Saturday, March 14, 2015


Jesus, who had the mandate of redemption of the world, through his death and resurrection, in his earthy life, engaged with various people with different inner motives. He would walk into a wedding party and turn water into wine to protect the status of the family in the community. He would walk into houses to care one to one for people, or stop to spend time with selected individuals.
 At the same time, he walked to the temple and cleaned out the market, he would interact with large groups, teaching them of upcoming Kingdom and structures which need to change.
The former out of an inner compassion and the latter a deep desire to see just structures and systems in place. Compassion for individuals and families on one hand and righteous anger against systems and structures which prevent people from fulfilling Gods purposes for their lives.
 And as people started joining him in this movement of compassion and righteous anger, he would walk away from them, because it will not be the strength of his followers which will fulfil his mandate, but his love which will lead him to his  death on the cross. A self giving live which will win the world.
A model to emulate for political movements today.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How shall then we live

The buzz word today is development. Everywhere we turn around we are bombarded by this, and all are called to align to this agenda of development. Even in high level meetings, leaders of the country clearly make this indication that we have to forget our differences for the sake of development. Religious, cultural, ethnic all have to be forgotten for the sake of development. Very true and important. But what is the development are we talking about. The indicators we use are purely economic. GDP, % of poor, investments into the country, inflation reduction, Consumer Price Index, and may others. I do not understand most of these! But I do understand one thing, it is all about economy and money. And the drivers of these economic development seems to be in the hand of a few big time Indian corporates. With the FDI caps being raised, many seems to be waiting at the doors of Indian embassies, waiting for the right time to enter. Policies being passed and in the draft stages, clearly are in line with this. Heath policy 2015, where Health of citizens will be opportunities for the “Private to buy in services” by money provided by state, or the Land Rights Bill, where social audits, and consensus from the villagers for land acquiring has been deleted, are signs that policies will favour profits and profiteering! And the economic principle that as the economy booms, there will a trickle-down effect and more poor will be pulled out of the bracket of BPL, though the divide between the APL and BPL will sky rocket! Recent ban of certain not for profit agencies which were against development as state sees it, are again indictors of the thinking within the walls of governance structures.

Profits are important, sustainability is key, economic development is one of the ways to go, but when money and economy drives a Nation, will it change the ethos or values? As Noam Chomsky reflects in his speeches - will the change from Right to live (welfare) right to what you can gain for yourself in the market, (free market) and “if you can’t get enough to survive on the market, go someplace else” (globalization) and protectionism of economy (nations protecting their economy) – will it change our culture and values (whatever is left?). What is the role if the Not for Profit in this milieu? What will happen if “money” and “love of money” becomes the driving forces around us? Will the ideals which we have held on to thus far, - “Service without profiteering” (Profits are needed) or faith in God as the provider, values of equity and justice be still relevant in a changing world? In a context where questionable motives are attributed to genuine acts of compassion and commercialisation and corporatisation are the drivers, will there be still people who are “moved by compassion”?

The other buzz word today is “Make in India” or the pride of India as a Nation. India the incredible, India the destination of the world. As we push towards National pride and Nationalism, there has been questions raised on what is India? When did India the idea come up? Who is an Indian? I am proud to be an Indian! I love my Nation! We need to celebrate our past, the culture, the diversity, the colours, the languages and many such differences. Differences are to be celebrated! Benedict Anderson shows in his book that – ‘Nation is a culturally constructed artefact built round ethnicity, race, religion and language, distinctly a product of modernization and the availability of means of communication. It represents deep horizontal affinity among citizens irrespective of the inequalities, and exploitative relations that might exists between them.’ But the essential support structures of the present government espouse a very narrow and shrunken notion of Indian nationalism (Outlook magazine March). Glorifying past is important, but when reads irrational glorification like what one heard in the Indian Science congress, ones starts worrying. Watching India Pakistan cricket game recently along with a colleague’s child recently was a revealing experience of Nationalism. I supported Pakistan since they were the weaker team, (A trait of being on the side of the weak – nothing to do with my National identity) but this was seen by this young budding professional as Anti National, a subtle rebuke from a representative of the emerging generation!

William Darlymple reflects on the history of Turkey and writes, that it was rabid Nationalism which destroyed the secularism of the Nation. History teaches us that communities which have lived together for years, religions which have respected each other for generations have been torn apart by the so called narrow understanding of Nationalism! Will waves of idealism like what we saw in Delhi elections continue to roll, in the midst of the emboldened social intolerance and pro-fascist organizations? Will there be people who will love our nation and our neighbours? Living in two worlds, at the same time - as citizens of the Kingdom and citizens of the Nation, loving our Nation and seeing Nations as part of the larger Kingdom, how shall we live?

And our position in the world as Nation is very important today. Promoting and positioning is what the media has been captured for. Millions of rupees are being spend for this promotional and positioning agenda, including simple things like the dress leaders wear! To be seen as a world leader, to be respected as an influencer, and promote an image as destination for the world of Incredible India, seems to be up on the agenda of many. Important and key direction if we need to develop. But when positioning and promoting leads to arrogance and pride, once needs to be careful. When the image we project is based on “false images” or “perceived images” we are in danger of becoming a narcissistic nation. When efforts are being made to rewrite history and manipulate truth to align to this image, when social media is controlled to protect the image we want to communicate, when web is cleaned of images from the past which will affect the projected image, one needs to be concerned.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, and let the right hand not know what left hand does, were values which gave foundation to services done for our nation. Will there be people who will still promote the father who enables us to serve, and will do service without promoting themselves, though it might affect their sustainability since sustainability is linked to positioning? Will there be still people who will hold on to the truth of what we are, with all our brokenness, reflect and introspect and journey in the process of transformation and change, instead of living under a false image?

Returning to roots – Home coming, whether for NRIs or those who have lost their “homes” in India itself, (as some perceive it) is the current call from various circles! What are they expected to return to? What are the driving forces of these Home coming calls? On one hand money and on the other hand, the socio cultural status-quo of the past. Though perceived by many as “religion” but when one reads between the lines, it become clear that it is not about religion, but about other factors. The calls (other than to NRIs, which is for easy money) has been to return to the status-quo of the past, the past of the cultural, social and gender differences and inequalities. Religion becomes a good tool in the hands to drive deeper agendas, whether political or cultural! It is evident as one listens to the questions raised by certain elements, on the last few decades of changes, but seemingly approved by the silence of the powers in governance.

So when the call is to return to the inequities of the past, will there be voices which will still remind us that we grow not by dis-empowering but empowering. Will there be people who hold on to principle that we grow not by a top down trickle, but a bottom up empowering movement, and the mandate of aligning with those who are disempowered (though motives might be questioned by the majority). This is the way of the Kingdom we are part of.

How shall we then live – wise as serpents – ears to the ground understanding the subtle changes around us, gentle as doves, having a higher perspective from above, like men who understood the times and knew what to do and confident and clear in our stand in the midst of confusing circumstances.

Stations on the Road to Freedom

Dietrich Bonhoeffer(1906-1945) Discipline If you set out to seek freedom, then learn above all things to govern your soul and your sense...