An incredible country called India

Synopsis : There is an incredible country called India where the country is blessed with great natural beauty of the Himalayas and the ghats as well as the abundance of flora and fauna that are unique. It is a country of majestic palaces and forts to remind you of a great bygone era when mighty kings and queens ruled . It was the jewel in the British crown during their colonial period. But the country is famous for its spirituality that has produced great leaders and thinkers like Swami Vivekananda and Shri RamaKrishna Dev.

An incredible country called India  ( Source : Google photo )

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I have for quite some time wanted to write about India, the country where I was born, grew up and was educated but eventually left to settle down somewhere else. I was born in a country at a time when it was going through tremendous political turmoil and nationwide upheaval unprecedented in its long history.

India was in bondage for a long period in its turbulent history and the foreigners like Babur or the British, French, Portuguese and even Dutch, all tried and some succeeded in getting a foothold in this ancient land of milk and honey, of extreme riches and extreme poverty side by side.

They brought with them their brand of religion, their culture, their trade and commerce and most of all their greed to exploit the country that they claimed in the name of their monarchs or their religion and ruled ruthlessly causing immense loss of life in order to establish their firm control over a land mass that stretched from Afghanistan in the west to Burma in the east and its diverse and culturally distinct people who were unique in the whole world.

Babur as a child was mesmerized by the tales of “Hind” that was somewhere in the south of central Asia where his father ruled as a monarch and he constantly begged his nanny to tell him more about Hind that was like a fantasy land so full of riches and vowed at that age to someday go and become a king there.

He took his first step as a young ruler to gather a huge army in Afghanistan and then marched on through Khyber pass to engage the ruler of India in a battle north of Delhi in the plain called Panipat, defeated the sultan of Delhi and firmly established his rule over a small part of India that grew over a period of time and set up the Mogul dynasty. They ruled India for hundreds of years and were defeated by the British when the last Mogul ruler Bahadur Shah Jaffar was taken prisoner and sent to Burma where he died in his old age.

But long before Babur ever came to India and set up the Mogul dynasty, there were other rulers from Afghanistan who repeatedly invaded India through the Khybar pass and set up their sultanate in Delhi among whom Lodis were prominent.  One can see their mausoleums in Delhi in the midst of acres of garden . Others were purely marauders who came to loot, pillage and kill every year and left with booties loaded on camel caravans miles long because looting India was so profitable. The spread of Islam by their sword was just a bonus and bought them indulgences and a permanent place in their paradise where 75 virgin houris waited on them hands and foot if they happened to die doing so.

The temple of Somnath known for its riches was looted no less than 15 times by the same gang of bandits who were pleasantly surprised that the temple had so much for them to loot and pillage and had no defenses.

But going back in history, it was Alexander who came to India to loot, defeated the King called Puru and asked him how he should be treated. Puru answered that he should be treated the same way a king treats another king which impressed Alexander and he decided not to invade and went back to Macedonia.

His soldiers were tired of long endless wars and wanted to return home to their families and wanted no more to fight in a strange land where thousands of armored elephants formed formidable defense lines that they could not easily penetrate and took heavy losses. They were also sick of the heat and mosquitos.

The Arabs called him Sikandar so this name stayed in India .Akbar the great Mogul who wished to be buried in a place called Sikandara near Agra had a big mausoleum built for him but people have forgotten how the name Sikandara came into being. Most people do not know India’s long history.

A Portuguese explorer called Vasco de Gama came to India to trade centuries ago and the Portuguese managed to get hold of three places, Goa, Daman and Dieu where they set up their colonies until they were forced out by the Indian army back in the 1960s. Nasser helped block the Suez Canal to stop the Portuguese sending the soldiers to take their colonies back.

When people come to India for the first time, their senses are assailed by strange sounds, smells, aromas, crowds, a cacophony of everything strange, a riot of colors, flora and fauna in abundance, beautiful peacocks pecking at insects in the vast gardens of Delhi, extreme riches and poverty side by side.

Nowhere in the world such a contrast exists and they can’t make up their mind as to what to think of India. Most will just visit the Taj Mahal, see a few palaces in Delhi and Rajasthan and go back home. A few will wander to see other parts of India and will be mesmerized by what they see. From the lofty snowy peaks of Himalayas to the end of the land in Kanyakumari and from the green emerald tea gardens of Assam to the desert sands of Rajasthan, India never fails to impress anyone with its ever changing landscape.

I used to think of India as a jewel wrapped in rags but those rags are finally coming off and India is emerging as the fastest growing economy in the world. I have written  a blog called Yesterday, today and tomorrow where I wrote about the India when I was a child so that is perhaps worth reading in this context.

But that is the physical beauty of India that most tourists see and pay a price to see it. The tourists local as well as the foreign are always taken advantage of by the hordes of unscrupulous people who swarm around as soon as they figure you out for a sucker. In that sense they are no different from the Italians or Greeks and others who do exactly the same and laugh at you behind your back.

The spiritual India:

What most people do not get to see is the spiritual side of India on which many books have been written. Hinduism is the only religion that does not have a leader, a prophet like Moses or Jesus or Mohamed who gave rise to a religion and his followers then wrote a book called Bible or Koran to guide their co religionists.

No. India does not have a book but India has the ancient scriptures called Vedas, Upanishads , Puranas and the stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana. No one knows how old are the scriptures and who wrote them and can only make a guess work like the Scriptures called Vedas were written some say 3500 years ago and others say over 8000 years ago before Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa . But no one is sure.

They know who wrote Ramayana and Mahabharata and who Ram was and where he was born although the Thais and others claim Ram as their own and will show you Ayutthaya as their proof. By the way Ayutthaya is the Thai version of the name Ajodhya in Uttar Pradesh where Hindus believe Ram was born and lived.

The invasion of Moslems and the forced conversion of Hindus to their faith and later the British missionaries who converted some to their brand of Christianity has not been able to suppress the Hinduism because Hindus embrace all religions as the manifestation of the same God and try to assimilate them. They show respect to Moslem Pirs and visit their mausoleums but they could not assimilate Moslems like others but that is another story. I will not write that story.

Many Moslems and Christians disappointed in their faiths reconvert to Hinduism and are welcome through programs like “Return home” or Ghar wapasi . But Hindus are not proselytizers like Christians and Moslems and do not believe in exporting their faith to other lands because they feel that they do not need to convince the world that it is a great religion.

It is called the ancient religion or Sanatan Dharma for a reason. It is the oldest religion whose origin is still shrouded in mystery but more and more people join it and practice it now than ever before. While it is true that some Hindu traders spread the religion to the Khmer empire that grew up in Cambodia and other places like Bali in Indonesia and even Thailand but they were not missionaries per se and did not spread the faith through the sword.

Hindus tend to assimilate people of other faith and thereby smother the harsh tenets of those faiths. So Buddhism which was once a prevalent faith throughout India was assimilated and now one hardly sees Buddhists anywhere except a few places like Dharmashala or Bodhi Gaya. Hindus call Buddha an avatar of Vishnu so venerate him as God. Vishnu has many avatars like Ram, Krishna, Buddha etc.

They also accept the good teachings of any faith and later call it their own. The non violence as practiced by the Buddhists is now a part of Hinduism and ban on slaughter of cows during the Buddhist period is still practiced by Hindus who are mostly vegetarians. Originally Hindus were not vegetarians though.

They ate all kinds of meat including beef and drank alcohol called Somras made from some plants during the Vedic period thousands of years ago.

The Sikhs are also considered a part of Hinduism because they still have Hindu names like Surendra, Virendra etc. except that in their language they write it as Surinder or Virinder. They have their own prophet called Guru Nanak and their own scriptures called Grantha Sahib which contains the words of wisdom of Guru Nanak but that is ok with the Hindus. Sikhs were Hindus who took up arms against the Moslems who tried to convert them by force and developed their brand of faith based on the teachings of Guru Nanak.

Their faith tells them that to be a Sikh, they must always have five things on them. Those five things are long hair and beard, a comb in their hair, a knife, a steel bracelet and cotton underwear which have each a definite purpose.

Among the Hindus there are many factions and many sects that often do not agree with each other just like the Christians or Moslems but they stand united as Hindus and believe that their religion is more of a way of life than religion. They are also taught to be tolerant of other faiths, sects and factions so there is a sort of harmony that exists among Hindus although they may not entirely agree with each other.

Later came some Hindu evangelists like Swami Prabhupada who went to the United States and established what is known today as the Krishna Consciousness movement which grew from its humble origin in New York to what it is today, a worldwide phenomenon      but this is a recent development in the spread of Hinduism.

Of course there are gurus or fake swamis who are dime a dozen and take advantage of the western fascination for the Hindu faith , set up their shop somewhere and rake in millions of dollars. Religion has never been so lucrative if you know how the work the crowd, specially young and listless who are fed up with their incessant materialism and consumer greedy culture. They give the religion a bad name but get rich just the same.

But there are those Hindus who reached a very high level of spirituality and who continue to inspire millions of India today including our current leaders.

One such great man was Swami Vivekananda who in 1893 went to Chicago where an interfaith conference was held for many days and where he addressed the people as “ My brothers and sisters of America” . After that people waited in thousands to hear him and followed him wherever he went because they had never heard such forceful presentation of Hindu philosophy that they liked so much. His fame then spread throughout the world as one of the great spiritual leaders and his work published in 8 volumes is widely read.

Today if you go to KanyaKumari, you will see a magnificent temple built on the rock where he used to sit and pray and where his granite life size image adorns the temple visited by millions. Belur is the headquarter of the Rama Krishna Mission that he established that serve the poor and where a majestic temple has been built to honor the swami and Shri Rama Krishna Dev.

But India produced many such great spiritual leaders like Shri Rama Krishna Paramhansadev  who lived in Dakshineshwar  and taught young Vivekananda  the essentials of spirituality and how to attain them. Many great leaders like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidya Sagar and many others had great impact socially to guide the youth of that period away from the western influence ,alcoholism and other addictive vices .

India is called the land of spirituality because of such great men who were born there and taught there. Remember Buddha himself was born in India because in those days there was no place called Nepal.

Krishna was born in royalty but his uncle who was the king in Mathura was told that a child will be born to his sister who will later kill him. He was a tyrant and fearful for his life so had his sister jailed and had all the children born to his sister killed one by one until Krishna was born as the 8th child and he was somehow smuggled out of the jail and raised in Vrindavan by a milkmaid called Yashodhara. Later Krishna as a young man kept the promise of his destiny and killed his uncle Kansha  and saved the population from the rule of a tyrant.

Krishna later on played a key role in the battle of MahaBharata where he sided with the Pandavas and convinced Arjun to fight the battle as it was the right thing to do to fight evil. His words spoken during the battle are the Gita that Hindus venerate as the word of God.

So throughout the long history, people like Krishna and Buddha were born to show the Hindus the right way to live and attain a high level of spirituality.

Not everyone takes Krishna or Buddha or the teachings of Vivekananda seriously and many live life of dishonesty or crime but by and large Hindus are religious people who give alms to poor people and help them out in many ways. My Ma used to give money to charities and to the orphans every month and always gave alms to anyone who came to our door.

The beauty of India:

Now I want to write about the beauty of India as a country although I may be biased because I was born there but you can be your own judge and make up your own mind. I have published some nice power points on many subjects in India and you can see all of them at the Google drive. I will post the link below.

India was a feudal country comprising of many kingdoms and their petty kings who always quarreled with their neighbor kings over territory, revenue etc. and fought constant wars to avenge some insults over kidnapping of their princesses or queens. They also built impressive forts to protect themselves and their population from attack and conscripted sons of farmers to the army that needed constant resupply .It was just like in Egypt except that there were many such pharaohs in India and they never considered India as one country.

The foreigners like the Moslems or the British took advantage of this division among the kings and their kingdoms and were able to gain a foothold easily by encouraging fights among the kings. Clive comes to mind who was an expert in this game and he was able to promote the East India Company that was the precursor to the British rule by Victoria later on.

These kings lived lavishly and spent lavishly on themselves at the cost of exploiting the population for their own selfish benefits. Their lavish palaces are now empty for the camera toting tourists to gawk at but once they lived the life of utter luxury there  eating from gold and silver plates and wrapping their palaces in silk and filled with imported furniture or Belgium mirrors and driving Rolls Royce. They even had their own private railway lines and coaches while the population lived in poverty and misery only and died for the king when conscripted.

One such King went to England and had two giant silver vessels filled with Ganga water carried on his ship because he did not want to touch the water of England.

All over India you will see the excesses of these past kings and their huge forts, palaces, gardens and their impressive armory. Some hidden treasure chambers have been found where they stored immense quantity of gold and silver and jewels worth billions .Thanks to democracy, these treasures are now put to good use by the Indian government. But many such treasures remain hidden.

Then came the Moguls who took their lavishness to new heights and built their own palaces and forts and accumulated wealth beyond belief but had only whips for the poor taxpayers who dared not to fail to pay their share. Taj Mahal is such an example of lavishness for which the king paid dearly. Its inside walls were once encrusted with jewels that glowed in the candle light but the British took care of that and replaced the jewels with fakes.

Very few such rulers were benevolent in nature and considered it their divine right to rule over hapless people who were meant to only serve the royalty. One such ruler force marched the entire population from Delhi to his new capital in Daulatabad near Aurangabad in central India and decided to frog march them back to Delhi only after seven years. He did not care how many people died in the process. Now his unassailable fort in Daulatabad stands as a monument to his crazy ideas but one can see such craziness and the results all over India.

The abandoned city of FatehPur Sikri near Agra is another example of such folly and lavish spending of the Mogul king Akbar who lived there for a while but the artificial lake he built to store water dried up therefore doomed the city and people left when Akbar died. No one suggested him to dig a canal to bring water from Yamuna river in Agra but perhaps there were no hydraulic engineers in those days although I doubt it.

The royalty did not care how the poor people lived and never built houses for them or schools or roads. A stupid nawab in Lucknow was told that people need jobs so he let them build houses that they had to tear down the next day and rebuild it so that they could have a job. No one told the king that he could have them build thousands of houses for these poor people in a planned way.

There was one king called Sher Shah who was the exception and who built the grand Trunk road but perhaps more to move his troops and military supplies than to move common people. Still a road is a road and people still use it after many centuries.

Other kings let people build their own habitations where there was no planning so you will see the hovels built by them in all cities where city planning was unknown. These are called the old cities and they exist side by side with the new planned cities that the British built. A good example is Delhi itself.

The flora and fauna:

Did you know that India is the only country in Asia where lions, rhinoceros and other  animals are found outside Africa? You can see often the huge nilgais from the train and river dolphins and gharials in many places. Nilgais are a kind of deer.

Millions of birds from Siberia and central Asia cross the Himalayas and come to roost in the wild life sanctuaries in many parts of India every year. You can see the magnificent Siberian cranes and other exotic birds in these bird sanctuaries.

We used to hear the howls of jackals and wolves as well as hyenas from our house so these animals were nearby. Now they have moved away due to the pressure of the population but they are still found in rural areas aplenty. The hills are full of jaguars, black panthers, bears and even red pandas among other fearsome animals like tigers, leopards and cheetahs. The Royal Bengal Tigers are world famous for their beauty .There are many tiger reserves now where they are protected and one can see the Lions living near the villages in Gujrat where they pose no threat to the people because they have plenty of preys in the Gir forest where  they usually live. Gharials are also protected and bred in farms  and released in the wilderness by the government.

The British were always hunting these beautiful animals and bragged about how many tigers they killed for fun but now they are protected by the government.

You will see wild elephants in the nature parks in the south or in the foothills of Himalayas and Assam. We saw many such elephants while on a trip to the south where the camera toting tourists were taking photos furiously saying that their day will be complete if they can photograph a black jaguar or a leopard or two as if the jaguars and cheetahs were waiting by the roadside for a photo opportunity such are the foolish tourists. It is good that they did not try to reach the wild elephants although you never can underestimate the foolishness of people.

Only in India one can see tamed bears and elephants on the road frequently although there is now a program to free these poor bears and put them in shelters where they receive veterinary care and food and the bear owners who are nomads are taught new trade or skills to earn a living.

I was so impressed by the river dolphins in Ganga  just near the ghats in Benares where they were playing joyously as if without any care or concern as they should be because they are protected now. They have become extinct elsewhere because the government wakes up very slowly to such disasters.

The peacock is the national bird of India and killing them will land you in jail in no time so they multiply and are found in many cities, parks and of course in the forested areas . There are over 1200 bird species I put in my PowerPoint on “Birds of India” that you may like to check out. I will post the link at the end of this blog.

But it is the people of India that make the country interesting. There are so many types of people that often you wonder if they are Indians at all. They have more than 18 official languages and many more that are spoken but not official. Their food, their clothes, their skin color, their language, their manners, habits and such vary greatly from state to state. The temple architecture in the south is very different from the north and the east is different from the west.

Modern India :

The modern India that has just put 20 satellites in one shot in orbit using a single rocket made in India generates immense pride in its technological prowess and ability. The Indian space program is a testament to India’s ability to do things that were what only NASA could think of a few years ago like sending a satellite to Mars that sends high resolution photos real time to the space center somewhere in India and that too at a 100th of the cost of such mission sent by NASA. All the equipment is designed and made by the rocket scientists in India proving that they are intelligent and very well trained. India also has its own communication satellites that cover the entire country  giving people access to TV , radio and other types of media , weather forecast ability, sharp satellite imagery that show the  forest cover or other features.

Indian textile industry has grown phenomenally since independence and manufactures  very high quality fabrics of all sorts from cotton to silk and synthetic fibers. The worsted wool fabric is the finest in the world. The handloom industry making silk sarees are known all over the world for the brilliance of color and design and are exported.

There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables in the market and India feeds herself . This is a big deal and the food supply is guaranteed by the government that has built huge storage facilities in every district of every state so that people can buy the subsidized food grains, dal, sugar etc. The excess is often exported.

India has introduced computers in all spheres of life making life easier and more efficient in government services, banking, transportation industry etc. Indian IT professionals make and write their own programs for mobile devices and are well known as computers wizards so their services are sought in other countries.

The defense industry has grown from practically nothing in 1947 to a huge industry that makes everything from planes, tanks and submarines, ships and other related materials that are needed by the armed forces although India still imports all kinds of weapons and technology from other countries.

If you happen to stand on the platform of any railway station late at night, you will see the freight trains a kilometer long passing through carrying military hardware all brand new going somewhere from the factory somewhere.

The communication industry is also growing very rapidly so everyone has now a cell phone and one can call anywhere in India or abroad with clear reception.

Anyway I will stop here and say that it is worth visiting a country like India because it will be your once in a lifetime experience.

You may like to check out the link below for more on India:

https://onedrive.live.com/?id=73E91E206EF5176A%21841&cid=73E91E206EF5176A

It has 18 power Points on various subjects like art, history, crafts, birds, silk , wild life, Khajuraho etc.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

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Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

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Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

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The drugs and domestic violence

Synopsis : Drugs are destroying lives because people become addicted to drugs so they cannot do without it and often resort to crimes to get their fix.They also tend to be violent and abusive toward their spouse and children. The only people who profit from it are the drug dealers and suppliers who reap windfall profit. The laws against drugs do not prevent people from using it or selling it so the jails keep filling up. Obviously the punishment does not work so the blog here looks at rehabilitation and detoxification .

Drugs and domestic violence

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Source : Google photos

There is an epidemic of drugs in many countries that is destroying the lives of millions of people, young and old, men, women and even children but the governments are unable to curb it in an effective way and rehabilitate the drug users. This causes serious social upheaval, disruption of a normal society, cuts short the lives of people who would otherwise have led a useful life of sorts.

Some governments have taken the drastic measures to kill the users and pushers outright or put these unfortunate people in jail where they rot for years for minor offences. Others have taken a more measured approach and have tried to rehabilitate them in drug detoxication centers and get these people off the drugs but the issue is not so much as the drug per se but the root cause of drug use.

No one seems to attack the root cause and lays more emphasis on the symptoms but not the disease so just ask why people take drugs to destroy themselves and you will get a number of answers.

Primarily people agree that the root cause is more often than not poverty, lack of social integration, lack of opportunities for young people to get a decent education and a decent job, ghetto living where the pressure to conform to the drug culture is intense and broken families.

Why the families break up is another issue and a lot can be written about it but the fact remains that the drug use is rampant among people who live with a single mother who struggles with low paying job to raise the kids and who has no support from the father who often absconds after leaving a young woman pregnant. People feel no sense of responsibility of supporting women they make pregnant because of various reasons.

One is that young promiscuous women often get into trouble this way and suffer the consequences because often the men say that women sleep around so why should they believe that they are the fathers? This may be an over simplification of their argument to get off the hook but the fact remains that such pregnancies occur in women of poor class who also come from broken families and live either alone or with their mothers who are not ideal mothers and have done their fair share of fooling around when young.

Now to such women and men, the allure of drugs to get a temporary high is great because of peer pressure and the culture they espouse. In the groups they join, there is always someone pushing drugs.

At first it starts with a puff of marijuana but soon escalates into serious more harmful drugs. The suppliers divide their territories that they defend with guns and goons and run this lucrative business so the drugs are always easily available and almost anyone who wants a make few quick bucks falls into this trap and becomes a pusher or seller of retail drugs on street corners, high schools or other places where the young and lonely people congregate.

There is a movie made on this subject I can’t recall the title of but the story goes somewhat like this :

A young fellow who comes from a poor but honest family in a small town  USA  wants to break out of the cycle of poverty and moves to southern California where he soon finds a club run by some LGBT guy and starts supplying him with marijuana to sell to his club members.

Soon the neighbors who are airlines stewardesses who hang around in between flights join the fun and they all have a blast. The girls say that they can bring tons of marijuana in their suitcases to the east coast because no one checks their bags. So the fellow starts selling the drug through these girls who then sell it to a distributor who spreads it around the college campuses and everyone makes money. The business grows to such an extent that the fellow has a hard time counting the bundles and bundles of money that he carelessly stacks in his bedroom, bathroom and other places and soon runs out of space.

He starts living a highly strung up life and spends money freely because he cannot keep it in the bank where they will ask questions. He sends money back home to his poor parents who knowing it’s illegal source decline to take it.  He gets married and has a daughter but his wife leaves him and his daughter is estranged too.

Soon the drug cartel people get a whiff of this lucrative business and want to move in first by pressuring the LGBT guy to go a big way but he refuses and gets killed. Then they zero in on this fellow and threaten him unless..

Eventually the fellow gets caught and ends up in jail where he daydreams that his daughter will at least come to visit him but she never comes. End of the story.

There are many stories like that in real life where someone starts just with a puff and soon graduates to harder stuff and from there they go downhill.

When I was a student in California, a fellow one day asked me to join him on a trip to the mountains to spend the night there with a bonfire, marsh mellows and food so I thought it would be fun and joined. Soon it turned out that he was on drugs and wanted me to smoke the marijuana which I refused so it was not such a good idea after all to go out with this crazy fellow. He said that Indians smoke the weed so what is the big deal? But he did not know that Indians do not take drugs and it is a social taboo there although the weed grows wild everywhere.

Another time a roommate who used to sleep above me in his bunk bed fell off his bed and landed on my study desk and shattered my beautiful vase that someone in Hong Kong had given me. I did not know that he was on drugs until then and felt sorry for him because he was so young and hell bent on destroying himself. He soon dropped out of college and disappeared for good.

In Hollywood where many teen age girls coming from one horse towns in the middle of nowhere  and having big dreams of breaking into the movies suffer the most. They go to endless parties if they can latch on to somebody in the industry where they are introduced to the novelty of free booze and drugs not to mention sex. Someone is always throwing such parties where such people congregate. May be someone like Marilyn Monroe gets a chance to get in a small role at first but did anyone ever ask her what she had to do to get there?

Most of these girls although good looking have no such luck and end up selling their bodies to survive .By then they are also hooked on drugs. This is the same story in the New York fashion industry where many such girls try but few succeed.

The LGBT people dominate the fashion industry anywhere and they are also  into drugs that they freely pass on to people during the endless parties they attend.

In the Philippines, the drug menace to the society is truly formidable. They find tons and tons of shabu in secret labs everyday and destroy them often killing the drug lords, pushers and even users but this is an unwinnable fight. Just ask the Americans. They have poured billions of dollars to fight the drug menace, killed and jailed hundreds of drug lords but the drugs continue.

They have many ways to sneak in drugs in false bottom of trucks and cars coming from Tijuana or elsewhere, they use drug mules who hide drugs in their bras, panties or shoes and even swallow the capsules full of drugs that they recover in their toilet later on. They land their Cessnas in small runways in remote areas to load and unload their drugs. They use submersibles full of drugs to avoid the coast guards or high speed motorboats that the guards cannot catch.

It is all because as long as there is a demand for drugs, someone will supply it because it is a very lucrative business just like prostitution.

Now let us see what is really happening in war torn countries like Afghanistan and middle east like in Syria, Iraq, western parts of Waziristan in Pakistan, the drug triangle in Burma, Thailand and Laos  and in Colombia, Mexico and other countries where the drugs fuel the insurgencies.

In Afghanistan where vast acreages are used to grow poppy is a major source of opium that is later purified to make heroin. This business of growing poppy is so lucrative that the Talibans protect the fields, make huge amount of money to buy weapons to fight the senseless war raging in that country since a long time with no end in sight. The processed heroin and opium is then shipped to Europe and other countries. There is a massive problem of drug addiction among men,. women and even children in that country where years of bloodshed has torn apart the fabric of the society so nothing is normal now and people are hopeless, jobless, living in abject poverty and  with no help from the government to get jobs, rehabilitation and other welfare support.

ISIS and various terror groups in Colombia sell drugs to fund their wars while the drug cartels in Mexico and other countries are in it for money. The farmers who grow coca don’t get much and remain poor but the drug made from the coca leaves are worth a lot of money elsewhere. That is how the cartels get so rich.

One doctor in Afghanistan  who was running an orphanage for abandoned children told a reporter that during the Taliban rule there, he had to send a child to the Talibans (who were pedophiles) every now and then so that they would not close down the orphanage. It was the only way for them to survive.

Just ask why these children as young as two or three were abandoned and you will get the answers like, the parents can’t take care of them, they are drug addicts, they have been wounded in the war and can’t live a normal life, they have no jobs, no food and they are begging on the streets, or they are dead.

The farmers say that they are so poor that growing poppies is the only source of income for them and continue to grow them although alternative crops like food crops can be easily grown. In India where the government regulates the poppy farms and buys the opium for the pharmaceutical industries often finds it difficult to regulate the farms so some of the opium ends up in the black market.

Although the drugs in India do not pose a national threat like in many countries because of social taboo, the drugs find their way to other countries like Nepal or Pakistan where there are many users. The truck drivers in India are the major users of drugs who have boring and monotonous jobs of driving huge trucks over vast distances and often make stops for food, drugs and sex along the way. They also spread diseases like AIDS.

When I was in Vietnam during the war, I knew that the drugs were flown in to Saigon in private planes owned by army and police generals, filled into the stomachs of dead US soldiers who were flown out in army planes to bases in the US where the drugs were then taken out and sold to suppliers there. Everyone made huge amounts of money. It was called The Orient Express but had nothing to do with trains although it was a train of sorts if you look at it that way.

I have seen firsthand how the opium is causing devastation in northern Thailand where it is available in every village along the river we followed .Every village had opium dens and people were smoking it or lying down in the dirt senseless. We had to drag an Australian fellow from such a den back to the boat.

The Thais are particularly sensitive about drugs and give you a whole lot of trouble if they find any white powder in your luggage even if it is wheat flour or chalk.  In Hong Kong they check your bags thoroughly and poke your tube of tooth paste with a wire to see if you are hiding something there.

One woman in New York found a handsome fellow of unknown origin who took her to fine dining and gave her roses and chocolates so the lonely woman who had a hard time getting a boyfriend was very impressed. The sex followed as is usually the case. Then one day the fellow proposed to pay for a vacation in Seychelles for a week where she would go alone and have a great time. The next day the fellow brought the woman a pair of expensive shoes to make her journey comfortable.  Even then the stupid woman did not get it such was the allure of a handsome fellow and free vacation. Now when she arrived in Seychelles, the airport customs people noticed something right away because the woman was walking uneasily in her new shoes with very thick soles.

Under interrogation she confessed that she did not know much about her so called boy friend who paid for her trip and who gave her a pair of shoes as well. The agents were not convinced and ripped apart the shoes to discover heroin packed in it. I did not know is the wrong answer in such cases.

Anyway the epidemic continues and the drug suppliers find new ingenious ways to supply drugs everyday to beat the system. If their mules get caught, it is no big deal for the suppliers who shrug it off as the cost of doing business.

Domestic violence:

There is always a strong correlation between the drug use and domestic violence. The user often takes it out on vulnerable women who are helpless and get beaten if their partners or drug dependent husbands do not get their fix and blame it on their live in partners or spouses. A drug dependent man is crazy to say the least and often not aware of his violent actions. Such a person is jobless but because of addiction, he has to have money to buy the drugs so the poor women working long hours in poorly paid jobs have to pay for the drugs.

Some women who take drugs themselves produce drug dependent children who then become a lifelong problem themselves due to no fault of their own. I have written about drugs like cocaine, meth or heroin but alcohol is also a very addictive drug and its use is more widespread than one can imagine. It also results in domestic violence, broken homes and many social ills.

Rehabilitation:

Now I should write about the rehabilitation of drug users because other than looking at the root cause of drug addiction which is poverty and hopelessness, the rehabilitation of addicts can also go a long way in making these people a useful member of the society if only the government spends enough resources on them.

In America there are support groups for alcoholics, AIDs people and drug addicts and for people who suffer various illnesses, autism etc. and they open many chapters throughout the country where such people can go and get some moral support and are even referred to certain rehabilitation centers where they can get free help. Often such centers get some form of monetary support from the government although it is never adequate.

In poorer countries no such program exists because the governments always say that they do not have enough resources, man power that costs money or training needed to run these centers effectively. What they do have and run poorly are not enough to serve the needs of all the people who need to be rehabilitated.

The detoxification is a painful procedure and has to be done professionally. It is very expensive so some such private centers cater only to rich people who can afford them so where do these poor people go to get help?

Killing them off is only to hide the real issue which is poverty and joblessness as mentioned earlier so it does not solve anything except to get good TV ratings for the politicians.

The drug addicted poor people can only be helped when their government develops pro poor programs that create jobs , trains them in vocational schools so that they can find jobs as mechanics, carpenters, electricians, appliance repairmen etc. and where women learn how to sew clothes or make handicraft . Not everyone needs a college education to make a living if they are trained this way. To create some hope for these people instead of hopelessness that pushes them to drugs is the only solution in reducing the demand for drugs.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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An ancient scourge called slavery

Synopsis : Slavery is an ancient scourge that bedevils humankind even today although it has been in practice since the ancient times. Laws have been enacted to ban it but people still practice slavery where the laws are weak and poorly implemented. Now women are lured into prostitution through the promise of jobs but they end up as sex slaves .Children are forced to work in brick factories because the parents borrowed a paltry sum they can’t pay back so there are many forms of slavery.

An ancient scourge called slavery

Slave Auction
circa 1830: A slave auction in America.

An ancient scourge called slavery

I have not willingly wanted to write about this topic because it makes me sad to think that human beings are treated this way even today although slavery is a very ancient crime against humanity.

We have read that the practice of slavery since the dawn of history has been prevalent in many parts of the world but what is unbelievable is that it continues even today in many forms that I will explain later.

The ancient Egyptians built theirs temples, cities and pyramids using slave labor of Jews among others whom Moses saved and brought out to populate the Palestine according to the Old Testament after a very long struggle with the Pharaoh who would not let them go.

The Egyptians needed the slaves to build their cities and temples because their people were mostly farmers who were needed to grow food to feed the population and the slaves and also because growing food was more important than building temples and pyramids. So the farmers were cattle herders, food growers and makers of certain essential things like potteries, weaving clothes and other useful things.

During the period when they were not busy with farming or other such activities related to farming, they dug canals, repaired and maintained them, worked in quarries to cut stones for the buildings required by the king, built or repaired their own homes, made agricultural tools and baskets and paid taxes that were meticulously collected. If they failed to pay their taxes due to bad harvest or other calamities like locusts etc., the sons were taken away to be made into soldiers in the army to fight endless wars the pharaohs fought. The daughters were also taken away to work as maids for the rich people. They were not necessarily slaves but they could not run away or go back to their villages so essentially they were not free to do what they wanted.

The slaves were forced to build the cities and pyramids or temples but they were fed by the farmers who baked the bread for them and supplied the wheat and barley their wives then made into flour. The common people when not farming also worked as carriers of stones needed for the massive construction all over the country. They brought these stones to the construction sites using their dhows, boats or even floated them using goat skin bladders but they were not slaves. Egyptians raided the Nubian country in the south that is now part of Sudan to capture slaves there but also from Ethiopia. The war booty always included slaves who were then put to work under harsh conditions.

The Romans later on used the slaves extensively to build their vast empire and treated the slaves harshly as well. They needed slaves to power their galleys, build their roads and baths, amphitheaters all over the Mediterranean and often turned their avowed enemies into slaves even if they were Romans.

When Ben Hur did not give in to the demands of Messala, he contrived to put his mother and sister in a leper’s colony on fake charges and had BenHur arrested and put in a galley ship as a slave. These galley slaves seldom lasted a few years and had to be constantly resupplied.

The Aztecs and Maya all used their war prisoners as slaves and often sacrificed them to appease their Gods. Their cruelty to the slaves had no limits.

But the worst slave masters were the Africans themselves who would sell a rival tribe wholesale to the Arab slavers by conspiring with the slavers as to when to attack and show the roads or the weakness in the defense of the tribes.

The Arab slavers were Moslems who believed that their Koran sanctioned slavery so they had no qualms about capturing slaves, killing them if they resisted and frog marched them to the coast where the slave ships waited. Those who survived such harsh treatment that included beatings, starvation and other forms of punishment were sold in Zanzibar market through the rogue agents like Tippu Tib who then made a handsome profit that he shared with the sultan of Zanzibar.

The early explorers  like Dr.Livingstone were also missionaries who while exploring the unknown interiors of Africa also tried to spread Christianity at the behest of their sponsors back in England  and constantly wrote back home about the cruelty of slavery, mass murders by the Arab slavers and the utter inhuman treatment of the black inhabitants of Africa by the slavers all in the name of business. This eventually resulted in an act of the parliament in England that banned slavery and Dr.Livingstone himself was able to free many captured slaves making him very unpopular with slavers.

But before the ban came into effect, who were the people buying and selling slaves and making enormous profit? They were Englishmen, Scotts, Dutch and Belgians and many others who had this trade firmly in hand and supplied slaves to the plantations in the southern states in the United States, to the British colonies, to the Islands of Haiti etc. Haiti was the first to rebel and gain freedom from the slave masters but the Americans were making great profit from slavery so they fought tooth and nail to keep them, lost the civil war and technically the slavery was ended. The discrimination against black people still continues but that is a topic for another blog perhaps.

So the story of slavery is quite ancient. It is still practiced openly in some countries in Africa like Mauritania and in the middle east where it is carried on in the name of Koran that approves it .

The Dutch voortrekkers in South Africa were particularly hateful of black people whom they considered sub human and worse than animals so they treated them the same because they were after land and territory where they could start their farms. This brought them into conflict with the Zulus and other tribes as well so the bloodshed was the results. Sometimes the Zulus massacred the Dutch and other times the Zulus were slaughtered whole sale by the well armed Dutch.

The African spears and arrows were no match for the guns so eventually they lost and the Dutch took over the South African country where they ruled using apartheid as the state policy. The so called great Mahatma Gandhi who was a lawyer in those days particularly loathed the blacks whom he called the savages with bad habits, low morality and worse than animals who were not equal to the colored people like himself.

There is a story of a Peace Corps girl who wanted to ride with the Bedouins in the Saharan desert to explore the deep south so she found her camel ride but the Bedouin made her his slave right away, raped her repeatedly and finally locked her up  in a mud walled village room dressed as a man . This poor girl suffered unbelievable harsh treatment in the hands of her slaver until she one day escaped from her prison and was able to reach the civilization and saved her life. Her naiveté was so surprising in this day and age.

Hitler took slavery to a new height when he ordered all Jews, gypsies and many other minorities to be rounded up and systematically killed by gas or shot in concentration camps but others were forced to work in factories to make the war materials or labor camps to shore up defenses. Jewish girls were particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and beatings. The diary of Ann Frank is worth reading.

The doctors used the slaves to experiment on with dangerous drugs or put them in ice cold water just to see how long it took for them to die. Such abuse in Europe continued until the allied invasion but what they discovered was more than shocking leading to Nuremburg trials.

Now the ISIS or Daesh in the middle east is trying to put Hitler to shame by enslaving, torturing and beheadings of minorities, shias, kurds, LGBT people and  will someday have to answer to a UN tribunal for crimes against humanity but just like Hitler, they show no remorse in treating other human beings this way.

Modern day slavery :

Now I can discuss how the modern day slavery works. It is quite widespread in many parts of the world. The UN makes resolutions after resolution but the member states only pay lip service to the implementation of anti slavery laws saying that they need resources, man power and training which they don’t have.

Whatever the excuse the slavery continues in many forms.

One method is to lure young village girls in Nepal, India, China, Cambodia, Laos etc. to the cities with the promise of a good job and then promptly sell them to brothels from where they cannot escape.

Remember the movie Taxi driver where the taxi driver (Robert de Niro) unable to tolerate the exploitation of young girls by the pimps in brothels takes it upon himself to do something about it, kills the brothel owner and the goons and rescues the girl  Jodie Foster and sends her home ?

In real life there are no such taxi drivers who come to the rescue of these poor girls although one former prostitute in Nepal has rescued many girls from grief through her NGO and has set up shelters for them but such help are too little and too late for the vast numbers of women  who are being trafficked this way. Prostitution is a very big business everywhere so these crooks will do anything to keep the girls in bondage because they are their milking cows.

East European girls are particularly targeted by the mafia that operates throughout EU and makes enormous profit. They are sold to mid eastern brothels in Dubai, Doha and elsewhere. Now the ISIS lures them with promise of handsome partners but sells them as slaves who can then be used by any one for sex anytime. There is no escape from this hell for these girls so some kill themselves and other trying to escape are shot.

But the abuse and exploitation that goes on in Asia is mind boggling.

The female workers who work in the clothing factories in Bangladesh and other such countries are very vulnerable. They are paid very low wages to make clothes that are sold in other countries at high price making enormous profit for the owner but they are literally locked up while working.  There was a fire that broke out in such a place in Dhaka killing over a thousand hapless women because they could not escape. The doors were locked.

The story of bonded child labor is also very tragic. They are sold to brick makers who make them work very hard for their age and beat them if they try to escape just because their parents borrowed a paltry sum of money that they could not pay . This is the modern day slavery.

The story of Man Singh is worth telling here as well.

He was a farmer in Bhind, Morena area of western part of Uttar Pradesh in India where the farming was very hard and the landlords who abused the farmers were harder. The farmers were often beaten if they could not pay their share of the harvest due to poor harvest and their women or daughters were taken away as maids and sexually abused. It got so bad that Man Singh decided to do something about it and formed an armed band to defend and fight for the abused farmers.

He killed many of the most abusive of the land owners and collected huge amount of money from the landlords by holding them hostage and other means. He then distributed this money to the poor farmers and bought more guns with the rest. He was the real Robin Hood except that there was no Sherwood Forest nearby so he hid in a place of eroded badland called behar where the police could never find him.

Now the policemen in north India are mostly from the landowning class so they saw nothing wrong in the practice of abuse of farmers. This is what their fathers, brothers and relatives did to keep a firm grip on power in rural areas so from their point of view it was Man Singh who was the culprit and he had to be killed by any means.

The police in India have lot of means and the full support of the government to boot  so one day they found Man Singh and riddled his body with 64 bullets which was an over kill but they hated Man Singh with a virulence that accounted for the 64 bullets. So Man Singh died a hero but nothing changes. The exploitation continues.

The vast number of children and young women who are trafficked worldwide and sold to brothels, brick factories, mines in Africa or in dangerous factories run into millions who cannot escape, cannot get any help from the governments or NGOs and live a tragic life.

So what has changed since the Egyptians used the whip on poor people thousands of years ago? Have we learned anything from our past inglorious history of cruelty towards our fellow human beings or have we degenerated into something worse?

I think there is a basic premise in slavery that says that the man abuses another man as long as he thinks he is superior to the abused therefore it is  justified in what he does to his fellow human being.

It can be the skin color or ethnicity or simply religion that is used as an excuse to mistreat another person and that too in this century of modern age. While it is true that many countries have eliminated slavery and all forms of human exploitation but many countries are unable to do so citing many difficulties.

I find it appalling that there are still people who consider themselves superior to a person of color so consider it their right to mistreat them with impunity. The United States in particular come to mind where almost every day a person of color is shot to death by the policemen for no apparent reason or for a reason that in other countries would be considered ludicrous. Is selling a cigarette or a CD a crime for which one needs to be killed? Apparently so in the US. Yet there is no accountability and such policemen are rarely punished or even reprimanded.

The KKK still exists and its members include policemen, judges and common white people who believe in white supremacy and continue to mistreat people of color.

The Black Panthers were banned but not the KKK so that is where we are in 2016.The election of Barack Obama was a landmark event in the annals of US history because such a thing had never happened before and will not happen any time soon but it shows that most people are decent people who do not believe in discrimination of any sort and have come to realize and appreciate the contributions made by the people of color throughout the history of mankind.

So why this shameful discrimination continues and who supports it? Why such people are not named and shamed and brought to justice? What will it take to stop the practice of slavery in all its forms and this abominable practice of treating a fellow human being in this shameful way? I have no answer.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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Biographie d’Anil en français

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Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Synopsis : I look back at what we have discarded in the process of development and remember many things the British brought to India that we do not see any more. The modern era has ushered India into the computers and cell phones, digital world of TV and communication at a breakneck speed. No one can foresee what the future will bring but we can see the social effect of the technology that has made people less social, more apathetic and greedy. There were some good things about the past we have discarded.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow :

It is nice to remember the things that are no more or people who have long disappeared from the collective memories of humankind because one day we too will disappear wondering if anyone will remember us.

Let us face it. People have short memories and some one no matter how famous he was in his days is forgotten or dimly remembered by the old people but unknown to the young generation who one day also will become old and the next generation will not know who was Madonna or Rihanna or Barack Obama.

But I want to write about the time when I was young and saw and remember many things that have totally disappeared today.

In the 1950s :  The British had left India only a short three years ago but all things British remained in  India. I did not know any thing about the freedom struggle or who was Netaji Bose or Gandhi was but my father knew. He used to sing patriotic songs in Bengali to us because the independence was so new then and people were still trying to get used to it so the patriotic songs were still in vogue.

Our morning assembly at school always started with patriotic songs that I can’t remember now except a few lines but we were told that the British are gone for good and we are all free for the first time in our history, that our form of government is democratic and our leaders like Bose and Gandhi are the heroes.

But as kids we were not too keen on such things because we did not know what it was like to live under British rule and we had never heard of the massacre at the Jalianwala Bagh in Amritsar or where Amritsar was. We learned about these things much later.

What we thoroughly enjoyed was the monthly show of Laurel and Hardy , Charlie Chaplin and other such movies that were shown on a big bed sheet strung up on two bamboo poles in our playground in school and we could sit on either side of the screen and did not care if Charlie Chaplin was using his right or left hand because he was so funny.The fee called entertainment fee was collected by the school each month but it was only 25 cents of a Rupee. Our tuition fee each month was only 3 Rupees but to put it in a proper perspective , one Rupee could buy one kilo of mutton and 150 Rupees a month was considered a good salary in those days.

The post card, envelops and inland letters were stamped so you did not need to buy stamps and glue it on . People used telegrams to send mostly bad news like so and so has died etc. so a telegram was always dreaded. The telegraph people often mistyped the words on a white paper ribbon which they tore off and glued onto a telegram form that were then rushed to delivery. There was no such thing as telex then.

Our home entertainment was around the Raymond radio that our father bought and strung up a wire mesh aerial on two bamboo poles to get a good reception. It was made in England as were most of the things then but the radio took a while to warm up the glass tube like receptors called vacuum tubes. There was no transistor those days.

There was no television either. The radio had to be licensed at the nearest post office and Pa had to pay an annual fee to use the radio.

People did not know that there are other kinds of radios like two way radios that police use because the police did not have radios and only carried sticks or batons as per British tradition.

jobs-lamplighter

I remember an old man bent with a ladder on his shoulder and a can of kerosene in one hand slowly walking up to light the lamp posts every evening because the street lights were just kerosene lamps and the old man was called the lamp lighter just like in England.

We had a small kerosene lamp that fit in front of our bicycle to give a little light but  not much. The adults wore long pants and a steel clip to hold the pants near the ankle so the pants would not get caught in the chain of the bicycle. Many men wore a British style khaki hat made of light material and kept well styled mustaches. Snuff was kept in a fancy small pocket size vial because that too was a British introduction to India.

The British were innovators par bicycle13excellence . I will give them that. They made a canvas bag called hold all in which one could keep a blanket, a pillow, some clothes, towels, shoes and other paraphernalia that people needed to travel with. This thing folded neatly and was then rolled up and tied with straps of leather and could be easily unfolded on a wooden bench seat on a train to make a comfy bed to lie down on .The third class in trains had only wooden benches and people got in or out through the windows if the trains were over crowded.

The trains waited near the outer signal before entering the station if the platforms were occupied .Now this outer signal was a piece of British sophistication in those days because it too functioned on kerosene lamp that some one had to light up everyday and keep the kerosene tank filled. The signal man pulled a long lever that brought the red , green or yellow lens in front of the lamp to give the appropriate light to the driver of the train. Ingenious. This was the same system in England. They had many different gauges of tracks. The broad gauge,the meter gauge and the narrow gauge making train travel difficult because one had to transfer from one gauge to other.

3511_-_hartswater_240481

Source : Google photo of a steam engine

But what was most impressive to a child like me was the gigantic steam engine called Canadian engine that shook the platform when came and hissed and blew the horn to put fear into our infant hearts. The fireman shoved coal into the furnace to make more steam and the driver polished the machinery constantly. Once I took to train to Kolkata and arrived there looking like African, so dark was my skin with soot not to mention my hair but that was nothing compared to the joy of riding a train.

There were many such inventions brought to India by the British.1365874414-img_2876_primus_5_jnr_opt

One of them was called a Primus stove. This piece of wizardry had a place of it’s own because it was a small brass kerosene tank with three small legs with a small spindle in the middle with a cup around it. You filled this cup with alcohol or some flammable liquid , light it to heat a small metal disc on top and then pump the tank with a piston attached to it.

The spray of fuel on hot disc produced a high heat flame and made the disc red hot. It was like Bunsen burner that we used to use in our chemistry labs later in college days. You could cook anything on this stove in minutes except that it was unstable and sometime tipped over causing the fuel to spill and light up instantly .There were many accidents and women using this kind of stove died horribly so eventually it was banned.

Another British invention was the bachelor’s stove which was very popular with young British men who came to India alone and often worked in remote areas. This contraption was very simple and cylindrical. It had a charcoal burner at the bottom, and a series of cooking pots that fitted on top of each other with a handle on top.

You could put rice and water in the bottom pot,put a pot of water on it and put mixed vegetables in the third and so on . It all got cooked by steam and the bachelor had a decent meal anywhere. My father had one like that but I never saw him use it though.

Then they brought to India the famous DuckBack raincoat. Imagine that even a raincoat was imported from England. It was called Duck back because the rain fell off like from the back of a duck.

Well, the list is long but I just wanted to touch on a few things I remembered in those days but they all have disappeared now.

The railway uses modern electronic signalling system now installed by Siemens and gone are the steam engines and multiple gauge system. The trains now have bars on windows so no one can get  in or out through like in old days and the second class coaches have thick cushions so you do not need holdalls.

They also left behind marble statuary everywhere reminding us all that once they were the masters. The marble statue of queen Victoria sat under a huge marble canopy in the middle of the New York central park size park in our home town called Alfred park holding a scepter. It was brought from England and made to perfection but her nose  was broken by some kids later who had no fascination for her during the heydays of the freedom struggle.

Then there was a huge marble monument in another park called Minto park where the faces of royalty like Victoria,King George V, Lord Minto etc. were placed on each side of the monument but they are all gone now .The inscriptions are also chiseled out just like what the ancient Egyptians did to their pharaohs whom they did not like. May be the Indians took their cue from the Egyptians ,I will never know but it took them quite a while to remove all the statuary from India.

Today:  Today India is a very different country from those days when we were young. I saw the transformation starting to change the landscape when back in 1960s I saw the electric cable being strung up on top of the railway bridge that I used to cross everyday to go to college. Soon came the electric trains and diesel trains that doomed the old fashioned Canadian engines belching black smoke.

New roads, highways, bridges , airports ,housing and many such infrastructure sprang up like mushrooms every where. Massive new housing projects , new hospitals, schools and other such buildings came up just like magic and has not abated. India continues to grow at an astonishing rate and it can be seen. The new subway system in all major cities that rival the best in the world now carry millions of people daily.

You no longer have to wait in line to buy a railway ticket or bus ticket anymore because it is computerized and can be booked even on line.

The airlines issue e tickets and e checking facilities at major airports and the number of airlines has increased dramatically. Their service is another matter but the fact is that more and more people are travelling by air or in high speed trains.

What is remarkable is the number of motor vehicles on the road now that are creating horrible traffic jams in cities and parking is becoming a serious problem everywhere. People have graduated from bicycle to scooter to motorcycle to cars in a matter of only one generation.

No one during our childhood had a scooter let alone a car. We either had rickety bicycles or just walked. Most of these vehicles are now being made in India in mind boggling varieties of models and sizes.

There was a time when one had to wait for five years just to buy a scooter because it was a monopoly then. The monopoly was later broken allowing anyone to manufacture scooter or motor vehicles.

One can see another change in India that is very interesting. You can see towers of cell phones or communication towers loaded with antenna of all sorts in all parts of India specially in rural areas that are increasingly being electrified and joined with concrete roads. Farmers and the common people now use cell phones which has brought about major changes in business practices and the way social services are being delivered everywhere. You also see hundreds of wind mills and huge solar farms in some parts.

Gone are the days when people had to vote by ticking on a ballot paper. Now it is electronic and tabulated nationwide in a matter of days right after the election. People are given their salaries or monies earned directly to their account by the government cutting out the middlemen and reducing corruption and exploitation.

The government stores food grains, dals, sugar etc. in massive quantities in every district in every state to be sold at subsidized prices to every citizen so everyone has access to low cost food in the whole country. This is a big change from our days.

Another big change is in the availability of generic drugs that are made in India and sold at a low cost to anyone. This causes problems with international drug companies that want to sell their high price drugs but the Indian government is pro poor so encourages generics.

The school children in some states are given free bicycles, books and even cheap laptop computers which is a big big change from our days. The government feeds millions of school children daily. All children in all schools were given free vaccinations , eye check up and other free medical check ups that continue today. The small pox and malaria has been eliminated as a scourge in most part and people no longer die from TB these days.

We did not know about such things as computer, internet or cell phones because it did not exist .Nobody believed that someday you could talk and see at the same time on Skype anyone anywhere in the world for free. Nobody knew about digital cameras and its ability to send photos instantly to anyone anywhere . These modern  gadgets have brought profound changes in today’s society in the way they communicate with each other.

The television has come to India in a very big way almost beyond belief. I counted 82 satellite Chanel providers in one city alone so everyone is hooked to satellite TV watching CNN,BBC etc. but also foreign movies from Hollywood that are being dubbed in local languages and spread throughout India. Almost every home has the TV, fridge and other gadgets that were once limited to rich people proving that the middle class is growing and creating more demands for goods and services.

New malls are springing up in big cities giving people more choices and quality products and services that the old system could not.

Even Uber and similar services are at the finger tip of any one who wants to rent a car or taxi giving people more choices. India has opened up to the world in a big way.

In short the wide range of products and services that are now available have made life a whole lot easier than before for the average person but at what cost?

Tomorrow  : Now I come to the last part to assess the impact of the breakneck development on people and how they interact socially with each other.

Now the kids seldom play together like we used to and are glued to their TV or computer to play video games.

Now people seldom drop by to see how you are doing and have a cup of tea or take a walk together in the park like we used to.

Now everyone has a cell phone in his or her pocket peering constantly at it for new messages in Facebook or twitter and pays little attention to his friends or anyone.

India has gone from bullock carts to space age in a short time that took the western countries many generations to achieve but has also paid dearly in terms of devaluation of basic humanity we took for granted  during our time. One seldom hears the words like thank you or please and there is less emphasis on a person to person contact.

Now no one has any time for you or play carom board or ludo or monopoly. They say those are obsolete games today so the social interaction we used to have has diminished drastically.

If cell phones, curved TV or gadgets could improve the quality of life of a person then just look at the so called developed countries that are finding it so hard to cope with teen age pregnancies, immorality, gun violence , domestic violence , drugs and the social problems that are the result. People are being thrown into jails for years just because of a broken tail light or worse. A young girl suffering from cancer and with severe disabilities is thrown down and beaten by the agents at the airport just because she could not understand what they wanted. They showed no compassion.

A young man is shot dead because he was pulling out his Bible from his pocket  and an autistic child is shot dead because he was playing with a plastic toy gun.

Will India become like them in the race to become a developed country? I hope not.

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

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Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

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The relevance of Kahlil Gibran’s Prophet today.

Synopsis : I read from time to time the Prophet written by Kahlil Gibran and find many words of wisdom and inspiration. I urge many people to read it and know the words that are so precious and so meaningful because of it’s everyday application in our lives.

The relevance of Kahlil Gibran’s Prophet today.

khalil-ghibran-prophet

Source : Google photo

I often read  The Prophet  and find inspirations in every page and wonder if everyone read his book and followed the philosophy in real life, the world would be a far better place than it is today’

Sadly this is not true as many people have never even heard of Kahlil Gibran let alone read his most famous book . The words in the Prophet  are more than beautiful.They are very meaningful and applicable today in one’s life if only people could understand it’s deep meanings and pure thoughts .They are also very plain and direct in a way that goes straight to the heart of the reader. I am particularly impressed by the chapter on Children and  on Giving so I will quote a few lines here from both the chapters and later explain their relevance today in our lives.

On Children   “  Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but  not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you can not visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them ,but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday”

I have seen time and again the parents trying to mold their children in their own fashion and according to their beliefs often with punishment if the children defy them. The cultural indoctrination starts as soon as the kid is born. In Hindu culture the kid is given talismans that they tie around the waist of the kid to ward off evil eyes. They put a dab of kohl on the forehead for the same reason. They do not give a proper name to the kid for one year due to some blind belief so the hospitals leave the name blank in the birth certificate causing problems later on.

Then starts the religious indoctrination when the kid is a bit older. The moslems send their kids to madrasas that teach them how to read Arabic so that they can learn to read Koran . I have seen how the mollahs beat innocent children with canes if they fail to recite Koran properly so the emphasis very early is on religion and not anything else because other knowledge like math and science or geography is secondary . These madrasas also teach hate to make these children the future talibans .

The Hindus do a bit better and send the kids to proper schools for a proper education so the religion as such is not emphasized but they try to guide the kids to become doctors or engineers later even if the kids do not have the aptitude or intelligence or even desire to be one.

Very few parents want to know what the kid wants to do in life ,what his interests are and give the helping hand to make them achieve their goals based on their interests. The main focus on their education seems to be able to earn a good living  because money is the mark of success in most societies.

Girls  come in second in the priority list for parents  at least in most of  Asia and the middle east where the emphasis  is on marriage later on that does not require a lot of education. It is true that the girls now a days are breaking out of that system and are proving to be high achievers in practically all fields of education .They are becoming excellent doctors, engineers, computer experts, teachers and even pilots flying combat jets in the air force  or jumbo jets in the private sector but this is a recent phenomenon. They often come from families where their mothers are uneducated  and the father is a low wage earner. Middle class girls do better in most countries.

The Prophet says :

You may strive to be like them ,but seek not to make them like you.

In some countries they give a very low priority to female education and the terrorists blow up their schools or kill the innocent girls just because of their mistaken beliefs that girls should not be educated because it perverts their minds and they may start questioning the ills of their society or religion . No society can grow without  educating the girls and no society can overcome it’s backward and primitive culture unless the children are taught to question the dictates of mollahs or priests who preach something that is not compatible with the modern world.  But it takes courage to stand up to these cruel people so the little girls shed tears and go back home when their schools are blown up by the terrorists until a Malala comes along . You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you but that is a great challenge to authority that they can not tolerate.

The Prophet says :

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

I find these words  very illuminating because they are so true . Just ask how many couples  make babies  just because they want to welcome a child and the answer will  surprise you. Women get pregnant with or without marriage just because of the hormones playing havoc with their bodies starting at a certain age which has nothing to do with clear thinking or a rational mind let alone morality.

The teen age pregnancy among the black women,latinos or others in the US is like an epidemic making them drop out of school at an early age causing all kinds of social problems . They are euphemistically called the single mothers raising illegitimate children just because they can not control their urges driven by raging hormones and pay the consequence ending up in poverty and depending on low paying jobs or social services . Such children often grow up with bad habits, drugs, violence and end up later in jails or worse.

Now if a couple who had a stable home,jobs and a safe environment and wanted to bring a child to this world where he or she would be given all the love, care and help to grow up to be a healthy beautiful child ,that child would have a far greater success in life than the illegitimate child of a single woman who drinks, probably takes drugs and survives  somehow but who is unable to give the kind of support  the child needs to succeed in life later on.

So all parents have a responsibility toward a child who totally depends on his/her parents  until he/she becomes independent  if indeed (and that is a big if) because it is required of them.The neglect of a child is a criminal offense in most societies .In some countries the state takes over the welfare of the child because the parents can not  or will not take care and do their duties. In poorer countries where such children are born everyday in very large numbers  of parents who are too poor or have other problems become  a terrible burden to the society because no one  cares for them and they grow up on streets trying to survive using their wits or using very limited  ability to survive. You often see children as young as two or three begging  at street corners  while other children sell newspapers, flowers or cigarettes to earn a pittance that their greedy parents on drugs then take away.

The drug addiction among children in Afghanistan and other war torn countries are high and so is the child prostitution and violence perpetrated on them because there is  no social safety net and their government fails them in providing the safety and security they need. Their social services are poorly funded and what little remains disappears into the pockets of corrupt officials.

What is the future of such children when they grow up on whom the society has given up? Who will provide for them the kind of future they all deserve and grow up like other normal children?  My heart goes out to innocent children in India and Pakistan where they are sold as slaves to the brick makers  but there is no respite from them and no one to force the rescue of such children and put the slave masters in jail . Very small children are forced in Iran and many countries in the region to make carpets that are then sold in Europe or other countries at high prices  but you would never buy a carpet if you knew how these poor children are  beaten, poorly fed and forced to work under very inhuman conditions.

Can a country go forward where such children are neglected and who then grow up to be drug addicts, prostitutes , thieves and social deviants ? Does anyone really want to be a drug addict, a prostitute or a social deviant willingly ? I am sure these neglected children also want food everyday and a decent education, clean clothes and a loving home but who provides?  Can any society develop that produces mostly maids and servants ? Can any country make progress as a whole where  the vast majority of its citizens remain illiterate or have a fifth grade education or less?

The Cuban revolution  remains a bright spot in the annals of human history where the promises made were kept and where the education was made mandatory resulting in 95% literacy rate, where everyone gets the best medical care in the world  free of charge and where the poor were given land of their own making the land reform there a great success story. But the propaganda of the capitalist countries including the United States paint  a very different picture of Cuba and have blocked  that great country economically for a very long time because Cuba refused to play by their rules.

Now  I want to write about another matter that the Prophet says:

There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

You give but little when you give of your possessions.It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. All you have shall some day be given.Therefore give now,that the reason of giving may be yours and not your inheritors.

And you receivers-and you are all receivers-assume no weight of gratitude,lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.

For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free hearted earth for mother and God for father.”

Let me expand a bit on this topic of duty and giving .  As I wrote earlier, all parents have a duty towards their children who were born due to their desire to have children and not because children wanted to be born. If the children had any choice in the matter, many would refuse to be born into poverty, illegitimacy and to drug addict parents who are irresponsible to boot.

So all parents have a responsibility to raise their children properly . But when they start  thinking that they are doing a favor to the kids raising them and should one day make them pay for it, it becomes unworthy of them.

It reminds me of the famous  dialogue in the Godfather movie where the Godfather says  “Consider it as a gift on the day of my daughter’s wedding  but a time may come some day when you may have to repay this favor.  “

Now imagine a culture where the parents expect and demand from the daughters and sons  money, car or tickets to visit them specially if they are abroad and think of it as pay back time for what they have done for them and you will understand what values they hold dear in their lives . When these kids come home, they are expected to bring big boxes full of gifts for everyone, pay for large parties that the poor relatives  are eager to organize for them and even ask for “loans” to help them out of their poverty.These loans are seldom paid back.

So it all comes down to values. If you demand pay back for anything you have done for anyone in your life then it degrades the help you gave because it was with strings attached. The best help is when you do it selflessly.If the parents behave in a such a way towards their own children and make the kids feel that they have an obligation then it beats the purpose of parenting  . Parents love should be altruistic and not be like Godfather’s.

So the Prophet says:

And you receivers-and you are all receivers-assume no weight of gratitude,lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.

For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free hearted earth for mother and God for father.”

The children really do not owe their parents anything other than love and respect. People say that love and respect should be earned but Confucius says otherwise. All parents should be respected if not loved because parenting is a huge task most parents take on willingly and go through hardships themselves but never complain. Those are the ideal parents.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

Mes blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

Blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русски

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