Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pondering Without Purpose - The Philosophy of Consequence !!

Being lost is a state of mind. The reality is we are all lost. No matter what state of consciousness one is spiritual, material, metaphysical or whatever it is that you call it, the fact is that we are searching for something. If we find peace we will search for more peace and greater peace. Human beings can never exist in an unchanging, absolute state of being. The motion less is dead whether it’s the mind or the body and to find movement is to change the state of being and the force for the change is to search for something.

Think about it for a bit, when we search for a restaurant we are searching for a something that we want out of it. When we find the restaurant we are searching for something we get after we reach there and then we search for the next thing. In being still for instance we will search for what it is to be still. When the body is not physically searching the mind will be. The end to the state of searching is the end to life itself.

The trouble begins when we resist this state of searching. It’s like damming the flow of a river. A river is meant to flow to the sea and when it doesn’t it’s a lake or whatever else that you wish to call it but not a river. So the beginning of any journey is to realise that there is nothing absolute and the human mind is like a river which flows.

But if life was meant to be what it is then why begin any journey, why not let primal instincts play their role and let the body do whatever it is the mind wants and let the mind have no conditioning and think whatever it does. There are rules to every game and yes these are rules we put on ourselves. Staying within the realm of morality would mean staying within the realm of what is right and what is wrong and when you stay within that realm there are things you can or cannot do. In my state of existence there is still no answer to going beyond the realm of right and wrong. I can go beyond that but if I do I think it will lead to anarchy and the fear of chaos is the reason I can’t.

So can I be at peace with myself despite having to stay within the morality of right and wrong. One of the thoughts that have been thrown at me is that there is no right and no wrong. It’s all about actions and consequences. If we see a particular set of consequences for an action and if those consequences seem detrimental to my interests then I don’t perform that action and if the consequences seem acceptable then I perform. It seems plausible but it still cannot sink in completely.

The more I try to think of my actions and my understanding of right and wrong the more I begin to understand the action – consequence theory. Putting it into practice and trying to smear it over the life is like a river thought gives me some sense of relief. If I let life flow the way it is then there will be a set of consequences and if I make an effort to alter the flow then there are some consequences and so I let life flow at times and alter the course at times.

And at this moment I am just letting thoughts flow into words and beginning to realise the consequences. The boss is looking on wondering when he will stop jabbering and begin working ….that thought definitely has severe consequences and hence the thoughts are dammed. !!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Dam and a Nuclear Power Plant - The Conspiracy Connection !!

Whenever a water dispute erupts between two states it often takes very bizarre proportions and in the midst of state pride, regional sentiment, legal complications and political rhetoric the reality gets clouded beyond recovery. Mullaiperiyar is no different.

What’s interesting is that the Mullaiperiyar dispute does not fit the definition of a water dispute at all. A water dispute is between two states or parties over the quantum of water released by the upper riparian state to the lower. Like in the case of Cauvery, Godavari or even the Indo-pak dispute over the Indus. In the case of Mullaiperiyar the dispute is over the existence of a dam. Kerala is a water rich state and does not want water from the Periyar River. It’s willing to give as much as Tamil Nadu wants.

Kerala says ‘safety’ is the key. In the past it had raised the issue of ‘safety’ of the 116 year old dam and had wanted water storage levels reduced. In 2006 the Supreme Court ruled in Tamil Nadu’s favour and after safety audits ordered that the dam is safe to hold 142 feet of water compared to the present 136. Kerala doesn’t need the additional water that Tamil Nadu hold’s in the dam but yet is opposing an increase in storage levels and the reason for that opposition is not water but land.

While Kerala is a water surplus state it’s uncomfortable with the large tracts of land (8000 acres) that are submerged in the Mullaiperiyar’s catchment area. Most of this land is Kerala’s and an increase in water storage would mean more land would be submerged. Instead if a new dam is built down stream then several thousand acres of Kerala’s land would be relieved of water and can be a gold mine for the state. So this dispute from Kerala’s point of view is about land and not water.

From Tamil Nadu’s point of view it needs the water for irrigation and drinking water needs in four southern districts. Building a new dam down stream would mean land in Tamil Nadu would be submerged and the state feels that it is an unnecessary waste of resources and could result in uncertainty over water. It’s also been turned into an issue of political pride over the last decade.

This is pretty much the history of the dispute, it’s not been an emotive war, except in 2006 when the Supreme Court ruled in Tamil Nadu’s favour and Kerala virtually overruled the verdict with a “Dam Safety Act”. What’s interesting is that the issue of the dam’s safety suddenly re-erupted, ostensibly because of tremors in the Idukki region. Kerala suddenly stepped up the political momentum on ‘safety’, Jayalalithaa responded and both states have now taken the issue to the prime minister. But why did the issue erupt suddenly?

A few hundred kilometres away from the dam is the site for the Koodankulam Nuclear power plant. The centre’s been trying to negate anti nuclear protestors there campaigning against the project on the ‘safety’ plank. The centre sought Jayalalithaa’s support in controlling the protests at Koodankulam, but the Tamil Nadu CM, miffed by the centre not treating her ‘special’ refused to help. Remember, without the state government’s help negating the Koodankulam protests will be impossible, and the PM’s dream nuclear power project could face uncertainty.

Some political observers are now seeing a link between the sudden eruption of the Mullaiperiyar issue and the Koodankulam stand off. They may be conspiracy theorists, but their logic seems plausible. They believe Congress led UDF ruled Kerala has systematically raised the Mullaiperiyar issue to counter Jayalalithaa’s non cooperation with the centre in handling the protests in Koodandkulam. The dam dispute has now created a situation where Jaya ruled Tamil Nadu needs the centre’s help in negating the matter. This puts pressure on the Tamil Nadu government to co operate with the centre on the Koodankulam issue. It's virtually given the centre a tough handle on Jayalalithaa when it negotiates with her for help to defeat protestors at the nuclear power plant.

But if this is true it also creates the anvil for a precarious situation. If the two states overplay the issue it could become politically impossible to handle. And if it’s not dealt with tact it could result in creating uncertainty over a 116 year old dam and a state of the art Nuclear power plant. The fear is political egos could result in a large loss for the nation as a whole.

This may be dismissed as ‘paranoia’ by some and ‘conspiracy theory’ by others. But there are some who believe that this reflects the inability of Indian politicians to rise above their political egos and build a consensus. The key with Mullaiperiyar is it’s not a dispute over water. Both states have a case and it’s not like other water disputes where a solution seems impossible, raising the political temperature will only make it one more in our long list of emotive, idiotic and unmanageable inter state disputes. Sadly even the Supreme Court orders and the larger good of the nation have been defeated by regional political rhetoric and egos of our political personalities. The effort should be to ensure that a dam and a nuclear power plant do not fall victim to this self destructive course of our political landscape.