Cops commiting suicide

As the Times of India reported that a cop blew his brains out in front of the Mantralay in Mumbai today, there came with it a full blown report on depression amongst the lower rungs of the police force leading often to suicide. Please look at my blog of a few days ago ‘The Depressed Mumbai Constable’, where I describe some of my conversations with young constables and their immediate officers.

From RK Pachauri : Nobel Prize recipient on Global Warming : Myanmar is a grim reminder of climate change..

Do current patterns of growth and development define an improving human condition ?
The global economy has reached unprecedented levels of economic output and activity. Earlier predictions of grim disaster associated with Malthusian thought have proved completely irrelevant, because human ingenuity and technological development have provided solutions to the problem of stagnation in production of goods and services that were foreseen during the nineteenth century. Yet a consumerist society, which has focused relentlessly on accelerated economic growth measured according to conventional yardsticks has created problems at a staggering level, solutions to which are at the same time difficult, yet crucially urgent.
The most important challenge facing humanity – as has been voiced by several world leaders including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, United Nations Secretary General, Ban-Ki-moon and former US President Clinton – is the growing threat of climate change. Human society, ever since the advent of industrialization, has been responsible for emitting increasing quantities of greenhouse gases, the most dominant of which is carbon dioxide, which is largely the result of combustion of fossil fuels. This has led to a warming of the climate with several other forms of interference with the earth’s climate system. Precipitation levels have changed in different parts of the world and extreme precipitation events have become more frequent and more intense. Similarly, heat waves, floods and droughts have increased in frequency and intensity, with increasing misery and hardship for some of the poorest communities in the world. Thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of bodies of ice on a widespread basis have led to sea level rise which increases the extent of devastation from cyclones, storm surges and coastal flooding. The recent tragedy in Myanmar is a grim reminder of the severity of impacts of climate change with an increasing sea level……

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Is this how all of us will get water soon ?

My assistant went out and shot a little video in Colaba, in Mumbai. There’s no water in the taps in this area. It is served by Water Tankers, that come once a day if you are very lucky, and you queue up for hours to get water. A few burly guys are pushing and pulling people, bossing them around – (and they have a kind of a barricade for the tanker that is carrying water) – I’m not sure who those guys are. They certainly don’t look like government employees to me. They look like local goons.

What’s interesting is this is not a slum of Mumbai. This video was shot right in the heart of Cloaba which is where the Taj Mahal Hotel is, one of the ten best hotels in the world.

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The purpose of life

Loved the simplicity with which harb wrote this under the blog ‘Can we change our Destiny ?” There is a fascinating discussion going on there that you should visit.
“As for the purpose of life, imagine yourself to be a part of a flowing river, rather an indistinguishable part. Pushed by and flowing with the flow you just carry on with your life and the question of purpose does not arise in you. You do so in fact in your childhood and youth phases in the River of Life.
A child does not ask for purpose rather enjoys living his natural life which comprises mainly of playing games and indulging in senses. So with a youth, he does not ask the purpose, rather enjoyes his life chasing opposite sex, loving and so on….

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The depressed Mumbai constables

The other day I went ‘somewhere’ in Mumbai and got there early. So sat down with the really nice young constables outside and shared a cup of tea with them. How different they were to the constables either made fun of in our films, or derided as corrupt individuals. It was startling for me to discover that all of them spoke primarily about job related stress, suicides amongst young cops, and the inability to make two ends meet.
“you have no idea how much pressure we have from above, and can never be sure when and how we may be implicated in some political game to protect someone senior or a political big wig’. And this could happen in any of the jobs we are called to do, so constantly have to watch our backs’.
This was a startling statement – and it came passionately from every one of them ….

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Sonya’s book list : L N Mittal vs Arcelor, Who’s side are you on ?

You might look upon him as an underdog ( never mind that he’s the world’s fourth richest man) Or you might (as much of the European establishment did) see him as the noveau riche, pesky Indian, getting above his station in life . With a peskier son by his side . But whichever way you look at it , L N Mittal’s 5 month long battle, for the crown jewel of the European steel empire , is a tale worth trawling through ( Cold Steel by journalist Tim Bonquet and communications consultant Byron Ousey, pub Little Brown UKP 20). Its racy ; and with its bizarre twists and turns, its code names, its moles and it’s multiple locations, more thriller than business book.
It’s a battle of billionaires that began with Mittals’s bid to buy Arcelor ( code named Operation Olympus) . A bid that also made the Indian born entrepreneur into the barbarian at the gate ( he was ok as long as he kept buying rust bucket plants in Uzbekistan and Mexico) …..

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Am I in control of my Destiny ? Who is the ‘I’ ?

Aditya, my new assistant asked : Am I in control my destiny ?
There is a more fundamental question. Who is the ‘I’ that is asking that question ? If the question is being asked by stepping outside the illusory ‘I’ and looking it from a universal point of view, then the ‘event’ (that is perceived to be destined) and the ‘I ‘ are the same. There is no difference between the two as they are locked in an eternal embrace. There is no ‘question’ that can separate the two, existing as they are, in the same matrix of bubbling potential. However if the question is being asked from inside the illusion of being in the ‘I’, then the question is completely valid and will always remain a valid question with no valid answer. It is in the nature of the Illusion of our existence that the world can be imagined only in questions and resolved, if at all, in fantasy. For ultimately all the questions arise from desire, and what creates the desire is the imagined separation between desire and the event that is desired. That separation or duality gives rise to the question.

Socially unacceptable behavior

Does anyone remember when Indira Gandhi declared an emergency ? And because there was a food shortage at that time, she forbade any party of more than 50 people if food was being served. Is it time to do that again ? In this lopsided world where some people fly private jets all over the world for fun, regardless of the shortage of aviation fuel, and the number of cars that cost 1 crore and above, which are the greatest gas guzzlers in the world snail through the Mumbai traffic, is it time for us to sit back and actually make it socially unacceptable to indulge in such consumption ? Instead f admiring their wealth and aspiring to do the same ? How can one talk about food riots, the economy on the brink of bankruptcy, and yet all over the world the very people that cause such shortages in the world through speculation and economic manipulation for their own profit, continue to act and live as if these problems do not exist ? And why do we, our press, our aspirations encourage such behavior by making such consumption socially acceptable ?

Sonya’s Desert island List

Talking Books
One woman’s inspiration is another man’s toilet paper. Nowhere is this truer than in the world of books. In my family, there are emotional arguments. The man I married, is disappointed in me. I never , never, he complains, get around to reading the wonderful non fiction volumes he dips into- Danziggers Travels, Spice, An Intimate History of Humanity et al . I’m unhappy with him as well. He can’t afford the time, he says, to get drawn into the fiction I’m constantly gripped by.
At my book club, the divisions are even sharper. There are Rushdie haters. There are Rushdie Lovers. ….

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Other people on our blog ?

I have long struggled with that. Not that I wish to be the only voice, but because blogging requires commitment. If I am going to invite someone else, then they should commit to us that they will be regular. For we begin to look forward to their entries, and we look forward to discussing them amongst ourselves. My web administrator was totally against it – but I have convinced him that we should include other voices on this blog. Sonya Dutta Chowdhary writes regular book reviews for many papers and magazines, runs a book reading club in Mumbai and teaches reading and writing skills to children. She has committed to writing regular reviews on books and about authors etc. under something called “Desert Island Lists”. Welcome Sonya.