Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Holy Cow! How religion makes us Violant.


The evil Oonan (ஓனான் in Tamil)
My observation of religiously inspired violence goes back to my child hood memory of a group of Chameleon (Oonan) hunting boys. These boys would capture Chameleons and then torture them to death. It usually involves capturing a Chameleon using a noose tied to a string (just the way a cow boy would capture his cows). Once captured, the animal would be subjected to extreme form of torture until it dies. In one instance that I vaguely recall, the boys tied the captured Chameleon to a super explosive fire cracker that we called the atom bomb. After the loud explosion the animal’s carcass fell down in pieces.

  Reflecting back, I can’t believe how brutal it was, and I never understood why I was in the company of such kids displaying such brutal behavior.  Of course, when you are child, you are irrational and have difficulty in understanding the difference between right an wrong. Most of the boys grew out to be good citizens not indulging in any violence behaviour.

 But it raises an important question. So why were a group of young kids capturing Chameleons and torturing them?

 Because we were told that these Chameleons are evil.  The fable story (told by our parents) was that when God Ram was building a bridge to Srilanka to rescue his princess Sita, the Chameleons sided with the evil monster Ravana and refused to help.  The squirrels on the other hand helped God Rama build a bridge and so it got rewarded by a pat in the back by god Ram. (that apparently is the reason behind  line on the back of the squirrel).
Squirrel patted in the back by god Ram

 They therefore had a duty to protect the squirrel and kill the Chameleons!

 I don’t think the parents’ indented their bed time story to result in such brutal activities, but you can see how superstitious stories can produce unintended consequences. The story provided a justification for the brutal act, and it made us immune to guilt, shame or even empathy. During that time, the boys were fully convinced that they were carrying out their duty to god.

 Does that ring any bell to you? Does that explain why a certain group of young men strap themselves with explosives and are prepared to die? The fable stories of their religion convinces them to believe that they are simply carrying out their duty to fulfill their commitment to god. There is no sense of sympathy, empathy or afterthoughts towards the victims of their atrocity, nor there is any shame or guilt associated with this.

 Does that explain why a group of cow vigilantes killed a Muslim man in Dadri , India ( and other such brutalities of the cow protectors)?  The cow vigilantes are convinced they are carrying out their duty under their religion. Some fable religious story tells them that the cow is their mother and they have a duty to protect them. Even if it means killing the children of other human mothers!
When did I turn holy?

 Yes, of course a vast majority of us have grown up, with a level of maturity that we are not prepared to commit atrocities no matter what justification the mythological stories may provide, or no matter what our religious leaders say. Most of us are rationally thinking bunch that we start to ask questions, shake our heads and just don’t do such evil acts. However, we also never speak up against such atrocities nor we consider it to be our problem! Because no one wants to offend a religious faith even if that faith result in brutal killings.

 The problem is that the majority (the non violence folks) remain silent. Even the worst form of brutality is therefore not condemned in strongest tone because of the risk of offending a particular faith.

 We need acknowledge that fact that religion has this kind of magnetic effect on humans that it can easily brutalize them. When you start believing in something that has no rational or scientific basis, it creates a fragile state of mind. It is only a matter of personal mental stability that stops the person from reacting to external stimuli (a cartoon, an article, or a cow) and becoming a brutal monster. We see in our history, time and again, a substantially large number of people killed as a result of violence propagated in the name of the religion.

 In the aftermath of the partition of India, approximately half a million people died as a result of the Hindu Muslim violence. No natural calamity has ever broken that record. I am sure the people who were killing each other were fully convinced that they are carrying out their duty under the religion. Their state of mind is no different to the state of the mind of these young kids who were capturing and killing Chameleons.

 More people have died as a result of religious violence than all natural calamites put together.

 In other words, more people have died in the name of god than by god!

 We need to grow up and realize the religious text books are bed time stories cooked up by our ancestors. Some teach good moral, others are interesting fiction, but a large number of them are simply designed to keep the herd together. To stay together and protect the invisible deity, and for that, any act of violence is justified.

 As the saying goes “Without religion, god men will do good things and evil men will do evil things, but it takes religion for good men to do evil things

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016”-Why you should be concerned?

Maps of India – a brief history

Maps have been a source of political controversy in India dating back to the days of the British Empire. The legacy of development of Maps of India goes back to the days of the British Empire which commissioned the great trigonometric survey to map territories under their occupation.   Maps provided a strategic advantage in wars, especially at a time when other European powers were circling India for occupation. The British government therefore created a series of laws and regulations to restrict the production and dissemination (sharing) of maps. The Survey General of India, originally a military position, was created for this very reason. When India gained independence in 1947, it inherited much of the laws pertaining to the production, reproduction and dissemination of maps.   Since then, the Indian government has maintained this position, largely citing concerns with security and sovereignty.