Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Great Gallantry

1 Kings 13
Delivering hard truth to power is a terrifying job. But most often, the messengers of God are called to undertake nothing short. The burning fire of the words may consume the carrier if not handled carefully.
Here in the passage the God's man is not having any marks of identity other than that of his being the messenger.
He uttered the message fearless of the King whose outstretched hands he was so sure not reach him as long as he is duty bound, serving a greater authority. But on the other hand a slip of tongue, a shivering, or even a lowered look can turn him instantly into ashes. May be in realization of this that St.Paul decides that he shall be fearless of men in obedience to God.
It is by standing obedient before such a God that we turn the mud we are formed of into valor. The valor from which springs freedom. If you want to measure your obedience to God, go to a nasty power and try looking straight into the eyes.
The messenger who shall not care for the callousness of the kings is expected to be equally unmindful of their friendly gestures too. The messenger is sent not to convert the King but to transmit the bitter message to him. The destiny of the King is not tied to his own deeds. It is unto God. God's man did not fail to grasp this. He set out for his return journey traversing a different route, not having rest, not having food in the territories darkened under divine wrath.
On his way back it happened that he had to encounter disguised falsehood. It is a menacing crossroad where darkness pervades the abysmal and the safe road; if wrong, even a footstep can be deadly. This is indeed the messenger's ultimate puzzle. The puzzle of life and death to be solved under the callous gaze of a God who seems at the moment eager only to kill. Anybody will long in vain for clues or a chance to try a possibility, safety guaranteed. Such provisions would have made this terrifying profession more tollerable.
The old prophet with or without mal intention had made a false pronouncement. But this act of evident wrongdoing has not become fatal for him. The God's man of failed diligence turned out to be the victim. The illustrated symbolism of his dead body lying on the bare ground guarded by the Lion and Donkey standing face to face is like a frozen image. Frozen from the routine of the pray's predator. This indeed is the image of the ominous destiny tied on to the messenger as he traverse his journey of life. He is destined to become the Message alive or as a carcass on the wayside, torn and slained by a roaring God. Can deep understanding of this reality be the source of his great gallantry

Thursday, July 29, 2004


In the South Indian state of Kerala, news channels are now keeping a count, like the one maintained by the global media for the US causalities in Iraq. A count of the dead. Whenever a farmer, hopeless at the mounting financial debts, commits suicide the report that flashes will most usually end up with the following words. “Now the total count reached…” The count is moving up almost every day for the last two months. The extreme rightist provincial regime, which has left the task of financial engineering to the Asian Development Bank, first tried to deny the truth of the corpses, then it invented the truth of the whole matter that the reason for these mounting suicides is a phenomenon called loss-of-all-hope. In Kerala, which until very recently maintained a human development index comparable to many developed nations, this is unprecedented. Corporate Globalization process aggressively followed by the Union Government in New Delhi is now bringing its results for our masses. Suicides! It was the Plantation workers whose intense protests did yield virtually no result, turned first to this kind of a final solution. The farmers are following suit. But now alarmingly a new category is joining the line. The students and youths!
Following the dictums of the non-interventionist era, the Govt in Kerala privatized its education sector. Soon private entrepreneurs came in flock and there was a boom of institutions mostly Engineering colleges and Medical colleges. The entire funds for running the institutions including the mark-up for the owners are to be generated from Course fee. Hence the poor, who are unfortunately the majority has no stake. To facilitate the unfolding scenario the Reserve Bank of India issued a generous circular to all the Banks in the country. It directed the Banks to grant educational loans for poor students at an interest rate between 11-15%! It did not forget to give the usual smartness tip also, not to be lazy in recovering the amount from defaulters!! The bank officer’s organizations are pointing out that this will lead many of the poor youngsters only to huge Debts and Suicides!
The issue sparked up again when the leftist Student unions violently agitated and virtually rocked the State on the issue following the suicide of a dalit girl student Rajani.
Rajani was a bright Computer Engineering student who is supposed to belong to the category of the most aspiring people. But destiny joined her only to the most desperate ones. She has not taken a loan. Being expelled from her hostel for not paying the fee she approached many quarters including the local bank for a loan but in vain. Finally she went up to the office of the Entrance Examination Controller at the State capital in Trivandrum, the office of the authority who conducted the competitive examination for selecting engineering students and thus made her an eligible engineering student. She reached up to the 8th floor and jumped her last journey down. Devoid of choices for a desired destiny she chose her death magnificently. Her choice had made her a martyr, a martyr in the rank of the Korean farmer who stabbed himself to death in protest of the WTO. In the mythology of the Indian left the martyr is an untainted. Knowing this all too well the rightist regime had done every thing at their disposal to malign her, they had even instructed to conduct a virginity test on the dead body!
Higher Education system in Kerala is a remnant of the colonial period created by the British to prepare Clerks. Functionally worthy knowledge, vocational skills, expertise or language skills of the students graduating from these colleges are dismal. These institutions are an utter failure in catering to the societies needs in knowledge and skills. But there have been little efforts to revamp the system than to write off the whole to ultra right commercial interests.
The traditional leftist parties in Kerala have also failed to imagine an alternative for the decadent vestiges of colonial education and hence have to cooperate with the rightists while offering a show of resistance to slow down their pace. When the present kind of Self Financing of education was systematized, they compromised at every juncture and finally during the last spark of violent agitations their ire was mostly turned to the Banks reluctant to issue loans. The crashed ATM counters across the towns stood as the most eloquent expression of leftist endorsement of a bank financed education system in place of the public funded education system.
Now, recently students at a government run medical college stalled an effort by an agent of a private medical college to take a dead body from their mortuary. The dead body was sold to the private college illegally for using in specimen studies. When students questioned the concerned head of department, it was revealed that the corpse was sold at the rate of Rs.15000/-. The Govt. had instructed each departments of the college to generate funds themselves and sale of corpse was the one means invented by that department. INR15000/- is enough to bye a thousand meals! In a region where people dispossessed of the means of living by neo-liberal policies turn often to rackets trading on human organs, offering a Kidney for money, this may not invite much attention. But it silently reminds that here life diminishes a human beings worth. Ratings will go up as breathing go down. The current market rate for a corpse is INR 15000/-!

Friday, June 25, 2004

Travel to Kish - I saw the Qanat

I had a Kish airline ticket for a flight going at 1.45pm. I checked in at the Dubai airport by about 11.30.The counter staff asked me to rush and get the 12’O clock one. This economy service operated by Kish airline using small sized (less than 60 seats) aircrafts is like a highway bus service; when the flight is full they will take off. They fly at a height of around 1000 m above the sea. After 30 minutes of fly one can see the island of Kish down approaching.
Looking down the sky, the land was like the Arabian emirates. Desert, Roads, buildings, isolated palms and bushy vegetation spread over an area of about 90sq km.
Kish’s revenue comes mostly from the Free zone visa exchange service. Expatriate workers in UAE need to leave that country when the period of their visa expires and reenter with a new visa. They can either go to their home countries or to some other places where they can avail a short-term tourist visa or entry permit. For these people Kish offers Visa free stay for 14 days extensible up to 6 months on additional payment. The Kish airline will arrange everything including the hotel facilities at Kish.
Located at 18km from the southern tip of Iran, Kish is a Persian Gulf island with a long history of human culture. Around 800 years before an earthquake devastated the island and its habitation. It turned its rich heritage into debris. Now of over 16500 of its inhabitants a mere 1500 living in the Saffain District are the only native Kishites. These people speak Farsi and Arabic. The Iranian people living there speak Farsi. Communication is a real problem for those who don’t know Farsi. Kish has schools and a University named Kish University.
Apart from the date and coconut palms the big trees found there are the banyans. There is one big banyan tree called as Green tree standing near the north east coast. This tree is supposed to have an age of 600 years. People believe that tying a knot on the trunks and roots of this oldest tree will bring them luck. The Portuguese brought banyans to Kish from India 600 years back.
I visited the North Eastern coast where the remains of the ancient city of “ Harireh” are still seen. In the ruins we can see a quarter were the Fisher people lived. Their stores, resting rooms, bathrooms etc can be seen. A deep well supposed to be an entrance to a tunnel could also be seen. “Harerah’ is 800 years or so old.
Qanat is the greatest attraction in Kish. The word means- to dig. Qanat is a kind of subterranean aqueduct that channels water from the mountains. The early inhabitants of Kish Island had built a Qanat, which not only met the domestic needs but part of its water was exported. This Qanat is rightly called the secret in the heart of Kish. It is also known as the underground city. Its age is estimated as roughly 2000 years.
At the entrance to this underground city I had to take a 10 Dhs ticket. Going down through the steep slope I found a new world with rooms and branching ways. I feared I may loose the way and be trapped inside. But its beauty was enticing and I kept going. Finally I reached a big canal of water. It seemed an underground water way. This may perhaps be the aqueduct water flowing to the sea. The temp. inside is 22-25'C even when the summer temp reaches out to 50’C outside. There are plans to build modern & traditional restaurants, museum, etc. in the tunnels.
On my way back from the “Harerah’ to the under ground city that I saw the Payab. Payabs are the points where the qanat water is tapped. They are wells with steep stairways. The one Payab I saw resembled a mosque from outside. Unfortunately it was closed at that time. I could see the stairway going down.
I visited the Arabo Market also.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Third Captain of Fifty

(Based on 2Kings:1)
The book of Kings is a kind of historical documentation. Instead of documenting the administrative, legislative or developmental details the narratives look up on the lives of the Kings from a different perspective. It tries to portray the ups and downs of their trust in God. How they relied on God and flourished; how they distanced from God and doomed. The story comes as an overture for the second volume of this documentation.
In the Historical narratives of the bible, the King and the Prophet are the most common archetypical. The King represents the human ambitions and prophet, the divine wish in human affairs. Struggle of these interests is a recognizable theme.
The King falls. The epitome of which is the complete turning away from the God. The prophecy infuriates the King and he sends a captain with his fifty men to fetch the Prophet. Prophet too is a man. Speaking prophetic truth to power is indeed a risky job also. He trembles. In his fears he uses his power to kill. The incident provides us a glimpse into the root of violence. It tells us also that the Prophet too is vulnerable and a possible subject of human failures. We have to begin with this notion that none of the archetypes are ideals. They –the Kingly and the Prophetic-are elemental to our life and politics. Aspects that are equally stirring and putting us at risk.
The first and Second captains carry out their duty faithfully. They had to face the wrath of either the Prophet or the King. They decide to be loyal servants of the King and face the risk involved in their assignment as is expected from every soldier.
The third captain might have mulled over this deadly scenario. He explored a third possibility. This is what the scripture wants us to pay heed carefully. He did not bluntly utter the Kings order to the man of God. Instead he knelt down and humbled himself. He cannot stay in the mountain to escape the King. He has to bring the Prophet to the court. So he carefully made a plea to consider the life of fifty-one people. Now the prophet is brought to a dilemma and there is again a path for divine intervention. The path was not broke opened by any prophetic meditation but the intelligent captain’s intervention. The encouraged prophet is being escorted to the Kings court where he conveys the bold truth straight to the King.
The story placed at the very opening seems to provide a clue for further reading.
When we hypocritically justify our actions to the lack of alternatives in the duty to the authorities and obligations we are invited to read the stories of the doom that encountered the authorities and their loyalists. We see the Kings succumb to the decadence around them and fail to open a new path for the community. The clue is for the King, the Prophet and those who mediate between them. We have to make room for God. Make it by intelligent action.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Yahoo! Mail - sajipgeorge@yahoo.com

Yahoo! Mail - sajipgeorge@yahoo.com

A wrte up on police tortures is sent to Cherukole Group
The Abu Ghraibs of Kerala
Saji P.George May 30, 2004

On the wee hours of October 4th last year, Police in the most literate state of India raided a village called Killi close to Trivandrum, the capital city. The Police contingent was searching for somebody allegedly obstructed Police personnel on traffic checking duty, the previous week. The large troop of Armed Police Force wantonly broke doors to enter houses, destroyed furniture, stolen ornaments and subjected men, women and children to dreadful physical torture and sexual abuse. The Police entered houses one after another dragged men and women from bedrooms throne them out, kicked and beaten heavily until they collapsed down. The attack was targeted mostly on men. They were stripped before family members and later forced to parade naked before women officers. In the lockups cops made fun by tickling their genitals. Many of the innocent victims were relatives and the psychological damage is irreparable.

When I visited the village along with a fact-finding team of Tiruvalla Sangham, two weeks later, ransacked houses were still kept unchanged. Faces were frozen with a mixture of grief and fear painted on them and people were unable to get rid of what happened. The people who suffered at Killi were not the powerless, down caste and poverty stricken; the rummaged houses not mere sheds on the pavements. Many of the dwellings were two storied with fine marble floorings and posh furniture. Some of them own private cars too. Yet it happened to them!

Journalists in the nearby city of Trivandrum were talking of the sexual abuse inflicted up on women; women were abused, true. But they were not targeted; they came in the way only. The public sexual abuse inflicted up on men got little coverage. An activists of the CPIM told me--about sexual harassment of men-- this is something that goes on and on in every Police Stations. But here when the policemen went out of their cliché, media workers and politicians were still clinging on to theirs.

What they say is correct. In this country, reports of Police torture and Sexual abuse of those in custody are not News. They don’t buy curiosity.

None of the Policemen told in public-or leaked in secret - about the criminal acts of fellow officers. Such an event did never occur in the history of my model state barring one Ramachandran Nair, a police constable long after his retirement did open his mouth in tune with a conscience burdened by the shooting-down-at-order of a brave Marxist Leninist worker.

Let us leave out the Police, we are giving them a training –formal and informal- that turn them into beating machines. There are many civilian officers who are involved in the matter of crime and its victims. Take the case of doctors. In almost all custodial deaths the persons were taken before a doctor at least after they are finished. In cases of severe torture Police would normally hospitalize victims to prevent death and its consequences. Then these victims are before the doctor as a patient- to whose health he is legally and ethically responsible.

Take again the Magistrates who are supposed to administer justice. When an arrested person is produced before them, step one of their job is asking a question regarding how they were treated in Police hands. They all ask it and then mock at the procedural codes.
Not very long before the reputed tribal leader Ms Janu was taken before a magistrate with swollen cheeks. The mockery was repeated now under the full glare of media. None did scold the magistrate. A magistrate is usually an advocate passing a law examination and interview. It is very unlikely that an Ex-Service man occupy the seat. Yet they do comply always to the system.

Why is it that these professionals are unable to speak out and take the minimum risk to which they are obliged? Why they are not protesting when they witness a thing that mocks the basic tenets of what they are employed for? Why they don’t get “demoralized” at these? Why the media workers fail to ask them? Why do not we all feel disgust at these failures?

The Humanism of the People of Kerala has never failed the world community in expressing anger to what America does in Iraq. We Love to be in the for front of anti America. But I feel shame! And I feel we must earn the eligibility to point fingers at the earliest, as it is very urgent. For this, I think we have a lot to learn from Americans, from the members of its military itself, until we find some of our Policemen and civilian officers protesting against human abuses they witness and speak out or at least leak out, truth, to uphold the dignity of their humanness as well as that of their respective professions and they get rewarded.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

From Sharjah

Today I kept myself in the room.Wrote something.