May 27th, 2009
You only need to look at the matrimonial classified section of newspapers to find out about the classes within Sikhism. What Hinduism institutionalized, and Sikhism tried to dissolve is now present more in Sikh society than perhaps even in Hindu society. Our first Guru gave his entire life trying to eliminate the rigors of caste system, but five hundred years later, the class based society in Sikhs lives boldly on. We are ready to die for our Gurus, but we are not ready to live for them (by their ideals). True, we will all sit down and have langar in the same file (pangat) as anyone else, but those are minor adjustments and inconveniences that we will put up with. We can be forced to live next to anyone as per the laws and regulations of modern India, but we can deftly handle that too. The sad reality is that the only thing that can possibly eliminate casteism and regionalism in India, cross caste and cross state marriages, have simply not happened to any meaningful extent yet.
All that said, a marriage is not something that can be forced upon a society or a generation, and it is simply against the laws of probability that within one generation of us letting go, we will have a mish mash society where classes based on castes will have become absent suddenly. Still, if the current Sikh society does become a bit more relaxed when evaluating a potential mate in terms of their class structure and placement in the caste hierarchy, then the mishmash will indeed grow. At least let us start reiterating to ourselves that education and nature are indeed much more important than caste. At least, let us not start the very matrimonial search and placement by the dreaded three word caste description. At least let us not talk about a candidate by first describing the caste. The day some of this happens, we may finally claim to be Sikhs again.
May 19th, 2009
As I drove this morning to work, listening to Dianne Rehm show, I got drawn into the long standing Israeli-Palestinian peace process thinking. Like any other naive bystander who has a dozen suggestions, I offer mine here. The only difference being, these suggestions are not really mine, I have heard them time and again from some speakers, but to my surprise, these suggestions have not yet made into the staple part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process discussions.
- Involving Jordan and Egypt: All Israeli-Palestinian peace discussions are usually focused naturally on Israel and Palestine. The difficulty with this approach is that these two sides are the farthest apart in terms of thinking and they can view each other as the other party in a zero sum game. The involvement of Jordan and Egypt changes that. The reason being that both of them have peace treaties with Israel, and they also have very good working relationships with Palestinians. They can play a natural mediary role, which other countries such as Saudi Arabia (or Syria and Iran) cannot. Jordan and Egypt also stand to gain the most in terms of tourism and trade if a stable middle east is established.
- Highlighting the inherent commonalities by focusing on human aspects: Norwegian negotiators have long attempted to focus on the common aspects by making the meetings a bit more than pure business meetings. One way that it has been achieved in the past is for all parties to bring full families into the business meetings. The rationale is a bit cheesy, but quite simple. We tend to stereotype people (such as John McCain being “hawkish”), but the same stereotype does not seem to make sense when you see the person holding a 4-yr old. This though is not just a bag of tricks, it is a deliberate and conscious effort to focus on the future and what is common, and not to be susceptible to stereotypes and memories of failure.
Well, that is it really – (not my) two cents there.
May 7th, 2009
Certainly this is a scary situation for *anyone*, but the story of a 3-year-old boy missing for 2 days found alive is so positive and uplifting that it only appears as a testimony to the human spirit. It is remarkable that a boy who only had T-shirt, sneakers and a pull-up diaper did so well in spring cool weather (low 50s) with no food and water for two days.
May God bless the child with good health and a long life.