Once Upon A Time

Imagine a little boy born in a political family of a very high stature. This political party believes that the country belongs to their religion and culture, and others have no place here! The kid, from a very young age, was trained to be a leader, and all of his education was centered on his political career.  Predictably, when he grows up he quickly becomes the MP from his constituency! His aim is to rule and preside over the entire country, and starts work in that direction!

Now, the opposition has a very capable leader. He is well-read, well-educated guy, who has been a pioneer in removing caste-system in his state, and has just and wise governor. Security and protection are most important quality of a great leader. He knew about the intentions of the opposition, and took measures to retain his constituency!

Now the ambitious MP had already started campaigning in the opposition’s constituency, and were currently placed in the city limits of a lady officer. When this lady officer tried to approach them for peace, she was physically assaulted. Well, of course, being a good leader and brother of this lady, the opposition leader probably made the biggest political blunder of his life – kidnapped the wife of the MP and symbolized the beginning of an out-and-out war!

Well, I don’t know if you can already draw parallels of this story, with the epic Ramayana – with the well-educated leader being Ravana! This post is not intended to demean Rama in any way. No hard feelings, bro!

Before the onset of war, Rama wanted to perform a yagna and begin the war at a “Shubh Mahurat”. Guess who was the wisest Brahmin around? Ravana not only performed the yagna for Rama, but also blessed him, “Vijayi Bhavo”. The war began at Rama’s Shubh Mahurat. Who was complaining about work stress at home last night? Well, this is probably the biggest example of keeping your personal and professional lives separate!

All I am trying to say is nobody is all good and nobody is all evil. I see very little point in exaggerating the good in one and worshipping him, and evil in the other! Trick is to exaggerate the good in our self and kill the evil!

dussehra-cartoon-picture-imageOver all these thousands of years, our language and way of expression has changed, and we do not speak Sanskrit anymore! This has turned things funny, since we cannot understand the poetic Sanskrit connotations! For example, Ravana is famously referred to as “Dasamukha”- which is only a symbol of Ravana being a master of 10 vidyas or 10 forms of knowledge. All we did is overlook this and put 10 hideous faces hanging over his neck.

Similarly, these stories are a result of personifying all human characteristics to impart knowledge of the right-path. I don’t care if these mythologies existed or not, but I believe they were written to make knowledge simple and palpable for one and all – just like we make personify objects in our nursery rhymes!

To cite an example- the one that made me believe that these stories are way deeper than how silly they sound at the face of it-

“Ahankari Raavan (ego) takes Sitaama (mind) from AtmaRam (Soul). Helped back by PawanPutra Hanuman (breath) and Laksh-man (focus).”

Branding of Faith

Why is the whole city looking so dull today? There is more ‘grey’ on ground than there was in the sky during monsoon! Any alien coming from outside would think that the town has a uniform! Oh well, it’s just the colour of the day for Navratri- the festival of Durga puja, garba and Falguni Pathak! In case you had no idea- OMG! GO CHANGE NOW OR YOU WILL BE A SOCIAL OUTCAST!

Now let me tell you something interesting. These colours have absolutely no traditional value with the festival. If you have noticed, this is a very recent fad, probably started about a decade or less ago. Turns out, it was started by a Marathi Newspaper Giant (obviously not naming them here, because I am oh-so-loyal!). Few years back they started printing the colour of the day for Navratri, which quickly became popular and has continued as a tradition till now! And that, my friends, is the power of marketing!

Oh what was that? Of course, they are all the USA-returned, children of Shri. Mc’Donald saying, “Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta.” Have you heard of the ring ceremony, which really wasn’t a part of our culture, but adopted from the west? Well, it turns out that it was never a part of their culture as well! Traditionally, simple gold rings were exchanged during weddings. Diamond on them are nothing but symbol of successful marketing. This intelligent diamond merchant of a few decades ago, associated diamond with love (obviously, bigger the diamond more is the love), and now dare anyone think of not putting that diamond on the ring!

Marketing has the power to change the face of traditions. And it is evidently still prevalent, with so many sales strategically timed around festivals! If Hallmark and Archies could capitalize on the days that didn’t even exist in India, a well-timed business idea has a great potential, with marketing being the strongest tool!

In fact, Religion is the biggest example of fantastic marketing! Seriously, think about it! So many religions in the world are based on stories that have been edited and re-edited by people in power, to spread exactly what they wanted to spread at that time, with marketing executive on top taking all decisions. Religion offers both tangible benefits (community) and intangible benefits (guaranteed place in heaven) at cost of one’s money and time! Ignoring the fact they also have logos, they are the most popular example of marketing by word of mouth! And I could go on and on and on..!

Commercialization of religions is a vastly talked about topic now, but the ever increasing line outside temples prove that it isn’t going to end very soon! Religion and marketing are probably the most happily married couple in the country! While what marketing has done to religion has given birth to the biggest irony of all times – Divinity almost everywhere needs protection. (A.k.a. security outside temples).

PS- Tomorrow’s colour is Orange. I am sure you will find something at the Pre-Diwali exhibition!

Google The Doodle

There is this campaign that Google hcartoonFace0olds every year for school children, wherein the competitors have to doodle the Google logo with a given theme. All the people who have seen the advertisement on YouTube, congratulations on being unemployed! *Fist-Five*

Anyway, so this year’s theme is – If I could create something for India, what would it be? 
 Since I can’t take part in the competition (They don’t know my brain is only 8), but I am stubborn and will list my entries here! (In your face, Google!) Here goes it:

Sketch-up block for toilet: Firstly, everyone who knows what sketch-up is – hahaha, stop cursing the moment you took the decision of getting into Architecture! But won’t it be cool, if we could just make one toilet block and click, click, click – Tada! Sanitation problem solved!

Flying Vacuum Cleaner: Yeah, I know this one is a part of the ad! But imagine, a giant vacuum cleaner in the clouds cleaning away all the dirt in our country (yes that includes likes of Sharad Pawar). Or even better, a flying car which doesn’t pollute, but in fact runs on pollution! This is one thing that everybody, EVERYBODY has sometime wanted – just to get away from ever increasing traffic on the road. I can only imagine if this was ever made, and all of us had one, what would happen! The only thing I am sure about is, ‘Fast and the Furious’ will return with some awesome sequels!

Avengers in Parliament: Well, this one is my favorite. Imagine being governed by Avengers – it is the best way for us to avenge for all those years of bad, irresponsible governance, by replacing them with these cool superheroes who will S.H.I.E.L.D. us! And of course, what can get better than having Robert Downing Jr. in our parliament! Sigh.

Vending Machine: Vending Machine? Amidst all that India is going through, and all the things I could actually wish for, all I am wishing for is a vending machine? Really? Actually yes. Not the kinds that gives out pretzels and cola, but a machine of happiness. They say happiness cannot be bought, but what if it could be! Won’t it be cool if you could trade all the anger, frustration, sadness with a machine for joy? More than anything else, we just need to be happier people! The only side-effect will be that Radhe Maa and Nirmal Baba will be out of work, but who is complaining?

Neuralizer: While I know that if Neuralizer (from Men in Black 3 fame) gets into wrong hands, it could be disastrous- but I couldn’t stop thinking about how great it will be to have one for real! This device can erase memory of a person from past couple of hours, to weeks or even centuries. We need it to forget and erase all evidence of a few of our collective memory- like women inequality, dowry, or even feminism etc. Let’s just forget what has happened in the past, and create a new past for the future, where this world is neither of any one gender or specie!

Woah! I could get quite demanding if I wanted to! Co-incidentally, while I am writing this article, my 4 year old nephew here is talking about inventing a band that will shoot all mosquitoes! And well, that is the best idea of this list!

Culture of Politics or Politics of Culture?

Now that Gandhi Jayanti is over, we can all get back to bribing that traffic hawaldar, lying at the drop of a hat, and spitting on that newly painted wall! Not that yesterday we did not indulge (cheers to all those who managed to have a drink), but at least there was a national sentiment as such!

For all those who were high- of course because of Friday holiday- I will remind you that yesterday marked the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 111th birth anniversary of Lal bahadur Shastri, and the 1st anniversary of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. It was basically a day of trending Gandhiji on twitter, leaving for Goa for the long weekend, and using Gandhian messages for political good!

I feel this is one topic on which a lot is written, a lot is filmed, a lot is said and quoted, and a little is acted upon! Actually, in retrospect, I will take my words back. I feel we are doing our best to act on all Gandhian principals! No, seriously! For example, Gandhi’s philosophy was based on principal of Swadeshi, and we firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). All it takes is to know how and when to put two and two together!

Gandhian thinking is essentially about a sustainable way of life, an economic system based on trusteeship and a society in which everyone gains rather than the few become rich at the expense of the many. It is a complex, inter-related system of thought. We are so on the right path –which is made by our government. Hence, the delay!

These days Gandhiji is in our books, on our roads, on our walls, in our pocket and in the political campaign speeches! But not in our heart or behavior. We as a country suffer from selective learning. We have so much knowledge about every subject at our mercy, but we tend to twist and manipulate it in our stride – and use the knowledge only to save our face! Some people happened to read, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and thought, bingo! That is exactly we want to do. They are all leading our country at the moment, and just for the record, we are blind!

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I firmly believe that Gandhian philosophy is relevant today, more than ever! This century has seen a tremendous rise in globalization, privatization, violence, inequity, poverty, et al. We direly need a Gandhi to save our face in this highly consumptive world! His ideals hold a moral and social mirror to our society! But sadly, while one of Gandhiji’s most famous quote is “Be the change you want to see”, we tend to boo the change we are seeing.

Although Gandhiji has been made an icon of “Clean India”- I think we are taking it too literally. Of course, cleanliness is very important, but all his teachings give more importance to an India cleaned of corruption, violence, hatred, inequality, injustice and the like.

I dream of a Gandhian Swachch Bharat!