Sunday, September 28, 2008


There are some things that are not just momentarily disturbing but can give you a persistent irritation and various forms of venting your anger; you might feel like killing a person, breaking his bones, banging his head or sometimes your own against the wall or shouting on the top of your voice. But actually you just walk away silently, wondering and consuming your poisonous irritation all by yourself. Ladies and gentlemen, yes, I am talking of the poor civic habits one encounters in public places. It gives me an instant bout of anger that drives me to do such things but as I cannot, I have to walk away silently like a lost solider, feeling frustrated and helpless.

I went to this beautiful park once, graced with natural beauty. I saw a few middle-aged ladies chopping their vegetables there. They were preparing for dinner actually so they thought this public park to be the most appropriate venue for this act; I wonder might be their kids were preparing for their final exams in the kitchens! Anyway, so this chatty group, heavily inspired by the K- serials (I guessed this by their fancy attires and their ‘intellectual’ chat topics) did all their work like trained robots, but left the waste including the rotten veggies and plastic bags there only. Now that’s bad. They should have thought of maintaining the beauty of the park. After all, public property belongs to all of us.

The ubiquitous paan spits are just too common to talk about. I once saw a high profile executive spitting in his own office stairs!
After all office stairs are some sort of public property too. As I was helpless, I imagined a satisfying scene wherein I played the role of messiah of the public property and the ‘Rajnikanth’ of my office. I imagined dragging the executive along those stairs till he swore never to do such a thing again. That day-dream was enough to cool down the flames of my mental fury (you can try this too if your boss does such an act!)

There are some things that aggravate these poor civic habits, like the plastic wrappers, that one can see flying like birds here and there, teasing you on your helplessness in keeping them in their right place- the dustbin.

The cell phones, now every one has one. They have emerged like Indian fundamental rights, for everyone irrespective of caste and creed. One can see people talking loudly over phones, sometimes the silliest details of their lives out through this personal loudspeaker. One in such case should have a handy aspirin ready.

Then the pets, those cute and harmless looking pets can create havoc in that nice public park or that surprisingly clean looking road if they are having their after-meal walk. The owners too allow them as they are outside ‘their own’ homes, so where are the problems?

Then the most common of them all, peeing against the wall.
It is inbuilt in the DNA of Indian men. No wall can stay clean if it faces a public place or a road. Take the case of Bihar. The government was perturbed (surprisingly, did they get time from crimes?) with this peeing problem. They tried every thing from posters to graffiti to monetary fines to physical punishment but to no avail. How can you change the DNA of an Indian male?? But then one thing worked: they pasted the posters of a few Indian gods on those walls and the peeing stopped. See, we are religious people, at least in some things!

I happened to visit a heritage monument and was shocked to see the names of lovebirds inscribed on every possible surface like trees, stones, walls etc. Such a ‘lovely’ country we have, everyone loves someone but what use is love unless the world does’nt know. Is it necessary to tell the world in such an uncivil manner? I feel like executing such lovebirds by hanging on that same tree!

Sometimes I feel Indians take pride in displaying their ‘sophisticated’ behavior or they love the public places so much that they feel free and their dormant emotions come out. But, on a serious note, this behavior must be stopped and individual self control and education can be an effective way out. People must feel responsible and should care for others too in the public places. Putting dustbins at proper places can help. Sometimes it is the unavailability of the dustbin too. Then, plastic bags must be banned. But these are the measures of managing garbage. The core issue here is the lack of civic habits in most of the people. I feel individual commitment towards keeping our cities clean must help. Teaching kids sophistication right from the childhood can help too. Poor civic habits give rise to more garbage that in turn encourages the people to add their bit too in that stinking and ever growing pile.
This vicious cycle needs to be stopped through individual efforts.
(This title is inspired from the tag line of Honda civic – pure exhilaration)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Should a person be meat-eater or wheat-eater, I mean a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian? The debate is endless and leads to more confusions than conclusions, simply because it is a matter of personal choice. Off and on it flares up but never dies. A comment given recently by Dr. R.K. Pachauri that we must avoid meat at least once a week to begin with, in order to help contain global warming, has again brought it live.

Everyone has his or her reasons for eating or not eating meat. I do have mine for advocating vegetarianism. But certainly some of the arguments that meat eaters put forth appear so lousy that even the most gullible person can see through them. Some of the most common ones I came across were that we don’t kill ourselves; without meat one will suffer protein deficiency; that the world will be full of animals if not killed; there will be food shortage; there is growth of associated industries like leather, fur, etc etc. The latest jewel in this crown is that without meat the brain may suffer shrinkage.

Anyone can see that there are millions of vegetarians in the world surviving and leading normal lives from the times immemorial, people who have never tasted meat etc since generations. None has suffered protein shortages or brain shrinkage. In the last case, the title is misleading. Actually it tells that this may happen due to deficiency of vitamin B-12, which is present in meat. But then it is also present in milk, green vegetables and fruit. And the earth is not full of jackals, lizards, bats or such animals that rarely if anyone eats. We don’t have to play Mother Nature for this. As for food shortage, there are ample data to prove that on the overall balance meat production involves loss in the food production due to water, land, etc required for rearing the animals. For fur, the less said the better; wearing fur, to me means wearing, almost literally, the wails of animals being killed with utmost cruelty. And mind that morally, everyone using meat, fur, leather etc is equally a party to all the cruelty and killings; for these trades flourish only because there are buyers.

Returning to the nutrition myth, after all where do the meat animals get these proteins, fat, etc from? Their bodies as well as our human bodies have their own protein and fat synthesis mechanisms, i.e. making these essentials from greens. Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and water we get from our food. Vegetarian food supplies all this; where is the need to indulge in gory killings for taste? Why develop such a taste in the first place and then call the diet essential for nutrition?

Still further to all this, I personally feel that the meat eaters, since they grow up that way, feel fewer qualms at the idea of dealing out injury to others or are less perturbed with violence, although vegans are not guaranteed sages who do no harm to others. I think all virtues stem basically from kindness of heart which essentially entails non-violence. All the display of kindness and charity by a person who enjoys eating a killed animal therefore seems, at least to me, to be more of a farce.

Of course these things are of purely individual liking and no one is bound by others’ choices but I wish more and more people turn vegetarian to avoid cruelty to our animal friends. For a try, love an animal and see the response, and then think all over again.

Just try to imagine all those things being done to the animal you love: I bet you will switch off your thinking mechanism mid-way.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Is spiritualism an extra dimension of human existence?

Could the spiritual enlightenment be considered as an extra dimension of human existence? It seems ridiculous to blend the scientific facts of space-time dimensions with a unique feeling of the enlightened ones which is a purely subjective phenomenon that cannot be duplicated in laboratory for test and verification, something that is largely considered to be in the realm of faith.
Our physical existence is in four dimensions- three spatial (length, width and height) and fourth one, the time, which moves only in one direction (forward) and never reverse. It is called the thermodynamic arrow of time. A hypothetical one dimensional creature living only in the world of length does not understand anything like width, i.e. moving sideways, and anything approaching it from the side is a miracle for him. A two-dimensional creature exists in a flat plane consisting of length and width; in other words while still existing along length it can move towards sides also but cannot understand height. Similarly, a three-dimensional creature will have a structure in length, width and height like ours but no past, present or future. We, while existing in 3 spatial dimensions, also change along time, the fourth dimension.

Now, if someone of us whom we call a spiritually enlightened sage does something that is miracle to us, could it not be possible that while still existing in four known dimensions he is changing in some extra dimension that is unknown to us? In his autobiography (‘Autobiography Of A Yogi’), famous sage HH Paramhans Yoganand has cited several examples of peculiar things that were common among the enlightened sages, like travel along time (seeing past, present and future), dual existence (being present at two places at the same moment), floating in the air, and in one case, even creating an illusory palace that was real and complete with walls, pillars, etc for others to see, touch and feel. Could it not be considered that while existing in the four dimensional world of space-time like all of us, these sages were dwelling in fifth dimension, that of spiritual world? May be that science has so far not understood spiritualism and places it in the realm of faith alone but one day, may recognize it?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is world a videogame?

Is it possible that we humans are a creation of another, more evolved and superior race, just the way we create characters in a videogame? Everyone must have seen the children playing with toys making them talk and interact while themselves doing all the talking and thinking on behalf of toys! As if the toys were live and intelligent for each other. Suppose this was really the case, then? In a videogame of say, a cop chasing a thief, the cop and thief in the game do really exist for each other but act as we programme and direct them. Once the game is over, they simply cease to exist. Now suppose they start evolving and become intelligent due to our programming, then they may start acting according to their will and not exactly as programmed, may build their own new things, which are real in their world but illusory for us. If some enlightened ones among them tell others that their world is but an illusion, and try to discover and reach us, their creators, then could it not be akin to the human race trying to discover God? The idea may seem to be a figment of imagination too far fetched but then it is still less bizarre than the one of cloning or making robots or going to Moon and Mars was, a century ago.


So, Tata has almost decided to quit /Singur. About 2 years ago Tata embarked upon the ambitious project of small car, choosing for its plant, Singur in WB, a state which had been under communist rules for about three decades and where agitations over anything are very common. It does not appear to be an investor friendly place. But call it the failure of communism or victory of open market economy, even the communist government greeted Tata and went out of the way, a bit too much, in helping him with land acquisition. There were protests and agitations as some small land owners did not agree to part with their lands, notwithstanding the compensation. Politicians jumped in to encash the ‘opportunity’, shedding mamta-ful tears for poor farmers. Left called it a right step towards development while others cried foul and asked the Left government and Tata to step out. Government went ahead by using brute force including police firing. Why did government forcibly acquire land for a private industrial house, however famous, for a plant to manufacture cars, an ultra luxury item in India? Those snatching the land can not understand, rather ‘feel’, what the land means to the poor man. Tata faced, fought and failed, and has now (almost) announced his decision to quit Singur.

But lo and behold! In the final tally the loser Tata appears to be emerging as the final winner, as the Governor himself has intervened to stop Tata’s exit. Mamta is running for cover from the wrath of those who got jobs in or because of Nano project. One such person has already committed suicide. She is now too eager to solve the issue through dialogue while still holding on her mask of boldness on the face stricken by happening of what she never expected: that Tata would stake his big money and pull out of Singur. After all this assumption was her main bargaining lever.

But the larger question still stares us in face: the car, or for that matter any big factory, industry, dam or any such developmental activity would generate employment and help uplift living standards, but is the government right in forcibly acquiring land for a private entrepreneur in the name of development? How do we define development? Any such activity is bound to impact the existing life of native inhabitants, destroy the pristine landscape or forestlands, cause pollution, etc. Who draws the line to define how much is too much? Unless we do that there will be more Singurs.

Have garbage; will throw!!

We Indians seem to be least bothered with the problem of garbage all over; we are just not perturbed by our dirty roads and public places. We are a confident breed and with much confidence we feel relieved by blaming each other for this mess. Dumping garbage outside homes, in public places is not new. Any public place becomes hard to recognize when it is clean and tidy. Most of natural beauties like the towns of Manali and Kullu are now littered by tourists. Even in an unlikely place like the Mount Everest there are heaps of non bio-degradable wastes, robbing it of its pristine beauty.
But the major problem is of dumping garbage as, when and wherever out of one’s own free will. Many cities in India are notorious for their ever growing garbage piles and sanitary landfills, particularly metros. Those who live in apartments and colonies have garbage collectors to pick the domestic waste, and a closed sewage system, but millions of others lack this. They either throw garbage openly in public places. Common practice now is to dispose waste in plastic bags. One day while on my evening stroll, to my surprise I saw a sophisticated man throwing big plastic bags of waste in a public park from his Wagon R car. Similarly, I also saw another educated lady throwing plastic bags in the empty plot in front of her own house! Now can we blame those who are illiterate and don’t have enough to spend on proper waste disposal. More ironic is the fact that often the system is available but people are happy with the mega savings of Rs 20 per month or so. The slums dwellers have a reason but such ‘educated’ people?

Where does this much garbage come from? The ever increasing use of plastic, particularly of use-and-throw items is one reason for this. Polythene bags are choking animals, wreaking havoc on sewers, rivers, natural drains as well as environment as a whole. And what is the solution? Nothing short of banning the plastic bags completely (like in the town of Nahan, HP) will help. But expecting too much from government and municipality would do no good. Every one of us at individual level has to do his bit towards cleanliness and become a catalyst for the change. One can start with his/her own house and neighborhood places. Keep public places clean yourself, inculcate the habit of cleanliness in the kids from the very beginning, and of course, minimize the use of plastic voluntarily: to start with, use cloth or jute bags for shopping. Dump your kitchen waste in some pit below a nearby tree or bush so that it turns into manure. Only a collective effort can help otherwise every city in India will be known for its dumps of garbage soon.