Friday, January 26, 2007

A Hypothetical Case

An author who resided in a country that had once had the misfortune of being ruled by another wrote a story. He had no particular intent in writing this story other than narrate a tale which plagued the figment of his imagination. The characters of this tale had ambiguous identities. The reason for this was that the author was much enamored by certain of his friends who had ambiguous identities. Neither the author, nor anyone else in this world believed that this had any particular significance.

A critic read the story after a few years. He had a brilliant flash of inspiration. Ambiguous identities were a way to show postcolonial resistance. Even if the author did not mean it, this was the way that the 'text' manifested its postcoloniality. People listened to the critic and liked the idea. Thus, the idea was born that postcolonial text show resistance by having characters with ambiguous identities. Most people stated believing in it. Other authors too cue and purposefully began to create characters that had ambiguous identities.

A few decades later a philosopher looked dispassionately at the whole affair. He too had a brilliant flash of inspiration. He realized that characters having ambiguous identities was not an inherent property of postcolonial texts but one that was created by the critic at some point. In fact, the critic could have chosen any random property and that could have become a symbol of postcolonial resistance. People listened to this idea a liked it. Authors took cue and did not necessarily include ambiguous characters in their intentionally postcolonial stories. That particular period in postcolonial literature was named Ambiguous Identity period. Students of literature now had to take into account the time period in which a text was written before they did a postcolonial analysis.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Caste Prejudice

The upper castes don't trust the lower castes to become responsible engineers and doctors with reservation -- that is caste prejudice.

The lower castes don't trust upper caste public representatives to protect their interests and hence need reservation in the legislatures -- that is not caste prejudice.

But of course, the victim is always right.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Growth

Company’s Growth

The Company wants growth. More revenue each year, more employees, more customers, more offices, in more countries, more production, more sale and more advertising. Imagine. If humanity is to survive, population would have to stabilize in a few years. So there will be a fixed number of individuals on this earth. Suppose you manufacture soap. If there are only a fixed number of individuals on earth, you can only sell them a fixed number of soap bars. Okay, there is competition so you will want to capture more and more market share. Suppose you vanquish all your competition and become the only soap manufacturing company in the world. What will happen to your growth then? How will you grow? You will advertise and make everyone bathe thrice a day. Okay, but what after that? How will you sell more soap?

You may increase the quality of soap. But heck, it is just soap right? It cleans. Increase the quality? How? Increase the price without reason, maybe.

Personal Growth

I start earning. I want to earn more and more. I work 16 hours a day, seven days a week. I earn more. I am happy because I’m growing. And no! It is not just growth in terms of money!! I’m already earning so much that a salary raise does not matter anymore. I’m learning, you see. I am leaning how to set up new offices. I’m learning how to set up new businesses, I’m meeting new and new people and I’m traveling to new and new places.

And I keep doing all of that until I die. What then? Well, it ends. If it has to end anyhow why begin it? Why endure it? Do I really get anything out of it? Do I get anything that I can keep? How long can I keep it? How long can anyone keep it?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Feminism?

This post was inspired by this blog by Shanky. I have been wanting to say a few things that I think about feminism and this looks like a good opportunity as any.


The first point that Shanky makes is that men and women are NOT equal. Maybe, maybe not. The point is debatable. Are we physically different? Yes, a mere visual inspection will tell you that. Are we mentally different? Yes, a days experience can tell you that. But the entire thing is not that simple. Physical dissimilarity is what it is and we may not be able to do much about it. However, mental differences are another matter.


The topic is amenable to the eternal nature versus nurture debate. Are men really from mars and women really from Venus? Or is it just that we are brought up on two different planets? Is it that if our planets were swapped right from the time of birth, men may behave like women and women like men?


I don’t think I can answer that question. Then again, the fact remains that whatever the cause, men and women ARE different in the present world.


The feminists probably assume that this difference is man made and not natural and hence can be done away with. It is certainly plausible.


That is one way of looking at the issue.


I tend to look at it in another way. What do they mean when they say equal? I am often reminded of the Doordarshan propaganda advertisement showing a girl child and a boy child of the same family. The boy child is given good food, clothing and education while the girl child is denied all of that. Some feminists talk about this kind of inequality. I’m sure everyone agrees with them.


The next thing that comes to my mind is personal freedom - the freedom to stay out at night, the freedom to live alone, the freedom to choose a profession, the freedom think and act certain ways among others. Obviously, men have more freedom than women. Some feminists want this kind of equality. Some people agree with them, some don’t.


Next come the things that break stereotypes and traditional power equations. Women who are hairy, muscular. Women who are bosses. Women who command. Women who demand that the husband do his share of housework. There are feminists who would support such things and they are the ones who make men uncomfortable. Because men lose their power over women.

I

quote from Shanky’s blog:


What's a man if he can't stand up for himself and for the women in his life?
What's a woman if she can't divine the secrets of the hearts of the men in her life without any words being spoken?


Stereotypes and power equations. I can see them clearly. If you can’t, let me ask you this. Why is it that men should always be strong? Why is it that women should be diviners of the secrets of men’s hearts? Where are we getting those notions from? Popular culture? Stereotypes built up over years of repetition? Just because these things have been happening for the entire recorded history does not mean that they are what define ‘natural’ human behavior. Even if they do, what right does that give us to stop certain individual from deviating from these ‘normal’ modes of behavior (unless of course there might be other objections like criminal behavior, which is an entirely different debate altogether?)