Updated Reprint of ‘REGARDING LUCKNOW’

A smarter reprint of a collection of my essays on Lucknow is now available at http://www.pothi.com and at http://www.Amazon.com the eBook along with paperback is in store.https://store.pothi.com/book/syed-rizwan-regarding-lucknow-0/

If it was not for morality…

If it was not for morality, the most rewarding life would that be of a drugs baron. By any calculations, a worthy recompense of leading a righteous life cannot be bestowed here in this world because out here others are still undergoing the trial of their worthiness. Intermingling a recipient of the reward with those who are still struggling would throwback the already qualified man to the muddy soak pit where he will be at risk of getting sullied once again. As such, a worthy man has to make a clean break from this tantalizingly fantastic world.

Suggest

I am currently writing a sequel to ‘Survivors of a Mutiny’ published in 2018. In this story Kabir, son of a big-time farmer, wants to marry Angela, daughter of an English doctor during the period of the British Raj. The doctor doesn’t think it’s a great idea because, as per him, it is not such a good match. Kabir’s love pursuit is further spoiled by the skirmishes Indian folks are intermittently having with the ruling British forces which are affecting the growing differences. Though Angela would love to rule at the farm, she is circumspect about jumping into a new alliance in a recently adopted country.

So how can we bring the odd couple together? Need your suggestions, please.

LIES

Alas, we’ve acceded to live in a world of lies,

Where truth forever knocks

At the door of just to recoup and energize.

Bag-full of perjury gets instant entry;

No matter if it is past midnight

And at the door is a drowsy sentry.

While truth in tatters spends many a cold night,

On the bench in the park across the temple

Where fair lady holds the balance at a height.

How long would the hearing be on wait?

What for is this endless case? Truth bewildered,

In an era of make-believe, it is rather too late.

Discard those unbecoming tatters,

For there’s so much more in the sack

Fast track to the commune holding the platters.

Never before was easier to grab power and wealth.

Wake up to deceive in a world full of lies,

Mockery is the way forward and to robust health.

Simply being born in a religion didn’t make it superior by any degree

Over the years many of us unwittingly got ensnared in the web of dogmatic approaches to beliefs and have been stagnating in a quagmire ever since. Some of these beliefs distinguishes religious identity while other beliefs rouse motivation for taking pride in race, colour and ethnicity. In each of these demarcated areas, the common strain is that for some reason ‘we are better than the others so we must have our way’. In a growing number of regions in the world, one or more of these diversities are exploited by power hungry leaders to ascend in status. In countries where sentiments of religious affiliations are extraordinary, the political climbers assemble a plan of growth based upon the emotion of faith or religious belief of what they calculate to be a major chunk of the population and, in order to give that plan moralistic sanction, tacit or explicit support of culpable priests is also obtained for its implementation in a spirit of religious duty. The priest, in turn, is pleased as the game plan guarantees a stimulus to status, prestige and coffers. While in countries where religion is not such an emotive issue, the political leaders stimulate the racial and/or nationalistic chords of the group which they consider to be in a majority and rope in big businessmen to fund their campaign in lieu of an assurance of economic largesse subsequent to grabbing the power which would enable them to do so.

Though both of these strategies have worked to the benefit of wily leaders in many countries, the tactics have at the same time been making those regions increasingly inhospitable for those who do not agree with the method employed and strongly object to the age-old ploy of divide and rule. It is also believed in some quarters that religion has been the cause of the rift in society. For now, let us examine the role played by religion in fragmenting the society which in realistic terms benefited only a handful of people lucratively.

All of the major religions fundamentally agree upon four basic principles:

  • Belief in an Almighty Creator.
  • The Almighty created the universe, including all living and non-living things in the world.
  • Human beings, at some point of time, have worshipped or in other words paid obeisance to the one who they believe created them.
  • The basic teaching of all religions is to guide mankind on how to pursue a righteous life which is in harmony with fellow beings.

Atheists may not believe in a creator, but ironically, they too religiously try to pursue a righteous life just to prove that they don’t need to believe in a creator or necessarily adhere to any specific religion. However, they too are vulnerable to standing in line as per roll calls of race and colour.

Looking into the above fundamentals, the basic doctrines of various religions should have worked as a cohesive force for the society, but in reality the opposite has happened. The fault lay not in the religions but in the exploitation of visibly apparent ceremonials of religion by power hungry people. And as this exploitation has benefitted these people they would continue to plunder on this course and thereby would widen the rift that it creates. The purpose is only to harness more and more supporters who, ultimately, exult in the adversity of strangers but, when on the back foot, never fail to sing paeans of the exploiter.  

But have we not had enough of this degeneration? Except for a handful people, has the generation of this cleverly disguised conflict ultimately profited anyone socially or economically? Why must man be pitted against man to circumvent much more pressing demands of the society? Has not exploitation of emotion, held as sacred, been the bane of a society which primarily wants to live in peace? If correction of this schismatically worsening trend is the need of the day, it has to come about by those who are fed up with it.

Black Lives Matter kindled a hope. Perhaps survival of a pleasant life needs more of such matter.

Social Engineering

The New Hazard of Social Engineering

I spent my formative years using pen or pencil or at the most a Remington typewriter to express my thoughts or write the hardcopy of a soft speech. Then came the era of computers and mobiles and these hard made wares were brilliantly utilized to invent softer wares for social media platforms and digitally monitored applications, simply called Apps. Writing world went topsy-turvy; pencils became bookmarks of old diaries wherein the washer-man account is kept and the pen was relegated to signing cheques only, while Remington can no longer be found even in ‘Chor-bazaars’. It took some time for the ldies to somehow manage these new-age instruments (Or are they called tools? Anyway, how do names matter? Creed matters more, which in this case is either Gadget or Gizmo)

So far it was so good, though Gen-Next thought it was awesome. But then Information was bifurcated into Fact and Fiction, oops in the new jargon it is called Fake, and to make it even more diabolical, we also came to know that Technology could be used for good, bad and ugly purposes by similar kind of people. The good part was like opening and operating a bank account; bad was someone else siphoning it off and the ugly is the topic of this report. But we will come to this ugly thing a little later. For now the Gen-Present has to virtually get the hang of what is actually VIRTUAL because the good old guys are routinely subjected to virtual meetings, virtual games, virtual ceremonies and even virtual verbosity. And to beat it all, these virtual Apps can be virtually hacked. It needs to be clarified here that this type of hacking is not done by good old-fashioned axe but it is sort of squeezing through closed doors like a virtual spirit. This spirited trick was possible due to the fact that the entire ‘hamam’ was virtual, and the spirits, like humans, are too good and too bad, too. So we have good hackers like the CBI guys and the bad hackers who play the fool with EVMs. But this started sounding not only tacky but too vague, so a new terminology was coined, which is actually quite ancient (I guess they ran out of words). If you have any doubts, have a look at the full names of Mister Ethical Hacker and Mister Unethical Hacker. The good thing is that Ethical Hacker is an expert but the alarming thing is that Unethical Hacker is a virtuoso and that is proving to be problematic for those who don’t know the hang of hacking or the con of cloning.

Coming back to the ugly report that I happened to come across a couple of days back relates to misuse of technology in a massive way to control an entire society or even an entire population through what is called as social engineering. Some of you could be well aware of it, but for me it was new, disquieting and interesting, so the more I delved into this subject the more I found recent events and developments falling in place. Do observe how very big state players engage big players who have the paraphernalia to utilise their social engineering machinery to control a huge mass of people in four ways:

  1. Very big players combine with big players to cultivate a culture of fear to gain people’s consent to wage war or any other aggressive action.
  2. Intimidating the public or a certain section of the public through continuous stress so that they accede to them in order to survive. This is termed as Stockholm syndrome or submission to usurpation of civil liberty.
  3. Distract the public from easily accessing important information by non-stop relay of non-issues like conduct or lifestyle of celebrities or exploiting man-made tragedies or natural disasters. Both methods are employed to impose the will of the very big players.
  4. Divide and conquer – Use media to create two narratives for every major political and social issue to keep the people busy fighting each other. The debates on TV are for this purpose and the paradigm of that is set by the media and not the viewers.

 Meanwhile nothing meaningful happens which means the very big player continues to control.

Although social engineering is now a worldwide methodology, in India we can connect many recent events to this controlling technique – sustained targeting of jamaatis, the fluctuating govt. stand on NRC, riots, threats and hate-crimes, Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case followed by Kangana-Rhea-Raut debate, call for clapping and clanging in midst of a pandemic, race for producing vaccine for Covid 19 virus and biased stand of FB India towards hate mongering are some of the outstanding happenings which come to mind where one or more of the above methods were employed to control the mind of the public. Possibly social engineering was probably employed some years back in a more discreet manner to create diehard supporters while the others were napping.

The questions that now arise is who or what determines ethical and unethical standards? Has not the discerning wall between the two become wafer thin because the determining norms have been manipulated as per convenience and thence indiscriminately used for monetary and/or political gains? There is no doubting that technology has made it possible to make great strides in healthcare, infrastructure, space exploration, access to knowledge and rapid communication, but at the same time it has also created its own variety of demons along the way, and social engineering is the most damaging of them so far. The magnitude of the possibilities that this demon can inflict is enormous. Have not a great number of people already been emotionally or mentally controlled in various parts of the world? Have we too become robotic enough to readily accept social engineering as an inevitable part of life or are we, the Gen-Present, willing to put up a long and hard fight to resist the systematic erosion of civil liberties? They, the very big players, virtually hate civil liberties because these are impediments in controlling the masses beneficially. And we are the last few of that generation who have seen both sides of the coin and thus know where the drawing lines lies. So we must resist because nobody else would or even realise the great danger of illusion of making life easy through deception.

The open letter issued to Mark Zuckerberg by Shibu Thomas should not be the closing chapter of a bold movement; it should continue in some or the other form till the big players mend their ways and then the bigger ones are left without a tool or did I say instrumental accomplice?