Archive for the ‘Humanity’ Category
We have heard of many dictators and their notorious deeds. We did hear about a lot of aggressive ideologies and the disasters they brought in human life. However, we do escape one major reason of conflict in human history – the religion.
If we look at the current world, we can start counting the deaths around ourselves. Let me start with India, my own country. The string of incidents making news headlines for last few months is the burning of Churches across the India. It was obviously accompanied with violence against women and brutal murders. The funny excuse was that of conversion, which never really happened forcibly. I rule out forcible conversions since the Christians are neither in majority, nor in power.
It is alleged that they use their financial strength to convert the adivasis of India. That’s actually more funny excuse. Who doesn’t use money to spread influence? It’s from individual to an election candidate in democracy, from a dictator to a democratic nation – everybody uses their money-power to spread influence. Rather than looking at the centuries of social injustice the Adivasis had faced, these people promote violence to deprive them from the last ray of hope. There is a strong statistical correlation in Indian Adivasi dominated areas between the percentage of people adopting Christianity and the literacy rates. If adopting another religion brings literacy, prosperity in India – why should these so-called Nationalists are against it?
If these excuses seem funny, then more funny facts await you. The mass-murderers called Indian Mujaheeden (or Mujaheden) are caught with prompt action. This contradicts my previous post, where I bashed Indian Police Forces, but this time they acted promptly. However, the same was not true about those who burnt Churches and Missionaries in Orissa and Karnataka. The Govt is still “debating” whether to ban the Bajrang Dal for this violence.
Talking about IM (Indian Mujaheden), one of the alleged leaders of the team was indeed an young educated Indian Muslim (as predicted in my previous post) and was illuded by some divine feelings on his visit to Mecca. “We are not bothered about what happens in this life” – he said to The Times of India, and we know what kind of life is waiting for him as per religious books. The virgins will soon fight for him as he is going to be one of the “Chosen ones” by the God. Unfortunately or fortunately, he won’t be able to share his post-death experience with us.
In a more serious affair, I came across incidents of riots in Eastern states of Assam between some Muslim settlers and ethnic Bodos. Bodos are fighting for their independent state for long and only God knows why it is not given. The outcome of this conflict (with bow and arrow) was casualties and displacements on both sides. This will lead to strength of terrorist outfits of Bodos and Muslims. And, forgot to add, religion is the unique line of difference between them that never will be wiped off. So, both parties have to literally – “sleep with their enemies”.
After the Indian comedy, let me turn onto Pakistan. Pakistan has been on the top of the hit list of the religious groups. Statistically, in the year 2008, Pakistan had more terrorist casualty than that of Iraq. I have seen Pakistanis blaming the Americans for the debacle. However, the people who bomb them are essentially either Pakistanis or Talibans whom their people actively supported for years. And what they were doing when these people were indoctrinated for hate? World has come to a full-cycle in Pakistan. The same people, who were indoctrinated years ago to hate others, are coming back against them since they no longer can support them.
The hate cycle reminds me of a snake in Puran. It ate everything it got around, and ultimately start eating itself from the tail. The religion first eats non-religious, then the other religions, then starts eating the self. Pakistan has already arrived at the last stage. India is still at the second one … but how long?
I tried to come up with a rough transcript of what Weinberg said. I hope you’ll enjoy. I am again working on translating some of his works. Steven Weinberg is the Nobel Prize winner in Physics in 1979.
All of these works related to data collection on Big Bang, are resultant of unmanned missions – be it Hubble Space Telescope or a Satellite for observation. An astronaut is not required here. They might bump into the things and the designer has to make the spacecraft especially hospitable for Human beings. You don’t want people working as a part of real scientific observation, except on the ground where it is hospitable for humans. Unfortunately there is a fascination of puting people in space by Russia, USA and some other countries. USA has a policy of going back to the Moon and then Mars at the cost of hundreds of billions of Dollars, if not trillions. This may have some justification in terms of excitement and drama, after all we support football, Olympics and all kinds of drama in theatre. But don’t confuse it with Science – it’s the Disney version of Science. Real science cares about the observation, made by manned or unmanned missions and painfully connecting them to the real world of theories. People are going the Moon and playing golf – looks magnificent but it has nothing to do with science. That’s actually a Walt Disney’s version of Science that is more involved in entertainment and less in actual reasoning.
The thing that really has an impact on us is the culture of Science. No one in this room will ever stand on the Moon. But we all can share the results of Scientific research. We can benefit to sense what kind of world we are living in. We have seen over the centuries the gradual demystification of the world and gradual recognition that we are not at the center of the things. The Universe is not a ‘Cosmic drama’, where we are given some ‘heroic’ roles. It all started with Tyco Brahe realizing that our Earth is nothing but just another planet rotating around the Sun. He was burnt alive. In 1920s, it was discovered by Hubble that our Galaxy is one of many Galaxies floating in the Universe and each of them are having billions of stars in them. There is nothing particular in our Galaxy. And now, we have the idea, which is not yet established, that our Big Bang is nothing special. It’s just another bang in the Universe which Big Bangs go on sporadically due to instability and equations of motion of matter except that ours was the bang that by chance had the right kind of parameters to spawn life on at least some parts of Universe and we can wonder about it.
So, the world once appeared mysterious, and it seemed a nymph in every tree could enable you to explain the way the world works. Everything seemed beyond our understanding unless there were personalities out there doing things, making fire, making thunder. As Science progressed we learned that there is no need to assume the personalities out there to make things happen. We understand the nature works in a very impersonal way. And I think perhaps the greatest impact that this kind of Scientific research may have or I hope will have is not for the knowledge it produces but for the model it provides for seeking the truth. Our Science as a whole offers a way of knowing. We are always tentative and never say that we are sure of something. Some things become very well established with consensus – for example the Big Bang has now. But we admit it might be wrong, especially when we go back in time towards the stage of inflation and the quantum beginning. We admit that we are speculating. However, No one is burnt alive for his difference in opinion in Cosmology, though some people do have very peculiar opinions.
Our knowledge is thus based on observation and reason, implied to be self-correcting and also very much culture-free. The Cosmology that is studied in my country or that of yours (Canada) is the same as the Cosmology that is studied in Japan and India. We don’t have a cosmological truth for you and one for me and one for somebody living overseas. We are uncertain about it, but we all working towards a common truth. It’s not an outgrowth of our culture.
Above all, we have an attitude towards authority that the world could well emulate. We do have heroes in Science - in my own field of Physics and Cosmology we can name Einstein, Hubble, Satellite makers. But they are not Prophets. They are not people whose words we remember and go back to for guidance in Scientific research. No one today reads Einstein’s papers except for historical interests. Any graduate student, here in this University, understands general relativity better than Einstein did because our subject is a cumulative one. Although we honor Einstein, we never dream of settling a scientific dispute by asking what Einstein said about it. In other words, we have our heroes but we don’t have prophets. And looking at the world today, where people are willing to kill each other because of religious certainty, because of books that were written thousands of years ago supposedly by God – looking at the way the world benefitted by its prophets, I would say the example of Science as a good one that we need more heroes and fewer prophets.
Any Scientific minded person who considers himself as a religious or an atheist, should read thses wonderful articles of Albert Einstein. These are, in a sense, an eye-opener to me, that how beautifully one could express the ways to reconcile religion and science. There are four master-pieces, all of them are worth reading at a stretch. I know there will be many religious people claiming that Einstein was a ‘deeply religious’, but what I found here, that he defined the religion in totally a different way to build himself as ‘deeply religious’. Let’s go through a few excellent quotes.
On how the religion has come :
“With primitive man it is above all fear that evokes religious notions – fear of hunger, wild beasts, sickness, death. Since at this stage of existence understanding of causal connections is usually poorly developed, the human mind creates illusory beings more or less analogous to itself on whose wills and actions these fearful happenings depend. Thus one tries to secure the favor of these beings by carrying out actions and offering sacrifices which, according to the tradition handed down from generation to generation … This, though not created, is in an important degree stabilized by the formation of a special priestly caste which sets itself up as a mediator between the people and the beings they fear …”
Problems in the above definition of religion and his own view :
“Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. … I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it. … The individual feels the futility of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. Individual existence impresses him as a sort of prison and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. Buddhism, as we have learned especially from the wonderful writings of Schopenhauer, contains a much stronger element of this. “
On morality :
“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death.”
In praise of religion (article 1 and 2):
“The highest principles for our aspirations and judgments are given to us in the Jewish-Christian religious tradition. If one were to take that goal out of its religious form and look merely at its purely human side, one might state it perhaps thus: free and responsible development of the individual, so that he may place his powers freely and gladly in the service of all mankind.”
Defining a religious person and religion (Article 3) :
“a person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings, and aspirations to which he clings because of their superpersonalvalue. … Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts.”
In support of Science :
“For example, a conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against the doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs.”
This is exactly where he sounds like an absolute Atheist :
“Nobody, certainly, will deny that the idea of the existence of an omnipotent, just, and omnibeneficent personal God is able to accord man solace, help, and guidance; also, by virtue of its simplicity it is accessible to the most undeveloped mind. But, on the other hand, there are decisive weaknesses attached to this idea in itself, which have been painfully felt since the beginning of history. That is, if this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him? … The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God. “
How religions with ‘personal God’ will play around Science :
“To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. “
A request to religious leaders to modify their approach to religion :
“In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests.”
Again restricting religion in the domain of idealism and attitude :
“As regards religion, on the other hand, one is generally agreed that it deals with goals and evaluations and, in general, with the emotional foundation of human thinking and acting, as far as these are not predetermined by the inalterable hereditary disposition of the human species. Religion is concerned with man’s attitude toward nature at large, with the establishing of ideals for the individual and communal life, and with mutual human relationship.”
On in-community brotherly love :
“For while religion prescribes brotherly love in the relations among the individuals and groups, the actual spectacle more resembles a battlefield than an orchestra. “
Overall, I feel the articles are really great. The gist is – Science and Religion are friends is they stay in their own ground. Science should not try to guide what is worthy and what is worthless, what we should do and what we should not. At the same time, Religion should not try to describe how the nature works, neither should it insist anything to be ‘created’ by God as a person. He condemned the idea of ‘religion of fear’, that is, the idea to tell people to be good only because some Omnipotent God will punish them otherwise after death. Overall, these come under one of the best read articles of my life time – they sound very strong.
Links once more.
I am trying to get a few of the best quotes in favor of Atheism and eventually landed up in a pile of quotes. Ultimately, I decided to pick up a few of them to make my own list.
“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.” – George Bernard Shaw.
“Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” – Bertrand Russell
“To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.”
-Isaac Asimov, “On Religiosity,” Free Inquiry
“If revealed religions have revealed anything it is that they are usually wrong.”
- Francis Crick
“I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations.”
- Charles Darwin
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”
- Richard Dawkins
“To those searching for truth — not the truth of dogma and darkness but the truth brought by reason, search, examination, and inquiry, discipline is required. For faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction — faith in fiction is a damnable false hope.”
- Thomas Edison
“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”
- Albert Einstein
“God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you’re taking away from God; you don’t need him anymore.” – Richard P Feynman
“I do not believe in God, because I believe in man. Whatever his mistakes, man has for thousands of years past been working to undo the botched job your God has made.”
– Emma Goldman
“There is in every village a torch: the schoolmaster — and an extinguisher: the parson.”
– Victor Hugo
“He who has made great moral progress ceases to pray.”
– Immanuel Kant
“The skeptic has no illusions about life, nor a vain belief in the promise of immortality. Since this life here and now is all we can know, our most reasonable option is to live it fully.”
– Paul Kurtz
“The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organized religion, in India and elsewhere, has filled us with horror, and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it.”
– Jawaharlal Nehru
“I don’t need God because I want neither paradise nor hell.”
– Aziz Nesin
“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”
– Carl Sagan
“… the swindle of life and the treachery of a God that can create disease and misery and crime — create things that men would be condemned for creating– that men would be ashamed to create.”
– Mark Twain
“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
“Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things — that takes religion.”
– Steven Weinberg
While I write on Richard Dawkins and Evolution in my blog, a group named mukto-mona have taken up their pens to write up in Bengali. It’s great to see people scribing for Atheism and Dawkins in Bengali. Let me refer you all to some of the best resources available in Bengali.
1) The first chapter of The God Delusion.
2) A book on Evolution by Bonnya Ahmed – continued for multiple chapters. It is also available as a book at Bangladesh Ekushe Boimela.
3) A Richard Dawkins article on Religion and Evolution.
4) The Journey of Science to find Life – An excellent write up on modern science (especially focussing on the roots of Universe and what is Life) starting from Big Bang to Extraterrestrial life, divided into multiple parts.
The life of Charles Darwin is described in Bengali.
And of course, anybody want to publish their views in Bengali, can send it to them or join a yahoo group called mukto-mona. There are numerous good articles both in English and Bengali published at the site. I bet that anybody will enjoy most of them. To a Bengali living in West Bengal, I would recommend these article since they should know how close they are to someone living accross the border – in Bangladesh.
Of late I have been writing on the ill-effect of religion to resist the science and the scientific study of nature. After writing on the Memetics of the religions, I decided to look further deep to understand why exactly science is obstructed – is the religion the root cause or human nature itself blocks the development. I discovered that the intuitiveness, a virtue of a human being, is considered to be the worst enemy of science education. In other words, human beings are programmed to oppose science instinctively. The best explanation comes in favor of it by analyzing the natural learning process of a human being.
Children and Science
Prior to exposure to organized study of science, children use their intuition to judge and gather knowledge about the world they see – both physical and social knowledge. The examples social knowledge can include the identification of parents and close relatives. The physical domain experiences include the observational fact that objects fall in the ground or it hurts more if dropped from higher places.
The problem with teaching children the science is not what student is lacks, but what the student has already assumed to be the truth as per physical domain experience. As an example, once a child ‘knows’ that objects fall, it’s difficult to convince him that the Earth is spherical in shape, because they perceive that people should ‘fall’ out of the bottom half of the sphere. Also, a flat world fits their observation that they can see, sometimes, in a dilemma, they pick up a false idea of a flat livable flat place on top of a spherical Earth.
Michael McCloskey, a professor of Cognitive Science in John Hopkins University, conducted a survey among adult American students to find out how scientific they are. He took the domain of objects in motion, something that people both read theories and observe a lot of times in their day to day life. He presented diagrams to depict a physical condition and asked the students how the motion of the object would be in those conditions. He asked how a ball should continue after coming out of curved tube, what trajectory a ball should fall when dropped from a moving aero plane or from the roof and many more of these. The result was strikingly different from what was expected, people went by ‘common perception’ or what we see in life. Most of them told that the ball from the aero plane will fall straight, or come out of a curved tube in a curved motion. Interestingly, when asked about the motion of water out of a curved hose-pipe, they mentioned it to be straight, since it comes into their direct space of observation.
McCloskey concluded that everyone (children or adults) builds a naïve theory in their brain out of the observations they make. These theories are often wrong and also carry casual explanations along with them. These naive theories are dominant in ancient scripts and continue to be the base of pseudo-science. A sustainable knowledge of science needs to overcome these barriers of naïve theories within a human being.
To overcome this resistance, the establishment of trustworthy source is necessary. Children, when unable to verify most of the claims, try to verify the sources of the claim. To a child, parents and the closer relatives are the most trustworthy source. So, in case science teacher in school teaches them about evolution and parents back home opposes that, then, they are bound to take the parents’ one. Not only that, they grow idea about books and newspaper those are trustworthy. They tend to believe ideas from an adult who is confident and who can map their theories to real life. Most notable point here is the trustworthiness they gather, carries to their adulthood. And it holds true for religious, political and moral beliefs also. The idea to overcome science resistance is to inject science at every level of information source, so that people understand them as trustworthy, even if it conflicts the naïve theories in mind.
In India, the presence of naïve theories in the form of superstitions is very potent. One example I can pick up, is related to “Snakes eating milk and banana”. These theories are present from religious background and get verified by the children from their trustworthy adults. I used to believe that snakes really eat them as society elders talked about them. I came to the correct knowledge only after a science campaign run on television. The naïve theories (example: firm land should be kept idle for a certain period of time to retain land-fertility) present among farmers are also the result of their intuitions, and campaigners find them difficult to replace with modern science (following crop-rotation).
The discussion above points out that we need more prominent scientists to come up at the stage, at public debates or at television programs to articulate and defend science as a unique process of acquiring knowledge. The society today, if it is superstitious and religious like that of India, is a result of egoistic apathy of the scientists, who ignore their social responsibility to convey their message to common people. More research and more innovations might bring more money to them, but ultimately, in a democracy, people rules. So, a social awareness of the science is the only way people can become scientific, or at least can consider science as a trustworthy source of information.
India is known for tolerance to difference in opinion and thoughts. There were multiple religions spawned off in India due to diversity among Indian people. Although, in modern days, most of the Indians remain religious and do believe in God, traces of Indian history shows the existence of Atheism in ancient Indian societies.
In Ancient Hinduism, there were a couple of schools who used to teach non-existence of God. The first one, Samkhya, used to believe in duality of existing things – as per the book, saamkhya kaarikaa. Prakriti (Nature) and Purusha (Consciousness) were thought to be the basic building blocks of everything. However, the school later incorporated Iswara as a third entity and became theist. The other Atheist school of thought was Mimamsha, which concentrated on Dharma rather than gods.
Other than Hinduism, most philosophies of Jainism and Budhhism denied involvement of God. Both of these religions did not deny the presence of God, but neither did they attribute any power of creation or judgement to God. The future of a living being was thought to be decided by the actions of the being – something that this more materialistic than the thoughts of core Hinduism. It suggests more of a ‘way of life’ than describing the ‘way to satisfy god’. However, later most of the Buddhists started worshipping Buddha as god.
The other interesting school of thought that taught atheism in materialistic sense, was Carvaka (or Charvaka), named after the its founder saint. The key features of the Carvaka philosophy, as described in Sarvadarshansamgraha by Madhavacarya, were purely materialistic and thereby rejecting the afterlife. Interestingly, it points out that soul and intelligence are parts of our body, something that I was trying to argue in a previous writing. It looks at rituals being sources of living and not a way to get to the heaven. It contained the strongest atheistic viewpoint where it refuses to accept any ‘creator’ for natural things – and argues that any phenomenon can be produced by the inherent nature of things. Here goes a famous verse :
“Fire is hot, water cold,
refreshingly cool is the breeze of morning;
By whom came this variety?
They were born of their own nature.”
The Carvaka philosophy was deeply down to earth – close to secular humanism. It questioned the caste system as a process imposed by Brahmins. It is amazing to observe how close they were to the modern view of humanity, when a verse reads :
If our offering sacrifices here gratify beings in heaven,
why not make food offerings down below
to gratify those standing on housetops?
While life remains, let a man live happily,
let him feed on butter though he runs in debt;
When once the body becomes ashes,
how can it ever return again?
Critics of the Carvaka school see this cleaving to only artha and kama, without regard of dharma (and ultimate moksha) as an extreme of self-centred hedonism. One can easily understand why modern day atheists are also classified as hedonists – the similar feelings were present in early India as well.
In medival ages, the presence of Atheism was missing – something that led to a stricter grip of caste-divided Hinduism. The lack of balancing force resulted in dogmatic religious beliefs, superstitions and the society headed towards darkness, till the modern day renaissance, with major influence of Vedanta philosophy.
A few days back, when I wrote about plebiscite in Kashmir, I tried to point out the pain of redrawing the border. Ironically, within a few days, I am writing up the next one, exactly on the conditions before redrawing a border. March 26th is known to be the Independence day of Bangladesh. But, the day before marks the beginning of the biggest genocide in post world-war era.
The reason I am writing this article is to educate Indians and Pakistanis about these incidents. I found it to be shocking that most Indians still remember 1971 as the year when India defeated Pakistan in a brisk war. A lot of Pakistanis also think that it was a “fall of Dhaka” due to the betrayal of East Pakistan. While both India and Pakistan continue to protest a few thousand murders in Iraq, they should also look a few years back to see their neighbors and ex-countrymates killed en-masse.
Let’s get into the topic now. I can start with the build-up to this incident. After the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951, political power began to be concentrated in the President of Pakistan, and eventually, the military. The nominal elected chief executive, the Prime Minister, was frequently sacked by the establishment, acting through the President.The military dictatorships of Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan, both West Pakistanis, only heightened feelings of deprivation of East. Finally, when Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League won a clear majority in the elections of 1970, the West Pakistan establishment refused to allow Mujib to form a government. The party won 167 of the 169 seats allotted to East Pakistan, and thus a majority of the 300 seats in the National Assembly. On 3rd March 1971, the two leaders (Bhutto was the other) of the two wings along with the President General Yahya Khan met in Dhaka to decide the fate of the country. Talks failed. General Tikka Khan was flown in to Dhaka to become Governor of East Bengal. A unit of East Pakistan Rifles refused to obey commands to fire on Bengali demonstrators, beginning a mutiny of Bengali soldiers.
Then came the March 25th, 1971. The Army started what was named as ‘Operation Searchlight‘. The commandos easily captured Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the beginning of the crackdown. Army assaulted the Dhaka University area and killed unarmed students present in the halls, and also some professors, then moved on to attack the Hindu areas and the old town. Captured Bengali soldiers, EPR and Police personnel were executed or improsioned without trial.
In an editorial, The Daily Star, a leading Bangladeshi newspaper, reproduced some accounts of the day. I quote a few incidents of atrocities from the same source :
- “At Jagannath and Iqbal Halls, students were mown down mercilessly. Other students were forced to dig a large grave and once that was done, they too were shot. All the bodies were dumped into the grave, which was then bulldozed by the army.”
- “Soldiers burst into the quarters of the philosopher Gobinda Chandra Dev and murdered him. They also killed the mathematics teacher Rafiqul Islam. And they left Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta, a senior teacher in the English Department of Dhaka University, seriously wounded.”
- “Outside the campus, the soldiers razed the Kali Mandir, a Hindu temple inside the Race Course compound, to the ground. In similar fashion, they blew up the Central Shaheed Minar before the Dhaka Medical College Hospital. On the streets, common citizens were murdered at random. Rickshaw pullers died even as they slept on their three-wheelers.”
- “The military also set fire to the Ittefaq and Sangbad newspapers, leaving those inside dead or wounded.”
There are many more accounts of the incidents of 25th March by Journalists. The famous ones were from Simon Dring (British Journo to capture the incidents first) and Arnold Zeitlin (Associated Press). Rediff and Globalwebpost sites also reported the same incidents successfully. Among eyewitness accounts, one from Rafiqul Islam is available in English on the net. A private site has also depicted the dateline of 25th March.
What was the reaction in India? There was not much of reaction among the people of India other than in West Bengal. The political leadership was busy chalking out a strategy for separation of East Pakistan. The common people were hardly aware of what was going on. The aftermath was known to all – India-Pakistan war of 1971 and the Liberation of Bangladesh. The world was also kept in dark. More frustatingly, people who cite examplify genocide with Iraq and Afghanistan, take out pocessions and rallies in soliderity with them, simply forget Bangladesh.
I feel Pakistan did absolutely nothing to accept the war-crimes committed by the Military. The atrocities were established in Hamoodor Rahman Commission report. But, the accused were never prosecuted. The Govt of India released all PoWs, including those accused of genocide. Remembering the incident, I hope that people of Pakistan would soon understand the atrocities committed by their Army and pressurize their govt to issue a former acknowledgement of the war-crimes.
The news of Fake Encounters really shaked my heart. From today onwards, I won’t be at the same mood seeing ‘routine’ killing of militants in Kashmir. As it was in the case of ‘Abu Hafiz’, the LeT Commander. Army sources told us that he was killed an ‘encounter’ with SOG (Special Operations Group) on 8th December. And the person who actually killed him, got an award of 120,000Rs (almost US$ 2700).
Almost after one and half months, another prize was offered by an old man, Ghulam Rasool Padroo at Rambagh Police Station near Srinagar. He offered 20,000 Rs to the ASP to find out his missing son Abdul Rehman Padroo, a father of 5 children, a carpenter in profession. The connection between the mentioned incidents is known to us. A DNA examination will be carried out to confirm the the killing of Abdul in a chilling ‘fake encounter’.
The key to this was Constable Farooq Rehman Padroo, a relative of Abdul. Abdul used to work at Rural Development department as a daily wage worker. He paid bribe of Rs. 75,000 to Farooq to ensure a permanent job in that operation. But neither the job was ensured, nor the money came back. 8th December, 2006, he called him to the Police Station. Abdul never returned back. It is alleged that Farooq, with his four associates in the Police Station, killed Abdul and distributed the money among themselves.
The latest update : The SSP Hansraj Parihar and his deputy Bahadur Ram are been arrested in the connection. The tension continues in Kashmir. TOI reports that even ShivSena is protesting these fake encounters.
How can we survive the corruption by lawkeepers? Or perhaps we can if we have some money to engage a few people, a few renouned lawyers, a few NGOs and media. But, what’s really a price of a carperner in a terror-prone Kashmir? What can his family do to save his life? Nothing … practically.
Today I went to a cinema hall to watch and enjoy the sequel of Munnabhai MBBS. The new film, named Lage raho Munnabhai, is a very good blend of humour, emotion and thought. But, in this blog, I am not going to discuss about the film, but about a slide of a public awareness campaign displayed at interval. The message was against child labour and it reads like : “Don’t enslave children – they are God’s gift to us”. Given an Indian context, it’s not so striking to see a reference to God in a public awareness program, where the author of the message has chosen the religious ground against child labour ahead of moral, humanitarian or legal provisions. But, does it really matter? Are these grounds really different? All of these suggests or orders you a few do’s and dont’s – still they have differences.
Let me discuss them one by one. I accept that religion was one of the sources of the rest three though those terms were distinctively identified only after a lot of progress made by humankind in modern era. All of these are actually the result of unending feedback mechanism running in human society – the experience gathered out of an event, it’s repercussions and the outcome. This feedback mechanism makes the latter three more powerful than religion, which is static by definition. Hence, the rest three, being not cluttered by divinity, are very different entity from religion. For example, one can see the basis of Hindu laws and the current Indian laws and notice the transformation.
Next it comes to the morality and humanity. Morality refers to the concept of human ethics which pertains to matters of good and evil and it is closely attached to culture. Humanity is the most popular term among these in modern era – which is defined through commitment towards a set of Human Rights. At a first glance it might ask that at what respect we are considering good and evil. If the scale is Humanity, then these terms become synonymous. But the matter of fact is that, we are run not only by our personal ethics and morality, but we also have to share the moral values of the society – known as public morality. But, humanity is to ensure rights for every human being. So, violation of human rights of a single individual is still considered ‘moral’ in a typical human society, if the action conforms to public morality. A good example of this can be censorship or dress-codes.
The interesting fact is that the definition of morality and humanity differs in different societies. There are a few different terms on this – one is moral relativism and the other is moral pluralism. Relativistic positions often see moral values as applicable only within certain cultural boundaries or in the context of individual preferences. The value pluralism acknowledges the co-existence of opposing ideas and practices, but does not require granting them equal validity. There is a third opinion by Friedrich Nietzsche that identifies morality as an error introduced in human beings through the concept of dualism (every action can be categorized as good or bad) and nurtured by the religion. He believed that mankind would progress and fulfill this potential only by starting to act naturally and instinctively according to each individual’s desires and drives. Coming back to difference of views, it was obvious that if human beings cannot agree on morality, they can’t define the basic human rights to be acknowledged globally. The outcome was the lack of universal appeal in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that was later openly opposed by CDHRI(Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam).
The Law, is the set of rules or norms of conduct which forbid, permit or mandate specified actions and relationships among people and organizations. As per Aristotle‘s natural-law theory, the law is driven by morality. In that sense, it is nothing but an encoded form of public morality implemented and made by representatives of a typical democratic society. So the law and the entire legal system depend on who exactly makes the law and who interprets and implements it. The fact of dependence on a few people to serve the society makes law fallible, as per modern legal philosophers like Ronald Dworkin.
Coming back to the point where I began my journey, the slides of the public awareness program, I must say that a social human being generally responds to either of religious, moral, humanitarian or legal obligations. It depends on the maturity and character of the human being and the respective society how they prioritize them. So, if a set of slides to be made for public awareness programs, it should try to focus on all four aspects. A typical set of slide will look like (I’m not an expert, so don’t mind the gender-bias):
1. “Don’t enslave children – they are God’s gift to us.” (belief on God)
2. “Today’s children are future’s leaders, let’s not enslave them.” (feedback mechanism of the society on good and bad)
3. “Every child has his right to enjoy his childhood.” (Human Rights awareness)
4. “Employing a child under the age of 18 is a punishable offence.” (under legal obligations)
I hope the authors of any awareness program will survey the targetted society and decide on a ideal blend of all four of this perspectives to make the campaign successful, something that was done in Lage Raho Munnabhai to make it a hit in Indian market.