Sunday, August 26, 2018

Back Lane Environmentalists

My salutation goes to those poor and destitute trash collectors who carry shopping carts or plastic bags collecting refundable empty beer, liquor, soda bottles, cans and juice containers while picking up the litter for a cleaner environment.

Monday is our garbage, compost and recycling pick up day.

The back lane becomes a goldmine. It has more foot traffic for collectors. The empties are the gold. These are dug out from garbage containers and blue boxes. And the booties are loaded in wobbling shopping carts or carried in tattered bags.

How much one can collect depends on how much the previous collector could not pick up. The exploration continues until the big trucks haul everything away.

The recycling is a bonanza for the street environmentalists. And Monday is their day to earn few extra coins.

Friday, August 24, 2018

When Immigrants Become Anti-immigrants

By Promod Puri

With compassionate temperament, an immigrant is not expected to be an anti-immigrant.

But without that sentiment, immigrants can be anti-immigrant. Or they are selective in their prejudiced choice of immigrants.

The sentiment of humanism over time fades as mindset attitudes toward fellow human beings based on religion and ethnicity take over.

The prospective immigrants are thus categorized as “illegal and “legal,” refugees and migrants.
But, except being a criminal, nobody is illegal.

And those refugee claimants and migrants who “jump the queue” do so in desperation because there is no dedicated queue with considerate sympathies.

Politicians of the alt-right exploit the changed feeling of being anti-immigrant in the vote-rich immigrant pool.  Expressions like “extreme multiculturalism” and “too much diversity” are coined.

Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, who quit the Conservative Party of Canada August 23, is breeding an anti-immigrant temperament, perhaps knowing some immigrants are anti-immigrants too.

His appeal is based on the fear that “Canadian values” will be marginalized with “too much diversity.”

But Canadian values and its culture constitute an evolving phenomenon in which immigrants play the most significant role.

The diverse contribution of immigrants enriches the Canadian culture of multiculturalism.

When immigrants become anti-immigrant, and they are being played in the hands of alt-right politics, the secular and diverse foundation of Canadian heritage of being multicultural and multi-racial society becomes insecure.

(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions. Websites:,,  

Friday, August 17, 2018

Legacies of Rajiv Gandhi And Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Soon names of streets, airports, schools, colleges and universities and other institutions in India will be dotted with the name of Atal Bihari Vajpayee by the BJP government, just like Congress did for Rajiv Gandhi.

In the public eye, both leave a legacy of being gentleman-politicians.

But for both them, their legacy also includes inciting and supporting the most heinous crimes against humanity. Rajiv Gandhi for being responsible for the carnage against Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of northern India. And Vajpayee for the anti-Muslim riots following the demolition of Babri Masjid and in Godhra, Gujarat.


“Forgive and forget” is a popular simple lecture or preaching which is easy to give and accepted, but hard to follow.

For our own peace of mind, we may accept and attempt to follow the forgive-and-forget doctrine and move on with our lives.

However, the hurt feelings take time to heal in our reconciliation effort.

One can forgive. But forgetting can’t go away just by our wish.

The latter is influenced by the biology of our memory.

Whereas, forgetting involves our brain cells to evacuate an offensive infliction, forgiving needs to absorb in an expanded big heart.

Forgiving can be possible, but forgetting hangs on.

-By Promod Puri

Thursday, August 16, 2018


The first time I saw Sh. Atal Behari Vajpayee was speaking at a public rally on the ground of a Hindu temple in Jammu. That was way back in late 50's or early '60s. I was still a kid but mature enough to understand a bit of politics with interest. The long speech was interesting and entertaining with lots of wits which really impressed me with his oratory and thoughts. And I became an admirer of him till the time I realized that he belonged to the party which did not match up with my own political thinking of being left of the center, respect and equal opportunities for the minorities, and all that related to socialist ideologies.

Moving forward, as a working journalist I had the opportunity to meet him in Vancouver in mid 80's when he was the foreign minister in some coalition government. This time he again impressed me, but for a different reason. And that was his passionate spirit of nationalism or patriotism to speak for the interest of his country on foreign soil. His style was simple and friendly, but poor in expression, perhaps he was not comfortable speaking in English.

Those were my two personal encounters with Late Vajpayee. But being in the news business, following him was natural because of his towering status in the politics of modern India. My overall impression is that Sh. Vajpayee was a gentleman politician, not much sophisticated in political ideologies as well as in intellectual contribution as a popular public figure commanding utmost respect.

-Promod Puri.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Beyond The Confines Of Atheism And Theism

By Promod Puri

When atheists reject the concept or existence of God, their conclusion is based on limited perception because we human beings are like a speck of creature in this colossal universe incapable of fathoming its enormity.

Their case does not win credibility either by just ridiculing those who believe in God.

And those under theism believing that God exists in physical form or in some supernatural and transcendental actuality, and offers a sensory experience, then it is merely an unjustified and ritualistic impression. This conception can be easily rejected in the face of the rationale-seeking contemporary society.

Likewise, if one has understood God thru rituals and customs, then what has been understood is not God.

In the vast celestial arrangement and the unseen sub-atomic fields where humanity is mystified as who caused all this phenomenon, as well as when we accept and revere the senseless ritualistic customs, the concepts of atheism and theism can find limited argumentation in the non-believability or believability of God.

In both the convictions, the inherent human limitations in reasoning and observation, along with our blind obedience to one supreme deity, there is no confirmation that God does not exist or the belief that God exists.

But God is an established institution which can not be eliminated despite lack of rational outlook.


In the enlightened existing culture where both empirical evidence and convincing rationale are unavoidable factors, the concept of God can be reviewed to establish a fresh and meaningful conception and realization.

The review process is also helpful for those who have a rigid mindset belief in God’s presence because of ritualistic impacts.

In this reassessment, God’s perception can be altered, rationalized or perhaps restored with pragmatic understanding and awareness. Nevertheless, God cannot be rejected for lack of empirical evidence or accepted in solely ritualistic or blind-faith image.

God and religion are the two synonymous influences which are subjected to evolution in the ongoing social construction of humankind.

In this evolution, atheism can contribute too because of its creditable roots in various religious ideations. The main reason is for its earnest call for humanism in the conduct of our lives.

The fact is, since the time God was institutionalized in the religious orders, atheism despite being firm on His non-existence, has played a challenging and stimulating role in man’s spiritual and divine pursuits.

For those reasons, atheism has been accepted as a valid philosophical concept in the religiosity of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Taoism.


In its liberal and democratic discipline, atheism is part of streams of thought in Hinduism. Both Sankhya and Mimamsa, the two known and oldest faculties of Hindu philosophy have rejected the involvement of God in the creation and management of the macrocosm.

“Who really knows, and who can swear,
How creation came, when or where!
Even gods came after creation’s day,
Who really knows, who can truly say

“When and how did creation start?
Did He do it? Or did He not?
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps, not even He.”

-The Rig Veda Chapter X, Para 129 in the Hymn of Creation (Nasadiya Sukta)

Hindu commentator and a former judge of the Supreme Court of India, Markandey Katju, has even claimed that out of nine Hindu philosophical systems “eight of them are atheistic as there is no place for God in them. Only the ninth one that is Uttar Mimansa, which is also called Vedanta has a place for God in it.” (source Wikipedia under “Atheism in Hinduism”).

Both Astika, believing in God’s existence, and Nastika, meaning an atheist, are the concepts which are factors in the democratic tradition of Hinduism.

The Nastika philosophy has been traditionally the base of both Buddhism and Jainism as well.
And in Taoism, an ancient religious Chinese philosophy, “there is no omnipotent Being beyond the cosmos, who created and controls the universe.”

The guiding force in Taoism is Tao who is not a God or god. Tao means ‘way’ or ‘path’ in Chinese.’ Taoism believes that the universe organizes a natural path by itself. And there is no central controlling principle or order. Instead of delving into the existence or non-existence of God, Taoism focuses on “living a simple and balanced life in harmony with nature.”

The concept of God in all these religious isms is more of a  metaphysical nature rather than physical or supernatural existence. And that is the reason there has been almost no objection to accommodating atheism in their numinous thoughts. Instead, these religious orders got enriched with a diversity of thoughts, philosophies, and appeals. Hinduism is the prime example to harbor atheism in its vast structure.

Atheism and theism in our religious thinking are the not the topics in the virtuous conduct of our lives. Rather, like Taoism, the ethical conduct of life has been the basic tenet of all the world faiths, and this is where the practicality of God lies.


But in that practicality, the understanding of God does not end.

A simple and brief, but still far from complete, characterization of God can be: the sum-total of everything and every process in this universe and beyond is God. Everything, known or unknown that exists is what a universe is all about. (Source: Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions, Amazon publication)

It is from this perspective that an overview of astronomical creations both in the celestial world and in the tiniest of atoms is supportive in our study and evaluation of that mysterious force or energy.

This very energy is the cause of everything, living or non-living, observable or non-observable present in this universe and beyond. And that includes the space where all these entities are placed.

What is that energy which keeps the sub-atomic particles moving, the earth and many other planets spinning, and keep everything alive in one form or the other?

Known physicist Late Stephen Hawkins says: “If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.”

The answers we seek, as Hawkins puts it in the “science of God” can reveal as well as change our whole concept and perception of God which can be more acceptable in our questioning society.

What we are seeking is a renewed understanding of God which is in line with contemporary thinking based on rationalism and intelligent perception.

This undertaking can represent the wholeness of God from the celestial world to the tiniest of particles. Also lies in the renewed comprehensiveness of God are the ethical and spiritual needs of humanity with detachable rituals and customs.


(Promod Puri is the author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions, and writer of several essays on religion, politics and human interest. Websites:,, and

Monday, August 13, 2018


Judiciary, election commission, media, and statistics are the four pillars of democracy which keep it authoritative, functional, dynamic, and accountable. If any or all these institutions are damaged, corrupted, compromised or abused, democracy becomes meaningless or even collapses.

The case under observation is democracy in India.


Canada’s Twitter diplomacy in condemning Saudi Arabia has not affected the latter's tormented human rights record, especially against women. Instead, it generated anger and overreaction from the Saudi leadership resulting with lightning speed the withdrawal of diplomats, investment and trade, stopping of flights and immediate return of the Kingdom’s students from Canada.

The question is why the Canadian foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland used the Twitter channel to raise the issue instead of traditional face to face dialogue. Presuming the minister and her advisory staff are not naive in their concern for human rights in Saudi Arabia, the motive has not served its desired purpose. Rather it has been a disaster toward Canada-Saudi relationship.

The feud has not only wiped out the friendly influence which Canada could use over Saudi Arabia in its grave violations of human rights, but it has generated another conflicting spot in the world already dotted with tensions and violence.

In its open denunciation thru series of Tweets against Saudi Arabia’s adamant violation of human rights, the government has won nil support worldwide. But the Leftist community seems to applaud the Liberal government as it is very well aware of the credibility of Canada on this issue.

Canada has its own bad record of human rights violations as well as its known double standards in observing complete silence when its biggest trading partner, the USA, has committed much more serious human rights violations all over the globe including Vietnam, Iraq, and in Afghanistan.

-Promod Puri


Fidel Castro, the hero of the Communist-socialist world of the Leftists, was born 92 years ago on August 13,1926.

The 1959 Fidel Castro’s armed political revolt had a utopian communist promise of prosperity for Cubans. With massive Russian aid, the country survived in meeting the basic needs of its people, and that included Cuba’s pride declaration of free education and the “best” medical system in the world.

The dictatorial regime of 60 years of Castro did not turn the political revolt into an economic revolution. Moreover, typical of authoritarian and Communist regimes freedom of speech and expression were and still being curtailed. Since the early 60s, a generation has been fed on leftist ideologies. A mindset attitude has been created with the egoistic attitude that its political ideology is better than capitalism.

That is the true legacy of Castro apart from popularizing his favorite drink of Mojito, a refreshing cocktail of rum and fresh mint leaves.

-Promod Puri