He survived this bombing, just like he had thrice before. People said he carried the boon of eternal life. An age later, he wept. “It’s a curse.” Life was killing him.
Getting older won’t necessarily give me more clarity, as I’ve very clearly observed in my case. I had a lot more conviction at 15 and 18 and 21, than I have now. Probably experience has taught me to be more careful and cautious, but it’s not something I’ve yet adapted to. Probably there is still some life left to kill.There’s a want to excel, but a need to be myself, maybe a little different from others, departing from the usual meaning of excellence. But since I’m in a confused age and haven’t yet been able to clearly define my meaning of excellence, I feel like I’m following a well tread path. There is a comfort in knowing how the path goes, deriving benefits from my predecessors’ experiences, but there’s a desire to run away from this comfort. To create my own path. But while I have a silent confidence in my abilities to carve out such a road, there’s this doubt if it is the flip side of ignorance. There’s the societally embedded fear of failure since the stakes are higher every minute.
A person like me, who thrives on clarity of thought feels a little confused at 26. And since confusion is many times a precursor to great things, sometimes I start doubting my dependence on clarity.
This is the Sciolist.
So the other day I read this bizarre news that a lot of Apple applications access as much as your intimate contact information without the knowledge of the phone owners. Just a few days back The New York Times ran an article on how companies store your email address or credit card number and then track every time you use it so that they understand what are your purchase preferences, your tastes and your favorite stores and so on. Take the Daily Mail’s article on this whole Target Corporation pregnancy matter. Based on the purchases a teenage girl was making, Target found out that the girl was pregnant. The astonishing part is that the girl’s father had no clue about the issue [Pun intended!! :)]. We are thus witnessing (and maybe unknowingly victimized due to) an unfortunate and inopportune upsurge in privacy invasion by the cold- hearted and ruthlessly commercial merchandisers. And all this is being done in such an incognizant manner that the user/ customer/ owner is completely unaware of their infiltration!
It is an abysmal situation where people are totally ignorant about the possible damage that this type of sabotage can lead to, let alone the sheer magnitude of the deleteriousness! I have no idea whether you know this, but everything you do on the web spider leaves a trail. And remember, someone is always tracking. For example you like something on Facebook or post it on Twitter or +1 it. Well, they know. They know what you like. They know what you read. They know what you post. And they create a sort of ‘info- store’ where a treasure trove of all your likes and dislikes are archived! Have you ever read all those ads under the head ‘Sponsored’ on your Facebook home page?? If you remove this advert then you are asked a ‘Why do you want to remove this?’ sort of question with 6-7 different option of reasons. They say this will help them provide you with better services over time. But what they do not say is that they will use this data feedback to form a data arcade and then shall come out with customized advertorial content for you. Age- specific. Taste specific. They are just like those sales- personnel knocking your door! Or those spam messages and phone calls you receive from credit card and insurance companies. Just like you don’t wish to give them your personal details, your savors etcetera, why should you give it out to a social networking site whose storage depository is more prone to a sabotage; that which is a hacker’s paradise?
My problem over here is not limited to the few brutal business barons who suck such sensitive data- keeping their consumers in dark for the sake of gaining an edge over their competitors in the name of ‘serving the consumers according to their preferences’ sort of nonsense; my problem is with the entire corporate attitude where they want to preempt what their clientele may require and then bombarding them with promotional vagaries in largesse so as to fill up their pockets with an almost monopolistic ease! These people are taking ‘customer loyalty’ to an hitherto unimaginable and socially detrimental levels where they tend to brainwash consumers by continuous advertorial pitches and blatant plagiarism! My problem is with the blissfully ignorant consumer base for whom privacy policies are still the cliched Greek and Latin! These consumers (which very naturally includes you and me) have to be more aware of their rights. And surely what is at stakes!
If what I am saying is sounding ludicrous, give this a thought. Why do you get spam in your mailbox? Because some unknown person with mala fide intentions has access to your email id. Assuming that you yourself have not given your mail id to such person, it means that they have received this information from the sites that you use!! And now imagine which accounts are attached to your e- mail id? Your bank accounts?? Your corporate data?? Your cell phone number?? Arguably, some important parts of your personal, academic and professional lives are stored on your mail box. And there are many ways in which this data can be manipulated to give you grief. And if this falls in the wrong hands it can be used to cause unbelievable levels of trepidation (which it already is!).
Who knows, in the next few months probably our text messages, our IMs and our on phone conversation may also be read into and stored by these mongrels. It is high time that we do make sure that our smart phones and tab- pads behave according to our choices. And for that we need to be aware. We need to read the privacy policies, keep ourselves updated about the latest deficiencies observed in the tech world. At least those associated with our devices or the sites on which we are registered. And it is not that difficult. Just find the right site and get a RSS Feed from there. They shall keep you constantly updated about these issues. Remember, just like you try and safeguard all your properties, the same way even your virtual property has to be shielded and armored.
This is the Sciolist.
So a very good friend of mine put forward this seemingly toothless question where a simple ‘yes or no’ would have sufficed his inquisition. Frankly, if I were to answer that question, which I unfortunately immediately, spontaneously and thoughtlessly did; I would and did say a yes. Obviously, being who I am, I am surely be ready for the ‘eye for an eye’ treatment. So I thought that’s the end of that. Question answered. Chapter closed.
But then, after almost three hours, the fathomage of the question struck me! I mean, is tit for tat really the solution? For our day- to- day petty mishaps it seems like the perfect quick fix. I mean, someone pokes you and you poke back. Someone slaps and you snap back. Someone cuts you while driving, you throw cuss words, have a bit of verbal jousting, cut him and well, that’s over. But then, probably, for our mundane circadian matters, tit for tat really isn’t that. Its more of a mere retort than a blatant rebuttal. Its more of a repartee than offensive comebacks. However, if this is true and acceptable on an individual level, can the same be said about it on a communal level? So say America wrongs India in a certain way, should we pay them back in kind? Or should we try to chalk out conversations and esoteric discussions so that we find a way out. Obviously, now the choice shall be the latter as the stakes are higher. Thus we see that as the provincial parties as well as the magnitude of the situations change, the contrivance resorted to also undergoes a revision.
For me, tit for tat becomes an issue of the kind of riposte it is. I mean, the problem with it is that principally, it should never be used as an offensive or an avenging response. Vengeance should never translate into any action. However, if it has been used in defense, then we may be able to justify it. I know all this sounds ludicrous, but those who give it a thought shall realize that there is a paper- thin line of demarcation between the two, even if the aftermath of the two shall be pretty much the same. Obviously, many would say that war is abominable in the first place, whether you initiate it or respond. True. But the intent after all is what separates earth from sky! Oft, giving back what you get remains the only possible alternative, which should then definitely be put to practice; but it should also be remembered that it is an avenue of last resort and not a resource of first employment.
People should surely use an iota of discretion before actually giving back what they get. It is inopportune that we are living in an era where patience, tolerance and one- to- one discussions are becoming gold-dust. Obviously, people will want to reimburse the apostates in the same cruel ways that they were paid, but I believe that a resolving dialogue should be indulged into before actually turning the tables. Thus, if now someone asks me to answer the question, “Tit for tat- Whether an amenable solution?” I would say, “No. An intractable solution which should be used on advisedly amenable occasions!”
Hoping that people do use their heads before their hands.
This is the Sciolist.
I think it would do us well at this stage to ask ourselves, the common people, are we really offended by some juvenile comments? Also, do we need to be offended by (with no disrespect to the artists) essentially a stand up comedian who sells his soul for drawing a laugh or writer who is putting down his views? If I were to answer that question, I would respond with a belligerent and unyielding ‘No‘. Unfortunately, to get that kind of an absolute answer from 1.2 billion Indians is an irrealizable and an insurmontable task. More so because of the subjective nature of the question. Not to mention the various theological sinuousness it involves! But whichever way the answer goes, I believe its absurd for the Indian government to get involved in all these matters. I mean, the issue is not concerning the Indian state in anyway. Its not encroaching upon India as a republic, secular or a democratic state, nor is it judicially or legally deleterious in anyway. Agreed that for some it has a religious mordancy involved, but it should strictly not be handled by the government.
History has long displayed that sadly, whenever there is a question of religion involved, there are always accelerated and juiced up emotions gushing around. See, we have three areas of concern here. For the people who answer the above inquests with a positive, there is a deep need of a catharsis. People need to be more liberal. We need to broaden our mindsets. India is the largest democratic state in the world. We really need to banish such conservative proclivities. And if even liberals feel that their religious sentiments have been offended, and if they wish an apology from the delinquent, then they must come up with a different channel, someone other than the government. Firstly, as I have fore- mentioned, the government has no business in this predicament. Secondly, if the aggrieved are demanding an apology, I expect, that they expect the offenders to be remorseful. Whether pressurizing them into an apology using the heavy hand of the Indian bureaucrats is going to serve the cause, is questionable. Obviously, such an apology is no testament to the contrition of a guilty mind; actually, its much the opposite. The offender is under duress and the now self- reproach is a meaningless attempt to save face. Instead, it would be more eloquent if recourse is taken to premier religious bodies. This would ensure that both a chivalrous as well as staunch demand for indemnification is made.
The second area of concern would be the death threats that these so called wrong- doers have to bear. The extremists actually go to the length of threatening these exemplars and driving them out of the country. Just today Times of India ran an front- page article on the atrocities that Taslima Nasrin had to face. Its the same that M. F. Hussain saab or Salman Rushdie had to face! I understand and sympathize with the people who are religiously agonized! But then, which religion preaches harm to human life? Aren’t the people who give these death threats in the name of protecting or reacting to an attack on their religion themselves making a mockery of their own sacrosancts and praxises? The afflicted should demand apologies from these ill- hearted fascists!
Thirdly and lastly, I would like to reiterate that we need to be liberal about these religious issues. Its reproachful that we cannot tolerate petty comments on our beliefs! What is a belief in absence of tolerance? Accepted, that one of the core fundamentals of a secular existence lies in religious tolerance. But remember, both religion and tolerance have equal weight-age in the same. We need to be more tolerant about all these issues. And more importantly, we need to channel our energies towards more significant and urgent issues on hand! If people really want to fight against something, there are millinery other issues, for which the GOI has to apologize to the Hindustani janta. Kasab has still not been convicted, crime against children, women and old is still on the rise, farmers are still committing suicide, girl child is still banished, the common man has no faith in the safety and the security measures taken by the defense system. The list goes on and on. Why don’t we demand an apology from the politicians and the Indian Government? Definitely these issues hurt us more than some firangi comment or some novel! The taxpayer’s money is at stake here. So are his safety and sentiments. Why do we show apathy in issues where we need to raise a voice? Mumbai bounces back after bomb- blasts. Bullcrap. We bear this almost every year. Why so? Why aren’t these issues taken up by the same fervent politicians and individuals who otherwise demand an apology from these artists? Indifference. Apathy. Stoicism. Not the spirit of Mumbai. Not India shining. That is the hard truth. I feel, thus, that there is a need of an expurgation. We need to direct our staunch beliefs in the right direction. The Satanic Versus The Lenonic do not afflict our lives as much as these demonic debaucheries. After all, it is a question of our faith, solitude and existence.
Demanding an apology for all this lassitude.
This is The Sciolist.
This is the Sciolist.