Thursday, June 7, 2018

Opt for the better political binary: Truth or Untruth

The world's going digital. Smart phones, AI, IT... practically everything is made easy, possible at the click of something, or at the very thought of it. It's all come down to 1's and 0's—as binary as binary can get. Sadly, this can turn into an bloody infestation where binaries don't belong, like politics. With its root beginnings themselves dubious enough, this is an added insult. This binary thinking makes us magnets who have to stick to only one side based on our polarity (which we apparently can't change). It's all involuntary, you see.

It's always left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, or capitalists vs. everybody else. Neither of two groups (whichever they be) recognise any ground in between. It's like a great abyss of death. Independent inquiry always makes you from the other side, depending on who's accusing you. You either play for the home team or the other team. One is wrong, the other right; one evil, the other pure. Again, everything depends on which team you play for. If someone doesn't agree with you, you're the one with a motive. This is the stuck record that is the only conversation you'll hear most of the time. Fact, truth and their pursuit die a slow painful death.   

This magnetic effervescence, apart how some of us tend to flaunt our ideologies as best, is a bigger problem than it seems. It is our primary bias and lens. More importantly, it is our fundamental political truth—fact and truth excluded. We will believe what we want to believe because that is the only side that our polarity will allows us to. We no longer care about what is and what isn't. We make our own truth, rather our bias does. We are our own reference point for everything that is worthy in the world. We're practically living our own fantasy. 

So where does this lead to? As with any factual-truth-denying-machine-thinking, this leads to mass confusion. What we think is what we believe despite the fact that it isn't what we see, or what we ever get to see. Soon enough, it becomes our obsession and then our reality. Finally, because it's the only world we'd ever accept, we make it our reality no matter how badly it lacks basic sense. And the biggest loser: truth.

Every passionate discussion we have when the 1's and the 0's meet becomes exactly this: my reality vs. your reality. It breaks so many rules that will give even the best therapist nightmares to think about. It doesn't contain independent facts that don't bear polarities, save with the people who straddle the middle path making far more sensible political allegiances, if any. Normally, if they are the only ones who would ever perceive something,  and no one else can touch, see, experience or feel it, there's something very wrong. Though far from being loony, if they still insist and insist and insist on insisting, they're certainly getting there—fast. 

So what we do about this big fat mess? Is it unhelpable? Are the good guys done for? Is it time to hope and pray, and only hope and pray till the doom of all sense? Honnasiri says that it's your world to live in; you may as well try to keep it worth living in without breaking your neck until somebody's coming for your life and you have to.

So here's what we can do in this polarised mess.
Check the fact

Make your only binary truth.  Did it happen? Is It true? Move from 1's & 0's to yes and/or nos. They are the only two answers you should have space for. There can't be alternative truths.  

Know that everything adds up

What's common for one side to say about the other side is to allege a silent behind the scenes conspiracy against them. Conspiracies have always been difficult to prove, until they actually turn out to be true. Instead, let your data add up and speak for itself.

Be assured that someone's always listening

In a environment when people only trade charges against one another, if you are the consistent quieter voice against their tirade, you are being heard by someone somewhere. Even if you aren't somebody will come across what you said and they could, then, rethink their polar mindsets. So, keep at it, despite the stuck record. Choose your battles without breaking your neck in the process. 

Understand that your awareness needn't always match, but common sense should always prevail

Depending on who you talk to, you can be accused of being hypocritical, selective, and having a motive. This is because the people who accuse you could come from other views that they are immersed in—quite deep at times, with their heads stuck neck deep into the ground. It may take some time to match awarenesses (so pick up as much as you can on the go; human attention and interest is only wired to take so much per individual.  If you don't fully catch up on their updated awareness set, remember that verified, known fact and truth also submits to common sense.

Also read: A new kind of hypocrisy

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sign here, please: ...and now the rules (4)

(Topic: Politics)

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As political ethics develop, the lines can be blurry almost all the time. A few of the rules, though, don't really change. They define the do's and don'ts of the core. Some are:
  • One/a group can choose to believe what is not factually true for himself/themselves. That is allowed. It is not cardinal sin. The factual consequences are theirs to bear.
  • Thought doesn't hurt and is not detrimental by itself. If one/a group wants to hold on any thought they like, they are free to. They may only be restricted once they adversely inflict it on another person in action.
  • No individual's views automatically bear upon any other person. Offence is a personal matter, defined by intent to offend. 
  • Ridiculing and mocking another's thinking doesn't help. It happens often with people who have different viewpoints that are, by a more prevalent standard, advanced but not prevalent for everyone. In order to understand, relate, and build, basic idea tolerance is necessary. 
  • Mere holding of a view does in no way turn into action, and therefore makes it infectous to society.
  • Freedom to accept, reject, debate and question everything is always allowed in a cordial, respectful and orderly manner. 
  • Definitions of right & wrong are better exchanged with those of true & false, factual & non-factual or destructive & beneficial ones
With opinions and views as diverse, the discussion tends to go south. What follows is colourful chaos in the core that makes it becomes multi-planar. Every element has a different touch point, resting between planes representing wholly different ideas that can be opposite or contradictory. This is essential to an open, evolving environment. While for some this is a wonderful thing with the learning one can have, for the others, who are puritanical, it is a place of cardinal sin. They don't believe that blood and water mix. They have sacred views about how things should be, and about change itself. In a land that is filled with variety, it is impossible to allow everyone in with views like that. You're bound to have struggles to be let in to what's theirs by right, and you cannot do right by pushing them away.    

So, by the above list, can have a sworn communist who is a little liberal (depends on who's defining it) who won't be defaced by a purist—however hypocritical that seems, or maybe he isn't satisfied with the best combination of views to have.  You can have a liberal who understands where a purist comes from and sympathises with (comparatively) closed view without being berated by a fellow liberal. You can have someone who isn't for or against anything, or anyone, for which they are not nailed against the wall because they are seeking till they find, and maybe they haven't found yet. The permutations and combinations are immense, and under the system each one of them is allowed. Accepting all of them is not done according to a fixed list. Rather the list is added to after accepting them, all which are debated as a matter of course. The cogs of society can, after all, be used for betterment as well.  

This also means that taking offense is almost meaningless in this space. If there is a difference of opinion, and it comes down to offense being taken, you're simply in the wrong place. It should hit you before you even entered the space that you're going to be at the other end of the discussion. The best you should do is offer your arguments, and make your peace. As long there's no injustice done in the process, you'd be doing a great job of keeping up the democracy. And no one has to be right. It is the wrong place to come to for validation. Some forms of thinking will never meet and we should learn to accept that. That doesn't mean we should be less human first and not learn to live like that. The happiest politics earns its place within humanity without a fight. 

With all this openness, there are clear no-nos defined. No abuse or violence (in action or words) that can be justified, even if one is justifiably angry. No hate action should be inspired, despite reason to. No discrimination against a person/group of people for being and  fighting for who they essentially are. If we'r looking at any kind of agreement, we must stay away from these things. Sometimes, with a diverse set of people and groups, an equally amicable solution will eat into some of that (for everyone). We can only do the best we can do so that everyone benefits equally, even if it has to be littler than we thought for ourselves. We should all get the same privileges, at any cost.

This multi-planar core of peace and discussion is where any democracy is possible first. Despite all the damage we've done to it, it still works, and thank heavens we're still not apiece. It doesn't look like we will be for a long time. As we last out this grace period, can we work by the system and not against it? We can probably make it a forever. And, yeah, welcome to the circus! Just don't be upset when you see things getting topsy-turvy. As long as everyone's important and equally respected, we're on the right track. We'll get there, and better.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Sign here, please: Do you do your R&D? (3)

(Topic: Politics)
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While the democratic core is vibrant and exploding, it isn't the case of thinking magically becoming law. It's here that ideas form and are influenced, discussed and hopefully tested. Ideas that work on the ground aren't unicorn-like. They are sometimes dumbed down from larger concepts but it's better to have a bigger ideal to start with. They can always be made better over time. Most universally accepted views of how things ought to be are always balanced on one side. They serve one master and make the rest servants. Pick one and it will be easy to see.

A good system serves everyone equally. Some argue, equally at their needs first. Others argue that that's too basic and it should be more competitive so that humans are naturally incentivized to do better, than be complacent. All these and many, many other ideas and sub-ideas are floating till one of them proves to be a better fit for a solution.

All of this converts into law and living reality when we evolve to a view that we find best, vote for someone or a party that promises to make that a reality and hope that they deliver. But these answers are not simple and never have been. Many assumptions we make about best answers are just the ones we are used to seeing or which we have been taught to be so. The ones we have adopted have become our reference points. They aren't necessarily the best ones. We just need to test them till they have the least unwanted consequences, or lesser ones.

Mix and match

Society is like a game of blocks. You can position its many facets in many ways. Each method has its own set of benefits and balance. Since life's got to go on, we can't wait to decide how to structure it. It takes after the easiest structure possible. We are hence born into one without choice and can change the positions of the blocks for the better before we die. With each generation, we get a chance to change this for the better, or worse.

But the crazies don't get this. They are not able to accept a difference in views, or submission to a process that isn't crazy enough for them. Instead, they resort to drastic methods to crush, stop, and quieten voices that are against their ideas. They seem to believe that submitting to the process will subvert the change that they think India needs, and it needs extra intervention. They think that since they are right their ideas will only save the nation, hence the hurry to ensure its success. They have different names in different political environments but they're basically the exact same.

The whole purpose is to gather these ideas, and check, compare, and conclude which should make it to action one day. The way it works is we go through this process, and there needn't be only one conclusion. People can be split on the best verdict. The core throws out this conclusion, in any form, one verdict or multiple verdicts and that's how we can confidently say that this what India indeed thinks. We get it from the horse's mouth.

The freedom in the core is about realistic ideas and unicorn ideas-basically any idea that springs from the reality which an Indian gets up in the morning, every morning, and identifies with. That's the qualifier. It allows everything from the crappy to the brilliant. This allows every individual to remain important, learn and teach, correct themselves and get corrected, and grow. There are no special privileges. There is obviously common sense, reason and wisdom that comes with time and age as well. This sets a few mostly self-understood rules and zones. They define what should be allowed and what shouldn't.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sign here, please: Politics meets the big stage (2)

(Topic: Politics)

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Well, politics is everywhere. When it comes into its own arena, and deals with power and governance, it takes on a new level. Till then people are just doing it on the side for ego kicks and side benefits. Once crossed over to the big leagues, the only thing different is a much, much wider playing field with the same motivation to win The science remains as is. There are some stark differences though.

When otherwise practiced, there was never a referee, and there was no accountability. It is self-managed system. Sensible people rested their egos at a reasonable midpoint and accepted that there are going to be some crazy folk you can go ahead and ignore.

At the next level, there is self-regulation and accountability, with the same freedom to crazy folk. It takes shape in a growing, robust swirling core of ideas fed by citizens' voices, with everything they think about where the country should be and how to get there. This is the sacred space that keeps any society and country a democratic one, against all odds.

The core is everywhere this country is—offices, chai shops, traffic snarls, parliaments, school yards, college campuses... everywhere where there are one or more Indians. Everyone's allowed. You don't get shot, bit, hung, killed or slapped for getting your voice in. It's built to echo the nation in one true voice, which is heard unfiltered as it sounds it out. When we all keep the democratic peace, and get our voice in, the echo may be saying a lot of things at once (we're a big, diverse nation). It may not be very pretty to hear but they're being said loud and clear. That's how we know that our perceived reality is indeed one. We can correct our notions  of what India is and is not. This is our key to how we can all live together in peace and harmony. We all get to originally hear each other. You can speak with respect and be heard with respect.

But things can get bad, and then worse. Since the nation is diverse, the voices are different and everyone's allowed to have their full say, the core can get off balance in tone, where there isn't respect given all around. That's because there are two types of people who say things: the crazies and the sane. Being polar opposites, one obviously won't like what the other says and bam! Despite the everyone's allowed rule, the crazies come with attitudes that end up seeking to shut down, restrict and ban voices that can't make it all the way into their hearts.

The crazies ones come with an "I am right and you are wrong" approach. The sane have a "Let's break that down" approach that sometimes leads to an "oops-a-daisy" revelation, and an admission of wrong reasoning where found. The crazies cannot rationalise. The sane can, at least a bit more. The crazies have identity issues with what they hold true to. The sane are aware of and are willing to face realities as is. The crazies come in all colours, and so do the sane. So any group with ideology you don't like will have some people whom you will respect, and some you won't, both with more or less the same ideas. The crazies have blanketed perspectives and colour their thinking. This helps everything become easily identifiable to them, but doesn't necessarily represent the issue all round. The sane stay away from colours and blanket ideas. They listen and are not in a hurry to settle on a final conclusion until it presents itself clearly. The crazies are in a perpetual hurry to (usually pre-)conclude with a (pre-)favourable view. The crazies consider the very thought of certain things poisonous to society. The sane don't restrict idea thinking by principle.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

You're responsible for Karnataka, too

There's presently a lot of nataka in Karnataka. Long story short, BJP's short of full majority, Congress-JD(S) have joined together and cross the halfway mark, and there are 3 other independents who align one way or the other. The Governor, in his non-popular-by-some wisdom, has allowed the BJP to form government, with 15 days to pass a floor test. So, there's a swearing in of a Chief Minister with no government or cabinet, who practically doesn't have visible MLAs to get on his side except ones he can poach. All of this while we sit here in shock or amusement watching our beloved politicians take for this great rollercoaster ride.

With the hope of making things better, there are voices for and against the present situation with various arguments why it is right, wrong, ethical or immoral. But there's one voice that's the most hypocritical of all: yours (if you're registered on an electoral roll somewhere in Karnataka and you didn't vote unless it was completely unavoidable not to). If you did vote, or could but didn't for a reason that makes sense, all you will read now on directly addresses you (unless you're a part for the exception).

Most voting in India happens through one, loyalty (one party for life), two, driving away strategy (temporarily to keep away the more evil candidate) or, three, being experimentative (going for the party candidates based on their credit, not because they're evil, less evil or more evil, but just offer better hope and action). Wherever you are in that order, you're a more conscious, thinking voter, the lower you stand-one being the highest and three being the lowest.

The simpler way of looking at it is whether you voted for the candidate or the party. If you voted for the party, you're high, and if for the candidate, low, with the analysis the same. If you disagree, let me educate you on voting and its context. You are a citizen of a country and are given the opportunity of representation so that when matters of everything adding you are decided, your voice is heard and you are benefitted with a resultant happy life. This also includes actual action for the better, apart from voice.

Now, if you don't step in to attempt to decide who will have that voice, and responsiblity to act, someone else will and the one who does may not do a great job. This means all the great things you want to do may not ever happen because you have a shitty representative because you didn't attempt to ensure it. This is what also happens to all the good things you could do but never figured that it was possible.

This (independent) process culminates into what every other person like you thinks all over the state, or country, and a majority government is decided. That way more people get the government they want, with the hope that the government understands that it serves the whole nation. It is up to it to not to screw up at keeping the balance, and just keeping its supporters happy. They will get their vengeance the next time polls are due. 

Of course the system isn't perfect. It's just basic. Being first-past-the-post, it asks that any candidate just polls enough to be highest. So the least credit you can have a representative is that only 50% of your constitutency want you to be their voice and action. That shouldn't be read as at least 50%. This leaves the other 50% luckless, instead of being democratically empowered.

One way candidates and parties can make up for this system is to be equally advantageous to all their constituents, instead of trumping their majority vote like 5 year olds who just won a race for the first time ever. That means parties and candidates have to have offer a balanced stance of what they stand for and will aim to achieve, without isolating any one of the groups of people the country has. They can also have something for everyone. The best approach is to keep it simple and consider everyone like human beings that needs all things everyone does, leaving religious, community and other biases aside. 

Criticism and weaknesses apart, the idea is to build it ground up: individual votes, individual constitutency winner and, then, government. You make things worse when you subvert this and employ a backwards process i.e. when prospective government engineers itself to power by seeking the votes that should be given basis candidate through a blanket vote for the party. This makes the candidate just a means and his promises literally shit. That's why if you voted for a party, and not a candidate at the same time, you are to blame. If you stuck to voting for a candidate, and not the party, you are probably less to blame for the mess that Karnataka is in right now. You bought in to the conspiracy that your favourite party hatched to come to power. If you're willingly a part of it, you're equally culpable-while you exercise your fundamental rights. When you celebrate these victories, you have more to lose as your beloved party and MLA has started spinning their own agenda, as planned. 

If you really want to fairly extract the best from the democratic process, make your party earn your vote, like really earn it. Push them to their limits. Get them to the edge of delivering for the right reasons. If their power becomes less then your power, vote different ways each election, intentionally. Use NOTA and shame candidates with a majority of NOTAs. Question them and their chamchas. Form alternative forums and movements. Just don't stoop lower than your respect. And do all this enmasse. They don't care about you, for most. By 'fan'ning them, you only dig the hole they're digging for you deeper.

Don't be an idiot. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

To vote, not to vote, and how you can vote effectively

It's election time in Karnataka on the 12th of May. It's been raining political tourists, grand speeches, grander accusations and tons of mudslinging. The atmosphere can be vitiating to a simple, sincere, honest voter's spirit (which there aren't many of these days). You usually find the ones who are annoyingly over-bearing or innocently pre-decided. They either shove their opinions down your throat or are inane about any discussion about who the best candidate is, apart from their committed usual party. 
For those who are conscientious voters, it is a struggle during every election. The options they have in candidates don't help them either. It's never a complete picture with any one. What one lacks in wisdom another makes up for in opportunism. Lots of questions pop up in their minds. They don't want to waste a vote, nor do they want to compain later. When balancing these options, it helps to understand what your vote could stand for. 
There are certain predominant ideas that people have about voting. 
Don't vote for a party "that won't win": By this logic, what does make a party win unless you vote for it? They mean don't vote for a non-mainstream, or new, party (that probably won't win) because it will just divide the vote and make it difficult to form and run government. But is choosing a stable government over the government you want opting for the larger or lesser evil?
There's also the case of a possible reelection, in case of a hung result, being unnecessarily costing and avoidable. If that was our primary premise to vote, democratic representation should have nominal importance and zero impact on we live our lives after. If the boat was never tipped and needs to be tipped, the concept just won't float-unless the government had always been amazing.
If you do vote for a non-mainstream alternative, you are doing a number of things: providing them with initial support to keep at it (if they lose) or getting a representative that will put a check to things better (if they win).
Are you voting for a party or a candidate?: The entire system is built on the bottom up logic. You vote for the candidate first, and then the party wins added up may or may not make the party win. It isn't backwards: Vote for the party through the candidate so that the party wins.
When you vote for a party, the candidate and their work has less merit. When you vote for an individual, he needs to have merit. Candidate prominence will make him so. True, a party's view is the candidate's ideal. But if you want to see a better five years, a candidate approach is your go to.   
Vote for voice, action or both?: Depending on the election your voting in, your candidate will standing to become an MP/MLA or a Councillor/Panchayat member. The former is more voice, less action. The latter is the opposite. They all have different responsibilities the way the system is constructed, but all of them can be held responsible for your constituency's plight to at least some extent each.
Outside the constituency, their voice, approval and votes design policies and laws, the understated, important benefit of voting.
Good policy can build, bad policy destroy and better policy advance a state. This where ideology kicks in. It could be that you  want to vote for someone who does/had done good work but you can't trust their ideas of what economy and society should be. What will be more dangerous time will tell, and you can vote better next time.  
Use your voice to vote now or hold your peace forever: There is some truth in this. India doesn't yet allow recalling candidates, so a mistake now will remain a mistake for five years. A "Go and vote" that's filled with concern becomes a "But you only voted" as an excuse if the candidate turns out to be bad. Democracy doesn't end at the ballot. In your own capacity, and within your own time allowances, you should speak our or act to change what your representative may not be doing. If you cannot, it's alright, but you can try to be aware of the status of action. Communication (letters, emails, social media), forums (online and offline), civic  groups help you do that. 
If you don't vote, you don't have the right to speak up: I'll go out on a limb and say this is half true too. The half that is that you may not have to speak up, if you did vote. The half that isn't is that it's your tax money that pays their bills through many means. You deserve to be given an answer and know. It actually costs you less than you think if you are a reluctant voter, or a non-voter. 
Disillusionment with politics is an understandable thing, but it only distances you away from being happier in the larger society you live in, unfortunately. The choice, eventually, is yours. Engage at your own pace, but engage. More than anything, it is a necessary evil.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sign here, please, before you run and politic (1)

(Topic: Politics)

Society isn't free. There's always a catch. While you don't pay to get in, you pay as you indulge (cue most of social media). Your entry's marked with a baby fingerprint, and by that you've consented to all terms and conditions that came along with it. Every one. Now don't go asking where this record is, but it's somewhere. By the time you've figured this out, you're locked in and you can't get out, but it isn't as bad as it sounds.

What we've consented to is far from the life were living today. That's because no one's read the terms and conditions, ever. We were thrust in clueless and we just made do. "Let's stop life till we understand it", said no human ever. All of the structures we function within were all made on the go. And when we figure that out, they've usually overstayed their usefulness. The only reason they're still here is because, for some reason, the older generation makes more decisions than the younger ones. Let's understand the fine print were missing in our idea of politics today.

The Genesis

Politics is a habit as old as time, starting since men and women gathered and started living in communities, and it has only gotten better since. It's everywhere—in relationships, communities, organizations, families and every other place where there are two or more people. Soon enough, it becomes second nature-so much that we barely recognize what we're doing when at it.

Why would we? We've been normalized to it, by design, from when we could ever sense anything remotely meaningful. It just didn't have a name in our minds. With our inknowleged (baby) fingerprint on a dotted line, we've been inducted into this strange behaviour, and, it seems like, that we haven't even tried to adapt to it for centuries. Not once have we cared to read the fine or main print. Instead, we abuse it with ignorance, even when it catches us unawares.

With all the chaos that has come from our blind strategy, it is high time we start paying attention to the print, both fine and glaring. We're practically shooting in the dark when we seek any peace and order through it.

There is a science to the phenomena. It always has to do with some form of deprivation. Mother-in-laws feel (arguably) deprived of anything between power, control and authority. Company bosses feel deprived of being anywhere from the one with enough spotlight on them to having their egos massaged as much as they want. Communities feel attacked, sometimes because the changes around put them in defense mode (especially if they are smaller and/or less exposed ones).

When all these people, and more, can't get what they're after, they adopt tactics to ensure that they will, since simply asking is no more a solution. Other times (the way they perceive it), it's bad enough that they have to ask at all. It's an all out battle of pride first, among other things. Whatever the guise, people band together when they have a cause to and give it a shape and a name—resident welfare associations, unions, industry associations, ideology and culture groups/clubs, Facebook groups etc., while some are one person armies (who sometimes can put a whole group to shame).

Most of us don't understand why we practice the specific politics we do. It's a response that is overwhelming to us as we practice it and, in ages of humanity, we have never stopped to think or analyse why. When we rarely do understand and practice it, it's far more rationalised, reasonable and sane.

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