Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reflections on human creation

"The tamasic (dark, ignorant, inertia) nature is overcome by rajas (passion, action),
The rajasic nature is overcome by sattva (purity),
The sattvic nature is overcome by knowledge of the self".

Therefore, to become nirguna (beyond all qualities), one needs to understand one's self- "Who am I?"- by a synthesis of all possible routes - devotion, action and knowledge. I am, in my essays, trying to explore the knowledge route.

As mentioned earlier, my understanding has four recurring components

 That existence is only energy, waves and frequencies

 That existence is cyclic

 That what is present in the microcosm is present in the macrocosm - what is in atom is in the universe

 That existence is intelligent, designed and purposeful

Humans are energy bodies and as "Energy cannot be created nor destroyed", one needs to understand which energy is converting into living beings and how. There cannot be any outcome without a process.

I rejected the theory of Christianity and Islam about humans dying and going to God or hell, depending on their actions and settling there, and then God would send another soul to take birth and then again send it to heaven or hell. This day-to-day God interference was unacceptable to me. Also, new borns are different from each other and some have defects and limitations- could God be making faulty pieces and discriminating?

Remember I had written earlier that slowing down of frequency changed the state of matter eg. from water vapour(subtle) to water(gross) to ice (grosser)? From a rare or subtle form - slowing down or the involution process made matter more gross or dense. Similarly, the same substance by heating or increasing vibration in ice (solid state) would convert to water (liquid) to water vapour (air). Therefore, this was the involution (or slowing down of vibrations) and evolution (speeding up the vibrations) process resulting in change of forms.

So, my understanding is that

 there is energy that has changed from a physical being (human, animal, plant etc) by virtue of death to a more subtle energy in the form of waves of certain frequency in space.

 at the appropriate time, this energy which is in wave form collapses into the appropriate womb and its energy along with the genes of the womb creates a physical being.

 the energy that has collapsed contains various frequencies (from the highest frequency to the lowest or the subtlest to the densest) that can be divided into five broad divisions

  • the universal consciousness
  • the intellect
  • the emotions
  • the bio energy
  • the body
 therefore all beings contain all the above five frequencies in different ratios

 at the time of death,the body converts back into a waveform and it goes back to space, to come back at the appropriate time in an appropriate form in a cyclic format.

 thus, the cycle of evolution (increase of frequency ) and involution (decrease in frequency ) keeps taking place in time and space to create various forms, sustain them for a specific time period and destroy the form to again create, sustain and destroy and again......

So, I started searching for validation for my thoughts in science and scriptures, as usual.

I checked Ken Wilber's theory of evolution, Meher Baba's and Sri Aurobindo's Evolutionary theory, but was not completely satisfied. I realised that the energy in a human body cannot be destroyed, but will change form. So, which energy is changed? how does this transformation work? Also, what is the process of this transformation? I found my answers in two theories - the Samkhya and the tattva theories (Kashmiri Shaivism is a derivative of this).

Samkhya

Hindu school of thought have been divided into six philosophies which believe in the Vedas and three - Jainism, Buddhism and Carvaka (atheistic), which do not. Within the six branches of enquiry and /or self realization of Reality, namely

  1. Yoga darshan (mental and physical disciplines to unite with Reality) - include Raja Yoga (meditation), Karma Yoga (service, action) Jnana Yoga (knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (devotion) and Hatha Yoga (exercise and breathing)
  2. Nyaya darshan (enquiry based on logical analysis),
  3. Mimamsa darshan (enquiry of truth based on interpretation of the Vedas),
  4. Vedanta darshan (self realization based ritualism and mysticism)
  5. Vaisheshika darshan (enquiry based on elements and atomism)
  6. Samkhya darshan (enquiry based on involution and evolution of energies)
Samkhya darshan, had the seeds of some of the understanding of creation of individual beings. Please find below a graphical representation of Samkhya's philosophy:



While to some extent, it matches my understanding, there is ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE. Samkhya is dualistic (dvaita) and says that existence / Brahman is divided into Purusha (soul ) and Prakriti. Prakriti is the dynamic part which slows down to form beings. Thus each individual is thought to be separate from others and from the soul.

WHILE MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THE UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS COLLAPSES TO FORM INDIVIDUALS CARRYING EACH OF THE FIVE CHARACTERISTICS INCLUDING THE UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS. AS EACH BEING HAS THE SAME CONSCIOUSNESS, THERE IS NO SEPARATION BETWEEN ONE BEING AND ANOTHER AT THE MOST SUBTLE LEVEL. THEREFORE THERE IS NON-DUALISM OR ADVAITA.

 Kashmir Shaivism

The tattva school of thought (Kashmir Shaivism is one of its more studied and researched branch), goes beyond Samkhya and defines elements (tattvas) over Purusha and Prakriti, which is more exhaustive and detailed . A graphical representation of the same can be found below:





Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reflections on Creation and Energy

ENERGY, FREQUENCY AND WAVES - You will be reading these words on a recurring basis, because I understand everything based only on these concepts. During meditations, I realized that everything is only energy, just vibrating at different frequencies. If we were able to view reality at the source level, you would find a buzzing, crazy dance of electrons moving at unimaginable speed in each and every object all the time, exchanging electrons in all directions. So, existence is just energy - vibrating, pulsating and throbbing with different frequencies - the entire solar system, the space, humans, animals, plants or minerals. The cosmic dance, as they say.


The workings of Universe are governed by laws of nature which makes everything act in a certain manner - be it the solar system movement or the micro-level action of each atom and sub atom. That there is no God that was intervening - life is on auto-pilot. The greatest saint or the biggest emperor would all fall on the ground and die if they jumped from a cliff, or bleed if they picks up a stone and bangs it on their forehead. The laws are immutable. In an automobile, if one presses an accelerator, then the car would speed up and not brake. Similarly, the universe is a machine which is running with its own rules, laws and systems. The automobile engineers does not come into the picture during the driving :-). Though there is a difference between the workings of an automobile engineer and God - but more of that later.

While there are thousands of theories on the creation of the universe, mankind etc, what appealed and agreed with me, were logical, rational, science and validation-based understandings. Each of my blogs will talk about existence and its various manifestations only in the energy, frequency and rational form, because that's what I understand. For example, when I wanted to understand the theory of creation - I had five major options before me

1. The Christian viewpoint : Genesis 1 and 2 in the Old Testament of the Bible tells the Christian story of creation. God took six days to create the world. One man (Adam) and woman (Eve), who lived in Heaven ate the forbidden fruit and God knew of their "sin" and drove them to earth, to toil.

2. The Hindu religious viewpoint : God or Brahman was in complete and tranquil state, till he decided to play his lila (dance) of creation with his female dynamic side (Prakruti / Shakti) manifesting into various ranges of energies and frequencies slowing down to create physical forms. The thousands of Gods and "Devis" are symbols of various forms of energy that has been created in this " cosmic dance of Shiva".

3. The Hindu cosmologist viewpoint : Hinduism believes that this is not the first world or universe. There have been and are many more worlds. They are created by Lord Brahma the Creator. Lord Vishnu is the Preserver, while Lord Shiva plays annihilator. And that a cosmic egg "Hiranyagarbha" exploded to create the universe.

4. The Islamic viewpoint : God said "Be", and it became. This was how God created the world and the heavens. He breathed life and power into Adam, the first man and Eve, the first woman. God gave Adam control over the earth. When God forbade the couple to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree, an evil angel tempted them to disobey God. They did and God cast them out of Paradise, down to earth. But merciful God provided them with means of food, drink and shelter.

5. The scientific viewpoint: The Big Bang theory postulates that there was a Big Bang from a "singularity" to expand at great temperatures, which cooled down to form the various solar system and everything within.

Thus, my viewpoint (Who am I? (part 12)) on the creation of the universe is matching the Big Bang theory, but with a difference. I also understood that "every subatomic event is marked by the annihilation of the initial particle and the creation of a new one" and "that every event in the Universe is cyclic". Therefore, the Hindu cosmologist viewpoint of a cyclic creation of world with creation, sustenance and destruction sounds appropriate to me.

I AM SURE THAT SCIENTISTS IN THE FUTURE WILL DISCOVER ABOUT THE CONTRACTION OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM AND HAVE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE "BLACK HOLES" IN WHICH STARS, SOLAR SYSTEM AND EVERYTHING WILL VANISH IN A BILLION YEARS TO RE-EMERGE THROUGH ANOTHER BIG BANG.

For someone who considers everything to be just energy, I refused to consider that space was a vacuum without energy. Though not having any grounding and knowledge in physics, , I started reading about energies, waves, frequencies and specially quantum physics to find answers to these doubts. That's where I found that scientists like John Worrel Keely, Nikola Tesla, Victor Schauberger, David Bohm and Wilhelm Reich have shown that energy in ether or space, although invisible to most, is very real. And of tremendous magnitude. As they say " the total energy in a coffee mug is enough to dissolve all oceans in the world". My readings of scriptures and Upanishads also validated the same views. So, my thoughts on energy being within each atom in universe and in ether was validated.

But if there was energy in space, in our body, in every single atom, why can we not just measure it by putting in some measuring instrument? What kind of energy is it? Was this energy electrical or electromagnetic?

Last Sunday, I went to a Brahmavidya class in which they taught that prana or life-force energy was electrical and that we breathed through either nostrils to create +ve currents through the right nostril and -ve current through the left and both of these travelled through "nadis"(a non-physical channel) to the bottom of the spine and electrical currents were then distributed to all parts through the nerves. I just asked the teacher five questions, to leave her speechless

1. If prana was electrical, then on death, will the person come back to life, if the appropriate current is supplied to the body?

2. If prana was electrical and electrical energy was being transmitted through nerves, then can electrical energy measurement instruments measure the health of humans? And can we replace all doctors with electricians?

3. If we take in +ve and -ve electrical currents from each nostrils, will we die if one of the nostrils is damaged or blocked?

4. If energy is electrical, then it needs a physical cable for transportation, but the nadis are non-physical.

5. We breathe alternatively through the right nostril for around 55 minutes and then from left nostril for the same time, then how will current be created?

So, we rule out electrical energy.


So, I started considering electromagnetic energy and that added up, because electromagnetic waves can travel through any material as well as vacuum, the velocity of electromagnetic waves is same as light ie. 300000 kms / second . Electromagnetic spectrum ranged from the extremely low frequency of 3 hz to the highest known gamma frequency of 300 Ehz (10 raised to 19 hz).


But that begged the next question. We can measure radio energy, x-ray and other energies, but we cannot measure the bio energy (energy within the human body) nor the etheric energy (energy in the ether). Then what kind of energy was this, which could not be measured?

Transverse, lateral electromagnetic waves can be measured with tools. While SCALAR ENERGY is created when two opposing forces of common electromagnetic waves collide. As soon as the two opposing forces collide, they immediately cancel one another out, creating a stationary or static form of energy we know as scalar energy, which has no direction, but magnitude.

Scalar energy is

1. not Hertzian, meaning it cannot be measured as regular electromagnetic waves can

2. non-linear like regular electromagnetic waves.

3. unbounded to anything and can freely move through any solid object

4. freely created throughout the universe, or can be manually created via the collision of electromagnetic waves .

The space that scalar energy fills tends to be networks of harmoniously balanced energies. The only way to be able to view the effect that scalar energy has or to measure its concentration, is through techniques such as Gas Discharge Visualization (GDV), or Kirlian photography.

I BELIEVE THAT SCIENTISTS WILL DISCOVER WAYS TO CONVERT THE AMOUNT OF ENERGY IN SPACE INTO USABLE ENERGY TO TAKE CARE OF THE ENERGY PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD.

I ALSO BELIEVE THAT SCIENTISTS AND MYSTICS WILL FIND WAYS TO USE THE ETHERIC ENERGY AND BIOENERGY TO CREATE WAYS OF CONNECTING ALL PARTS OF EXISTENCE TO EACH OTHER AND USE THE ETHERIC ENERGIES TO HEAL IN A MUCH DEEPER MANNER.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Synthesis of religion and political discourse

I have received some responses on my earlier blogs on secularism and political discourse which seems quite irrelevant and cliched.

A careful re-reading of my blogs would reveal some sentences like "I am not advocating a theological state, just advocating removal of this artificial separation between religion and political discourse". Hence, reading BJP orientation, cultural nationalism, science vs religion, Hindu vs others seems a knee jerk reaction and is not really relevant to the main point that I have raised. I humbly would like to re-state the hypotheses for your comments.

For the last few months, my world view is that "Everything in the world is at it should be" and therefore the drive to "change" is no longer too active within myself. I am at peace with myself and with the world around. The earlier engagement with civil society and longing to improve society, nation or the world is not seeming imperative.

As I meditate, think and read - the inescapable conclusion is that existence has been created in a balanced,healthy and self correcting state. Whether it be the universe with its gravitation, its pressure, its temperature, its flora, its fauna, its evolution, its development, its elements or the human body with its various self-healing mechanisms, its homeostatis, its balance or the inter connectivity and inter dependence of various aspects of existence - all is naturally healthy and perfect, and mankind with its exploitative, fragmented instinct is messing it up.

While great discoveries and inventions is necessary, evolutionary and commendable - the basis on which it is driven, a mechanistic viewpoint of existence as separate and fragmented and therefore exploiting nature and its variants, needs to be corrected. The fragmentation has led to the present social, ecological, cultural crises. It is the root of all wars, violence,caste, religion and other differences.

Objective science (physics, chemistry and biology) which was the basis of all development, has suddenly been found to have been driven by false mechanistic concepts as new experimentation and validation confirmed that all matter is undifferentiated at the source. New philosophy also validate the unity and synthesis of all.The Ayurvedic and Homeopathic holistic medicinal system, which bring body back to balance, yoga which opens blockages to allow the body to come to its natural balance are getting more and more popular.Modern medicine, which used to say 20 years back, that physical ailments had nothing to do with the mind - is now stating that over 80% of the physical ailments are psychosomatic.

So, what relevance does this have to secularism and all that?

Well, as disease is described as an unnatural deviation from the ethos of the body, so also any deviation from the ethos of the nation, the soul of the nation creates an unnatural state, which seems to be one of the major source of misery, turmoil and violence in this country.

So, what is my premise?
1. Democracy is the best political system - as it allows freedom and air.
2. Non -religious governance system is the only process appropriate.
3. Allow religious symbolism in public life.
4. Remove the artificial barriers created within public discourse
5. Create middle ground sidelining parties using religious and casteist platforms

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Secularism - separating politics from religion?

Some people thought that my last blog was too dense - my apologies. Do note that I am not advocating a theological state, just advocating removal of this artificial separation between religion and political discourse.

Dis-ease is a state of the body where some extraneous bodies enter the body imbalancing the original prakruti (constitution). So, looking at the constitution of an average Indian - we see a very different species from the western piece. A religious, god-fearing, spiritual based mind set - praying every day, having a temple or more in the house, using god and religion in every second sentence and in general using religion or its symbolism in his entire life. Public life, commercial life, movies, plays, ordinary conversations and interactions substantiate all that Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda say about religion being the central tune of India.

A few months back, I had gone to a Congress party felicitation meeting, where they gave a Bhagwada Gita and Koran to each of the audience and every speech was laced with God, religion and culture. Once in a citizen movement meeting, the priest of the local church made a very pertinent point saying that " While we start every good event by invoking God, why should we not invoke God for every political meeting / event / issue for a cause which is meant to serve society?"

Since Independence, the communists have had complete control of the bodies (except for a short period of BJP rule) which decide the curriculum setting for the school, colleges and overall public debates in the nation and their viewpoint of anti-religion, anti-God has been prevading in the body polity. The JNU based sociologists and philosophers have been occupying the public mindspace with their western based ideology of separating religion and politics. Anyone who speaks of religion, God and values is branded as communal and rabid. The space for sensible, middle-of-the-road Indian leadership is reduced leaving in its place - extremists using the politics of hatred and vote bank driven religious platforms to vitiate the peace and growth.

Anyone understanding the ethos and the soul of India should realise that the division of public life and religion is an unnatural and artificial boundary. Gandhiji who travelled through the nation to comprehend its heart, used symbolisms and processes from all religions starting from the Bhajans, the Ashrams, the quotes from all religions, sects and bringing moral and religious values into the nation.He created potent and unique weapons based on the Indian ethos like Non-violence, truth, renunciation, dharma etc., which found such outstanding response from the millions of his countrymen.

Today, we have a nation torn apart from its roots, its moral and cultural heritage, its tremendous science and knowledge - we have a nation that is in a stage of disease, of imbalance and one of the thing that we need to do is to throw away this aspect of secularism which seeks to create this unnatural division, to bring back balance and health to this great unique nation.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Secular India - an oxymoron

The gap between the potential and performance of India in the past six decades could be due to the state of the nation being diseased. So, let us analyse whether the principles of secularism (separation of religion and politics) in public life, a western graft, is at the roots of creating the infection.

Disease - a harmful deviation from the normal structural or functional state of an organism. A diseased organism commonly exhibits signs or symptoms indicative of its abnormal state. Thus, the normal condition of an organism must be understood in order to recognize the hallmarks of disease.

The Indian world view emphasizes the basic unity of all existence and its interrelation and connectivity, whether it be an individual, family, society, nation or universe in all its dimension - religion, politics, science, social, psychological, physiological or legal framework in all its dynamic and fluid format.

The western culture had a similar worldview where science, philosophy and religion were not separated, till the Eleatic school of thought in the sixth century postulated an intelligent and personal God standing above the world and guiding it. This was the beginning of a materialistic trend that eventually led to a dualism between various aspects of a unified existence. By the seventeenth century, Rene Descartes had divided nature into mind and matter with the material world being a multitude of different objects assembled into a huge machine, to be used and exploited by different interest groups.

The fragmented, cartesian view is further extended to society which is split into different nations, races, religions and political groups. The belief that all these fragments - in ourselves, in our environment and in our society - are really separate can be seen as the real reason for the present series of social, ecological and cultural crises. It has alienated us from nature and from our fellow human beings.

The mechanistic, newtonian classical physics was shocked and transformed in the late nineteenth century by the advent of the new quantum physics which conclusively proved that the universe was an inseparable, dynamic and undifferentiated whole, connected with each other and within one's self at the subatomic level. Soon,the new biology, new chemistry and other sciences also proved the same hypothesis.

The recent worldwide popularity of various philosophers and thinkers, who are propagating the concept of unity and interconnectivity in all aspects of existence is resonating with the hearts and minds of all deep thinkers and laymen alike. It also makes me wonder whether the separation of various organic aspects of man - mind and body is the correct way or is it time to rediscover the principles of unity of all aspects of thought in private and public life. Isn't it time to abandon this artificial and foreign infection ailing the nation. Isn't it time to abandon the separation of private and public life and embrace the holistic and completeness of mind and action like Gandhiji?

PS: Swami Vivekanand says "Here in India , it is religion that forms the very core of the national heart. It is the backbone, the bed-rock, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built. Politics, power, and even intellect form a secondary consideration here. Religion, therefore, is the one consideration in India". His definition of religion was "Any sect that may help you to realise God is welcome. Religion is the realising of God"

Gandhiji, who used to get inspired, sing hymns, talk and quote with various religions in public life was revered not for his strategies and principles, but because he was a "Man of God". Secularism is a Western graft unsuitable and unnecessary here as diverse communities here have been living together peacefully in the same geographical area. Gandhi did state that those who think religion has nothing to do with politics understand neither religion nor politics. As per Gandhi, " Indeed religion should pervade everyone of our actions. Here, the religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral Govt. of the universe. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity etc. It does not supercede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Subjective knowledge - II

So, what accounts for those "aha" moments? Is it all mumbo-jumbo or is there a method to the madness? How does the subconscious mind reveal answers that have been plaguing the mind?

Four states can be identified (1) Preparation, when mind deliberates the problem (2)Incubation, when the conscious mind is preoccupied with other things, and the subconscious mind active (3) Illumination, when in period of relaxation one can access the creative flow of intelligence and (4) Verification, post illumination.

Roger Penrose, one of the world's greatest mathematical physicist, restates Plato's argument that mathematical concepts, structures and forms exist in their ideal state in a non-material realm that can be experienced by any human intellect. Paul Davies states that "Perhaps the greatest scientific discovery of all time is that nature is written in mathematical code...once we have cracked the code for some particular system, we can read nature like a book". For example, an un-tutored mathematical prodigy, Srinivasa Ramanujan could almost pluck out ready-made results at will. So breaking the nature code gives access to most discoveries.

When scientists tried to find the smallest building blocks of nature, it went down from molecule to atom to sub atom to electrons and quarks to a realization that sub-atomic realities are nothing but non-material waves moving through non-material fields. What binds all existence is the intelligence or consciousness, as non-material waves obey laws of nature that can be exactly modeled by mathematical formulas cognized in the human mind. And that mind and nature are so closely intertwined that at the sub-atomic level, observing a system can change the system, and that the universe is seeming less like a great machine and more like a great thought

The parallelity and the unity between the intelligence displayed by the human mind and the intelligence of nature and the access of the human intelligence to this source of creative intelligence source of nature could be the source of these subjective knowledge examples.

Source : Freedom from Disease - Hari Sharma, New Age Books

Friday, April 2, 2010

Subjective knowledge.....

A few months back, I was talking to a great person, who has written one of the finest treatise on economic revolution for India, about taking up the Chairmanship of a committee to further the movement for the economic rejuvenation. Very shyly, he took me aside and expressed his inability to take up the post as he said that "he" was not the author of the treatise, but that one late evening, as he was sitting alone, he got the urge from some mysterious force and he picked up the pen and in 3-4hours of extensive work, he wrote down the entire treatise which was dictated by some force in his mind. So, his point was that, the treatise was someone else's creation and that he could not take ownership of that. He also stated that in the past decade since he wrote the treatise, he has not had any reason to even change a single comma in the theory, even after interacting with some of the best economic thinkers, policy makers etc in the country.

That got me thinking hard, because, while meditating a few years back, I used to have a lot of insights on issues of existence and then my reading of the scriptures and quantum physics was just to validate those insights, and there was complete conviction (since validated and confirmed) that the insights were absolutely correct . So, I started wondering about this process of learning.

There are two ways of learning, the objective and the subjective. With the objective learning process, one would read, understand, experiment and build brick-by-brick solutions to achieve the result / outcome. While, in subjective knowledge acquisition, one would get it in a sudden inspiration on a subject that one is working on or work for it in a conscious process. Bhardwaja Rishi and his colleagues meditated for a long time and got the complete insights on ayurveda, which he wrote down as "Charaka Samhita" and then experimented and validated the herbs and practices. Some other examples of subjective knowledge are

1. French mathematician Henri Poincaire got his fuschian functions as he was sitting in an omnibus and then validated the inspiration

2. Fred Hoyle, astrophysicist, got inspired suddenly with the quantum mechanical problem that he was searching as he was dozing

3. Roger Penrose, one of the world's influential mathematician physicist got the sudden criterion missing as he was crossing the street

4. Similarly, Friedrich August saw the answer to the benzene ring problem that was vexing for 7 years, Scottish engineer James Watt invented a radically improved steam engine when out for a Sunday afternoon walk, Irish mathematician William Hamilton, German physiologist Otto Loewi, mathematical genius Carl Gauss, Isaac Asimov, Srinivas Ramanuj all got these "Aha" moments, where a subjective process of knowledge manifested itself.

Now, how does this happen? Let me try and explain in the next blog

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Corruption is the engine for progress in India

Have been working with government at the highest level and can say this with certainty...corruption is the driver for 7.9 and 8 % growth in India. I do not condone or justify it, but surely when you read my arguments, you may end up agreeing with my assessment.

When one visits various major departments of the government, you will find officers, clerks and entire staff burning the proverbial midnight oil working diligently. What drives them? When you see newer projects - major ones like bridges, roads, airports, shipyards, SEZs - think what drives the quick approvals and encouragement? No one is interested in small incremental works - the large, big-ticket ones are what interests all. In my interaction with Ministers, politicians, bureaucrats and others in power - all are ready and willing to help for BIG projects. What drives them?

Take away corruption and the entire machinery of the government will become somnolent. The 8% will turn to less than a percent. The engine for growth in India is corruption.

When Chimanbhai Patel was the CM of Gujarat (called Chiman Chor by the Navnirman student movement), he was probably the most corrupt CM in India's history. The growth of Gujarat started during his time as he passed one major project after another and development and work became the watchword. He made a lot of money, and even started the system of a few lakh cash per month to each MLA, irrespective of party. Then when Keshubhai Patel, a true RSS honest man came to power - work stopped, Gujarat was in the throes of inertia, till Shankar Waghela came and the money mill started spinning.

One of the Civil Aviation Minister had been called one of the most efficient Ministers as he gave order for redevelopment of various airports, bought new planes and spent big time. He made crores and crores off the contracts and purchases. Its a different matter that he has brought AI close to bankruptsy, but the country has got some of the World's best Airports.I could go on and on to make a case for the title of this blog.

Maybe if one stopped flight of money from India and periodically gave opportunities to convert black money into white, by cancelling 1000 and 500 Rupee notes or changing design and pattern of Rs 1000 and 500 notes to make them compulsorily come out of the parallel economy...we could grow by 15% too. The influx of money from the black economy would invigorate the nation and start many more development projects and the corruption would oil the govt mechanism and lead to prosperity.

Unless the electoral system, which has an insatiable appetite for more and more black money, is altered, corruption will continue to be the engine for growth in India.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Indian psyche

When I encounter and observe the modern Indian, I see a brain dead person and wonder how our ancestors could have written the Bhagwada Gita, Vedas or the Upanishads, and where was the disconnect.

So, I analysed about what aspects about us, have made the country so bankrupt in ideas and economy. Most of the conclusions are simplistic, but there is an element of truth.

1. Indians are very emotional and react more with the heart and hence issues like the creation of a 7th Century temple in Ayodhya are taking center stage. All the actions are mostly symbolic. All our Gods and rituals are symbolic.

2. We are not good planners and our thought processes leave too many loose ends, they say in the chaos theory - that out of chaos comes order...well we are still waiting :-)

3. We are the most lazy( the urban Indians), suspicious and cowardly people. Afraid and suspicious of each and every one. Doubting integrities, branding people, nit picking, conspiracy generation, blowing own trumpet, throwing names, not knowing when to stop, a bloated ego and getting "hurt" at the smallest whiff of criticism and making wild allegations, but not having the stomach to take any. Making pre judgments and not having the intellectual honesty or courage of conviction to accept things in the right perspective. The privileged urban Indian, brought up with doting family, fawning servants and access to the facade of a western world view is completely arrogant and a bastardised mixture of the worst of a complex Indian mind and the dregs of a western one. Not for him the discipline and the work culture and structure of a western process, nor the principles of truth, non-violence, renunciation, the "we" unselfish thought process of an Indian one.

4. All our mindsets are based on generalities and divisive thought processes. There is a divisiveness between religions, castes, regions, languages, English and non English speaking, rural and urban, literate and illiterate, locals and outsiders etc etc. And we have pre conceived notions about each of these sections.

5. Even though, we have one of the finest minds - able to work in layered, nuanced, grey areas, as opposed to a structured black and white mind of a westerner, it is completely occupied in mundane and sly matters. We use our minds to subvert the system, to make money out of the system, to exploit people, to do things in a round about manner. We just dont think of doing things in a straight forward manner. That is why when Indians go abroad and where the systems are in place and things can be done in a relatively straight manner, we excel. We just cannot do anything in a normal manner including carry conversations. There are always hidden meanings that you are supposed to add and decipher. If, for example, one is told to sing a song in a party, he will say no and smile and make a joke about what an idiot he is and all that. If you actually override him and go to the next person,. he wont forgive you all his life.

6. We are extremely servile. While bitching about everything on earth, the moment we are confronted with officials and others in higher positions, we completely lose our spine and start touching feet and waiting for a smile from the person. When they made Indians, they forgot to put the spine in his body. The hundreds of years of caste based hierarchy could be the culprit. Very rarely would you find an Indian believing / operating on a 50: 50 relationship, he is either a bully or a spineless recipient of one. And this, in a world view which talks about "Vasudeva Kutumbikam" - we are all equal and connected.

7. There are just two stages of our perception of fellow Indians. One, that he is the scum of the earth. When all that he does is filled with selfish purposes and where he is not better than any garbage. The other type is when he is elevated to a stage of a demi god. They would defer to him, touch his feet, idolize him, but they will not understand him. No one will try and analyze why someone does what and why, but just either push him far below their own levels or idolize.

8. In a transactional analysis, we are still in the 'Child mode'. We sulk, feel hurt, react with anger and lash out on small, petty issues, have fragile , childlike egos, call names to people, run back to the safe confines of home and generally behave as dependent children. That is why you see difficulties of working in a adult frame reference in a democratic, equal basis - in work places, in homes, in citizen groups,in housing societies - every where. We would either be able to work as a child - taking orders and trying to please or giving orders and becoming a bully. That’s why when we have a modicum of discipline in all work places, because like driven sheep, we would be able to work, not because we have the integrity and the conscience to do full justice to our work, but for the fear of the man on top. That’s why government offices don’t work, there is no danda (fear of losing job) and private enterprises are successful, where there is a danda. Having been protected by the mother syndrome, when a man goes out in the world, he hasn’t learnt how to deal in an adult and unjust world and so he goes in the child mode - blaming, cheating, getting angry, bullying, screaming, manipulating till he reaches the safe confines of his home, where he would take it out on his poor wife.

9. Because we do not have the creative thought processes and have the mind of a child, we are totally numbed by the immensity of the problem facing our country. Instead of a Westerner who would sit and analyze and try for a solution, we thrust our head in the sand and get involved more in the family set up and a social setup which has clear lines like religious and caste based relationships. And all the frustrations that one feels when he sees and feels the pain of the nation, is vent out in negative bursts of energy like blaming politicians, talking about killing them, hanging them etc.

10. Most critically, Indians love the feel-good syndrome. Creating castles in the air, being surrounded by people who praise them, refusing to face reality, happy endings and closing the senses to the stench that surrounds. For example, a 8% growth on a $1000 GDP is something that we gloat about, little realising that it would be just 80$ additional per year as opposed to 1% growth of USA or Japan on a GDP of 35000$, or say $350, so the difference is not narrowing and the speed to get close to them is nowhere near the appropriate level. But thats unpleasant, so lets look at the optimistic scenario and stay happy.

The point , that I am making here is that under developed countries are poor and badly managed not just because of the politicians and people in power, but because of the people living in the country. So, changing mindsets and behavioral patterns is a very important exercise.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Urban nonsense - final post

The last two posts showed the matrix of some of the players in the city master planning, which has led to a completely avoidable misery of poor life quality of citizens. Some of the other critical components would be

Indian master planners: They are either clones of the international planners or socialistic, romantic, incremental designers - without any big vision. Asking them to design a city and they would talk about cobblestoned alleys a-la-Paris or street furniture or small incremental quaint designs rather than serious, large scale, visionary solutions to the HUGE problems of the city. Completely alienated from the people.

People centric planning: This is by far the most critical component that is missing and the real reason why the entire planning is either motorist centric or built structure centric, but not centred on the people who are going to use it. When a colleague went to the second floor house of a heritage structure, the old lady suffering from arthritis living there started crying and saying to hell with heritage and all that...i need a lift to go up and down and see the world. The planning should think of her and not just the maintenance of heritage structures. A win-win solution should be created that would mantain the history of the context as well as take care of the people residing and working.

Institutional mechanism of stakeholder engagement:The 73rd amendment passed in 1991 by Rajiv Gandhi for rural grassroot governance led to the Panchayati Raj Bill, which has improved the quality of governance in villages and given a voice to every rural resident. The 74th amendment passed at the same time for bringing governance in urban areas closer to the citizens is still in a limbo. It is imperative to create a strong "Nagar Raj Bill" which would decentralise the urban governance system (http://www.unh.edu/democracy/conference2009/pdf/PRIA-CommunityParticipationLaw.pdf) and allow the people of the country a say in the urban planning of the city. Remember when Bill Clinton was the President of USA and thus the most powerful man in the world, he had to go to his borough to get permission for getting his house facade repaired. And as I mentioned in my earlier post, I have no doubt that the local shopkeeper, paanwala and resident know faaar more about how the road should be, where the parking should be and how the park, school, health center and others should be located than the babus sitting in mantralaya and deciding their fate. Complete lack of democracy and democratic institution is the main reason for failed master planning.

Sthapatya Veda and the Indian knowledge system: Indian knowledge system has been eclipsed by the hundreds of ravaging attacks on the nation. Yoga, Ayurveda, Conflict resolving and inclusive world view, Spirituality are some parts of the Indian knowledge system which is now finding support and recognition all over the globe. The knowledge that India had on metallurgy, construction technology, construction material was outstanding and in some cases, better than even the latest ones. We had a Veda (book of knowledge) on Master Planning called Sthapatya Veda which gridlines, drainage instructions, city planning processes which led to excellent planning in Mohenjodaro and Harappan cities. The use of the five elements of ether (space), air or wind, fire, water and earth were so blended that it minimized the negative impact of heat and cold. Master planners need to revisit some of these successful concepts.

So, what we need for a sensible and workable urban landscape is master planning based on utilization of the best global practices married with local contextual ethos while taking stakeholder engagement from the survey to the planning to the implementation and post-implementation stage.

The final question is - whose plan is it? Mumbai with its vibrant citizens or a few disconnected centralized planners?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Urban Chaos : Compounded

Wow, lots of interesting responses...lets make it more vitriolic and sharper

Urban Planners : There are very few trained urban planners, maybe less than the number of municipal corporations, so urban planning is done by under-trained and under-educated architects or engineers. The urban planner of Pune whom I spoke to told me that he had never seen a major city except Mumbai, not even Delhi. He was coming from a village and did his architecture from a small town, so in his world view,a paved road network was a great stride of urban development. As you know,Pune dreams of being a World Class city attracting people from all over the globe. Studying and seeing global case studies of succesful and failed cities is unimaginable. Remember, the IAS officer who decides which urban plan to go for, gets their inputs from these.

Politicians : The master plan decision finally goes to the political bosses. The Urban development Ministry in Maharashtra is always with the Chief Minister, for obvious reasons. No CM in recent memory has ever allowed UD to be wrenched away from his grasp. The Minister of state is a complete non-entity, with no knowledge of city (the last two incumbents were from village constituencies). Decisions are taken by politicians of all levels to change the no-development zone or to alter the roads -based on note and vote bank pressures, holistic planning be damned. So, any final plan made is subject to these pressures. DP plans are periodically amended and messed with - the difference between the original plan and the final product is absolutely shocking!

International Experts : Lost for ideas and travelling across the globe, the bureaucrats feels envy and takes the shortest route. Catch the international experts. There are lots of these experts peddling their wares across the globe, selling some small success stories somewhere and trying to fit it wherever there is an opportunity. Context can go to hell.

I wonder what would have happened if Gandhiji had come home to India from South Africa and hired international consultants for the civil war against the Britishers? There would have been hundreds of experts suggesting various methods of killing, death and bloodshed. Instead Gandhiji travelled for 3 years within the length and breadth of the nation and created tools based on the ethos and soul of the nation like non-violence, truth, renunciation, spirituality and such and therefore found resonance from all sections of indians. His entire strategy was going deep into the ethos of Indians and using best global communication practices of rail, newspaper etc, converted this longing for freedom into the World's greatest and unique movement.

Post independence, India adopted the political system running well in a small European country (Britain, but adjusted in India as a tool to extract maximum out of Indian slaves. Post independence, it then proceeded to load it with more slave-master relationship activities. Indian policy makers, not having created the system did not understand the same, did not know where the nuts and bolts of the system - hence could not amend or improve it (assuming that there is a will to alter it). We are paying a huge price for it as our governance is in a complete mess with Englishmen replaced by these Brown coconuts - brown outside and white inside :-).

Blindly following international experts without understanding the country, its people, its culture, its ethos, its soul and without any mechanism to understand and engage with the people is one of the biggest mistake we shall make. In Vedic times we had a special Veda on Urban Planning called the "Sthapatya Veda" which had some great knowledge about urban grids, drainage, usage of the five elements, the sun, the wind and such beautiful concepts. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were some of the cities which were far ahead in these concepts. What we need is to extract that knowledge and using best global practices create an Indian, unique urban plan. A plan that is people centric, not built structure centric, not aesthetic centric. A master plan that takes the minds and hearts of the people, not an imported, non-contextual plan.

For example, this latest nonsensical approach of not planning parking areas in new plans to discourage cars.Its like telling a newly wed couple to desist from having children as there is a population explosion or creating a nation where children are so badly treated that people would stop having children.

Aspirational levels of Indians cannot be compared with those in Japan or USA. My son's first salary will be used by him to buy a car. Now, if i tell him to desist because there is no parking, my decision will lead to a kick on my backside. His greatest desire is to buy a car and if he has to double park on the street, he will do so. Planners will have to consider these aspirations.Without a proper non-auto mass transit system, if we start punishing people for owning cars, we are being stupid. Democracies cannot be run by sticks, we need to incentivise people by offering better solutions so that lesser private vehicles are used.

Oops, too long...thanks for reading...next blog on Indian experts, system and stakeholder engagement and the most important question "Whose Master Plan - the few jokers sitting in Mantralaya or the city?"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Urban Planning - Chaos theory

For the past three years, I have been participating as well as watching the circus of urban planning in Mumbai and have been periodically amused, angered and staggered by the brainlessness of the process and the people. Some observations (broad strokes)

1. The entire governance is totally centralized. The Britishers had a master-slave relationship and obviously, they kept all decision making in the hands of a few. Today, in an independent India not only have we maintained the centralization, but with our innate suspicion, added labrynths and labrynths of layers of permissions and rules and sub-rules.A school teacher's appointment in a small village around 500 kms from Mumbai would be ratified and initiated by Mantralaya.

2. The Urban Planning process is initiated and arbitrated by Civil Servants. Now, an IAS officer whose main subject in the exam may have been Mathematics or Sociology or similar will pass one UPSC exam and become an expert in all topics of nation running and building. He would one day be the chief of Railways or of Human Resource or Mining and be expected to run the future of millions of people depending on the same. And he would be transferred to various departments and without any pre training expected to become nation's greatest expert in that subject. So, the Urban Planning of Mumbai will be decided by this / these EXPERTS.

More about Urban Planners, education, International and Indian experts, Stakeholders, Institutions, Media and public opinions and self styled NGOs and experts...in the next blog.

Do respond