Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pension plan for the Nation.

Today is the 60th Republic day of India. Our Constitution has turned 60, an age when an individual starts looking at his savings and pensions for these are the things that will support him/her for the rest of his/her life. "Well a country never gets old or get retired" you'll say but what I want to bring your attention to is that the present is always a result of actions we took in the past. You'll be independent and peaceful if you made investments in a good pension plan. Similarly what is the investment, a Nation should make so that its future is peaceful and prosperous?

These were the questions that were bubbling in my mind when I was watching the Republic day parade today. I had submitted my investment proofs for year 2009-10 last week for tax exemptions and so that was really fresh in mind (it's only at this time that I think about them). So I am keeping certain sum of money which will grow over time and I can withdraw that when I require it in future, for say my kid's education, marriage or for other occasions which will require large amount of money in a short span. But have I actually secured my future? Is money only thing that I need to save? Will that money be any worth if I just get robbed of it by someone the day I withdraw the amount? Is the money invested is guarantee enough that our kids will turn into good citizens and not terrorists?

"That's easy", you'll say, "we'll be able to send our kids to best schools with that money." Yes that's true but that's where the problem lies. Have you ever considered what are we teaching the kids in school? In school they are taught facts! Schools teach how to crack complex problems in maths, science, etc. "who's and when's" of history, "where's" of Geography, but what they are not taught is how to become HUMAN.

I am not saying that these things are not necessary to be taught, they are extremely useful for preparing a child to face the world when he/she grows up. But just for an example consider a child well versed in chemistry who grows up to use his knowledge to make a deadly bomb in his backyard and blows up the very school he was taught into. The whole world will be shocked (a usual), special TV reports will be made, describing, in minute details, the incident as it happened, how many killed, how many injured, and yes of course how much money was lost. The criminal/terrorist (as he will be called) will be tried and put into prison. In prison he is surrounded by people who have done harm to the society and we expect him to come out a changed man after his served time in prison.

So do you see what I want to point out here? Let me explain a bit more. After the Republic day parade was over I was browsing other channels and stopped at National Geographic. There was a program on how a human child starts its first years in life. Recent researches have shown that the human child is born with very little pre-programming in its brain, in contrast to all other species. For example, an insect at the time of birth has all the information it needs to survive, like how to fly, catch its prey, dodge its predator. But a human child's brain is an empty board. That is an evolutionary benefit that we have and not a disadvantage. Because this gives a child chance to best adapt to his environment. He can develop skills that will enable him to harness the best out of the environment he is in. This flexibility however declines as we age. For example at the time of birth at around 3 months, a child can distinguish the subtleties of many different languages, but as he grows older this ability slowly wears away as his neurons make stronger connections for understanding his native language. What I want to get to is that a child has a potential of becoming either Mahatma Gandhi or Hitler. As a child can become conditioned to control his vocal muscles to produce most complex sounds, he can also with similar ease learn to control the speech he's going to make. He can seduce millions to kill or he can convince billions to love.

But we ignore this most important part of life of a man and when he becomes conditioned to do a thing which we consider is harmful for us, we put him in prison and expect him to become a better person. Its similar to a potter who doesn't pay attention to his pottery when they can still be set but tries to mend them after they are baked in the oven. The pottery wont get to the shape he wants now, it might come close but it wont be perfect and it surely can "break" easily now.

So if you ask me "What is the best investment a Nation can make?", I'll say EDUCATION. Invest in schools that produce humans and not robots. Choose carefully who's going to teach our children. Give the utmost respect to the teachers for they are making our future. Our Nation will not become great at the hands of industrialists, leaders, visionaries. It will become great only and only through GURUS who'll create those leaders and visionaries.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Your Red My Green

One day I saw an apple and "felt" its red color and asked my friend what color do you see? He said "I had my color blindness test done already, but if you wanna know its red". Then I asked "Well yes you say it is red but can I know that you actually seeing my green and calling it red?". He came near me checked my pulse asked me to count his fingers... and said I am driving home.

If you are still reading this that means you didn't think it was a stupid question and want to know more, or may be you are as idle as me and just hoping this to turn out a fine joke at the end. Anyway you are here and let me make my question a little bit clear. For this you have to travel with me to an alternate universe, where every one is born with special lens over their eyes. These lenses convert any alphabet to a different symbol. For example, I in this alternate universe see "@" when I see "a" and you see "#" when you see the same "a". Our teacher in school writes "a" on board and pronounce "a". Now we both listen the same sound for "a" but perceive different symbols. I don't have any way of knowing what you perceive but you say the same sound when you see it. So I conclude you see "@". You similarly have no way of knowing what I perceive and think I also see "#". Our teacher is proud because we have learned to recognize and speak our first alphabet. We are two happy friends just playing with ideas as to what we can achieve with this alphabet and what more when we'll learn all alphabets.

But the second day things change. We are now discussing how "a" actually looks like. I start explaining "Well its a round shape, a circle in circle ...", you cut me in between and say "hold on .. there is nothing round in it. Its only straight lines." And there goes our friendship. We try to understand each other first but how can it be that the same symbol which we call with same sound "feels" different to you. Its plane "illogical". We split, go on our separate paths trying to understand and preach. Some people start following me and some to you. The situation first simmers and simmers but there comes along some bright minds that say only one of us can be right. So all those who don't see what we see should be killed, for they are lying and creating confusion. And so it begins .... "THE END".

"Oh! such a horrible alternate universe you took me into" you'll say. But what I have just shown you, might just happen if people are able to tell shapes of colors. Lucky that we cant. We can see the color, say the word we have for it but we cant explain just actually what we see. There is simply no way to tell that, when presented with an apple("a"), I see it yellow ("@") and you green ("#") but both us will exclaim ... "RED". Phew!!! I think I explained it didn't I?

You are still here. Very brave of you. You still think it will turn out a nice joke right? Anyway let us move further then. If you feel lucky that you are not in that freak alternate universe then just look around and you'll see that actually you are into such a universe!! Only you are not born with those freak lenses for alphabets but yes you'll find one thing in particular that resembles that.... "RELIGION", "GOD", "ENLIGHTENMENT" well we have many words for that but we all feel different about it. A sadhu sitting alone in a Himalayan cave might experience ecstasy which a man might feel when he is deep into playing a musical instrument or a hungry child eating a rotten bread after a month of hunger. The list goes on. We all "see" the same thing but "perceive" or "feel" it differently. Then we come back from the experience and try to share it with the world "in words" and yes we find many who felt the same "in words". We do our best to define the shape of what we "saw". And here comes another group who "saw" a different "shape" for the same "color". And so we have our Crusades, terrorists, human bombs, etc all because the world must consist of people who see only one aspect of the infinite, only one face of the infinitely sided dice, only one color from the rainbow of infinite colors.

So my friend, if we can live happily without the knowledge of whether you see "green" what I see as "red" then why cant we live happily together if you and me believe in different GOD or religion? Why cant we just try to make our own lives better and leave others to mend their own in the best way they find they can do. The ease with which you are reading this blog wouldn't have been possible if we all followed the same paths. No inventions, no discoveries. We would still be animals hunting in jungle, if some of our forefathers wouldn't have thought and acted differently.

I expect comments both for and against my ideas and am happy for it because I believe you see something different that I cant and we both can make the rainbow of ideas stand magnificent by adding our colors to it.