Perspective: “Do Something about It” By Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Perspective: “No Comments!” By Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’Jan 19 women

Every time I turn on cable TV channels, I notice a bunch of women wearing hat and ribbons talking about women’s rights and equality in symbolic gestures. Then the camera rolls on to rallies and slogan-shouting activists on Main Street America. They expect us to conform to their presumptions and premise through innuendo and fear tactics. Have you ever thought who are those people? They are the army recruited by political action and special interest groups. Many of them are hired hands to participate in those rallies. Folks who really care about women’s elevation are the altruists who work in the trenches. Unfortunately, we all get riled up by media’s hyperboles.

I choose to categorize people and groups patronizing women’s causes in three categories. 1. Some are born great 2. Some achieve greatness 3. Greatness thrust upon them.
Some Are Born Great

There have been many privileged ladies in the past who used their wealth, fame and status to improve and reform women’s condition in the society and world at large. Some of them are mentioned below:

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin, who died recently, called women to action with her rousing version of “Respect.” The resolute message for respect became a slogan for both the women’s rights and civil rights movements.
Franklin’s another song “Sisters Are Doin’ It for themselves” became an anthem for the emancipation of women from the constraints of a sexist society.

Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony born February 15, 1820 was not allowed to speak at temperance rallies. Bitter from this experience, she dedicated her life to woman suffrage. Ignoring opposition and abuse, Anthony traveled, lectured, and canvassed across the nation for the right of women to vote. She also advocated for women’s labor organizations. Anthony also persuaded the University of Rochester to admit women.

Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir was a French existentialist philosopher and writer. De Beauvoir wrote books and articles on ethics, and feminism. In The Second Sex and The Mandarins, she produced an articulate attack on the fact that throughout history women have been relegated to a sphere of passive acceptance of roles assigned to them by society. Her works heralded a feminist revolution and remains to this day a central text in the investigation of women’s oppression and liberation.

Some Achieve Greatness

There are women who were not born with privilege. They silently work in the trenches to serve other women without restoring to symbolism, publicity or any political agenda. Some of them are mentioned below:

Sampat Pal Devi

As founder of the Gulabi Gang, also known as the Pink Sari Brigade, mother of five and former child bride Sampat Pal Devi is one of the most hands-on change agents in India. The Gulabi Gang have been active since 2010 in northern India and are famed for their opposition to domestic and other violence against women. They visit abusive husbands in an attempt to help the men change their ways. To date 270,000 people have joined the cause, in a country where everyday violence against women is a common place.

Sarah Tenoi

Activist Sarah Tenoi is leading the charge against female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya. She is a project manager for the ‘Sponsored Arts for Education’ (SAFE) peace program and works countrywide to promote positive social change through peaceful protest and education.

Hajiya Amina Ahmed

Ahmed is a peacebuilder from Nigeria who works across religious and ethnic lines to empower women and build peaceful communities. “Women are typically the most-affected in conflict situations, but are excluded from decision-making processes concerning peace and security. Why is it so? If I am on the receiving end of violence, should I not be included in the discussions to end it? Women are leaders; we are peacemakers. When women are educated and enlightened, we have the potential to become models in our community,” Hajiya says.

Greatness thrust upon ’em

Then we have political mouthpieces, egoists and demagogues who try to take center stage for publicity or are made poster children for a political cause. Some of them are mentioned below:


Here is a woman who lectures on women’s rights. In fact, her life and career are built on sleazy self-promotion. She is wanton and has indulged in every passion degrading women. She is lewd and lascivious.

Malala Yousafzai

It was sad that she was shot by the Taliban and condemned by many in her home country, Pakistan. But since then she has been made a poster child for women’s uplifment by the Western media. Malala’s initial goal was to promote equality of education – she hoped to ensure that all children, whether male or female, receive the same educational opportunities and that gender never plays a role in this discrimination.
Yet, somehow, the West managed to contort her intentions to benefit its own perspective, portraying themselves as the saviors of women around the world and war against the Taliban.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton talks about women’s empowerment and comes forward as a savior of women’s rights. However, she was a close friend of Harvey Weinstein and took money from him for her campaign. She took an awfully long time to give support to those women who were coming forward and has still kept the money given to her by ‘Dirty Harvey.’

In conclusion, let’s not get excited by the symbolism shown on TVs. Be a true altruist and work towards the upliftment of women. Start in your own community. Maybe, you can help emancipate women in your area who are battered or enslaved for trafficking. Maybe, you can call the toll free number 800.656.HOPE to report an abuse. Instead of getting impressed by the opportunists on TV, we should be of service to others in need. Remember, “Duty is performed without external gain anticipated at the time of the act.”


Fall 2018 Issue of TheThinkClub Quarterly

Dear Readers:

The Fall 2018 issue of hashtag#TheThinkClub Quarterly is ready for your reading pleasure. Please click below to read the articles and don’t forget to send your valuable input to

Click below to read

Anil Shrivastava
Partner and Managing Editor
Oct 18 CoverThink Club Publication

Friday Fun: “Trumpophrenia” By Musafir

Jan 19 trumpophobiaMy friend is very sick. I just returned home after visiting him in a mental ward. I remember he used to be a reasonable guy. Then he retired and got hooked on CNN, MSNBC and (occasionally Fox News). His wife described his symptoms to me as follows:
• He is afraid that Trump may deport him to his old country and place his US born children and grandchildren in concentration camps.
• He gets nightmares that Trump will snatch his children’s toys and confiscate his bank account.
• He fears that Trump will molest female members of his family.
• He often shakes imagining that evil white men (who made laws to give equal rights to all and who sacrificed millions of their own lives to emancipate slaves) will come in mobs and will take away his house and throw him on streets.
• He is obsessed with the thought that Trump is out there to sell the United States to Putin for a hefty price since he (Trump) is such a traitor.
• He suffers from delusion that Trump is out there to ruin NATO by asking the Europeans to pay their share of the enormous cost born by America.
• He sublimates that Trump is involved in a systematic destruction of our economy.
• Sometimes he gets violent thinking that the US economy is in a gutter and the businesses are closing their doors or moving out of America.
• He hallucinates thinking vicariously that his fellow citizens are losing their jobs and unemployment is growing in America.
• He shudders and shakes fearing that Trump is hell bent on engineering a complete meltdown of U.S. trade.
• He gets convulsions thinking that Trump is making the European gods furious and they (the altruist Europeans) are going to isolate us from the rest of the world.
• He rattles imagining that Trump will ban his favorite news channels.

According to the attending physician, “People with Trumpophrenia often run naked on streets. This can make it hard for them to hold a job, run errands, have friendships, and even go to the doctor. Although unlike schizophrenia, it’s not a lifelong illness, one can take medicines and find help to stop symptoms or make them easier to live with.”

He (the physician) told my friend’s wife to make sure that he avoids participating in organized protests where use of marijuana, alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, or other stimulants is quite rampant. Recreational drugs may keep antipsychotic drugs from working well. They can also make his paranoia worse.

The silver lining is that once his delusions are under control, counseling, rehab and abstinence from watching news can help him to be accepted in society again since he may be able to get along with others, take care of himself, and have friends again.

“Serena Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for Misbehavior” A Satire By Musafir

OSLO/Timbuktu: Serena Williams was declared the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 for her efforts in ridding the world of women‘s inequality in tennis circuit, moral values, and intellect, refusing to accept penalty from referee Ramos during the US Open Tennis finals match against submissive Naomi Osaka of Japan, throwing and breaking her tennis racket in anger and telling the referee that he was a thief.
There was widespread celebration all over the world after this announcement. “We’re having a blast,” said some peace-loving citizens of ‘Free the Nipple’ and ‘Happy Period’ communities. Many others took a break from tattooing, piercing and binge drinking to join the revelry.
“Serena has been the key to transforming our society “from a world of hate to a world of love,” committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said while announcing the award in Oslo.
“We specially laud her work in connecting with the young rowdy tennis fans,” he added.
The ex-VP, Al Gore is said to have welcomed the news. He was later heard asking some reporters if he would be entitled to a second Nobel Prize in physics this time. He then addressed a press conference and said: “Serena is the ultimate symbol of women’s equality and she has brought the gender discrimination in tennis world to the world stage through her foul mouth and misbehavior.”
In the midst of all these celebrations, a controversy has broken out. The New York Post reported this about Naomi Osaka, “It’s hard to recall a more unsportsmanlike event. Here was a young girl who pulled off one of the greatest upsets ever, who fought for every point she earned, ashamed.”
Another champion of women’s rights, Rosie O’Donnell criticized New Your Post and shamed Naomi Osaka by stating, “Of course, Osaka should be ashamed for her timid behavior — at least, needs to apologize to all the women of the world. Women like her are the reason for male dominance. These Japanese girls need to learn expletives, filth and profanity from American women like Serena and me.”
Famous tennis player Billie Jean King and a pioneer of open lesbianism among women tennis players expressed dismay at umpire Carlos Ramos’ treatment of Williams on Twitter, writing that female players are often treated differently than male players in all kinds of sports.
There is a nationwide protest planned against referee Ramos for saying that, “He has penalized male players like Djokovic and Nadal in the past. He also cited how McEnroe was disqualified from Australian Open and given a three-month suspension during the US Open.”
The woman president of US Open was upset over Ramo’s remarks, “For better or for worse… we have made someone a poster child for women’s equality. No one can snatch that honor from Serena.”
Meanwhile, Americans have praised the choice of award and are living by Serena’s maxim, “I’ll keep on abusing referees until we reach to an equal playing field for women.” Some intellectuals have recommended the Pope to beatify Serena for her insight into theology, “Men and women are created equal.”
“I’ve seen some scary things,” she said at the time. “I’ve seen people being locked up and put in jail for taking drugs, for being gay, for not practicing religion, for not dressing the proper way. Yeah, it’s scary. But what it made me realize is how lucky I am to defy every norm. We still have a long way to go.”
Shrivastava ‘Musafir’, Anil. Humor Happens: My Witty Encounters (Kindle Location 371). Think Club Publication. Kindle Edition.jan 19 osaka

“Equanimity, another Favorite Word of Mine” By Musafir

It’s very upsetting to me. A big chunk of our shower tile in the master bedroom broke loose and fell on the floor. It’s such an inconvenience. I have to climb stairs every day and use bathrooms on the second floor. It’s expensive to fix the tiles. One contractor told me that this doesn’t happen in a normal course. My house must have some structural problem. The possible problems, inconvenience and expenses are giving me restless nights. Should I just sell my house and move to a condominium? Should I sacrifice my lifestyle? The possible consequences have taken away my peace of mind.

Suddenly I get reminded of life in the old country where I grew up. I return there vicariously. I see young boys and their mothers working on construction sites carrying bricks on their heads under unbearable heat. I see anemic laborers working in paddy fields in the hope of bringing dry chapatis (Indian bread) for their family to eat. I see passengers riding on the roof of the train compartments to reach their destinations risking their lives. I see women and children begging for pennies with a smile.

It is that smile that separates suffering from joy and connects one human to another. With poverty a way of life in these parts, many have come to embrace their situation in life with equanimity—a calm acceptance of what is. Rather than struggle against what is going on, always seeking more and better in a never-ending cycle of desire, through acceptance, life can become a joy despite the circumstances.

I also see middle-class Indians exposed to the extreme wealth of the western world. They are as unhappy as I am now. They are desiring faster computers, bigger houses, luxurious cars and other gadgets. They are unhappy because for them acceptance of the situation is not a way of life. They are becoming just like me.

I should learn to have respect for the people who have the ability to accept the “good” and the “bad.” Trivialities like “it’s raining so I can’t go outside” or “there’s no Splenda for my tea so I can’t drink it” shouldn’t even register. It’s raining, accept it. There’s no Splenda, accept it. Rather than getting bothered by such things, I should look to people who come from less material cultures spend more time enjoying what is than complaining about what’s not.

After all, if I get into the habit of looking for what’s wrong, I’ll always find something wrong. Saving that time complaining about difficulties or worrying about problems should open me to gratitude for the things I do have. I should learn from the toil and grind of a difficult life most of the world goes through. The most important part is finding a balance that comes from equanimity and gratitude.

“Victory and defeat are a part of life, which are to be viewed with equanimity.”
– Atal Bihari Vajpayee, just deceased former Prime Minister of Indiajan 19 atal

Religion: “Life Is Good” By Musafir

Religion: “Life Is Good” By Musafiroct 18 religion

The other day I got this sad news that one of my friends’ son in India committed suicide. He was a successful computer engineer with all the gizmos and amenities in the world that he could have. How could a young man so successful decide to end his life? Did a dark emptiness lie hidden under the material achievements of his exterior self, something that I could not comprehend? This question kept tormenting me from inside.

Very recently some suicide cases made big news. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. They were people that millions aspire to be. An international fashion designer of high repute, Kate, was beautiful, successful and full of life. Why even people so resourceful couldn’t handle their depression and ended up wrecking their lives and ending them? I am pretty sure that they must have consulted counselors and psychologists. Maybe science has not found a lasting cure for depression yet or, maybe, it’s not permanently curable by counseling and medicines alone.

Science has its limitations until it is complemented by religion. Science provides us comfort and convenience through material advancements, but it doesn’t teach us how to relish them for a lasting pleasure. In other words, science provides us means to be live but only religion teaches us the art of living. Most of us achieve bodily comfort without cultivating inner knowledge and intellect. And that is the problem.

Our educational system and parents teach us how to make a living not how to live life. We must teach our children and learn ourselves about other two faculties, mind and intellect through religion. Religion is not only about rituals and stories. Religion teaches us how to obtain harmony in our lives by balancing body, mind and intellect. If the religious practices we follow are void of this essential ingredient (harmony through balancing body, mind and intellect) then it is not religion. Probably, it should qualify as a myth or something akin to black magic.

Lastly, religion also teaches us that happiness is the true nature of man, fear is not. We should decide to remain happy in all circumstances. What will ultimately happen will happen. We can only do our karma and hope for the best. Not only Gita and other scriptures but even Shakespeare said:

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”

Life is good; enjoy it. Just thinking!

Religion: “An Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism” By Musafir

We hear complaints from Hindu diaspora about western leaders and institutions circumventing Hinduism in their statements and discussions. Many westerners including some law-makers characterize Hinduism as a pagan religion that is the practice of worshipping many gods and their idols. The Abrahamic religions namely Christianity, Islam and Judaism condemn polytheism and idolatry. They equate Hinduism with inexistent Greco-Roman religions where many gods and their strange myths were devotionally and blindly accepted by the masses.

There are fallacies and some truth in the above statement. Let’s deal with the fallacies first. Hinduism may appear as a pagan religion to the outsiders due to the images of many god forms displayed in temples and Hindu homes. The truth is that the Hindus pray to one God despite accepting many images of the same Almighty. The Hindus believe in harmony, so they accept different forms of the same God from different regions and cultures. As a matter of fact, even images of Christ, Mahavir and Buddha can be found in many Hindu homes. Thus a plurality of gods does not denote polytheism in Hinduism but rather the plurality of the forms in which the same one God might appear. When I visit a South Indian temple, I pray to Venketesh, at the same time I pray to Vishnu in North Indian temples without ever distinguishing between the two.

Hinduism cannot be equated to old pagan religions as the latter didn’t have core beliefs which define Hinduism. Some key beliefs of Hinduism are mentioned below:

1. Hindus believe “eka brahama dwitiyo nasti,” there is one true God who is a real entity that encompasses everything (seen and unseen) in the universe.
2. Truth is one though the wise may express it in a variety of ways.
3. Everyone should follow dharma which consists of right conduct, righteousness, moral law, and duty.
4. Soul and Moksha. A Hindu believes that the individual soul (atman) is neither created nor destroyed; it has been, it is, and it will be. Actions of the soul while residing in a body require that it reap the consequences of those actions in the next life — the same soul in a different body. The goal of the individual soul is Moksha that is liberation- release from the cycle of death and rebirth. It occurs when the soul unites with Brahman by realizing its true nature. Several paths can lead to this realization and unity: the path of duty, the path of knowledge, and the path of devotion.

Unfortunately, many of the misconceptions are created by Hindus themselves. Many Hindus have no concept of the above mentioned facts. They also believe in ridiculous myths similar to the Greco-Roman pagans. There are open infights between various cults in Hinduism. We should not only preach true Hinduism, we must also understand its true nature and follow in our daily lives.
Moreover, all the Hindus should be able to understand and explain the differences between Hinduism and the Abrahamic religions. Monotheism in Abrahamic religions represents the denial of gods in God, while the monotheism of Hinduism represents the affirmation of gods in God. Failure to recognize this tempts the followers of Abrahamic religions into branding Hinduism as pagan.

oct 18 pagan

Idle Thought on A Saturday Afternoon By Musafir

I have noticed that I have begun to avoid making or receiving phone calls. In the beginning it felt odd when my boss and I (next door) started communication through voicemail (VME). Now not talking on phone is a second nature to me. I love to hide behind the sanctuary of my screen. I was not like that before.

I remember weekend chats with my siblings, cousins and elders. Now we communicate through social media instead. I don’t think that I am alone in the adopting this new social norm. No one picks up the phones anymore. Businesses do everything they can to avoid picking up the phone.

We are not to be totally blamed for this new social attribute. We simply have a myriad of communication options today than had before. Text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, Email, Instagram have made the ring obsolete. I personally have started feeling more comfortable with asynchronous communication than appearing vis-à-vis. That doesn’t interrupt with what I may be doing currently and I feel more prepared to answer any questions that the other party may have for me later.

There are also other reasons for avoiding phone calls.  Perhaps 80 or even 90 percent of the calls coming into my landline phone are spam of one kind or another. Now, if I hear my phone buzzing from across the room, at first I’m excited if I think it’s a text, but when it keeps going, and I realize it’s a call, I won’t even bother to walk over. There are unsolicited telemarketing calls. There are straight-up robocalls that merely deliver recorded messages. There are the cyborg telemarketers, who sit in call centers playing prerecorded bits of audio to simulate a conversation. There are the spam phone calls, whose sole purpose seems to be verifying that your phone number is real and working.

Well, I am not alone. According to an article in The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal writes, “This happened 3.4 billion times last month, where someone had to make the decision to pick up or to let it go.” Despite all that, I prefer to talk to my loved ones, especially my five-year old grandson face to face. I dread the day when he will stop communicating with me face-to-face and will use social media instead. I’ll certainly miss the feel and warmth of his personal touch then.oct 18 phone

Book Reviews The Coalition Years 1996-2012 Author: Pranab Mukherjee Published by Rupa (India) Kindle Edition

oct 18 pranabPranab Mukherjee is a former President of India who chronicled his political experiences in a series of memoirs. The Coalition Years – 1996-2012 is one in the series with some profound revelations about his party and political colleagues.

Pranab Mukherjee has been in in Indian politics for four decades as a parliamentarian and a key member of the Congress Party that ruled India for six decades. Many in his political party dominated by Nehru-Gandhi family believed Mukherjee was the man who should have become Prime Minister. When it became clear that the party leadership would not give him that job, he accepted the Presidency.

The years 1996 through 2012 were a very dramatic period in Indian politics. It was the time when the Congress Party’s leadership (Sonia Gandhi) decided to forge alliance with other regional parties to challenge the growing influence of BJP, the current ruling party of India. Pranab Mukherjee was the only leader who dared to voice his opposition to this decision. Congress lost prestige and influence as a result of ignoring him.

In his preface he has shown concerns about Sonia Gandhi and his successor and son, Rahul Gandhi ascending to the throne of the party in a muffled tone. He is open about his differences with Manmohan Singh (then Prime Minister of India) and with Sonia Gandhi on their approach to politics and economics.

He has openly criticized Sonia Gandhi (a Roman Catholic of dubious reputation) for her role in imprisoning the Kanchi Shankaracharya (equivalent to a Hindu Pope) for a prolonged time stating that “if Indian secularism didn’t allow for the arrest of a Muslim cleric before Eid, the same principle should apply for Hindu priests as well.”

The Coalition Years is written in a lucid English covering the years in turmoil – a good read for history enthusiasts. – Reviewed by Musafir

Commentary: ‘Beware of Groupthink’: By Musafir

oct 18 groupthink

While I was growing up in India, Hindu-Muslim riots occurred very frequently. Strangely, we had very close family friends who were Muslims, but they used to become indifferent during the riots. Though they didn’t directly participate in violence, they were sympathetic to the Muslim rioters. Similarly, we Hindus didn’t express any antipathy towards the Hindu rioters.

Our behavior used to change because of Groupthink.

Groupthink is a subconscious occurrence in which one starts thinking the way people around them think. This has to do with us maintaining conformity with others in a group. It is always easier to agree with the general majority than disagree, even if it is not the right thing to do. Eventually that behavior becomes a social norm and acceptable. The same happened with Nazi Germany as more and more civilians either became Nazis or silently supported their power. That Groupthink phenomenon got worse as the Holocaust started. It became something that hardly even weighed on their conscious, it seemed so normal to them.

The term Groupthink was coined by Irvin Janis, a social psychologist in 1972. He blamed the fiasco at Bay of Pigs to Groupthink by John F Kennedy and his advisers. Jani suggested that what had happened in the White House might be similar to what happened among ordinary citizens in the groups he studied for his research. He stated that participant in Groupthink often develop a “pattern of concurrence-seeking . . . when a ‘we’ feeling of solidarity is running high.”

It can be said that decision to invade Iraq was a result of groupthink. Groupthink in the Bush administration led the nation into war. Bob Woodward wrote that in moments when the president “had someone from the field there in the chair beside him, he did not press, did not try to open the door himself and ask what the visitor had seen and thought.”

Today we see more and more signs of groupthink both in conservative and liberal arenas alike. This can have a very dangerous outcome if we don’t realize the peril and change our behavior.

There is a growing trend among neoconservatives to blindly abide and respect authority. There are increasing incidents of belligerence, combative approach among them toward people they find threatening. They seem to support authoritarian aggression, which is favoring the use of strict, tough, harsh, punitive, coercive social control. Their thinly veiled racism and blunt, bullying language are becoming more and more apparent.

The same is true for ultraliberals. They seem to resort to name calling rather than debate the issues. Ultraliberals attempt to shut down or ban conservative speakers from coming to college campuses. All they need is an authoritarian leader to lead them to bring violence and division in our lives.

We must recognize the symptoms and dangers of Goupthink which include the illusion of invulnerability, rationalization of superiority, the tendency to overlook negatives, and the fear of challenging authoritarian decisions. If not checked, it may destroy us in the long run.

“Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war,

That this foul deed shall smell above the earth

With carrion men, groaning for burial.”

(Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar)