The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

PORN BAN: WHAT WE DO IN OUR INTIMATE MOMENTS IS OF NO ONE ELSE'S CONCERN

What we do in our personal life, in our intimate moments, is of no one's concern - if it doesn't affect others - if it doesn't hurt our people.

Obviously, many of us conceal some innocuous things/habits/preferences from people we know, including our family. We do so, because we know and they know that most of us engage in such activities and the silent etiquette says we should not raise questions on doing so, on getting engaged in such activities.

Watching pornography is one of such activities. How does it affect life - and how does it ruin lives - are paradigms of endless debates over it. Regulating flow of pornographic material is a cultural, sociological and administrative problem.

And there are and there can be ways to regulate/control it - but banning pornographic sites en masse is certainly not advisable.

When people came to know on Sunday that the Government had banned (unofficially) some 857 adult websites in India, shielding behind a Supreme Court order in an ongoing court case, it was like a precursor to a wide-scale backlash. And by Tuesday, it had indeed become so, with government's move attracting national and international criticism, media attention and outraged opinions on social media. The criticism was aggravated by the fact that many non-pornographic content websites were also banned.

The move to ban so many websites (when many more are still available) was so shabby and weak on logics and principles (of free internet, of freedom of communication) that the NDA government found the move hard to justify.

And by this evening, it decided to 'lift the ban partially' - restricting the ban to 150 sites. A high level meeting was held today to review July 31 order. And the sense, forced by the outrage on the ban, forced the government to modify the order.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad an order would be issued to lift the ban and modify the order - to remove ban from sites other than sites with child pornography content and adult blue films.

Now, let's see what the new, upcoming order says.

India's is world's second most populous country and is slated to overtake China by 2022 to become the most populous one, a latest UN projection says.

When combined with other factors, like India's middle class would be the largest in the world by 2030, like India is the world's fastest growing economy, like India is the world's third largest economy by PPP standards, like it is the third largest smartphone market, like it is soon to become the second largest internet market, India becomes as lucrative for online pornography websites as it is for other trade oriented outfits. India is the fifth largest market (in terms of viewers accessing the content) for Pornhub, one of the major global adult entertainment websites.

Banning pornography in India, that is also the world's largest democracy, will prove counter-effective. We cannot regulate content flow and cannot watch who is watching what. We should not forget pornography was still there when internet was in its primitive leg in India. And we should not, unless it violates law. Yes, internet has made pornography easily available now and therefore a new regulatory framework is needed - defining and pinning any criminal activity related to pornography content flow on internet. But that is true for almost every category of cyber crime in our country. The legal infrastructure on cyber crimes is still evolving here.

Yes, child pornography is illegal and it should strictly banned. Yes, underage viewing of pornographic content should be regulated. But mindset grooming and family values are better tools for that. Correcting anomalies in society has to begin from there.

Watching pornographic websites on internet, on our smartphones, in our intimate, personal moments is a private activity and a mass ban is nothing less that our invasion of privacy here, especially when most of us cannot afford virtual private networks (VPNs).

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/ 

Monday, 3 August 2015

'NO WORK, NO PAY' FOR OUR MPS: DID YOU SAY THAT?

Reports say every minute of Parliament activist costs Rs. 2.5 lakh (Rs. 250,000) and most of it has been wasted in the recent parliamentary history of India.

And the season is here, yet again.

The issue is being debated intensely as the Parliament is in session and its working days so far, 10 days of this Monsoon Session, have been totally washed away in chaos.

Congress and the opposition parties supporting its stand are demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan's chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia for helping Lalit Modi and Madhya Pradesh's chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for Vyapam scam in the state. Obviously, going by the politics of the day, the BJP will never agree to such demands.

And as everyone is maintaining the stands taken, no one is listening to anyone. If we go by the audible records of the days in both Houses, voices of the Speakers of both Houses (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha) are the most clear and audible ones - trying to run their Houses and trying to discipline the members (of Parliament, that seldom happens). That speaks a lot.

Obviously, that is taxpayers' money which our policymakers so easily waste. In fact, the Parliament of has become synonymous with ruckus and chaos and its disruptions have become so routine that when it functions, it becomes a news.

And are policymakers are openly vocal and probably, insistent on it.

So, when a union minister proposed that the Narendra Modi government was considering bringing the MPs under 'no work, no pay' principle, the ears became spontaneously sceptical, taking the news with a fistful of salt.

And lo! Soon, the minister that had said so took U-turn saying he never said so.  

Yes, the issue is a burning one and the suggestion, if someone from the policymaking benches moots so, would be the logical one, in fact the most pertinent one. After all, bureaucracy comes under 'no work, no pay'. It is used in many private jobs and in corporate houses.

But our policymakers who see disrupting the Parliament daily as one of their democratic rights, even if it means loss of nation's resources, even if means nothing productive happening at a place where policies running the country are made and modified, would never agree to it.

And reactions by parliamentarians on the 'alleged' suggestion of the union minister only reaffirm so.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/ 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

GO SET A WATCHMAN: WHAT DOES IT SAY?

Atticus Finch, the greatest American hero as voted by the American Film Institute. And Atticus has been chosen so for his character traits - anti-racial, humanely and straight family man.

'To Kill A Mockingbird' gave us Atticus Finch in 1960. Since then, 55 years have passed. All these years have added to the aura of the character making him the cultural icon of generations - the aura that also added to the anticipation run towards 'Go Set A Watchman', Harper Lee's second book after 55 years of publication of 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.

'To Kill A Mockingbird' is a timeless classic and its popularity was amplified globally by the movie of the same name based on it. The movie came within two years of the book - in 1962 - and the quick film adaptation took the appeal of the book even far and wide.

In fact the global appeal of Atticus Finch, outside America, owes largely to the film version of the movie and has become a cultural phenomenon with changing times - in times when racism in legally illegal.

So, it was natural that 'Go Set A Watchman' became the most awaited book in recent times when Harper Lee announced that she was breaking her vow - never to get a book published again. A pro-racism Atticus Finch, the 180 degree departure from the character that we inherited from 'To Kill A Mockingbird', added intense rounds to everything that was being said and discussed about the book.

The book, when out on stands, met with mixed reactions.

'Go Set A Watchman' raises more questions as we move ahead with the plot leaving the reader grope in dark with many unanswered questions. The published book is essentially a sequel to 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. There will be many who know about the work but haven't read the book or seen the movie. They, too, will be tempted to have the book based on intense reviews and word of mouth publicity around it. And they will find such questions nagging them.

But let's see the scoring points first:

The book is not sequel to ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. In fact, as reported, it was written prior to the publication of Harper Lee’s classic. Coming after 55 years of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, it needed some rework, but as Harper Lee had said she would never publish a book again, the lapses are tangible. But the rework on Jean Louise Finch as making her narrator and main protagonist is logically done here. It was logical to read the next story after ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from her POV.

‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ was idealistic. ‘Go Set A Watchman’ is realistic. ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ came at a time when legal racial segregation was fighting last phase of its battle in America. The book added to the sentiments in stirring a nation’s conscience and Atticus Finch became a cultural symbol of anti-racial struggle in the US society. ‘Go Set A Watchman’ has come at a time when the US is seen largely anti-racist. Now is the time when people can look back in the past, as done from time to time, in movies, in books, to see how the people of South saw racial discrimination then.

The silent answer by Calpurnia (page 160) – when Jean Louise Finch asks her – is pensively and profoundly expressed by ‘bearing the burden of her years’. More than anything else, this sentence captures the essence of the theme the book is based on.

Character development of Henry Clinton is realistic, is according to the times prevalent in ‘then south’. He may sound submissive at times, but this he does for his love – and that is understood. And so is understood his logic when he justifies his and Atticus Finch joining Citizens’ Council meeting and their views on racial segregation – and his views of staying back and conforming to social norms of ‘then Maycomb’.

Transition of Jean Louise Finch characters, though, deserves more words, her meeting with reality of the day (and of the society) is logically explained in the book – ‘prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends – ‘uncle Jack Finch’ tells Jean Louise (page 270-271). Irrespective of the word flow between Jean Louise and her uncle in chapter 18, the sentence essentially corresponds to the realization Jean Louise has – from Scout/Jean Louise’s faith in Atticus Finch that prejudices her thoughts to the extent that she starts looking at everything from her POV and Atticus becomes a repulsive figure in her life – to a POV that retains her faith in Atticus Finch, his father and a social man of Maycomb.  

Now, let's see where the book leaves room for questions with unexplained developments and loose plot elements.

Well, for me, the book really begins with its 100th page when the element, being debated day in and day out, around the world, is introduced - that gives us first indication that Atticus Finch has 'turned' racial.

The book is basically about Scout's struggle on this revelations - that her father, the man for all seasons in her life, and his best man whom she contemplates to get marry are 'segregationists' - with 'segregation' being an act on racial lines against the black people.

But the book, till its 100th page, doesn't indicate that this one is going to be the central plot. In my opinion, the book fills first 100 pages in telling us the plot elements that are so routine - especially when you read 'Go Set A Watchman' after reading and watching 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.

There are pages in the book that readers can scan and pass. Yes, a book requires pages to set its theme, to introduce the plot elements, but 100 pages for it are too long for a 278 page book the version that I have - or for any book. (William Heinemann: London)

Even for many fans of 'To Kill A Mockingbird', this is like 'questionable' jump, from one plot theme to the unexpected next. Because, till 100 pages, the author doesn't give us even a hint about racial preferences and thoughts of a grown-up Jean Louise Finch. And then there she is - in words that begin to weave something from 100th page.

The book also doesn't delves into characterizing and developing who Jean Louise Finch is. Her preferences about life, her views about social issues including racial discrimination (including segregation and segregation itself) desire words and pages that Harper Lee has not given her.

'Go Set A Watchman' doesn't explain her internal struggle on racism before we are suddenly thrust into the sudden transition of character's thought process on the issue.   The book needed to create a background here with personal memoirs and experiences - especially in terms of Scout's life in New York - but Harper Lee probably left that to the readers.

The book explains well about Scout's coming of age about her father but leaves much to be desired on developing a character that is sensitive and make opinions but doesn’t fight.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/ 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

ELEMENTAL ELEMENTS OF ‘GO SET A WATCHMAN’



The book is not sequel to ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. In fact, as reported, it was written prior to the publication of Harper Lee’s classic. Coming after 55 years of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, it needed some rework, but as Harper Lee had said she would never publish a book again, the lapses are tangible. But the rework on Jean Louise Finch as making her narrator and main protagonist is logically done here. It was logical to read the next story after ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from her POV.

‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ was idealistic. ‘Go Set A Watchman’ is realistic. ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ came at a time when legal racial segregation was fighting last phase of its battle in America. The book added to the sentiments in stirring a nation’s conscience and Atticus Finch became a cultural symbol of anti-racial struggle in the US society. ‘Go Set A Watchman’ has come at a time when the US is seen largely anti-racist. Now is the time when people can look back in the past, as done from time to time, in movies, in books, to see how the people of South saw racial discrimination then. 

The silent answer by Calpurnia (page 160) – when Jean Louise Finch asks her – is pensively and profoundly expressed by ‘bearing the burden of her years’. More than anything else, this sentence captures the essence of the theme the book is based on.

Character development of Henry Clinton is realistic, is according to the times prevalent in ‘then south’. He may sound submissive at times, but this he does for his love – and that is understood. And so is understood his logic when he justifies his and Atticus Finch joining Citizens’ Council meeting and their views on racial segregation – and his views of staying back and conforming to social norms of ‘then Maycomb’.

Transition of Jean Louise Finch characters, though, deserves more words, her meeting with reality of the day (and of the society) is logically explained in the book – ‘prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends – ‘uncle Jack Finch’ tells Jean Louise (page 270-271). Irrespective of the word flow between Jean Louise and her uncle in chapter 18, the sentence essentially corresponds to the realization Jean Louise has – from Scout/Jean Louise’s faith in Atticus Finch that prejudices her thoughts to the extent that she starts looking at everything from her POV and Atticus becomes a repulsive figure in her life – to a POV that retains her faith in Atticus Finch, his father and a social man of Maycomb.   


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Friday, 31 July 2015

DICHOTOMY OF THOUGHTS (ON FAITH)

Without God’s will, nothing moves. Without God’s sanction, nothing happens. Whatever happens – happens because it is God’s wish.

Therefore - whatever happens – happens for good.

But what good can we see in others’ suffering? But what good can we find in a world that is forced to suffer by the bad deeds of human – corruption, crime, terrorism, religious wars, civil wars, imperialism and so on? But what good can we feel on demise of someone close? But what good can be if we fail to find reasons within us for hostile happenings inflicted on us?

Nowhere is it more visible than at a temple, especially famous at temple attracting large number of devotees.  

Faith brings us there – to a temple – to a place of worship. We go there for majority of reasons - with hope in mind that there is Someone to listen to us.

But when we see the system in the temple and around it (or at the place of worship), something that happened again with me, when I visited the Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place in Delhi, these questions spontaneously come to us.   

There are people waiting for alms – for many, it forms an important, inseparable part of daily chores.

But then, there are other people as well – suffering – living sub-human lives.

The scenes at such God’s abodes can distract any conscious soul – forcing the rational mind to raise questions.

And the one answer that comes to mind is – atonement. Probably, that’s the God’s way to seek repentance.





©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/    

Thursday, 30 July 2015

LATE NIGHT SUPREME COURT HEARING SHOULD BE SEEN IN THIS CONTEXT

India may mean many things to many but one thing is common - it has a robustly functional democracy - a 2:30 AM hearing on Yakub Memon in the Supreme Court shows it.

Yes, Yakub Memon's case is not going to be a beginning to undo the chasm and malaise that beset Indian democracy.

It is not going to address the problem of 'legal remedy getting costlier' and therefore being not available to the majority of the population.

India's top court, in an unprecedented move, in a first, opened after midnight to hear someone who was going to die in next few hours after being given death sentence.

And the development is indeed a positive factors, is an indicator of how strong are democratic values - irrespective of the reasons working behind it.

The point is - India's apex court worked on it - even after rejecting Yakub Memon's last legal options just few hours earlier.

Yes, India's democracy is 'robustly functional' because India is the world largest democracy and has been so for nearly 70 years in spite of multitudes of problems working overtime to drag it backward. Its future is rightly expected to keep positive promises to work for.

In fact, India is the only democracy in the world where large population groups of different religions coexist under a common Constructional administration. Yes, religion does give them some specific leverages but that is mostly individual in nature and doesn't intervene with the nation's governance.

Yes, it is daydreaming to expect that this unprecedented late night/early morning hearing by the Supreme Court is going to set a trend where people with such 'extreme grievance conditions' will be able to knock the apex court at any hour of the day.

Majority will simply not get the coordinates required - lawyers and round the clock coverage  - that Yakub Memon got and that made it possible - something that made the apex court take cognizance of a late night plea to conduct a hearing.

Debates like 'death penalty has no place in a civilized world' have their own validity but we need to be equally sensitive to the issue that it is an endless debate between 'being right' in abolishing death penalty and 'being justified' in demanding harshest punishment to the perpetrators (including capital punishment).

And our democracy gives space to both, or even to them who are still not clear what is their viewpoint.

And the late night hearing by the Supreme Court on plea of Yakub Memon's lawyers and by a battery of lawyers working to abolish the death penalty from Indian penal system should be seen in this context.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/   

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

DEATH SENTENCE: ENDLESS STRUGGLE BETWEEN BEING 'RIGHT' AND BEING 'JUSTIFIED' IN SPIRIT

Tomorrow is July 30 when Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam's last rites will take place in his home town Rameswaram.

Tomorrow is also the day when Yakub Memon is scheduled to hang in Nagpur Central Prison for his role in 1993 Mumbai blasts.

With today's hearings in the Supreme Court, all legal options available to Yakub came to an 'almost' end with the apex court refusing to stay or commute his death sentence.

'Almost' because while writing this, a news came that his lawyers filed another petition in the Supreme Court challenging decision of Maharashtra's Governor to reject his mercy plea.

Now, we don't know if what is going to happen this petition but while writing this, we can now say that the President has rejected Yakub's mercy plea.

That means, now a miracle is needed to save Yakub from the gallows, about which we cannot say anything.

Yakub Memon's hanging, no doubt, has become a political issue and each side, involved politically, is trying to get maximum political mileage from the ongoing, heated political debate that has swept the consciousness of the nation for the past two days, or on any recent day when there was an important hearing in the case.

But irrespective of the political debate, there is an intense human side to it - that is between the perpetrators and the victims.

Irrespective of people and advocates sparking debates on 'abolishing death sentence', victims would always, in almost cases (obviously there have been and there would be exceptions), demand harshest of the punishment for the criminals directly affecting their lives.

Advocates fighting to 'abolish' death sentence are right in their spirit.

Victims directly affected by the crimes are justified in their spirit in demanding death sentence.

And it is an endless struggle between 'being right in their spirit' and 'being justified in their spirit' and we, probably, are not mature enough as a society, to take a decision that would be in the larger interest of its members.

But, the heart is not feeling good on this decision - on the decision to hang Yakub Memon.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/   

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

'RETURN IF POSSIBLE’ DR. KALAM

Now that is a desperate plea to someone departed who was so beloved. That is an expression that we so often hear in such moments. 

It was expected to happen and it was so heartening to see it happening. I read this opinion and the poignant thoughts that followed from multitudes of voices.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, India's foremost scientist and human being, who was also India's most unorthodox President in India's recent political history, was the main news theme even today. And he is expected to be there tomorrow and the day after as well, in every mind, on every news agenda. His body will be flown to his home town Rameswaram tomorrow where his last rites will be performed on Thursday (July 30).

Dr. Kalam who curated and spearheaded India's missile programme (and for that he is known as India's Missile Man) and who was the main brain behind India's nuclear tests in 1998, died yesterday while delivering a lecture at IIM Shillong. Doctors later said it was a massive cardiac arrest and Dr. Kalam was brought dead to the hospital.

No one trusted when the news first broke in media and social media. For some time, there was no official confirmation. But it soon became clear that Dr. Kalam, who, it is said, left the Rashtrapati Bhavan with the same suitcase that he had come with, had left us.  The eternal teacher who departed from this world while teaching his students had left his body at 84 after living a youthful life – that is a lesson for humanity.

But many were not ready to take this even if reactions and tributes started pouring in. They kept on praying for miracle. They kept on praying with 'return if possible' Sir, as I read it on many communication channels.

That tells why and how a man becomes larger than life. For Dr. Kalam, his nation, India, was before everything and he followed it in letter and spirit while leading a simple, honest and frugal life - a life full of achievements, achievements that helped India live its scientific prowess in space and defence sectors.

The teacher in him, the disciplinarian in a scientist, the optimist in a person, the rationalist in a politician and the visionary in a leader will always stay with us a spirit to guide many of us. 

After all, India has stopped producing such souls for whom the whole nation, across religions and classes, mourns. 

India has not seen such a uniform expression of universal shock and tribute in years and will not see in many coming years. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/  

Monday, 27 July 2015

A MAN LIKE DR. KALAM WOULD HAVE WANTED SUCH A DEPARTURE FROM THIS WORLD

Till 8 PM, it was the Gurdaspur terror strike, continuing its run that had begun at the daybreak. The terror attack that was on every airwave till 8 PM, was suddenly pushed to the backdrop with a shocking news.

Around 8 PM, the unconfirmed news of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam's sudden demise in Shillong broke. Though it soon became clear that he was no more, it took some time to make the sad development official.

And once it was in, it swept the media outfits.

The news of sudden demise of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, the country's missile-man, the scientist who spearheaded our coveted missile programme, the scientists who was among the best few human begins this nation has ever produced, came as a shock for everyone.

It was like for someone so close to us - that we first refuse to believe when it comes to such developments.

And we didn't believe it. We found hard to believe it. Many of us who knew he was already dead before it was made official prayed for some miracle to happen.

But as the cliché goes that 'miracles seldom happen in real life' - the miracle we were praying for didn't happen. Around 9 PM, Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted confirming his death and the flow of reactions that had begun some minutes ago, became an unstoppable flood - where everyone was adding to the sentiments.

How much nation (and its people) APJ Abdul Kalam was evident soon from the news agenda of the day that was driven by many personal feelings as well.

On a day, when India was again forced to handle a terror crisis that could have become another 26/11 for us (November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks), media and social media had nothing but reactions and tributes about Dr. Kalam. The coverage prime time onwards was only about Dr. Kalam. The flood that is growing strong with pouring tributes and is expected to be in the same vein tomorrow.  

Such things make us feel proud, give us hope in moments of such despair when we suddenly feel crushed by developments like Dr. Kalam's death.

He needed much more than tweets by the President and the Prime Minister of India. And indeed, they came first with their reactions on camera. Reactions of shock and dismay poured in from every quarter of people in India. From common people to politicians to business people to sports people to other fames names - heartfelt tributes flooded the channels of communication.

A man like Dr. Kalam would have always wanted such a departure from this world - an universal expression of love - driving people to react spontaneously - making them feel the pain.

On a day when India had an hours long terror crisis in Punjab, that it said was perpetrated by Pakistani terrorists, everyone, be of any religion, was one in pain on demise of Dr. Kalam, a Muslim. And that says why India's secular credentials are so strong to stay here. After all, Dr. Kalam had famously said - "For great men, religion is a way of making friends; small people make religion a fighting tool.”

The nation is proud of his legacy - that would always guide us. No other man, from any walk of Indian life, in the prevailing circumstances, can expect to get such an unbiased love that people expressing for him this night. His aura was truly transcendental that touched us all.  

We are in mourning but the pain becomes bearable with the kind of universal tribute he is getting, that greats like him should get. 

Some images from his Twitter page: 







©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/ 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

SYMBOLS WERE SELF ASSERTIVE..

The morning was still fresh
The evening was wildly free
The night was in a rush to go
The day was like a thrilling ride

The joy was there to do more
The sense was lost in saying so
The call was pure to go along
With no reasons to stop midway

Life was groovy, like always
But it had added spice that day
To croon the songs afresh
Feeling that impulse in veins

The lyrics was post-modern
Kafkaesque in after-effects
Existing somewhere deep inside
Where ends blurred and melted

But the individual was prevailing
Love with self was wildly tamed
The dark corners were lit purple
The symbols were self assertive

Yesterday and tomorrow mingled
To shape a today that had wings
On a journey beyond this life
To read the texts as they were 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/