Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How about saving ourselves

These days people say that Gloabal warming is a hoax. It is what the West created to stall development in the East. My friends argue with me about the accuracies of what scientists say about carbon emissions, and why we need not worry about it, cause the sun is heating up in any case, and we cannot stop it. So might as well enjoy ourselves, while it all lasts, but my question is what are we leaving behind for our future generations?

Yes, it is true that the sun is heating up, and that Rajendra Pachauri's data points were not entirely correct. His report led to a lot of debate on global warming, and a lot of so-called non-profits also cashed in on this opportunity.

It is true that such extinctions have happened before, and this may probably be one of them. The planet has its own way of repairing the damage done to it
We may not be able to save the planet, but we are not helping either. Human activity is taking away the very coping methods that the earth needs to repair itself.

Our carbon emissions may not be the cause for global warming, but then the rainforests which the earth uses to repair itself, which took millions of years to create, are being cut in a single blow

It is true that De-forestation, over-fishing, over-poaching, even killing of animals does not lead to global warming, what it does is destroys the animals and trees which depend upon each other to sustain the ecosystem

People in Africa, eat anything and everything because they need to survive. Problem arises when man goes overboard in trying to earn profits, without looking at the result of his actions.

Eating tigers in China may be justifiable according to many of us, but what this does to the forests in India is irreperable.

Closer home, it may be okay to cut down huge amounts of rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia to make way for palm plantations, but then I guess Singapore's zoo will be the only place left where we ever get to see orang utans anymore.
It may be okay to eat whales and dolphins, but over-fishing has only lead to imbalance in the oceans destroying the coral reefs, which are the rainforests of the ocean

Of course, the world will not end purely, because we go on destroying what took the earth millions of years to create. What it will do is only make survival of mankind difficult. We cannot save the planet, we need to save ourselves

Here's the latest UN report

Friday, April 23, 2010

My identity

Here's something I scribbled recently
In his book "Identity and Violence" Amartya Sen says that identity is the root cause of conflict. Human being group themselves into different groups, as per their comfort. For eg. we become a part of a certain school/college/institution or a certain society youth group or as a fan of Liverpool or Manchester United. We start associating ourselves not just with religions or professions or nationalities or food habits, but also dressing styles, behavioural styles, and maybe even zodiac signs.
These choices also constitute our identity.

Every individual wants to set himself apart from the others, wants to be unique and starts associating with groups that he identifies with.

The problem arises when people start staunchly following their beliefs. That is when they see themselves as Levi's and not as Wrangler, and then everything about Wrangler seems wrong. Sometimes Wrangler may sound so wrong, that Levi's goes all out to prove a point against him, and in extreme cases it may lead to violence.

Wrangler may not have been right or wrong, but the fact that he choses to be wrangler and separate himself from Levi's is irritating to Levi's. Levi's forgets that he is a son, a brother, a Hindu, an Indian, an IT professional, a cricket fan and in that instance choses only to be Levi's

According to Amartya Sen extremity of associations leads to violence, eg. Nazism, communism, religious fervour and racial influence.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nations & Borders

Two news items on the same day.
1. Sarkozy and Merkel came together today to pay homage to World War I heroes.
France and Germany who were on opp sides in the War, now come together, and are a vital chunk of the EU.
A couple of days back Germany celebrated 20 years of the breaking of the Berlin War.

2. Indonesia accuses Malaysia of stealing its language, its culture, its food, and turning them into more successful commercial interests. The irony is that they were all one nation and part of the Khmer empire for 6 centuries.

On one hand, the world celebrates the removal of borders, while on the other another lot talks about creating new borders, where none existed.

Closer to home,Kashmir wants to be independent, Vidarbha wants to separate itself from Mahrashtra, Belgaum wants to be free of both Karnataka and Maharashtra. Karnataka and Kerala dispute over Kasargod.
Orissa has disputed bordes with all its neighbours, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, West Bengal and Andhra.
Himachal and Uttarakhand are locked over Dehradun, Ironically these are the states I go to, to find my peace.

While Singapore to begin with never wanted to be a separate nation. It strove to be a part of a bigger nation Malaysia, which rejected its appeal. (You may say look how successful Singapore is today, but being a small country has limited defence).

I can think of very few exceptional examples where nations/races have tried to come together.

Are humans separatists by nature? In the struggle to have our own identity, do we forget the shelter that could be achieved by being under one umbrella? Are we just territorial like other animals?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Me, an Indian?

Indians outside the country? Oh no, they are everything but Indians. They are Marathi's, Gujarati's, Punjabi's, Tamilian's, outside their country. You would think they would find similarities amongst themselves and stick together, far away from their homelands. No siree, this is where the regional identities emerge. I look around me, and what do I see, Marathi associations, Gujarati mandals, Punjabi gatherings, Tamilian brotherhood, where is the Indian? I still hear comments like "Are there any Marwaris in Tampines?" or "can I find a Telugu badminton partner"?

Whoever, thought of India as a Hindu-state is grossly mistaken. India is a state of mixed-regional identities. When a Gujarati goes out into the world, it is not his Hindu or Indian identity that he exposes to the world. It is his dandia-playing, oindhiyo-dhokla self that he carries out into the world. Ask what goes into the rasam and he is lost. Because, according to him rasam belongs to an alien region that he hardly knows anything about. Similarly, ask a Tamilian to do the gidda, and she will be lost for words, coz she comes from a land where its his Tamilian identity that she fiercely guards, not her Indianness.

People, still ask me if I'm a South Indian, due to my Mangalorean origins. But how could I be anything but a Bombayite, who grew up with Pu La Deshpande, and adored Suryakant, Chandrakant,or Ajinkya Deo in later days, who gorges on Bharleli Vangi and jhunka-bhakar, and was quite inspired By Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, at a one point of time in life. My cousins back in Mangalore do not identify with me and do not have the same upbringing as I do. While Marathi friends in Mumbai, do not partake of my festivals, Christmas, Easter, or do not necessarily appreciate my western ways - clothes, dances, etc.

I'm fortunate to have lived in a truly cosmopolitan city, Bombay, where I was able to appreciate, the Punjabi bhangra, the Gujarati oindhiyo, the Keralite avial, the Marathi lezim, all at an early age. Bollywood, also helped to stitch it all together. But them I come to Singapore, a strange land, miles away from home, and at what juncture do I find myself? Tamilians wanting to stick together, and Punjabis wanting to stick together, even to the extent of looking for Punjabi maids. Anybody out there who complains that India is a Hindu-state, take a second look. It definitely is not a religion but a regionalism that prevails.

Me? I was baptised a Catholic, but I have nothing in common with either Goans or Mangaloreans (though Christians are spread all over the country). Ask me what I know, and I can close my eyes and tell when the train approaches Mahim purely by the stench of the creek, I know humidity in the crore of my being, and feel out of place in dry weather, I can smell vada-pao from miles away, sunsets for me mean Juhu beach, with paani-puri, not puchka, not gol-gappa, my lungs are filled with the polluted smelly air of Bombay, I do not understand fog, Ramzan for me is Mohammed Ali Rd., not Chandni Chowk, and I can wade through a flood without a second thought. Ask me to name the seven sisters in India, and I'm at a loss. Ask me about the nawabi of Lucknow and I ain't quite sure. Diwali for me is chakali and karanji, unlike the sweets of North India.

How then can I say that I belong to a hindu-state? For that matter, how can anybody? Diwali is the most happening event in my part of the world, while that's not true for my friends in Kerala. Hindus in Mumbai are irritated by the influx of Hindus from UP/Bihar, Hindus in Bangalore are bothered by the North-Indian Hindus finding jobs in their IT Haven. More regionalism, more local politics. Religion, if its there, provides more garb to the existing regionalism and the languageism. How then does India become a Hindu-state?

And then again, if I turn my back on to the regionalism I see around me, bhangra, garba, onam, or pongal, can I truly claim to be an Indian?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Are Indian Festivals losing their charm?

Here's something I wrote recently in response to the abvoe question:
Traditionally festivals were a way for communities to come together and connect. The original idea behind a lot of festivals like Holi and Ganesh Chaturthi (started by Lokmanya Tilak for a socio-political reason) was to provide a platform to bring people together. Most festivals are not necessarily about religion, but they celebrate relationships for example, Raksha Bandhan, Karwa Chauth, Ras Leela, Tulsi ki shaadi, etc.
Most festivals are symoblic, for example Diwali for me is the victory of good over evil in a society. Similarly, both Chinese New Year and Christmas are no longer celebrated for religious reasons, but more so, as an excuse for families to get together. People come back to their families from any part of the world purely for a reunion.
Some festivals are definitely marketing gimmicks, for example, Santa Claus was created by Coca-Cola, Friendship Day and Valentine's Day, I'm sure is a Hallmark Card creation.
Personally for me, I enjoy these festivals, as long as they bring people together and strengthen relationships. I'm a little put off by the commercialisation aspects of these festivals, and the unncessary noise and smoke created while celebrating them.
Thus, I would ask which aspect of our festivals do we want to leave for our future generations?


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