How to Manage Stress? A Feature of the Western Lifestyle

Stress has become a very important aspect of our daily lives and because it is so intrinsic, it has also unfortunately gotten normalized i.e. we do not pay the attention it requires. I went through a course about Stress Management by my employers. It opened my eyes about the dangers of stress, plus got to know various simple and applicable solutions for it. I also share some personal thoughts about the source of this problem near the end of this post.

Understanding Stress

Stress is an internal mechanism of the human body that readies you for action when we face difficult or challenging situations. The heightened energetic but unpleasant feeling that we get from inside, is what is telling us to fight the situation or escape it (You must have heard: Fight or Flight). This is important for our survival.

But just like everything else, nothing is good in excess. For a person of generation earlier than ours, say our grandparents, they had intermittent moments of tremendous stress but in their otherwise generally relaxed lifestyle. What we are facing however in our modern lifestyle is a continuous stream of regular stress, with only rare moments of relaxation. Sometimes it makes you think, “What’s the point in doing all this if I don’t feel comfortable or relaxed or happy?”

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

There is this entire horror show about how your brain sends signals and these chemicals called hormones, especially cortisol, get released which then damage your heart, suppress your immune system, reduce your good life driving juices and overall affecting your health. I don’t want to get into the technicalities so it is just best to know that it has serious biological effects on your body, akin to “slow poisoning”. And if you are living a city lifestyle, then you have this problem for sure! So you better get this handled.

Handling Stress

I understood that there are two branches of handling stress. It is our own bodily function so it is not all bad. It is a necessary tool which helps us choose our battles.

Good Stress

So first things first, recognize if it is the right type of stress which is gearing you up for a challenge that you will like. If that is the case, then take up that challenge and go for it, it will reward you well.

Boxer (Pixabay)

Simple as that! Not much to see here. If you have a big backlog, clear it up. Stop procrastinating. Try to match the speed of clearing that backlog with the speed in which work comes in.

Bad Stress

And second, if it is not the right type of stress (for e.g. problems which are out of your control but continue to make you feel stressed) then use mechanisms of taking care of your mind and body. Within this, there are two categories:

Intrinsic Solutions

First is intrinsic, in which you do certain exercises for your mind and body which have proven to be fantastic for handling stress. There are a lot of methods that come from West such as belly breathing, Mindful Meditation, and whatnot but they are all just derivatives of Yoga and Dhyana (Meditation), so it probably best if we look at the original sources directly.

Photo by Amin Sujan from Pexels

The key here is to stimulate all your nerves in the body (Yoga), and for the mind you try to be as conscious and aware about itself as possible (Meditation). My take on this is that Yoga is to activate all your muscles thereby waking up all dormant nerve cells of your body, and Meditation is to make you aware of your own mind. I don’t think Meditation itself relieves your stress, but instead gives you the ability to observe yourself. With that your actions are not subject to your emotions, instead, your emotions are under your control and your actions are conscious.

Photo by Firshad Tuttoos from Pexels

Extrinsic Solutions

And the other is extrinsic solution where you look for human connection. It turns out that stress has direct relationship with looking for finding a meaningful connection with another human.

Photo by Nishant Aneja from Pexels

Our trainer was proficient and that is why from day one he sent us in these “breakout sessions” where we could connect and find solace. He also invited guests who shared their wisdom and whom we could ask questions from our end. We essentially got to practice the human connection requirement as a stress response.

Exploring the Cause

I felt the high level of stress that we have incorporated into our lives is because of a lifestyle we have chosen. I get a certain salary which can feed me and my family, it can put a roof over my head, can even buy me luxury sometimes and occasional recreational travels as well. Then why should I need more? Yet, I must have more! Even if it causes me severe discomfort! Why is that so? What is this obsession?

Being Successful

This comes from the simplistic understanding that we must be “successful”, an umbrella term for someone who has a lot of materialistic possessions, fame, capability to fulfil various desires, fantasies and vices, because of course they can exchange all of that for money, which they possess a lot of.

Photo of Money (Pixabay)

This definition of human fulfilment has however has proved to be a failure as we see people unhappy, depressed, anxious, with high cholesterol levels, heart disease problems, drug addictions, with suicide rates skyrocketing.

Is Success the Answer?

Ever since we have officially accepted “success” as a measure of fulfilment, we as a human race have started going downhill. We are seeing an increasing wealth gap between rich and poor, as the rich want to keep getting successful forever unsatisfied, and the poor are told to struggle to succeed, as you must “Get Rich or Die Trying”.

Clearly, we have gone wrong in making this consensus that “success” is the ultimate goal. So if not success, then what is the measure of a life well-lived? For that matter, should we look at only “one” thing? Why must human fulfilment be reduced to one word? Where is this “reductionism” mentality coming from?

Western Reductionism

The dominant use of reductionism to solve a problem comes from West because of their various philosophies that are fundamentally based on dichotomies such as Right vs Wrong, On vs Off, Left vs Right, Black vs White, Good vs Bad, Heaven vs Hell, etc. which I cover in this post in the context of politics. Because of this binary thinking, there is a need to “reduce” every problem towards a sharp pointed target (solution) so that we arrive at the “right” thing avoiding the “wrong”.

Science is a positive example of it’s application. Without reductionism, we would not have been able to send astronauts into space nor do heart surgery. If there’s objectivity, reductionism is king!

However, the understanding of the human experience through the lenses of reductionism (that being successful is your ultimate goal) has proven to be a disaster and needs to be looked into. The human condition is very vibrant and cannot be reduced to any single word such as “success” or “money” or “freedom” or “peace” etc.. Human life is a big spectrum of experiences, it could be multiple things! The measure of a life well-lived can be (for e.g.) a combined vector of duty, money, pleasure, and spirituality.

Conclusion

I choose a vector of duty, money, pleasure, and spirituality because I am just lazy and I picked up what is written in our indigenous Hindu philosophy about dharma, artha, kama, moksha. They had thousands of years of pattern recognition, sure that amounts to a goldmine of human understanding.

Photo by Amol Nandiwadekar from Pexels

May be that is why most of the World is now looking towards the East to understand human well-being because our cultures seem to have the answers. This calls for further exploration of what is written in our indigenous knowledge. For now, I got a workable understanding that first Stress needs to be recognized as good or bad. If it is good, trust yourself to fight it. In case it is bad, look for that good old human connection, and practise some Yoga and Meditation.

Why You Should Use ‘sh’ Syntax Instead of Defaulting to ‘bash’

We are unknowingly doing a mistake in writing our linux shell scripts, and most often we are not paying attention to the syntax according to it’s interpreter. Consider the shell script below:

#!/bin/sh
service=myservice
if [ "$1" == "install" ]
then
        echo "Installing $service to boot"
        cp $service /etc/init.d
        update-rc.d $service defaults
elif [ "$1" == "remove" ]
then
        echo "Removing $service from boot"
        update-rc.d $service disable
        update-rc.d -f $service remove
        rm -f /etc/init.d/$service
else
        echo "Usage: ./install.sh [install|remove]"
fi

It is a very naïve and simple script to install a myservice script at boot (or to remove it). For a casual personal thing, this looks all good right? Great, let’s execute this as ./test.sh and you get:

./test.sh: 3: [: unexpected operator
./test.sh: 8: [: unexpected operator
Usage: ./install.sh [install|remove]

The reason for this error is that the interpreter sh is looking for the operator of comparison '=' but the operator we all get taught for comparison is '=='. The use of the interpreter sh was decided at the topmost line called the shebang line.

Now we have two solutions in front of us. Either fix the syntax according to sh or use a more modern and elaborated bash which works according to the syntax you are more familiar with. A quick google search tells you that “just use bash” is the popular answer and the straight answer is lingering down somewhere on the mighty stackoverflow.

I am making a case that we should try to stick to sh as much as possible and cave in to use bash only when the requirement has complexity which asks for it. Let’s take a look.

sh is Omnipresent

sh offers better portability across all linux distributions and that is because they all are required to have sh. In other words, sh is omnipresent! If you have ever broken your system while fiddling with it, you must have been thrown in this cold dark place with a monochrome shell. Yup, that’s sh.

Linux boot emergency rescue mode

When your system enters emergency mode, it has loaded nothing, has mounted nothing, started no services. But, at-least in that broken state it has got sh for you so that you can fix whatever shenanigans you have done in boot scripts. How about that?

So is there some kind of rule or standard or norm, that barring other things, sh has to be there on a linux system? Well it is what is called a “POSIX Standard”

sh is Standard

The syntax of sh is very minimal. This allows for a professional scripting person to remember the entirety of it more easily. A glaring example is that it doesn’t support arrays. This is because sh is standardized and pans even outside to unix. In fact, that is where sh has come from. It is also known as Bourne shell named after the programmer who made it (and thankfully didn’t call it bs). The knowledge that a certain thing is a standard definitely gives a bit of comfort.

Being the minimal program in itself, it is also low on resources. I would make this a bigger point but newer better shells have come along (e.g. dash) which are lower on resources. And in fact, some systems simply link sh to dash or to bash. Which takes us to the next point …

sh Syntax is a Subset

For various reasons, some linux distributions do not package sh at all and simply link sh to bash and call it a day. In other words, there is no sh. You may have been using sh on that system, but it was bash all along.

I found this immediately funny until immediately I didn’t. Any shell will be a superset of sh which means whatever shell your system is replacing sh with, has the obligation of supporting sh syntax. This makes a very good compatibility point that you have maximum of it, backwards or forwards, if your scripts are written in sh.

Conclusion

So that was my case for adhering to sh syntax with the #!/bin/sh shebang line up top when you are writing any shell scripts on a linux system. Yes, at times your requirement will be complex enough that bash with its fancy arrays, simpler conditional syntax and many more things, will seem like the best choice. No denying that. And if things are going complex enough, then you should assess if an outsider python is the right candidate, because that really opens up the possibilities of handling complexities.

But for all practical purposes and everyday shell scripting, bourne shell’s syntax should be the way to go. If your complexity increases mid way, you can always switch it up to bash and whatever you have already written will continue to work by design.

What it takes to be a Game Developer in India?

AID Poster for the Webinar

Got invited to give a webinar at AID Bangalore for Game Development in India. This talk is about an overview of what type of work goes into making a video game. And in turn talks about what it takes to be a workforce in that development, be it as a game programmer, game artist, or a game designer. This talk is open for anyone interested in getting into game development. This is friendly to all audiences, but with a higher focus towards game programmers. I also share my journey into the field.

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Link in bio. . With Gaming becoming almost omnipresent across several platforms globally, the number of opportunities are also remarkably on the rise. In the past few years, with the demand for online Games skyrocketing, Game Development has also become  one of the most sought-after professions. For all of you out there aspiring to make it big in Game Development in India, here is an opportunity to understand what it takes to make it big in the profession. Right from the various career opportunities to the best employing studios in India to the best courses to be learnt to realise your dream profession, you will learn what you seek from a pro with an illustrious professional background.   Mr. Shiben Bhattacharjee, CEO & Founder of an Indie Game Development Studio, Dhantra Studio will throw light on these aspects and many more in a live interactive session, 'What does it take to be Game Developer in India? Mr. Shiben has been with DreamWorks Animation and also in the working committee of SIGGRAPH Local Chapter. He has several years of creative experience in Hollywood animated feature films and has also worked for Big Tech. An IIIT Hyderabad graduate, he is currently working on 'The Vaanar Game', the second big release of Dhantra Studio.   Enroll soon and make the best out of this opportunity.    . . . . . #gamedevelopment #gaming #gamedev #gamedevelopmentindia #dreamworks #vfxartist #technicalartist #gamedesign

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Post comments for any doubts and discussions. Thank you!

What Bollywood Nepotism Problem tells us about Indian Work Ethics

Sushant Singh Rajput‘s demise has strengthened the discussion around nepotism. The mystery around his death is increasing day by day, and it has become a national issue and is slowly turning political. However I am more interested in talking about what this tells us about the Indian Work Ethics.

Nepotism in Bollywood

Lot of people call it a “debate”. Is it really though? Nepotism is sort of a feudal monarch system which goes against meritocracy, which then produces low quality products with no accountability. Some nepotism is tolerable, but an industry wide dominating one? Absolutely not. Nepotism in Bollywood is not a debate, stop calling it so, and start calling it a problem.

While Shekhar Gupta feels through his experience there is some level of meritocracy, do note that his definition seems that of Meritocracy of Fame instead of Meritocracy of Talent. Fame can be bought by money and clout but not talent.

The Charade of Bollywood Awards

While we can debate what he meant by meritocracy, my main point aligns with what his main standpoint also is: Respect for the Job and that essentially is what I am going to expand into.

Do Star Kids have it Difficult

We saw defensive positions from some self made people on this topic. Tapsee Pannu‘s spine seems to swing like a pendulum according to where the contemporary verdict gravitates. Swara Bhaskar and Anurag Kashyap are simply slaves of political frustration and their statements are predictably out of spite. Varun Dhawan danced around the bush as he must be knee deep in some clique.

But the one that actually catches attention is Ayushmann Khurrana. He defended Star Kids saying that they have it difficult given the audience judges them hard no matter how well they try to do.

It is a weak defense against the sea of second chances Star Kids keep getting. I think it is fair that the audience is tough on people who otherwise have it easy, to balance the situation out. Having said that, I strongly disagree with Khurana because I have not seen Star Kids give their best. Even the seemingly best out of the lot, Alia Bhatt, has no range and is limited in doing the same cliched role of a 20 something angry confident loud girl. There are countless more actresses who are at the same mediocre level as her, but the fact that it is still Alia who keeps getting movies, makes my disagreement with Khurana even more. And we haven’t even started on why the below mediocre Arjun Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Tiger Shroff etc. keep on getting movies over and over. By the way, here’s a quick funny jab on Jhanvi Kapoor before we move further.

What this tells about Ayushmann Khurrana is that he doesn’t respect his job (and the same goes for the other mentioned self made people). And before you point finger at him, I think this extrapolates to the audience at large, and we need to look in the mirror.

The Indian Audience

There is a saying in India, “Content is King”. While there is nothing wrong in that, the devil lies in the details. While it means the heart of the story is what matters, what it also says that the Indian audience does not care about the quality of the content as long as it is entertaining.

An example can be that of a movie made with bad lighting, bad props, bad editing, bad acting, bad vfx, but is considered an acceptable content as long as it is borderline entertaining. Not just that, it is alright to watch a 320p mp4 file of camcorder recorded pirated version of that movie. “I can watch the content on my device, what’s more do I need? Better Sound? I can hear the dialogues just fine. Better lighting and colors? I can see Katrina’s cleavage just fine. Better VFX? Better Editing? What do those things even mean? Irrelevant, I have the content, and content is King”.

Don’t get me wrong. There is content out there which is intentionally made crude in a certain department. Very good example is the Western show South Park and a very good Indian YouTube channel Make Joke Of. Barring some exceptions, I think you know where I am getting into. Using all kinds of shortcuts, just put together some content, and the Indian audience will consume it. Yes, it is called “Jugaad”.

The Jugaad

The thumbnail there is a click-bait jugaad too.

I love jugaad for what it is. I love that we Indians have make shift solutions for our daily problems. In our kitchen variety of things are made in same utensils, while a Westerner will have a type of pot for every single dish. At our desk, we make do with low supplies and a good enough computer, while a Westerner will have a dedicated device for every nuance of their desk’s activity. We make do with a single vehicle for the entire family, Westerners have a work vehicle, a truck and an older car which the kids get to drive.

While Jugaad makes us light on nature, it should not be confused with efficiency. Jugaad is what it is, a make shift solution, to a temporary or a rarely occurring problem. Unfortunately we have started applying jugaad to our permanent daily life as well as it seeps into our day jobs too. Whether we are talking about a labor, a house keeper, a software engineer, a government official, an artist, or a business man, we use jugaad in all aspects of our work.

Anyone who has gotten a house made, must know how much you have to micro manage or pay heavy to get someone to micro manage so that the house is made properly. One miss and you will find a broken tile, a bent window, missed grotting, leaky plumbing, misaligned platforms, sloppy paint jobs and what not. Decades of jugaad has made us to subconsciously do jugaad in our jobs too. And while you as an Indian gleefully agree, look yourself in the mirror, you do this in your work too.

Bollywood – The Grand Jugaad Gala

Naturally, Bollywood, an Indian industry, is not free from this problem. Star kids are the best example of jugaad. They have a name because their parents have a name, so people have an inherent curiosity about them. So instead of going through hours of reels of auditions of talent, movie producers just go with these Star Kids. And their naturally sloppy job is responded with, “arey chalta hai, I don’t mind it, at-least I got to see a rich kid’s skin”.

Unfortunately this trains them not to work on their craft, they just choose to look good on screen, which every random Instagram townie can do these days. Kareena Kapoor Khan off-late said that it is really the audience who have made them. If we are not interested, we can always not watch their movies.

See the full display of how a 20 minutes space is provided by a journalist to a privilege person’s thoughts on YouTube here

Even though the undertone was of over confidence and arrogance, there is truth in those words. We have been talking about their low quality performance on screen since decades now, so then why do we keep watching them? We have made them, so can we break them like she is saying?

Respect for Work

Hate me for this all you want, but we Indians have low respect for our jobs. And that’s why we have a lower ask for a job well done. In complete contrast, Westerners have great work ethics and high respect for their jobs. This reflects in their film industry, Hollywood. As much as it is a theme park of shallowness and consumerism, you must agree that it is full of talent. You do see nepotism here too but it is not industry dominating, and every single actor/actress has theater experience. They can sing, dance and some can play instruments. They are DAMN talented. And if they are not, the audience is not having it. The audience works hard in their job, and will not tolerate garbage on their screens. It makes sense.

The drive to achieve quality, or to look for quality, doesn’t just randomly occur in our minds. It comes from respect for one’s labor.

But what am I trying to say? Be a Westerner? No! While they have good work ethics, their culture is really wasteful. And if the image below reminds you of one of your big Indian cities, say thanks to your love for the Western consumerism culture.

Earth Suffers as Consumerism Spreads
Don’t believe the tip of the Western Culture Iceberg. This is what is below the Water. See the post related to this pic here.

“You went all gaga over West before this Shiben, so what is this?”. Again, my point is about their good work ethics, not culture. West is not the best culture to look up to, as we Indians don’t want to be wasteful, we have enough problems as it is. If you go to villages which are away from Western influences, you will never see this rot.

Let’s look at how the Japanese function. They have really good work ethics and on top of that they live very efficiently. Their culture encourages minimal living, leaner homes, light on nature and low wastage. Jugaad is not in their dictionary and the quality of their work is top. They have really good work ethics and high respect for their jobs. They are facing environmental problems too, but they are responding really well to it as well.

The Modern Progressive Culture to look up to – Japan

We need to find respect for our jobs within our Indian societal context. We have to find examples in the quality of Hollywood and in the functioning of Japanese culture and we need to use Jugaad in the right places at the right time. Respect what you do, do it with focus, do it with love, don’t just do it to collect the wage. There is a primitive satisfaction you get out of job which is well done. A short film in Love Sex Robots series tells this very nicely.

Conclusion

Coming back to Sushant Singh Rajput’s alleged murder, barring the various conspiracy theories about Bollywood underground mafia and dark secrets, bottom line is they have that clout through your money, which you have given them over time. So who is to blame?

The main take away for us from the Sushant Singh Rajput’s case is to have respect for our jobs. While we see a sign of people waking up to this as the Sadak 2‘s trailer is taking the brunt, tomorrow if you forget all this then Sushant’s death is in vain. The supreme court, CBI or Maharashtra government can do absolutely nothing if tomorrow you go and watch some jugaad of a movie and give them your money (or time). Don’t expect an iota of change if you will continue to watch the movies of the famously and proudly untalented.

We are in the mainstream workforce in the global market, have respect for your work, and start demanding good work from others too. If we will continue with Jugaad everywhere, then expect no change on that screen, and a decade later expect Taimur to be shoved down our throat, because, well, we will deserve exactly that.

Does Indian Politics fit the Western Left Wing and Right Wing Dichotomy?

We don’t realize this but most of the television that we see is based on Western pop-culture. A lot of the food we eat and the clothes we wear, is based on Western ideas. Technology and Science also come from West. So is the language this post is written in. Even life philosophies seem to be dominantly coming from Western influences today. We don’t realize this but West is completely normalized in our minds.

This is not a critique of West’s dominant prevalence, but a call to analyse it. It is sitting accessible in our mind, let’s use it as an opportunity. We are not force fitting things into the right or wrong blocks, but just observing things for what they are. We will explore West first (पूर्व पक्ष), and then look into how that fits (or doesn’t fit) India.

Western Philosophy Pattern

Most of Western ideas stem from Western philosophy. It is based mostly on right or wrong, moral or immoral, yes or no, ethical or unethical, on or off, heaven or hell, good or bad etc. This can be generalized as either-ors, or bifurcations, or the best way to describe as dichotomies (partition of a whole into two subsets). This is a convenient approach for decision making and to solve problems, “Here’s two things, now choose one of them”. Today’s science and technology also follows this philosophical pattern. Computers are based on binary switches (on or off) and all concepts are extrapolated from that. Science in general works on the cold hard division of whether it works or it doesn’t. There is no acceptance of a spectrum of functioning. If the science falls below a certain success rate cutoff, it is “not science”. West also has its nuances though the binaries & positivism have taken over the dominant space.

It has been centuries and it seems West is still sticking to this convenient polar approach, instead of exploring if there is anything wrong with it. Convenient does not mean correct.

Western Political Understanding

The political landscape in West is divided into two as well: Left wing and Right wing. Lets focus on america only given it calls the shots. They have the liberal democrats (Left Wing) and the conservative republicans (Right Wing). Well, they do have independents too, but historically they have been able to get an abysmal 5% win. And then there is this practice of bi-partisan-ship (in other words, centrism) which off-late has been thwarted thanks to the Western developed polarizing social media (especially twitter). So overall it is safe to stress that America effectively has only two polar opposite political parties: Democrats and Republicans. West is as West can be: A dichotomous theme park.

Let’s quickly glance at what these parties stand for. It is visible that the Left basically projects itself as a modern counter response to the Right which bases itself on traditional cultural values. I stress, we are not judging, we are just understanding the bifurcation.

Republicans / Conservatives / Right-WingDemocrats / Liberals / Left-Wing
Pro Western CultureMulticulturalism
Soft White People PreferenceRacial Inclusiveness
Exclusive Christian identityIrreligious*
Family ValuesIndividualism
Soft Male Preference, Pro-LifeGender Equality, Pro-choice*
Asserting Two Biological SexesGender Fluidity*
Freedom of SpeechSoft Censorship, Political Correctness
Individual Justice, Due ProcessSocial Justice, Identity Politics
Low Taxes, Small GovernmentHigh Taxes, Big Government
Private Healthcare, Education, No WelfareFree Healthcare, Education, Welfare
Free MarketRegulate Businesses
Tight BordersOpen Borders
Passionate Meat EatingAnimal Rights*
Climate is just fine, No WorriesFix the Climate
National SovereigntyGlobal Order
Western Political Dichotomy (* include contradictions of Islam)

How Americans Vote

American people however, are just regular people. Some are democrats, and some are republicans, and then a big chunk sees a middle ground, and then some who think independently. (This follows a natural four section division explored in Hindu philosophy – चतुष्कोटि). The voting patterns show that there are red states (which vote republican mostly) and blue states (which vote democrats mostly), then swing states (who sometimes choose red and sometimes blue). These swing voters are either seeing a middle ground, or are independents forced to choose between these two parties. Because of this contrasting organic voting pattern, most of the elections are won marginally. Point is, american people are intellectual enough to know the complexity and deserve more than a dumbed down decision of choosing between just the two. But then I am digressing. This is West’s headache to solve (or not, it is up to them).

Application to Indian Politics

Which brings us to India. Going by West’s prescribed convenient route, the majority’s culture gets the de-facto “Right wing” tag, and everyone else, “Left wing”. And this is where we can start OUR judgement given this is OUR culture. Let’s call this indigenous cultures (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Adivasis, Parsis, Swadesi Muslims etc.) as the “Indics”, and let’s map the Right Wing standings to the ethos of Indics.

Right-Wing StandingsWhat Indics Think
Pro Indic CultureYes
Soft Preference to … Brahmins?No
Exclusive Indic identityNo
Family ValuesYes
Soft Male Preference, Pro-LifeNo
Asserting Two Biological SexesNo
Freedom of SpeechYes
Individual Justice, Due ProcessYes
Low Taxes, Small GovernmentDepends
Private Healthcare, Education, No WelfareDepends
Free MarketDepends
Tight BordersYes
Passionate Meat EatingNo
Climate is just fine, No WorriesNo
National SovereigntyYes
Mapping Western Right Wing to Indic Values

Well, that didn’t work out. It’s all over the place. Let’s ignore the West’s prescription for a moment, and try mapping the Left Wing to Indic ethos.

Left-Wing StandingsWhat Indics Think
MulticulturalismYes
Racial InclusivenessYes
IrreligiousYes
IndividualismYes
Gender Equality, Pro-choiceYes
Gender FluidityYes
Soft Censorship, Political CorrectnessNo
Social Justice, Identity PoliticsNo
High Taxes, Big GovernmentDepends
Free Healthcare, Education, WelfareDepends
Regulate BusinessesDepends
Open BordersNo
Animal RightsYes
Fix the ClimateYes
Global OrderYes
Mapping Western Left Wing to Indic Values

This makes no sense whatsoever. Indics were supposed to be Right Wing but it is capturing most of the liberal Left Wing ideas. Some Right Wing standings got included too. Thankfully the garbage is rejected (male preference, exclusivity of a religion, identity politics, political correctness, possible homophobia, climate change deniers etc.). And then there are things which don’t seem partisan but plain debatable. Let’s dissect this further.

What the Indian Ethos Stand For

While Indics want National Sovereignty and Tight Borders (due to the problems is has faced off-late), it supports the idea of a Global Order (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्). Its fundamentals have gender equality, and cultural inclusiveness (ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः). It wants Indic religions, alongside other religions, but respects atheism as well. It wants family values while respecting individualism as well. Gender fluidity is fine. Nature is a goddess so protecting it is not just a future investment but a moral obligation.

समोऽहं सर्वभूतेषु न मे द्वेष्योऽस्ति न प्रिय:

I am equally disposed to all living beings; I am neither inimical nor partial to anyone (Bhagavad Gita – 9/29)

And then there are temporally shifting points in which the Indics say, we will trust the parliament. For example, the current government has introduced new socialist policies for the poor and have proved to be very good. So even if we become an Indic socialist country (let’s say like Canada), that’s fine. Another example, the current government is trying to privatize some sectors because of high corruption and operational inefficiency. So even if we become an Indic Capitalist country (let’s say like UAE), that’s fine too! Point is these remain debatable and pro-rata.

We seem to be going all over the place if we are seeing this from the simplistic Western dichotomous lens. In East, complexity is understood since childhood, and whether we are taught the technicalities of चतुष्कोटि or not, the essence is built right into our minds. The Indic cultures are able to absorb all the seemingly reasonable asks of both sides and balance them, while keeping the temporally conditional things as debatable.

The “Left” Wing?

What about the “Left wing” from the Western lens? Sure, what is the Left side left with? Other than some make believe “Right-Wing Fascism” fear-mongering, what exactly will it stand for? It comprises of strict abrahamics, wokes, and some communists. Let’s explore. Strict abrahamics are exclusively conservative so Left Wing ideas are essentially blasphemy for them. Communists can sure stand in the Left Wing, but then the Indics don’t mind some socialist policies themselves, so the commies existence become diluted. What about the wokes? Its not clear what they stand for. Is it Westernizing India? Why though? Because it’s “cool”? “Netflix and Chill”? “Limp and Loose”? Not reasonable arguments. The Indics have all the necessary progressive points of modernity in place. Thanks, but no thanks.

What about Majoritarianism

West

While that was policies, one can try to argue “Majoritarianism is bad” from a democratic stand point, hence majority should fall unconditionally into Right Wing. Alright, let’s look at why West thinks this way. All Western countries are either born out of digesting some cultures e.g. Pagans of Europe, or by expanding while killing them off e.g. Natives of America and Aboriginals of Australia, or run operations by enslaving or colonizing them e.g. Africans, Asians and Indians. If that wasn’t enough they waged wars in Middle East on the basis of some speculations and floored a bunch of nations. While that’s outside home, the condition of minority African Americans in their own backyard is questionable at best and remains debatable in their politics.

Remember we are not judging, just analyzing the thought process. They maintain the optics of “Human Rights” to compensate for their moral failures around the world. They have a general sense of GUILT association with their majority holdings. (Their imaginations of the future is always dystopian and self loathing, such as Avatar, Westworld, Hunger Games, Omniscient, Altered Carbon, Serenity, Star Wars, Walking Dead, etc. and the success of these movies give a hint of their internalized guilt). In their world “Majoritarianism is bad” makes sense.

India

In our world, in India however, it has been the other way around. The “majoritarian” Indics have actually been the victims of the aforementioned digestion/killing by the two dominant abrahamic cultures. And surprisingly we are still happily living together. We just want to be vigilant (due to aggressive proselytism) but overall we see those past unfortunate events as circumstantial and want to move on.

Adding further to this contrary, we are still suffering from colonial dividing policies. The farce aryan invasion theory to divide the North and South, and the European casta system to reinterpret वर्ण जाति (Varṇa Jāti) as rigid, were imposed by colonials. We are till date picking up the pieces with Dalits, and are in the process of clearing these mistakes forced on our culture. Point is, the Indics have no guilt of invasions on other cultures and lands, or oppressing anyone in their own capacity. Thus the “Majoritarianism is bad” burden is for West to bear for their own past. Sorry but not sorry, we do not share your White Guilt. Our collective conscience is clean.

Food for thought: Are the abrahamic “minorities” of India really minorities? For all practical purposes, given the global unity of these abrahamic religions, and their control of world politics, trade and universalism, the Indics actually are the minorities in our globalized world. If West is looking to compensate for their moral failures of the past, then in case of India they can fight for the Indicsright to their land. Or at best, not interfere.

The Argument

Specialized bifurcations, in the context of culture, India can be inclusives vs exclusives. Or in terms of modernity, it can be Indics vs Westernizers. Even then, neither are we interested in the pro-inclusive talks of the exclusives (because that doesn’t sound trustworthy and regardless we are inclusive in the first place), nor are we interested in getting Westernized (modernity can very well be achieved without changing one’s culture. Japan and Indonesia are good examples of that). This was just some added demonstration that bifurcations in general don’t really work for the complex India.

For example, it is quite legitimately possible to imagine a Jain politics as one would imagine Buddhist politics as a Naiyāyika or Mīmāṃsaka politics as also of a Vedantin politics. And of course not to leave out Cārvāka philosophy. And so on. Our current (Western based) descriptions of reality around us and the categories by which we understand and describe it are inadequate to capture the reality appropriately. This calls for efforts to better our own abilities as well as the capability of our language(s). This is the continuous effort that such great thinkers as Gaṅgeśa Upādhyāya or Raghunātha Śiromaṇi were doing. This effort stopped owing to the atrocities during the British rule and continued post-independence owing to the rejection of a vast territory of our past. As I mentioned, we are picking up those pieces till date.

Conclusion

India cannot be seen from the Western Left and Right political lens as it does not capture the reality of our polity. Force fitting the diverse Indic परम्परा to the mundane left right Western categories is disingenuous. The Pro-Indics should NOT be called Right Wing. Anyone doing so is being sloppy with their intellect. The political dichotomy of Left vs Right is lazy and underdeveloped even for West, and we suggest them to look into it.

Thanks to Pranav Vasishta and Kiran Varanasi for proof reading, inputs and corrections. Proud to add that this post is published on satyameva.org as well.