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200 more Dead in Terror carnage in Pakistan

And so we believed that President Obama would change the world. And so we believed that somehow the Messiah had arrived that would heal the wounds of the world. Yet with every step, more innocent women, children and men, civilians from all walks of life are dying wherever American troops are present. Pakistan is now embroiled in a terrorist insurgency from which there seems to be no way out. And while America Politicians debate and argue about what to do, more people die everyday.
I am not saying that President Obama does not mean well. But I think like all people in the US, there is little understanding of other cultures. It is not enough to be open and empathetic to other cultures. It is really really important to understand it by not assuming that your own systems and governments, or even your own system of Democracy is not the only relevant system in the world. Islamic democracy is not the same as Western democracy. It never will be.
And you cannot wipe out the Al Queda or the Taliban by military force. You may be able to contain it, but as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan is proving again and again, it cannot be wiped out and the continuing policy of using western troops on Islamic soil provides the most fertile ground for recruitment of young people into terrorist organizations.
Neither Al Quaida nor the Taliban is a single organization. It as an idea that brings people together in amorphous ways that are created and and destroyed but are immediately created again. How do you destroy an idea ? By striking at the root cause that partly lies in the disposessed of the world. Those without hope. The world cannot continue to survive with such huge disparity with as one part of the world continues to get fat and the other starves.
I had said previously on this blog that Pakistan is going to be Obama’s Vietnam if we are not careful. The US must learn to follow a policy that is comprehensive and long term. They cannot create and arm a huge disparate force called the Taliban to fight the Russians, corrupt the Pakistan Army by sending them huge amounts of cash and arms to supply to the Taliban, and then suddenly pull the plug and assume that everything be normal ? Centuries of power play between the Western powers in Afghanistan has ensured that the country has not been able to evolve into a common culture with a comprehensive and central system of government. It remains a tribal culture that has always been difficult to contain.
And as the world’s super powers decide what to do and look at their options, hundreds of innocents die because of their indecision or their meddling. Sure, their have been no terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11. The war has merely moved to other places where the US has sent their troops. So hundreds of people from others cultures die.
Oh well, they are not American lives, are they ?

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me trying to be bird

Venice

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new york’s churning

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my view of new york at night
from deepak chopra’s apartment
no, I am not on drugs
but new york’s soul
exists in it’s churning

Message from the Webmaster

Many of you might have faced the problem of logging to the blog in the past two days. It so happened that a malicious code was injected into a few pages of the blog and Google bots marked this site on their watch list. Readers who have been using Firefox or Chrome would have received messages in their browser warning them not to enter the site, the reason being these browsers and Google follow a common list and hence it showed at these places. The site has been quarantined thereafter and precautions taken that this issue does not happen again.
Apologies to all of the readers who faced the problem. You can now visit, read, participate and interact with Shekhar Kapur as you used to. It’s heartening to see so many insightful discussions happening over here. You can write at admin (at) shekharkapur.com if you face any problems or have any queries.

Attention seeking

We spend our lives trying to get attention and loving it. Getting attention is what provokes people, creates relationships and also destroys relationships. At some levels the ego is propelled to do greater things while it seeks attention. But at other levels, for so many of us attention seeking becomes an obsession. Therefore self-destructive. You can’t spend your life seeking affirmation through other people’s eyes. More often than not this leads to a loss of self-worth with all its associated problems.
I spent many years of my life as a young man in wonderful adventures, but also in “Vanity” about myself. I often look back at my life and wonder how many beautiful relationships I missed out on, how many great adventures I did not give myself to, because of my own vanity or the need to seek attention.
But better late than never, I am on a different path now as I realize that the greatest adventure of all, the greatest potential relationships of all, the greatest love of all, lies in what’s given. Not in what is received.
Not because of some great “altruistic” or “selfless” illusion of myself. But because the greatest adventure of all lies in seeing yourself not as an individual drop, but as the ocean. To lose my sense of individuality. To lose that which is “Shekhar Kapur” the individual allows me to lose “me.” I am not saying that I am there yet. My ego still carries too many remanents of the past. Past desires, past aspiratons and past insecurities. But I’ve made a start.
Everyday, for a part of the day I argue against my own ego to remind myself of the greatest illusion of all.
My individuality.

But when passion is directed positively …

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Meet Wendy Chin, who’s great passion is to protect the ancient mangrove forests on the coast of Langkawi in Malaysia. A business graduate with a hugely promising career in finance, Wendy found her true calling in protection of the environment. She moved to the Island of Langkawi and works ceaselessly to protect the incredible amount of species that live in the eco systems of the mangroves – and the mangroves themselves. And we all know that Mangroves provide the protection against erosion of our coast lines and against high tides and Tsumani like waves.
I was attending a Standard Chartered Bank conference at the beautiful Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi where Wendy was taking us out in boats to teach us about her beloved mangroves. From a one inch red crab scurrying into the mud to a poisonous viper that hung unseen a metre away from my head, Wendy brought the wealth of the mangroves alive for all of us, as we listened and watched with such rapt attention, feeling the very pulse of the ecosystem and becoming one with it.
The world needs more Wendy Chin’s to help save our ecosystems.

passion and attachment : a real perspective from Kavitha

Though not entirely related to the main thrust of the original post, it provoked me to write about detachment, in the context of a human spirit every one of us will or have experienced at some point in our lives…
The notion of death and mortality has engulfed my psyche this past week – triggered by a couple of tragic developments (or should I say tragic devastations) in the extended family…one around the completely unsuspected, sudden and symptom-less end of a life…another around the discovery of terminal cancer.
How does one deal with a tragedy such as death of a seemingly healthy being, particularly when it’s timing was so unpredictable? Even more mysterious that it happened immediately following “darshan” at an *auspicious* religious vortex in south india, on an *auspicious* day last week. Was he blessed that he had to endure no pain and suffering and his last breath was a breeze, after a divine encounter? Or was it a misfortune that he jumped the age line to reach life’s finish line, leaving behind many older counterparts in the family to enjoy “longer lives”? So on and so forth.
Earlier in the week it was dealing with news about terminal cancer…..

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Afganistan will be Obama’s Vietnam

No one has a won in Afghanistan. For there is nothing to win. The country has been ravaged by a centuries of invasions and attempts to control the irrepressible tribes. All there is left is the fierce pride of the people. And the British, the Russians, the Americans have all failed to control that sense of pride and independence. All that the US will achieve by sending more troops to Afghanistan (as Obama has promised) is to embroil Pakistan into the regions violence. And then for the next decade the war will go on. President Obama says that “the US cannot allow breeding grounds for terrorists to stay free to attack the US”. But this military intervention will cause the region and Pakistan too to become an even more fertile breeding ground for younger terrorists. The motivations are completely unclear as Osama Bin Laden after 9 years of 9/11 is more a myth than an enemy. Is it worth destroying the social structures of a whole region to search for one man ? What needs to happen for the US to have completed its objective ? What is the objective ? The Taliban will live as an idea after you have killed the last standing man in Afghanistan, and will explode again unless the young men of Afghanistan have hope of better and more prosperous lives. For at this moment the only way to earn a living in Afghanistan is to either pick up a gun on behalf of the highest bidder, or grow poppy. The wealth generated from drugs is one thing that keeps the generals of Pakistan Army and the Taliban tied together, not just fundamentalism.
The Talibanization of Pakistan is going to be one of the biggest problems facing India over the next decade. The shifting of the IPL to a foreign country is just a sign of things to come. We will have a Vietnam on our doorstep and we will get embroiled in the conflict.

true grit

I am in Udaipur filming here, and surrounded by great stories of the Rana’s and the courageous warriors of Mewar. Fascinating stories that make me wonder what true courage really is ? Does true courage need an enemy to provoke it ? Does honor need something dishonorable to fight against to bring it the fore ?
We often do courageous things driven by passion, by desire for change, or in the service of others. Gandhi ji had the courage to lay his life down for freedom. People make courageous films. But in each case there is an assumption of an opposing force. Is that something that is inherent in establishing courage ?
To me courage is the ability to live. Courage is the ability to be quite ordinary and yet be content, and not see life as a huge burden. Ambition or what we call drive is often driven by innate anger, which can turn completely negative.
But beyond all that true courage is the ability to be comfortable with the unknown and welcome it as the natural order of the universe. It is not just the acceptance of death, but also the acceptance of control as the great illusion. True courage is the ability live in the moment fearlessly and with immense love with no opposing force.