Source: Not known, received by email
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Our emotions are also linked in at a low level of sensory perception. This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. Imagine a tiger jumps in front of you while you are walking. Your eyes will process the information and you will start to run without giving it a second thought. Guess why? The emotion of fear has activated the ‘Fight or Flight’ reflex before you could even register the tiger in your brain, as emotions are a hard wired shortcut to perception. Emotions also give us the unique capability to not see what we simply do not want to see. (Guess why one never sees anything good in the person/ country/ system that one does not like). Now, imagine a dark alley and you see a shape that looks like a tiger. Guess what, the body will go in to the ‘fight or flight’ mode as the hypothalamus would release the chemicals in to the blood stream and your body would be conditioned to run. This is the trap. In case you could stop and reason that ‘how can there be a tiger here’? You investigate a little more and find that the tiger look-alike is just a garbage bag thrown into the alley. This is now a new possibility and the brain will start to re-program the neuro-nets. (This is just an example of how the system functions. One has to be careful any time emotions are involved). In case we do not deal with, and retire this emotion in to wisdom, then we would never evolve and will keep re-experiencing this emotion, and the pre-conditioned response, and this would then result in cumulative emotional history which would get further etched or hard-wired into our brain. This brings us to this question, ‘Do we actually need these emotions’?
Yes, we do. Emotions make life worth living. Remember your first crush in school? How did it feel? Coming first in class? First day at your dream job? The day when you felt very close to your Creator? 29/ 11/ 2008 - when the Commandos completed their mission? Etc. One can remember the incidents vividly even now – thanks to the emotions involved. Emotions are good but one must remember the trap too……. Imagine who makes use of them the maximum? Our politicians – listen to their rhetoric; BJP – Congress is soft on terror; Cong – BJP will be anti-minorities; MNS and SS – Marathi manoos; DMK – Tamil language; go through the non-issues that they get people all emotional about: Mumbai and not Bombay; Bengaluru not Bangalore, etc. etc. These issues are emotional, and help our politicians to side step the main issues of development, growth, job creation, etc. The advertisers are another lot – they give you facts, sometimes distorted too, along with a lot of emotional appeal; and others who want to imprint the message in the long term memory of your brain. Repeated appeals of this nature solidifies your neuro-nets.
My readings have convinced me that Jinnah was one of the most secular leaders (Advani was not wrong), but he still was the chief architect of a country based on religion. He did not believe in it, but he was convinced that with Nehru and Patel around he had no chance of becoming the PM. Personal power ambitions led him to mislead people. How did he do it? Emotions – Muslims will be slaves in free India. People believed him, and followed him. Emotions were involved and he was successful in giving a new paradigm to the Muslim population. Before departing Bombay though, on 14 Aug 1947, he wanted to reverse his propaganda and urged the Muslims left behind in India to be “Indians first and Muslims later”. Similarly after landing in Karachi, he urged people there to be “Pakistanis first”. Was he right about the state of Muslims in India? I do not think so. However, we still have this old baggage of the partition era with us – ALL communities have it. Why? I believe because we have still not “retired in to wisdom” some of the very same emotions that were experienced during partition. These are on display on the internet for any one to see, and the internet is only visited by educated people. Guess the state of the illiterate masses. Many more have been added thereafter – 1984, 1992, 2002 etc. etc. These are hardwired in our brains, to start riots at the slightest pretext. We still have politicians, like Jinnah, who use the same techniques even today. How do we guard against the long term damage they can cause to the citizens psyche?
How do we change our reality, which is based on our perception - that is dependent on our sensory inputs, our learning, our experiences, our emotions and our paradigm? The answer is in the question itself. We need to go beyond the box that we live in right now. We need to increase our reference library in the brain, analyse our experiences, make a paradigm shift and most of all, we need to QUESTION everything that has emotions attached with it. We need to believe in a new paradigm that says that all people born on this land are Indians, irrespective of their personal beliefs, and everyone has equal rights and responsibilities based on the letter and spirit of our Constitution. No one can claim lack of opportunities, based on one’s personal beliefs. I believe that India provides equal opportunities to all who believe, and behave, like Indians. How else could we have a person from the Muslim community from a small Tamil Nadu village become the President of India; a person from the Sikh community become the PM, Air Chief Marshal Idris Latif as the Chief of Air Staff, Mayawati and Antulay as CM, and so on.
Talking of equal opportunities, I am reminded of an incident that took place when I was doing the staff college in Montgomery Alabama. We had a Muslim officer who had just finished Air War College at the same location. We had a Christian Air Marshal who was on a visit to the US; visit us at the staff college. This led the wife of the Pakistan Air Force officer to naively ask my wife as to how India permitted a Muslim and a Christian officer to reach such high posts in the military. In Pakistan, she said, Hindus and Christians could only be employed as dhobis and domestic help.
I was in the Indian Air Force and saw India as it should be - a microcosm of what India can be. My perception and reality of India is vastly different from what people have in the civilian world, primarily because I have seen how people with diverse thoughts, beliefs, languages, cultures etc. can come together as Indians to enrich each other’s lives, and that is also the India that our founding fathers envisioned. Experience has widened my reference box. In case similar experience is not available, we need to get more knowledge to widen the box, other wise our reality will always remain limited, primarily because we cannot perceive beyond our limitations.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
“What I thought was unreal now, for me, seems in some ways to be more real than what I think to be real, which seems now to be unreal”…..
- Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.
“I never questioned my reality. Why would I do something as silly as that? Then the reality I was in became a mess, and I began to question my reality – not necessarily the tables and chairs, but my perception of it. Once I realized that my reality was only the construct of my limitations, I realized I had to be willing to dream outside of them. What is it that I truly desire that I don’t believe I can have or become? The only thing “solid” in my reality is my perception of it. If I am willing to open my eyes to new possibilities, my reality can change”………..
- Betsy Chasse
We Indians have been very badly hurt after the horrendous incident of 26/11 at Mumbai. Our collective psyche has been bruised, and we want things to change. Isn’t our state quite similar to what is described above, by Betsy? How then do we help bring about the required change? The answer, as per Betsy, is to open our eyes to new possibilities. This would then help us change our perception of things, and this new perception will bring about a new reality for us as a nation. How do we open our minds to new possibilties, and how are new possibilities, perception and reality linked?
How many of us have heard the saying that goes something like this, ‘Sawan ke andhe ko, hara hi dikhta hai’ (a person blinded in spring can only see (visualize) green. Have you ever given this saying any thought? It is so true. Your reality is limited only by your own perception. Also, most of us must have heard the story about the four blind men and the elephant. Each of the blind man gave voice to his reality, as per his perception. Each of their reality was based on what part of the elephant they were in touch with. My spiritual readings always gave me a message that, "One see's everything in the colour that is based on colour of the glasses one is wearing". How does this perception come about?
Perception starts with the sense organs and ends at consciousness. Our sense organs detect, the nerves transmit the information on to the brain, which pattern matches the information, comes to a conclusion and our consciousness registers the existence of the object, as embedded in our brain. Heavy stuff?? Let’s get a little practical. Why is ‘A’ only written like this? It is because, when the English language was created, a few wise men got together and decided to give this shape to ‘A’; it could have been any other shape too. So, once a large number of seemingly credible people decide what is what, it is accepted by the rest of us, and it gets implanted in our brain as such.
Have you ever seen a child learning the alphabet? We keep making him do it until it gets imprinted on his brain. We then go onto ‘A’ for apple and so on. He now starts associating the alphabet to an object. He can now pattern match a, b, c….. We do the same with words thereafter and so on. Fast forward now, to the present. You are that child, now grown up. You are reading this post on my blog. Are you reading alphabets, words or just pattern matching? In case I had put in something that you had never registered in your brain, like say a Greek or Arabic script, would you still be able to pattern match? No. You will discard it as a mistake on my part, a corrupt message, or to just your imagination, depending on the circumstances. So, you perceive only that, which is already registered with your brain.
This perception is also based on the paradigm under which one operates. “Paradigm is a set of implicit assumptions that are not meant to be tested; in fact, they are essentially unconscious. They are part of our modus operandi as individuals, as scientists, or as a society”. What are our paradigms about our own religion, and that of our neighbours? What are our paradigms about our country? How does this paradigm affect our view of our perceptions, and thus our reality?
We start the perception process with our sense organs, which in any case are limited. A dog can hear and smell better than us, and so on. Our radio, mobile phones and television, etc. operate on frequencies that are not discernible to us, and can thus not be perceived by us. It does not mean that they do not exist. Even with this limited sensory input, we receive “somewhere (to) the order of 400 billion bits per second” from our five senses. A majority of this information is screened out, and wasted; only about “two thousand get through to our consciousness”. So, as Dr. Andrew Newberg puts it, the brain has to “get rid of a lot of extra data in trying to create for us a story of the world”. Ever seen a wedding video and wondered why you did not notice all those people and events on the wedding day that have been captured in the video??
I had heard of cancer, but it was never a part of my reality (perception) until my sister in law was diagnosed with it. After that I found that nearly every other family had someone suffering with cancer. Has it happened to you too? The brain screens out a lot of information that is considered extraneous ( remember only 2000/ 400 billion bits/ second can reach our consciousness) by us. So we actually don’t perceive reality; we see the image of reality that our brain has built up out of the ‘not screened out’ sensory input, plus the patterns already existing in our brain, which are based on our past experiences. Dr Newberg says, “It depends on what your experiences have been, and how you ultimately process the information, that really creates your visual world. The brain is what ultimately perceives reality and creates for us our rendition of the world”.
In case we operate from the paradigm that, ‘In India no body does his job without being bribed’, then we will only perceive every system as corrupt. Our thoughts and our actions will then start with how to neutralize the system and get one’s work done. The system will then respond to us in the same way as we perceived it. When one looks in to the mirror and smiles, the mirror image smiles back. It cannot start to smile without your face lighting up with a smile first. What paradigm do you operate from? Have you considered another possibility? What will it take, for you to make a paradigm shift?
Just a few weeks ago, we had a classic case where people’s perception nearly got ICICI bank bankrupt. People heard about the financial crisis, heard about ICICI being hit by $100 million dollars, and decided to start pulling out their cash. The ATMs ran dry for about 4 -5 days, because people had perceived bankruptcy and nearly made it a reality. Thank God for the intervention of the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister that we still have ICICI bank as a viable banking institution even today. All that the FM and PM did was plant new possibilities in our brains and change our perception of ICICI bank and it changed reality – from sure shot bankruptcy to viability. Satyam, a 2 billion dollar enterprise, is now going through the same perception – reality situation. Thankfully we did not have any paradigm problems with ICICI bank, otherwise the FM and PM's exhortations would have been of no avail. Next, we come to emotions.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
My Oldest Memory: The oldest memory that I can remember is when i was about 4 - 6 years old. We lived in an Air Force camp, which had a movie hall that used to get various kinds of movies, including 'Tarzan' and 'Zimbo' movies. I was very fond of these movies, and remember going to watch them initially with my father, followed by him picking me up from the hall after the movie and finally all by myself. The movie hall at that age appeared very far from our house. (However later when I was posted at Pune as an adult, I realised that the movie hall was just about 1.5 - 2 kms from our house). The shows would start during daylight hours but end up when it would just be dark. I remember enjoying the movie, coming out of the hall, waiting for someone going towards our house and then slowly follow him home. In case the person turned away in some other direction, I would wait under a street light for another person and then follow him in the direction of our house. Once i found no one going in the direction of our house. I waited under a street light for some time and then remembered my parents exhortation to be brave and not fear - 'any time you are afraid just recite the Gayatri Mantra and nothing will happen to you'. I remember reciting the Gayatri Mantra on that occasion and reaching home without any problem.
I was dumb founded by this incident, and similar incidents before and after this one. Where do I fit in? in the scheme of things? if everything is pre-destined as per my planetary positioning. What do I control??
My first thought this morning: Yet another day! Actually I am down with some sort of a flu and have been having fever, running nose, sore throat, and bodyache for the past couple of days. Did not feel like getting out of bed this morning, as the back was also hurting today. They say this flu gets okay in 3 -4 days and i am on my third day - in any case, i donot give too much importance to all these illnesses - they come on their own and leave of their own accord. Poonam is not there to force me to have medicine. 'Bund naak, badan dard, Kuch lete kyun nahin'? I can do my own - gargles and rest. I hate medicines.
If you built a time capsule, what would it contain: It would contain magnificient nature - the hills of Kulu Manali where I trekked with the Youth hostel in 1994 and 1995 - those mountains dwarfed me and made me feel like a small insignificant speck of dust - these hills helped me meet simple folks who were willing to share what little they had, kids with running noses running behind us for one sweet, crying 'tata tata bye bye'; it would contain the mighty oceans over which i have flown at very low level and seen the massive tankers being tossed around like match sticks; it would contain war, philosophy and spiritual books - i was always a man of war and enjoyed serving with the Indian Air Force - however, i now realise the value of peace which only a military man can; i love war books though, because they bring out how spirit can overcome the body and also the selfless pursuit of an aim; philosophy to help answer the numerous questions that keep arising, and spiritual books to keep me grounded to reality; to help me overcome my massive "I"; and finally would love to have my dear wife who is the only one who could tame me, and the only one who helps me with the supply of my favourite music - some of it gets garbled though when she gets into one of her 'not so beautiful' moods.
This year: This year has been a mixed bag - some good and some not so good, but is finally dedicated to the little angel who adorns my desktop (photograph is reproduced below), my grand daughter 'Meher' who was born on 29 Sep 08. She gave us some very tense moments initially, but has given us much more happiness in return during the past 3 months approx, and would continue to do so in the years to come.
I started the year recouping from my bypass surgery performed on 28 Nov 07. Got on my feet and fit i felt, only to be declared permanently unfit for flying and thus came to end an eventful chapter in my life - a chapter that gave me immense pleasure, helped me defy gravity and explore the third dimension where i had occasions to see the sun rising before lesser mortals could, where i could race with the setting sun by flying westwards - the sun always won though.
Sunrise at 37000 ft.... clicked as a passenger on 09 Dec 2008
I say good bye to flying, Chennai, and Blue Dart Aviation on 31 Dec 08. Our son settled into a job of his liking this year after completing his BA Hons from York University - he is enjoying himself with the Toronto Police. Our son-in-law and daughter bought their first house. My parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Many other events happened - it's been an eventful year.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I was lucky, and elated, to have been selected to undergo the Staff College course in the US in 1989. I was a 37 years young cocky fighter pilot who had his own perception of India, my country. This perception was built over time through schooling in English medium schools/ convents and having lived in urban surroundings most of the time (even when I was based in small villages, our camps had most facilities like a town). I reached Montgomery, Alabama and was pleasantly surprised to be a part of about 55o students doing this purely academic course (we do have academic courses in the military too), of which about 80 officers were from 55 different nationalities. I was the only Indian officer in this batch of 1990.
Our interactions were generally quite free and frank, considering the nature of the course. During the course of these interactions one theme always emerged and that was, 'India is a poor country'. I would get very hurt and would invariably put up a defence that India was not poor. I could speak English better than most others, I could think logically, I flew the Jaguar aircraft and could talk anyone out of fighter tactics etc. etc. I felt that I was their equal in every which way and yet they continued with their derogatory questions about poverty in India. I had never experienced poverty and was never really concerned about how poor India was. I got what I wanted in India, and was pretty comfortable with my perception of India.
One day when I could not take it any longer, I decided to start reading up on India with an aim of negating my tormentors. The more I read the more I realised how right they were and how wrong was my perception of India. These 10 months in the US staff college, with its very well equipped library, gave me an opportunity to try and understand my own country. The more I read, the more I realised that I was living in my own dream world; the more I read the more I became fascinated, and proud of India, even though I now realised that how backward we were economically. My perceptions of India started to change. I realised that urban areas in India were an aberration in the rural landscape of India. I started to read about our freedom struggle and how and why Gandhiji gave us the khadi dress - a dress used more as a fashion statement these days by our political class.
Why were we poor? I believe, the short answer is, we missed the Industrial revolution while under British rule. We continued to be an agrarian society plagued by disease, malnutrition and the rulers did not have any resources (that were of course ours in the first place) to waste on us. Gandhiji's Dandi march to make a pinch of salt was such a big issue with the British. Imagine we could not even make salt - a basic food item for the poor. We finally achieved independence. We chose socialism and non alignment as our core values following it up with nationalisation of assets. All this was based on our past experiences. We can complain about the political system but the system has not failed us. It has helped us to be self sufficient, grow, and also helped a diverse, plural nation like India stay as one nation-state, despite the pulls and pressures.
We are all very impatient with our progress and want India to reach its destined position in the comity of nations. Well, it is happening - 300 million strong middle class (approximately the size of our population at independence), and growing, will help us reach there. Once we have a majority middle class things would happen much faster, and more to the liking of the urban population. I have seen food shortages and the green revolution; I have seen milk shortages and the white revolution in my lifetime. I have seen India leap frogging from the agricultural era to the information era. We are now building our industrial base that will help provide employment to our rural brethren. Imagine we still have 72.2% of our population living in rural settings, as per the 2001 census. We have 34.3% (1990-2005) of our population surviving on less than $1.00 a day - this is an amount most of us donot even think about - I have paid many times this amount for one meal, at times. We have 28.6% living below the poverty line - defined by minimum calories and bare minimum medical aid for survival - not even roti, kapda aur makaan. Are we still poor?? Yes we are still poor (even though we are the 12th country in this world to cross a Trillion dollar economy mark) but are getting out of poverty much faster since 1991.
We have many challenges in the form of corruption, caste/ religion based politics, criminals in politics, poverty, etc. Who is corrupt. Not the poor. It is the haves who take, and give bribes. We want more - 'thoda hai thode aur ki zaroorat hai' attitude. We are willing to bribe our way to short circuit any system. We are responsible for the present impasse, and ONLY WE have the power to change this state of affairs by changing ourselves, individually and collectively.
As a start, let us be proud of who we are as a people. Let us start by getting to know our country. I have always felt enamoured by the material progress of the West but have been absolutely spellbound by the SOUL of India. Our nation is not perfect but WE have the power to make it one. Are we ready to do our part on this journey to achieve greatness where the pain of any fellow human being feels like one's own - specially the pain of people less fortunate than us. I never used to notice them earlier but with age I have realised that India can only truly prosper when no one is destined to lead a wretched life. How can we help change destinies? Once we reach there, we would be a participatory democracy in the true sense, as desired and thought of by our founding fathers.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I am also reminded of a story of one family that had twins. When young one of the children would fight with his twin over an issue like 'these are my parents, they are not your parents' and the other would yell back, 'no these are my parents, not yours'. This would go on for some time and they would finally end up crying and come to blows over this issue. A few years later when these two kids grew up, they realised that this was one of the biggest non-issues that they had been fighting over. Their parents belonged to each of them, primarily because they had given birth to both of them.
I was lucky to have been born in India. I grew up, completed my schooling, went to the National Defence Academy, joined the Indian Air Force and spent the better part of my life in a service where I never judged any body by his caste, religion, parentage, or state of birth. Everyone was an Indian who was ready to do what was needed to serve the country, even including laying down one's life in the line of duty. We represented people from all religions, castes, states, etc. and never felt that India was only mine. Each one of us stood by the Indian flag and the Indian Constitution, and that is how it should be. Our differences were personal but we all belonged to India, and this added to our strength as a nation. Our brotherhood was without any considerations for our personal differences.
We were lucky to serve all over this great and varied land, from the Siachin glacier in the mighty Himalayas to Trivandrum and Andaman Nicobar islands in the South; from Dibrugarh in the East to Bhuj in the West. Never once did we feel out of place in any part of this magnificient country. I have flown over nearly the whole of India and have seen the rivers, the deserts, the Himalayas, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian sea. Ours is a rich and varied country with diversity in every conceivable way. I am not sure if one would find any other country with the diversity that we have. I will be writing on the diversity later.
My experience in the recent past has not been too happy. I find political parties trying to make Biharis, Marathis, Muslims, Hindus, etc. out of Indians. Each party is actually trying to send out a message that this is 'my India, not yours'. This is similar to the incident I narrated about the two siblings earlier. Can we the people grow up and realise that this India is not mine, or yours, but OURS. Why? Like the two siblings were born to the same parents, we are all born in this God's own country - India. This land has always through millenia given refuge to people persecuted anywhere else in the world. This country has always had a large heart. And now we are fighting amongst each other, amongst people who belong here and are not from an alien land. Please donot be mislead by some power hungry politician who is trying to carve his own constituency by inciting people against each other. These politicians are thankfully in a very small minority.
The only way to defeat the evil designs of these small minority of negative elements of society is through believing and behaving that this is OUR INDIA - as much yours, as mine and we all have the same rights and responsibilities as citizens as per the Constitution and nobody can take that away from any of us. Keep the Indian flag flying, even when you must protest - you could belong to any party, state, religion or caste. We are all Indians and our flag is the highest symbol of unity - keep it flying high always. Omar Abdullah hit the nail on the head when he said something like 'I am a Muslim and an Indian'. We have our personal identities and we have a national identity. Our dealing with each other in the public realm should always be as Indians. Our India would then shine, as it has always been destined to. I believe in it.........do you???
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The dreaded snow......you need to clear the driveway and the sidewalk.
However, Leia loves the snow......frolicking in the snow in the backyard
Canadian winter is not only dreaded by the humans.......
Southward bound migratory birds airborne from the lake
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Our's is the largest democracy in the world and the US is the most powerful democracy in the world. Democracies are, as so aptly described by Abraham Lincoln, 'of the people, by the people, for the people'. The American election gives hope to all the people who had resigned themselves to be second class citizens in any society based on caste, religion, colour or any other form of human prejudice. It has given the underdogs the hope that anything is possible in a democracy.
However, there are pre-conditions to the anything happening and these pre-conditions are as follows:
- One has to believe in democracy
- One has to have faith in the power of the ballot
- One has to instil the same faith in as many people as one realistically can
- One has to play by the rules
- One has to rise above narrow considerations of caste, religion, colour (crc), and have a vision that encompasses the hopes, aspirations and problems of all ordinary citizens
- One has to work tirelessly to achieve the desired goal
- One has to build bridges and, more importantly, bring down walls built by the others
- One has to believe in him/ herself
- One has to believe in the goodness of the human race irrespective of crc
- One has to have an inclusive agenda
Can you think of any other pre-requisites??????
I know of one Indian politician who is working on some of these principles; who also comes from the underdogs, and is presently the Chief Minister of UP - Ms Mayawati. She started with an exclusive agenda but has become most inclusive after coming to power this time. She has got a number of things right, if you think about it.
Can we Indians realise the Power of 'unite and rule' rather than 'divide and rule'???
Will the underdogs in India HOPE to steer the destiny of OUR country??? What agenda would they like to follow??
We have seen a roadmap in terms of the American elections.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I always had the desire to read the Gita but could not do so until I was hit by a life changing event. I was in Ambala at that time. I remember picking up my 'Hamara Bajaj' scooter and driving straight to Haridwar/ Rishikesh. On that day in Rishikesh, I bought a pocket edition of the Gita, Sanskrit Shlokas with literal English translation. I remember sitting down under a mango tree on a concrete bench in the backyard of Gita bhawan, i believe. I finished that pocket edition in one sitting - a very major feat for me - without even being of aware of what was happening around me. When I looked at my watch, i realised that i had been there for a just over 3 hours. This reading relieved me of all that i was going through and I was ready to take on the world once again. I have never been able to read the Gita after that event in 1992, although i am convinced that the wisdom in that little book is way beyond words. Why? I don't know - His wish, maybe.
Gita says 'Do your karma, do not worry about the result, leave the result on God. I have always understood this intellectually but have not been able to implement it in my life. This morning I saw an article in the Times of India credited to Swami Tejomayananda. The article brought a new meaning to my understanding of the above philosophy. I am going to reproduce Swamiji's words below, as I may not be able to do justice to the interpretation given by Swamiji if i try to put it in my own words.
"People must understand that joy lies in inspired action and not in material gain. When happiness depends on the result, we postpone our experience of happiness to the future. There is contradiction here. We want happiness in the present but have, by depending on the result, delayed the experience of enjoyment to the future."
"The secret of enjoying life is to understand that joy lies in the very performance of the action. Action is always in the present and so too is happiness." Unquote.
Karma is always in the present, and happiness can also be only in the present. We perform karma in the present, and start thinking about the results which will come sometime in the future. We always hope for the results to be in our favour, which will give us happiness - if the results do not turn out to be to our liking, which it may, then we are saddened. So, if we can just enjoy the perfect execution of our karma, which is in our control, then we can be happy always. Wow...this makes sense but will i be able to implement this in my life? Will you be able to??
Let me try. At least the thought and words have come......action will follow if we are earnest in our desire.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Some of these posts are written by people who have never been married - but they sure do have opinions about it, and sometimes very strong ones too. So, I thought of key boarding my experience and understanding of marriage with a snap shot of our marriage. Looking back........
Poonam and I were married over 30 years ago, by Hindu rites. I believe all marriages are arranged - the difference being who arranges them - the family or self. In our times, and even today in majority of the cases, one does not marry only an individual, one also marries into a family. In our case I had an understanding with my parents that the family would be of their choice and the girl of my choice and that both of us, my parents and I, would have veto power. In essence this implied that I trusted them to decide on the family with the right values and I would decide on the girl who I would like to spend the rest of my life with - parting never even came to mind, back then. I liked Poonam, and my parents liked her family. We were thereafter engaged in 10 days and married after 8 months of courtship. So what do you call this marriage - arranged or love??
The Times of India article quotes a new type of marriage besides the two that I had heard of (love and arranged), and that is forced. I suppose forced implies marrying people against their wishes. Love marriage is when you fall in love, and then marry, with or without the involvement of the families. Arranged is when you marry without any knowledge about each other , with the parents deciding on the match. Would this change the quality of the marriage?? Would it change the significance of the marriage? Marriage is what you make of your relationship after the event. Nothing before the event can ever come close to the relationship that evolves after the event. Imagine two people from different backgrounds, values, upbringing, experiences etc. etc. coming together to live under one roof 24 hours x 365 days a year through thick and thin, hopefully 'till death do us part'. Living at such close quarters exposes one's ugly sides too. We all have them - part of being human. These could have been kept under wraps before marriage, as one always puts one's best foot forward when one is meeting someone for a few precious moments only. The article starts with 'Madonna may be divorcing her husband Guy Ritchie seven and a half years after marrying him for love'. Back to us.........
Poonam and I have been through a lot together in the last 30 years - years in which besides other things, we have been blessed with two of God's most precious gifts - our daughter and son. Years in which we brought them up to be good human beings and gave them values that we thought and felt were important. Our daughter is now married and has a family of her own - a caring husband our less than one month old grand daughter 'Meher'. Our son is 23 and living out his dreams of cars, guns and everything else that can tickle the senses at his age. We are happy and proud parents. We can say that our journey of 30 years of marriage has been very eventful, like all other marriages.
I have always believed that marriage was an institution that was created by our very wise ancestors to help God's creation survive the rigours of day to day living. Humans are the most evloved animals and differ from the other animals in the development of the brain. The human child is very fragile as compared to the other animals. It has needs beyond the needs of most animals, and these needs are more in the department of the brain than the physical needs, which normally get taken care of early in life. To ensure that there is balanced growth of the brain, the human child needs both parents - parents implying a man and a woman (the original definition of marriage - may change in the near future though). The only way to provide this facility to this child is through the sacred institution of marriage. Every marriage starts with I, me, mine, you, your, yours etc. Somewhere down the line the 'ours' creeps in silently. In case it does not happen earlier then this most definitely happens when the child comes along. The child is always 'ours' in a marriage and has the commitment of both parents. You can have everything that you have in marriage outside marriage too - including a child, but then the commitment will be found lacking.
In marriage thus the most important ingredient is commitment, as per me. It helps a couple ride the stormy seas of marriage, and also enjoy life's blissful moments with some one you are married.
I have always felt the next in line is duty, whereas Poonam believes it is love. My logic is that duty never changes and if one looks after one's karma, love is bound to follow - deep love, not the superficial variety. I believe love keeps changing like the moon - goes through the cycle of new moon and then full moon in 28 days. You never have a new moon, or even a full moon all the time. Duty never changes - you may not do your duty, but that does not change your duty. I have a hard time mouthing 'I love you'. My wife and kids complain 'why don't you say it' - sometimes it needs to be said' they tell me. I always felt that love is something to be felt, not said. Everyone expresses love differently - we are all different.
Many springs ago, a friend of mine got married. Six months later he came to me with a very confidential query. I was a one year married veteran at the time. He did not know how to broach the subject and I could guess what he wanted to ask. So, I answered without him asking me formally. My answer was 'Some days you feel on top of the world and the other days you are in the bottom of the pits' and he said 'Yes' excitedly, surprised at my mystical powers. I then gave him the wisdom of my one year of marriage and said to him 'Continue, you are doing well, but if you ever reach a plateau of indifference, then you need to worry'. I believe marriage is a roller coaster ride - the crests and troughs are part of it - they too have a role to play - a role to help the soul evolve - a role to make one larger than one self - a role to overcome one's ego - a role to commit, and learn how to honour commitment. Besides, what thrill is a roller coaster without the crests and troughs. Why does one ride a roller coaster anyway?
During this journey of over 30 years of our marriage, we have witnessed a lot - from very good to very bad - many things we would do differently if we were to re-marry with the wisdom that we hopefully have now. One thing that came to light during this journey is that in marriage you need each other most when the children are yet to make their presence felt and also when they leave you for greener pastures. The in between years are consumed in tending to the needs of your offsprings. Marriages they say, and I strongly believe, are made in heaven, but they have to be lived on earth - and the earth is no dull place with us humans around. So it goes without saying that marriages on earth will go through many excitements.
We have had a good marriage - we have had our fair share of 'made for each other' moments as also conflicts that seemed irreconcilable at those moments. We are happy to have lived up to the sacred trust that we swore before our Prime Witness. We are also happy to have been blessed to deliver two of His gifts to this planet. We are proud of our kids, and best of all - after thirty years we have come out much better as human beings and value each other's company as friends. Marriage is an institution that we believe is good for humanity.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Why do we think that things would be different with us?
Why do we think that what we do to others will not happen to us?
Why do we think only about short term gains?
Why do we fight for our rights and forget our responsibilities?
Why do we go through life without a worthy aim?
Why? Why? Why?
Friday, October 3, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Instead, there has been a slow but sure attempt to marginalise the defence forces by the bureaucracy with the help of political bosses who are too busy trying to hold onto their seats in the new India that is emerging - an India where national political parties have taken back stage to regional political parties. These so called national parties are in disarray and are being propped up by groupings of regional parties. In return for their support, these regional parties thereafter demand their pound of flesh. In such a political situation, the politicians donot have time to devote to national issues or to think about national priorities and institutions. The Indian Defence establishment is one such institution that is facing the neglect by the people of India, and their duly elected representatives.
The VI pay commission has been a watershed event, and will be long remembered, because this is the first time that all three service chiefs defacto questioned the actions of the government, by apprising the government that they want their grievances looked at by the political establishment rather than the bureaucracy, and that is how it should always have been. The defence forces need to be controlled by the civilian establishment. This is well understood by the defence forces, and implies controlled by the people of India through their duly elected representatives, and not the bureaucrats. The services have been cutup that they had no representation on the Pay commission, despite the fact that this was brought to the notice of the government and was also a long standing demand of the defence. In addition, the defence forces comprise a large chunk of the Central Government employees and it is thus appropriate to have a representative from their ilk too - some one who understands their needs.
The government did not consider it necessary to have a member from the armed forces. This was considered grossly unfair. The service chiefs brought up some genuine grievances with the Defence Minister. A committee of secretaries was appointed to look into the grievances, and as expected, this committee did not do justice to the representation made by the three service chiefs. The service chiefs then had no option but to go back to the government and seek resolution from the political establishment and not the bureaucracy, which has a very personal agenda in lowering the status of the armed forces. The chiefs personally had nothing to gain from this. They had already been looked after by the Pay Commission. By representing to the government they were only trying to serve the interests of the people placed below them, as the men in uniform have no other means of representation, unlike their civilian counterparts. They cannot form unions, cannot protest or indulge in any other activity. With so many restrictions, it was only fair that their highest commanders speak up for them, which they did. For this, it is being felt that they may loose their chance of getting a plum post after retirement. However, their stand has been to the highest traditions of the armed forces where one's self interest always comes last after country,which is always first, followed by the men placed below you. So what? What's the big deal in all this?
The big deal is that there is an acute shortage of officers in the defence forces and young people are not joining, as the defence is not seen to be an attractive career when compared to other avenues available to the younger generation. The defence forces have a number of serving officers who are ready to quit, but are not being permitted to quit due to 'service exigencies', an all encompassing term that can mean anything and everything. It may be pertinent to mention that once you join the defence, you serve and leave only at the pleasure of the President of India. These officers are demoralised and likely to spread this disease to others around, and below them. This is not a healthy situation. We have a shortage of officers and we have serving officers who are not being allowed to leave, as there is no one to fill their vacancies. The morale is likely to be affected under such circumstances. This will definitely have an impact on the hands-on leadership of the military. Without good leadership how will these forces provide the requisite security to the nation, to its strategic interests, and to its core values?
We have not had a war for a long time now and this may be a reason for the present state of affairs, where it is being felt that we could do with a smaller military and the money saved could be better utilised for development and other social schemes. One thing that we need to learn from history is that no nation can prosper if it does not have the capability, and the will, to protect its interests. A professional defence force may never have to fight anyone, but the mere fact that it is capable and the nation has the will is enough to deter any other nation from imposing its will. Can't we do with a smaller military force?
With the economic growth that we are experiencing, and with the expansion of our overseas trade, it is vital that we have a larger, and improved military capability to cater for our strategic interests beyond geographical boundaries too. The defence forces are like an life insurance policy - you need it for that one eventuality and you cannot take it after the event. A professional defence force cannot be recruited and trained when the need arises. Therefore you have to maintain this institution as an insurance policy against foreign designs.
There is a need to settle all the issues post haste, although a lot of damage has already been done. In case the issues are not amicably resolved soon we may not be able to boast of an apolitical, professional and all volunteer military force. In such an eventuality we may have to legislate to conscript our citizens, whether willing or unwilling, to provide security to our national interests and that will be a very sad day for our nation of 110 crore people. Hope the people of India realise the importance of not letting this institution down at this critical juncture. A wise government would also uphold the actions of the three chiefs as in the best interests of the country and this only relatively corruption free institution. JAI HIND.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
After the depressing post about the bombing in Pakistan yesterday, I was looking for something good to talk about and this came to me this morning in the form of an article written by M J Akbar in the Times of India. The paragraph that really verbalised my own thoughts is, and I am going to quote it verbatim as I could not have expressed it as well as Mr Akbar. "Terror is testing the resilience of the Indian government and the sagacity of the Indian people. The first is in shambles, but the second is holding up. The will of the people has become the safety net protecting the Indian state from the wont (a slightly archaic English word for normal behaviour) of Manmohan Singh and Shivraj Patil". Very well said Mr Akbar.
The government of India has failed to protect the people of India not only from the sinister attacks of the terrorists but also in providing them with the basic law and order, which is the primary function of the Executive branch of government. What is our government waiting for? The next elections? With their track record, even that seems to be a very distant dream.
However, what stands out as a model to emulate is the wisdom of the people of India who have not taken the bait thrown by the terrorists to drive a wedge between the communities. Well done India - I love you.