Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Is The Indian Society Afraid Of Sex?

That’s the question, isn’t it? Are films that ‘dare’ to show a man and a woman making love or to show a woman’s breasts valid artistic statements or are we merely pandering to the adolescent high-school voyeur in each of us. There is of course no right or wrong in this situation. Just like we cannot presume to dictate the sexual preferences of a man or a woman, we cannot decree that it is wrong or in any way sinful to depict the same act of passion that bought everyone of us into this world or that it is blasphemous to show that organ which gave us all our first meals. After all if we have no compunction about suckling at our mother’s breasts, then why is it wrong to show that breast on screen? Moreover, it does not lie upon a certain few to state what can and cannot be viewed by the larger majority.

But I am getting ahead of myself. The question we need to answer is – is sex to be confined only to the bedrooms and dirty books or can we as rational adults sit down and talk about the matter without going up in arms at the ‘corrupting’ influence of western culture. Is sex taboo?

I remember, albeit, not very clearly, a sex-ed talk that my school had organized when I was in the 10th standard. I cannot remember the name of the doctor who spoke to us that day, but I can remember the rabid fervour with which she decimated the concept of sex. Looking back, it was a ruthless assassination of the subject and left us feeling more confused and to be honest, amused, than appreciably enlightened about the topic.

The point I am trying to make is that we, as students, were never really taught about sex as an inescapable part of human existence. We were never told about the dangers of HIV aids or warned to always use condoms and, as a friend of mine later confided in me, heaven forbid you even bring up the topic of menstrual periods. Incidentally, I still do not know why we were separated and the girls were whisked away to a separate room to be spoken to about their periods. Considering that I did and still do purchase my mother’s sanitary napkins on those occasions she forgets to buy them, I wonder what purpose the authorities were trying to serve by doing what they did. Did they think that boys never have to deal with that? We see it all around us – our mothers, our sisters, our girlfriends, our wives, co-workers, and friends. Was the idea that we would live in blissful ignorance of that aspect of a woman’s life? Ridiculous.

There are so many questions and queries that young teenagers have that it defies logic why instead of treating them as what they are – growing adults, they are treated as some sort of morbid nine-headed monster and hushed up as soon as possible. Boys see hair growing on their chests, underarms and genitals. Girls begin growing breasts, start their periods and also deal with hair growth. These changes particularly in younger children are an emotional and disturbing occurrence. And instead of reassuring them and making sure they learn about who they are going to become, we silence them with nonsense about sin.

The worst part is that it becomes a vicious circle. Today we have scourges like HIV aids sweeping through our population decimating our countries and the best we can do to protect ourselves is one sex-ed talk at school and a society that cringes at the mention of condoms? Who are we kidding? How do you think young couples are going to protect themselves if they don’t know what a condom is or how it works or what a pill is? Or do we think they, as prim and proper Indians, will sit coyly at the edges of their beds and dash red roses against each other??

For that reason if nothing else, I whole-heartedly welcome the likes of ‘jism’, ‘murder’ and co. for if nothing else, they will at least force us to sit up and take notice of sex. And while I do not have a particularly high opinion of Bipasha Basu as an actress, she is as important to the Indian society today as Gandhi was in his days.

In Retrospect

In retrospect, maybe Karl Marx was right. Maybe religion is the opium of the masses. Maybe it is a dream inducing halogen that lulls the senses and the mind allowing the individual to drift away into a trance like state where the hardships and pitfalls of everyday life can be smoothed over by appealing to and ascribing it to a non-existent mass of gas and thunder that rules your life. I could go all technical at this point and analyze the sociological and psychological development of religion through our history. But that would take just too long. Briefly, we still need a shoulder to cry on. Mankind is an insecure child constantly searching for approval from its elders and constantly looking for re-affirmation of its love. The existence of religion is the ultimate proof of the sociological maxim – “Man cannot exist alone”. Whether the need of the hour is mental, intellectual, social, physical or otherwise, we need each other almost as much as we need to know that ‘Big Brother’ is watching.

Why do we feel the need to be watched over? Probably because of the overwhelming sense of inadequacy and inability that is at the root of everything we say or think or do. A strong sense of feeling useless and more importantly powerless, that leads to increased confrontational behaviour. Also the reason why we have this quite shocking knack of creating WMDs (I’m being politically correct).

It becomes less tenable when we realize that feelings of inadequacy can lead so very easily to feelings of dislike and even outright hatred. Therefore, for one set of people to hate another people is not particularly difficult or even uncommon. It happens all the time today. Think of India-Pakistan and the US-Muslim conflicts. Although it must be admitted freely that this is only a generalization. I don’t hate Pakistan. My parents don’t. My friends don’t (well…except when they beat us at cricket). I know there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who don’t either. Just as there must be many Americans who cannot quite understand the fuss over Iraq. The question then is, who hates?

Take the case of the India-Pakistan rivalry. If I don’t hate Pakistan and everybody I know doesn’t and everybody they know doesn’t either, who actually does? Or more interestingly, why do we hate Pakistan? Frankly, I’m stumped. I have not the slightest clue why!! The savage, bloodthirsty and brutal wars that broke out after Independence could conceivably have some claim on the matter. But honestly, I don’t think that the poverty stricken farmers on either side of the border really care that Pakistan tested long-range missiles or that India purchased fighter crafts. Their only concern would be that the rains were delayed. I wouldn’t venture to call them any less patriotic, would you? Or is patriotism a luxury only afforded to the wealthy and the politicians?

Truthfully speaking, I have never ever really thought of the reason why some people seem so very obsessed with sparking a violent confrontation with our neighbours. I can only assume they have a boring home life.

It is of course no secret that I refer to specific organizations that believe in an almost Nazi-like fundamentalist philosophy that seems to thrive not just on destruction, but on the utter annihilation and humiliation of their perceived enemies.

The funny thing is most of those who would hate, usually hate because they either don’t know any different, meaning they are ignorant, or because they don’t really care. Consider this – remember all the times we saw hundreds of screaming, cursing and rampaging young men supposedly of a hardcore Hindu organization assembling for rallies and protest meetings on live television? Did you ever wonder just where the party seemed to pick up so many unappealing looking youths? Who claim, one and all, to be devout Hindus and yet, there seems to be a growing crime rate in the country and lets not even get started on crimes against women!!! Apparently, violence for religion’s sake is a sin that God is willing to overlook. Otherwise heaven forbid the destruction of private property and the large-scale interruption of public proceedings that don’t quite match the tastes of our revered leaders!!! Either that or somebody changed the tenets of my religion and I failed to realize that. Well… never mind, there’s this elderly half-blind Muslim gentleman living next door I can get started on. Maybe a quick decapitation? Or a bourgeois stabbing? You decide.

My only worry is that I won’t have a good reason to give his children and grandchildren for having murdered their beloved father and grandfather.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Story Time

The history of the world,” Thomas Carlyle wrote in 1841,” is but the biography of great men”. That was the 19th century’s majestic self-importance speaking - individualist, commanding and grandiloquent: man in charge of destiny. Carlyle invented the Great Man approach to history. At the end of the 20th century, looking back a hundred years, we are inclined to see that destiny has many components – impressive, headlong, sometimes scary and unpredictable.

We amend Carlyle to say: “The history of the world is the richly complicated story of men and women and accidents and ideas – of astonishing inventions (the flying machine, the automobile assembly line, radio, air conditioning, television, the computer, the spacecraft, the communications satellite and so on); of ideology (Marxism – Leninism, for example) and religious faith and its political manifestations (in Islam, say), of racial, ethnic and tribal hatreds (Nazi Germany, the Middle East, Bosnia, Rwanda); of diseases (the flu epidemic of 1918-19 that killed 20 million people worldwide or AIDS) and finally, of brilliant progress and evil regressions.”

“It is the story of not only a few Great Men and Women, but of masses of ordinary men and women. In the 20th century, those masses – in their migrations, to America and elsewhere, and in their sheer restless pressure of their numbers (in China, for instance, or in Africa and India) – have driven the human narrative as powerfully as any statesmen or dictators have.”

Yet the lives of the great have an exemplary fascination in them. Their stories are our version of the gossip-filled and wonder-working and sometimes doom-laden careers of the Gods and Goddesses in Homer. They fly through the upper air of their dazzling power and publicity, they plot against one another on Olympus, and they descend to intercede in the affairs of mortals. They may take the form of a swan or somesuch, in order to – what? – pleasure themselves? Or to inject into ordinary life the seed of the supernatural?

Full two thousand years and more men and women have sweated, laughed, cried, despaired, hoped, dreamt, feared and loved. Full two thousand years and more men and women have lived their lives through good times and bad, through war and peace and through prosperity and famine. Their lives are a tapestry of emotions, a wonderful weave of humanity and a window into their very souls. Their stories are more than an account of their battles and their poems more than praise to beauty. Touch a shard of pottery as the owner once did. Think about what, so long ago, was in that pot. Think about what, so long ago, the owner of the pot felt when they saw a rainbow. Think about what the owner dreamt when asleep. What hopes and ambitions and what fears dwelt in that heart?

Feel a piece of clay jewelry and wonder whose hands touched it before yours. Whose neck did it grace and whose hands put it there? Was it a gift from a father to his daughter? From a husband to his wife? From a brother to his sister? Think about why it was bought or made. Was it a wedding present from her father? Was it a gift of affection and love from the husband? Was it a token of a brother’s esteem? Then think about your daughter. Think about your wife. Think about your sister. Think about why you bought your daughter, wife or sister that bracelet or that necklace or that ring.

The study of history is not the study of dust-covered ruins in the middle of nowhere. It is not the study of dead kings and queens or that of battles won and lost years ago. It is much more than that. It is the understanding of people, people like you and me, people who lived their lives in this same world. It is the attempt to understand what made Genghis Khan or what drove Attila the Hun. It is an attempt to understand the French Revolution and the Magna Carta. It is an attempt above all to understand the dreams and motivations not just of dictators and rulers and bishops and priests but also those of each and every peasant and farmer that ever lived. It is the documentation of the truly countless stories and tales that have driven the human race forward from the earliest of times. History, as I recall from my first lesson at school is best understood as a story. Because at the end of the day, that is all that we really do need to study – our story.

I remember that first lesson very well. It was late afternoon and the warm rays of the sun coming in through the window on my right was a lovely feeling. Looking back on that day, I realize that my love of the subject and the intense enjoyment and fascination that I derive from reading about the travels of Ibn Battutah or the works of Herodotus is more than just a thirst for knowledge. I believe it is an acceptance. It is an acknowledgement of the beauty and glory of ages past. It is an acknowledgement of the intellectual prowess of the Greeks and remarkable sagacity of the Egyptians. It is an admiration for the fortitude of the Incas and a sense of wonderment at the political and administrative brilliance of the Roman Empire. The conception that history is for dunces or those who fail in the understanding of the ‘more important’ subjects like mathematics and physics and et al, is as widespread as it is foolish and the time when we realize that folly, I am convinced we shall see the true potential of the human race.

If the entire human race were to die out tomorrow, what kind of a legacy would we leave behind for the next creature in the chain of evolution to find? Would we leave paintings and sculptures as beauteous as the rising sun over an expanse of water, the pale orange rays shimmering of the surface of the water, the cool delight of the early morning air blowing onto our faces and the smell of the new day fresh in our nostrils? Would we leave behind books and poems of literary brilliance that signified that our race stood for all that was graceful, elegant, breath taking and peace loving?

Or would we leave behind an endless, desolate tract of nothingness? The result of numerous nuclear explosions, chemical warfare and the other humanitarian outrages that have characterized the development of man in the last few centuries.

The choice is ours. Remember, it would be highly irresponsible and dastardly of us to have to tell our grandchildren what a tiger was or how a long time ago, we read books and wrote brilliant essays and poems.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

VIPs with short pockets!!

I was just browsing a few news sites and read a few articles on how the relief work for the tsunami affected ares in Asia was progressing. The thing that struck me about the relief being offered by all the world to these poor people, was the sheer size of it!!! I mean, we're talking about millions upon millions of dollars, literally!!!! On top of which, people and companies and associations all over have given enormous amounts of clothes, medicines, blankets, food, water and everything else you could ever need!!! There were even reports of toys being sent for the children!!! It was just fantastic and does give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside to think that there are so many people out there who care.

To be perfectly honest, my initial reaction to all the aid that foriegn countries sent was one of pure cynicism. I thought well, so what? After all, they can't very well not do anything,right? Let's see how long their benevolent feelings last!!!

Over the days I have been humbled. I admit that freely. One hour spent going through so many blogs, all of them displaying so many websites asking for donations and volunteers and reading the posts of so many people forced me to admit that I was wrong.People do care, especially when it's something as catastrophic as this.

But, it also came home to me that all the blogs I was reading and all the websites I had visited, were, for the most part nameless and faceless. Nobody is ever going to remember the volunteers who left their work and families to help pull dead bodies out of rubble or the children who gave up their toys so that other children could play with them. Everybody, though, will remember movie stars and singers appearing on prime time television with perfectly made-up faces saying how sorry they were and how this is a terrible tragedy.

Meanwhile, the guy down the street who is totally ignored by the television crews has just donated half his paycheck.

The Indian film industry is said to be planning a gala event ( black tie of course), where a whole host of celebrity actors and actresses will perform some song and dance routine along with some singer and musician. Why?'s all for those poor tsunami victims of course!!!

Incidentally, guess who pays for the tickets? It's that guy down the street, remember him? All our wonderful stars will do is dress up in gorgeous expensive clothes, sip champagne and have a good time.

I would much rather they donated some of those millions they get for every movie they make. So, I think, would the tsunami victims!!!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What is good governance?

I believe it is ruling with your heart rather than with your wallet.

I remember accompanying Forestry officials through the National Park located inside my city (The Guindy National Park) on a deer census. One of the rangers there told me something about herd animals in general that has stuck with me ever since. He said, " can always spot the leader of a pack. He is always the last animal in the herd."

That, too my mind, is what a leader or a ruler should be.

Have you ever looked at the politicians of your country through truly objective eyes? Where did they go to school? To college? What degrees do they have? What is their background in understanding the polity and the art and science of administration? What are the kinds of books they read? Aristotle, Socrates, Plato and Machiavelli? Or John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Jack Higgins and Michael Crichton?

Don't get me wrong. I love reading Grisham's courtroom dramas or Jack Higgins' pulsating war stories. But if I were to attend law school, I wouldn't read from 'The Chamber' or 'The Runaway Jury'.

The art of ruling is as highly specialized a subject as is nuclear physics and chemistry if not more so. Kings and queens aren't elected. They spend their entire childhood and youth training and learning. They learn languages, logic, diplomacy, warfare, arts and literature, mathematics and so much more because they need all those disciplines to create a happy state.

Agreed that in today's hustle and bustle world the thought of one man versed in all that in addition to possessing the qualities of leadership, honesty,integrity and so on is a little ludicrous.

Which is why we delegate various responsibilities to various people. Thereby we seek to cover all avenues needed to create for ourselves a 'lil bit o heaven here on earth' as Harry Belafonte said. But how do we select the right people.

The moment any one political party comes to power, there are debts to be paid, favours to be repaid and important businessmen and people to placate. Ministerial appointment and the running of the country degenerates into a farce that can be clearly seen behind a wafer-thin facade of smiles and hearty laughs. And after all that, let's not forget the money to be made.

Millions of rupees or dollars to be pocketed on the sly by passing one law here and retracting one more elsewhere. And in all this rush to get rich, the country and its people are forgotten. The same people who, put their faith on one man or on one ideal, and the same people who pay for the fancy jets and Riviera holidays of rich businessmen seem somehow unimportant.

Except, of course, when election time rolls around again. Then your roads will be properly paved, your trash collected on time, healthcare, electricty, phones, water, gas and all your needs will be promptly met and you will be gently (sometimes not so gently) reminded that XYZ is your friend and you must vote for him blah...blah...blah!!!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Birds And Bees Do It!!!

Some time ago, the Indian capital of New Delhi and the highly conservative Indian society was shocked when it was found that not only were two high school students engaged in acts of sexual intercourse, but worse still it was filmed on a cellular phone and then distributed by the boy in question to his friends and finally, to top it all off, a college student was caught attempting to sell the clip on an online auction site!!

Needless to say, both students were promptly expelled from the school. Recently however, a friend of mine asked me a few questions. A few questions that have since then stuck in my craw and bothered the hell out of me!!!

He asked me firstly, wether the students were expelled because they had sex, because they filmed it or because they distributed the clip to their friends? Secondly, why if the distribution of the clip was a civil / criminal offence, as it turned out, only the boy was pulled up before the authorities?

Those questions, especially the first one, started me thinking about the way we reacted to this event. I am aware, as far as information culled from internet and magazine articles, films and other sources allows me to be, of the fact that the concept of sexual relationships is significantly more open in the West (assuming that said relations do not violate legal and moral boundaries), than in the East and specifically India. Western societies tend to be more forthcoming in their stance on sex as a whole and exposes their young to the truth about the birds and bees a lot earlier than Indian societies do, if indeed we ever do.

One of the principal lines of argument after the issue became public was that the children could not be held responsible for their actions since they were only exploring their sexuality and because of the primitive stance of our society, were forced to regard the matter as 'dirty'. Wether that is in fact true or not I do not know. I am aware however, that from purely a medical point of view, sexual education especially about STDs is a sorely neglected subject, in a country with one of the highest AIDS count in the world!!!

Popular opinion in India, and by that I mean parents and other adults, professed itself shocked by the revelation and blamed the media and the celluar phones for introducing their 'darling' kids to the obscenity of the Western culture. All this of course from the land of the 'Kama Sutra'!! Hypocrisy - meet thy master!!!!

The Indian middle class is a very strange creature. It will fight tooth and nail so that it can have every luxury that a suburban American family has, but should things go wrong, it will never ever look inside itself for the fault. Why blame the cell phones?? I'd say thank god for the cell phones - otherwise you'd never ever have known of this problem!!!

It never ever occured to anyone that although the permissive stance on sex held by Western societies might concievably have aggrevated the situation, the problem must definitely have been home-grown.

Indian societies' unwillingness to face the fact that as a child grows into a boy or a girl and then into a man or a woman, he / she is naturally going to ask questions about himself / herself. Puberty is a difficult time for both sexes and rather than helping them through that stage and giving them the answers they want, the answers that we wanted when we were their age, we shun and ostracize the subject creating images of sin and evil in their minds whenever they think about sex. But that does not solve the problem!!! You are not making them forget about their sexuality!! You are only pushing it away to some dark corner of their minds where we have no control over it!!! And no one, but no one seems to realize that!!!

Sexual education must be made a part of every school's curriculum, something that must be enforced not just in India but all around the world.

I don't mean to pardon the acts of the two children involved. Such acts at such an age cannot be excused no matter what the mitigating circumstances are. However, there are mitigating circumstances and its time somebody realized that!!!

I am fairly sure that the two students involved had a good idea about what they were doing. They must have been aware of the act and its consequences, especially if they got caught. Yet, they chose to commit the act.

It may also be that they wanted to. That they wanted to perform these sexual acts on, maybe not each other, but somebody. I will now be brutally honest about what I think about all this. It may be that some people may think I am an ass, but nevertheless...

I am quite irritated and angered by those incompetent souls who seek to blame every external source they can lay their grubby hands on in an effort to dissolve themselves of any responsibility and this includes parents. Your 'sure fire' way to 'cleanse' (cleanse?????) Indian society of Western 'evils' will not, I repeat will not mean that we will never have to deal with such cases again. Dig your head out of the sand!!!! You ain't an ostrich!!!

Your misguided efforts to blank out Western culture (which part of it by the way??? don't tell me the adults will give up cell phones too!!!!) will not leave the curious children stymied for an instant. There are several other ways and means to learn about sex, including hands on experience, which is what we are forcing them towards!

Of The Same Blood

Last night I saw a programme on Animal Planet that was remarkable, to say the least. To most of us, tigers are enormous, beautiful yet deadly creatures not to be trifled with. Imagine the result if you were to playfully smack one on the head!!!! Assuming of course you actually get that close without being torn to shreds with one negligent wave of his paw!

Yet, there is this Buddhist monk whose only protection against a 250 kilogram male tiger is his belief that the spirit of universal love will enable the tiger and him to co-exist!! And thats not the only tiger he and his fellow monks play with!! There are 3 other awesome looking tigers, each of them as huge and ferocious looking as they do in the wild who seem perfectly happy playing fetch with the monks!!!

Tigers or other wild animals in captivity can be filmed playing goofy games with their keepers with little problem. Television shows are full of these 'feel good' clips. But, trust me, this one is different. For one thing, the entire effort is run solely by the monks. There are no game-wardens with high-powered rifles or keepers with the latest in tranquilizers to keep the monks and their visitors safe!!! There is only the calm trust that the monks have in their companion's happiness and safety in where they are. And correspondingly the trust that the tigers have in their keepers ability to feed and protect them. It is truly the most amazing relationship I have ever seen!!!

What made it even more touching were the parting words of the head monk who tried his best to explain in English the spirit of his endeavour. In his gentle tone, he talked about how his friends, read - the tigers, and he were the same. How each of them needed food and water and love and a shelter. How each of them had feelings and good times and bad but most importantly, how they were of the same blood.

In the words of the monk, " ...the blood is the same. It is red."

Gives you something to think about, doesn't it?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Question Time?

Staying on the topic of tsunamis and the Asian disaster, I have something that I'd like to share with all of you. I live in India, Chennai to be precise, ( earlier called Madras) and have been quite struck with one or two aspects of this disaster.

First of all, the lack of a tsunami warning system. Uptil now I had always assumed that the Indian government had remained blissfully unaware of the tide until an hour before it struck. Recently however, I read some articles that claim the Indian government deliberately declined to join the geological team that monitors the Pacific Rim. Every school student in the world knows that this is, seismically, one of the most volatile regions in the world. Why the Indian government failed to do so is a mystery to me!

Secondly, a second report that I read in a very prominent daily lead me to believe that the Indian government and specifically the Met Dept. knew of the tsunamis at least 2 hours before it struck the Indian coastline!!!! Two hours?!?!?!? What happened? Well...apparently, the Met Dept. claimed that they sent a fax to the concerned ministry well in advance asking for instructions. That being done, they went back to their early morning tea and biscuits and watched the event on national television!! Now, what do you suppose happened to the fax that they sent? You'll never guess!! The fax was sent to the office of the ex-minister of the concerned department!!! So instead of the politician currently in charge, this all-important life-altering missive was sent to his predecessor!!

For those of you who know Indian politics, this should come as no suprise although I must admit I am constantly amazed at the ever-increasing audacity and callousness of the leaders of my country.

And that brings me to my third point. After the waves had struck and completed the devastation of people's lives and families, our revered ministers and leaders, having breakfasted well in their cosy homes up north well away from the coast, took the trouble to heave themselves into military and civil aircraft that could have been put to better use in relief work, to survey the damage!!!

And all for the purpose of hoping to garner a few more votes come election time for appearing to sympathize with the victims!!! It's an old formula. Make an appearance, look solemn and shocked, mutter a few phrases of condolence and hurry back to your plush air-conditioned life. There - thats another thousand votes!!!

Tsunami Terror

Despite what I had written earlier, I cannot but praise the single minded efforts of people all over the world in responding to the devastation caused by the tsunamis in South-Eastern Asia. Food, medicines, clothing, money, shelter, water and all the other neccessities of life have been pouring in from all corners of the world and no matter how cynical my views on the behaviour of the human race maybe, I must admit it is a splendid sight.

Yet, the work has only begun. The cost of reconstruction, not just of houses and buildings and resorts, but also of homes and families is daunting, to say the least. That however, is only one side of the matter. We must also consider the emotional and mental state of those fortunate enough to survive the killer waves. Those who caught up in its force were washed out to sea and then thrown back upon the beach with a vengeance, conscious only of a thankfulness that defied words. The imprinted terror of a 10 year old child who saw his / her parents washed out to sea in an inexplicable event, terrified for some reason he / she does not know and aware of a gnawing feeling that his / her parents would never again tuck their child in at night.

The emotional scars that such an event leaves is no less important and no less immediate a concern for all of us than the urgency of treating more physical and material needs. It falls to the responsibility of all of us the world over to work to help and rebuild the lives and dreams of the several hundred thousand affected people. Men and women, boys and girls, fathers and sons and mothers and daughters from Indonesia to Somalia and from Sri Lanka to India to Thailand.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Time To Reflect

It is unfortunate that my first post must be of a grim and somewhat disturbing nature. Before I go any further, I must ask of my readers that they take a few seconds to mourn for the victims of the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that hit the Indian Ocean on Sunday.

I remember of an earlier such event, a friend of mine saying that it was in times of such catastrophes that the nobility and greatness of the human spirit comes to the fore. My response is merely that it cannot speak very highly of the human spirit if it requires such terrible tragedies to unearth it.

Cynical? Maybe.

Given all that happens in our world today. Given the deaths and the destruction that inhabits our lives today, I find it hard to believe those who claim that humanity has any of that milk left in it.

I had earlier written an article that I intend to publish soon, that I had written soon after the infamous 9/11 incident. I am rather afraid that those of you who approve of the current hostilities in Iraq will either strongly condemn it after reading the first few lines. For thsse who take the trouble to read it with an open and unbiased mind, please remember this - the article was written on the spur of the moment and reflects only a stage in development of that idea.

As a matter of interest, I wonder how many people know that a month after the World Trade Towers disaster, terrorists also attacked the Indian Parliment Building in New Delhi with a significant amount of plastic explosives. I don't remember the American media making too much of a fuss about that.