Sunday, 23 March 2008

Uniting Halves of Cross on Easter

Uniting Halves of Cross on Easter at Papua New Guinea

Remigius de Souza

Sr. Alice, SMMI, a Keralite nun, left India some years ago for Papua New Guinea to serve the tribal for rest of her life.

She told us a tribal custom there. On Easter two rival and fighting groups reconcile and unite. Each of the rival groups carries a half cross and reaches the Church and combines the half with other half in reconciliation. That's Tribal Wisdom.

The benevolent and the do-gooders of civilised societies may wish to give the tribal their ways of life. I have met many such people who refuse learn from the tribal, and who think they are superior culture. But who will civilise the civilised world of constant conflict and chaos?


© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Trial of Jesus of Nazareth

Trial of Jesus of Nazareth
Remigius de Souza

The trial of Jesus, whenever I read, remember, reminded of, or hear, it shakes me. It, I feel, is the most remarkable, extraordinary and unique, among all the trials – in fiction or facts – over two thousand years of civilized world – may be before, in the past, in the contemporary times and in the present. It tears open the reality of the great divide between law and Justice. It does not even spare the bloodstained history of the Church, the Christian nations, and the institutionalised religion – as a matter of fact, all the institutionalised religions of the civilizations.

When any society becomes a stagnant pool and refuses to flow any more, it stinks and the creative ability of its civilians hits the bottom. They notice the scum of the civilization that floats, they – impotent of any creative thought and action – believe what they see – the scum to be the truth, their true leaders.

Through this Holy Week I have been contemplating on my grand mother (my mother’s mother) whom we called Mai. Mai taught me the Doctrine, at my young age when I was at my native village, thankfully, no any priest or a nun. Well, the priest used to visit the village three or four times in a year. My mother also taught me still Mai though an illiterate peasant was indeed powerful. They both were in and around my daily living then. The lesson is best learnt by example than by rote or preaching – at home or at any university.

There was an event of conflict in our community among some families that I had then heard. A Panchayat – a meeting of the elders to resolve the issue – was called. Mai spoke in protest for a young woman, almost a girl, who was at disadvantage, as usually happens. At last one of them, he was her namesake, surrendered before Mai, “Rujai, I give up. You would make a lawyer, even a barrister, shut up!” What he meant she is illiterate but not ignorant. What he definitely meant was she hailed Justice above law.

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Tribal Holi on Good Friday, 21-03-2008

Tribal Holi on Good Friday, 21-03-2008
Remigius de Souza

Holi festival and the Cult of Tree worship have animistic origin. The tribal of India have been celebrating Holi festival and Tree worship even before the emergence of civilised society. Indic societies have assimilated both, which are attached with various meanings and rituals.

Holi festival goes on for five days with dancing, singing, drinking toddy, arranging marriages, fishing at village lakes, visiting fairs etc.

Such coincidence of Holi and Good Friday on same day takes place at intervals. A Catholic priest once told me of an event that took place a couple of decades ago, a true story.

The missionaries had invited the new Catholics of tribal communities in North Gujarat on Good Friday that was also the day of Holi. Nearly 5000 Catholic adivasis – aborigine – reached the place.

In their traditional way they – adivasis – prepared for the feast; they cut bull and prepared food for 5000 people for the occasion. The priests and nun were stunned by this coincidence, as Good Friday is the day of abstinence and fasting.

Any the priests and nuns couldn’t do anything about it but participate. I wonder what would happen today! There is more than what meets the eyes!


© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Singur Land: Small Print - Fat Money

Small print - Fat money for Singur SEZ
by REmigius de Souza

Here is a news item that appeared in the Times of India, Mumbai Edition, on page number 23, a size 4 cm x 8 cm. We wonder who and how many may have noticed it.

Tatas and the media have done their duty to make it public. Of course, those filed the case in the Calcutta High Court must be aware about this verdict. So what next?

What remains to be seen is how the money would be disbursed, among whom? How much part the people would receive? How would be spent for the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, over the next 90 years? What may be the condition of Tata Motors in the fast changing environment of industry and natural resources? How long Tata Motors will continue to produce the same product, or will it change in the coming years? And what the long-term and short-term plans are for rehabilitation of the affected people? The government and its agencies may continue to get money from Tatas for 90 years, but who guarantees that people will continue to receive the compensation?

There are more questions than answers.

I quote the news here:

Tatas to pay Rs 1k cr for Singur land
Kolkata: Tata Motors on Wednesday informed the Calcutta high court that it would pay West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation an amount in the region of Rs 1,000 crore in a phased manner for the Singur land lease of 90 years for its small car project. Stating that the land was not gifted to the Tatas, their counsel produced the deed of lease executed between WBIDC and firm indicating the premium and rent that Tata motors would have to pay on different slabs of increase.
The case was heard by a bench of chief justice S S Nijjar and justice P C Ghose on a PIL challenging the acquisition of land at Singur. AGENCIES
Publication:Times Of India Mumbai; Date:Aug 23, 2007; Section:Times Business;
Page Number:21

The news get old very fast; life of people, land and waters, however, continues to get affected for decades, centuries, when planners and producers have passed away long ago.
Remigius de Souza

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.


Archetypes India banner 1

Archetypes India banner 2

Archetypes India banner
by Remigius de Souza

India is not a hand-held map of land with boundaries that were subjected to change time to time in the past; future is merely a speculation.

She is the land and waters and all the living beings that sustain on land and waters; they don’t sustain on the governments, either in the past or now. They are beyond the boundaries of castes or creeds, sects or religions, dogmas or ideals…

Indian archetypes are the imprints carried through unknown time on the minds – subconscious / unconscious / deep conscious / conscious – whether does one want to recall, understand, reflect, contemplate, recollect or rebel against.

Archetypes India – an abstract representation of reality or super-reality or virtual reality – is metafiction.

We discover India, thereby ourselves, and the world, through Community, Culture, Environment, Ecology, Energy, Natural and Rural habitat, and Urban Planning.

Remigius de Souza

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Govt. of India must file Returns

Govt. of India must file Return to the citizens

There is a customary ritual pre-budget address by the President of India to the nation on a previous day. It should be authenticated with facts and figures, which should include the following:
  1. To take an account of the previous budget's provisions;

  2. The actual expenses incurred, and where it was not consumed;

  3. The areas where the budgetary provisions where utilized, and not utilized, and how many people were benefited, how many are left over;

  4. How much amount of the provisions were spent for the government executive machinery - personnel, transport, allowances, salaries, perks etc.

  5. What were the success and failures of each project, mission, campaign, Abhiyan etc. in terms of reaching the target groups, and implementation, and usefulness.
In other words, the governments - at the centre, states, districts, cities and village panchayat levels (i.e. local self-governments) must file their annual returns just as individuals and associations are made to file the return on their income and expenditure and performance.

In fact, all the corporations and undertakings of the governments and local self-governments must also be subjected to file their returns of their performance every year to be scrutinized by the citizens.

According to the region - the nation or the states - should file their returns in all the regional or the respective languages of the regions, and should be published in the national and local newspapers.

It is unfortunate that budget speech is in English, and our government cannot afford to make it available in all the regional languages, at least those mentioned on our currency notes, so that a larger number of citizens could access it.

Why the Budget Speech should be only in English? Why this Neo-Brahminism in the secular India?

Let the citizens too do the Monitoring and Evaluation of their government's performance every year rather than waiting for the election times to hear the lies and concocted stories by the contestants!

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Art and Culture of Warali Tribe

Art and Culture of Warali Tribe
by Remigius de Souza

“As a generation passes away, the statue of ‘Vaghdev’ – tiger god, the oldest of the pair is removed and a new one takes its place. Vagdev’s statue will regenerate in the cycles of death and birth. … We do not find gurus, prophets, scriptures and temples… among the Warlis. His Vaghdev stands in the open under the canopy of the sky, awaiting regeneration. The civilizations created great religions (and anti-religion/s), great temples, great libraries, great deserts, and great wars in the name of religions. His art is part of his religion, culture, community and person. Is Vaghdev the keeper of the forest just as the tribal are?”

(Remigius de Souza, ‘Tribal Housing and Buddha and the Art and Science of Karvi Hut’, paper presented at the First Congress of Traditional Sciences and Technologies of India at Indian Institute of Technology, Povai, Bombay, 28 Nov – 3 Dec 1993)

Remigius de Souza

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Budget India ’08: A grand cover-up act

Budget India ’08: A grand cover-up act:
India’s Budget – A commoner’s View

by Remigius de Souza

Episode: India’s Finance Budget 2008, │ Main Cast: Finance Minister (Fin-Min) P. Chidambaram │ Date: Friday 29 February 2008

India’s Budget – A commoner’s View

The first World India has harnessed so much wealth that it (not she, not Mother India: note it) can waive 60K crore rupees bank-debts to the farmers: indeed a great cover-up. Very, very sexy! As expected it created a great buzz in the media.

The dead-by-suicide farmers and those had paid their loans, and those dying by hunger and malnutrition (reported / unreported) – the second-class citizens, the Third World India (and the Fourth World India) – are redundant.

The peasants and adivasis, displaced due to development euphoria, e.g. special economic zones (SEZs), dump themselves in the slums in metropolises, cities and towns to earn their daily bread with dignity rather than begging, in the past sixty years that still continues, are redundant.

This is apart from atrocities by the ranks and files the fundamentalist, the extremist, the regional/ provincial chauvinist of many colours and shades, the law and order lapses, the black money economy, the scams, rampant bribery and corruption – the man-made calamities that affect the poor most. When there are natural calamities we need foreign aid.

By waiving 60,000 crore rupees debt, the government has not really given the farmers anything tangible. Fin-Min says, it is ‘the accumulated dust’ (Interview, Times of India, March 2, 2008, p.15), perhaps, in the files or the system! No one really knows how many farmers, and where they are? They begin the count now, not when the calamities started.

Engines to uplift the poor

To uplift the poor (they are in great majority) the rulers have devised many engines, in the past and now, of course, with benevolent intentions. The engines, Bharat Nirman (literally Bharat Creation. They conveniently change India to Bharat on occasions: here it actually means the Third World India that also includes the Fourth World India, who are beneficiaries.), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, National Rural Health Mission… to mention a few are from the long list. Several thousand crores of rupees are provided in the budget. But no one knows how these will be managed, who will manage them, and when would they materialise? This is sixty-one years old story. Time now flies faster.

It took sixty years for the rulers of the Republic of India to wake up to the fact (though not fully yet) that neither the great trickle down development/ prosperity nor the great engines, mentioned above, succour the poor (there are about 200 – 300 million persons below poverty line (BPL); their numbers, however, fluctuate with new definitions of BPL devised by the Planning Commission of India, time to time). The great engines remain promises if they fail to deliver results in time bound frame.

They are now devising yet another engine, Monitoring and Evaluation (Ref: Fin-Min’s Budget Speech, 115 and 116) that I quote below:

Monitoring and Evaluation
115. Robust economic growth has thrown up many new challenges, among them the need to put in place effective monitoring, evaluation and accounting systems for the large sums of money that are disbursed by the Central Government to State Governments, district level agencies and other implementing agencies. I think we do not pay enough attention to outcomes as we do to outlays; or to physical targets as we do to financial targets; or to quality as we do to quantity. Government therefore proposes to put in place a
Central Plan Schemes Monitoring System (CPSMS) that will be implemented as a Plan scheme of the Planning Commission. A comprehensive Decision Support System and Management Information System will also be established. The intended outcome is to generate and monitor scheme-wise and State-wise releases for about 1,000 Central Plan and centrally sponsored schemes in 2008-09.
116. Government also intends to strengthen evaluation. Some ministries have started concurrent evaluation. This needs to be supplemented by independent evaluations conducted by research institutions. The Planning Commission will authorise such evaluations of the major schemes and complete the task by the time of the mid-term review of the Eleventh Plan.

For the last sixty years the same stories repeat. The Five Year Plans are not implemented to the end; thousands of court cases remain pending and get accumulated; budgetary provisions are not fully utilized – either because of ignorance of the people or apathy of the executive bodies, or both; money and resources meant for the people do not reach the remote places (not by distance and time). Besides how much, what proportion of the money, provided to make engines work, goes for the executive personnel, and how much is hijacked by the undeserving persons is not known?

But why, why does this happen? Any sane person can tell that there are not enough persons – educated or even literate – motivated / rewarded persons to work in the rural areas.

The second reason: There is no scientific, economic and environmental evaluation of peasants’ work and their form produce. None of the social and natural scientists has done this study in the last hundred years from the late Justice M. G. Ranade to this date (I am ignorant if there is any). We are speaking of organic, labour intensive traditional faming, not mechanised farming with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Instead the feudal practices of yesteryear to treat peasants as subjects- now called beneficiaries continue. Are there any exception/s in foreign countries?

The third reason: The ‘haves’ do not want to share with the ‘have not’, their work, knowledge, education, skills and resources, which they monopolize, and which ethically should belong to all: occasionally they give out dole and charities. Why otherwise the planners, experts, policymakers, the creators of great engines to uplift the 80 percent people should fail to deliver?

The reason: They, in the first place, are the products (or victims?) of the great engine of education (that gives them the blinkers of compartments / departments) devised by the British rule. Hence, they continue to copy, collaborate and borrow from the West, and compare with the West, and ironically, also, want to compete with the West on borrowed technologies.

They don’t meet the 80 percent people on equal ground, on one plane. They utterly lack any sense of community participation – the millennia old ancient tradition that still prevails. It could have opened them to many time tested vital aspects of the people’s wisdom, knowledge and skills. The government could learn from the farmer’s action of watering the farms how to save money/resources during their distribution from pilferage and waste.

Even the street vendors (migrated from the hinterland) are better economists and planners; they sustain with right and affordable tools and right place, and don’t miss an opportunity to upgrade. Even a spider knows where and how big or small web it should place. Even a weaver bird (male), knows what resources to use, and where to place his nests; in fact all birds know.

To this date more than 60 percent people are illiterate; in some places, in any of the regions, up to 100 percent illiteracy prevails. This amounts to politics of literacy and politics of education of the First World India by denying the peasants and adivasis the right to education and the right education. Whatever model education they are receiving, if continues, will do more harm to them and the country, both.

The changing times demand appropriate education to all in all 600,000 villages and habitats in India.
"By the direct proportion to places and people in rural India (and the migrants in urban areas), the managers of country’s affairs should have started farming schools, colleges and universities, by the rule of majority then, and now.
As the count goes, the anticipated 600,000 schools should lead to 60,000 colleges and 6,000 universities spread over entire country, all of them from primary to higher education in the farming discipline to enhance the farming skills, knowledge understanding and practices of the people of India’s agrarian society; these must be added with non-formal education. To supplement these, the Farming Training Institutes (FTIs) similar to Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics should be started for the adults and the school dropouts." (Farming and the Politics of Education in India: Challenges of 21st Century)

This must be stupendous job! The present rulers are not even mentally equipped even to think of it because it doesn’t fit their departmental protocol. It demands many disciplines to come together and above all the decentralization of power.

This is only a glimpse into one part of the budget, which is meant for peasants – the unorganized sector the Third World India. There are many aspects besides education that are ailing the peasant in India. The great promises will never work without the people’s participation; but here again the first requisite is the decentralization of power.

The other part of the budget is the reality management of the great realty bazaar of the First world India – the organized sector.

The two parts expose the Bharat – India dichotomy, the promises and the reality – the great Indian divide. Fin-Min’s great cover up act exposes the naked truth. Any half-naked, illiterate, the so-called backward peasant could tell you that, if he could even the text in any language.

The peasants have sustained themselves with their education and within their limited local resources – land and waters – for more than ten thousand years. This place then had no name – India or Hindustan or Bharat, there was no boundaries, and was no civilized society. They had then (as the scientists say) domesticated plants and animals (biotechnology), without any laboratory.

They, we, don’t need either Nuke-deal with the US, or we don’ need to go on the Moon.

We are 1100 million people strong human energy spread over 3,287,263 square kilometers land.

The first step is to put to creative work this immense human energy, and to reach the realities Down to Earth.

Remigius de Souza (06-03-2008)
© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

‘Tentacles’ meets Martin Carter

You are involved

This I have learnt:
today a speck
tomorrow a hero
you are consumed!
Like a jig
shakes the loom;
like web
is spun the pattern
all are involved!
all are consumed!

(Martin Carter [1927-1997], 'Selected Poems', Peepal Tree, 1999, p.91)

'Tentacles', Remi's Self-portrait

‘Tentacles’ meets Martin Carter

Browsing through the shelves of public library recently I picked up selected poems of Martin Carter. Turning the pages I come upon a poem “You are involved”. I hadn’t even read the introduction or his life sketch.

I was amazed as I read through ‘You are involved’; it verbalized ‘Tentacles’ – my self-portrait that I had painted a couple of decades back, whatever may be the references of the two works.

As I turn the pages, I came across several lines that draw me like a magnet, from the other end of the globe. Martin Carter is a poet of universal appeal that goes beyond the provincialism, political or sovereign boundaries. I being a colonial subject and now a subject to neocolonialism his poems stir me deep within my belly.

I can’t resist mentioning a few lines:

… But what the leaves hear
is not what the roots ask. …('Proem', p. 87)


And so again I become one of the ten thousands
one of the uncountable miseries owning the land. …

('I come from the nigger yard', p. 95-97)

To see a shop and dream of holy temples
is to expect a toad to sing a song. …

('To substitute a temple', p. 103)

There is no shortcut to integrity
All, all is gone, all gone, the murderer cried. …

('Now there was one', p. 105)

…. In despair there is hope, but there is none in death.
Now I repeat it here, feeling a waste of life,
In a market-place of doom, watching the human face!

(Black Friday 1962, p. 107)

O first sprouting leaf and last falling fruit
your roots come before you were given to air….

(Voices, p. 111)

What is rain for, if not rice
for an empty pot; and pot for
in a hungry village? ... (Rice, p.133)

No winder Martin is people’s poet and spontaneously hailed by the Guyanese people as national poet of Guyana (formerly British Guyana), the honor best of all other recognitions and awards. His poems are chronicles of history of existence of modern times, not only of Guyana.

Martin Carter Blog is a commendable and fitting tribute to his legacy. The blog that impresses anyone at the first glance: the unity of the Guyanese people and the panoramic view of the spurt of activities there. I write this humble note to endorse my solidarity with the Guyanese people and my respectful tribute to Martin Carter.

© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.