FOR CIVIL SERVICES PRELIMINARY AND MAIN EXAMINATIONS
As much as we want to solicit views from Indians, regarding the nature of their culture – it’s tough to form a picture based on the opinions of a small fraction of the people.
To counter this downside, we read a book that contains historical data and allows us to depict the remarkable trajectory of Indian cultural progress.
Who Should Read “Indian Art and Culture”? And Why?
When you think of spirituality, wisdom, and prudence – the first thing that enters your mind is the Eastern philosophy. Whereas India can be portrayed as a tough nut to crack.
“Indian Art and Culture” nails down all the things one might be looking when planning to delve into India’s cultural heritage. It’s a book that presumably fits both foreigners and domestic knowledge seekers.
“Indian Art and Culture PDF Summary”
India’s Architecture and Paintings
The central premise of this comprehensive book targets and throws light upon this India’s memorable and historical curve. It has all the earmarks of an evergreen collection of facts that will illuminate the upcoming generations.
The rise and fall of great empires, Indian defiance and the foreign understanding of the cultural dogma is just one tiny fraction of what you can find in here. It signifies the assemblage of different cultural fractions, lifestyles, viewpoints, and their integration with one nation.
The architectural elements pull roots from a long and painful history, intertwined with the artistic craftiness and excellence. You can bear witness to numerous evidence that discloses India’s contribution to art and painting, since ancient times.
Archaeologists have dug up indisputable evidence regarding India’s role in artistry and finesse of different kinds. The clues can also be found on wall paintings traced through the ancient and medieval times.
It seems like the early form of life in India was engaged in various leisure activities and a symbolic expression of one’s mind.
When the Europeans put their foot on Indian soil, the art was subtly transformed and absorbed a more Westerner style. Experimentation with different styles, colors, and outlook enriched the upcoming Indian artists whose accolades speak for themselves.
First and foremost, one mustn’t overlook the wall masterpieces which are also known by the name of Murals. India’s most valuable cultural jewels origin from ancient times – ranging between 10th century BC to 10th century AD.
You can locate these paintings and works of art at several sacred locations in India.
If you are keen to explore the wonders of these аrt pieces then you ought to visit some of the following places in India:
Ajanta, Armamalai Cave, Ravan Chhaya Rock shelter, Bagh caves, Sittanavasal caves, Kailasanatha temple in Ellora, and others.
Indian Handicrafts, Music, and Theatre
Handcrafting literally stands for goods that are forged and crafted for everyday use by using one’s bare hands. Different regions in India exercise this craftsmanship based on their folkloric and traditional values nurtured throughout the course of history.
This amalgamation of unique elements which manifests the artistic mastery adds that final touch. The most potent tool at their disposal was and always will be their “creativity.” The decorative facets are indeed icing on the cake due to its transformative stimulus.
Indians don’t perceive this artistry as a profession or a way to make a living but as the very embodiment of their culture. In an effort to preserve their heritage, they refrain from using modern technology for the creation of these handicrafts.
This not only accentuates the India-ness of the “product” sort of speak but also speak of one’s identity.
Those of you that are not appraised of the types of handicrafts in India, here you have it:
Clay & Pottery Work
One can agree that music is the remedy for a broken heart and the soul of a culture. It’s something every society shares and nurtures. India as one of the oldest forms of civilization and societal structure, has undoubtedly been the driving factor to this cultural epidemic.
Narada Muni, for example, is thought to be the primary source of musical expression in the world. His motives puncture through cultural indoctrinations and permeate the real essence of life – something later introduced as Naada Brahma.
When it comes to instruments, we find it hard to classify the creation based on regions or states. However, it’s noted that the seven-holed flute and Ravanahatha, origin from the remnants of Indus Valley Civilization.
The first signs of music are apparently in correlation with the Vedic times.
The musical progress throughout ages is due to the various enacted plays which stimulated people to thrive in this kind of amusement. One type of music called Sangama particularly stands out, which was expressed through chanting and other forms of excitement.
Even the poems were driven by a strong narrative known as the Jatigan.
Before one decides to explore the depths of Indian music, it’s of immense importance to look into the anatomy of Indian classical acoustic sounds. The backbone of this music is symbolically linked to three types: Raga, Tala, and Swara.
When one scatters the shores of Indian culture, it must take a sneak peek into the theatrical architecture. On the negative side, it’s not as straightforward as one might think to enumerate sociological patterns that have shaped the society.
However, the Theater is one of those assets that encompasses various forms of cultural fluency with regards to the regional culture. One cannot go without music, recitation, and acting as the main pillars of running a theatrical show.
The Sanskrit term ‘nataka’ emanates from ‘nata’ which stands for a dancer. Rupaka, Drishyakvya, and Preksakavya were also put into motion to mark out the boundaries of drama. In ancient India, you might have come across two unique types:
Lokadharmi: The everyday activities which depicted the life of ordinary people.
Natyadharmi: Narrative and stylish connotation expressed through symbolism.
India shows off with a rich cultural heritage linked to the folk theatre covering all parts of the nation. The traditional components expressed through artistry showcase the plight, beliefs, hopes, and social elements of the people – including their lifestyle.
Indian folk theatre can be categorized in an array of different ways, but the most common is as follows:
Theatres of Entertainment
Theatres of South India
India’s Puppetry, Circus and Cultural Heritage
Generally speaking, puppetry is embedded in India’s entertaining culture. It was and still is a way of amusement that is brought to us in different forms with regards to the regional culture.
As you probably know, a master controls the movement of the puppet in order to create a breathtaking moment of sarcasm, cynicism, or to share some good old-fashioned joke.
The low cost for enacting the play gave serious impetus for the new artists to continue their work. Correspondingly, this allowed them to express their thoughts in the most indigenous way possible.
If you ask local Indians, they will only confirm that puppetry is part of their tradition. But bear in mind, that India is a large country, and the performance in one area, may be entirely different from the display in a different one.
This disparity occurs due to the different tendencies and proclivity. Given that the excavation sites at Harappa and Mohenjodaro exposed puppets with sockets attached, we finally have our proof that puppetry in India was a form of art.
If you plan on going deep, you’ll stumble upon different categorization of puppetry, but one is generally more prevalent:
While we are running through the subject of entertainment, it would be ignorant not to mention the Great Indian circus. Vishnupant Chatre merits all the praises as the founder and skilled equestrian. Under the guiding hand of Raja of Kurduwadi, he thrived and lived high on the hog.
With all due respect to Indian Circus companies, they failed to surpass the Europeans ones in prowess and performance. Nonetheless, they remained a considerable factor in India’s entertaining sphere up until the 1990s. Let’s pay tribute to them:
Three Ring Circus
Great Royal Circus
Great Royal Circus
Indian Languages, Literature & Philosophy
Language as a term has seen some twists and turns regarding its most accurate meaning. As far as India is concerned, it’s in everyone’s best interest to leave a bit of openness due to the complexity of India’s ethnicity.
A verbal and non-verbal expression that accounts various forms of speech and facilitates the communication among people can be labeled as “language.”
We can’t say for certain when was the first language created, but by observing the animals and their way of communication, one can assume that we used mimics to illustrate a point.
A language family has its roots buried in history before anything was recorded and is officially an ancestor to modern ones.
Dialect stands for a slight deviation from the official language spoken in a local region.
According to Indian linguistic, the languages in India fall under several notable sub-groups:
Indo-Aryan Group of Languages
Due to this diversity, knowledge text translation is indeed a problem in today’s Indian education. Most of the top resources remain untranslated, which makes them inaccessible for the commoners. Nowadays, efforts are made to scale up the dissemination of expertise through NTM.
The National Translation Mission is full-time engaged in “decoding” the academic and intellectual texts in 20+ Indian languages. The content is only available in English, which makes it hard for a vast majority of Indians to be able to explore the depths of it.
In the 18th century, the revolution started with the launch of print technology, but it escalated in a positive way in the digital age.
When it comes to philosophy, India has a long history of theorists, spiritual gurus, deep thinkers, to name a few.
In this endeavor, some differences emerge between various philosophical outlooks of life and nature of existence. It would be ignorant to single out one major school that has deserves to be placed on the pedestal.
A point often overlooked is that all schools assent with one another in terms of complying with the four-step process that will help a person reach its spiritual peak:
Yogis also have a place in our classification here. The Yoga school is comprised of two separate entities. One of which is meditation and the other physical application; to help the practitioner to attain a state of peace.
If you are interested in hearing a thing or two regarding the physical aspect, then you also need to know about one’s ability to perform the exercises in different postures – labeled as asanas. While the breathing techniques bear the name of pranayama.
According to Buddhist philosophy, which differs from the one presented by the Vedas – one cannot find shelter and harmony until it discards the mind notions. Triggered by this thought, the Buddha roamed around India in pursuit of blissfulness and nirvana.
Upon attaining enlightenment, the Buddha shared four noble truths for tackling the endless strives of the reckless mind.
Desire – the ultimate trigger of suffering.
The destruction of primitive urges will relieve you of all the pain and sorrow.
Skid towards liberation and freedom.
Religions in India
Spirituality as a sacred element in every culture has seen many deviations in terms of lifting the spirits and maintain social order over the years. It’s main purpose hinges on one’s group ability to get together and ask for blissfulness. Here are India’s most prominent ones:
Hinduism – At the most fundamental level, Hinduism embraces and simplifies the veiled principles from Vedic religious tenets.
Buddhism – Buddhism emphasizes the life-encounters of Siddhartha Gautama also known as the Buddha (the awakened one).
Jainism – The word ‘Jain’ is stems from Jina or Jaina which in layman’s terms connotes “Conqueror or Conquering”.
Islam – The word Islam stands for one’s full submission to the almighty God.
Christianity – The basic motive for the stretch of Christianity is the belief in one God, as the source and substance to everything that exists.
Sikhism – The history of Sikhism is weaved around the life of Guru Nanak and his endeavors.
Zoroastrianism – It is a monotheistic religion whose teachings revolve around the existence of one God, known as Ahura Mazda.
Judaism – The Jews have faith in Yahweh who was firstly introduced by Abraham.
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For most people, religion is an inherited prophecy and a cultural element that is passed from generation to generation.
For others, it’s a deep connection with the ultimate source or one’s inner beingness.
The author tries to unveil the real essence of Hinduism and tackle the impurities!
Dive right in!
Who Should Read “Why I Am a Hindu”? And Why?
Indian mysteriousness has always been quite a thorn for European invaders, who wanted to label Indians one way or the other. They quickly discovered that cultural diversity and mysticism is widespread, which goes against the conventional classification of a group.
With that being said “Why I am a Hindu” recounts some historical events and personal dogma that shaped the author’s understanding of Hinduism.
Actually, we believe this book is an excellent addition not just for Hindus, but for all others who want to explore the depths of this enigmatic belief system.
About Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor is a distinguished Indian personality, politician and an international diplomat who is currently designated as a member of the Lok Sabha.
He is the author of a dozen books, which mostly relate to India’s ups and downs throughout the course of history.
“Why I Am a Hindu PDF Summary”
Shashi Tharoor, as an acclaimed author and renowned politician, starts by explaining the two key reasons for writing this book:
To explore the virtues, aspects, and dispute points in Hinduism
To share grave concerns regarding the vicious forms of Hinduism that rose to the surface in the 1980s.
His viewpoints regarding Hinduism fall under practicality; which means that he only exposes the virtues and facets that apply to the broader audience. Nonetheless, Shashi takes the safe side by explaining that his book doesn’t cover the entire scope of Hinduism.
He reflects only on those Hindu-aspects he finds appealing and meaningful. Bear in mind that if you disagree with the ideas presented by the author, you should stick to your path and follow your soul.
The book is divided into three sections
Part 1: My Hinduism
Part 2: Political Hinduism
Part 3: Taking Back Hinduism
Before taking the fast track to explain Hinduism without omission, one might wonder about the Hindu origins? Who invented this term actually?
In many European languages including French – the word “Indian” is on the same wavelength as “Hindu.” As it turns out, the word Hindu refers to people living beyond the River Sindhu – modern day Pakistan.
Truthfully, Indian Language had no place for “Hindu” until Europeans brought it up. It was used to define the society they’ve laid eyes upon on their conquest of India, which the people later embraced it.
Shashi Tharoor shares his two main reasons for being Hindu:
Cultural – He feels immensely proud of Indian history.
Real Intellectual Understanding – As a person who has studied other religions, he believes that Hinduism is best suited for him.
The main driving force of being a Hindu is that Hinduism, unlike other religions, doesn’t profess false claims to gain popularity.
After all, having insights about a faith which allows you to stretch your imagination, without being subjected to hostile treatment is a great relief. This also means that a Hindu couldn’t be a heretic.
Without adhering to strict rules, you are more than welcome to apply your thoughts to anything. Indians are taught to be respectful towards others – it’s the very heart of diversity. Deviation from the original path is encouraged, and you can rightfully choose means to take you there.
Mahatma Gandhi, himself praised this form of integration and assimilation. There’s no worship policy, no thought-police; but a flexible system lacking rigid principles.
Since God represents the Alpha & Omega and is ever-present; this universal truth is commonly referred to as Nirguna. It’s an abstract element without attached qualities, shapes, and other features. With this in mind, the Vedas tend to use the pronoun “kasmai” (who?) that depicts the inconceivable God.
According to Shashi, people need visualization or something that can be worshiped. Apparently, the nirguna Brahman was not enough, even though this is the heart of Hinduism. This impelled the worshipers to conceptualize a form which can be recognized as Ishvara or Bhagavan.
The monotheistic faiths such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam don’t have a divine source equivalent to Brahman. In layman’s terms – the Hindu’s Ishvara is the closest these religions can get regarding their knowledge of the universal power.
From the outset, Hinduism spontaneously absorbed other tribal religions and forms. In this endeavor, it embraced the doctrine of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, while acting tolerantly towards his followers with regards to their belief system.
The same thing happened to Buddhism. Hindus turned the table around by attempting to assimilate Buddhism while referring to the Buddha as the reincarnation of Vishnu.
As you can see, Hindus, unlike its counterparts have no monopoly over a path one should take in order to get to the truth.
The tenets of practical Hinduism revolve around agnostic teachings that can bring you one step closer to realization. With regards to one’s cultural environment, place of birth, social conditions, a path will be formed.
No monopoly over the truth, and freedom to exercise your rational or agnostic belief. The path to salvation is not predetermined by the group or higher religious authority like a priest. It lies within the heart of the person; whose actions define its religious conviction.
Westerners and Indian Scholars believe that Hinduism is the only religion worldwide which doesn’t discard the invisible portrait of “God” introduced by other faiths. This very attribute depicts Hindus as henotheists; a group of believers which doesn’t underestimate other religious doctrines.
According to the author, secularism has divided India and added to a moral deficiency. Comparatively, it stirred up religious extremism which undermines years of cultural evolution.
The secular project itself was brought to its knees due to this prevailing doctrine that threatens to tear it down.
From another standpoint, one can also pay heed to secularism through its terminological implications and realize its connection with dharma-nirpekshata. Introducing dharma on a national level is critical, but that mustn’t be done at the expense of the pluralist structure in India.
From its early days, India has been the center for multiformity and the existence of opposites. For a person to latch onto this insurmountable bulwark of truth, it must accept the magnitude of diversities which permeates all over the world.
Most of the Indians, not to mention Westerners, fail to recognize the real meaning of Hindutva. The author zooms in on this outspread concept in order to have a glimpse into its substance.
Savarkar invented or created “Hindutva” to showcase the virtues, qualities, and opportunities for living life as a Hindu. In addition, it’s good to know that this notion embodies the cultural, religious and national ideals.
In layman’s terms: A person who practices Hinduism, accepts India as his/her motherland (matrbhumi) and defends the holy land of his/her ancestors (pitrbhumi) can be “branded” a Hindu.
Evidently, not all things were easily distinguishable.
Hindutva and Hinduism still cannot find common grounds on a handful of topics, and many misinterpretations have risen to the surface as a consequence of this stalemate. The trove of Indian antique and mystique treasure is not on the same wavelength as Hindutva, to say the least.
The identity of India-ness struggles to incorporate the Hindutva element into its core message. A topic that raises a lot of eyebrows and instigates a personal and political debate.
If we take into consideration the King-subordinate aspect, we might conclude the ruler can hold the reins according to his raj dharma. This constitutional way of governance, mustn’t be underlined by the king himself, but by the unattached humanitarian rishis.
Indeed, some Indians reckon that the Indian Constitution was made on a whim. The creation process wasn’t not fueled by dharma and nobility, and it seems like the Indian Constitution is a brainchild of Britain.
The concept of dharma omits from its essential elements.
Shashi Tharoor finds it incredibly hard to agree with the follower-base of Hindutva. He strongly disagrees with the atrocities committed in the name of Hinduism and openly confronts them.
For precisely the same reason he asserts that liberalism as a political ideology is intertwined with Hinduism, to some extent. It advocates for freedom of thought, open-mindedness and that’s why he considers himself to be one.
In this book, he also points out Obama’s recent talk about cultural tolerance, according to which, Indians must live by as they did for centuries.
Key Lessons from “Why I Am a Hindu”
1. Religious Diversity is a Powerful Weapon 2.Total Disregard for Thought-Police 3.Liberalism and Strength
Religious Diversity is a Powerful Weapon
Economically, India lacks behind its Western counterparts, but when it comes to psychology and tolerance – it was and still is years ahead of its own time.
From the ancient scripts to modern-day interpretations of life, we can see that Indians have immense broadness in their way of perception.
Hinduism incorporates various forms and allows its believers to seek salvation in the way they deem fit.
Total Disregard for Thought-Police
Unlike most other faiths and doctrines, Hinduism prompts you to be yourself; and you’ll rarely be pestered about your religious convictions.
It’s a mental and philosophical luxury that should be exploited to the maximum extent.
Liberalism and Strength
Indian national identity is not easy definable as it is with most other countries. The main reason for this disputed point is the different understanding of being “Hindu” and “Indian.”.
We leave you be the judge of this ambiguous outlook.
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In all honesty, we didn’t have much knowledge regarding Hinduism prior to reading this book. It opened our eyes to the drawbacks of other religions and made us aware of the strongest features that describe Hinduism.
We find it highly informational and philosophical even. A remarkable assemblage of quotes, thoughts, and insights!
You should definitely pass through its key takeaways.
Those of you that don’t know – this book has received wide acclaim mostly due to its exclusiveness. The author exerted himself in the effort to convey a message of sheer importance.
By creating a spark inside the hearts and minds of people, it instigated a change that India ought to follow.
Without further ado, let’s see what is the fuss all about!
Who Should Read “Ignited Minds”? And Why?
Even Abdul clearly states that this book is mostly written for the young and brilliant minds of Indian society.
In other words, “Ignited Minds” revolves around the topic of transforming India’s mentality by inciting the blossoming youth to take action.
We’ll see what will happen in years to follow.
About A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
P. J. Abdul Kalam needs no introduction anywhere in India, and pretty much the rest of the world. He was designated as India’s President from 2002 to 2007 and was hailed for his contribution in physics and aerospace engineering.
While giving a lecture, Kalam died at the age of 83. He left a legacy of valuable insights for Indians to follow, and as a result, he was buried with full state honors.
“Ignited Minds PDF Summary”
In the Preface, the author addresses the young Indian population, and it urges them to ignite India with their creativeness. Without question, India, as a developing country, has unlimited potential in terms of resources, education, business, energy, you name it.
Abdul Kalam pondered about India’s recent decisions as a nation. What needs to be revolutionized, added, removed, achieved? It’s a long-term process that has to be addressed as soon as possible. According to him, it is the attitude in Indians which hinders the prospect of prosperity.
The book ruminates on a lot of topics but starts with the most important one – peace of mind. Without it, no country can soar to new heights, and as a result, stagnation will prevail.
The Dream and the Leader
The author recalls the thoughts swarming in its head after the helicopter crash. On 30th September 2001 – Kalam and the crew in that chopper looked death right into its eyes when the helicopter’s engines shut down in mid-air, and they started losing altitude, which resulted in a crash.
Miraculously, no one was injured, but they all started seeing the truth of this existence with different eyes. The doctors prescribed a tranquilizer to calm him down so that he could rest.
A strange dream followed.
One particular thought filled him with dread and confusion – Why is the human race so prone to violence? Then, he dreamed about five characters (Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Emperor Asoka, Abraham Lincoln, and Caliph Omar) who he so deeply admired. This dream engrossed him, made him aware of the reality.
These personalities were the answer to this puzzle, all living in different times but exerting a great influence on the upcoming generations.
It was perhaps the missing link to the fulfillment of its longings. Education in India became the battleground for this endeavor.
It became crystal clear to him that by integrating spirituality with education, one can achieve full satisfaction. Without one of these elements, a person can’t cope with the reality of today. Such strides will undoubtedly improve the wellbeing of a nation and add to world peace.
Kalam wholeheartedly argues that there is nothing wrong with having a desire for material things. Although a life with minimal possessions can help you grow inwardly, you mustn’t discard the effects of merging spirituality with the outer world.
One cannot do without the other, and due to this correlation – you must integrate both because nature doesn’t endorse half measures.
India’s wealth, in particular, is not reflected in the resource-rich areas, nor powerful tycoons but by the development of a smarter generation. Who are the role models for the Indian youth, who will act as a leader of the ignited minds?
Throughout life, we can’t help but be subjected to various treatments. In this process, one absorbs the knowledge of different figures, skilled or excelling at different things. When a child matures and strives to gain self-sufficiency – it patterns its life path after a role model.
Not emulating its trajectory, but building its own road based on the “dimensions” which are proven to be effective. It’s a great metaphor that will illuminate the upcoming generations regarding the real wealth of a nation!
Visionary Individuals and Saints
How many times have you been encouraged never to stop dreaming? It’s critical for a person who puts an accent on growth to hear this encouragement over and over again! – Kalam, apparently, thinks alike.
He was so impressed by the compass and the movement of the needles, that he spent countless hours trying to understand why and who controlled their motion.
What was it made of, how can you stop it from spinning, etc.? These were few of the questions that propelled the young genius into exploring and looking at the depths of everything.
Dyer also adds to this lecture by pointing out that desire or urge incentivizes the Universe to bring those items/facts/opportunities/changes closer to you.
It’s science, not some faded theory!
One other example is India’s battle for independence. It’s entirely false to think that Mahatma Gandhi launched an unprecedented struggle for sovereignty. Indians embarked on this journey officially from 1857. It took them 90 years to achieve this, but it happened because the nation was united.
No one can deny the fact that India still struggles to maintain a stable economy, and a large portion of Indians live below the poverty line. However, it is moving forward, and that’s precisely why Kalam places the emphasis on the young folks.
India was able to withstand the storming hordes of colonialism and preserve its identity. The invaders tried to break India from within and incite divisions, but they faced stiff resistance throughout their reign.
Nonetheless, the effects of imperialism have taken a toll on India’s development.
In the process, India slumped to a lower position in the global arena, and it faces a brick wall when trying to rejuvenate its structure. The new generation now must revamp the fragile architecture of India while drawing strength from its roots depicted through spirituality and ancient wisdom.
Technology is not the spiritual adversary, but a guiding hand which can facilitate this transition. People with vision want to tackle the sociological impasse by scrutinizing the effects of inherent strengths. Indeed, India that needs to be brought into line with the 21st-century thought.
True Patriotism and Real Knowledge
Well, when you are invaded multiple times in the past 3000 years, you ought to learn how to defend yourself. That’s the message Abdul Kalam tried to convey while teaching at Alma University. Nehru spoke against the Nuclear Arms Race and pointed out that India should remain neutral in terms of developing nuclear capabilities.
Nonetheless, the author with regards to current circumstances indicates that two of India’s neighbors are armed with ballistic missiles, and that’s a force to be reckoned with.
The question is – Why did India never launched an onslaught against the nearby nations with whom they share their borders? Were the kings too afraid and pathetic or perhaps India is the core of diversity and always has been? You get the idea! Indians are tolerant people, but that attitude was used against them for centuries!
With more than 10,000 Nuclear Warheads in their arsenal, both the US and the Russian Federation dictate the terms in the Security Council of the United Nations. It stands to reason that without a proper defensive mechanism, India will never be able to play a significant role in worldly events.
When it comes to the belief system, Abdul Kalam was fortunate enough to learn the key elements of religions that are widespread on Indian soil. He arrived at a conclusion that all of them accentuate the importance of spiritual well-being.
The greatest adversary in India are not religious differences, but the people seeking divisions. It is those whose ideology differs from the heart of India, and they try to expand their interests by advocating for a cultural massacre.
In the process, the sense of unity crumbles underneath the never-ending desire for domination. It weakens the mission of the nation, and make it more prone to conflicts and recession not just in terms of economy.
This ultimately incites disappointed and a full-scale dejection. To avert this possible catastrophe, which is a direct consequence of selfish intentions; the youth must look beyond their noses and adjust its viewpoints.
In all honesty, a one billion people nation is tough to govern, especially when you have all the cultural and historical patterns engraved deep in the societal structure.
The best way to address the current impasse is by adapting the implementation program regarding the mission-mode – Kalam regularly concentrated on. The national and human resources are yet to be utilized by focusing on the policies enforced!
The Power of Goals
Maharishi Patanjali once said:
When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world.
No one can break your spirit if you are driven by sincere motives that further incentivize you to handle the obstacles down the road.
The same thing applies to historical events that shaped India’s mindset.
Perhaps, there is not a country in the modern world that can match India’s history, culture, and all the facets that go with it. It’s needless to say that ancient India had a significant role in the rise of civilization by sharing its insights into human evolution and social well-being.
Yes, there were hard times that most Indians wish they never happened, but let’s draw positives from the past in efforts to rebuild the future.
The spirit of eager and proud Indians will never be crushed, and that’s the new generation Abdul Kalam is trying to bring to the surface. He exerted himself to portray them as real heroes who should care for prosperity stretching beyond their agendas.
Key Lessons from “Ignited Minds”
1. Growth doesn’t happen overnight 2.Attitude is key 3.Governing doesn’t mean ruling
Growth doesn’t happen overnight
We hate to say it, but this is not a lottery. It’s a long and exhausting process that should help India to stabilize its key aspects and convert into a global Superpower.
The young generation ought to lay the groundwork for this endeavor.
Attitude is key
Perhaps, Kalam didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but his core message revolves around India’s character.
He voiced grave concerns in terms of the nation’s determination in achieving strategic and personal goals.
We sincerely hope that – Indian Youth will deal with this issue, once and for all.
Governing doesn’t mean ruling
Indians are tired of ruling elites; ranging from the Mughal Empire to European Colonization. They simply don’t like to be ruled but guided and led by true reformers!
It’s a big difference, because in doing so – the country should safeguard their interests and care for their well-being.
Not many rulers did that in the past, to say the least!
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A regular columnist for The Independent, he was deemed one of Britain’s most influential leftists before two high-profile scandals in 2011 severely marred his reputation.
First, it was discovered that he had plagiarized some of his sources, and then that he used different accounts to vandalize the Wikipedia articles of some of his criticizers.
However, Hari’s books published since then – Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections – have been widely praised and debated.
“Chasing the Scream PDF Summary”
Chasing the Scream was published in January 2015, exactly one century after the quiet commencement of the War on Drugs.
Now, War on Drugs – just like War on Poverty or War on Terrorism – is such a universally accepted war that it’s difficult to think what could be wrong with it.
In fact, it almost sounds like something nobody should have anything against. However, Johann Hari was a bit skeptical about that. And if we’ve learned one thing summarizing books here, it’s undoubtedly that it’s always good to be skeptical about things that people accept without thinking twice.
And Johann Hari wanted to think things many times over; in fact, he wrote Chasing the Scream because he didn’t think he could think of a satisfying answer to some quite interesting and vital questions:
Why did the drug war start, and why does it continue? Why can some people use drugs without any problems, while others can’t? What really causes addiction? What happens if you choose a radically different policy?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions either – and, believe us, chances are you don’t – then read ahead!
You’ll be shocked by some of the answers.
“Many of our most basic assumptions about this subject are wrong,” notes Hari. “Drugs are not what we think they are. Drug addiction is not what we have been told it is. The drug war is not what our politicians have sold it as for one hundred years and counting.”
Harry Jacob Anslinger
Remember that marvelously comical scene from Dr. Strangelove when General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) tries to convince Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) that water fluoridation is a Communist plot devised to sap Americans from their bodily fluids?
Well, believe it or not, the war on drugs seems to have started in a somewhat similar manner.
Just a century ago, people regularly drank cocaine-infused Coca-Cola and bought medicines which incorporated drugs such as heroin. Hell, you could even buy a tin of heroin from a department store if you were a high-society lady!
However, on December 17, 1914, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was approved in the United States, the first drug controlling regulation in the world. Even though the act made prescribing drugs for the treatment of addiction illegal, it was still legal to distribute cocaine if you were a registered seller well into the 1930s.
And then Harry Anslinger happened to the world.
The guy – a staunch supporter of criminalization and prohibition of drugs – was the first commissioner of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics. And he held that position for more than three decades, from August 12, 1930, to May 1962!
Now, Harry seems to have hated a lot both drugs and communists.
And he was so obsessed with them that sometime between the two world wars he made a startling connection which at the start must have been evident to him and to nobody else in the world.
Namely, that communists were smuggling drugs in the United States so as to make Americans addicts and undermine the strength of the United States.
We dig ya.
And apparently, that’s precisely what every country in the world said after Anslinger made his case before the UN in the 1950s.
Only without the sarcasm.
The War on Racial Minorities
But why was Anslinger so interested in suppressing drugs? Did he care so much about the American people?
Of course he did.
Only in his mind, the phrase “American people” seems to have had somewhat limited meaning, encompassing everybody but the African-Americans, the Hispanics, the Chinese, the communists, etc.
What we’re trying to tell you is not that the man who banned drugs was a racist; it is that he banned drugs because he was a racist.
In other words, he used drugs as an excuse to put many entirely innocent people – mostly African-Americans – in jail for, say, smoking marijuana.
Here’s how scientific were Anslinger’s claims about drugs:
1. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
2. “Colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with (white) female students, smoking [marijuana] and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result: pregnancy.”
3. “The increase [in drug addiction] is practically one hundred percent among Negro people.”
“More than 50 percent of Americans have breached the drug laws,” remarks Hari. “Where a law is that widely broken, you can’t possibly enforce it against every lawbreaker. The legal system would collapse under the weight of it. So, you go after the people who are least able to resist, to argue back, to appeal—the poorest and most disliked groups. In the United States, they are black and Hispanic people, with a smattering of poor whites.”
The Birth of the Modern Junkie
Have you ever thought about how the junkies of pre-war US looked like?
And even if you did, almost certainly you can’t picture them in any way different from the ones living in your street. Namely, small-time thieves who regularly prostitute themselves for money and who are unable to function in any way whatsoever.
However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Before the Harrison Act and Anslinger’s all too personal war, drugs were cheap enough to allow many drug addicts to live quite normal lives.
However, once drugs were criminalized, their prices went up, and the living standard of drug addicts went severely down.
In fact, the word “junkie” itself may originate from this time (the 1920s) either because early addicts collected and sold scrap metal (junk) to pay for their addiction or because they bought narcotics which suddenly people started referring to as “junk” (not earlier than 1925).
The irony is rather staggering:
It was the War on Drugs which (practically out of nothing) created its enemy: criminal drug gangs; not the other way around.
The War on Drugs Today
In Ghettoside – an excellent book – Jill Leovy points out that “gangs are a consequence of lawlessness, not a cause.”
Well, as we explained above, the exact same thing seems to have happened with drug gangs.
Interestingly enough, it is still happening.
You see, drug dealing is a pretty lucrative, which also means a pretty risky, business. In other words, whether you’re cultivating, transporting or selling some drug, you’re pretty vulnerable to attacks at all stages of production and distribution.
However, if someone steals your drug from you, you can’t complain to the police about it, can you?
So, the lack of government laws – the lawlessness – incites you to implement some laws of your own. In other words, even if you want to merely transport cocaine and do nothing more, there’s a high chance that you’ll be unable to earn money from it unless you have a gun.
And the more gangs they are, the violence between them is more brutal; it is, after all, their only way to solve their problems; anything different means they will all go to prison.
And arresting drug dealers doesn’t help with violence reduction either; on the contrary, stats show that it aggravates things.
Because it creates a power vacuum.
And someone will almost certainly try to exploit it.
The Solution: Decriminalization
No, Hari is not talking merely about decriminalization of possession; he is talking about decriminalization and legalization of drugs altogether.
Here are some of the benefits we should expect if such a thing ever happens.
Humanization of Addicts
This is probably the most important benefit of them all: the humanization of addicts.
Even though these are human beings with serious problems (read more in the Key Lessons section), according to our present laws, these are criminals.
It is obvious that people who cause pain need discipline; but people in pain need a helping hand.
That’s why the governments of several European countries (Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany) have decided to set up supervisedinjection sites (SIS). These are centers where addicts can go and have their daily fix in sanitary conditions.
And in 2001, the Portuguese government decriminalized possession of any type of drug up to ten days; interestingly, it was the only European country to report a decline in drug use in the years which followed.
The Reduction of Drug-Related Crimes
As we explained above, legalization of drugs will, in turn, make stealing drugs a crime. This will have an enormously positive effect on the amount of violence among drug-related gangs. Put simply, you don’t need guns to protect yourself when you can call the police to protect you.
Furthermore, legalizing drugs should put in question their very existence. After all, when pharmacies and stores are able to sell drugs, their prices will suddenly go down.
Speaking of money, legalizing drugs should be enormously beneficial for the government as well.
Johann Hari has calculated that it should not only save the government about $40 billion dollars (usually spent on arresting and jailing dealers), but it should also earn it at least as much via taxes.
All in all, that’s more than $80 million dollars on a yearly basis!
Key Lessons from “Chasing the Scream”
1. The War on Drugs Was a Pet Project of an American Racist
2 “The Opposite of Addiction Isn’t Sobriety – It’s Connection.”
3. Drug Decriminalization and Legalization May Solve a Lot of Problems
The War on Drugs Was a Pet Project of an American Racist
Drugs weren’t illegal before the First World War.
In fact, they weren’t illegal in the sense they are today even during the decade after it.
But, then, Harry J. Anslinger became the first chief of the US Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics. And he started an all-out attack War on Drugs.
In fact, he criminalized drugs so that he can settle some scores with the people he hated: African-Americans and communists.
And then he convinced the world to do the same.
“The Opposite of Addiction Isn’t Sobriety – It’s Connection.”
Have you ever wondered why people whose injuries are so severe that their pain must be alleviated with opiates don’t become addicts even if given loads of diamorphine for weeks?
An interesting experiment with rats may explain why.
Namely, if you put a rat in a cage with two bottles – one filled with water, and the other filled with water and heroin – there’s a high chance that the rat will only drink from the heroin-laced bottle until it dies.
However, as Canadian psychologist Bruce Alexander realized in the 1970s, if you make that cage a healthy environment (a sort of a Disneyland for rats) and the rat is not alone, then this doesn’t happen.
It isn’t the drug that causes the harmful behavior—it’s the environment. An isolated rat will almost always become a junkie. A rat with a good life almost never will, no matter how many drugs you make available to him. As Bruce put it: he was realizing that addiction isn’t a disease. Addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you—it’s the cage you live in.
Drug Decriminalization and Legalization May Solve a Lot of Problems
Above everything else, the decriminalization and legalization of drugs could help transform drug addicts from criminals in need of discipline into human beings in need of a helping hand.
But, in addition, legalizing drugs should also reduce drug-related crimes and earn the government billions of dollars!
So why are we still in a war when everybody should benefit from the peace offer?
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Crony capitalism, as a term is coming in full swing due to the disproportionate distribution of wealth.
It merely manifests the ties between the government and corporations to gain high profit and secure their position.
In this book, you’ll find out more about the economic struggle and utilization of India’s natural resources.
Who Should Read “Gas Wars”? And Why?
Well, we don’t believe that this book will be a good fit for the larger audience. That’s partly because of the complex terminology, but also due to other factors, such as willingness to explore the corporate myths.
In other words, “Gas Wars” is recommended for anyone who wants to delve into the secrets of the Indian crony capitalism.
About Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Subir Ghosh
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is an Indian journalist, author, and a documentary filmmaker born on October 5th, 1955.
As a member of the Press Council of India, he was given the authority to get a glimpse into the paid news, which infested the country’s politics.
Subir Ghosh is also a journalist born on September 7th, 1966. He has expressed great interest in environmental and human rights.
“Gas Wars PDF Summary”
Every Indian has a rough perspective on the vast disparity that exists between the upper and lower class. It’s estimated that approximately 25% of the Indian population lives below the poverty line. This is a huge defeat for a socialist country, such as India.
To better illustrate the problem, we turn our attention over to Dhirubhai’s two sons – Mukesh and Anil. For those that don’t know them, they are one of India’s wealthiest and most influential individuals with a combined net worth of over $40 billion.
As legitimate wielders of industrial power, they control much of India’s gas and power sector. Following their father’s death in 2002, RIL or Reliance Industry Limited was starting to fall apart. In an interview, Mukesh admitted to having ownership issues with his younger better.
This unfortunate turn of events divided the conglomerate into two billion dollar corporations: Reliance Industry Limited and Reliance Group – founded in 2005. According to the author, their somewhat different personality and character only added to the demerger.
Between November 2004 and June 2005, the Ambani brothers resisted one another, which marked the beginning of an all-around economic, social and political struggle.
RIL couldn’t hold for much longer, and that same year split into two. Anil took control over the power generation empire, while Mukesh focused on the oil and gas exploration. Their fight was far from over.
Three years later, in 2008, Mukesh using the “right of first refusal” disavowed the deal Anil-led Reliance Communications and the South African Telecommunications group – MTN.
They started arguing on many topics, and their debate turned into a live one. At first, they tried to keep this issue to themselves, but things got out of hand and ended up in the Bombay High Court. The main matter of contention was the dominance over KG gas and the pricing.
On 15 June 2009, the Supreme court ruled in favor of Anil, but the battle continued. With the conglomerate parceled out 4 years earlier, the verdict included counts which urged Mukesh to honor the terms of the agreement, because otherwise, he’d risk arbitration.
Reliance Group put up a fierce resistance by launching a media campaign in which they attempted to discredit both RIL and the Indian government. He believed that the petroleum ministry gravitated towards Mukesh, and not him.
Anil demanded that the Supreme Court should review the case and reconsider their decision. To some degree, Mukesh won this battle, but the Supreme Court issued an act, according to which – the pricing of natural resources should be enforced and adequately monitored by government officials.
In 2010, the Indian government realized that the gas industry is crucial to the Indian economy, therefore they are allowed to interfere in all matters of interest. In layman’s terms – the conglomerates are not allowed to sell too cheap, or unreasonably high.
The truth behind the KG Basin
In 2010, Atul Chandra (Head of Operations at RIL) expressed grave concerns about the price of deepwater gas, $4.2 per mBtu. According to him, the only solution would be an increase due to the risk incorporated into the process.
K. Srivastava (the Director General of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons) countered these assertions by hatching a plan for reaching 60 mscmd of natural gas quote by April 2011. The plan failed because not all of the 22 wells were in motion.
RIL attempted to cover this loss by exploiting the KG-D6 fields, but then again – the deficit remained an issue. The government, on the other hand, was compelled to undertake a procedure regarding the problem and find a permanent solution.
Sudini Jaipal Reddy (Union Minister for petroleum and natural gas), played on the safe side and didn’t want to reveal government actions, beforehand.
The Indian government instructed RIL that some sectors should be given priority over others. In all honesty, Mukesh didn’t have much of an argument here; he could only comply with the regulations enforced by the officials.
On 4 June 2011, Mukesh as the leading shareholder of RIL decided to address the problem which reflected the pricing gap. He got in touch with Manmohan Singh (India’s Prime Minister at the time), but no one knows the main topic of the discussion.
To calm the unrest among the stakeholders, Reliance Industry Limited embarked on a 50:50 business venture with British Petroleum. The main goal of this effort was to source gas in India and become an essential factor in the oil and gas global industry.
Crony Capitalism, at its finest
Crony capitalism is merely another word for corporate corruption, where venal politicians use their position to help private companies to take over the market. They achieve this by cutting their taxes and providing other benefits.
The same situation cropped up when the Indian petroleum and gas industry demanded more authority and less interference.
In 2013, the finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia (deputy chairman of the Planning Commission) and, petroleum minister Veerappa Moily, came to a conclusion that increasing the price would be the best option.
During that business session of the CCEA, the officials gave the green light for increasing the price to $8.4 per mBtu.
Who suffered the most? Yeah, you guessed it – the ordinary people. Why aren’t we surprised?!
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As a historian, columnist for Hindustan Times and The Telegraph, and an author who surely loves to conduct research on numerous topics, he has proven its worth.
“Gandhi Before India PDF Summary”
First of all, who was Gandhi? Why does the world reckon that he is one of the most prominent figures of the 20th century?
In all honesty, it’s not easy for a person without noble origins to elevate him/herself to such a high level. He was born in a small village in 1869, right about the time the British influence had reached its peak.
As we mentioned, he distinguished himself for his non-violent revolt against British colonization of India and inspired many conquered countries to rise against the oppressors. The Arab Spring is one example, followed by Nelson Mandela Martin Luther King, The 13th Dalai Lama, etc.
The worldwide revolution often portrayed Gandhi as a symbol of hope, that doesn’t endorse violence of any kind. Egyptians, Tunisians, and other communities carried Gandhi’s picture during their rallies to showcase that the idea of fairness underpins democratic ideals.
In 1948, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was shot by Nathuram Godse (A radical right-wing supporter) at close range and died quickly afterward. His legacy remains embedded into the minds and hearts of culturally diversified Indians and worldwide supporters.
According to some westerners, and probably Indians, the murder of Gandhi was used as a political weapon against Hindu-Indians who didn’t recognize Pakistan’s sovereignty and other factors.
Their actions became synonymous with hate, something that Nehru enforced as Gandhi’s political heir.
A throwback to an era, when justice-seekers were imprisoned for publicly expressing their ideas. From 1903, up until his death in 1948, Gandhi became India’s father and his remarks on Indo-British society were published in newspapers in both Gujarati and English.
This book tries to unveil Gandhi’s real identity, the one that is behind the curtain and often neglected. As a matter of fact, Ramachandra Guha is hailed as one of the most prominent historians and has the credibility to question the portrait of Indo society.
In addition, he reminds us that skepticism altogether is a powerful way of finding the truth, which in many cases is concealed. The depiction of Gandhi must be examined and perceived impartially.
Gandhi from all Angles
The central premise of this eye-opening starts by explaining that both Left and Right extremists didn’t like Gandhi’s symbolic vision.
On one end, Maoist had destroyed Gandhi’s statues all over the country, while the Right-Wingers supported a theocratic society. Evidently, not all people who opposed Gandhi’s ideology were British, or Afrikaans. There were a lot of Muslims, Hindus; you name it.
While residing in South Africa, Gandhi coined a term “Satyagraha” which in layman’s terms means something like “truth-force.” The same reform movement and ideology was later applied in India. His time in Natal and Transvaal also shaped the nationalist movement in India, because he had time to contemplate on many things.
This mass disobedience technique, created by Gandhi had a task to stand up to the oppressors, and show no interest in filling their pockets.
According to Gandhi, all people should receive the same amount of rights regardless of their status and cultural background. During his stay in Afrika, he realized that discrimination is the new tool of modern enslavement and something that had to be stopped.
Years later, this ideology became the driving force in post-British Socialist India.
The author clearly outlines Gandhi’s four forces, which characterize him as a leader:
At the age of 19, Mahatma Gandhi went to London, and it was also the first time outside his native Kathiawar. It helped him to shape his views, see the Western world, and draw his own conclusions on how India should be governed.
The adventure in London
Probably the two most renowned Indians in London at that time were Dadabhai Naoroji and Abdul Karim. Naoroji was a trade agent who moved to London a couple of decades ago, while Abdul was a Muslim who worked on Queen Victoria’s staff.
Mohandas received his first lecture on English etiquette by Dr. Mehta who stated the following:
Do not ask questions as we usually do in India on first acquaintance; do not talk loudly; never address people as sir while speaking to them as we do in India; only servants and subordinates address their masters that way.
Afterward, he went to visit a local Inner Temple, located west of the city. Gandhi sent a letter to his brother, complaining about the weather and also mentioning that he doesn’t have any urges for eating meat or consuming alcohol.
Upon arriving at Bombay, Gandhi was informed by his brother, that their mother died a few months ago. Although he was sad, Gandhi didn’t have much time to lose. In the first couple of days, he enjoyed the company of Raychand – Dr. Mehta’s relative.
They talked about a lot of things related to religion, culture, beliefs, and tried to find a link between them. Decades later, Gandhi shared that Raychand had a massive influence on him as if he was his intellectual lodestar.
When the Boer war broke out, Gandhi, shockingly to most people, cheered for the British. From this standpoint, we can say that he was an imperialist with regards to his cultural belief, which converted a bit later.
In the early 1900s, his main efforts were fixated at South Africa, their way of life and so forth. As a lawyer and a person of stature, he provided services for many clients in Johannesburg and other cities. In the meantime, he began to hatch a plan on how to improve the rights of Indians in the Transvaal area.
This whole mess led to a political impasse, which was partially supported by certain media outlets. From such vantage point, it’s crystal clear that Gandhi was trying to find the perfect way to express himself through meditation, celibacy, strict diet, etc.
The end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th were tough for him. For 10 years he roamed around visiting Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, and other cities but never broken a single word with a peasant whose plight was evident.
We also come to an understanding that in 1906, Gandhi had a few encounters with Winston Churchill and he became increasingly aware of the modern predicament. He even gave answers that surprised Churchill on what principles does he believe are crucial for achieving a modern society.
His legal career, at the time, was on hold, due to the fact that he was engaged in forming his political views. Upon his return to South Africa, Gandhi became increasingly interested in people’s opinion overall, which will later serve as the backbone for his ideology of social structure.
His sudden return to Transvaal was basically a political decision, where he started a Political Journal named “Indian Opinion.” That was actually the turning point in his life!
The opinion of the oppressed must be heard, and that’s was a real impetus for launching a battle against exploitation.
One cannot say that Gandhi wasn’t a remarkable figure in the modern world. He was indeed a reformist, a peaceful revolutionary who managed to see beyond races, and cultures.
His contribution to equality and development of Third-World countries remains a fact to this day.
We firmly believe that the author wanted merely to imply that questioning the other side of the story is beneficial in order to understand the big picture.
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If you’ve never been to India, you’ll never understand the power and pride of Indians.
What do we mean? – Well, Indians have a long history, and their way of life is carved deep into their mentality.
The introduction of Modern India is not a brainchild of Gandi, but the will of the people.
Who Should Read “Indian Polity”? And Why?
As a foreigner, and as someone eager to learn about India, I can say that this is an astonishing book. It covers the history of an oppressed nation and their rise to freedom through the prism of politics.
We wholeheartedly urge Indians, and other knowledge-thirsty individuals to explore “Indian Polity” and learn more about India as a country.
About M. Laxmikanth
Laxmikanth is the Director of Laxmikanth IAS and has a lot of experiences in teaching and mentoring civil service applicants.
He is also an author and renowned coach.
“Indian Polity PDF Summary”
Indian history is one of the most disputable points in modern history. A quarrel among Indians and foreign invaders lasted for more than 2 millenniums. You all have some knowledge of Alexander The Great’s endeavors to conquer India – a trend which became an obsession for other Mighty Empires as well.
For the average Joe, India is a poor place, with little to no opportunities. But, this is entirely false!
Prior to being overtaken by the British East Corporation, India contributed to the world GDP with an astonishing 20+ percent. So, when the Britains arrived as traders on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I, they obtained the “Diwani” and took control over the vast empire.
With the fall of colonialization and the apartheid, India managed to rise as a sovereign state in 1947. It became clear to the members of the parliament that India needs a Constitution that will represent and safeguard the interests of the culturally and religiously diversified Indian population.
The Creation of the Constitution
A lot of processes had to be executed before India could become a factor in the global arena. The composition of a Constitution Assembly became a priority for the new political structure.
According to the Constitution, the power vested in the assembly members and other government bodies, derive strictly from the people. Whereas, a few months later, the Assembly absorbed the role of an independent and legislative body.
In the present year (1947), the Constituent Assembly introduced the National Flag. Three years later, in 1950, when Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as India’s first President and adopted the national anthem.
For people, who have little knowledge of India’s revolution in politics, it’s safe to say that British-Indian Provinces, dominated the Assembly, leaving the Princely States onto the second place. From a religious standpoint, Hindus composed most of the Congress, with Muslims and others to follow.
Not all Constitutions, but many, including the American one, begin with a Preamble. India decided to follow this trend.
It goes like this:
We, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA” having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, Social, Economic and Political
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship
EQUALITY of status and opportunity, and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the NATION
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY, this 26th of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
If you got the impression that India’s Preamble has a Socialist context, well, you are not far-cry from the truth. Over the years, many politicians and Assembly members argued whether the Preamble is a part of the Constitution or not.
Supreme Court states that it is, but it’s vital to note that the Preamble should not be construed as a source of power to the legislature. In addition, it’s non-justiciable, meaning that its counts are not enforced by law.
So, if you ask me (which I am sure you aren’t), it’s one big mess, which has a perpetual tendency. New, bright-minded politicians assert that India should distance itself from the socialist background, and adjust the Constitution. But, that’s a story for a different day.
Union, Citizenship, and Rights
First and foremost, India is not a Federation but a Union. As a socialist state, the constitution is adjusted and formed as an independent federal body, but that doesn’t imply that India consists of several republics within its borders.
The Provinces, which may give the impression of self-governing Republics, are in fact, members of the Assembly. The work behind this integration unfolds since the day India declared independence.
India, following the example of many other modern states, consists of two types of people: citizens and aliens. Well, the term “aliens” doesn’t stand for Martians or some mythical race that inhabits India, but citizens from other countries.
They can later be sub-divided into Friendly and Enemy. The friendly aliens enjoy rights far greater than those of the enemies. So, what kind of basic human rights are we referring to:
Rights to practice your religion, without being subjected to harsh treatment
Rights to freedom of speech
Rights to equality of opportunity
Rights to vote for your representatives in the Parliament
Eligibility to serve India by holding public offices
According to the Indian Constitution, 5 ways can make you eligible for obtaining Indian Citizenship:
Incorporation of Territory
When it comes to rights, it’s of utmost importance to understand that India has two types of fundamental rights. The ones give only to its citizens, and those assigned to everyone, regardless of their background and status.
The legal bodies, such as the Supreme Court or the Public Prosecutor, are entitled to restrict these provisions at given circumstances. Most of these laws are directly enforced, however, there are others which can only be enacted by the Parliament.
Article 13, declares that all laws or practices which don’t apply to the fundamental rights consisted in the Constitution, automatically lose its credibility and may be considered as void.
According to Article 16, all citizens are given the same amount of rights regarding employment or participation in public services. Conditions don’t apply to this right, which means that every citizen is entitled to enlist in the public or private sector.
The System of State Government
To get a bird’s eye view of India’s political structure, it’s vital to have a glimpse into the features of the Parliamentary Government.
The President of India is a nominal execute, while the Prime Minister takes the role of a real executive
As it is with most European Countries, the political party that wins the elections forms the government, and the head of it is designated as the Prime Minister
As a socialist country, there is a collective responsibility for the actions taken
Double Membership, which means that the ministers belong to both executive and legislature bodies
The Prime Minister is evidently in charge of the country
The President can act upon the Prime Minister’s recommendations to dissolve the Lower House (Lok Sabha)
The Ministers love and embrace secrecy, and are not allowed to share any information about the proceedings
According to the renowned political scientists, India doesn’t have a too progressive form of governing. Moreover, it’s tough to draw a straight line between India’s Federal and Unitary status. Most Indians argue that the federal governing systems are merely an instrument that enables the central government to serve its citizens.
The United States of America represents the oldest federation in the world, founded in 1787 after the revolution. This new way of forming a country emerged as a result of defiance to the British Rule. It’s strange because, when India slipped from British’s grasp, a similar governing method was established.
The state government is comprised of the following entities:
State Council of Ministers
Special Status of Jammu & Kashmir
Special Provisions for Some States
The facts presented in this Microbook, merely illustrate just a tiny fraction of the entire political system. In other words, we weren’t able to cover every single element conveyed by the author.
Although this may seem enough for foreigners, if you are Indian, reading the book would be in your best interest. We love the profoundness of it, and how it relates to the ordinary everyday person who depends on these acts.
Key Lessons from “Indian Polity”
1. Limitations on Free Markets 2.Less Corruption 3.Support for young Indians
Limitations on Free Markets
As Non-Indians, we cannot be 100% sure of the following, but it seems like the socialist reality threatens to hinder India’s scalable economic potential.
Giving more freedom, will relieve many Indians of their plight, and improve their wellbeing.
The current way of governing the nation’s resources opens a lot of room for corruption to flourish.
Our guy in Bengaluru told us about the inequality of opportunity even though it’s guaranteed in the Constitution.
Many Indians claim that having a college degree is not enough to get a decent job.
Support for young Indians
I would say that this is not India’s problem but a global one.
Governments, thrown up throughout the world should increase their support for the unemployed population.
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“This Is Going to Hurt” is the book you must read if you have anything against doctors. It’s also the one you should read if you view them as “low-grade superheroes.” It seems both lead to equally dangerous consequences.
Finally, don’t give yourself an option to skip this book if you are a British and want to understand better the health care system in your country.
About Adam Kay
Adam Kay is a British author, scriptwriter and former doctor.
Best known as part of the musical parody duo “Amateur Transplants,” Kay has co-created the BBC Three sitcom “Crims;” his TV writing credits also include “Mrs. Brown’s Boys,” “Watson & Oliver” and “Mitchell and Webb.”
Widely admired, “This Is Going to Hurt” is his first book.
“This Is Going to Hurt Summary”
Since Adam Kay is British and since the objective of this (otherwise brilliant and universally accessible) book – published a year ago, almost to the day – is a bit topical, first the much necessary background.
In 2012 – two years after Kay resigned from his Senior Registrar job – the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employees entered negotiations with an attempt to reach a new contract for junior doctors.
And everything was going well – or, better yet, civilized – until UK’s 2015 general election, after which Britain’s Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, threatened to impose a few items from the Conservative Party’s election manifesto which directly concerned.
Hunt’s contract proposals made little to no sense to almost every BMA and NHS member, leading to a general junior doctors’ strike in January 2016 – the first of its kind in almost four decades!
Jeremy Hunt remained deaf to the demands, and, among other things, blamed junior doctors for being greedy and putting their needs in front of their patients’.
This Is Going to Hurt is actually a collection of diary entries Kay jotted down during the years of his medical training.
He started it (after attending Dulwich College and the Imperial College School of Medicine) as a House Officer in 2004; he ended it six years later as a Senior Registrar – the UK equivalent of USA’s Senior or Chief Resident in Surgery.
As expected, thousands of things happened in the meantime, all recollected with Kay’s now-famous down-to-earth and all-too-honest sense of humor.
(Yup, in case you skipped the bio, he’s the same guy who created “Crims” and a couple of other things; unsurprisingly, “This Is Going to Hurt” is also a BBC 2 comedy-drama series-in-development).
So, under different dates, you’ll read about Kay’s long nights spent in the emergency department, his attempts to save other people’s lives, and – well, at least we said that he was honest – four different objects he took from his patient’s rectums (of course, it was more than just one person).
And there are parts that are pure comedy gold and downright hilarious, such as, say, this memorable meeting with an old lady that happened to Kay on July 5, 2005:
Trying to work out a seventy-year-old lady’s alcohol consumption to record in the notes. I’ve established that wine is her poison. Me: ‘And how much wine do you drink per day, would you say?’ Patient: ‘About three bottles on a good day.’ Me: ‘OK . . . And on a bad day?’ Patient: ‘On a bad day I only manage one.’
Very soon after this event, Kay decides to specialize in gynecology and obstetrics, and two years later – in August 2007 – he is promoted to Registrar.
And during this time Kay learns something about doctors that is usually taken for granted: “a great doctor must have a huge heart and a distended aorta through which pumps a vast lake of compassion and human kindness.”
Because, you see, in addition to all the happy faces surrounding those delivered babies and STD-infected teenagers, being a junior gynecologist also means sleeping just one or two hours in the parking lot and finding no gratitude for it – not even among your colleagues.
Of course, it also means being unpaid for all those overtime hours, which is kind of ironic once you realize that doctors save lives, and you’ll get paid overtime for saving (as in Ctrl+S) that Excel table of yours!
To make matter worse, taking a sick day is all but an impossibility because it’s difficult to find someone to cover you when he/she too is going through the same.
“It’s funny – you don’t think of doctors getting ill” – writes Kay remembering a remark.
And he goes on:
I think it’s part of something bigger: patients don’t actually think of doctors as being human. It’s why they’re so quick to complain if we make a mistake or if we get cross. It’s why they’ll bite our heads off when we finally call them into our over-running clinic room at 7 p.m., not thinking that we also have homes we’d rather be at. But it’s the flip side of not wanting your doctor to be fallible, capable of getting your diagnosis wrong. They don’t want to think of medicine as a subject that anyone on the planet can learn, a career choice their mouth-breathing cousin could have made.
So, why didn’t Adam quit?
Well, because of the happy faces we mentioned above.
Managing to help infertile couples become pregnant or delivering a few babies during one night can be such a spine-tingling and rewarding experience that you’re bound to forget that you haven’t eaten for 37 hours once in a while!
On August 2010, Kay was promoted to Senior Registrar, the second-highest ranking position just after Consultant. That, of course, brought with itself new responsibilities and anxieties.
Just three months later, on December 2, 2010, Adam Kay began to perform a cesarean section on a patient with an undiagnosed placenta praevia.
As a result, the baby comes out dead, and the mother experiences severe blood loss which another surgeon eventually manages to stop but only after performing a hysterectomy.
Adam’s faith in his capabilities is shaken to its very core. He is unable to do anything for the rest of the day, feeling depression and utter hopelessness.
However – he isn’t offered a proper therapy or given a day off! The next day, he needs to come back to work once again and is expected to deliver at his usual capacity.
As one could expect, Kay is unable to do that anymore.
Just several months later, he officially resigns from his job.
Key Lessons from “This Is Going to Hurt”
1. Everybody Thinks That Doctors Are Superhumans (Spoiler Alert: They Are Not!)
2. Doctors Are Mistreated… and More Than You Can Imagine
3. Doctors Really Do Deserve More
Everybody Thinks That Doctors Are Superhumans (Spoiler Alert: They Are Not!)
If you have ever watched merely one “House” episode, chances are you already know how the next one is going to unravel. (This just for the example’s sake: almost needless to say, we really love “House”).
First, a patient comes with a symptom pretty much everyone but the condescending and arrogant House sees for the first time in their lives; then, things get worse since the initial diagnosis turns out to be wrong and the patient’s condition only gets worse; and, finally, Dr. House puts two and two together and comes up with a brilliant and brilliantly simple solution which makes everybody and everything all right.
Now, we don’t need to tell you that this doesn’t’ happen much too often in real life. Not only because most doctors don’t really have the time to act as if they are Sherlock Holmes in a white coat; but, also because they are (just like you and me) nothing more than humans.
The main problem?
Well, you and me.
You see, we don’t think of doctors as humans.
Oh, no – we think of them as if they are nothing less than Dr. House, and that is, without his cynicism and misanthropy!
We want them to be both available and understanding at all times, and we want them to treat every patient around them with equal care, compassion, and expertise.
And we want them to always know the solution.
It should be merely obvious, warns Adam Kay, that this is all but impossible.
Just like us, doctors have to take good 8-hour naps and eat enough food; and just like us, they want to spend significant portions of their time around their loved ones; finally – and this is, probably, the most important thing – just like us, doctors make mistakes.
Kay decided to end his career after he made one – endangering the life of a pregnant woman after missing a placenta praevia diagnosis – but every doctor that has ever treated you, at a certain point of his life, had no option but to find the will to carry on after making a similar mistake.
Now, be honest – do you possess the mental strength to do the same?
Doctors Are Mistreated… and More Than You Can Imagine
Things get only worse from there.
If you want us to paint you a picture, here’s a comparison we’d like you to think over:
1. What would the word “failure” mean in the dictionary of a great director?
2. What would the same word mean in the dictionary of an average doctor?
3. What would “failure” mean for, say, Superman?
“The difference,” writes Adam Kay, “is obviously the whole ‘life and death’ thing, which is what separates this job from all others, and makes it so unfathomable to people on the outside.”
In other words, the three types of failures we asked you to ponder about above – a bad movie, a lost life, the end of the whole universe – don’t weigh even remotely the same. And yet – we use the same word for all of them.
We expect too much from certain people, and it is impossible for them to live up to these expectations; but, unfortunately, our expectations are precisely what makes their lives miserable.
Just like Superman, doctors don’t have the luxury to ignore calls or emergencies, even if they come past work hours; unfortunately, they usually don’t get paid for that; and it seems that they don’t get paid a lot for their regular working hours as well.
Also, sick days and vacations are not exactly something they can take speedily, or even straightforwardly plan them in advance: as Kay explains, it is not that easy to find someone to cover your shift, when everybody is working two of them each day.
Kay found out about this the hard way, after being unable to take any time off following his career-ending mistake to recover emotionally. Just imagine how you felt after, say, missing your boyfriend’s birthday or failing your driver’s exam and how much time and solitude you needed to come back to your best.
Well, Kay wasn’t allowed either to come back to even his regular self after possibly causing the death of an infant!
Hell, he was expected to deliver other babies even though – as expected – he couldn’t even get a single hour of sleep which is a debilitating factor in itself!
Even so, when all’s said and done, Adam Kay delivers his verdict on his job with a heartwarming twist:
The hours are terrible, the pay is terrible, the conditions are terrible; you’re underappreciated, unsupported, disrespected and frequently physically endangered. But there’s no better job in the world.
Doctors Really Do Deserve More
As we stated above, Kay decided to publish this book after Jeremy Hunt – current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – labeled junior doctors as “greedy” during their contract dispute with the British Medical Association.
Well, if you are like us, reading this book will probably make you more sympathetic to the doctors. And give you several reasons why you should take their side, even if their strikes affect you personally.
Because, the bottom line is, doctors have one of the most mentally (and even physically) exhausting, accountable and blamable professions of all.
And whatever they get – they certainly deserve more.
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“This Is Going to Hurt” is a highly personal, unputdownable book that has the power to both make you laugh out loud and touch you deeply. “Hilarious and heartbreaking” – sums these effects Black Mirror’s Charlie Brooker; “very funny with a sobering message” adds comedian Chris Addison. “Witty, gruesome, alarming and touching,” concludes British presenter Jonathan Dimbleby.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of unanswered questions, regarding the Indo-British history.
Having the undistorted reality served on a silver platter is not a realistic scenario, due to an overload of false and forged documents.
Without further delay, find out what happened in the age of territorial expansion of the British Empire.
Who Should Read “An Era of Darkness”? And Why?
Well, it’s not just India, but the world has always been prone to violence and territorial expansionism. The battle for interest is a part of our subconscious mind, and many Empires such as the British one, took things too far by fully depriving the conquered people of its belongings and rights.
“An Era of Darkness” reveals the horrors and atrocities committed by the British invaders, and how they managed to crush India from within.
About Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor is the author of many bestsellers, diplomat, and a politician who strives to preserve India’s authority by expressing the details.
He has been featured in multiple magazines worldwide, and as a speaker tries to tell the real story behind India’s lack of functionality. Shashi is also a member of the parliament.
“An Era of Darkness PDF Summary”
The British rule in India was followed by a series of bloody events and plunders. Indeed, India was an agricultural and industrially backward nation at the time. The British mainly used this as an incentive to subdue any urge for sovereignty, and thus, exportation of resources took place.
For over two centuries of exploitation and embezzlement, the once mighty Indian Empire was on the brink of collapse due to famine and poverty in large scales. Nowadays, we bear witness to many Britishers who claim that India without its “Parent” nation would not have become the country it’s today. On the other end, Shashi Tharoor strongly rejects this notion and states that India was basically robbed and stripped of its resources during the British reign. No good came out of it!
The Beginning of the End
The plight of many Indians is not a topic to be so easily scanned through. For people of the outside world, in the 18th century, India was a “free marketplace” for the British who needed labor, jewelry, silk, valuable metals, you name it.
For those that don’t know, India participated in the world trading community with an astonishing 23% in the 18th century – making it the world’s most material rich nation. Nonetheless, the British conquest, backed by larger and superior British Force managed to defeat and overthrow Indian rulers who fought for self-government and freedom.
A throwback to an era before the British rose to power – tired of the ruling elite of the Mughal Empire, many provinces of India stepped aside and formed their own alliances. The British East India Company took advantage of the political instability at the time, and slowly one by one managed to conquer all regions through bribery, treachery, and mostly threat.
Deindustrialization to accentuate British Dominance
The key to capitalist success was to weaken the Indian economy by placing restrictions on the industries that flourished. Prior to British reign, Indian textiles and other goods were in high demand throughout the world.
As it turns out, India was crushed and became an importer from Britain, instead of exporter with many things to offer on the global market. At the expense of their own industries, India fueled the soar of the British Economy and helped them to establish superiority, on a worldwide scale.
Shipping and Shipbuilding Industrial Breakdown
East India Corporation strived to gain a monopoly over trading and thus impose its will overseas. In order to do just that, seizing control over the long coastline was a priority. The trade relations between Indians and other nearby nations, suddenly vanished when the British destroyed their ships and sank the Shipbuilding Industry by the 1850s.
For those that still wanted to export goods through the Bay of Bengal, the British dictated tariffs that were impossible to meet. The need for more ships shattered, as the British wrest control over all industries and presented its hegemony over the subdued Indian Nation.
The deep economic malaise brought India to its knees, as nothing more than a poor and industrially weakened nation.
Opinions differ on United India
Most westerners believe that Indian clans, regions, or provincial kingdoms were united thanks to Britain. What comes as a surprise to these figures is that India always considered itself to be one state, with extended reach throughout Asia.
Generally speaking, British rule was just one big robbery, perfectly orchestrated and perceived through the lens of industrial advancement, which never came. The bureaucracy imposed on various regions with total disregard of the people’s cultural system made many people landless peasants, on the verge of extinction.
Farmers who previously worked their lands to make a living were banished from their shelters and forced into collectivized poorness.
Free Press, sort of
Many misconceptions and misinterpretations flow regarding the British introduction of “Free Press.” As we all know, mainstream media is a great way to influence the masses, and as a result, the East India Corporation enacted a law in 1799, to gain full control over the information distributed to the people.
The Media appeared free, but many journalists and editors were jailed for criticizing the state. They were labeled as aggressive newspapers, which didn’t comply with the counts presented in the act.
The British realized that the press could constitute a threat to their rule, and slowly started to suppress its influence. The first and primary target was the local newspapers which had to put up considerable deposits to continue their work.
On the other end, the imperialistic media was free to continue the publishing process, and support the regime.
British Contribution to Starvation and Illiteracy
Although Britain will never publicly admit the atrocities committed during their reign, it’s estimated that over 30 million people died as a direct result of bad policies. What’s even worse, these crimes were actually avertible, and according to many Indians, this orchestrated disaster deserves to be perceived as the “Untold” Holocaust.
If the British authorities provided aid to the victims of the famine, the entire Indian population would’ve demanded the same treatment. Therefore, they wisely choose not to take part in such activities and deprived the Indians of everyday necessities.
In 1943, the British “launched” their last drought also known as the Bengal Famine. By stocking up on supplies for the war campaign, they planned to support their troops in Europe. In addition, the British rejected American and Canadian aid and did nothing to help the victims.
When it comes to education, India has a long history of success in mathematics, science, architecture and other branches. The British rulers didn’t modernize the Indian educational system, as many like to believe. They even induced informational stagnation to strengthen their grip on power.
There were a lot of Universities thrown up all around the country in Vikramashila, Nalanda, Somapura Mahavihara, Odantapuri, which matched the European education centers in all regards.
The teacher to student learning method was also highly popular among Indians, regardless of the cultural diversity in the country. Even those that managed to push their way through the obstacles were cast aside by the system and positioned in the lower tiers of Indo-British society.
Key Lessons from “An Era of Darkness”
1. The Positive Sides of British Rule 2.GDP Collapse 3.Aftershocks of India
The Positive Sides of British Rule
It’s not easy to draw positives from this bloody reign, but the British introduced railways and modernized the Indian Army.
Truthfully, they did all that for their personal benefits, but it’s something that prompted progression.
When the British came to power, India was a force to be reckoned with on the worldly arena – 23% of the world GDP, speaks for itself.
In 1949, that number plummeted to just 3%, and it unveiled the facade behind the two-century reign of Britain.
Aftershocks of India
Martin Luther King impressed by Gandhi and his peaceful protest against the British rule, marked the beginning of a liberation era.
Many other similar uprisings broke out with a single intention in mind, to confront the oppressors.
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According to Scott G. Bruce – from his “Introduction” to the Penguin Book of Hell – “Hell, the afterlife of the Christian religion, is arguably the most powerful and persuasive construct of the human imagination in the Western tradition.”
Describing it as a “subterranean realm of eternal suffering, a prison for sinful souls governed by a fallen angel who surpassed all other creatures in wickedness,” Bruce points out the quite obvious fact that “Hell has inspired fear and thereby controlled the behavior of countless human beings for more than two thousand years.”
And that – and this is probably more important – “despite advances in scholarship that have called into question the authority of the Christian scriptures and scientific developments that have changed the way we think about the human race and our place in the cosmos, the idea of Hell has remained tenacious in Western thought.”
Such a sentence begs the most childish – and yet most potent – question of all: why?
Why more than half of the inhabitants of the United States today still believe that there indeed exists such a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished”?
Why would a human being born in the XXI century be more inclined to accept as true the existence of an afterlife realm of punishment and torment for the bad, than, say, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s scientifically-backed opinion that “the universe is under no obligation to make sense to you”?
Or have we missed something? Could it be that we have been on the wrong track all along? Have scientists rushed a bit to the conclusion and are people like Jordan Peterson right to say that hell is real as much as you make it be?
In one way or another – is Hell real?
Table of Contents (Click a title below to go to the respective section)
Of course, if you asked a scientist, he would probably tell you that this is the Darvaza gas crater – still burning after it had been set on fire by geologists back in 1971 so that the spread of the poisonous methane gas be prevented.
However, the locals have a different understanding of the phenomenon, best illustrated by the name they chose for it: jähenneme açylan gapy.
Now, we don’t understand Turkmen, but based on how a human being would react if suddenly faced with a sight such as the one on the image, jähenneme açylan gapy must mean either “We repent, Good Gracious Lord, we repent for all our sins!” or “The Gates of Hell.”
Intuition tells us to go for the second meaning.
2. The Description of Hell in the Bible
And we bet that your intuition didn’t make you think of a gas crater the first time you saw the image above either.
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out, wheretheir worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (Read a summary here.)
The sea gave up the dead that was in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that was in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
So, all in all, Hell is a fiery domain where the wicked and the vile suffer the eternal torment of their sins, nightmarishly depicted by the Gospel of Mark as a host of immortal worms which gnaw upon their souls for all eternity.
And this brings us to the main point of why there is such a thing as Hell in the first place: it is not merely an abode, but a punitive abode. In other words, just as its counterpart Heaven, it exists to balance the injustice of our world. So, something like a Giant Prison of the Afterlife.
Sure, you can be sinful on earth and pass unpunished – as much as you can be good and reap no rewards – but there is a higher law, an always just law, and once you die, there’s no escape from it!
Unlike the earthly and secular one, this higher law seems to be rather clear and straightforward:
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.(Galatians 5:19-21)
In case you can’t find all of the usual suspects, don’t worry: in two other epistles, the same guy who wrote the passage above (Saint Paul) further clears things up:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine. (1 Timothy 1:9-10)
No need for additional passages, I believe: more or less, everybody’s covered in these three. Of course, to a 21st-century reader, it may seem a bit odd why God decided to put such a strong emphasis on sex, and, moreover, why it is such “an abomination” (cf.Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) to be a male homosexual.
Either way, this brief overview all but exhausts the way Hell is depicted in the Bible, both in terms of general appearance and its raisons d’être. And if you wonder where are all the torturing devices and mischievous devils, you better look around you, Ferdinand, because as far as the Bible is concerned, Hell is virtually empty!
3. The Evolution of Hell: A Brief History of the Concept
3.1 Hell Is Not Real: Hell in the Old Testament
Now, if you know your Bible well, the previous section may have already directed your attention towards something that isn’t pointed out as often as it should be: almost every biblical reference to the fiery Hell of our nightmares can be found in the “The New Testament.”
And for an excellent reason: no matter how much you try to bend the arguments, Hell appears nowhere in “The Old Testament.”
Indeed, it wouldhave been mightily strange if this wasn’t the case: though ambiguous – contrary to Christianity – most forms of Judaism have no doctrine which allows for a concept such as the immortality of the soul, which, by implication, means that you cannot be punished after your death.
Moreover, the only references to some form of life following death in “The Old Testament” come from late biblical sources, such as the Books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Isaiah; and, as expected, most of them do not sync well with our vision of Hell.
For example, when, in a famous verse (12:2), Daniel states that “multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt,” if he means this literally, he merely builds upon a notion already much more familiar to Jewish eschatology – the World to Come (Olam Ha-Ba).
That is, the dead will awake and will be judgedone day which should mark the beginning of the Messianic Age (Heaven on Earth); but until that day, they sleep firmly in the dust.
Obviously, this means that neither the righteous nor the wicked dead should be “alive” in the meantime and that things such as Heaven and Hell (especially if conceived as realms) must be, to say the least, superfluous.
And, indeed, the earliest reference to a dichotomy of this kind saved for posterity is probably one made as late as the 1st century by Yochanan ben Zakkai: “There are two paths before me,” he writes, “one leading to Gan Eden and the other to Gehinnom” (Berakhot 28b)
Gan Eden here refers to the Garden of Eden and Gehinnom to Gehenna, a small valley near Jerusalem where children were supposedly sacrificed to the pagan god Moloch (cf.2 Chronicles 28:3 and 33:6). “For this reason,” states the Jewish Encyclopedia, “the valley was deemed to be accursed, and ‘Gehenna’ therefore soon became a figurative equivalent for ‘hell.’”
Of course, the idea of Sheol evolved over time; but it actually started differing substantially from its original vision (decompartmentalized, indiscriminate place for all the dead) once the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in Ancient Alexandria, and the word “Hades” was used to translate the Hebrew She’ol.
Hades, of course, was the kingdom of the dead in Greek mythology and it was a contradictory concept in itself: as can be witnessed in Homer’s Odyssey, for example, it, too, started off as the ultimate location of all souls, “regardless of how exemplary or dishonorable their earthly lives might have been.”
That’s why Achilles, one of the greatest Greek heroes, is not at all happy to be there in The Odyssey: “I would rather be a paid servant in a poor man’s house and be above ground than king of kings among the dead,” he says in a famous verse later subverted by Milton in Lucifer’s famous outcry in Paradise Lost: “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”
However, elsewhere – such as in Hesiod’s Works and Days (170ff) – the heroes can be found “untouched by sorrow, in the islands of the blessed along the shore of deep swirling Ocean, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year, far from the deathless gods, and Cronos rules over them.”
No matter how long these visions may have coexisted, Aeneas’ descent into the Underworld reveals us that, by the time of Virgil’s Aeneid(some two decades before the birth of Christ), there were already some attempts to conflate them.
And Virgil’s epic marked the triumph of them all, harrowingly depicting the torments which await the incestuous and the traitors, the charlatans, and the murderers. “No ancient author,” states justly Scott Bruce, “was more influential in his depiction of the punitive afterlife than… Virgil.”
3.3 The Problem of Hell: Death Discriminates
Thus, even before the advent of Christianity, the Christians had already inherited a rich tradition which possessed all the right elements for the creation of the New Testament Hell.
“Wedding the pagan notion of a punitive afterlife for those who offended the divine with the imagery of the fire and the worm from the Hebrew scriptures, early Christian authors imagined a host of otherworldly punishments that inspired theologians, artists, and poets throughout the European Middle Ages and beyond,” notes Bruce.
Between Saint Augustine (354-430) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) – after triumphantly walking out of the much too real hell of the early persecutions against them – the Christian theologians managed to create “a distinctly Christian Hell,” which appended to the ancient models “their own understanding of original sin and God’s inscrutable mercy.”
However, these two were visibly incompatible: if Death discriminates between the just and the unjust, the One Who Rules Over It discriminates as well – in spite of His benevolence, mercy, and love.
Moreover, the ones who were deemed good and merciful in life are apparently disinterested in helping their fellow beings in death, even though the latter are eternally and viciously tormented in Hell.
And toward the end of Summa Theologica,Thomas Aquinas’ magnum-opus and “one of the most influential works of Western literature,” the Italian Dominican friar and Catholic priest proposed a strikingly unchristian solution.
Namely, he not only argued that the blessed must be happy about the eternal torment of the wicked seeing it as an example of divine justice, but he also claimed they rejoice in seeing perfectly clear the sufferings of the damned, “because when contraries are placed beside one another, they become more conspicuous.”
3.4 The Law of Contrapasso: Dante’s Inferno
At the end of the Middle Ages, Dante Alighieri wrote The Divine Comedy, the first part of which (Inferno) represents “the apogee of the punitive underworld in the medieval imagination” (Bruce).
The poetic vision of Dante seemed so vivid and compelling to his contemporaries, that, it is said, many people asked him whether he had seen some of their beloved ones in Hell or Heaven, fully believing that he had actually been there.
In fact, Dante’s vision of Hell – and its central structuring principle: the contrapasso, i.e. “suffer the opposite” – owes a lot to Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica (whose version of Hell was divided into four sections) and to his vast knowledge of comparable literary visions, starting with Homer and Aeneas and ending with Visio Tnugdali, “the most popular and elaborate text in the medieval genre of visionary infernal literature” and “without doubt the most graphic and horrifying tour of Hell composed before Dante’s Inferno.”
In Dante’s poem (the detailed structure of which you can become familiar with here),
Hell has the organization and efficiency of a bureaucratic state: every impious soul has its appropriate place and every place apportioned a particular punishment keyed to a specific sin. More so than any previous author, Dante had a clear and logical understanding of the geography of the afterlife. He depicted Hell as a deep funnel with circular tiers. He and Virgil descended tier by tier from the gates of Hell, past the limbo of the virtuous pagans, and down through each circle, where those guilty of lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery suffered for all eternity. At the bottom of Hell was Cocytus, a vast, frozen lake. Trapped in the ice of this lake was the gigantic, three-faced Satan, who beat his six massive, bat-like wings in vain to escape his imprisonment. Satan’s face was stained with tears and his chin dripped with the gore of history’s three worst traitors, whose souls he chewed endlessly and without pity in his monstrous mouths: Brutus and Cassius, who assassinated Julius Caesar in 44 BCE; and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ himself. (Scott G. Bruce)
3.5 Is Hell Real: The Protestant Reformation and Modernity
And then, just as Hell was finally concretized by the Catholics so precisely that it even had its own detailed maps, the Protestant Reformers reverted back to some more speculative concepts.
Sure, they agreed with the Catholics that Death discriminates and that Hell is the destination of the wicked, but, as Scott G. Bruce notes, “they were much more likely to couch the punitive afterlife in abstract terms of remorse and wounded conscience rather than in concrete terms of torment in Hell-fire familiar from the Catholic tradition.”
And this debate has raged ever since. So much so that modern Christian apologists are still incapable of giving a better solution to the ethical problem of Hell than Thomas Aquinas. If it is not real, what do all those references in the Scripture mean; however, if it is real, how do we harmonize it with the idea of a merciful and benevolent God?
No wonder that Narnia-writer and lay theologian C. S. Lewis – whose Screwtape Letters I’ve enjoyed over and over again – writing in “The Problem of Pain,” states that if it lay in his power, “there is no doctrine which [he] would more willingly remove from Christianity than” Hell.
“But” – he adds – “it has the full support of Scripture and, especially, of our Lord’s own words.” Lewis concludes with something that isn’t as obvious: Hell, according to him, not only “has always been held by Christendom” but it also “has the support of reason.”
Neither is actually true, but the latter critically not. If it had been, then there wouldn’t be a problem – or a millennia-long discussion on the topic.
3.6 Visions and Near-Death Experiences: Hell Is Real
However, we must not forget that there are some people whose reasons have actually witnessed – or at least who say that they have experienced – some vision of hell. These are usually either saints or near-death survivors. They certainly form an intruding topic for further analysis and discussion, but, for the sake of brevity, I will have to limit myself to merely mentioning them here. However, for those interested, I warmly welcome you to read here five “terrifying” visions of Hell as related by as many now-saints; and here an account of four “creepy” visions of hell by people who have lived through real near-death experiences.
4. Is Hell Real According to the People: What the Data Says
Bishop Berkeley was right to wonder if the fall of a tree produces any sound if nobody is around to hear it. Not because scientists discovered – mostly during the past century – that this may not be as unreasonable as it once sounded (consider, say, the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory), but because, for better or for worse, our perception of reality, more often than not, (re)defines that very same reality.
In other words, even if (to quote Neil deGrasse Tyson once again) the universe has no obligation to make sense to us, and even if this means that “thou shalt not kill” is an unnatural law we have invented at some point in history (which we most certainly did), does its “artificiality” matters now when we have created a shared structure of reality in which murdering someone is one of the most abominable deeds one can do?
By the same analogy, even if not many people have seen God (in the best-case scenario), does it matter if he actually exists if numerous have sacrificed their lives in his name, while numerous others have done the exact opposite premised on the same belief?
So, let’s see what the data says in relation to people’s belief in Hell. (In addition, World Religious News gives you updates on latest shifts and twists in the culturally-diversified religious community, and thus it can help you see some more of the big picture.)
4.1 The World
Interestingly enough, regardless of the advance of science, surveys and polls consistently show that abouthalf of the world population still believes in Heaven and/or Hell, Heaven being – without exception – the more popular option of the two; however, time and again, they also demonstrate a significant gap between the beliefs of the Western Europeans and the rest of the world.
For example, one of the most recent surveys of this kind – Ipsos’ “Perils of Perception” global survey, conducted in about 40 countries during the period of Sept. 28-Oct. 19, 2017 – revealed that, on average, 45% of the world population believes in either Heaven or Hell:
Or, in the form of a bar chart for better viewing:
Few interesting statistics almost immediately stand out:
On average, people tend to believe much more in Heaven (1 in 2) than in Hell (about 40%); the difference is especially evident in the case of Columbia and South Africa (countries of high percentage of believers), but, interestingly enough, the same can be said about many Western European countries (Germany, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Great Britain…)
The only two countries where there is no discrepancy between the belief in Heaven and Hell are two Muslim countries: Indonesia and Turkey; here, almost everyone believes in both.
Though there is a somewhat discernible inversely proportional correlation between economic/human development indices and belief in Hell across the globe (Western Europe, Far East Asia, Canada), the American continent (as a whole) seems to undermine this conclusion.
On average, only 17,6% of the people living in Far East Asia (China, Japan, South Korea) believe in Hell(21% believe in Heaven);
Just as well, only 17,2% of the people living in Western Europe (Italy, Great Britain, Spain, France, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark) believe in Hell (27,4% believe in Heaven);
However, 43,6% of the population of North America (United States, Canada, Mexico) believes in Hell (53,6% in Heaven);
And a whopping 61% of South Americans (Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Colombia) think that Hell exists (76,75% think likewise about Heaven)
Though it uses somewhat older data (from World Values Survey 2010-2014), the map below (via Reddit) illustrates this quite vividly:
4.2 The USA
So, all in all, the United States of America can be considered an exception: even though the most developed country in the world, more Americans believe in both Heaven and Hell than the worldwide averages. When compared to its northern neighbor, the divergence is even more striking: while only 28% of Canadians believe in Hell, twice as many Americans think that Hell is real!
However, when we break down the stats by state things get clearer: once again, we discover an apparent inverse correlation between how much a US state is developed and how many of its citizens believe in Hell.
The concurrence is almost uncanny when you compare the above image to a map (created by Alice Hunter for Wikimedia Commons) of the American Human Development Index (HDI) within the United States for 2016) (the lighter shade of blue the field, the lower the HDI for the respective state):
Based on the things stated above, it comes as no surprise at all that the state with the highest HDI (Massachusetts, 6.18) is also the state where the lowest percentage of people (38%) believe in Hell;on the other side of the spectrum, the state with the lowest HDI(Mississippi, 3.81) is also the state where the highest percentage of people (77%) think that Hell is real.
For those interested in some more statistics, here are two charts I made which show the correlation between Americans’ belief in Hell and their religious and political affiliations:
If I am allowed to work out a tentative conclusion based on the available data, I guess I should not be wrong to say that the most common American/believer in Hell is a Christian Republican living in a state with an average or below average human development index.
5. Is Hell Real: A Closing Statement
So, is hell real?
No. Of course not.
At least not any more than Olympus or Valhalla – or Westeros, for that matter.
Simply put – no matter what anybody says – it can’t be: it is a literary creation which we know for sure to have evolved over the centuries from a vision of a place which indiscriminately houses the dead to one part of a Heaven/Hell dichotomy which aims to balance in the Afterlife the abundant injustices on Earth.
This conclusion comes with several interesting topics for further consideration; interestingly enough, most of them are ironies.
5.1 Hell Is Not Sheol
First of all, the Hell we all know came to be when, sometime near the beginning of the first millennium, Roman ideas of the Underworld (Virgil’s Aeneid) were appended to the chilling – but neutral – Jewish vision of Sheol, the-family-tomb-turned-afterlife-world.
That way, “The Old Testament” began retroactively accommodating a Hell which couldn’t have existed for the majority of Jews before the advent of Christianity, since their eschatological notions most commonly included a Judgment Day, i.e., an event in the future which should mark the separation of the Just and the Vile; until then – death is indiscriminate, and everybody shares the same fate after his time on earth.
So, even though people think that Hell originated in the Bible, the ones who wrote the bulk of it don’t believe in Hell: as opposed to 70% of the American Christians who believe in Hell and 76% of American Muslims who share this belief – only 22% of American Jews think that Hell is real. Interestingly enough, that’s less than the number of atheists: 30%!
5.2 Jesus in the Underworld: The Harrowing of Hell
Christians found a great way to insert the doctrine of (continually existing) Heaven/Hell into “The Old Testament”: simply put,they replicated the Judgement Day. If for Jews the Judgement Day is one and it has still not come – for most of the Christians, Christ has both already come and will come again.
Christ’s Second Coming differs not one bit from the Jewish idea of a Day of Reckoning: it should mark God’s final and eternal judgment of the people from every nation of the world.
However, since Christ’s First Coming was an all too important event to have no eschatological weight in itself, it should surprise nobody that Christians had to infer that some aspect of this final judgment must have already happened.
And that’s how the doctrine of Christ’s descent into Hades was devised, gloriously named the Harrowing of Hell.
The logic goes thus: between Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, he visited Hell/Hades and saved the souls of all the righteous people who had died ever since the beginning of the world. Though controversial, this idea fits nicely within the existing narrative: even if initially the Underworld was indiscriminate and it housed both the righteous and the vile, it isn’t so since the First Coming of the Christ.
Of course, this creates a complication as well: if the righteous are already in Heaven and the wicked in Hell – and if one’s death means an immediate one-way trip in one of these two directions – then what’s the point in Christ coming one more time?
Jacob van Swanenburgh – The Harrowing of Hell (source)
5.3 A Christian God and an Unchristian Hell
Because of complications much more profound than this – the most challenging being why should a benevolent God create a place for eternal torment for the people he himself created? – many theologians have pondered and discussed the idea of Hell ever since the Roman Empire.
Ironically, the vision we have inherited one can find neither in the Bible nor in the writings of most of these theologians; it is, as we said above, an inherently literary one, influenced immensely by the epics of Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton (who, naturally, influenced one another in that order).
However, the notion of divine retributive justice – upon which Hell is usually structured in the imagination of the modern man (via, say, Dante’s Inferno) – predates Christianity by millennia (say, the Code of Hammurabi)and is, in fact, at odds with its central idea of forgiveness.
– and fascinatingly – the very idea of Hell questions the Christianity of the Christian God. And it begs the question: should a Christian forgive a fellow who has done one some injustice, when his god obviously doesn’t?
5.4 The Ultimate Irony: From Real to Metaphysical and Back to Real Hell
However, in my humble opinion, this is not the ultimate irony; the ultimate irony is much more chilling than a theological conundrum or, for that matter, any vision of Hell. Because, at the end of the day, the very question “Is Hell real?” says much more about us than it says about anything else.
5.4.1 The Real Hell: Gehenna
First and foremost, it should be telling that the imagery associated with Hell in Abrahamic religions started emerging back at the time when there was no idea of a discriminate Afterlife.
Namely, even at the time when Sheol was supposed to be the final destination for both merciful King David (1 Kings 2:6) and merciless armor-clad warriors (Ezekiel 32:27), Gehenna was an accursed place on Earth unambiguously associated with the wicked; and even in the absence of a heavenly counterpart, it remained to be so.
It was when the imagery of Gehenna was interspersed with Hellenistic ideas of the Afterlife that Sheol metamorphosed into Hell. In Islam, in fact, Hell is called Jahannam, a word etymologically related to this Old Testament Gehenna.
It’s a striking irony when you start thinking about it: a small valley in Jerusalem where children were sacrificed by fire seemed such an abominable place to the eyes of the living that writers used the imagery (fire, false gods, punishments) to invent an Afterlife of eternal torment for the dead.
5.4.2 The Personalized Metaphysical Hell: Poetic Visions
In other words, the metaphysical actuality of Hell was shaped by the building blocks of physical reality. But this where it gets even more frightening: once that happened, Hell began an existence of its own. And while reality is bounding, imagination is limitless. So, writers started reimagining Hell over and over again – if only so that they can use it as a tool to further their own agendas.
Thus, Virgil used Aeneas’ trip to the Underground to advance the worldview of the Roman Empire: in the eternally green fields of Elysium (which is something like a Heaven inside Virgil’s Hell), Aeneas hears from his father a prophetic vision of the future destiny of Rome, which, among other things, celebrates the glory of the ruler which commissioned the writing of the Aeneid in the first place, Octavian Augustus, Rome’s first emperor.
Guided by Virgil, Dante went a step further and built a highly personalized version of Hell, in which many people suffer not because of their sins against humanity, but because of their sins against Dante himself.
And, ay, there’s the rub: every vision of Hell ever since (or before) is as personalized as Dante’s. And it is difficult to overemphasize the danger of this. The reason why the justice system is so complicated is due to the fact that almost nothing in real life is as simple as the distinction between black and white.
However, we sure would want it to be; and the Heaven/Hell dichotomy is the absolute metaphysical pinnacle of this (in terms of origin) primitive belief, which philosophers – and justly so – deem it an informal fallacy.
As it usually happens when someone uses fallacies to argue something which can have actual effects – potentially terrifying.
5.4.3 The Real Hell and Jordan Peterson
And this brings me back to Jordan Peterson whom I mentioned in the Introduction:
In the video above – and elsewhere – Jordan Peterson says quite explicitly that even though he suspects that there may be some kind of metaphysical reality beyond the metaphor of Hell, he can’t really know if it actually exists.
And he also describes heaven-like experiences as pointers towards the way that things could be, saying that “it’s incumbent on people to work as hard as they can, not to fall into Hell and drag people there with them and to work as diligently as possible to bring Heaven onto Earth as rapidly as possible.”
Now, one of postmodernism’s main contributions to the history of thought – one which Jordan Peterson unjustly and discriminatorily distorts – has been its attempt to question the stability of language. And sentences such as this prove why such an endeavor makes sense – as much as they prove why no intellectual living in the XXI century should allow himself to be unambiguous in relation to religious questions which have straightforward scientific answers.
Simply put, because not everybody shares the same visions of God and Satan, of Heaven and Hell. “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator,” writes, after all, Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf (London: Houghton Mifflin, 1969; p. 60), “by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
Unfortunately, that is something many perpetrators of crimes against humanity also believe: that they are Godsend Messiahs whose objective is to bring Heaven on Earth and take people with them; of course, in doing that, they are actually bringing their own versionof Heavenon Earth; and this usually also means – by implication – someone else’s version of Hell.
Imagine that you’re Hitler and that you firmly believe that the Jews are devilish creatures that have brought upon the downfall of your world; now go back and read Jordan Peterson’s sentence once again.
That’s right: even though Peterson has no intention of saying that whatsoever (in fact, he’s saying the opposite), what you will actually hear is that it’s your obligation to proceed to the Final Solution.
5.4.4 “Hell is Other People”
Scott G. Bruce concludes his Introduction to The Penguin Book of Hell with this blood-curdling paragraph:
Despite the erosion of traditional religious beliefs in the modern era, Hell has survived and prospered. While the belief in Hell as an actual place has declined in recent centuries, the idea of Hell has endured as a dominant metaphor and, frighteningly, as an inspiration for how to treat other people. From the world wars and the Holocaust to the plight of prisoners and detainees, the political calamities of the modern world have increased the currency of the concept of Hell as a metaphor for torment and suffering. Although many modern people have turned their backs on a literal understanding of Hell as a place of future punishment, they nonetheless draw inspiration from imaginative traditions about the punitive afterlife to cause suffering to others in this present life, to ‘give them hell.’ The modern technologies and rational ways of thinking that supposedly mark our progress over earlier generations now allow us to commit mass murder and replicate infernal landscapes at the touch of a button; in an ironic reversal,we have become the very demons our ancestors trembled to meet when death foreclosed on their lives.
And this calls into mind a quote by Sartre from his play No Exit in which three deceased characters (Joseph Garcin, Estelle Rigault, and Inès Serrano) are punished for eternity by being locked into a room together. Near the end of the play, Joseph Garcin comes to a sudden realization:
All those eyes intent on me. Devouring me. What? Only two of you? I thought there were more; many more. So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire, and brimstone, the ‘burning marl.’ Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is other people!
True, Sartre has something else on his mind – the existential dread of existing both as a subject and an object in someone else’s gaze – but, allow me to misuse him once again (after all, he has been misused numerous times before).
Because, dear Ferdinand, you’re right after all: hell is indeed empty, and all the devils are here. And in the eyes of other people – that includes us, as well.