Freethought Activism

A New Belief System For The Young Men And Women Of India

This is the third part of Dr. Prabhakar Kamath’s latest series on Managing Life Without God and Religion In The Twenty First Century. Links to all published parts in this series can be found here.

It is obvious that not only does the Old Belief System (religion) have nothing useful to offer modern India’s young men and women struggling with their daily hassles, but also it hampers their ability to think, feel, speak and act independently as individuals. Religion promotes irrational fear of authority (“I don’t want to be blamed or shamed”), helplessness (“I feel helpless to do anything about the bad situation in this country”), passivity (“I can’t and won’t do anything”), and dependence on others (“I will ask a local god, Swami, politician or Mafia to help me solve my problem”). Religious leaders and priests on one hand and politicians and bureaucrats on the other have promoted and exploited these deplorable characteristics of naive masses to the fullest extent to enrich themselves. Rationalists and secular humanists that reject the Old Belief System as obsolete for managing life in the twenty-first century are obligated to offer India’s young men and women a simple alternative belief system, which is more relevant to life in twenty-first century. I am offering the following New Belief System to young men and women of India as an alternative to the current belief system. Of course, we can modify this system following a vigorous and meaningful debate.

1. New Faith

I have faith only in my own Will.

One could adopt variations of this statement such as, “I believe only in myself,” or “I have faith in my own abilities,” or, “I know I can take good care of myself without a god or religion in my life.” This belief should replace the old belief in the ancient supernatural higher powers such as the Gunas of Prakriti and Law of Karma (BG: 3:5, 27, 33; 18:59-60), Vedic gods, Brahman, Atman, Paramatma, Parama Purusha, Purushotthama, Ishwara, and Parameshwara mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita; and scores of less ancient gods and goddesses invented by Brahmanism to delude people -Rama, Krishna, Ganesha, Hanuman, Laxmi, Saraswati, Durga, Kali- and hundreds of smaller deities and demigods; and also the belief in the earthly higher powers such as Swamis, Gurus, Pandas, Priests, Ministers, Politicians, Bureaucrats, the Police, the Mafia, and all other crooks and con artists in flesh and blood.

Having faith only in your own Will does not mean you do not believe in the essential goodness of other people or their abilities; nor does it mean that you are arrogant. It simply means that all your actions are anchored in the belief that you have the power and will to fulfill your desires and protect yourself from evils that might befall you. If Brahmanic loyalists brand you as one deluded by Ahamkara (egoism) for not believing in higher powers, quote Swami Vivekananda whom they worship as one of their greatest champions:

“If you have faith in all three hundred thirty millions of your mythological gods, and in all the gods, which foreigners have now and again introduced into your midst, and still have no faith in yourself, there is no salvation for you.”

That should silence them. If not, you can tell them in jest, “Aham Brahmasmi!” (I am Brahman!). Or, “Tat Tvam Asi” (You are Brahman). You can add, “Since I am god, I don’t need to have faith in any other god. That is why I have faith in my own Will.” Case closed.

2. New Mode Of Action

I am quite capable of fulfilling my own desires and protecting myself from all evils of life by means of my rational, ethical and result-oriented actions.

What you are saying here is that you will not indulge in irrational, unethical and fruitless actions to fulfill your legitimate desires, and to cope with life’s vicissitudes. You are breaking off the shackles of Old Belief System, which says, “You are merely a helpless puppet in the hands of all these higher powers! You can’t do a damn thing without their help! Not a blade of grass moves without god’s wish!” and firmly asserting, “Yes, I can! I am not a helpless puppet dangling from strings pulled by anyone’s invisible hands. Not only can I move the blades of grass but also I can mow down a whole lawn with a mower.” If Brahmanic loyalists attack you for rejecting their mindless ritual-worship of gods and doing the right thing, quote them Swami Vivekananda again:

“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.”

To those Brahmanic loyalists who regularly consult astrologers before doing anything, quote Swami Vivekananda again:

Astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore as soon as they are becoming prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food, and rest.”

3. New Dharma

The Constitution of India on which is based the Rule of Law is my New Dharma.

The word Dharma is derived from the ancient root word Dhar, meaning that which holds. The ancients conceived Brahmanic Dharma as the Constitution, which held the society together and regulated behavior of diverse groups of people of the land. Just like the Constitution of India today, it was all about Law and Order. They controlled the masses by developing their doctrines of the Gunas and Karma. Over 2500 years, however, due to the abuse of their doctrines Brahmanism steadily degenerated into an elaborate moneymaking sham, not much different from the Government of India today. Their degradation resulted in disastrous consequences to India. We read in my articles on the Gita how during the medieval times temples in places such as Somanath and Mathura amassed enormous wealth, which attracted Islamic invaders from Northwest. This led to a thousand years of foreign rule, and devastation, decimation and destitution of India. Brahmanism is yet to accept responsibility for this greatest tragedy of India ever.

The Constitution of India, our New Dharma, is designed to guarantee people of all classes, colors, creeds and genders equality, justice, freedom and opportunity to pursue happiness under the Rule of Law. This Dharma is perfectly appropriate for the modern times. If there is so much of chaos and lawlessness in India today, it is because not enough people are uniting to strengthen India’s Constitution, and not because of any inherent weakness in it. Why should you pledge your allegiance to the Constitution of India? Well, keep in mind that significant numbers of your life-problems are caused by government officials who have little respect for your rights under the law. Only by constantly protecting, promoting and practicing the Constitution could you protect your inalienable rights. This is consistent with the ancient wisdom, “Dharmo Rakshathi Rakshatah,” meaning, “The Constitution protects him who protects the Constitution.” Only the Constitution has the authority to make the powerful wrongdoer to tremble before the weak victim.

Pledging allegiance to the New Dharma means all your actions must be within the framework of the Constitution, and you will not indulge in unlawful behavior even if the Old Dharma condones or encourages it. If your personal value system conflicts with a particular Law, you will set it aside and obey the Law. If you choose to disobey the Law on a matter of principle, you should have the integrity to court arrest and cheerfully suffer the consequences for violating it, as Gandhi did. All personal principles and convictions come with a huge price tag. Furthermore, you should insist on the Rule of Law with all the people you deal with in your effort to solve your personal problems in life. An example of this is you will refuse to pay a bribe to an official who demands it to perform his duty for which he has already been paid taxpayer’s money. Anyone refusing to insist on the Rule of Law has no right to call himself a citizen of India. And the person demanding a bribe is a traitor.

Almost all problems Indians face in their public life today are related to the powers that be breaking the law by omission or commission. Sixty years after the New Dharma was established in India, the allegiance of the majority of people in India is not to it but to the Old Dharma. And almost all problems in India today -corruption, inefficiency, filth in the streets, water shortage, electricity supply problems, adulteration, police atrocity, bad roads, scams, poverty- could be traced to this single factor. On one hand there are Brahmanic loyalists such as Shiv Sena and RSS who have nothing but utter contempt for the Rule of Law. Therefore, they follow the dictates of the Old Dharma. If they don’t like the news, they would burn or destroy the television station with impunity. If someone said something against them they would beat him up. They would never be arrested because the allegiance of the police, the prosecutor, the judge and even the chief minister is to the Old Dharma and not to the Constitution of India. Not one of Shiv Sena or RSS goon has ever gone to prison for flagrantly destroying property or beating up people. Their heroes are RSS terrorists such as Pramod (Rent-A-Riot) Muthalik who is still walking the streets, thanks to B. S. Yeddyurappa, his Brahmanic Godfather. This Brahmanic idiot decided to be the police, prosecutor, judge, jury and the executor -for a fee. In other words, he was merely being a Paranthapa (scorcher of foes) as per the Old Dharma when he was offering to kill people of other Dharmas on the imaginary battlefield of religions. The BJP party’s honchos, whose primary allegiance is to the Old Dharma, defended the corrupt-to-the core BJP chief minister of Karnataka, who never fails to put on a huge Nama over his forehead to display his allegiance to Brahmanism, by saying, “He did not break the law even though his actions were immoral!” In other words, he was merely being a Dhananjaya (conqueror of wealth) following the dictates of amoral Old Dharma when he was amassing wealth by immoral means, and therefore he is perfectly fit to be chief minister! It did not matter to them that he abused his power and betrayed the people as the chief minister. Such is the depravity of Brahmanic thinking.

On the other hand, secular as well as religious people running the Government of India, who have sworn to defend the Constitution of India, consider it as a mere nuisance or joke, and their jobs as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to steal as much money from people as possible. All these people extort bribes from people because everyone from the very top to the very bottom does it. None of the crooks ever arrested by the “Vigilance Department” for extorting money from innocent people ever went to prison.

If the young men and women do not protect the Constitution of India today, they are frittering away their freedom, which their fathers won by making great sacrifices. Your Mantra in the defense of your New Dharma should be:

I shall protect, promote and defend the Constitution of India by constantly exercising my rights and responsibilities as a citizen of India. Only by doing so can I ensure everyone’s right to enjoy prosperity and peace of mind.

4. New Value System

All my actions will be based on a set of well-defined ethical principles.

It is not the business of any Constitution to dictate ethics to people. Therefore, you will need a set of internalized personal ethics to guide you in your efforts to fulfill your desires and manage your own life in the society you love and live in. Your New Value System based on rational thinking, personal ethics, secular humanism, and doing what is right according to your conscience, will inevitably be pitted against Old Value System of your parents or society based on irrational beliefs, Amoralism, religious fanaticism, and doing what their Old Dharma thinks is right. It is the total lack of ethics in significant number of leaders in many sections of Indian society today -political, bureaucratic, business, religious, judicial, army, and the police- that has led to gigantic scams in India resulting in the loss of wealth greater than all combined wealth lost to invaders. Even rationalists are not immune to such behaviors, as exemplified by the behavior of the Central Minister involved in the 2 G scam.

You have a choice. You can join their ranks and become one of them, or you can set yourself apart from them and say, “I reject the unethical lifestyles of our so-called leaders who have lost their way in the quagmire of wealth and power. I will live an ethical life and set myself as an example for my children to follow.” Here are two of many examples of personal ethics, which could help one avoid serious problems in life:

i) In my pursuit to fulfill my desires and cope with evil, I shall not resort to violence, lying, stealing, cheating, evading, extorting, betraying trust, or violating other’s rights.

ii) In my dealings with others, I shall not impose my views on them, control them, manipulate them, violate their boundaries, place unrealistic expectation on them, abuse them, give unsolicited advice to them, and take undue advantage of them.

5. New Understanding Of Evils

I shall gain the knowledge of evil coming from without and within me, and learn appropriate skills to conquer them.

Evil can enter into our life from without or within. The evils from without are bad events of life such as death of loved ones, illness, betrayal of trust, accident, etc; and bad life-problems such as financial, job, health and other problems, which hound us day after day. You can learn the causes of various bad events and problem in life, and their negative effect on your mind, and apply rational, ethical and result-oriented methods to tackle them. We will discuss in the articles to follow various effective methods to cope with these evils.

The evils from within are common human frailties, which color our actions, such as greed, lust, jealousy, arrogance, hatred, vengefulness, insecurity, and the like. Over fifty percent of bad events in our life are caused by our own evil-driven actions. A simple example would be: An insecure man becomes extremely possessive of his girlfriend. He calls her on phone a hundred times a day. If she does not answer his call, he badgers her. Feeling intolerably suffocated, the girlfriend dumps him. The breakup devastates him leading to suicidal depression. Likewise, over fifty percent of bad problems are brought on by our weakness-driven behaviors. For example, to cover up his low self-esteem, a man lives beyond his means, buys a big house and fancy cars, and ends up with a huge debt. You can identify personal weaknesses within you, and develop a set of personal code of conduct to counter them, and prevent serious bad events and problems in your life. Two simple examples of codes to counter one’s inner weaknesses are:

Instead of feeling jealous of others’ success and wealth, I will try to be happy for them.

Instead of making myself miserable by constantly hankering for more wealth, I shall try to be content with what wealth I have earned by the sweat of my brow, live within my means, and focus on enjoying life to the fullest extent.

Discussion Of Some Related Issues

1. Self-empowerment And Integrity

The main goal of the practice of the above-mentioned New Belief System is to empower you as an independent individual while being part of the larger society. Self-empowerment grants you the ability to do the right thing without fear or favor. To do the right thing we need to achieve integration of our thinking, feeling, speech and actions. Our actions should be consistent with our speech, and our speech should be in accordance with our true thinking (beliefs) and emotions. The end product of such integration of all elements of our mind is Integrity. Without integrity, we could suffer from either mental conflict (two opposite beliefs quarreling with each other) or interpersonal conflict (two people quarreling with each other), or both. Thus self-empowerment is rooted in integrity. Lack of integrity in some of our leaders in all fields is why we perceive them as frauds, crooks and hypocrites. They think one thing, feel another thing, say something else, and do entirely different thing.

2. Self-awareness Versus Self-deception

Developing self-empowerment and Integrity requires us to cultivate self-awareness. Self-awareness consists of one knowing exactly what one is thinking, how one is feeling, why one is saying what he is saying, and doing the things he is doing. If you ask a selfaware person, “Why did you say or do such and such a thing?” he would give you a clear-cut answer, which makes perfect sense to any reasonable person. His speech and actions are consistent with his thought and emotions. He talks the talk, walks the walk, and tells it as it is.

Opposite of self-awareness is self-deception. If you pose a self-deceiving person the same question as the above, his answer would be, “I don’t know,” or “I did it for such and such a reason,” which would not make any sense to a rational person. For example, if you ask a person having a serious financial problem, “Why did you build a ten thousand square foot house with ten bathrooms?” he might give you any number of answers except the real one. The true answer was that he was jealous of his friend who lived in a nine thousand square foot house with nine bathrooms. This person did not have the self-awareness to answer, “You know, my insecurity and jealousy led me into this financial mess!” If he had self-awareness before he planned to build his house, he would have said to himself, “I am happy for my friend who lives in his mansion. I am content living in my two thousand five hundred square foot house. Besides, why would I want to impress anyone how rich I am?” A self-deceiving person’s thinking, feeling, speech and actions are not concordant. He appears confused or phony to others.

3. Self-deception Often Leads To Inappropriate Reactions

Without the knowledge of how the mind responds to a bad event or problem, one’s actions could be instinctive, evil or irrational. For example, if a young man’s girlfriend dumps him, he might instinctively reach out for alcohol, or drive recklessly on the highway, to numb his emotional pain. In this case, his self-deception consists of his naïve belief that he is not supposed to feel hurt after a painful breakup like this. He tries to forget his emotional pain by drinking alcohol or running away from it. Another man might indulge in evil behaviors such as attacking his ex-girlfriend, harassing her, stalking her, spreading bad rumors about her, posting her nude photos and videos on the web, and the like. In this case, his evil actions are based on self-deception that the breakup was entirely his girlfriend’s fault. She hurt him and so he wants to hurt and destroy her. If he can’t have her, he would make sure that no one else would. A third man might blame his misfortune on some unknown evil or planetary misalignment and resort to an irrational act of offering Pooja for a stone idol in a local temple. This person’s self-deception consists of blaming his failure on planetary misalignment.

4. Self-awareness Leads To Appropriate Reaction And Wisdom

In contrast to the above three inappropriate knee-jerk responses to being dumped, a selfaware person reacts appropriately to cope with bad events and problems in his life, and becomes a wiser person. In other words, he makes compost out of garbage life dumps on him. He acknowledges his emotional pain as caused by the breakup, accepts the reality that his relationship with his girlfriend is over; grieves over the loss; lets go of the girlfriend; does some introspection as to what mistakes they both made; learns from those mistakes, and avoids those mistakes in his future relationships. His constant Mantra would be, “I feel sad about this breakup, but that is life. I will grieve and get over this loss and move on with my life.” In the course of time he would gain the Ultimate Wisdom of Life:

All relationships end sooner or later by death, breakup or move. Life is a continual struggle to deal with one loss or another, and to conquer one fear or another.

To help young readers to develop self-awareness, self-empowerment and integrity, I will present in the next article a functional model of the mind. This model is in contrast to the structural model of the mind presented in the Upanishads and the Upanishadic Gita (BG: 3:42). It might interest the reader to know here that the sole purpose of the Upanishads was to overthrow Brahmanism and give people an alternative belief system exactly as I am doing in these articles. Upanishadists wanted to replace Prakriti with Brahman, the Gunas with Atman, desire-driven Yajna with desire-less Yoga, and hierarchical Varna and Jati Dharma with egalitarianism. Their interest in understanding the mind was due to their desire to understand the causes of unbridled passion for wealth, power and pleasure, and mindless actions (Yajnas) to gain them, they observed in the fallen Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Buddhiyoga (Yoga of Mind) was a remedy they offered to eliminate Shokam (grief) and Dwandwam (“bipolar disorder”) of the mind resulting from Brahmanism. The truth is that the concepts of Brahman, Atman and Yoga were mere spoof. None of the Vedanta scholars, including Swami Vivekananda, seemed to grasp the fundamental purpose of the Upanishads -overthrow of Brahmanism.

5. Presentation In The Form Of Aphorisms

Understanding a new concept is one thing, integrating it into one’s belief system and applying it in real life is entirely another. All new beliefs take time to integrate into our thought processes and appear in practice. It is a life-long process. To help readers to memorize these concepts, recall them easily and practice them regularly, I have presented them as aphorisms in the manner of secular Sutra of ancient India. The literal meaning of Sutra is Thread. In practice Sutra is a document, which connects many related aphorisms like a thread connecting pearls in a necklace. Here is an excellent description of a Sutra from Wikipedia:

“One of the most famous definitions of a sutra in Indian literature is itself a sutra and comes from the Vayu Purana:

alpākṣaraṃ asandigdhaṃ sāravad viśvatomukham
astobhaṃ anavadyaṃ ca sūtram sūtravido viduḥ

Of minimal syllabary, unambiguous, pithy, comprehensive,
continuous, and without flaw: who knows the sūtra knows it to be thus.”

Because of its brevity a Sutra enables readers to remember the concepts more easily. By no stretch of imagination my Sutras are a match to those of ancient times. Nevertheless, at least let me try it here.

Various definitions, concepts, and the functional model of the mind presented in the following articles are original and not found in any other source. It took me many years of methodical interviews of several thousand stressed-out patients to develop various stress-related concepts and the functional model of the mind presented here. To minimize misinterpretation and to ensure the integrity of the aphorisms in these articles, I have chosen to informally title them Kamath’s Stress Sutra, or simply, Kamath Sutra, pun intended. To make sense of the contents of the articles to follow, the reader must first thoroughly digest the fundamental concepts and the functional model of the mind presented in the next article. And for our young readers to integrate these concepts into their thinking and apply them in practice more than one reading might be required.

(To be continued)

What do you think about the series so far? For discussion about this series as a whole please go to this newly-created thread on the forums. Please address any issues related to the above article in the comments below.

About the author

Prabhakar Kamath

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, is a psychiatrist currently practicing in the U.S. He is the author of Servants, Not Masters: A Guide for Consumer Activists in India (1987) and Is Your Balloon About To Pop?: Owner’s Manual for the Stressed Mind.

Links to all articles in Dr. Kamath's earlier series on Heretics, Rebels, Reformers and Revolutionaries can be found here. Dr. Kamath' series on The Truth About The Bhagavad Gita can be found here.

11 Comments

  • I think ideas are best conveyed through in-depth discussion of examples and this series is lacking in that. May be you can write a few posts each dealing in-depth with a specific example. Let me pose two examples and may be I can understand your thoughts better from your responses.

    Example1:
    “… you will refuse to pay a bribe to an official who demands it to perform his duty … ”
    In letter, bribing and corruption are illegal according to the Indian constitution. But the reality is that corruption is rampant and a person’s actions need to be based on this reality.

    Let us say the gas cylinder has run out at your home and the gas agency clerk demands a bribe of Rs. 200 to replace the cylinder on time or you’ll have to wait a few weeks. Clearly, you’ll be spending more money on buying food from outside if you don’t pay the bribe. So, it seems to make sense that paying the bribe is indeed in your self-interest. In fact, many Indians face such and more serious compulsions to pay bribes.

    So, we are presented with a dilemma (something like Prisoner’s dilemma in Game theory) – if tomorrow every one stops paying bribes, India would be a better place and everyone wins. But it is actually highly unlikely (almost close to 0 probability) that a significant portion of the population will stop paying bribes in the immediate future. This then means that for each undecided individual, the rational choice is to pay bribes like his fellow people – i.e. following the herd.

    What do you have to say?

  • Example 2 – Kashmir:
    Let us consider the case of Jammu and Kashmir. According to the constitution, it is a part of India. The constitution also requires every Indian to protect the integrity of India. There are many people in Kashmir who want to separate from India. There are also many people there who want it to be a part of India. Adding to the complexity is that foreign countries are actively involved in the separatist movement and it is actually a proxy war in Kashmir.

    To maintain law and order the police and army need to kill some people at times. At times, the government also has to resort to propaganda to counter the propaganda both from outside as well as inside. However, such behaviour by the government can also be seen as impinging on human rights.

    So, what is your take on it?

    • I have not studied the political situation in Kashmir and I have no solution for India’s dilemma in Kashmir. However, I do have a suggestion for Kashmir’s citizens. This suggestion applies to Palestinians fighting Israel as well. No one can rule over another person without his permission. Your worst enemy is yourself, not India. If you truly want to win independence from India, give up violence. Stop Pakistanis from infiltrating into Kashmir.If you continue to do so, you will be no better than the wretched Pakistanis. Today the world has no sympathy for you because of your association with Pakistan. Give up your hatred and macho, and take up nonviolent methods of protest. Indulge in civil disobedience, Satyagraha, and other time-tested nonviolent methods. March the streets with your hands locked with others’. Take a few beatings. Let the world know that innocent unarmed people are being killed by ruthless Indian soldiers. Win world sympathy for your cause. And in due course, India and the world will be force to see you as worthy of independence. Right now, India has no choice but to meet force by force. The choice is yours.

      • Może siÄ™ mylÄ™ ale na creativie przed chwilÄ… wyuebowaÅ‚dm wieże wiÄ™kszÄ… niż zawsze normalnie do samego nieba nawet ziemi już nie widziaÅ‚em.A po za tym widziaÅ‚em jak NPC w niewielkiej odlegÅ‚oÅ›ci od siebie patrzeli siÄ™ na siebie myÅ›lÄ™ że chodzi o to że gadali potem siÄ™ trzeci doÅ‚Ä…czyÅ‚ wiÄ™c te dwie informacje z przed paru dni też zostaÅ‚y dodane

  • P said: I think ideas are best conveyed through in-depth discussion of examples and this series is lacking in that. May be you can write a few posts each dealing in-depth with a specific example.

    I say: You need to join the Nirmukta.net for in-depth discussion on topics such as this. Raising legitimate questions such as the ones you have raised here is like a person who reads one chapter of a book and poses a question, which would be addressed in the chapters ahead. The author being questioned has no option but to tell the reader, “Wait till you reach the next chapter.” Besides, it is impossible to give detailed methodology in a format such as this, even if I can. The articles are published every three weeks and so there are limitations as to how detailed they could be. So I give basic principles only.

    P said: In letter, bribing and corruption are illegal according to the Indian constitution. But the reality is that corruption is rampant and a person’s actions need to be based on this reality… In fact, many Indians face such and more serious compulsions to pay bribes.

    I say: In my next article, which I have already submitted and so I cannot address this specific issue in it, I have explained this “paralytic behavior” of people of India when it comes to dealing with issues such as corruption and inefficiency of government agencies. I do not know how old you are, for if you are over thirty years old, you are probably already a victim of mental blocks causing paralytic behavior. This behavior consists of feeling helpless and fearful to do anything, and unwillingness to make even small sacrifice for the nation. These victims take the path of least resistance, and rationalize: “I am helpless and scared to do anything in the face of this overwhelming reality. It is cheaper to pay two hundred rupees to the gas clerk than spend 2000 rupees on restaurants. Everybody does it. So there is no shame in it. Let the nation be damned.” This mentality perfectly complements the mentality of modern day Kshatriyas and Brahmins, “These are sacrificial lambs in our Yajna (bureaucracy). Let us sacrifice them to please the higher powers (ministers) so we can obtain Karmaphalam in wealth and power.” So Indians across the board behave like dumb lambs driven to the sacrificial alter. Absolutely nothing has changed in India for 3500 years.

    In any case, none of my recommendations is “just theory and not practical” as you suspect. I have never recommended anything to anyone that I have not done myself. I recommend that you read my book, Servants, Not Masters. I have given ample examples of situations. I will gladly send a pdf version of it if you would give me your email.

    P said: So, we are presented with a dilemma (something like Prisoner’s dilemma in Game theory) – if tomorrow every one stops paying bribes, India would be a better place and everyone wins. But it is actually highly unlikely (almost close to 0 probability) that a significant portion of the population will stop paying bribes in the immediate future. This then means that for each undecided individual, the rational choice is to pay bribes like his fellow people – i.e. following the herd. What do you have to say?

    I say: Even a small problem such as the gas cylinder is an excellent opportunity for a person who has faith in his own will to become a leader and catalyst for change. First I would tell the clerk, “Look here, I will not pay you naya paisa bribe to get a my gas cylinder. If you refuse to give me my gas, I will take up this matter with your boss, and his boss and his boss, all the way up to the minister of gas.” Most probably the clerk will tell you, “Arey, Ja, Ja. Do whatever you want to do. The bribe goes all the way to the top! They can’t do a damned thing!”

    You immediately fire off a letter to his boss, and hand-deliver a copy to the clerk the same day. If necessary, notarize the letter to make it look authentic. Send a copy to the boss’s boss. Write in the letter, “Your clerk demands a 200 rupee bribe to give me my gas cylinder. I have two small children at home who need to be fed. He says you and your boss get a cut in the bribes, and that it goes all the way to the Petroleum Minister. Is this true? Do you know that this is illegal and you could go to jail for this? I will pursue this matter at the highest level of the government if I do not get my gas cylinder in three days. I will also put all of your names on the Internet and call a public meeting of people who have to pay bribes to get their cylinders. In the mean time, my family and I will eat in local restaurants. I will submit the bill for my food to your clerk. If he does not pay it, I will file a complaint with the magistrate.” Copy to three bosses and the minister of petroleum and the Prime Minister.

    Keep a copy in your files. There is a 99 percent chance that the clerk will deliver your gas tank to your house within ten minutes of getting your letter. Don’t tell me it will not happen until you have tried it. I have done this repeatedly, and it works like a charm!

    After you succeed, let everyone know that you got your gas without bribes. Next thing you know, people come to you wanting to know how you did it. Everything snowballs from then on. The only problem is there is a 99 percent chance that you, too, will abuse the authority you have gained by your actions, and become corrupt like them. It is mighty difficult to keep yourself clean when you are swimming in the cesspool. It is possible if you apply oil to your entire body. And that oil is ethics. That is why I believe that one needs a strict code of ethics as stated in #4 of the article.

    • "When the fireworks go up over New York City, those celebrating will be living in a place where smoking, salt and sugar are banned. Pursuit of happiness? As long as there's no sugar in it.'reminds me of the great Dylan line — "I like my sugar sweet…"Maybe "dependence" is just easier that &qned;indeponteuce."

  • Dr. Kamath, your article is very important, and timely. Taking God and religion away from people creates a vacuum, which needs to be filled up with something sensible and rational. You article is a commendable effort in that direction in the Indian context. But I want to make a couple of points here:

    1. The write-up is too brief. I fully understand your constraints, having myself written a series ‘Complexity Explained’ on this website. Your future articles here will certainly provide some of the inputs missing in this article. But the whole is usually more than the sum of the parts. And we want to read the ‘whole’ as soon as possible, preferably in the form of a monograph.

    2. You have used words like ‘faith’, ‘dharma’, in spite of the fact that your philosophy is rationalistic and naturalistic. I think we should all make a conscious effort to avoid the use of certain ‘tainted’ words. After all, you are trying to build the edifice of a whole new set of thinking habits for youngsters. In agreement with what they do at richarddawkins.net, we in India should also try to avoid the use of words like ‘miracle’ (you did not use it here), if only because we do not want to give a chance to the vested interests to twist the meaning of our rational statements.

    A great article, nevertheless.

    • Unfortunately the brevity of the article is a necessary condition if it is to be read widely. In fact, most youth, even those who identify as rationalists, will find even this article too long.

    • Dr. Wadhavan said:

      1. The write-up is too brief. I fully understand your constraints, having myself written a series ‘Complexity Explained’ on this website. Your future articles here will certainly provide some of the inputs missing in this article. But the whole is usually more than the sum of the parts. And we want to read the ‘whole’ as soon as possible, preferably in the form of a monograph.

      I say: It has been my impression that young men and women of India have extremely short attention span. If an article is too long they simply skip it, and the whole effort is wasted. Secondly, by giving too many details in each article, which is published every three weeks by editorial decision, the whole message will be diluted. If they were published every week, I could have given great deal of details in each of them. At the end of three weeks, most of the details I have written would be forgotten, and no one would have the patience to catch up with the old article. It is like reading War and Peace over two years time, one chapter every three weeks.

      There is another problem here as exemplified by my next article. My next article tries to convey an important message to India’s youngsters. However, that message could not be delivered till the very last part of the article because the first three fourths makes up the groundwork. I believe that most of my young readers will certainly miss the most important last fourth of the article because, most likely, they would consider that article as too long, and so they would quit reading it before they reach the most important part. That would make the entire effort a waste.

      Dr, Wadhavan said: 2. You have used words like ‘faith’, ‘dharma’, in spite of the fact that your philosophy is rationalistic and naturalistic. I think we should all make a conscious effort to avoid the use of certain ‘tainted’ words. After all, you are trying to build the edifice of a whole new set of thinking habits for youngsters.

      I say: I have been acutely aware of the “taint” the words such as faith, Dharma and evil carried. Still I chose to use them because they have been given a new and more relevant meaning. That is why I use the word New before each of these terms. These are the words every Indian can follow easily. By exposing how these words were misused by the vested interests, I am removing the mystery and the taint attached to them. By doing so, I believe I am confronting and combating the misuse rather than avoiding using them. For example, an honest “social activist” cannot avoid calling himself that no matter how “tainted” that word might be due to the misbehavior of many so-called social activists. People are smart enough to distinguish a selfless social activist from a fraudulent one. The true social activist can distinguish himself from the frauds by his exemplary behavior, so that people would know in no time what a real social activist behaves like. The same can be said of the words ‘politician’ and ‘bureaucrat.’ In today’s India both these words are tainted to the nth degree. Nevertheless, the new politicians and new bureaucrats cannot avoid calling themselves by those epithets. However, they can remove the taint attached to their professions by their exemplary behavior.

      Dr. Wadhavan said: In agreement with what they do at richarddawkins.net, we in India should also try to avoid the use of words like ‘miracle’ (you did not use it here), if only because we do not want to give a chance to the vested interests to twist the meaning of our rational statements.

      I say: I agree with you on principle. However, in our eagerness to shun words such as miracle, faith, luck, fortune, fortuitously, star-crossed, disaster (bad star), etc. we might create a situation where in it is not possible to convey the true spirit of our message. My own approach is that as long as the reader understands the “whole message” of my articles, it matters little what words I use to convey it. Of course, there will always be people out there who never miss an opportunity to twist whatever we say. As long as I know what I said and meant, I don’t worry about those who indulge in such shenanigans.

      In any case, I thank you for your support and kind words.

  • “One could adopt variations of this statement such as, “I believe only in myself,” or “I have faith in my own abilities,” or, “I know I can take good care of myself without a god or religion in my life.” This belief should replace the old belief in the ancient supernatural higher powers such as the Gunas of Prakriti and Law of Karma (BG: 3:5, 27, 33; 18:59-60), Vedic gods, Brahman, Atman, Paramatma, Parama Purusha, Purushotthama, Ishwara, and Parameshwara mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita; and scores of less ancient gods and goddesses invented by Brahmanism to delude people -Rama, Krishna, Ganesha, Hanuman, Laxmi, Saraswati, Durga, Kali- and hundreds of smaller deities and demigods; and also the belief in the earthly higher powers such as Swamis, Gurus, Pandas, Priests, Ministers, Politicians, Bureaucrats, the Police, the Mafia, and all other crooks and con artists in flesh and blood.”
    This belief should replace belief in….
    could also have included Christ, Allah, Moses, Abraham,Mark,
    Luke, etc. because there are many Christian and Muslim young men and women in India.

  • Most of the communities in the entire Indian sub-continent(such as Bengali) succumbed in ‘Culture of Poverty'(Oscar Lewis), irrespective of class or economic strata, lives in pavement or apartment. Nobody is genuinely regret ed or ashamed of the deep-rooted corruption, decaying general quality of life, worst Politico-administrative system, weak mother language, continuous consumption of common social space (mental as well as physical, both). We are becoming fathers & mothers only by self-procreation, mindlessly & blindfold(supported by some lame excuses). Simply depriving their(the children) fundamental rights of a decent, caring society, fearless & dignified living. Do not ever look for any other positive alternative behaviour(values) to perform human way of parenthood, i.e. deliberately co-parenting children those are born out of ignorance, extreme poverty. It seems that all of us are being driven only by the very animal instinct. If the Bengali people ever be able to bring that genuine freedom (from vicious cycle of ‘poverty’) in their own life/attitude, involve themselves in ‘Production of (social) Space’ (Henri Lefebvre), initiate a movement by heart, an intense attachment with the society at large is very much required – one different pathway has to create, decent & rich Politics will definitely come up. – Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay, 16/4, Girish Banerjee Lane, Howrah-711101.

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