G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Idea of Justice: Warren Anderson, the American and Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani

Amartya Sen:
"Justice is a complex idea, but it is very important to understand that justice has much to do with everyone being treated fairly."

(talking to The Times of India about his book "The Idea of Justice" that was published in July 2009)

Most Indians want Ajmal Kasab to be hanged.

Quite shockingly for me, many of them, including Ms. Kavita Karkare-the widow of Mr. Hemant Karkare, want that to happen publicly.

Kasab committed his crime on November 26, 2008. Just over 8 months ago.

Mumbai attacks were responsible for "killing at least 173 people and wounding at least 308".(source: Wikipedia)

Bhopal gas tragedy happened on December 2, 1984. Almost 25 years ago.

Wikipedia informs: "The first official immediate death toll was 2,259. A more generally accepted figure is that 8,000- 10,000 died within 72 hours, and it is estimated that 25,000 have since died from gas-related diseases."

Warren Anderson was the chairman of Union Carbide.

Business Standard reported on August 1, 2009:

"A local court today ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to arrest former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson and produce him without delay, prompting survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy to celebrate on the streets.

On the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984, Union Carbide Ltd had spewed methyl isocyanate, a lethal toxic gas, killing thousands of people and maiming thousands of others. Anderson, besides Union Carbide, is a prime accused in the case and was proclaimed an absconder in 1992 after he refused to appear in the court despite several summons..."

Let me narrate an interesting account of an old lady from Emperor Aurangzeb’s time (reign 1658 - 1707).

This is taken from historian and Persian/Urdu scholar Setu Madhavrao Pagdi’s सेतु माधवराव पगडी Marathi book “Bhartiya Musalman: Shodh and Bodh” (Indian Muslims: Search and Lessons) Parchure Prakashan Mandir ,1992.

“An old lady took a complaint of extortion against a district collector to the emperor. Emperor ordered the money to be returned to the old lady.

Few days later, the old lady returned and complained that not only money had not been returned but also she was being harassed and hence suggested that the collector be transferred. Emperor signed the transfer order.

Little later the old lady again came back with another compliant that not only new collector continued to harass her but was demanding money from her because he felt her payment to his predecessor was part of ‘Hapta’ (periodic bribe) and hence he too was entitled to it!

On hearing this, Aurangzeb asked the old lady to pray to god that he sent her another emperor...

Khaphikhan, Aurangzeb’s well-known biographer, says that the emperor did not punish either of the corrupt officers.

Khaphikan also says that corruption among revenue officials was rampant and the officials who were sent from the emperor to check these practices were also equally corrupt! “

Artist: Helen E. Hokinson, The New Yorker, May 2 1942