Damselflies

Damselflies are insects in the sub-order Zygoptera in the order Odonata. The meaning of Damselfly is “paired-wings” or “equal wings”.

Damselflies are very beautiful and helpful predators since they help control the population of harmful insects. Adult damselflies feed on different kinds of flies, mosquitoes, moths, and some of them even eat beetles and caterpillars.

They are a very important group of insects in the stream and pond ecosystems. Damselflies are one of the important bioindicators who help us understand the water quality.  The destruction and alteration of freshwater habitats are the biggest threats to the damselfly species worldwide.

Some of my photographs of different damselflies :

Thank you

 

References:

  1. https://british-dragonflies.org.uk/odonata/damselflies/
  2. https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-12_damselflies.htm
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damselfly

Greater Adjutant Stork

Greater Adjutant Stork is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species.  This bird is facing the threat of extinction due to rapid loss of habitat and known to breed only in the Assam state of India and Cambodia. It is a scavenger bird and like many other scavenger birds, it is also not admired. It may not be pretty but it is key to maintaining healthy ecosystems.

I took the following photographs at the dumping site of Guwahati which is near the Deepor Beel Bird Sanctuary. 

Thank you

The Word of God – What are the different forms of the word of God?

The Word of God

What are the different forms of the word of God?

[This piece of writing is from my personal reading of the book ‘Systematic Theology’ by Wayne Grudem]

A. “The Word of God” as a person: Jesus Christ

Sometimes the Bible refers to Jesus Christ as “the Word of God”. In Revelation 19:13 John tells us the name by which Jesus is called, which is the Word of God. Similarly in John 1:1 he says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. Furthermore, in verse 14, he makes it clearer by saying “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.  Here Grudem concludes that these are the only instances where God the Son has been described as the Word of God and this usage is not common throughout the Bible. It indicates that among the members of the Trinity it is especially God the Son who in His person as well as in His words has the role of communicating the character of God to us and of expressing the will of God for us.

B. “The word of God” as speech by God
  1. God’s Decree: Sometimes God’s words take the form of powerful decrees that cause events to happen and cause things to come into existence. As we see in Genesis 1. Psalmist also says “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of His mouth” (PS 33:6). The decrees of God not only include the original creation but also the continuing existence of all things or sustaining all things by His powerful word (Hebrews 1:3).
  2. God’s words of Personal Address: God also sometimes communicates with people on earth by speaking directly to them. For example, in the beginning, God spoke to Adam (Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:16-19). God’s personal address to people on earth is also found in the giving of the Ten Commandments. “And God spoke all these words …” (see Exodus 20). In the New Testament at the baptism of Jesus, God the father spoke with a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17).
  3. God’s Words as speech through human lips: Frequently in scripture, God raises up prophets through whom he speaks. Although these are human words spoken in ordinary human language by ordinary human beings, the authority and truthfulness of these words is no way diminished: They are still completely God’s word. God spoke to Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18-20, that “…I will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak all that I command him”. And here God also warns sharply not to speak anything in God’s name what He has not commanded. In a similar statement, God made to Jeremiah also “…Behold I have put my words in your mouth” (Jer 1:9). “Whatever I command you you shall speak” (Jer 1:7; see also Ex 4:12; Num 22:38; 1 Sam 15:3, 18, 23; 1 Kings 20:36; 2 Chron 20:20; Is 30:12-14; Jer 6:10-12, 36:29-31; et al). Anyone who claimed to be speaking for the Lord but who had not received a message from him was severely punished (Ezek 13:1-7; Deut 18:20-22). Thus God’s word spoken through human lips were considered as authoritative as His personal address. To disbelieve or disobey any of them was to disbelieve and disobey God himself.
  4. God’s words in written form (the Bible): The first of the written words were found when the Ten Commandments were given to the people of Israel written on two tablets of stone (Ex 31:18). The writing was the writing of God graven upon the tablet (Ex 32:16; 34:1, 28). Further writings were done by Moses which we know as the law given by God (Deut 31:9-13). This book which was written by Moses was deposited by the side of the Ark of the Covenant (Deut 31:24-26). Further additions were made to this book of God’s words by Joshua (Josh 24:26), Isaiah (Isa 30:8), Jeremiah (Jer 30:2; 36: 2-4, 27-31; 51:60). In the New Testament, Jesus promises his disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance the words which He; Jesus had spoken (John 14:26; 16:12-13). Paul said the very words he writes to the Corinthians are “a command of the Lord” (1 Cor 14:37; 2 Peter 3:2).

Several benefits come from the written words of God. First, there is a much accurate preservation of God’s word for the generations to come (Deut 31:12-13). Second, the opportunity for repeated inspection of words that are written down permits careful study and discussion which leads to better understanding and complete obedience. Third, the written words of God are accessible to many more people than the words preserved merely through memory and oral repetition. The reliability, permanence, and accessibility of the words of God are enhanced by written form.

C. The focus of our study

Of all the forms of the Word of God, the focus of our study of systematic theology is God’s word in written form that is the Bible. This written form of God’s word is available for study, public inspection, repeated examination, and as a basis for mutual discussion. The other forms of the Word of God are not suitable as the primary basis for the study of theology. We do not hear God’s word of decree and thus can’t study them directly but through observation of their effects. God’s personal address is uncommon, even in the scripture. Even if we hear the personal address today, we would not be certain about the accuracy of our understanding and memory. Nor we can readily be able to tell others with certainty that the communication was from God, even if it was. God’s words as spoken through human lips ceased to be given when the New Testament canon was completed (Which the author discusses in more detail in the subsequent chapter “The canon of Scripture- What belongs in the Bible and what does not belong”.

[Note: This piece of writing is from my personal reading of the book ‘Systematic Theology’ by Wayne Grudem. I have not put any of my interpretation or commentary in addition to his original writing. I am presenting the text in a short summary format for anyone who is interested in reading doctrines of the Bible in greater depth but has less time to read the original extensive version (but I strongly recommend you to read the original work for deeper understanding). The purpose of me putting a short version is to help my friends and family to get the benefit from my reading (with no selfish and comercial interests). All the credit goes to the author who has worked extremely hard to put this book together for our easy yet deeper understanding of doctrines. I hope my work of putting this short write-up help in your edification and help you in knowing God more. -more to come…]

Supreme Court’s judgment on adultery – Choosing individuality over commitment

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India repealed the Section 497 (adultery law) of IPC. The bench of judges declared that it is not a criminal offense if a partner commits adultery but is a private affair. However, the matter is highly contested. Besides the argument of criminalization, the question arises about who should decide whether it is a criminal offense or private matter. Since we live in a society and make common laws to govern ourselves, I think it is the people themselves and the representatives of people who get to decide on such matters. As Justice Katju (ex-SC judge) observed that the legislature should decide whether it is a crime, not the Supreme Court. Supreme Court may check the validity of it or decide the law as wise or unwise. I think the SC can also check the constitutionality of the law. Too much of judicial activism is not good for a democracy either. The legislature should decide with much debate and discourse whether it is a crime keeping in mind the interest of the society. Simply saying it as a private matter does not reflect its implication on the society. Is the Indian public ready to address the matter of marriage and adultery in private in a constructive manner? They claim, it liberalizes women. But how? Where the majority of women are not economically empowered enough to divorce their adulterous partner, how will they deal with it privately? They will silently tolerate their partner’s behavior and live miserable lives. Men will justify adultery. Moreover, in a society like ours when men find their partners with other men they will take law into their own hands. It does not address the issue. Instead of making the law equal for both men and women, it has been scraped (It still remains a question though).

Besides the law and decriminalization, I have an issue with the way the Hon’ble judges have described the matter. They seem to be somewhat normalizing adultery in the society and to an extent glorifying it in the name of ‘sexual autonomy’. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud backed the sexual autonomy of women within marriage. He said, “Partners in marriage should have respect for each other’s sexual autonomy”. It suggests that he outrightly refusing to accept the exclusiveness of sex within a marriage. If a partner needs ‘sexual autonomy’ to have sex outside the marriage then why marry at first place? Why get into a committed relationship? It is a straight reproval of the institution of marriage and its sanctity.

The judges said “A woman has sexual autonomy within marriage. Marriage does not mean ceding autonomy of one to the other. Ability to make sexual choices is essential to human liberty. Even within private zones, an individual should be allowed her choice”.

In the name of Autonomy, choosing individuality over commitment is no way forward. I am against the law that is bias towards one gender but the way the Hon’ble judges are speaking about the issue is not going to help Indian society that celebrates family values and individual virtues. Commitment is important for a healthy family and healthy families are prerequisites for a healthy society. Where will the world head without virtues like commitment, love, integrity and honesty?  Freedom without obligations is not possible where more than two individuals have to live since one person’s exercise of absolute freedom will stand in the ways of the other. In the name of freedom and liberty, can we do anything we want to? Is not restraint better than just doing whatever your instinct tells you to do? Imagine if everyone keeps doing whatever they want to do in the name of individual autonomy.

The feminist propaganda of ‘my body my choice’ ‘my life my choice’ will take us nowhere. There is a reason why human beings live in a society. Everything is ‘my’, ‘mine’, ‘me’, ‘I’ is the reason for many troubles. Don’t we have responsibility and commitment towards our spouse, parents, family and the community we live in? Is everything about ourselves? My life my choice? What about your choices that stand in the ways of others to exercise theirs’? Hon’ble Justice Mishra said “Husband is not the master,” but can’t the husband or the wife expect fidelity from each other? Can’t parents expect their children to take care of them? Can’t society expect us to act responsibly? My life my choice? Where it ends? Where is the boundary? Are we going to remove all the fences/boundaries in the name of individual liberty?

“Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask yourself, ‘Why was it put there in the first place?” G.K. Chesterton

Borrowing and lending: What Jesus tells us about lending money?

Moneylending is a serious issue since time immemorial. It is painful, to know how people are enslaved in numerous ways by moneylenders. Many times poor people spend their entire life or even generations to pay off their interests. Usurers extract land, labour, assets, farm produce etc in return. This money lending business is killing many poor people and enslaving many for life. Money lending with interests always worsens the plight of the poor.

When I come across such cases of exploitation, I always think what Jesus said about lending and borrowing. How God commanded Moses to tell His people to lend?

Mosaic Law tells, “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest” (Exodus 22:25). In Deuteronomy 23:19, it prohibits charging interest in any form such as food, money or anything else.   Mosaic Law tells us this, basically for two reasons, first: interest bearing loan would aggravate the difficulties of the poor and secondly: God promised a blessing on the gracious lender that would far surpass any interest he would make. Moreover, this law strongly encourages community living by proposing, every creditor must cancel their debts every seven years (Deuteronomy 15:1). However, the law does tell borrowers to work to return their debts (Psalm 37:21) but it does not encourage lenders to impose interest or forcefully collect the loan.

When the Mosaic Law of 3500 years tells not to lend with interest, what Jesus tells us about this? He says “do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). He then tells us to lend freely without expecting a return. He goes one step further by telling even don’t expect any return from the needy. He not only tells us to give to our friends but also to enemies in need. He says, “But love your enemies and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great” (Luke 6:35). He strongly emphasizes to give freely, without interest and even in worse cases give without even expecting anything in return. Jesus tells “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

It encourages to give freely and promises a return of our gracious giving from God.  By giving He tells us, we will not become poor rather he tells us our ability to produce wealth comes from God (Deuteronomy 8:18) and it is God who sends both poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts” (1 Samuel 2:7).

When we live in a community we should live interdependently and equality and justice help us all live joyful and meaningful lives rather than living lavishly at the cost of others.  When we are connected to God vertically and to people horizontally in love, it sums up everything. As He blesses freely, it is expected we too bless others freely.

But how far have we gone in the other ways? I wonder where the increasing individualism would take us.

The Quiet World

The Quiet World
                             by Jeffrey McDaniel
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
Photographs: Abinash Biswal

I am woman

I am a woman, stubborn and strong willed
But also a girl, longing to be held
My dad’s lil girl
But also a Manager
I talk a lot
But love the silence
I can’t read maps
But love to travel
I dread growing old
But love my freedom
My tears may flow freely
But my strength is hidden deeply
I may hate for a moment
But I love for a lifetime
I am may be a huge cliché

But am still rare and special.

From Bondage to Freedom

Freedom is the real nature of human beings.

We are called to be free and live up to our highest potentials.

But there can be many things that enslave us and limit us. But we have the choice to put aside everything that is limiting or enslaving us and be free.

We can definitely do it through the power of God, who said “I will set you free” (Exodus- 6:6).

Now we must break every chain of limitations and walk towards freedom.

And in the process of walking from bondage to freedom, we can live fully every day.

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Beauty – Khalil Gibran

Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech? …

….beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.

But you are life and you are the veil.

Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.

But you are eternity and you are the mirror.    – Khalil Gibran

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Love

P.S. Pictures – Nav Jivan Hospital campus, Rural, Jharkhand

People with Disabilities in India: Hopelessness and Hope

Today International day for People with Disabilities is being observed around the world.

Here in India, we also have various events to commemorate the day like every other year but PWDs continue to live in extreme poverty, facing different types of discrimination, poor quality of life and hopelessness.

PWDs in villages are still being mocked and are identified by their impairments. Disability is largely considered a consequence of one’s past life sins or karma instead of being a physical condition and disease. Widespread awareness is still lacking among people who are both educated and denied education.

PWDs are often looked down upon or looked at in a manner that makes them feel worthless. Even when we show compassion and kindness, it is more out of pity rather than the actual intention of helping the person grow. Our behavior is attached with stigma and discrimination and our use of words affects their self-esteem, confidence and faith in themselves. Some even don’t dare to attend public functions in fear of being rejected, mocked or looked down upon or considered as helpless creatures. Many are confined to their homes all their lives.

Although, disability is often a low priority for the government, in the recent years there have been many initiatives taken. In 2013, while I was working in Jharkhand, it was the first year the District Administration was observing Disability Day. This is almost 20 years after IDPWD was declared globally and more than 15 years after the PWD Act 1995 was passed. It is tragic that such a global event had been ignored for so long while there also seems to be a glimmer of hope as the District Disability Rehabilitation Centre was started on that day as well.  There are various rights for PWDs outlined in the Act and there are various social welfare schemes initiated by the government but they hardly promote empowerment, wellbeing, and freedom. At the ground level, the initiatives by the government are limited to disability pension of Rs 600/- p/m. In addition to the fact that the amount barely provides for basic needs, it is very irregular. Pensions are received once in 6 months or sometimes once a year. Even when they receive the amount, it is used to meet family expenditures making it close to impossible to have a decent quality of life dependent on the pension.

A few other initiatives by the government include the provision of assistive devices like wheelchairs and tricycles for PWDs (but not all) with restricted movements. These events are rare and when these equipments are given, they are of very poor quality and often do not last long. When a few PWDs actually utilize them, their movements are still restricted as the rural infrastructure such as roads, houses, toilets are inaccessible.

Apart from this, in order to avail any government benefits, PWDs are required to have disability certificates. Unfortunately, by 2012 when my colleagues in EHA had started working in the area in Jharkhand, very few had disability certificates in the region. Around 80 – 90 percent of PWDs were not registered or given certificates. The certification is a lengthy process which requires multiple visits to the district headquarters. It is both time consuming and a financial burden. Caregivers or family members who are dependent on daily wages find it especially difficult to get the work done. Even this disability certification process is not exempt from corruption. People with lesser impairments sometimes pay and get higher than 40% percentage of disability in order to access government schemes easily. On the other hand, there have been instances where people could not pay and have got lower percentages of Disability during certification.

As stated above, there are many challenges and barriers to a better quality of life such as social, financial, institutional and infrastructural.

There are hardly any government initiatives that focus on capacity building, skill development, education and empowerment of PWDs. Skill development programs which are functioning are more of a hype rather than doing any sustainable good.

It is 26 years since the first human development report was published by UN based on the capability approach. The government should focus more on building capacities, providing opportunities and an environment to utilize their skills, disable friendly technologies and accessible markets. Moreover, to create a community and society which is open, educated enough and inclusive in order to provide an enriching environment which is necessary for better quality of life.

However, it is not all hopeless. In the recent years, many Non-Governmental photo1729Organizations have come up to work in this area of disability, focusing on the right based and empowerment approach. In rural areas a few well informed NGOs are trying to strengthen the rural institutions and helping in forming disability people groups in order to work for their rights. The Government is also increasingly coming up with policies but the implementation is still dependent upon the mercies of the officials.

Hope is raising, change is happening but the question is can we be satisfied with this? Satisfied by the disguised notion that things are changing? If we are satisfied with the way things are changing, we are doing injustice by denying their rights. We need to be impatient, because the way things are changing, by the time we ensure an equal society and wellbeing for all, millions of lives would have been lost without education, quality of life, wellbeing, freedom and even without having to dream.

As the popular quote from Nehru’s speech on the eve of India’s Independence goes, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”. I wonder we are still waiting for that stroke which will bring with it life and freedom to other relevant aspects of our lives.

Let’s observe the International Day for People with Disabilities as a reminder that a lot is still to be done much more than what we have achieved so far.

Love

Abinash

P.S. Contributed by Rachel

Following Christ and making a better world: what comes first?

The foundation of my Christian faith is in the historical fact of ‘Resurrection’ and the theological doctrine of ‘Redemption’. It is not because I want to become a better person or want to contribute to making the world a better place.

Let me explain.

My foundation or my reason for following Christ is based on ‘redemption’ and ‘resurrection’. However, when we first believe and follow, the traits such as joy, peace, love, kindness, goodness, self-control etc become inevitable parts within us and flow into the other aspects (social, political & economic) of our lives and contribute to making a better world.

In other words, I don’t follow Christ to change the world but following Christ demands certain kinds of lifestyles and daily behaviors in us which ultimately can change the world.

Moreover, it is not that I follow Christ because my thoughts and ideas are compatible with Christ’s teaching, rather it is because, I believe in Christ as the savior, therefore I follow His teachings.

I don’t believe in Christianity as a means to our own advancement, rather I believe in it because it is the truth.

Let me end with C S Lewis’s quote,16247_21413_5

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Love

Abinash

P.S. The core wisdom is borrowed from the C S Lewis’s book “The Screwtape letters”.

Touched by an Angel – Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

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Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.

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We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free.

By Maya Angelou

Digging into the Mysteries of Eternity

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Where is this span of life in the scale of Eternity?

Ah, hang on, Scale? Is Eternity scalable?

If not, then where is this lifespan that touches eternity? Or how much space does it take or consume in eternity?

Eternity is beyond time. Eternity existed before time and will exist after the time. We can measure this lifespan only in the scale of time because time has a beginning and an end but eternity doesn’t have. And our lifespan can be a tiniest dot in the existence of time. Therefore, when the existence of time is incomprehensible in eternity, then our lifespan in eternity cannot have any physical significance at all.

Time has a beginning and an end, therefore, the past and the future are the concept of time but cannot be of eternity. Only the present touches eternity.  Therefore, never to dwell in past and live in future but live life in the present where we touch the eternity. Never to store treasures in future and never to give future our heart.

Why so much of pride, accumulation of wealth, greed and so much of evil?

In simple words, Why so serious?

Why so serious about the matters of the world? Why do we dwell so much in the past and give the future our heart? We are creatures beyond Time, Space, Being and Identity.

We are not separate entities from eternity and we can only find our identity in the eternity itself. When eternity has no beginning and end, God who says, “I am the beginning and the end and the Alpha and the Omega” is Eternity Himself.  Thus our Being and Identity can only be found in Him alone.

We must ask, seek, and knock to find the mysteries of eternity. And “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” is the only one who can reveal to us this.

keep digging…

Love

Abinash

Do Public Opinions and Outrages also discriminate the poor?

In the recent news, there has been a lot of frenzy regarding the torture and killing of a monkey by 4 medical students in Christian Medical College. It was heartbreaking to see this as it is an example of cruelty by very young people who are in fact committed to help other people. This is not an isolated incident, there was another report of 2 medical students who tortured and injured a puppy as well. The perpetrators or the cruelty is not the only similarity, in both the incidents, there was a huge public uproar on social media and action was taken immediately which is remarkable.

These reactions and actions prove how strong public opinion can be and if people make enough noise, the action is taken. While in these instances, the action was taken and justice was served (as some call it), there are countless incidents which are equally ignored, almost all of which include human lives. Either the public opinions and reactions are not strong enough or limited or does not follow through till justice is served.

In the last decade, more than ever people have raised their voices against injustice which has definitely led to action but most of this is limited to metros and cities. What is about animals that stir up these feelings in people? Is it because they are endangered (as was the monkey)? Is it because they are viewed as defenseless? Is it because they can’t raise voices for themselves?

We hear about numerous deaths of children every day especially in the area I work in or in similar tribal belts. Most of the deaths due to preventable causes like TB, Malaria, malnutrition, lack of basic medical facilities Just yesterday, we lost a child to Malaria, in our project area and , more than 100 children have died due to encephalitis in two months in Malkangiri, another tribal area in Odisha.

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http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2016/nov/18/encephalopathy-besides-je-killed-malkangiri-children-1540163.html

What about these children? Do these incidents happen so often that we have become immune? Or are they not endangered enough for people to care?

Each child/ human is an endangered species as they are unique individuals, one of a kind person and each death means that an endangered species is lost. Obviously, these situations cannot be solved with just the public opinion, it requires people who are willing to take risks, the government that pays attention and a lot of other factors; but public opinion and raising voices for them is a start so that there is awareness regarding the magnitude of need that is there.

We often hear, don’t treat people like animals but maybe if we paid the same attention, some change might even be possible.

I believe every life is important whether its human or animal but just because something happens so regularly, we shouldn’t become immune to it. If public opinion and response can bring justice for animals then more so for children who are helpless, don’t have a voice and are endangered.

Are they not worthy of our opinions or outrage or our time???

Economic Development and production of fakes: Who are the losers?

Alongside development, modernisation, globalisation of trade and/or liberalisation of the world economy, crimes also have become globalised. Neo-liberal ideology opposes all forms of government interventions in entrepreneurial activities. Under this setup, the interaction between socio-economic actors are determined by the market by preserving freedom of business and corporations. As liberalisation and market deregulations are the core of neo-liberalism, it gives the power to economic elites and reduces the power of the states; therefore, non-state actors from local, regional and international scales have found wider room to operate their own agenda which is mostly corrupt & exploitative. Profit and power have intermingled leaving the state powerless or with a little capacity to handle such globalised criminal activities. Technological innovation, deregulation and free market which was considered good and promoted to make the world a better place, have been used as tools by these globalised criminals to go beyond state sovereignty and exploit the whole process to their benefits.

Cheap labour and low manufacturing costs in developing countries have led corporations in developed countries to outsource their corporate production activities. This has created opportunities for the producers to sell their products in unauthorised ways taking advantage of the free market. As there is a demand for goods in the Western countries, outsourcing to countries like India and China have increased due to the availability of cheap labour and infrastructure. Low paid factory owners and workers in these countries have attracted large corporations from north who wanted their goods to be produced cheaply. This is kind of mutual benefit in nature, e.g. large corporations getting original goods produced at a cheap cost and at the same time letting the partner factories in developing countries to fake these original products violating the intellectual property right act. Eventually, selling these products especially in the local markets or poor countries where the consumers are poor and cannot afford the original products.

download-1While china has been producing large amounts of fake goods, India has been involved in the production of fake pharmaceuticals. This is a pattern of Eastern/southern and western/northern production and supply linkage between larger corporations and local factory owners which have fuelled the production and selling of fakes in the countries of production and other developing countries. The extreme nature of these crimes are, for example, 192,000 deaths in China during 2001 due to counterfeit medical products which eventually closed down 1300 factories. Large amounts of sales of lifestyle drugs such as Viagra and steroids in western markets and even drugs for serious diseases like HIV and malaria have been flooded in developing countries.

Although the growth and development have been well-regarded, it is not coming with only positive expenses. Who are the winners and losers in this process of growth and development?

You may relate it to the widespread poverty, farmer’s suicide, Bhopal gas tragedy, larger environmental issues and health issues and find the losers and the winners.

Thank you

P.S. References will be provided on request.

Black money and Tax havens

Multinational companies of global north or western countries are the biggest culprits, who provide the tax havens (a jurisdiction where income tax or other taxes can be hidden with a low rate or without any rate) to hide billions with the help of their efficient networks with the national companies in developing countries (Otusanya, 2012). Approximately USD 200-280 billion has been estimated to be transferred from developing countries through transfer pricing mechanism per year (Bekar, 2005).

It has been estimated that every year between $500 and $800 billion leaves developing countries due to criminal activities, corruption, tax evasion and tax avoidance practices (Baker, 2005).

There are a few examples of MNCs of different countries who are involved in large-scale tax haven and corruption. There have been evidence of US corporations paying money to government officials in developing countries to win business. For instance, US corporations such as Exxon and Northrop paying USD 56.7 million and 30.7 million respectively (Salbu, 1997). IBM, Boeing and 400 other US corporations and 500 companies had made corrupt payment (to government officials) as part of their global business transactions in the past (Salbu, 1997).

Many western banks have been providing shelters for corrupt business people in downloaddeveloping countries to hide their money. It has been found that these western banks even approach foreigners to make arrangements for the transaction by providing them examples of other customers (Baker, 1999). They even provide the contacts of overseas traders for their assistance to facilitate the process.

In addition to this, banking secrecy law has provided the opportunity for large-scale tax havens. For instance, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Brahmas, the Cayman Islands and a few other have strict banking laws, which make it a criminal offense for its employees to disclose any customer’s accounts related information. Even in some places, it needs constitutional reform in order to remove the banking secrecy policy (Palan et al. 2010). Keeping this in mind, how the Indian government will negotiate to bring back the black money is a big concern or is it just a matter of TRPs for TV channels. When our excellent negotiation skills could not bring back ‘The great Indian Mallya’, how it would influence in bringing amendments in the banking secrecy policy in those countries, seems not worth considering.

However, we common people or Aam Admi will never lose hope. Black money ayega (will come back)… just the way how Raju Chacha is yet to come back in that popular Bollywood movie.

And one more question, Ayega toh kahan jayega (If it comes where will it be utilised)?

Thank you

P.S. References can be provided on request.

I know why the caged bird sings

“…. I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
    When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
    But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings! “

                                   – Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Photo was taken in Mussoorie, India
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Taken in Mussoorie, India.

 

Thanks

God bless…

P.S: These photographs have no connection with the poem yet I thought to share my photographs along with it.

The faultless, the nationalist and the holier-than-thou.

Recently, I read in the social media about an Indian couple who beat up a wheelchair user in a theater for not standing during the national anthem in Goa. How sickening is this?

This is not an isolated incident in the country. These incidents, however, may not be called a trend, but has been increasingly reported in the last 10 years and very much in the media since past couple of years. It may be because these incidents have increased in past years or the media cover of these types of cases have increased. No matter whether it has increased or has been constant in the past 70 years of freedom, it definitely does not seem healthy for a free society.

People are openly beaten up or even lynched for eating certain kind of meat (beef). Couples are trashed in public parks for being together. Night parties have been attacked by a group of people who claim to be the makers of a better society (what an irony?). Some are even beaten up for not chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (Hail mother India)  as few believe it is the way to prove patriotism. A few media channels have promoted themselves from being neutral reporters to the judges of highest courts (of their own standards) by making judgments and declaring people guilty and even pointing out the anti-nationals.

 Poor people are beaten up for transporting cattle in the name of stopping the slaughter and are seized unlawfully, but later the cattle is sold by the same people for profit. This is one of the few businesses which includes no hard work but returns both fame and money.

The driver of a bigger vehicle would most probably be beaten up by passersby if he hits a smaller vehicle on the road even if it is not his fault. Tragically enough, people are more bothered to beat up the driver than to call an ambulance or take the victim to a hospital.

People from Bihar and UP have been trashed in their own country (in Mumbai) because some believe that they have the highest form of lawless behavior in the country. One must find out how lawful it is to beat somebody up unlawfully. In my opinion, it is nothing less than the Nazis who believed that Jews were the destroyers of the civilizations, however, they never realized that they themselves were the uncivilized and the real destroyers of civilization.

Everyone thinks they are better than the other person. Self-righteous people of every religion portray others as inferior all the time. Self-declared patriots threaten others’ right to celebrate patriotism in their own ways. Many of us do not miss any opportunity to point fingers at a person with a fault and sometimes, even without any fault, people beat up others just because they can.

Every time I hear about such incidents, one thing that comes to my mind is the incident where a woman was brought to Jesus convicted of adultery by the preachers of the laws and some self-righteous people. They asked Jesus whether the woman should be stoned, as the laws says an adulterous woman must be stoned to death. I admire what Jesus replied to this. He said “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. Hearing the reply, all of them who accused the woman left the place one after another and as the verse emphasizes ‘the older ones first’. 😉 John – 8: 3-10.

In the same way, are we all not guilty of any sin? Are we not humans who commit mistakes in our daily lives? In other words, when Men visit brothels, it is gratifying their sexual needs but women in the brothels are called whores and secluded from the society in a way that jeopardizes their health and well-being. In addition to this, rapists and people indulging in violence against women in their homes are teaching how women should dress and when they should go out, under the banner of culture, tradition and religion.

If we take a moment and look within and be empathetic before we judge and disgrace others for their mistakes or raise our fingers, the world would be a much better place.

Let the law of the state, which is intended to maintain order in the society take its course. Why are we becoming so judgemental and self-righteous and taking law into our own hands?

Let he who is free of sin throw the first stone…

Finally, one thing I have observed in my life is that the higher the level of hypocrisy in a person the more judgmental she/he tends to be and more the finger pointing. I may be wrong in my observations, scientific study needed. LOL.

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”. Jesus in Matthew 7:5

Thanks

God bless