Friday, March 27, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Terrorising Religion And Why We Fail To Stop It

There is lot being said and done around the world to prevent religious terrorism. Security being increased, special forces being formed. United States has been trying to fight the same over the last 9 years and yet success is not in sight. Billions of dollars of the world's wealth has been burnt to stop someone from killing others who thinks that this is his/her duty towards god. Yet rare to no efforts are made to educate the masses and the next generations about the falsehood of religion, the very basis of religious terrorism. To my knowledge, no fund is allocated to encourage people to critically examine their own religion, to spread the seeds of rationality. It is like you want to prevent and treat the disease of terrorism but not the pathogen, the religion. You want to act only when the pathogen grows up to become disease, discomfort.

You would say religion promotes peace, tolerance, and coexistence, not violence! In that case, I can bet my trousers that you have read newspaper articles about religion and NOT the holy books. You aren't even a religious person then not having read the good books!

Once people start taking the way of rational thinking and examination of their religion, the follies of religion are exposed and the base of terrorism is shaken. Who would like to die as a suicide bomber if the cause of fighting, the god, does not exist, if he is not going to get virgins in the heaven as promised by the holy books? This is the only way out, only the messiah of reason and rationality can save the mankind.

Minds of grown up adults are like a non-rewritable CD. Once the data is written, it cannot be undone. What people grow up believing is what they hold onto for most of their life. Change of mind are rare to find in societies. Concepts of reason and skeptical scrutiny must be inculcated in young minds. Seeds of rationality must be sown when the virgin psyche of children are not yet infested by the weeds of religion and superstition. So, if one starts with children now, it would take somewhere around 20 years for them to play an effective role in the society and consequently make the society more rational. And it will be two to three generations before we could see a substantial section of the society subscribing to rational thinking. But given the present state of almost the whole population entrenched in some or other religion, a somewhat rational society seems like an utopia though if one starts to walk, destination is not unreachable.

Unfortunately, all those in capacity of guiding the society wants to sit aside and not even stand up to walk towards the destination. No political entity wants to touch the subject of faith as this means hurting the emotions of voter, emotions which are deeply embedded in their psyche, and consequently loss of power. Hence, all over the world, political parties take side of religious idiocy rather than any reasonable stand one might expect from authorities who intend to govern the nation.

In 2008, there was a literal war in Kerala, so-called God's own country, over inclusion of supposedly atheist content in class VII textbook. Here is the passage from the textbook that was bone of contention.

Son, what’s your name?"

"Good…nice name. Father’s name?"
"Anvar Rasheed".

"Mother’s name?"
"Lakshmi Devi".

The headmaster looked at the parents and asked: "Which religion should we note"?
"No need to note any. Please mention ‘no religion’."

"The same."

The headmaster leaned back on his chair and asked rather gravely: "What if he feels the need for a religion when he grows up?"
"He can choose his religion if and when he feels so."

And who all wanted this part of the textbook to be removed. Kerala Students Union (KSU), the students wing of the Congress Party; the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF); the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Christian church and organisations; the Indian Union Muslim League; and the Nair Service Society (NSS), three major political entities were involved in opposition of this including the so-called secular Congress Party. They argued that the textbook propagates atheism, its' anti-religion, and hence must not be taught to students. The usual vandalism of public property, bandh, and violence were carried out.

Read the report here:

The Kerala education minister, M A Baby, had to clarify that the content is about religious tolerance and not about atheism. What a cowardly statement. Why not atheism be taught in schools? Isn't it a child's right to know that there exist an animal called no religion? If the study of religion can be justified, study of anti-religion is also valid.

To my ears, this situation sounds similar to someone talking against untouchablility a century or so back. I guess, most political creatures had kept themselves aloof of this issue at that time. Only a minute fraction of the society, the free thinkers, had the courage to revolt against social norms and against the non-thinker blunt-head masses. The general public retard the process of change due to their reluctance to leave their old behavior, their old beliefs. And when the onus of change is on those who derive power from the general public, reforms feel more like distant dreams as do the hopes of fearless society.

Final Prediction: As long as the society is infested by religion, we will have terrorism in one or other form.

My Demand: Atheism, agnosticism, and other anti-region contents must be included in school textbooks just as study of various religions is included allowing the innocent minds to decide whats wrong and whats right.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Wasteful Bottled Water And A Business Opportunity

Have you ever wondered about the wide-spread presence of bottled water where there was none just a decade back. Many a times, many of us find it difficult to gulp down any but bottled water. Even in the restaurants, we refuse the free water served and prefer to buy something bottled even if it is the same free water bottled at a filthy plant.

This seem to me a really great piece of marketing skills. First, they were bundled as mineral water supposedly good for health. Later, this mineral tag was removed since in reality there weren't any mineral in there. This tendency for buying bottled water seems rather foolhardy to me, but nevertheless it is a great business opportunity to create wealth out of ...water!

This perceived need of clean drinking water is fueling the demand for bottled water. Bottled water is a wasteful way of satisfying this need because:
  1. Around 2.7 liter of water is required to process 1 liter of bottled water.
  2. Lot of resources are wasted in filling, packaging, transportation, storage, and cooling.
  3. It creates more and more garbage of plastic bottles.

You may try a simple Internet search on "actual cost of bottled water."

Now, bottled water is no more mineral water of the past as it was marketed earlier. People just need clean and cold drinking water and are not concerned about its mineral contents.

This need of clean and cold drinking water can be fulfilled by much cheaper and efficient means and the technology is also very cheaply available, the water purifier machines. These water vending machines can be installed at bus stands, railway station, and other public places with collaboration with municipal corporations or given to shop owners on franchise basis who would take care of the machines and provide space. Empty bottles can be sold or people can bring in their own bottles for refilling. This will reduce the number of bottles in use since people will be able to refill and need not necessarily buy another bottle to get the water within it. There can be some kind of automatic vending system where in people can insert some coins and get 1 L of water and/or empty bottles thereby reducing the man power cost too.

The present environment frenzy can be capitalized by advertising about how much damage to environment this system saves by reducing plastic usage, transportation, etc. This can be used to ask for tax breaks too. And how about earning and selling carbon credits!