How an avowedly “nationalist” government allows India to be digitally colonized by US and China

By Raghav Bahl – With great gusto, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to convert our country into a digital superpower, a Start-up India that would reconfigure the world with its tech smarts and savvy.

According to Bob van Dijk, CEO of Naspers (Africa’s biggest company, a media and internet conglomerate that is also the largest investor in China’s Tencent), “India needs to make sure that it builds an ecosystem for the success of local businesses. If I am blunt about it, I think Europe is a digital colony of the US. There’s no decision making in search, content, social or video, which basically means there is no ecosystem of capable internet entrepreneurs or professionals … if I were your prime minister, I would have that bent of mind.”

Yes! Just as Chambal dacoits looted central India in the 1970s/80s, Shenzhen and Silicon Valley dacoits are savaging our digital landscape in the 21st century. We have already resigned ourselves to the astonishing dominance of Google and Facebook, without even a shrug of resistance. These American titans take nearly 90% of all digital ad dollars from India. They own the digital identities of over a billion Indians. They know what we search, buy, whom we date, where we live, what politics we follow, what we say, think, and everything we do!

It’s a shame that this is happening on an avowedly “nationalist” government’s beat. more>


Why godmen become omnipotent, and their followers so impotent

By Sudhir Kakar – Barring a small minority of atheists and doubters, for most people this higher reality is the dispenser of religious-spiritual moments that, in the words of the poet John Keats, “light up the narrow, mundane world of daily existence, a world which has always been inadequate to our experience and unequal to bear the burden of our hopes.”

The godman is believed to be in intimate contact with ‘higher’ reality and has the power to make it accessible to his followers. He or she (for this also holds true for the godwoman) is the culturally sanctioned addressee of an ancient civilizational longing, a collective request for the transforming experience.

His reputed ability to induce euphoric states in the follower carries a conviction of his divinity that is impervious to skepticism and disbelief. The follower cannot be shaken out of his belief in the godman with appeals to reason or evidence, answering anyone who would doubt with, “I don’t believe, I know.”

As much as he offers empowerment through identification with himself and his sect, it is a rare godman who does not come to misuse the power granted to him by his followers. This has nothing to do with a particular godman’s goodness or villainy but is inherent in the institution itself. Idealism by followers (“You are great! You are perfect!”), a godman must process the idealization internally and not start believing them.

One consequence of these positive idealizations is a loss of touch with the reality of everyday life and the context in which the idealizations are embedded. more>


One Asaram in jail is not enough, it’s time to smoke out all fraud babas

By Shobhaa De – Why are we so bloody gullible? Such monumental idiots?

Why do we need self-styled godmen and godwomen in India?

Most of them are crooks and liars. Murderers and deviants. But we refuse to see through them. We refuse to accept they are out to loot, fool and deceive us.

Even a casual survey will reveal the organised deception that creates these monsters.

Any man or woman who claims a superior spiritual status is an impostor. Anyone who insists he/she has a hotline to God, is clearly a cheat. Anyone who offers to save someone’s soul, is out to financially/emotionally exploit the victim. Anyone who tries to manipulate human frailties and comes up with instant solutions, is talking hogwash. Unfortunately, a lot of that hogwash gets transformed into faux ‘wisdom’ by the media.

The vulnerable fall for the slick hardsell, and overnight spiritual empires get born. Take a look at the egos and assets of the current crop of gurus. Look at their vanities and posturing, their arrogance and intolerance. You call these people ‘spiritually evolved’?

Let’s call them charlatans. Scratch the surface and see what they are made of – don’t be surprised to find nothing more than hot air and bombast. And yet, they continue to flourish and thrive, propped up by their influential mentors and political bosses.

It’s time for India to smoke out all these frauds. There are too many of them preying on suckers/ believers blinded by their so-called ‘powers’ and promises to save humanity.

The power to save yourself wholly, solely and only lies within each one of us. Let’s drive these pretenders out of business and then watch the fun. more>