The curious case of shifting consciousness and hero worship

Whenever I see a fan following or a personality attaining a critical mass of idolizing, I often wonder what prompts a human to venerate a fellow human. The mind rushes back to history as it tries to find a parallel in a civilization it is familiar with. India has its fair share of heroes in its evolution from being a golden bird to a colony to now, one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

India and its vibrant culture is over 5000 years old. It has seen different ages, religious mix, various hierarchies of people aka culture. And, every time, history tells us the story of the hero of that era.

Epic Hero: When the word India did not exist and this land spread far and wide. When having a personal god was not a rarity. When ideals established the divide between the good and the deviated. When miracles were commonplace. When concepts of life and the universe were being passed on to man. It was a time when scriptures created Epic heroes, whose concepts won the hearts of people and they started to belong. The rich culture and heritage of India’s glorious past found its nucleus during this era. Soon enough, our spiritual role models or their representatives who walked the earth, got ingrained in our rituals and religion, powerful enough to lead with interpretations of their doctrines.

Historical Hero: Slowly man started drawing borders and resources became a key vantage to forge an identity. At a time, when conquest was key, the power to control played havoc as warriors started to use force to usurp territory and make their mark. Some would plunder and go back while some chose to settle down in a new environ to make it their home. Either ways, culture got diluted and the era of co-existence dawned upon man. Life became a yardstick to accept or rebel, and not every time the original inhabitants got a choice. Over centuries, India changed its fabric to accommodate other religions and races and history started its recording of events that gave us new heroes. Some by force, some by choice, some by the idea of freedom when a united India snatched its consciousness back.

Community Hero: Belonging carved many states as geography played a major role in drawing the new India map post freedom based on language. In a porous country, where people are allowed to settle anywhere they want, except in sensitive areas, a new identity was soon carved for every state. Add to this the complex layer of religion and you have a heady concoction of communal and regional identity. It was never going to be easy but it is not impossible. The idea of India holds a cauldron of religions, communities and linguistic groups that even though find it tough to communicate, but come together under one banner called India or Bharat. Soon enough, the local community hero was born for people to look up to and follow.

Political Hero: We now live in a time, when power play decides the new ruler inside communities, states and at the country level. So as groups of people come together under an umbrella, it is inevitable for them to select and elect a hero to represent them in the garb of social service. As the socially conscious person strives to stake claim to his priorities, he is very well aware that not everyone will walk the talk. Politicians take advantage of this infirmity of action to create vote bank classified by religion and even caste. On one hand, the politician uses the people, and on the other hand, plays the hero as protecting their rights. Just the right recipe for the advent of the outsourced hero in a democratic nation.

Forgotten Hero: In the multi-layered hero structure, where religion, state, language, politics plays its own cards to promote their heroes, I look inward to find mine. Then the realization dawns that the silent majority who always get to choose their heroes in a race of elimination, never get to choose in a mandate of selection. A country runs because of the many forgotten heroes and they are always at work, beyond recognition. Teachers, Scientists, Farmers, Administrators, Business owners, Artists, Innovators and many such people who run our world in a beautiful way are our heroes. Soldiers who care beyond their families and protect the whole country transcending the meaning of love are our heroes. That unknown person who helps the other in need is also a hero.

Today, our personal hero can start with our ethics and as it extrapolates, it tries to find another human being or identity who can subscribe to values which can have a universal impact. Someday we will all be worthy of being our own heroes.

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How to maim a garden city

Lone Ranger

Lone Ranger

Today, the Bangalore newspapers say that the government is fine with the felling of 90 more trees to make way for an extended road. Tomorrow, another government will say that it is fine to kill lakes because more population needs to be resettled in the urban areas.  This mindless growth now translates itself to the tri-furcation of the municipal corporation that says that Bangalore is now unmanageable by one governing body. Who cares?

Bangalore has been reclaiming land from its lakes. One fine day, some officials try to save lakes from encroachment, mow down buildings they themselves gave permissions to, and then stop. This is all a magic of a four letter word, that also promises to be the best investment in the sea of urbanization – Land. It has seen wars. It has seen power struggles. It has seen politicians turn into puppets. It has led farmers turn into real estate agents. It has led to corruption of unthinkable magnitude. It has also led governments lay siege of opportunity without planning. So if there is land leading to an airport, or a lake, or a place of interest, all kinds of residential and commercial properties are allowed to develop there. That water, roads, sanction plans may still not be in place, no one will care. It’s about money.

Find Space, Will Build

Find Space, Will Build

Welcome to the world of high and higher rises. Those concrete structures that rise up ever so fast, without a care for the environment. Where trees are laid to rest so more concrete and tar can pave the way for more machines to ply. This mad rush of urbanization forgets the fact that when you take nature to task, there is a mockery waiting to happen.

In India, the so called land of lakes and green city now only has a handful of lakes and green cover that’s diminishing faster than most pates. Why is it that this immediate rush to make money is so important than preserving the beauty of the environment that allows us to thrive. It’s not just the sparrow, its us too. Just as pure air becomes scarce and pollution becomes an acceptable issue, we are slowly drowning ourselves to depths of unplanned urbanization.

Today, temperatures have gone up, we buy water when the government is not supplying it. Drains overflow when it pours with the rainwater having no way to find its way back to the lakes. Skyscrapers are being allowed to mushroom all over the city without most fire brigades having the wherewithal to reach upper floors in case of emergency. Then there is a public transport system that takes decades to connect, leading to shifting the traffic issues to another location, and raising the ratio of people per square feet in one of the most populous countries of the world.

But hey, no one is cribbing, or at least, the majority don’t. Because in Bangalore, we have learnt to adjust. We have learnt to believe that things will get better. We believe in destiny. We believe in the oracle solving it for us. We believe that it is someone else’s problem. For us, having the power to flaunt is bigger than overcoming the biggest challenge that we currently have – garbage! Well, things will settle down soon, and some good people will come forward to make the change, so why bother?

When concrete turns natural

When concrete turns natural

What is it that takes integrity and care take a backseat and personal rise become a high-rise is not just Bangalore’s bane, but the issue which a whole society is grappling with. It’s called uncertainty and its seen this city make homes costlier by at least 6 times of what it used to be. The air-conditioned weather now needs some cool breeze for itself, and a breather as it wipes its brow, thanks to the concrete and exhaust from millions of vehicles every moment.

The question is, who has the time to think for the city that has been a giver of opportunity to millions? Pass the buck. And the muck.

A Work-In-Progress Life

The Production Line of Life

The Production Line of Life

 

 

On the many days that you get to stare at a blank wall thinking about the origin of life, there is one thought that ping pongs with deja vu – where do we come and where do we go? Not that I haven’t been on doses of the Big Bang theory and the Creationist view of life, but the whole thought of being is truly awe-inspiring.

Mystics would have us believe that this is the drama of life. But may never reveal the director.

Scientists would go under the ground, maybe still deeper till the Higgs-Boson race is won.

Religion would have you chant the many hymns to ascertain their right as the most secular.

Secularists would get confused and talk about humanity as life.

Gurus would tell you to look inside.

Other gurus would tell you to look outside, feel oneness.

Charismatic gurus would tell you about entropy and evolution.

Simplistic gurus would announce another camp for mediation techniques.

Your family will bear with you till you make your observation vocal.

Maybe angels will take pity on you, if you really have been a good soul.

Maybe, just maybe, you would live a disease-free life. If you get a disease, some self-help book will tell you that it is blocked emotion that needs to be released.

Maybe, if a life threatening disease haunts you or a natural risky circumstance warrants, you get to have an Outside Body Experience. So when you come back to your body, you are enlightened about past life regressions.

And just when you think, that you have some answers to the  soul curry, you are hit by Monday morning blues.

Then you realize, whether it is the sun or the soul, its a work-in-progress life. So lets keep at it, expecting the best as we perform our duties. If life means that we are here to fulfill our desires, then every individual has a definite path to progress. Let’s hope we get to know our deepest desires, so we can allow our free will to chase our true destiny.

Birth Caste versus Professional Caste

The recent spate of political football to quell dissent and keep its flock together saw a government in the south of India go the LKG way, as they call it, each letter depicting a particular caste. You create many titles with prefix and suffix of Chief Minister to keep everyone happy. In another state of north India, the last time they voted for caste based leaders, tons of  public money was siphoned off to build a park of stone elephants and their own statues. Then we have the ruling national party, who believe in caste politics of a different kind, where the surname carries more weight than talent and experience. Who is right and who is wrong? Rather, even the left belongs to the red caste. If caste is about belonging, then what is the caste equation that touches us on an every day basis?

The Corporate Caste: They are your typical english speaking, good earning population, most of whom would refuse to go to the polling booth because it’s not mandatory. They will shout support for Anna Hazare, but not turn up on a weekday even if he sits on a fast in the middle of Mumbai. They will even open their offices half days on voting days, so that their employees are still not able to vote as they spend hours up and down to the office.

The Money Craving Caste: Mostly the poor belong to this green caste. Money speaks, and how. A day before the polling day, potential voters are flooded with cash, booze, eats, gifts so that the leader of a particular community or area may be bought out to tell his people whom to vote for. Now almost a mandate for political parties to pay for their vote, this once-in-a-election opportunity is rather coveted.

The Opportunistic Caste: Here you will find industrialists being baited by politicians to pitch in with party funds to get clearances and pay up through NGOs or other means that benefits them directly, rather privately. So the ministers become your marketing touts even as you emerge a power player. Even new technology or life changing ideas may be forgotten in favour of favours, especially misused when minority community tags turn vote banks.

The Middle Class Caste: Forever squeezed between the rich and the poor, they are the experiment lab of every government. These are the guys whose pan number, bank numbers, everything is transparent. They are the people who stay in constant fear of price rise, petrol politics, along with the constant urge to become truly rich. Today’s India’s biggest chunk, they are a rising phenomenon but at the mercy of everyone.

The Corruption Caste: This is where most of India meets the side of India they woundn’t want to. You want your work done fast, pay up. Even though there are groups fighting for an anti-corruption law, it has taken just 65 years in the parliament as the law gets referred every now and then to new standing committees. As the registrar’s office in real estate tops the charts, most people just have to work through touts and get their work done.

The Idealistic Caste: These are the guys who are really universal and open in their views. They don’t want to be calibrated by government forms that asks for your religion and caste to give you admission to school. They fight for issues that concern the larger population. They are the heroes who work to save earth, trees, water, language, culture, women’s rights, child abuse and even corruption itself, and they keep on doing it selflessly.

A government is created and a constitution instituted, with representatives to help people live in peace and harmony. Today, people’s egos have taken over the posts they are supposed to serve. Instead of sustaining a thriving civilization for the population, they work for their interests. All in the name of the caste they were born into. Ironically, a caste is a tag you acquire at birth by chance, not by choice, but it gives you the power to belong. In today’s world, it manifests itself in the mindset that people choose to base their lives on. Where will you belong?

The alien in the garbage

The world stares at the human created colossal waste management issue that’s threatening to balloon into an epidemic. Check the entire spectrum of emotions logged on this issue and the responses are mostly filled with ignorance. Either people think it’s not a problem, yet. Or people think that the waste we generate goes to some kind of crusher and then presto, into thin air. Because you don’t see the garbage beyond your home, you think that it has been taken care of. But we can’t be farther away from the real truth. Only an alien can choose to look away and not be bothered by waste segregation. So here is some more focus on how human or how alien we are.

The inconvenient truth is that we are generating tons of waste everyday that cannot be completely destroyed. Some of it can be burnt, but not everything can be converted or eliminated. Plastic, toxic and other materials which cannot be destroyed are finally dumped into huge gaping holes in the earth and covered up. Years on end, this toxic material tries to decompose, gurgling up poisonous gases and making the earth there utterly useless. We had only heard of landmines. This is the human version of it called landfills. Yes, waste that cannot be destroyed goes into holes in the earth called landfills, and it slowly turns that land unusable.

Waste segregation: Waste Recycling versus Waste Creation

Waste is basically of 2 types – green waste that can be recycled and brown waste that cannot be recycled. So the first level of segregation separates the bad from the good. Sounds simple? In theory yes. But you need to know how to differentiate between the green and the brown. Green means all the wet kitchen waste that has the potential to go back to the soil. The wet kitchen waste goes for recycling and turns into compost or fodder for the garden in other words. Brown waste is all the stuff like plastic which is not going to change its nature so easily.  Even toilet waste like napkins needs to be discarded in a closed bag, so that it’s never opened again and goes directly into the landfill. Didn’t they tell you to get your child out of the diaper habit faster?  The toilet waste is totally disposed, but the remaining waste that includes dry waste like cartons, paper, plastic boxes and cardboard, has to be sorted out by humans. Now imagine, what happens, when you send a mixed bag of all these out of your house?

Being human, for fellow human beings

Even though manual scavenging is banned, many people are forced to work in waste recycling related areas. They gather material which can be sold and make their small fortunes. They may even be employed by government agents to clear garbage, as the government outsources these activities. The irony of life is that these people have to look beyond everything to earn that simple money. They choose not to worry about infections as they sink their hand in your garbage. They learn to look the other way, as they sort and transfer waste collected from various homes. They learn not to complain and silently do the segregation of your waste. Even if you haven’t.

3 bags for 3 reasons

Take that first step and make a change. Don’t keep mixed garbage outside, especially with toxic waste and glass together. Start segregating into green, black and white. Green is the kitchen waste, wet waste with left overs. Black has the toxic, with dirty diapers or napkins rolled in paper before disposing. White is dry waste with cardboard cartons and plastics that can be sold and recycled separately by the waste segregation people. That’s all it takes like the chart here shows. Just a simple step of separating our waste in 3 bags, results in our being a bit humane and not have someone sift through our garbage just because they have no choice.

Let’s go green. Let’s recycle where we can. Let’s use lesser plastic. Let’s use lesser water. Let’s be kind to our earth so that it can be kind to our children, tomorrow. It’s the only way for us to still stay humans, instead of being unaffected aliens.

Click here to see the video Living Green on waste management: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyE8TrQzqYQ

Click here to download pdf on Waste Segregation Guidelines: Green flyer for waste mgmt

The Uncertainty Race

In this era of living in a success matrix, the benchmarks for respect sway to various beats. As the individual searches for a formula for achievement that guarantees a standing in the defined society, the mind pads up to bungee along. The task is clear: Is there a way to reassure the doubting mind of having made it in a sea of uncertainty. Presented here is a look into the world view of success milestones, with due respect to self-respect.

First law of Uncertainty: Is education directly proportional to mental blocks?

The first building block is education. It’s not important if we get to use the education but the degrees we acquire hold a promise for good prospects. Never mind that some of the most successful people are college dropouts. One would rather trust the rule than the exceptions, before figuring out if education really helps.

Second law of Uncertainty: Does being materialistic impact your intellectual value?

There. Just when you thought that education is a good enough start, your gadgets steal the show. Gadgets have the power to show that you are in a good job, you earn good, you move in a good circle. Who cares how you got them, be it a flashy cellphone or a flashy car, maybe even a trophy spouse, also included in the gadget list.  Ditto for your address.

Third law of Uncertainty: If you have seen the world, do you acquire a halo of awe?

Who cares about budget flights and that extra night stay in the negotiated package. A foreign holiday is easily a more welcome treat. The ego gets a boost with the winds of recognition and your momentos wall becomes a mini tourist attraction. Should you look uncertain about how to plan a trip, the internet could help, even if the maps are old.

Fourth law of Uncertainty: If you need an introduction, will you always need one?

The social wave says network, network, network. So you get to meet people, even if you don’t have anything in common. You get to talk about places, parties, and get into the habit of being seen. Suddenly you are a known face, with the option of being known as a socialite in the event of your credentials lacking a badge that doesn’t tell why you are so famous.

Spirituality, Success mantras, Scholastic achievements, inherited status, any or all of them combined, still can keep one guessing about what’s hot and what’s not. Maybe it’s good to be uncertain, as it may lead to new avenues. Because, for all those die-hard planners of life, there is always that 2 word test: What If?

the gene of greed

As we keep bumping into the two Indias almost daily – the raunchy rich and the prickly poor – one cannot help but wonder about the growing chasm. The metro threatens to easen out the traffic even as we get to see more urchins begging with their children in tow at most signals. Wonder if the moving traffic will play havoc with their earning routine? Most of them are imported from outside Bangalore to specifically sell or beg, as the traffic stops. As the traffic starts to move, you see the other imported beings – flashy automobiles – many of them turned into taxis to cater to a niche audience. Possibly picking up or dropping some uber rich indian or foreign dignitary to the new international airport. So here is a look at some traits which may be responsible for making up the gene of desire. Not just the needs, but the wants.

Individualistic, as Flaunting Freedom: In the independence era pre-post 1947, the Indian pride drew chiefly from political and freedom figures. Slowly, freedom was soon taken for granted and administrators started gaining popularity. A couple of border clashes again saw a surge of patriotism, but soon the Indian mind started to drift towards film icons. Big posters, bigger auras and biggest paychecks soon made them the new Indian pride. Even as reforms and entrepreneurs rebuilt India with Industrial bigwigs and technology czars carving a niche, filmstars and then sportstars started occupying mindspaces faster than real estate. The depreciation model of taxation helped many buy swanky cars apart from swankier houses because suddenly there was a statement to be made. So when you see automobiles worth crores running around, being gifted or just being added to the burgeoning stables of politicians, industrialists, film stars and sports stars, one wonders if our constitutional experts forgot to script the ‘freedom to flaunt’ fundamental right. So call it insecurity of expression, establishment of credentials, or plain display of greed, many find it easier to splurge than to share.

State habit as Socialised Security: Who says it is the fundamental right of every Indian to be fed, given shelter or be looked after? Just as the individual struggles to share easily, though many are regular donors to NGOs apart from government forced multiple taxes, it is a tough life for the aged in India, who did not retire as a government employee. Your insurance stops after an age, you don’t get medical benefits easily, the dentures get costlier and never reimbursed, the fear of stepping into a government hospital seems small compared to a loan to get private treatment and so on. Should you still get stuck in the traffic on the way to the hospital, the politician’s motorcade will obviously get priority than your ambulance, so please choose your time of that heart attack. We live in a heavily socialised world, where social security is good to read about. Look at the positive side- our population has made us come up trumps in the survival of the fittest game. So save heavily for your future, read old age, stack more than you need if you want to arm-twist inflation.

Epidemic like the Black Block: As every finance report screams out before and after every budget, the radar of PAN keeps the stranglehold on the middle class. Barring them, the others either dont pay taxes or are not really bothered by them. Black money is not just a problem, it has become part of an accepted culture. Cash rules, so do the guys who have it the most, be it land transactions, donations or bribe. Wonder why the government doesn’t classify bribe under the ‘top priority’ service, as it will help get bribe money as revenues, instead of going to the pockets of the well connected. Some send it out of the country while some store it in to cash in on it even without rainy days. The result – loads of indian money exported for exclusive use, or misuse. The other result – millions of citizens still fighting to survive and live in hygienic surroundings, for assets starting with a toilet.

Evolution of Karma quotient: The law or flaw of Karma dangles a much interpreted explanation, of why we go through what we go through. To start with, the very presence of greed is the absence of purer values, so we need to evolve to higher planes, even if it takes a couple of reincarnations. The lucky few actually get the birth they never dreamt of, or what others will always dream of. People who lack or people who live in abundance are so because of their own doing or not doing. Then the much publicised law of attraction has many fineprints associated with it, so not everyone has really got the hang of it. To top it, your thought and actions, whether as action or reaction in lack or abundance, further dictate your karma rewards, and awards be it a traffic stopper automobile or someone who waits for traffic to stop, to earn.

So finally the churning. May reason see a reason to stop accumulating and start sharing. May joy not get stuck in some lockers and get released in many hearts. May happiness be a result of education and moral values and not the flutter of big notes. May we, as human beings, be human, at least some time. May we learn to appreciate and enjoy abundance along with being greedy only to share and care.