Sunday, June 12, 2011

Judging sex, lies, war and yoga politics

Human beings are flawed animals with plenty of good and bad in them. They are also addicted to judging each other. During the past month there has been plenty of high moralizing about the world’s most powerful leaders. But in most cases the judgements have often been flawed as I will show in the cases of Dominique Strauss Kahn, Osama bin Laden, Rajat Gupta and Baba Ram Dev

Throughout human history when a servant or someone of low status accused a powerful person of rape, she was ignored. This is why the arrest in New York of Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK), the former head of the International Monetary Fund and a contender for the presidency of France, has exhilarated the world. The trial will soon decide if DSK is guilty of sexual assault. In the meantime, there is victory in the fact that the maid was given the respect she deserved when New York’s police took her accusations seriously and arrested a very powerful and wealthy man.

The mistake people made in judging DSK was to confuse his womanizing with sexual assault. It was as wrong as the idea still prevailing in India that a loose women cannot be raped. There is huge difference between consensual and forced sex, and a woman's right to say “no” is not diminished by the number of times she may have said “yes” in the past. In fact, DSK’s ability to find willing partners makes him an unlikely rapist. Only one historical allegation matters--Tristane Banon’s claim that he sexually assaulted her and tried to rape her during an interview in 2002. In the eyes of the law there is no difference between raping a prostitute or a virgin. A husband who forces his wife to have sex also commits a crime; a married woman who has an affair does not.

A second example: Osama Bin Laden’s death hopefully has buried the demons of 9/11 in the American mind, bringing to a close what Americans have mistakenly called ‘the bin Laden decade’. A hundred years from now historians will remember the first decade of the 21st century for the rise of China and India, not bin Laden. Islamic terror is a doomed ideology. Human beings prefer peace to war. Parents want children to go to school, get a job, and look after them in their old age. True, there is a desire for recognition— to be somebody, not a nobody. Greeks called this thymos, and this desire was satisfied in the past by becoming a ‘war hero’. But today’s young prefer to become CEOs, cricket heroes, or film stars. Islamist warriors, I reckon, will eventually succumb to the consumerist middle class life.

Americans can learn something from India which has also suffered from Islamist terror. George W. Bush proclaimed he had ‘moral clarity’ after 9/11, and so he invaded Iraq. India’s political leadership, on the other hand, was accused of being cowardly after 26/11. The truth is that India behaved sensibly and maturely. It did not become paranoid over terror like the Americans. After each attack, India shrugged its shoulders, quietly improved its security systems, and remained focused on its economic destiny.

My third example: people across India admire Baba Ram Dev, who has brought yoga and healthy living to millions. But his solid achievements do not give him permission to blackmail the government via a fast unto death (FUD). Everyone sympathises with his ends but not his means. Peaceful protest is acceptable in a democracy but FUDs are dangerous and authoritarian. With his resources and his acumen, Baba Ram Dev could achieve tremendous results by working within the rule of law.

A final example: Rajat Gupta was the toast of the world’s corporate elite. He had been head of McKinsey, and was director American Airlines, Procter & Gamble, and Goldman Sachs--a rare executive whose integrity was beyond reproach. But a tape of his voice, divulging secret details of a Goldman board meeting to a convicted hedge fund manager brought about his fall. Why does a man, who had everything, do something so dreadful? I can only speculate: he was well off but not wealthy like his friends. In coveting wealth, he forgot that he was a professional executive (a guardian of wealth, a kshatriya) not an owner of wealth (a vaishya).

What these examples illustrate is that the moral life is anything but clear. DSK’s womanizing life-style is irrelevant to his crime. George W. Bush’s ‘moral clarity’ brought great suffering to the Iraqi people and diminished America’s prestige; India’s ‘cowardly’ response to terrorism turned out to be wiser. Baba Ram Dev’s admirers confuse means and ends. Rajat Gupta confused his role in life. The Mahabharata had the right idea— “dharma is sukshma, ‘ambiguous’”, says Bhishma. Hence, we ought to be cautious and humble before judging others.


Prats said...

Brilliant post sir...

Anshul said...

Really Good one again Sir...

Your ability to connect the dots always enthralls me.

You may have also shared your views about congress voilent response to baba's FUD.

I sense some deep political conspiracy going around the whole episode.
There is hell lot of drama happening on India's political front.

May be you can discuss this in your next post, Sir.

Anonymous said...

good post sir..


Raji said...

I agree with you completely on 'means' being as imprtant as the 'end'. I too posted on similar lines in my blog ( Will love comments

Anonymous said...

We need to be judgemental about oneself first and nothing else.Integrity is something one should define for himself.Having said that,we don't want to be over cautious so that we don't act on what seems to be right.True realization of self is absolute in nature but at the same time very hard to attain.

Everything boils down to"how much is enough?" and this is something everyone interprets from others' perspective,rather the question is self oriented.
Thanks Tejas

Objectivist Mantra said...

It is not purely about Dominique Strauss Kahn (DSK)’s womanising lifestyle. The maid whom he is alleged to have raped is not the centrepiece of the story.

The centrepiece of the story is the fact that DSK was a socialist. Being a socialist at the helm of IMF, he is automatically guilty of raping the world’s poor. He is part of the gigantic crime of draining humanity of its lifeblood. The socialists are like the vampires, they take fresh blood out of poor human beings and transfer it to the undead.

So DSK in my mind was a rapist. He raped millions, through his socialist policies. By the way what was this so called socialist doing in a $3000 hotel suite?

Even if he had consensual sex with the maid and the accusation is false, I am glad that he is in the dock. Thanks to this maid we now have one less socialist vampire in this world.

Thank you hotel maid.

Trapster said...

Brilliant article !!.
What baffles me is your ability to think critically on the issue in question.

Faisal Khan said...

I am not a supporter of Bin Laden or Obama/Bush...However, can you give your opinion on the following -

When US bombs and carpet bombs Iraq, Afghan and many other places (leading to killing of innocents), it is called war.

Now, when these people want to retaliate (it's a tit-for-tat world), they can't fight the war in US style (bomb US)...Therefore, they fight it in their way. However, this is called terrorism...

How do you differenciate between war and terrorism?

Why terrorist are there in the first place? Have people like Osama been given a chance to use instances of US killings to prove to numerous uneducated and unemployed youths that USA is their enemy?

Is killing Osama the answer to killing terrorism or, killing the roots of terrorism the answer to killing terrorism?

If the latter is the case (which I believe), then can you tell me of any world leader working towards that?

Is there any difference between Osama, Bush (Senior and Junior) and even Obama?

Jeevak Kasarkod said...

"After each attack, India shrugged its shoulders, quietly improved its security systems, and remained focused on its economic destiny."
I do not see anything in that statement that will make any citizen of India feel safe. If anything it violates the whole purpose of governance whose primary purpose is security and let the free market determine economic destiny.

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Jeremiah Duomai said...

I am doubtful is Bush invaded Iraq because of oil as well. Saddam Hussein could have just allowed international team to inspect and get 'clean chit', but his national pride would let him do that. But Saddam Hussein was not the only one leader who has murdered minority community in mass. No of them are "judged" through invasion. Iraq was targeted, besides other reasons, because, I suppose, there was oil.

jamesreegan said...

I agree with you completely on 'means' being as imprtant as the 'end'. I too posted on similar lines in my blog

Diksha Mishra said...

it was really good to read this post..the way you put examples in front of people and also the way you connect with people always entices me..i always look forward to your writings..i read your 'diificulty of being good' and it has actually sinked in me so well..sir i am really obliged to read your book..

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Thanks for your valuable insights from your book - india unbound, I am yet to read your other books but will surely.

I would like to know your views on the current FDi retail tussle.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks & regards

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