Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rahul : The Fortunate Son of India 

Rahul Gandhi's ascension to the party leadership reminds me of some interesting stories that are there in the controversial biography of George W Bush named "Fortunate son" by J.H Hatefield. The book had exposed some of the hitherto unknown details about the real person behind Bush. How he received preferential treatment throughout his life was a major theme of the book. His schooling in world class institutes, business forays, and things so on. But in the end, no such treatment, care or education could change a very fundamental thing. The simple fact that he was highly incompetent and utterly inefficient.

Not surprisingly during his initial campaigning period, when quizzed about some basic political questions like naming then Prime Minster of India and President of Pakistan, he had miserably failed on all the counts. But the shocking failure did not have any adverse effect on his campaign. Instead, he won the election not just once, but twice.

Actually he didn't have to be competent. A puppet like him was all that needed  to "lead" word's super power in the neo-liberal era. There was a highly sophisticated  system in place to protect the interests of the real rulers sitting behind the curtain. Highly "capable" people like Dick Cheney and political adviser Karl Rove knew what to do and how to manipulate things.(As someone said of Karl Rove, he was indeed the "brain behind the brainless" ) . In the eight long years, a thoroughly executed script exclusively favoring the elite class of America was implemented by the team scrupulously. It made the poor Americans poorer by an order of magnitude while the rich got richer equally well. And  the "collateral damage" inflicted upon the world was  unparalleled  in the recent history.

Fast forward, history is repeating. Indian corporate forces need a similar puppet to replicate the same here too. And none other than Rahul makes the perfect choice for the task. Raised in a family and milieu that has always been highly protective of the family conglomerates of India, he is ideal for the task. Like Bush, the "fortunate son" of India had gone to some of the best universities in the world but lacks the basic understanding about his(?) own people and culture. Other than the occasional "prepared statements" and barely articulated "speeches", he never utter anything of his own. Often, his involvement in selecting the candidates have had disastrous consequences on his party's election results. His performance in parliament during these years as an MP was marked by an absolute silence during all the major debates(sad that even the very best training would fail in this count! ). Carefully engineered dramas like "spending the night with tribal families" and "sharing the lunch with poor" made him look ridiculous at best.

Luckily, with a fragmented opposition and utterly inefficient opponents, who are vigorously competing with the ruling front for their own share of the cake, things look prosperous for him. Rahul, along with his equally incompetent mom is very likely to "rule" India in the coming years. And Reliance, Wallmart, Vedanta et al  will decide what should be happening in India. With his extra luxurious and friendly policies for them, his dad had helped Dhirubahi Ambani to "create" Reliance from rag. From there, the governments under his mom's patronship have made Reliance what it is today. Now it is the pampered son's turn to take it further and help them fly even higher.  And the "brains behind the brainless" led by  Chidambaram would make sure that all this is beautifully implemented inside the camouflage of democracy. They will share whatever is left in the the lands, forests and rivers of India among themselves. The difference among various parties and leaders would become even more blurred. The only real difference would be between the poor and rich. The only two parties with any difference in India would be the  "haves" and the "have nots".  Have nots can enjoy all the incentives like price hikes, farmers' suicide, displacement from their houses and lands and much more. Everything like Terrorism, Maoism and Pakistan would be used in the right time and manner to manipulate the public opinion and keep the rabble in line. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gender mixing, Co-education and Pilgrimages

Though not able to have a visual sensation of the God literally, we all experience God  in our own ways. But for many, if not most, nothing takes them closer to God than pilgrimages. Last week I was blessed to visit two of the holiest places on earth, Mecca and Medina for performing my Umrah(lesser pilgrimage in Islam).

Whenever I visit these places, it takes me to new heights in terms of sheer spirituality and enjoyment  Every time there is something new to discover and experience. Each visit adds even more dimensions to my views on God and his mercy.

Places trodden by the greatest prophet and his great soul mates and companions,
Where biggest revolution in the history of mankind was unfolded,
Battle fields where the "most peaceful wars" occurred,
Mosques where even non-Muslims where invited to perform their rituals,

The actual rituals of Umrah is even more fabulous. Re-enactment of some of the greatest moments from  history of humankind was an amazing journey with time machine to the past. Circling of the Holy Kaaba which has been practiced by people since ancient period reminded me of my lineage. Then it took me to the time where desperate Hajar performed the frantic search for water in the barren desert and all the tribulations she went through in her extraordinary life. And finally cutting the hair which symbolically shows your willingness to sacrifice anything for your beloved God.

But, what impresses me the most with Umra and Hajj is the splendid display of the concept of universality in Islam. It gives you an experience where you realize your true identity.The identity as just one creation among all the beautiful creations of God. This is THE underlying principle of Islam called Tawhid  and is marked by a clear vertical relationship between Creator and creations. A relationship based on his infinite mercy and compassion. It also means, the relationship among the creatures are that of horizontal and not vertical by any means. That is a relationship not built on hierarchy.                                                                                                                                                                       
 There is nothing more fascinating than experiencing the congregation of people with one motto, one motivation and one attire regardless of their race, color, sex or anything else that matters otherwise. Where everyone move in harmony with one voice and heart. A truly synchronous and rhythmic act of worship. Creations dancing to the tune of Creator.

Sadly, not everything about Mecca and Medina is a shining story; at least not any more.

Capitalism and commercialization is taking its toll. Most of the historic places and monuments are being destroyed in the name of "development" and "expansion". Frantic attempt is going on to cash in on every inch of the site. Shopping malls, star hotels, luxury suites and everything else that caters to the super rich are on the rise. One wonders what is the relevance of seven star hotels and super luxury suites in these sacred places? Places that are the declaration of human equity, justice and simplicity. Even worse, all these activities are destroying some of the glorious evidences that depict the life of Prophet, his family and his companions and the intimacy they had among them.

Back at home the debate about co education is still going on. With various muslim organizations demanding the abolition of co-education in schools. Some even support their arguments with mysterious statistics on perceived improvement in academics due to the segregation and separation!

But I keep wondering,

If men and women are performing Hajj, which is one of the pillars of Islam, together then how does it become a problem for them to study together ?
If they are doing every ritual in the holiest places on earth together, then why is it not so in our mosques or other places ?
If every single body is treated absolutely equal on these great occasions at these great places, then what is making some of them superior than others  in some other places ?

Thank God ! Thank you for reminding us about these thoughts by means of  Umrah and Hajj.