Sunday, 22 March 2009

Slumdog Millionaire & India's self-esteem

Jai Ho!
The catchy number has caught the imagination of the world. From mobile ring tones to neighbourhood tea shop… the winning spirit is all over the place. No wonder, the Congress Party has lapped up the Oscar winning song of Slumdog Millionaire as the main campaign jive. Surely, the number represents the spirit of India; her unparallel resilience and penchant for success amidst adversity! But does Slumdog Millionaire represent India in any way? Or is it just a piece of fascinating cinema? Or is it prejudiced peddling of India’s poverty to the Western audience?

But what’s lost between the two extremes of fiction and fact is the assault the film mounts on Indian self-esteem. It’s a matter of shame that not only we allow foreigners to portray such a derogatory picture of India, but also go gaga about West’s stamp of approval.

For centuries, the bad image of India has been projected more than the good one. This needs to change. We need to shed the low self-esteem we reel in and take more pride in our cultural and spiritual roots. We need to realise that we may have filthy slums, but we also have a lot to offer to an ailing world.

We have slums, we have beggars, yet we also are the most humane civilisation. It will always be very difficult for an outsider to judge India as she is full of opposites. So Boyles will continue to play safe and pack in every negative thing about India to play to the gallery. But it’s our national duty to show the world that though there are slums in India, we don’t have slumdogs!

Read here why Slumdog Millionaire is an assault on India's self-esteem.

Skewed Priorities

We can do without food for weeks, and without water for days, but without the breath, we will die within a few minutes. Even if you were a King, it will make no difference. That’s how important the breath is for our life.

Unfortunately, we take breathing for granted. It’s only when our nose is blocked, or we suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma that we appreciate the importance of this live-giving quality of breathing. That shows how skewed our priorities are. Some food for thought?

The ancient wisdom says that the number a person’s heart would beat in his or her lifetime is predetermined. Now modern research has also reinforced that our ‘machinery’ is designed to go up to that point and break down. How to enhance the life of this all-important machinery? Looks quite challenging, but it’s not so. Just sitting back and breathing properly can do the job for you.

When we breathe deeper, our heartbeat rate slows down to about 65 a minute. When we breathe in a shallow fashion, like most people breathe, the heart rate increased to around 90. So now you know how to make that quota last longer?

It’s not just about the quantity of life; learning to breathe properly can greatly enhance the quality of life. We can improve our health and reduce the impact of stress on our body by learning how to breathe properly.

But the dynamics of the fast life we live will fool us and make us believe that learning how to breathe properly is all bunkum. We all think that we know how to breathe. But go to the depth of the matter and see is it you who know how to breathe. Or it’s your body?

Enough reason to enrol yourself for a course in breathing? Not yet. Then read this article [Every Breath You Take...] I wrote a couple of years ago.

Know that breathing doesn’t exactly require a degree in rocket science. Learning to breathe properly is a little bit like learning to play an instrument. It takes time and practice to perfect it.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Finding the Depth

I couldn’t help my blood boil as I watched the mechanic try to fix the air conditioner. It wasn’t that the heat was getting on me, but I was put off by the trial-and-error approach of the young man. As he struggled for hours together to diagnose the problems with the ailing dumb machine, I realised he wasn’t a bad mechanic, instead he symbolised a phenomenon of dwindling depth in the world.

When I was a kid, my radio mechanic could pinpoint the problems of my transistor even without switching on his analogue multimeter. It wasn’t just the radio mechanic. Even my family doctor would treat his patients, rarely resorting to the use of an x-ray. Forget about ultrasound and CT scan! All he had at his disposal was a stethoscope and a thermometer. Yet, more often than not, his diagnosis would prove right.

Unfortunately, this illness of ‘floating in the thin air’ permeates all spheres of our life. Teachers, doctors, politicians, bureaucrats…, almost everybody seems to be bitten by the virus of superficiality. That’s why we find serious issues such as terrorism, poverty, etc being treated lackadaisically.

Why is the world going more shallow and shallow? What’s the remedy?

This blog is a platform to search for the depth in everything we do, in every issue we face, in every topic we discuss and in every step we take. This is a sincere attempt to practice profundity in our action, our thinking, our ideology and in our attitude. In short, a movement towards ‘the depth of the matter’.

Watch this space!