Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The question of religion in India

This past week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered possibly his greatest speech since assuming office. Surprisingly, he was not sharing the dais with President Obama or the Wolverine; he was not even speaking to a audience of business tycoons or crazed NRIs. This speech featured at an event to mark the elevation to sainthood of Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sister Euphrasia of Kerala. In it, the Prime Minister outlined his government's iron-clad commitment to the fundamental right of religious freedom, calling upon diverse inspirations for secularism ranging from the Rig Veda to Swami Vivekananda. As PM Modi's speeches go, this one was pretty mundane - it did not announce any massive projects, breakthrough deals or revolutionary ideas, however in my opinion, this speech marks an important milestone for his government - he has finally broken his silence on the growing winds of religious intolerance that are swirling around India.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Debate we should be having

Delhi, and a large part of India, is gripped with Election fever! The national capital is witnessing the first litmus test of the 'Modi wave' against a vibrant political force. With all due respect, the BJP's successes in other states since May 2014 have been against hapless oppositions who are clamoring to find a political message that resonates with the public. In a political atmosphere where Modi & the BJP have largely usurped the development card, AAP represents an intriguing mix of activism and realpolitik. AAP's early electoral successes were primarily due to Arvind Kejriwal's activist credentials. However when their 49-day government tanked, the party seemed to implode. A string of high-profile desertions and an overreaching attempt in the Lok Sabha elections saw the party largely written off by political observers and the media. However, since then AAP has managed to successfully re-brand itself as a political party that eschews politics - a paradoxical position pulled off in no small measure by Arvind's muffler-framed charms.
With exit polls predicting a strong performance by AAP despite the BJP pulling out the big guns for this election, the media are huffing and puffing with an obscene level of excitement. The Internet, especially Twitter, is clogged with an endless stream of irrelevant quotes and counter-quotes. One really wonders whether most of India really cares if AAP loses or decimates the BJP in this election?

Monday, January 12, 2015

A tragedy of Vedic proportions

If you have been following the news from India over the last few weeks, undoubtedly you’d have gawked at the following gems:

“We discovered the Pythagoras Theorem but we gracefully allowed the Greeks to take the credit” [1]

“We realize that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time.” [2]

“Ancient India knew aerial combat techniques” [3]

“Ancient planes powered by donkey urine” [4]

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Check out 'Philosophize This'

I think we can all safely agree that, for most of us, a naked bearded guy shouting Eureka in his bathtub is the furthest extent of our grasp on philosophy. It is a subject rarely taught in schools or encountered in the mundane activities of adult life. Alas, philosophy is such a wicked beast, that even those interested in investing the time and effort in grappling with it, will be turned away by such gibber-gabber as 'One cannot step twice in the same river' [1]. Even the definition of the field is widely disputed, with common substitutes being largely vapid linkages of words - "Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with realityexistenceknowledge,valuesreasonmind, and language. " [2]