Monday, September 02, 2019

The Difference between Faith and Religion: Or Don't Confuse Religion with Faith

  • Faith will tell you that there is a god. Religion will tell you his name, address, contact details, food choices, fashion tastes, gender, and pet peeves.
  • Faith tells you that your prayer will be answered. Religion tells you that your prayer will be answered only when you have performed a-b-c acts, donated x amount of food, clothes and money to the institution, and prologued and epilogued your prayers with these specific sounds.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Unfamiliar Entertainment

Before Netflix and Amazon Prime, before YouTube, before even cable TV, Indians' choice in television entertainment was limited. Severely limited. To two: Doordarshan and DD Metro. And before that, just one: DD.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Why People Are the Next Big Tech

Our age is swamped with technology. 

From robotics to smartphones; from e-rickshaws to international space stations; from CRSPR-Cas9 to Solid State Drives. Human ingenuity and science are being rapidly encapsulated in complex algorithms and packaged into dense devices and executive routines. Governments and corporations are ramping up R&D budgets to create or acquire the next big technology, like with AI, Data Science, and Machine Learning.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Narendra Modi, the Iconoclast

The Modi era may give rise to a new crop of citizens who are unafraid to question the sacred.

I went looking for a silver lining, and I think I might have found one.

iconoclast (noun): a person who criticizes popular beliefs or established customs and ideas. Origin: mid 17th cent. (originally referring to someone who destroyed images used in religious worship): via medieval Latin from ecclesiastical Greek eikonoklastēs, from eikōn ‘likeness’ + klan ‘to break’.

Given the Hindutva credentials of Narendra Modi, it would seem odd that I'm calling him an iconoclast. But I'm not referring to Modi, the individual, and I'm definitely not talking about destruction of religious images.

I see Narendra Modi as a conglomeration of ideas and influences, from the right wing to the non-elite. In the longer term picture of India, Modi is a phenomenon, an event that has become an inflection point in our history.

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Liberal Fringe: In Today's India and Family WhatsApp Groups

Oh, how the times have changed!

There was an age when moderate/liberal/progressive values were so highly regarded that people with such values were looked up to. Around me they were in larger numbers than people on the right of center. Right-wingers and conservatives were usually less educated, belonged to right-wing groups or were highly religious or highly feudal. A right-winger would either mask his inclinations or completely avoid the liberal 'elite'. Usually these two groups did not overlap, so there wasn't much friction. We can even say that people were happy in their own bubbles.

It's Time to Thank God—And Make Some Changes

I guess it's time I thanked God for sending me down as an upper caste Hindu male. Now, if only I could also pretend that I hate minorities and find gau mutra delicious—that'd set me up nicely for the next quarter century or so. I hope I'm able to coz I've heard terrible things about concentration camps.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Strange Encounter: Bin Laden and the Value of Life

Many years ago, I had an interesting encounter. At my workplace, there was this grumpy young accountant who I rarely interacted with. He wasn't very social, but was professional while being uninviting. He was a north Indian upper-caste guy who religiously performed puja every morning and came to office with a teeka on his forehead.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Nature's Wrecking Ball: Cyclone Fani and Its Aftermath

It's a Monday evening in Delhi. The ugly, white-LED lights that show you the way while you drive back home don't soothe your discomfort at being stuck in traffic. But they're comforting in their predictability; they signal that you'll be back to the cool comfort of your air-conditioned home.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

When Disaster Strikes: Cyclone Fani

One cannot imagine the enormity of a natural disaster if one hasn't been in it. So it is difficult for me, or anyone who wasn't there, to fully empathise with the millions of Odias who were battered by 200 kilometres-per-hour-plus winds of Cyclone Fani, which has been categorised as Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

2019: A Face Odyssey

The Demagogue-class Castecaster crash-landed on a strange planet in the Tch O-kid ‘ar  cluster of stars. I had lost my bearings and the crash had left me badly disoriented. I precariously stumbled out of the craft onto the alien terra firma.