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                        The Bengali
Chiranjit Chakraverty
                         (Reproduced from his book "Musings" with his permission)

As all the civilized and the not so civilized, world knows, there are two races of
humanity. The Bengali and the Non Bengali. However, the Bangla speaking Muslim is
not a Bengali. Exceptions exist. If one is or had ever been a resident of Bengal and
has been awarded the Nobel Prize, one automatically becomes a Bengali. Examples
are Ronald Ross, C.V.Raman and Mother Teressa.

Now as everyone knows, the Bengalis are the repository of all virtue, intellect, nobility
and you name it we have it. Should you need proof, fear not. Have we not produced
Ram Mohan, Vivekananda, Rabindranath, Subhas Bose, Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen,
Shusmita Sen and many more. What else could you ask for ? Further, just like
kipling's Banderlog, we all say so, so it must be true.

Evidently it does not matter that the number of eminent Bengalis are few in number
today. It does not matter that today not even one resident Bengali qualifies for the
Indian Administrative Services. It does not matter that today West Bengal is at the
bottom of the heap in terms of all the indices of developement. That is only natural.
The central administration, because of its fear of the Bengali Intellect, had
discriminated  against Bengal all the time. We have been wronged. The reservation
policies of the Government, the jealousy and hatred of the rest of India Starting with
Gandhi and Nehru. There are many more reasons.

What we forget is our arrogance, ignorance and sheer laziness. And of course the
common Indian  habit of living in our glorious past. We have done our bit. What need
to strive and to rise again ?

I almost regret that the Bengalis were, once upon a time, a thinking, progressive
people. Perhaps we would have been better off without Rabindranath and company.

             Conditional Access System
Chiranjit Chakraverty
                           (Reproduced from his book "Musings" with his permission)

Yet again the Government of India demonstrates its commitment to the people. And
once again the people of India demonstrate their decadence. We will accept anything
that is dished out and continue to elect the same group of crooks again and again.

In theory, Conditional Access System (CAS) was to be introduced to save consumer's
money. So why just the Metros ? A system which will certainly be more expensive and
troublesome is to be forced down our throats. No pilot project, no testing, just do it !
Don't our brilliant planners and administrators know the fundamentals ? Why set a
date which could not be met ? July 15, 2003 has come and gone, and where is the
CAS ? To date only Chennai has implemented it. And even there how many set top
boxes have been installed ? At least, now we will have a pilot project, by default !

Now, had a feasible date been set, after adequate equipment testing and planning,
and applicable through out India, most consumers would have opted for just the
free-to-air channels, since most people cannot afford the set top boxes. The pay
channels, deprived of the majority of their viewers would loose money because
advertising revenues would fall sharply. They would then be forced to drop their
charges and concentrate on advertising. And the CAS would have achieved the
stated objective of saving the consumers money.

The old saying - fools rush in where angels fear to trade - aptly describes our great
planners, unless of course, it was never their intent to help the consumers.

What probably happened is that the set top manufacturers, sensing an opportunity,
paid huge bribes to the policy makers. Unworkable regulations were promptly
announced and the consequences are for all to judge. And , as they say, you ain't
seen nothing yet. Keep watching the CAS drama unfold.

By and by, the facts should come to light. But even if they do, and the guilty are
identified, nothing is likely to happen. When was the last time we heard about the rich
and the powerful being actually tried and sentenced ?

                     Dual Citizenship
Chiranjit Chakraverty
                        (Reproduced from his book "Musings" with his permission)

Citizenship of India is a privilege. It has responsibilities and rights. An individual who
voluntarily and without coercion, purely for personal gain, publicly renounces the
responsibilities of India Citizenship, automatically looses the associated rights.
Considering that most Indians who renounce their citizenship receive most of their
formal education in India at subsidized costs, their action amounts to treachery. Such
shameless individuals should be tried for treason, not honoured with dual citizenship !

Consider the oath of allegiance necessary to become a citizen of USA, "I hereby
declare on oath that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and
fidelity to any foreign prince, potentiate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have
heretofore been a subject or citizen, that I shall support and defend the Constitution
and laws of the United States of America ......, and that I take this obligation freely and
without any mental reservation of purpose or evasion. So help me God."

The oaths of citizenship for other countries are probably comparable. Even as a
concept, dual citizenship is not tenable. How can an individual bear allegiance to two
countries ? And finally, why should dual citizenships be offered to non residents of
only a few select (rich) countries ? Are not all non-resident Indians equal ? And
should hostilities break out between India and one of the select countries, which side
will the hapless "dual citizen" be on ?

Let us not forget that at present India fulfills all the criteria that were used to justify the
recent attack on Iraq !

The dual citizenship has no logic, is immoral, and probably illegal. When our
constitution does not suit our "leaders", they amend it. It is as simple as that.

                     Today's Hindus
Chiranjit Chakraverty
                        (Reproduced from his book "Musings" with his permission)

Forty centuries of invasions and reform movements could not destroy Hinduism. It
only grew stronger. Today, a few political leaders, who with great pride call
themselves Hindus, have destroyed the very esence of Hinduism—the pursuit of
truth. They are devoted to the pursuit of wealth and power at the cost of the country,
and humanity. Lust and greed are their dominant traits.
When hair starts graying and wrinkles appear on the skin, a Hindu is supposed to
think of vanaprastha and sanyas. Look at our leaders! We don't even know if senile
dementia has set in. The probability is high. Medical science tells us that symptoms
begin to appear around the age of sixty and the probability increases with further
ageing. And these leaders are in charge of our nuclear arsenal, not to mention
governance! Our scriptures are full of descriptions of the impacts of evil people on
society. The resemblance to present conditions in India is uncanny.
Over twenty years ago in Delhi, a group of well to do gentlemen(?) were seeking
donations. Their mision was to check the steady increase in the muslim population. I
asked them in jest, whether the money was to be used for murdering muslims. I was
soundly abused by the angered group. Little did I realize then that that was exactly
what they had in mind — as events since then have demonstrated.
But then, can one expect a government to be better than the people? The majority in
India must be happy with our governance, as demonstrated by the people of Gujarat
Who and where are our spiritual leaders? Why are they silent?

Chiranjit Chakraverty
                       (Reproduced from his book "Musings" with his permission)

What is the purpose of life? This question has been asked by thinking human beings
ever since human beings started thinking. I am close to sixty years old, and I too have
asked this question for more than forty years, not very seriously, but persistently. And
I found some answers. Then for about five years now, I tried to find out what the major
religions and philosophers had to say on the subject. My beliefs swayed a bit, but I
have not yet uncovered a definite and satisfying answer from my readings. Of course,
I was handicapped by not having had any formal education in either religion or
philosophy and perhaps by having to read everything in English translations.
Religious texts are time and people specific, and need based. Unable to accept that
these are dictations by God, I assume human authorship. These texts were produced
by learned men (by what is said of women, female authors are unlikely), and were
designed to address specific problems for a specific people. It would be pointless to
question their logic and accuracy, and the character of God. However the core of the
teachings, and the moral codes prescribed are essentially universal.
As far as philosophers are concerned, they tend to write volumes without saying
much and use technical words in profusion, making comprehension difficult. Perhaps
its their way of maintaining exclusivity.
It would be absurd to suggest that I studied enough. A few hundred years of
dedicated study would not suffice. While my readings did not get me any closer to an
answer to my original question, I learned a great deal.
One, it shattered my self asserted view of being knowledgeable. My profound
ignorance, even in my former profession, was beyond belief.
Two, I realized that the major world religions are very much alike. Even the myths and
legends of various peoples have a lot in common.
And three, the much valued words — justice, truth, beauty, and love — are mere
concepts, virtually impossible to define, and relative. There are no absolutes.
Going back to the purpose of life. As far as I am concerned, the purpose changes
with time.
As a child, physical and mental well-being are the only concerns. Physical well-being
consists of not being hungry or in discomfort, and mental well-being is being wanted
by parents and others that one comes in contact with.
During adolescence, life becomes more complicated. An understanding of future
struggles, peer pressure, parents' expectations, studies, money, sexual desires,
appearances, and many more factors crowd into the mind. Individual patterns emerge
and depending on the perceptions of the individual, a purpose emerges. However,
most educational systems, and society, in general, do not encourage thinking. Thus
the purpose of life is often dictated by society. Today, wealth is supposed to be the
only criterion of success, which is mandatory. Adolescence is generally confusing and
seldom a happy period. Two conflicting purposes take their toll. One is the
satisfaction of desires, and the other, success, which is invariably but incorrectly
linked to scholastic excellence.
This state of affairs continues through the early days of adulthood, when one
completes one's education, enters into a career, and contemplates marriage.
Forgive me if I write mostly about the fortunate of this world. Most of humanity lives on
the wrong side of the poverty line and is illiterate or barely literate. While their feelings
are similar at the various stages of life, their primary purpose of life is survival. Alas,
philosophy is, almost by definition, a pastime of the rich.
Marriage is a crucial point in a human's life. At this point the sexes separate, as far as
the purpose of life is concerned. Most people marry because they feel they must. Call
it conditioning, or social pressure or what you will. The same is true in the case of
having children. Very little reasoning goes into these decisions, perhaps the most
important in life. Society and religion dictate. But a very important dilemma is
resolved. Henceforth, a purpose of life is served on a platter. For the male, to take
care of his family to the best of his ability, which usually translates into making more
and more money. We are back to the need of being successful! For the female,
children are all important. Their upbringing, again to ensure future success, becomes
the sole purpose of life. The husband's role is that of a mere banker. In case the wife
has a professional career, even that becomes secondary. In this whole process of
marriage and bringing up a family, virtually no reason is involved, except for the
number and spacing of children. But the desire for a male progeny persists. Families
with a single male child far outnumber families with a single female child, in most parts
of the world.
Raising children to adulthood bring most people to old age. Today, very seldom do
the children remain at home or fulfil their parents expectations. And very seldom are
the parents happy with their children. Few can breathe a sigh of relief and think 'good
riddance'. And now we are left with an elderly couple, deprived of their purposes of
life. Some turn to religion, others to social work. The successful career persons
normally continue working. Grandchildren have usually come into the scene and
occupy thoughts. At this stage, most people mark time and await death. The wise are
able to shed some of their desires, let their children be, and enjoy the pleasures that
their accumulated wealth can provide, and try to fulfil lifelong ambitions that have
remained unfulfilled due to a lack of time and money. Others turn to religion and have
their faith to console them during the closing stages of life.
So, is their a purpose of life ordained by some higher authority, and if yes, could it be
what our respective religions profess? I have my doubts. As far as I am concerned, I
was born by accident, and will depart when my time comes. I do not regret having
lived, nor do I wish to prolong life. All my life I have tried to be happy, and by a large
measure have been successful. What more can one ask for? To me, the purpose of
life is to enjoy it and be happy. Do whatever your heart desires aslong as it does not
deprive others of happiness (this is the tricky part). Try it. It just might work for you
Bertrand Russell is one of my favourite philosophers. He is easily understandable.
And more importantly, he agrees with me! In case you cannot accept my word and
desire credibility, read his book, The Conquest of Happiness.

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