Religion and Politics

There is a certain truth in the teachings of great men like Valmiki, Gautama Buddha, Jesus, Prophet Muhammad etc. There is absolutely no truth in the religions that carry their name because if one looks within these organised groups, it is the insatiable hunger and appetite for controlling humans and extracting maximum capital from their vulnerabilities.

I visit a lot of internet forums each day covering a wide range of topics from technology to movies etc. Recently in one of the forums where I visited, I came across a new joint section for both religion and politics. This made me think deeply and I realised that even though the change in the forum might have been done for administrative purposes, I think both are related.

“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich” Napoleon Bonaparte

The above is a very thought-provoking and profound observation from one of the greatest revolutionaries of our time. Think for a moment. What is the one thing that helps governments of the 21st century get away with poor governance and high ended corruption ? The ability to indulge in the art of politics. Let us take the example of Egypt. This Middle Eastern country is the home of one of the most ancient civilisations of the world. Couple of years ago this country was rocked by violent protests of people wanting to free the country from the despotic and oppressive regime of general Hosni Mubarak. In a largely peaceful demonstration, the dictator was disposed and a newly elected civilian government took office. However there was a caveat here. This government was made of the religious fundamentalists. Within no time, this civilian government was removed and a new military government took office, this time under a new general. To any external observer, nothing changed in the Egypt. It was military rule followed by religious rule which was again followed by military rule.

From time immemorial, various methods were employed by humans that enabled them to control people and their aspirations so that they fit within the norms of a society or a group. Think about the ancient men, they hunted in groups. There were no lone wolves. Everyone went together, hunted together and lived among each other. There is nothing wrong with this picture, only for the fact that if it was a group of equals it would have been a worthwhile arrangement. It all boiled down to someone who took the realms of the leader of the group. This person who gets control over the group always had a hard time to let go off or even share his power with others. That is when politics originated-because playing politics helped him to survive!

Times were not the same for men. Like varying seasons in a year, the fortunes of men also changed. And as human sought for consistent and steady fortunes, beliefs originated and as these truths or beliefs took root, in order to control the message and milk the truth, the leaders adopted religion so that control never ends and is lasting.

There is absolutely no difference between organised religion and the modern political systems of today. One can find a lot of synergies to the Catholic church of yesteryear and the communist ideals developed by Karl Marx and others. All systems need the complete collaboration of everyone involved. And all systems are created with the ultimate motive to control people. And that is where they fail, because even though humans can be controlled for a little while, you can never keep a bird caged for ever. And that free spirit of humans is the biggest threat to all systems and establishments world over. Today there is hardly any remanent left of a communist party worldwide because ideology was used to control people and achieve nefarious objectives. About the Catholic Church, the less said is the better, though Pope Francis is trying to change the place. Only time will say whether he was successful or not.

There is a certain truth in the teachings of great men like Valmiki, Gautama Buddha, Jesus, Prophet Muhammad etc. There is absolutely no truth in the religions that carry their name because if one looks within these organised groups, it is the insatiable hunger and appetite for controlling humans and extracting maximum capital from their vulnerabilities. Normal people get accustomed to varying fortunes and opportunities in life. Smart leaders understand them and play politics to keep them under their control. When someone does well in life, they will be the first ones to celebrate and when someone does bad, they will be there to partake in their sorrow. This allows them to obtain a loyal following and gives them the ability to execute their agendas. If you look at organized religion or even the democratic societies of today, they are simply alike.

So what should we understand from all these? There are a few pointers I would like to leave this conversation with:

  • Belief in a truth is good, it helps you concentrate and align yourself to a greater good.
  • Have zero trust in any organised religion. They have only agendas and no truths.
  • Politics will exist everywhere and anywhere where groups of humans co-exist, both in the virtual and real worlds.
  • Politics must be the art of aligning people to achieve greater good and continue the search for the truth.
  • Organised religion needs politics to survive but good politics need only willing people and good intent to survive.

Image courtesy: http://churchandstate.org.uk/wordpressRM/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/religion-politics.jpg

Why politics needs reform…

Politics

Why politics needs reform…

Someone once said that politics is the last resort for scoundrels. Today world over, this saying has been painfully more than accurate. Being in civilian politics these days, is never a profession to brag about.
Why are the politicians so hated? First they come to you during the time of elections begging for votes. They behave like a long lost friend, your most loved relative and try every trick in their book to coax you for that one vote. They amazingly repeat the same with scores of people minus any disdain. The common man is all forgiving and all the prior transgressions committed by the former are quickly forgotten. The smartest of these politicians get the vote and are elected. It doesn’t take much time after which their true colours come out and they forget the people who voted them and only remember the ones who funded them.
This is the sad state of affairs all around the world in various democratic societies . Politicians are among the least moral compass of the society that they claim to represent. When calamity happens they cash on it for personal gains; in India when a girl gets raped, according to them it’s her fault and they find reasons to blame her; in Italy the prime minister sleeps with minors; in Syria the president is more than happy to gas his own citizens; in China while the country is developing, the politicians are more than happy to loot the wealth and prevent its flux into the common people who needs it the most; and it goes on and on. There are simply no rules, morals or ethics in politics.
Politics needs reforms, or to be explicit-urgent reforms. Just as professions like engineering, medicine etc., are regulated in many parts of the world, politics shouldn’t be any different. It needs to have its own set of rules. It needs to have a system that creates leaders, visionaries and not crooks and sycophants. It needs to be a welcoming platform for the cream of the society, to partake in the decision making process.
Plato once said’One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors’. His sayings are relevant, even today.

Image source: India Today.

What does Modi’s coronation mean for India?

Modi power

Last Friday, September 13th 2013, the chief minister of Gujarat, Shri. Narendra Modi was crowned as the BJP’s presidential candidate for 2014 General Election. This decision by the principal opposition party of India to anoint a highly polarizing figure of Indian politics, has been welcomed across the country with jubilation and acclaim. Ten years ago, this same person was accused of playing the fiddle while his state burnt in the aftermath of riots.

A week is a long time in politics, and hence a decade-an eternity. During this time period, while his accusers happily looted the country and destroyed every single establishment of this democratic country, Modi worked hard to ensure that his state remained prosperous and development oriented. It was tough since he was an untouchable in politics due to the riots; being the son of a tea vendor, he was an outsider in the Lutyen’s bred caste of politicians in India. In order to understand how important his coronation is, one needs to understand the Lutyen’s bred caste of politicians.

As mentioned in this blog post earlier, there has been a concerted effort since colonial times to ensure that the affairs of India lay in the hand of a privileged few. It is so astounding that one family has literally ruled India for more than three quarters of its time as an independent nation. This very family has promoted a culture of nepotism, corruption, communal appeasement and sycophancy the likes of which have never seen anywhere else in the modern world.

India today is floundering. As the wheels of time move to a new dawn, when the Asian dragon and tiger come relevant as world powers once again, the tiger is being slowly decimated due to well orchestrated struggles from within.

Narendra Modi has been thrust into these times when the hardworking Indian middle class, rendered toothless and spineless for ages, is frustrated with a country in decline due to its own doing. Stories of rapes, corruption scams and scandals fill the news headlines each day. The growth story of the country has already been stunted. Should Indians all around the world and in the country sit and watch what is happening, or change history this time around ?

Barack Obama was an outsider in the Washington nitty gritty political scene. He was elected in an amazing campaign to be America’s first black president by an electorate desperate for change. He inherited a country in shambles, burnt by two expensive wars and an economic recession caused by greed. In his second term as a president, the unemployment numbers are falling and US is on track to be an energy superpower by 2030.

The same applies to India, the world’s most populous democracy. Democracy should be of the people, not of a family; by the people and not buy the people; and for the people and not against the people.

The present Congress party that rules India from an umbrella of coalition is filled with people whose only objective is to cling on to power at any cost. For them the country is immaterial, the societal progress is unwarranted and the upliftment of the people immaterial. It is India’s time to change from the demons of its past, learn from its mistakes of history and forge a new future of hope.

Image courtesy: http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/straitstimes.com/files/imagecache/story-gallery-featured/20130906/09modi06e.jpg

Why do modern societies need any armies ?

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“An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot.” Thomas Paine

Armed forces are the pride of any nation. Millions of armed men keep a constant vigil on our borders so that you and me can get along with our business of making a living and creating value added lives. From time immemorial, man has always been prone to constant bouts of war and peace. If the 19th century was dominated by the world wars and the cold wars, the 20th century just a decade into its existence has already seen armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Libya, Syria and now finally Egypt. In addition to huge losses of life and property, these wars have also altered our modern society due to a never before seen penetration of information, thanks to advances in technology.

Being a silent spectator to many of these wars from the safe confines of my home, I’ve always felt for those tales of incalculable  losses and sufferings. I have keenly observed many of these wars and found that people talk till they fail, then fight till they tire and then talk till they compromise. This has been the scenario in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In many other cases, talks or diplomacy have prevented many an outbreak of war. This leads to an important existential question. If wars don’t result in a resolution of conflict and talks do, then shouldn’t we be trying for the latter, rather than the former?

In other cases, just as what is playing currently in Egypt and many other countries like Pakistan et. al, is the fact that the army becomes an existential threat to the whole idea of a nation, when it goes beyond its mandate to protect its citizens and grab the power. Most of the time this happens because of an over ambitious army chief with an insatiable lust for power. When this happens, the country finds itself in a descending spiral of gloom and disrepair.

A good percent of a country’s GDP goes in maintaining these huge armies. Look at the case of the developing countries and potential superpowers of tomorrow, India and China and the huge amounts of money that is being spend to maintain their huge armies. Their contribution here is about 2.5% (249 billion) and 2% (119 billion) respectively of their GDP. All these amounts can be used to bolster the social spending in these nations, rather than the upkeep of a few.

It is easy to sit in the confines of one’s home and write about millions who toil day and night to ensure that we live well, work hard and have a good night’s rest. The intention of this blog is not either. When a good amount of the financial and human resources of a country is invested in maintaining a huge governmental enterprise such as an army, it needs to be structured in a way that it benefits the citizens and not the other way round.

Having a reserve force is a great idea. Compulsory military training along between the ages of 18 and 25 is even better. This would instill in the youth of a country a sense of love and belonging in addition to the advent of a disciplined and responsible society. These trained individuals would form an integral part of a reserve force that would be assembled in case of an emergency. Diplomacy should be the first step in the face of an external aggression. If it fails, the reserve force should be used to enforce peace.

In today’s world, wars are destructive, brutal and leaves a trail of devastation, hopelessness and depression. The objectives of a modern society cannot be met by killing each other in name of an idea or ideology. It doesn’t need a large standing army that gobbles up much needed capital which would have benefitted the least fortunate.

Image courtesy:  http://pixhome.blogspot.ca/2013/02/us-army-military-hd-wallpapers-armed.html

A dialogue on Iraq

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It was 2003 when President George W.Bush declared a war on the Saddam Hussein led Iraq. The war from the beginning to almost a decade was a major mess due to the intransigence of the American regarding the Arab culture. However one of the main objectives of the President Obama in his first term was to get the American soldiers out of the Iraqi soil, safe and sound. The world media which bombarded the entire population of the earth during those days with news from the beleaguered country moved on to safer pastures and the whole war was very quickly forgotten.
AlJazeera the effervescent Arab channel did an excellent followup on what is happening in Iraq now by conducting a road trip across the country through all the Kurd, Shia and Sunni areas. The documentary was an eye opener and can be viewed here.

Iraq has always been a difficult country due to its diverse, ethnic and contradictory mixture of three major sects, the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds and their infinite subdivisions. Americans when they attacked the country in 2003 wasn’t prepared for the aftermath of the post Saddam era, were in for a greater surprise as the sectarian rifts exploded into the public. The presence of the US led foreign forces and the clash of agendas and ideologies ensued that Iraq became a collateral colossal mess. The cradle of civilization now became the carcass of the 21st century.

People say Iraq under Saddam Hussein was much better as the basic amenities of life was taken care of then. He ruled Iraq with a cruel fist and he was by no means a benevolent Sunni ruler. He ensured his caste was treated well and subjugated the Shia and Kurd faction with atrocious brutality. He also turned back on his Sunni allies by attacking and ransacking one of them-Kuwait. Getting rid of him was quick, but the scars of his decades old misrule triggered a chain reaction of worst sectarian strife that nearly consumed Iraq.

FUTURE

Iraq today is in a point of no return. I can see it is very difficult for the country to stay together as one. The reasons stem from unresolved issues from the time Ottoman empire was shredded into pieces by the colonial powers and mapped for administrative convenience showing total disdain for the ethnic and cultural differences among people.

What is the way forward? I believe it is autonomy. Iraq needs to be split into a federal structure of autonomous provinces like Canada by giving due concern to the various ethnic divisions among the Iraqi people. The enormous oil wealth needs to be developed and the benefits used for the benefit of the entire Iraqi population. People needs to be put to work, roads need to be built, the militia needs to be disarmed and the country needs to find its lost awakening.

Iraq is a country blessed with a highly talented work pool. During the beginning years of Saddam Hussein’s rule, he was so good that in the late 70s, UN awarded him the award for the best administrator. Railways were built, roads and all the infrastructure that is seen today was built in the 70s. It is a pity that the wars in 80s, 90s and 2000s reduced it into a heap of rubble.

The story of Iraq is one of unimaginable tragedy. A country that looked so promising in the 70s fell like a pack of cards, totally destroyed and decimated. Will it return is going to be the question for the 21st century ?

Image courtesy: http://cdn.cyberpunx.com/g3/c7c2d5d0aa17686d2ed0e4223ed05a75/rs/War-Chaos-Propoganda/iraq-misc/future.jpg?m=1322778931

Why democracy will never work in the Arab world ?

The past few days have been a harrowing experience for democracy in the Arab world. Egypt one of the most populous Arab countries in the Middle East just had a second Tahrir square revolution. This time it was a coup d’etat when the first democratically elected government of Egypt was overthrown by an ambitious Egyptian military. This decision by the army and the polarising opinions from all around the world has exposed the hypocrisies that surround the definition of democracy everywhere. Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group which legitimately won the first ever popular vote last year, was overthrown by an over zealous military whose authority was stymied by the post Mubarak era governance of the former.

Arab world since the borders were redrawn by the British and other imperial forces from a century ago, has never been a peaceful place ever. The root cause of many of the problems arose once the disintegration of the Ottoman empire happened and the colonialistic forces adopted a policy of land grab and rule. The turbulence and unrest created due to the colonial rule spilled over into the new countries that quickly rejected colonialism. The colonial powers not one to leave without a fight made sure that through the rag tag corrupt armies in these countries that they were still relevant in determining the destinies of the new nations. Most of these countries saw military backed dictatorships that prolonged for decades. Democracy was a sham and the custodians of democracy all over the world ensured that bastardized forms of democracy was adopted and conveniently followed in these countries in the guise of dictatorships.

After years of subjugation under oppressive regimes, the people aided by improved communication tools like Twitter, internet etc., took onto the streets demanding better living conditions and true democratic governance in what is known today as Arab spring. Some of them were peaceful, some violent but there were huge regime changes in many of the populous Arab countries.

But Arab spring did not improve conditions as this new alien idea of democracy struggles to take root in many of these countries. The main reason behind this struggle is the immense diversity in the various Arab civilisations. If one studies history, you can come across a million races that fused among each other with time in all these countries. The only common feature among these people has been Islam that has been slapped on them during the post Mohammedan crusades and a similar yet different Arabic language dialects spoken by many of them.

What is happening now is an awakening by these people who have been oppressed by their own kind for so long aided by foreign vested interests. Most of the people on the streets don’t have even access to the basic facilities that each human craves for. They are a frustrated, defeated and angry people. Democracy is time consuming process and these impatient people are ones without any time either.

The time is now ripe for a nationalistic leader in the mould of Gamal Abdul Nasser to arise and unite all the Arab peoples of the North Africa. This leader should have the audacity to unite all the warring factions, vision to develop these regions and lay foundation to democratic institutions that would spearhead progress. Religion needs to be kept away and the excessive obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian cause must cease as these two issues distract the region heavily. Unless some drastic steps like these are taken, forget democracy, not even normalcy would ever approach the Arab world.

Picture taken from http://gubu-world.blogspot.com/2012/01/arab-spring-west-and-israel.html

Rise of Naxalism

Due to the IPL fracas, the news organizations in India have shown a certain laxity in the coverage of the Naxal attack on politicians in the Indian state of Chattisgarh. It is a dastardly attack, no doubts on that. But the event offers certain lessons the corruption laced Indian polity needs to remember.

Development and progress needs to be an inclusive activity to every section of the population. India being a developing country needs to understand that it is the fundamental right of every human being to avail the basic necessities of life- food, shelter and means to survive. Denying these would instigate the rudimentary attribute of every human being-one that of a beastly nature.

Today the Indian polity and media does a fantastic job of fooling the Indian society with the excreta of their misdeeds in the form of scams, scandals and loot etc. The middle class Indian enslaved to the idea of prosperity in the form of materialistic wealth and relentless consumerism, turns a pathetic deaf ear and a blind eye to this misdeeds. They are living in a make believe world. Just like the other side of a coin, the mighty Indian rich, polity and media should realize that their adversaries in the form of the downtrodden, poor and needy will not behave like their middle class counterparts.

The problem of Naxalism is a real one and a true one. If there is one thing that we can learn from the scams and scandals that plague every facet of the Indian society is that we are all adulterated with the same scum and filth. But this new found adversaries are much better than us, they are fighting for what we irresponsibly denied them and are feasting on today. That ugly battle is one we should learn to avoid as it is not a fight worth fighting for.

Image courtesy: http://www.instablogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/naxalism_j6o2t_2263.jpg