Vol-CXI : September 1, 2013

Dear Colleagues

Here is another version of for your perusal:

1.  According to Indian lunar calendar, the month of ‘sawan’ is the month of monsoon (July-August). During this month, special worships of Lord Shiva are undertaken on every Monday. Some believers travel far to bring holy water of Ganges (and other rivers) to ‘bathe’ Lord Shiva in their homes and neighbourhoods. These enthusiasts walk on foot for hundreds of kilometers to bring holy water, and called ‘kavadias’. In the past ten years, the processions and numbers of ‘kavadias’ have been growing exponentially. In Bhopal during one such Monday, a procession of several thousand ‘kavadias’ passed through town with drums, fireworks and loud-speakers in full form. A close look at these persons suggested that most of them were men in the age group of 20-35, came from small towns, and seemed to not be in any hurry. Is this phenomenon directly associated with greater urbanization and unemployment of youth in recent years? Are these young men finding their ‘identity’ through such performances?

2.  An interesting trend these days in corporate circles seems to be ways in which ‘giving to society’ can be demonstrated. Corporate honchos now have their CVs full of references to ‘community service’ support to non-profits and philanthropy. Those of us who spent a life-time in community service and non-profits do not have any ‘corporate experience’ to mention in our CVs (or public introductions). Isn’t this a bit imbalanced?

3. This year, the famous Teez festival in Rajasthan (for celebration of monsoon and marriage of Goddess Parvati with Lord Shiva) and Eid (following the holy month of Ramazan) fell on the same day. In most cities of Rajasthan, both festivals were celebrated with much gusto, and peace. Returning from the long holiday weekend after these two festivals, many motorists and tourists were stuck in huge traffic jams on the mountainous Amber Fort road on the outskirts of Jaipur. Suddenly, young men (ages 14-20 years) in several hundred motor-cycles started weaving their rides through the traffic jams, snaring at young women in vehicles, removing their shirts in rains, and just shrieking! This menacing site reminded of the ‘demographic nightmare’ this country is now experiencing—young boys and men in rapidly urbanizing India have no internal or external moral compass; they are unemployed, aimless and in search of meaning. Harassing stranded tourists seemed to be both exciting and meaningful for them! How are we going to make our society ‘livable’ for all?

4. The mood in London this time of the year is reminiscent of a decade ago before the attack on Iraq in March 2003. There were several demonstrations and public meetings around Syria, mostly asking the Cameron government to desist from ‘bombing’ Syria. On the one hand, British parliament rejected the government’s proposal for such an attack; on the other, many commentators were concerned that mistakes of a decade ago vis-à-vis ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq may be haunting the politicians so much that ordinary citizens of Syria may continue to suffer the consequences of chemical weapons. Formal public protests seemed generally muted and low key, in comparison to 2003; why? Are citizens in UK, and elsewhere, becoming so cynical that they do not want to have a voice, knowing that it will never be heard by their elected leaders?

5. The recent revelations of intelligence gathering in USA seem to be only a tip of the iceberg. Security, intelligence, tapping of conversations and identification of locations are all getting digitalized in the modern times. Large IT giants—google, Microsoft, intel, to name just a few—are all part of these technology development programmes which are increasingly being utilized to ‘know’ everything about everyone everywhere. This oracle-like, omniscience and omnipotence may be dangerous as authoritarian controls over freedoms—of association, expression and movement—of citizens of this earth. Let’s not forget that this wonderful invention called ‘internet’ came from American defense industry!

All the very best

Rajesh Tandon

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