Why the moon hoax would have been impossible.
Arm yourself, with KNOWLEDGE!
I finally got around to reading Arundhati Roy’s famous “nanga bhookha” essay on Kashmir. The sensitivity and realism depicted in the essay had driven a lot of people in India into hating her. Do read it.
Abrahamic religions and Dharmic traditions have moral laws which deal with the personal behavior of their believers. In Abrahamic religions, it’s known as The Golden Rule. In Dharmic traditions, it’s known as Ahimsa (non-violence).
The Golden Rule uses action and reaction or cause and effect (do to others as you want done to you) as the foundation which is self-conflicting and self-deceiving. It instructs people to act based on the results they expect and sounds “fair and balanced,” but it ends up in confusion, deception, hostility and violence because of unmet expectations. That, in essence, is its goal.
Ahimsa uses non-violence as the foundation and goal which is simple to understand and practice. We are non-violent toward others not because we expect non-violence from others but because Ahimsa by itself is our ethic. We practice it without expecting anything in return.
Expecting results for an action = balanced.
Not expecting results for an action = unbalanced.
This unbalanced action is known as Ahimsa Paramo Dharma (non-violence is the supreme duty) but that’s not the end of the law. Our Dharma instructs us to practice Himsa (violence) when others violate us from carrying out our supreme duty. This is known as Dharma himsa tathaiva cha (violence in the service of duty) which helps in defending ourselves from aggressors.
People in India assume that the criteria for democracy consists of canvassing for votes by political parties and voting by the eligible masses on election day. While voting is an important aspect, it is not all that constitutes a democracy.
Voting gives direct power to the people in choosing their representatives. Due to human nature and man’s preoccupation with his self-interest, these elected representatives invariably tend to support policies they benefit from rather than the constituents they represent — which is not what a real democracy should result in. A democracy consists of a government of the people, by the people and for the people and not a government of the elite classes, by the slave masses and for the middle-classes.
This is what public intellectuals like Arundhati Roy criticize the government with. The problem in India is that the masses choose their representatives and only the elite classes choose the policies of development. These elite classes, which the elected representatives belong to, choose the who, what, where, when, why and how of development. The masses don’t get to make choices in this important aspect of a democracy which affects their lives.
The writer Arundhati Roy engages in movements that integrate the informed participation of the masses in the politics of development right from the start of her activist life while the current Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh engages in the deceptively hollow rhetoric of the “inclusion of the masses in the fruits of development.”
The problem with elites like Dr. Manmohan Singh is that their rhetoric of inclusion assumes a master/slave dichotomy. The elite classes (masters) choose when and which slaves get to have some milk which is collected in the milk cans (treasury) by the masses (slaves). The elite classes in India are able to accomplish this by looking after the opulent needs (having baths in vats of milk) of their own class, keeping the middle-classes sufficiently nourished (feeding them milk from baby bottles) and then caged and keeping the slave masses running around with livelihood issues since they are being denied all their needs which pushes them into a state of constant warfare in their search for resources to sustain themselves (licking the spilt and waste milk from the baths).
Ms. Roy’s essays aim to bring this very situation to the awareness of the people. The question is whether the caged middle-classes are able to give up their apathy and develop themselves in the human sphere to empathize with their fellow men. We may have evolved from animals, but we do need to learn to be human. We could look far into the past for inspiration and instruction in this regard since we are the children of Emperor Ashoka Maurya and his edicts.
While materialism as a philosophy of the middle-classes is a necessary starting point, what sustains democracy and makes life joyful and worth experiencing is the idea that all people’s needs and lives are valuable. This idea is what drives Ms. Roy’s politics of development.