Understanding Ancient Cultures and Religions

I have been thinking a lot about this topic for a while.

There has been lots of backlash in Western countries against certain ancient religions and cultures. There have been repeated incidents (too many to count), especially of late, in which some belief or faith has been insulted. One of the latest cases is when United Airlines (its alliance partner airline or subsidiary) refused to serve diet coke in a can to a person who wore her religion on her sleeve, so to say. That was absolutely unacceptable, and United Airlines apologized for its crew member’s behaviour, but I am not sure whether enough training is being done to educate service folks who are in the business of serving the public.

We do not see such behaviour in South East Asia, to be specific. There are virtually all cultures and religions present in this region, plus all the Western cultures. However, there is no insult to any specific culture or religion, or any outward display of a religious faith. People carry on with their work, and do not take time to talk about such folks or their faith or their customs or their cultures. May be they do so in private, which is fine. No insult is done, and in some countries it is not possible to cause insult, because the government concerned is very clear about acceptable behaviour – what is not acceptable will lead to punishment. And, that stuff is captured in a law of the parliament which is then applied to the population without any hesitation.

I am not sure why such happy behaviour cannot happen in places like the U.S. or European countries. Tolerance is the very basic fabric of human life, necessitated all the more because of our innate differences – we believe in different things, different faiths, different cultures/customs, we wear different kinds of clothes, and what not. Everything may be different between me and you, but we still have to respect each other, avoid any kind of insult to each other, live together, and be productive in our respective pursuits in life. Is that not very clear to all ? Why is it not clear to so many people in the advanced countries – this just baffles me.

Immigration is a part of life in every country, and people are going to move around the world. That would necessarily impose a burden on the natives of a particular place, state, or country. There is a necessity to understand and merge with others. There should be welcome to foreign folks who have chosen your place as their dream place to start a new life. Why insult them ? After all, they are going to contribute to the economy of your place or country.

It is very critical to spend sometime trying to understand ancient cultures, ways of doing things, and religious practices. I have personally invested time on these things, and it made me a better man. People do appreciate if you take interest in their areas of belief; you may not subscribe to their vision or belief, but you are making an attempt to understand. That, in itself, is a positive gesture to people around you. That does not give you license to say bad things about the people around you, however.

So folks, it is time to shed our preconceived notions about what we think are “bad” or “wrong” cultures. They are all the same at the end of the day. We need to learn, understand, appreciate and give a helping hand to people around us, irrespective of their culture, belief or religion.


Vijay Srinivasan

14th June 2015

2014 in review – WordPress.com Annual Report on VJ MUSINGS Blog !

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Vijay Srinivasan
30th December 2014

Law Enforcement and High-handedness

For several decades now, many of us know about the high-handedness of police in countries like India, and in many other developing countries.

Now we know that even developed countries have that bad streak in their police forces.

The key objective of law enforcement is keeping the general public safe, and a related goal is to prevent crimes. The power bestowed on the police for ensuring that the above goals are met are misused and abused many a time. The heads of law enforcement and the government officials in charge of security would not generally challenge their own police officers in cases of abuse of powers, even if that had resulted in serious wrongdoings. This is a general statement, and does not apply to every case around, but the exceptions wherein serious actions have been taken against police officers are rare, anywhere in the world.

The U.S. has now demonstrated that its police officers go scot-free almost all the time even there are wrongful deaths of unarmed civilians at their hands, and the grand juries would never indict the police officers, fearful of setting a precedent which would demoralize the police force.

But what is right and what is wrong ? Are not the grand juries or judges responsible to ensure that any harm caused to a normal citizen on the roads by police officers who should protect the citizen rather than harm him/her, should be treated as crimes against citizens ? Why do the laws of the country not provide for punishment to people irrespective of their roles in society ?

There is something seriously wrong in all our societies, if we are unable or unwilling to mandate reforms to our legislation in a manner consistent with the principles of natural justice, instead of succumbing to special interests.

In developing countries such as India, the police has enormous powers and they misuse the same against the public, do not provide proper and appropriate guidance to the public, question the public on any complaints they bring forth, treat everyone as nuisance, and beat up protesters in general. Such scenarios play out in most countries, especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Now, there is strong evidence that developed countries are nothing different – they protect themselves (I mean, the police officers) rather than the general public who they are supposed to protect. Why should the police always get worried that they are under threat all the time ? They themselves should never be above the laws of the land. Why should the police have extraordinary powers to beat up people – what authority gives them that kind of unnecessary powers ? Even when they need to take offensive actions, why not use some weapon different from a gun – even if a gun needs to be used, why not shoot at the legs ? And, why use six bullets against an unarmed civilian, even if he appears to be physically threatening ? Why make decisions which would come to haunt you over the rest of your life ? And, why snuff out life from a young man when he still has not yet had the opportunity to live out his life in full ? Where is the compassion ? Where is the humanity ?

Given all the incidents which have happened in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, and Florida, I have come to the warranted conclusion that police in no country is above board completely. If the U.S. police could do these kind of public killings with impunity, I believe that the precedent has been set for more such killings in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, where unfortunately the U.S. is the role model in almost everything.

Can and will the government do anything to rein in such incidents ? That is a clear NO.

So, we continue to live in a world of police atrocities against the general public, with no clear governmental mandate to control such errant and deviant police officers who give such a bad name to an otherwise well-regarded profession. I do not agree that being a police officer is “patriotic” service to the nation. I also do not agree that police officers are always under the line of fire, and so could wield unlimited power.

Think seriously about the police.


Vijay Srinivasan
13th December 2014

Merry Christmas !

It is Christmas again !

I was reviewing what I had posted couple of years ago – “Christmas and War Hysteria” .

How things have changed !! in a span of just two years.

While nothing much has improved in the developed countries in terms of consumption and overall economic prospects, India has surged past with commendable economic performance. Pakistan is no longer the only issue dominating India in the political and military circles (though it will never go away completely). All the five permanent members of the UNSC have visited India in a span of just five months this year, reflecting the importance of India.

We do have many internal problems and challenges, and it is time to reflect on those matters. Christmas is the perfect time to seek peace within oneself and with others, be it individuals or nation states. It is not about any one religion. It is about that peaceful mindset, when one is ready to forgive the sins of others, and one seeks forgiveness for his own sins from others. It is a time for redemption and purification.

I am sure that the hotspots of the world would take a breather at this juncture : like Israel – Palestine, North – South Koreas, Iraq, Iran, China – Tibet, China – Uighurs, India – Pakistan, and many other problematic regions. It is critical to realise the value of life, though it be one single individual life – no one has given the right to us to take away a life. It is very important not to sacrifice lives in the name of national security. Normal citizens do no harm to the cause of security or peace, they only convey their views or become unintentional players in the chess board.

Again, Christmas is the perfect time to reflect and make better decisions when those decisions could impact mankind and the lives of thousands of people.

Let us hope the governments will take note of the criticality and centrality of human lives in their decision-making process.



Vijay Srinivasan
25th December 2010