Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Musings of Amour & the Unkind


There is one friend who latches on to philosophical discourse whenever we sit down for an evening sundowner. His memory is sharp and he quotes from varied sources. He has very valid, practical and sometimes questionable outlook towards life and death. He is not worried or afraid of the end of life. He asserts borrowing from Athenian philosopher, “The hour of departure has arrived and we go our separate ways, I to die and you to live. Which of these is better, who could tell?”

Indeed one could never tell! Yet, sometimes we can presume and sometimes we can tell too.                A couple of incidences in recent time have been telling. It is scary, unpredictable this phase called old age. But, also then as this diminutive fellow often argues, every next moment is scary because its unpredictability and one need not wait to be in old age to feel the anxiety. Nemesis can catch up with us any moment. But we continue to move on oblivious and apathetic. Quite a truism!

When we live in a non-welfare State, the odds that are stacked against us are enormous. A few months ago when my mother was hospitalised with acute pneumonia, the odds in her favour was almost bleak. It became less than pale when she had a secondary infection. When life is supported by an invasive apparatus and even physicians unable to tell how long the patient would need the aid of ventilator to survive, if at all he/she survived- as days and weeks go by, there comes a moment when we ask to particularly no one, how long can we financially sustain this cost?

A week ago, a not so aged close relative was felled by acute hemorrhage in the brain while he was revelling with his two little grandsons. He now lies in hospital after a life saving surgery and solely aided by the ventilator that keeps him alive. Will he come out of coma? If he does what impairment will he live with? If he continues to be in coma and slip into vegetative state, how long will he survive? How long will he need medical life support to survive in a morbid existence? Now his children are by his side, but soon they may have to attend to their quotidian necessities & of livelihood and they will have to leave. How deep are their pockets to meet the medical bills? Yes indeed he is their father, but how long will they be able to sustain the medical aid, for there is no cornucopia of wealth to dive into. Deep pockets!

The questions may seem to be inappropriate; after all it is the father who is battling for life. But then glaring facts and situations can be such that there is seldom room for emotional persuasions and the so called high ground ethics and morality as we love to identify with. Not everyone is a Schumacher or Christopher Reeves to possess the resources to endlessly spend on medical assistance. At some point one will have to accept that it is a culdesac. It will be an awfully repenting and helpless situation we might find ourselves.

Aruna Shanbag was cruelly kept alive-a frozen and withered vegetable for forty two years. The nurses of the King George hospital were asinine and audacious to state that given another one hundred years they would still care to keep the unfortunate woman alive and on external  life support. Well in that case there were voluntary forums to meet the medical bill of that unethical saga enacted in the name of love, humanism, compassion and godliness. What about the cases of us, many other ordinary folks who might at some point find it a financially impossible task thrust upon us? What if we are the ones to be kept alive over the broken backs and lives of our children? Financial encumbrances in such cases will be enormous even to think of. Do we want to be kept alive and in the bargain wreck the lives of all who care for us? Do we want to be plowed under by the burden that we simply are unable to cope with- sustaining the miserable existence of the person we really love? Herein lie the irony, the tragedy of our falsehood, rhetorical frippery and malarkey-the government’s and the society’s refusal to legalise euthanasia. The fascination about life is its quality. And when the quality of life is not even remotely sensible, when the “Welfare State” is nonexistent, how can the government and the moralists deny a person’s right to dignified death? What civilised thought and law is it that would enable a government to criminalise assisted death by stopping life supporting medical intervention in cases of irretrievable physical state or in cases of financial impuissance arising out of grim and superfluous ghoulish existence, when the Government itself is unable to provide a welfare state?



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Eruption of Toba & Hinduism


We all will have multiple choices. Either he or she can keep his or her convictions or beliefs to self and ignore the tumult of dissent and disagreements around; bludgeon or hound the person who airs a different view point; still strongly express one’s conviction or opinion ( often to considerable annoyance of the other) and entice the other into a healthy argument. The first option is the corollary to being a eunuch, however broad and hairy may be one’s chest. I do not intend to commiserate with such kind. The second option is the easiest way to the ones who are feeble in mind, frail. The last option need not make you right but at least (to quote) Chinua Achebe, “To me, being an intellectual (sic) doesn’t mean knowing intellectual issues; it means taking pleasure in them”.

I came across a fantastic statement, best defined as an outlandish claim on the facebook wall, posted by a fellow fb user. It stated that Hindus existed in India from 74,000 years ago! Awesome discovery of anthropology, a mammoth singular feat of evolution and social living, a splendid demographic achievement that early in human history, one can presume (sic). The link in the post further moves on to atrocious claims that when the ancient volcano in Indonesia, “The Toba” erupted 70000 years ago, the cataclysmic aftermath wiped out many civilisation  and heralded a brief  volcanic winter shielding the sun out for a decade and more. Artifacts and tools besides fossils and skeletons  found in volcanic ash that was deposited in parts of India prove it goes on to claim that “Hindus “existed in India 74,000 years ago. Bizarre! What else can one say about this claim? Why not say that Hindus existed everywhere 100,000 years ago? Why not go further and claim that “Lucy” the prehistoric ancestor of human beings whose remains found in Ethiopia and who may have lived 3 million years ago was a Hindu? The agenda is to tell a concocted story, a surreal one a hundred times hoping it would be taken for real. Such an audacious claim is possible when you see as much as laughter provoking claims of aircrafts travelling transcontinental from India 100000 years ago and decapitated heads being stitched back on torsos aided by advancement in plastic surgery in ancient 

What are these folks after? Anyone with basic faculties will know that the science of archeology is the branch of anthropology that studies prehistoric people and their cultures through their material remains. One needs physical evidence or something near to it to extrapolate and not just mumbo jumbo and fantastic notions driven by outlandish ideas that are triggered by acute fanaticism and hallucination. Alas! The plan is simple. Create an eccentric theory that would keep folks in awe of the past and showcase it as historical truth so that the fact that the country is a land of immigrants is deftly set aside and erased; but was inundated by foreigners in the recent past, usurping a culture of a 100000 years.

“To comprehend the present and move towards the future requires an understanding that is sensitive, analytical and open to critical enquiry. …” says Romilla Thappar. This is what these folks make a pulp of and thereby making the study into history a mockery.

If a harmless question, whether God is a democrat could warrant a petition in court ,certainly these bizarre claims and statements should be termed offensive to basic intellect and commonsense and the ones brandishing such nonsense statements must be hauled up before law for offending commonsense.