in name of country, religion or anything else) or respective governments are immune from effect of all this, only common people in both countries are vulnerable and ultimate sufferer in all this but they are too busy in fighting with each other to understand all this, they all think they are fighting either for their country or religion but in reality most of the time they all are fighting to fulfill some political or personal agenda of some organization. I hope we all will take break from this endless fight which is going on for decades, relax and think about whats going on around us, I am sure if we all do this simple thing we will understand that we are being tricked into all this and used as prawns and then it will be our choice whether to continue to be prawns of this endless game and play according to will of those big players who just want to use us or behave like humans, use our own conscious to decide good and bad, choice is ours.

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

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

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mother Teresa- true social worker or just a missionary?

Recently I read a book "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice" by Christopher Hitchens, which makes very controversial allegations on Mother Teresa and her NGO. While I was writing this post another report came in media about the study conducted by Canadian researchers which called Mother Teresa "anything but a saint". While reading all these news it reminded me few discussions which I had with my dad about Mother Teresa, he never accepted that she was just a social worker and still he argues that her real intention behind doing all this social work was to convert people to her faith (Christianity), I never agreed to his logic and still don't believe that it was the only reason she was involved in humanitarian work but there is enough scope to conclude that this might have been one of the reason why she was so passionate about this work, I might be wrong but all these reports and book by Hitchens definitely point towards this direction.

Her work in Kolkata (Calcutta) is phenomenal, the work she did for leprosy patients, homeless, poor and sick people is really admirable. Her work provided shelter and food to millions of people who otherwise would have died very miserable death, she gave them shelter, food, education (for kids) and place to die for sick people. I personally have huge respect for her and her social work, it's not that easy to dedicate entire life for social work on such a large scale. But at the same time there is other side of this story where one can see she accepted donations from people with very questionable background, not only she accepted donations from them (which is fine according to me) but she even tried to defend few of them when they asked for her help, she criticized abortion without even trying to understand all aspects associated with it from whatever platform she could (including her Nobel peace price acceptance speech), it seems she glorified suffering may be because she thought that's the closest one can get to God. There are allegations that people in her clinic got the treatment but not the proper treatment which could help them to cure in spite of availability of money and resources.

As far as her social work is concerned there are many people who have done similar or even more work in same area but for some reason they didn't get as much recognition as she got all over the world, may be being associated with Christianity (which is the most popular religion of our planet) and church gave her an extra advantage. One such person who immediately come to my mind who has done monumental work in same area is late Mr. Baba Amte, I don't think anyone in India needs any introduction about this man, he fought against all odds and dedicated his entire life not only to serve leprosy patients, sick and poor but at the same time helped them to earn self respect, dignity and taught them self reliance. He did all this just to serve those people, not to serve any God or propagate values of any particular religion, that's why his work is unique and stands out for me. I have huge respect for this man and his dedication towards reforming mindset of our society. I am not trying to compare him with Mother Teresa but just trying to present two very similar cases where two people who did more or less similar work with similar impact on society but one got preferential treatment just because of her religious affiliation and her work gets highlighted more.

Whether Mother Teresa was saint or not doesn't matter to me, I don't believe in miracles so I don't even care about the miracle attributed to her, but her one sided views about abortion, her love for poverty just because it gave her an opportunity to serve her God and her association with some people with questionable background always puzzled me. I personally know people who lived in some hostels run by her NGO, no doubt that they all were thankful that they got place to stay and food to eat but at the same time they have to follow a strict Christian code of conduct (like no bindi on forehead which is one of the typical tradition followed by Hindu women) which I think is bit too extreme, you can not take freedom of people away in exchange to help or food or treatment offered to them and somehow forcibly direct them to religious path in which you believe, this clearly puts a question mark on person's intentions behind helping them. I have huge respect for her social work but if whatever is written in these books or articles is true then it's another example of what too much focus on religion can do to even people with very good intentions.

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

Links:
1. http://www.motherteresa.org/
2. The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice
3. Mommie Dearest- Christopher Hitchens
4. Mother Teresa on Trial-Daniel Scott Lintott
5. Was Mother Teresa not so saintly after all?
6. Mother Teresa Humanitarian Image A 'Myth,' New Study Says 
7. The mystery of Mother Teresa-Navin Chawla
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_Amte
9. Maharogi Sewa Samiti
10. Anandwan- Forest of Joy

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