Friday, July 29, 2016

Where are the true liberals?

I consider myself an ardent supporter of liberty. Liberty, which means freedom to choose, express myself the way I want and live the life the way I like is among the most important things which I value. I consider myself a liberal, not the 'liberal' in a way people understand in political terms,  but a true liberal. Actually, I find the terms 'liberal' and 'conservative' quite misleading as far as their political usage is considered, they don't make much sense to me, they are used as an alternate names for major political parties without any meaningful association with the real meaning of those words. Recently I had the following conversation with one of my friends.
He asked me, "You must be a supporter of illegal immigration and socialism, do you want US to open its borders?"
I said, "What makes you think that? Why will I support illegal immigration?"
He seemed to be surprised by my reply and asked back, "Aren't you a liberal?"
I replied, "I am a liberal, not a moron to support illegal things".
This is the level of conversation between so called liberals and conservatives now a days. It is really amazing to see what type of impression they both have about each other. I can't associate myself completely with any of these groups, I found some really good and some really bad ideas coming from both these groups. I choose to call myself a liberal because, I am open to all new ideas, nothing is sacred or unquestionable for me, I am willing to listen to all ideologies and for me only the good ideas matter not their source. Unfortunately, I don't see these characteristics in many of these so called liberals, these people have made the term 'liberal' so restrictive and narrow that it has almost become a sort of organized religion, it is no more a description of an emotion or a trait which liberates you from barriers and makes you a free thinker. That's why I ask 'where are the true liberals?'.

Being a true liberal is not easy, that is why there are very few true liberals around, most people like to associate themselves with a certain religion or political ideology or even a cult, they all love the comfort and warmth of that community as it gives them a sense of belonging and provides a safety net which most of us need. This feeling of belonging to some group is a very important part of our social behavior. Actually, we all belong to some group or other, some of these groups are very huge (like country, city or religion) and some are small (like school, friend circle, our workplace, etc.). This feeling of belonging is not wrong or bad, but to accept everything propagated or taught by that group without questioning it is something I don't like or can't do. A true liberal will never reject or accept an idea just because it is coming from a political group which he or she supports or doesn't support, They will never bother about the source, but treat every idea or thought based on its merit, it is not an easy thing to do as we have to first acknowledge and then eliminate as much as possible our prejudices and think objectively. 

True liberals will always be fair to others, especially to people who they criticize, they will support the freedom of expression for everyone, not just for themselves, no matter whether they agree of disagree with that group or person. They will never get offended by anyone's remarks as they will know that freedom of expression comes with freedom to offend. They don't discriminate or judge people based on their food, dress, sexual orientation, religion, race, color, age, gender or any other thing. They also know that any type of bigotry cannot be curbed by silencing bigots, but by allowing them to express their stupidity and countering it with rationality and logic. They will not support or demand ban on any book, movie or speech. Any type of discrimination will not be acceptable to them, they also acknowledge that rights come with responsibilities. They support equality, not just equal rights, but equal responsibility and equal accountability. They also accept that their views can be rejected, challenged or even ridiculed as these things are part of any debate or argument. They question or challenge opinions or ideas, not individuals. They understand that freedom to choose is the right of everyone. I would love to see these so called liberals try to do justice to the real meaning of this word, until then I think I have no choice but  continue my search for true liberals.

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

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Immigration is not a human right, but a granted privilege.

Immigration is becoming a very sensitive and controversial issue in many developed countries, it is a very important issue during this US presidential election for sure. Many countries like US, Australia or many European countries are favorite destinations for many immigrants from Asian countries as well as from other parts of the world. Actually, many of these countries get benefitted by the presence of immigrants, many immigrants work really hard to become successful in whatever field they choose and in that process help the country in which they reside. But this is not a one way process, in return immigrants also get benefitted immensely financially as well as socially. They get a better opportunity, fair treatment, many of them escape troublesome social and political environment of their birthplace to find a peaceful dwelling in their adopted country. This process works very well as long as it is beneficial for both the parties involved, mainly this happens when the economy is doing really well, there are enough job opportunities for everyone and in general country is in very good shape. But, does this process of mutual benefit can go on endlessly without having any side effects? Based on the current scenario, it doesn't look like that.

I am an immigrant to USA, even in India my family migrated from one part (Uttar Pradesh) to another (Maharastra), so I have a first hand experience about the issues which migrants within the same country or immigrants who move to different country face. There is no doubt that me and my family got immensely benefitted by the places where we lived. We got better opportunities, better education as well as better social and economic environment. In turn I am sure places or cities where we lived also got benefitted by our presence as a law abiding, responsible and hard working residents. We learned local culture and language, adapted to our surroundings and contributed to the diversity and rich cultural heritage of all places where we resided. This mutually beneficial and harmonic relationship is the main reason that I have so much culturally diverse thinking in my own family. Three generations of my family can claim to have three different languages as their primary language (often referred as mother tongue). Immigration is a beneficial activity for the immigrants as well as the country or city where people are immigrating. But, I feel appalled when I see this ugly fight over the issue of immigration, I don't understand how come both sides can be so ignorant and adamant about their arguments?

Whether we like it or not, but the truth is that in today's world immigration is a legal process, you have to come follow a legal process to immigrate to any country. I agree that it is cumbersome, lengthy, often very frustrating and expensive, but it is illegal to enter any country without any proper documentation. So anyone who has respect towards law of that country should follow this process or be ready to face the consequence for their illegal actions. Now I also understand that many people immigrate due to various reasons, many times they don't follow these legal requirements, but even after all this it is an illegal act and if there is no law which takes into account all these factors then all these people can be in big legal trouble. One thing should be very clear to everyone, to immigrants as well as to citizens of that country, immigration is not a human right but a privilege granted by the host country. It is a special privilege, not a favor or help or kind gesture or charity, immigrants come with certain rights and responsibilities, they need to be a law abiding residents and contribute towards betterment of that society otherwise this privilege can be taken away any time. Once both sides understand this simple thing, then I don't think there can be any issue which cannot be resolved by mutual discussion. Law of the land needs to be respected, any act encouraging violation of the law can result in long term social and political crises which can affect the entire country. I hope better sense prevails from both sides fighting over this issue and they come to some mutually acceptable solution, because once you make any issue a political hot potato it is almost certain that it will never get resolved. Political parties can use it to emotionally polarize their vote banks elections after elections without making any sincere efforts to resolve it. People also get emotional about these types of issues and give that opportunity to politicians to make fools out of them.

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

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

Saturday, July 9, 2016

When life gets busy...

There are times in everyone's life when a person gets extremely busy, there is no question of so called work-life balance (if anything like this exists) as your professional work completely takes over your daily routine and everything else gets a back seat. This is not a bad situation as such, but because of some perceptions many people don't enjoy it. I personally have no problem if this happens once in a while as being busy is always better for me rather than having no work at all. Presently I am facing one such phase, things are so busy that I didn't find time to write a blog post, this never happened since I started writing this blog. But I can't complain, work is as important as anything else in my life so it gets the attention it requires and I try to do it with best of my abilities. I see sometimes people complain about their work, talk about the myth called work-life balance. This mainly happens if you consider your work as a not integral part of your life. According to me our professional life (which we all call work) is an integral part of our life, so when we separate work and life that means we consider our work as something not part of our life or something which affects our life adversely. Actually our professional work is a very important part of out lives, sometimes it creates our identity so we should not look at it as something separate from our rest of life. So ultimately, when things get busy we need to prioritize the stuff as time becomes more valuable, this is the best strategy to deal with this situation, complaining doesn't help at all.

This post is going to be very brief as I have some other things to do :) Writing the blog, playing cricket, reading, exercising, spending time with friends and family are among many things which I enjoy, at the same time I enjoy my work also. No matter what I try to find some time to do most of the things which I enjoy, this is why I am writing this post today. Now a days I am having a great time with my colleagues in the lab, the same way I enjoyed playing cricket at east rock park. Keep on reading and sharing.

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

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