Friday, May 27, 2011

Criteria for bride selection

If anyone’s planning to select a bride, here’s a criteria list that can help in the selection process. By counting the total number of items that meet the criteria, one can calculate the percentage each probable candidate scores. It is on one’s personal discretion that a certain percentage threshold be set, and the candidates who score above that threshold may be subject to further battery of tests till a grand finale where the top two may be put to a final defining test.

The criteria for the preliminary round are:
  1. She should believe and confess that Jesus is kyrios
  2.  She should not be a Young Earth Creationist
  3. Should not be a secular Darwinist
  4.  It will be nice if she does not endorse inerrancy of Scripture, while affirming its infallibility
  5.  She should not be a liberal
  6.  She should not be a fundamentalist
  7.  This will not be pressed too firmly on her but it is preferable that she use NRSV/NIV instead of KJV/NKJV
  8.  She should be concerned for Creation Care but not be a Pantheist
  9.  She should be more concerned about ‘life after life after death’ than just ‘life after death’
  10.  If she can’t understand the above criterion, she should believe in a new heaven and a new earth than on rapture to some distant place/disembodied state as final reality
  11. It is OK even if she can’t make a round roti if she can recite the Apostle’s Creed
  12. She may endorse 'Separation of Church and State', while believing that the Church should preach Truth to power and remind those in the government that they are subject & accountable to a higher authority
  13. She should not oppress the widow or the orphan
  14. She should not be a Marxist
  15. She should not subscribe to Neo-Liberalism
  16. She should light a candle rather than curse the darkness
  17. She ought to be a peace-maker and not just a peace-lover
  18. It is OK if she doesn’t have strong opinion(s) regarding the usefulness of Apologetics
  19. She should not cry out Lord, Lord, but does not do what Jesus says.
  20. She should tithe 10% of her income but remember that the remaining 90% also belongs to the Almighty
  21. She should not use false weights nor move boundary stones
  22. She should not make it a habit of drinking anything with alcohol content over 7.5%
  23.  It will be really nice if she use the word ‘Mission’ instead of ‘missions'
  24. She should not endorse the Malthusian mathematics of population growth while still realizing the challenges faced due to population growth
  25. She should know that Science and Faith are not opposing forces and that the two can complement each other.
  26. She should see other people as 'persons' and not simply 'souls'
           Next round will be questions on 'Rocket Science' and 'Greek Mythology'

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'Submit herewith my pity application'

Today, we turned down so many applicants for a government job. We had to shortlist candidates for interview and drop those who fell short of the requirements. Out of a total of about 200 applicants, only about 70 were selected for interview....for 3 vacant posts!!!! It wasn't an easy task because we knew that the rejected applicants had spent so much money and time to earn those technical degrees....but alas! from unrecognized institutes. So here is the message: PLEASE DON'T GET JUST ANY DEGREE FROM ANY UNIVERSITY. SEE TO IT THAT THE INSTITUTE YOU ARE APPLYING FOR HAS DUE RECOGNITION. 

On the lighter side, here are two samples of amusing application forms that we received:

1. Subject: Application for____/appoint me as_____

It is having learnt from a reliable source that there is some post of_____ is lying vacant under your kind control department....In this connection also applying for the same however the department has announced/advt in the local paper. It is therefore may I request you to kindly appoint me the said post for your kind authority as under consideration

2. With due respect, I have the honor to submit herewith my pity application and therefore I myself applying for the said above post as an canditature

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Rejoinder to the Rejoinder: ‘I was quoted out of context’

I don’t have to be very careful with what I say to the media. If there’s a critical rejoinder to my words, I can always give a rejoinder to the rejoinder saying, ‘I was quoted out of context’.

To pluck out a few sentences from a speech or a book without considering the context in which the sentences lie is a mistake many people commit. This error is not uncommon among Christians when reading the Bible. Some believers have the habit of closing their eyes and after a prayer, open a random page in the Bible and believe that God has given them that passage for that comment. In doing this, what comes before or after the passage, much less what the entire book says; in what historical, social, and cultural context it was written; are not considered. Some people who have a pre-conceived idea search for scripture passages to prove/validate what they already have in mind. They don’t read the Bible for guidance; they search for passages which say yes to their ideas. Nothing is more committed to truth than Christianity (even if the truth is uncomfortable), so when Christians misuse the Bible in this manner, truth suffers. This is not to say that the Bible is only for the intellectual or the expert. However, it is a call to all, including the simple and the expert, to study diligently, to be careful and humble; while supremely relying on the Holy Spirit for enlightenment. 

However, what I said in the beginning is also true that, when a person retracts from his/her statement and starts to get defensive, he/she says, ‘I was quoted out of context’. It is a very convenient alternative way of saying, ‘I was wrong’; ‘I said what I shouldn’t have said’; or, ‘oops! I got my facts wrong’. These types of rejoinders and rejoinders to rejoinders are becoming quite common as one reads the newspapers; especially in the paper wars and the blame games between opposing political groups, factions, village councils, hohos, or between any Toms, Dicks, and Harrys. 

This morning’s paper (23rd May, 2011) carries a good example of what I am saying. Ratan Tata commented on the 27-storey million dollar home of Mukesh Ambani. He was reported to have said to Times UK, “It makes me wonder why someone would do that… The person who lives in there should be more concerned about what he sees around him and can he make a difference… If he is not, then it is sad because India needs people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways to mitigate the hardship that people have… We are doing so little about the disparity. We are allowing it to be there and wishing it away”. Wow Tata!!! So true. Instead of giving a rejoinder saying that what you actually said was taken ‘out of context and factually incorrect’, I wish you’d say, ‘WHAT I SAID IS TRUE AND I STAND BY MY WORD’.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some books I have read/been reading and their grading* in a scale of 1-10

1.    The Call: Os Guinness (8.5)k
2.    Sick Planet: Stan Cox (5.0)
3.    The Message of Mission: Vinoth Ramachandra & Howard Peskett (8.5)
4.    Identity and Violence: Amartya Sen (7.0)
5.    Good Value: Stephen Green (7.9)k
6.    Empire of Illusion: Chris Hedges (6.5)k
7.    Lord Find me a parking place: Derek Wood (6.5)
8.    The End of Poverty: Jeffery Sachs (7.9)
9.    Doing God’s Business: R. Paul Stevens (5.0)
10.  God and Government: Eds. Nick Spencer & Jonathan Chaplin (6.0)k
11.  Resident Aliens: Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon (8.4)
12.  Morbid Symptoms: Eds. Leo Panitch and Colin Leys (4.5)
13.  Simply Christian: N.T Wright (7.5)
14.  Mountains Beyond Mountains: Tracy Kidder (7.5)
15.  When The Kings Come Marching In: Richard J. Mouw (8.0)
16.  Mere Christianity: C.S Lewis (8.5)
17.  The Return of the Native: Thomas Hardy (7.5)
18.  Creation or Evolution?: Denis Alexander (too early to grade)
19.  Transforming Mission: David J.Bosch (too early to grade)
20.  Mistaken Modernity: Dipankar Gupta (7.0)
21.  The Mission of God: Chris Wright (8.0)
22.  Success Fantasy: Tony Campolo (6.0)
23.  The Clockwork Image: Donald Mackay (8.0)
24.  Exclusion and Embrace: Miroslav Volf (too early to grade)
25.  The Contemporary Christian: John Stott (7.9)
26.  God and Evolution: David Wilcox (6.5)
27.  Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen (7.1)
28.  Medical Nemesis: Ivan Illich (3.0)
29.  You Are Not A Gadget: Jaron Lanier (8.4)k
30.  Development as Freedom: Amartya Sen (too early to grade)
31.  The Gospel in the Modern World: Eds. Martyn Eden and David Wells (7.8)
32.  In God’s time: Craig Hill (too early to grade)
33.  Carpie Diem: Tony Campolo (6.0)
34.  Holiness and Ecclesiology in the New Testament: Eds. Kent Brower & Andy Johnson (too early to grade)
35.  Remember Creation:    (8.0)

* Grades are arbitrary and may change with time
k Books I actually kissed while reading (not all of them got good grades in the end)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Funny Statistics, Ugly Reality

On May 1, the DAN government presented a table (converted into Chart 1 here) in a local newspaper to show that during the Congress Rule from 1993 to 1997, casualties as a result of UG activities escalated.  Number of deaths increased almost 4 times over this period that 81 deaths in 1993 rose to 309 in 1997. DAN government put this statistics up to show that the Congress government had failed to maintain law and order in the State during its rule while it is much more peaceful now under DAN government
The next day, it was the Congress’ turn to put up another table in the same local daily to show that things haven’t improved during DAN too. From 2003 till 2008, number of casualties due to UG activities rose from a total of 86 to 201 (See chart 2).
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) statistics (Chart 3) validates the claim of the congress in Chart 2. Figures from 2003-06 given by Congress tally with the MHA figures. But since 2007, it’s difficult to say because the MHA from then on gives only a combined figure of arrested/killed/surrendered militants.

 South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) website seems to be a little pro-DAN government and anti-Congress. The number of fatalities during the congress is way higher than even what the DAN claims. And during DAN government, the number of fatalities given is lower than what the MHA/Congress had projected. What is reality may be altogether different (SATP labels the NSCN/Federal cadres as terrorists), but that is what statistics seems to say. That is why, statistics can be very tricky. 

But in all the cases, number of deaths due to UG activities has risen and fallen. From early 1990s, it rose and rose, then declined in late 1990s. Then again in early 2000s, it steadily rose till 2008. 2009 and 2010 has been relatively peaceful. The DAN government claims it’s because of restoration of law and order by the government; the Congress party claims it’s due to FNR (Forum for Naga Reconciliation) and not DAN. If the statistical patterns continue, it’s time that bloody years are ahead once again. Let’s hope not. Statistics can be tricky and funny, but the reality depicted here is quite an ugly one.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quotes From Books I have Been Reading

The author of this book is Jaron Lanier: Philosopher, Computer Scientist, Composer, Performer. He coined the term VIRTUAL REALITY and is one of Times 100 list of most influential people for the year, 2010.

When my friends and I built the first virtual reality machines, the whole point was to make this world more creative, expressive, empathic, and interesting. It was not to escape it.
Something started to go wrong with the digital revolution around the turn of the twenty-first century….This ideology (web 2.0) promotes radical freedom on the surface of the web, but that freedom, ironically, is more for machines than people.

Anonymous blog comments, vapid video pranks, and lightweight mashups may seem trivial and harmless, but as a whole, this widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned interpersonal interaction…A new generation has come up with a reduced expectation of what a person can be, and of who each person might become.

When developers of digital technologies design a program that requires you to interact with a computer as if it were a person, they ask you to accept in some corner of your brain that you might also be conceived of as a program.

We make up extensions to your being, like remote eyes and ears (webcams and mobile phones) and expand memory (the world of details you can search for online). These become the structures by which you connect to the world and other people.

I know quite a few people, mostly young adults but not all, who are proud to say that they have accumulated thousands of friends on Facebook. Obviously, this statement can only be true if the idea of friendship is reduced. A real friendship ought to introduce each person to unexpected weirdness in the other. Each acquaintance is an alien, a well of unexplored difference in the experience of life that cannot be imagined or accessed in any way but through genuine interaction. The idea of friendship in database-filtered social networks is certainly reduced from that.

To buy the book, all you need to have is an ATM card. Of course you have an internet connection if you can read this blog post. Simply click here (Rs. 374, shipping free).


Stephen Green is the minister for state, Trade and Investment, England; former chairman of HSBC and interestingly an ordained priest in the Church of England. He has a masters degree from MIT.

Since Oscar Wilde’s Lord Darlington, in Lady Windermere’s Fan, pronounced that a cynic knows ‘the price of everything and the value of nothing’, it seems that we have all become cynics. If everything is defined by price, not value, then surely social fragmentation follows, since all that matters is a supply of cash rather than shared blood, community, friendships or beliefs. Yet we all know in our innermost being that price is not a reliable indicator of value. The words we use are a telling reminder of the point: what has no value is valueless, what has immense value is priceless.

Our fear is that the individual has been effectively replaced by the consumer. In our nightmares we are dazed and bewitched shopaholics, wandering from one glittering promise to another, overweight and weighted down with useless stuff, clutching a pack of store cards and credit cards that we can’t afford. It is as if the dominant image of our time has become the shopping mall- each new one bigger, brighter, better than the last- with its myriad shopfronts, special offers, canned music and permanent artificial light.

Capitalism for the twenty-first century needs to rediscover a fundamentally renewed morality to underpin it. It needs to start with a question: What is progress? Is it the accumulation of wealth, or should it involve a broader definition of the quality of life which takes into account a more integrated understanding of well-being? Surveys consistently show that economic progress has not been accompanied by the expected improved level of happiness, and that the price paid for it by many has been in the quality of human relationships. On average, people do not think of themselves happier or better off than their parents were- even though their material standard of living is, in so many societies, unquestionably higher. And there has been a marked decline in the sense of trust. The collapse of perceived trustworthiness is obvious with respect to the banking sector, but also applies to business more broadly- as well as in family life and in social relationships generally.

To buy the book, simply click here (Rs. 314, shipping free). To repeat myself, all you need is your ATM card.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Healthcare for the elderly

On a bus journey to Kiphire, someone signaled the bus to stop at Losami junction. As I looked back to see who was getting down; an old man started to rise from his seat. He took his time to collect his stuff and made his way to the door. All eyes were on him because he was taking all the time in the world. But no one could order him to make it quick for he looked frail with age. I also didn’t mind that it was longer than an average NST bus’ pick and drop time although I wanted to reach my destination before dark. I closely watched his steps and studied him with admiration. What caught my attention were his glasses which I believe he just bought from Kohima. The silver colored frame was shining so brightly and the sticker label was still intact on one top corner of the lens. He had a walking stick and two loaves of bread in a polythene bag. To remind myself later write about this encounter, I typed in my mobile phone, ‘Inconvenience; a pleasure’.
It was just a onetime encounter and I don’t know anything about the man. Is he taken care of well at home? That is where my concern is. When I go for medical camp in the villages, what always gets my emotion is the physical suffering of the elderly. Backache, Joint pain, Blurring of vision, reduced hearing, indigestion, heartburn, chronic cough, breathlessness, non-healing wound, dental caries, giddiness, sleeplessness, stiff joint, piles, tumor, etc, etc; the ailing of the elderly are many. The saddest part is, most of them have to accept their condition and learn to live with their sufferings. As one ages, it is natural that the body becomes weak and therefore to suffer at the later stages of life is seen as natural. Families are too poor or simply do not bother to take them to hospitals for treatment. Therefore when a medical team arrives at the village with free medicines, they come out in flocks to relieve their pains. To the bafflement of the urban based doctors, when asked how long they have been having a particular symptom, these elderly patients would reply, ‘Ah, it has been a long time’. ‘A long time’ can mean more than a decade. For some, it may be too late to expect a cure; for some others, the cases may require referral for surgery which will never be carried out. The Naga village life on the surface may look attractive to a tourist: clean air, clean water, honest folks, simple lives and not much worry, etc. There is truth in this, but it is also true that our folks, especially the older ones live with a lot of pain unattended to. Until totally bedridden, they carry out the daily works to earn their daily food.

The government has no special policy to care for the elderly. It is not cost-effective to treat senile citizens who are past their economically productive years. Healthcare for the elderly is complicated and extremely costly. Care providers are very difficult to find. To care for the elderly is a difficult task for which only a few would be willing to sacrifice. It may require feeding, bathing, washing smelly clothes, pushing wheel chair, putting to bed, and dealing with all the eccentric behaviors of late childhood. 

A caring society however cares for the weaker members: the infant, the orphan, the widow, the crippled, the sick, the poor, and the elderly. Each member needs love and compassion irrespective of how much potential one has to contribute to the economy. As we would like to be cared for when we grow old, we ought to do likewise to those who now need our hands. I would rather die than be in a vegetative state for several years and burden other people; but if one should suffer, who wouldn’t want to be loved and looked after? 

How then do we care for the health of the elderly? At a personal level, each of us has the responsibility to care for our own parents. Charity begins at home. Foolish children depend on their parents till the grave, while wise children bring rest and comfort to their parents. We also need to remember that as their bodies fail, even mentally/psychologically parents need support and understanding. How do we help our parents without violating their freedom and dignity? I think this is important because in trying to help, we may be overlooking their feelings and choices, and become angry when they refuse our help. A good example is when the caretakers feel the old lady has to go to the hospital but the later refuses. The hospital may be a horrible place, especially for the elderly. It may bring to her images of injections, surgical knifes, people screaming in pain, and death itself. She might rather die on her familiar bed at home than die on a steel hospital bed. To be stripped naked and passed inside CT scan machine for investigation is something she may strongly disapprove. Multiple blood samples drawn from her arms may make her feel as if life and energy are being sucked off from her body. Therefore, even with the good intention to help, we should be careful that we do it with love and respect.

At the larger level, the government needs to design a special program for geriatric care similar to maternal and child health program. Accessibility of services, affordability of medical care, making hospitals more elderly friendly, e.g. dedicated counters, special lifts, provisions for greater privacy, training of nurses and care-givers on geriatric care, etc can be planned and incorporated into the general health care delivery system.

As we care for children because they are our future; care for the elderly is important because they are our past who made us what we are today.