Jai Hind.

Jai Hind is Indian for Long Live India.

I have been extremely cynical about my country’s political and bureaucratic leadership and have mixed feelings about its armed forces. Mixed in the last case because while by and large they are honourable, black sheep have been caught with their hands in the till too often for me to give them a completely clean chit.

In this scenario when a foreigner, that too a Lady Pastor talks well of India, it gives me goose bumps to realise that the Indian people are still capable of being decent and wonderful human beings, despite all the sufferings that they are forced to endure by the inept and corrupt leadership and administration.

I leave my readers with this article to share my pride with.

Modern Systems And Affirmative Action.

A casual chat with a friend on the kind of questionnaires that one is asked to fill in now a days for various purposes reminded me of this story. My friend had trouble when she refused to fill in a box calling for her religion. The interviewer simply put what he thought should be the answer! When she informed me about this, I suggested that it could possibly be due to a computer program that would take the information on this form as input would reject the whole form if some boxes were left empty and that is when I remembered this story.

In 1988, my son had to fill in a form in his junior college to register for the board of education records. Two of the questions that were asked pertained to his religion and his caste.

For some background information, in India these two pieces of information are very necessary for statistical purposes and to establish quotas for admission into educational institutions and government employment, subsidies etc. We have elaborate quotas for what is called affirmative action to pull up the less empowered. At the same time, we also have regular calls to be secular and not accept the restrictions imposed by religion and caste, from, you guessed it, our “leaders”.

My son could not fill in the details, as he honestly did not know what to put down. His late mother, then very much alive, was a Methodist Christian, and on one of his visits to his grand mother’s place at a much younger age, he was baptised by a visiting priest. He had undergone baptism as a lark and after that, had never heard anything more about being a Baptist or a Christian. He had also been participating in many rituals and rites in his paternal homes that followed the Hindu system. Caste was a word completely new to him.

The Principal of the college suggested that I be called for a meeting and I promptly rushed there. I explained the situation to the very smart gentleman there, but he simply said that if I did not put down something in those two boxes, my son would not get his examination tickets to appear for the Board examinations. He would not accept Nil as entries as he informed me that the computerised system did not have that as an option. I had no other option but to put down his religion as Hindu. When it came to the Caste, I thought that I might as well have some fun and asked him to suggest a caste that would be classified as “Scheduled”, so that at least in future my son would have some benefits arising out of that classification. The Principal said that he would have no problems with that but would need a certificate from an appropriate authority to that effect. I gave up and entered my caste which unfortunately does not get any affirmative action. but is subject to a lot of reverse discrimination.

I recently found that the computers everywhere, still will not accept Nil as a valid entry against Religion and Caste. So much for our Secular state.

The story however does not end there. After a few months, we had gone to a village in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, and I narrated this story to a friend quite knowledgeable about these matters. He promptly berated me for being stupid and said that for a couple of hundred rupees, he could have generated that certificate from the local authority!

No affirmative action for the stupid; they are the majority.

The Calling.

Magpie 11 commented on my post THE MOST DANGEROUS STAGE IS RESPECT

“…some one said there is too much Me me me…surely that is what blogging is about?”

Exactly. This is a BLOG, short for Web Log, or a diary written and maintained in the web, with the exception that it is shared with anyone who cares to visit, read and comment. For me, it is a way to crystalise my thoughts and to explore fresh thoughts from my readers.

He also went on to quote me and comment –
” there is an inner calling to pursue certain esoteric things that does not seem to affect most people”

What are these “esoteric things”?
esoteric:: Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.

Smacks of some sort of elitism to me…… the problem is of course that if most people did seek to pursue these tings, whatever they are, then they would cease to be esoteric.”

In my response, I had written that I would address the issues raised by him in a separate post, and here it is.

I wish that Magpie 11 had chosen a different definition of the word “esoteric”. The same dictionary that he refers to also has this definition –

“b : requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group ; broadly : difficult to understand
a : limited to a small circle

I used the word in these two contexts.

My understanding of the word ‘calling’ stems from my employment background. I went through three phases of a job, where I got paid for what I did, or did not if I did not do what was expected of me; or I left if what I got paid was not worth my while; a career, where I progressed from just a job to assuming ever increasing responsibility; and finally, to a calling. The last was at the peak of my working life when I was able to create a completely different organisation in the late nineties, which continues to flourish till today. Subsequently, the calling became one of care giving and as I write this, that calling continues to operate.

Now, let us look at what ‘calling’ means to me and why I call it esoteric. It is what I would do anyway, with no pay or promotions or other rewards, and nothing else other than, physical disability or death will stop me from doing it.

I also believe that the calling is of two kinds, one is the calling to attend to material things, in which category, I would include my current preoccupation, care giving; and the other which is spiritual. Now, Magpie, please do not mix this with religion. Let me explain.

I believe that my spiritual pursuit forms the foundation of me as a human being, and is based on my central values and beliefs concerning purpose and meaning in life, truths about the world, and my own vision for real-izing my full potential and purpose. My calling is to real-ize my full potential and fulfill my aspirations, and this has to include self regulation. This means that I have to understand and control my thoughts, emotions and behaviour. I fully accept and recognize that other people have the right to hold different values, beliefs, customs and traditions, and that I must, without giving up my own beliefs, show others due consideration and be open to other points of view. This does not mean that I become a door mat and allow others to trample on me, but I am willing to live and let live. I simply expect reciprocation and if I don’t get it, it is of no great import to me.


Why is it esoteric? To the best of my knowledge, a very small minority of the world’s population, wish to pursue this path to Real-ization. That is why I called it esoteric.

And finally coming to the question of Religion, Magpie says – “Yes Religion….. or “The Way”. There is another reason….. it leads to an easy life…. convince your self (or be convinced by the brainwashers) that your life is controlled, ordained by a greater power than you and you can sail along as easy as winking.

This comment I would imagine comes from a scientific temper, now called atheism or virulent anti spiritualism. I do not approve of brainwashing of any kind, spiritual or religious or whatever, but why is someone not willing to accept that the Subject and the Object cannot be the same, considered to have been brainwashed?

I belong to a tradition that fully accepts atheism and materialism as legitimate philosophies. So, I am intrigued that the latest kid, let us call him a Religion, on the block, Atheism is not being considered as a Religion with its own High-priests like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Or am I just playing with semantics? Is it not their esoteric calling, or am I missing something here?

The Goddess Of Garbage.

I request my readers to bear with me a while before I come to the main subject matter. Firstly, this post on Faith has to be read followed by another one on Ganesha.

The main thrust on both the posts was that for a Hindu, there is ONLY GOD and s/he makes a God out of anything so that his approach to life reflects the respect s/he extends to any activity where divine influence is called for.

With that background, I take my readers to another piece of information about a part of India where a Goddess has been created for Garbage with some spectacular results.

I also give some great quotes from native American Chiefs.

1. “The Great Spirit is in all things: he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the earth is our mother. She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us.”

– Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin

2. “We live, we die, and like the grass and trees, renew ourselves from the soft clods of the grave. Stones crumble and decay, faiths grow old and they are forgotten but new beliefs are born. The faith of the villages is dust now…but it will grow again….like the trees. May serenity circle on silent wings and catch the whisper of the winds.”

– Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce

Now how about that for the Greens and the Recyclers?

P.S. After this post went live this morning, I read an interesting article in the Washington Post which too perhaps needs some attention.

An Outraged Friend.

On Sunday, a friend who makes a monthly visit to me to let off steam and to recharge his batteries, inevitably on Sundays when he has his weekly off, came over to rant about his latest outrage.

My friend, let us call him KD, is an atheist born in the Roman Catholic tradition. He is a bon vivant who is totally secular. He is divorced from his wife who is a non practicing Protestant Christian and daughter of a pastor of one of those prolific evangelical Protestant sects that dot the Indian landscape. Her family has many pastors in it and most other members are devout and have slogans like “Jesus Saves” and “Praise The Lord” on their vehicles.

With that background, the story will now become clearer. KD has a step son, from his exe’s previous marriage. KD has three children from his marriage, all now grown up and away in many other parts of the world. The step son, the eldest, got married recently to a girl from his mother’s religious sect for which all the children had come to Pune.

After the marriage, all the children, with the new daughter in law, went to pay their respects to their maternal grandfather who has been catatonic for the past eight years in a hospital. When he became aware of the children, he opened his eyes and just asked one question to them – “Has K been saved?”. The children returned on Friday from their visit and reported to KD about this and KD went into a state of total rage and could not sleep.

This was followed by a dinner at KD’s place for the new bride’s family on Saturday during which, the family did not exactly endear themselves to KD with their frequent prayer and oft repeated “Praise The Lord!” during normal conversation. Before the meal started, the senior most of them asked permission from KD to pray and just to be polite, KD agreed. The dinner was no better with very solemn and silent eating at the end of which, permission to pray was again asked when KD who had had enough, said “No thank you.” The guests were aghast and quickly excused themselves and left.

KD stewed again the whole night and decided to come to his friend and confidante to share these two stories and to ask whether he needed to be saved? He cheered up quite a bit when I said, “yes, from these people”.

I have nothing against people holding on to their beliefs and practicing their religion to the best of their abilities. But surely, they should have the sensitivity to leave such behaviour aside on social occasions among people who either believe differently or do not believe at all?


The purpose of this post is very simple. My earlier post on ‘Hell’, has taken a life of its own and the comments and responses are showing no signs of abating.

At last count, there were fifty five comments on the post and it is still counting. I recommend that, those readers who have not subscribed to the comments by mail, go back to the post and catch up with the very lively debate that has started there.