a.nihil

the smallest triviality can become the vision that wipes out the world.

Since the start of the Covid pandemic, the Indian government's missives contained a large number of war imagery. Doctors and other essential workers became “Covid warriors” and the Indian government embarked on a War on Covid, vaccines became “weapons to defeat the virus” and the virus itself is an “invisible enemy” which the government is fighting on a “war footing”.

The BJP government's fascination for war and war imagery is well documented, first there was the “war on black money” rhetoric used during the enfeebling demonetization, then came “the surgical strikes”, “war-like fortifications” to protect Delhi against protesting farmers. There is almost a perverse affliction with war with the current regime, as it amplifies the power they have over the people without actually having to do nothing. It also satiates its core voter base and the outliers as it shows that the country is finally doing something, war is not a state of inaction but extreme kinesis, it creates an illusion of progress where no progress exists.

Golwalkar, widely regarded as the ideological architect of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh drew inspiration for the Hindu-state from Italian fascism, specifically Mussolini’s organization of fascist paramilitary forces. In comparing the supremacy of Hindus in India to the supremacy of the Aryan race in Hitler’s Germany, Golwalkar wrote, “To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging of the country of the Semitic races— the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here .. a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

These ideological roots have permeated into the national discourse where war is used as a euphemism to quell any public backlash. Want to question the government over the vaccine policy? We are in an unofficial state of war, we shouldn't expend energy on finger-pointing right now. The state of war is an excuse to collectivize losses while any good news is because and only because of the Dear Leader, whose kindness brings glory to us Indian people. The Dear Leader is at the same time a master strategist, a shrewd politician, and a saintlike figure. Case in point is the length of his beard which seems to exude an idea of statesmanship without anything concrete to show for it.

War imagery also eliminates any nuance that is required in complex problem-solving. It replaces meticulousness with loud bangs, which becomes rhetoric in itself. By playing the “war” card, the BJP further strengthens its brute force persona popularized by the Uri and Balakot attacks in the past years. It is a reflection of the violence-obsessed society we have become, wherein the fight against real violence we infer imagined massacres. The causalities of this war imagery are however real. It is the people of India, whose orphaned bodies burned to ashes in overworked cemeteries and clogged the Ganga. The government's apathy is visible in the statistical PR exercises it does to save face, not to mention its poor war-waging ability as visible from the haircuts it took with the Chinese confrontation in Eastern Ladakh last year.

The war imagery is a distraction from the larger problem facing India, poor public infrastructure, and a middle-class governmental perspective that views and treats its large swathes of poor sections through its elitist lens and religious nationalism. War imagery is a sign of societal decay – one which relegates intellectual operations to a lower class of thought systems, where being loud is smarter than being smart itself.

#RSS #BJP #India #war #covid

An Idea of India

The news filtering from India leaves me hopeless for a country that I am confused to call mine. Having not lived in India in the last three years, each passing day the country goes farther away from the place of imaginations and dreams. I can understand that this physical untangling with a home country can create a dissonance between perception and reality. When I was in India I experienced the place through my eyes and the media reports acted as an accompaniment to refract experiences through.

Now, living in a country thousands of kilometers away one is left with chaotic tweets and servile media to base one's idea of the country upon, without the tangible element to infer the veracity of information. The internet spaces are polarized by the ruling right and the ever warring Left, with a heavy mix of pseudoscience and the general lackadaisical anything goes attitude that is in political vogue at the moment. Official sources of information have become the “battlefields” of misinformation, a place to use mind-numbing statistical exercises to always show India as the best, the largest and the greatest in the world. It does seem in the past years there has not been a single government initiative that cannot be described by a haloed superlative.

This is not the India I remember, where I had access to books and information that encouraged me to pursue knowledge and ask questions. The issues of superstition and blind religiosity were always around in the family but never overflowing at the cost of education. Now science has been politicized as an object of the West and whatever “Indian culture” is supposed to mean has taken center stage. Family whatsapp forwards are filled with recipes for various Ayurvedic potions and concoctions that are supposed to keep Covid at bay. This is a reflection of a macroscopic trend nationwide. No one questions their efficacy, otherwise wouldn't the rising caseload and deaths be already under control?

There has been a collective amnesia towards logic right in the upper echelons of power in the Indian government that has trickled down into the populace through propaganda and social engineering. Any slight against the dealing of the virus is a warring statement against the country itself, to question is to be unpatriotic, while being a nameless mass is encouraged as the greatest duty one can currently do as a citizen.

It is not ironic that the adherents to the BJP/RSS's idealogy are called bhakts (devotees), reason has been long transplanted with worship and the hard rigor of reasoning filled with the ease of blind faith. Why care to understand science when pseudoscience is much more accessible? The land that has enabled me to read and reason has now been replaced by one that demands silence. This thought system has now permeated across all sections of the Indian population and there is little prospects of things to change.

Countries morph all in character all the time and what is happening to India is an abject denigration that has frayed all the pride and character amassed in the past decades. India is shining, but in the bright flames of uncounted bodies and in the dull orb of a fascist reality whose future horrors I do not wish to imagine.

#India #Covid19 #RSS #fascism #BJP

Every sentence is composed of words that can go in their own tangents of knowledge. A simple search for “every”, “sentence”, “composed”...“knowledge” opens its own can of worms, again tangents of knowledge that build on the base of meanings we assign and know. To read or react in a conversation is composed of the selective suppression of these arcs of knowledge and generating meaning through a tunnel vision of absorption and translation.

It is similar to how we see, the world around is made of multiple components that each demand a life-time of inquiry into themselves. We do not wonder about the orange on the table or the technology that makes the screen come to life with what we do. The chairs we sit on, the skies we see and the houses that surround us all invite us with their temptation of meaning but we are limited in what we can react to.

When we interact with other humans the same process takes over, we see a face, we hear some words and we draw our assumptions. The depths that stare back at us when we look into the eyes of other people is quickly filled by their physical dimensions, the limits to our thought paints them into shiny boxes of fixed attributes, an art that we have even taught our computers in the classification of people. Simple definitions make us human, do we like cats? Do we like to sing and hike? Attributes, tastes, definitions all used as meshes to find a meaning, our soul an intersection of infinitesimal tangents off the globs of knowledge. This gives a shape-shifting narrative to the nature of truth as understood by us, absolute facts lie in the relative vantage of our minds.

As Proust's narrator wonders “And wasn't my mind also like another crib in the depths of which I felt I remained ensconced, even in order to watch what was happening outside?”, what we know of the outside world is a scratch of what can be defined. In the waxy darkness of closed eyes, meaning exists without words.

#life #knowledge

In our world there's little scope for expressing primitive thoughts. Violence has been relegated to fantastical role in popular culture, civility is the pretense of a working, conformist population. The way we eat and live are several imaginations away from our foraging, agrarian past. Our everyday actions are far removed from the jungles we've risen from, with very little that reminds us that we are nothing different than the other living beings that populate this planet.

Our replicating behavior however, has remained the same. Though the attitudes around sex have shape shifted far from their biological purpose, the act of creation still calls for the primal in-and-out between two people. To create a being out of nothingness, in the shape and form of oneself requires a deep sense self-love or the total ignorance of the all the inputs that make our outside world. This is the element of thoughtlessness that is embedded into the creation of new humans, we do not think of ourselves or the banality of our existence.

The procreation goes without comment, it is a desire we share with all living beings. As our languages become more sophisticated and our ways of expression complex, the ability to diffract our thoughts into the outside world take the shape of a thousand mirrors. To avoid this confusion of over quantification of thought, sex lies as the real communication tool to express the unexpressed, An act to take solace in a state of thoughtless deep passion for existing.

#sex #love #time

Do we ever know what it is to love? Love is one of those things that everyone has an opinion on but no-one can define. It is an abstraction we are made to believe, often confused with sex as we are product of one or both. Love is that sunny photograph embalmed in memory, always enshrining a fleeting moment of happiness to permanence.

Love seems to require a reflection outside ourselves, the ability to touch, feel and talk. To know that humans outside oneself can feel the same way as we do, come to the same conclusions or learn in seeing life through the same pair of eyes. But all this happens through the eyes of the singular lover, what appears to be shared is still an independent byproduct of one being. The haze of love confuses these connections, the independent overlaps the dependent, the effect overshadows the cause. Programmed to fetishize the imaginations of impossible love, we are caught in an oxytocin frenzy of emotion and legalese of commitment.

In moments of deep harmony where one is aware of their sense of loneliness, love manifests as an inverted mirage, a weekend bender on the finest grain alcohol. All languages, description, romance and actions are for the outside. The mind when alone does away with social conventions, seeing that it is after all an inconsequential being walking a negligible part of the universe. This realization is in a silence that no words can describe. In the vacuum of existence, love is that pale blue dot, improbable yet possible. Is this a source of hope or of claustrophobic detention? This meaning is lost to life.

#love #time #philosophy

Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and a few other influential global celebrities put out a tweet calling for attention to the farmers protesting against the New Farm Laws passed in India and the entire BJP/RSS/Indian government propaganda machine comes into power play mode, amplifying the government's POV. The government's statement released on the Ministry of External Affairs twitter handle stated that “facts have to ascertained” before making “sensationalist social media comments..especially when restored to by celebrities..is neither accurate nor responsible”.

One starts to wonder, why do the tweets of a private persons trigger the government of a sovereign nation? What is it that the government fears that simple pointing of a fact culminates in a full fledged propaganda campaign that is ironically hash-tagged #IndiaAgainstPropaganda?

The problem is that of image perception. In India it is easy to silence critics of the BJP government with paid trolls and TV journalists. Coordinated smear campaigns and plain old intimidation work, which makes it easier for the government to control the narrative. But with Rihanna's 100+ million twitter followers it is hard enforce control as it would prompt global scrutiny that the Modi government cannot bully or bulldoze over. The BJP government knows that the easiest way to get out of this soup is to play its favorite the nation is under attack card which has proven its potency in the past years. By making simple criticism an issue of National Security, the BJP government invokes both paranoia and patriotism to deflect the attention of its citizens while muzzling its critics.

Whether it is the near coup attempt in the United States or the actual coup in Myanmar, voicing out one's opinion is a matter collective responsibility that goes beyond the allegiance to a State. The BJP government behaves as if there is nothing that it does that warrants criticism. On paper and in propaganda BJP is the best thing that has happened to India, period. Anyone that criticizes any of its policies or political high-handedness is an anti-national, a comic insinuation when it was first used and now a very valid threat. India is not some kind of magical superpower where everything is hunky-dory, the mythos that the BJP sells is ignorant, egoistic dreaming, a political acid trip for the weak.

For now we found a small opening in BJP's self-inflated armor: relentless international criticism. For a government that is lauding itself to be atmanirbhar (self reliant) it definitely is behaving like a narcissistic lover needing a lot of external appreciation. The country is riled up and that the farmers who are protesting against corporatization of Indian agriculture are seen as terrorists, traitors and every other identifier except as farmers. The way to reverse the narrative for now is to put the focus back on them and deny the narcissist the positive attention they demand.

As for Rihanna, Cheers, I'll drink to that

#FarmersAreIndia #BJP #India #propaganda

Preamble

The 26th of January this year marks the 71st year of the Indian Constitution coming into existence, the longest written document of its kind in the world. For most Indians it is when ceremonial Republic Day Parade takes place on Rajpath before the President of India, showcasing the diversity of India's cultural and military heritage. The unfurling of the Indian flag signifies that the nation is already independent, followed by the President's speech to the nation.

All this tradition to mark that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens justice, equality and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity. Certain of these adjectives are losing meaning in today's New India, where a plutocratic, religious elite want to dominate the cultural and political futures of the country. Consider the word secular, a word that lacks little mention in the BJP's national conscience. In the past seven years, the word has been ridiculed by online trolls as being equivalent to pseudosecular, meaning that the laws of the country are biased towards minorities more than the Hindu majority. The initial occurrences were pushed away as a blip on the radar, now the Hindu mobs are in full force on the television and the internet, leading trails of hate, willing to distort opinions one comment at a time.

The BJP high brass are spiritually guiding the mobs by themselves actively dismantling the constitution that brought them to power. Last year Mr. Modi went to the ground-breaking ceremony of the controversial Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the leader of a democratic, secular nation sitting in a place that instituted bloody sectarian violence across the country for over three decades now. New laws brought into force also remind the minorities of their place in the country and there is the silent approval from most of the country as it pits Hindus vs. the Rest, giving potent, irrefutable political identity. To oppose against the policies of the BJP is to oppose Hinduism itself.

The word socialist, as safeguarded by the constitution is under fire as well. Though a bit archaic in a country that has embraced free market capitalism with open arms, there is a certain myopia in the country's rich and middle classes of not acknowledging the privileges they possess. The word leftist has taken the form of a slur, any discourse against the conservative elements takes on the polarization popularized by the Republicans in America. For the comfortably rich in India there is no poverty and inequality, there are only lazy people and imbeciles. This denial of the country's vast levels of poverty is further encouraged by the rosy pictures of development that Mr.Modi and his party love to portray. For the average urban voter, India is already on its way to become a superpower, if it isn't already one.

The past years have seen the pluralism of India that were once hailed in its textbooks to movies has waned away. The Hindu-Muslim bhai bhai ethos has almost completely vanished, it is confined to memory, with no-one daring to speak it out. It is important to own the idea of the nation back from the Hindu nationalists, a nation is an imagined entity where one has the virtue of belonging through birth or adoption. Each person is free to attribute the idea of the nation for an entity of their choosing, the nation could be the cuisine, the trees, the mountains or just the love of the home one is born in. It does not need to accumulate the gargantuan threats peddled by the politicians to keep themselves in power.

The Constitution of India that gives the country its democratic backbone is on the verge of total erosion in the next decades putting the lives of over a billion people at the risk of religious anarchy. As mechanisms of protest are being undermined and a complacent educated class are lulled into a comfortable jingoism advocated by the government, it is imperative that the idea of “what it is to be a nation” has to revised and re-owned by public intellectuals, academics, the Opposition and the general citizenry. The momentum that BJP amassed is on the back of the narrative it has managed to control in the past seven years, it is time to not answer the questions it asks but ask questions it has no answers for.

#India #Constitution #democracy #governance

Life happens in an anomalous interpretation of time where moments of bone-crushing slowness are spliced with the ones where time flies. The average perception lies in between, at times waiting for a year to end and at others wondering where all the years went by.

History tells us that our lifespans are blips on what has happened before us and what is to follow. Though during our lives we are presented with a highly important version of our selves, it does not take too much imagination to debunk this importance. Dead people are forgotten, their memories fade away and all that remains is a name on a gravestone or a mention in a family tree. Our final deaths happen when our identities are lost by all forms of history. With no-one to remember our face or utter our names, we are dead, forever. The greatness that we are programmed to achieve is nothing but a short-term preoccupation against the confusion of existence.

When confronted with the beauty and scale of the things we are surrounded by, the awareness merges with our sense of self that can be termed as a transcendental experience. In this experience we are in the center of the universe, becoming the universe itself. The self is stripped of identifiers only to return a moment later, consuming us till there is nothing left. We try to extricate from this consumptory chaos with a variety of distractions but there is no recourse from the little voice in our head that creates both these urges and the cures.

Living is to endure these contradictions while trying to escape them. Everything outside our own existence is for our pleasure, to complain and to celebrate. The feelings we hold so dear and the emotions that we cherish are the fluctuations of the little voice which we confuse with our whole selves. We think we live in a world and its projections though our real homes are inside our heads. A home which we can never escape.

#freedom #life #boredom

on rules

To live is to have an assembly of atoms react in randomness which when seen through the lens of consciousness manifest as order. The consciousness arises from within the domains of the individual atomic components, meaning the order is hallucinatory while giving a framework of comfort and control. This order helps us take stock of our everyday actions by categorizing them, lending predictability in a void of randomness. Rules by themselves are arbitrary, falling victim to the whims of consciousness and constrained by the randomness of existence.

When interacting with a person or a whole ecosystem of living and non-living things this randomness becomes exponential, neccesiating codes of conduct. Society is a good example of this and within it the the social, familial and work units which are all comprised of their own system of rules to reduce the randomness of interaction. Taking these rules on their face value shields from confronting the chaos of consciousness. But what happens if we follow all rules? We become homogenized with small personal quirks as the only distinguishing element for self identity.

The established rules need a medium of trust, a unit that can be analyzed and measured for an optimal design society. One of the loci of these rules are the moral codes of conduct that govern our social life. These rules are easily disseminated and executed but they lack the ability to be quantified. The quantification is necessary to enforce one of the unspoken rules of human existence, the drive for constant betterment. This where the stricter employ of law comes in tied to every human across the world.

Designed to preserve order, the rule of law constraints each person to set courses and predictable outcomes. Only cool, rational thought becomes accepted at its exalted gates and in return we apply the principles of law to our moral code of conduct as well. There is no deviation from this exactitude, it is the common currency underlying all our transactions. To create any kind of system this notion of order is necessary which is not surprising that our financial system is also built on a foundation of order which is mathematical at its heart, finally, everyone has a quantifiable value.

It only takes a bit of disillusionment to let this nascent order evaporate along with our sense of identity. Living in a false identity, like a fish in a bowl – we accept everything that is given to us without question, fighting tooth and nail for its preservation. Who we are is imaginary. Our faiths, our hopes, our worth are all misguided attempts of creating a caricature of humanity we all relate with, a relation that has connections in its atomicity than the ideals of thought. The blind trust of rules is myopic, perhaps that's the only reality we have to contend ourselves with.

#philosophy #life #thought

Pickpocket

A decade ago purchasing a book involved driving to a bookstore, browsing for the book, placing an order if necessary, making a payment with either cash or a card and driving back. Getting cash meant finding an ATM, withdrawing money and getting back change after payment – a tactile act that gave a tangible value to the book being purchased. Card payments in those days without instant notifications from bank apps lead to mysterious declines for either hitting the spending ceiling or having no funds, a problem cash from the ATM solved in an instant.

Making a bigger purchase often involved more deliberation over financing and transportation which created additional hurdles to the whole act of spending. This left enough leeway to abandon a purchasing idea and resume it at a point of one's choosing. Cash was both a consumption gateway and inhibitor, the safety check against spending money was money itself.

Now, I go on Amazon and make a single click purchase and the book is in my mail the next day. The price on Amazon feel like points in a video game and my bank app deducts my purchase from my balance in a whirr of numbers that make it look like a slot machine. The sensory translation of the purchase into pings and notifications in different apps adds to the satisfaction. The sleight of hand that Amazon pulls is making the value of all things homogeneous, the act of buying a book is no different from that of buying a refrigerator.

Added to this is the rise of modern banking apps that talk about a simplified, seamless transaction experience. The experience part of spending comes with all kinds of enticing UI/UX interfaces that appear to make a transaction cool. The seamlessness of these apps lies in removing the weight of money making the price in an online transaction like a second thought, a formality to look over. This fundamental shift on how we shop and the mode of spending money makes it easier for us to be stripped off of our funds at any moment through the day. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he did not exist and like that my wallet goes empty.

#capitalism #finance #shopping #internet

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