Monday, 19 February 2018

Why I am scared of liberals

Why I am scared of Why I am scared of liberals
Here is a short list of reasons why I as an ordinary citizen of India, am terrified of the liberal movement across the world.
Legendary newsman Walter Cronkite once said, “I think being a liberal, in the true sense, is being non-doctrinaire, non-dogmatic, non-committed to a cause — but examining each case on its merits.” And that was the kind of liberalism I fell in love with during my college days. Twenty odd years later, I have managed to take positions on various issues facing our society today, and almost without exception, I have found myself at odds with those who call themselves “liberals”. I have steadily moved from identifying myself as liberal, to being alarmed at some of their stands, and to complete disillusionment, relatively rapidly, in the last five years or so.
At this moment, I am terrified of liberals.
Two clarifications before we start in earnest, if that’s all right with you. One, it is not the scope of this article to debate whether the people I am talking about are liberals in the true sense of the term. Whether you like it or not, the space belonging to the liberals on the spectrum of political discourse is taken up by a group that has exhibited certain inconsistencies time and again, and it is that group that I will be referring to in my article. As most of these liberals also identify with leftist politics, I feel the terms “liberals” and “left liberals” can be used interchangeably.
Here, then is a short list of reasons why I as an ordinary citizen of India, am terrified of the liberal movement across the world.

Liberals have no absolute stand on any issue

Whether it is vigilantism, or online violence against women, today’s liberals refuse to take a stand on principle anywhere. Just think about it — when was the last time you read about a liberal protesting against the murders of RSS workers in Kerala? Even in the online violence issue, a mainstream journalist like Barkha Dutt has gone to the extent of justifying the abuse received by Rupa Subramanya in this tweet. When Pune-based Shefali Vaidya was attacked using a fake picture by the Congress Social Media Cell, not one journalist stood up for her.  This is exactly the opposite of being the non-doctrinaire, non-committed to a cause type of liberal Mr. Cronkite talked about.

They are largely anti-democracy

As fewer and fewer number of people support their more extreme positions, left liberals have realized that this system of letting people decide through the ballot box is the problem. So, when the Indian population returned the single biggest verdict favouring a single party in the last 30 years, suddenly a lot of journalists and “intellectuals” remembered that as the BJP received only 31% of the votes, it actually meant that the majority of the country voted against them. These people conveniently forgot that as the BJP had received the highest share of votes, their logic when extended to other parties meant that the BJP was also rejected by the least number of people. This trend of attacking democracy continued when the UK voted for Brexit earlier in 2016. Journalists like Ishaan Tharoor felt that the right of voting should be determined by age – wanting to deny votes to older voters. Eminent journalist Shekhar Gupta termed Brexit as “lazy, stupid, irresponsible government giving the keys to the mob and sitting back”. Then, in November, when Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump secured a decisive win against the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, all of a sudden everyone remembered that he had lost the popular vote (total number of votes received). Once more, these commentators forgot to tell us that as per the American election system, popular vote is not even used to break a tie in case electoral votes are tied. Changing the yardstick based on results is the classic example of being a sore loser; even at the best of the times, when it is used to question the validity of the only system that allows ordinary people to bring change without violence, you have to be more than a little alarmed.

Today’s liberals are the most divisive people on the earth

Liberals feel comfortable when they have neatly labelled and put you in a box, and God help you if the given tag is not acceptable to you. Under the name of intersectionality, liberals have created a hierarchy of oppressors and victims that makes no sense to any rational person. Of course, you are really not allowed to comment on it because if you do so then you might be asked to “check your privilege” before being labelled a racist, sexist, bigot or a homophobe.

The Free speech debacle

Nowhere the duplicity of liberals is on display more than in case of the free speech debate. There are four important hypocrisies commonly practiced by the liberals here.
1. Speech is violence, but violence is free speech
If you speak to an Indian journalist about what constitutes the biggest threat to liberties in India, s/he would target the nameless, faceless trolls abusing liberals online. Other than this, liberals are also big supporters of monitoring language. While this problem is not as bad in India as it is in the United States (where a college president had to actually apologize for saying ‘all lives matter’), liberals in India too are increasingly monitoring language online and in public discourse, setting completely arbitrary and ever-changing rules about what constitutes online violence. At the same time, these people are shockingly tolerant of violence in real life as well as in using social media to mobilize a violent movement. So, anyone calling out the media’s obvious anti-BJP bias is a troll who must be silenced, while JNU student leaders screaming “Bharat tere tukde honge” and “Bandook ked um pe azadi” are only examples of free speech.
2. Yes to restrictions on social media, no to criminal defamation-
Nearly uniformly, all Indian mainstream journalists want more restrictions on social media citing abuse, threats of violence, and slander. And yet, when these same journalists lie and target a particular individual or community, and when that individual or the community decides to fight back with a criminal defamation lawsuit, liberals scream bloody murder.  There is no rational positon that would allow a conscientious individual to demand more restrictions on ordinary people’s FoE, and seek a free pass for self from similar restrictions.
3. Lies as free speech, opinions as hate speech-
As much as we would like them to, lies are not protected under free speech anywhere in the world. That does not stop left liberals from portraying Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s attempt to show the ruthless mass murderer Allauddin Khilji as a romantic lover-boy, serenading the same woman who chose to end her life rather than accepting his advances, and claiming it as both  free speech and artistic licence. Yet, when Milo Yiannopoulos goes to talk on college campuses where he expresses his political opinions, it is labelled hate speech. Disagreement with liberals is claimed as proof of hate speech, and it is the most potent weapon liberals are using to silence the opposition.
4. Censor is dissent, dissent is censor-
Remember how the liberals were up in arms when people were planning to boycott Amir Khan’s movie or down-rating Barkha Dutt’s book? Barkha went to the extent of threatening Amazon if they did not take the negative reviews down. Yet, when poor Vikram Sammpath was nearly driven out of the Bangalore Literature Festival that he had helped build, it was seen as nothing more than the dissent of Vikram’s ideological opponents. In the US, several liberals threatened publishers Simon and Schuster for their decision to publish Milo Yiannopolous’s book. There is a big difference between asking your friends not to buy a product, and threatening the merchant with consequences, more often than not through government and judicial means, if he produces/markets it. As liberals have control over traditional media, they can threaten merchants effectively, because they are a minority when it comes to absolute numbers, and boycotting a product is not effective. Hence, they support action against the publishers of Milo’s book but are totally against an ordinary man like me down-rating Barkha’s book.

Sickeningly elitist, largely against common man

In a shocking abuse of his privilege as an MP, TMC leader Derek O’Brien referred to two people (including my friend Rahul Raj) as trolls in the Upper House a few days ago. A true liberal would have been outraged at this naked display of power by a politician bullying an ordinary man. And yet, numerous journalists including Barkha Dutt, Nikhil Wagle and Rohini Singh all applauded O’Brien for “Speaking up against trolls”. Of course O’Brien had no proof, and the book he was citing from had been poorly researched.  But like Tom Cruise says in ‘A Few Good Men’, most Indian liberals seemed to have been sick the day they taught law at law school. Similarly, a week ago, Indian Express played cheerleader to film-maker Anurag Kashyap as he dragged in an ordinary man’s father into an online argument and called him “paid”.  So, bottom line, an ordinary guy calling a powerful journalist “prestitute” (a term not endorsed or ever used by me) is a troll while a rich man abusing an ordinary man is a hero.

They largely support radical Islamism

While left liberals are always outraged over some “outrage” committed by someone  against an individual from the LGBTQ community or against women, surprisingly these people are extremely sympathetic to Islamic extremism practiced and displayed the world over. Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American and a notorious bigot who openly calls for imposing Sharia law, was the co-chair of the recent women’s march in Washington DC. This woman, in the past, has called for violence against women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and yet not one left liberal, either in the United States or here in India, thought of asking the women’s March organizers why their co-chair was such a horrible bigot.  Countries that punish homosexuality with death are nearly all Islamic majority, and yet the people who will call you a “homophobe” and lose their sleep over the wrong pronoun being used while describing Chastity Bono, have turned a blind eye towards the homophobia sanctioned by countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia.
If you look at the liberal movement as it stands today, the picture is apt to frighten you. It has the support of people who control the mainstream media. Entertainment personalities, some of the biggest egomaniacs on the earth, are largely in its favour. From violence to homophobia and from slander to religious extremism, absolutely nothing is off- limits or off the table for them.  They not only feel consensus is not important for policy decisions but they have active contempt for it (Google “majoritarianism” and see how its usage has gone up in the last decade or so). They feel the decision-making rights of the highly educated or otherwise elite, supersede those of ordinary citizens. They are convinced that the world is in trouble the way it is right now, and they have 100 % conviction that they have a fix for it.
Cue in the Panzer II rolling across Poland with the slogan ‘am ende steht der sieg’ (In the end stands victory) my dear, for the age of reason might have ended already.
Be afraid, be very very afraid.
Disclaimer: The facts and opinions e

Friday, 9 February 2018

Morals, Roots and Moral Policing

Moral policing is again becoming a damned word. But I also moral police - we all do. And should.
I moralize to our daughter about using less. I moralize my village children about avoiding plastic covers.
My village people have moral policed our daughter, as also all village children. Teaching her to call out when she is eating, 'Raa, kurcho, annam thiny' ('Come, please sit and eat'). 
They have moral policed her into rising early and putting the kolam outside the house by dawn. They have moral policed the village children into not wearing deep necked clothes, I supoose.
We need morals, and values and the moral police, I suppose. Not the violent kinds. But a sane and balanced kind. That holds for everything.

Akhila Seshadri This is not moral policing. You have a relationship. Showing direction in a relationship is very very different from some random stranger telling me that I am not behaving the way s/he likes. I have no relationship there and therefore it is policing. Motherhood is not policing your kid. I am sure you spend time telling your daughter the rights and wrongs of it. Of course, if you get self-righteous about it, it IS no different.
Aparna Krishnan A society, any society, has a framework and structure. And broadly it expects some adherence. i suppose its OK, because the details of food and dress and rituals are what build up a society and a community. Some deviant individuals will be there, and will be accepted. But norms will be there.
Aparna Krishnan I suppose for me the individual is not the final unit - a valid, viable, small community that is well anchored in its identity, is.
Akhila Seshadri May be, I am that deviant individual. I want my right to be. I am the unit. I do not agree or confer upon any community the right to punish me or reprimand me for my beliefs. Moral policing by its virtue takes a high moral posture and that is destructive. Yet, if I have a loving respectful relationship with my community, one would need no 'policing' only gentle reminders.
Aparna Krishnan I only look for what model may serve best - and i come back to gandhi's gram swarajya. And the Indian notion of an Indivisual sacrifices himself for a village, a village for a country, a country for the world ...
Aparna Krishnan I questioned many nnorms  in youth - but when I moved to the village, and saw a valid community, that day at 29, i adapted. I switched to sarees totally, as to try to integrate. Integration consists of small simple habits of a community. And when those are all rejected, the fabric can rip apart. I think questioning needs to be done intelligently and where necessary. And a community is valid in its effort to protect its habits, as therein lies its identity itself.
Aparna Krishnan Our daughter at 6 years, was sweeping outside the house at 7a.m. - well after daybreak. Simhadri passing by bawled at her, 'Is this the time to sweep - one does this at daybreak.'. Moral policeling ? Well, after that day she swept and sprinkel cowdung at daybreak with everyone else !
Aparna Krishnan In a city if one neighbour tried to criticise another neighbour's daughter this way, it would be seen as moral policeing ! 'This is my house, my doorstep, my daughter ...' would be the statement !
Zulfi Haider well when you are part of a community..a daughter is a daughter of all elders around.....often enough. what sence community in a big city? where is the community, we are just individuals.
Aparna Krishnan a city is a perverted model - and there is no hope there zulfi. Unless we look at the basic, from there make the right choices and build brick by brick, we cannot acheive anything integrated.
Otherwise we will only have some patchwork criticism, and some patchy, out-of-context reactions and responses.

Aparna Krishnan Gandhi defined the village as the viable unit, nothing more or less. and i feel the matter ends there. the human mind and emotions are having to deal with distances they are not structured for. we cannot really 'understand' global warming, or 'feel' the pain of some inlanders disappearing under the ocean because of melting polar caps. we can pretend to understand. we can only understand that which we see and we can relate to it, and we will address it. hence the village ! 
Radhika Rammohan Aparna, it can be helpful to understand -- where does caring, relating, advising, in a REAL community end, and where does "moral policing" start? If in fact hamlets of 30-odd homes, are the only "valid" or viable context, then how can mores of that context ever be translated to others? The difference is -- the same Simhadri would (hopefully) have been chided by his neighbours, if he did not feed a hungry neighbour's child, or did not return a loan in time. Perhaps there are some terms that should not be coopted and Moral policiing is one of them
Sridhar Lakshmanan How abt khap panchayats? I guess they use the same arguments. That's the danger I see.
Aparna Krishnan Radhika, when a society becomes absurd, the reactions also become extreme. Our society has got split - into a vast ordinary crowd who have very Indian ways of being, dressing, eating and being. There is a smaller group which got westernized . The crux is that this group has positioned itself as superior and internalized it and also sadly brainwashed the others into that beleif. Into this world come some people who try to protect the identity of the ordinary people, their way of being, by dialogue sometimes, and by policeing sometimes. It will maybe not even be articulated thus, but these are reactions of a beleagured society.
Aparna Krishnan Sridhar, maybe khap panchayats are also the reposnse of a society whose way of being is threatened. Extreme reactions of a society under attack - through consumerism, thro' TV, thro' a westernined over reaching mindset.
Aparna Krishnan A society is its way of being, clothing, dances, music, values - everything disappearing under the onslaught of moderity. So reactions get extreme, including the moral policeing here and the khaps elsewhere.
Aparna Krishnan Radhika, where a community is demanding and teaching behaviour and values, and where is becomes otherwise, is a point. But i also feel that as such a society also defines certian codes of being, and habits, which are what define it. It will also try to implement it. That should not come with a stick and a dog I agree. thats all. There are communities which have the ghotul practice. there are communities which will not accept it. These are just societal practices that exist. And are preserved thro' different mechanisims. Yes, i am against a baton and a police dog.
Sridhar Lakshmanan A coerced subordination of an individual to a collective however well intending and well meaning it may be always has serious negative consequences. The individuals voluntary subscription is very critical as much as his right to withdrawal and chose an alternative even if its individualistic . I strongly believe that while the individual is an absolute reality on the other hand the collective is an illusion. I feel the villages of rural india do understand this.
Aparna Krishnan Coertion never works anyway. A society engages in different ways to ensure a certian way. A society under extreme pressure reacts extremely. Our society may not seem to be belaguered thus ... but scratch below the surface, and I suspect it is.
Radhika Rammohan Good, now that we have that cleared up... Is India really so neatly divided into two groups -- ordinary (Indian) and westernized? Are the mores of a society really so static and simple? When I was in the 8th or 9th class there was hardly a store in Chennai that sold chudidhar or salwar kameez; we were the pioneers who ventured into these clothes. Today they are the accepted pan-Indian dress at least for unmarried girls, in the remotest corners. Were these not adpatations during rule of some muslim foreigners some few hundred years ago? The 6 yard saree is not very old either, but it's considered the height of tradition! I agree, that we have fallen prey to a westernized mode of thinking and that this connection with essential Indianness is what, in some ways the right-wing leaders have which many secularists don't. Yet, there are other Indian-ness -- for e.g. ecological connection, reverence for nature, that is lost on this right wing as much as on the left. They are just as much worshippers of GDP. And if equality of the sexes, the ability to go out on a date rather than marrying minor girls according to the dictates of "elders", is such a westernized crime then, please let them morally police the destruction of nature and human rights as well.
Aparna Krishnan There is a deep divide. And the English educated animal belongs to a totally different space-time from the vernacular villagers.
Raghunandan Tr I agree with you on everything, but that is not what we mean by moral policing. What we mean is the action taken by people against men and women showing their affection for each other publicly. Is that a crime? Is that un-Indian? In Kerala, for years, you could not sit next to a girl in a bus, people would stare and make comments. You could not hold a girl's hand. You could not sit with your wife too, in a bus. And I can tell you, many Malayalis have only sex on their minds. Kerala used to produce most of India's porn movies at one time. I find that terrible hypocrisy.
Today, I reach out to kiss my wife quite often, as I have done throughout my life. She comes to the airport to meet me, or I, to meet her. We reach out to each other, and hug and kiss. Is that wrong? I find so much hate being expressed openly in every context. People find that OK. But if two people kiss each other, even if they are middle aged grey haired people like my wife and I, they find it terrible.
Raghunandan Tr And its not like I do it in places that are inappropriate. But is every show of affection in a public place inappropriate? I would not like to live in a society like that.
Aparna Krishnan Every place has a code of behaviour, and I think if that code is not harmful, its OK to allow it. In my village for instance public hugging and kissing would not seem OK, and there is no reason to challenge it. Thats all I'm saying.
Aparna Krishnan And if they object to it also, I would think its OK. Its their space and their habits.
Aparna Krishnan Like we cannot go to a tribal belt and moralse against ghotuls.
Raghunandan Tr I agree with that. But in a city? Is that standard of moral policing OK is an city? That is where the problem is a big one now. A city is a melting pot. The fact that one can be anonymous is something that appeals to some people. There are tradeoffs too, but then, it is a choice of preference, whether to live in a city or a village. In a city, the question is, whose space is it? And whose habits? Plus, is the entry or trespassing into a private space permitted? That is what the moral police is doing in places like Mangalore. That would be as unconscionable as religious moralists of whatever religious faith, going and closing down ghotuls.
Aparna Krishnan No, that force is never permissible. But the issue is deeper. I think it is a society that is losing its identity. Where all that is western is celebrated, and all that is Indian looked down on (most clearly visible in schools. 'She wears pavadais, you know'. 'oh, you use shikai' ... 'oh, you go to village for holidays' ...). Such a society will react in extreme and unpermissible ways.
Aparna Krishnan The class teacher admonished a child, 'Dont talk in Tamil. Are you a slum child.'. This is the world that we have grown to feel is normal. Its is a sick society. And extreme reactions will have to be faced.
Aparna Krishnan A society to be balanced needs to have its identity intact, needs to respect its own ways and culture. And not to have its language, its clothes etc mocked at. Then the backlashes will be extreme.
Aparna Krishnan Today i read about a big yatra the tribals in western India had taken out specifically to establish their cultural identity. Its all an issue now.
Raghunandan Tr Plus, it is never known what the moral police likes and does not like. When I was growing up in Kerala, women did not use cycles. They were well educated, but could not use cycles. Men would stare at them and even get physical; chasing them off the roads. Yet today, nobody gives it a second glance. But I wonder, what might it have been for the first women to take to cycling? How many taunts did they have to bear? Its the same with holding hands or kissing too. There is nothing inherently wrong with it and some day, conventions will change. But the first people who change it, even in your village, will be looked down upon.
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan The real issue is how do we build values. This is a question which liberals just avoid. They feel building values is not a responsibility of anyone in particular. Society according to them needs only laws not norms. So you find individual rights and the laws needed to protect that as the cornerstone of the thrust.
Morals, values etc are not be address by society or community. Only family, and even here they will interfere through educational institutions. The first thing your child is taught in US is how to report abuse of any kind. My friend was shocked after he moved to US , when one day he was trying to discipline his son and raised his voice, son asks?
Are you shouting at me? Then I will report you to the cops.
I hope that we will wake up before we mindlessly import all western ideals of liberty
Aparna Krishnan Raghunandan Tr, yes, creative questioning has to go on in any society. And it does, and societies evolve. My only submission is different - it is that most things traditional - clothes, language, habits (even like putting the kolam) and subtly and subconcsiously looked down on. The western way is seen as the pinnacle. That is leading to a backlash. That is my understanding. The soul of a society is its own identity. Which certianly needs to be questioned and corrected, and will be done when it is healthy and confident - not depreciating, and aplogetic.
Aparna Krishnan Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan, yes values come first. And these are inculcated by a society only. That is the only reality that can give, and reinforce and correct gently. I see that happen in villages. How that can happen in more individualised cities I am not sure. Maybe schools - but those are structured on the wrong values of competition and non-cooperation. I am not sure.
Aparna Krishnan And Radhika, " I agree, that we have fallen prey to a westernized mode of thinking and that this connection with essential Indianness is what, in some ways the right-wing leaders have which many secularists don't. Yet, there are other Indian-ness -- for e.g. ecological connection, reverence for nature, that is lost on this right wing as much as on the left. They are just as much worshippers of GDP. ". I have less enough respect for the Far Right, and as you mention they are also worshippers of the mammon. But the earlier point you mentioned is more significant than you realise. The left-liberal-secular front has lost its grip on essential indianness - which is a certian deep religiousness, a way of speaking, a language, a dress, a way of eating. And in losing this oneness, they lost more than they know, and the Right romped in. 
Radhika Rammohan So is the saville row suit Indian or western or left or right?!
Aparna Krishnan You are mixing up issues Radhika. Within each model (western and traditional) there is the discourse of austerity versus indulgence.
Aparna Krishnan I am talking of the two very different world views, and the educated Indian is deeply alienated from the truly Indian worldview. And we are not to blame, as somewhere that is the agenda of the schooling paradigm itself.
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan Radhika Rammohan The answer depends on who is wearing it.
Aparna Krishnan The modern, english-educated irreligious characters , lwho ook upon as religion as akin to superstition, are who unrolled the red carpet for Hindutva,
Samba Siva Rao Kolusu i totally endorse this view of yours, ma'am; without any ifs and buts.
Aparna Krishnan My view are simply learnings from my village - listening to them, and seeing how they conduct themselves.
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan Simple questions and simple answers can only reveal itself to the uncluttered mind.
Aparna Krishnan the village minds are very very deep.They store in their mind details, that i would need many books to store in. and which we would need to carry these around like a donkey.
Aparna Krishnan and what one stores in the mind is distilled essence - when one is illiterate. my books have more nonsense than sense - but i am literate and i need the books.
Samba Siva Rao Kolusu ma'am, do you write books? sorry for my ignorance, if so, could you please share details?
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan I never meant simple means pedestrian. To me simple ideas are more profound than complex ideas.  
Aparna Krishnan no, i dont do anything . i learn ayurveda with my doctor and try to establish it in the village somewhat. thats all. And then we try to do something with the people about the vanished groundwater, and about what to do about livlihoods.
Aparna Krishnan some stories are here.
Aparna Krishnan My only concern is that the identity and self image of societies - tribal, village, indian - is important. very important. All that is wrong needs to be questioned, all needed changes initiated - but after validating all that is valid.
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan @ Aparna Krishnan why don't we ask straight questions and see what answers we get.
1) What is the proposals for building moral values.

2) If in trouble in a physical way in a public place, do you expect strangers to help you? If yes. Do you want strangers to take the role of police and help you. How is this different from moral policing. 

3) If your property is being vandalised do you want neighbours to stop that. If yes, can they tomorrow tell your child what is right and wrong, and also prevent your child from doing what is consider wrong.
Please no smart Alec answers.
Aparna Krishnan My answers are as expected - I have spent 15 years in a village where there community teaches values, and also expects an adhereance to certian practices which are part of its beleif and fabric. And I have seen a sensibility and sense there than I have not elsewhere.
Radhika Rammohan 
1. By engaging with moral questions within the family immediate and extended, friends and community of caring and relating people. 
2. I would extend help to neighbours and in public places when there is a clear threat to their physical safety, yes. Perhaps even their emotional well-being... depends on the situation. 
3. If my property is being vandalised I would want my neigbours to try and stop that. I don't find it v hard to distinguish between violation of person or property, and practices like dress, public display of affection and so on which seem to be the target of the "moral poilce". No society has a static sense of what is permissable in these matters at any given point; definitely not porous one like India today. And we keep pushing the boundaries. More girls these days wear shorts and play vigorous sports compared to my time -- I would have benefited as a teenager to have done this, for my physical growth and belief in myself. I distinguish between morals and mores. There are "moral dilemmas" all the time, for all of us. Some more profound and important than others. I would support those who ask me for it -- in figuring out their moral dilemmas. If my friend has a dilemma in say, allowing her son or daughter to go to a pub vis-a-vis that child's rootedness and value attached to sobreity -- I would offer my support in their finding a solution IF they ask for it. If I was concerned for the said child's safety, I might intervene assuming they are ready to receive my concerns.
Deepak Kumar very nourishing disscssion, cutting and pasting for some inquistive friends
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan 1) Sure values, mores, morals/ morality (All the words have same origin, “mos” in Latin meaning customs, way of life) start with the circle in which we are born and inculcated from our parents to begin with.
However one also needs to acknowledge that all knowledge and practice, development / advancement of this can become specialized.
IMHO the whole of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Parables etc are a framework where morals are explored and refined through the dilemmas of various actors and their drives.
The origins of morality may have been logic, however without compassion it could not have been worked out in detail. More important without submitting to something higher than the self (call it universal peace, spirituality, religion, god ) one could never implement these in society.
In the past most of this was implemented using GOD as the main concept.

IMHO morals are still taught as concepts using stories, and more importantly by watching it being practiced.
The rise of science and logic has thrown a spanner into the works of all religions (Richard Dawkins and others today). The only feeble logic today to validate logic is game theory. This along with the allurement of material benefits have eroded the morals / mores in society.
While definitely religion / spirituality have been corrupted to varying degrees, the core is still clean in theory.
None of us would blame science for the atom bomb etc and throw science out of the window. However the modern progressive liberal does throw religion out of the window. They do think logic is enough to arrive at morals in spite of never having proven it in any experiment. Religion has 2000 years of proof (if for a second you ignore the negatives acknowledged already).
My humble submission is desecrating spiritual leaders, religious leaders is akin to berating the scientists of today for the wrong implementation or exploitation of science.
Thus my submission, that teaching morals requires spiritual leadership and followership.
Without that you will find the fountainhead dry out. This is becoming more and more critical with genetic engineering and other advances in science. Is it okay to breed animals but not humans for desired traits? The underlying science is the same.
2) Once we agree all morals are to advance society and individual (the order is important , liberals have it the other way round) then the whole question of helping strangers or friends is superfluous. I do acknowledge the urge to help family, relatives and friends is higher than that of helping strangers.
However what exactly is help? Should we not help a person whose family and others have failed him in teaching moral values and thus he/she becomes a threat to themselves and others? Is help only to be interpreted as protecting people from assault of others? I think help is both.
The liberal view is that law alone should deal with errant behaviors. I disagree with that view. Having grown up in a society where any passing stranger could reprimand you, as a child, even deliver the occasional slap, I find it difficult to allow that advantage to us disappear.
3) Ditto arguments as above.
The other issues you raise about a code for females being different from males I would answer as follows.
There is a serious problem with some mores like patriarchy. The scaffolding of protection has become a prison for exploitation.
Is this unique to patriarchy alone? No. As society has changed morals and values need to and will change.
The liberals are pushing for that and that is why I will support them. Mine is an issue based support. I will also evaluate capability, and refuse to support even if the cause is just. I want to use my time for things that I believe will succeed or at least make a change.
I find it distressing that today we demonize anyone who opposes us. I find that feminists will attack anyone for even pointing out something wrong, they are going to call me a Male chauvinist pig.
When I don’t support AAP because I believe that they have the capability I am attacked as “Modi Bhakta.” When I support the BJP I am called communal. I will stop supporting BJP when I see an alternative, not under someone else's pressure.
Does this shake me off? No. Why? My own conviction in my values does not compel me to constantly seek external endorsements for what is essentially an internal opinion. .
Does this mean I will not listen when others speak? I will listen provided they are not a vexation to my spirit by being loud, boorish, cheap and vulgar.
In short with everybody in a tearing hurry driven by their aggressive impatience (which is many times plain intolerance) I think all of them are tearing the fabric of society.
Instead of “Sarve Jana Sukhino bhavantu” it is “Sarve Jana vinasha kale”.
As a parting shot I do object to Hinduism in the land of its birth having MRTP (Monopolies Restrictive Trade Practices, essentially fettering the monopoly power by law) imposed on it. It's something worth fighting for, as I do believe Hinduism is worth preserving and developing.
Aparna Krishnan Radhika Rammohan, I have only my village for referance. The city I see as a Frankestein, grown out of control in the celebration of individualism. Where the members of the space, neither claim the rights to correct, nor the duty to nurture. That needs fundamental revisions - so that is not a referance for us. In the village when Varalu eloped, as is the practice, a village madhtyastham was called for and a fine imposed on the elopeing couple before they could set up home. Whan Varalu's marriage ran into trouble it was the same village elders who took the husband to task. Wen wife beating continued, her parents called the same elders together and said that the girl was going to come back to her parental home, until the boy reformed. The village has stood by her, and the husband knows he needs to be answerable to the community. Yes, there are limitations (especially these days) to all that can be imposed and implemented. But still I see a community as far more meaningful than 'police' - and so do the people, which is why more madhyasthams are called for, than police (And I suspect the madhyastham is our khap panchayat.)
Aparna Krishnan A community that owns up responsibility for its members, will also impose some norms. One can argue that it is the right of youth to elope, and why should some elders impose a fine. Well. A community has some claims and some responsibilities. Thats how it functions. And when th controls get too tight, there are usually objections and corrective mechanisims. And otherwise they need to be happen. 
The other option is of an urban community that does not own up, nor correct.
Aparna Krishnan In India morality (as much else) as existed in a larger framework of religiousness. i realised this most intensely when i moved to the village. And I realised how powerful that combination, of a deep and simple religiousness, and morality is (for a society - individuals can with a deep sense of ethic rise above that, but those are the deviations.). Yes, religion, as any social formation deviates from the original purity and needs alert questioning my responsible members - and that does happen. The Kabirs and Nanaks and Meeras are testimony to it. 'Vaishnava jana tho thene ... ' is one of the most powerful societal injunctions - and in a framework that appeals to heart and soul, apart from the mind, and so has deeper transforming power.
Aparna Krishnan Maybe there are atheistic societies. In india, my submission is, it will not work. The roots of the Mahabharata and Gangamma and Dharmam are too deep and integrated into living ways in this land and soil. I have seen this too closely and for too long in my village (which is an ordinary village-by-the-road and fit for generalisation) to not stand by this.
Radhika Rammohan Balasubramaniam Balu - I am not seeing where we diverge... Its been rather busy day so I will try to keep it short. I am not advocating an irreligious society based on logic. I think that a caring, real community, one which has some sense of shared values, shd engage with its moral questions deeply and in many different ways, even to the extent of advising children who are not ones' own. I don't agree that it is the same as "moral policiing". I dont however, believe that in a world of so much flux, cultural diversity, and crises of various kinds, that it would be useful for random people to take on themselves the right to reprimand others on what they are wearing or how they display affection, i.e in matters of mores. But it *would* be useful to have such random people intervene when there is an obvious violation of person or property. Will stop here as we shd talk in person.
Aparna Krishnan The problem always has to attacked at root. A city is a Frankestien where there is no community anymore. And everything has gone haywire as there is no value building possible it looks like - except the morals that the market teaches. So 'responses' becomes 'violent'. I think one simply needs to focus of smaller communities, saving villages, and such. That is the only way - many small decentralised communities, the gram swarajya,
Aparna Krishnan having said that, the other point is that the identity of the indian community is under attack - with all things indian seen as inferior to all that is western. the child speaking telugu, and halting english is inferior to the child speaking english and halting telugu. the child wearing only pavadais is ridiculed (i have seen all this at close quarters with my own child in the city). The village is seen as inferior to the city. religiousness is seen as inferior to a modern scientific temper. Would you not expect a cultural backlash - today as a violent 'moral police', tomorrow in some other form.
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan Radhika Rammohan l find it difficult to share the angst of people, press, students whoever are making the "moral policing " to be some national calamity. While completely agreeing that dress within norms of universal decency is nobody's business except that of the wearer, to object that no one in society has a right to tell them anything about that is absurd. Are they short of any serious issues to fight for ? Thus all I am saying is this is making a public mountain of a very personal molehill 😊
Radhika Rammohan I didn't say "no one in society" -- I said those who are in a real community with relationships oughta engage. Balasubramaniam we have partied a lot together. I would not have liked strangers to walk in to our parties and rough us up, or dictate how we should have our social gatherings - in the name of preserving culture. I would also possibly have felt more vulnerable than you, being a woman and not having gone to Shihaan Hussein's classes next door! Whereas if we ourselves, or our family and people whom we really engage with, want to examine meaningful ways of partying that would be welcome.
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan I would definitely have fought anyone who wanted to impose their views on our partying, however even that I never think is worthy of a mention even in "Adayar Times" leave alone mentions in national newspapers or prime time TV.

Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan There has never been a time when society was stress free, even in "Rama Rajya". People will lash out all the time, Disparity will never be eliminated, though a worthy ideal to fight for. Like I said in a post somewhere else. If capitalism is driven by greed, socialism is driven by envy. A compass is useful only till you reach withing 100 miles of the north pole after that it is useless. People build scaffolding to put a up building, however if you do not remove it in time it becomes a prison. Wisdom lies in following a principle to reach a goal, however to know when to abandon it is also wisdom. People talk of "Dharma" as if it is cast in stone, the truth is it is far more subtle than that. Exactly as to when policing by neighbours, society can be good, and then become bad. It is all about balance.
Aparna Krishnan This is today a state when all things western are admired and aped, and all that is Indian is looked down on. The pendulum will swing to the other extreme also. that is what i am seeing. And that is also what happenned in other countries I think.
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan Yes Aparna Krishnan, you are correct but strife, fight, change are the basics that will remain. Look at ourselves. We have a concept in Tamil called "Theruvu Kozhai Shande" literally translated means street tap fight. Facebook allows us to do the same on the virtual highway, with supporters using likes, reposts, comments to join the fight / discussion. Has anything changed really ?
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan In fact you are very right on the swinging like pendulum. Creation itself emerges from the "SWING". I was just reading about mood disorders and creativity. Looks like the writers, dramatists and others creative people have almost 500% more people with bi polar disease than normal population. Some of the most creative works have been penned by people whom we would hate if we know their personal dilemmas, Leo Tolstoy hated having sex with his wife, as it made him feel dirty, powerless, to the extent that he wanted to kill her, he wrote that as a story. Those things we see from far we can admire for beauty, things very close we detest for their imperfections. To enjoy a painting one has to step back, if we put our noses against it all we see is brush strokes which we find fault in. Sorry rambling, has nothing to do with the thread we started on
Aparna Krishnan Radhika Rammohan, that you (or I) do not like our parties disturbed is just too bad. That we are able to party when there are people rummageing in dustbins is simply a credit to our scheizophrenia. And as much as economic disparities can bring extreme responses, so can cultural undermining. India is a sad country today where all things Indian are despised.  Indian clothing, Indian languages everything is seen as inferior to the western.And there will be violent responses - and let us face it as our due.

Radhika Rammohan I see your point Aparna; I saw it right from the first. The thing I have been trying to say is that I dont see the clash as being between two polarities. I see it as an inevitable flux, swimming against not one current but negotiating many currents, many greys.
Aparna Krishnan True. But there is also the Indian and the Western. Two large worlds (despite the intermingling you speak of via TV etc. That intermingling also has its power equations. The villagers ape the urban clothing, and not vice versa
Habib Mohamed you are very good police .. I mean moral Police 
Balasubramaniam Thyagarajan A candle flame needs to be protected against the wind, a bush fire is aided by the wind. Why is wind a problem in one case and an aid of fire in the other case? When all combustible material is dispensed only through the wick of the candle it needs to be protected. When combustible material is all round we have to fight the wind, or rather pour water to make combustible incombustible. I will leave it to your imagination what is combustible material, what is water, what is wind what is fire, and who is the protector.

Menstrual Choices and Politics

Padman – The Real Story of How He Shot to Fame by Selling Shame

“If we want to give our daughters Sanitary Pads, we’d much rather buy the good quality ones available in the market. What do you think we are…….trying to get rid of some cheap stuff by dumping it on our girls?”
These words came from angry mothers of girls from a government school in rural Karnataka. The year was 2010. The “cheap stuff” in question was free Sanitary Napkins distributed through Rotary, made from a low-cost Sanitary Napkin manufacturing machine. The machine was the one set up by a person called Muruganathan, at Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru. The person who facilitated this free distribution was me. That was my first and last stint at distributing Sanitary Pads or any other menstrual product in villages.
Like many an arrogant social worker, I too began my work in this space 8 years ago assuming that I know better than the women in rural India. To be honest, I had even tried the pads made by Muruganathan’s machine before distributing them. I found the quality highly questionable – it would hardly last an hour before needing to be changed. And even the adhesive used was of such poor quality that when one tries to remove it, it just sticks and then the pad rips apart making a mess of the whole situation. Yet I thought “Well, it is for THEM. This should be enough.”
I wonder if the Twinkle Khannas of Bollywood who are suddenly praising and promoting Padman, have ever used his product. Do they go around in their designer outfits and costly vehicles wearing a leaking pad which needs to be discarded every hour? Or are they among those who think “This is good enough for THEM”?
Who is this THEM that we so selflessly fight on behalf of, in our arguments on menstruation? If celebrities and their recent comments are to be believed, then this THEM is 82% of Indian women who apparently have no access to Sanitary Pads and therefore resort to using alternatives like ash, sand, rags and what not. The poor THEM.
My team and I spent the last 8 years of our work actively trying to find THEM. We travelled and interacted with over 20,000 women across Bihar, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Maharashtra and extensively in Karnataka. The naxal hit villages in Jharkhand, the mud huts in Bihar, the tribes in Assam and North-East, the interior villages in Maharashtra and over 7000 women and girls across the length and breadth of interior Karnataka. It is from these women that we LEARNT how menstruation should be revered, how the first period should be celebrated, how the quality of menstrual blood can be a great indicator of our overall health, how we can prevent menstrual pain through simple dietary methods, how to manage the bleeding naturally, and how our menstrual cycles are meant to sync with the earth’s natural cycles.
No, we did not find the shame that is automatically assumed about rural women and their periods. Nor did we find THEM who used ash and sand and husk and are suffering from Reproductive Tract Infections for want of a Pad. We also asked journalists who quoted this worrying statistic, but they had neither met the sand-husk-ash using women, nor had they ever seen the published paper from which this quote is derived.  But surely we thought, we must be wrong…… after all, every NGO, every media article and every conference on menstruation is based on pitying THEM.
How could THEY not exist?
We have become so doubtful about our senses, that it is far easier to trust somebody else’s ‘data’, than our own first-hand experience. So we turned to scientific research in our last desperate attempt to find THEM. If the state of Indian women is indeed so bad when it comes to Menstrual Health, surely, there would be published research which proves it? We studied over 150 published research papers from across the globe, and especially of women in India. Researchers, activists and doctors from reputed global institutions such as The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (Boston) helped us gain access to published research papers. Here is a gist of what this study revealed:
No paper which surveyed Indian women found evidence of using sand, husk or ash as menstrual absorbent.
Research that studied the use of menstrual absorbents as far back as in 2005 in rural India, showed that around 35% to 40% women were already using Sanitary Pads at that time.
No paper showed evidence that use of a particular menstrual product such as cloth, is related to any menstrual disorder or reproductive tract infection.
No paper indicated that girls in India drop out of school owing to menstruation and lack of Sanitary Napkins.
In fact,
If we compare the prevalence of menstrual disorder such as Menorrhagia (Heavy Bleeding) globally, we find that it is far lesser among Indian women (around 18% to 20%), and much higher among women in developed countries like England (up to 52%) who are obviously pad/tampon users.
There are more girls missing school in New York City (42%) during menstruation, than in any village in India, where it is estimated to be around 24% absenteeism.
In all cases where girls miss school, the reason was owing to Dysmenorrhea, or period pain and had nothing to do with availability of Pads.
The complete findings of this study is detailed in the write-up “Menstruation: Research, Rhetoric, Reality” which provides link to 100 papers which have been quoted throughout the write-up.
More recently, the National Family Health Study of 2015-16, undertaken across India, revealed that the use of Sanitary Napkins among Indian women is 48.5% in rural, 77.5% in urban and 57.6% total.
Over the years, we have been invited by at least 10 NGOs across India who bought Muruganathan’s story and the invention in the hope of doing good. They wanted us to come and ‘convince’ the rural women to buy his Pads, because it simply wouldn’t sell.
If the product quality is not good, and there isn’t even data to support the need for Padman’s invention, then how on earth did he get so famous?
Enter SHAME.
At a Boston held conference in 2015 on Menstrual Health & Reproductive Justice, a documentary called Menstrual Man, on the life of Muruganathan was screened and a discussion followed. The poster subtitle read ‘Psycho. Pervert. Visionary’.
I attended that screening and for a long time afterwards was disturbed in trying to put a finger on the look of the mostly white audience who watched the film.  Was it pity on the projected shameful state of Indian women? Was it disgust at how obnoxious Muruganathan was and yet one couldn’t deny his ‘greatness’ because he came from a poor background? No one dared name it.
This same jumbled emotion is what media houses like BBC have been throwing our way. In Muruganathan, they found a hero through whom disgust and pity can unfold effortlessly. To shoot from his shoulder and create shame among Indians, seemed so much easier. Shame is the best marketing tool, especially when it comes to women’s products. Businesses are thriving by putting India in poor light, and Muruganathan was making it happen for them. He became the apple of foreign media’s eye.
The way Muruganathan has shot to fame without any valid reason, is a great indicator of who we are as a society, and how media can make us doubt our own experiences. The question is not to him. He is a businessman, doing whatever it takes to make his living and his identity.
The question is to the rest of us.
We, who have never used his product and yet promote it. We, who have not had a real conversation with even one rural woman and yet make assumptions about what they need. We, who would believe a statistic because some newspaper says so, and yet would never speak to even 10 women around us to verify it. And we, the men, who have not and can not experience what it is to bleed, but feel it is our responsibility to ‘educate’ the ignorant women on managing her bleeding.
Why is it, that we are so ready…no, Eager, to believe the worst about our women and our nation, and would raise concerns if we were told that Indian women actually have better menstrual health compared to their global counterparts?
Shame has been sold to us in a nice package with celebrity endorsements. And we have bought it.

The Joy of Giving Week

There is a programme called the Joy of Giving Week.
To understand the roots of Giving we need to return to the soil of this land.
In this land, away from the glass and metal cities, giving is a daily duty, lived by.
My village. Where giving is a dharmam done daily, unselfconsciously, humbly. With gratitude.
Every mendicant is fed in my village, itself lacking work and food. My neighbour, Eashwaramma, herself lacking food, goes and for coolie and gives 2 sacks of rice at the ashram for annadaanam for all.
The swami in the ashram explains that all have to give, as all are blessed, with rain and sunshine, by the god.
In our scriptures also the pancha mahayagnas are defined. Daily givings.
People on this land live in that daily giving.
Than that is the Truth we need understand, tune into, and work with. To reiterate, strengthen.
The ashrams and the Eashwarmmas are whom we need to learn from. And whom we need to live by.
They are the ones who teach us the Meaning of Giving. Eternally.

The enemy is us.

I was talking to a young friend who was railing at Ambani's daughter wearing a dress of diamonds. I told her it did not affect me. It actually does not. It might have when i was younger.
I told her that compared to the vast undernourished majority of this land, both she and I were vastly provided for. When there is hunger somewhere, each of our indulgences is an excess. The rot begins with each of us. And leads to Ambanis.
Reforming the Ambanis extravagences is not our mandate. Our class, all of us who have over our basic needs of food and clothing, need to collectively address the criminal disparity. The Ambani scion's foolish displays cannot hurt this country. We, a vast number of educated and well off Indians, by our indifference to utter poverty are real issue.
Geeta Charusivam Partly agree with you. Those of us both with privileges, class, caste or gender should realise what life means for those without it.
But the Ambanis have not just hurt this country with their display. They have plundered it by looting natural resources, bribing governments, exploiting people all to earn their vulgar wealth. They are pure evil.
Aparna Krishnan Do we use the products of Ambanis, or Ambani clones ? The Ambanis exist because of you and me. Period.
Geeta Charusivam Ambanis don't exist because of us. A vast majority of people in this country were happy buying products from PSUs. We need to look at the larger the system that creates Ambanis and their ilk. Most businessmen in India think that deceiving people to earn a little more profit makes them clever. This idea of maximizing profit at any cost is one of the root causes for huge inequalities.
Aparna Krishnan I see the root cause in our choices as a community and as individuals. Gandhi could help people bring down the Manchester cloth industry. We lack the spine to bring down an Ambani or a Unilever or a Union Carbide. We love to blame others like Ambani - he is irrelevent to my scheme of thinking.
Aflatoon Afloo अम्बानी की लड़की के हीरे के लिबास को देख कर आप पर असर नहीं हुआ।क्रोध क्यों नहीं आया?
Aparna Krishnan 1. Each of us is behind the growth of such monsters. I would rather direct my energies on me/us. If we were to stop buying their products, neither would Ambani be there, nor his daughter, nor her diamond dress 2.There are exterme perversions, and I would rather look at the wider and more systemic conditions that lead to the extreme disparities. 3. I see gowns advertized for 20,000/- and 50,000/-. So its a larger malaise and to waste energies on the person of Ambani is rather pointless. We need to see the root of the matter.
Amarendra Srivastava Brilliantly put "We, a vast number of educated and well off Indians, by our indifference to utter poverty are real issue." Salute!
Narayana Sarma Are we contemplating a poor man run facebook and google, or a poor man owned geo or road network, or a Petroleum company set up from scrap by poor? 😲👹👺
Nature of industries has not remained the same, Aparna. Bhopal has lost its relevance. 
We don't need to buy Ambani's products any more- our governments are owned by them.
Aparna Krishnan "Nature of industries has not remained the same, Aparna. Bhopal has lost its relevance." Meaning ?
Narayana Sarma With new modes of owning and running industries, with newer partnership models, and newer funding mechanisms, stocks and trading etc things got very complicated.  For example Union Carbide no longer owns Eveready. Simplistic notions like boycotting a product are effectively made irrelevant by the industry. With much of the market share captured by corporations that do not depend on physical labour oe even individual purchases like the earlier industries did, companies have become immune to individual outcry . You can stop buying HLL products but before you know they will have bought the company producing your favourite brand. And by owing governments, you can get large contracts for your ammunition, for your vaccines, for your computers and spectrums. Poor cooperatives can no longer compete with them.!
Aparna Krishnan True. So what is the way now. Where and how does one offer satyagraha ?
Aparna Krishnan I thinl it takes us back to the essential gram swaraj. Producing completely locally.
But even there, the resource base has been destroyed. And mindscapes have been bought over. By TV and schooling among other things.

Gandhi had it easier, I sometimes feel.
Narayana Sarma Birlas and Tatas supported freedom struggle. Adoniis, Jindals and Patanjalis are like new players... 
How should one view them?
Dr. Priti G Adani Addresses Gathering at Sarguja, Chattisgarh
Adani Foundation
Dr. Priti G. Adani, Chairperson, Adani Foundation, addresses the gathering at Sarguja Chattisgarh, and talks about the importance of education and nurturing you...
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Aparna Krishnan Adani Ambani are pure capitalists, 100% after personal welfare. Well, Tata ans Birla also finally have to play by those rules.

A persistant complaint is that Gandhi took the help of Birla, and thereby was compromised. He took the help, as each citize
n, rich or poor, capitalist or communist, had a duty for the independence struggle. but was not compromised. His strong case for Gram Swaraj, and unforgiving questioning of disparity. Unlike the present incumbent.
Narayana Sarma Tatas and birlas got into many controversial projects post Independence and followed more or less the same rules as Ambani's and Adanis. Infosys got GSTN, AADHAR through Nilekani and also the most recent Integrated Banking Application- which will replace individual core banking packages of all PSBanks- got the deal through what means, God only knows. 
Gandhi had an external enemy to fight against, and to get people around. We are now fighting our own demons which is much more difficult (and not so rewarding aa well. 😊)

Aparna Krishnan Yes, the capitalists and those facing their brunt united against the white man.

Today we have become the enemy, each one of us. Its going to be a long battle, maybe waged simply because it has tpo be waged.
Uma Shankari It is a very different world today, Narayana Sarma and it is also changing so fast; no 'ism' is going to work; there is no enemy or friend, every side is mixed and grey; what may work is everyone to follow his /her conscience, truth and duty. Perhaps that may work.