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A Travel Junkie

19 Feb

     Life is an adventure and we need to realize it. At every step, there is a new story to be written. At every breath, there is a new song to be sung. Nature has immense to offer but one must have the sight to see it. There is a plethora of knowledge and experiences that lay avid around us but we are blinded by our myopia complemented with an excessive fastidiousness. A major key to this dilemma is to travel.

   Traveling has indeed become an important part of my lifestyle. For me, it is a seeking for enrichment and spirituality in nature’s belly; it also includes an in-depth interaction with the locals to grasp their colloquial traditions and for exploring their cuisines.

   The purpose of this article is primarily to elicit the importance of traveling. Though this is an autobiography yet, it’s a medium to understand the broader framework since I’m just another random guy whom you may have passed by on the streets.

   I was just like any other city-bred kid with an insatiable lust and greed for material objects which rose when I shifted from Chennai to Bombay. I was way too meticulous that I was not able to eat from the streets out of fear that it would lead to deadly diseases like cancer. I was also a classist to a huge extent that I considered street urchins to be filthy and refrained from touching them. If I ever did it, by any chance, then I would wash it away with soap. It is a different gamble altogether now as I became attracted to socialism and learned some empathy through traveling. I even was very self-centered that I would always reap away my benefit out of any action and others were mere items of utility.

  When my father passed away, I came under the auspices of my uncle who holds an endless desire for traveling. One fine day, he took me along with him to Wayanad, which is a hill station in Kerala, that is famous for its tribal occupants. The purpose was to purchase land to do some farming and to set up a shelter where anybody could come, teach and learn by interacting with the locals. It hadn’t fructified then but the pursuit is still on.

  This visit is important for two reasons. Firstly, I realized the importance of farming as most of the vegetables in Kerala come from the neighboring states sprinkled with pesticides. Secondly, I came to know how development is affecting the region as the climate is drastically changed that it is no longer cold during the winters because the hills are being leveled to pave  path for the commercial properties. The tribals are the worst hit since they are assimilated into modernity and have lost their indigenous culture. Many often, the men become alcoholics with their exposure to liquor.  

   Nature Club of Wilson College contributed to my further travels. From my first year to the Third of BA, I have been part of many wonderful treks and camps across India. These trips vitalized me with knowledge of conservation, the problems that come with being anthropocentric and the importance of heritage management. This club has also been institutional in making me realize that the wild can be experienced without being captivated by humanity but in its own natural habitat. One such instance was at Jim Corbett national park where a tiger was sighted in its full glory just a few feet away from my jeep. This experience was both frightening and exhilarating.

   A great advantage of traveling, as mentioned before, is being able to interact with various kinds of people. When a few years back, I had visited the Little Rann of Kutch, our guide was enlightening us regarding the plight of the villages in Gujarat as the government’s development schemes were only effectively implemented in the cities. When in Wayand; it was Jamson,  who was the caretaker of the resort that was staying in, who told me about the repercussions faced by the place as a result of commercial development. At times, we even meet the quirky kind; when in Dharamkot, I and my friends came across Alexander who is from France. He graduated in French literature two years back and is currently in pursuit of writing a novel; he is traveling across the globe to seek inspiration. Once, I met Kera who is a professor of British Literature from the US. She had come for a guest lecture at the IIT Powai and wanted to explore the place so I acted as her unofficial tour guide after we bumped into each other during a local heritage walk. This way I learned more about my own city through a dialogue with her.

     To conclude, this has been a tedious biography but I found no other way of talking about traveling except through my eyes so it is open to criticisms. Being a Philosophy student, I feel traveling would enrich the subject by being exposed to the varied worldviews and if I ever become a professor then I would be able to impart something worthwhile to the students. As one of my dear friends calls me, “The listener”, I do tend to listen carefully to the various points in discussions and contribute only when I feel a need to so as to gain unbiased knowledge also accepting my ignorance regarding many things. And, traveling is the best way to soothe that. I end with Frost’s often repeated line, “Miles to go before I sleep” and with a wish to make more solo trips.

P.s. Kera if you would ever be reading this then I would like you to know that I want to be in contact with you and I cordially invite you again to Bombay.  

   

 

 

 

 

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The Machinery of Life

5 Jul

          The urban landscape encompassing a great number of high rises, industries, pubs etc. is merely a stark wilderness…a jungle of concrete and we are trapped within it. The work culture inculcated into us resonates vociferously the ideas of getting a job; making money; getting well settled in our minds that it has transmuted us into machines that have been programmed to perform a series of monotonous events with may be a Friday night off guaranteed with a peg of whiskey and pack of cigarettes also; leaving us a bundle of stress. This scenario makes me really wonder what life is.

 

 

         The momentum of being is guided by the dominant emotion of apathy. The whole sentiments of benevolence, empathy, envy, ire, hatred and so on have been trivialized into a string of indifference that is strengthening its hold with every drop of blood. Our minds have narrowed into a tiny bit which is secured and vaulted by a strong stone wall; to penetrate which is an arduous task. Any voice of rebellion is buried deep under and any attempt of escape is obliterated by the rule of man. 

      Blood has dried out; now our hearts pump competition. If Shakespeare was alive then he would have written:

All the world’s a ring,

 And all men and women merely fighters;

They have their victories and their defeats…..      

With birth we are inducted into the war that has a perennial existence which creeps into school, home, work, neighborhood and every possible place even the mind. Our parents, guardians, teachers and the others fuel the fighting spirit in us with the idea of a ladder whose pinnacle we have to climb up to and emerge as victors because life is supposedly a race; in order to double the bet placed on the raging bulls. Winning trumpets are expected, Leonidas is accepted and Igor is rejected.

        Two other intriguing concepts are ‘beauty’ and ‘decency’. The mechanism of life has been able to quantify these unquantifiable ideas. Let’s not view this attempt as successful or unsuccessful because either category defines something definite which this endeavor doesn’t produce. The terms ‘beautiful’, ‘handsome’, ‘ugly’, ‘smart’, ‘unkempt’, ‘uncouth’, ‘etiquette’ etc. have erupted from a collective consciousness of the people in association to certain symbols like white skin for women and short hair for men.  But I presume that ascribing such an objective criteria to these quantities is farce because as Kierkegaard would say “Truth is Subjectivity” and, more precisely we being rational individuals, we are condemned to freedom so; if we won’t choose and let our life be guided by such predefined scales then we are merely burdened with bad faith as Sartre may have interpreted.

     The problem with the mechanics is that we have fallen into a well of seriousness. The voice of the Joker, the infamous nemesis to the Batman,resonates ominously, “Why so serious?”Now, either we offend or are offended. The wager is between the two and the probability that it would be neither is very minimal. We, the robots, have been programmed to be a part of the rat race called life; be burdened with humongous amounts of stress, tensions, pressure, goals, expectations etc. that we have forgotten to live and enjoy the humour that life has to offer. I imagine a world where jokes don’t offend; where freedom of speech is held high; where resolutions are made through dialogues and not violence; where love overshadows hatred towards all beings, altruism over war, egalitarianism over hierarchy and secularism would prevail; where we look at each other and appreciate our belonging to this vast species called the human beings. This state may seem Utopian but I presume it would be a reality if we would break free from the meticulous mechanistic attitude and enjoy the game holistically by experiencing even the minute pleasures which may be enjoying the charm of a full moon or taking a dip in a hot spring or something else as it is a subjective choice.

 

       This essay is a result of an enquiry into the nature of life that I have been conducting deep in my mind castle of reasoning for a while now. We generally categorize it to be either good or bad or even neutral at times but what is the substratum upon which we place these characteristics is the question that I am asking. This piece is merely a part, which is not even whole in its own existence, of this investigation which definitely would take an indefinite period to be channelized to a proper conclusion or even be without one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Relationship Between History and Philosophy

29 Jun

  Philosophy as a subject involves an active engagement with various thoughts; thinking is what philosophers have indulged in from the ancient till the contemporary times and to understand this process we need to rely upon the disciple of history to describe the sociopolitical setup that contributed to the development of an idea.

            Here, in this paper I have attempted to expound the intimate relationship that history and philosophy share which enables us to interpret one through the other.

        Let’s begin by describing the two words; History and Philosophy. The former by definition implies a study of events in a Chronological order so; it is an objective analysis of the various eras. The latter on the other hand is defined as a love for wisdom which can indicate knowing the nature of reality, the idea of God, the purpose of existence, political thinking etc. hence it is more of a subjective approach. Thus, this objectivity and subjectivity complement each other in to understand ideas with clarity.

      For instance, one has to acquire knowledge regarding the functioning of Ancient Greece to comprehend Ancient Greek thought. As an example, to grasp Platonic Philosophy one has to know the socio-political climate that was prevalent in the Athenian society then; even about Socrates and his death as a consequence of democracy that were two factors of influence over Plato also we have to know about Sparta whose military education was an inspiration for the formulation of the idea of ‘the guardians’ and their training. This specific information can be garnered only through the study of History.

      Every epoch due to its prevalent historic revolutions has contributed in developing its own philosophy due to contemplation of the philosophers in tandem to the prevalent thought of the time or against it. To illustrate, the medieval period is recognized for its dominance of the religious faith; in Europe it manifested into the superiority of the Christian Theology and the extreme authority of the church. In such an atmosphere, St Aquinas who was a theologian was greatly influenced by the Aristotelian philosophy; He developed a hierarchical concept of the “levels of being” beginning from God to angels to demons to humans to animals to plants to minerals and he claimed as Aristotle that God was the ‘‘First Cause” of existence. He also propounded that Philosophy and theology are complementary; one can reach the knowledge of God through reason and through faith but the latter was more prominent as if we are unable to rationally theorize God then it can lead to unforeseen consequences even death.

        Another example would be that of Baruch Spinoza who said, “God is nature and nature is God” that is pantheistic in its structure but this concept diminishes the superior identity ascribed to God in the Hierarchy in the traditional thinking. This idea came in conflict with the prevailing Jewish orthodoxy that was prevalent in Amsterdam then and he was excommunicated. Moreover, because of the ambiguity of his thought, his views were neither accepted by the theists nor by the atheists.        

        Understanding history also enables us to endorse a comparative study between philosophies that emerged in different parts of the world at different periods of time. For instance, Scholars have been able to enumerate similar features from Kautilya’s ‘Arthashatra’ and Nićcolo Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ which are manifestations of two different historical Junctures. Anyhow, only lateral comparisons are possible as the conditions in Europe were quite different from those in India during Chanakya’s times which were structured by early Hinduism also, he prescribed an ordering of the society based upon Manusmriti which paves a different path than Machiavelli [1]. However, to state a few: a major similarity between the theorists would be the split between ethics and political science; for them, politics was amoral that is its actions go beyond moral principles. Secondly, for both, the primary objective of the state is security against external threats and internal harmony. Thirdly, both of them mention about the divine right of the king; Chanakya uses Hindu cosmology to authorize monarchy. He writes People, overwhelmed by the law of the fishes, made Manu, the son of Visaavat, their king. Here, Visaavat is a reference to Sun god. Whereas, for Machiavelli, this divine right is a gimmick to lend power to the ruler. He says, The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often even more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are [1]. It is fascinating to sense the similarities though the theorists are poles apart by the division of time and space. Nevertheless, we cannot deny the possibility that Machiavelli could have read Arthashatra as we did have a good trade relation with Europe but the fact is that Chanakya’s masterpiece was considered a lost text until it was rediscovered by R. Shamashastry in 1904.

         Interestingly, even Philosophy has its own understanding of history. Here, I make an attempt to describe the views of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Henrich Marx. Hegel’s philosophy is undoubtedly the most ambiguous that we can ever come across; as Bertrand Russell mentions in his ‘The Problems of Philosophy’, “Hegel’s philosophy is very difficult, and commentators differ as to the true interpretation of it.” Even through all the ambiguity, his thought on historicism which is classified as dialectical Idealism stands prominent. In his ‘The Phenomenology of Spirit’, he says, “History is the process whereby the Spirit discovers itself and its own concept.” Through the dialectical process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, where History produces the contradictions, there is a realization of the ‘Absolute Idea’or the ‘World Spirit’.

        Karl Marx was majorly inspired by Hegel and he adapted the dialectical process but being influenced by Feuerbach, he replaced the Idea with the Material world that consists of conflicts between two economic classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat thus coining his theory of ‘Dialectical Materialism’. For him, All history is the history of class struggle and he split world history into different epochs: primitive communism, slave society, feudalism, capitalism, socialism and communism. Each epoch will have its own contradictions which would be historical and would lead to a new epoch. Marx could predict that capitalism would fall because of its inherent contradictions and after a revolution; a “dictatorship of the proletariat” would be established. Finally, with the arrival of communism there would be an “end of history” as there would no longer be any contradiction to give rise to a new epoch.  Unfortunately, this perfect socio-political reality was misrepresented by the communist societies of U.S.S.R, China etc. which can be said to have propagated a sort of state capitalism.

     To encapsulate, this paper covers how historically philosophy can be understood by talking about how an idea can be comprehended with reference to the socio- political setup in which the philosopher lived and thought and how philosophies that emerged in different periods and places through the study of history. It also, mentions how philosophically history can be interpreted by trying to describe the views of Hegel and Marx.

 

The General Apathy

31 Jul

       The world has been engulfed with a self-centred perspective where ‘I’ has become dominant and ‘We’ has turned into a subdued principle. This is manifested into the various exploitations that affect us may it be social, political or environmental.  

apathy-i-dont-care

      We are becoming competitive day by day where the idea of self-development is interpreted in terms of monetary achievements. As we must have observed, the disparity between the rich and the poor is widening and the former prefers maintaining the hierarchy and exploits the latter. Since, Capitalism and consumerism are complementary hence the capitalists by increasing the cost of living create proletariats, who for satisfying needs and fulfilling greed, would work for them to buy the products of their labour. This is very apathetic as the bourgeoisie simply want to become superior and subordinate the people belonging to the lower strata. In a very Marxist sense, we need to channel a revolution by removing the false consciousness of living in a good world.

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       Social apathy in India is not just because of classist views but also because of casteist prejudices. Here historically, those who were poor also were people belonging to the lower castes thus they were victims of double exploitation. I agree that there has been a shift in the situation now but that is mainly congregated in the urban populace but in the rural locations this is still vivid. It certainly is a shame on the political system if caste still is a dominant principle after so many years of independence and reservation policy. However, it may also be apathetic when we deny someone the right to education or employment by the accident of belonging to an upper caste or a majority religion but lack financial strength whereas those who reap the benefit of the reservation policy may also be economically strong.

caste-systemIndia

      Women are also susceptible to being exploited because of the hierarchy initiated by the patriarchal setup which culminates into incidents like the Nirbhaya rape case or incestuous sexual assaults or eve-teasing etc. This patriarchy is insinuated by the various social institutions especially family where there is mostly a segregation of females from an early age and religion which divulges different codes of conduct for both women and men where the former faces immense amount of restriction. For instance, menstruating women are not permitted into places of worship believing that they would affect the purity of it. Even, politically, to exercise control over a particular region the mechanism that is mostly used is to exploit the body of a woman or to use rape as a weapon in war. The other victims are the persons belonging to a minority religion. I presume that there can be a prominent change if we stand, as John Rawls says, behind a “Veil of ignorance” from where all the attributes of class, caste, sex, gender, religion etc. would be absent.

Crime-against-Women

john-rawls

John Rawls

          Political apathy can be understood firstly through the treatment of the first world countries over the others. For example, USA for its desire to acquire the oils reserves in the Middle East is strategically conquering the countries by creating internal strife and then appearing as a messiah to solve it for the sake of human rights. Also, such powerful nations try to economically subdue the lesser developed ones in terms of various aids and infrastructural support. Secondly, through the politicization of any religion; generally, to gain power political parties ascribe to religious sentiments for acquiring votes. In India, for instance, the Babri Masjid demolition was a sinister act of the BJP-VHP alliance for the support of the Hindu populace and for the flourishing of Hindutva or we have politicians making hate speeches against a particular religious group.

us-imperialism-latuff-latin-america-racism

  To understand environmental apathy, let’s imagine ourselves to be part of a web of life where each component has an individual and an inter-relational role to play and through these various functions we develop a harmony. However, futile components should be replaced or removed for a smooth channel but if one component becomes dominant then there would be a chaos. For instance, mining in the Niligiri Hills by Vedanta Resources has caused ecological imbalance also, displacement of the tribal; at the same time we cannot deny that raw materials are essential for industrial production for which mining is necessary but there should be a limit set up which can be best done by self-regulation. Another example would be the excessive use of plastics by us humans which is certainly harming our surroundings. All this human-centrism will definitely lead to environmental degradation and it has begun. Here, the Kantian idea of treating others as an ‘end in themselves’ should be viewed in a broader context consisting all of nature’s creation as we are just a part of the ‘Whole’.

WebofLife

      The people who are worst hit by this attitude are the youth. It may be so because of the constant exposure to the apathetic adults or by inheritance but I seriously doubt whether attitudes can be transferred through genes. We merely live in the shroud of consumerism that we limit our purview to brands, goods and fashion and forget to notice the serious socio-political concerns. The ‘chalta hai’ way of life which has engulfed our generation prevents us from looking beyond our selves until something affects us directly. However, revolutions can only come forth when the youngsters become conscious regarding the various corruptions around and determine to change as we are supposedly the most energetic ones. So guys, let’s rise up and transmute from being apolitical to political and set an example by treating people of lower and higher status with sameness and fighting for social justice similarly.

08a

      To conclude, apathy has become a part and parcel of our lives and it is detaching us from our responsibility towards our fellow beings also making us exploit them. Thus, we are required to imbibe empathy for a better and harmonious living.

empathy

Volatility

11 Jun

When we observe around; our environment has a steady dosage of negativity that has been erupted out of a petty issue that inflate a person’s ego which would eventually culminate into an endless array of fighting which results in disruption of one’s own peace of mind or even health and also of those involved in the situation  thus; a thing which may be deemed trivial that though in its purest sense is unable to become problematic causes problems by curbing rationality due to fueling of egotism.

Quentin Crisp, an English writer, once said, “Treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.” It is indeed awe inspiring! If every individual realizes this simple fact the world would definitely be a better place to reside.

As a spectator, I have perceived events that influence a lot of peoples’ lives inclusive of mine adversely by the medium of discussion. Let’s examine a scenario: one individual slaps another in a fit of rage…its hurting but it’s momentary. The saga doesn’t end out there; ‘the others’, who are in no way influenced by it, get themselves involved in the situation before the wound is healed by overly discussing the matter through criticizing one before the other and the pain surges more; maybe, to satiate their sadism but as a ramification those who were once friends become estranged.

There is a quote of Umberto Eco from his novel ‘The Name of The Rose’ that has struck a chord with me: Excess of loquacity can be a sin, so can excess of reticence. Frivolous talking has always been a culprit of explosion; during the course one may indulge in telling a few things that are inessential or offensive that it may break associations even by undermining the allegiance one has towards the group. Even Profound silence is a barrier against a memorable conversation or it may cease to exist. As a society, we have to interact with each other thus; there should be a beautiful concoction between silence and dialogue and people should use the former to initiate cognition to generate a substantial statement than statements of banality that are made under the pressing demand to speak incessantly.

Friendship is another volatile concept; the entity is sustained on the basis of trust and if a seed of suspicion is sowed then it would be dismantled. The prime agent that insinuates the disruption in this peaceful co-existence is misunderstanding; even the attempts to patch proclaim their futility. Time heals everything but at moments it may not be possible as there will always be ‘the others’ who would use the device of discussion for hastening the process of destruction of the relation between friends which if left idle for it to be dealt by them , it might have been mend. Even overt talks about patching up would also be worthless as it will only be reminiscent of the hurt and would reinforce the incineration.  Anyhow, if a thing is once broken and again the pieces are pasted together still; it will lack the essence that it originally possessed.

If one considers carefully then, there are many other substances that are volatile and the most explicit one is health. Scientists have always mentioned that volatility can be maintained by placing the object in a controlled environment. Philosophers, on the other hand, have always claimed that excess of anything is problematic and consumption in moderation is permissible; men like Aristotle have taught us to take the middle path-the golden route.

MarketVolatility

The Banality of Television

28 Jan

              In today’s world that is battling with a prolific amount of stress which is generated either by work, education or from other stressors like a terrorist attack; television is a medium that enables global citizens to de-stress themselves but does it serve the purpose? Doesn’t in actuality it leads to the procuring of more stress, tension, anxiety or even worries into the life of the individual who is viewing the T.V? These are the questions that I’ll make an attempt to deliver an answer to.

           There is a wide variety of programmes belonging to varied genres being telecasted through the medium and here am going to critically analyse a few.

           Let’s begin with the evilest of all, ‘commercials’. They are the intruders into one’s colossal entertainment regime. The major purpose of which is to inculcate unnecessary desire for the products endorsed in minds of the audience.

            Such propaganda was initiated by Edward Bernays, who is considered to be the father of modern public relations. He was the nephew of Sigmund Freud and he wove his uncle’s ideas of the unconscious and psychological motivation of the mind with the medium of advertising.

Edward Bernays

Edward Bernays

           According to me, the phenomena can be compared to the selling conducted by a mobile ice-cream vendor. When one constantly hears the bell then there would be a naissance of a desire for purchasing the ice-cream and you eventually buy it. This is similar to what advertisement does; by multitude portrayals of it in television or any other form of media, they  try to produce an unconscious desire that prompts the individual to acquire the product.        

       It may not be wrong for all but in my opinion it is evil because for centuries enlightened thinkers like Gautama Buddha have been constantly talking about the importance of Vanquishing desires as that’s the major source of all miseries. I’m not suggesting that one should live a life of an ascetic but I’m solemnly requesting you not to fall for the illusions projected by the adverts by rationalizing over the cravings that you possess and to categorize it as whether required or unrequired.

          Another point of criticism with commercials, though constantly reiterated, is the objectification of women. It seems that these days only perverts watch television as most of the selling is done by women in tiny clothing. Recently, I saw an ad of a deodorant brand where the protagonist applies it and procures the attention of the fairer sex and they proceed to the bed. I got fairly exited that I bought a bottle and sprayed it all over me but when I was on the street not a single woman paid a heed to me. That was terribly depressing and I lost quite a few bucks over it but that is the kind of illusionary idea being propagated by advertisements and poor men fall for it.

          The presentation of women as naive beings who feel attracted to certain products that the masculine sect use and which define masculinity is very rude also extensively problematic as that is a reflection of the patriarchal, chauvinist society that we are living in.   Truly, sex sells and that is clearly exemplified by the pornography industry but I believe that sexual intercourse leads to a pious intimacy between a male and a female and thus, to use it in such a demeaning manner is extremely obnoxious.  

       Though advertisements feign reality, it may not always be the case. The medium can be used to disseminate revolutionary ideas or to propel the life of dying arts by providing it exposure.

       Another genre that I want to talk about is ‘soap opera’. Since I’m predominantly exposed to Indian television, I’ll talk from our perspective. Here, we are in awe of ‘sasus’ and ‘bahus’ (mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws). The fixation is so domineering that there is an over flow of stories which echo the relationship.

           The ‘bahu’ epitomizes goodness; is servile and subservient and to condense it, she is the reflection of the ideas of ‘how a woman should behave in a patriarchal society’. The ‘saas’ is symbolic to negativity, cruelty and naïveness because she is mostly misled. The idea of an evil ‘saas’ has become so prominent in our minds that we tend to idealize that all mother-in laws behave in a similar fashion.

        How can this scenario be complete without the presence of a vamp? She mostly is the wife of the second son and is jealous of the popularity of the ‘first daughter in law’. We can establish an analogy between her and the character of ‘Iago’ from Shakespeare’s Othello; similar to him, she is the one who fills the mother-in-law’s mind with poison and this in turn sours the relationship between the ‘saas’ and the ‘original bahu’.

       The interesting thing is that as much ever times the story is repeated in varied backgrounds, it still finds viewership but the depressing aspect is that producers don’t want to try out new things as they fear, what I presume to be, lack of ‘T.R.P’ ratings.

     T.V serials can be used to critique the society or the belief system but that rarely happens as in actuality, it is used to broadcast stereotypical ideas like that of college life or to reiterate religious stories (mostly Hindu) that are overtly exaggerated because God sells.

     The amount of plagiarism prevalent in the television industry is very intriguing. When we surf through channels and observe the programmes then we’d be able to build a connection with British and American television; by saying this I’m not proposing the superiority of the western television but trying to project the uncreative soul of the Indian one.   

         For example, ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ was adapted as ‘Kaun banega croepati’ with the host being Amitabh Bachan who in an empathizing gesture contributed to making people, who mostly hailed from poverty stricken families, cry and I believe that this what made the show successful because most of the Indians rejoice at others’ sadness; simply, we are sadists.

Kaun Banega Crorepati.

Kaun Banega Crorepati.

        What I can’t understand is that though these shows are tried to be kept in sync with the Indian culture, they very much retain the western flavour yet we indulge in the viewing of it and they also acquire tremendous success.       

       I’m sure that people around the globe do similar critique of their television industry and must have found out how banal most of their television shows are. The medium can also be used in a more productive manner to explore various cultures with the element of travelogues and culinary extravaganza also live telecasts of sports and other important events can be done and all this lead to the production of ‘global citizens’.

        To sum up, according to me, television dwells in the realm of banality as it is one of the social media that primarily is used for selling through adverts. Even sports have developed a visage of commercialism as a result of great viewership mainly through TV. Thus, I’d advise you to throw your television sets out of your homes; destroy them, and to initiate anti-television movements. Also, movies and shows with novelty in content  should be telecasted through the medium of the ‘internet’ that ought to be void of unnecessary interruptions or else, television should refrain from being a shop. 

The Hindi Film Industry: An Upward Development or Downward?

6 Nov

            I believe when D.G Phalke alias dadasaheb led to the naissance of Indian film industry and to be more precise; Hindi film industry, he mustn’t have thought about how the medium that he introduced would be exploited to churn out illogical, irrational, masala movies for the sake of minting profits. I bet, if he had then he wouldn’t have even thought about the introduction of the art to the Indian soil.

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Cover of

Cover of Mughal-E-Azam

               When I make such a statement I’m not denying the existence of cinema that define otherwise but I’m pointing towards the dominance of the business of film making that concentrates on developing of money making commercial flicks that doesn’t contribute to any sort of intellectual stimulation in the minds of the spectators.

             From Raja Harishchandra to Alam Ara to Mughal-e-Azam to Sholay to Lagan and so on; there was and there will be history defining moments but there also have been films that, in its own right, have also created history…the history of horribleness.

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English: A rare still from Ardeshir Irani's Al...

English: A rare still from Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara, the first Indian talkie (1931). As it was released in 1931 in India it is a public domain image. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Through this write up, my intention is not to criticize certain movies but to critique a specific kind of cinema that is being predominantly developed in the industry.

            When you think about Bollywood what are the few things that come in your mind? Might be; the khan clan, the Bachans or DDLJ even, but is that all that constitute the Hindi film industry? These are definitely not the sole objects that comprise it as there is a plethora of things that contribute to it.                                                            

.DDLJ

           Originality has always been the criteria by which we judge the work of an artist or a writer but when we consider the films of our industry, are those original? I guess not. Remaking has always been a repeated style and that too is a talent. But there is a difference between recreating and plagiarism.

             As such no idea is pure and original to the core as the individual who mothered the notion will transfer his influences and inspirations to the child. This can be said regarding creating a movie that has a bit of similarity to another film or any other piece of literature or art but copying is like stealing someone else’s child.

                     Stardom is another aspect of the industry that we need to discuss. By providing a few actors with the position of being superior to others have we been able to inflict any sort of change in the on-going style of film making? I believe not. The titles such as ‘Super star’, ‘Ultimate star’, ‘Universal star’ etc. don’t even motivate the stars do a better work by trying out something innovative and novel but in-turn they stick to the genres they are comfortable doing.  I believe that comfort shouldn’t come in the way of choosing of films as an actor should constantly strive to expand his forte and not confine himself to a specific style. Difference will lead to uniqueness and this will further lead to distinction and that is the greatest need today in this world that is bound by conventions. Thus, to be different should not be considered an anomaly. There are only a few actors who experiment and they should be considered to be wise till they keep up with it…if they keep up with it.

                  Humor is something that we require in our life. If we are void of it then the chances of depression, anxiety and other such medical complexities increase. Comedy around the globe possessed and still possesses a penchant for satires. The satirical genre as you all know is a critical yet humorous take on the happenings of the society and these can even contribute to the infliction of change in a social system. A good satirist is a master of good wisdom and incredible comic sense.

                   Even our Hindi cinema has used this many times but it had to trim the content drastically because of the existence of the politico-spiritual forces. As a result they have to concentrate on the other forms like slapstick.  During the era of silent motion pictures, the use of this genre is justified but with the invention of talkies it has lost its validity. Another way in which they channelize their comical energy is by poking fun of south Indians. If it’s considered to be a good act of humor then that definitely is a wrong conception as it’s merely humiliating and insulting.

                   To sum up, the Hindi film industry during its beginning had shown potential to be a good enterprise and also had projected a certain increase in gradation in a few years afterwards but with technological advances and the exposure to the global film fraternity, the most unfortunate event occurred; deterioration. There are efforts being taken to improve the quality but the forces that are contributing to its degradation are also on a rise and are overshadowing even the minute improvement that it has imbibed.

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THE END…….

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Secularism and India

1 Oct

                 What is secularism? That is the concept we primarily need to expound. In the west, the term denotes the separation of the church from the working of the state. In the Indian context, it is the freedom to propagate and practice one’s own religion without being interrupted or interfered and when the propaganda doesn’t hurt the religious sentiments of the others.

                But are we secular? Is India a secular nation? I agree that we are taught in educational institutions that it is and this is also mentioned in the constitution but in actuality are we? I don’t think so. We are predominantly a Hindu country and that’s the biggest dilemma.

                    We constantly come in confrontation with examples of communalism that challenge secularism and one of them would be the ‘Ram Janmabhoomi issue’. Through this we would be able to provide a distinction between the two opposite forces. If the ’Vishwa Hindu Parishad’ had solely requested for the proclamation of the land as the ‘birthplace of ram’ then that could have been termed as a secular demand but the demolition of  ‘Babri Masjid’ turned it into a communal one. It was clearly visible then that the whole issue had been a political mockery staged by the B.J.P in collaboration with the V.H.P to assert their victory in the ’93 elections.

'The demolition of Babri Masjid'

‘The demolition of Babri Masjid’

                   Their success lies in their ability to instigate people and this instigation motivated the public to commit the demolition. The documentary ‘Ram ke Naam’ by Anand Patwardhan reflects the naive mentality of the locals who were involved in the triggering of the issue and especially that of the youth enrolled in the ‘Bajranj Dhal’. He interrogates people regarding the date of the birth of Ram but none are able to provide a definite answer and they won’t be ever able to as there isn’t any evidence to prove it. If this was the case, then how could they make an assertive claim that Ayodhya is the place where Shree Ram was born and also that the masjid was erected by Babur after razing a temple? It isn’t valid. Even if we consider that the Mughal emperor had destroyed the mandir (which is a colloquial term for temple) and constructed a mosque instead, still it must have occurred some 500 years prior to the obliteration. When the incident had occurred the masjid had become a part of the rich heritage of India and to demolish such a structure is criminal.

English: Film maker Anandpatwardhan

English: Film maker Anandpatwardhan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The documentary 'Ram Ke Naam'

The documentary ‘Ram Ke Naam’

                   The documentary had become crucial in the trial conducted by the Allahabad court and moreover, its importance lies in the fact that it was shot prior to the demolition and covers the various factors which contributed to it including the ‘Rath yatra’ conducted by the B.J.P honcho, Mr Advani.

'The Rath Yatra'

‘The Rath Yatra’

               With the above mentioned example we can describe communalism by saying that it is the act of linking politics and religion and causing harm to people belonging to another religion.

Secularism

                  Another example to support the view that India is a Hindu nation is that of our reservation quota. The policy as a concept is an ideal one because the weaker sections will have greater chances of acquiring seats in government institutions with lesser competition but in practice, it’s purely sectarian. The people who benefit from this; scheduled castes, schedule tribes and other backward classes are nothing but the minorities of the Hindu religion and that’s very unfortunate because persons belonging to other religious communities are denied reservation in institutions, other than those where the management is held by that particular sect, even though they too had to enroll in conflicts with the dominant religion; Hinduism and they still have to.

                 I don’t think that when Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had included the term ‘secular’ in the preamble while drafting the constitution, he had thought about the fact that it’ll never be wholly implemented. Even he didn’t appreciate the dominance of Hindutva and had converted to Buddhism as that’s more peaceful and more loving and more importantly a way of live than a religion. Even Hinduism was once conferred the same title but that was centuries ago.

Dr. Ambedkar

Dr. Ambedkar

                   To sum up, India is a great country and there is no denial about that but its greatness is constantly threatened by sectarian politics. Secularism had been a cherished virtue in the past; it has its mention in the various scriptures and documents. Thus, it’s inherent to Indian culture. In the present day, the secular outlook is constantly challenged by communal uprisings. For a better future, for the betterment of human kind and for the being of a harmonious society, we should strive to revive and strengthen the virtue and also to make people realize it’s value.

col_gurcharan_das_20040329                 harmony

The End…

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