What is the meaning and purpose of life?”

Seeking the meaning and purpose of human life is a behaviour issue at the individual level.

Meaning of life and purpose of life, I think, are two related terms.

When we seek the meaning of life, it results in its purpose.

Establishing conscientious happiness in life, is my view on the topic: “what is the meaning and purpose of life?”

The word conscientious, according to the dictionary, means governed by our consciousness.

In other words, true happiness can only be realized when it is controlled by or done according to one’s inner sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Conscientious happiness has its foundation on realistic and rationale exploration to establish a real purpose in life.

Nanak established the purpose of life thru his universal and straightforward message of “kirt karo, vand chhako, naam japo.” Translation: work, share what one earns, and take the name of God.

Moreover, his practical guide to lead a purposeful life involves work and spirituality, that must not be going at separate times and separate places. But together all the time and in the same environment.

In our search for purpose in life, Taoism focuses on “living a simple and balanced life in harmony with nature.”

These simple and basic messages from Nanak and Tao have stimulated my thinking on the topic of “what is the meaning and purpose of life?”

Infusing nobility or divinity in our thoughts create virtuous karmas that help our approach to have a purpose in life.

The building blocks of conscientious happiness are: to be honest, humble, and sincere, be considerate and helpful to others, be merciful, forget and forgive, love fellow beings and care for the environments, including animals, plants, and nature. And everything else which is pious, pure, and morally firm.

But the big question is how we install and cultivate these simple and known universal messages in our day to day lives.

Does our social, religious, political, and economic environment influence the installation and development of these ideals? Do they help us, or become roadblocks to seeking our goal of purpose in life. Or some are helpful; others are hindering our resolve.

Does our mindset attitude also play a role in this search and development? Do we need to review our mindset behaviour?

How the internet and the current explosion of knowledge influence in achieving our conscientious purpose of life. Does social media have a role too?

Well, these are the questions thru which we seek our meaning and purpose of life in harmony with our conscientious happiness.

-Promod Puri

AT AGE 92, THE SECRET OF MY FRIEND’S HEALTHY LIFE

The other day I received a phone call from an old friend of mine after quite a long time. Old in the sense that we know each other for the past over four decades. But it is also in the context that he is now 92 years of age.

He has the same clarity and vigour in his voice as ever before, good hearing and an excellent memory. All these signs reflected while conversing with him. In his astute expressions, his mental alertness is still sharp.

Mr. Singh still goes for walks, and at least once a week hits the golf course. The testimony to his exceptional health at this senior golden age is that he does not take any of those medicines often related to old age. Cholesterol, diabetes, knee problem, etc. have bypassed him.

The secret!

It is under one medical term, called circadian rhythm. And Mr. Singh has kept it well under control with his disciplined daily regime.

A real understanding of the circadian rhythm is that all our body organs, down to their cellular levels, have body clocks working along with the brain. Together, the working of all theses body clocks is in coordination to create the circadian rhythm.

A synchronized circadian rhythm of every part of the body, especially the lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain, goes well without any compromise. The entire process, when settles down to set routine is the circadian rhythm that is not only beneficial to our overall health but most important in developing a robust immune system.

The boosting of the immune system is very vital, especially when we are facing the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus. And if this body clock rhythm is not put in place or being disturbed, our health problems start kicking in along with a weak immune system.

Specialists in the field of circadian rhythm emphasize a regular and systematic pattern of good sleep, exercise, and diet. The exact timing, duration, and disciplined, healthy living day in and day out is what we need to develop a robust immune system.

Mr. Singh listens to his body clock, religiously every moment of his life. Talking to him has always been very meaningful and knowledgeable.

One of these days, when this social-distancing restraint is over, I’m going to meet him. It certainly would be an inspirational meeting as well as to revive our chess sessions with a glass of Scotch on the side, that he still enjoys every day.

By Promod Puri

 

Denialism: A Roadblock To Liberal Thinking

by Promod Puri

When things or incidents happen in front of our own eyes or reported through trustworthy sources, and we deny them as non-events, there could be a “motivated reasoning” for that denial.

Psychologists name the observed phenomenon as denialism.

A recent example of denialism is when President Trump refuted the pandemic of COVID-19 in its early stage. And when most of India’s upper and wealthy class refused to accept the plight of migrant workers in their agonizing walks back to the villages during the peak Coronavirus lockdown.

Historical events, like the Holocaust, have never happened according to those who refute the genocide. Climate change is a myth; the theory of evolution is nonsense, the earth is not round, but a flat dish, are the examples trapped in the insulated casing of denialism.

In denialism, our social behaviour, political and religious identities get rigid with the discriminatory pick of pieces of evidence. Rationalization becomes irrational in fussy argumentation. And society becomes polarized when information receiving is selective to match the perceived opinions and verdicts.

Denialism is an irrational act. So why people deny or reject the basic facts that are undisputed and well-supported by verifiable or scientifically-proven realities?

Several reasons based on their religious, political or social beliefs explain the behaviour as it confronts the uncomfortable truths. Moreover, people who stick to denialism may have personal interests, egotistical or narcissistic passions. An ideological worldview can be a factor too.

It is for these reasons, in the absence of reality and truth, denialism gets its spot that creates a mindset fanatic attitude that can cause roadblocks or deadends to free or liberal thinking.

 

American slavery: Separating fact from myth


Five generations of a slave family. Shutterstock

Daina Ramey Berry, University of Texas at Austin

This article was published in 2017

People think they know everything about slavery in the United States, but they don’t. They think the majority of African slaves came to the American colonies, but they didn’t. They talk about 400 years of slavery, but it wasn’t. They claim all Southerners owned slaves, but they didn’t. Some argue it was all a long time ago, but it wasn’t.

Slavery has been in the news a lot lately. From the discovery of the auction of 272 enslaved people that enabled Georgetown University to remain in operation to the McGraw-Hill textbook controversy over calling slaves “workers from Africa” and the slavery memorial being built at the University of Virginia, Americans are having conversations about this difficult period in American history. Some of these dialogues have been wrought with controversy and conflict, like the University of Tennessee student who challenged her professor’s understanding of enslaved families.

As a scholar of slavery at the University of Texas at Austin, I welcome the public debates and connections the American people are making with history. However, there are still many misconceptions about slavery, as evidenced by the conflict at the University of Tennessee.

I’ve spent my career dispelling myths about “the peculiar institution.” The goal in my courses is not to victimize one group and celebrate another. Instead, we trace the history of slavery in all its forms to make sense of the origins of wealth inequality and the roots of discrimination today. The history of slavery provides vital context to contemporary conversations and counters the distorted facts, internet hoaxes and poor scholarship I caution my students against.

Four myths about slavery

Myth One: The majority of African captives came to what became the United States.

Truth: Only a little more than 300,000 captives, or 4-6 percent, came to the United States. The majority of enslaved Africans went to Brazil, followed by the Caribbean. A significant number of enslaved Africans arrived in the American colonies by way of the Caribbean, where they were “seasoned” and mentored into slave life. They spent months or years recovering from the harsh realities of the Middle Passage. Once they were forcibly accustomed to slave labor, many were then brought to plantations on American soil.

Myth Two: Slavery lasted for 400 years.

Popular culture is rich with references to 400 years of oppression. There seems to be confusion between the Transatlantic Slave Trade (1440-1888) and the institution of slavery, confusion only reinforced by the Bible, Genesis 15:13:

Then the Lord said to him, ‘Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.’

Listen to Lupe Fiasco – just one hip-hop artist to refer to the 400 years – in his 2011 imagining of America without slavery, “All Black Everything”:

      [Hook]      You would never know      If you could ever be         If you never try      You would never see      Stayed in Africa      We ain’t never leave      So there were no slaves in our history      Were no slave ships, were no misery, call me crazy, or isn’t he      See I fell asleep and I had a dream, it was all black everything      [Verse 1]      Uh, and we ain’t get exploited      White man ain’t feared so he did not destroy it      We ain’t work for free, see they had to employ it      Built it up together so we equally appointed      First 400 years, see we actually enjoyed it
Auctioning slaves in South Carolina. Wikimedia

Truth: Slavery was not unique to the United States; it is a part of almost every nation’s history, from Greek and Roman civilizations to contemporary forms of human trafficking. The American part of the story lasted fewer than 400 years.

How, then, do we calculate the timeline of slavery in America? Most historians use 1619 as a starting point: 20 Africans referred to as “servants” arrived in Jamestown, Virginia on a Dutch ship. It’s important to note, however, that they were not the first Africans on American soil. Africans first arrived in America in the late 16th century not as slaves but as explorers together with Spanish and Portuguese explorers.

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One of the best-known of these African “conquistadors” was Estevancio, who traveled throughout the Southeast from present-day Florida to Texas. As far as the institution of chattel slavery – the treatment of slaves as property – in the United States, if we use 1619 as the beginning and the 1865 13th Amendment as its end, then it lasted 246 years, not 400.

Myth Three: All Southerners owned slaves.

Truth: Roughly 25 percent of all Southerners owned slaves. The fact that one-quarter of the southern population were slaveholders is still shocking to many. This truth brings historical insight to modern conversations about inequality and reparations.

Take the case of Texas.

When it established statehood, the Lone Star State had a shorter period of Anglo-American chattel slavery than other southern states – only 1845 to 1865 – because Spain and Mexico had occupied the region for almost one-half of the 19th century with policies that either abolished or limited slavery. Still, the number of people impacted by wealth and income inequality is staggering. By 1860, the Texas enslaved population was 182,566, but slaveholders represented 27 percent of the population, and controlled 68 percent of the government positions and 73 percent of the wealth. These are astonishing figures, but today’s income gap in Texas is arguably more stark, with 10 percent of tax filers taking home 50 percent of the income.

Myth Four: Slavery was a long time ago.

Truth: African-Americans have been free in this country for less time than they were enslaved. Do the math: Blacks have been free for 152 years, which means that most Americans are only two to three generations away from slavery. This is not that long ago.

Over this same period, however, former slaveholding families have built their legacies on the institution and generated wealth that African-Americans have not had access to because enslaved labor was forced. Segregation maintained wealth disparities, and overt and covert discrimination limited African-American recovery efforts.

The value of slaves

Economists and historians have examined detailed aspects of the enslaved experience for as long as slavery existed. My own work enters this conversation by looking at the value of individual slaves and the ways enslaved people responded to being treated as a commodity.

They were bought and sold just like we sell cars and cattle today. They were gifted, deeded and mortgaged the same way we sell houses today. They were itemized and insured the same way we manage our assets and protect our valuables.

Enslaved people were valued at every stage of their lives, from before birth until after death. Slaveholders examined women for their fertility and projected the value of their “future increase.” As the slaves grew up, enslavers assessed their value through a rating system that quantified their work. An “A1 Prime hand” represented one term used for a “first-rate” slave who could do the most work in a given day. Their values decreased on a quarter scale from three-fourths hands to one-fourth hands, to a rate of zero, which was typically reserved for elderly or differently abled bondpeople (another term for slaves).

For example, Guy and Andrew, two prime males sold at the largest auction in U.S. history in 1859, commanded different prices. Although similar in “all marketable points in size, age, and skill,” Guy was US$1,280 while Andrew sold for $1,040 because “he had lost his right eye.” A reporter from the New York Tribune noted “that the market value of the right eye in the Southern country is $240.” Enslaved bodies were reduced to monetary values assessed from year to year and sometimes from month to month for their entire lifespan and beyond. By today’s standards, Andrew and Guy would be worth about $33,000-$40,000.

Slavery was an extremely diverse economic institution, one that extracted unpaid labor out of people in a variety of settings – from small single-crop farms and plantations to urban universities. This diversity was also reflected in their prices. And enslaved people understood they were treated as commodities.

“I was sold away from mammy at three years old,” recalled Harriett Hill of Georgia. “I remembers it! It lack selling a calf from the cow,” she shared in a 1930s interview with the Works Progress Administration. “We are human beings,” she told her interviewer. Those in bondage understood their status. Even though Harriet Hill was too little to remember her price when she was three, she recalled being sold for $1,400 at age nine or 10: “I never could forget it.”

Slavery in popular culture

Slavery is part and parcel of American popular culture, but for 40 years the television miniseries Roots was the primary visual representation of the institution, except for a handful of independent (and not widely known) films such as Haile Gerima’s “Sankofa” or the Brazilian “Quilombo.”

Today, from grassroots initiatives such as the interactive Slave Dwelling Project, where school-aged children spend the night in slave cabins, to comic skits on Saturday Night Live, slavery is front and center. In 2016 A&E and History released the reimagined miniseries “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” which reflected four decades of new scholarship. Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” was a box office success in 2013, actress Azia Mira Dungey made headlines with the popular web series called “Ask a Slave,” and “The Underground” – a series about runaway slaves and abolitionists – was a hit for its network WGN America. With less than one year of operation, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History, which devotes several galleries to the history of slavery, has had more than one million visitors.

The elephant that sits at the center of our history is coming into focus. American slavery happened – we are still living with its consequences. I believe we are finally ready to face it, learn about it and acknowledge its significance to American history.

-Author: Daina Ramey BerryUniversity of Texas at Austin

MY SCHOOL TEACHER’S BRUTALITY

As often said, what I had for dinner yesterday or the day before, I do not remember. But some incidents that happened years ago are vividly embedded in our cumulative memory power.

It was one of those summer months when the daily regime begins with the early morning wake up just by one call from our father. I was only six or seven years old, and the first activity of the day was going to the river on the outskirts of the city. The walk was two or three miles from our house. It was a stiff recreation but had to endure each morning.

Rushing back home, getting ready, and having a quick breakfast, I had to be at the school precisely at 7 O’clock. And I made it every day from Monday to Friday.

But one day, for some reason, I was late, not very much, maybe 10 minutes. My grade 1 class was on; I entered the classroom quietly, head down, and sat on my floor rug place.

The moment I sat, the teacher, addressed as Masterji, called me up and asked why I was late. Before I could gather words to express myself, he gave me a hefty slap on my tender little face.

I accepted the punishment at that age of my life. Perhaps, I learned a lesson too. Later in life, I felt it wasn’t kind on the part of Masterji. But that used to be the custom or common practice by teachers to slap young students, beat their palms with a cane, or make them sit in a weird and painful position with hands going through legs and holding on to both the ears.

Physically harsh punishments for young kids in their tender ages was a practice that I would now call it teachers’ brutality. And for me, I would never forget that slap.

-Promod Puri

 

Humanization Of Countries, Viruses And Everything Else

By Promod Puri

Do we have to blame a nation or nations in their respective involvement and stake in initiating wars, battles, or violent conflicts rather than the individuals responsible for calling out to strike the fire?

Historically and down the road, we blame the nations and forget the leaders or rulers in their combating roles and catastrophic orders.

But this is how the human mind is architected to humanize nonhuman physical entities from countries to animals, political to religious concepts.

We’re humanizing Coronavirus as “sneaky, “tricky,” “merciless,” “cruel,” and “invisible enemy.”

It is an innate tendency of human psychology that, according to 18th-century philosopher David Hume, “We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and… ascribe malice or good-will to everything, that hurts or pleases us.”

Painter, philosopher Leonardo da Vinci saw humanism all around, in the random patterns of cracked walls, and the images of animals, plants, and landscapes.

Humanization of Disney World animal characters happens, so is the case with visuals in most children TV shows.

Human thought, action, religion, season, weather, are also personified, and given the gender, he or she. However, both Judaism and Islam reject a humanized deity, believing that God is beyond human comprehension.

Human psychology to visualize everything relates to our senses to understand the nature of things in its most familiar way, and that is the human face.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, “the naming of hurricanes and storms — a practice that originated with the names of saints, sailors’ girlfriends, and disliked political figures — simplifies and facilitates effective communication to enhance public preparedness, media reporting, and the efficient exchange of information.”

The phenomenon, called anthropomorphism, is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to nonhuman entities.

The multifaceted nature of anthropomorphism makes things easy to relate and easy to apprehend. But it can also generate misrepresentation. It is a “source of error.”

It is in this error or anthropomorphization; the real culprits who generate horrible or bloody events escape from the condemnation and punishment they deserve.

In the call out for sacrifice, nationalism, and patriotism, or just for “defense” battles are fought, soldiers fight and die, the accountability rests on humanized states, but not on the ruling leaders in the long run.

That is what happens on the world stage when nations, tribes, or communities get humanized, and the leading triggers of wars and conflicts recede into history as unscathed and unharmed culprits.

It has happened in the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, including the abuses in the Abu Gharib prison and Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Rwanda genocides. The initiators of these heinous conflicts are almost oblivion, replaced by the nations humanized as living biological entities.
————

MY MEMORIES WITH “PEEPEWALE” BISCUITS

Every time I notice these in the Indian grocery stores, even at Walmart, my recurring memories fly me back to those teenage days in India.

We did not call them “Peepaewale” biscuits. These were just plain cookies custom-made from a local bakery shop.

Also referred to as Punjabi biscuits, these non-smooth and little grooved on the top is triple the size of 22-karat gold biscuits.thumbnail (4)

Since these crunchy cookies were contained in a ‘pipa,’ that is the reason they are called ‘Peepaewale’ biscuits here in Canada. Perhaps, it is a marketing approach by the manufacturers to draw the nostalgic feel and taste of the sweet goodies.

I remember enjoying the crispy delicacies with the spread of home-made butter on top and a glass of lassi as our breakfast during summer days before heading off to school.

The most blissful part of those childhood memories was when my mother assigned me the job of getting them made from our neighborhood friendly baker.

The ingredients were few. Whole wheat flour, ghee, sugar, and one or two more items, that I don’t recollect. And there was an empty ‘pipa,’ a rectangular tin container with lid and provision of locking it, to pack the baked product.

My reward for the volunteering service was that I could eat as many cookies as I could in the 10-minute walk back home. But once at home, the pipa was locked, and the key-control was with my mother.

However, a few times, I managed to slide my slim and tender hands into the locked pipa and steal some cookies. My mother knew about it but pretended she did not. And I kept enjoying my “peepaewale” biscuits, now a part of sweet memories.

By Promod Puri

THE CAKE MY MOTHER USED TO MAKE

Our kitchen was very elementary but a conspicuous place in the house. Prominently featured was the built-in wall cabinet that was a designated space for all the plates, bowls, etc.  There were no china dishes or even the glass highballs, a few spoons, but no forks or knives, no sink, and no running water either. All the utensils were of brass that needed an occasional coating of some shining metal, named Kli, done by hawking street vendors referred to as Kli-walas.

Complete with the very basic needs, our kitchen, also called Rasoi, had an orderly and clean look. Besides, it was quite spacious. The place was our dining room as well, but there were no dining table or chairs. Neither there was room for those affluent items. All the activities in our Rasoi, from cooking to eating, were on one level, that is on the floor. Straw mats furnished the flooring for comfortable dining. Still, it was always a cross-leg sitting.

A wood-log clay stove, aka Chula, with two burning outlets, occupied one corner of the kitchen. My mother architected the Chula as per her needs and aesthetics. And she diligently built it herself from the few raw materials needed for her project. Once a while, she used to renovate her Chula with a fresh coat of mud.

Mother was always a busy person with plenty of household chores, but creativity was her forte, and cooking was the passion she enjoyed the most in the domain of her Rosai.

On several occasions, my mother used to make cakes, yes, the real egg cakes. And her little wood-burning Chula was the gadget for baking cakes. It was a simple procedure that she simulated. The thickened cake mix was poured into a bowl, covered by a brass plate, and then placed at the bottom of the Chula, where the hot ashes would fully wrap the cake pot. Within 20 or 30 minutes, the cake was ready, fresh from her multi-purpose oven.

Sweet memories are taking me back to the soft and spongy ash-baked cakes she used to make for the love of her culinary interests while, in her motherly spirit, creating delights with limited resources for all of us in the family.

Happy Mothers’ Day.

Happy Mothers’ Day.

-Promod Puri

Open for “business” but no visitors:

“guloñ meñ rañg bhare bād-e-nau-bahār chale

chale bhī aao ki gulshan kā kārobār chale.”

Spring blossom in Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, Canada.

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CUBAN DOCTORS IN ITALY: HUMANITARIAN AND DIPLOMATIC

Cuba exports very few items that contribute to its economy. These are cigars, sugar, rum, pharmaceutical products, and medical services, especially doctors.

Lately, the country has been in the news and commended for sending its doctors to Covid-19 plagued Italy in precarious and high-risk situations.

For nearly 60 years, Cuba has been sending healthcare professionals around the world, especially to the Latin American countries. It is part of its declared policy of “solidarity with those in need” no matter where the need is global.

However, this humanitarian gesture has its other side as well, the medical diplomacy, exploited in a typical way the Left or Communist regimes do. Exporting medical services earn money for Cuba to survive the ongoing US embargo.

Besides helping the needed countries, the services of doctors and other medical professionals abroad have economic and diplomatic benefits for Cuba.

Working abroad allows them to better their standard of living when they earn much more than if working on the Island. In many cases, these doctors get an opportunity to escape the hardships of the Communist regime and settle abroad permanently.

During my two-week holiday in Cuba in 2018, I was told, by Cubans themselves, that most of the country’s professionals like doctors, nurses engineers, etc. do not find jobs in their respective careers. Instead, they are doing the available jobs in hotels and luxury resorts as waiters and bartenders, cooks, or even gardeners.

Migrations by Cubans by whatever means is natural. It has been happening all these six decades of the dictatorial regime of Fidel Castro. According to a recent report, between 2006 and 2016, over 7000 Cuban doctors defected to the USA via third countries where they first worked.

The latest mission of Cuban doctors in Italy for humanitarian reasons is indeed praiseworthy. Still, it needs not to be part of the government’s publicity machinery to promote its fake ideal of internationalism while having an abysmal human rights record.

-Promod Puri

 

Remembering Khushwant Singh: His Colorful Life And Humor

By Promod Puri

Perhaps the least revealed an aspect of Khushwant Singh’s colorful and long active life, was the fact that he perfectly balanced his cogitative pursuits with an active physical download (11)lifestyle of exercise, sports, and walks.

Unlike most of the known contemporary thinkers and writers, Khushwant Singh realized that both mental and physical activities occupy equal space in one’s daily routine and that both are healthful to each other.

In the last column I read by him at the age of 98, which still had his trademark of wits here and there, he talked about his daily routine and diet including a couple of shots of single malts. The latter was essential to give that kick off ‘saroor’ to relish his simple food in a relaxed evening mood.

He emphasized the need for massage, which was done two times a day, to keep the body muscles invigorated and for better blood circulation. He reasoned that in old age one can’t do any strenuous exercises for muscle strength, but to keep them healthy and in shape, massage was the only way.

Khushwant Singh also mentioned in the same column that how important it was to keep one’s bowls clean. His prescription was that one should have fleet enema occasionally. And in his imaginative and typical satirical style, he quoted Mahatma Gandhi who used to have the enema not only for himself but doing it on his female aides as well.

He loved stomach-friendly easy to digest food. And for that, his preference was South Indian idly and sambhar. Still, he never liked ‘upampa,’ the wheatmeal pudding-look salty dish which was not palatable to sweet halva-loving Punjabi Khushwant Singh.

His physical activities included playing tennis that of course, he abandoned it in his most senior years. He was a popular and friendly walker as he strolled along every morning with his neighborhood friends.

A lot has been said about his immense contribution toward contemporary Indian literary writings and his widely-read and lucid daily columns.

However, his other big contribution was his creation of two funny characters in the name of Santa and Banta. The popular jokes attributing to Santa-Banta or revolving around them were what elevated Khushwant Singh from the level of an intellectual elite to the status of a simple, fun-loving ‘Aam-aadmi’.

Cheers Mr. Khushwant Singh, where ever you are!

BITTERNESS IS HEALTHY

It may sound sweet that our fruits and vegetables are getting sweeter.

While the bitterness in some of the known bitter fruits and vegetables is becoming far less or almost non-existent. Examples are grapefruit, brussels sprouts and bitter-melon (karela).

The natural chemicals involved in creating bitterness are called phytonutrients that are responsible for imparting health benefits in fruits and vegetables. Reducing or eliminating their presence enhances the sweetness of fruits and vegetables.

The de-bittering experimentation and processes are being carried out to make fruits and vegetables as “kids friendly” or to appease our sweet tooth.

But nutritionists say that is unhealthy development steered by the food industry.

Bitterness in fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy and balanced diet. Bitter fruits, vegetables, and herbs are full of compounds that stimulate digestion, increase nutrient absorption, aid in detoxification and boost metabolism and immune system.

By Promod Puri

Nationalism & Patriotism Are Threats To Global Peace And environment

By Promod Puri

I have been an anti-national ever since I understood the nature of its allegiance to the country one belongs to. At the same time, I am not a patriot either with its blurred image as it is often a consequence of nationalism.

Patriotism and nationalism have obscure borderline between them. It is a “problematic pair” to find independent definitions to isolate each concept. Both the words are synonyms to each other according to their dictionary explanations. Still, certain attempts have been made to detach the two.

Nationalism arises from the word nation. As such it seeks love, devotion, pride and unconditional loyalty for it. This commitment must be confined within a nation’s borders. It is an outright, and avid engagement with the country one resides in.

Nationalism also seeks pride in the nation’s identities contained in monolithic societies.

One religion, one language, and one culture dominate the monolithic societies. Together these are showcased to represent the overall nationalistic character of the nation. The politics of the country are espoused and steered around the sensitivities linked with these aspects.

However, in the universality of contemporary society, nationalism has a confined perspective. It denies or ignores the fast-emerging reality of multicultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious expressions of nations. In the nationalism of the majority, minorities’ share is limited or unimportant.

As technology, internet, and social media are the current factors cementing the multi-facet character of the world’s societies, the sentiment of nationalism is not much of an appeal.

Moreover, nationalism thins out when people migrate due to political, economic and other reasons or as refugees. It is often a dilemma for immigrants to settle in host countries to pick one national loyalty and reject the other.

Nationalism has lost its impact because no single identities are monopolizing cosmopolitan populations. But it is used as a political tool to arouse the religious, cultural and linguistic sentiments of the majority community.

Nationalism leads to the political exploitation of the dominating community apprehensive of being overwhelmed by the population mix of multiple and distinctive identities.

Xenophobia is thus forged thru the nationalistic politics.

Governments are elected in a manufactured atmosphere of fear and hatred for minorities, foreigners, and refugees. Enemies are concocted within a nation where bigotry, racism, and injustice are encouraged and played for political sovereignty.

Albert Einstein said: “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

Nationalism finds accomplice in patriotism for political gains and opportunism. In this behavior, patriotism becomes a victim of nationalism.

Patriotism is derived from the word patriot. Its character is better understood in valor, bravery, sacrifice, duty and devotion toward the nation and its citizens.

The purity of patriotism lies in the concerns and care of the nation’s people, devoting and even sacrificing for their protection and peace irrespective of their class, caste, religious or cultural affiliations. It encourages pride in the achievements of the nation while seeking a critical analysis of its failures which even involves governing leadership.

A changing behavior has been observed toward the concept of patriotism among school kids in the United States recently. According to a study by Professor Jane Lo of Florida State University, “students opt out of the ritual of saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”

Further according to the professor, “a public opinion poll conducted by the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness suggests that young people see the flag, less as a symbol to be proud of and more as a symbol of what is wrong with the country. If more students are associating the flag with flaws in the system, it would explain why some students opt out of standing for the pledge of allegiance or other celebratory acts.”

Patriotism, nevertheless, is an evocation to support and shield the parochial aspect of nationalism. As it keeps subtle binding with nationalism, military patriotism is manifested.

But military patriotism induces an ever-escalating global war budget in the name of “defense.”

As patriotism is a major motivating factor, armed forces are raised and maintained with the spending of billions and trillions of dollars for the “defense.”

The question is: defense from whom?

Countries are not being invaded by other countries anymore. That era, which dominated the histories of humanity, ended with the Second World War 73 years ago.

The thirst of the political Left and Right ideologies for political dominance and expansionism are not the factors either. That period was over with the end of the Cold War between the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc in the late last century.

What is aimed now is the business or corporate expansionism. The reason being an ever-increasing appetite of capitalism which significantly impacts both the democratic and communist political systems. Business-political nexus is thus created.

In this expansionist development over the last several decades, borders for battleground are not needed. But the war industry’s clout keeps the borders hostile. Aggressive patriotism, infused with nationalism, is set up across the borderlines.

From that perspective, military patriotism is a deadly commitment.

The eighteenth-century French philosopher Voltaire said, “It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.”

We can admit that patriotism has been a motivating factor in the service of humanity. Both nationalism and patriotism have historical contributions toward pride, unity, independence, and sovereignty of a nation.

But the world has changed comprising of varied demographic characters. Nationalism and patriotism are now divisive concepts within a nation’s borders. Most fights and conflicts worldwide are happening within a country, not between nations.

When nationalism stirrups patriotism, the latter develops into a chauvinistic tool of power politics.

Both nationalism and patriotism relate only to the confines of the nation’s border, while the world thru technology, mass communication, and social media is fast emerging a cosmopolitan mix of one world- community.

“Our true nationality is mankind,” H.G. Wells

As such, our concerns and issues are now at the global level of wellness of all humanity. This empathetic awareness creates respect and understanding among peoples of the world irrespective of class, caste, religious or societal differences.

In this concern, our environments, which have no space in the nationalistic and patriotic jingoism, are also equal partners seeking their attention and protection.

As we are fast developing into a multi-facet global community, what we need is humanitarianism and environmentalism without the caging borders of nationalism, and the obscurity of patriotism.

-30-

Promod Puri is a Vancouver-based writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Websites: progressivehindudialogue.com, promodpuri.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com

 

My Curiosity For Banana Hanger And Other Interesting X-mas Gift Items

By Promod Puri

Ever since it was first introduced in the kitchen accessories section of departmental stores I am still debating to buy it or not. Over the last 15 years or more, when the object of my curiosity was first displayed as an innovative and somewhat bizarre item, it has been a challenge to my buying impulse.

During this X-Mas season of all the popular and useful gifts items, Banana Hanger is at the bottom of my list. And it has been sitting there ever since its first appearance.

I can buy a ‘banana guard’ to protect it from spoilage or an apple peeler, but banana hanger still has to hang on until I am convinced of its merit(s). I use a shirt hanger, pant hanger and even I can think of buying a tie hanger, but for banana hanger ‘not yet’.

I remember once getting a banana hanger as a gift perhaps during the holiday season or on my birthday. The dilemma was what to do with that, to use it or to pass on to somebody else. Rejecting both, I thought of leaving it out in our back alley for street collectors. But the idea was outwardly rejected too. The reason was simple these people love to have bananas, not the banana hanger.

The poor gift item finally landed at the Salvation Army thrift store.

I do admire the craftsmanship involved in its design and its usability to hang a bunch of bananas ( not overly ripe ones ). With its sleekness and curves, it does have an aesthetic value and adorn dining table. But my only apprehension is that what I am going to do with this gizmo when I am left with a single banana. I can’t hang the lonely one on it. Moreover, unlike monkeys my appetite for bananas is limited.

Despite my aversion to banana hangers, the fact is that these are still being sold and people are buying them for their own use or as a gift item. The smart invention, great marketing!

While the BH is on my waitlist, I certainly would not buy some “useless products” which sprout up abundantly during the Christmas Season. These include ear dryer, shoes with tiny umbrellas at toes, hat with false hair, lighted slippers, bacon floss, egg cuber, underpants for hands, and much more.

And the latest entry in the bizarre category is the “popcorn helmet”. It is a headpiece that feeds popcorn directly into the wearer’s mouth, or landing close to it. The device is most useful in a theatre as it saves hands from being oily and salty.

Happy Holidays.

promodpuri.com

 

She Was Not “Supposed” To Enter Kitchen

By Promod Puri

I don’t know if she belongs to the class of housemaid, aka “bai”. If so, then her status could be upgraded in India’s class and caste society.

She had a regular assignment at our home around 11 every morning and finishing her limited but reserved task in 15 to 20 minutes. It was the most needed part of daily cleaning.

She was a Christian Punjabi-speaking girl in her teen years. Most kids in her age group were in schools at that time studying and playing. But here she was punctual in her daily routine seven days a week.

Besides our house, she was duty-bound attending a few other households in the neighborhood.

I remember when coming to our place she was often provided “breakfast”, which most of the time was some leftover food. She had a designated cup and a plate set aside for her exclusive use.

Her monthly income if I remember correctly, was about 50 rupees back in the early ‘60s. And she often asked for raise. Her requests were quite legitimate when comparing the nature of her work with maids doing household chores including washing dirty dishes.

As her work was considered “contaminated” she was not supposed to enter the kitchen or other rooms as a maid helper.

By nature, she usually was a quiet person with innocent lively expressions. But there occasionally were some disquiet and afflicted rebellious moods as well.

She was from the class of people from the lowest ring of the Indian caste system who converted themselves as Christians from the Hindu faith. Their “Basti” or settlement constituted a segregated community which was a few miles away from our neighborhood.

The place was called Bhangi Colony. And she belonged to the Bhangi caste. Her professional title was “Bhangan” doing the dirty occupation of “manual scavenging”. According to Wikipedia “manual scavenging is a caste-based occupation involving the removal of human excreta from bucket toilets or pit latrines.

A few years back the profession by law was declared illegal.

However, the rebellion she felt in her teen years is still there among the people of her clan or community against the dehumanizing practices rooted in the social customs of India.

I don’t know if our “Bhangan” is still around. But the profession she was involved in continues. And her upgrading for equality is still pending in India’s degrading social behavior which often defies the laws.

(This article carries some fiction. It was written a few years ago. It is republished to mark World Toilet Day on November 19,2019. Please read a very touching and thoughtful article by the BBC about the plight of sanitation workers in India. https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-50406148)

Don Cherry’s Colorful Costumes Have Stains Of Racism Too

By Promod Puri
This Cherry never blossomed to the changing realities of diverse and culturally rich Canadian society.

Don Cherry’s colorful (in costume only) long career as hockey commentator ended abruptly with a blot on his iconic stature. At the fag end of his life, after more than three decades on the air, his stylish apparel also got stains of racist rants against Quebecers, indigenous and the rest “you people.”

From his little domain of “Coach’s Corner” on the Sportsnet, Mr. Cherry delivered his last diatribe November 9, zeroing in on immigrants, new and old, who don’t wear poppies to mark the Remembrance Day.

The controversial remarks on the sports network clipped his job. He said, “Now you go to the small cities, and you know, the rows and rows … you people love … they come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

The divisive wordings of “you” and “our” is a type of racist thinking prioritizing the superiority of one group of people as more Canadian than the rest. It endorses the stereotype that immigrants are apathetic to the significance of Remembrance Day.
Wearing a poppy is not a certification to Canadian patriotism. The solidarity to Canada is not a one-day visible affair on Remembrance Day, but an on-going contribution of all us born in Canada or anywhere else.

No matter how much iconic Don Cherry might be in the realm of hockey, but his remarks certainly show a lack of historical facts that there were thousands of troops from the entire British Empire who fought along with Canadian soldiers in both the First and Second World Wars.

Stairs Excercise Controls Blood Sugar And For Healthy Heart

(This is an update to the article written a few years ago)

By Promod Puri

The fun in life includes some simple recreational activities in our daily life. And the one I like the most is just a few steps away as part of my every day up-and-down commute.

These are the stairs leading up to our apartment. Over the years I have done this personal “Grouse Grind” hundreds of times. Although my experience with stairs is quite extensive, still I would not call myself a stair-master.

But as a veteran of the stairs, I have learned some techniques and some dos and don’ts of going up and down. These know-hows are not meant for practicing to hike Mt. Everest, but simply to enjoy the staircase walk as physical activity. Stairs make an excellent place to get a daily dose of cardio and some belly alignment. A simple stroll up and down the stairs gives a good aerobic workout.

According to a Mayo Clinic newsletter, stair climbing helps strengthen and tone our leg muscles. It keeps our leg arteries flexible, allowing blood to move more easily. “Better blood flow in your legs equals a healthier heart and body.”

It can also burn off calories — about 65 calories in 15 minutes. Going at a faster pace or carrying heavier items can burn even more calories, according to a Mayo newsletter.

Moreover, a three-minute up and down the stairs after a meal helps control blood sugar.

They say keep a balance in life. That is true for stairs too.

In this upscale workout keeping the body in balance is essential. Tripping and slipping often happen when the body wobbles due to imbalance. Balancing exercises are quite common in the gym. A popular one is trying to balance the body on a hemisphere shaped ball. At home, one can practice balance by standing on one foot or keeping one foot in front of the other for as long as possible. Balance requires concentration. Or to be more precise it is meditation in action to coordinate mind and body.

Now on to the stairs. A brief stretching of legs, keeping a uniform pace and raising each leg almost parallel to the upper body for each step, are some basics of the stair exercise. At a little advance stage, one can climb two steps at a time. Or do a little bit of descending acrobat of lifting the entire body by firmly holding railings on either side and then dropping both the feet on just one step down, definitely not two.

Another tip: While going up or down, heels or toes should not be hanging down rather whole foot be placed on each step. This gives full footing with more safety as well. A trivial act of misplacing a foot can be the cause of a serious fall. Looking down is not only a humble posture but a better choice to avoid a stair accident.

If safety is the main concern, and it should be, then the cardinal principle is the use of hand-railings all along the stairs. Railings are primarily meant to be a support system for a fall-free stair walk. Curves or bends, and sleekness of a staircase are the aesthetic elements that don’t promise safety.

It is often said when going up or down the stairs do nothing, no phone, no buttoning of the shirt, etc.

Keeping these safeguards in mind stairs does offer a simple, easy and free recreational activity.

Going To A Movie Theatre In The Turmoils of Jammu And Kashmir

 By Promod Puri

It was the early ‘50s, and I still remember going to the Hari Theatre in Jammu. There we were four or five us excited to see the Dilip Kumar starring blockbuster Aan.

The songs of the film still reverberate in my nostalgic moods. Dilip Kumar, teasing actress Nadira and rocking with “maan mera ehsan” number, was the scene I can vividly recall. In that early teenage stage, it was indeed a bundle of joy to occasionally go for a movie and blow about it the next day in the school.

Aan was a thriller where the hero (Dilip Kumar) dominated the screen, singing, romancing, and fighting the bad guy (Premnath). The story, the dialogues, and the rest of the details I don’t remember, but I do know it was a package of entertainment including the refreshments at the film interval break.

After reveling in uninterrupted three hours of enjoyment, we came out of the theatre in spirited feelings of joy.

But as we stepped on to the main bazaar on our way home, the scene was frightening and of complete silence. Shopkeepers downed the shutters, and we could not see the regular hustle and bustle of the city’s downtown area. There were the police all over the main bazaar. We were told not to walk there, and if we dared to do so, we could be arrested.

This was a curfew, a very strict one, suddenly ordered by the authorities without any previous warning.

Curfews were a common occurrence in Jammu in those days. It was due to the often-violent demonstrations by the regional political party called Praja Parishad.

Discrimination by the government, dominated by Kashmiri politicians, including its prime minister Bakshi Gulam Mahammad, was the main complaint of the Praja Parishad outfit. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has always been controlled by Kashmiri leaders since 1947 after the Dogra Raj. Whereas Kashmir has been seeking “Azadi” from India, Jammu is seeking “Azadi” from Kashmir.

The Praja Parishad was at the forefront seeking equal opportunities for the Jammu region. The party always had violent confrontations with the government. As a result, Jammu frequently remained under curfew orders.

It was one of those curfews which were part of regular scenes while growing up in the ever turmoil state of Jammu and Kashmir. But life went on as we ventured out to see the movie, Aan.

Despite the risks involved, we managed to reach our homes, playing hide and seek with the police forces. It was frightening, but an experience fresh in my mind till now.

How other moviegoers reached their homes, ended up being arrested, being shot, or just stayed on in the theatre hall to see the movie again, are the questions revealing the ever-tense situation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
——

WRITING IS A CONSTRUCTION JOB

By Promod Puri

“Words are the tools of writing.” But not quite so!

Words, in fact, are the bricks and mortars we select and gather to build a structure. Its architecture and construction are based on our thoughts, opinions, and feelings, perceptions and impressions, or sharing of information, knowledge, and experiences.

In our learning faculty, there is a library of words being accumulated from early childhood. We retrieve them from our memory cells to begin the composition of a story, novel, essay, poetry, and all other literary and non-literary works or writing a simple personal diary.

Moreover, comprehensive dictionaries offer thousands of words stacked in alphabetical order.

Just like bricks, words are cast in different sizes, but each is carrying its own identity and impact. It is in this semantic profile that words give an outlook and character to writing.

Words are liberal in their nature. If a word is not the right one or it does not fit into the rigid demand of a writer, it offers a whole stockpile of alternative synonyms choices.

Words are not the writing tools, but when they are put together by the skills of a wordsmith, the whole composition becomes a tool by itself. Primarily, writing is the tool of communication which we need as a complement to speaking. But writing goes beyond spoken words. It stays longer or forever.

Is writing hard work? Not really, so far as there are enough bricks around in different sizes and shapes, along with a sound idea or subject matter, that a structure can be built and redesigned or even renovated.

The technicality of writing lies in its grammar as well as those little but indispensable characters, called punctuation marks, offering control and disciplinary mechanism in this creative development.

However, objectivity, sensitivities, and rationality are the basic guidelines in raising a writing structure which is otherwise stalled when these feelings lack honesty and sincerity.

Under these guidelines, writing offers good companionship. As well as “writing is the only way to talk without being interrupted.”(Jules Renard, novelist, and playwright).

A BOX OF TOFFEES

I was 10-year-old when one day I severely broke my right arm. A local pehlwan, as the practice or custom was in those days, was called to fix the arm. His oil massage and turning and twisting the arm to align the broken bones was an extremely painful maneuver. After a few days, the rugged treatment did not produce any improved result. Perhaps, it was more damaging.

Next, I was in an Amritsar hospital where a known surgeon specializing in fixing broken bones finally put the bones close to and in front of each other. This was followed by lying on my back all the time for a week or so. The operated arm was kept lifted up, tied with a string which after going thru a pulley was tied at the other end with solid brick. The heavyweight was meant to bring the two bones together and slowly become one solid elbow joint. It worked.

I don’t exactly remember how did I pass the time during this period on the hospital bed. But I do remember the early morning hours of each and every day. These were the waiting moments. Waiting for my mother’s arrival to take over the night shift from my father at the bedside.

The sound of her chappal, while walking from the entrance door to the long recovery ward and up to my bed, is a revered and treasured memory which is as blissful now as instinctively felt then. For a child a few minutes or hours of separation from the mother is really a long wait. The reunion is a sheer elation.

One day at the hospital my innocent joy was elevated. To my pleasant surprise, my eldest brother was beside my bed. He came to see me from Delhi. What made him undertake that journey! Just simple and wholesome feelings for the youngest sibling in the family.

He sat beside me. I don’t remember what he talked about, but his visit and giving me company must be an exhilarating moment between us.

A caring and compassionate person with love and feel his presence was a cheery treat for me. He presented me with a box of toffees.

Sweet and unforgettable moments. A gleam of the past is in the present.

-Promod Puri

Home Sweet Home: The bliss of “Chajju Ka Chobara”

by Promod Puri

Back in 1972, when I immigrated to Canada and made my first home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that I happened to know a very helpful and friendly person by the name of C. R. Bector.

He was a distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Manitoba. And out of respect, as being elder to me and having an academic professional status, I along with other close acquaintances used to address him as Doctor Sahib or Doctor Bector. He was not a medical doctor but had a Ph.D. degree in his extensive portfolio of degrees.

C.R. Bector, although to most of us in the Indo-Canadian community sounded more like an English name, especially the surname, but Doctor Sahib, who is retired now, hails from Punjab. He was a popular personality in Winnipeg, simply because of his informal, lively and sociable temperament.

However, for me, the enticing thing about him is that his real name is Chajju Ram. It is really an old-fashioned North Indian name as we seldom come across with that namesake.

And the first name Chajju immediately strikes on the famous Indian proverb “jo sukh chajju ke chobare, na balakh na bukhare. Translation: east or west home is the best.

The name Chajju certainly gives a lot of credentials to the importance of the home as it is part of the life’s triangle, rather I would say the most sought-after trinity which is “roti, kapdra aur Makaan”, meaning food, clothing, and shelter.

The fact is anybody with a home, in reality, owns his or her little sovereign kingdom or queen-dom. It is one of those virtues of life which one aspires to have it. Life begins at home and revolves around home to enjoy the bliss of having that pride possession.

Home is not merely a physical dwelling of walls, windows, and doors, floors, and roofs. It is not just a rest spot either. Rather a cozy place of peace and tranquility in the midst of family or friends’ lively togetherness and entertainment. Home is a place of absolute independence within acceptable social norms.

Home sweet home is a simple expression carrying deep feelings of warmth and comfort which one yearns for.

If the home does not give all that is expected then it is a house, and for that reason, homesickness can be endured but not the house arrest.

Home is the place of everlasting nostalgia of living with parents, brothers, sisters and dear ones. The childhood anecdotes of little fights and laughs, the home-cooked food, books and beds, the school homework, and a lot more are part of the fond memories. The physical remembrance of each and every household item is also a sentimental and sweet relaxation.

Moreover, home is where we accumulate our cultural values, connect with our heritage and acquire family’s social, linguistic and religious identities. Home is that place of security and independence where with elated feelings one can unwind, recline and relax.

Seventeenth-century English poet James Thompson has exquisitely expressed his perception of home:
“Home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace, and plenty; where
Supporting and supported, polished friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss”.

But that bliss is deprived to millions of homeless people all over the world sheltering under the open sky at the mercy of Mother Nature. It is this sad aspect of humanity which is visibly invisible as life goes by especially in busy metropolises.

Chajju ka chubara” is indeed a bliss of comfort and peace for most of us. And my friend C.R. Bector’s place was an embodiment of these virtues especially during harsh winter months of Winnipeg.

promodpuri.com

Contemporary Society Loaded With Choices

When trying to find a romantic match, we’re often overwhelmed with options. Reddit/WittyRepost

Thomas Saltsman, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Log onto Netflix, and you’ll be presented with a menu of nearly 6,000 titles. Create an OkCupid account, and you’ll have the chance to connect with 5 million other active users. Search for a new toothbrush on Amazon, and you’ll be bombarded with over 20,000 options, ranging from manual to mechanical, from packs of three to packs of 12.

As someone who is comically indecisive – and who studies stress – I often think about the pressure of making decisions when presented with so many options.

What do we experience, in the moment, when we decide from an abundance of choices? Does it cause us to shut down or does it energize us? Does it make us feel more confident or less confident? Could it have a lasting impact on our health and well-being?

We want choice – but not what we choose

Freedom of choice is a pillar of Western culture.

But there’s such a thing as too much choice.

Researchers such as Sheena Iyengar and Barry Schwartz have pioneered this area of study, finding that being overwhelmed with options can create an adverse experience called “choice overload or ”The Paradox of Choice.“

People tend to want as many options as possible. Whether it’s buying a car or a meal, they gravitate toward companies that offer more options versus fewer ones, because they believe a large selection will maximize their chances of finding the best fit.

But when it comes to actually making a decision from all of these options, people can become paralyzed – and avoid making choices altogether.

Even worse, when they finally do come to a decision, they’re more dissatisfied and regretful about whatever choice they make.

Getting to the heart of choice overload

To me, this explains so much of the day-to-day malaise that plagues modern society.

It explains the sheer excitement first-time homebuyers feel when they begin their search, followed by the fear that they won’t select the ideal neighborhood, school district or architectural style.

It explains the curiosity a sociable 20-something feels before checking out the opening of a new bar downtown, followed by the concern it won’t live up to her expectations.

Although we know choice overload eventually leads to regret and disatisfaction, it isn’t as clear what people are feeling when they’re in the middle of making these decisions.

Sometimes it seems like we spend more time deciding than watching. Rachael Myrow/KQED

My colleagues and I wondered: Do people genuinely feel confident about their ability to make a good decision? And, if so, when does this experience turn from good to bad – from brimming with potential to awash with dejection and doubt?

For our studies, we sought to peer into participants’ internal experiences as they made decisions, tracking their cardiovascular responses.

When people care more about a decision, their hearts beat faster and harder. Other measures – like how much blood the heart is pumping and how much the blood vessels are dilating – can indicate levels of confidence.

Participants in our studies reviewed online dating profiles. We asked them to choose one profile from many options or from just a few options. In other conditions of our studies, we simply asked them to rate profiles on a scale of one to 10.

We found that when the participants chose from many options, they felt more invested in the decision: Their hearts beat harder and faster. But their arteries also constricted – a sign that they also felt less confident about their decision.

In other words, when we’re presented with more choices, making the “right” or “correct” decision begins to feel more crucial and, at the same time, more unattainable.

The cardiovascular system responds the same way when we take an important exam feeling hopelessly unprepared, or commute to an interview for a dream job lacking the right qualifications.

Notably, even minor exposures to this kind of cardiac activity are believed to have long-term health consequences if they happen enough; they’re connected to certain types of heart disease and hypertension.

Deciding how to decide

Sensing high stakes over a decision – but not feeling particularly confident about making the right choice – may contribute to the deep-seated fear that we’ll make the wrong one.

I believe this fear could be tempered by putting the decision into perspective. It might help to remember that many of the day-to-day choices you make – what to have for lunch, what flavor best complements that caramel macchiato – aren’t going to matter in the grand scheme of things. Even seemingly more consequential choices, like accepting a new job, can ultimately be changed.

Remember: It’s just cereal. Din Mohd Yaman/Shutterstock.com

When thinking this way, the consequences associated with making the “wrong” choice become less scary.

It could also help to enter these situations with just a few clear guidelines and ideas of what you want – and absolutely don’t want – from the range of options. This can winnow the possible choices, and also make you more confident about your decision-making abilities.

So the next time you spend hours browsing through Netflix unable to land on a title to watch – worried that the OkCupid date you contemplated asking out for days won’t like it – remember that removing the sheer weight of our choices can help us navigate a world overwhelmed by them.

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Featuring Moon In The Hindi Filmi Songs

While space scientists can continue their exploration of the moon and establish more communication links with the cool-light planet, I along with most of us of the Indian heritage were told in very early childhood that the guy up there in the sky is a close relative from the mother side. He was referred to as Chanda-mama, to be precise Chanda uncle.

In fact, as we were growing up, we were introduced to a very popular children magazine, I believe it is still around, called Chandamama. It was an easy read comic magazine dealing with ancient Indian folklore.

Moon has a very special spot in the Indian social and cultural scene as well as in the Hindu mythology. For the Indian film industry, moon is more than a shiny twilight dish.

For the poets, it is an object of love, witness to the loving relationship, beauty, imagination, a messenger between two lovers, etc., etc. The film Chaudivan Ka Chand immediately comes to my mind. Its theme song ‘Chaudivan Ka Chand ho ya aftab ho’ is still popular even after more than 50 years of film’s release.

And then there are many Hindi film songs where uncle Chand is prominently featured. “Dum bar jo audhar moon phere oh chanda, main tum se pyar kar loongi, Chalo dildar chalo chand ke paar chalo, Na yeh Chand hoga na taare rahenge magar hum hamesha tumhare rahenge, Chand phir nikla magar tum naa aaye, Khoya khoya Chand khula aasman, Chanda re mori patiyan le ja, patiyan le ja, sajan ko pahocha de re, Chand aahein bharega, phool dil tham lenge, Chanda re chanda re kabhi to zameen par aa baithenge baatein karenge.”

These are some of the oldies which come to my mind, but there are many more where the moon is the main character in the imaginative lines of Hindi film lyricists.

Well, one day when man can comfortably visit the moon, we can replay these songs up there to the delight of our Chanda-mama.

-Promod Puri

FEELING BORED?

Boredom is a very commonly expressed feeling even in this age when we have 24-hour entertainment at our convenience. There is a stream of entertainment and information from our smartphones and social media in the company of self. But still, there are occasional experiences of boredom.

Why do we feel bored?

Generally, they say boredom occurs to those who have not developed any interest in any activity or hobby. Especially this is true when in the golden years of our lives. There are plenty of dull moments which defy time and move with their own speed.

An enjoyable activity helps to ward off boredom.

There are two faces of enjoyment. One is entertainment which is infused by the actions coming from the outside, like watching a movie or a game. The other is recreation when we feel the fun of being involved with the action, like playing a game of chess, cards, or any other activity of interest.

Late British philosopher and poet GK Chesterton wrote: “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.”

Promod Puri

FREEDOM TO MOVE IN OUR OWN “GLOBAL VILLIAGE “

Centuries ago, people used to migrate from one place to another for reasons which were natural calamities, local violence, or community upheavals. Or just seeking better pastures. But there were no borders. It was freedom of unrestricted movement.

Now, in the present age peoples also want to migrate for the same reasons as well as to escape violent political upheavals, crime, and violence based on ethnicity, conflicts, and prosecutions. But, we have borders. There are security guards, policing and military both at leaving and entry routes. People seeking refuge in other lands face multiple hardships, rules, and regulations. 

It is an escalating global phenomenon. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are over 70.8 million people around the world who have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 25.9 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

“There are also millions of stateless people who have been denied nationality and access to basic rights.”

Freedom of movement in our own “global village” is bygone while we advance towards the moon and other frontiers in outer space.

Here is a related short story I wrote sometime back:

Moving forward a few decades from now, two friends took their first journey to the moon.

Upon landing on their dream destination, they had their first encounter with a local.

“Welcome to the Moon, where are you guys from.”

“I’m from America, and this friend of mine is from Mexico.”

“Oh! Never heard about these places before.”

Then the Mexican guy interrupted: “actually sir, we are from the earth.”

“That makes sense, enjoy the trip.”

 

-Promod Puri

Inhumanity Sweeping The World

“Inhumanity, it seems, is contagious. In Italy, babies and children have been repeatedly kept at sea for days by a government that fears—hates, even—migrants, no matter their age. In Turkey, authorities are cracking down on the Syrian refugees that Europe didn’t want. Globally, more people have been forcibly displaced from their homes in the past five years than at any previous time in history, and more than half of the world’s 26 million refugees are children. Many are met with systematic dehumanization coupled with apathy in the places where they hoped they would be safe.

This suffering cannot be blamed on politics alone. There’s a silent majority that is allowing it to continue—not protesting, not calling our representatives, not taking to the streets. Hundreds of millions of us who keep going about our days as if children weren’t being treated as less than humans in our own countries. There’s a word for this: complicity.” —Annalisa Merelli and Annaliese Griffin in the Quartz.

We have heard about cruelty against animals, but globally, there is cruelty against fellow human beings as well. It could be government policies in many regimes or the social norms in intolerant and prejudiced societies.

Mob justice by beatings or lynching is now more frequent in recent years embolden by Hindutva infestation ravaging the secular image of India. And despite the laws and provisions in the Indian constitution, the low-caste communities continue to endure sufferings and traditionally accepted segregation. There is inhumanity in the escalating and uncontrolled incidents of rape and violence against women in the country. And when people are disfranchised as is happening in the Assam state of India, that is inhumanity based on bigoted and fanatic apprehensions of minorities by the majority and its government.

Here in Canada, there is inhumanity when the polls suggest a majority of Canadians are against poor and desperate refugees getting entry into the country. There is inhumanity too when Canadians reject the idea of apology for all the serious wrongs previous governments did against aboriginal peoples, Chinese, Japanese, Indian citizens, and migrants.

In the south of the border, inhumanity is a visible scene at the asylum-seekers detention camps. According to the Quartz, there are chilling details of dehumanization of those seeking asylum in the United States. The worst sufferers are the children “crammed in sleeping areas too small for everyone to lie down, without blankets, in cold rooms…” This is “in line with the directives of a government intent on turning cruelty into policy.”

Inhumanity is a serious global situation in which both governments and majority populations are involved against fellow human beings.

-Promod Puri

Two Overly Used Popular Sayings:

1. “Be Positive.”

What is wrong being negative? Rather Keep the balance, and be rational.

2. “Forget the past…..”

     How that is possible? With experiences of the past, and dreams of the future, live the present.

“Please Remove Your Shoes”: Is It Custom, Hygiene Or Both

By Promod Puri

The sign on the front door read, “please remove your shoes.”

It was not a Hindu temple, Gurdwara or a mosque, where such is the custom or a religious edict. But the newly-build home of a friend who had a house-warming party a few years ago.

When we arrived, there already was quite a spread of shoes and sandals all over the front entrance. The four-word notice was polite, but terse in its message. The host did not want the new flooring and expensive carpeting inside to be spoiled by any soiled footwears of the incoming guests.

Understandably, I also removed my shoes. Otherwise, my black pair was absolutely dirt-free with a shine like a new. I put them in the far corner for easy on my memory when leaving the place.

Removing shoes as we visit friends or relatives is somewhat an uncomfortable advisory for some or many people including myself. Wearing them is part of a complete dress up. We make sure the shoes we’re wearing are clean and well-polished. Taking them off at the very entrance of a visiting home is undressing a part of my body, which loses the comfort, warmth, and snugness of the footwear.

Anyway, that is a personal choice where one feels comfortable. But besides being a personal preference, the issue is if wearing shoes inside a home is unhygienic. Does the practice bring in harmful bacteria from outside getting inside?

Yes, they do. Shoes are the vehicles offering free rides to bacteria like E. Coli, which stick to the outside of shoes, and they cause intestinal infections, even meningitis.

The transmission happens when shoes are touched by hands, and the latter touch face or mouth. Or the same hands picking up the food dropped on the floor and eaten.

Contamination by shoes, however, is considered much less health hazard than many other culprits, like cats and dogs who enter homes with uncleaned paws. And then there are hundreds of surfaces and objects which we touch and pick up the germs and bacteria. For example escalator railings, gas station pumps, ATM machines, etc. etc. as well as the money we handle, our toilets and bathroom floors, vacuum cleaners, sponge dish cleaners, all carry millions of bugs.

The contamination sources are all around.  Shoes contribute an insignificant measure of bacterial contaminants. In fact, there is a theory that shoes also bring along dirt which can help stimulate autoimmune systems, particularly among children and people over 65.

Besides, the health reasons, which are not dire, taking shoes off is more of etiquette according to the house policy of inviting hosts. My house-warming friend, in the meanwhile, has relaxed the entrance code, which in now guests’ choice.

(Promod Puri is a writer and author of Hinduism, beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)   

 

 

Passion For Buying New Clothing, But How Much We Need

By Promod Puri

I confess a feeling of guilt erupted within me after buying a pair of pant the other day. This despite the fact, in my otherwise sparse closet, there are enough pants to last till next five to six years or more. But I purchased it anyway with disregard to my needs.

Adding to our collection of clothing is an obsession which most of us have. And the fashion industry exploits this urge by offering the latest in designs. Moreover, we have an inborn appetite for newness in our passion for clothing.

How much wardrobe is essential to meet our body covering compliance as well as a social necessity to express and exhibit ourselves for all occasions? We have daywear, nightwear, workwear, gym wear, party wear, casual wear, etc. But that is the norm. And to meet this norm, clothing is one of our big expense items.

In the proverbial saying “food, shelter and clothing” as our basic needs, clothing has jumped beyond these fundamentals to compulsive buying temperament.

No wonder, when we go to a shopping mall or a factory outlet, most of the retail shops are wear-related. There are clothing wears, shoe wears, jewelry wear, and even the perfume industry also advertise its products as wearable odors.

Coming back to the clothing, my observation is that we keep buying more of the stuff without discarding the old ones. A friend boasted that he has over 50 pairs of pants and an equal number of shirts, plus 20 suites, along with almost two dozen ties to complete his formal wears. Another friend said she has over 200 Punjabi suits with an addition of about five-plus every year. She does not wear these suits every day as she is working. And for that, there is another big pile of workwear.

To me and I’m sure many among us, the apparel equity to accumulate the stock approaching afterlife is a wastage cluster, a chunk of that hangs like deceased bodies in the closets.

However, that scenario is reportedly changing fast. The apparel possessors are an abating people, while the trend developing swiftly is to dispose of the no-more-likable, non-fit, non-fashion garments in the second-hand buying-selling market.

The second-hand clothing business catering to customers of all age groups is booming. In fact, the name-brand clothing in the reuse market carry attention and value, and customers love to grab the bargains.

The second-time-around online and in-store buying and selling garment enterprises are popping up, which are easing on our packed closet warehouse. And then there are peer-to-peer services available where sellers send photographs of their clothing items to the handling company and eventually ship the items to buyers.

The second-hand clothing market is reportedly a multi-billion-dollar industry now with a projection of moving skyward. In this trend known retailors and clothing manufacturers are jumping on board. H & M, Macy’s and JC Penny will soon be selling good and look-like-new clothing to their customers.

This is a circular economy in the clothing industry. The use-and-reuse is the very mantra for safeguarding our environment. Otherwise, the fashion industry produces a colossal amount of waste, which is close to 100 million tons a year.

Since I believe in the circular economy, my guilt in buying the new pair of pant gets some relief that down the road it will end up for re-wear on somebody’s petite physique like mine.

At the same time over the years I’ve developed a policy of buy one and discard one the next day. However, the regret is that some time for some reason, I return the new one but can’t recover the discarded one.

(Promod Puri is a writer and author of Hinduism, beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)      

 

 

How People Cleaned Teeth In Olden Days

People worked for healthy teeth long before nylon brushes hit the market.
Mila Davidovic/Shutterstock.com

Jane Cotter, Texas A&M University

Dental hygiene has come a long way since the days of wine-soaked toothpicks and the urine mouthwash once thought to disinfect mouths and whiten teeth.

Some of the earliest tooth-cleaning artifacts archaeologists have found are ancient toothpicks, dental tools and written tooth care descriptions dating back more than 2,500 years. Famous Greek doctor Hippocrates was one of the first to recommend cleaning teeth with what was basically a dry toothpaste, called a dentifrice powder.

Ancient Chinese and Egyptian texts advised cleaning teeth and removing decay to help maintain health. Some of the early techniques in these cultures included chewing on bark or sticks with frayed ends, feathers, fish bones and porcupine quills. They used materials like silver, jade and gold to repair or decorate their teeth.

A miswak fights bacteria and physically cleans off teeth.
ustun ibisoglu/Shutterstock.com

People in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent traditionally cleaned their teeth with chew sticks made from the Salvadora persica tree. They’re called miswak. Europeans cleaned their teeth with rags rolled in salt or soot.

Believe it or not, in the early 1700s a French doctor named Pierre Fauchard told people not to brush. And he’s considered the father of modern dentistry! Instead, he encouraged cleaning teeth with a toothpick or sponge soaked in water or brandy.

In the late 1700s, Englishman William Addis was the first to sell toothbrushes on a large scale. He got the idea after making a toothbrush from bone and animal bristles while in prison.

Before modern-day toothpaste was created, pharmacists mixed and sold tooth cream or powder. Early tooth powders were made from something abrasive, like talc or crushed seashells, mixed with essential oils, such as eucalyptus or camphor, thought to fight germs. Their flavors came from oils of cinnamon, clove, rose or peppermint. Many contained other chemicals such as ammonia, chlorophyll and penicillin. These ingredients fight the acid-producing bacteria that can cause tooth decay and bad breath.

A 1919 ‘White Toothbrush Drill’ in Alabama.
Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-63674, CC BY

By the 1900s, children of immigrants to the U.S. were taught oral hygiene as a way to help “Americanize” them and their families. Factories examined and cleaned their workers’ teeth to keep them from missing work due to toothaches.

Daily tooth brushing became more common thanks to World War II, when the American army required soldiers to brush their teeth as part of their daily hygiene practices. The first nylon toothbrush was made in 1938, followed by the electric toothbrush in the 1960s.

Nowadays, there are dozens of kinds of tools and potions to help keep your mouth healthy. As a professor of dental hygiene, I believe it’s most important to clean your mouth daily, no matter how you choose to do so. Well, maybe stay away from the urine mouthwash.


Hello, curious kids! Do you have a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to curiouskidsus@theconversation.com.

Please tell us your name, age and the city where you live. We won’t be able to answer every question but we will do our best.The Conversation

Jane Cotter, Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene, Texas A&M University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Some Island Countries Are On The Verge Of Drowning

An atoll in the Republic of Kiribati, an island nation in the South Pacific that’s in danger of disappearing due to climate change. (Shutterstock)

Sarah M. Munoz, Université de Montréal

Global climate change is endangering small island countries, many of them developing nations, potentially harming their ability to function as independent states.

As international environmental co-operation stalls, we must ask what consequences climate change will have on the statehood of vulnerable countries. This is especially important because sovereignty is the most important principle in international relations. Any threat to a nation’s sovereignty could have unprecedented repercussions for global governance.

A state is defined under international law by the Montevideo Convention with four specific criteria: a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Today, these conditions could be threatened by the international community’s inability to commit to strong environmental action.

Indeed, the Republic of Kiribati declared in 2015 that the effects of climate change are threatening its very existence as a nation. Along with the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, Kiribati is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change because it is composed entirely of low-lying atolls.

As the country pleads for international and proactive action regarding global warming, the effects of rising seas, dying corals and intensified natural hazards are putting a strain on its capacity to function.

How climate change affects entire nations

Atoll nations are characterized by sub-surface freshwater reserves that are sensitive to sea level rise and drought, putting populations at risk of serious water shortages. Climate change is also affecting agricultural production, leading to food shortages and internal migrations.

On small islands, movements will soon require communities and individuals to move across borders. These factors could threaten a fundamental criteria of statehood as defined by the Montevideo Convention: a permanent population.

The previous president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, once said “our islands, our homes, may no longer be habitable — or even exist — within this century.” That indicates the second criteria for statehood, a territory, is being threatened. As climate change is not being efficiently tackled and countries begin to feel the effects of eroded shorelines, scholars have begun to ponder solutions.

Solutions

Among them, the “government-in-exile” mechanism has been proposed. This tool allows a government to function outside of its territory, but requires the maintenance of a population. It also needs another sovereign nation to relinquish a piece of territory. Of course, it seems highly improbable that a state would voluntarily give land to a nation for relocation, or that it would abandon its territory.

A sea plane is seen flying over the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, islands that are also at risk of disappearing due to rising sea levels. (Shutterstock)

In the end, this mechanism isn’t likely to be an efficient response since climate change complicates power dynamics among nations.

In the event of the disappearance of a country, it is unclear whether it would retain its sovereignty in the eyes of the international community. The United Nations hints that it’s improbable that a state would simply cease to exist due to what it calls the “presumption of continuity.” This ambiguity surrounding the maintenance of statehood of vulnerable nations should shake the international community out of its immobility on these questions.

Unfortunately, the international principle of sovereignty is a double-edged sword. It gives historic emitters the absolute freedom to respond to climate change through non-binding agreements, and procrastinate the adoption of effective treaties. But the issue of rising sea levels and the threat posed to the statehood of Pacific states should raise concern among the defenders of sovereignty.

A cold political climate

Republicans in the United States, for example, have always been keen to defend the sovereignty of the U.S. through various forms of rhetoric and international stances. In September 2018, President Donald Trump warned the United Nations that he would not renounce sovereignty to an “unelected bureaucracy” one year after pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.

Trump said “responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty” while bragging about his country’s massive exports of oil, gas and what he called “clean” coal. And as he continued to extol the virtues of fossil fuels and the protection of U.S. sovereignty against global governance, Trump effectively pushed environmental issues further out of the international spotlight.

Defending American freedom from international obligations has been high on the Trump agenda, and so in the context of accelerating environmental crises and growing isolationism, it seems highly unlikely that he would defend the sinking sovereignty of Pacific nations.

However, let’s not solely blame the U.S. for failing to protect an immutable principle of international relations.

An uncertain future

The international political community has been producing, year after year, non-binding and uninspired environmental accords that do little to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The “polluter pay” principle proposes that bearing the costs of pollution should be proportionate to the degree of responsibility in producing it.

This directive hasn’t exactly worked out in international negotiations as the question of responsibility is still a feature of debates among industrialized nations and developing countries.

The plight of the sinking islands worsens as the international community fails to effectively tackle climate change. Without concrete action, cross-border climate migrations will accelerate as resources shrink and territories become eroded by rising sea levels, pushing people out of their homes and jeopardizing the statehood of entire Pacific countries.

They are among the smallest emitters of greenhouse gases, and yet are disproportionately suffering the consequences of climate change. The situation exposes the lack of solidarity and climate justice in the global community.

Unfortunately, lacklustre action on climate change along with U.S. reluctance to engage in environmental discussions could result in an unprecedented question in international law soon going mainstream: What exactly do we do if a country drowns?

SIMPLE LIVING: THE ULTIMATE JOY OF LIFE

(This article is an approach to get into the praxis of simple living and to realize its efficacy. The article does not make a list of things as what to do or what not to do, rather it is left to the reader to work out his or her own simple living lifestyle and make changes as one goes along this path. The basis of this presentation is to seek some disciplined enjoyment of life towards self as well as towards the environment around.)

The nature of simple living if willingly explored, accepted and experienced is both rewarding and blissful. The discipline helps in creating an ethical and guilt-free living.

While rejecting some or most of society’s false and pretentious customs or norms, the adaptation to simple living is plain and instinctively natural.

In simple living, the only expression which matters most is the word ‘simple’. It is a descriptive adjective attached to the word living. It describes, defines and gives character to the word living.

The word ‘simple’ has several definitions.

· Simple means easy to understand or deal with;
· Simple means not elaborate just plain, unmixed;
· Simple means not decorate, luxurious, grand or sophisticated;
· Simple means modest;
· Simple means free of deceit;
· Simple means lucid, natural, neat, unadulterated and
fundamental.
. And simple means sincere.

These attributions are the embodiments of simple living offering a complete and genuine package of peace and comfort.

Spirituality, health, environmental concerns, and economics are mainly the four reasons people seek a simple living for quality and good value in their lives.

Whatever the reason or reasons one picks initially to lodge into the simple living habitat all the above four motivations merge into a wholesome experience of tranquility and contentment.

The fundamental nature of simple living is a disciplined enjoyment of life while caring for fellow beings and the environment. Engaging in simple and ordinary pleasures of life are the dynamics to experience the joys of simple living.

However, simple living demands more than simple pleasures. It is the change of attitude along with a change of lifestyle in harmony with consciousness. Simple living demands a reversal of life which is otherwise outwardly rich and inwardly poor.

Indeed, the most popular form of simple living is to comfortably and voluntarily adjust life to basic minimum needs which curbs wastage and the ego of having plenty.

Very true “wealth consists of not having great possessions, but in having few wants”. As well as the “shortcut to riches is to subtract from one’s desires”.

Getting away from the consumerist mentality and reducing needs for purchased goods are the entry points for simple living. How far an individual can go to survive with bare minimum needs is a matter of practicality. In our social and cultural environment of materialism, it is indeed an anomalous challenge. Moreover, extreme frugal living is damaging to the economy, though good for the environment.

Simple living can be argued as an alternative lifestyle for the upper and middle classes. The poor in society all crave for some catching up in our materialistic world. Enough economic activity has to be maintained to bring along these unfortunate people to the minimum standards of living before getting on to the ride of simple living.

Living with minimum basic materialistic needs is the hallmark of simple living, but its strength lies in the purity of consciousness where one can explore and practice one’s own ever-evolving guidelines of simple living and enjoying every moment of it.

by Promod Puri, promodpuri.com

Canada Needs To Help Millions Of Displaced Inside Their Own Countries

Megan Bradley, McGill University

Record-breaking years for refugee flows have become the norm. UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, just released its annual tally of displacement worldwide. Once again the numbers rose, with 70.8 million people displaced by conflict and violence — more than at any point since the Second World War.

In media coverage on refugees, we hear the most about the small fraction of refugees who manage to reach Europe or North America, yet well over half of the displaced — some 41.3 million —never make it out of their own countries.

This invisible majority is known by the uninspired acronym of IDPs, or “internally displaced persons.” In countries like Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar and Nigeria, IDPs face targeted violence and extreme poverty, but because they remain within their own borders, they receive little attention or effective international support.


Read more: Nigeria’s constitution holds the key to protecting internally displaced people


It’s time to change that, and Canada must help.

No coherent strategy

While Canada prides itself for its history of leadership in support of refugees, we lack a coherent, ambitious strategy to strengthen protection and assistance for the majority of displaced people who remain inside their own countries.

Our efforts have focused on comparatively small numbers of refugees by considering the asylum claims of those who arrive at our borders, and resettling refugee families from camps and over-strapped host communities in developing countries.

As UNHCR reported, Canada is now the top resettlement country, resettling 28,100 refugees in 2018 —but that’s only 0.0004 per cent of those displaced worldwide. We reach larger numbers by funding groups such as UNHCR. However, these agencies primarily assist refugees who have crossed international borders, doing little for the majority who are uprooted within their own states.

An improved Canadian response to the challenge of internal displacement could be based on three key pillars: leadership, resources and solutions.

Leadership

Theoretically, leadership in responding to IDPs’ needs and protecting their rights should come from their own governments. In places like Syria and Myanmar, however, IDPs are more hunted than helped by their governments. This means that international officials must step in to address unmet needs.

We need a high-level flagbearer for IDPs, who can work at the international level to advocate for IDPs’ rights, encourage improved government policies and promote effective, co-ordinated responses to IDPs from UN agencies, NGOs and donors.

UNHCR plays this role for refugees who have sought shelter outside the countries, but for IDPs, the UN has only a solitary volunteer expert —an arrangement farcically unsuited to the scale of the challenge. Canada should push for the prompt appointment of a new, prominent, full-time representative of the UN Secretary-General on IDPs, with a fully staffed office dedicated to strengthening responses to internal displacement in cooperation with agencies like the UNHCR.

Systematic & strategic resource distribution

Inequitably distributed resources are also a major barrier to effective responses to IDPs. As a major humanitarian and development donor, Canada should review its aid for IDPs, and prepare a policy to ensure more systematic, strategic support for IDPs, bridging emergency humanitarian relief and longer-term development interventions.

It should also spearhead a broader effort with other donor countries to improve responses to internal displacement.

At a time when aid budgets are already stretched tight, it is hard to hear that more funding is needed. But the reality is that IDP situations are chronically underfunded, with dramatically less spent in support of IDPs compared to refugees facing similar challenges.

This lack of support means that many who would prefer to remain closer to home to tend their crops, safeguard their businesses or care for sick family members have little choice but to make dangerous journeys to seek shelter abroad. It also means that those without the money or physical ability to flee their countries are left high and dry.

To be clear, there is no substitute for refugees’ right to seek asylum. Increased aid for IDPs does not mean that borders can be closed or refugees turned away.

Rather, this is about better responding to the complexity of massive displacement situations in which some people will need shelter outside their countries as refugees, while others may be unable to leave. IDPs should not be sidelined simply because they remain inside their own countries.

Resolving displacement

Finally, we need to refocus on solutions to internal displacement. Canada must co-operate with other donors, governments and UN agencies to promote more comprehensive and systematic support for all those who are struggling to find a solution to their displacement.

From Colombia to the Congo, displacement — internal and cross-border — drags on for longer and longer periods as those forced to flee are unable to safely return or find acceptance elsewhere.

Yet in 2017, over six million IDPs attempted to return to their homes, despite ongoing instability. Many received no support from aid agencies or governments, undermining their ability to return and rebuild. At the same time, thousands of refugees who have repatriated to countries such as Afghanistan have subsequently been internally displaced because they’ve been unable to reclaim their lost homes and re-establish their livelihoods, or have faced violence in their communities.

We must do more to increase the odds that these movements are safe and sustainable.

Forced migration can seem like an insurmountable challenge as displacement rates keep climbing and words of welcome are drowned out by calls to seal up borders and slash aid budgets.

Building on our track record of support for refugee resettlement, we can make progress by standing up for those uprooted within their own countries, creating a broader and stronger response for the millions of refugees and IDPs unable to reach our shores.

Paldi: South-Asian Canadian Heritage Village

By Promod Puri

Paldi, named after a small town in Hoshiarpur District of Punjab, is located about seven miles south-west of Duncan, off the road to Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island in BC.

The village of Paldi was established in 1917 by an enterprising Punjabi by the name of Mayo Singh, who came to Canada in 1906 when he was 17-year-old.

The place is now quite and sleepy. But in its glorious past, it was bursting with over 1500 inhabitants, who were mostly from Punjab working in the sawmill and as loggers.

Besides, the “Hindoo” population, as they were all called during that time, Paldi was a multicultural community of Japanese, Chinese and immigrants from various other nationalities as well.

The reminiscences of Paldi are reflected through its Indian-sounding street names. There are Ranjeet Street, Bishan Street, Jindo Street, and Kapoor Road covering the entire little village.

The first community-cum-religious center of Paldi was the Sikh temple established in 1919 which is now celebrating its 100th year.

With the Gurdwara in its center, the atmosphere in Paldi during its heydays was that of a typical Punjab village. The Punjabi community brought along its social and cultural traditions. Sports events and festivals were part of the life in Paldi. The big annual event was the “Jor Mella,” a festival of events like soccer, volleyball, and kabaddi.

For the people of South Asian origin in Canada, Paldi is a historical place.

In its dirt lie the memorable annals of the time which saw the glory amid hardships of the community. Paldi is a significant chapter of our struggles, accomplishment, and pride in the recent history of Canada.

(Promod Puri is the author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Websites: promodpuri.comprogressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)

Rabba Hun Kee Kariye: A Powerful Documentary On ’47 Genocide

Why?thumbnail rabba

That is a big question mark Rabba Hun Kee Kariye does not answer. Nor does it intend to answer. But it does shake our morality when we are drawn on religious fronts of hate.

Rabba Hun Kee Kariye is a documentary on bloody mayhem following the partition of India in 1947. “It constitutes a vital link in the chain of Partition memories.” In doing so, the film creates a pictorial monument of genocidal killing, which cannot be blacked out either by time or by society.

Vancouver-based UBC scholar and documentary filmmaker Ajay Bhardwaj presents a powerful and compelling presentation about the horrors and dreadful count of mass killings inflicted through religious vengeance.

Earnestly crafted by Bhardwaj, the 65-minute documentary in Punjabi, with subtitles in English, is a captivating presentation of interviews scripting the brutal chapter of recent Punjab history after the partition.

Bhardwaj’s camera roams the fields and streets of the Indian side of Punjab, in its Ludhiana, Bathinda, Patiala, and Malerkotla districts. It instinctively captures the insanity of humankind in its indiscriminate but sudden eruption of hatred against fellow human beings.

The gripping narrations by aging witnesses in the documentary bring a vivid portrait of hate which the fanatic murderers of ‘47 often boasted with some pride in the slaughter of those who are different by their religion only.

The film besides presenting the dreadful carnage through the eyes of the witnesses earnestly seeks the commonalities which bind the people together. In this exploration emerges a sense of “guilt and remorse.” It is a feeling of consciousness which “they expressed in a language that is distinctly their own, in their unique tradition/cultural specific ways — a language often ignored by the portals of academia. Yet this seems the most powerful organic response of Punjabi people against the genocide of 1947as also the silence of the state”, as Bhardwaj observed in filming the documentary.

Religions might be different in their names, but all of them have the same bottom-line of universal brotherhood. Poet-philosopher Mohammad Iqbal says Mazhab nahi sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna… (religion does not teach hatred among us).

Sharing the same culture, same language, same skin color and looks, same music, and the same literary heritage have been beautifully laced together by popular Punjab singer Puran Shahkoti in his explanations as well as musical presentations in Rabba Hun Kee Kariye.

Then why this sudden butchery by fellow neighbors living side by side for generations. And despite all that oneness, it happened.

Why?

Promod Puri (promodpuri.com)

(The above picture is of Prof. Karan Singh Chouhan, a retired linguistic scholar who was one of the interviewees, and who witnessed the 1947 communal riots). 

 

 

The Historical Building At Main And 6th In Vancouver

By Promod Puri

The grey stucco building at the south-east corner of Main Street and 6th Avenue in Vancouver was once a hub of the Indo-Canadian community in the early ‘70s and part of ‘80s.

It was the Indo-Canadian media center along with small businesses owned by the community members having their offices in the building.Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Prominent among its occupants were veteran broadcaster and the voice of the community Sushma, and her business partner Nizar Dhamji. They had their recording studios for TV and radio broadcasting.

Much before Sushma and Nizar moved in, the building had the distinction of being the venue of first Indo-Canadian radio programming hosted by late Malkiat Parhar in the ‘60s.

Besides being a pioneer broadcaster, Mr. Parhar was an icon of the community involved in multiple interests. He was the source person to help anybody seeking his guidance and services.

In 1978, The Link newspaper moved its offices from Winnipeg, and the first and only choice for me as the publisher was Main and 6th for its convenient location as our apartment was a few blocks away from the building. A frequent visitor to our office was lawyer-turned-politician Ujjal Dosanjh to drop off his regular column for The Link.

Image may contain: 1 personAnd the legendary Indo-Canadian photographer, Chandra Bodalia, started his photo-journalism career from this building working for The Link.

Besides, the two prominent media, in electronics and print, there were several offices having businesses catering mostly to the Indo-Canadian community. Mr. Dhami had his drafting business, and later prominent clothing wholesaler, Mr. Ram Mahtani, set up his headquarters. He was the main supplier of fabrics from Japan to almost all the Indian stores in Vancouver’s Punjabi Market. There was a non-profit organization as well mostly staffed by Indo-Canadians to help the community. On the ground floor of the building was the office of Ace Accounting, owned by an Ismaili gentleman, a professional in his job, but an extremely humble person.

During the height of the Khalistan movement, a few gentlemen rented office space in the building to run a magazine promoting the separatist cause.

Advertising promotion product suppliers, Masal Graphics, owned by cordial couple Madanpal and Channi Salooja, had an office here too. Their son, a teen at that time, was a born salesman, selling promotional pens to whomsoever he came across.

The two-story Main and 6th building was a lively place all the time, full of traffic and activities all day. However, more than that the whole ambiance was extremely friendly. We were bumping into each other several times of the day. And it seemed like all of us were running a joint enterprise with different products and services. If I remember correctly, Sushma and Nizar held musical mehfils a few times on their premises. Nizar, himself was an ace singer who could sing both Hindi film songs and ghazals.

One of the best times working in the building was the lunchtime when there was always a smorgasbord of home cooked food happily shared by all of us. Paranthas and spiced dishes along with desi pickles had its aroma which spread and lingered on in almost all the offices.

While all of us were busy endeavoring in our individual fields, the building itself contributed to happy days of sweet memories.

Just wondering, can Main and 6th Street building and that corner be declared as a historical place from the Indo-Canadian perspective.

While taking pictures, an employee of the pub across the street told me that the owner has already submitted an application to demolish the “historic” building for the proposed high-rise condo apartment. Is it too late to save it?

(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions).

Websites: promodpuri.com,progressivehindudialogue.com, andprogressivehindudialogue.com

Remembering Komagata Maru

Statement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, May 23, 2019

“One hundred and five years ago the Komagata Maru steamship arrived in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. On board were 376 Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus of South Asian origin hoping to settle in Canada and build a better life for themselves and their families.

“Few of them ever set foot on Canadian soil. Immigration officials, enforcImage may contain: one or more peopleing discriminatory laws of the time, did not allow the ship to dock. For two months, passengers were confined to the ship and denied regular access to food and water. The Canadian government of the day eventually forced the Komagata Maru to return to India, where some were killed and many others imprisoned.

“Three years ago, I stood in the House of Commons to apologize on behalf of the Government of Canada to all those whose lives were changed by this tragic event. While we cannot erase their pain and suffering, we can learn from this dark chapter in our history – and instead, choose the path of compassion and open our arms to those in need.

“Today, as we remember the victims of the Komagata Maru tragedy and their descendants, let’s also honor the invaluable contributions the South Asian community has made, and continues to make, to Canada. Diversity is our greatest strength, and one of the building blocks of a better, more prosperous country for everyone.”

 

Garbage Is An Escalating World Problem

by Promod Puri

Countries worldwide seem to be facing an escalating problem as to where to dump their daily accumulation of non-composite garbage.

Shiploads of containers carrying all kinds of waste from electronic to plastics and even household garbage are floating the world seas finding their final resting or burial place.

After China changed its policy not to accept electronic and plastic waste anymore, and other countries like Malaysia and the Philippines, refusing to be dumping places either, the developed countries are stranded with their garbage.

Recently, Philippines “threatened” Canada to take back its garbage sitting on the former’s shores for the last over 10 years. That made-in-Canada garbage is finally returning home.

Malaysia, where some clandestine garbage contractors have been importing garbage, the government has cracked down on them under its strict policy that the country “will not be a dumping ground to the world.”

Dumping of garbage in poor and developing countries is as much an environmental concern as from the exporting rich and developed nations.

It is a world problem, where each country must seek its own environmental solutions to handle its garbage, whether it is plastic, electronics, or household.

WHEN I WORKED AT 7-ELEVEN STORE:

Recently I read an interesting article on 7-Eleven stores and their worldwide growth in 17 countries besides the ones in the USA where the company was founded in 1927.
Around the world, 7-Eleven has 68,236 stores, and the largest presence is in Asia. The new owners are a Japanese holding company who bought 7-Eleven from the Texas-based The Southern Corporation indownload (10) 2005.
My only interest in reading the long article was back in the ‘70s when I migrated to Canada. 7-Eleven was one of the places where I had my initial jobs.
The job interview was quick, and I was hired right away without any previous experience selling Slurpees, cigarettes, candies, etc.
After a few days of working at the store, my manager asked me “if you don’t mind, can we call you Peter,” as my first name was “little hard to pronounce.” “No problem” was my instant response.
The name change, however, got a further adjustment, when the manager, followed by other staff, started calling me “Pete.” But for me switching names from Promod to Peter and then Pete was complimentary designations.
The experience at the 7-Eleven was quite interesting meeting customers and enthusiastically handling money, a first in my life.
My uniform over my shirt was the jacket with printed 7-Eleven logo all over the fabric. The outfit reminded me of those shawls wrapped by Sadhus in India with omnipresent “Ram, Ram…” prints.
According to the article, the Japanese company has announced its plan to start opening 7-Eleven stores in India starting this year.
In that case, it would be interesting to watch a Sadhu walking in the store with Ram, Ram….print shawl meeting a guy with 7-Eleven, 7-Eleven jacket.
And that reminds of the “Modi, Modi…” suit which did not hit the fashion among his “bhagats”. Otherwise, it would have been another catchy scene at 7-Elevens in India.

Peepaewale Biscuits

Every time I notice these in the Indian grocery stores, even at the Walmart, my recurring memories fly me back to those teenage days in India.

We did not call them as “Peepaewale” biscuits. These were just plain cookies custom-made from a local bakery shop.

Also referred to as Punjabi biscuits, these non-smooth and little grooved on the top is triple the size of 22-karat gold biscuits.

Since they were contained in a ‘pipa,’ that is the reason they are called ‘Peepaewale’ biscuits here in Canada. Perhaps, it is a marketing approach by the manufacturers to draw the nostalgic feel and taste of the sweet goodies.

I remember enjoying the crispy delicacies with the spread of home-made butter on top and a glass of lassi as our breakfast during summer days before heading off to school.

The most blissful part of those childhood memories was when my mother assigned me the job of getting them made from our neighborhood friendly baker.

The ingredients were few. Whole wheat flour, ghee, sugar, and one or two more items, which I don’t recollect. And there was an empty ‘pipa,’ a rectangular tin container with lid and provision of locking it, to pack the baked product.

My reward for the volunteering service was that I could eat as many biscuits as I could in the 10-minute walk back home. But once at home, the pipa was locked, and the key-control was with my mother.

However, a few times, I managed to slide my slim and tender hands into the locked pipa and grab some cookies. My mother knew about it but pretended she did not. And I kept enjoying my “peepaewale” biscuits, now a part of sweet memories.

By Promod Puri

Manusmriti And America’s Jim Crow Laws Against Blacks

by Promod Puri

An objective parallel can be drawn between the racial caste system, known as Jim Crow in the history of the United States between 1877 to late 60s, and the inhumane treatment of low-caste Hindus triggered by the centuries-old caste culture of India.
Jim Crow was a legitimized and even legalized anti-black racism which relegated African Americans not only as second-class citizens but designated them into a “way of life” by White Americans who had the right to be discriminatory.
(Jim Crow is a fictional name caricatured of a “clumsy, dimwitted black slave singing a tune called ‘jump Jim Crow’ in Louisville, Kentucky.” It was a creation of a White actor, Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice donned with blackface, and who staged jokes and songs in the typical accent of slave dialect.)
From church to the state, educational institutions at all levels to active civic groups, newspapers to politicians, all geared up under one belief that Whites were the Chosen people of God. Blacks lack morality and civilized behavior.
Blacks were cursed to be servants, and culturally and intellectually inferior. Ministers and theologians warned of any social integration with the Blacks including sexual relationships as that would produce a mongrel race. That could result in a change in the American character. New terms were created for Blacks like niggers, coons, and darkies.
It is a long list of customized Jim Crows laws and social behaviors expected from the Blacks towards the White population which reveals how discriminatory, unethical and cruel nature of these practices were against a segment of humanity with darker skin.
According to the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site Interpretive Staff, the following rules and guidelines illustrate the perception and behavior of White people towards Blacks.
Burial. The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons (Georgia).
Buses: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored (Alabama).
Child Custody: It shall be unlawful for any parent, relative, or another White person in this State, having the control or custody of any White child, by right of guardianship, natural or acquired, or otherwise, to dispose of, give or surrender such white child permanently into the custody, control, maintenance, or support, of a Negro (South Carolina).
Wine and Beer: All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine…shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time (Georgia).

Education: The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately (Florida).
And many more laws and regulations related to the racial downgrading of the Black population were introduced and pursued by most White Americans.
Besides, Jim Crows in various states of the United States, there were many social etiquettes which the Blacks had to follow. Here are a few of them as outlined by Stetson Kennedy, the author of Jim Crow Guide (1990).
Never assert or even intimate that a white person is lying.
Never impute dishonorable intentions to a white person.
Never suggest that a white person is from an inferior class.
Never lay claim to, or overly demonstrate, superior knowledge or intelligence.
Never curse a white person.
Never laugh derisively at a white person.
Never comment upon the appearance of a white female.
Racial laws along with imposed etiquettes for the Blacks and their almost total segregation were the norms under the overall hateful and heartless behavior of the White majority.
However, the more horrifying and barbaric aspect of the “way of life” was public lynching, murders, and looting of Black people. The Lynch Law victims were hanged, shot, burned at stake (post), castrated, beaten with clubs, or dismembered. Whites could physically beat Blacks with impunity.

RACISM IN HINDU CASTE SYSTEM
Now, let us take a brief visit to the racists and ultra sub-human practices embedded in the psyche of upper-class Hindus against the lowest in the hierarchy ladder of India’s caste system.
The people in this segment of the society were classified as Shudras according to Manusmriti, a manual written by self-proclaimed saint Manu centuries ago. He stratified society into four classes where Shudras’ main job description is described as to look after the above three classes. Manu also recognized the existence of an un-coded fifth class, as being the lowest of the lowest or “untouchables.”
Both the Shudras and the “untouchables” are also known as Dalits in present-day India.
Manu declared that Shudras and the “untouchables” were ineligible to study or even listening to hymns in the Vedas.
Besides stripping them from studying and access to knowledge a sampling of Manu’s treatment of Shudras and Untouchables is penned in the Manusmriti like this:
“—- men who, in their folly, wed wives of the low (Sudra) caste, soon degrade their families and their children to the state of Sudras,” (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, Para 15)”.
“A Brahmana (high caste) who takes a Sudra wife to his bed, will (after death) sink into hell; if he begets a child by her, he will lose the rank of a Brahmana, (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, para17)”.
“For him who drinks the moisture of a Sudra’s lips, who is tainted by her breath, and who begets a son on her, no expiation is prescribed,” (Manusmriti, Chapter 3, Para 19)”.
Manu’s unjust and undemocratic caste system led to creating many social barricades advanced and nurtured by the priest class in conceiving the customs and practices against the Dalits and the Untouchables.
As time passed the culture of discrimination, hatred and inequality formulated by Manu became an increasingly horrendous practice. It came to the point when in most parts of India both Shudra and Untouchable communities were segregated to live outside the boundaries of a village or town. They were to enter and exit the township at certain hours.
They were not allowed to enter temples or keep religious idols in their homes, no admission to schools, nor allowed to draw water from the wells used by higher castes. The mere touch of their body or even their sight or shadow was considered impure.
In his book Annihilation of Caste, Dr. Ambedkar while arguing against the deep-rooted caste system in the Hindu psyche, gives a vivid description of the custom and practices prevalent in the society.
Dr. Ambedkar can be ranked along with Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. and other world leaders who fought against the humiliating social disorder and break the shackles of virtual economic and social slavery.
He writes: “Under the rule of the Peshwas in the Maratha country the untouchable was not allowed to use the public streets if a Hindu was coming along lest he should pollute the Hindu by his shadow. The untouchable was required to have a black thread either on his wrist or in his neck as a sign or a mark to prevent the Hindus from getting them polluted by his touch through mistake. In Poona, the capital of the Peshwa, the untouchable was required to carry, strung from his waist, a broom to sweep away from behind the dust he treaded on lest a Hindu walking on the same should be polluted. In Poona, the untouchable was required to carry an earthen pot, hung in his neck wherever he went, for holding his spit lest his spit falling on earth should pollute a Hindu who might unknowingly happen to tread on it.”
In his crusade to end the ill-treatment of Dalits, as well as expressing his moral sense, that on December 25, 1927, he led a public protest of symbolic burning of Manusmriti.
The deep-rooted caste system in the Hindu psyche has plagued India for centuries.
And despite on-going educational and progressive movements, the “way of life” is the same for many Dalits as experienced by the Blacks under the Jim Crow laws and practices.
(Information sources for this article: Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, and Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions.)

(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)

Why I’m Not Buying Self Driving Car

By Promod Puri

Ever since the car manufacturers introduced the Cruise Control feature, I have rarely used it.

And I think many people like me seldom bothered about this extra driving maneuver. They might have their own reasons. But in my case, it is simple. My conscious mind does not feel relaxed in this mode. The logic is, it might fail when I need it in an abrupt or unexpected moment.

This is a mindset attitude I have. And for that reason, I will not be buying fully-loaded Autonomous Vehicles, AVs in short.

Safety is the issue. AVs can’t be as close to human safety because engineering can’t match personal intellect. Driving would always be a tense experience.

The pleasure of driving is gone when “someone” else is driving.

Two latest models of AVS, one by the Uber Technologies and the other by Tesla, are the cause of accidents in recent months. One hit and killed a passenger in Arizona, and the other collided with a highway barrier in California.

AVs also include most of the airplanes being built these days. Two fatal accidents in recent months are proof of that, which could have been prevented. The ill-fated planes autonomous steering system repeatedly forced the Boeing 737 Max into a dive. The resulting judgment for these two crashes has been produced by the investigators.

As we’re about to enter a world where AVs can be a mod choice when buying cars. These vehicles in which human drivers are never needed to safely operate them. Rather a combination of sensors like radars, sonars, GPS, and an advanced control system would analyze sensory information to identify navigation paths, obstacles, and the relevant traffic signs in various languages, all within a split-second timeframe.

They say to err is human, but to err is technology can be true as well.

(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)

In The Habit Of Postponing Things

By Promod Puri

In my school days as the bell ring, all the kids assembled for the morning prayer which was quite secular in nature. I don’t remember the whole prayer which was in Hindi, but a couplet of that I can still recall.

The words of advice in that morning ritual go like this: jo kal karna woh ajj karle, jo ajj karna woh abb karle. A loose translation of the wordings can be “whatever one thinks to be done tomorrow, should be done today, and whatever to be executed today, should be tackled right now.” Basically, all it means not to dither, not to delay whatever is supposed to be done.

In practice, the advisory was seldom followed by me especially working on that massive load of “school work” wrecking our countdown-wait of two-month-long summer vacation. In fact, it was the opposite in my case, jo abb karna woh ajj karle, jo ajj karna woh kal karle.

Later in life, advancing the doing task by day or date waned with the developing attitude of ‘get it over’ as tomorrow would be like missing the train. But some traits of the delaying behavior are still there in me as most of us have it too, for example postponing a visit to the dentist, writing or reviewing the will, fixing or get it fixed that dripping tap, etc. etc.

Temporizing can be an evasive action, which some people justify as time management because things should be done or tackled on a priority basis. But priorities keep piling up in our busy life’s schedules. Yesterday’s priority becomes secondary, and the one for today is superseded by tomorrow’s agenda.

In fact, it is a dilly-dallying habit or obsession which psychologist call procrastination. Chronically, it is the nature of avoiding tasks, mainly the difficult ones.

Life’s urgencies have made us not to procrastinate our duties and responsibilities. Most of us are in that get-it-over class of on-time doers.

But some people find a bit thrill in postponing things till the last moment. Example being a friend of mine who gets gas fill in his vehicle only when it starts stalling. He may be keeping an empty gas cylinder in his car in case…. But he loves the adventure of being a practicing procrastinator.

My procrastination experience once was neither an adventure nor fun. Rather it was more of escalating tension when we just made it to the nearest gas station after crossing the border for the cheap US gas.

 (Promod Puri is a journalist, writer and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com and promodpuri.blogspot.com)

 

 

A Love Story Hacked By Mahatma Gandhi

This story is not an attempt to downgrade his personality, but it reveals how Gandhi became from ordinary to an extraordinary human being. He learned from his experiences, moved on, and became one of the great leaders of the world in the contemporary history of the world.

by Promod Puri

While Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolence activism got him international fame and many followers, an important part of his personal life and preferences has been revealed in an unknown small book by Professor Kris Tangri.

Kris Tangri lived a retired life in Victoria, Canada, after a very successful academic career in Canadian and American universities. He died a couple of years ago in his mid-90s

Kris reveals in his book that during his university days in India, he fell in love with a fellow student who was the granddaughter of Gandhi. The romance went for quite some time and finally, the couple decided to get married.

But according to Kris that was not acceptable to Gandhi. For the only reason, he figured out that he was a Punjabi getting into a Gujarati family. It never happened before.

Otherwise, Kris in his young days was quite handsome, educated, intelligent and belonged to reputable and established Punjabi Khatri Hindu family. He had all the required qualifications to be accepted by Gandhi and his family. But he was not a Gujarati.

Despite, the initial no to this proposal, the couple was adamant and the engagement ceremony was performed. At this point, Gandhi came with a condition that the marriage could only take place if the couple did not see each other for the next seven years as a test of their everlasting love for each other.

The destiny had its own plan. Kris was to leave for Europe for higher studies. And while abroad, due to lack of fast communications, he lost his contact with the person he loved.

Gandhi’s scheme worked and his granddaughter in the meantime got married, which Kris learned when he came back to India.

Well, that was Mahatma Gandhi known for his universal fight against racism and prejudice, but in his personal life, he was just a Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

 

https://promodpuri.com/

Nepal’s Menstrual Huts

Nepal’s menstrual huts: what can be done about this practice of confining women to cow sheds?

Sara Parker, Liverpool John Moores University and Kay Standing, Liverpool John Moores University

The tragic recent deaths of a mother and her two sons in a chhaupadi hut in Nepal has again brought the issue of this exclusionary practice to the forefront of international human rights and media attention.

Despite being illegal, chhaupadi, the practice of exiling menstruating women and girls from their home – often to a cow shed – is still practised in some areas of Western Nepal. Chhaupadi is an extreme example of the stigmas and restrictions around menstruation that exist not only in Nepal, but also globally. The recent protests at the Sabarimala temple in India, which women of menstruating age are not allowed to enter, is another example of menstrual pollution beliefs.

The image of menstruating women and girls being forced to leave their homes and be confined to a cow shed dominates media coverage of the issue in Nepal. But this view oversimplifies what is a much more complex issue. Chhaupadi is not only limited to the physical practice of sleeping in a shed – it goes beyond this to include deeply rooted cultural beliefs about impurity, which see women and girls as inferior, and lead girls to internalise these feelings. Girls are told they are impure form a young age, which can have a damaging effect on their psyche and sense of self-worth.

Many NGOs and activists are destroying the sheds – and the Nepalese government has introduced new penalties and sanctions, such as removing state food support and other services. While this might seem like a welcome move, in some areas there are reports that this can make it more dangerous for women and girls as instead they sleep outside in caves or the jungle without shelter or mosquito nets. These practices are deeply ingrained in culture and society, so many women may leave their homes despite sanctions for fear of bringing harm if they don’t.

Tham Maya Thapa, Nepal’s minister for women, children and senior citizens, believes it will take time to end chhaupadi. This is a custom that has been deeply entrenched in Nepalese society for hundreds of years.

What can be done?

Nepal is an exceptionally diverse country of 125 ethnic groups. To tackle chhaupadi, a nuanced understanding of how menstrual practices and beliefs differ among varied religious and ethnic backgrounds is required. Although chhaupadi hits the headlines, there is no one all-encompassing single narrative on menstruation in Nepal.

We have been researching gender, education and gender-based violence in Nepal over the past 25 years and are working on a project on the origins of menstrual beliefs and practices which explores the diverse range of beliefs, practices and historical and cultural roots which underpin menstrual health customs in all seven provinces of Nepal.

We are working with local organisations and activists such as Radha Paudel, to challenge menstrual stigma, as a a deeper understanding of the diverse menstrual practices beyond chhaupadi is needed to do so. Our previous research has highlighted a range of stigmas and restrictions, such as not being able to visit the temple and participate in religious ceremonies, as well as being forbidden to look in mirrors, cook, or have any contact with men. Because while chhaupadi is a serious human rights issue, other issues of gender-based violence, such as sexual violence and domestic abuse do not get the same widespread media coverage.

A range of academics and activists are challenging the media representation with photography, film and art which empower women and girls to speak out about their experiences. These can be powerful tools, ensuring that the voices of women and girls are heard and highlighting that women and girls can be active agents of change, rather than simply passive victims of oppression.

Working with local organisations

Collaboration with local communities and partners is key to changing attitudes, and this can be done using participatory and creative methods. For example, a team of experts from the University of Pittsburgh in partnership with Nepal Fertility Care Centre used collaborative filmmaking to include girls in the conversation around menstruation.

The girls who made the film have gone on to be advocates for change and are challenging menstrual stigmas and taboos in their community. Bringing them to Kathmandu increased the confidence of the girls, and engaged policy makers, government ministers and NGOs. The film received an international audience at the Kathmandu film festival as well as media coverage.

Meanwhile, the MenstruAction conference in Kathmandu in December 2018 brought together local expertise working towards challenging stigmas and restrictions and enabling and empowering women to realise their sexual and reproductive rights and their basic right to be free from harm and discrimination. Government ministries need to engage in these events and work together with grassroots activists to promote change.

Complex problems require complex solutions. Menstruation is often framed as a “health and hygiene” issue, but a range of actors are needed to bring about long-term change. The media have a role to play in raising awareness, too – but they must be careful not to sensationalise the issue, and to also listen to – and report – the voices of activists and change makers in the community.

Only when we put women and girls and their voices at the centre of research, policies and interventions, can we truly understand the nuanced nature of the deeply embedded practice of chhaupadi.The Conversation

Sara Parker, Reader in Development Studies, Liverpool John Moores University and Kay Standing, Reader in Gender Studies, Liverpool John Moores University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

NOOR JEHAN’S VOICE KNOWS NO BOUNDRY BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN:

downloadAudibly residing forever in the hearts of Hindi filmy music lovers is Noor Jehan’s renditions of Aawaz de kahan hai (a duet with Surendra); Mere bachman ke sathi muje bhool na jana, dekho dekho hase na zamana; and Jawan hai mohabbat hasin hai zamana, lutaya hai dil ne khoshi ka tarana (film Anmol Ghardi).

Malika-e-tarannum Noorjahan’s distinct and immaculate voice uplifts the spirit and clarity of the lyrics. Her sweet but eloquent and uninhibited style continues to echo eternally across India-Pakistan borders.

It was Naushad Ali (assisted by Ghulam Mohammed) who scored the music for these alluring compositions. He was one of the most talented and creative melodists credited with popularizing the folk music especially from the Hindi speaking belt of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, his signature compositions were often based on classic Hindustani music.

Read more and enjoy by clicking the link: https://promodpuri.com/2017/08/26/hindi-filmi-music-part-1/

PARTY IN MY LONELY ABODE!

 

I have company in my lonely abode

Arriving and departing, the door is open and revolving

The guests come, some offer bloom, others gloom.

They’re the memories, family, and friends,

Karmas’ notes, complaints, and compliments

Environments, weapons, wars, and fights

Politics, poverty, religions, and human rights

Cherishing hopes, jokes, and anecdotes

In this lively, and spirited noise

Consciousness joins as an in-house voice

And the party goes on, in my lonely abode.

-Promod Puri

https://promodpuri.com/

TRAVEL ADVISORY: India Changing Names Of Its Major Cities

It is the case of old wine in new bottles.

And a lot of new bottles are needed by some provincial governments in India when it comes to filling up with new names to the ancient cities and towns in the country.

While they can’t change the historical and cultural character of the cities, but the new labeling seems to be the current political hype running across India, especially in the saffron-ruled state of Uttar Pradesh.

If you’re visiting India and going to Allahabad, don’t get confused when the landing sign reads “welcome to Prayagraj.” Yes, that is the latest name change for the city known for its biggest religious fair in the world, called “Kumbh Mela.”

Allahabad, I mean Prayagraj, was the hometown of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and it is for the country’s most popular film star Amitabh Bachchan.

Another name-change casualty occurs to the major rail junction town of Mughalsarai, near Varanasi (formerly Banaras) as it is now officially called Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

And if you are traveling down to the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the cosmopolitan city of Ahmedabad has been recently renamed called Karnavati.

For those who are visiting India after a long time, the name-change travel advisory includes that Bombay is now called Mumbai, Bangalore is Bengaluru, Chennai replaces Madras, and Trivandrum to Thiruvananthapuram.

(I had to copy and paste the last one to avoid mis-spelling).

So, if you are visiting India, don’t feel lost in your favorite cities adopting new names. Some of them need little practice to pronounce correctly. However, these are the same towns and cities with the same character and the same hospitality.

It is just the same old wine in a new bottle.

by Promod Puri

 

SEEKING SOLACE AMID POVERTY AND HUNGER

Convert us,
We’re adaptable
But we’re poor. We’re hungry too.

Passing by a temple, a man of god advised
“come on in, become Hindu, and be happy and wise.”
So, we put on the Hindu hats.
“Now close eyes to forget the hunger.”
“Meditate for transcendental wonder.”

Then a voice was delivered from a nearby mosque
“Become Muslims for glory to god,”
We emerged as Muslims from the sacred spot.
More cordial invites “come on in, become…”
Christians, Buddhists, and other religious faiths.

And we collected more badges in our divine sails.
We’re now multi-religious with multi-god beliefs.
Without any shelter or any relief.

A buzz was heard loud and clear “There is no god, my friends,”
“Come on in, in our progressive den.”
We followed another message, another thought
In the maze of many isms and multi-paths.

A few intelligent folks gave us the direction: “stay on the Left,”
Assuring food and shelter as well as vodka and rum,
But “seal your mouth and keep mum.”
Others pulled us to the Right, to be “great again”.
Affirming food, shelter, and wealth in the promising lane.

We’ve put on all the tags, walked all the treks.
We’re victims of conflicts, riots, and terror.
Risking lives in chopping waters and dingy boats,
Eyeing to land on safe and secure shores.
We knock on the doors for some welcome abodes.
In our run to seek safe spots,
There are hunts and chases of the security guards.

We are the victims of hunger and malnutrition.
We carry loads of bricks on our heads,
We raise the buildings but live in the sheds.
For some, the hapless one
The roof is the sky, the sidewalk is the bed.
To earn few coins, we’re pickers of rags, bottles, and cans.

We don’t have class, but inferior in our caste,
Working down the drain with suffering and pain.
Underpaid and underage, bonded helpless and muted slaves.

We’re the statistics for discussion and debate,
Agenda for conferences and data for references.
We’re the stories and challenge for poets, writers, and authors.

We are an assignment for researchers and experts
Who maneuver our grades to analyze our fate
From national poverty-line to international poverty-line,
From below-poverty-line to above-poverty-line.

But at the end of the line
We’re still poor
And we’re still hungry.

-by Promod Puri

 

“Adarsh Bahu” University Certification

“Adarsh Bahu,” that is not the title of an old Hindi movie or a forthcoming Bollywood release. But it is a newly-introduced three-month study offered by a university in Bhopal, India.
 
After the completion of the “Adarsh Bahu” curriculum, a certificate will be handed to the “Adarsh” (ideal) graduates.
 
Unlike most other courses which help in securing jobs, this one, according to the vice chancellor of Bhopal’s Barkatullah University, “will prepare brides who will keep families intact. It is part of the women empowerment”.
 
Two issues come to mind about the innovative university-level course.
 
1. Will it be an added qualification for girls which can help the future in-laws in their selection of “Bahus” for their “desirable and reliable” sons, who are often introduced as “boys.” Or without this university qualification if it could be a disqualification, in other words, “rejection.”
 
2. Besides the “Adarsh Bahu” course with all its good intentions, there is not a simultaneous launch of another program with the title “Adarsh damaad,” meaning ideal bridegroom.
 
-Promod Puri

Concept Of Truth In Jeopardy

File 20180912 144464 bo3gsd.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Have we lost our grip on the truth?
Shutterstock

Arie Kruglanski, University of Maryland

The concept of truth is under assault, but our troubles with truth aren’t exactly new.

What’s different is that in the past, debates about the status of truth primarily took place in intellectual cafes and academic symposia among philosophers. These days, uncertainty about what to believe is endemic – a pervasive feature of everyday life for everyday people.

“Truth isn’t truth” – Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, famously said in August. His statement wasn’t as paradoxical as it might have appeared. It means that our beliefs, what we hold as true, are ultimately unprovable, rather than objectively verifiable.

Many philosophers would agree. Nevertheless, voluminous research in psychology, my own field of study, has shown that the idea of truth is key to humans interacting normally with the world and other people in it. Humans need to believe that there is truth in order to maintain relationships, institutions and society.

Truth’s indispensability

Beliefs about what is true are typically shared by others in one’s society: fellow members of one’s culture, one’s nation or one’s profession.

Psychological research in a forthcoming book by Tory Higgins, “Shared Reality: What Makes Us Strong and Tears Us Apart,” attests that shared beliefs help us collectively understand how the world works and provide a moral compass for living in it together.

Cue our current crisis of confidence.

Distrust of the U.S. government, which has been growing since the 1960s, has spread to nearly all other societal institutions, even those once held as beyond reproach.

From the media to the medical and scientific communities to the Catholic Church, there is a gnawing sense that none of the once hallowed information sources can be trusted.

When we can no longer make sense of the world together, a crippling insecurity ensues. The internet inundates us with a barrage of conflicting advice about nutrition, exercise, religion, politics and sex. People develop anxiety and confusion about their purpose and direction.

In the extreme, a lost sense of reality is a defining feature of psychosis, a major mental illness.

A society that has lost its shared reality is also unwell. In the past, people turned to widely respected societal institutions for information: the government, major news outlets, trusted communicators like Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley or Edward R. Murrow. Those days are gone, alas. Now, just about every source is suspect of bias and serving interests other than the truth. In consequence, people increasingly believe what they wish to believe, or what they find pleasing and reassuring.

In the quest to restore peace of mind, people scramble for alternative sources of certainty. Typically this means narrowing one’s circle of confidants to one’s tribe, one’s side of the aisle, one’s ethnicity or one’s religion.

For example, in his monumental work on the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” Edward Gibbon, the British historian recounts how the shattering of the Roman common worldview facilitated the emergence of a host of alternative religions – including Christianity, which finally prevailed over other faiths and belief systems that also sprung up at that time.

Then, as now, the fraying of our shared reality portends a fragmentation of society, an unbridgeable polarization in which distrust reigns, outsiders are demonized and collective action to address problems comes to a standstill.

Back to a shared reality

Philosophers in the 20th century, known as part of a “post-modernist” movement in Western thought, eschewed the idea that objective truth is attainable.

That school of philosophy was critical of the modern notion that science, through its methods, is able to conclusively prove its claims and theories.

Instead, post-modernist authors stressed that human knowledge is ultimately subjective and relative rather than absolute. The post modernist movement ushered a sense of irreverence and freedom into culture and society. It stressed alternative ways of knowing through feeling and image thus impacting the communication industry and encouraging imagination.

Even major defenders of science like Karl Popper maintained that truth is but a guiding ideal for scientific inquiry that can never be realized or proven for certain. Thomas Kuhn believed likewise. What these philosophers perhaps did not anticipate is what would happen to societies if skepticism and relativity – unconstrained belief systems in which nearly anything can be sustained – became widespread.

How can this dynamic be reversed?

Rebuilding a sense of shared reality among different segments of our society isn’t going to be easy, especially as it seems forces such as politicians and Russian trolls are working towards just the opposite goal. Also, deeply committed advocates and true believers from both sides are making it difficult for to rebuild that invaluable common ground that shared reality rests upon.

Psychological research suggests that such an about-face would require a willingness to “unfreeze” our entrenched positions that demonize the opinions of others, and often are based on narrow interests of one’s tribe or class.

In a forthcoming book I’m co-authoring with colleagues, “Radicals’ Journey: German Neo-Nazis’ Voyage to the Fringe and Back,” we tell the story of an arson attack against a synagogue in the German city of Düsseldorf in 2000. The German chancellor at the time, Gerhard Schröder, issued a public call for a “rebellion of the decent.”

It was a call to find a way to coalesce around common values and listen to each other’s concerns; to find forgiveness instead of rejoicing at each other’s misfortunes and mistakes.

Schröder’s plea triggered one of the largest funding schemes for counter violent extremism programs on the federal, state and community levels across all of Germany. It mobilized the entire German nation to stand together against the forces of divisiveness.

Wisdom from the field of psychology hails Schröder’s advice. The alternative to finding our lost common ground may be our self-destruction as a community and as a nation.The Conversation

Arie Kruglanski, Professor of Psychology, University of Maryland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

THE PUN IN BEING AN INTELLECTUAL

By Promod Puri

Sometime back my nieces and nephews along with a few of their aunties and uncles formed a family group on the social media and named it “The Intellectuals.” The idea was to stay in touch with each other wherever we’re globally settled.

Since its formation, the group, despite being calling itself as intellectuals, hardly has any intellectuality in its social conversation or gossip communications. The Intellectual bunch uses the WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. to convey greetings on special occasions, and share family news. And in lighter moods, many of the posts are simple jokes, sensible as well as pointless and ludicrous.

In its informal mandate, the question is, why the group call itself “The Intellectuals.”

Since the family social club originated in India, it seems the title has appealed to its membership as being intellectual in the country these days has an irony of pun in it. In fact, the ‘intellectuals’ rather be non-intellectuals to avoid the snobbery generated in its labeling.

The word is slang both in political and social terms. It suggests intellectuals are ignorant of ground realities despite their academic and idealistic learning.

Willfully calling somebody as an intellectual is to mock the narcissist nature of an individual who is otherwise loaded with bookish knowledge.

Intellectualism has been sarcastically ridiculed and criticized for its failure to communicate at the level in which ordinary folks can comprehend. Their wisdom and idealism remain circulated within their own isms.

Mostly Leftists scholars and thinkers are the victims of intellectual sarcasm. For that reason, it is often a bitter taunt by the political Right against the political Left.

There is some truth in the egoistic psychology of the elite community of intellectuals. Subtly and satirically that the nature of intellectuals has been a wit for “The Intellectuals.”

( Promod Puri writes on human interest, social, political and religious topics. He is the author of “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions.” Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, and promodpuri.blogspot.com)

 

Time To End Cricket Hype With Football

(Looking at the growing worldwide popularity of the game of football, this article is about the importance of the sport, especially for the poor and developing nations).

Cricket has been a national obsession in most of the developing and Third World countries.

It is about time that the game should be dropped from the status of being the most popular sport. Rather football, aka soccer, must be promoted as such.

Despite generating millions of fans in countries like Afghanistan to Zimbabwe along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc., from a crop of only a few hundred cricketers, that a needed exit from its elevated prestige is worth for the survival and flourishing of other sports.

Over the past half of century, cricket has so much dominated the sports scene in South Asia, parts of Africa and Europe, the Middle East, and Caribbean Islands, that most other equally worthy sports have been discriminatorily relegated to lower grades.

Cricket is an elite sport. It has acquired its status symbol among the middle and rich people. It is an expensive outdoor indulgence. A vast majority of poor youths can only enviously enjoy watching it (only on TV). But they can not actively participate in this “gentleman’s game.”

Compared to that the “common man’s game” of football is an all-inclusive sporting event. It is undoubtedly the most popular of all world sports. It costs only a few bucks to buy a football. In cricket, the total cost for all the equipment, bats, balls, wickets, and protective gear runs into thousands.

Not only that, in cricket of all the 22 players comprising the two opposing teams, just three players, two batsmen, and a bowler, actively play the game at a given time. The rest of the 10 players supporting the bowler are fielders. They come into action only when the ball is delivered in the direction of any of them. Still, the nine players from the batting side are sitting idle waiting for their turns to bat which may not come at all for some or most of the players. The players are in the game, but not playing!

And many times, the stretched out the game just drags on. The thrill of either playing or watching the game is taken over by yawns, even brief naps too. Perhaps patience and boredom are essentials in the cricket regime.

Now, let us compare it with the strenuous game of football. One ball and that is it. Cheap and very much affordable. And all the players, 22 of them, are involved together in the vitality of the game. They are running, jumping, hitting, and bouncing in an action-packed and meditative focus on the ball. Full value for both the players and spectators.

The downgrading of cricket from its elite status will help the game of football to cover more ground involving every economic class of youths for their much-needed physical activities.

In Britain after all, where the game originated and exported to its colonial domains, cricket is gradually receding in popularity. It is being replaced by the more lucrative sport of football.

It is about time to end the cricket hype. It has gone too far. And let the football kicks in.

By Promod Puri
promodpuri.com

With Small Doses Of Capitalism Cuba Can Achieve Its Socialist Idealism

 

Part 1: Life In Cuba

Rather than the politics of communism or socialism, the face of Cuba is much reflected by its vibrant culture. In their healthy and shining look, most Cubans seem to be hardworking and contended folks who, more than anything else, enjoy their music, dance, and simple food loaded with organic fruits and vegetables.

The cultural and social aspects of the Cuban lifestyle have an aristocracy and sophistication which has a class of its own in this classless society. The three most essential ingredients of its cultural pride are coffee, rum, and cigar. And in that order, the famous Cuban custom is the after-dinner ritual of having coffee followed by sipping espresso or regular coffee and finally enjoying the smoke from their rooted obsession, the cigars.

Cubans, perhaps don’t care in which brand of political isms they are being ruled but they do love their customs and traditions doused with music, dance, coffee, rum, and cigar. And that could be the reason for their blissful life along with the year-round balmy weather.

Part 2

With Small Doses Of Capitalism Cuba Can Achieve It Socialist Idealism

Cigar, rum, and coffee beside being Cuba’s cultural identities also have therapeutic value in relieving the psychological hardships being faced by Cubans under decades of its “revolutionary” regime.

The 1959 Fidel Castro’s armed political revolt had a utopian communist promise of prosperity for Cubans. With massive Russian aid, the country survived in meeting the basic needs of its people, and that included Cuba’s pride declaration of free education and the “best” medical system in the world.

The dictatorial regime of 60 years of Castro did not turn the political revolt into an economic revolution. Moreover, typical of authoritarian and Communist regimes freedom of speech and expression have been almost curtailed. Since the early 60s, a generation has been fed on leftist ideologies. A mindset attitude has been created with the egoistic attitude that its political ideology is better than capitalism.

Besides food, shelter, and healthcare, there are other earnest urges basic to human nature. As the world has become much smaller thru the Internet, these urges seek the same opportunities as naturally available to free societies. The call to express, explore, google, communicate, travel, educate, learn and earn is the aspirations that are denied, limited or switched on or off in the restricted political societies.

In Cuba, with the explosion of information thru social media and the Internet, the country’s leadership has realized the prosperity of its people depends more than just earning few export dollars from rum, coffee or cigars.

While still under the shadow of Communism, Cuba is undergoing an economic revolution with capitalism making inroads mainly thru its emerging tourist industry. Capital is also flowing from thousands of professional Cubans residing abroad, mostly in Central and South American countries, who are regularly repatriating a massive amount of funds which boosts the nation’s economy.

With idealism of socialist goals along with a controlled allowance of capitalism, Cuba seems to be carving the right path towards social and economic achievements for the ultimate prosperity of its people while protecting its natural environment.

-by Promod Puri

(This article was written recently while on a two-week vacation in a Cuban resort hotel)

Court Considering Case For Chimps As Persons

NY Times April 9, 2018

By Jeff Seb, director of the animal studies program at New York University.

You might be aware that chimpanzees can recognize themselves in a mirror, communicate through sign language, pursue goals creatively and form long-lasting friendships. You might also think that these are the kinds of things that a person can do. However, you might not think of chimpanzees as persons.

The Nonhuman Rights Project does. Since 2013, the group has been working on behalf of two chimpanzees, Kiko and Tommy, currently being held in cages by their “owners” without the company of other chimpanzees. It is asking the courts to rule that Kiko and Tommy have the right to bodily liberty and to order their immediate release into a sanctuary where they can live out the rest of their lives with other chimpanzees.

The problem is that under current United States law, one is either a “person” or a “thing.” There is no third option. If you are a person, you have the capacity for rights, including the right to habeas corpus relief, which protects you from unlawful confinement. If you are a thing, you do not have the capacity for rights. And unfortunately, even though they are sensitive, intelligent, social beings, Kiko and Tommy are considered things under the law.

In response, the Nonhuman Rights Project is taking a bold position: It is arguing that if every being must be either a person or a thing, then Kiko and Tommy are persons, not things. I agree, and many other philosophers do, too.

In February, a group of philosophers, including me, submitted an amicus curiae brief to the New York Court of Appeals in support of legal personhood for Kiko and Tommy. (Members of the group contributed to this article as well.) The court is considering whether to allow the case to proceed.

Padmaavat Glorifies Immolation Custom & Stereotypes Muslims

By Promod Puri

Hyped, and promoted by the controversy, I got induced to view Padmaavat on the big screen. Besides, seeking some entertainment, my scrutiny was also aiming at any scene, dialogues or actions which could support all the reported fuss and anger in India about Padmaavat extravaganza.

Does the movie devalue Rajputs or covet to insult them in whatsoever manner? No, not at all.

Contrarily, it has overstepped in glorifying Rajputs’ identity. Their ethical character, besides as a warrior community, has been intently prioritized in the overall Padmaavat film melodrama.

In his rhetoric cinematic and dialogue delivery which boast the Rajput pride in their customs and traditions, the controversial director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has in fact glorified the inhuman and evil custom of Jauhar as well as the related practice of Sati.

Dubbed as “supreme sacrifice,” the institution of Sati, live burning of widow immediately after the death of husband, which of course was banned more than a century ago by the British Raj in India, became a part of the Rajput heritage. The word ‘sati’ means true and loyal in Sanskrit.

Whereas Sati involved self-immolation in the pyre of the dead husband, Jauhar was more specific to widows of their dead husbands killed in the war to save themselves from being taken away by the victorious enemies. And to uphold their honor, self-immolation was the choice for them. Jauhar was mass immolation by women of a defeated army. Although it is claimed Jauhar was committed by the women on their own will, that is debatable.

In the movie, Bhansali gave the ritual a royal treatment of the Jauhar scene in slow motion for prolong viewing to create a sense of pride in this Rajput tradition. In fact, both the customs of Sati and Jauhar were most barbarian acts against a woman when she was psychologically pushed to immolate herself alive with the Brahminical declaration of becoming a goddess after the so-called supreme sacrifice.

If the Jauhar scene is the highlight of the movie, then it is disgusting as well.

The movie Padmaavat also reinforces the mindset attitudes portrayed by Ranveer Singh in the role of Allauddin Khilji as a stereotypical evil Muslim king, and Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) as the righteous Hindu king.

Padmaavat does offer entertainment in its visuals as well as the superb performances by the three lead actors, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor. The two separate dance numbers lead by Deepika Padukone, and Ranveer Singh are terrific feats of their talents, especially when watching on the big screen.

Enjoy the movie. But if you miss it, no big deal.

(Promod Puri is the author of “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions.” He is also a frequent writer on topics related to Hinduism, politics, and human interest. Websites: promodpuri.com, progressivehindudialogue.com, promodpuri.blogspot.com)

Carbon Capturing Worth Believing To Save Environment

By Akshat Rathi

Most of us don’t change our minds. Whether the issue at hand is the repeal of net neutrality in the US or Brexit in the UK, we avoid information that might shift our viewpoints, assuming that our opponents are simply dumber than we are.

But recently, I had a change of heart about an important issue—and it showed me that it can be detrimental to stick too closely to our convictions.

For the past year, I’ve been investigating the controversial technology of “clean coal”—more accurately known as carbon capture and storage—which allows us to burn fossil fuels without almost any emissions. Many vocal environmentalists oppose any use of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s cronies—many of whom seem actively opposed to environmental protection—have thrown their weight behind carbon capture. And so the case seemed clear to me: Carbon capture likely does more harm than good.

At the same time, I couldn’t ignore a nagging doubt. My training in chemistry and chemical engineering told me the technology wasn’t scientifically bunk. And more important, some of the foremost climate bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, include carbon capture in almost every economically feasible pathway to avoiding catastrophic climate change. Who should I believe?

As I began to report on the technology, it became clear I hadn’t looked beyond my own information bubble, and may have been overtly suspicious of carbon-capture technology. By meeting dispassionate experts and visiting sites, for the first time I began to grasp the enormity of the environmental challenge facing us and to look at the problem in a new light.

More than 80% of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels, as it did in the 1970s. The nuclear-power and renewable-energy revolutions have yet to make a serious dent in cutting emissions. With the deadline for reaching net-zero emissions—a necessity to avoid dangerous global warming—approaching within decades, there is no way to reach the goal without deploying carbon-capture technology. I now believe carbon capture is both vital and viable.

It’s my job as a journalist to seek out counterpoints. But rarely have those counterpoints led to a complete reversal of my stance. In order to form an accurate view of the world, we have to be skeptical toward others’ claims. We also have to be open-minded enough to really listen to them. It’s a tricky balance to strike. But the world would be a better place if we tried. —Courtesy Quartz Daily

 

INDIAN MAID: But She Was Not “Supposed” To Enter Kitchen

By Promod Puri
I don’t know if she belongs to the class of housemaid, aka “bai”. If so, then her status could be upgraded in India’s class and caste society.
She had a regular assignment at our home around 11 every morning and finishing her limited but reserved task in 15 to 20 minutes. It was the most needed part of daily cleaning.
She was a Christian Punjabi-speaking girl in her teen years. Most kids in her age group were in schools at that time studying and playing. But here she was punctual in her daily routine seven days a week.
Besides our house, she was duty-bound attending a few other households in the neighborhood.
I remember when coming to our place she was often provided “breakfast”, which most of the time was some leftover food. She had a designated cup and a plate set aside for her exclusive use.
Her monthly income if I remember correctly, was about 50 rupees back in the early ‘60s. And she often asked for raise. Her requests were quite legitimate when comparing the nature of her work with maids doing household chores including washing dirty dishes.
As her work was considered “contaminated” she was not supposed to enter the kitchen or other rooms as a maid helper.
By nature, she usually was a quiet person with innocent lively expressions. But there occasionally were some disquiet and afflicted rebellious moods as well.
She was from the class of people from the lowest ring of the Indian caste system who converted themselves as Christians from the Hindu faith. Their “Basti” or settlement constituted a segregated community which was a few miles away from our neighborhood.
The place was called Bhangi Colony. And she belonged to the Bhangi caste. Her professional title was “Bhangan” doing the dirty occupation of “manual scavenging”. According to Wikipedia “manual scavenging is a caste-based occupation involving the removal of human excreta from bucket toilets or pit latrines.
A few years back the profession by law was declared illegal.
However, the rebellion she felt in her teen years is still there among the people of her clan or community against the dehumanizing practices rooted in the social customs of India.
I don’t know if our “Bhangan” is still around. But the profession she was involved in continues. And her upgrading for equality is still pending in India’s degrading social behavior which often defies the laws.

(This article carries some fiction)

Promod Puri is a writer and author of “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions”. Read more of his articles in progressivehindudialogue.com
and promodpuri.com

Joy With Old Hindi Filmi Songs

By Promod Puri

Living in Canada for the past 45 years, my nostalgic window often opens to the blissful sounds of popular Hindi film songs and music. From this retreat, the flights to the past are the pleasures of the present.

In the voyage, tuning in on Aye mere pyaare vatan, aye mere bichhade chaman, tujh pe dil qurabaan, is an emotional joy in self-recreation. Manna Dey, in his masculine and classical voice, creates a melody of mellow submission towards motherland in the film Kabuliwala. Composed by music director Salil Chaudhary, the song literary takes me back to the melodious world of Indian film songs and music.

For me, it has been a fabulous and everlasting journey that began way back in the early ’50s. During my teen years of life, I often spoiled myself listening to the film songs of that era from All India Radio and Radio Ceylon of Binaca Geetmala fame. The early indulgence ever since has become an absorbing and addictive pastime.

I still get stirred up by the grace and pride in the marching beats of Watan ki rah mein watan ke naujawan shaheed ho, pukarate hai ye zameen o aasamaa shahid ho, by singers Khan Mastana and Mohammad Rafi from the film Shaheed (1948). Raja Mehdi Ali Khan penned the revolutionary wordings with music composed by Ghulam Ali Haider who was credited with initiating the career of well-known playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, a legend who dominated the Hindi film music scene for decades. “Ghulam Haider is truly my godfather. He was the first music director who showed complete faith in my talent”, Lata once remarked about her mentor.

In my avocational abode, audibly residing forever are Noor Jehan’s renditions of Aawaz de kahan hai (a duet with Surendra); Mere bachman ke sathi muje bhool na jana, dekho dekho hase na zamana; and Jawan hai mohabbat hasin hai zamana, lutaya hai dil ne khoshi ka tarana (film Anmol Ghardi).

Malika-e-tarannum Noorjahan’s distinct and immaculate voice uplifts the spirit and clarity of the lyrics. Her sweet but eloquent and uninhibited style continues to echo eternally across nations’ borders.

It was Naushad Ali (assisted by Ghulam Mohammed) who scored the music for these alluring compositions. He was one of the most talented and creative melodists credited with popularizing folk music especially from the Hindi speaking belt of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, his signature compositions were often based on classical Hindustani music.

The best example of Naushad’s compositions in both classical and folk music reverberates in the songs of Baiju Bawara. There is rhythm, folk and classical mix in them. Door koi gaye, Tu Ganga ki mouj main, Jhoole mein pawan, Bachpan ki mohabbat, O duniya ke rakhwale, and Mohe bhool gaye sanwariya, are ageless all raga-based symphonic creations by musical maestro Naushad for generations to enjoy.

In Naushad’s music, there has always been the subtle sweetness and zest, like enjoying a glass of merlot.  Gaye ja geet milan ke, Dharti ko aakash pukaare, Ye zindagi ke mele (Mela); Jhoom jhoom ke nacho aaj, Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithe, Tu kahe agar, Uthaye ja unke sitam, Tod diya dil mera ( Andaaz); Murliwale murli baja, Tu mera chand mein teri chandani (Dillagi); Dhadke mera dil, Chhod babul ka ghar, Kisi ke dil mein rahna tha, Lagan more man ki, Mera jeevan saathi bichhad gaya, Milte hi ankhen dil hua diwana (Babul) are some of his early feats reflecting his impeccable mastery to create a delightfully ecstatic mood.

In the treasure trove of Hindi filmi music Suhani raat dhal chuki, na jaane tum kab aoge stands out as one of most adored compositions by Naushad from film Dulari. Mohammad Rafi in his immaculate voice and with perfect breath control did a superb job which launched him as the most loved and one of the most sought after male singers in the industry.

Naushad was an ingenious and versatile composer creating new tunes, as well as rewriting the folk-based ones which were intrinsically popular among amateur and perpetually novice as well.

His celebrated list is adorned with such evergreen numbers: Maan mera ehsan, Dil mein chupake pyar ka, and one of my favourite holi songs Khelo raang hamare sang (Aan), Jaanewaale se mulaaqaat na hone paayi, Insaaf ka mandir hai yeh bhagwan ka ghar hai, Na milta gham to barbadi ke afsane kahan jaate (Amar); Lagan more man ki sajn nahin jane, and my most adorable lullaby Chandan ka palna resham ki dori (Shabaab).

Naushad was one of the most decorated music directors who composed music for about 100 Hindi films. Many of them were silver, golden and diamond jubilee hits simply because of the popularity of the songs in these movies. Na toofan se khelo, Ghar aya mehman koi jaan na pehchan, Mera salam leja, Mohabbat ki rahon mein, and Saiyan ji utrenge paar from the film Uran Khatola still take the listeners to exuberant heights even after 64 years when the movie was released in 1953.

Naushad was at his pinnacle of popularity with his superb compositions in the Oscar- nominated film Mother India (1957). Nagari nagari dware dware, Duniya mein hum aaye hain, O gaadiwale, dukh bhare din beete re, Pi ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali, and another of my most relished Holi songs Holi aayi re kanhai, are among the most popular numbers out of 12 in the movie.

The movie Mughal-e-azam (1960) was perhaps the climax of his success story. The raga-based compositions in this epic drama won instant popularity. I remember the song Pyar kiya to darna kya burst in the number one spot the moment it entered the Binaca Geetmala’s 16-song grading list. Based on the story of love affairs between Mughal Prince Salim and court dancer Anarkali, the music of Naushad in Mughal-e-Azam competed with that of the 1953 musical hit Anarkali.

Anarkali offers a bonanza of most melodious songs with superb poetic depths. C.Ramchandra composed tuneful and forever popular music of the film.  A maestro in musical compositions, he liberally delivered his art in Anarkali.  It was one of the very few films in which all the songs, without exception, were hit numbers for years and years. Even today listening to Anarkali songs offers delightful engagement both in its lyrical reflections and serene music.

Ye zindagi usiki hai, Aaja ab to aaja, Mujhse mat poochh, Dua kar gham-e-dil, Jaag dard-e-ishq jaag, Mohabbat aisi dhadkan hai, Zindagi pyar ki do char ghadi, O aasman wale shikva hai zindagi ka (I love the lyrics of ‘shikva’ meaning complaining to god), Ae baad e saba zara ahista chal and Mohabbat mein aise kadam dagamagae, are the songs which will always remain as crafted jewels with everlasting brilliance.

C. Ramchandra was an accomplished singer himself under the name of Chitalkar. With Lata Mangeshkar, his popular duets were Kitna haseen hai mausam in film Azad or Shola Jo bhadke in Albela.

Aana meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday (Shehnai), Mere piya gaye Rangoon (Patanga), Gore gore o banke chore (Samadhi) along with Ina meena dika (Asha), where he introduced the rock-n-roll rhythms in the Indian film music for the first time, were very popular songs because of their hilarious verbal and trendy musical combination. Even today these songs often pop up in the entertaining game of Antakshri.

Dheere se aa ja re akhiyan mein (Albela) is another of my favorite lullaby.  Mehfil mein jal uthi shama (Nirala), Tere phoolon se bhi pyar (Nastik), Dil ki duniya basa ke sawariyan, Dekh Hamen Aavaaz Na Denaa (Amardeep), Katatay hain dukh mein ye din (Parchhaain) and Aadha hai chandrama (Navrang) are the soundtracks where the nostalgic needle usually get struck.

C. Ramchandra enjoyed the distinction of being the composer of non-filmi but one of the most popular patriotic songs, Aye mere watan ke logo, zara ankh mein bhar lo pani. Literally moving the live audience to tears, Lata, in her touching presentation, sang the patriotic composition penned by poet Pradeep after the India-China war in 1962 in honor of the fallen Indian soldiers.

Despite Difference Of Opinion Friends Are Friends

By Promod Puri

In split second, rather much sooner, memories can take us to revisit some interesting spots in our lives.

For me, one of such repeat visits is to the primary class where I graduated myself from grade 5th to grade 6th and started learning English from alphabets to making small sentences. Towards the end of the one-year term, to the surprise of my teacher, I could write cursive English, meaning script writing by joining the letters.

In the English class, our writing assignments included composing “essays” of about 50 to 150 words. And as I remember the assigned topics were writings on the dog as man’s best friend, benefits from cow, and the stories titled “thirsty crow”, “grapes are sour”, “slow and steady wins the race” between tortoise and rabbit, etc. We were also asked to compose applications addressed to the headmaster requesting a leave of absence describing reasons including being sick.
One composition I still recall was to write a portrayal of the best friend.
Writing about a best friend was not that intricate as most of the help came from elder family members, or just through my innocent and naive imaginations. But in this exercise, the concept of thinking about friends or cultivating friendship was mindfully and firmly established.
Over the years I have developed that relationship of having friends, close friends, family friends, and best friends.

They say, “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. True, but our distress needs are seldom. For most of the time friends take care of our social compulsions to have some informal, happy, and entertaining times together.

In these relaxed occasions, we enjoy each others company of vacationing together, dining together or just having coffee together. We discuss, argue, or debate issues, events, experiences, etc. on a range of subjects depending upon our mutual interests.

Meet My Friend.

From this social aspect of friendship, I would like to bring up here a close long-time family friend. His name is Ramkishen (the real name is concealed for identity reason).

In introducing Ramkishen, I would say he is quite a smart, well-mannered, and well-dressed person. Hard working and actively involved in community affairs, he is always helpful and truly belongs to the friend-in-need-is-a-friend-indeed class of people.

Ramkishen is selective secular and bends naturally towards the political Right. He belongs to the 2016 batch of Trump Republicans, but lately a bit cynical as well, and a Modi “bhagat” (avid supporter). He is a ritualistically religious person and a devout Hindu. He has a red thread tied on his right wrist, which lately has become a symbol of being Hindu.
Ramkishen is an enjoyable conversationalist with knowledge mostly borrowed from fake news sources. Overall, I would say he is an affable personality.
But…
For some reason(s) Ramkishen is anti-Muslim.
The other day, while as usual jumping from one topic to another, we were having interesting talks. Our friendly discussions ended up in God’s colossal authority, His management or mismanagement concerning the affairs of the universe, especially His handling of the deteriorating world problems. We agreed that we have some genuine “shikwa”, the Urdu word for complaint, against Him including His varied creations. And this is where Ramkishen pointed out that “the biggest mistake God ever made was creating Muslims”.
For a moment, looking at his face, I was completely dumbstruck. On several previous meets, Ramkishen made many derogatory and racist remarks also. But this one seemed to be the climax of his anti-Muslim tirade. Shocked that the guy could go down to that ultra racist level to advocate his hatred towards the entire race of Muslims, that I felt lynching his tainted mindset.
But….
He is a friend. And hoping one day he, along with many more Ramkishens among the bourgeois Hindus, get exposed to true knowledge, discernment, and humaneness, so they would review their bigoted views.
In the meantime, back to the 6th-grade memories, I like to play again in my cursive writings with those little essays on a cow, dog, the thirsty crow, and the best friend.
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Promod Puri is a journalist and writer. He is author of “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions”, a book which explores the rational, secular and progressive nature of Hinduism.
Continue reading “Despite Difference Of Opinion Friends Are Friends”

SEEKING WAY TO END TERRORISM

In recent weeks, there has been one major terrorist attack in Afghanistan where over 150 people died, and two such strikes in Britain killing innocent people. The terror surge is continuing, rather escalating over the years. The question is how far governments and security forces can go to protect their citizens. Every available procedures, technologies, and laws have been in force to their maximum levels at the cost of sacrificing basic civic liberties with the willing cooperation of citizens. Intelligence agencies are applying more sophistication and strategies to forewarn about the attacks. But failing most of the time. Seeking the root cause(s), mostly political and religious, is the only way out of this terror crisis. Otherwise, the situation keeps on worsening while leaders keep on delivering their big talks but no intelligent actions.

THOUGHTS ON THOUGHT

CREATION, CULTIVATION, AND DEVELOPMENT OF THOUGHT

By Promod Puri

Simple Thought: Infuse purity and ethics in thoughts, base karmas on those thoughts, and enjoy the fruits of those karmas.

Mahatma Gandhi says: thoughts become words, words become behavior, behavior becomes habits, habits become values, and values lead to destiny.

In the creation of words, behavior, habits, values, and destiny, the conception begins with a thought. It all dawns on this perception.

Since destiny is the consequence of thought, the latter itself is the consequence of our feelings, attitudes, knowledge, and experiences. All these factors instigate our cogitative faculties in creating thinking.

Thinking is a mental activity of the brain. And the thought is a product of thinking. The creation of one’s own thought, import of thought, and its acceptance or its rejection are all considered as thought. In other words, the activities involved in these considerations is thought by itself.

Thought has multiple executions like establishing a reason, imagination, understanding, judgment, remembering, opinion, belief or just being conscious of time and place, etc.

Residency Of Thought

According to the biology of thought, its processing and transmission happen and develop in the nerve cells of the brain. These cells are called neurons. With a population of close to 100 billion, neurons while communicating with each other, receive, and deliver information. Neurons function along with trillions of synapses. The latter are connectors transmitting signals among neurons.

Thought in its natural formation resides in the chemistry of neuron cells. Neurons are “electrically excitable,” meaning their activity is driven by some energy.

While we can accept the purpose and operation of neurons and synapses, the biology of thought, however, does not relate itself to two basic questions: what triggers the birth of thought, and how it acquires its nature or character.

Seeking answer(s) to these two fundamental issues is consequential because, as we know thru Gandhi’s acknowledged quote that it is thought which impacts the destiny of an individual, family, community, nation, our world and perhaps the universe.

As far as the genesis of thought is concerned there are three hypotheses:

  1. Thinking is subconscious brain activity,
  2. Some unexplained biological process creates thinking,
  3. It is the conversion of energy particles into an object called thinking which shapes itself into thought.

As we ascertain, once thinking takes place by whatever open process, it becomes thought. Thinking is an activity that keeps on producing thoughts to generate execution, as well as begetting more thinking. And the process is activated by itself.

Neurons and synapses are just the tools and carriers, collect thought for its retention, processing, and transmission to stimulate activity. Commands in the form of words are established, and the rest of the operation follows.

How Does Thought Acquire Its Distinctive Trait?

Thought generates action. Good thought generates good action, bad thought generates bad action. This elementary and simple statement leads us to explore how thought acquires its distinctive trait.

A supplementary question also arises. Can we regulate or manage thought? We need good and positive thoughts for our happiness and peace, which can ultimately promise peace and happiness in the world.

In this pursuit, we accept the fact that several environmental factors quite significantly influence the nature or behavior of thought. The established and consented values in civil society, its rituals, customs, and traditions are some of the environments which cause the sentiment of thought. The genetic factor also plays in drafting its blueprint. Moreover, thought generates and induces more thoughts.

Thoughts guide and maneuver our karmas. In return, karmas influence our thoughts, and the cycle continues.

Besides, environmental, genetic and karma factors that influence its creation and nature, our own inherent and acquired disciplines can influence the cultivation and development of thought.

These disciplines, including those driven by our individual moods and temperaments, are influenced by fundamental values of morality, nobility, and divinity.

We are told, to be honest, humble, and sincere, be considerate, and helpful to others, be merciful, forget and forgive, love fellow beings and care for the environments, including animals, plants, and nature. And everything else which is pious, pure, and morally firm.

We accept the truism and goodness of these universal principles. But do they provide an adept stimulant to our cogitative biology in creating and shaping our thoughts?

In theoretical and idealized state these ethical directives can steer our thoughts towards achieving the desired temperament we want for ourselves which impact the society as well. But the environment we live in, including the economic and health factors, render the divinity of the good messages as nonviable religious or scriptural preaching.

The devotee and the divinity are separated by pragmatics we face and accept in the real world. And the casualty is thought. It is molded and normalized to the adjustment of our environmental priorities.

A Resolution Worth A Thought  

In our civilized and progressive world, the call of humanity seeks to re-evaluate each of our religions, rituals, customs, traditions, social and political institutions, including Left and Right isms, which impart values and behaviors impacting our environments.

This resolution is part of the evolution and management of civil society we live in. The evolution of civilization is natural as well as essential for the rational and intelligent creation of environments which influence our thoughts.

In this age of enlightenment, backed by technology and nurtured by the explosion of intellectual knowledge, we can independently seek the purity of thought and its management. In this quest, ripples generated are likely to create the waves which will impact the environment we live in.

In creating those environments, the infusion of ethics in thought is an earnest endeavor before we step on to Gandhi’s destiny ladder.

And in that destiny, while revisiting and upgrading our religious, social, and political environments, lies peace and prosperity for humanity.

Progressivehindudialoue.com

Promodpuri.com

Promodpuri.blogspot.ca

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TOLERANCE OR ACCEPTANCE

Jagessar Das M. D. President  Kabir Association of Canadajagessar

People all over the world talk about tolerance, such as racial tolerance, religious tolerance or cultural tolerance, when they have to live in a society made up of people of different backgrounds. And this tolerance is often thought of as being a virtue. Let us try to understand what tolerance really means.

If you try to think clearly about what tolerance means, you will understand that it means to tolerate something or someone that is different, and with whom you cannot identify yourself. It means that you are not ready to accept that difference whether it is racial, religious or cultural. It means that you may “put up” with that difference. Thus, to tolerate something connotes a negative tendency, and it cannot be thought of as a virtue, if you tolerate another race, religion or culture. To tolerate something connotes an idea such as: “as far as I am concerned, it is all right if you cease to exist”, or “I hate you but I will tolerate you”, or “you are no good, but I will tolerate you”. So you tolerate something because you think that it is better to tolerate than to create enmity. It also could reflect the idea that to practice intolerance can get you into a great deal of trouble.

No society is entirely homogeneous, even if its members belong to the same race, religion or culture. Members of the same religion often divide themselves into different denominations, and often hold different cultural and religious values. Homogeneity in value systems is not a characteristic of any one society. Many people of the same society can express opposite ideas over any given situation. Thus to talk about tolerance, in terms of race, religion or culture, is not appropriate.

On the other hand, instead of tolerance, if people practice acceptance, then they will be pursuing a positive goal. To accept a different race, religion or culture is definitely a positive state, based on love, understanding, compassion, sharing and brotherhood. These values are taught in all the religions, and it is thus important for us to accept others, instead of merely tolerating them. To accept a different race, religion or culture obviously does not mean that you have to change anything except your attitude, biases and prejudices. In acceptance, we welcome the differences, because these are all the handiwork of God. People cannot do much about their race. Their culture differs because of their geographical location, history, religion, language, etc. Differences are a part of nature and God’s plan. If God wanted homogeneity, then all people would be exactly the same, as will all the flowers, and all the animals, and all the insects. It will then certainly be a very monotonous world. Such monotony, among people, can best be reflected by a whole population of robots, all looking alike, and doing the same thing. Such is not God’s plan, for in His wisdom, He has chosen to create the differences.

Certainly, there are things in society that we must not accept. Crime, violence of any type, hate, drug and alcohol abuse, stealing and cheating, are some things that we should not, as a society, accept. But the context in which I am discussing tolerance, deals with people in terms of race, religion and culture. And all religions and cultures are intolerant to the same type of evil deeds that bring suffering to individuals, and to society.

If we look at humanity, in general, we would see that we all must share the same earth and its resources. We all breathe the same air. We all need food, water, clothing and shelter. We all need the sunshine. Our bodies function in the same way, irrespective of racial differences. We all have the same basic needs. We are all destined to grow old and die. So while we have this precious gift of life, let us live nobly. Do not stain your life with prejudices or a sense of superiority! I remember a quotation stating that prejudice is a great time saver. It allows you to jump to conclusions without bothering with the facts.

When we look at life spiritually, then intolerance is due to ignorance. We have failed to see the reality that is manifesting in the hearts of all. Kabir said that the same Divine Light created all of us. Who then is superior and who is inferior? Again he said that he is in the marketplace of the world and wishes the welfare of all. He sees no one as friend or enemy.

For God there is no friend or enemy. Let us lift our spirit up to God and give up petty intolerances. Let us all, therefore, live according to God’s will in mutual acceptance, and in love and brotherhood.

Why it’s easier for India to get to Mars than to tackle its toilet challenge

By Shyami V. Ramani

In 2013, India became the fourth country in the world (after Russia, the United States and the European Union) and the only emerging nation to launch a Mars probe into space. But it remains part of the group of 45 developing countries with less than 50% sanitation coverage, with many citizens practising open defecation, either due to lack of access to a toilet or because of personal preference.

According to the Indian census of 2011, only 46.9% of the 246.6 million households in India had their own toilet facilities, while 3.2% had access to public toilets. In this context, the remaining 49.8% households had no option but to defecate in the open. As a point of comparison, in 2011 53.2% of households had a mobile phone. In rural areas, where nearly 69% of India’s population lives, 69.3% of households lack toilets; in urban areas that number falls to 18.6%.

At first glance, such statistics and technological capabilities alongside large-scale open defecation is a puzzle. On the supply side, it does not seem difficult for a country that can construct sophisticated and complex cell phone technology to develop the capacity to build simple low-cost toilets. And for users, a toilet evidently offers more social benefits in terms of health and human dignity than a telephone.

Yet the citizenry has not enthusiastically adopted low-cost toilets, especially rural households. Why? Let us explore the reasons for this paradoxical outcome.

 

At a systemic level, economists have pointed out that technical and commercial availability and consumer acceptability of an innovation are the two main drivers of its diffusion. Evidently both are a problem in India.

For firms, it makes business sense to provide mobile phones in a variety of quality-price ranges as the network infrastructure is well developed and demand for this communication tool is assured. However, they are not interested in selling low-cost toilets to the poor, as the need for that product is not supported by a willingness or capacity to pay for it.

State programmes for sanitation coverage

Because companies are disinclined to market a product that requires investment in awareness and demand creation, the state must step in.

From the mid-1980s till the late 1990s, when India adopted economic reform, toilets were distributed free via the top-down state-funded Central Rural Sanitation Programme. But the programme, which assumed that availability would automatically lead to usage, failed because most beneficiaries did not see the need or have the desire for sanitation.

Consequently, in the new millennium, the Indian government switched to demand-focused interventions. Today, the state is a financier for public-private partnerships involving NGOs, micro-finance companies and other social enterprises that interact closely with the targeted beneficiaries to provide accompaniment and education for sanitation literacy and use.

The Total Sanitation Campaign launched in April 1999, emphasised that “Information, Education and Communication” should precede sanitation construction to ensure sustained demand and behavioural change.

 

State investment in sanitation thereafter received another fillip under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is the first politician since Mahatma Gandhi to emphatically underscore, through major media campaigns, that a “clean India” is necessary for the well-being of its citizens.

On October 2 2014, to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, Modi inaugurated the Swachh Bharath Mission, or the Clean India Mission. Unlike the earlier state programmes, it recognises that “availability” does not guarantee “acceptability”. The central objective of the mission is to eliminate open defecation in India by 2019, not just to ensure universal sanitation coverage.

The target is to transform villages and cities into “open defecation-free” communities, meaning they demonstrate: toilet access, toilet use and toilet technology that keeps both people and the environment safe. The programme invests in capacity building in the form of trained personnel, financial incentives and systems for planning and monitoring to ensure behavioural change. States are given flexibility in terms of implementation. Today, a variety of experiments, from the national to village level, are underway to achieve Modi’s Clean India mission.

It’s not just about building toilets

But for India, providing access to some form of a toilet is the easy part. What’s harder is getting people to use them. In rural areas, toilet-rejection varies by gender.

An ongoing study based on 300 focus groups with men across the country revealed that they prefer open defecation to a toilet because it: saves water; provides access to fresh water and a breezy environment; lowers the wear and tear of the toilet; protects women from getting embarrassed by the sight of men; and offers a handy excuse to escape importunate wives and mothers.

Public agencies try to persuade families to invest in toilets for the safety of their young girls. But in Tamil Nadu villages, another focus group-based study – this one with female teachers and girls – revealed that a central advantage of open defecation is that it offers opportunities for same-sex social interactions for females.

Girls and women in many regions are not allowed to gather in public places to debate issues, exchange ideas or simply relax together. Adolescents face even greater restrictions, because older women often sanction free discussion among youngsters. In this regard, open defecation rendezvous offer an excuse to talk and spend time together free, from other constraints.

In the isolated villages we visited with largely Dalit and fisherfolk populations in Tamil Nadu, the risk of sexual harassment is not perceived to be high enough to make toilets a safe haven. Thus, to eliminate open defecation in such villages, alternative safe gendered spaces for social interactions are needed first.

Cooperation between the players

India’s additional challenge is to diffuse not just any toilet but a high-quality, long-lasting, non-contaminating product that minimises water and soil pollution and promotes sustained use. This will require that the sanitation subsystem (i.e. the part under the toilet seat/slab), and its waste-processing technology design to be adapted to the geo-physical features of the targeted zone, taking into account soil type, rainfall, water table, water availability, wind velocity and slope.

Thousands of toilets lie abandoned in India either never used or abandoned after short use, due to poor construction quality or inappropriate technology design.

When a toilet’s superstructure begins to deteriorate or the toilets stop working well, problems can emerge. For example, if the family can’t afford or doesn’t want to invest in repairs, or if there isn’t a local agency to repair toilets (which is often the case), foul odours and leaks may begin. This, in turn, creates negative perceptions about toilets, which may trigger a bandwagon effect such that whole the community ultimately returns to open defecation.

Thus, it is imperative to ensure quality construction in sanitation drives and trained rural masons for individual construction initiatives.

A Tamil woman and her mother-in-law in front of their toilet whose roof caved in – hence the thatch. FAL

To address this need, various institutions are teaching masonry to youth with little formal education. But there is no common standardised programme that focuses on sanitation systems. Moreover, illiterate rural masons may be intimidated by formal courses and thus fail to attend.

At the same time, since masons learn their craft by doing, or through apprenticeships, their learning is slow, shaky and tacit – meaning that two people with the same skill set may execute a project differently. There is a need to address these issues while promoting skills building.

For an emerging country like India, it is easier to take part in exploratory missions to Mars than to tackle its sanitation challenge. The former can be addressed through a linear process spearheaded by the advanced, well-resourced Indian Space Research Organisation, while the latter calls for systemic change encompassing thousands of towns and villages.

For India to meet its goal of eliminating open defecation, it will need cooperation and coordination between a diverse variety of systemic actors, generation of knowledge products in the form of accessible curriculum for masons, and community engagement to build only safe toilets – and to use them well.

Courtesy: The Conversation

 

LIFE IS A GAME OF SOCCER

LIFE IS A GAME OF SOCCER

 

By Promod Puri

All our thoughts and actions are influenced and regulated by the consciousness of the landscape of reality around us. In this landscape, one makes a selection of his or her own space in life’s playfield.

And the game starts. It is a collective game, a team game. There is no absolute independence. Our individual likes and dislikes, thoughts and behaviors, actions and reactions, morals, and rules, all are parts of the game. Social and environmental structures around us are the team’s norms in shaping and steering the game.

Stamina, discipline, and coordination in these environments help in scoring our goals. Individual performance determines the scale of awards. Based on our skills, hard work and a bit of luck, some collect millions while others make less in this life’s game of soccer.

Environments seldom offer a level play. Speeding race toward the goal is unexpectedly blocked.  We are tripped by those who get yellow and red cards. We fall and are bruised. We get up and join the bout again. New strategies kick in. Still, challenges are a constant. We keep on running toward the goal while being pushed back and forth. And the play goes on.

The Referee blows the final whistle. And the game is over.

 

My Canada Day Salutation Goes:

1. To all the volunteers who strive for dedication and devotion preparing the divine langar and washing dishes in Gurdwaras and Mandirs for the devotees and visitors, as well as for sharing the meals among hungry and homeless people irrespective of their faiths.

2. To those poor and destitute trash collectors who carry shopping carts or plastic bags collecting refundable empty beer, liquor, soda bottles, cans and juice containers to earn some coins, while picking up the litter for a cleaner environment.

3. To the Car Free Day each summer when Vancouver’s ever-vibrant Main Street is closed to all vehicular traffic, and the festivities begin. The Main Street culture is recaptured. Meeting neighbors and friends, acquainted with new and old businesses, exotic shopping, environmental campaigns, delights of street foods are the highlights of the Party On Main charged with the blare of music.

4. To the Canadian spring when daffodils, lilies, cherry blossom, magnolias along with other flowers and fresh tender leaves breeze in and change the landscape. When the Canadian summer packs full nature’s bloom. When the Canadian autumn signs in with galaxy of falling colorful leaves. And the Canadian winter when jingle bells inaugurate the festive season and making its entry into the greetings of Happy New Year.

5. And to the Maple Leaf flag stately and proudly embodying all the best about Canada.

-by Promod Puri

Uncles and Aunties

The uncle and auntie is a social phenomenon making an impressive entry in the cultural evolution of societies where it is poised to create an informal yet respectable relationship between young and old. It is smart, respectable and even practical.

Uncles and aunties’ designations have become popular among the younger generation of South Asians to address their parents’ friends or older contacts. Instead of calling them by their first or last names, with prefix Mr. or Mrs., the unrelated nephews and nieces develop a kinship with the choice of etiquette which is more personal.

The uncle­-auntie entitlement is in vogue in other cultures as well. But the South Asian youths go a step further. To show more reverence, ‘Ji’ pronounced like ‘g’, is attached to address the instantaneous relatives as uncle Ji and aunty Ji. Perhaps this arrangement establishes a more amiable and closer connection.

The conventional practice of using Mr., Mrs. or madam is not only becoming obsolete in casual encounters, but these appellations create ritualistic formality. Whereas, the consensual tie-up among universal ‘‘uncles and aunties” and their equally universal “nephews and nieces” introduces a mood that is more intimate and informal but still courteous.

Within families, the uncle-aunty expression makes an all-in-one entity that can cover all the close relatives from both sides of parents.

Otherwise, in the Indian culture children address relatives by their designated titles. For example, in Punjabi customs, from the dad’s side, his younger brother is called Chacha and his wife Chachi; older brother is Taya, wife Tayi; sister is addressed as Bhua; her husband Fufar (quite a mouthful). And from the mom’s side, her brother is Maama and wife Maami; sister Maasi and her husband Masser (a bumpy accent).

All these distinct monikers of close relatives are covered within the generic uncle and auntie entitlements. Still, the conventional titles of relatives are also reserved as a family tradition. But for non-relatives, the uncle and aunty application is more common, convenient and pragmatic.

The practicality of the trend is illustrated in the following episode:

The young man in a family function while introducing guests to each other, was often heard “meet my uncle, meet my aunty”. And when somebody asked him “how many uncles and aunties you have”, the poised “nephew” had to tell the truth. With a smile on his face he said: “no, they are not my real uncles and aunties, but by addressing them so, I don’t have to remember their individual names”. The statement has merit and adaptability in any social environment.

Besides its social aspect, the uncle and aunty culture has a working assignment also. When it comes to playing smart South Asian young salespeople have a reason to use the viable uncle-auntie technique. They often address their older clients as uncle Ji and aunty Ji to establish a trustworthy relationship as part of their sales pitch.

promodpuri.com

Agree to disagree

By Promod Puri

“Agree to disagree” is a declaration of face saving justification.

It happens when two or more parties or individuals after an argumentative discussion fail to agree. And in all civility, the agreement results in agree-to-disagree compromise.

With that declaration egos remain intact, but time wasted. Nothing is lost, nothing is gained either.

India and Pakistan have spent over 68 years in this agree-to-disagree parleys. Their on-and-off dialogues have continued for ever without any spirited solution to end hostilities between the two nations. But agree-to-disagree is a compromising escape route. It has become a longest-running bureaucratic and ministerial play.

Here is a humorous anecdote experienced by Canadian comedian Norm MacDonald relating to the agree-to-disagree standpoint.

One day he visits his doctor to have a health check up. The doctor told him,“you are very overweight, unhealthy, and out of shape”. The comedian responded, “I am a healthy person, I don’t smoke or drink and I’m in good shape”. The doctor insisted, “you are not in shape at all you need to lose weight”.

Finally, after some back and forth arguments, the comedian settled for “agree-to-disagree”. However, doctor immediately responded, “no, I will not agree to disagree”.

The story justifies when two parties disagree, “agree to disagree” is a cop-out.

Do you agree, or agree to disagree?

Trump Has Great Plan For America

 

(Wamiq Misbahi in NY Times)Trump is a man with a vision for America, not a specific vision, a great vision…the best vision…Trump has a plan to make this country great again….What plan??….a great plan…a plan that will work because it’s the best plan…..Why???… because Trump knows good people…which people???….the best people….people that are not stupid like other people….people who know how to get deals done…what deals???…great deals…the biggest deals… because I know words… What words???…I have the best words… I get my information from watching TV… I consult with myself because I have a great brain… A great brain???…the best brain…Trump will also build a big wall to keep Mexicans out and he will make Mexico pay for it!…How….??? its all part of the great plan!…ISIS will be gone very, very quickly…How???… I won’t tell you.. It’s a secret !!!… (This guy is a “one-man circle jerk” and he is only about entertaining the uneducated who love him and his great plan. He’s all air – no substance. And he is their Champion

I “borrowed” this with permission of the author. So, don’t accuse me of plagiarism.
promodpuri.com

Grouse Grind Meditation

 

Grouse Grind Meditation/ as posted in Tripadvisor

Climbing the 2.9 km steep Grouse Grind mountainous hike in North Vancouver, BC, beside a strenuous workout on ” Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, is also a sort of kinetic meditation of about 90 minutes. The focus has to be on the uneven steps and the rough ground underneath leading up to the top of the popular Grouse Mountain. The grueling experience when over gives a exhilarating feeling of like conquering Mt. Everest. It is one activity which remains as one of the highlights of summer in Vancouver.
The “grind” has got some needed renovation. The slippery or worn out steps are now bordered by sturdy logs. And there are more ropes and nets to hold on for better safety. These repairs and improvements make climbing safer and little easier, especially on the knees. But these upgrading costs the Grind enthusiasts to pay for the hitherto free parking as for the first time pay parking meters have been installed in the parking lot.

LIVING IN THE PRESENT

By Promod Puri

This brief article is inspired by widely acclaimed Vancouver-based spiritual writer Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”. It is not an attempt to give a motivational advice. But coming up with an idea, in line with the basic theme of the “Power of Now” in realizing, accepting, capturing and enjoying every moment happening just now.

Experience the past, flyover the future, but stay in the present. Moments matter in this stay. These moments come and go in the time flash of now.

In an endeavor to dwell in the “now” (the present moment) let us get into the R.A.C.E.

The letter ‘R’ stands for recognition which is the first approach in this focus to acknowledge how important is the present moment.

‘A’ stands for acceptance. Once the present moment is realized, acceptance makes sense. It does not matter how pleasant, good, bad or ugly, easy or difficult the present offers in its outlook and outcome, it needs to be accepted.

‘C’ stands for capturing of the present moment to have a real grip for its effective handling.

And finally ‘E’ stands for enjoyment. In whatever shape or form a situation is presented or emerges after its recognition, acceptance and containment it must be enjoyed as well with grace.

Climbing a tough hill is an experiment in R.A.C.E. where every step of the hike is a moment. Here the climber recognizes (R) and accepts (A) that in order to accomplish his or her feat the only choice is to go up. Each moment is captured (C) without letting in other thoughts; and finally enjoying (E) every step of the challenge to cover the climb.

It is an experience in concentration or meditation in action when the climbing movements and the climber become one entity. It is like during a dance performance when a dance and the dancer become one.

And that is where the joy of living in the present, where we merge with the moment, finds its relevancy and pleasure.

promodpuri.com

THE OLYMPIC SHOW

United States' Lauren Hernandez trains on beam ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
United States’ Lauren Hernandez trains on beam ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

A multi-million-dollar sports carnival of athletic strength and spectacle by physically super human beings has started in Rio De Janeiro amidst the sharp realities of poverty, Zika threat, foul waters and the on-going political instability in Brazil.

The show must continue every four years to thrill the interested watchers worldwide if one does not switch channels to see a part of humanity scratching some living in a world struggling to survive in slums and starvation.

It is a recreation of the rich and for the rich where the poor just provide the bulk to the Olympic body. The gold, the silver and the bronze are hauled by the athletes fed on super rich diet which from time to time is topped with dope. The very cost to rear an Olympian can adequately feed a family facing hunger and malnutrition.

The call of humanity seeks to prioritize an urgency by sparing those billions of Olympic dollars to create a hunger-free world community to receive the basics of food, clean water and shelters.

-Promod Puri

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Sports Is Show Business

The basic reason to involve oneself in sports is to seek and maintain healthy body. Recreation comes next.

But in the contemporary society social, cultural, competitive, big business and even political aspects dominate the field of sports. Olympics, world cricket and world soccer events are the prime examples of this phenomenon. Mass participation in sports, especially in poor and developing countries, is being hurt by mass entertainment for sports watchers and enthusiasts.

Sports is a show business, not a preferred involvement in healthy and recreational lifestyle.

-By Promod Puri

promodpuri.com

Hinduism and Vegetarian Diet

13087415_578401962331475_1798212304744146140_nBy Arran Stephens

The overwhelming majority of the world’s Hindus live in India, which has the largest vegetarian population on earth, numbering many millions. Within the Indian subcontinent, the spectrum of religious thought ranges from strict monotheism to a sweeping panoply of gods, goddesses and animist dieties. Vegetarianism is practiced and scripturally supported by the majority of Hindu sects. There are also large Muslim and Christian populations in India, as well as Jews, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis, Ba’hai’s and Buddhists. Many Sufis—who represent an eclectic and mystical form of Islam, practice vegetarianism. Amongst the Sikhs, the Namdharis and others on the meditative path follow a lacto-vegetarian diet.

Here are some vegetarian-supportive quotes from India’s oldest scriptures:

You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s
creatures, whether human, animal or whatever.
Yajur Veda 12.32

By not killing any living being, one becomes fit for salvation.
Manusmriti 6.60

The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing. He who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases, sells, or cooks flesh and eats it—all of these are to be considered meat-eaters.

Vegetarianism was observed by the ancient Greek traveler Megasthenes and also by Fa-Hsien, a Chinese Buddhist monk who traveled to India in the fifth century in order to obtain authentic copies of the scriptures.

These scriptures

unambiguously support the meatless way of life. In the Mahabharata, for instance, the great warrior Bheeshma explains to Yudhishtra, eldest of the Pandav princes, that the meat of animals is like the flesh of one’s own son. Similarly, the Manusmriti declares that one should “refrain from eating all kinds of meat,” for such eating involves killing, thus leading to Karmic bondage. Elsewhere in Vedic literature, the last of the great Vedic kings, Maharaja Parikshit, is quoted as saying that “the animal-killer cannot relish the message of the Absolute Truth.”21

Ahimsa (non-violence) is the highest Dharma. Ahimsa is the best Tapas. Ahimsa is the greatest gift. Ahimsa is the highest self-control. Ahimsa is the highest sacrifice. Ahimsa is the highest power. Ahimsa is the highest friend. Ahimsa is the highest truth. Ahimsa is the highest teaching.

He who sees that the Lord of all is ever the same in all that is—immortal in the field of mortality—he sees the truth. And when a man sees that the God in himself is the same God in all that is, he hurts not himself by hurting others. Then he goes, indeed, to the highest path.
Bhagavad-Gita 13.27-28

High-souled persons who desire beauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, understanding, mental and physical strength, and memory should abstain from acts of injury.
Mahabharata 18.115.8

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

I hold that, the more helpless the creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.
Mahatma Gandhi

Read more about Hinduism

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