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Exercises for a smarter nation

We, the people, are gullible idiots. C'mon, admit it. We have all been bullied into bad deals by powerful charlatans at some point or another. Governments are no different. The current one is getting away with our personal data and going about distributing our public resources and monies to its favourite cronies.This is no exceptional government. This happens all the time, in all the countries - to varying degrees. The varying part is important. I would much rather be in Norway where the leeway for such giveaways against the interest of public is small, compared to Angola and Nigeria where the oil bonanza instead has become oil curse.

One of the important ways for moving towards Norway and away from Nigeria is for the public to become aware and educated about power. Education is a bad word now - what India creates in not educated people, it creates literate minions. By educated, i mean people who can reason, who can think critically, who can see the world from different perspectives.

So i was thinking of a few tests to encourage that education, that power consciousness. Suggest more if you can think of some too.

1. Identifying power
Test what you are censoring yourself about? can you make a joke about modi? about islamic terrorism? Who can turn your joke against you?

What can you say to yourself? what can you talk about among friends? What can you talk in public?

2. Identify players
Whose interest is being served inadvertently or otherwise?
Follow the money and influence. Who benefits?   
There are no free lunches. Watch those who are gaining influence/ capital and hold them accountable.

3. Identifying smokescreens
Need to teach ourselves to identify smoke-screens - when questions of identity are forced upon people during elections. or religion becomes a hot subject to avoid being asked questions about corruption. or when padmavati becomes a hot topic instead of the issue of the judge who had died
'mysteriously' in a case where suspect includes the two most powerful people in the country.

Why the high decibel on a non-material issue? What material issue is afoot in legislature, judiciary, business, crime world ..etc. The real action is always in these things - the parliament, the financial deals, the judiciary. Our focus must be on these places. Whenever a non-issue is turned into an issue, there are high chances of something being pushed through these corridors of powers that wants to remain a secret, that is against public interest.

4. Identifying self-interest
Reading  news from the perspective of self-interest. what matters to me, what does not.
How does this new law, new ruling, new offer affect me? Does the aadhar ruling affect me personally, or the padmavati controversy does? The high pollution levels would kill me in the long term. shouldn't i do something about it?

5. Identifying common interest
The self-interest needs to be balanced with common interest. It might be in your interest to chop off all the trees on your plot, but in the long term - your children are going to die painful deaths owing to pollution related illnesses. We are all connected. Our interest is connected. A true consciousness of self-interest will reveal to you that your interest completely coincide with public interest - because no matter who you are - you are still human, still part of the public.

So think about, is this in interest of us humans? Does your plastic bottle need to be throw down the valley? Do we really need the Kundankulam nuclear power plant or Narmada dam? Do we really need ore extracted from under our brother and sisters' feet in Chattisgarh?

A more polluted, a more corrupt, a more self-centered world is in no one's interest, least of all you.

What other consciousnesses, other questions/ perspectives should we ask ourselves?


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Things turn into cash
once they are stripped of their lives -
their breath,
their freedom,
their dignity
or their joy.

A fish on the table
and a cubicle dweller..
both are united in their solvency,
their ability to be stripped of their lives and turned into money.

This solvency is our own making
Hold up your hands against the sun and your favourite gods
Do they dissolve? 
Hold up your heart and see if it beats for them
Hold your joys in your hands and fling them towards the system,
does it stick?

For a better world
first we need to walk away from this world.

The rich will always have heavier hammers

Just read this - ‘I want to help humans genetically modify themselves’
So a guy is obsessed with a certain technology, feels he can be a pioneer to a brave new world and justifies it to himself in bad faith by thinking - "This technology that I’m trying to do is for all of us. Whether you’re a big corporation or somebody in their basement, you have access to this stuff – everybody does. People respond very positively to that."

This, I believe is a dangerous belief - that tech can 'level the playing field' in a sense. It never does.
Internet was supposed to be the great leveler. And for a while with Yahoo anonymous chat and early days of mushrooming internet cafes, it really did feel that way. But soon enough, the powerful people have turned it into a tool that is more advantageous to their interest at the expense of common people's. Governments use it for surveillance and propaganda. Companies use it to brainwash people into buying things they don't need.…