Monday, April 25, 2011

Random Thoughts - IX

I thought of categorizing middle class corruption listed by this article in the Outlook magazine.

1. Paying in "black" when buying a house: Corruption
2. Bribing cops to get away with minor offences:
- jumping the signal or breaking one way, no u-turn: Corruption and criminal act
- carrying no proper documents (forgetting RC, license): Mistake by the person
- having no proper documents: Corruption and Criminal act
- no pollution certificate: Stupidity (Pollution certificate is an official scam by the governments)
3. Paying "capitation fee" in higher educational institutes: No corruption from the briber as the benefit has to be earned but corruption by the management. Unclear criminal act as the loss to a more deserved isn't confirmed since capitation fee is legal because of loopholes.
4. Bribing for school admission: No corruption from the briber as the benefit has to be earned but corruption by the management.Unclear criminal act as the loss to a more deserved isn't confirmed since capitation fee is legal because of loopholes.
5. Buying an illegal driving license (or any license): Corruption and criminal act
6. Paying extra to get gas cylinders ontime, when in short supply: Corruption and criminal act (your benefit some one else's loss)
7. Fudging bills to claim refunds: Corruption and treason
8. Avoiding paying income tax: Corruption and treason
9. Bribing cops when they come for passport identification: Insecurity (passport is not a benefit but the right of a citizen)
10. Pulling strings even paying touts, to confirm a waitlisted railway ticket: Corruption and the criminal act (your benefit, some one else's loss)


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Moral Individual - iib

When I was an impressionable teenager (in my early teens) I used to watch a program on animal rights on television. At that time our(my family's) meat eating was restricted to fish(not on daily basis). Chicken or mutton was rare. The family were on and off vegetarians with my father holding himself off for more than 25 years then coming back to the normal self towards the end of his life.

The program was about how non-vegetarianism was leading to inhuman treatment of animals (thus how barbaric the whole non-vegetarianism was). The program provoked me to such an extent that I started bringing chicken meat to home every week. This act in fact followed a period of chicken abstinence as I had trouble cleaning my teeth after eating as they had many gaps in between them.

At that time I had no understanding and experience of the caste system. I had made no observation how vegetarianism was part and parcel of the purity and pollution idea. When I can be easily overcome with emotion just by watching sentimental scenes in the movies, how could a real life situation of cruelty to animals, instead of making me remorseful, would make me angry at the program creator?

Obviously, if some animal lover calls non-vegetarians as barbarians, it  becomes a personal attack. But was this a case, where I believed - because of my ignorance- that I did no wrong and when someone pointed out the contrary I had trouble admitting it? At that time, my argument was that the animals we would eat were reared only for that purpose. No non-vegetarians then no existence of animals of slaughter. Now I don't think I need to justify non-vegetarianism, as the caste system has proved, the idea of vegetarianism is perverted as it develops a contempt for fellow human beings without any guarantee of love for animals. My views are likely biased by "born" vegetarians as I hardly came across vegetarians by choice in my society. Anyway, at that time I got angry.

I wonder, instead of portraying non-vegetarians as barbarians, if the approach of that vegetarian crusader had been different, then would that have convinced me. I'm not so sure. There is an absurd thinking that if people go and see how animals are slaughtered they would stop eating meat.

The act of killing (or violence in general) is as enticing as sex. I  used to go and watch the slaughter of chickens. I didn't feel anything. I suppose it is true for people who like action movies where violence is normal. However, as I have argued before, the empathy comes after violence because of a feedback loop. Majority, I believe, would be moved if the person or animal is half dead and struggling. The sound of struggle and emotion in the eyes are enough to invoke empathy through the feedback system. I did feel this when I came to Hyderabad and saw 'halal' killing. In Mangaluru, chickens were killed in one shot and there was no struggle afterwards. Initially, halal killing disturbed me but I got used to it later on. I guess unless acted upon, empathy can turn into indifference.Is this true in other cases too?

Even now, I can't control my feelings while watching emotional movie scenes. If tears don't roll down like they used to be when I was small, I believe, it's only because watching the computer monitor all the time  has dried up my eyes.

Why can't I control my emotions to the events that I rationally know to be unreal but become indifferent to the events that are obviously real? The clue, in my opinion, is the repeated physical movements of the chicken case and varying emotional outbursts in the form of words in movie scenes. But why would repeated things break the feedback system and dissolve the empathy? As I have already argued before, empathy is nothing but association of self-pity with suffering of others. Somehow, repeated feedback on the suffering of others weaken the link to self-pity. Probably, if I watch the same scene multiple times I would stop getting involved with it. However, if the same emotion in some other movie is expressed with a different set of words I would again get emotional.

Therefore, I would say,
- act of violence doesn't develop empathy (on the contrary it's a clue for reward like sex)
- empathy is developed in the aftermath of the violence if it's long enough to invoke the self-pity
- repeated exposure to the same aftermath would weaken the link to self-pity and thus the person loses empathy
- varying expressive words have the ability to keep the empathy alive even though the fundamental emotion is the same

I suppose, instilling non-violence in any form as a born morality, would lead to perversion as in the case of enforcing the sexual abstinence.