Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Ghazal by Zafar

A beautiful Ghazal of Bahadur Shah Zafar, who lived in the times of Ghalib, partly rendered by Bhupinder with almost no music.

या मुझे अफसर-ए-शाहाना बनाया होता
या मेरा ताज गदायाना बनाया होता।

(अफसर-ए-शाहाना = king of kings, गदायाना = that of a beggar/hermit)

अपना दीवाना बनाया होता तू ने
क्यों ख़िरद-मंद बनाया? ना बनाया होता।

(ख़िरद-मंद = wise)

ख़ाक़सारी के लिए गरचे बनाया था मुझे
काश संगे-दरे-जानाना बनाया होता।

(ख़ाक़सारी = to be humiliated as dust, गरचे = if, संगे-दरे-जानाना = next to the door of my beloved)

नशा-ए-इश्क़ का गर ज़र्फ़ दिया था मुझको
उम्र का तंग न पैमाना बनाया होता।

(गर = अगर/if, ज़र्फ़ = ability to bear)

दिले-सद-चक बनाया तो बला से लेकिन
ज़ुल्फ़-ए-मुश्किन का तेरे शाना बनाया होता।

(दिले-सद-चक = a heart torn a hundred times, ज़ुल्फ़-ए-मुश्किन = fragrant hair, शाना = shoulder)

सूफियों के ना था लायक-ए-सोहबत तो मुझे
क़ाबिले-जलसा-ए-रिन्दाना बनाया होता।

(क़ाबिले-जलसा-ए-रिन्दाना = able to enjoy drunken orgies)

था जलाना ही अगर दूरी-ए-साक़ी से मुझे
तो चराग़े-दर-ए-मयख़ाना बनाया होता।

रोज़ मामूरा-ए-दुनिया में खराबी है 'ज़फर'
ऐसी बस्ती से तो वीराना बनाया होता।

(मामूरा = mundane, मामूरा-ए-दुनिया = day-to-day life)

या मुझे अफसर-ए-शाहाना बनाया होता
या मेरा ताज गदायाना बनाया होता।

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Ghazal by Mir Taqi Mir

This Ghazal was partially rendered by the legendary Lata Mangeshkar in the film Bazaar:

Written by Mir Taqi Mir (18th century), the full Ghazal follows:

फ़कीराना आए सदा कर चले
मियाँ खुश रहो हम दुआ कर चले
Mendicant like i came and part
Praying that you be blessed.
जो तुझ बिन न जीने को कहते थे हम
सो इस अहद को अब वफ़ा कर चले
Without you i would not live,
Behold, this pledge i now redeem.
कोई ना-उम्मीदाना करते निगाह
सो तुम हम से मुँह भी छिपा कर चले
A hopeless glance I could have cast,
But you even hid your face walking past me.
बहुत आरज़ू थी गली की तेरी
सो याँ से लहू में नहा कर चले
I longed to come your way
And I started from here (याँ से) bathed in blood.
दिखाई दिए यूं कि बेखुद किया
हमें आप से भी जुदा कर चले
With just a glimpse, you left me entranced,
estranged from self, i have been since.
जबीं सजदा करते ही करते गई
हक-ऐ-बंदगी हम अदा कर चले
A long obeisance was my life,
My debt of homage i have paid.
परस्तिश की याँ तैं कि ऐ बुत तुझे
नज़र में सबों की खुदा कर चले
I worshiped you so deeply as a body,
That people took you for a god.
गई उम्र दर बंद-ऐ-फिक्र-ऐ-ग़ज़ल
सो इस फ़न को ऐसा बड़ा कर चले
A life spent in verses, stanzas and poems
Thus have I nourished this passion.
कहें क्या जो पूछे कोई हम से “मीर”
जहाँ में तुम आए थे, क्या कर चले
What shall I say if someone asks
"Mir", you were born, but to what avail?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Ghazal in two parts

This magnificent Ghazal apparently is in two parts.  Both parts have been sung by Jagjit Singh, on separate occasions.

Part 1, written by Aziz Qaisi

आप को देख कर देखता रह गया
क्या कहूँ और कहने को क्या रह गया।

उन के आँखों में कैसे छलकने लगा
मेरे होंठों पे जो माजरा रह गया।

ऐसे बिछड़े सभी राह के मोड़ पर
आखरी हमसफ़र रास्ता रह गया।

सोच कर आओ कू-ए-तमन्ना है ये (कू-ए-तमन्ना = Way of Desire)
जानेमन जो यहां रह गया रह गया।

आप को देख कर देखता रह गया
क्या कहूँ और कहने को क्या रह गया।

Part 2, written by Wasim Barelvi

आप को देख कर देखता रह गया
क्या कहूँ और कहने को क्या रह गया।

आते-आते मेरा नाम-सा रह गया
उसके होंठों पे कुछ कांपता रह गया।

वो मेरे सामने ही गया और मैं
रास्ते की तरह देखता रह गया।

झूठ वाले कहीं से कहीं बढ़ गये
और मैं था कि सच बोलता रह गया।

आँधियों के इरादे तो अच्छे न थे
ये दिया कैसे जलता हुआ रह गया।

आप को देख कर देखता रह गया
क्या कहूँ और कहने को क्या रह गया।

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ten Modern Provocative Films

Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.
(Franz Kakfa, 1904)

Cinematic arts show little sign of stagnation. It is the greatest of all times for a film lover.

All these films were released in the last ten years.

In no particular order:
  • The Turin Horse (Bela Tarr, 2011)
  • The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012)
  • Miss Lovely (Ashim Ahluwalia, 2012)
  • The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)
  • Nymphomaniac I and II (Lars von Trier, 2013)
  • Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011)
  • Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)
  • Incendies (Dennis Villenueve, 2010)
  • Julia (Erich Zonka, 2008)

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Dharnas, Bandhs, and the State

Exhibit A

From The Tribune
“Today she was standing in the queue since morning. There was a huge rush outside the bank. The bank guard allegedly pushed her when she tried to enter the bank. She fell down near the main door of the bank and fell unconscious,” Parvinder said.
He said that all family members immediately reached the spot and rushed her to a nearby private hospital where doctors refused to admit her, citing her serious condition. She was later rushed to the CMC Hospital where doctors declared her brought dead.
Following her death, her kin brought her body back outside the bank and blocked the Shingar cinema road.
Protest was on outside the bank for over two hours.
I used to consider such public protests a nuisance.  And they are.  In many cases, the demands are unjust and the costs are imposed on unsuspecting, innocent third parties.  If the road is blocked, or if there is a Bandh (a city shut-down), suffering is inflicted on many who had nothing to do with the initial provocation.  Sometimes, they are little different from a blackmail.

But if we consider the lack of effective institutions and processes in India to redress a grievance, these protests are more understandable.  If the police and the judiciary acted quickly and efficiently against an unjust act, and if there were effective mechanisms to resolve disputes between two parties, people would feel much less inclined to take to the road to voice their frustration.

During the so-called freedom struggle, Gandhi was well-known to go on hunger-strikes against the British or against a rioting populace.  He claimed it was a penance and not a blackmail, but obviously a penance could (and should) have been done in private without it becoming a public show.  It was a coercive gesture against a regime which was considered unjust and cruel, or against a circumstance which was too hard to address through law or debate.

I fear that though India is supposedly free from the British, our judiciary and police is still essentially of a colonial nature.  It is inaccessible to the common individual.  The police routinely regard a common man and his grievance as a nuisance rather than a call to duty.  The judiciary is impenetrable and takes ages to make any decision which can be easily and routinely reversed in a higher court.

In short, the common individual has little recourse when there is a severe injustice.  For common injustices and humiliations, Indians just take it in their stride.  It is not that we are genetically servile, but our institutions are designed for servility.  We are supposed to beg for favors rather than be assured of a process that works.  That is also why Indians are so loath to pay taxes.

The fundamental, essential duty of a modern state is to dispense safety and justice between disarmed individuals.  Other public services like roads, infrastructure, healthcare, are important but secondary to the primary objective of providing law-enforcement fairly and effectively.  If that is absent, citizens lose faith in the state and we drift toward anarchy.  If there is no faith in the state, there is thereby little motivation to contribute one's fair share in the form of taxes.

Tax-evasion is breaking a law.  But when all other laws are being broken, how and why can you expect a citizen to follow the tax laws specifically?  As a country, we must strengthen the law-making and the law-enforcement mechanisms in general.  Any specific strengthening (the promulgation of a draconian new law) is only going to be a further injustice.  Selective law-enforcement is synonymous with injustice.

Hence, these protests and public blockades are an expression of the frustration boiling over.  It is when the ordinary humiliations give way to extraordinary ones that people take to the road and start screaming and crying.  If the relatives of the dead woman were assured that the law was on their side, they would not resort to exhibiting the dead body in the middle of the road.

As it is, they were subjected to at least three severe injustices, all in the course of a day:
  1. The draconian demonetization of 86% of Indian currency in circulation, and the necessity of standing in a queue for days to get one's own hard-earned money.
  2. The alleged manhandling by the bank's guard and lack of immediate medical attention.
  3. The refusal of the hospital to treat the woman.
I can imagine their anguish.  In a failed state, nothing is off the table.

Exhibit B

From the "Enforcing Contracts" statistics on World Bank's Ease of Doing Business  around the world:
Average length time to enforce a contract in the CAPITAL of India is 1420 days: almost 4 years.
One can imagine the plight of people in a town or village.  And these are for civil wrongs.  One can imagine the glacial pace of correcting a criminal wrong.  In my estimation, criminal cases drag along usually for two decades.

One can either wait for two decades, or take to the streets.  What would you do?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Why Trump Won

Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives. They SAY they hate the West because it is warlike, imperialistic, sexist, ethnocentric and so forth, but where these same faults appear in socialist countries or in primitive cultures, the leftist finds excuses for them, or at best he GRUDGINGLY admits that they exist; whereas he ENTHUSIASTICALLY points out (and often greatly exaggerates) these faults where they appear in Western civilization. Thus it is clear that these faults are not the leftist's real motive for hating America and the West. He hates America and the West because they are strong and successful.
(Industrial Society and its Future, Ted Kaczynski)

There are patterns in human history which briefly trend, then reverse.

Humanity likes to experiment, or to manipulate existing social and thought patterns.  But our success as a species is because if a social pattern or a way of thinking is not working, we change course.  Sometimes not so quickly, but eventually.

What is the historical pattern which has trended for the last few decades and which is now reversing all over the world?  The reversal may again be temporary, but the signs are there.  And my bet on Trump was a bet on the strengthening of this reversal.

The Trump victory must be studied across disciplines.  The margin of victory was small, and it could have easily gone the other way.  But remember the passion at Trump's rallies, the extraordinary support for Trump on social media, and the massive assault on Trump from the entire establishment.

The denigration of Trump and his supporters was brutal, unrelenting and widespread.

Why was the opposition to Trump so vicious?  And why was his support so passionate?  I have some thoughts on this.

This was a war between two narratives.

I recognized this early on, in late 2015.  It was unimportant to note the specifics of Trump's policies.  It was only important to understand where he was in the narrative; it was only essential to note who was for him and who was against him.

Welfare recipients.  Against.
Leftist commentators.  Against.
Advertising-based media.  Against.
New-age spirituality.  Against.
Feminists.  Against.
Beta males.  Against.
Multiculturalists.  Against.
Globalists.  Against.
Interventionists.  Against.
Atheists.  Against.
Urban millennials.  Against.
Vacuous Hollywood (Seth Rogen, Amy Schumer, Madonna, etc.).  Against.
Saudi Arabia.  Against.
Established politicians.  Against.
Intellectual Yet Idiot class. Against.
Establishment Economists. Against.

Since I was operating at the level of narratives, I had to seek who all were against the narratives peddled by the group above (let's call the above Group A).  I realized that in time all those against Group A would unite.

Jailed or exiled Hackers.  Against A.
Heretic Thinkers (Taleb, Thiel, etc.).  Against A.
The Manosphere. Against A.
Modern horseback riders (Bikers). Against A.
Self-Reliant Romantics (Gun owners). Against A.
Habitual Skeptics (Conspiracy Theorists). Against A.
The so-called "Alt-Right".  Against A.
The Heavy Lifters (Firemen, Police, Border Patrol). Against A.
The Brexit advocates.  Against A.
Those proud of their cultures.  Againat A.
Alpha/Masculine figures (Clint Eastwood, Join Voight, Hulk Hogan, Mike Tyson, James Woods): Against A.

The first narrative is that of socialization, institutionalization and alienation.  The second narrative is that of autonomy, individualism and identity.

The first narrative is that of relativism (situational ethics).  The second narrative is that of absolutes (moral imperatives).

For the last few decades, the first narrative has been pushed down the throats of unwilling people.  People are living emotionally vacuous lives, alienated, without a sense of purpose or meaning.  Long-existing structures of family, religion and self-reliance have been slowly losing out to consumption, superficiality and powerlessness.

It has become fashionable to criticize the old structures.  TV ads and movies pooh-pooh father figures.  There is all the talk of the corruption of religion without any commentary on its benefits.  Fashion is promoted endlessly over frugality.  Consumerism and Media and Fiat money and Bernanke/Fed believers and Big Bang orthodoxy and Feminism and String Theory fanaticism and Global Warming clique are sometimes contradictory but entirely understandable partners in this cultural warfare.  They may not be wrong, but they are smug and they are bullies.

This was a cultural bubble getting ready to pop.

In the last decade, a counter-culture has arisen to defend itself from the mainstream narrative.  And I have been (and continue to be) part of that movement.  That counter-culture is against the dogmas of group A.

The second group is that of the counter-culture.

So, when Trump entered the fray in 2015, I realized that this counter-culture had (unwittingly) joined hands with middle America, which had been systematically exploited and bankrupted, I knew it was only a matter of time before this union of insulted and the humiliated (the poor middle America) and the counter-culture would gather enough momentum to achieve at least some victories on Group A.

It was possible that Trump could have lost.  But I had, and continue to have, faith in the momentum of the counter-culture.  The viciousness of the media against him, and against the counter-culture, only solidified my resolve.

Both the powerless and the cultural warriors were needed for victory: the middle America was needed for the numbers on election day.  The counter-culture was needed to provide hope and cultural ammunition against group A.  I wasn't part of the middle America.  I don't even have a vote yet.  But my sympathies were completely with them.  And I reveled in the counter-attacks at the front lines of culture.

This was guerrilla warfare to defend poor "uneducated" natives from a pillaging post-colonial army.

Trump was/is the symbolic leader the guerrilla cultural warriors and the natives needed.  He may or may not be able to fulfill all his promises.  But my bet was only on the strength of this movement.  What the movement is able to achieve via Trump remains to be seen.

I knew that people defending are always more passionate than those attacking.  The attackers were in many cases professional, paid-for employees.  The defenders were working to save their way of life.  The attackers (not knowing what they were fighting for) lost enthusiasm and many stayed home on election day.

That difference in passion was enough.  And Trump won.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

What Donald Trump's Campaign Taught Me

Today is election day in the United States.  Since November of last year, I have supported Donald J Trump to become the next President of the United States.

I believe he will win.  But no matter what the result of this election, men and women around the world have witnessed a historic and remarkable election campaign.  It has been an experience the likes of which may never come again in our lifetime.

The media, all around the world, has been massively prejudiced against Donald Trump.  And only those who could sift through and put aside the hysterical opinion pieces, the biased TV coverage, the corrupt headlines, the false labels, the rigged debates and the skewed opinion polls could even begin to have a perspective on the elections which they could call their own.

I am naturally distrustful of mainstream media, and many Americans are aware that media houses are just corporations seeking their own profits and having their own motives.  But even I was shocked to see the extent of media bias.  I no longer expect to get true and correct information from TV and newspapers.  It is hard work to do one's own research and to understand the context of a quote or a gesture, but it's worth it.

I am a permanent resident in this country and am not yet eligible to vote.  But I have followed this election almost every day for the last one year.  And this election, but especially the campaign of Donald J Trump, has made me realize some very important things:

1. Purpose is Energy.  Millions across the country, and millions more around the world, have been energized to believe that the world can change.  That the problems that we face might be complex and troubling, but are not insurmountable.  A leader gives hope to his people.  And hope makes people face every new day with strength and a feeling that they matter.  And that things can change.  The passion behind the campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders has been the passion to change the world's most powerful center.  Trump supporters have poured in countless hours to support their leader, to design art and viral memes, to laugh and cry together, to make fun of others and to be made fun of, to passionately appeal for their candidate online, to volunteer as citizen-journalists, to stand for hours in a line to a rally, ... All because they feel energized.  And all because they again feel hope.  Hope matters.

2. Heroism is alive.  In the face of heavy odds, when everybody is predicting your defeat, and nobody comes to your side, the hero continues to believe in his destiny, and in his battle, and continues to fight.  It was a privilege to watch a modern figure fight against the whole world, and not give up despite being wounded again and again.  Many times Trump's campaign was predicted to be dead, and he was expected to throw in the towel.  But he fought till the very last day.  This fight will be studied in the history books.

3. People have awakened.  The campaigns for Brexit in UK, and of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the US, have shown the world that no amount of media propaganda, money power and elites siding with something can guarantee its victory.  Brits turned up, and voted UK out of EU.  Bernie Sanders gave jitters to the Democrat establishment in the US.  Trump won the Republican nomination and is only a step away from being the "leader of the free world".

4. Loyalty makes a man.  When a friend, or a family member, or your leader is caught on the wrong side, or makes a mistake, stand with him.  Admonish him, make him be a better man, pray for him, but stand with him.  There is no one among us who is flawless, but honor and loyalty is to stand with someone when that stand is no longer beneficial to yourself.  Turncoats are never respected, and are never remembered by history.  If your support and loyalty is calculated, it will go away when the calculation is no longer in your favor.  And that is a terrible way to live.  The joys of family, friendship and community are meaningful because we forgive each other and stand with each other in trouble.  When you are part of something, or have chosen a side, stand resolute.  Do not be easily swayed.

5. Heresy is man's sacred duty.  From the days of the apocryphal story of the Emperor having no clothes, heresy, and political incorrectness is the true duty of a man who values truth.  To say as one sees things, and not care about public opinion, is a rare virtue today.  It requires courage, conviction, and a certain authenticity of spirit.  To live truly is to be true to oneself.  You will sometimes make mistakes.  But it is no life to only be a sheep in the herd and always act safe.  Be bold.  Be true to yourself.  Live.

Today is election day in the United States.  And I want the people's candidate, the energetic, anti-establishment, populist, brave heretic to win.

May the force be with Donald J Trump.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

The Ugly House

It was an ugly house.

The old house, and old it was, was an unsightly mess.  Chipped off paint, mold and seeping water, poorly designed pillars, broken steps, overflowing septic tank, a "garden" full of weeds and insects, garbage strewn around, decomposing left-over food, ...

People who had seen other houses passed by this house and cursed loudly at it.  "What a horrible ungodly pigsty it is."  "It should just be razed to the ground."  "What an eyesore." "Don't the people who live here have any sensitivity?" "Are they even human?"

An old man lived in that house.  Nobody had bothered to ask him why his home was the way it was.  And he was too old, and too frail, and too naive, and perhaps even too ignorant, to explain it.

But if you looked closely, and carefully, it was apparent that he had lived an irregular life.  His right arm, amputated, was just a stump.  He had a hunchback, it seemed he had carried heavy burdens.  There were concussion marks on his head, and marks of lashings on his back.  Who had tortured him so brutally?  It was a miracle that he was even surviving.  It was said that he was a slave for many decades, but after his masters set him free, his own brothers enslaved him and tortured him even more.

There was no supply of water to his home, even though he paid his monthly bill.  He was unwashed and so was his house.

He had tried to go to a hospital once.  He was abused and chased out.

At the end of his tether and teetering at the brink of giving up and dying, he was so scared, so scarred, so witless and so inward-looking that notions of beauty, aesthetics and even good health were meaningless to him.

When I see my fellow countrymen and countrywomen, the easy option is to deride them for their underdevelopment and unwholesomeness.  But when I see the scars of their history, the unwritten history, and believe me it is unwritten as yet, of their brutal oppression by their tyrannical masters, and the fear in their eyes, and also the hope that their children will win an Olympic medal, have better hair and a good haircut and will read books not just in the syllabus, I see them not as flawless vessels of glass but as sometimes ashen embers in a clay oven burning so that the jade that comes out of the hearth will be more beautiful and will reflect the sun's rays with more fierceness than the dull deathly despondence of their fathers and forefathers who lived in ugly houses because all the beauty and truth and hope and songs of gaiety and freedom had been robbed from them.

The Rat Race

The two rats were lounging back, engaged in discussion.

The first rat exclaimed: "But what's the point of racing our fellow rats?  At the end of the race, whether we win or lose, eventually a cat will swallow us anyway."

The second rat retorted: "But a cat might pounce on us here too.  So what is to be done?"

They both started pondering over this predicament, and became silent.

It was a grave impasse.  How, indeed, to live if death anyway was going to end it all?

Zorba the third rat joined them after having stolen some cheese and brought some for them too.  He asked them why they were so sullen?  Both the rats explained their quandary.

Zorba laughed.

He asked them: "Are you trying to avoid the cat while going about your daily life?"  Both of them nodded yes.

He asked them: "Why? Why not give up and offer yourself to the cat right now?"

Both the rats loudly proclaimed: "Because we want to live, Zorba!"

"But why do you want to live, my brothers?", continued Zorba.

They had no answer.  They just wanted to live, because that was their nature: to live and not to invite death.

Then Zorba sat down in front of them, and said, "Remember what I am going to tell you now."

"Whether you live this way or that way, death will overtake you.  Therefore death is irrelevant.  It is not a factor in how you should want to live your life.  If you win the rat race, the cat will devour you.  But if you don't join the rat race, the cat will still devour you.  Therefore, the cat is only an excuse for you to not do anything, anything at all.  There might be other reasons why you are not interested in this particular race: perhaps because you want something different."

"But never, ever blame the cat.  The cat is a constant, an invariant in whatever you do.  Therefore the cat is to be disregarded.  Completely, utterly, absolutely."

"If you live bemoaning the impermanence of life, it is perhaps that someone has told you that there is something other than this impermanence, which makes you want THAT and not THIS."

"Beware of those false prophets.  They will bring you nothing but misery."

And then he gave them some bits of cheese.  Impermanent though the sensation of taste was, the rats were thankful.  And hopeful.

McDonald's is not selling food in India

It is selling professionalism, hygiene and process.

Chicken burgers are available elsewhere too.  Aloo tikki is a staple of Indian street food.

But upwardly mobile folks all go to western fast food joints.  There are birthday celebrations and dates in McDonald's.  Haldiram's etc. are doing reasonably well, but there is a lingering suspicion that behind the scenes the bania must be cutting corners in terms of either material quality or training.

In developed countries, where all three of the above are ubiquitous, McDonald's is a matter of convenience and cheap food.  However, in India, all three are scarce.  People go to McDonald's to experience the features of a western developed country: modern machines, quality control, trained and courteous employees, quick service, etc.

Western fast food is unhealthy, though probably no more than Indian fast food (dosa, pakoda, paratha, etc.).  It is the brand and what it represents that makes the opening of a McDonald's or a KFC outlet an event in a small town in India.

One might criticize big corporations for various reasons, but it is clear to me that there is immense need and desire for people in poorer countries for the higher quality and streamlined processes that can only happen with planning, technology and investment.

At least, till that quality and process-orientation becomes more common in the society at large.

Monday, August 22, 2016

My Support of Donald J Trump

Some of my friends on social media are aghast that I support Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.  Some of them think I am being a contrarian for the fun of it, some think I have changed for the worse, and others, in a well-intentioned manner, are trying to drill, at least in their minds, some sense into me.

I wrote an earlier post explaining why I support Donald Trump.  I encourage you to read that post before going ahead.

This post is an elaboration of that earlier post.  Also, now that the nominations of both parties have been finalized, it is time to contrast the candidacy of DJT vs HRC.

I will talk about five issues on which I believe DJT and HRC have opposing positions, and why I favor the position of DJT.  In the end, I will make some general remarks, and also outline where I disagree with DJT.

Before continuing, I will clarify that I am a libertarian at heart.  For that reason alone, I find most of the positions of the Republican party, which believes in limits to the power of the federal government and a more decentralized form of governance at the state and local level, to be more true to the libertarian creed.  So, even if we don’t consider the candidates, I have a predisposition toward the Republican party.

Let us talk about some of the central issues of this election:

Immigration: I believe that in a democracy, people who follow laws should be rewarded, and those who break laws should be punished.  I know many fellow immigrants who have followed the legal process and waited for decades to get their right to work and stay in the United States.  I know many heartbreaking stories where spouses and parents have remained apart and patiently followed the process, to finally be together.  For reasons of fairness to these law-abiding people, I am not sympathetic to lax enforcement of existing laws, or the policy of allowing amnesty to those who have fraudulenty or illegally entered this country.  If we disagree with the immigration laws, we should change them.  But to allow flagrant violation of those laws, and to forgive those violations, is injustice and cruelty to the law-abiding people.  Not just that, rampant illegal immigration drives down wages and burdens taxpayers for no fault of their own.  And of course, terrorists can enter the country in the guise of being refugees, as is happening in western Europe.  For all these reasons, I support Donald Trump’s strong position of LEGAL and SAFE immigration versus the unjust and dangerous policies of HRC.

Trade: In today’s globalized world, lower wages in a developing country like India or China have the potential to destabilize markets and wages in a developed country.  The business owners like this globalization, and it does enrich the developing countries to some extent, but it hurts the local and domestic population.  It does lead to cheaper goods, but it leads to lower wages and decimation of local manufacturing and industry.  The global trade deals which HRC supports, and which both DJT and Bernie Sanders oppose, need to be negotiated properly so that the American workers and families can hope for a financially secure and prosperous future.  DJT has gone against even the Republican establishment in insisting that trade must be fair, and not just free.

Defense and Security: I find it absolutely astounding that otherwise peace-loving people cannot see that of the two candidates, DJT is by far the candidate of peace.  The media has relentlessly portrayed him as “dangerous” and “scary” while he has always called for less intervention, more collaboration, more negotiation, a re-thinking of military coalitions from the time of cold war, a criticism of even his own party’s President in going into Iraq, and a repudiation of nation-building and regime changes in other countries.  With similar information, many politicians at that time opposed going into Iraq, while HRC voted in its favor.  HRC was responsible for catastrophic decisions related to Libya, Syria and Iran.  HRC was probably just going along, as I don’t think she had much judgment of her own.  But it is time to focus on America’s domestic issues instead of war-mongering around the world.  For that reason, I support DJT.  And of course, only the Republicans are able to call Islamic terrorism for what it is, while Democrats still have their head in the sand.

Healthcare: Obamacare has been a disaster.  Many previously uninsured have gotten insurance, but a majority of law-abiding paying insurance customers now face much higher premiums and lower choice.  I regard Obamacare as a massive and unjust market intervention which has gone horribly wrong, and cost the country billions of dollars.  It will probably die its own death due to a massive financial burden on the government.  The focus must be on more competition, and lowering the actual cost of healthcare which is currently the highest in US compared to most other countries.  Obamacare is a “health tax” (you pay a tax penalty if you don’t want to get health insurance), and as a libertarian, it is against my ethos.

The Bill of Rights: Republicans don’t want a dilution in the first and second amendments.  While liberals and feminists would like nothing better than to enshrine hate-speech laws and gun-licensing in US.  I regard the bill of rights as the greatest constitutional document in human history.  It limits the power of government to tyrannize its population.  And it has withstood challenges for hundreds of years.   United States is an open society because of the first amendment, and I vehemently oppose anyone who tries to curtail this right.  Left-liberal governments in UK and Germany have limited expression of politically incorrect opinions, and I regard that as a tragedy for Europe.  The second amendment rights, aka gun rights, is a complex subject.  Without going into details, I support the right of private citizens to own and carry guns.  Republicans, and DJT, support the second amendment far more than Democrats and HRC.   And lastly, the due process right is sought to be repealed by third-wave feminists and their ilk.

But apart from these boring policy positions, I see DJT as a more authentic person than HRC.  He is not a career politician and he speaks from the heart.  Sometimes he says stuff which seems like political suicide, and the media never forgives him for it.  But it is undeniable that this aspect of his personality has endeared him to millions of people who have voted for him in the primaries.  His persona may be brash, but I think his character is clean, at least when compared to the political class in this country.

HRC is a thoroughly corrupt (Clinton foundation, DNC, demonizing Bill Clinton’s rape victims), inept (emails, Benghazi, Iran, etc.) and in fact cruel individual who every honest, law-abiding and kind-hearted individual must oppose.

I disagree with DJT on a few issues.  Historically, the republicans have been seen as anti-science with not enough focus on issues like the environment and global warming.  I believe it is possible for Republicans to both friendlier to the domestic industry as well as be more informed about these challenges.  Secondly, I believe Edward Snowden is a national hero, and Republicans (including DJT) regard him as a villain.  If we need surveillance, citizens must vote on it and it must be legally authorized.  Organizations like NSA cannot be allowed to circumvent laws and mock the existing laws.  And thirdly, I don’t think Islamic terrorism can be solved militarily.  It will require careful diplomacy, healing the wounds of the past, and correcting injustices that in many cases the United States itself perpetrated.

Both the parties are not able to articulate the past sins of United States foreign policy, but at least DJT is brave enough to go against his own party in criticizing Iraq war.

I would also like to say that I respect the supporters of Bernie Sanders.  He too was an anti-establishment candidate.  At least he offered a new vision.  I applaud those who supported him.  Hillary Clinton is a status-quo candidate, and supporting her shows an utter failure of imagination.

DJT is not a perfect candidate or a flawless human being, but he is certainly BY FAR preferable to a corrupt, inept and cruel candidate that is Hillary Clinton.

But these words won’t matter to those who have made up their minds.  What will matter is something that many don’t realize.  Hillary Clinton is in bad shape, health-wise.  Her brain is under medication and is not quite stable.  She has understandably tried to avoid any press conference and ad-lib pronouncements.  It is not her “fault”, but it makes her a very, very dangerous choice.  Before November, we will see some alarming symptoms of her ill-health which will turn the course of this election.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

The Golden Era

Man's history is a record of the neural overcoming the genetic.  Good neural patterns get established as "social" patterns.

Man does not live by instinct alone.  And that is the prime reason for his alienation and his feeling that he has been evicted from the Garden of Eden.

The Mind, as contrasted to the Heart, is the fundamental cause of man always feeling like he is not home.

The Heart is predominant in infancy, and that is the only golden era.  In that though there might be pain but there is no suffering, since there is no conflict and contradiction.

There is unity and holism in feeling and instinct.  There is division and opposition in thought.

But man is thought.  Without his brain, man is not more than an animal or an infant.

To rail against thought and the mind in order to achieve lasting bliss is a wish to be back in infancy, to be back in the womb, to be back in Eden, to be back with God.

If the 21st century man thinks that socialized, digital, cosmopolitan life is unnatural, so did the 20th century man think that the industrial, mechanized, time-governed life was unnatural, and so did the men in earlier centuries feel unnatural about science, agriculture, and the written word.

So did the caveman think about living in a cave as against under the sky.  So did the hunter gatherer think about saving for winter instead of living in the "present".

If the modern, nuclear family with a possibility of divorce is felt as unnatural today, so did community life feel unnatural to the wandering tribes, so did monogamy feel unnatural to the hunter, so did long-term cohabitation feel unnatural to the neanderthal, ...

To want to go back to the way one's parents and grandparents lived ("what stability! what a feeling of being rooted!") is understandable, but they too felt un-rooted and alienated throughout life.  Perhaps less so than us, but they were also not home.

The feeling of not being home is the inescapable consequence of having a developed mind.

The mind manipulates nature, that is its essence.  The mind is part of nature, but it is obvious that its learning, training and effectiveness can be developed orders of magnitude faster than evolution in nature.  This difference in velocity of change, and an accelerated subjugation of entropy, is the central distinction between mind and the rest of nature.

Nostalgia is also part of man.  But if you go to your childhood home, the home is there, but you are not a child anymore.  You can connect to your childhood friends, but it is no longer childhood.  You can look wistfully at your toys that your mother and your father gave you, but those toys will not engage you today.

Nostalgia is the awareness of conflict and a wish to go back to feeling whole.

Just like man was an infant, mankind had its infancy when as a species its brain was not developed.

The golden era was millions of years ago.

A feeling of not being truly home was always there, that is why thousands of years ago the Buddha and the other mystics sought their "true" abode, the final resting place.

But in the last hundred years, there is another order of velocity now threatening man.  If the Genetic was honed over millions of years, the Social was developed over centuries, and the Mind is shaped over decades, the pace of change is now annual.  The way of living is being ripped apart every few years.

It's not just that life is governed by norms instead of instincts.  But those "norms" are changing every few years.  That has never happened.

In no other era have humans migrated and traveled so much at such pace and such frequency.  In no other era the essential tools to navigate life have changed every few years.  In no other era has the rate of divorce been so tragically high.  In no other era were psychotropic medicines so heavily prescribed.

Man was already uprooted, now he is being blown around by the hot, unpredictable winds of an arid earth.

The golden era never existed, but the pace of change today is probably more than what as a species we can handle.

The common man has already surrendered his autonomy to the information-global-industrial economy and lives in fear of change.

This stress of constant change is what will finally lead to a global surrender to Artificial Intelligence.

Unable to cope, billions of humans will regress to fast food and mindless entertainment and porn and myriad other addictions while the elites and the "big data" digital infrastructure optimize every consumption pattern, every click, and every last bitcoin of monetization from them.

"... and blew the suffering of ... naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years." (Howl, Allen Ginsberg)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Realm of Peace

The seeker was inspired and enraptured by the teacher's words:
I wonder if that would happen if we saw the whole significance of the problem? We might not live according to the usual pattern, but we would live creatively and happily, with a wholly different out look. Such a state cannot be brought about if we accept the present social pattern as inevitable. But to get back to your point: do ambition, competition and conflict constitute a predestined and inevitable way of life? You evidently assume that they do. 
Since you are maintaining this competitive way of life, your children and your children's children will bread further antagonism, envy and war; neither you nor they will have peace. Having been conditioned to this traditional pattern of existence, you are in turn educating your children to accept it; so the world goes on in this sorrowful way.
The seeker was convinced that living competitively was not a recipe for happiness.  That competition was a form of warfare, and was untenable for a man of peace.  That it was evil.

The seeker decided not to compete as he lived his life.

It was not easy.

The seeker never won an election.  Nor an auction.  The seeker never negotiated the terms of his loans.  He got a house which was facing a sewage pit while others got houses which were facing a pleasant lake.  He wanted to get married and eventually married a woman who couldn't see her own toes.  His children didn't get admission in a good school, which was in demand, and he was content to have them enrolled in the local school full of rowdies and drug users.  When visiting a doctor, he waited the longest while others jumped the queue and pleaded with him to let them see the doctor first.  At the cinema hall he was content to sit in the first row, squinting at the screen.

Such was his life for many years.  And he suffered.  But he was content that at least inwardly he was living the life that he held proper.

But doubts crept into his soul.  He wondered why he kept on suffering.  If his way was the way of peace, why did the Gods not bless him with a pleasant life?  He decided to pay another visit to the charismatic teacher.  As he boarded the aircraft, he realized that he had been allocated a middle seat toward the back of the plane.  To catch his connecting flight, he had to run like a madman but missed it because it was overbooked.  He waited and was put on a late night flight to his destination.

He arrived at the monastery, bleary eyed and exhausted from the journey.  The teacher lived in a mansion in a remote, picturesque valley on a piece of land donated by one of his wealthy followers.

He patiently waited for the teacher to come out.  But there were many other visitors, and they had appointments.  His turn did not come till the evening.

He kept waiting.  But impatience was troubling him today.

Finally he had his chance, and after everybody else had left, the teacher faced him.  He bowed to his ancient teacher, who was resplendently dressed in a white robe and with a heavy voice asked his question, using words that he had chosen carefully and with precision: "If competition is evil, and the world is competitive, where does a man go who does not wish to lead an evil life?"

The teacher looked at him lovingly, with compassion, and simply said:
I have found the answer to all this, not in the world but away from it.
That was all the teacher said.  The teacher then left the visitors' room and retired into his mansion.  The seeker did not understand but stood up to leave.  He was confused and still tired.  His head was aching badly.  As he stood up his phone fell out of his pocket onto the floor.  He picked it up.

The glass screen had shattered, the background image on the phone of the snow-clad mountains was now a blur, but the phone was still alive.  There were five missed calls from his wife.  He cursed loudly for he knew she needed money to pay the rent which had been recently hiked by the landlord due to increased demand in their area.  She needed money: money which he did not have.  Agonized, he suddenly felt a pain in his chest and clutched his heart.

As he dropped to his death, he was finally at peace.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Why I Support Donald J Trump

Support for politicians is rarely because of their policy positions. It is about affinity of temperament, the force of personality and a feeling that the politician is on "my side". It is also usually about who that politician is up against.

I have not been interested in US politics till this year's cycle. I believe this election cycle is a watershed event in the history of the United States because of the widespread appeal of two candidates who are not supported by their parties.

Bernie Sanders (Democrat) and Donald J Trump (Republican) are running for office, and running against the behemoth of political establishment, the avalanche of biased media, and immense money power.

They are the leaders of the new age. Today traditional media is failing to sway people and social media is the new democratic reality. People clearly perceive the corruption inherent in the political process and are making up their own minds about their nominee. This is fearsome to the power fraternity in the country and beyond. The elite want the system to continue to serve them, and democracy is all fine and good as long as the elite get to choose their government.

The elite are unable to control Bernie Sanders and Donald J Trump and their supporters. These two leaders are not yet sold out to special interests and those who want to continue to subjugate the American people as well as the rest of the world.

From an essay titled American Spring:
Throughout history, elites and plutocrats have feared direct democracy. One-person, one-vote logically leads towards mob rule. Socialism. Tribalism. The masses are always “crazier” than the elites. The elites like the status quo, so they pull policy towards the center. It’s the masses that want real change.
YouTube killed TV and Twitter ate the news. Donald’s tweeting from his jet and Bernie’s kickstarter went viral. Software is eating politics and the elites have lost control.
Now we see “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The neatly labeled bundles of “Democrat” and “Republican” are going to get re-assembled by the voters, one vote at a time instead of one dollar at a time.
I like many of the positions taken by DJT and Bernie Sanders, but my admiration for them goes beyond the policy positions. I am enthralled that in the most powerful country on the planet, there is finally a popular uprising against the kleptocracy of power.

And the powers-that-be are in danger of losing their gravy train.  They are not taking this lightly.

The mass media is relentless in its vilification of DJT. All stops are being pulled to have negative headlines about him, to mock him, to provide misleading statistics about him, to portray his supporters as illiterate buffoons who should know better than to support someone who finally is on their side, and to stop him from becoming the Republican nominee or the US President.

I hope and believe Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee in 2016, and go on to become the President of USA.

I am usually on the side of the person who I see being treated unfairly. And from very early in this election cycle, I noticed the brutal media coverage of DJT. I recognized the ideological positions and the financial interests against his candidacy. That was when I decided to be on his side.

I have no affection for social justice warriors, for a media system that is corrupt and sold out for ratings, for third wave feminism, for "black lives matter" and their intolerance for any dialog, for "safe spaces", for welfare without accountability, for the leftist hatred of wealth and success and beauty, for the shrill abuse of men and their imaginary "privilege", for the politically correct discourse in which to talk meaningfully about race or gender or religion is forbidden, and for the slow curtailment of the United States Bill of Rights (which I consider probably the greatest constitutional document in human history).

When I perceived all my ideological opponents railing against a specific candidate, I knew he was my candidate. And his campaign has not disappointed me.

He has taken strong positions against Islamic terrorism, against illegal immigration, against open borders, against the shift of manufacturing and services jobs to outside United States, for protecting the second amendment, and so on. Someone who is a traditional conservative will be glad to support such a candidate.

Apart from his policy positions, what is even more admirable in him is his independence, his freshness and his rejection of the Republican establishment positions even when these puts him at risk of immense criticism. I admire his doctrine of deterrence rather than intervention, his critique of the Iraq war, his wanting to have peaceful coexistence between Israel and Palestine, his desire to support Planned Parenthood for non-abortion-related activities, his desire to help those who cannot afford healthcare at all, and his skill in deal-making...

By uttering a single sentence during his relentless trap-questioning about abortion, he exposed the hollowness and the hypocrisy of the pro-life movement that equates abortion with murder but refuses to recognize the agency of the mother in this murder. He was forced to issue a clarification, sure, but that just goes to show the intense corruption of the cultural landscape in which even DJT has to pander to hypocrisy or be ruled out as unviable.
From a comment on Dalrock:
Those ‘pro-life’ people who disagree with that statement are not committed to ending abortion- they are committed to having a political issue to either run on or make a living with.

I believe that US Presidents can be hobbled if they cannot get the Congress or the Senate to get along with them, and a man who is skilled in negotiation and persuasion will be far more effective than a mere ideologue who cannot compromise and be flexible.

I know many people do not like his persona, but I want them to take a re-look at this man. Many have already decided to support Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, and to them Trump is perhaps unsupportable.  Some of them will support him in the coming months.  Some will support him because they do not want the establishment to win.

But for those who are still undecided, I ask them to consider which candidate will do the best job at protecting America, which candidate will do the best job at shaking things up in Washington DC, which candidate wants the rule of law to be upheld, and which candidate seems to want the government to be run as an efficient business.

Many people have many misconceptions about him.  Those misconceptions have been peddled for months by the mass media. But repeating a lie does not make it true.  For example, that he is a "misogynist", "racist", "fascist", etc. The media likes to portray any insult or criticism of a woman as "sexism" or "misogyny", any criticism of immigration as "racism", and so on. Don't be spoon-fed by the media. The media cannot be trusted. Find out for yourself.

And ask yourself if his coverage in the media is fair and balanced, or does it seem unduly negative and full of abuse toward him.  If you compare the constant barrage of insults hurled at him by the mass media and by other politicians versus his counter-punches, there is no doubt who is being the gentleman in this election cycle.

As an example of dismantling just the misconception of him being a "fascist", read this:
Trump’s policies lean pro-minority:
1. Veterans are disproportionately minorities.
2. Aborted babies are often minorities.
3. Trump wants to avoid people “dying in the streets” with no healthcare, and that benefit is good for minorities.
4. Trump wants to keep Social Security strong, which helps everyone, but mostly people at lower incomes.
5. Trump’s spokesperson is half African-American. Trump’s daughter converted to Judaism. And so on, and so on.
6. Stopping illegal immigration reduces job competition for lower-income families. Some say it also reduces violence to women of all ethnicities.
7. Trump wants citizens to be armed. Hitler didn’t want that.
I could go on. The point is that Trump’s policies are nearly the opposite of Hitler. 
Of course most people will make their decision on emotional grounds.  But that is encouraging to me. Because only one candidate in this election has the skills to persuade emotionally.  Because he is the only candidate who can win voters who are not yet convinced about him.

Wait and watch what happens. You will be surprised.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

On Change

A previous essay on this.

The whole of eastern spirituality is about renouncing any interest in changing outward conditions to achieve happiness.  The focus, instead, is supposed to be on the "inner".

According to spiritualists, to focus on changing the outer is to miss the point.  It is proclaimed that favorable outer conditions can never provide "lasting happiness" (whatever that may be).  That only detachment from the outer can lead to "bliss".

On the other hand, an ideology like communism regards any focus on inner as complete bullshit, and states that only by changing the living conditions and the society can individuals ever hope to evolve.

The dichotomy is straightforward: in the face of unhappiness, should one attempt to change the conditions, or oneself?
What is the relationship between yourself and the misery, the confusion, in and around you? Surely this confusion, this misery, did not come into being by itself. You and I have created it, not a capitalist nor a communist nor a fascist society, but you and I have created it in our relationship with each other. What you are within has been projected without, on to the world; what you are, what you think and what you feel, what you do in your everyday existence, is projected outwardly, and that constitutes the world. If we are miserable, confused, chaotic within, by projection that becomes the world, that becomes society, because the relationship between yourself and myself between myself and another is society - society is the product of our relationship - and if our relationship is confused, egocentric, narrow, limited, national, we project that and bring chaos into the world. (J Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom).
Does the individual create the social conditions, or vice versa?  To have change, should one direct one's efforts outwardly, or inwardly?


Both the "individual" and "society" are sets of patterns of thought and behavior.  They influence each other.  An individual born into a society is shaped by it, whether to become conformant or to rebel.  A society made of certain individuals is nothing but the collection of their individual patterns.

If an individual is suffering, in most cases it will be found that his conditions have deteriorated to the point where he can no longer afford to have joy or pleasure.  If those conditions cannot be improved, then the least stressful course is for the man to accept his situation. 

Suffering is easier to endure if one accepts one's fate.  A prisoner on death row might have an easier time if he accepts his punishment and stops praying or pleading for relief.  This ease is squarely that of giving up the desire to change the situation, since that desire is bound to result in frustration.  The suffering of the situation still remains.

This "acceptance" of one's fate is a last resort, when all efforts have failed.  But spiritualists, instead of coming to this resignation after strenuous action, start from this acceptance.

Spiritualists are fond of the hoary but false adage that a problem exists only if you want to solve it.  No, the problem of poverty is still there even if you disregard it, because very soon you will find yourself evicted from your premises and hungry and cold.  The problem of an unhappy spouse is usually because one is not paying attention to the problem.

On the other hand, while the problem will still exist, giving up on solving the problem can lead to a curious sense of relief.  It is akin to filing for bankruptcy because one no longer believes one can discharge one's loans.

A wise individual will look at a situation holistically: he will evaluate his circumstances, and also one's reaction to them.  And he will seek to change the circumstances to the best of his ability, and also improve the way he reacts so that he is not hindered or debilitated by himself.

Spirituality, as a retreat from life, is a philosophy for losers.  And eastern spirituality is all about retreat.  The "karma yoga" described in Bhagwad Gita is not about creating circumstances for happiness, in fact it is the exact reverse: to not worry about the outcome of one's actions.  Even in Sikhism, there is no verse exhorting people to change their circumstances for the better.  A famous verse purporting to ask Sikhs to work hard actually means that after reaching the Lord there is no more work:
ਜਿਨੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ਗਏ ਮਸਕਤਿ ਘਾਲਿ ॥ਨਾਨਕ ਤੇ ਮੁਖ ਉਜਲੇ ਕੇਤੀ ਛੁਟੀ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥
The brave face their predicament head-on and try to change the world.  Yes, there will always be suffering.  No change will lead to lasting happiness.  But the very goal of "lasting happiness" is a chimera created by the spiritualists as a rationalization for losers to look down upon those who are engaged in worldly change.


To attempt change in one's psyche is admirable but just a start.  To attempt change in one's fortunes is a worthy effort.  A change in society and its structures is a political movement.

A well-rounded individual is engaged in all three.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Warrant-Less State

In India the police routinely barges into private property, looks into phone records happily provided by the phone companies, detains people for "questioning", stops people from entering a city, asks people to open their bags, snatches vehicle keys from people stopped for a traffic violation, and so on.

All this without any judicial oversight, without any warrant, and without any repercussions.

The police is a law unto itself.

Where to start?
  1. The laws are outdated and colonial.
  2. The laws are ambiguous, contradictory, too sweeping, and badly-drafted.
  3. The case law is horribly contradictory and offers precedents for every kind of judicial order.
  4. The courts are overburdened and mundane matters (tenant eviction, child custody, anticipatory bail, etc.) are pending before the Supreme Court, the highest court of the land.
In this deeply distressing state of affairs, how do we get police to be more accountable to the people who ultimately pay the taxes which pay the police's salaries?

How do we make the police respect the people that it is supposed to serve?

I don't know the way to restrain this lawless police force.  There is untold suffering in India due to the failure of law-enforcement and judicial processes.  So many committes have given empty suggestions.  Supreme Court throws up its hands when it cannot contain this lawlessness by the law-enforcers.

Supreme Court has repeatedly begged the states to implement police reforms.

What has been the result: Naught.

From this report:
Not a single state government is willing to cooperate. What can we do?
My recommendation to the Supreme Court justices: resign, and refuse to participate in this charade.

The Indian public have become hopeless about justice and thereby corrupt.

Maybe special courts ought to be set up to monitor police behavior and to swiftly and strictly punish the police both for exceeding their brief, and for dereliction of duty.

The police is the institution in India having a monopoly on violence.  This monopoly MUST be very strongly regulated.

The pervasiveness of corruption and crime in India is because the police has been exploited by the state for its ends, and not offered to the nation for its citizens.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Indian Religious Aversion of Desire

The four major Indian religions (Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Jainism) are against desire, love, sex and attachment.

Sikhs may claim that their gurus exalt householder status, but consider the following verses:

ਤਜਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਕਾਮਿਨੀ ਮੋਹੁ ਤਜੈ ਤਾ ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਪਾਵੈ ॥
(Renounce desire and your beloved, and give up emotional attachment. Only then shall you obtain the Immaculate Lord amidst the darkness of the world.)

ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਕਾਮਿ ਵਿਆਪੀ ਮੋਹਿ ਸੰਤਾਪੀ ਕਿਸੁ ਆਗੈ ਜਾਇ ਪੁਕਾਰੇ ॥
The self-willed manmukh is engrossed in sexual desire, and tormented by emotional attachment. With whom should she lodge her complaints?

It is a misconception that Sikh gurus exalted a householder's life. At most, they proclaimed that one does not need to renounce one's family and go to the forest to attain "enlightenment", but could do so in whatever situation they found themselves if only they surrendered to the Guru.

The question then arises, why do Indian religions condemn earthly love and attachment? And how come the followers of these religions reconcile this condemnation with their daily life?

I think the answer is simple.

Religions create an ideal which is unattainable. And people, finding themselves short of that ideal, feel guilty. And the religious institutions manipulate and exploit that guilt to extract wealth from people by promising them forgiveness and redemption.

The modus operandi is:

1. Set unrealistic standards.
2. Encourage guilt and feelings of sinfulness.
3. Offer people a way out from their guilt.
4. Couple that offer with supporting the religious establishment.
5. Repeat for 2000 years.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Aphorisms on Sedition

The right to protest against the state, and even against the constitution, is a fundamental human right.

It is a human right to even speak about dividing the "country (i.e. proposing a new geographic division for governance).

It is a human right to speak against the government, the court, and other gods.

The state is an institution, frequently despotic.  The state is not equivalent to the "nation".  The nation is its people.  The state is the ruling class and its institutions.

The state confounds people by confusing an attack on itself as against an attack on the nation and its people.  This confusion is particularly egregious when the state does not represent the people but has appropriated their consent.

One can be patriotic in an act of sedition.

Was the Indian Freedom Struggle seditious?  It obviously was.  But it was not thereby wrong.

The protest might lead to crimes, but the protest itself is not a crime. 

Thought, speech and publication must be protected even at the cost of displeasing the majority.  Otherwise there is no freedom worth its name.

The state in India is deeply criminal, unjust and corrupt.  To protest against the state is not just a right, it is the duty of every right-thinking Indian.

The state continues to bloviate about "Tolerance".  The Intelligentsia continues to protest against "Intolerance".  But nobody talks about the intolerance enshrined in the Constitution of India: blasphemy, sedition, criticism of the court, nudity, offensive speech, "hurting of sentiments" are all intolerable by Indian law.

Those who say that anti-nationals must be done to death are the real anti-nationals.

The nation and what is or is not "patriotic" is not to be defined by the state.

The state's function is to serve the nation.  The nation is not to be servile to the state and its dealers.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Court (2014), Interludes, part 2

Part 1 here.

Continuing with my interpretation of the interludes:

Interlude Five: The lawyer and his girlfriend at the club-lounge

Before the lawyer drives to the lounge, he has been offered water by an amazingly level-headed and sensible woman living in the slum-like colony. And the lawyer manages to mutter a "Thank You" at the end. Is the lawyer really understanding the reality of these people? He lives in a completely different space than them. And moments later, that is highlighted in a quietly explosive way.

This scene is one of my favorites because it is so oblique.

I would like to point the readers to something called the Kuleshov effect.

After exiting the slum hallway, the lawyer is suddenly shown on an empty road. The lawyer is driving to the lounge. Contrast the availability of "space".

In the slum-colony, people live in a single room and so many of their possessions are out in the hallway. There are clothes drying, there are barrels of drinking water. The shot of the hallway continues for a bit as the lawyer walks away. We are meant to notice these things.

The next shot is of the empty road from a carefully chosen high vantage point. Almost no traffic at that hour. Trees lined on both sides of the road. Seems like another country, doesn't it?

And once again, jazz music is playing in his car. But he seems quiet and inexpressive. Is he also impervious to the chasm? To the brutal difference in the way he lives and the places he goes to and the life of those who are his "clients"? Is he aware, or is he not?

The next scene attempts to demonstrate, even more starkly, this distinction between the two worlds. There is no purpose to this scene, apparently. But it is amply clear to me that the director is telling us to look, look closely at the inequality.

This scene is that of the lounge.  Apparently nothing happens here, but observe carefully.

In the lounge, his girlfriend is wearing skimpy clothes (by Indian standards). It is a very western atmosphere, with acoustic guitar, live English music, and a bar. What happens next is slightly jaw-dropping. The singer says that her next song is from a "street-musician in Brazil".

Well, holy shit.

Brazil is a developing country like India - corrupt, poor, with a lot of crime, but it is "exotic" - and a song from there is fit for an elite audience.

But how can we take in this passing reference to a a street musician in Brazil and not think of our own singer currently in jail? Is Narayan Kamble not a street musician? Can we ever imagine a song taken from him being sung in such a gathering? Absolutely not.

Narayan Kamble cannot be romanticized. He represents the morbid reality and we don't want that at this lounge. A Portuguese song from a street musician in Brazil is comfortably cool.

Interlude Six: The train ride of the Public Prosecutor

The prosecutor leaves the courthouse, and is in the ladies' compartment of the suburban train. She seems to be trying to peer into the paper that her neighbor is reading. But no, that is misleading. We are surprised by what she soon utters. She is actually more interested in the sari worn by the neighbor. The point is that the prosecutor is just doing a "job" and has no conscious interest in society and the wider issues. Once out of the court, she is only seemingly interested in the clothes and food and groceries. They talk about problems of relative affluence: diabetes for example. But the director makes a point about her still being in the middle-class. That "olive oil" is still beyond their reach. Contrast this with the lifestyle being enjoyed by the lawyer.

Interlude Seven: The Public Prosecutor serving dinner to her family

She picks up her son from a basic daycare and then is having a phone conversation while making dinner. The conversation is about someone unclear about a legal issue, probably a divorce. She offers to look at the "papers" tomorrow. Though women's rights are being obliquely referenced, what about her status in her own home?

When she goes to the living room, the husband as well as the son are watching TV while she is serving them. The husband is on a chair and having a table in front of him. The son is lounging on the bed. And the daughter is sitting on the floor? Not very subtle. And notice the slightly different ways in which she asks all three of them for food. She is servile to the husband, gentle toward the son, and a little (just a little) curt with the daughter.

And after dinner, she is humming and working on her papers while everybody else is likely sound asleep.

Interlude Eight: The Public Prosecutor and her family's outing

This is not very subtle. The outing is at a very humble establishment where the prices are mentioned on a blackboard on the wall. Contrast this with the lounge that the lawyer goes to earlier, where he doesn't even look at the menu or prices before ordering beer. The music being played is local Marathi music.

Then the family goes to watch a xenophobic play about a out-of-state guy who is lower-class than the girl's family being kicked out by the girl's father. The audience seems to really enjoy that kind of thing.

After a court hearing the prosecutor mutters that the judge should just send Narayan Kamble to jail for a long time instead of wasting their time.

Anything "other" is an enemy. To be kicked out of one's mind or one's state or into the jail.

Interlude Nine: The lawyer dining out with his parents and sister

This is yet another restaurant. A high-end vegetarian place with nice handicrafts strewn around. They are talking about gadgets and smartphones. An interesting snippet of conversation is about something to the effect that the western lifestyle is also available in India now. They casually mention an iPad and stuff "which is dangerous to carry on a train". What does that tell you?  Multiple layers in a society which are talked about nonchalantly.  There is absolutely no class-consciousness, only the consciousness of its effects.

The restaurant is guarded by a colonial-dress guard. It is a sheltered space.

As soon as the lawyer comes out, he is attacked by some goons who put black paint on his face to teach him a lesson about respecting their beliefs.

The restaurant's name is "Chetana" (awareness).  Who is aware here?

The scene ends with the lawyer crying in his room. He has suddenly been confronted with an act, not just with words.

Interlude Ten: Narayan Kamble again at the public function

His disinclination to take an injection is hilariously misunderstood by the volunteer.  The volunteer says that Narayan Kamble might be scared of the injection, while Narayan Kamble is not afraid at all of the deeper threat of state intimidation if he continues to do what he does.

He is expressly advised by the lawyer to lay low for a while. But in the very next scene, he is again at a public function doing his gig. What balls on this guy!

And while he is shown weak and languid on the hospital bed, on the stage he is fiery and full of energy.  That's where he comes alive.

After his song about rising up to oppression, there is some kind of film song being played. People in that kind of place are getting educated and entertained in quick succession. It is like a single channel TV on which all kinds of programs are being aired for an audience too poor to afford choice.

Interlude Eleven: Narayan Kamble at the printing press

The title of the pamphlet says: "A History of Humiliation". Narayan Kamble is helping stack the books.

The background is poignant. Some low-wage and low-skilled workers are robotically folding the pages of some publications.

The police enters the scene and quietly takes Narayan Kamble out. Presumably arresting him on another charge or canceling his bail. Narayan Kamble does not protest. Neither do the other people. The whole arrest is quite amazingly quiet and smooth. There is a kind of despondency in the air as a few men look at the police vehicle when it drives away.

A History of Humiliation, indeed.

Later at the court, we find out that he has been arrested for sedition, a colonial-era law.

Again, a history of humiliation.

Interlude Twelve: The judge and his circle of friends/family on his way to the resort, and then at the resort

The scene begins with a dark courtroom, being closed for vacations.

The game being played in the bus uses Hindi songs from Bollywood. Despite all the Marathi hate for other states and their languages and culture, Bombay is known for its Hindi film industry.

The film is essentially about comparison, contradiction and conflict. This is yet another contradiction.

At the resort, we find that one of the judge's colleagues has a son who is having a health issue. The judge advises his colleague to have faith in some numerology and gemstone healing. Instead of institutions that have become dysfunctional, people are being asked to put their faith in gurus and prayers.

The reason India, even in the second decade of the twenty first century, is neck deep in superstition is because the rational institutions have failed in this country.

Then we have a scene of womenfolk and youngsters playing "bingo" or "tambola". The announcer asks: "Anybody got the middle or last line"? Indeed. Anybody got the middle or lower class? Or is the oppression going to continue? "Has anybody got it," the announcer repeats? "No" comes the answer: no-one has got it.

And then later at the dinner table, the men-folk are talking about the high salaries in the private sector. Yet another comparison and class division.

The film ends with the judge sleeping on the bench (court reference!) and as he is woken up by the children's collective shout (the screams of the classes below him), he slaps one of them and then falls back to sleep.

The child walks away, wailing.

"Bloody idiots".


Monday, February 08, 2016

Two Elections

Election One

In the bypoll for the Khadoor Sahib state constituency in Punjab, I am proud to support Sumail Singh Sidhu, of Punjabi Sanjhiwal Jatha.

This is a very small constituency, and the election is due to the elected candidate resigning prematurely.  If Mr Sidhu wins, it will be a symbolic but significant defeat for the corrupt ruling party, the infamous Akali Dal.

My home state, the Punjab, has been brutalized, looted and raped by the mainstream politicians and their thugs.  I want them to be defeated and jailed, and even more so when an aware, educated and honest candidate is fighting against them.

Mr Sidhu was associated with AAP but broke away and is now contesting as an independent, and is a very passionate, vigorous and intellectually aware man.    I met him in person when he was enrolled in JNU for his PhD.  Though he is strongly left-leaning, and I have strong reservations about Marxism and its variants, I still support him because he speaks for the masses.  The time to argue about ideology will come later, what we need now is integrity and a will to transform the present.

His poll symbol is Whistle (seeti).

I urge you to support Mr Sumail Singh Sidhu.  If you wish to contribute to his campaign, please contact me.

Election Two

For the most powerful political post in the world, I am proud to support Donald J Trump as the Republican candidate for the President of the United States of America.

Compared to the first election, this is orders of magnitude bigger.

Mr Trump is the only self-funded candidate in the fray, and he is running against both the Republican establishment (which sees him as an outsider and someone to be kept out), and the mainstream political and media institutions.

Fighting the Establishment

I want to win for the people of this great country. The only people I will owe are the voters. The media, special interests, and lobbyists are all trying to stop me. We won't let that happen! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016

Posted by Donald J. Trump on Monday, January 25, 2016

He, and Bernie Sanders (from the Democrat side), are representing what an astute blogger calls the American Spring.  People are tired of the career politicians and their donors and special interests.  And I am tired of the new liberal fascism of political-correctness, misandry and a mistreatment of the majority and its traditions, and a culture of groveling and masochism.

I veer towards Republicans because of their stances on illegal immigration, their defense of the second amendment, and their ardent opposition to the reach of the federal government.  And among the Republicans, I admire Mr Trump the most for his emphasis on the economy, for his straight talk and his directness and outspokenness, his refusal to back down when pressured by media, and for his appeal to the common voter instead of special interests.

I also admire his persuasion skills, by the way.  I believe he will win the Republican nomination, and that he will be the next President of USA.

Many feel that he is a bigot and a racist and whatnot.  I urge those people, if they care about having an informed opinion, to watch this video:

Court (2014), Interludes

Prologue here.

Interlude One: Narayan Kamble traveling from his home to the public venue

Notice the following:
  1. There are as many girls (or even more) than boys in the tuition room.  His main "teaching assistant" is a girl.  Even in a poor colony, families are ensuring that all children, girls as well as boys, receive education.
  2. The topics of the tuition are merely informational (the biggest river, the tallest mountain peak).  It is a little tragic that kids are being fed meaningless information and illustrates that though society is changing, it will take a long time for the quality of education to improve.  We still insist on rote learning and meaningless testing.
  3. As he exits the colony, notice the clearly encroaching temple on the footpath.  He is choosing to ignore it.  In a society where injustices and corruption are pervasive, one has to choose one's battles or be exhausted.
  4. Notice the rag-picker old lady passing by the temple, and an instant later, a modern, educated woman going to work in the opposite direction.  And then, a woman coming out of the temple.  It shows three faces of society: oppressed, ambitious, fatalistic.
  5. As he walks to the venue, everything seems humdrum, but suddenly the entry gate says something about a protest about a massacre.  In the middle of the mundane, a grave reminder of injustice and brutality.
  6. The students accompanying him on the stage are part of a volunteer group.  And that group includes girls.
Interlude Two: The Police Station hallway
Notice the almost inconsequential chatting of two policewomen in the background.  But their chatter is not inaudible.  What is being said and what is its meaning, in the wider context?
One of the woman constables says that her son was reprimanded (by a teacher? by an employer?) for being insolent.  She exclaims in defense: "What do they mean, insolence?"
It shows the changing face of a society where hierarchies and power-structures are being questioned.  India's institutions are heavily dependent on authority and subservience.  But people are questioning them now.  Blind obedience is going out of fashion.
Interlude Three: The lawyer at the "Dissecting Democracy" event, and later, grocery shopping
The event is straightforward enough.  But what is interesting is the fact that the speech is in English in a highly-educated form (the audience also has some foreigners), but then suddenly a fan is brought in by two locals.  Who probably have no idea what is being talked about and whether it even concerns them.
Are we indeed "dissecting democracy", the title of the talk?
This chasm is then again explored when the lawyer goes grocery shopping.  There is western instrumental music playing in the background, and he picks up sparkling water and wine, which show a western consumerist influence in his food habits.  How does he make that kind of money?  Is he paid by foreign-funded NGOs?  We are expected to speculate.
As he is driving back, jazz music plays in his car.  And back at his place, he falls asleep, drunk, in front of an Apple laptop.
We are being asked to evaluate this man, who is defending an oppressed man, but who lives a lifestyle very different from the people he is defending.
Interlude Four: The lawyer and his family at the lunch table

The father makes an interesting remark: "To him it's all a joke." Then he elaborates in Marathi for which subtitles are missing.  What is the document about?  What is going on?
Then a guest joins.  A telling remark by the father: "I hope the watchman did not create any trouble."  Given the socioeconomic status of the guest, it was probably to be expected.  And then the father brags: "Don't worry.  The whole building is ours."
Then the father asks some questions of the guest (whether he is a local) and when the guest names his hometown, the father nonchalantly says: "I don't know where that is."
They live a cocooned life.  An upscale apartment, a watchman, but unaware of how and where other people live.
The father asks: "Are you a friend or a client?"  When answered (by the lawyer) that he is a friend, the father needs to know more.  "What do you do?"  When the person responds that he is "Doing M Com", the father says: "Good, very good." and loses interest.
The mother awkwardly asks the guest whether her son has a girlfriend.  The lawyer becomes very annoyed and they both leave.
The parents are absolutely disinterested in what kind of activist/volunteer work their son and his guest are involved in.  They have their own agendas and concerns.
The son, though engaged in "good work" outside the home, doesn't have one kind word to say to his parents, while quite clearly a beneficiary of their social status and the resultant upbringing that it afforded him.
(to be continued)