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India’s Season of Unreason

The Kashmir Monitor





By Satya Sagar

Barely a week into 2019 I am still trying to figure out what exactly is so ‘new’ about this New Year that is upon us. The balance in my bank account has not changed for the better, nor has my weight, nor the cost of living, while the future all around looks depressingly same as a smog-struck Delhi winter day.

Ideally, a really New Year should have meant I had enough money to retire forever and as a bonus all the hair I lost in fifty years on this planet – mysteriously returned – black and shining. No such bloody luck – instead it is the same fading grey mop every time I stare into the mirror.


Making things worse, in the news every day are the usual cast of vile characters telling us the same old lies. Concocted issues like Sabarimala, cow shelters, test tube babies in ancient India, building temples for fictional characters – but nothing about what matters to me the most – how do I pay my bills at the end of each month?

Talking about lies and paying bills, I got an idea the other day when my father, a retired professor in his mid-eighties, suddenly popped the question, ‘Do you have a pension plan?’.

‘No’ I said, burying my face further into my laptop. ‘Do you have any fixed deposits?’ he persisted. ‘Nope!’ I said, thinking he had perhaps noticed my thinning hairline and was worried about his son becoming both bald and bankrupt not far into the future.

A few minutes later, I have no clue what came over me, I said to him, ‘I don’t have any money stored away but I have located a nice, big tree’. He did not look very impressed so I continued, ‘I will put a statue of Lord Ganesha, under that tree and that’s my pension plan. I look after Ganesha and he looks after me!’

I understand, in a caste-driven society like India, this is a ‘start up’ route accessible only to certain privileged communities- but what I am trying to highlight is that the Lord Ganesha Pension Plan (LGPP) is a tried and tested method for financial success. In fact, set up a house for any God and soon you will also have a roof over your head. And if you can get your Ganesha to drink milk in public you are in really serious business!

In a nutshell here is a good formula for making a reasonably good livelihood. Think of a wild story – the wilder the better, polish its twists and turns well, test it out on a few people and then launch it with fanfare amidst the unsuspecting public. If you gather a sufficient number of ‘likes’ you are in business – why you could even become the Prime Minister of India someday failing which you could be at least the vice-chancellor of a prestigious Indian university.

Am I being sarcastic? No, seriously I am not. What I am trying to really do is to figure out is how the world works or at least how the resources on it are carved up – and I am convinced, those who have the most compelling stories to tell are usually the winners. Most people grow up with stories in their heads that help them cope with and navigate past the details of the complex reality all around. If you can replace their stories with your own crazy tale then you are the new king!

Of course, there is a catch to all this because there is no such thing as a story that is cleanly told or anything purely voluntary about the willingness of those hearing it. People need to be coerced into becoming a ‘target audience’. Historically and up to our own times the most effective way of helping otherwise disinterested folks concentrate on the message has been to get them really worried and fearful.

Conjure up images of evil demons that threaten their survival, paint visions of a bleak future – even better – start a war. It is a technique as old as human societies themselves -herd them like stricken cattle and you will be finally heard. Nothing works to change people’s minds than repeatedly hitting them on the head or putting them in the slaughterhouse to do all the ugly work on their own.

Once fear takes over you can get them to worship any fancy deity you deck up or unreasonable tale you cook up and present before them. The ancient Egyptians had over 2000 gods and ran an empire for three millennia while the Hindu priests – being better mathematicians- conjured even larger numbers to keep their vast and diverse population under control. The more unreasonable the story the better – flying primates, gigantic snakes under the sea, mangoes as IVF substitutes, whatever your mind – fertilized by Himalayan narcotics – can bring up.

The LGPP of course needs some spadework initially but in the long run it does seem to deliver – at least going by evidence from Indian history – the priests are still hanging on to power. And it is not a coincidence at all that in the early part of the 21st century the ‘big idea’ for the pandas of Uttar Pradesh and their assorted allies still revolves around the construction of yet another temple. They are indeed one-trick ponies and why not – for in their experience this one trick has worked for centuries– providing an endless supply of free fodder paid for by the devout.

In fact, not just in India, but globally, mythology – a fancy term for wild stories- is so important and still plays such a big role in determining social, political and ultimately economic outcomes. And not just in ‘backward’ societies but even in the western ‘developed’ world, where for all their pretense of engaging in logical or rational discourse, there are enough grand fictions –enabling them to keep their privileges alive. These are myths that allow them to take whatever they want from everyone else – while the suckers sit engrossed you simply pick their pockets.

For example, one of the tallest tales ever pushed on the global population in modern times is that the world is divided into the rich and poor because the former were the ones who developed science and technology, carried out the industrial revolution besides being far more hard working than the latter. The terms ‘colonialism’ or ‘imperialism’ never enters the discourse – despite the obvious fact that if not for the massive resource grabs carried out by European invaders in the Americas, Africa and Asia for the last five hundred years– science would have remained a mere curiosity. (Many a scientist has remained poor– simply because stealing from neighbours while pretending to solve a differential equation was never part of their syllabus).

An even bigger piece of global fiction, in the post-second world war period, is that colonialism ‘disappeared’. Yes, the trappings of the Raj did go away somewhat but the milking of former colonies in myriad ways never stopped – a favourite strategy being the sale of expensive war weapons by the rich nations to poor countries where large sections of the populace do not even have the BMI to throw stones at their enemies.

For example, the real scam about the purchase of Rafael fighter jets by India, at Rs.16 billion a pop, is not just about the commissions paid – but the very idea that it should be buying such expensive gadgets at all when its people die like flies for want of sufficient nutrition, shelter or medicine. (The only French import India desperately needs, in my view, is perhaps the guillotine, though there are some local substitutes that would do as well!)

The biggest lie of them all is of course the claim that the former colonial powers are the ‘developed’ nations while the rest should continue ‘developing’ – to become like their erstwhile masters. This is the old donkey and carrot routine – the ‘developing’ donkey never really gets the ‘developed’ carrot hanging in front of it despite working like a donkey all of its life. And now the donkey and its master are both headed towards ecological apocalypse too!

There are many more such myths that are meant to prop up the global power architecture but getting back to India – where are our own political and economic elites in all this? Well, they too are spinning the usual outlandish stories – about high economic growth rates, growing scientific manpower, great market potential and so on to impress their masters in the West.

But what they really want to do, I suspect, (being the freeloaders they are) is to simply continue tightening the grip of the Vedic kleptocracy that has been running Indian society from ancient times. A kleptocracy that was shaken up briefly by the coming of first Muslim, then British colonial rule and even by the Indian freedom movement, but one that never disappeared from the ground or diminished in ambition (it kept burning on and on in the hearths of Nagpur).

In the last two decades in particular this bunch of savarna kleptos have only gotten bolder – violating the Indian Constitution openly, indulging in both public violence and secret assassinations, organizing newer and newer constituencies of the willingly gullible. And now in 2019, with their man Narendra Modi looking like a losing proposition – they are bound to do something even more desperate and dangerous to keep the kleptocracy going. It could be anything – war, riots, countrywide chaos – the Indian Republic be damned.

So, what is one supposed to do about all this? I don’t have any clever answers or even dumb ones but my own resolution for 2019 is quite simple. It is to not just tell lies but also help everyone else do the same.

In India’s Season of Unreason,the time to fight fibs with facts is long over. The only effective weapon of the weak, to deal with the lies of those in power, is to tell even more outrageous, colourful and beautiful lies. If you want you can join me – all of 2019 lies ahead.

The Kashmir Monitor is the fastest growing newspaper as well as digitial platform covering news from all angles.



Reliving Faith in modern times

Monitor News Bureau



By Amir Suhail Wani

A voice lost to wilderness or the madman’s rubric, any talk of religion, God, metaphysic, values and reality suffers any of two possible consequences. Giving him the advantage of anonymity, a top notch Jamat i Islami scholar pertinently described modern epistemology with all its offsprings as the means and instruments of ensuing and securing a revolt against the God and religion. Never before was civilization so shallow in matters of faith and never before a unanimous and collective onslaught was launched against the sacred, Transcendent and divine. A mere mentions of words like “Divine”, “sacred” or “Transcendent” makes people, experiencing the opiedation of modernism, to rise their eyebrows. Any talk of worlds beyond the sensual is termed as intellectual backlog. World has seen, now and then, people rising, out of their intellectual sincerity or otherwise rising against religion and God. But historically they could never enjoy the status of metanarrative, but were always, by virtue of historical entelechy confined to margins of civilization. In post renaissance era world has succeeded, by and large, in constructing a civilisation and culture with man rather than God as its ontic reference. This man cantered civilization has paved all the possible ways for criticism and demolition of religious meta narrative.

Let’s come to philosophy first. Modern philosophy, starting with Descartian scepticism and evolving through the stages of Positivism, Naturalism, Materialism Nihilism and Existentialism, modern philosophy seems to have ultimately ended up at postmodernism. The possibilities of future development can’t be ignored nor can it be claimed that postmodernism is an all pervasive philosophical trend claiming universal adherence. But the broader picture of things has unfolded thus. Postmodernism maintains incredulity towards metanarrative and has brought with it a host of questions. Traditionally and even up to recent past man seemed to be unanimous on ontic and epistemic stability of things. But with postmodernism not only have been the institutions of religious and traditional impotence held under scrutiny but the very fundamentals of human existence like language, society and all other institutions of human importance have been deprived of their ontic reference and have been made to float freely in abyss of uncertainty. The case with science has been no better. Being a victim of excessive and inordinate empiricism, the Modern day science has surrendered its inquisitive and rational spirit to sheer scienticism.


Ibn Arabi, a classical theorizer of Islamic mysticism noted that “God is a percept, not a concept”. In this single line, the master has resolved an age old question and the problems associated with it. The notion of “conceptual scheme” as it has been adopted unquestionably alike by scientists and philosophers has brought with it an equal number of goods and ills. Man has turned obsessive to reduce everything to his conceptual categories. The human attitude of dividing a problem into subunits, though it has paid heavily in scientific realm, but has simultaneously brought irreconcilable problems in other affairs of human existence. Modern medicine treats biology disentangled from psychology and this piecemeal approach has landed us in an era where we know more and more about less and less. In a sense we know everything about nothing and nothing about everything. Traditionally things were seen associated and entangled in the cosmic Web. Coming back to human methodology of understanding things by dividing them into subcategories and then understanding things in terms of local mental categories has distorted and ruined our understanding of God, sacred and divine. We need to understand that the laws formulated by human mind are refuted within the physical realm itself. Thus the laws obeyed by matter aren’t obeyed by light and the laws applicable to fermions are completely defied by bosons. So within our physical immediacy are instances to cleave apart our ultimate trust in the laws of physics. The unending quest for unified theory in physics might bring further insights in this direction. Thus we need to be careful and watchful to the fact that the laws of matter do not apply to the realm of spirit. Coming back to God who is neither material nor spiritual, neither defined by material boundaries nor circumscribed by contours of space we need to be all the more careful. While we try to understand God in terms of mental categories derived from our physical realm we need to be very cautious that all these categories do not hold true beyond this material universe. Our conceptual schemes, which in the final analysis rest on the categories of mundane material realm are too coarse and inappropriate to conceptualise and theorise the realm of divine, sacred and godhead. At a point where despite all boasting scientific discoveries man is yet incapable of understanding his basic biology and where despite of conquering the vastness of space man is yet to gain a glimpse of his psychological depths any sweeping statements and miscalculated statements oriented towards reduction of divine to categories of psyche seems but a naive affair. The enlightened theologians, mystics and philosophers of the past have explicitly denounced the access of finite human mind to infinite cosmic intelligence. What God has informed us here and there in sacred texts is to contemplate the nature and our own selves. This unbiased contemplation is sure to bring forth some indirect aspects of divine. Though we shall be fully conscious of the fact that within the physical universe and human civilization there are instances which are heartrending, discouraging and at times they run quite contrary to the notion of divine. But the mystics and enlightened men throughout the history have been able to dissect the veil of appearance and have succeeded in looking at the essence of existence. On having this enlightened vision they bowed their heads and understood the essence of these apparent vagaries of nature. Ibrahim, the father of modern monotheism, Buddha a silent contemplator, Nanak, a socially conscious religious purgatory amply demonstrate this state of enlightenment. Modern scientific mind is highly welcome in questioning the authenticity of religion, aspects of divine and the apparent chaos that is witnessed everywhere in physical and social landscape. There can be no proper understanding in absence of questioning. Likewise doubt is an essential ingredient of faith. But while one raises questions in atheist or any such frame one must have patience, tolerance and wide sightedness to understand theistic point of view. To dub religion irrational for its simple disagreement with science seems a rather constricted opinion. Religion has been a great architect in shaping the course of human civilization and to unfasten our knots with this perennial source of wisdom, learning, inspiration and exaltation will amount to gross intellectual injustice. The need of hour is not to posit theists and atheists as antithetical but to encourage each to understand the point of other. Maybe in this collective endeavour humanity discovers a paradigm that has still not been thought of.

(The author is a freelance columnist with bachelors in Electrical Engineering and a student of comparative studies with special interests in Iqbaliyat & mystic thought. He contributes a weekly column for this newspaper that appears every Monday. He can be reached at: [email protected])

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Pleasures of poetry

Monitor News Bureau



By Shabbir Aariz   

Poetry is a refined manifestation of using language artfully, effectively and persuasively. Priest, poet and blacksmith were the three those stood before the King in ancient times. Priest and blacksmith are easily identifiable but how do we describe poet? The Greek and Latin roots of the word “poet” means “creator” describing one who demonstrates great imaginative power, insight or beauty of expression. Therefore, the poet must be more than a writer of pretty words. A poet while writing poetry, the poet means to reach his audience in the deepest part of their being and wants to make them absolutely sure that he knows what he is talking about, because they are able to understand what the poet is saying so clearly. It is unlikely that a poet seeks fame. Ideally he is just seeking one person who understands; who embraces him and acknowledges a secret that they share; a mutual agreement that they are both same. It ought to have a universal appeal. It should not be confined to a particular time or age. It matters little whether a poet had a large audience in his own time. What matters is that there should always be at least a small audience for him in every generation. One has to take the poetry into one’s heart to fan the fire there and then also light one’s own fires. One amuses oneself with the world over which one finds to have been given dominion and trust that poetry will in the same measure help one to understand and explain it. Enshrined in poetry are the pleasures of entertainment as well as the pleasures of value. Entertaining pleasure suggests mirth and relaxation while as pleasures of value indicates information and learning. Amazingly some believe that poetry with a particular social, moral, religious or political message restricts reader’s imagination but T S Eliot holds that poetry always adds more to reader’s knowledge of the subject and sharpens his/her thinking power for that particular area. According to him, the poet utilizes his own language for expressing his people’s feelings and emotions. The twofold duty is thus performed; directly promoting, preserving and improving the language with an indirect duty to his people. There should be no denying of the fact that a poet is a person of extraordinary intellect and observation with a command over human nature that allows him to versify his people’s emotions in poetry. How interesting is the fact that such expression of feelings also enriches the language and keeps it alive for ever. We are well aware that in this part of the world, Urdu language even after stepmother’s treatment, has flourished more because of its excellent treasure of poetry and its worst enemies use it to properly express themselves. One finds it appropriate to mention Khushwant Singh’s observation while he says that if you are in love, you need to understand Urdu poetry and if you want to understand Urdu poetry, you need to fall in love. No doubt the role of poetry is less certain due to distractions. Electronic boom like TV, internet and computer made it less tempting and lesser reading population. Needless to say that earlier reading was a primary activity of the population and poets represented the spiritual guide of the population, who helped reader identify their most internal emotions, intuitions and imaginations. Yet the role remains the same as a century ago. Poet captures the essence of the world and the society in a unique manner and reflects it to be understood by people. He also captures the essence of internal emotions including joy, sadness, fear, hope as well as any other feeling comprehensive real of emotions. Poetry is an art to engage, to influence and to inspire. Poetry, every time has passed the ordeal of understanding the realities of human life to its readers with an infallible test of blameless style. Poetry appears to have remained an effective medium of articulating the concrete realities with an ability to speak forth ideas ever since the creation of the universe and the man along with it. And various poets have attempted to define poetry. Someone has observed, “poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words”. Sigmund Freud says, “poets are masters of us ordinary men, in knowledge of the mind, because they drink at streams which we have not yet made accessible to science”. He further observes, “Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me”. P B Shelly observes, “poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world”. While John Keats says “…… a thing which enters into one’s soul…”. Samuel Taylor Coleridge centuries before has held, “…. For poetry is the blossom and fragrancy of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language.” All said, the poetry in its ultimate analyses is to call the soldier to war and a lover into the bosom.

(A leading lawyer and eminent poet, author contributes a weekly column. He can be reached at:  [email protected]

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Fighting the menace of corruption

Monitor News Bureau



By Fida Firdous

Recently J&K Governor publically said that behind the fake appointments in JK Bank there seems some back of political people and involvement of corrupted big fish will not be spared.  He without wasting further time he sacked Chairman J&K Bank. Half of a month had gone, where is report? Who is investigating the case? What has been done to fake appointment?  If this was not just a news stunt or a political posture, then, why action under rules is not initiated against corrupt people? These are some legitimate questions from the desired youth of J&K to be answered?

Governor in his speech said that Kashmir is the victim of politicians and corruption. The statement was widely appreciated and welcomed by all. Without naming any particular political party he denounces any relaxation on corruption belonging to any political party or person.


Pretend to mention here, why the system is corrupted? Who makes us corrupted? And what are the consequences of corruption? I’m not writing an essay but revealing what I have witnessed. Let’s talk about home? J&K is among the most corrupted states in India a study of Centre for Media Studies (CMS) in its annual corruption study – CMS 2017- has placed Jammu and Kashmir among top corrupted states.

Answers of these questions are simple, “helplessness” of giver before the corrupted system. There is evidence that corruption at the top of a bureaucratic system increases corruption at lower levels. Manipulating the social and political environment.  

Paradoxically, increased corruption in JK has increased the level of frustration in the young competent youth. This is not evident in jobs only, but other sections as well.  There is a well phenomenon that giving and getting bribe both is corruption. But this phenomenon is administrative in practical. Until transparent system will not be enforced by the government organs to eliminate corruption. The giver and taker will no longer be active in malpractice. So, primary duty of eliminating corruption depends on government organs.

Unemployment is the outcome of corruption. The consequence is deviation of youth and addiction of drugs and involvement in unlawful activities. Youth which is called backbone of a developing country like India and in the conflicted state like JK has its worst results seen so far.  

Today if you are worth competent, merit holder and lacking approach you are at ground zero. For giving bribe you need a political or bureaucratic approach, Agents of corruption. Those who don’t fall under such category will fall prey and sick. What approach means? It doesn’t mean a transparent approach for promising justice, no, not at all. Here it means something else. My simple words may heart some of the persons who are involved in the recent backdoor appointment through political approach and get jobs in JK Bank being incompetent and undesirable that marred the merit of desirable ones. That is why I failed to qualify interviews many times due to the notorious and corrupted system.

Giving job to undesirable person for being a voter or supporter for political gain and use them for propaganda is a bumpy idea. This can’t be the subtlety of politics. Does it mean after pursuing PhD I should follow illiterate politicians for adjustment? Bear me it happens in my home, where an educated person becomes the political bedfellows for getting a job. They are habitually now? They are in a mess of materialistic world where aspirations of the desired candidates are not delivered properly.  At this point of time they become the victim in hands of influential ones or bribers. In a way society is dying. Young youth getting frustrated. Those who facade corruptions are agents of evil.

Don’t take it simple. It is a curse. A curse like cancer. Frustration is due for a postgraduate unemployment youth looking a 10th class person’s in job without any merit. It notionally has bad impact on our society. Further, the more corruption, the slower the economic growth. One of the worse consequences of the corruption is to produce incompetent society. Developed countries are mainly depends upon the competent people, and developing country like India or Kashmir, incorporated incompetent people either by bribe or influence, this incompetency can never contribute to our society. Hence we are thousand years back then the developing countries.

No doubt, corruption is inevitable fact of human civilization. It is the malaise attached to the largest democracy of the world that is India. From getting a job to IAY facility or to any legal case nothing goes without giving a bribe. But it is actually we people who are promoting it; we gave bribe to skip the queues to get driving license without giving any test. There are thousands of cases (files) pending rounding from table to table in our highest office civil secretariat from years reasons best known to everyone. The disposal of our work culture is corrupted.     

Corruption in J&K has becomes a national security threat. We can’t stop it, but there are ways to reduce it. It starts with the government but it includes everyone from lowliest to the highest. In short corruption has to eliminate somewhere and it stops at the ballot box and it stops in the home. Politicians are well aware about this fact, but they are not ready to take any lesson from the pages of history. PV Narasimha Roa is the worst example that history has ever met.

J&K Anti-corruption Bureau, J&K State Vigilance Commission and other agencies must eliminate corruption at a point that it doesn’t affect the whole society in a bad way. An honest man must believe in honesty, everyone is not corrupt. Coordination of young educated youth towards corruption should be voluntary and open. (The writer cam be reached at: [email protected])                                                                                     

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