Thursday, 23 June 2016

More Modest Proposals

Who can vow that he has seen ten people he knows intimately and none had significant behavioural problems.
Swift’s idea in his satirical masterpiece A Modest Proposal which proposed that the poor Irish may consider easing their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich people was to shock people out of complacency and insensitivity towards issues that they pass by. I think in Kashmir it is impossible to shock people perhaps for the reasons karwan kae dil sae ehsas-i- ziyaan jata raha. Or is it because we have converted life into an object of art? Or we are Nietzschean Zarathustras not vulnerable to pity and sons of the soil of saints who are said to be “beyond good and evil"
Humane Slaughter of New Generation
“Papa, would you please slaughter me?” a five year old child asked.  “Why?” asked the shocked father. “Then I will join God and willn’t have to go the school.”  I heard this dialogue few days back and can assert that something similar can be overheard by most of us from most of students. Therefore I suggest, a slaughter house  that kills humanely, in one go, be built for kids who are subject to such violence in schools that damages them for good and they die mini-deaths almost daily. Or at least these kids be given such a choice to drop out of schools if not from life as well.
Getting Good Students for Religious Schools
Immediately arrest all the parents who send their less gifted children to religious schools for thinking so lowly of God and His religion and criminal neglect of the future of their society. The govt/civil society should ask the madaris management to close their schools immediately on moral grounds as they are thrown the bones while meet is kept for secular education. Isn’t it supremely immoral and against one’s religion and principles of education to admit, in most of cases, the most  unruly and intellectually least gifted or least promising students in madrassahs whose mandate is to provide  teachers or imams – moral-spiritual educators of community besides hukama, theologians and scholars of a host of traditional sciences. Imagine how we would react if we see any public sector or private agency advertising admissions in special schools for the least gifted children and promising to produce the best community leaders/missionaries/legal experts/scholars entrusted with religious-spiritual-moral guidance of new generation. (While it is indeed to be appreciated that some madrassahs do convert straw into gold and there is a small fraction of bright volunteers who choose madrassah education, it is widely perceived that society isn’t, in most cases, ready to send the best students to religious schools and those who admit them seem to be helpless.)
Securing Audit Exemption for Orphanages and Religious Schools
Immediately go for psychiatric examination of those who sow the seeds of distrust and ask for auditing those institutions by professionals and teams from opponent sects which teach trust as a value. They have the temerity to plead that all the educational, social and religious organizations (many private schools are registered as trusts and we know madrassahs are virtually trusts) should be immediately closed or their registration suspended till further orders as most people who give donations have expressed apprehensions regarding their working, especially maintenance of their finances and they might take to streets causing law and order problem. Isn’t it interference in religious affairs  to demand supervision from deviant sects and requiring  publishing of detailed budgetary statements on some public sites/papers or websites with a space for public feedback to seek clarifications or critical appraisal from donors regarding many tiered audit from civil society and trusted accounts professionals. Immediate demand is furnishing of statement.
Treating Cancer of & in Schools
Since people don’t show interest, Babus don’t care, politicians are not willing to experiment with their children in government schools and all kinds of tests have already been discredited and even the Minister, sensing the power of the status quoits lobbies, seems to have second thoughts  on his reform agenda and iconoclastic zeal (the attempt has been to reform the Minister who sought to reform education), it is prudent to close all the govt schools in phased manner (anyway the process has already started from last two years and we have seen schools have been closed at the rate of  more than 5 schools/day) and transfer the money for running schools to local committees who would be operating community schools where public would be directly responsible for educating their children and thus end general mistrust and consequent geebat and protest culture against both private and government schools. Anyway where is education (as distinguished from literacy and mostly irrelevant or useless short term memory based information mugging operations in schools) to justify so much funding and so many teachers? If students don’t seem to learn anything significant about life and its problems and very few if any key skills one needs throughout life why waste their precious years in schools? Why not stop telling lies and plucking a few holes in the boat that has dozens of them and it is only a matter of time that we see it drown? Let it drown with dignity. 
Constructing Mental Hospitals near Schools
Since our school system is the best model in terms of exam and homework stress and the worst space in terms of child abuse (with number of torture devices in place from declining normal sleep to stranding for hours on the way and from schools in buses) we need to declare some of our best private schools as mental asylums or at least prepare a psychiatric ward adjacent to adminstrative block in the schools. This is because most children suffer from certain kind of psychological trouble and because if it is unattended it later expresses in severe pathological forms. Who can vow that he has seen ten people he knows intimately and none had significant behavioural problems – from egoism to sadism to hyper-suspicious and sexist attitudes to tendency to lie (most Kashmiris are expert trithologists(experts in telling lies.), as Prof. Sanullah Parvaz puts it). 
Making Kashmir a Tourist Destination
Ask tourism department to send, annually, 1000 teachers and 5000 students to Finland to experience how without exams (till age 13) and so much of homework, students excel and this model education system has made the country the hub of knowledge tourism and ask them to replicate it here so that educational tourism flourishes here. 
 Refresher Course for Beggars
Conduct beggar training courses to teach them better skills in the course they have discovered to be quite lucrative in terms of employment/job generation. Since the State might hesitate to implement French govt’s policy that eliminated begging overnight by declaring that any person caught begging would be immediately publicly hanged, it is better we make good use of their professional skills. The most likely explanations for tolerating the crime called begging in broad daylight is that they supply hafta to police or social welfare department who know it is a crime but don’t launch FIRs against them or Beggars Organizations contribute to election compaign funding and buy silence of political class. I get suspicious about Hurriyat leadership as it notices smaller crimes compared to begging mafia and has yet to issue a strike call against tarnishing Kashmir’s image through begging. Or seeking azadi isn’t incompatible with tolerating social crime?

Friday, 17 June 2016

Some Modest Proposals

I propose a few measures that appear to me best solutions to some nagging problems we all suffer from.

Treating Professional Hazards

We have many State appointed bakers, operating with tax money of the poor, who spoil over 80% precious cakes after months of toil and throw them to the dogs. Or many State sponsored car manufacturing units that throw into the sea over 80% of its finished products as they either don’t find roads for them or necessary oil to grease them. Professional colleges are, for the majority of students, animal farms where students are not made into productive beings but fattened for slaughter but their meet, unfortunately, is unacceptable to the public and they die like abandoned horses and old cows slow painful deaths thanks to frustration, ostracization and drudgery of applying and preparing for interviews for all kinds of posts. Therefore it is proposed that after completing degree of professional colleges, 80% of graduates should be hanged in a public ceremony. The most conscientious of their teachers, selected by this outgoing batch, should join them in execution. The concerned Minister should supervise the whole proceedings. This would act as a deterrent to new applicants dreaming of professional careers but ending up, after spending five to eight years in these institutions following a stressful year or two spent in preparing for the entrance, in waiting for the jobs and getting only humiliated or consumed in the process through suicide of the mind though few go for actual physical suicide. This should begin with hanging the recent batch of students of BVSc & A.H for whom jobs in private sector are almost nonexistent forcing them to opt for other “jobs” that are nothing short of bondage of spirit besides resulting in wastage of one’s best potential and time in a sector that has been especially squeezed out of existence thanks to phantom modernization of our State. Isn’t it criminal on the part of aspiring candidates who compete in entrance that they don’t take any note of absorbing capacity of the system? Since the State’s planning wing doesn’t  trust competent authority selection it thinks it needs to spend huge resources to train all but then drop 4 out of 5 graduates and 2 out of 4 P.Gs in various professions while selecting them and thus it isn’t feasible to treat admission letters as job orders. How does it matter that now many professional students whoring foreign careers while “legally” betrothed to their professions end up betraying their profession and some fail both in professional excellence and in getting administrative career? There should also be public flogging instituted against over 80% students enrolled for Masters in various programmes in our universities who are not there by choice and wouldn’t excel and can’t cultivate enduring relationship to academics for which the degree is meant. They indulge in temporary or mut'ah marriages with their degrees/academics while keeping an eye on some job or administrative career as their permanent spouse from which they seek children or enduring bond of life.

Treating the Menace of  Heritage Farms
Mughal Gardens should be immediately shifted or declared Protected Zone or National Parks even if it costs hundreds of crores to State economy as there has been a report published in The Kashmir Journal of Nonsense Science and Wild Management Plan (on whose editorial board figure the best scientists of the country who however have no credentials in the study of animal diseases) regarding the possibility of transmission of some unknown diseases from tourists to local population. It doesn’t matter that a committee of scientists established by the government compromising the best local human resource in a host of disciplines has dismissed this report as a species of wild logic that needs to be read as politics instead of science.  It doesn’t matter that the farm has a heritage value and that world fraternity of scientists laughs at our exclusivist logic which asserts that sheep eats Hangul and not left over grass close to the ground. Kashmiri science is new science that we need to export, so argues our wild science.
      Exile a population of over 50,000 humans in the scores of villages along with all their cattle, sheep and poultry  living near or around Dachigam National Park to prevent possibility of transfer of some infective organisms which are shared by animals (including Hangul) and men as Hangul must be saved. It doesn’t matter there is no evidence. It hardly matters if it requires few hundred crores as the State is quite rich to afford it and might lose both people and sheep farm and hangul in the long run. It is a possibility. But don’t talk about security forces and nearby cement plants and half a dozen departments and many human colonies inside the park as that constitutes national interest. Don’t talk either of huge predator population inside the park and no need to investigate any lack of correlation between increase in sheep population and hangul decline ( that started decades before the farm was established).
      There must be separate Pandit  colonies as some biologist has remarked on facebook (not in any scientific journal) that due to forced stay in hot weather outside the State for quite some time they have developed strong receptivity to certain allergens that are found around dense Muslim populations where they originally lived. They might get extinct if they commingle with or come close to Muslim population. A local S.P has corroborated the statement and though the scientist community has been asked to review the claim but their dissenting note has been thrown into the dustbin. Human social, religious, cultural and economic costs accruing from relocation of Pandits don’t matter.

Treating the Problem of Ageing Parents 
The government should issue a form/certificate to be filled and signed by every old person stating three options:
A) Stay with their children on the condition no complaints are made or even hinted against the later to kith and kin or foes and friends of their children.
B) That if apprehensive of some mistreatment he/she calls for guaranteed regular provision of a modest monthly stipend  from children.
C) Opt for old age homes that the State must construct immediately.
      A separate intelligence wing be established that informs a State Parents Commission  (to be established on the pattern of State Women’s Commission) regarding alienation of old parents and accordingly take action. The NGOs or the State open up portals or facebook pages where old parents record their views on their exemplary treatment they get in homes in view of the fact that a sizeable number of them have expressed desire to volunteer for the journey to the other world.

Menace of Sexual Misconduct

If the State can’t facilitate early marriages to cure loose sexual behaviour and generate funds for marrying thousands of its girls and boys by such measures as imposing, on the rich, a marriage tax of 50% on all spending on jewellery exceeding Rs. 50,000 and lavish wazwan in which more than 100 kg meat has been cooked and even one kg has been wasted, it should pass a bill for euthanasia of all males and females who couldn’t marry, before the age of 35, for socio-economic reasons as their life is later a slow death  for not only them but their whole families.

P. S
I have been inspired by Swift’s A Modest Proposal which proposed that the poor Irish may consider easing their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich people. If my proposals appear somewhat wild, excuse me as I have only copied the wild logic of certain practices or discourses in vogue that don’t appear wild to us ordinarily.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Salvation through Art

Today we discuss how taking art seriously means we are taking life seriously.
How do we lesser mortals who are no saints find God in a world where traditional Gurus or Sufi Shaykhs are either hard to come across or there is an instinctive distrust in them? How do those who have fought hard to get back their lost religious faith keep living? How do we, regardless of our religious or philosophical positions, find some convergent point to launch our  boat in turbulent waters? God in his infinite graciousness has made ample arrangements of our return to our homeland, Heaven or Himself. One powerful and universally accessible mechanism is art. Today we discuss how taking art seriously means we are taking life seriously and this helps us in reaching our ultimate destination in the embrace of God. 
      Art is a form of faith that is available to even a secular man and it is through art that religious impulse survives in the deserts of modernity. Artists travel to the other/higher world through Imagination and bring us  from those depths and heights something of love and beauty that help to save us from ourselves, from the death that egoic dreams and passions bring. Camus’s view of salvation through art reminds us of Joyce, Proust and Beckett. Nietzsche is the greatest champion of prophetic view of artist and salvific view of art. Beckett’s hero Moran finds peace in “another’s ludicrous distress.” “Far from the world, its clamours, frenzies, bitterness and dingy light” he passes judgments on all those “who need to delivered.” His artistic vacation seems to be fulfilling his dharma; it is a call from the beyond or transcendence as he is harnessed to a task which transcends himself as well as the object of his endeavor.  He is doing what he does for the sake of a cause, which, while having need of us to be accomplished, “is in essence anonymous, and would subsist, haunting the minds of men, when its miserable artisans should be no more.” Thus the world is saved only through art “that pierces the outer turmoil’s veil,” and discerns our quarry and senses “what course to follow.” Art, the Dionysian art in which like Nietzsche Beckett consumes himself, reveals the supraindividual and thus immortal essence of man. Music and not the Apollonian reason expresses this and Beckett’s aesthetics emphasizes this point. Like Proust’s protagonist and approximating in certain sense mystical purgatorial path, Beckett’s hero in his trilogy discovers his essence in the “inaccessible dungeon of our being to which Habit does not possess the key.”
      Camus expressly states that art sustains him and it is faith in art that makes life endurable for him: “What has helped me bear an adverse fate will perhaps help me accept an overly favourable outcome –- and what has most sustained me was the great vision, the very great vision I have of art.”  It is the “very great vision” of art which sustains Camus in the face of misfortune. Here he appropriates something like the religious vision. For Zen religion is akin to art. It is simply changed perception of reality. Mountains are mountains at the end of the mystical path but one no longer is the same subject. One moves with one foot above the ground. Art is a mode of perception that creates an imaginative space beyond the normal one.
      Camus’ defense of artist against those who live in bondage to history and utopia is that he fights for freedom. And he links this with passion for beauty. He rightly says that “Man can’t do without beauty”(MS: 170).
      Camus finds a reason to celebrate even autumn through artistic view of it. “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” “A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” Camus is resolute to keep in tact in himself “a freshness,a cool well - spring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice,and return to combat having won that light” He sought the element of permanence in the sky and that memory and beauty kept him from despairing after his return from Tipasa.Camus remarks that when one has had the good luck to love intensely, life is spent in trying to recapture that ardour and that illumination.
  • “A day comes when thanks to rigidity, nothing shines wonder anymore, everything is known, and life is spent in beginning over again. These are the days of exile, of desiccated life, of dead souls. To come alive again one needs a special grace, self-forgetfulness, or a homeland. Certain mornings,on turning a corner,delightful dew falls on the heart and then evaporates. But its coolness remains and this is what the heart requires always.”
       The world of a saint is not the other world that Camus would reject but this world seen subspecies aeternatatis. Seen by an Aarif, seen within God or the Infinite it is a miracle and it is beautiful beyond all imagination of a person who doesn’t know what it means to see with the eyes of God. As a thing of beauty which is a joy for ever nothing is dense or opaque to a mystic who sees everything by the light of God. Penetrating the veil of phenomena through the cleansed perception he ever sees the freshness, the cool shade, the wonder, the beauty that Camus longs to capture forever. It is love and beauty that save according to Camus and what is God if not the personification of love and beauty.
      Kafka has a great remark to offer  that makes every one of us a believer if belief is understood as gratitude to the Giver of Life. (Interestingly Layla Bakhtiar translates Quranic term kafir as ungrateful instead of disbeliever or infidel).
  • “Should I be grateful or should I curse the fact that despite all misfortune I can still feel love, an unearthly love but still for earthly objects.” 
We all feel powerless against this instinctive love for earthly things. Let us see this love in its true depths as explained by IBn Arabi who said that man really loves inexistent things – God though he thinks he loves this or that thing. (See Chittick’s “Divine Roots of Human Love” for a lucid account.) It is art that helps us to keep loving these earthly objects and transforms them from mere objects to sites of epiphany. Man must surround himself with beauty or he is not a man made in the image of God who loves beauty. We must appreciate those who cultivate this sense of beauty. It is one of the most efficacious means to worship God. Women especially excel in their attention to beauty. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that makes Heaven more easily accessible to them.
      Schuon laments that “all religions Lived in beauty, while they still bloomed freely — /Something they no longer do in this time of sick epigones.” We need to understand why Islamic culture has prized the way of an artist for finding God and that explains why Hafiz has been the “ most widely-copied, widely-circulated, widely-read, widely-memorized, widely-recited, widely-invoked, and widely-proverbialized book of poetry in Islamic history.”  Final word to this “Tongue of the Unseen”:
  • If someone sits with me
    And we talk about the Beloved,
    If I cannot give his heart comfort,
    If I cannot make him feel better
    About himself and this world
    Then, Hafiz,
    Quickly run to the temple and pray-
    For you have just committed

    The only sin I know.