Category Archives: Earthbound

Everything about us that connects us to this “pale blue dot” called the Earth

The Fetish for Giant Statues in Modern Indian Politics

A thousand years ago (in 980 CE), an acclaimed sculptor oversaw the making of a big monolithic statue of Mahaaveera, a Jaina Teerthankara. The 57 foot tall statue has continued to serve its purpose for all these centuries and today it is still sanding strong in Shravanabelagola, Karnataka. Around 500 years ago (in 1528 CE), Emperor Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Kingdom commissioned the sculpting of a big monolithic statue of Ugra Narasimha, a Hindu deity in Hampi, Karnataka. The statue of Ugra Narasimha (~21 feet in height) was vandalized many times by tyrants but it is still there standing bright amidst Hampi ruins. A giant Buddha statue in Leshan, China (carved in 8th century CE) is still there. The giant statues of Buddha in Bamiyan (7th century CE) that were carved into the natural hill cliffs in Afghanistan were lost under tragic circumstances.

Today in India, central and many state governments are spending millions on tall statues of historical figures. For instance, the central government wants to build a 182 m tall iron statue of Vallabha Bhai Patel, at an estimated total cost of nearly $550 million (Rs 3000 crores). The Maharashtra state government intends to build a 210 m tall gigantic statue of Shivaji spending $280 million (Rs 1200 crores). Now, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state governments are competing to build two statues of B R Ambedkar (both >100 feet tall). All of these governments are also in a race to outdo one another in misusing people’s money. There are some NGOs and some private consortia that are funding the building of giant statues of religious or spiritual symbolism. Their intentions are also suspect. India is not the only country that is obsessed with Gigantism in statue building.  An internet search will give you a list of at least 50 other statues of such gigantic proportions from all over the world.  It is easy not to overlook that most of these statues have been commissioned and built over the last 15 years. Many countries are in the process of erecting some new statues of incredible size and proportions.

tall statues of the world

Our current political leaders have no idea of what statues can and can’t do. Indian politicians (by and large) do not understand the value of public money anyway. They certainly do not understand the value of visionaries like B R Ambedkar. Sculpting of a Gommateshwara in 10th century CE in hard granite is not the same as casting gigantic pieces of modern metallic or concrete “junk” in 21st century. We cannot compare the artistic grandeur of Ugra Narasimha to modern construction of concrete statues in many places all over the world. There is nothing great about building any big statue that has no aesthetic or technical appeal (be it of Gods or of mere mortals). Building statues is not a challenge with today’s technology and mechanical support but building statues incurs costs without benefits. By entering the rat race of building the tallest statues in the world, India does not suddenly start respecting and practicing the values espoused by its heroes.

Indian politicians are not paying any attention to ancient monuments that are decaying due to decades of neglect.  All they want is to misuse public money to erect some XYZ statue, so that, they get to unveil a piece of tiny slab inscribed with their names on the day of statue inauguration. They don’t realise that building such statues may take many years and the people who started the project will not be in office and may have died, and costs sky rocket by the time the ill-conceived monster comes to life. The fetish for these useless modern colossi is hard to explain. Justifications including the sultry notion of national integration, or the sundry notion of local pride are a façade. These living politicians have no achievements of their own to commission their own statues and sadly, the dead are revived and hung to dry in the open again. Perhaps it is not feasible in a democracy like India to erect your own statue. Some kings, queens and some dictators used to do that in the past. I hope these politicians realise that their names on the parapet are even less durable than these statues themselves.  Indians do not value such statues anyway. The poor state of hundreds of human sized Ambedkar statues (with not-so-shining suits and boots) and thousands of Mahatma Gandhi statues (with broken glasses and shabby walking stick) in the streets and corners all over India serve a grim reminder. It is a different matter as to what concern we have for the modern day Ambedkars. Mahatma Gandhis are extinct anyway.

The Roman colossus of Nero began as Nero, became some other Sun God at some point, and then the statue’s head was replaced to convert him into some other emperor. The same is also true for many temples and monuments, which evolve and become something else through generations. But, some monuments survive and gigantic statues rarely survive. Those that survive and remain endearing to the public are often aesthetically, spiritually, and sometimes technically awe-inspiring. Those that survive are not the “me too” types. We should not forget that the Colossus of Nero probably did not help Nero glorify his legacy, and his statue did not even survive the fall of the Roman empire.

PS: Some of you might be thinking of Ozymandias by P B Shelley (1792-1822).



ಶಿವಗಂಗೆ ಬೆಟ್ಟವು ತಿಳಿಸುವ ಸತ್ಯ: Shivagange Hill on Truth

Musings on Truth from Shivagange Hill

The Shivagange Hill (ಶಿವಗಂಗೆ ಬೆಟ್ಟ) is a rocky outcrop (around 800 m above ground level and 1300 m above sea level) in Bengaluru rural district in Karnataka, South India.  These boulders have ancient volcanic origin (are at least 2.5 billion years old) and are some of the oldest geological formations in India.

Shivagange from different angles
ಶಿವಗಂಗೆ ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಹಲವು ಮುಖಗಳು

We come across situations where different versions of any event or anything are narrated to us by different people. Is truth just a perceived construction of the world by human mind? Is there only one ‘version’ of truth? Here, I wish to use the Shivagange Hill as an example to dissect the problem of truth, wonder whether truth is singular or can we have multiple versions of truth. This is also my attempts to superficially understand prominent theories of truth in philosophical studies.

When viewed from a distance of a few km, the peak of Shivagange appears to us in the form of a bull from one of its faces. When viewed from another side, the hill gives us the impression of an eeshwara linga (a Hindu God). It apparently also gives the impression of an elephant and a snake from other angles and I have not personally seen the hill from all possible angles. Of course, it may appear as other things to people of other faiths or non-faith. There is the correspondence theory of truth, which says that a belief or a notion is true if and only if it corresponds to an existing appropriate entity, i.e., a fact. If there is no such entity, the belief is false. If truth has a corresponding fact, then our perception of a bull or a linga in Shivagange hill must be corroborated with the fact of a large rocky statue of a bull or an elephant. But, any such impression of things that are familiar to us, vanish when we get closer to the hill and if we climb the hill, we will notice that the rocks are just rocks.  Does that mean our perception of a bull (nandi) or of a linga from a distance are false or untruths? What about the views from directions other than these four, from where the hill in all likeliness looks merely like a pile of boulders?

The only fact that is probably verifiable about the Shivagange hill will be that a pile of boulders exists at such and such geographical coordinates and if we go there, we may find it.  So, the hill does exist and it is true that the hill exists.  But whether our notions of a nandi, or a shivalinga from a distance are true or not true are not as easy to address.  Some semanticists and redundancy theorists will find fault with the term ‘true’ itself since the usage of the word ‘true’ does not add anything to our perception of the hill’s existence. But, the word ‘true’ has some weight and it gains importance when we use it in more complex collection of statements about this hill.

The process of getting to the ‘truth’ is more or less formulaic if you are in the field of science. It is like watching a hill from a distance, then making one’s way towards it and finally climbing it. Someone holds a belief that has some tangible evidence based on some observations. In other words, he sees the hill of Shivagange from a distance and sees objects that he is familiar with. He will go there to verify his belief. To do that, he will have to conduct some measurements and experiments.  In some cases, more experiments, and even more experiments are needed under different conditions.  Any opinion or hypothesis gets closer to truth and can become absolute truth (a natural law in this case) when experiments are repeatable and the observations provide no exceptions (assuming theorising and experimenting feed off each other).

It is often assumed that truth is singular, and a scientific method helps us get there.  At any given time, the most formidable and evidence based consensus on anything or non-thing is said to be the closest to the absolute truth we aspire to know.  It is indeed repeatable that you or any number of people who view the Shivagange from different angles, can come to the same conclusion (i.e. the hill resembles a bull, a snake, a shivalinga among other things). If someone makes some  accurate measurements of the boulders in situ, and do some spatial modeling, they may find that a random spatial distribution of rocks have given rise to impression of objects familiar to human imagination (common sense, ah!). Are such perceptions part of an incomplete truth? Are they all part of a coherent whole?  Hmm.

Most of us will probably accept that our knowledge of things around us changes everyday and a small fraction of our beliefs and hypotheses, which we thought were truths, no longer remain true. Truth as an evolving and verifiable consensus at a given instance of time, constitutes the pragmatist’s theory of truth. I find that idea attractive.



Ambulance chasers

RAF977_ambulance3I have expressed my displeasure about a profession (namely law) and its practitioners (namely lawyers) on a number of occasions on my weblog.  While I respect some of them (with integrity), those with valuable insight into how India’s constitution works, I respect what they do in the name of due process, I cannot stand lawyers who do not have a heart and do not understand what it means to live beyond a list of codes.  I maintain that it is India’s misfortune that most of her politicians are professional lawyers.   They understand the law and they break it conveniently to suit their own purpose.  They make new laws that help them sustain their (often) corrupt and untenable positions.  I respect exceptions.

Among lawyers there are some who are denigrated by other lawyers (who are not any better themselves).  One such rotten category is that of the Ambulance chasers.   The dictionary meaning of the phrase ambulance chaser tells you that he/she is a lawyer who looks for clients at a disaster site (be it accidents, sabotages, or whatever leading to personal harm).  They encourage victims to sue for damages.  They do not help victims out of genuine compassion, rather they actively seek victims who they think are going to fetch high compensation.  Such disgraceful lawyers would not know their clients beforehand and would not care for the victims if they think the compensation is not easy to get.

Having expressed my disgust for such people, now let me come to ambulance chasers amongst us.  Yes.  You heard me right.  There are many among us (non-lawyers), motorists and commuters, who chase ambulances (literally) on the road to overcome traffic jams.  Those of us who have seen Bangalore grow out of proportions, understand traffic jams better than others.  We have also seen some motorcycle riders and car drivers tailing ambulances in busy traffic.  What the hell are they thinking?  Are they going to save a couple of minutes by chasing an ambulance?  I confess that my temperament while riding my cycle or old scooter is not the same as that of a person who has a 500 cc motorcycle or a 2000 cc four-wheel drive.  But, what on earth are they doing by tailing an ambulance and jumping traffic signals with an ambulance?  They are not relatives of the person who is fighting for life, are they?   I have seen this too often and it makes me very angry each time I see it.  Those of us who do this are no different to those lawyers who seek clients at a disaster site.

ಯಶವಂತ ಚಿತ್ತಾಲರ ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’: ಸತ್ಯದ ಅಜೀರ್ಣದ ಪರಾಕಾಷ್ಠೆ

Shikaari (A novel in Kannada) by Yashavantha Chittala
Shikaari (A novel in Kannada) by Yashavantha Chittala

ಯಶವಂತ ಚಿತ್ತಾಲರ ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯನ್ನು ಓದಿ.  ಪ್ರಕಟವಾದ ವರ್ಷ ೧೯೭೯ (ಮನೋಹರ ಗ್ರಂಥಮಾಲಾ, ಧಾರವಾಡ).  ನಾನು ಓದಿದ್ದೂ ಅದೇ ಆವೃತ್ತಿಯನ್ನೇ.  ಹಳೇ ಪುಸ್ತಕ,  ಹೊಸ ಓದುಗ. ಯಶವಂತ ಚಿತ್ತಾಲರು ಲೇಖಕನ ಕೃತಜ್ಞತೆಗಳನ್ನು ಬರೆಯುವಲ್ಲಿ “ಈ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯು ನನಗೆ ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಸುಖ ಸಮಾಧಾನ ತಂದ ಕೃತಿ” ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ.  ಓದಿದ ಮೇಲೆ ಅದು ಕನ್ನಡದ ಶ್ರೇಷ್ಠ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಗಳ ಸಾಲಿಗೆ ಸೇರುತ್ತದೆ ಎಂಬ ಭಾವನೆ ನಿಮಗೆ ಬರದಿದ್ದರೆ, ನಿಮಗೆ ಬಹುಶಃ  ಸತ್ಯದ ಅಜೀರ್ಣ ಎಂದೂ ಆಗಿಲ್ಲವೆಂದೇ ಹೇಳಬಹುದು.  ನಮ್ಮ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನ ಭಯಗಳನ್ನು, ದೌರ್ಬಲ್ಯಗಳನ್ನು ಹತೋಟಿಯಲ್ಲಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಎಷ್ಟೆಲ್ಲಾ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ‘ಮರೆಮಾಚುವ’ ಕಲೆಯನ್ನು ನಾವು ಚಿಕ್ಕಂದಿನಿಂದಲೇ ರೂಢಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತಾ ಬರುತ್ತೇವಲ್ಲವೇ?  ಬೆಳೆಯುತ್ತಾ  ಹೋದಂತೆ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಔಷಧಿಯ ರೂಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತ್ರ ಬಳಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಕಲಿಯುತ್ತೇವೆ.  ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಪಾಯಸವಾಗಿ, ತೊವ್ವೆಯಾಗಿ, ಗೊಜ್ಜಾಗಿ, ಹೋಳಿಗೆಯಾಗಿ, ಅನ್ನವಾಗಿ…ಇನ್ನೂ ಏನೆಲ್ಲಾ ರೂಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೇರದಿದ್ದರೂ ಬಾಯಿಗೆ ತುರುಕಿಕೊಂಡರೆ, ಅಥವಾ ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಗೆ ಸುರಿದುಕೊಂಡರೆ ಏನಾಗಬಹುದು? ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯ ಕೇಂದ್ರ ಪಾತ್ರ ನಾಗಪ್ಪ (ಉರುಫ಼್ ಪ್ರೊಫ್. ನಾಗನಾಥ) ಅನುಭವಿಸುವ ಮೈಮನ ನವಿರೇಳಿಸುವ, ಮೃದುವಿರೇಚಕ ಸತ್ಯದ ಪರಿಚಯ (ಅಥವಾ ಶೋಧ) ಓದುಗನ ಮೇಲೂ ಗಾಢವಾದ ಪರಿಣಾಮ ಬೀರುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಶಯವೇ ಇಲ್ಲ.

ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅನೇಕ ಬಾರಿ “ಶಿಕಾರಿ ಯಾರು/ಯಾವುದು?”, “ಶಿಕಾರಿಗೆ ಹೊರಟವರಾರು?ಹೊರತಾದವರಾರು?”, “ಶಿಕಾರಿ ಎಂದರೆ ಏನು?” ಎಂಬಿತ್ಯಾದಿ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳು ಸಹಜವಾಗಿ ಉದ್ಭವಿಸುತ್ತವೆ.  ಅವುಗಳಿಗೆ ಉತ್ತರವೂ ಸಿಕ್ಕಂತಾಗುವಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲೇ, ಅಧ್ಯಾಯದಿಂದ ಅಧ್ಯಾಯಕ್ಕೆ ಉತ್ತರಗಳು ಬದಲಾಗುತ್ತಾ  ಹೋಗುತ್ತವೆ.  ಈ ತೆರನಾದ ಬಿಗಿ, ಉತ್ಸುಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಕಾಯ್ದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ಉತೃಷ್ಟ ಕಾದಂಬರಿ ಚಿತ್ತಾಲರ “ಶಿಕಾರಿ”.     ಮನೋವೈಜ್ಞಾನಿಕ ವಿಶ್ಲೇಷಣೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಹೇರಳವಾದ ಅವಕಾಶ ಒದಗಿಸುತ್ತಾ, ಅದರ ಜೊತೆ-ಜೊತೆಗೇ ಲೌಕಿಕ ಲೆಕ್ಕಾಚಾರಗಳ ಭ್ರಷ್ಟ ಅಂತರಂಗವನ್ನು ತೆರೆದಿಡುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನದಲ್ಲಿ ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’ ಮತ್ತಷ್ಟು ಜಟಿಲವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ, ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಸ್ನೇಹ ಪೂರ್ವಕವಾಗಿ ಓದಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತದೆ.

‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’ಯ ಪಾತ್ರಗಳು ಆಡುವ ಒಂದೊಂದು ಮಾತಿಗೂ ಇರುವ ಸಾಂದರ್ಭಿಕ ಹಿನ್ನೆಲೆ ಮತ್ತು ತಾರ್ಕಿಕ ನೆಲೆಯು ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯನ್ನು ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣವಾಗಿ ಓದಿ ಮುಗಿಸಿದ ಮೇಲೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಅರಿವಿಗೆ ಬರಲಾರಂಭಿಸುತ್ತವೆ. ಅದರಲ್ಲೂ ಮುಖ್ಯಪಾತ್ರ ನಾಗಪ್ಪನ ಮಾತುಗಳು ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಾಳದಲ್ಲಿ ಉಳಿಯುತ್ತವೆ.  ಉದಾ:  ನಾನು ಶೀರ್ಷಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಬಳಸಿರುವ ಸತ್ಯದ ಅಜೀರ್ಣ ಎಂಬ ಪದಪುಂಜವೂ ನಾಗಪ್ಪನದೇ (ಪುಟ ೨೪೮). ನಾವು ನಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ಅನೇಕ ಪ್ರಮುಖ ನಿರ್ಧಾರಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಸತತ ಧ್ಯಾನದ, ತಿಂಗಳುಗಟ್ಟಲೆ ಪಟ್ಟ ಶ್ರಮದಾಯಕ ತಯಾರಿಯ ಬಲ ಮತ್ತು ಛಲಗಳಿರುತ್ತವೆ.  ಆ ನಿರ್ಧಾರದ ಆಕರ್ಷಣೆಯು ನಮ್ಮ ತಯಾರಿಗೆ ಯಾಗ ಸ್ವರೂಪವನ್ನು ತಂದುಕೊಡುತ್ತದೆ.  ಆಗ ನಾವಾಡುವ ಒಂದೊಂದು ಮಾತಿಗೂ “ಮಂತ್ರೋಚ್ಚಾರದ ಧಾಟಿ” ಬರುತ್ತದೆ (ಪುಟ ೧೦೮).  ನಾಗಪ್ಪನ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನ ಬೆಳವಣಿಗೆಗಳನ್ನು ವಿಶದಪಡಿಸುವಾಗ ಚಿತ್ತಾಲರು ಮಾಡುವ ಅಪೂರ್ವ ಭಾಷಾ ಪ್ರಯೋಗಗಳೂ, ಮಾನಸಿಕ ಅಧ್ಯಯನದ ಹೊಳಹುಗಳೂ ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’ಯನ್ನು ಉತ್ತಮದಿಂದ ಅತ್ಯುತ್ತಮದ ಸಾಲಿಗೆ ಒಯ್ಯುತ್ತವೆ.

ವಿಜ್ಞಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಒಲವಿರುವವರಿಗೆ ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’ ನಿಜವಾಗಿಯೂ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಓದು.  ಜೀವ ವಿಕಾಸವಾದ, ರಸಾಯನ ವಿಜ್ಞಾನದ ಹಿನ್ನೆಲೆ ಅಲ್ಲಲ್ಲೇ ಇಣುಕು ಹಾಕುತ್ತವೆ, ಆದರೆ ಅವೇ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಯ ಕೇಂದ್ರವಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.  ಚಿತ್ತಾಲರು   ಅಲ್ಲಲ್ಲೇ ಅನೇಕ ಪಾಶ್ಚಿಮಾತ್ಯ ಲೇಖಕರ, ಚಿಂತಕರ ವಿಚಾರಧಾರೆಗಳನ್ನು ಓದುಗನಿಗೆ ಎಲ್ಲೂ ತತ್ವಬೋಧೆಯ ಅಜೀರ್ಣ ಆಗದ ಹಾಗೆ ಉಪಯೋಗಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದು ಅದ್ಭುತವಾಗಿದೆ.  ಓದುಗರಿಗೆ ಆ ಲೇಖಕರಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾರ ಪರಿಚಯವಾಗಲೀ  ಅಥವಾ ಅವರ ಬರವಣಿಗೆಗಳ ಓದಾಗಲೀ ಬೇಕಾಗಿಲ್ಲ (ನಾನೂ ಯಾರನ್ನೂ ಓದಿಲ್ಲ).  ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’ ಯಾವುದನ್ನೂ ಬೋಧಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ,  ಯಾರನ್ನೂ ಅನುಮೋದಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ, ಅಥವಾ ಯಾವುದನ್ನೂ ಕಟ್ಟಾಗಿ ಪ್ರತಿಪಾದಿಸುವುದಿಲ್ಲ.   ಮನುಷ್ಯನ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನ ನಾಗಾಲೋಟಗಳ ಮಧ್ಯೆ ಅಲ್ಲಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತು, ಸುಧಾರಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿ,  ಆ ಕ್ಷಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಓಟದ ಆಯಾಸ ಮರೆತಂತೆ ಮಾಡಿಸಿ, ಮರುಕ್ಷಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಲಕ್ಷ-ಲಕ್ಷ ಜ್ಯೋತಿರ್ವರ್ಷಗಳನ್ನು ಕ್ರಮಿಸುವ ಅಪ್ರತಿಮ ಬರವಣಿಗೆ ಚಿತ್ತಾಲರ ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’.

ನಾನು ‘ಶಿಕಾರಿ’ಯ ಪರಿಚಯ ಮಾಡುವ ಭರದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದರ ಕಥಾ ಸ್ವಾರಸ್ಯವನ್ನೋ ಅಥವಾ ಪಾತ್ರ ಸೂಕ್ಷ್ಮಗಳನ್ನೋ ಹೇಳುವ ಅಪಾಯವಿದೆ.  ಅದು ನನಗೆ ಬೇಕಿಲ್ಲ.  ಅದನ್ನು ನೀವೇ ಓದಿ ತಿಳಿದುಕೊಳ್ಳಿ.  ನನ್ನ ಮೇಲಿರುವ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಒತ್ತಡಗಳ ನಡುವೆಯೂ (ನಿಮಗೆ ಇನ್ನಷ್ಟು ಹೇಳಬೇಕೆಂಬ ಆತುರದ ನಡುವೆಯೂ) ನನ್ನ ನಿಲುವಿಗೆ ಅಂಟಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವ ಶಿಕಾರಿ ನಾನಾಗುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾ ಇಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ನನ್ನ ಬರಹವನ್ನು ಮುಗಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ (ಪುಟ ೯೬ ನೋಡಿ).

At your service

photo courtesy:  Betsy Russell (The Spokesman Review)
photo courtesy: Betsy Russell (The Spokesman Review)

Government servants in India are usually associated with their pomp and a sense of entitlement, which goes against the very essence of being in service of the Government and of the people. Occasionally one does come across some officers of merit, who hang on to their conscience and stay true to the real purpose of their position as a people’s servant.  It is a sad reality that such officers are an exception to the rule.  One such rare encounters with a duty-minded government official has prompted me to write this blog article today.  I would not mention who the officer was and what it was that made him normal and humane.  Yes, I meant normal.  He was a good officer and I feel that it ought to be a norm.  I do not want to see anything special in what should be the norm.  Being an honest, conscientious and sympathetic citizen must be the norm and not an exception.

Indian societies often try to identify and honour people who are honest, duty-minded and those dedicated to a just cause.  The saying goes that we value goodness when it shines amidst a sea of crookedness.  Why it is that we as a society promote good people by praising their honesty, courage and duty-mindedness? We ought to leave them alone.  We have tried promoting goodness forever and I don’t see any result.  It is either there or it isn’t.  If charity seeks charitable comments, then it is no good.  It is as good as some large international companies promoting their so-called “good-side” by highlighting their charitable associations.  You get a sense for people’s real motivation when you can see what it is that they have to gain by doing what they do.

Does the process of recognizing goodness, benevolence, talent, or achievements has any role at all in our society?  I would be foolish not to recognize its importance.  Such a process of recognition has immense value when it happens at a personal level.  I recognized and appreciated the humane government official I came across.  I wrote a few sentences in the feedback book to express my satisfaction with the way I was treated in his office.   I tried to understand the officer’s motifs that made him give a sympathetic hearing to everyone that came to him.  Why would he do it when nobody in his position has the patience to do it?  Did he have an intention to be honest and sympathetic because it looked good and people praised him in return?  Alternatively, did he do it because he did not know any other way of dealing with people?  I hope to believe in the latter.   It makes me feel good about myself.  I must try to be honest here and it is hard!