A mishmash of spirituality, human relationship, adult and children's literature, news analyses and anti-road-rage tirades

Three antidotes against messages that burn


Image courtesy: Pixabay

How often have you been tempted to give a fitting retort to an acrid message posted in a group? How many times did you decide to back out at the end?

These things occur to me thrice as often as most of you would think they happen to you! For as many times, I pull out of such situations and decide to store my energies for something worthier. But at times, I do oblige to their whims!

Recently, I got caught into the quagmire of the riposte game by a disturbing WhatsApp message that went viral. It comprised a text message in Hindi and a 05:45-minute-long video.

The text message in the form of a paragraph hails the man in the video as a hero, who supposedly took a bold step by catching hold of the propagators of another religion and by ‘teaching them a lesson’.

The video presents a man announcing himself to be making this video from Dera Bassi toll plaza at 11 o’clock at night. Dera Bassi is a satellite town of Chandigarh.

The camera zooms in on three faces. The man claims that he caught the trio in the act of distributing pamphlets in the toll plaza. The pamphlets are supposedly aimed at promoting a minority religion. What happens beyond this is too contentious and too graphic to be elaborated here, considering my own safety and sanity.

I am anyway not of the opinion to give such videos a chance for more traction. This is the same reason why I am not sharing the video here.

But I wanted to leave a message for the person posting such a message as well for those who might have been encouraged to share it in other groups. I wrote the following sweet-coated yet tart lines in reply to the post. Kindly put up with me a few more moments to go through them and let me know how you think about them.

Religion is about love not hatred or force. Religion is love for God, love for self, and love for others. Religion is about being capable to treat the people belonging to your faith in same way as you would treat people belonging from other religions.

If anybody is forcing someone to do something or not do something in the name of faith, it is not religion. In fact, this act can bring the greatest disgrace to the religion. Hindu religion is based on the principles of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. It advocates the simple truth that ‘the whole world is one family’.

In a secular democracy, everyone has the right to follow and propagate their religion.

If Christian missionaries are spreading their religion through pamphlets, Hindu missionaries like Ramakrishna Mission, ISKCON, and Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship are also propagating the principles of Hindu religion across hundreds of countries around the world. Had those countries barred us from spreading Hindu religion, we would have shrunk to the confines of a handful of countries only.

Therefore, I request everyone not to spread such messages that divide people on religious lines.

Having said that, I would like to draw your attention to an important aspect of unfiltered forwards. I request everyone to inculcate a habit of contemplating on every message before forwarding it to others.

You may be hell-bent to share nationalistic messages. You may feel duty-bound to share a message informing about a lost child or about how a chivalrous group of people just saved your religion from extinction. Here is another such example. This video falsely shows Kerala Muslims burning Hindu god images in protest against CAA. The clip has been widely circulating on Twitter and Facebook.

But do give it a thought whether it is serving the purpose of national building or public in reality or not. The message may be based on fake news, may be politically motivated, may be aimed at inciting communal violence, or may be simply a prank.

You may use the following checklist to self-assess your message before forwarding.

  1. Checked the factual correctness
    • Did the sender verify the facts? ☐
    • If the message includes a phone number or weblink, did you try calling the number or visiting the website? ☐
    • Did you verify from authentic news sites? ☐
    • Did you check with fake-news-buster websites like Alt News and Hoax Slayer? ☐
  2. Understood the motive
    • Does the message put any political party in unusually bad light? ☐
    • Does the message portray any particular person, community, or nation negatively? ☐
    • Does the message sound too beneficial or too helpful to be true? ☐
  3. Checked if it incites violence
    • Does the message incite violence? ☐
    • Does the message contain too much of graphic detail? ☐
    • Is the message safe for children to view? ☐

If you think I have left out any, you may add your own to the list in the comments section below. Thanks.

Here a beautiful article written by the Mozilla Foundation team on how to make sure you aren’t spreading misinformation online.

Filed under: Current News, General Awareness, Heresy, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Are We Still a Democracy?

Democracy's Dance of Death (Illustration by Ranjit K Sharma)

Democracy’s Dance of Death (Illustration by Ranjit K Sharma)

Imagine yourself standing next to your neighbourhood shopkeeper and bragging about your son’s smashing performance at the latest exam, while your domestic help appears in front of you all of a sudden only to inform on how your son’s school has sent him back to home today as a punishment for his bullying behaviour. Well, you are speechless, motionless! Isn’t it?

Indians too have found ourselves in a similar situation recently.

While Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s words, “mantle of democracy is now very much strongly held by India,” when addressing an audience at Oxford University’s Said Business School, highlight India’s strong democratic credentials, at the same time, the Jallianwala Bagh-like, mid-night crackdown on peaceful protesters, supporting Baba Ramdev’s fast unto death at Ram Lila Ground, New Delhi on Saturday night, tends to accentuate the glaring shortcomings therein.

Not in the distant past, we remember having settled down smugly self-satisfied at the victory of democratic values. The Indian democracy has deepened when members of the civil society such as Anna Hazare and others were included in the drafting process of the Jan LokPal Bill.

But with the above surprise, forced eviction, where thousands were manhandled, Indian democratic credentials have surely come under scrutiny.

Swami Ramdev’s demands might be too far-fetched. He may be a political greenhorn. He might be limelight-hungry. He might have assets worth over a thousand crores!

But that do not justify such undemocratic way of curbing his voice against the government; not to tell AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh’s uncalled-for statement of naming Baba a thug.

I think Baba has done the right thing by continuing his fast unto death.

The only positive sign about which he should feel lucky is the fact that he wasn’t arrested by the police, charged with an “attempt to commit suicide”, and force-fed through the nose like Irom Sharmila, who has been doing a Ramdev since November 2, 2000 for protesting against a similar, undemocratic law of the government.

Let’s cross our fingers and watch where we are heading towards!

Filed under: Current News, General Awareness, , , , , ,

Time to Read (?)

Mortimer_AdlerWhen I was in the tenth standard, the following essay by Mortimer Adler had a lasting impact on my mind. It was a part of our English curriculum in the form of a textbook, Learners’ English. Years later, I am still fascinated by its relevance to the current times, more so when the good, old habit of children’s reading books is in its way to the coffin, what with the advent of e-books, intensive study-packages, et al! I am thankful to him (whom I wished I could meet one day; but alas, he left for his heavenly abode in 2001, much before I could afford to visit the U.S.!) and M/s Sawpon Dowerah (who also served as my teacher for sometime) and T. C. Baruah for having included this piece in their anthology.

Please click on the following link to download a PDf document and read: What is a Great Book?

Filed under: Children's Literature, General Awareness, Philosophy, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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