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!

Should Rahul Gandhi be the next PM of INDIA. (Discussion Transcript)

This was the topic of discussion on the page : https://www.facebook.com/theopiniator. Following is the transcript of the discussion.

Abhinav Mohan A straight NO! Inexperienced, incompetent, novice in politics, does nothing except speking, a childish approach, irresponsible in the usage of words. He is a model material not PM.

The Opiniator (in repy to) Abhinav Mohan Then how come the oldest and the best organised political outfit INC is projecting him as the PM candidate?

Siddharth Tiwari the problem with rahul gandhi is that he has been only projecting himself on grounds of representing youth. His take on rather complex and essential subjects like economy and national security is not very clear.. Moreover he is representing a party which is under shady clouds of criticism. the only prime ministerial candidate of 2014 polls who is able to convince the nation to resurrect the depreciating economy will have the better chances to secure majority in lok sabha.

Siddharth Tiwari Sanchit Gahlot being the India’s first family, Gandhi family has always dominated and ruled at the helm. there’s is no doubt that over the years they have developed favoritism among indian masses.having said that when the question comes, does Rahul Gandhi deserve to win 2014 polls then I distinctly stand against it. even the majority now clearly realizes that a party which itself does not follow democracy while nomination of prime ministerial candidate then how are they supposed to ensure to maintain democracy across diverse segments of our nation.. w. Even the layman can clearly see how their so called ‘favorites’ deceived them.

congress’s desperate attempts to please masses through useless and meaningless food security bill has clearly spread the word among the masses that how scared are gandhis to lose their 60 years of dominance. constitution already has schemes and measures for poverty struck crowd but the loop holes in service deliveries and front-line government have been the only reason of they being unsuccessful. this depicts the old school politics based on concept of luring. But they must realize generation has become smarter.aggression in masses against congress is beyond imaginable.

Though I am not fond of BJP either but surely I am impressed with them as Narendra modi had to prove his grounds to be BJP’s face in 2014 polls. Looking over BJP. It is well known that Vajpayee by far was the best prime minister in past two decades. his government proved to be much more effective in raising the infrastructural quotient of the nation. he connected villages to cities. So BJP does has grounds to fetch majority. positive with Modi is that he has evidences of development on his side. He promoted shrinking PSUs in Gujarat and not only stabilized them but brought them into profit making. Business community knows how favorable it will be for them to business under modi governance. the one thing which will be good to watch is how he over shadows communist issue that still gives him sleepless nights.

Good thing about this election is that we will get to know what India prefers, deserving practical candidate( read modi) or the one building on the names of forefathers and the title”Gandhi”( read rahul).

Abhinav Mohan Why do we have to consider RG to lead a party? Are we compelled to elect congress again? NM and RG are two different personalities and two different mindsets. RG is more of a foreigner who doesn’t know much about India and its needs. To lead a party and to lead a nation (a big one like India) are not the same things. You can not say that something is done in some way in some country so it will do the needful for India as well. RG isn’t the guy who has seen the real condition of India, he is like a tourist who often get attached to the poor and hungry people of India and show their sentiments. But most of the time it is temporary. He treats every problem like a cake walk, but this is not the right way to understand the seriousness of the problem. Considering his educational background, his opinions, remarks and statements do not justify his certificates. This is not America or Italy, this is India. And if he wants to follow other countries then why he wears “kurta”. He should be comfortable enough to wear suits and casuals during campaigns. If he wants to revolutionize indian politics then why is he sticking to the old methods? In my opinion, I don’t know whether he is the best person to lead congress or not, but one thing I know for sure, that Neither HE nor Congress are the best leader of India.

Abhishek Awasthi Never! he don’t deserve to be a PM.., He his not able to express his own ideas and even he emulate the stage presence of some of the big names..!! So I Support Narendra Modi  for PM..

The Opiniator (in reply to ) Siddharth TiwariAbhinav Mohan i think the answer to this question depends less on how good is NM and more on who instead of RG seems strong enough to lead the congress. Are we underestimating the potential of a person who is above the power games within the congress?

Nawab Vaibhav Tiwari a big no. he is incapable to handle to handle this post. he is just like a robot which is controlled by his mother soniya gandhi. in inc no one is capable to handle this post because every person is controlled by UPA chairperson sonia gandhi.

The Opiniator (in reply to) Nawab Vaibhav Tiwari But so is Mr. Singh and he is a PM.

The Opiniator (in reply to) Siddharth Tiwari U have a point. But with very few people who can understand economy and a majority voting in response to populist schemes, congress has a decent chance and Rahul Gandhi has the virtue of being their UNDISPUTED leader with even big stalwarts behind him.

Abhinav Mohan This is the biggest question of India. We vote for no valid reason. Giving away schemes and freebies wins the Indian hearts. Rahul Gandhi travelled through villages and rural parts of India, but what for??? Did he actually do something? No, he just gained the publicity which every politician needs. Narendra Modi, on the other hand, made Gujrat a better place to live. He never complains, but he tries to make things better. Rahul gandhi, instead complains, complains and only complains, like a child.

Abhinav Mohan Oldest doesn’t mean the best always. If the party is so organised then how come Rahul Gandhi ends up speaking against the leaders of his own party. Don’t they communicate before giving any statements in public? This is not the sign of an organised party. :

Rahul’s remarks “ Hindus could pose a “bigger threat” to democratic countries than the Jihadi terrorist group Lashker-e-Toiba, Taliban or al-Queada”.

Rahul’s statements reflect a sick mindset and is part of a long standing tradition from Nehru onwards of blaming things for almost everything that goes wrong in India.

Rahul has given one face-to-face on-record interview in 2005. He said he could have been prime minister at 25 if he wanted. ….. Really so?????

A Congressman was asked why the party wasn’t bringing forward the smarter sibling, Priyanka??? “Then what will happen to Rahul ji?” he asked.

Faiz Syed The question should be “why should rahul gandhi be the Prime Minister of India ?”. It’s inevitable that Congress will comeback to power (they have a good chance even this time) and when they’ll be back, the “YUVRAJ” will definitely be the prime minister. He shouldn’t though, he hasn’t done anything other than losing elections in which he campaigned. There are so many others more deserving candidates in the Congress itself.

Abhinav Mohan Economy of India has always been put to test by Congress. I can’t figure out why it has always been so, that whenever congress came into power inflation rates start to imitate a rocket’s speed? 

Rs.1.86 lakh crore coal scam, 2012
Rs 1.76 lakh crore 2G Scam, 2009
Rs 3,600 crore Chopper Scam, 2012
2.2 Billion Dollar Swiss Bank statistics of 2010 maintained by Indian congress leaders.
That is a small part that came into knowledge.

Siddharth Tiwari actually this is one side of the story. BJP also isnt clean on corruption. read the famous tahelka outbreak on BJPs government. No government on any part of the world can boast of clean corruption free governance, not even the US. The thing is when sprinkling water on plants few drops are bound to fall on grounds. what matters is how much reaches the plant. crisis emerges when drops fallen on grounds become higher than reaching plants.

 

A true bond doesn’t need a bound!

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The world is made up of bonds – physical bonds and chemical bonds. The earth, the air, water, plants, animals – everything is made up of bonds. There can be no life without these bonds. But life with these bonds alone cannot be a life worth living.

The most beautiful bond is the bond between two beings – two humans, two animals, an animal and a human. It cannot be scientifically understood or explained, it can only be felt.

No one can claim to devise  a process to create this bond with certainty. More often than not an artificial process to create such a bond only creates an artificial bond.

Although humanity has learned to create such artificial processes and also to honour such artificial bonds, there is no substitute for a naturally, inexplicably created bond.

Almost all of us are overwhelmed when we witness a bond – a bond between a patient and a doctor, between two friends, between a man and his pet – which transcends material give and take and that inspires and evokes the spirit called life.

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At the same time quite a few of us are not able to savour and safeguard the bonds that involve our own selves. We often ignore them, abuse them lose them and then repent the loss. Also a number of times we come possessive and end up straining or even losing them.

Why?

May be we don’t understand the nature of these bonds. There may be a number of reasons why bonds wither away. I would like to discuss some of them.

I definitely don’t claim to be an expert nevertheless I shall share my views on the same.

I believe true bonds stand on the pillars of

  • Mutual faith
  • Sharing of joy
  • Unity against adversity.

I also believe that true bonds:

  • Are Timeless

A mother meeting her daughter after years would have the warmth which is unfazed by the passage of time. In fact it is even possible that this bond may have grown stronger. Running into a childhood friend after long may make one wonder whether they were actually away from each other.  A true bond once created exists for a lifetime and beyond.

  • Transcend Physical distances

A bond between two beings remains even when they are separated by physical distances. Out of sight out of mind is characteristic of an artificial bond. A person who is away from his/her motherland will testify. Two siblings or two friends separated by thousands of miles remain united by that unseen bond.

  • Have the ability to survive adversities  

I am reminded of a cliché – a friend in need is a friend indeed.  A bond that comes apart at the sight of difficult times is not a bond at all. In other words, tough times are a test of a bond. In fact some of the best bonds are created and discovered in the times of adversity.

Having shed some basic light on the nature of bonds, I would now talk about the basic human nature that may corrode these bonds.

Need for physical evidence: We are guided by the doctrine if something exists it must have some proof. We draw boundaries, we draw maps, we examine using microscope and telescope – all in search of evidence. In the physical realm, it’s all good, but when it is applied to a bond, it can be insidious. Physical display of a bond for the sake of evidence seems to be quite self demeaning. I can understand the symbolism of objects like a ring. But when symbolism is mistaken for physical evidence it can only harm a bond.

Desire to own: Whatever is mine should be known to be mine. There should not be any ambiguity in the ownership claim of any property. Again when a bond is seen in this light, it can be damaging. Many a sibling rivalry is rooted in the desire to own the parent – exclusively.

Desire to control:  Right from the channel on the TV to the seat on a flight; we want to control it all. Domestic affairs, professional affairs everything should be in my control because I know the best. When a bond is infested with this outlook it starts losing its strength. When a mother tries to ‘control’ the choice of a grown up ward, she is not helping the bond.

We don’t ask for evidence of oxygen in the air that we breathe, if we are alive, oxygen must be there. We don’t try to own the Sun, it will anyways give its sunshine and warmth. We don’t try to control the direction of breeze, it will be futile.

Such is the human bond. If nature has blessed us with a bond, let us learn to respect it, enjoy it and save it from the corrosive effect of the above factors. This is because a bond can be a huge source of strength and inspiration which we all need to enjoy life.

The irony is that although most of us hate to give physical evidence of the bond, and love to have lot of freedom, we have different expectations from others. Also, we tend to enjoy lot of casual associations because we feel a sense of freedom and no need to prove anything, but when it comes to the bonds that matter we behave differently. Actions and behaviour that we approve in case of people with whom we are loosely connected, are censured in case of people with whom we share a close bond.

In this fast changing and rapidly evolving world, bonds need – more and not less – freedom to bloom.

Thanks for your precious time. Your feedback is highly welcome.