Right to Privacy? You must be kidding!

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Post NSA snooping episode, the invasion of privacy by governments has emerged as big ‘talking point’. People who consider privacy as the basic human right have raised alarm over human rights being eroded by the biggest champion of human rights – the USA. But surprisingly it has remained just – well  – a ‘talking point’. No big ripples, no mass protests that one would have expected, have shaken the world.

Why? I try to answer this in this post.

Privacy is the choice to keep our affairs to ourselves. Inside my home whatever I do should be nobody else’s business. As long as I am not interfering with anybody’s affairs, I should be left to manage my own. Concept of privacy should not be confused with that of confidentiality which means ‘ensuring that information is accessible only to those authorized to have access”. Privacy is choice to not share personal information whereas confidentiality is applicable on the personal information which has been shared with a party like a bank etc.

The most basic choices are called needs: food, shelter and clothing. There are lot of people in the developing nations that are not in a position to exercise even these basic choices.

Privacy is a choice that comes much higher and the financial status allows one to exercise this choice in a more assertive way. But even financial status doesn’t guarantee it.

So a person, who has to find food in a bin, cannot complain of lack of privacy. In India people have to take bath in the open due to lack of water supply to their homes. They cannot complain of lack of privacy either. There are people, even females, who have to relieve themselves in the open because of lack of toilets. Of course privacy is almost a non issue for them although they try their best not to offend anyone.

But somehow no one seems to bother. We won’t be able to recognize someone who daily searches for food in a nearby bin.  This may be because this has become congruent to our eyes.

But if someone from a well to do family is asked to search food in a bin, he will not be to do this without feeling that every eye is watching him. He might be right too because the sight will be quite in-congruent. But if the same person suspects that a important document has mistakenly reached that bin he will be prepared to ignore the eyes and search the bin.

My point is that we tend to compromise on privacy in case of urgency and that in an urgent situation we don’t mind doing things for which we ideally seek privacy. Eating, sleeping, relieving, talking on phone, reading…..etc.

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But urgency depends to a great extent on the financial status of a person. It may also depend on some demographic and cultural factors. For example age can be a strong factor influencing the sense of urgency. Health can also be a strong factor. In fact high degree of repeated urgency is addiction. And an addict hardly cares for privacy except for evading law.

Thus, if I can create a sense of urgency for someone I can access his privacy. And depending on my intentions I may or may not misuse this access.

Today one very important aspect is security against terrorism. 9/11 catastrophe resulted in a huge sense of urgency. People in the US started feeling a sense of vulnerability that was unknown to them. In fact the message that went out to the entire world was that “if this can happen to the US it can happen to anyone”

Thus on the one hand terrorism has troubled the governments across the world, on the other it has given them a tool to create a sense of urgency through which they can force the common man to compromise on his privacy. For example installation of CCTV cameras is a direct invasion into the privacy but people don’t object because security comes first.

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Even confidentiality can be breached in the name of security. What if the transactions are being done by some terrorist?

Thus every online transaction we make can be a potential source of breach of privacy. It’s not only the government that is interested. It is the corporate that is equally interested in what we are interested in. And all this is not a secret at all. Still we are vulnerable.

Of course we can safeguard our privacy and confidentiality by not using net banking, not booking tickets online, not shopping online, not having video conferencing….etc.

“Are you nuts?” you would ask me. This is because the modern times have created some more urgency. Or dare I say addiction.

An urge which has become urgent: to consume more and more. So we actually don’t mind, when where and how, who is watching us doing what. Whatever!

I think all this at least partially explains why the world didn’t stop after the NSA snooping episode.

Thanks for your time. You might have an opinion quite different from mine. Your feedback is extremely valuable.

Contradictions of Life

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Sometimes we are alone but not lonely

Sometimes we are not alone but lonely

 

Sometimes there is lot of light but we can’t see anything

Sometimes in the darkest night, we get a deep insight

 

Sometimes we have a lot to say but there is no one to listen

Sometimes there are lot people around but we have nothing to say

 

Sometimes we love someone who hurts us again and again

Sometimes we hurt again and again someone who loves us

 

Sometimes we are alive and see no reason to live

Sometimes we have a million things to do but life seems too short

Ocean of Greatness

I am yet to know a person in whom I have not seen shades of greatness. Greatness in its variety : commitment, innovation, philanthropy, belief, trust etc. Family, friends, seniors, colleagues, students have inspired me day in and day out. There have been instances where even a sweeper, a porter, rickshaw puller etc. have unexpectedly impressed me.

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The reason this world moves on with all its glory is this ocean of greatness. We don’t waste any opportunity to criticize the moral degradation of humanity. Also our yardstick of greatness is highly adaptable and inexplicable. In the process we deprive ourselves of celebrating this widespread greatness that by and large still overpowers the usual human frailties.

When almost all of us believe that we are born to great parents, aren’t we living in an ocean of greatness!

Come! Let us look around with a new perspective and thank the almighty for blessing us with so many great people. Let us reach out and be a part of it.

The Art of Justifying

It’s simply amazing. The extent to which we can go in order to justify our acts, decisions, ideas, beliefs, perceptions and emotions. When it comes to ourselves, black and white cease to exist. In case of other individuals, other families, other societies, other states, other nations, other class, we become ruthlessly objective icons of justice. What US did was absolutely right. Morsi’s position is out rightly outrageous. Damn Operation PRISM. etc.

But it’s a myriad of greys through which we judge the conflicts involving ourselves.

Most of us tend to master this art before we realize. Observing kids will give us an idea about how the art of justifying manifests itself early. This could mean either it is hard wired or kids tend to pick it up early from the elders.The point which i feel is important is that whether this can be related to education. Does education enforces this tendency or curbs it or does not have any impact.

More than education, I feel it’s important from the perspective of stress and happiness.

Before I continue,  let me clarify that these views on art of justifying are not at all directed at the scientific pursuit. They pertain to the usual social behavior and thought process.

I would begin by acknowledging the obvious: that one of the distinctions of the great personalities is their ability to not only justify their ideas (which is later termed as vision) but also motivate others to have a similar conviction in those ideas. Marx, Lenin, Gandhi exemplify this point.In other words lot of progress that mankind has made can be attributed to the art of justifying.

If I am allowed to define greatness as presence of usual traits in unusual proportions, it can be deduced that all of us have the basic ability to justify ourselves.

It’s natural for us to consider our tendency to justify so much integral a part of our lives that we may ignore some of  its ramifications which may be insidious for our mental health.

The problem i am referring to arises out of our ability to create unlimited shades of grey which is ill supported by our very limited ability to reconcile them in our lives. Different levels of respect, friendship, commitment, trust etc. hardly help in making life easier. For example, you may chose to trust a person in certain aspects which you have identified using your justification while not trusting him/her in other aspects again decided by you. Having a person in your life whom u don’t trust completely can be source of unlimited agony. To top it all we even justify that agony.

You could be on the verge of expecting simplistic preaching of thinking in black white: labeling ideas, people etc as either right or wrong, win or loss, good or bad etc.

This is not what I am up to.

I believe that when we transform our art of justifying into an ability to effortlessly belt out excuses, we equate it with our ability to  remain happy. We tell ourselves whatever we did, said, thought  was only SLIGHTLY wrong, ALMOST a loss, NEARLY bad. But the worst thing is we don’t believe in the TAG that we ourselves put. Result, we block our energies in the act of self justification. Does all this really make us Happy?

I believe no. Even at the risk of sounding pedantic I would say that it would we better for us to consider a mistake just that…a mistake (not a doomsday for our pride or the end of the world), and move on towards new challenges that life is waiting to throw at us.

All the best!

YOU MUST BELIEVE!

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These are not my words. These are words from a movie I love – Kungfu Panda. This dialogue between Master Shifu and Master Oogway is truly inspiring. So I am sharing it.

Shifu: I… I… have… it’s… it’s very bad news.

Oogway: Aah, Shifu. There’s just news. There’s no good or bad.

Shifu: Master, your vision… your vision was right. Tai Lung has broken out of prison! He’s on his way!

Oogway: That is bad news… if you do not believe that the Dragon Warrior can stop him.

Shifu: The panda? Master, that panda is not the Dragon Warrior. He wasn’t even meant to be here. It was an accident.

Oogway: There are no accidents.

Shifu: [Sighs] Yes, I know. You said that already… twice.

Oogway: Well, that was no accident either.

Shifu: … Thrice.

Oogway: My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours, until you let go of the illusion of control.

Shifu: Illusion?

Oogway: Yes. Look at this tree, Shifu. I cannot make it blossom when it suits me, nor make it bear fruit before it’s time.

Shifu: But there are things we can control. [Kicks the tree causing several peaches to fall] I can control when the fruit will fall. [One hits him on the head. Oogway chuckles] And I can control… [Tosses the peach in the air and chops it in half] …where to plant the seed. [Punches a hole in the ground and catches the seed] That is no illusion, Master. [Throws the seed into the hole]

Oogway: Ah, yes. But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.

Shifu: But a peach cannot defeat Tai Lung!

Oogway: Maybe it can. [Covers the seed in dirt] If you are willing to guide it, to nurture it. To believe in it.

Shifu: But how? How? I need your help, master.

Oogway: No. You just need to believe. Promise me, Shifu. Promise me you will believe.

Shifu: I… I will try.

Oogway: Good. [Sees petals floating around him] My time has come. You must continue your journey without me. [Hands Shifu his staff]

Shifu: What… What are you…? [Oogway backs into the swirling petals] Master, you can’t leave me!

Oogway: [Starts to vanish] You must believe.

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Source : http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Kung_Fu_Panda

SACHIIIIIN SACHIN: MY HUMBLE TRIBUTE TO THE MASTER BLASTER

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Thousands of words have been written about him and thousands more will be written. So much you have said, heard and read about him, still you have stopped to read this. Just as the Master Blaster remains tireless scoring runs we remain tireless being overwhelmed by his achievements.

Age is catching up. Young blood is waiting for the slot. So the time to hang up the boots has arrived. But a strong desire to carry on is still there on his face as unmistakable as a kids yearning for another ice-cream.

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I am just one of his millions of admirers. Here is my tribute in form of two figures of speech viz. personification and oxymoron.

A) PERSONIFICATION (A figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstractions are endowed with human qualities or are represented as possessing human form)

Following sentences with personification are my appreciation for Sachin.

1) Determination, when asked to choose another name for himself, chose to be called “Sachin”.

2) Fitness has ended many a career, but it has not deserted Sachin just to watch him play.

3) Records love to visit Sachin again and again.

4) His bat has eloquently silenced the harshest critics.

5) Humility loves to take lessons from Sachin. 

6) Charm is a  blind follower of Sachin’s smile.

B) OXYMORON (a figure of speech that uses seeming contradictions)

Sachin is an amazing combination of qualities that are rare to be found in one individual. This allows me to think of the following oxymoron expressions.  Sachin is :

1) A Polite Aggressor!

2) A 40 year teenager!

3) A Fire that soothes!

4) A leader who follows!

5) A monk with a Ferrari !!!

We love you Sachin and thank you for giving so many proud moments of glory. We are now eager to find out what avatar you take to further nourish Indian cricket.

Hats off to you great man!