© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Religion, Politics & Criminal Opportunism

Religion, Caste, Politics, Attacks based on race & creed - I am terribly disturbed on the events going on back at my home town. In July this year, a school teacher who was attending a cluster meeting was beaten to death by a group of 'protesting mob' against the 7th standard social science text book. It is not yet time to forget what happened in Marad, The attack & the counter attack in Gujarat (only the counter attack gets attention in the media & politics - minority appeasement), the outrageous acts of religious conversions in the North-Eastern States, Orissa & Karnataka and the counter attack waged by the Hindu extremists (even here only the counter attack gets attention in the media & politics - minority appeasement).

When do we wake up to the reality that the caste politics and the opportunism will not take us anywhere? The statements that some of our politicians made to the media after the school teacher incident was really disgusting.

A select few compiled from the web media is given below: -
  • “The incident is deplorable…”
  • “The incident is unfortunate”
  • “Opposition should take responsibility of this incident”
  • “Educational Bandh on Monday”
  • “Mob, React!!”
  • “Panakkad Thangal should apologize to the public!”
  • “The deceased was actually ill & he died of cardiac arrest”
  • “The government is responsible for the teacher’s death”
  • “A strike force will be formed to protect the teachers…”

Now, read through all these lines. Do we see a pattern of irresponsibility? Do we see a pattern of pointing fingers? Do we see a pattern of trying to extract political mileage?

This is what I like to call as “Criminal Opportunism”.

We can see opportunists in all walks of life. They are the people who do not have an opinion or position or stand on any of the issues around them. They just go with the tide. But what we see above is taking this into a totally different level - Of being "criminally" opportunistic by being insensitive to the feelings of the deceased family. Did the government succeed in bringing the criminals to justice? I have a feeling that they would be walking down happily because, at the end of the day, it is a political crime.

My friend Biju had written a short-story interlinking the various aspects of religion and the politics around that. He uses the life of a couple who comes from two different religious backgrounds to narrate the story & he has intricately woven the theme, the message and the point into the story. I could personally relate to the most of the challenges mentioned there. If you are interested and can read Malayalam, please read the story here.

The story ends with a question - When would we be able to live in a society where religion is personal in nature and politics is social in nature?

The true problem that we face in today's society is that we try to make religion social (all social interactions based on the caste & creed of the individual) and politics as personal (being silent or not vocal about what our expectations are from the fraternity called the government - Isn't that why we see all the dirty politicians going scot free? )

Side Note: I watched the movie - A Wednesday - last weekend and was delighted to see a good bollywood movie after Taare Zameen Par. The central theme was again revolution, on the similar lines of Rang de Basanti. Wonderful performance from Nasrudeen shah & Anupam Kher - It was a welcome break to see Anupam Kher in the powerful role and I am sure there are a lot of takeaways from the film on crisis management, control, strategy and over and above execution. The best part of the film is that it does not portray the police machinary in a bad light which adds to the strength of the film.

Now, for the leaders: - Before crying out that the movies are spreading wrong ideas of violence and revolution, try to fix your home. Set it straight and right - otherwise the days when what you see in the movie becomes a reality will not be very far...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh Mind, Relax please…

My friend Kummi (Senthil) keeps sending me emails every day with a one liner that is very thought provoking and insightful. He has setup the series as “Oh Mind, Relax please…” and today is the 1137th issue - phew! That is a long time! - Since he started sending out this on a daily (working day) basis. I am sure that these one-liners definitely touches somebody every day and even makes their day – He has, many times, made my day by these one/two liners.

What prompted me to write this post was for two reasons.
  1. Oh Mind, Relax please # 1137 has a very strong message – thought of sharing with my friends & readers
  2. To thank Kummi for his continuous efforts to reach out & make a change in your everyday life

Oh Mind, Relax please # 1137:-
We grow through experience if we meet life honestly and courageously.
This is how character is built…

Isn’t that a wonderful truth?

We all hear about the experience that people have. My colleagues talk to me about their professional experience, my dad talks to me about his experience in the defense & having seen the world, my brother talks to me about the experience of running a business, my wife talks to me about the experience of strained relationships, my mom talks to me about the experience of running a home, my friends talk to me about their experiences in life – ranging from bachelor day adventures to drug addiction to girl friends to almost everything, my manager(s) talks to me about their experience of working in multiple organizations, industries…

What do each of us really take away from these experiences? Are these experiences worth if we have not met the situation honestly and courageously? Did we chose to flow by the tide or did we meet them courageously, true to our heart?

These are questions that at some point of time, we should ask ourselves. And then you would find inner awakening, which will lead you to tranquility & peace.

May be that explains why we find a lot of experienced people around us - who are still immature, hypocritical and political.

Thank You Kummi: -
I am not sure if somebody had ever taken notice of the wonderful job that you are doing by reaching out to everybody on a daily basis, sending a sweet & short message which is equally thought provoking and sometimes even makes somebody’s day.

I wanted to let you know that you have made my day more than a couple of times in the last 5-6 years by these messages, and I profusely thank you for making that change in my life.

Thank you, my friend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Compelling Message with Great Representation - BANG on Target!

I stumbled upon Jeff Brenman's presentation on the larger concern of fresh water scarcity on the earth on Slideshare and I was really amazed by the simplicity of the representation that makes this one of the best presentations that I have seen till date! The way the whole presentation is structured, along with the compelling message that it sends sure reaches the audience BANG on target.


View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: design crisis)

This is an educational presentation exploring humanity's water use and the emerging worldwide water shortage. It is designed to act as a stand-alone presentation. Enjoy!

SlideShare Link

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Is Our Culture = Hypocrisy ?

I know that I am touching a raw nerve here! Much has been talked about the Indian culture in the global context and there is no doubt – we are all proud of what we are. But in the past few months (well, more than a few) when I see the stuff going around me, I tend to believe that we are slowing transforming into a big bunch of Hypocrites!

While I started writing this post I looked up on Wiki (being my favorite source of information) for a definition of a Hypocrite/Hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy (or the state of being a hypocrite) is the act of preaching a certain belief or way of life, but not, in fact, holding these same virtues oneself. For example, an adult telling children not to smoke cigarettes, even though the adult smokes

Now let’s try to look a few examples from the various facets of our day to day life.

1. I don’t have any issues….
I have married outside my ‘religion’ and that had created a lot of hullabaloos in my family when I announced my decision. I had heard stories from my mom on how she had been subjected to insult by the extended family by means of sarcastic comments & statements during family gatherings. Over a period of time, things got evened out because people had new stories to talk about – but the bitterness with quite a lot of the extended family continued. As an effort to straighten out things, I started reaching out to the people to understand what their problem was & to initiate dialogue to sort out things.

And to my surprise, nobody had any problem! And then who had the problem all these days? I guess it was me then… J. Being bitchy about somebody at their back, but start buttering out while you see them face on – And believe me, I personally know a lot my friends who had similar experiences in their lives... more than once!

2. Worshipped woman
Woman is worshipped – according to our culture. ‘Amma’ is widely considered the embodiment of the god that you can see, feel & touch.

I remember reading a few articles on the internet last year about the increasing divorce rates among the IT workers in India. The authors go on claiming that it has got to do more with the sedentary lifestyle & ‘viewing the computer for a long time’ that an IT professional normally does that leads to impotency which in turn results in divorces. Somebody even goes to the level of mentioning that the exposure to the western culture that IT brings is leading to a loose lifestyle.

I am not challenging the risks involved with leading a sedentary lifestyle, but I personally think that the increasing divorce rate has more to do with financial independence. The new arena of work opportunities has given the women the financial independence – which they never had earlier – to walk out of an abusive relationship. So, the couples (man or woman) do not necessarily have to put up (guilt/dependency) with the abusive nature of the partner.

So, two questions here – Are women REALLY worshipped? Second, do they still behave WORTHY enough for worship? – Some food for thought.

But no matter what, when some discussions happen about cultures, we still have our blood boiling about our ‘respect for woman’.

3. That is not OUR culture!
This one is my favorite! – Come Feb 14th every year, you find arson, stoning and all sort of things going on in pockets of India – protest against the Valentine’s Day! The main argument here is that this celebration is against our culture! To celebrate or not is a personal choice & I don’t intent to make any comments on that here.

But I personally know a little girl near my house in my home village who was just 16 years old while she committed suicide by drinking a bottle of pesticide – And she was 6 months pregnant! When it came to a situation that she can’t hide her growing belly anymore, she decided to end her life. Had she been educated of the pitfalls of engaging in unsafe & prenatal sex, had her parents been more open to talk about these things to her instead of considering that a taboo, I feel it would have turned out to be a different story. And many such stories does not even come out, if the parents are financially sound.

My point is that such things happen everywhere. Instead of pretending that this does not happen because it is not our culture, parents should take necessary steps in creating that bond with the children to have free dialogue & educate them. Leaving it to the culture could be a disaster - because it is not as it is perceived to be!

My daughter would be 3 in October this year & I was awed to hear from one of the parent in the school that in the curriculum for the Kindergarten they have a lesson on ‘Touch’. Helping the children to identify the different ‘touches’ and help them to realize what is appropriate & what is not.

So, isn’t providing the education right at the beginning & enable the children to deal with the world rather than playing the moral police of arson & stoning shops a better option? Why do we fail to see the obvious?

4. I am the perfect – all others are sloppy!
This is another that I see at my work place & constantly deals with on a day to day basis. We talk so much about separating the 'problem' from the 'personnel' while you have an issue to deal with. 80% of the people whom I deal with have some or other excuse of not having completed a particular work item. “ABC was supposed to give that component & I can only start after that, he has not completed yet” OR “PQR had a delay, so I am delayed” – The surprising factor is that it is never because of ME! I am the perfect man & nothing can be delayed or go wrong because of ME.

And the same people if they have something delayed from somebody else, you can hear statements like… “You know what? He is lazy. You can’t expect a timely delivery from him”… It was so easy to box somebody because of an instance… Couldn’t that ABC person or the PQR component be applicable to him too?

5. “I just had my tea”
I should say that this one is very specific to malayalis. You are visiting a friend’s house & as it is in the common tradition, they are offering you a drink – cold beverage or tea/coffee - & is asking for you if you have a specific liking for any of the choice. The immediate response (most common) is “We just had our tea a few minutes back”. And the fact might be that you had not had a chance to drink even a glass of water since you had your breakfast! I had raised eyebrows within my family when I say “Yes, I prefer tea, but I like to have a plain glass of water first!”. My question is that why do we need to show that formality? At least while we are with friends?

I don’t know – May be our 'unsaid culture' is to be hypocritical!