Whatsapp Warriors and Face-book Philosophers

It has been learnt from a survey conducted by Harvard University in Collaboration with Fox TV Network that on an average a mobile phone user spends 90% of the air time on Whatsapp or Face-book. Don’t ask me where I got this figure from ; I just thought of it. No worries; just spin it around through Social media apps .Our Whatsapp Warriors (WW) and Face-book Philosophers would forward it on so enthusiastically that it might become true now even if there had been a  doubt earlier.

What would happen if that little curved arrow is not available on Whatsapp ? Well, the traffic on the app will be down by 90%. How can people forward stuff without reading ? How can people pass judgments on stuff they are clueless about ? Why do people forward stuff in languages , they don’t even recognize , leave alone understand ?

Well, to ‘like’ is twice blessed and to ‘forward’  divine.

So much is conveyed with so little vocabulary. The entire vocabulary of a WW is restricted to just two actions; a long press and short press. With this limited vocabulary, you can even  send a plethora of emojis to express yourself. How exciting !

The social media is here to stay. It requires a great degree of patience and detachment to go through others’ posts and sometimes post your own views without the post-delivery pains.

Real World and Virtual World

What you see is not What is there.

The first time I learnt about the term ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ was in high school physics . When light rays actually meet, it is a real image and when they appear to come from a point, it is a virtual image. An image is an image; what difference does it make if you see it in a concave mirror or a convex mirror. Well we can leave that to the physicists .

The next time I came across the term was in the context of computer gaming,”Virtual Reality” . The term is even more confusing.  After years of involvement in a VR Project I learnt that VR simulates experience through senses and perception. You ‘see’ things which are not there, feel a hit when no one has hit you and so on.

Nowadays one hears a plethora of terms “Perception management” , “Image Projection”, “Optics”, “Image building” and so on. Doesn’t it all amount to creation of a simple Virtual Image or may be an ant throwing up a shadow the size of an elephant ?

Sometimes, I feel , the Real World we live in full of virtual images, where everyone is practicing their own version of perception management in personal and professional Spheres.

Recently, while talking to a finance professional about IPOs, I was amazed to learn about the extent companies  go to ,to project the desired image for success of an IPO. They need to manage ‘TV Channels, Web portals, independent finance consultants, HNIs and so many entities to project a favorable image. This of course is in addition to window dressing of balance sheets  and cooking up of accounts through highly paid bean counters.

Cinema is the domain of dream merchants selling virtual images , but they too resort to image projection to sell the make-believe world they produce.  And publicity tours by stars have reached absurd levels. Simply can’t imagine Rajesh Khanna or Hema malini doing a blitz tour of schools and colleges to promote their movies. Nor can one imagine writers Kalki or RK Narayanan bombarding the world with Tweets and face-book posts to promote their books.  It is not just actors  and writers who need image projection, but even doctors,lawyers and teachers need to project their images and these are professions where ethics forbid any advertisements.

The matrimonial columns in newspapers and matrimony platforms on visual media are the ultimate exercises in maximum image building at minimum costs. The stakes are also high here.

So, be it TV, Newspapers, Social media friends and the ‘real’ people around , all seem so virtual.

Ironically, it is only during interaction with  on-line strangers that I get a feel of interacting with real people.  The financial transactions on-line are so real and honest, though money doesn’t really change hands in the literal sense. While playing chess online with absolute strangers, I can sense the feelings of triumph or frustration of  my opponent. Even the Google translated chats in a foreign language appear more real than interactions with some friends on the face book. What is social media but ultimate form of Narcissism and playing to the gallery.

When the real world is saturated with virtual images, one looks to the virtual world for some reality.

 

 

 

 

 

The Road Less Travelled :Where Science meets Mysticism

Dr Scott M Peck

When a scientist explores mysticism or when a Mystic contemplates a science laboratory, it produces astounding results. Though to a western trained mind it might sound rather strange , Science and Religion or Mysticism need not be mutually exclusive. After all where Physics ends where   Metaphysics starts and   Psychology and Parapsychology do overlap. So it is natural that many scientists stray into the zone of philosophy and vice versa. The fourteenth Dalailama is a passionate student of Science and Technology. He has initiated a number  of studies to explore Buddhist methods on training of mind through the prism of Science. Some of the other books where Science and Mysticism overlap are :

  •         The Tao of Physics by  Fritjof Capre
  •          Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance by Robert Pirsig
  •          Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body By Daniel Goleman
Pic Courtesy :Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

These days, some of the top bestsellers are books on self-improvement. At some stage , everyone gets motivated to read books on self improvement and a good number of people do try and practice what these books advocate. Most of these books talk of positive thinking and positive attitude. It’s like a magic wand. Believe it can be done and it is done. Phew, easy does it. Anyone can. Be a winner. In this group what stands out is one book which started simply with a sentence  “Life is difficult” . It is a paragraph by itself. It is not a book that says think strong and you will be strong , think you are rich and wealth will follow. It is a kind of admission that life was indeed difficult and one had to face it. That was the first step to relief or Nirvana.

The New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

The book is  “The Road Less Traveled by Dr Scott M Peck. When I started reading ,it proved to be an unputdownable book. Later , I learnt that, the first paragraph was taken from Buddhist philosophy , the first of the four noble truths ‘reality of suffering’”. You can find the influence of Zen Buddhism as well as ideas of Christian Philosophy through out this book and other books by the author.

Dr Peck was trained in Psychology and he did a stint with US Army for 9 years rising to the rank of a Lt Col. Later he practiced as a psychiatrist at Connecticut (USA).Though he was born in a protestant  family, he had a secular upbringing. Later, he developed interest in Zen Buddhism and Islamic Mysticism before he was drawn to Christianity. He was Baptized at the age of 43, in the year 1980. to hear it in his own words

……..Even though I was raised in an extremely secular home, as I look back on it, I was a freakishly religious kid, although not specifically Christian. And always I felt God to be in the background, always benign, never paid him or her that much attention, specifically, but felt him or her very much there. Christianity meant nothing to me as an adolescent, but in adolescence I fell in love with Eastern mystical writings, and then very gradually evolved from them to more attention to the Jewish and Muslim mystics, and then only finally to Jesus making more sense as I was moving toward writing The Road Less Traveled, when I was about 35 or so. I was a mystic first, and a Christian second. And I entered the Christian church through the back door of Christian mysticism, or maybe the top door, whichever way you want to look at it.

My baptism was in a number of ways a real kind of death for me, as it is supposed to be. And one of the reasons it was a death for me was that by declaring myself a Christian, I was declaring myself not to be Buddhist, not be Jewish, not be Hindu, not be Muslim, and as if I was casting disparagement upon traditions that had deeply nurtured me. So that was just one way in which my baptism represented a death in that I declared myself and regretfully in many ways. …..

Naturally , his first book was a on Psychology liberally  laced with the idea of faith, goodness, evil , God, religion and such terms not normally associated with Psychology as a Science. Random House, where the then little-known psychiatrist first tried to publish his original manuscript, turned him down, saying the final section was “too Christ-y.”

When finally published, it was was an instant hit. So what is this book about ?

The book consists of four parts. In the first part Peck examines the notion of discipline, which he considers essential for emotional, spiritual, and psychological health, and which he describes as “the means of spiritual evolution”. The elements of discipline that make for such health include the ability to delay gratification, accepting responsibility for oneself and one’s actions, a dedication to truth, and “balancing”. “Balancing” refers to the problem of reconciling multiple, complex, possibly conflicting factors that impact on an important decision—on one’s own behalf or on behalf of another. The discipline here is quite different from army discipline where it is all about appearance and obedience. To Dr Peck, Discipline is only about how you keep the promises you made to yourself.

In the second part, Dr Peck talks of ‘Love;. First he follows the Indian idea of ‘Neti Neti’(not this, not this) ; a process of examining various theories and eliminating them one by one in search of Truth. He eliminates certain popular conceptions of ‘what is love’ to label them as ‘romantic love’ , ‘dependency’ and so on. Then he tries to list down the  attributes of Love; devoting a chapter for each attribute , illustrating with case studies.

Dr Peck argues that “true” love is rather an action that one undertakes consciously in order to extend one’s ego boundaries by including others or humanity, and is therefore the spiritual nurturing—which can be directed toward oneself, as well as toward one’s beloved.

In the third part Peck deals with religion, and the commonly accepted views and misconceptions concerning religion. He recounts experiences from several patient case histories, and the evolution of the patients’ notion of God, religion, atheism—especially of their own “religiosity” or atheism—as their therapy with Peck progressed.

The fourth and final part concerns “grace“, the powerful force originating outside human consciousness that nurtures spiritual growth in human beings. In order to focus on the topic, he describes the miracles of health, the unconscious, and serendipity—phenomena which Peck says:

  •  nurture human life and spiritual growth,
  • are incompletely understood by scientific thinking,
  • are commonplace among humanity,
  • originate outside the conscious human will.

He concludes that “the miracles described indicate that our growth as human beings is being assisted by a force other than our conscious will”

Overall, the book gives no shortcuts to success. In fact  even the word ‘success’ is conspicuous by its absence.  What he aims at is to attain more efficiency, balance, better productivity, emotional stability , better inter personal relationships and spiritual development. If all these can be achieved, I suppose success as commonly understood should follow.

Mental Health : The India Story

Which way to go when you need a shrink for growth !

Mental health is not just about abnormal psychology, but it covers the whole gamut of issues that makes a person happy and productive. I remember reading a Tamil book on psychology the title of which roughly translates to “Some are inside; some outside” . The book is a series of case studies, where the first part deals with patients in a lunatic asylum and the second part about socially acceptable people from all walks of life. The studies goes on to show that people from the latter category are as abnormal as the former the only difference being that their peculiarities are dismissed as harmless idiosyncrasies.

India is no place for people needing  mental health-care. Any violent cases are physically retrained and kept away from the eyes of the society. People with mild to serious problems not leading to violence  are considered absolutely normal and they go about their day to day life, as long as they can fulfill certain criteria. A child is OK as long as he or she gets good marks(or grades as called in the West) in school. Habitual lying, extreme laziness, reluctance to interact with other kids or whatever other abnormalities would be condoned as long as the marks keep coming. In fact the parents find ingenious ways to defend every shortcoming. A child scared of jumping into a swimming pool or riding  a bicycle would be called a cautious type and the kid who wouldn’t talk to other kids, a reserved type. So is it with adults. A man who can earn a livelihood, and a woman who can keep a job or run a household may be absolved of any form of mental illness.

Can we define a mentally normal person ? Very subjective definition it would be. An adult should be able to develop himself or herself to be fully self-dependent physically, mentally and financially. The person should be in a position to realize  her full potential or for self-actualization as in Maslow’s theory of hierarchy. Most importantly he  should not be emotionally dependent on others for his very survival. Loneliness is a legitimate and socially acceptable ruse to become an emotional parasite on parents ,spouse or children.  I don’t suggest that  everyone should stay alone , but I feel one should develop such a capacity for self dependence that would lead to healthy inter-dependence  and a win-win situation in a relationship. Lastly , one should be mentally strong enough to face the myriad challenges that life throws at you in personal and professional fields.

In the West people are generally encouraged to get out of harmful relationships or work environment. By harmful, I mean not very conducive to physical or  mental health. Here, most people are virtually locked into an environment at home or the work-place.  Till the last generation, one joined a profession or a company to retire from that profession or organization at 60. Job hopping was generally looked down upon.  At home, not one or two, but three generations lived together , be it a nurturing or abusive relationship.

I am reminded of kahil Gibran’s words

Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

In India , we don’t talk about Oak and Cypress but a family or a clan is likened to a clump of banana trees , one taking root from the other and feeding on the other and has just one identity as a clump.

Now that clump is falling apart and the individual identities are being recognized , the warts are  also show up. It is only recently that terms like depression, OCD and neurosis are being talked about. Obviously, it does not mean that people did not suffer from these maladies earlier.

So how did people cope up ? Going to a psychiatrist was neither a socially accepted option nor was it financially viable. One just looked to friends and religion for solace. May be that is the reason every part of the country had a place for all kinds of religious figures. (God-men somehow does not feel right). In a way, these holy men and women , though not trained for this role had some sort of  ability to identify mental problems and provide some comfort to the troubled souls. Of course , in an unregulated field there is bound to be exploitation  of  the willing victims.

Depression and Neurosis apart, , mental well being should be seen as , not just staying away from trouble, but to consistently evolve into a better person, to grow mentally and spiritually. We see many children and adults stuck in such environment at home and at work place where their spirits are constantly under assault, their talents are not allowed to bloom and fun goes out of their lives. Their lives are spent in monotony and mediocrity.

It is only of late , we have counselors appointed at schools for advising students and parents. This  is prompted by the spate of suicides by students failing in exams., rather than to help good students perform better. There is such a stigma attached to being counseled that no student wants to be seen outside the counselor’s room.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experience mental illness in a given year. For details click here. That’s an alarming figure.  From the data one  can either deduce that , it was indeed  a mentally sick society,  or one can also  see it  as a society that caters to the needs of mental health care for all to live  a happy and productive life; a society not willing to accept mediocrity.  Here again , welfare states spend more time, effort and money on preemptive health care. That is where  rights of children assume great significance.

Today, we are moving towards the West in every aspect ; language , food, clothing, music and so on. Oats and orange juice are replacing the traditional puri or idli for breakfast. Parents actually restrain  children from speaking in an Indian language; sadly so. Why can’t we get something good from the west ? Why can’t we look at mental health care as a need for overall development of a child or an adult , with no stigma attached to psychotherapy ?

 

 

 

How I met Chess

I saw Chess for the first time when I was around six, at a neighbour’s place, during a summer vacation. It was another board game, but unlike droughts or ludo, it had so many different ‘characters’ queen, king, horse, elephant, camel and what not ? Each piece was different in the way it moved about . How exciting ?

My brother, two years elder to me, and I were so excited about the ‘new’ game that we had to try it out at home. Like a ‘Dhayakkattam’ (or Chaupad as it is called in the North) we drew the board on the floor. Since every piece was different we had to make card board pieces with names written on top like king ,queen etc. We just knew how they moved and nothing else. Most of the board games had a start point and a finish point . This board had neither. So we assumed that the aim was to just go about killing the pieces of the opponent left and right and whosoever had some piece left on the board won. We played all afternoon with  these rudimentary rules , but thoroughly enjoyed it.

When appa came home from office we were still at it moving the pieces about chasing, killing , threatening and parrying. He thought it was another of those nameless, spontaneously improvised games that kids play, until we told him proudly that we were playing ‘Chess’. He didn’t say anything, then. But the next day when he came home he had brought real Chessboard and Chessmen. As he took out the packet, when asked what it was, I remember him telling in his characteristic way “ vazaikkai bajji “ (Some eatable) . I can still recall the sight and smell of the new plastic set.

The rest of the vacation was just chess ,chess and chess. Our neighborhood kids were not much interested, one reason being that we beat them hollow from the first day. So most of the time we played against each other. In the evening, when appa came home, we took turns to play with him. Before long we started beating him . On Sundays he got books from the public library to learn the theory systematically.

The books were in English , so appa had to read . As a matter of fact , I learnt chess notations before I could read English. It was so fascinating . I particularly remember one game by Adolf Anderson that changed our outlook towards chess forever.

It is also called the immortal game. (Anderssen,A – Kieseritzky,L London 1851)

We always played to kill as many of the pieces of the opponent and bigger the kill , better it was. Here was a game in which Black has all his pieces, Major and Minor, intact while white is left with just two Knights and a Bishop. Yet it was the three lowly minor pieces that checkmates the Black King and none of his own Maharathis (Warriors) are able to come to the defence of Black King.

Chess meant tactics, Chess meant strategy Chess meant winning the game even while losing the pieces.

Then I remember following the Boris Spassky – Bobby Fischer World Championship Match , through Newspapers. The Hindu used to give a four column coverage on the Sports page with Manual Aaron, India’s first International Master covering the event.

When I was nine, I joined a boarding school where boys played more of Football, Hockey and Kabbadi rather than chess or Carom Board. After Joining the NDA and later Army , I drifted further and further away from the world of Chess, though I always had a chess set with me , even in field area.

Now after retirement, thanks to on-line chess, I get to play quality chess whenever I want to. It is like a great home-coming to pleasures of Chess.

Here’s the whole game “The Immortal game”

Bharathiyaar’s Poem : ஆசை முகம் மறந்து போச்சே

Continuing from where my previous post;

For some reason Bharathiyaar has not been given his due place in Tamilnadu as, someone like  Gurudev Tagore has been given in West Bengal. The school children’s exposure to the great poet probably starts and ends in fancy dress competitions and a few songs sung in the annual day functions. There is not much effort to study his works either for moral values or for the sheer beauty of the verses.

Be that as it may, in the digital age , it is You-tube which is the ultimate teacher. The ‘lessons’ from the You-tube are spread about by Whatsapp and Facebook. Unfortunately, here too the wind conditions are not favourable to Bharathi as he is neither a hindutva icon nor a dalit icon. Nor does he appeal to the cool dudes by his looks or the language he wrote in. It is becoming fashionable even in Tamilnadu to not to speak in Tamil leave alone read or write.

So be it.

While his patriotic songs are more popular (particularly for school annual day functions) his philosophical works are not so well known. His major works were Kannan Paattu, Kuyil Paattu and Panchali Sabatham. . Once he is said to have offered  that he would give away an English booklet he wrote , a parody on Theosophical Society , (The Fox with a Golden Tail) to anyone who buys his “Panchali Sabatham” .

Some the most beautiful verses of Bharathi can be found in his book ‘ Kannan Paattu’.

This is a collection of 23 poems wherein the poet looks at Kannan / Kannamma as his mother, father, child, friend, sweetheart, king, his guru, servant and the family deity. Of course the most popular compositions are those depicting  Krishna as a lover.

It is said that this song was composed by the great poet when he had misplaced the only photo he had of his mother who had passed away when he was barely five years old. As such it was a black and white faded picture and He had only a vague memory of his mother and now with that photograph gone he feels utterly helpless.

One of the verses brings out the total purposelessness of his life by comparing himself to a bee which has forgotten honey !

The lyrics are captivating. Unfortunately , most singers prefer to include only three or four stanzas out of the  six .

for the lyrics and translation  see here

The pain he feels is expressed as the pain of a girl who is in love with the eternal lover Krishna and has lost all memory of how he looked.

While many of his popular poems have been picturised in Tamil Cinema, this one   has hardly been sung even in carnatic music concerts.

Courtesy You-tube, today, one can hear different versions of the song.

Every famous artist has come out with his / her own version.  The list of artists include Sowmya, Nithyashree, Priya Sisters, Karthik Iyer, Maharajapuram Santhanam Sikkil Gurcharan, Suchitra Karthik and Mahathi. Sometime in 2011, An Album  was released by Shankar Tucker , Struti Box on you tube . It is the absolute pathos of the situation that stands out. Every singer tries to bring out the feeling with the  gamakams , so characteristic to carnatic music. Maharajapuram Santhanam sings it in a fast tempo , unusual for a sad song; yet the feeling is perceptible though in a kind of detached way.

The music composed and  produced by Shankar Tucker , sung by Vidhya Iyer and Vandana Iyer was an instant hit and at the time of writing this piece, it had crossed 4 million views. It captures the mood of the song beautifully. Maharajapuram Santhanam sings it in a fast tempo , unusual for a sad song; yet the feeling is perceptible though in a kind of detached way.  To his credit he covers the all the six stanzas. Karthik’s version sounds modernistic may be because of the accompaniments.

Choose your pick  and enjoy.  The video gallery also includes a wonderful dance performance by Pooja Unni

 

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Bharathiyaar

 

I have always been fascinated by Bharathiyaar’s
songs. My father had most of the songs learnt by-heart and had a habit of singing out loudly at home. So ,in the pre-radio days that is the only channel we grew up listening to.
Over the years ,with more and more resources available on the Internet, I have readup the songs, commentaries and have listened to various versions of the songs rendered by celebrity singers and commoners alike. Every
time I listened to a song, it has been absolutely amazing to note that the great poet’s songs sound as captivating in every avtar, every form at any part of the day.
Recently, I listened to , or I should say ,saw a video version of a song on the you tube presented by the Indian Raga group. It is a channel I follow regularly  and it is heartening to note that the current generation loves the poet as much as we did.  Here it is .
What I liked was the way, the artists moved seamlessly from a classic style to a folk style on the same song, with the same instruments. The words are so beautiful; sound so great, yet so simple to understand, and the flow is so smooth adapting to every style or raagam it is sung in. Tamil being an ancient language, many poets are tempted to use high-flown words to show off their learning. But Bharathiyaar’s songs are so contemporary in style that even though many of the words are hardly ever used in spoken Tamil, every word hits home as if it is your mother speaking.

 

It is not just the beauty of the words, the meaning conveyed is so sublime that every time you hear a song it is so much more inspiring !
Just to appreciate his writings , one feels, a life time is not enough you wonder how on earth did he compose so much in a short span of twenty odd years !
to listen to  Bharathiyaar’s songs  ….  Click 

Bharathiyaar

 

I have always been fascinated by Bharathiyaar’ssongs. My father had most of the songs learnt by-heart and had a habit of singing out loudly at home. So ,in the pre-radio days that is the only channel we grew up listening to.
Over the years , with more and more resources available on the Internet, I have read up the songs, commentaries and have listened to various versions of the songs rendered by celebrity singers and commoners alike. Every time I listened to a song, it has been absolutely amazing to note that the great poet’s songs sound as captivating in every avtar, every form at any part of the day.
Recently, I listened to , or I should say ,saw a video version of a song on the you tube presented by the Indian Ragagroup. It is a channel I follow regularly  and it is heartening to note that the current generation loves the poet as much as we did.  Hereit is .
What I liked was the way, the artists moved seamlessly from a classic style to a folk style on the same song, with the same instruments. The words are so beautiful; sound so great, yet so simple to understand, and the flow is so smooth adapting to every style or raagam it is sung in. Tamil being an ancient language, many poets are tempted to use high-flown words to show off their learning. But Bharathiyaar’s songs are so contemporary in style that even though many of the words are hardly ever used in spoken Tamil, every word hits home as if it is your mother speaking.

 

It is not just the beauty of the words, the meaning conveyed is so sublime that every time you hear a song it is so much more inspiring !

Just to appreciate his writings , one feels, a life time is not enough you wonder how on earth did he compose so much in a short span of twenty odd years !
to listen to  Bharathiyaar’s songs  ….  Click 

 

Aadhaar Card and I

There is much talk, or should we say, heated arguments, in the Social media about Aadhaar card and how it impinges on privacy of citizens. By and large , the elite are disturbed by loss of privacy while the vast majority of the unwashed masses couldn’t care less one way or the other, about the whole issue .
There would definitely be some genuine people who like Henry Thoreau believed that any govt can only be detrimental to individual freedom . Those interested in his philosophy can check out “Walden Pond”. It’s something like, “I want nothing from the govt,except to be left alone”. That is understandable. people can find a secluded spot and  live with Nature ;No Taxes, No identity and all the privacy you want and more viz, Solitude.
In my opinion, most people who oppose Aadhar , simply want their income and expenditure hidden from the Govt and general public unless they want to disclose something. How else can you explain a person giving minute to minute report of every meal and every event on every social media under a name like ‘cool_cat’ or ‘nameless’ , and yet claiming to be “a very private person” when it comes to getting Aadhaar Card issued?
When I first heard about Aadhar Card and Nandan Nilekeni’s Project , I could never have imagined the opposition to the venture. Identity cards were already  ubiquitous. People in the corporate world , wear their cards proudly, with a fancy ribbon, during entire period of  working hours, if not 24 x 7. Then you have Passport,Driving license, PAN Card,Voter ID and so on, none of which prompted this kind of threat to privacy as Aadhaar does now.
As an army man, for a long time I had had no card other than the Identity Card issued by the army. It did not have address or phone number and it was not to be photocopied or handed to anyone even temporarily. I had nothing by way of proof of identity or proof of address for anything like opening a bank account. Particularly in the south, it was so difficult to explain that I had no documents at all like telephone bill, electricity bill, Ration Card or Seshan card(Voter Identity Card). Not that we had free electricity just that the electricity charges were directly recovered by our paying authority at Pune, based on reports sent by MES.(Military Engineer Service) , irrespective of where we were stationed.
So, how did we get about in the civvies street ? we had a certificate made by the Battalion about where we lived and worked. Since it had a heading like “To Whomsoever it may concern”, It was generally referred to by soldiers and sailors simply as “whomsoever”. It could be used as “Ek whomsoever chahiye, bank account kholna hai” As for the family members of a soldier, it was even more difficult to provide any kind of proof of their existence.
Coming back to the time when the aadhar card was introduced, we were thrilled. We trooped down to the designated place, where all faujis,serving and retired gathered along with their families to put our thumb impressions.
When the card finally materialized, it was a great day. Though the photo on the card was anything but flattering, it was a card accepted in the civvies street. The magical 12 digits gave us an address proof and identity proof. At last we had something other than “Whomsoever”.

Truth, Half-Truth,Post-Truth, Alternatiive-Truth and anything but Truth

Truth and accuracy are corner stones for any kind of  journalism.
Today journalism includes Web and Social Media besides Print and TV. While Print media can still stick to the orthodox way of News reporting (Truth and accuracy) the other three avtars of journalism shoot from the hip. TRP and sensationalism and being fast on the trigger takes priority over truth and accuracy.
The same incident gets reported by different channels so differently that they don’t even look like the same incident; so much so that a good guy in one version becomes the villain in the other.
Here’s an incident reported by 
The Right Wing says a police officer was kidnapped on suspicion of being a Muslim. 
The BBC, which can be absolutely non-partisan where no White-man was involved , says simply India Policeman lynched in Kashmir. 
NDTV says “Man opens fire outside Mosque; killed by mob“. It is further elaborated; man was taking photographs, when confronted he opened fire. He was caught by people and beaten to death ;police called to restore peace. 
By time you read the third narrative, it appears that a criminal was trying to disturb peace in the area and was brought to justice by law-abiding citizens and the situation was handed over to police.
 
Having gone through different sources , the headlines and the full story , it is amply clear that it is not the just the style of the individual reporters , but a deliberate stand taken by the Editors, based on their political ideologies and Revenue sources. 
It is really the headlines, sub-headlines and Pictures that matter as not many people read the full story. Even if they do read, it is the headlines and pictures that stick to memory, not the fine print.
Is it possible that there occur genuine gaps in a story ? I doubt . Recently I came across a term “bending of facts, at times beyond breaking point”. What a way to refer to  “A white lie”?
If there is something to be happy about, by and large, the bias and prejudices are consistent. Stories which favour the stand taken by a channel are amplified and ones that are against are suppressed.
Our panelists for debates are also so biased , spokesperson or not. A seasoned TV viewer can watch a debate on  TV with the audio switched off; he would still be able to make an accurate guess of who said what . 
As a database enthusiast, all I can think of is to create a database of channels and quantify their bias. Each channel can be given a deviation quotient for Left Wing and Right Wing stories, separately. Then one will be able to compute all and arrive at minimum truth, maximum truth and average truth!
In the battle of Kurukshetra, when Dronacharya was met with misinformation from all directions, he looked up to Yudishtra for the truth. Yudishtra told the truth, though his words were selectively suppressed by Krishna.
Do we have a Yudishtra to look to when we are bombarded with all kinds of truths, half-truths, post-truth,alternate-truth and anything but truth ? The issue is further complicated by fake photographs and videos even from reputed journalists.
Under the circumstances is there any point in reading newspapers or watching TV for news ? May be for advertisements which are more truthful!