Trump’s silence

Donald Trump

Photo courtesy: Gage Skidmore

Srinivas Kuchibothla was just a techie who wanted to sit back, relax, and enjoy his beer at a Kansas bar accompanied by his friend, Alok Madasani. Srinivas would have never thought that he was then going to get shot by a US Navy Veteran and Alok never thought that he would have to get injured and watch his friend die. Srinivas’s parents would have never thought they would have to go through watching their son’s dead body and his wife would have never thought he would leave her a world without him. The American hero (Ian Grillot) who tried to save Alok and Srinivas would have never thought he would end up hospitalised. All this pain and the ‘president’of the United States of America remains silent as the grave.

A Trump supporter would argue that the president can’t address every single homicide of the country. Totally a valid point, but this homicide is completely different. The murderer told Srinivas to “get out of the country” before killing him, confirming his racist intentions. Hence, it is the president’s job to reassure the country and the rest of the globe with respect to the current political climate that the government’s agenda is only to correct the jobs imbalance between the immigrants and the Americans and not to promote white supremacy. However, recent events have totally opposed the government’s supposed agenda, all thanks to the deductions made from Trump’s silence.

Even if the immigrant’s death did not lure Trump to offer his condolences, the American who tried to save Srinivas and Alok should have got the president’s attention for his display of strong diversity. Failing to do so further validates that the president roots for absolute white supremacy – he fails to address the dead immigrant and the white American who tried to save him, suggesting that Trump is not so attracted to the unity of people from various cultures. Simply put, he doesn’t give a shit about what happens to non-whites.

As time passes and Trump refuses to speak out, we receive further amplification of his ignorance and evil motives.

If we were to expand this scenario broadly and rhetorically and link it with the current economic and political status, the Navy Officer (the shooter) would be Trump, Srinivas would be the current immigrant community, Alok would be the US economy and Ian Grillot could potentially be the Trump supporters waking up to their senses. The US economy would be grieving the loss of a large number of immigrants due to the policies that are about to be undertaken and only the effective attempt of opposition by Trump supporters to this could probably lead to a good ending, even though the brave Ian Grillot couldn’t save the day.

Only Karma knows what’s going to happen next. Will she decide to do something fruitful or will the impractical and disrespectful Trump grab her by the pu***?

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A World Without Religion 

Pray

Photo courtesy: Adrian Scottow

Violence. No self-control. A world without morals. These are some of the results that would probably strike you when we talk about a world without religion. It might sound catastrophic at first, but it’s important to have a critical standpoint while talking about this kind of an issue. A biased view would highly be single-minded and will not get you to the bigger picture.

What exactly is a religion? Let’s just broadly define it as any system of worshipping a supernatural being, ie. God. Different religions have different methods and practices but for the purpose of this post, all religions are considered to be equal. Remember, it is the existence of no religion we are talking about, let’s leave the debate of whether God exists or the debate of which religion is better to the theists and atheists. What we are interested in is what the world would like if it had no religion and the effects and costs of a transition from a religious world to religion-free world. Also, it will also include my opinion of whether such a transition should occur.

Let’s first look at the perks that a religion-free world would offer. A common misconception (The Morals issue) is also discussed below.

  • The Morals Issue: First and foremost, the thing that comes to any average mind when we talk about the absence of religion is the absence of morals. It would be a valid thought since most religious scriptures bind morals to the human mind, giving detailed explanations of what humans are supposed to do and offers opposition to unfavorable actions. So the absence of these morals that religion offers would certainly not be desired since it would lead to a world driven by evil forces, right? Well, it turns out that’s not the case. Steven Pinker, a psychologist famously postulated that humans have developed a more moralistic approach with time. Perhaps that explains why there is no global turmoil relative to the 19th century when the World War occurred. So a deduction can be made that this increase in moralism could be credited to religion, but that could not be said for certain. In fact, as people became more moralistic in the respective time span, religious enforcement and preaching tanked. Sweden’s scenario further supports that religion and morals are very slightly interlinked; 80% of the country’s population is atheist, yet it has the lowest crime rate despite what would conventionally be expected.
  • LGBT and Equality: The cultural effects of no religion would be highly favorable to the modern scenario. The higher social acceptance of the LGBT community and equality of the sexes are just a few that we could begin with. It should come as no surprise to you that most religions in the world oppose gay-rights, and the lack of this opposition would mean a more sexually diverse world leading to a decrease in sexual stereotypes. Also, equality of the sexes would improve since men-biased ideologies would be eradicated. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that many religious people do support the modern scenario, overriding some of their religious principles.
  • Paves a clear path for Science: Lesser obstruction to science is a something I’m a great fan of. Science has been illogically challenged by religion on various grounds, and this lack of logic has been passed over to the next generation by many religious schools. Anti-scientific facts such as “Freshwater and salt water do not mix” and the ideas of Creationism spoil the scientific and observative thinking of children. In contrast, scientific advancement has triggered the development of the human race and has greatly helped us understand how the universe works.
  • Lesser discrimination and more unity: Abolishment of religion would knock off one of the factors that separate the human race, bringing people together from all over the globe. Religion-phobias wouldn’t exist since we are talking about a world that has absolutely no religion, hence leading to a world with lesser discrimination. Hate crimes due to religion wouldn’t exist and terrorist attacks won’t be based on bizarre motives and ideas.
  • Spiritual pursuits: Humanity will start looking towards itself for guidance; realizing that problems and the solutions come from within. Happiness would not be attained because we are destined but rather because of our own actions and thoughts. Our race will take responsibility for its actions and a supernatural being will not be sought out for when solving problems.

There you go. So many advantages, so many reasons to not want religion. So why do we still have it? Why shouldn’t we knock it off already? These questions can be answered by just one word- Hope.

Voltaire famously said that “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”. Religion gives hope and direction to billions of people around the world, taking that away could be absolutely disastrous. The idea of a supernatural being is so instilled in the minds of many such that they never give up on him whatsoever (in most of the cases). In a period of uncertainty, the supernatural being is not blamed, rather, phrases like ‘He is angry’, ‘He is punishing for my sins’ are used to further substantiate the presumed fact that the blame is on them or it’s just how life works with God. The very possibility that this God couldn’t exist is hardly touched upon. It is truly amazing and inspiring to see religious people to show such strong resistance in giving up on the idea of a supernatural being. So taking away this religious belief could be very saddening since we would technically be making millions of people direct their lives without hope. Also, the feeling that there is no one watching over them and that they are under perfect free fall shows many a whole new way of life- a life where nothing can be sure and ultimately, a life with a lack of incentive.

So where do I stand on this? I like to take the position at the intersection point of both pragmatism and moralism and I have to say, that the current scenario is what we require. It might sound foolish to many of you and the costs of religion might look like they far outweigh the benefits but I still believe that religion should exist. It provides direction and hope for many people. From where I come from, religion is all that some people have. I frequently like to think that as long as a person does something that gives him hope or direction, however irrational, on an individual level and does not hurt the functioning of the society, he/she should go ahead with it. Right now, in some cases, religious beliefs and practices are hurting how the society works to a large extent and appropriate actions should be taken against this. But that does not mean we need to eradicate religion completely.

That’s my opinion.

By the way, I’m an atheist.

Trumponomics

Donald Trump - Caricature

Photo courtesy: DonkeyHotey

(Read in Donald Trump’s voice) ‘JOBS JOBS JOBS. It’s gonna be yuuuuuuge’. Economic policies of former presidents focused on various areas, Ronald Reagen focused on ‘trickle-down’ supply-side economics (famously known as Reaganomics) while Obama was attentive to increasing taxes on high-income American families. For Trump, it’s all about jobs, jobs and jobs. Oh and it’s also about tax cuts for the rich, but he doesn’t want to amplify that yet.

Trump’s election campaign suggested that switching the jobs from the immigrants to Americans to correct the ‘imbalance’ is paramount on his agenda. His recent activities suggest the same. There have been speculations that the current leader of the free world is on the verge of modifying the famous H1B visa, lowering the quota from 85,000 to 65,000. The L1 visas won’t be spared either. Quite catastrophic, if you are an Indian techie craving to live the American dream. This might indeed be effective in achieving what Trump wants, but he has no idea what he has to pay for it.

Here’s where Trumponomics is flawed: Donald Trump is a businessman. Businessmen like Trump tend to be singleminded, with the goal in sight but the underlying effects in order to pursue the goal are not considered to be a concern. He wants to modify the H1B visa? Great. Has he thought about the fact that Silicon Valley is what it is because of H1B? Hasn’t he realised that there are jobs that only the holders of the H1B and L1 visas can fulfil? Michio Kaku, one of the scientists who crafted the famous ‘String Theory’, stated that anti-immigration modifications made to the H1B could cause the collapse of the entire scientific establishment of America. The words collapse and scientific establishment together in a sentence would seem scarier than it sounds.

What’s even worse is the effect on education and research institutions. Since Trump’s other plan to cut taxes is likely to be executed, the budget for public education institutions are set to decrease and these institutions will take a big hit. Private universities won’t take that much of a big hit since the previous elongated periods of excellence will help to withstand a few years of turbulence and eventually prevent destabilisation. For-profit education institutions are likely to increase and may disincentivize Americans to pursue higher education. Funds for research is likely to be cut down, and the decrement of foreign talent to the USA wouldn’t help either. Scientific discoveries will decrease. It would also be harder to pursue an education in the United States for foreigners and hence diverting them to study in countries like New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Honk Kong.

And what does he pay for with all this? Jobs. Jobs that most Americans might not even be able to take over.

It is interesting to watch America on the verge to destroy the comparative advantages it has with Trumponomics. The influence on the rest of the world due to Trumponomics is yet to be seen and could be favourable or unfavourable. Who knows? Countries like India managing to keep its talent at home might improve the local scenario and also, who knows? America’s contribution to the global scientific community (which is a lot) might decrease to a very very large extent. This can lead to the halt of major scientific advancements for elongated periods.

Celebrity power and Politics

Jay Z, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus. The combination of these celebs gives you the ultimate star power which equates to a larger fan base, and a larger fan base equates to more influence, right? Not really. Not all the time.

Upon reading the above, you might have very well guessed that I am addressing the loss of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States elections. Let’s move from the US to another part of the world, to an important state in India and more importantly, where I’m from, Tamil Nadu. Ironically, politics in Tamil Nadu has many similarities with the conduct of politics in the US. The current political status in TN (Tamil Nadu) is quite turbulent, where the ruling party (AIADMK) remains divided as I write this post, quite similar to the Republican Party. The existing state of political affairs of TN are not a concern to this post, rather, we need to travel back in time to 2010 when one of the most loved and prominent celebrities, a comedian actor by the name of Vadivelu, campaigned for one of the major parties in TN, the DMK. The Tamil people loved Vadivelu for his brilliant one-liners and applaudable acting. However, the people’s affection for Vadivelu failed to perform, and DMK faced a severe defeat to AIADMK (the opposition party) in the 2010 elections.

It would be quite irrational to state that celebrities have no sort of influence when it comes to politics, but the extent to which they are influential could be up for debate. I personally believe that celebs are unlikely to affect the political waves to a large extent. The result of political events is paramount to each and every human being in that respective territory, and the average taxpayer does not want to be told who to vote for from some millionaire who regularly ends up in the daily gossip column. Also, on a few occasions, it can be said that celebrities showering their support for a political candidate may show the candidate’s weakness. ‘Can’t he/she stand for herself?’  would be the imposed question. The fact that Trump declared that he needed no celebs to win the elections might have made him more appealing to the general public. Perhaps that was one of the many factors that showed the justification for many swing voters to then affiliate to Donald Trump in the US elections.

The recent immigration ban received sharp criticism from various celebrities, with many of them voicing out their anti-immigration-ban opinions in award ceremonies. However, these opinions were categorised by many as ‘just another person whining about Trump’ (Notable mention: Piers Morgan told actors to sit the fuck down about politics in The Real Time with Bill Maher), and the star-power had no major play. In fact, people who are inclined to Trump started hating them more.

One could easily argue against my stand with the emergence of Ronald Reagen and Donald Trump, who were once celebrities (Trump still is, though). It should be noted that these former celebs did not become leaders of the free world simply because of their star power, but due to various other factors. Trump for instance, might have emerged as President due to his America-first and other vetting policies. Reagen on the other hand, due to his political realignment in the US in favour of conservative domestic and foreign policies.

All this makes us question about how influential celebrities are when it comes to politics. Celebrities might have been very influential with your clothing line or the diet plan you have or even the kind of dog you want to adopt, but politics is a different field. It has become increasingly evident with recent events that celebrities are not so effective with politics.

Jallikattu protests: reopening the gates to a larger fact

Are you ready to challenge me ?

Photo courtesy: Vinoth Chandar

A week full of protests all over Tamil Nadu surely has got a lot of attention, and here is the good part; it’s not only intra-state. The aftermath of the protests has informed many about the unity of the  people of Tamil Nadu, and even more, it has inspired other States to stand up together as one crowd for what it believes in synchrony, as observed from the recent protests in Andhra Pradesh to attain the status of a ‘Special State’. Setting aside unity, the protestors in Tamil Nadu displayed heavy resistance, no matter how they were wooed, showing that the Indians in Tamil Nadu know what’s best for them. ‘Government intervention? Who the hell needs that?!’ The rewards certainly weren’t posthumous, the protests didn’t stop until the united crowd were informed that an ordinance had been passed. Although the protests ended violently, it is more than clear that anti-national and political elements had come into play.

Here’s something that was amplified but only a few noticed: the idea of social proof. If a group of people perform an activity, it motivates another group to do the same. How many of us have done things because we’ve seen other people doing it? Most of us. We live in a world where most of us humans need social proof to perform an activity. Same applies to these jallikattu protests; with one state standing together for what it believes in and is willing to show high resistance, it automatically motivates the people in another state to do the same. If we Indians stand as one united crowd to develop our respectives states (and eventually our nation), it instills fear in the state governments, and eventually corrects the disoriented system. It is not only the affairs of tradition that can come into the picture, but other issues can be tackled, such as education and rural development.