Sunil's Blog – Mistico Indio

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Archive for the ‘Op-Ed’ Category

Worshipping False Godmen

Posted by Sunil on August 28, 2011

By Sunil Kumar

Religion is the opium of the masses.
– Karl Marx

There is probably no other country in the world as obsessed with religion as India. From the Buddha to Christ, and the Hindu pantheon, we have the Almighty as a 24×7 support system.

The most interesting aspect, however, is the rather earthly scandals that seem to engulf our Godmen. Although rational education has inculcated a degree of scepticism and derision for organized faith, yet the sheer commercial savvy and global reach of our religious purveyors has to be admired.

All of us are intrinsically self-obsessed. For many, it is a struggle for money, prestige or sheer survival. Feeding on insecurity is a marketing gimmick our gurus learnt early. Faith is a personal ideology, something we discover after internal trials, negotiating with God and internal struggle.

The obsession with organized religion stems from our inadequacy to think. Liberal agnosticism can only be inculcated in people whose creative faculties are not impeded by mumbo-jumbo: candles, incense or the muezzin’s call to prayer.

Also, an unshakeable faith in the superiority of one’s own religion is a sure-shot call to conflict. Most ideas are man-made and diligently adopted by the masses. If God truly made us in his own image, then surely he could have given us the ability to constructively sift through ideas.

Money,cellphones, glamour and a need for instant fame drives today’s superficial generation. When inane talk shows, feuding soap operas, and incessant scandals occupy our mindspace, quiet reflection and the ability to connect with a higher power is sorely missing.

Turek vs. Hitchens Debate: Does God Exist? from Andrew Ketchum on Vimeo.

All the religious babas feed into the very material anxieties afflicting our tortured psyches. Philosophers often attribute maya(the feminine principle) as the reason for the soul existing in material reality. Most of the followers of spiritual superstars are naive and gullible women(and men).

If the Parish, the Temple, the Mosque, or the Agiary did not give you the right solution, then all our godmen certainly can’t. Religious rituals, round-the-clock adherence to some established community norms cannot salvage our mental peace, only real-time practical thought can.

Although atheism has become fashionable, and some even consider mocking established religion as good, there has to be a healthy balance between organized thought, faith and our own ideas. In the mad rush to be fashionable and cool, most of us do not seriously think about spirituality and the soul.

An old adage said: man is known by the company he keeps. When an incessant rush to ape sportsmen, filmstars, and the neighbors becomes an intrinsic part of our psyche, our true religious heart takes a backseat.

Most of us hanker for the quiet, sylvan surroundings that help us connect with our inner selves.

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The Foreign Minister’s Visit

Posted by Sunil on August 28, 2011

By Sunil Kumar

Blood is thicker than water. All of us agree that the India-Pakistan relationship is drenched in red, albeit of a different hue. Whenever our distinguished foreign ministers meet, there is a lot of talk and practically no substance. Promises are made, only to be broken at the next moment.

Our opinionated intelligentsia, millions of media personnel and distinguished analysts indulge in systematically undermining the Indian nation-state. As cry-babies, we constantly bicker on our inept bureaucracy, inefficient police and archaic laws. But, practically little actually changes. When Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s first woman minister of foreign affairs landed on our shores, the media was agog with stories of a feminine touch: Roberto Cavalli shades, Birkin bags and pearls. We also had the vision of a peaceful detente between two old foes: India and Pakistan.

When blood is spilt on the streets of Mumbai, there is absolute apathy from the state and the government. How can a woman’s accessories be more important than the thousands of people who lost their lives, crores of property destroyed, and the sheer negligence of our lawmakers?

Our diplomatic entourage, with our distinguished foreign minister, erudite foreign secretary are busy planning their next plum assignments. When the Indian nation-state is bleeding from a thousand cuts, why don’t they arm our police with more weapons, fence our borders and create a more robust security infrastructure?

As honest tax payers, the least we can expect from the government is concern for a hassled population. In some time, Mumbai is set to be the most populated metropolis in the world. The strain of living in an urban jungle is already evident in the collapse of many civic institutions, pressure on land, resources, lakes etc.

When we talk of building world-class cities, and bringing our country at par with the rest of the world, the least we can expect from the media is attention on serious issues and not frivolity. My empathy is for the millions of traumatized citizen who have been brutalized by the senseless violence emanating from across the border.

Admittedly, an eye for an eye makes the world blind. But when you are already bleeding, somebody has to take guard and sock it back. When a journalist with the courage to take on the oil mafia is gunned down in broad daylight at an avenue that is supposed to be one of Mumbai’s safest, what precedent does it set for everybody else? We have to assume the reign of terror will continue, and those in authority will accept our neighbor’s sweets.(Bombs come with the package)

Moral posturing, and preachy news bytes have not gotten us anywhere. When will India wake up and smell the coffee? Maybe, in our next birth, when our sins are washed away at Haridwar. (Ahem, beg your pardon, even the ghats at Varanasi had to face militant ire).

India earnestly waits for a savior. Not the supermen of Bollywood, or the religion inspired concept that has led to more misery, and blood than anything else. But the next practical realist who can actually save our souls. Till then, waiting for a new beginning.

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