Category Archives: Individualism

Kya aap White ribbon mein shraddha aur imaan rakhte hain?

Do you have faith in the White ribbon?

White Ribbon


Feminist, blogger and activist Anasuya Sengupta, in an essay called ‘Fundamentalisms of the Progressive wrote,

‘One of our campaigns was to wear a white ribbon for peace (the White Ribbon Campaign for Peace, India) – we used it both as a symbol and as a talking point, to begin conversations about violence of all kinds, including what we call ‘communalism’ in India (the rousing of hatred against particular communities). Initially, some of our friends scoffed at us, and wondered what an insignificant white ribbon could do, to change attitudes and animosities.

But the interesting thing was that there were so many people – both young and not so young – who were unable to be political in the same way as they saw ‘activists’; they felt this meant standing at street corners with banners, or going on rallies, or shouting slogans against the government. They found this too ‘political’ (in their understanding of the term), and yet they were deeply disturbed at the kinds of violence being perpetrated in the name of religion.

So for these people, wearing a ribbon was the beginning of a series of conversations they had with others, which began other processes of change, at least in terms of breaking the silence around violence.

And because it was something everyone could do – and have conversations at whatever level of politics and ideology each was comfortable with – it wasn’t intimidating in any way, and yet gave a sense of belonging to a community against violence, and speaking up for peace.’


Do you believe in pluralism and justice?

Are you Secular, liberal, free thinking?

Do you believe that all religion has in its essence ways of leading a soulful, integrated and fulfilled life?

Do you believe that religious extremism has done us no good?

Say No to religious bigotry.

White Ribbon

Wear a White Ribbon today.

The hopeless and the hopeful.OSSW’07 Day 5

day 5

The hopeful: But this is a good start. If we can have this every year or twice in a year, we can get some people thinking about the idea and maybe this will catch on, who knows.

So let us give it a try, eh? (Sounds good for me)

The hopeless: Borders have been drawn in blood. Mighty presumptuous or stupidly naive of us to ask for a ‘United India’. One should think of peaceful co-existence, rather than dominate and swallow the neighbour under the thinly veiled pretext of ‘Unity’.

The One State Solution Week was created in order so that voices from Bangladesh,India and Pakistan could share common concerns about a shared history of violence, religious intolerance and colonialisation, in the hope that strong peace keeping ties between the three ‘nations’ will make a stronger lobby for peace and security in the world at large.

The idea is to draw from a pool of writings and and create a platform where these voices can come together, in the form of a web-site or a wikipedia entry.The writings need to be about what you, with your locusts stand I feel about the idea.If you can draw from historical, political, literary or artistic discourses, or better still create your own artistic material, then it would be great.

For non-bloggers:Send your write-ups (original and not longer than 1500 words).Send them in at

For bloggers: Blog your thoughts.Please keep them original, concise and crisp.Tag them OSSW’07 so that your post will be traceable.

Continuing the discussion on Ayn Rand, Capitalism and Reason

I live and work in Gujarat, where I think I see a version of capitalism. Ours is a middle class locality with its typicalities, but never before have I seen a more stifling ground for heterogeneity and individual freedom. Heterogeneity because I know that the residents see the same people and live identical lives, watch the same soaps, and visit the same temples, think the same thoughts(?). Individual freedom, because you are under constant scrutiny by neighbors who know and anticipate and keenly involve themselves in your doings and undertakings.

I think that the underlying ideals to this sort of world are lust greed and power. It’s an each creature to her or himself kind of world, where even things like religion are bent to serve the market.
I’m a Muslim. And I don’t want to proselytize but the application of reason is an important aspect of Islamic theology, I’ve come across the phrases, “In it are signs for those who think”, “You are responsible for bringing good into your own life”, “To each his own…”  in places in the Quran. There is a great emphasis on individual responsibility and collective conscience, hand in glove. I have been for the past few months trying to think philosophically about Islam, using some ideas from liberation theology, in an Indian perspective.

Now that I’ve laid out the context let me get to Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand’s influence on my own thinking was profound in my growing years. A lot of young people I knew had the same experience. She’s a philosopher who wrote for the public. Her work therefore, like the writers of good science fiction was trying to make some very key concepts very accessible, through fiction. And what I’m attempting to do is give her ideas some testing ground in the milieu where I’m from.

Then, September 11, and Gujarat 2002 happened. And my mind had to be shattered open to let in all pluralistic and diverse points of view. I was part of the movement against US imperialism and capitalism. I didn’t understand all of what was going on but after a trip to Gujarat 8 months after the horror of February 2002, I realised what the violence of a homogenous society can be. The secular movement was where I stood, because it seemed to be the ideal ground for growing up. Not that that wasn’t a colonization of sorts but we’ll get to that later. But I owe a great deal to the movement for peace, democracy and cultural pluralism in India.

There is also a big impact of the media in all of this. Gujarat 2002 was largely the pits of charred remains which I’m still gathering in my head every day I live here. And September 11 was that enormous world-wide spectacle where you sat gaping disbelievingly at a screen knowing how entirely helpless you are as the New York World Trade Center was felled, by airplanes, and then as two whole countries were taken into war, strife and desolation.

Now in the backdrop of all of this is Capitalism, primarily, and its tendencies towards homogeneity. In an every creature for him or herrself;) model, I think that structures need to be created to breed difference, which sadly enough, our scientific technological rationality driven paradigm does not support, in my opinion.

Continuing the discussion from here

Ayn Rand…


Ayn Rand is the author of works of fiction like ‘Fountainhead’, ‘Atlas Shrugged’, ‘We the Living’ and so on.Her philosophy, Objectivism is as I recall about applying reason to every strand of your being.

Here are some key exerpts from her work:

‘My philosophy, in essence is the concept of man as a heroic being with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute.’

‘My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

  1. Reality exists as an objective absolutefacts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
  2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
  3. Manevery manis an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
  4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.’

I read Ayn Rand a lot when I was about fifteen, and until I was around nineteen . Her dull gray universe held a lot of appeal, the idea of selfhood and seriousness that she endowed life with, her noble, morally just and upright characters left a lasting impression.

Ayn Rand’s individualism, in a culture where from the start you are asked to rake out your life from the remains of and for the interest of a collective is influential, to say the least.Her books have a huge readership in urban India.

I want to initiate a discussion her influence in the lives of people.

I hope that this post generates debate about her work.

If you have, in any way been touched by her philosophy, then do write to me at, or leave a comment here.

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