Friday, August 3, 2012

An essay on conservatim in societies

An essay on conservatism in societies (2647 words)
By Kalidas Laxman

Lord Bertrand Russell says in his ‘Sceptical Essays’ (1928) that “What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.”
This will to believe one can comprehend as propensity toward faith; it can be transient or steadfast, or even wavering! If this disambiguation looks simple its separate implications have profound meaning and relevance to the society.

Faith and ambiguity:
Society of humans itself is like a giant organic cell living, sensing the world around it, growing up and transcending into another organism as time passes and environment changes; parts of it may also die or be cast away, all this in an amoebic fashion; however, each form has its layered subliminal mind and functions with human characteristics important amongst which is faith. It has immune reaction as well and is important enough for healthy existence of the organism which one can sense only in abstract sense. And, just as diverse men may follow their own kind of faith, in splintered fashion, society does the same.

About faith:
It is not correct to identify faith with religion alone. Only rarely a man will be without any semblance of faith. Consider the following:
  • ‘A man was treading his path to explore a personal goal. He walks and walks, and walks. When he gets physically, mentally or intellectually tired, various trains of thoughts may lead him to decide enough is enough, there is nothing much left to know or do just then and turns back probably to return the next opportune time.’ This, in fact, is where faith has entered in his approach.’
  • Scientists, too, sometimes presume whatever has been established out by peers to be a comprehensive fact with not much room for improvement being left. However a beautiful mathematical concept called 'The Theory of Chaos' was formulated when a scientist refused to keep faith in the previous methodology when after meticulous checking the results did not agree with observations. In a nutshell, man keeps faith at a point defined by his intellectual level, resources and curiosity or societal pressure.
Faith in societies exists as in this another story, too.
  • ‘A flood was ravaging a village when a man with complete faith in higher echelons about creation of universe set himself on top of a tree confident that his creator will in the end save him. A few people in make shift rafts passed by calling him aboard. The man declined having no faith in these contraptions choosing to rely on the creator instead; in the end the tree collapsed drowning the man.
In the first two of the above stories faith has not blocked curiosity, questioning or further efforts and explorations, which are to seek wider knowledge. Newer information brings about modifications in perceptions about a concept, and groups or organizations alive to these change their perceptions and structure. Faith in these examples is a stepping stone, until better concepts arise, toward a practical goal or curiosity involving what and how of a problem.
However, in another kind of faith as in the third allegory an impermeable carpet covers and dumps pragmatic efforts to save marooned man’s own life. The push to further efforts is never made and inertia both of mind and body quickly sets in as in rigor mortis. Illusory ideas having steadfast belief in imagined authority is the crux of the matter behind this kind of faith

Blinkered and then bonsai-ed brains:
Consider that for thousands of years man continued accepting silly pseudo beliefs such as the Earth was resting on the head of a giant serpent or similar other ideas. Small pox and plague were treated as God’s wrath and hapless patients were treated like sinners and punished harshly. This was silly because the earlier supposition begs the obvious question how the snake itself was supported or lived and fed itself. And whatever happens to the movements of the Sun and Moon who were supposed to be going around in an Earth centric supposition. Very possibly questions were indeed asked and doused by peers like flames near an inflammable substance. These coterie passing under grandiose title of elders or peers were mostly leaders controlling religious clouts to nurse their own ambitions. And, as well, no body wondered how an innocent child a couple of years old could have chance to sin and get small pox.
In fact, the impermeable carpet and remaining covered under it attains superior appreciation since in that case the peers of the society are not challenged by the new and young members to usurp their power. Further explorations in material or abstract knowledge are discouraged like spread of fire that would burn the old beliefs.
As if in encouragement to their inability to innovate and disturb the settled world, they are not even required to explore but merely lend voice and substance to whatever has been done by aged peers of the society until then. These are the middle class groups in society as different from the rich and affluent or the lower classes. All forms of activity sub-groups in society in fields such as art, religion and culture thrive on such support. These are generally recognised as conservatives in the group whose only functions appear to be to oppose change where they or their peers are challenged or not benefitted; they are indeed the backbone/foundations of the society. The real explorers, in such circumstances, would branch out to break new grounds and always question the limits raising the bars continually. They may bring about a change in the group philosophy, plans and actions. However, they do not earn the confidence of their group. Constant change is unsettling for untalented men especially who are controlling the groups even emotionally as in families. They resist adopting new ideas especially in a later stage of their personal life. Forest animals or even domesticated animals display this succinctly. A new/stray dog on the road is a constant threat to dominant males in the area or even a pet dog cosily licking his owner. However, we are humans, live by knowledge and adaptation, not muscle power, or so we think. Either we adapt to new knowledge or give way to new leaders which may not be a sweet option for conservatives! It just appears that every society and often a large group is composed of these dissimilar sets, one controlling the new ideas and concepts and their adherents and the other savvy to changes in the perceptions making the two sides of a coin. The controlling faction bonsai the brain power or stunt the thought processes of members of their group to control and keep them inside the household. This is done with constant brainwashing by dousing curiosity and questioning instinct from early stages in life. This happens in many religious schools, too.

Three sided coin:
One may analogize. In the beginning of history of written messages and barter records on clay plates, only one side was utilized and this went on smoothly, unchallenged till the times changed. As times progressed further newer technologies were invented and metallic plates were found to be more suitable, longer lasting and easier to handle but which unfortunately had two sides. Thus the newer technology brought another side to societal behavior into reckoning, one controlling factor and another alive to new perceptions, one forward looking telling the value of its concepts as changes took place and the other trying to hold onto its roots with stamp of security from traditional knowledge resources handed down from generations downwards.
However, with further developmental changes of sleeker and more transportable coins, a still different perception came into play with two sided round coins. Here happens to be a third factor, the rim, which makes the coin  move very fast, unsettling the steady state inertia of earlier coins making it come to rest uncertainly wherever the kinetic and potential force takes it. This is what makes the society beware of movement or change. There is implicit comfort in continuation of the stamp of security of its existence rather than the changing values or worst the direction of the rim which does not guarantee the future. Such analogy relates to conservative groups and people who are controlled by them whereas rims are the mavericks that choose intellectual freedom not knowing for certainty whatever they were pursuing would turn out to be.
The following words are from the great mathematician and philosopher Lord Bertrand Russell from his book ‘Religion and Science’.
  • "Those to whom intellectual freedom is personally important may be a minority in the community, but among them are the men of most importance to the future. We have seen the importance of Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin in the history of mankind, and it is not to be supposed that the future will produce no more such men. If they are prevented from doing their work and having their due effect, the human race will stagnate, and a new Dark Age will succeed, as the earlier Dark Age succeeded the brilliant period of antiquity. New truth is often uncomfortable, especially to the holders of power; nevertheless, amid the long record of cruelty and bigotry, it is the most important achievement of our intelligent but wayward species."
In spite of the great thinkers and visionaries as above in the past and recent genii such as Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Picasso and Ludwig Wittgenstein, conservatism still proceeds unhindered, at least in oriental societies. The western thought appears to be more evolved compared with Asian and African philosophies. The difference is big enough to wonder and seek answers to this question.

Modern scientific research:
However, above are just words as a hardboiled scientist would say, even though logical but are there any facts supported by modern science research to support an imagined concept as conservative approach against liberal or rational? Modern research has a word to describe brain, Homunculus; conceptually, brain represents entirely the physical, mental and intellectual functions of a human body, the Homo sapiens. So, is the major attitudinal difference such as in conservative and liberal/rational approach indicated in brain areas mapped up to now by brain researchers? The answer is startlingly, yes. Two areas in the Homunculus, Amygdala and Anterior cingulate cortex show these differences. In one experiment, conservatives on average had a larger right amygdala, a region of the brain that processes responses to fear and threat. Liberals, in contrast, had more grey matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, an error-detecting region that is thought to be involved in causing us to stop repeated patterns of behaviour and change course (10 April 2012/ by Chris Mooney/ New Scientist/ Magazine issue 2859)

East vs. West:
An Indian representing the Eastern Philosophy staunchly believes in Life after death (This is in fact conservatism where even his self is ‘conserved’ to enjoy fruits or be punished for sins even after death) and its incredulous products such as sins and virtues and God’s ‘Akashvani’ or the voice through the sky, (dictates or God judgments smartly manipulated by Hinduisms high priests) whereas the Westerners are of rationalist mould (Hindus prefer to scorn it off as materialism). It now appears Gandhi awakened Indian soul half way, it was not a job completed, may be Anna Hazare is doing his bit. Gandhi’s philosophy was not appropriate enough to give complete Independence to India since as Rabindranath Tagore says unless you have paid the full price you cannot gain freedom. Has the freedom that Tagore, again, referred to in his poem 'Where the mind is without fear' been achieved in any single sense? It seems India is still in deep sleep, yet to wake up. A calm analysis would provide the answer in a single phrase that the antonym for all those desires of Tagore is the stranglehold of conservative society on Indian psyche.
A brief look at the socio-political and religious history of the world’s societies indicates most of these were conservative in approach many grades above the present level before its watershed era, the World War II. In short, the whole world was conservative. The humans have warred since the time immemorial and with various implements, hand held, simply thrown or catapulted; whichever the chosen way, there was always that brief time available when it was possible to dodge, jump or out-manoeuvre the assailant. One always knew well in advance, sometimes days if not months, the approaching armies of cruellest of invaders all through the history. A big success was achieved by elements of surprize from unfrequented approach directions as by Hannibal’s crossing of Alps in 218 B.C. to attack Rome, or simply the astonishment at the speed of Hitler’s tanks that unanticipatedly ran through Europe in the earlier stages of WW II. However, didn’t all the multifarious artefacts of winning wars paled into insignificance with Hitler’s state of the art inventions in the same war? The deadly V2 rockets combined manifolds the maximum speed available at that time, untraceable approach and the total devastation in one single warhead. If the V2 rockets were not enough the twin N-warheads on Japan at the end of that war spelled the doom for the conservative notions nursed by the societies till then against their better judgments. The results combined all previous effects of destructions from war, lack of warning and preparedness, and most importantly, both the hopelessness and its twin helplessness of facing Death at Zero notices. The survivors, without meaning to, not just in Japan but all Europe and Americas, pulled together the knowledge and understanding of the Death they had understood and the meaning of life they could have had if not for many of society’s notions and rigid value systems; as they told the tales of horror, the ideas of day to day existence and sublime concepts of Life and Death were getting reformed. These nations have undergone kind of philosophical transition in their ideas regarding Life in the aftermath of new Death syndrome that the Indian subcontinent has never ever faced. The mass hypnosis created then related to the theme behind Steve Jobs speech which incidentally came decades later. His speech made Steve Jobs a wise man and a practical philosopher of the 21st century as important as his inventions, or probably more so.
Steve Jobs, Death and the death of conservative approaches:
Steve Jobs, co-founder of ‘Apple’ and under whose direction iPad and iPhone were invented has died recently on October 5, 2011. He had made marvellous products for his company but he will be remembered for his fight against cancer and how he turned around his philosophy of life and kept making mark in the highly competitive markets of smart phones. This is the speech he had delivered on June 12, 2005 after he was surgically operated and told that he had a small quantum of life left to live before cancer could claim him back:
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why not English M.O.I.?

10 points for the new CM in favour of English medium (747 words)
…By Kalidas Laxman

Why not English MOI???

1.    The politicians, real and pseudo, hunting desperately for issues have politicalized the MOI issue and made it emotional. My articles in Herald on Konkani (December 14th, 2010 and January 26, 2011) have unfortunately given them something to do in their lack-a-luster life. Parents, the factual stakeholders aspiring for their children a bright and promising future want English medium of instruction 
2.    Goa, as is in the education field, cannot fulfill the multidimensional and multifarious aspirations of all its community groups (related to cast, religion and trans-India) where in the population of 1.3million, >600,000 are non-Goans. At the most it can only make 1.3 million copies of what we have in Goa, people with pond mentality. Kindly note these 600,000 are going to have their own demands in the next elections
3.    The people at the level of handicaps would be (in decreasing order, a to c)
a.    Backward tribes and SC/ST from all religions
b.    Low income groups, Konkani/Marathi M.O.I. students, people with no trans-Goa cultural background i.e. those who do not have connect with other states and cities in India, for ex. Mumbai, Bangalore
c.    People who do not have guidance from educated teachers/schools or family members higher up in the societal ladder
Ironically, both Tomazinho Cardozo and Shashikala Kakodkar call themselves champions of the lower strata of the society but above three points indicate it is these very three sections of Bahujan Samaj among Hindus and Catholics, which are at losers end if English (MOI) schools do not get grant
4.    The knowledge/intellectual pool of Goa remains largely unchanged without new ideas and innovations making entry in the Goan psyche. Example is Konkani literature, which is bereft of out of the box thinking still revolving mainly around romance, caste politics and job/work culture. It does not try to unshackle the family straitjacket and moral, sexual and social rigidity with innovative solutions. There are very few thought provoking literature forms such as essays, research and reports in Nagari Konkani, though they have existed in Romi Konkani for over 200 years, but Romi Konkani is not accepted by Hindus!
5.    Government having developmental vision of at least 50 to 100 years down the line truly leads the state. This has unfortunately not happened in Goa when the MGP and later Congress led Goans for 50 years. As a simple example, the 18th June road, the main arterial road of the capital where Junta House was constructed in early seventies was without any space left for road widening, the history is repeating itself everywhere in Goa, or, look at Mapusa where the growth has been only cancerous. Its roads are exactly as the Portuguese left it except for the new Khorlim bypass from Ximer to Asagaon (remarkably, during the tenure of Mr. Parrikar the last time around) and for Ganesh Puri and St Xavier’s college. All along, the self-centric politicians have been the sole leaders in Goa with the mindset of shepherds guided by the caste cattle. Freedom of MOI is like opening up of an institution without discrimination since all classes of the society get equal chances. Why a Gowda, a scheduled caste person or a Kunbi with low income should not study in English? Can Bharatiya Bhasha Sanrakshan Manch (BBSM) give a valid answer to this?
6.    MOI disturbance serves as an activity for jobless politicians and social activists in Goa. What is the visionary and intellectual contribution of leaders of the BBSM in Goa, since 1961?
7.    It is an unrealistic fear of art and culture sections such as stage and literature that they would not be appreciated if MOI in English is implemented. This class forgets that even in Portuguese times with curtailment of Konkani and all things local, the language, folk songs and art survived. Unfortunately, stark facts say even languages such as Hindi and Bangla have their limitations i.e. to keep up to the pace of development. The only possible progress would be in the direction of indigenous prospects, not international.
8.    Giving grants to English medium schools is not stopping grants to local languages. Education in English has nothing to do with art, culture and literature in local language. Language leaves as long as the people love it
9.    If only rich and privileged people have access to English, we are creating a new much domineering caste based on haves and have-nots of opportunities. Even the people from the uppermost caste, the Brahmins would serve under this modern elite caste
10. It is wrong, negative and fascist way to say ‘DO NOT’ give grants to English medium schools

Monday, December 26, 2011

The old order changeth…

The old order changeth…yielding place to new

(595 words)

By: Kalidas Sawkar

The more developed northern hemisphere of the globe is in turmoil, the USA and the Europe are witnessing economic and commercial protests on the scales seen for the first time, post WW II; India is having its own share of the tumult and is counting number of freedoms it wants, but what is making impact is the political and Governmental upheaval that is going in the Islamic world. All these are protests of various kinds, economic, social and political but can be summarised in a nutshell, the protests are against the establishment and hierarchy of the haves vs. have-nots. Old system is being challenged and the younger newer generation wants a larger share, having been told by the developments in societal, scientific and economic thoughts that they do not lag behind their peers in any way, in fact could be better. Arguments could follow but to illustrate interestingly, Veena Malik and her cover picture on FHM magazine would make a great impact as an example. The whole world loves a beautiful woman and they even love to hate her. Veena Malik’s photo would serve to conjoin economic, political and conservative vs liberal perceptions of archetypical societies of the world where culture hegemony has ruled supreme for an unduly long time.
The free and ever penetrating media has made the world knowledgeable on line and that, too, peacefully and quickly. If, we make a ‘deep impact’ and blast a meteor millions of kilometres away and bring back to Earth the material spewed by the rocket sent on it, just across the border, in India, things are happening; a raunchy Bollywood movie, ‘A dirty Picture’, where a scantily clad but charming woman is being wowed and appreciated by Indians, but, in Pakistan another woman is closeted by her society in a burqa. Whatever women there may opine, it is a woman’s biological need, social function and health requisite to be seen as much as to see. Rest of the world, too, is slowly waking up to its security needs and banning the burqa in public places. Essentially, what is achieved by making a woman wear a burqa, besides the demand of a segment of the religion? As Mark Twain experienced in his ‘Innocents abroad’, even a woman clad in burqa is well adept to signal a man of her romantic inclinations.
If, in India Anna Hazare can attract the multidimensional, cross cultural and multi-layered country together, it is an anguish of its citizenry that cries out against centuries old corruption by politicians, officialdom, corporates and even spiritual leaders. The process up to now has been nonviolent but if left unheeded would someday explode just as it has done during the ‘Arab spring’
(Referring back to our example, have a studious look at this charming and mild form of protest, not at what has been or not exposed but with what this was achieved. (This micro-mini shorty/panty is green in colour, with a star distinctly seen and just a crescent moon is missing to complete the Pakistani flag; more, a few pockets are strategically placed and a loud and clear abbreviation of ISI is seen on one arm, but what sends a signal is the hand grenade in the other hand with its pin about to be detached. Sex is a strong instinct and a good model makes it explosive.)Veena has just dropped a bomb on Pakistani terror cum socio-political system, that too doing it from the soils of rival neighbouring country. Would Pakistani society wake up or it wants to go invite the Arab spring into its nation? It would be dangerous considering the N-arsenal in that country.

Published in the Herald of 23rd December 2011, may be for diplomatic reasons sentence in bracket is omitted in published version.

Me, Kalidas on 18th December 1961

What went through the minds of simple Goans on 18th December: Ex… Me!

By: Kalidas Sawkar

Every Goan must have woken up that morning wondering about planes flying low at the top of coconut trees. My mother was under strict instructions never to wake up any person who is sleeping, but here she was shaking me excitedly telling ‘Kalidas, Kalidas, wake up there are lots of planes out there flying very low’. I turned over sleepily since the preceding few days that had become a usual phenomenon. But, mother didn’t give up I did, woke up and ran outside in our compound, my excitement at full blast. The unimaginable was coming true, becoming real and the freedom was at hand.

Whatever went into my mind, 14 years and 97 days old?

For self, my aspirations went sky high. The horizons of opportunities were opening up, education of varied kind would be there and I was game for it all. Next was, as a book worm I looked forward to easy excess for that great literature of which I had read only cross references and sighed. Before 1961, there were two libraries in Mapusa and I had ransacked them all. I had read practically every Marathi book in the catalogues and the librarian in charge would get exasperated with me. He would tell me to read English since he knew I studied in English medium school. He would continue, ‘there are so many books in English ‘even’ I wouldn’t be able to finish them’

I had understood, after completing my education I had to do something, work, but in Goa at that time nothing was working accept the match box factory at Ponda. This factory had become a permanent excursion spot for Goa schools and I had no intentions of working in a match box factory. For self, I had thought of inexplicable mirages, board rooms where important decisions are taken, real intellectual work as being done such as BARC, TIFR, looking at the stars for more knowledge of the space. Yes, in 1959, Russia had already blasted at the moon, which was among Lord Shiva’s protectorates and I rejoiced at that event, being a confirmed agnostic by that time. I wanted to attend meetings held by Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders, no not Ram Manohar Lohia, I thought he was a bit cranky, but I did not mind Atal Behari Bajpayee and a few others.

A great opportunity was waiting for me and my friends after liberation. Cricket. Period. The various grounds, the Brabourne stadium, the Green Park, The Chepauk, and so many others were for me on the ninth cloud. Nawab of Pataudi, Abbas Ali Beg, ML Jaisimha, Bapu Nadkarni, and others were my deities. I did not bother much about films then, nor now, but would have liked to know if one could touch these celluloid people or they were just like ghosts.

And last but not the least, the Gods own relationship, the cousins! A posse of them along with their parents were my chief attraction after liberation. Even though we met for Ganesh and vacations, I was ready for more of the good things. Portuguese had incurred my curses since they restricted any crossings across the border. I had been suffocated for relationships; I knew instinctively, I stand to gain positive impacts from them and wanted to check their reactions to me as well.

Possibly on that day as I went to bed I felt what Swami Vivekananda must have felt standing at Kanyakumari and facing India.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna Hazare, secondfreedom and ground truths

It is intrinsically wrong to compare Mahtma Gandhi's fast with that of Anna Hazare. Gandhi was fighting against British colonial rule and he had no other way to fight since India did not have its own constitution then whereas Anna has all these facilities. The real reason for corruption in India is the implementation of law is (1) almost absent, (2) judiciary too slow and (3) interference by politicians of all hues and colours at all times. The last one takes place even at the level of traffic police and MV rules 1988.

Next, how long will it take to complete the cases of Raja, Kalmadi, Yediurappa, Kanimozi, Gujarat riots and a host of such high level problems and, how long will it take the concerned guilty to get and finish their sentences. In Karnataka, the Lokayukt told in a TV interview that he would have submitted the report two months earlier but LK Advani advised him to go slow for some time. The same thing would happen in case of Jan Lokpal as well. This is exactly my point against Jan Lokpal. One recent case is of Matanhy Saldana, an MLA in the last Goa Assembly whose disqualification case has been decided and quashed after the term of tha Assembly has been over and new assembly election has been held, another Govt been elected and functioning. However has Matanhy himself been judged in the spirit of justice? Has he lost favour with his voters for not being handed over the decision in time to fight the elections? In which way Jan Lokapal can increase speed in Judiciary which cannot be done now?

Besides Anna is creating one more source of interference with appointment of Jan Lokpal. However, with investigating agencies and judiciary spruced up by punishing the interfering person and who obliges him,things may sort out though I think more steps would have to be taken.

Taking environment as a cue, in 1998, there were about 60+ laws, rules and notifications in India to control environment damage, but we see everywhere rules being bbroken and still more rules framed, but our investigative,implementation and punitive agencies are lethargic to say the least, if they are active at all. Just how many more rules can improve the environment? This is not my opinion alone. I had a chance to talk with International Maritime Organisation deputy chairman who said in cross country meetings it is Indian representatives who want more and more rules to guard environment, however most other nations felt present laws are fine if you implement them. I agreee with this because you have to just know how many CRZ Environmental cases are languishing in HCs and the SC of India. They are in hundreds if not thousands for some states.

Last point on this, Reddy brothers were created by Congress and fostered by BJP. They will survive...Govts. may not!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Concept of Mahabharata

The Concept of Mahabharata (300 words)

Kalidas Sawkar

The boy's father asked the teacher "In the end everybody dies in Mahabharata. Coming to my obsession with eternal truth, who was right and who was wrong? What does all this mean when hundreds of thousands die, families devastated and nobody benefits"
The teacher says “Just as with truth there could be different perceptions of epics such as Mahabharata.

“However, first, you have to realize this epic is based on a historical war between princely cousins in north India over three to four thousand years ago. Even the idea of a nation was quite flexible then. Those days vocal recitation was popular rather than systematic documentation, which paved way for changes, insertions, dramatizations and addition of miracles to the original story. But above all, Mahabharata has one strong point and that is these changes also incorporate the changing societal structure, climactic phenomena and demographic patterns in north India over at least two thousand years if not more. The changes in social customs such as marriages, paternity concepts, class divides and human frailties such as greed, revenge and opportunism are beautifully portrayed; along with this you find friendship, promises, integrity and valour being honed and inspired into people. Another great gift of Mahabharata is it outlines the introduction of and changes in spiritual concepts in India some of which are prevalent even today.

Truly, nobody benefitted at the end of that war. Even great Arjuna, was looted post war by petty thieves; but, this is the natural end to every big war even today and that is the reason Krisn does his best to avoid it. However, once the war starts it imposes its own rules and regulations; and, at the end, wrongs are defended as aberrations or transgressions, as was done by Lord Krisn himself. That is Karma-Yog for you.”

From: Kaliyug ki kahania

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Truths and half- truths

Truth and the half-truths (295 words)

By Kalidas Sawkar

The boy came this time with his father. When the teacher welcomed them father said “I am still confused with truth. I am not at peace with the meanings you have told my son”
The teacher said “Since you do not comprehend truth and its characteristics, I shall endeavour by telling you about its opposite, the lies. The essence of this world is subjectivity of our mind. Sometimes we are subjective intentionally as well.

“In Mahabharata war when Guru Dronacharya told his enemies, the Pandavas, that the only time he would keep his bow down is if he has to hear the news of the death of his son Ashwatthama. The Pandavas immediately christened an elephant as Ashwatthama and then killed him. Their king Dharma-raja then declared that one Ashwatthama has died, however it could be a man or an animal. Hearing this Dronacharya with sadness kept his bow down and was thus killed by Arjuna.

“For telling this half-truth, Dharmaraja is punished later after his death by having had to spend some time in hell. However, tell me wasn’t what the King declared a lie even though they had named an elephant as Ashwatthama to escape being accused of telling a lie? A half-truth is as much a lie as lie itself could be. Dronacharya thought full truth was being told by Dharma-Raja and therefore died.

“Mahabharata is an epic for us to learn that perceptions of truth depend on the time that flows and perceptions that are held by people; teaching us that a war that started righteously, ended in all tricks and deceptions being used on the battle field; once, even Krishn broke his oath of not using any lethal instrument himself. At the base of this immoral massacre of armies is greed to rule and dominate the politics of that time and continues till this time.”

Source: Kaliyug ki kahania

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Let Konkani be...!

Overview: Let Konkani be…! (1134 words)

This is the birth centenary year of an illustrious Goan litterateur B.B. Borkar who wrote in both Konkani and Marathi fluently and successfully; of the two especially creditable is in Konkani because during the times he was writing, Goa was still under Portuguese rule and Konkani was relegated only to speaking at home and humming Konkani folk songs in a sort of amateur fashion. However, in the 50 years after its liberation when Goans had all the opportunities to amalgamate and develop its language, have they succeeded in doing that?

Government Recognition: If Goa had found itself in political turmoil immediately after it joined the Indian union in 1961, its language Konkani has been undergoing the same fate. Owing to the colonial rule, there was no great literary work in Konkani in Nagari script but through Roman script it did achieve high but unacknowledged literary standards. Even though it was of foreign origin writing in Roman script had advantages since it was the script of colonial masters who understood and encouraged it. On the other side Konkani in Nagari script has earned its reputation only since Shantaram Varde Valaulikar (Shanei Goembab), B.B. Borkar and a host of other talented Goans started writing in the last 100 years.

Reportedly there are over 5 million people with Konkani as their mother tongue settled all along the west coast of India between Mumbai and Kochi besides Bangaluru, but most in Goa. Konkani linguists are in both main religions, Hindu and Christian. A galaxy of its literati has written in Konkani, in whichever script each word represented a neuron in their brains firing, and the heart pumping blood at its full throttle. This passion after much flow resulted in Konkani being included in the scheduled group of Indian languages. It even more importantly succeeded in making Goa a rightfully independent state of India. Besides, it has been awarded the prestigious Dnyanpith award and a basketful of Sahitya Academy and other literary awards.

Amen! Konkani, as if till this point, had scripted its own progress. Up till the time statehood was declared there was no big noise about the fight over script. A few divergent views were overheard and ignored. The picture looked unrealistically rosy.

Internal Predicament: The bane of India and its societies is also the bane of Goa and its language. The caste and religious divide! Goa, always a bit ahead of the rest of India in societal emancipation never had as much social discrimination as elsewhere, possibly due to the Portuguese presence but it had indeed existed at subtle levels in many imperceptible ways. As Goans who moved out in search of career aspirations and brought back reports of events and happenings in the rest of India, the resident society was unknowingly and psychologically alerted to pursue applications of the imported knowledge when the Portuguese dominion ended. One such problem has been the caste oriented accents and semantics. Every Indian language including Hindi has accents which may differ from community to community. And, just as in Hindi, often the words originated and transformed with the migrating communities ever since the first settlers decided to make Goa their own home, even before Konkani as we know now existed. Any person who loves languages and its main purpose, to communicate, appreciates these humane variations. Sensitivity of tongue (pun intended) is so fine, an ancient Sanskrit proverb says it all, ‘a language changes about every 5 kilometers, food every 100 kilometers and dress every 500 km’. Even in the style crazy and quick air transport of today, this is quite apparent as one travels within or away from Goa.

The most serious charge often made by many people is that there is no standardized way of writing Konkani as an established language should have. Every caste and religious group claims its Konkani is the real language. Some of them are migrants to Goa often with similar sounding dialects as in Malwani from Maharashtra. Add to this the confusion related to Roman and Nagari scripts. Modern science is finding out the need to communicate or speak in different languages lies at the root of human intellect. In fact, this need and ability possibly encourages intellect. It is, then, utterly wrong to summarily dismiss the practice of writing in Roman script with a whole gamut of quality literature being produced and referred to in it, which was being followed for hundreds of years by a community of hundreds of thousands, and ask them to forget Romi Konkani, as it is called, ASAP.

Building bridges: One of the tenets of management methodologies of the 21st millennium is about discussing and accommodating rival view points. This is similar to building bridges over deltaic mouths of a river. Goa’s Catholics are not primarily averse to learning Nagari script, which would help not only in understanding nuances of refined Konkani but providing linkages across many other Indian languages, too. Goa’s Catholics have been blessed with social consciousness, progressive minds and ability to keep steps in tune with time. Their entrepreneurial skills are a legend and this step of learning Nagari script should immensely benefit them than not learning it. Moreover, with the above mentioned qualities this would help position them as leaders of the Goan society.

The problem lies in self centric and myopic views of protagonists of any accent or script. However, unlike the older generations few of the younger leaders are sufficiently futuristic minded. These youths have the necessary resilience, firmness and people friendly approach but importantly, are not unenthusiastic to breaking new grounds. There are acclaimed Konkani writers who write in different scripts and in a host of other languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Marathi and English. They could well be the architects to build the bridges.

Tides and Tones: Language is an expression of one’s personality, his manner of communication to interact with the world. It is intimately connected with his life and even career. It becomes richer not with vocabulary alone, but varied nuances in pronunciation, accent and meanings across its varied dialects. It would be excruciatingly boring if everybody had talked and written a sterilized language.

In Goa’s coastal village Sancoal while discussing with a fisherman his own ‘mother-tongue’ assumes an extra dimension of musical quality with backdrop of sea breeze, pounding waves and salty air. A flat intonation of any holy language including Konkani would sound incongruous and rhythm less along the Goa’s coast whose livelihood depends on sea. One has to go to a Velsao beach and listen to this symphony of language, its speakers and environment. Could anyone say Velsao fishermen should talk properly? Better still do they talk Nagari or Romi Konkani? It is Konkani through and thorough and Konkani with a lilt at that.

One may only say, let Konkani is where is!

Published in Herald on 14 December 2010
Kalidas Sawkar, Caranzalem, Panaji Goa---9158985758: