Wednesday, April 11, 2012

True Love- Where can we find it?

We keep hearing the laments of people about lack of ‘True Love’ in this world. 

We keep hearing about the frustrations of people because they are not getting True Love.  We keep hearing complaints about what was believed to be True Love turning out to be something else and the entire relationships getting broken into pieces, because of that realisation!  We get to hear about occasional suicides related to True Love of lack of it.

So, what is this True Love?  It must obviously be something so important that it’s absence makes people unhappy enough that they commit suicides and break up long cherished relationships.

To know what True Love is, we must first understand what Love is.  The dictionary meaning of Love is ‘an intense feeling of deep affection’. It is ‘profoundly tender, passionate affection towards another person, thing or idea’.  For example, love for your partner or your phone or your country. 

‘True Love’ must then be nothing but a true intense feeling of deep affection? Would that mean one can have an intense yet false feeling of deep affection? Obviously not and therefore, ‘True Love’ must be something more than just true ‘love’!

The most logical definition (anonymous) that I could find is that ‘True Love is when you put your loved one’s interests above your own’.  It is when you consider their happiness and interests more important than yours and therefore you become ready to undertake anything to make that loved one happy.  In other words, ‘True Love’ is nothing but the willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of love and to love someone, something without any expectation of quid pro quo. 

‘True Love’, like most human emotions, can be either negative or positive, depending on what are the objects of love, and how it is expressed.   Though the value judgement of negativity and positivity is dependent upon each one’s perceptions than any hard reality and has no relevance for our purpose, just to demonstrate the different kinds of True love let us have a look at the broadly. 

Examples of positive side of True Love are in abundance, although we often take them for granted and thereby refuse to value them.

 As for the negative side of it, ‘True Love' for one’s ideology or belief or faith or even country might make one do many a negative acts and deeds that one would otherwise not do.  Similarly, ‘True Love’ towards a third person could rock the marriage of the lover. The negativity or passion associated with ‘True Love’ thus can make one blind to other values and even realities.

From the above, what we can decipher is the following:

  • True Love is one of the human emotions
  • True Love can be both positive and negative
  • True Love is not affected by the objects but by the lover him/herself
  • True Love cannot be generated by the objects or be affected by those objects
  • True Love is internal to the lover
  • True Love is different from Love; one can love and be loved without True Love.

Once we understand that the ‘True Love’ is internal to the lover, then what is left to complain?  If we find lack of True Love, well, we should just go ahead and make an effort to start loving!  And therefore, if we experience lack of ‘True Love’ in our life, it is not the fault of any other person but only of ourselves.  We have not been able to identify and love someone or something truly. 

We often forget this basic aspect of ‘True Love’ and start blaming others for the lack of it. We create expectations on the objects of our love; and we demand quid pro quo from the loved ones.  The moment we do that, ‘True Love’ ceases to be ‘True Love’!  

We also damage any love that might exist between us and others by mixing that love with True Love.  Love does not mean that the lover will not look after his/her own interests vis-a-vis the loved.  In love, there is a need to balance mutual expectations but in True Love the lover is expected to bear the burden of all sacrifices.

I am not going into the contention that whether such a ‘True Love’ with absolutely no expectation can exist at all.   If that is the case, then why waste our time chasing such an unreal concept?  We will, for the purpose of this post¸ assume that it is possible to have ‘True Love’ and then see where we can find it.

If we agree, for argument’s sake,  that others’ qualities or lack of it affect one’s outwardly ‘True Love’, what stops us from showing some ‘True Love’ to ourselves?  One basic question that all of us need to keep asking is, if we have True Love towards ourselves.  Or would we sacrifice our own interests for some perceived and impermanent pleasures?  If we can’t even make the sacrifice of a small habit like smoking or doing drugs when we know it is not in our own interests, how can we say that we have ‘True Love’ for self?

If we cannot love ourselves truly and sincerely, we cannot expect others to love us!  Others will start loving us only when we start to believe that we deserve our own love.

Always remember that if others develop ‘True Love’ it will only benefit them.  For us to benefit, we need to develop ‘True Love’ within ourselves.  ‘True Love’ always flows outward and therefore; don’t go afar looking for it... Look within with compassionate eyes and we shall find the ‘True Love’!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Paper Coup and the Day After!

Thanks to Indian Express’ full page banner headline on a ‘spooked Raisina Hill’, we Indians had a chance to deliberate on a rather unusual and unexpected issue- the possibility of a military coup in India!  The day has gone by and everything has been deftly pushed under the heavy red carpet, the kind of which is commonly used in the armed forces.

First we attacked the news paper and the reporter. We even accused them of high treason! Then we reaffirmed our trust in the exalted armed forces. We condemned baseless reporting and called upon our nation to forget the alarmist reports as everything that needs to be clarified have already been clarified.

But emotional appeals/outbursts apart, why didn’t Army or Government come out with rational answers to the questions or allegation (howsoever baseless they may be) raised in the report that appeared in an otherwise respected national daily? Also, if indeed these alleged facts were baseless or cooked up, why there is no action initiated against the wrongdoers or at least an inquiry to find out their motives and personalities behind it? (Such a full page banner headline, on a incident that took place two and half months before, itself is a ground for doubting the intentions of the report!)

Let us see some of the questions on facts that remain to be answered:
  • Was intelligence reports received on unusual movements of Army units, on January 16th? Why was it considered as ‘unusual’?
  • Were lookouts activated as a result of these intelligence reports?
  • Was a terror alert issued to Delhi Police on that night was it acted upon?
  • Was there a late night meeting between Defence Secretary and DGMO?
  • Was any instruction issued to send back both the units immediately? Who ordered and on what grounds?
  • Is there protocol that requires military movements in NCR regions be intimated to MoD? If yes, who breached the protocol? Has any accountability been fixed yet?
  • Was Air Force intimated about the movement of para troopers towards their base in Hindon?
  • How did the para troopers who were supposed to reach Hindon ended up near Palam? Was there an error in the movement and what caused it?
  • Can any Army Commander decide to take his troops anywhere in the country on training, as if being suggested by many retired generals on TV? Is there any authority who is supposed to coordinate such movements?

These are questions of fact that can be clarified through yes or no answers rather than emotional calls about exalted positions and highest trust etc. It would set any doubts in the minds of any citizens who may have felt concerned about the news. 

I have had the fortune to be a part of India’s armed forces for close to two decades and I am as proud of its history as anyone else is.  But my pride in India’s democracy (with all its faults) and the conviction in its primacy do not allow me to completely ignore any news that could even have remotest potential to affect it in any manner.

Without doubting the integrity and intentions of India’s armed forces and without expressing any judgement on the Indian Express story, let me express some concerns here:

  1. Apparently two commanders decided to move their units to NCR region on same night.  What happens, hypothetically 5 or 10 commanders decide to conduct similar movements on a single night? If it is possible for two, is it also possible for 10? How chaotic the Delhi or at least its traffic would become?  Shouldn’t Headquarters have enough coordination to avoid such situation?
  2. If a news paper comes out with ‘baseless’ stories, is it not the responsibility of the Government to inquire into the circumstances, motives etc and fix responsibility?  Would a blanket denial based on emotions undo the damage?
  3. Even if we assume that our armed forces are incapable of any such misadventure, should the state completely take it for granted or should it undertake precautionary measures? In case of a coup, will there be full page prior warnings or clandestine movements of troops? Do we have protocols and SOPs to prevent any such adventurism by a rogue commander, if he is free to move his troops anywhere including national capital, anytime, without any need to obtain clearances (as is being suggested by many)?

Pointing out faults and seeking answers is not something to be condemned outright.  If the intentions are doubtful, let there be enquiries and guilty be punished. We have a journalist from (Ms Sheet Bhatt, @sheela 2010) tweeting that she was alerted about a storyline “that the Home ministry guys want to plant, is that how Gen. Singh wanted to stage the coup against UPA government but... the top brass in the Army is not ready to join Gen. Singh” as far as two months back! These are serious allegations and must be dealt with all the seriousness.  Let us not push unpleasant truths under the carpets of emotions!

Finally, how have we come to the stage that when such a news paper report comes out we see more support to armed forces than concerns about our democratic systems?!  While going through the reactions to the report, I get a feeling that lot of vocal Indians would prefer a military rule to the present governance system!   

While accepting all the short comings of our systems, I would like to point out the struggles being undertaken by people in countries under military rule to come out of it and have democracy.  You may like or dislike an elected government. But let not that like or dislike colour your views on democracy itself. The grass is always greener on the other side! 

Leaders are different from democracy. Let us not compromise democracy for the lack of quality in leaders; for we can (relatively speaking) easily change the leaders but not the system!

Let us get our priorities right.  Democracy is precious; much more than honour of the armed forces, meant to protect the very democracy. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Democracy- It is all about Yadha Praja Tadha Raja!

In our childhood, while being told the beautiful stories of Kings and Monarchs, we might have often heard the saying ‘YADHA RAJA TADHA PRAJA’.  It means the people of a Kingdom are like their King.  In other words, the King is a role model for his subjects and his values decide theirs too!

What about our democracy? We have no Kings now. We only have our elected representatives who are entrusted the responsibility of governing us, for a specified period.  After that period, the ruler reverts to being a subject and another set of subjects become the rulers.  

Though I used the term ‘subject’ for easy comparison with the monarchy system, use of that term is not correct or relevant in a democracy.  In democracy, the sovereignty resides in the people or erstwhile subjects.   The governing is carried out only by their representatives whom they have elected for that purpose and delegated their powers.

In these changed circumstances, would the saying ‘Yadha Raja Tadha Praja’ hold water? Definitely not!  Firstly, there is no King anymore. Secondly, so called rulers are dependent on the people for their powers and existence as rulers.  With the change in the system, the reverse has become the rule- Yadha Praja, Tadha Raja.

Let me explain this further.  In our system not a single leader has assumed power without having elected by people (either directly or indirectly through their representatives as in the case of election to Rajyasabha, President, CM, PM etc).  If people reject a person, there is no way he can remain in power.  Single most powerful example for this fact was the defeat of all powerful Mrs Indira Gandhi, immediately after the Emergency period!

Look at the outrage when Mr Raghu Raj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya became a Minister in new Uttar Pradesh Government.  I don’t deny the fact that there are enough allegations against him- some of them very serious.  But can we deny the fact that he was elected by the people of a constituency just days before?  Those people who elected him knew very well that they will be represented by a person who is charge sheeted for various offences.   Why did they not reject him?

Now take the example of Mrs Bibi Jagir Kaur of Punjab.  She was accused of abduction, forced abortion and subsequent death of her own daughter, as many as 12 years back! Any civilised society would abhor such a person.  But our people from her constituency chose her as their representative! 

Now, many are outraged that she, a newly appointed Minister, was given VIP treatment while being taken to the jail after a trial court sentenced her to five years of rigorous imprisonment in the above case! While it is not my intention to defend such acts of officials, how can we escape from the charge of electing such a person, in the first place?

Examples do not end here.  Be it the Congress leaders accused in 1984 Sikh massacre or Mr Narendra Modi, accused of masterminding the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, our people have got enough chances to elect or reject them.  People in their wisdom chose to elect them as their representatives, without any remorse whatsoever.

I keep reading about our so called intellectuals and activists blaming political parties for giving party tickets to more and more people accused of crimes.  I do not agree with the contention that being merely accused should be a disqualification for contesting elections, because if we adopt such a position, it would (i) violate the principle of natural justice that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and (ii) result in frivolous and fraudulent complaints being filed against genuine leaders to prevent them from contesting elections.

But those considerations apart, let us see why political parties prefer to give tickets to such accused persons? If people were against such accused being given party tickets, wouldn’t they vote against them?  Which party will undertake a risk that is sure to reduce their vote share in an election? Even otherwise, in spite of a Party giving ticket to an accused, what makes the voters to vote for such a person?

Answer is obvious to me. Our people have no problem with such accusations. Those accused of grave crimes are very much acceptable to the people, as their representatives.  No other reason would compel them vote such a person. 

When large parts of our society don’t see anything wrong in honour killings, foeticides, dowry, violence or bribing, how do we expect us to elect persons who are free from all these vices? If we introspect even a little, we would realise that the current lot of representatives across the country truly reflect their respective constituencies. 

I can foresee certain counter arguments by readers. Firstly, it is about the absence of right to reject.  Yes, I am a strong votary of right to reject provision in our elections.  But, seriously, how many such situations actually arise where we are forced to select between two equally bad candidates that we have no choice but to elect someone whom we don’t approve of?  We can easily cast our votes even in favour of one of the better independent candidates who are aplenty in our elections. 

Secondly, one may argue that these are not true representatives of people as majority of the people do not cast their votes.  Well, in a democracy, if you choose not to vote, you are entrusting your responsibility to others who vote and there is no escape from respecting their wisdom and their choice!

Look at the standard of our parliamentarians through our history. While I am not an expert in this, whatever little I know about it suggests that the erosion in standards can be directly correlated to the wider participation and political empowerment of the hitherto marginalised sections of the society.  Representation is not limited to aristocrats any more.  Mass and not Class is the origin of new members.  So let us learn to live with it.  It is true democracy.  It is the result of our social churning. 

I agree that we must do all possible to expedite this churning and reach the desired equilibrium at the earliest.  But targeting and demeaning political institutions or the voters or their representatives will not serve any purpose.  The tendency to discredit the people and the democracy is not serving any productive purpose. It only serves hidden agendas of those who indulge in it!
Let us see where is the disconnect.  If people are electing certain type of persons as their representatives, who are we to question their choice?   If at all we think we have a superior logic and reason, shouldn’t we go out and vote in elections? Shouldn’t we educate the voters on the need to elect the ‘right’ people?  Even better, shouldn’t we educate the people on the need to improve their own morals, standards and social values?  Shouldn’t we educate people that a lifestyle based on violence and oppression is not a quality worthy of adoration or respect? Shouldn’t we educated them on the values of honesty and honour that they stop approving those people who ‘succeeded’ through corrupt means?  

Yes, these are tough tasks.  Social reformation of an entire nation is a tough task indeed!  But we are seeking to attain a process that usually takes centuries, immediately. So, we have no choice but to undertake the hard task!  Like someone suggested to me during a recent conversation, we can’t merely control the neck of a bottle, through shortcuts.  We may delay the outcome by doing so; yet we can’t forget that whenever the neck is freed, only what is inside the bottle will come out.  If the bottle contains poison any change to the neck of the bottle will not change its character! Unless we convert the contents into non-poisonous substance, the bottle can only bring out poison!

Social values and norms will get reflected in us as well as our representatives.  If we want better systems and better leaders, we have to reform the society and its people, for in democracy, it is...  YADHA PRAJA TADHA RAJA!