Friday, July 21, 2006

Who Am I?

I often get puzzled by a nagging question: Who am I? As time passes, I feel more miserable as no definite answer emerges. In my school days, I had learnt that the planet Earth on which we live is just one among nine planets orbiting Sun. There are 100 million stars like Sun in our galaxy Milky Way alone and millions of galaxies are part of the Universe. The mother Earth is the only one among trillions of celestial bodies known to harbour life. I remind myself that one trillion is 1,000,000,000,000. The world human population is over six billion and there is no estimate of animals, insects and other life-forms inhabiting there. I shudder to think that there are more than 6,000,000,000 human beings like me as co-inhabitants on this planet.
Closer home, I am just one among 1,000,000,000(one billion or one thousand million or ten thousand lakhs – whichever way it is counted) people who are my countrymen. I live in a city which ranks among the ten largest in the world population-wise. Here again, I am one of the hundred lakh people breathing the same air.
There are more than 350 million people who belong to BPL group (a cleverly disguised acronym for Below the Poverty Line) and can not afford one square meal a day. I get solace from the fact that I belong to the fortunate class called middle class – some 250 millions in all. But some richest persons in the world like Bill Gates reportedly make one thousand dollars (Rupees fifty thousand) a second – just about the same amount a middle class person makes in a year and the time I take to write a word!
As per Hindu scriptures, there are 33, 00,000, 000 of gods and goddesses. I have so far offered prayers to only two scores in temples and home. I realize wistfully that I must be re-born millions of times to attain salvation. That raises the question of births and deaths. If and when I will be re-born, I will enter this world with 250 like me in the same very second and when I die I will not be alone to take the journey.
At times, in my deep contemplation, I hear an inner voice whispering “you are a part of Me”. My heart then fills in joy learning that I am, even though a mere speck in the vast cosmos, is also a part of Him.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Are Marriages Made in Heaven?

No one knows for sure. Just as there are plenty of examples of couples celebrating their silver, golden and even diamond jubilees for their happy married life, there are appallingly many cases of separation and divorce taking place after months, years and even decades. Marriage counselors identify the problems usually to arise out of ego-clash, lack of compatibility, infidelity, financial crisis, inability of the spouse to bear children, in-laws’ interference and the like. Whatever may be the reason, the separation of partners can be devastating experience for them and more so for their children. The love and affection from both the parents always make children feel more secured and emotionally stable. When parents separate, the absence of one parent makes the situation quite difficult for the other parent to fill the void.
It is strange that couples who have been dating for years before marriage and living life full of love and joy after marriage suddenly one day find marriage unbearable. In societies where the selection of life partner is made by parents and relatives, the reason for marriages breaking could be just similar. In many of such marriages, horoscopes are matched beforehand so as to be assured of stellar blessings for happy married life. That, however, is no guarantee for marriage to last.
Marriage can make or mar life. Like a balance-sheet’s profit and loss account, much depends upon how happy or unhappy one’s marriage-life has been. Will there be any doubt still persisting whether marriages are made in Heaven or not if it is accepted that everyone comes to the world with a predetermined happiness package.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Was Zidane Right?

When billions of soccer fans were watching with bated breath the outcome of World Cup Final, 2006, Zidane - the France's hero and captain had to leave the ground after he was shown the red card for headbutting Materazzi. This was the turning point of the momentous final match and Zidane personally as well as France as a nation had to pay a heavy price for such temporary madness. It made many wonder why Zidane behaved in such a barbaric way when he knew the consequences.
As per reports which appeared in print media and TV, Materazzi himself admitted of abusing Zidane provocatively. A question has disturbed many: how can one stand such insults repeatedly without getting angry?.Zidane has been quoted contending his behaviour in a tv channel interview - " the words he said concerned my mother and sister. I heard them once, then twice and the third time I could not control myself. I am a man and some words are harder to hear than actions. I would have rather been knocked down than hear that."
The hero - even after the ignomious end to his illustrious career, had the courage to apologise for reacting badly as millions of children were also watching the game. "But I do not regret my behaviour because that would mean he was right to say what he said" Zidane told
The whole episode can be seen as yet another grand example of everything in life being predetermined. There is an ancient Greek belief: those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make them angry. So, just as God wanted to punish Zidane, He, too, gave him the
wisdom to tell the world that he did not regret his behaviour as Materazzi would not have learnt anything. Such resolve rarely seen in today's world lacking commitment to values in life had prompted John F. Kennedy to say"One does, what he must, in spite of personal tragedies and
consequences for that is the basis of all human morality".

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Anger - The Enemy Within

It is amazing coincidence that after the post appeared, corroboration has been found subsequently in a renowned daily which has quoted what the reverred and the famous had said.Anger Destroys ReasonDelusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed...Bhagabat GitaWhen anger arises, think of the consequences...ConfuciusHe is not strong and powerful who throweth people down; but he is strong who withholdeth himself against anger...Prophet MuhammadI have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmitted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmitted into a power that can move the world...Mahatma GandhiTo be angry about trifles is mean and childish; to rage and to be furious is btrutish; and to maintain perpetual wrath is akin to the practice and temper of devils; but to prevent and suppress rising resentment is wise and glorious, is manly and divine...Allan WattsCast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold everyone that is proud and abase him...Bible

Monday, July 10, 2006

Anger - The Enemy Within

Anger - The Enemy Within
Anger is perhaps the worst emotion man experiences in life. It can be very devastating not only for the perpetrator but also for the victim. There are plenty of instances of happily-married couples separating, persons trusted for years in office kicking jobs or children severing relationship permanently with parents - all happening because anger suddenly erupted like a dormant volcano. From debris, as one attempts to reconstruct the catastrophe the way it happened, the verdict invariably raises a finger at human failure to rein in anger. Anger is a reaction of the mind which takes place when it does not get what it expects.The feelings of disappontments find an outlet to escape through expression of anger. Psychologists are of the opinion that getting angry occasionally in an appropriate manner may not be after all so undesirable. Aristotle said "Anybody can become angry – that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and in the right way is not within everybody’s power and is not easy." Anger is thought to have a negative impact on the body because it raises the level of stress hormones, which damage the lining of blood vessels. If one can learn to laugh at one's frustrations instead of getting angry, it may make life more healthy and long. Thus, one finds wisdom in an old proverb - "True tolerance is to tolerate the intolerable". It implores man to accept what he cannot change or control and thereby keep anger in fetters.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Nature, Nurture and Fate
One often ponders what exactly the secret in life is; what causes success, failure, happiness, suffering, social recognition or ignominy. Is it Nature, Nurture or Fate controlling life inexorably and invisibly?
The answer would depend upon who gives it. A newly-born enters the world with genes gifted by his parents. If, in later life, he is afflicted by any serious illnesses which are traced to his peculiar genes, a geneticist would simply look at the problem as arising out of his genetic architecture. He will grow up and learn that nothing much can be done anyway to alter the situation.
It has been observed that nurture, too, has a big role in shaping life. Behaviour, personality and attitudes get influenced by the social environment in which one grows up. Children from broken homes who witness or are subjected to aggressiveness and physical violence or those who are born to alcoholics or drug addicts sometimes adopt abnormal behaviour pattern and attitudes in later life. These, again, script one’s success or failure story.
Those who believe in astrology follow horoscopes which not only forecasts future but also suggest how the stars in unfavourable positions can be appeased so that harm does not come one’s way.
A fatalist, however, believes that whatever happens in life is inevitable and owes it to his fate. If everything is predetermined, then there is very little role to play for the individual.
The protagonists for each of the above beliefs are unlikely to surrender to any other belief until they listen to their inner voices and an awakening of consciousness takes place.
The famous saying of the great scientist – Albert Einstein sums it all:
“Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Senior Citizens’ Woes
Once a person crosses the age of sixty years, he is generally haunted by a queer feeling of being neglected and unwanted not only by his near and dear ones but also by the society at large. Such a condition arises mainly because of a fall or complete lack of earning power of the aged. In a world which is obsessed with materialistic progress, such persons are being increasingly viewed as spoil-sports.
The government perhaps treats its senior citizens similarly – going by the total indifference shown towards their financial, physical and emotional issues. It gets satisfaction out of the fact that those in central/state government as well as their undertakings including public sector banks are well protected by pension schemes(thanks to the largesse of Fifth Pay Commission and the compensation given by way of variable D.A. adjustment against inflation). That takes care of only four persons out of every hundred having some employment – casual, regular, part-time or full-time. The government as well as the champions of labour unions representing the organized workforce are not bothered for the remaining as they are in the unorganized sectors and thus do not count much in vote bank politics.
The government, after lot of dithering, had introduced with fanfare the scheme known otherwise as Senior Citizen Saving Scheme which gives interest @ 9% quarterly on deposits from persons above 55 years. Its rules and procedures have been formulated in such manners that make life quite difficult for them. A few problems which they confront highlights their plight and are mentioned below..
Unlike the Monthly Interest Scheme available at post offices, the procedure for getting quarterly interests has been made avoidably cumbersome and the facility of paying through individual bank accounts (ECS) has not been extended strangely to this scheme. If the quarterly interests exceed Rs20000/-, payment by cheque is mandatory. But then one has to queue up in the first instance 7-10 days before the payment becomes due just to submit a written request to do so. Then he has to queue up again on the due date for physically collecting the cheque.
As if the cup of misery of senior citizens was not full, Finance Ministry thought it fit to introduce recently tougher conditions for those who are being serviced by the scheme. By making the interest taxable and that too with retrospective effect, the hapless senior citizens who otherwise do not have to pay any tax are now required to file 15H or 15G forms at the post office payment counters.
The pitiable sight of harassed senior citizens struggling to get at their meagre savings is testimony enough to show how little the government cares for them. Surely, they deserve better consideration.