Thursday, November 12, 2009

Non-Violence

Ahimsa and non-violence are both negative words symbolizing a positive term. Are these words accurate in describing this term? I am not sure. All of us commit violence on a physical, mental and spiritual plane. Our every movement or act of breathing kills millions of micro-organisms. In doing our daily duties we commit violence like a commando killing a terrorist in a war, a surgeon cuts open flesh to do his surgery, a farmer tills the soil and kills the earthworms etc etc. So it may seem that the very basis of our existence is violence. These are overt acts of violence but covert act of the same occur when we hate some one, get angry, become jealous or even think evil about the persons around you. Our craving for material objects and indulgences beyond our needs are all acts of violence since they deprive our fellow humans of what is rightly theirs. So a life dedicated to non-violence is one in which we commit the least violence. Therefore, non-violence is descriptive of the state of least violence. So the motive behind an act is important.

A selfless act done in the service of humanity as in a soldier killing to defend his nation or a surgeon operating to benefit his patient or even a farmer growing food does not become an act of violence. But all these acts done wrongly like killing an innocent in an encounter or operating when not needed or growing crops which become drugs are acts of violence.

Is non-violence easy to practice? Is it a weapon of the weak? Non-violence in thought , word and deed are very difficult to practice. A constant purification of thought and a consciousness which remains in tune with the divine Self is needed for this practice. A translation of the famous bhajan of Mahatma Gandhi Vaishna Vajan has a line in which a true lover of God is said to be ever in tune with the name of the Lord. So when a violent thought comes to ones mind one must become detached from it and yoke the consciousness with a pure thought. This will never allow violent words or actions to follow. Non-violence is certainly not the weapon of the weak. It requires great mental strength to not hurt someone in thought, word or deed when provoked to the extreme. This is especially true when one has the physical strength and capacity to fight back. Mere non-violence because one is afraid of losing the battle is cowardice. Therefore it is my firm belief that the real non-violence is indeed rare and difficult to practice. Every little bit of practice in this direction is a step towards ultimate freedom or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

In these times of stress when we need to realize and practice this value as much as we can and prevent the disastrous consequences of war.

Vispi Jokhi

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Austerity????

Austerity by Rahul Gandhi is a farce and an attempt to fool the people with tokenism. The Father of the Nation who they sought to emulate traveled second class all his life in a separate compartment without security, to prevent inconvenience to co-passengers which would occur due to his celebrity status. Even this prompted Sarojini Naidu to comment on the cost to the nation to keep Gandhi poor. Well all this started with two ministers SM Krishna and Shashi Tharoor living in five star suites , since their palatial bungalows were not yet ready. Suddenly, someone in the Congress realized that the country was reeling under drought conditions and it would look bad if during these times ministers were living life king size.

The root of the problem to me today is a massive disconnect of India Inc. (corporate India) with Bharat (rural India). Merely the fact that is looks bad to live in five-star accommodation and discuss poverty alleviation in the rarefied portals of Delhi durbar is the least of the problems. The real problem is that all of us living in our cocoons of prosperity fail to even acknowledge that there is a large mass of starving destitute people in our country and in the world whose destiny is intertwined with ours. In our rape of mother earth and our anxiety to acquire and protect what we have already acquired we are as guilty as the ministers who live in five-star suites even at their own expense.

However, I do not advocate sack-cloth and ashes existence for all of us , but we can exercise moderation in our consumption, make sacrifices for the welfare of the poor and at least eschew vulgar, conspicuous consumption. How to do is left to each ones conscience and discrimination. Enforcement, token gestures and hypocrisy are an insult to the intelligence and sensibility of our toiling masses. If one needs to set examples on a personal level, measures like careful use of water and electricity in our daily use, using and buying only for ones need rather than greed, non-waste of food are the basic things which help to alleviate mass poverty. Turning vegan can be a huge force multiplier which can alleviate hunger and poverty and would to my mind be the perfect gesture or example appropriate to these times of drought. May our leaders understand that we are not fools and we can see through their masks of austerity.


Sincerely
Dr. Vispi Jokhi

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gay Rights

While one cannot debate the argument about individual freedom, there is no doubt that biologically heterosexuality is the norm and homosexuality or lesbianism constitutes deviant behavior. This is not a matter of judgment but an accepted scientific fact. But, we are not a perfect society and many imperfections are permitted.

Sexual act is meant for procreation and not pleasure. So by that yardstick, birth control and abortion should also be illegal. But if birth control and abortion are not permitted much harm will occur in society. Therefore the state is justified in controlling birth and allowing abortion due to the fact that we live in an imperfect society.

But, does the state have justification in criminalizing consensual deviant sex? I think not for this act is in the private domain and is not harming society. But if this behavior becomes a public or publicity act and tends to harm society or impressionable minds then some curbs are in order. Is pedophilia the result of suppressed homosexuality or a diseased mind inflicting a deviant behavior on an innocent child?

Are homosexuals and lesbians born with different sexual tendencies or do they acquire it? I really do not know the answer to this question. If acquired then I think we should treat it as a disease which needs treatment than a crime which needs punishment. One thing is clear that gays are not criminals, but it is equally clear that even when one pardons the exuberant outburst of relief of the gays on being given their freedom, homosexuality and lesbianism are not a celebration of life.

There rests my case.
Vispi Jokhi

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Advani as PM Never!!!!

In this age of style over substance every attempt has been made to package an old hypocrite into an energetic man of vision. Our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, hit the nail on the head by stating while releasing his party's election manifesto Dr Manmohan Singh revisited the issue and discussed what he thinks to be the 'contributions' of L.K. Advani to public life.According to a newspaper report (Indian Express, 25 th March 2009) While recounting Advani's record as the Home Minister, Singh said "the country must decide whether this person (Advani) is fit to be the Prime Minister." The Prime Minister said Advani had played a "prominent role in destruction of Babri Mosque." "What else has he (Advani) contributed to the national welfare? When he was the Home Minister, attack on Parliament took place, troops were mobilised for 12 months (on the border) and withdrawn without any reason resulting in losses to the tune of crores of rupees, Red Fort was attacked, plane was hijacked and terrorists were rewarded," the Prime Minister recalled. Singh also said that Advani, as Home Minister, had "presided over massacres in Gujarat (in 2002)." The Prime Minister said while Advani "led the communal forces, he was opportunist enough when he visited Pakistan and suddenly discovered new virtues of Jinnah that he was a secular man." Singh took a dig at Advani for what he faced from his party on his return from Pakistan. "The party disowned him at the behest of masters in RSS when he came back. So whether Advani is strong man or weak man, let the records speak for themselves," he added.(Express, 25 th March 2009). His record and duplicity are more than enough reason for the Indian masses to reject his claim and candidature outright.

Unfortunately, elections are not decided on issues of the kind listed about but on emotions and play of caste and communal politics and strategic alliances. We need the Congress to adopt a firm secular line without playing the Muslim card to counter Hindutva. While on the issue of a Varun Gandhi the Congress has done well, but in a similar situation if a rabid Muslm spoke about killing hindus and branding his war as a religious jehad, I can predict that neither the media nor Congress would react in a similar manner. The other parties with NDA must realize the dangers of this alignment and not support any communal line for the sake of power. We need leaders and intelligenstia who realize the danger of fascist forces and question, embarrass and condemn Advani and his ilk at all times. I feel a TV debate between Advani, Manmohan Singh and the third front and left would certainly help in exposing the BJP's duplicity.

Also I wish to applaud the candidature of Mallika Sarabhai against Advani in Gandhinagar and would appeal to all the political formations to jointly support her and defeat Advani through a principled informed campaign.

Let us as a nation recognize the threat to India from the hypocritical and dangerous Advani and his party and the divisive ideology they represent.

Lastly, I have a confession to make that in 1999 I was taken in by the propaganda of the BJP and Advani and his accusation of minority appeasement against the Congress still seems correct to me, but today I recognize the dangers of this cock-tail of hatred and divisiveness and I truly regret my support for BJP.

Dr. Vispi Jokhi

Sunday, March 22, 2009

VOTE 2009

Well India is back to election season and as in every election we break a world record in the peaceful and relatively free and fair poll we undertake. Since China does not have any such exercise we being the the second largest population break the world record set by ourselves. The UPA seeks a mandate based on performance, the NDA on the basis that they can provide stronger leadership, better governance and stronger performance on issues of security. The Left along with BSP and other former heavy weights constitute the third front. They are hoping that they have the critical minimum numbers while the other two fall well short of the majority and they with outside support form a government. Among all this hubris are symbolic candidates put up by citizen groups who are well meaning and ushers of a change in the polity. They lack resources and lack the mass base and it is rare to see them winning. In Mumbai, Loksatta Party, JNM and Adolf and his group may put some of them up.

The UPA has a decent record, in terms of growth of the economy, its legislations on Right to Information, National Rural Employment Guarantee along with the farm loan waiver have been steps in the right direction, but they have been at best tentative and half-hearted attempts lacking conviction. The Government without doubt has always shown a consistent leaning towards corporate India and its policies are heavily stacked in their favour. The SEZ policy is also another example where India is allowed to gain at the cost of Bharat. A government headed by an expert in economic affairs with a dream team finance minister failed to see or predict the economic melt-down and job crisis. This is one of the bigger failings of the UPA. The PM made the Indo-US nuclear deal a prestige issue and tried to sell a dream of prosperity based on the signing of this deal. I have strong reservations on this issue. I do not think nuclear energy is a safe and cost-effective energy source and no nuclear weapon can protect any land. A nuclear India can destroy the world. To the credit of the UPA they have handled the aftermath of the Mubai terror attack with a measured and caliberated response and have through sustained diplomatic pressure made our neighbour accept their mistake.

The NDA dispensation offers us leadership of Advani, as a strong leader who can lead the nation in these times of terror. Advani for all his moderate posturing is an opportunoist who divided India on the lines of religion and the result of Babri Masjid demolition and his widespread approval of state sponsored genocide by the Gujarat government and to a lesser extent the Karnataka government of Muslims and Christains are reasons enough for us to reject him and his leadership outright. The NDA has no economic vision, or any concern for the poor India or Bharat. In the opposition they never showed any principled opposition and coherant alternative policies. The shameful parading of notes in the Lok Sabha with approval of their leadership is proof of an immature leadership. The NDA has nothing to offer to India except false posturing and a divided polity. As far as the economy is concerned the little that the UPA has done for the poor India will also not be done. The NDA has talented individuals and some proven administrators. It has a culture of merit and there is less dynastic politics.

In this mix comes the Left, which is a disciplined, non-corrupt group. But the Left is a bunch of hypocrites when it comes to West Bengal its industrial policies and SEZ policies are no different from UPA. They are arrogant and want power without responsibility. The promotion by the Left of the third front propping up of Mayawati, Jayalalitha, Naidu, Dewegowda and the Mulayam Singh-AmarSingh duo will lead India to chaos. Caste based, communal based politics will get India nowhere and take us backwards. Young India does not need this kind of leadership.

What is the solution in the present scenario? The pollsters predict a hung paliament. There is a provision in the constitution of India for MP's to elect a leader from among themselves, who can form a government taking the best available talent from all parties and form a national government. The parliament will function better as there will be issue based voting rather than opposition for sake of opposition. A consensus and unity on national issues can be evolved and government function can be smooth and at the same time no leader can take his position for granted. A National Government with all party participation attracting the best talent in the service of the nation is the best solution in the situation a hung parliament might throw up. I hope and pray God gives our leaders the vision and the capacity to submerge their egoes for the sake of the nation.

Dr. Vispi Jokhi