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Identifying the Enemy

Who is the enemy ? Is it a person ?

Take the case of Shri Anwar Sheikh, he was brought up under the influence of islamic ideology. Inculcated with jihadi ideas, he was dangerous to other human beings who did not follow that ideology. In his youth he killed three persons in the name of islam.

Later his ideas changed, he came to question the ideology of islam, renounced it and became its critic.

It was not Anwar Sheikh the person per se that was dangerous in his early youth. It was the ideas that influenced him that made him dangerous. Anwar Sheikh of later years was a safer human being because he was not under the influence of harmful islamic ideas.

Similar case in point is that of Maharshi Valmiki who wrote Ramayana. In his youth, Ratnakara was dangerous to other humans because he believed that he is justified in robbing other people to support his family. Later he changed his views and as Maharshi Valmiki was immensely beneficial to humanity.

It is therefore the ideas that motivates and influences a person that are important, in terms of his/her effect on society, more important than the person himself.

Ideologies

Islam talks about peace and brotherhood, in Dar-Ul-Islam. Christianity claims to propagate ‘love of God’. Communism talks about ‘equality and upliftment of masses’, Capitalism talks about ‘free market, development and prosperity’.

Yet these very ideologies have been used as excuses to cause deaths of millions of people during the past two millenniums. Killing kaffirs because Allah ordained so. Killing pagans because God willed so. Killing class enemies to bring about revolution for an egalitarian state. Killing the native americans, indians and africans to free the markets and natural resources from control of primitive barbarian tribes; of late, killing vietnamese, iraqis and afghanis to bring them democracy, to civilize them.

Is it that these purported ideologies are dangerous ?

Yet, it is also fact that every muslim is not bloodthirsty towards kaffir. Every christian does not seek to kill pagans. Every communist does not call for killing class enemy. Every capitalist does not seek to usurp money and resources of others.

Therefore it is not ideology per se that is dangerous, it is the motivation that is behind which determines harmfulness or otherwise.

Motivation

What is the motivation that is behind the deaths of millions of people during past two millenniums ?

The common feature of all these killings is the motivation to expand what is considered self-interest, where self is considered in a very narrow sense identified with physical body.

A person who is indoctrinated to consider that Allah will reward him both in terrestrial life and thereafter if he kills kaffirs, is motivated to do so, in the process extending the influence of a select group of people who may be considered high priests of that ideology. Similarly, person misled to consider that he should make pagans owe allegience to an almighty entity called God, else kill them in order to gain the pleasure of that entity, is motivated to do so, again empowering and extending the influence of the group of people considered high priests of that ideology. Equally, a person brainwashed to identify himself as part of a ‘class’ and to consider others who are not part of his class as class enemies, who are to be killed off for betterment of his condition, is motivated to do the killing, in the process expanding the power and influence of a narrow group of people who are considered high priests or politburo. Likewise, person indoctrinated in a consuming culture considers the rest of creation as objects for his consumption and goes about ravaging the earth and killing people who are in the way, again, in the process expanding the power and influence of a group who are considered capital owners, who funds the endeavour.

The motivating factor that causes the killings is the selfish intent of the foot soldiers and the self-aggrandizing intent of the high priests. The ideology is mere excuse.

That is why the killings never stop even if catholic christianity is replaced by protestent christianity, even if christianity is replaced by islam, even if sunni islam is replaced by shia islam, even if christianity and islam are displaced by capitalism or atheism, even if capitalism and atheism are displaced by nazism or fascism, even if capitalism and nazism are displaced by communism, even if marxism is displaced by maoism.

The different ideologies are different branches of the same tree of self-aggrandizement that draw sustenance through roots of selfish-interest.

This tree, due to its inherent nature, seek to draw the entire nourishment from the soil, leaving it barren, seek to stifle and destroy other trees around it. Each of its branches and sub branches exhibit its inherent characteristic of strife, seeking to dominate and destroy one another.

This tree grew from the seed of narrow self-interest that identify physical body as primary and everything else in relation to the body. This narrow self-identification causes the urge to seek to expand and displace others as means to compensate the resulting feeling of constriction and inadequacy.

It is therefore not the person, nor his purported ideology that is the cause of harm, it is the mindset that limit a person’s identity to physical body and consequently seek the crutch of an idea called God/ Allah/ Yahweh/ class-struggle/ socialism/ free-market/ democracy/ freedom/ secularism/ atheism/ nationalism/ racism/ development/ modernism/ globalization/ civlizing or any other such idea to alleviate the pain caused due to their own constriction of sense of self, and seek collaboration with the like-minded to bring other people under their control.

The attachment with the physical- kama, and the consequent inadequacy/insecurity generated agitation- krodha, drives the person to cause harm, like cancer cells, to the body of earth- vasudha; displacing, destroying, devouring other human beings, animals, plants, birds and Nature itself, extending their urge for voracious consumption, turning other beings coming under their influence into rapacious replicas of themselves.

According of primacy to the physical makes science of western origin come up with theories of ‘struggle for survival’ and ‘survival of the fittest’ as defining of life, thereby deprive western science and the societies influenced by it, of spiritual, intellectual and moral direction.

bharatiya samskriti

bharatiya samskriti, on the other hand, consider the entire world as family- vasudhaiva kutumbakam and consequently inspire people to grow together amicably, co-operatively, respecting each other, giving primacy to dharma– that which sustains. It guide people to consider themselves as atman and the physical body like a cloth that is discarded when it becomes old. bharatiya samskriti also inspire people to seek and realize themselves as the supreme, brahma.

Solely identifying with physical body, attaching to it and launching self-aggrandizement drive at the cost of others, is recognized as adharma, that which diminishes, and therefore, discouraged by bharatiya samskriti. People who indulge in such behavior are considered mleccha and shunned.

India Today

bhAratam came under mleccha rule intermittently during the past millennium. The effect of this on society is palpable. The mleccha coined word ‘hindu’ has been accepted as suitable identifier for themselves by many people, despite it being only an indicator of geographical identity. The mleccha attitude of considering physical body as primary identifier has been extended to mis-identify bharatiya samskriti as limited in physical-geographical terms defined by the word ‘hindu’. By identifying with the spiritually, intellectually and morally empty word ‘hindu’, people have been cut off from spiritual and moral intelligence. The effect of this is seen in the way society reacted to the burning to death of 58 ‘hindus’ in a train by a muslim mob in 2001 at Godhra, to the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda and his disciples by christians and maoists at Kandhmal in 2008 and to the bomb blasts carried out by muslims in Mumbai in 1993. The society that is supine to everyday adharma, in the form of corruption in bureacracy, in political and business field, in academe, in fact in virtually every sphere of life, reacted to these incidents, because the victims were identified as fellow ‘hindus’. This shows that the society has come to raise its voice, not to uphold dharma, but only to ensure physical safety of people considered their own. This rajasic reaction, though an improvement over tamasic passivity towards everyday adharma, is nevertheless irrational, largely mis-directed and does not provide long term solution. The mis-identification with the physical, imbibed from mleccha rulers of past, makes society blind and deaf to spiritual, intellectual, moral corruption that is fast degenerating it. This is evident from the way some ‘hindus’ attempted to justify/defend Rajasekara a.k.a Swami Nithyananda who had sexual relations with disciples; like Dhritarashtra of Hastinapuri, blind to adharma committed by kin.

Solution

Spreading the bharatiya samskriti, that considers every being of the world as family, that considers the self not merely limited to physical body nor in time, but as imperishable atman and capable of realizing brahma, the samskriti that considers both the male and the female as equally respect-worthy and essential, integral part of creation, that inspires people to see beyond the physical, beyond words- beyond nama-rupa, and discern the essence ; spreading this samskriti is essential to bring harmony and balance to world. Real peace-love-equality-freedom will result only when that happens.

Meanwhile see beyond appearances, beyond the facade, beyond the name, beyond words, beyond ‘religion’, beyond the purported ideology, beyond the apparent actions and see the atman behind the body, the motivation that drives the person. Does the person seek to discern dharma and uphold it like Sri Rama did, or does s/he identify with physical body and seek to self-aggrandize, like Ravana (who was very accomplished and staunch devotee of Shiva), more concerned with kith and kin, ‘achievements’, ‘ideology’, legacy, good name, than dharma ?

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There is a perceptible rise in public awareness regarding spiritual matters. The rise in communication mediums, primarily internet, have contributed to that.
Concurrently, communication mediums, notably Television, Magazines, even Newspapers have also contributed to spread of manipulated information to serve commercial interests.

Nevertheless, the urge to seek and realize truths of life is on the rise among the people all over the world. While this causes many people to examine their belief systems and seek deeper truths and meaning in their life, many others are also prompted to go beyond their conditioned belief systems and seek truths in other sources. Such endeavours are resulting in increase in adherents towards diverse belief systems and practices such as yoga, Nature reverence, gnosticism, pre-christian native indigenous belief systems of Americas, Europe, etc.

Such rise in consciousness influences the wider public in like manner. Sustained rise in such explorations may provide a counter to the consumerist consciousness that prevails human society today.

Such rise and fall of higher consciousness among public may also be cyclic in nature. Somewhat similar to the change of seasons.

Like the rains providing nourishment to growth in Nature, rise of spiritual consciousness nourishes spiritual growth.

Similar to the rain water that runs off, and is lost if not harvested and stored, the spiritual realizations that occur during the times of rise in spiritual consciousness need to be stored in clean protected manner for subsequent use in times of lesser abundance.

As in the case of natural springs that provide water throughout the year, some places, kshetra, are perennial sources of spiritual inspiration and often become centres of pilgrimage.
Just as the capacity of a spring to supprt large populations is limited, depending on its size, and may need to be augmented by rainwater harvesting, the spiritual inspiration provided by such kshetra need to be supplanted by preservng spiritual realizations experienced during times of abundance for later use.

Just as in water harvesting it is important to ensure that the containers used are clean, and protected from pollutants, similarly, it is important to ensure that the mediums used for preservation and dissemination of spiritual truths are clean themselves and protected from ingress of pollutants.

The vedas have been such containers of adhyatmika jnana filled by numerous unknown rishis millenniums ago, that has stood the test of time providing pure spiritual wisdom to thirsty seekers and inspiring them towards realization. The precise manner in which the vedas were formed and transmitted ensured that their spiritual wisdom were preserved and remained unpolluted. puranas, shastras and other texts of bharatiya samskriti also served similar purpose. One common feature to all these texts is that it is the message of the texts that is of paramount importance over the period of occurence, location or even the author himself. So much so that, in the case of the most important of all texts- vedas, the rishis who originally realized the vedas remain unknown.

The puranas stress on the underlying dharmika, adhyatmika jnana transcending limitations of time, locality and authorship. Even the personalities portrayed in the puranas are superceded by the principles and values that they uphold. Thus it is righteousness- dharma, that governs actions of Sri Rama in Ramayana. Mahabharata, through gita, encourage transcending of personal identities and advocate action for actualisation of karma without concerning about results.

This independence from limitations of personalities, authorship, location and period helps preserve adhyatmika jnana in bharatiya samskriti perennial and pure, like water stored in sterile containers protected from contaminants even though handed over through generations.

This aspect is absent in many other cultures, that have suffered as a result, where either the water-
(a) was not stored well in times of plentitude- spiritual wisdom was not handed down to subsequent generations in intact manner that could sustain for long,
or
(b) was contaminated by personal touch- personality/ies dominated/superceded the message,
or
(c) fixated in locality and thus became inaccessible- limited to geographical area,
or
(d) was exposed to the elements at one time that made it stale- got associated with a period of time, enmeshed in the customs of that time, and thus became dated.
or
(e) was wasted by the careless- destroyed/distorted by materialistic aggrandizers.

In times of spiritual plentitude the received wisdom need to be retained and preserved well to tide over the inevitable times of scarcity as well as to give direction to future generations.

The unknown rishis of yore have shown the way, creating the vedas and developing a samskriti that acts as a container to protect and preserve the spiritual wisdom received through generations, quenching the spiritual thirst of millions through millenniums.

Preserving of this samskriti, its adhyatmika content, and augmenting its harvested wisdom during times of availability without contaminating, are the responsibility of contemporary inheritors of bharatiya samskriti.


Legalization of Prostitution in India

A decision whether or not to legalize organized prostitution in India can be arrived at in one or a combination of the following four ways.

One- Majority Decision. Seek majority opinion of the people. Through referendum involving the entire population. Taking the opinion of the people’s representatives is an option. However, this issue not having been discussed at the time of elections, the opinion of the current representatives may not be fully representative of that of the people.

Two- Based on anticipated advantage. Analyze empirical data from societies across the world where prostitution is legalized to find out whether such a step provided benefit for society, government and to the prostitutes.

Three- Based on ethics. Answering the question- “Is this the correct move ?”
This question demands application of mind and serious thinking unlike in the case of parsing of data or punching of personal preference in voting machine.

Four- Based on the fundamental purpose of life. Does it help achieve it.
The fundamental purpose of life needs to be clear in this case. That is for the society to arrive at, collectively.

The first option is the most easy. The advantage is that it absolves everybody from responsibility for the decision, including the people themselves.

The second option needs to also analyze the applicability in India of systems prevalent in those societies from where the data is sourced, considering the differences between the two societies, particularly the size of the nation and demographics, in addition to diversity in culture and extant belief systems. Forceful implementation of policies that may be incompatible with societal characteristics, as sometimes done in communist and other such autocratic states, is neither endearing nor enduring.

The third option demands the society to be more responsible, more accountable towards all its constituents. It demands an outlook going beyond narrow identification with individual self and understanding the interrelationship between all constituents of the society including Nature in which it functions. It also calls for comprehending the effect of current decisons on the shaping of society and subsequent generations.

The fourth option requires the society to be evolved, to understand itself comprehensively, which would give it sense of direction regarding its purpose in relation to that of the entire creation. bharatiya samaj was knowledgeable in this aspect at one time.

Legalization means accepting prostitution as a legally supported profession. The following issues need to be considered while taking the decision.

Objectification

First is the question whether prostitution can be considered a profession at all, in the sense that a profession provides an avenue for livelihood while also developing the personality of the person, giving him/her a sense of responsibility, direction and control over life, self-esteem and dignity.

There is a viewpoint that prostitution is like any service industry where customers pay to get satisfaction.
That maybe so in few cases of call girls known as escorts.
However, a large number of prostitutes are brought into the field through abduction, coercion, trafficking and/or due to poverty and unemployment. While many adjust to that way of life under duress, many others may wish for a different way of life.
Majority of these prostitutes get their visitors from among daily wagers, labourers, drivers and other lowly paid professions. In may of the cases what these visitors seek is sexual release, at the end of a hard day wherein they worked like automations, rather than any demonstration of ‘professional’ skills by the prostitute.

Even in the case of more affluent customers, often the driving need is sexual satiation and what they seek is an object, one that titilates senses.

This ‘objectification’ is central to prostitution.
It dehumanises, and thus prevents prostitution from making the grade as a profession.

Involved Decision

The second point is a question- are the people who recommend legalization doing so from a detached standpoint, like they are in an insulated sterile environment from where they observe and decide upon the fate of the prostitutes and their visitors ?

Do those who advocate legalization include wives, who are not averse to having their husbands avail of the services of a ‘legalized’ prostitute when she is not able to perform due to pregnancy or illness or old age ?
Do the husbands among them approve if their wives enjoy the services of a legalized gigolo on occasions when he is too tired to perform ?
Are these people comfortable with one or both of their parents visiting ‘legal’ prostitutes ?
Will they allow their sons and daughters to avail of such ‘legalized’ services once in a while to satiate libido? What if their sons-in-law and daughters-in-law want to avail of such services ? What about their grandchildren ?
What if some of their close relation want to enter into the ‘legalized profession’ for lucrative reasons, will they be happy with it ? Is that the kind of society that they would like to live in ?

Theoretically some may answer affirmative to the above. But when reality strikes, it is likely to be quite unpalatable, even revolting, for most.

Humanity

The third point is about equating the prevalence of unlawful prostitution with bootlegging and gold smuggling that occured when liquor was prohibited and import of gold restricted in the past and the subsequent expoitation of the situation by organized gangs.

This equating is flawed because unlike liquor and gold, it is human beings that are involved in prostitution. Point being that, while liquor is distilled from materials and gold is dug from the ground, prostitutes are sourced from a broken family or by breaking a family.
While a prostitute may financially support some of her parents and siblings, she will be denied a family of her own because very few people are willing to have their spouses working as prostitutes.
Moreover, if the case is that a woman has to prostitute herself to support her family, it shows a failure on part of the society and the government for not providing avenue for employment. Legalizing prostitution does not provide escape route for society and government from that responsibility.

Self-Esteem

The fourth point is that the prostitute often has to perform acts that she is not comfortable with, for the sake of continued employment. So s/he conditions herself into acting in ways that violate her sense of self and erodes self-esteem on a regular basis. Approving prostitution means that a portion of society is condemned to live with deficient self-esteem perennially. This is not comparable to job-dissatisfaction experienced in other fields, it touches the core of the person.

Employment in certain jobs such as toilet cleaning, cannot be compared with prostitution because there are enough tools available that removes the need of personal contact.
Besides, the premise of the comparison itself is flawed because, in personal life every person cleans him/herself on daily basis to ensure hygiene, but does not clean another person unless that person is an invalid or a child. In which case again there are ways in which direct personal contact is avoided where necessary. Moreover, such acts are invariably reciprocated to the doer in times of need.

Equivalent to prostitution would be the daily cleaning by one person, of many others, who are quite capable of taking care of themselves, through direct personal contact often going beyond mere cleaning, without any reciprocation by those others.

The comparison is further flawed because sewage removal is an invaluable service that benefits the entire society whereas prostitution caters to indulge the personal whims of a selfish-minded few invariably at a cost to their own families and that of the prostitute.

Child-Prostitution

The fifth point is that, despite organized prostitution being illegal currently, brothels run, trafficking goes on, exploitation occurs and child-prostitution thrives.
Legalizing of prostitution will form more avenues for bringing in under-age teens into prostitution by way of forging age-proof certificates.

Setting Precedent

The sixth point is that inability to curb harmful behaviour is not acceptable justification to propose for legalization of the behaviour. When government or law enforcement agencies give such excuse, they declare their incompetence, which has potential to set detrimental precedent. It also reveals irresponsibility towards duty. Further, such attempt to legalize the illegal portent willingness to prostitute legal conscience.

On a similar note, the deterioration of human values, apart from the obvious adverse effect on health, associated with liquor consumption and use of tobacco is well known. Sustained use of both affects the human being, his family, the society as well as future generations.
However, because its effect is more subtle and over a longer period than drug addiction, the government that approves its sale escapes accountabilty. The ostensible reason for the approval given is the apparent inability of law enforcement agencies to curb sale of spurious liquor which leads to deaths of consumers. However actual reasons may also include the profit margins that liquor barons enjoy, which they may willingly share with interested helpful persons in power, apart from the accrual to treasury through taxes. These liquor barons may also arrange for certain deaths through spurious liquor to provide timely helpful reasons to initiate removal of prohibition.

Societal Responsibility

The excuse of incompetence in law enforcement throws up questions regarding other ills in society such as child labour, which is prevalent despite being illegal. According to statistics released by the government, available for the year 2001, there were some 1.26 crore child labourers in India in the age group 5-14 years. That number alone is more than the total strength of the entire armed forces troops of China, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka combined, including the reserve. It is more than the entire population of Israel and Switzerland combined. Other agencies puts the figure much higher. This figure however does not include the large number of children who are employed as domestic help in households, restaurants and tea shops- employments that were notified as child labour only in 2006, and those employed in begging in the streets.

A parallel exists between the difference between a child actor working on movies/advertisements with a child employed as domestic help in a household/ restauraunt/begging in streets, and the difference in employment of a call girl with that of a street prostitute.
While employment of children in movies and advertisements seems to have been silently approved by the society, much like in the case of high end escort services, legalizing of prostitution, like employment of children as domestic help in households, restaurants or begging in streets, is untenable.

Society has an obligation to provide children with education opportunities and avenues for developing their personality. Similarly, society has an obligation to provide prostitutes with employment opportunities that develop self-esteem, dignity and provide a family life.

Alternatives

There are a few other ways in which society and government can approach the issue of prostitution.

1. Generation of alternate employment opportunities for prostitutes. Society and government, both are responsible for this. Many NGOs are already working towards this goal.

2. Improving of working conditions of the daily wagers, labourers, who work much like automations throughout the day on uninspiring jobs, that drives them to seek temporary release in the evening in the sexual act or in liquor-generated stupor. This is also a major responsibility of both government and society. It can be partly met by distributing employment opportunities across the country equitably which will remove the necessity for migration to city and separation from families. This will entail the shifting of driving motivation of governments from capitalistic expansionism to long term benefit of society. Focussing on promoting agriculture and cottage industry, instead of being fixated on the lucrative IT/ manufacturing industry related SEZs, is another way that may help reduce farmer suicides as well as provide employment to labourers.

3. Inculcating values in society, in the younger generations, to see themselves not as evolving animals, but correctly as spiritual beings. Let them understand that their anscestors were the sages who created the vedas, who realized themselves as brahma, who considered vasudaiva kutumbakam and sought shanti in all the worlds; not monkeys.
Let them understand that their heritage is not of animal behaviour, but of spiritual realization. That may help a different perspective towards living.

Conclusion

Each individual and the society that s/he forms part of is a composite whole. Both affects the other. If some people are considered as objects for sexual satiation of some others, it fundamentally affects the character of the society and shapes subsequent generations. Societal approval for such behaviour have serious repercussions.

*****

Post Script

Netherlands legalized commercial organisation of voluntary adult prostitution on 01 October 2000, with the aim of freeing prostitution from criminal elements, tackle exploitation, trafficking and other undesirable forms of prostitution.

Recent developments after 8 years of the legalization: –

Half of Amsterdam’s prostitute windows must be closed to save Europe’s most tolerant city from criminal gangs and an excess of sleaze, the mayor has told The Times.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5400641.ece

Eindhoven’s designated sex work zone is due to close by 2011. Amsterdam and other Dutch cities are slowly shutting down their red light districts, but Eindhoven is unusual in pioneering material incentives to tempt women into thinking about an economic alternative to prostitution.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/whore-miles-plan-for-dutch-prostitutes-who-behave-952479.html

In Iceland this year(2009)-

A new law makes purchase of sex illegal in Iceland.
Before this change in legislation, selling and buying sexual services was legal in Iceland.
Iceland is the third country to outlaw the purchase of prostitution. Sweden was the first country to ban the buying of sex in 1999 and Norway followed suit earlier this year. In Finland, a ban on purchasing sexual services from victims of human trafficking was introduced in 2007.
Opinion polls have shown that up to 70% of the population supports banning the purchase of sexual services.

http://www.jafnretti.is/jafnretti/?D10cID=ReadNews&ID=523

Update: Smt Sunitha Krishnan, anti-trafficking crusader, gives a talk on TED. She has also blogged on the issue of legalising prostitution http://sunithakrishnan.blogspot.com/2009/12/should-prostitution-be-legalised-should.html

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