September 24, 2009

Japanese Tuna, John Edwards and Iwo Jima

The Japanese have a legendary appetite for seafood — much to the misfortune of sea life. Tuna fish happen to be one of the victims of this food fancy. Of course, just as the Japanese have pretty much hunted whales almost to the point of extinction, the seas near Japan have similarly lost much of their population of tuna fish. The Japanese have such a legendary appetite for such stuff that they even import seafood (specifically, prawns) from Orissa in India which happens to be my home state.

It seems somewhat astonishing or bewildering that we humans who occupy less than one-third of the planet’s surface which is land should be able to deplete resources from the oceans which occupy more than two-thirds of the planet’s surface.

On a completely different note — global warming deniers claim that humans are too insignificant a presence on the planet to be able to affect something as vast as the planet’s climate as the planet is too big. As the state of marine life shows, we humans certainly have acquired the critical mass necessary to affect things on a planetary scale.

The saga of John Edwards continues … it has aspects to it that remind one of the Lewinsky saga where Bill went from flatly denying that he had anything to do with ‘that woman’ to indulging in verbal gerrymandering.

I don’t know what is the ‘critical’ issue in this though — if it’s the fact that a presidential candidate had sexual relations with a woman other than his wife or that he lied about it. In France, the aspect of sexual relations would hardly matter. The more serious issue seems to be that the candidate would lie about it. But then, as happened during Clinton’s escapades, Edwards could say in his defense that he was merely trying to protect his wife who was, as it happened, suffering from cancer, and therefore even more deserving of solicitude.

It’s interesting to see how deeply the Second World War is etched in the American psyche — as it should be, really. It’s a battle which really sucked in those nations who were part of it — whether they be winners or losers. The War probably affected every family in one way or the other in countries such as the United States, Russia (or the then Soviet Union), Japan, England, Italy, France, Germany, etc.

This is in contrast to the over hyped Indian freedom struggle. I like to play the Devil’s Advocate and say that our forefathers didn’t really make much of a sacrifice in the so-called ‘freedom struggle.’ The historical reality as far as I know is this: the British lost so much in the Second World War that they were literally broke financially and didn’t have the wherewithal to continue to make the required investments in their ‘Empire’ and the ‘natives’ were getting smart and rising in revolt as well. So, the business of running Empires was becoming an unprofitable one. So, the British pretty much decided to ‘Quit India’ on their own.

Of course, now a day, Indians are on a ‘Quit India’ mission of a different kind. I am referring, of course, to the craze that Indians have acquired for getting out of India and settling somewhere else: U.S., Canada, England, Australia, etc.

I am unhappy myself with many aspects of Indian life — with its moribund rituals and over-abundance of gods. And I admire the spirit of inquisitiveness and subversion that’s there in ample measure in Western society. But I believe the solution to the problems afflicting India doesn’t lie in talented Indians leaving India but in reforming India itself. I guess that’s a fond and futile hope and folks like me with ‘atypical’ attitudes are destined to live an unhappy life. The reigning motto/philosophy of Indians seems to be: don’t question existing systems/ traditions/ beliefs. I, for one, can’t live by that philosophy. I believe that humanity is making progress everyday and we should be part of that process and love the idea of living in a changing world.

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