Friday, February 28, 2020


When the ongoing tragedies of human sufferings caused by humans do not get from most, a line in the poetry of poets, a page in the writings of writers, a stroke of brush in the paintings of painters, a focus in the meditation of meditators, a stay in the minds of yoga practitioners, a reflection of sermon from a priest about the teachings of Nanak and Kabir, a discern from political scientists and intellectuals in the social sciences, a condemning statement from silver screen heroes and entertainers, a quote from habitual social media motivational advisers. And all the educated professionals who are mum and mute while the human catastrophes pass by only with the apathetic and callous remark “this is all politics.”
-Promod Puri

Friday, February 21, 2020



Education does not stop after school, college, or university studies. Rather it continues. Pursuing knowledge in the fields already studied along with new interests of learning is part of lifelong schooling.
As formal education ends in the early part of life, the journey to explore and gain knowledge goes on. At the same time, knowledge itself keeps expanding.  Once the learning drive starts there is no stop on the knowledge track.
However, knowledge has to be followed intelligently and with an open mind.
Its credibility and perception are based on truth and rationales. As our continuing education advances, it generates new studies, thoughts, theories, meanings, and interpretations. With that growth, knowledge gets enriched.
We are the seekers of knowledge as well as its creator, developer, and distributor.
It is at this helm that we can discern its traditional outlets, like books and libraries, newspapers and magazines, radio, and television, etc. However, these sources are being outpaced and outdated by the surge in the internet and social media.
And this is where we alert ourselves to establish the authenticity and credibility of knowledge attained from online sources. It can prove itself to be wrong and deceptive when produced and shared thru various internet channels.
The buzz word lately is the generation of fake news or information and its circulation.
Google, Emails, Twitter, Facebook, and myriad of websites, etc. are the vehicles moved by our fingertips for mass distribution of news, views, and learnings along with fake stories and misinformation. In the latter case production of such material is so professionally done that unreal casts into real. Believability is established, and its mass circulation starts rolling.
The production of fake news, besides posing a serious threat to bona fide information and knowledge, is a lucrative business as well. When a fabricated story gets viral on search engines like Google and social media like Facebook, it generates money for fake news manufacturers. The “clicks” and “shares” are the measuring indicators in the booms of this illicit business.
Since the blight of fake news is going to be part of knowledge gathering, the acceptance or rejection of pseudo or genuine information depends on our sensitivity and perception, empathy or apathy. Our personal preferences also play a determining role to keep us informed or misinformed while we seek knowledge.
Usually, we select only that information that fits well within our interests, mindset biases, and beliefs.
The production of fake or false news or information, or creation of a thought, an ideology or a campaign, and its spread covers most topics and issues from politics to religion and culture, sciences to medicines, and economics to statistics, etc.
Fabricated information supporting a concept, cult, crusade of morally-revolting motives not only contaminate true knowledge but it is misleading and sinister as well. As of consequence, information literacy is corrupted.
When a fake story or picture on the internet and its various outlets is released, its authenticity is seldom doubted especially by those readers who share its viewpoint.
Professional “gatekeepers” like editors of newspapers or magazines, who reject, allow, or edit an incoming news story or some viewpoints in the traditional institutions, are not the norms in the receiving and delivery systems of the information technology.
Our temperaments, beliefs and even our personal motives are now the “gatekeepers” in the selection and sharing of information. When these attitudes are constantly and willingly being exposed to fake information or stories, fanaticism is created, consolidated, and validated. Convictions and extreme beliefs keep the doors of truth and rationality close.
Despite this inevitable abuse of the system, the internet provides us a democratic platform that was till now monopolized by the traditional print and electronic media. Social media are open, free, and readily available along with a profusion of websites for the dissemination of information, true or false, and viewpoint, rational or irrational.
The phenomenon has led to the explosion of knowledge in its creation, presentation, and sharing. This is not anymore the domain of only professional writers, intellectuals, publishers, or editors.
The Internet and online social media offer the space to express oneself in few words or in lengthy essays without editing or cuts and censorship. A submission, rejected by conventional book publishers, newspapers, or magazine editors, finds easy alternative outlets through various internet channels and online self-publishing with much wider exposure.
Unlike the traditional sources of knowledge, the net in its brief history has spread itself into a vast field covered with mounds of information and knowledge. Personally speaking, I wrote “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions” by just going thru the medium of the internet carrying a wealth of relevant articles, research papers, manuscripts, scriptures, and stories.
Numerous reputed and credible websites like Wikipedia are loaded with extensive knowledge to do research, study or write on any subject of interest.
The internet has liberated knowledge for its easy reach and attainment. But in this endeavor, Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw advises: “beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance”.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Among the First Nation communities, there are Hereditary Chiefs and the “elected” chiefs.
And this institutional binary is the primary reason that the proposed natural gas pipeline issue has put Canada in a standstill spot with blockades stopping rail and road traffics across the country.
In the traditional form of First Nations governance, Hereditary chiefs are higher than elected Chiefs, especially on issues like this one, where their lands and cultures are in danger by encroaching developments.
The epicenter of the Canada-wide protests is the indigenous lands of Wet’suwet’en outside the village of Burns Lake in British Columbia.
The proposed pipeline would pass through the Wet’suwet’en lands that have not been permitted by the Hereditary Chiefs.
However, of the five Wet’suwet’en elected band chiefs, only the Hagwilget Village Council declined to sign benefits agreements with the LNG pipeline. The remaining four elected Chiefs signed the go-ahead arrangement.
It is being claimed that “based on Wet’suwet’en and Canadian law, it’s ultimately the hereditary chiefs who have jurisdiction to the territory, and they have been clear about their aim—to assert self-governance over their land and demand a nation-to-nation relationship with Canada.”
The opposing positions of two sets of Chiefs are the cause of the current situation over the Native blockades that are making headlines in Canada.
In the latest development, two Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have launched a constitutional challenge against the Trudeau government in the federal court. It seeks commitment from Ottawa that to achieve climate targets, the government must “modify or cancel” energy projects like the one under construction in BC by the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
The court challenge, in its statement, says that “Canada has a constitutional obligation to adhere to its emissions targets under the Paris Agreement.”
Coastal GasLink has a  $6.6-billion pipeline project from northeast BC that would deliver natural gas to LNG Canada. The latter is building an $18-billion terminal in Kitimat, BC, to export liquefied natural gas to Asia.
Kitimat is booming with construction works, creating plenty of jobs, mainly benefitting the Native workers. A big boost to the local economy is what the expectations are amid environmental concerns, including some erosion in the traditions and cultures of the Wet’nuwet’en nations.
 (Promod Puri worked as editor of the New Nation, a Native and Metis weekly newspaper from Winnipeg in the early ‘70s. he is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions.) 

Monday, February 17, 2020


330px-Arvind_Kejriwal_September_02,_2017_cropDelhi election straight three-time winner Arvind Kejriwal is politically neither a Leftist nor a Rightist. His politics is simplistic in its approach to have honest and good governance. It seeks real results nor promises.
Kejriwal’s swift rise and popularity after his dedicated support to anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare made him a new class of leader who does not show leanings towards the worn-out Left and Right political platforms. Some Leftists tried to steer the leadership away from him in the early stage of his political entrance, but he fought back. They were out from his natural turf.
Kejriwal is a grassroots political worker. He is, in the real sense a simple “aam aadmi.” That means an ordinary person determined to make his moves in the tangled and corrupt politics of contemporary India.
In fact, under the lamp of India’s shadowy Modi’s rule, Kejriwal offers a luminous light of good, secular, and democratic governance in the capital city-state of Delhi.
By Promod Puri

Friday, February 14, 2020

GODDESS KALI AND THE DANCE OF DEATH:Does Kali Represent The True Contemporary Woman While Society Tries To Tame Her?

GODDESS KALI AND THE DANCE OF DEATH:Does Kali Represent The True Contemporary Woman While Society Tries To Tame Her?: In her duality, and with her four, eight, or ten arms that carry a mix of belligerent and luminous symbolisms, Goddess Kali represents womanhood in multi-faceted portrait. The many roles contemporary woman juggles, the challenges, and the fights or battles she undertakes are what goddess Kali represents.

Thursday, February 13, 2020


In my understanding of Hinduism, there is more in its nature of study and deliberations than just religion.
It is in this context that the chapter of Goddess Kali divulges an aspect of Hindu thought and philosophy that is apart from rationality, spirituality, morality, and myths.
Goddess Kali is an exciting and intriguing reading. In addition to her ritualistic adoration and worshipping, the study reveals her unique temperament that adds to the diverse outlook of Hinduism.
                        (Painting by Raja Ravi Varma)  
Kali’s appearance is dark blue with sunken eyes. In her long blood-red tongue sticking out in a ferocious image, Kali is typically portrayed with a scary and angry stare.
Her scantly covered body has a long garland of severed skulls of demons whom she destroyed on the appeal of her followers. And the short skirt she wears is the ripped-out arms of the defeated enemies.
Kali is often portrayed in the blood-thirsty and feral image. There is blood dripping from the chopped heads of demons that she holds in her arms. Her mood is terrifying and unruly. Indeed, not a pleasant sight when we see other Hindu goddesses nicely wrapped in colorful sarees and wearing beautiful jewelry.
Kali’s overall personality is revealed in an astounding story when she defeated a powerful demon by the name of Raktabija. Other female deities fought against him. They were able to wound him. But the story goes like this that every drop from each wound inflicted on him would turn into a clone of demon Raktabija. Thus, fighting against him by the deities meant increasing an army of his duplicates.
The deities finally gave up. They requested Kali to finish the demon because only she had the divine Shakti, meaning power, to kill him.
With gaping mouth, her tongue lolling out, having deep reddish eyes, filling the regions of the sky with her roars, Kali singlehandedly fought the battle with the demon and the army of his own replicas. Kali eventually defeated him by sucking his blood before it could reach the ground. Raktabija, along with his army of duplicates, were all finished. Her winning trophies were the several heads of the devil around her neck.
In euphoria, she went into a wild dance. The more she danced, the wilder and turbulent it became. She was rampaging out of control. Her dancing swirls became so powerful that there was a fear Kali could destroy the world.
In that situation, Lord Shiva was sent to calm Kali down. He was successful but was stomped under her left foot. The forceful wild dance came to a halt. And the world was saved by Lord Shiva, who is himself attributed as lord of destruction.
Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on Lord Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her foot. Acclaimed mythological artist Raja Ravi Varma captures the dance scene in one of his most famous paintings. Here Lord Shiva, one of Trinity Hindu gods, the others being Brahma and Vishnu, is seen under her foot.
Kali’s unusual portrayal in her body wears, wild and vicious looks, and the vigorous victory dance while Lord Shiva, a God himself, under her foot, are the materials for an interpretive view of her to establish what she represents.
Kali is a Hindu goddess of death, time, and destruction. She is the Shakti, representing the divine feminine power. Kali is like a mad storm, a typhoon, or a wildfire who, while in her furious crusade, does not spare anybody. She is a force of nature where her actions or motives are mystified as they defy reasons and explanations.
Kali is independent and not worried about the results of her actions. Her moves can’t be disciplined. She is a demon slayer, and her psyche represents justifiable female resentment and rage.
Although she is paired with Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. But here as Kali, she represents a personality that is dark, wild, and angry. Her other image as being Parvati or goddess Gauri is that of calm and tranquil temperament.
In this duality, and with her four, eight, or ten arms that carry a mix of belligerent and luminous symbolisms, Kali represents womanhood in multi portraits. The many roles contemporary woman juggles, the challenges, and the fights or battles she undertakes are what goddess Kali represents.
She is a symbol of contemporary womanhood, especially in the West. Kali was on the cover page of the first edition of Ms. Magazine. Its artist Miriam Wosk drew a colorful illustration featuring a pregnant woman with eight arms symbolizing the multi-tasking role of women now and for generations. Rolling Stones, the English rock band, had its logo of “tongue and lip design” adopted out of the stuck out tongue of Kali.
Despite her portrayed terrible look, Kali is considered the kindest and loving goddess. Ma-Kali, mother Kali, is her revered status in the iconology of Hindu gods. She is regarded as the mother of the entire universe, and a divine protector.
Kali is a free goddess who is ready to fight the evil in any Yuga.
(Promod Puri is a journalist, writer, and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions.)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020


Democratic freedoms breed authoritarianism. Consolidation of power, achieved through democratic means, is a tempting phenomenon. Regimes are slowly being wrapped up in totalitarianism or dictatorship.
Nationalism and patriotism are aroused. The fear factor is created by introducing “foreign enemies”. Minorities are being targeted.
To streamline the influence of fear, several practices and arrangements are mobilized. Judiciary, the intelligence agencies, the income tax department, the police forces, state-sponsored “terrorism” are the channels to move democracy towards autocracy.
In this exercise, the media is disciplined or regulated for the smooth acceptance of manufactured propagated material.
It is a camouflaged process where the majority population naively gets adapted with acceptable disturbance mainly for nationalistic or patriotic alarms.
The fear factor permeates into the culture of silence and apathy. And authoritarianism survives till the next elections if these are not corrupted.
-By Promod Puri

Sunday, February 2, 2020


If the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in India is responsible for the structural damage of democracy in India under the fervency of its Hindutva agenda, then the record of the Congress is not clean either.
Under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, India’s democracy was subverted overnight with the declaration of Emergency in 1975. However, in the subsequent national election, the Congress Party was mercilessly beaten. Thanks to the intactness of the Election Commission that was not tinkered with weaponry of the Indira Gandhi emergency.
In that respect, we can say there was resilience in India’s democracy.
But now, it is the institutional chiseling that has been purposely done to carve out a non-secular nation based on narrow confines of the Hindutva agenda.
The latest salvo being the amendment of the Citizenship Act with its discriminatory provision to offer citizenship to all the refugees except Muslims. This is followed by the upcoming National Registry of Citizenship that could be impacted by the corrupt bureaucratic system biased towards the Muslim population. It has already happened in the state of Assam.
Hindutva is an agenda that is fundamentally anti-Hindu. The identity of Hinduism lies in its wide-open structure where liberal, secular and diverse customs and traditions co-exist and flourish.
Pursuing the Hindutva agenda also goes against the very spirit of democratic India in which its national institutions play non-religious, non-political, professional and bureaucratic roles crucial for unbiased, audited and scrutinized direction to the governing party in the conduct of nation’s business.
But when these institutions are politically fixed, controlled and manipulated or even nixed by the governing party to uphold its power base then the damage is being done to them.
And this is where the BJP’s legacy, compared to the Congress Party, is being established by its leadership.

Saturday, February 1, 2020


Elected politicians all over the globe often boast about their economic achievements when their countries’ GDP goes up. And countrymen are impressed.
For example, Trump can pride himself as the USA’s GDP has grown to $21.7 trillion last year, a massive gain that makes the country the most significant economic power in the world.
GDP stands for gross domestic product, meaning the total market value of all the goods and services produced within the country. That gross production includes everything produced and purchased, services generated and bought, and investments made.
When the GDP number of a given year is divided by the population figure of the country, the result is taken as a reflection of the living standard of its citizens.
And this where the GDP gives quite a false impression about the actual well being of a nation. Under its blanket coverage are the stark realities of poverty, homelessness, and even hunger.
These realities are suppressed by governments’ public relations campaign that the country is doing great as per the rising GDP numbers.
GDP is a useful tool creating a false impression that the nation is economically well managed.
Since it does not reflect the true nature of the country’s well being as experienced by all its citizens, GDP needs to go beyond its present valuation of produced goods and services.
-Promod Puri