Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Scene 1: At the time humans did not have enough intelligence to be distinguished from other animals, there were two rules.
  1. Eat and reproduce.
  2. Repeat
Scene 2: 10000 years ago, we were hunter-gatherers. There was no written law, and only loosely understood rules. Something like -
  1. Eat, reproduce and provide for your group.
  2. Find something which can make your tasks simpler - like fire, tools made of wood or stone, wheel etc. Once one human has found it, the whole group has a better chance of survival.
  3. Whoever is physically strong will survive better.
Scene 3: In feudal ages, majority of population was peasants and labourers. There were formal laws made by powerful like kings/thakurs/barons etc, which were followed by everyone. However, due to unequal distribution of power there were too many moral hazards to improve standards of life for everyone. So the rules of the game were like -
  1. Provide for family.
  2. Pay taxes according to your produce. The taxes will go for the welfare of everyone. So again, civilization as a whole will survive better.
  3. Do not question authority. Whoever has stronger connections will survive better.
Scene 4: Today we are at a stage we think about freedom, equality and justice. We aim to provide democracy, rights of property, voting, free speech, Habeas corpus[1] etc. Now the rules are loosely -
  1. Be responsible towards self, family and taxes. Taxes will go for providing of "public goods".
  2. Make use of freedom of rights, but do not falsely shout fire in a crowded theater[2]. Also uphold the freedom for everyone else (including those who are marginalized, not necessarily through specific concessions). Give respect to get respect.
  3. Whoever can contribute/innovate/raise standards of life can survive better (broadly speaking, whoever is more intelligent/wise can better provide for themselves/family/society/humanity).
Okay, maybe we have not reached this state fully yet. The previous rules are sticky, and have not gone out of the game.

Scene 5: In future, I think issues for the whole earth (like sustainability of environment) will be more important than ethnic and political differences. Hence we will need to democratize our powers over the earth's ecosystem further down to other animals and plants.

Giving voting rights to other creatures may sound outlandish and outright crazy. But only in 1948 did UN uphold voting rights to women[3]. Many suggested it was outright crazy. A large part of Arab world still denies the rights today. And I am not saying anything about rights denied to races and colonies in past.

You may argue that trees don't have enough capabilities to select wisely. But it was argued all the same about tribals, blacks and women. And see how it has been proven wrong.

The basic aim of life still remains survival - with all the other types of gender, preferences, races, and also with other species, not without. We need the diversity to hedge life on earth against possible future catastrophes like virus attacks. If we need to survive together, we need to treat everyone equal.

That is what the future is going to be - Orangutan rallies reaching UN headquarters in protest of declining tropical forests[4]. And do expect political lobbying from butterflies, salamanders, bats, vultures and lemurs with tacit support from plants and fungi, and blessings from endangered species or perhaps a directive from Gaia[5].

Related readings:
  1. Habeas_corpus - The right to appeal
  2. Shouting fire in a crowded theater - of rights and responsibilities
  3. Timeline of women's suffrage (nternational)
  4. Statistics of threatened species
  5. Synopsis about GAIA theory

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Few days back my ex-boss passed away, suffering from a medical condition. Intelligent, professional and full of drive, at times he was perceived as eccentric. The news left with a weird and dumbfounding feeling.

The point isn't to attach labels of adjectives especially to a person no more. Rather the point is that many failed to see the innocent heart obscured by our perception of eccentricity.

We don't appreciate as often as we criticize.

May you R.I.P. Ulpa Thapar.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Truth, power and peace

"Only power can protect peace", Says China Air Force Commander (refering to imminent unavoidable militarization of space) and "Only power can protect truth", says RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (in news on TV, can't find link). Without endorsing the philosophical background of both, let me agree with "power can protect peace/truth" and disagree with the word "only".

Power is an easy solution to protect peace and truth, but a very dangerous one. All the history will show that centralization of power has always led to its abuse more than holding up peace/truth. While Bhagwat acknowledges that truth has a way of staying dormant and that it never dies, my contention is why do you need power in the first place.

An easy argument is that in order to preserve your identity, you would prefer that someone powerful doesn't arm-twist you for his personal interest. All the politics at national and international levels in its most genuine form keeps coming back to "I want to be powerful because I don't want other powerfuls to dictate my life."

The difficult part is to understand that the power is not over others, but over self - one, in preserving myself while being arm-twisted, and two, controlling myself and avoiding arm-twisting others. Even if I suffer or even die in the process, the truth does not, it never will. I end up living through the truth that lives beyond me and everyone else.

In the long term, majority people (and I am sure other animals and plants) want peace and truth. The natural path is of peace and truth. By the logic of evolution, life moves to a path of 'fit'ness to the environment around. The environment is the facts - the truth. Keeping it sustained is peace.

Any suppression of truth only builds a temporary imbalance. Unnaturally tackling the imbalance using power only creates another bigger one somewhere else, until it all collapses and ends up abusing the power. It is like entropy and the second law of thermodynamics (more on it sometime later).

Without contradicting oneself at different points of time, the only long term sustainable strategy of life is truth and power over oneself, thereby implying peace and benevolence (not necesssarily altruism).