Shri Balasaheb Thackeray passed away today (Saturday afternoon India time) in Mumbai. Much of what I know about current events, I learn from the handful of people I follow on twitter. So I got to know of Balasaheb’s death through twitter. I noticed quite a few “RIP” messages. That prompted me to write a few tweets myself.
“The progress of civilization can be measured by how many people are available to not do any work. The trend has been that of an increasing number of (as well as a larger percentage of) people that don’t have to work. The lower the percentage of people in it that work, the better off the civilization.” Continue reading
One can’t seem to get away from the devastating effects of faith – especially monotheistic religious faith – around the world.
Blind faith can justify anything. If a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshiping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die–on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader’s sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast. Memes for blind faith have their own ruthless ways of propagating themselves. This is true of patriotic and political as well as religious blind faith.
The Hubble Deep Field and the Most Important Image Ever Taken by Humanity.
Watch it and wonder. Wonder how insignificant our concerns are, how parochial our interests, how utterly immaterial even our greatest conflicts are. Watch it and wonder how ignorant the so-called sacred scriptures of humanity are. The visible universe is 78 billion light-years across. Our galaxy is huge — with about 5 billion stars, one of which is our sun. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies.
“Be Indian, fly Indian” could have been the subliminal message that they wanted to convey when they (whoever they are) decided that it would be good to change the name of the airline to “Indian” from “Indian Airlines.” As I have pondered that change of name before on this blog, I will move on. I only mention this because yesterday I was flying Indian to get from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar. I am attending the “International Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation” at the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar.
A Letter to Dr Manhoman Singh
If there is one thing that makes me see red, it is senseless discrimination in general and unfair treatment of people. But when it comes to discrimination based on a person’s religion, I abhor it with every fiber of my being. It disgusts me and I feel nothing but contempt for people who discriminate based on religion (or lack of religion, in some cases.) One of the distinguishing features of a civilized society is that it does not treat people differently based on their belief systems. Those societies that do discriminate based on belief systems are retrograde, regressive, backward, ignorant, bigoted, intellectually bankrupt, and generally deserve the derogatory label “third world country.”
It is easy to defend the view that resource scarcity is a crucial causal factor in most conflicts. And since scarcity of resources increases with increasing populations, a greater balance between resources and population numbers could reduce strife.
I see the result of extreme imbalance between resources and populations every day in Mumbai. People lose their dignity in the face of dehumanizing poverty. I have also seen the other extreme — of affluence. I have lived in the US for over a couple of decades and witnessed their profligate over-consumption which is also unsustainable. Somewhere between the thoughtless affluence of the few and the de-humanizing poverty of the many, is the middle-path of sustainable development of all humanity. The problems of our system are easy to see and are stated easily enough though they are hard to solve.
Although I am not a religious person in the traditional sense of the word, I hold some things sacred. I believe that life in the universe is the most profound mystery second only to the mystery of why something, rather than nothing, exists. And that mystery of life is deserving of our most profound respect and wonder. Preservation of all life on Earth, therefore, is the most sacred of duties. Not just preservation but to see that it flourishes in all its infinite variety and diversity. I believe it is a moral imperative that every human being born to this life should have the opportunity to live a life of dignity, purpose, and meaning. Living in harmony with nature and with other fellow life on earth is axiomatic to a good life.
My interests lie in the interaction between the environment, the world economic order and humanity. I have spent some time thinking about growth, development, sustainability and the environment. I recognize that there is a distinction between growth and development. The natural evolution of any system in the initial stages requires growth but that there is a natural limit to the growth past that stage. Development could go on without limits at all stages without it being linked to growth. I feel that if in a system growth is a necessary condition for its continued development, then the development of that system is unsustainable due to the limits to growth in a world of finite resources. How to develop without growing is one of the greatest challenges that faces India.
We need to understand the meaning of progress, what its implications are with respect to the impact on the ecological systems we inhabit and what are the limits to growth: of populations, of the economic system’s physical throughput and other related factors.