अनिल एकलव्य ⇔ Anil Eklavya

September 5, 2011

The Missing Clause

There is a legal agreement written in very legal language that I had to read today. It’s called Mutual Confidentiality Agreement and is required to be signed by two parties who plan to collaborate on some commercial product or service.

After having plodded through the legalese and having understood most of it (I have an advantage in this regard), I found that there was one clause that was glaringly missing from it.

The document lists all the conditions that apply when the Disclosing Party discloses something to the Recipient. It has a section euphemistically titled ‘Injunctive Relief’ that might send the shivers down the Recipient’s spine, depending on the power balance. It also lists all the exceptions under which these conditions may not apply. Such conditions include “court order” and “as required by law”.

What is missing is something that should be included in all such documents post-9/11, in all countries that went for the security Gold Rush, which practically means all countries, (almost) period.

That missing clause should go something like this:

An (unintended) disclosure by the Recipient to any number of third parties of any of the Disclosing Party’s Confidential Information will not be considered a breach of the agreement if it happens under any of the following conditions:

  1. As part of surveillance operations carried out by the State and any of its agencies, the institution in which the Recipient works or any part thereof, the Local Version of the Truman Show, the Connectivity Service Providers, the Private Security Companies, the Local Quasi-authorised Vigilante Organisations or any other such agencies added to the list till the eve of the day the breach is considered for scrutiny.
  2. [Talking of eve] As a result of eavesdropping by the agencies and organisations listed in 1.
  3. As a result of disclosure by the people involved in (a) surveillance and (b) eavesdropping by the agencies and organisations listed in 1 to any of their superiors, colleagues, sub-ordinates, business associates, friends, relatives, family members or strangers.

The clause sounds very reasonable in the post-9/11 world and makes perfect legal sense. After all, any disclosure made (unintentionally) under conditions listed in this clause would not be the fault of the Recipient and it would only be for The Good of The Country and The World and The Humanity (as everyone knows and agrees to).

I have one doubt, however. Won’t the addition of this clause almost nullify everything else in this agreement to mutual confidentiality?

But the clause is required. Isn’t it?

And what about that poor thing, The Market?

Is it already being forgotten in favour of other things?

February 13, 2011

The Moral Laws of Comedy and a Paradox

The Moral Laws of Comedy

According to Eklavya, the three moral laws of comedy can be stated as follows:

  1. The First Law: If you can’t laugh at yourself, you have no right to laugh at others.
  2. The Second Law:If you can’t laugh at more powerful people, then you have no right to laugh at less powerful people, irrespective of where you are on the power spectrum.
  3. The Third Law:If you can’t laugh at the society (or the institution or the group) you live in or belong to, then you have no right to laugh at the individuals in that society (or the institution or the group), including yourself.

An extension to the first law is:

If you can’t laugh at your own society (or institution or group), you have no right to laugh at other societies (or institutions or groups).

The revised (and recommended) statement of the same laws will have the word ‘can’t’ substituted by ‘don’t have the courage to’.

The zeroth moral law of comedy defines ‘laugh’ as a specific kind of laugh that is meant to be a negative comment or critical judgement, such as the laugh associated with ridicule, sarcasm etc. It also defines ‘comedy’ to include humour and satire.

A corollary of these laws is that if you violate any of these laws, then you are not creating comedy (or humour or satire). You are just being mean spirited, petty minded, spiteful, nasty, hateful, bitchy etc.

Simply put, you are being immoral.

A generalization of the laws can also be derived. Such a generalization would apply to criticism and punishment too. Thus, the Moral Laws of Criticism (Punishment) can be given as:

  1. The First Law: If you can’t criticize (punish) yourself, you have no right to criticize (punish) others.
  2. The Second Law:If you can’t criticize (punish) more powerful people, then you have no right to criticize (punish) less powerful people, irrespective of where you are on the power spectrum.
  3. The Third Law:If you can’t criticize (punish) the society (or the institution or the group) you live in or belong to, then you have no right to criticize (punish) the individuals in that society (or the institution or the group), including yourself.

Punishing the society needs some explanation. You can’t obviously punish the society in the way you can punish individuals. And one of the axioms of morality says that collective punishment is immoral, so punishing the society in the above sense can’t mean collective punishment (something whose innumerable manifestations we see in all ages and from all kinds of people, institutions, societies etc.). For the purpose of stating the above laws, punishment of society means changing it in some way. And only that way will be moral which changes it for the better. This sense of punishment, therefore, is nearer to treatment or curing in the medical sense.

The zeroth moral law of criticism (punishment) defines ‘criticism’ in a way that would include the ‘comedy’ mentioned above, thus the generalization.

That extension of the first law also applies here:

If you can’t criticize (punish) your own society, you have no right to criticize (punish) other societies.

The Sin-Song Paradox

Any application of the Moral Laws of Comedy (among other things) is associated with and complicated by a Paradox known as the Sin-Song Paradox.

This moral paradox can be stated (according to Eklavya) as follows:

In most societies, we are taught from our childhood (at least in schools, or perhaps only in schools) that we should hate the sin, not the sinner, i.e., it is wrong to hate the sinner (an individual) and right to hate the sin (an act). However, in practice, the norm in all societies is to hate the sinner, not necessarily the sin (if at all). That is why we have all the systems of punishment, whether legal or social or otherwise.

Similarly, we have another such inversion with regard to systems of belief. Ignoring the cases where a system of belief is respected only because of the power it wields (that being covered by a different moral paradox), we are supposed to (or we pretend to) respect those systems of belief which are shown (or proven) to be rationally and/or morally correct, but in practice, we respect those systems which are advocated by people who are, as individuals, rational and/or moral in their lives and their conduct. In other words, we are supposed to like a song because the song is good (musically and/or lyrically), but in fact we like that song (a system of belief) because the singer is good. The converse is also true.

Thus, in the first case, we focus on the individual, when we should, in fact, be focussing on the act. And in the second case, we focus again on the individual, when we should be focussing on what the individual is saying or advocating. This moral inversion is closely related to violation of the third moral law of comedy, which involves focusing on the individual, when we should actually be focussing on the society.

It is a paradox, and not simply a contradiction between theory and practice because the norm that is followed in practice is assumed to be a moral norm too.

In fact, the violation of the three laws as well the above paradox, all involve wrong focus on the individual, when the focus should be on something else.

From the moral view of the world, it can be derived from the above laws of comedy and the Sin-Song paradox that a lot of our (i.e., the world’s or the society’s) problems stem simply from this wrong focus on the individual.

December 25, 2010

Property Rights on Tragedies

Looking into a hypothetical future, let us suppose the (to be) richer countries of Africa were, like the richer countries of Europe, form a union as powerful and influential in World Politics as the present EU. While, as seems likely, India still retains caste based structure of its society. In this world, some politician in India professing to represent the lower castes makes a statement to the effect that India’s higher caste dominated parties discriminate against the lower castes, quite like the white colonialists in Africa against the black skinned people.

Should one expect the African Union to react sharply against this? Whether one should or not, one might have to, if one goes by yet another bizarre event in a world that once again seems to going totally mad.

There has been a strange tussle going on between a certain senior politician of the Congress party in India and the right wing Hindu conglomerate that goes by the name of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteers’ Union) or the RSS. The Congress politician in question is as good or bad as politicians with a relatively better reputations go in India. The RSS is an organization directly connected to the party (BJP) that was in power at the central government a few years ago and still is in many states of India. The RSS has been the subject of numerous studies by scholars (Indian as well as Foreign) and everyone who knows something about it knows that the right wing conglomerate has always had more than a soft spot for Hitler, Mussolini and the Nazis. Therefore, it is quite common in India to find one of its critics (and that of its various offshoots) mentioning the Nazi connection. It might be that sometimes it is overdone, but there is no doubt that in order to understand the nature of the ideology and the politics of this massive but amorphous organization, whose history goes back to a time long before independence, you have to know and understand their admiration for the Nazis and the Fascists generally.

The tussle that I mentioned involves the death of one of the police officers during the Mumbai terror attacks (26/11, as they call it). The accusation made by the said politician is that some Hindu terrorist outfits (relatively new kids on the block as far shooting and bombing kind of terrorism by non-state actors is concerned) were responsible for the death of this officer.

This tussle has been going on for some time now. But what concerns us here is that during this tussle came a statement from the Congress politician that BJP kills Muslims in the name of nationalism, like the Nazis. And that their hatred towards the Muslims is comparable to that of the Nazis towards the Jews. On strictly objective grounds you might say that this is not hundred percent accurate. However, notice that the word used is ‘comparable’, not ‘equivalent’. But, if you want, you can also verify for yourself that there is a significant amount of truth in this statement. Again note that I mean the comparison with the Nazis, not the death of the police officer, about which I can’t say anything.

You can also verify for yourself that during the last two decades (at least) the ideological difference between the Congress party and the BJP (or its earlier avatar) has narrowed down so much that sometimes it is hard to make out which is which. Still, since they are the two major parties and they have to fight elections with each other, they have to criticize each other too, sometimes quite severely. Therefore, it is very normal to see such tussles between the two parties or their leaders, though usually they don’t involve something as spectacular as a multi-day televised terror attack. No one takes much notice as this is a part of the electoral routine, except those whose profession requires them to.

But what do you know. Once you have resigned yourself to the idea that strange things happen, you are made to find out that stranger things happen. Thus it is that we find that soon after the most recent Nazi-BJP/RSS comparison, the Israeli government has taken offence at the ‘invocation of the Holocaust’ by the Congress leader to hit out at the Hindutva (i.e., RSS) organizations. To quote:

The Israeli Embassy reacted to this on Monday through a terse, one-sentence statement that it didn’t approve of the massacres of the Jews being used for political sabre-rattling. “In response to the enquiries from the press, the Embassy wishes to stress without entering the political debate that no comparison can be made with the Nazi Holocaust in which six million Jews were massacred solely because they were Jews,” the statement said.

There are several things that one can note here. One is that the Holocaust as a single event was not mentioned. Another is that even if it had been mentioned, there were other victims: the Gypsies (who are in the news as victims again in 2010), the communists, the homosexuals, the handicapped, the Catholics and even German dissenters. Then there were the members of the conquered ‘inferior’ and not so inferior races, killed in huge numbers (even excluding those killed in battles). Yet another is that comparison is not equivalence and that comparison can, should, and has been used since the beginning of civilization to warn (or caution) against the repeat of the equivalent.

The Israeli statement seems to suggest that through some mysterious legal logic, Israeli state now holds copyright over the Holocaust. Not just that, the statement even seems to suggest that Israel holds the rights even over the Nazis, that is, if you want to compare some ideology or some atrocity to those of the Nazis, you have to first check with the Israeli government.

If only we could be sure that this is just an extremely unusual incident of idiocy. One can objectively try to understand this as an example of a process of mythology creation through which a real event has been appropriated by an institution (a religion, or more accurately, a government claiming to represent a religion) and has been entered in some sacred text so that it now comes exclusively in the domain of that institution’s rites and rituals and theology. But there is not much comfort in such an explanation.

There is another explanation, but it has been put forward previously and I will leave it to others or to the reader.

What next? India holding a copyright on the partition massacres? We will have to share it with Pakistan (and Bangladesh too). The EU holding a copyright on the Black Plague? American Indians on ethnic cleansing? Africans on slavery and racism? The EU again on chemical warfare?

It is said that the whole population of the city of Delhi was wiped out several times: as part of what is called Qatl-e-Aam (Universal Murder or Murder at Large). One of those supposed to have ordered a Qatl-e-Aam in Delhi was Nadirshah, one of the so many to invade India. There must be some exaggeration here, that is, there must have been survivors, just as there were in the Holocaust, but it is an historical fact there were general massacres in Delhi ordered by some invaders. Even the language (Hindi-Urdu) carries the residues in the form of expressions like Qatl-e-Aam itself and ‘Nadirshahi hukm’ (Nadirshah’s order).

So perhaps Delhi should get the rights over Universal Murders. Of course, the rights will have to be negotiated with other claimants. They will have to be narrowed down to Universal Murders in a Single City or something like that.

To be fair, on closer reading, the quotation given above says that “In response to the enquiries from the press, the Embassy wishes to stress…” In other words, it is ‘the press’ (presumably Indian – and right-leaning) that seems to have extracted the statement from the Israeli government. Were they playing their own role in invoking the Holocaust for political sabre-rattling on behalf of the party compared to the Nazis? The Israelis were ready to oblige though.

Be that as it may. What I know for sure from my personal – first hand – experience is that if certain people (and they are very large in number) were able to do as they badly want to do, there would be massacres in India on a scale the world has never seen before. And I am not talking about those who are formally known as the ‘terrorists’.

This is just a statement of fact which I make here, typing on this keyboard, without much feeling at this moment.

And I have realized (in the following moment) that it is now (Merry) Christmas.

May 9, 2009

Inverted Inbreeding

Minus of minus is plus
And inbreeding is bad
So inverted inbreeding must be good

April 30, 2009

To Whomsoever It May Concern

This is to inform the readers (if any) of this blog that none of the posts on it are about any individual.

If you have been reading this blog, you would know that the one thing it is about is the individual’s place in and relation with the society. And the stand on this topic that comes up again and again in the posts on this blog (never literally, except here, but otherwise in all ways) is the individual’s right to be left in peace if that individual is not doing anything atrocious against the society or other individuals. Note that I don’t mean even this seemingly clear statement of the stand to be taken very literally. But you can understand it if you want to.

I simply don’t write about individuals, except if they are public figures and even then only about their public statements and actions.

But I do write about the society, the institution (the general, abstract institution) and the system. And, of course, there are people who are parts of these (as I am too). In that sense I do write about the individual in his or her role as a member of one of these.

Also, this is a literary (and occasionally academic) blog, not a blog about, say, my daily activities. There are essays and poems on this blog. Even one story. So I would be offended if you insist on calling them mere posts, as would be any person who writes (literary) poems.

A poem is a poem is a poem, even if it appears on a blog, technically as a post. So is an essay. So is a story.

How good they are may be a matter of debate.

Yes, my personal experiences may act as catalysts for my writings, but isn’t that true of every writer worth his salt?

February 10, 2009

संस्थान और इन्सान

शहर में सर्कस लगा था
एक बच्चा अपनी छोटी बहन के साथ
सर्कस देखने आया था

दरवाज़े पर चौकीदार था
बच्चा और उसकी बहन ठिठके

चौकीदार ने पूछा, संस्थान की आवाज़ में,
तुम्हारा टिकट कहाँ हैं?

टिकट तो नहीं है…

अंदर जाना है तो टिकट तो लेना पड़ेगा

मुझे पता है, पर मेरे पास तो पैसे नहीं हैं

पैसे नहीं हैं तब तो अंदर नहीं जा सकते

बच्चे ने कुछ देर सोचा
फिर बोला, हमें तो जेब खर्च नहीं मिलता
मैंने कमाने की कोशिश भी की थी, पर नहीं कमा पाया

तो अंदर नहीं जा सकते

आज इसका जन्म-दिन है, मैंने वादा किया था
कि इसके जन्म-दिन पर अगर सर्कस लगा होगा
तो मैं इसे दिखाने ले जाऊंगा

पर अंदर जाने के लिए टिकट तो लेना पड़ेगा
देख लो, सब ले रहे हैं, चौकीदार ने कहा
सिपाही की आवाज़ में

मुझे पता है, पर…
सिर्फ़ आज जाने दीजिए
अगली बार मैं पैसे लेकर ही आऊंगा

ऐसे कितने लोगों को छोड़ सकता हूँ मैं
पता चल गया तो मुझे निकाल देंगे

हम बहुत दूर से पैदल आए हैं

चौकीदार कुछ कहने जा रहा था…

अचानक इस घिसी-पिटी कहानी में
एक घिसा-पिटा सा चमत्कार हुआ और…

चलो आज छोड़ देता हूँ, फिर परेशान मत करना
चौकीदार ने बहुत पुराना डायलॉग मारा
पर आवाज़ इन्सान की थी

तो इस दिन, इस जगह, इस बच्चे के साथ
इस चौकीदार के रहते, यह चमत्कार तो हो गया
और थोड़ी देर को संस्थान की जगह
इन्सान ने हथिया ली
पर क्या इस बच्चे के साथ दोबारा ऐसा होगा?
किसी और बच्चे के साथ होगा?
होने और नहीं होने के अनुपात पर
कहीं कोई शोध वगैरह हो रहा है क्या?

संस्थान कब कितना कैसे इन्सान बन सकता है
इस सवाल पर मान्यवर विचारकों के क्या मत और भेद हैं?
भांति-भांति के विज्ञानियों के क्या निष्कर्ष हैं?
हैं भी या नहीं हैं?
होने की कोई योजना है?

संसद में किसी ने ये सवाल उठाया क्या?
अगर हाँ,
तो सवाल और जवाब की आवाज़ें कौन सी वाली थीं?
और इस बात की खबर देने वाली आवाज़ें कौन सी थीं?
आवाज़ें असली थीं या ओढ़ी हुई थीं?

कला के खूबसूरत संसार में
रिटरिक की बू फैलाने के लिए माफ़ी।

…अफ़ेंसिव होने के लिए माफ़ी।

…डिफ़ेंसिव होने के लिए माफ़ी।

क्या करें, बड़ी माफ़ियाँ मांगनी पड़ती हैं बाहर भी
ऐसे सवाल उठाने के लिए
ये तो कला का संसार ठहरा।

पर माफ़ करो न करो: जवाब तो दे दो यार!

मैं बहुत-बहुत-बहुत दूर से आ रहा हूँ।

 

[2009]

Blog at WordPress.com.