28th Nov – 5th Dec
Life is not bad, it’s generally pleasant but certain events and happenings render a gloominess to it. These occurences need not be in one’s immediate vicinity nor hold any direct impact and yet they seem to influence one’s daily existence. That is because we think and when we think, we worry.
Winter is finally here, although its hard to tell in a place like Hyderabad, the air is slightly chilly and this year I think we might not need the ceiling fan during December. With the change in the season have come dryness, an increased appetite and even to a photophobe like myself: a joy in basking in the sunlight. As getting out of bed becomes more difficult, hunger remains the primary feeling. The evenings start earlier now and even at six you feel the absolute urge to jump out of your office and head back to the YouTube watching existence at your bachelor pad. Besides the climate there have been other happenings too. The news has been brimming with certain most depressing events and they leave their mark.
First let’s talk about the things on the religious front. For a secular nation we seem to pay too much reverence to any symbol of a self-proclaimed spiritual nature. The constitutional requirement to respect and protect all schools of religious thought seems to have been interpreted in a most self-serving way by the constituents of our governing body. With an unabashed saffron government in power it is not unusual for a high-ranking minister to let slip socially irresponsible comments on religion. While I believe that any advocacy of theism is socially irresponsible, some of our legislators have taken to the defense of mythology over reason. There is the Sadhvi who along with many other campaigners of the ruling party poked fun at other parties using religion as sling shot. Somehow to these nearly fundamentalist figures their faith is driven by the acceptance of Hinduism by those of other subscriptions. The idea of the Hindu state encompassing multiple religions with the minorities resigning themselves to the the understanding that: the majority’s religion is akin to nationalism, is difficult to digest. Firstly one must question the need to propel this new ideology about Hinduism, that too by office holding members of the government, when clearly other issues could do with the attention. Secondly while a democracy may accommodate the rise of unfit members to high office, is their freedom to engage in discourse in a manner irresponsible, something a government should allow? The pessimist would argue that the government sanctions implicitly such irresponsibility for its own ends, that is even worse.
Religion has been flogged for political purposes and it shall always be so, for the fears of men and women are no better encapsulated by any other concept. This week, more than a dozen security personnel died on the border defending it from our neighbor. A country born out of this similar need to assert’s one’s spiritual superiority. We are yet to get over the debacle of Rampal, the engineer turned god-man, when controversies over such charlatans again begin to surface. A few days back the news coverage of a man who died a few months back began. A religious guru is said to have been frozen on a block of ice, to what end I know not. The government and the state’s high court decided to intervene. The devotees of course object and we await the impending pandemonium. The amount of tolerance the state and rational people show for this sort of tomfoolery is astounding. But even in the most formally educated of houses there is that picture or statue of a physically impossible being which one bows one’s head before beginning a meal, leaving the house or in general doing anything. So delegating that responsibility of divine guidance to a mortal being who claims to channel the will of God ,while sounding very biblical is perhaps not so hard a concept to digest.
Sensationalization? You must be kidding.
Beyond the world of blind belief there was the incident in a bus in Haryana. Two young girls thrashed their alleged molesters in full view of an enthusiastic camera man and a non interfering audience. Later these women were thrown off the bus by the boys involved. News channels with a limited vocabulary (or that of their viewers) christened them bravehearts and the government responded not by vowing to make public transport safer or resolve the issue, but rewarding the women for their bravery. Then the men involved, who were potential army recruits were expelled. Within the week came up eye-witness accounts of how these girls had not been molested. This of course is while Panchayats across the nation dole out justice like 10-8000$ as fine to a rapist, to be paid to the victim who is asked to drop the case. Women empowerment I think is just for IIM clubs and vocal, educated college graduates with new-found feminism to harp about, for everyone else its business as usual.
Finally the last news item that got my knickers in a twist was one closer to home than anything else. It is after all the season to be jolly, multinationals with budgets which most nations would envy are out and about on the hunt for talent to recruit. The term talent is used in the conventional sense, the talent which can be mapped to test scores and interviews. Packages have been on the rise every year but the race to advertise one’s firm as the place to be, has become amazingly stupefying. The rational thing to do is to project an image of progressiveness, dynamism and opportunities of growth. What these lumbering giants find easier to do is to fling cash onto unsuspecting fresh undergraduates. Those who have either quenched their ambitions or made peace with their lust for money, succumb and find their name, fiscal compensation and a photograph plastered across newspapers and televisions throughout the nation. With the Indian Institutes of Technology having had their recruitment weeks all overlapping with the one that went by, the media coverage was impressive. With gradually increasing packages offered by competing firms from day one to last, it was a clear attempt to have the last mention in the papers. Quite a few offers were rejected by individuals of some confidence and greater ambition. The companies shall undoubtedly respond by raising the ceiling next year. A dozen or so boys and girls were showered with inexplicable amounts, annual salaries of the tune which their parents or any other Indian middle class household will probably see in a lifetime. Is there such valuable work to be done? What about the million or so others in similar jobs. Even those who have given a life time to these jobs and the same companies, to them are such endowment policies fair? But that is the beauty of capitalism isn’t it? The cold-blooded murder of fairness can be brushed under the carpet of remaining competitive. After all these days nobody is in the business of people.
While such scenes of disparity are generally depressing, they are not new. With the natural submissiveness which one finds in the IT nerd, such truths have been and will be swallowed. What was intriguing perhaps was the very flawed morality of what one must assume is the HR policy of such establishments. With dozens of colleges in India offering acceptable HR MBA programs, one wonders what is done to flush out common sense from the students so as to be incapable of seeing the repercussions of such publicized irresponsible moves.
With as much realism and pragmatism as I can muster on a Saturday afternoon, I look at the week gone by. It offered nothing which was shocking, unknown or unexpected. Perhaps that’s what was so unnerving about it.
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