Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Posts Tagged ‘Mumbai’

Compromise with Abhay Kumar

Posted by Jerry on March 21, 2011

I apologize to Abhay Kumar and his family for causing them agony and harm through my actions, which I accept now, were not justified. The entire episode has been a result of misunderstanding, which has now been sorted.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Discussing Sexuality on CNN IBN

Posted by Jerry on November 2, 2009

Watch me and my friends discussing sexual minorities on CNN IBN.

Posted in Culture, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Friends, Personal, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

On Facebook

Posted by Jerry on March 29, 2008

I have created a new group on Facebook called “Ayn Rand Fans in Mumbai.”

Here is the description I wrote:

I have created a new group–primarily for people in Mumbai, but also open to all fans of Ayn Rand’s novels and philosophy around the world. You are welcome to join and participate in the group. Occassionally, there might be events and socials organized in Mumbai, the details of which will be posted here. A tentative upcoming event I am planning is an Ayn Rand movie festival, showcasing the Oscar nominated documentary “Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life” and the Italian movie “We The Living.

I intend this to be a place for fans of Ayn Rand’s novels and philosophy to meet, network, socialize, and be updated on city events related to the activities of this group.

I intentionally avoided making the group exclusive to Objectivists because I do not want this to be primarily and fundamentally a philosophy group, although the common interest here is largely philosophical–or intellectual. The group is also open to those who admire Rand’s novels but do not have a philosophical bent of mind, including those who properly do not call themselves Objectivists until they fully understand what subscribing to the philosophy entails.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, General Work/Life, India, Mumbai, Objectivism, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hindi News Channel on Ayn Rand

Posted by Jerry on February 1, 2008

Of all the places to find an article about Ayn Rand, there is this recent one on Zee News. The online version of the 24-hour Hindi News cable channel carried a decent article on Ayn Rand (in English, of course). Reading the title of the article, I was prepared for yet another misinformed, second-handed diatribe on Rand’s life and a grotesque caricature of her philosophy.

The article is fine, however; the author Ipsita Baishya treats the essential ideas of Objectivism fairly enough. Like in these excerpts, for example (note how Baishya points out Rand’s rejection of the libertarian party):

According to Rand, one’s highest value should be one’s ability to reason. This also manifested in the way she viewed her own life, not through feelings but through her interest in ideas and her thinking.

Politically, Rand wanted to provide liberal capitalism with a moral anchor, to take on the commonplace notion that communism was a noble if unworkable idea while the free market was a necessary evil best suited to flawed human nature. Her impassioned arguments against “compassionate” redistribution–and persecution–of wealth have not lost their urgency and relevance even today.

Although Rand denounced the feminist movement, one cannot help but see a strong feminist subtext in her repertoire. All of her heroines are strong-willed, independent women; feminism being all about women asserting their individuality. So it would not be incorrect to assume that Rand by default had a feminist streak to her as many feminists have interpreted. She rejected the Libertarian movement due to her emphasis on epistemology and her rational premise did not allow her to believe in the existence of any Superpower. [bold mine] 

But the sprinkle of words like “cult”, “religious doctrine”, and “loopholes” leaves me wondering about the intent of the author. I suspect this article was published in time to mark Ayn Rand’s birthday on February 2.

I myself had made plans to commemorate the occasion over two days by airing an Oscar nominated documentary on Rand’s life—Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life and the Italian movie based on her book We The Living. However, as I was making my plans, I learned that Mumbai would be celebrating a 10-day long art festival slated to begin on the same day. Due to the festival, the venue I was considering for airing the documentary would not be available—Prithvi Theater, MaxMueller Bhavan, etc. Besides, I would be competing with more established festival events for an audience to the movies.

Perhaps, after the Kala Ghoda Art Festival concludes, I might set up the dates for screening these movies. The American Center Library in South Mumbai is open to hosting the event, when I spoke to them earlier this week. Let’s see how it all turns out.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Culture, General Work/Life, India, Movies, Mumbai, Objectivism, Personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

X-Men in Mumbai

Posted by Jerry on January 30, 2008

Last Sunday, I went on a coffee date with a man I had been in contact with for several months. Our conversation was fluid, lively, expansive (in terms of the topics we discussed), and stimulating. However, there was this one moment that totally cracked me up. You’ll see:

Him: You know that the X-Men movies have a definite homosexual sub-text, right?

Me: Oh, of course! It’s hardly a sub-text–it’s the entire freakin’ gay agenda, loud and proud!

Him: Yah. Precisely! Well, in Mumbai, there is a definite X-men type gay underground group. We have Magneto, a.k.a, Ashok Row Kavi–the militantly gay activist, and his posse at the Humsafar Trust; and then we have his nemesis Professor X–the more benign and amiable founder of Gay Bombay groups with the rest of us followers.

Me: Oh, interesting! And what character are you?

Him: Well, I’m not really a “character” per se: I Am The Cerebro!

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Humor, India, Mumbai, Personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Bating On the Way to Heaven

Posted by Jerry on November 28, 2007

Ha! This is for real. The following question appeared in this morning’s sex column of Mumbai Mirror–an English-language regional daily. I can’t decide which is more funny–the 20-year-old man who just discovered some new activity and his intended pathway to heaven, or the sex columnist’s response!

I’m a 20 year old man. I learnt “master bating” from my friends and now I cannot stay without it. I don’t have any bad habits like smoking and drinking. I have also lost weight because of this habit. I know many prostitutes who can show me the path to heaven but I don’t have the guts to deal with them. Please help.

Respose: You are not playing cricket; it is “masturbation” that you are doing. There is nothing to worry about. You will learn better control and masturbate only when you have something to excite you. No harm will come to you. Prostitutes or any unknown female will not send you to heaven — there are more chances of going to hell. Lead a healthy lifestyle.

[P.S. In the sport of cricket, a team bats while the other bowls–much like in baseball. Hence, the term “batting”, and a misspelled version of it: “bating.”]

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, Personal, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The Golden Anniversary Evening

Posted by Jerry on October 16, 2007

There is some debate on the exact date of the Atlas Shrugged 50th Anniversary; some argue it’s on October 10. We in Mumbai celebrated the event on October 12, 2007. Given that I had only 10 days to prepare and organize the event from scratch–all by myself–I am extremely proud of what I managed to accomplish and of the experience I was able to give the 22 to 25 Ayn Rand fans who attended.

We watched the 1974 interview of Ayn Rand by James Day; during the interview, Rand was at her characteristic wit and precision–repeatedly insisting on Day to clarify his terms: “concern is such a loose term, what do you mean by it?” “I will begin with romantic love because I don’t know what other love you mean”, “the perpetrators of [abstract art] say that they don’t know what they’re doing, and neither do we, and I’m inclined to take their word for it.”

The discussion following the video wasn’t up to the expectations I had; at one point, someone floated a confused interpretation of acting on self-interest. I took pains to clarify that the sanction of your actions is not egoism but reason; egoism is the nature of your actions–and there’s a difference.

Thankfully, this open-floor discussion didn’t last very long. I decided to have everyone come up to the table and join me in cutting the anniversary cake: a chocolate truffle. While I cut the cake to a round of applause, filmmaker Mukarram Khan graciously offered me the first slice. From then on, everyone was free to mingle and congregate in groups to have their own private discussions.

There was a high school boy who said that Atlas Shrugged was required reading in his class. He said that after having read the novel, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on The Fountainhead, which also he read soon enough. This was a young man just discovering the philosophical premises underlying the sense of youth, aspiration, possibilities, and greatness. I felt a strong sense of concern for him, hoping that his discovery of such a radiantly youthful philosophy would not be dimmed by the fog over contemporary adulthood and the greyness of what passess today as “sophisticated nuance.” I expressed this concern to him; I told him that hopefully he would continue to educate himself on the philosophy and rely only on his best judgment of its premises.

Many who attended were eager to have Rand’s ideas spread quickly in the Indian culture. Concerns were raised that not enough is being done–that Objectivism has been around for 25 to 30 years now and there is very little to show in terms of cultural change. I pointed out that for a philosophy, Objectivism is relatively young and it is unreasonable to expect dramatic changes in such a short amount of time. Despite that, I do believe that the efforts of the Ayn Rand Institute is bearing visible results in the American intellectual scene. Speakers and writers from the ARI are gaining increasing prominence in the mainstream media: Dr. Yaron Brook has regular speaking engagements and television appearances. With the introduction of The Objective Standard (the inauguration of which I attended in Washington D.C.), Craig Biddle is actively engaging the political and economic thought-leaders of America with a rational alternative. ARI writers are constantly featured in guest columns and editorials of prestigious media channels across the nation. The ARI’s Objectivist Academic Center is preparing a new generation of Objectivist intellectuals to enter mainstream academia and produce serious Ayn Rand scholarship. The Anthem Foundation is funding much of these ventures into philosophy departments. Departments in 30 universities are already taking Ayn Rand’s ideas seriously and studying Objectivism as part of its curriculum. The Ayn Rand Society is doing its laudatory share of organizing symposia and conferences with Objectivist and non-Objectivist philosophers, which are often covered by the media.

With regard to India, I pointed out that ARI neither has the obligation nor the resources to make it feasible to focus on influencing the Indian cultural scene. If one wishes to do something about this country here, one of us must make the intiative and do it–not point at the ARI and complain that they are ignoring this country. Yes, they are, and they are fully within their moral right in doing so; it is immoral of us to complain.

India is entrenched in irrationalism and mysticism. While the efforts in the United States is focused on *rescuing* the nation from the rise of Christian fundamentalism and re-aligning the culture to its founding premises of individual rights, liberty, and the selfish pursuit of happiness, the efforts in India would have to be more than Herculean–it requires a total upheaval of everything currently cherished as a value, a custom, a tradition, or the way things ought to be. If this upheaval is not from the root, then only Objectivism stands to lose: in any compromise in the principles of this philosophy with the mixed-bag premises of the Indian culture, only Objectivism will be adulterated, distorted, mutilated, and eventually, rendered impotent.

So what can be done? First, remember that as Objectivists, we are not out to change the world–nor must we pursue that goal as our primary purpose: we are out to selfishly pursue our own happiness. If this pursuit involves having to agitate in our society for a change in order that we can gain our desired values without hindrance during our lifetimes, then yes, acting to change our society is rational and consistent with our pursuit of happiness. However, if the change required is too daunting, overwhelming, almost impossible–or if there are other avenues to achieving one’s values without having to agitate for societal change–then properly, an Objectivist should ignore the society and pursue those alternative means to achieving one’s happiness: often, this means leaving your society or your country–if such an option is more attainable than hoping for a change to materialize.

You are not called to be martyrs to Objectivism or to an irrational society. This is a rational philosophy for living life on this earth, presently; it is not a religion demanding that you sacrifice the life you have for the realization of some principles in your society in the future after your death! Your concern is not the generations who will come after you or the country of an unknown billion who currently live with you. Properly, your only moral concern should be whether you can achieve and protect your values presently so long as you are alive: if the task seems possible, then agitate for change in your current circumstances; if the task seems almost impossible, then work diligently to get yourself out of that society and let it head to its own ruin.

A society that is inherently corrupt and irrational will collapse from within. You are in no obligation to struggle to rescue it from the inevitable: that would be immoral on your part.

It is ironic that this most central message of Atlas Shrugged was rather overlooked at the celebration of its 50th Anniversary. There is one other major issue that was asked of me during the event, about which I had grave concerns. I tried my best to persuade him to change his views, but I am not sure if I was able to convince him thoroughly. That will be the topic of my next post.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, General Work/Life, India, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Philosophy, Political Issues, Religion, Rights and Morality, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Atlas Celebrations in Landmark, Mumbai

Posted by Jerry on October 6, 2007

Atlas ShruggedAtlas ShruggedI have been working with Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute in Delhi to organize a celebratory event in Mumbai. Hyderabad and Delhi will be having celebratory events simultaneously with the one in Mumbai. Check out the Liberty Institute announcement for more details.

Here are the event details in Mumbai:

October 12, 2007
7:00 P.M.
Landmark bookstore
Infiniti Mall
Andheri Link Road
Andheri (West)

Expect snacks, cake, a lively discussion, and an opportunity to meet Ayn Rand fans from across Mumbai.

UPDATE: Check out the Liberty Institute Web site for the announcement of the Mumbai event, including the program of events in Hyderabad and Delhi.

UPDATE: Professor Shehernaz from the Philosophy faculty at Wilson College may be speaking at the event on Ayn Rand’s philosophical influence on the Indian academia and culture in general.

UPDATE: View the Atlasphere announcement here. Also, sign-up for free on The Atlasphere to find fans and admirers of Ayn Rand around your local area. I noticed that their list of subscribers for India is quite substantial. In fact, the owner of the site–Joshua Zader–tells me that India is only second to the US in number of subscribers!

UPDATE: I’m working on screening a short 1974 video interview of Ayn Rand at the event. I should be getting the DVD by tomorrow.

UPDATE: Several members of the press are sending in inquiries! Therefore, I anticipate good media coverage. I am also in talks with some journalists who are fans of Ayn Rand and who have promised to make every effort to attend the event. I am beginning to have strong reasons to believe that there will be many more people attending than I had originally envisioned.

UPDATE: I have news that several other cities in India have come on board with their own celebratory events on this Anniversary: Bangalore, Calcutta, and may be even Patna. However, these cities will most likely have their events later next week, to have the time for preparations and such.

In any case, I am delighted to hear of it. I think India has beaten the United States with respect to the number of cities commemorating 50 years of Atlas Shrugged. I also believe there is a good reason for this. In my preparations for this event in Mumbai, I have become acquianted with so many Ayn Rand lovers from the older generation; i.e., people who have known, studied, and loved Ayn Rand’s works before the boom of the Internet and the phenomenon of blogging in India. Their access to Rand’s ideas were through more legitimate channels like actual audio/video recordings of her lectures and interviews, her books, and the newsletters. This is unlike the more recent crop of young Indian literates who for the most part rely on Internet searches and adulterated Wikipedia articles for their source of information.

For more on why Ayn Rand is respected more widely in India than in the United States, read this and this.

POST-EVENT UPDATE: In my assessment, the event I organized was a great success! 🙂 I was pleased with the number of people who turned up (22 people signed the information sheet, although I believe some more may have been present), and more importantly, I was pleased to learn of their deep interest in Ayn Rand. I think all of them loved the Ayn Rand interview from 1974. There was a diverse mix of people–from a boy who said he was in high school to older men and women who’ve been Rand fans for several decades. In the audience, there was a filmmaker, an author, fashion designer, editor, marketing professionals, stock broker, etc.

I asked a lovely lady with stylish black-rimmed glasses–who had come with a little tiny girl–whether she had read Atlas Shrugged. This is how she responded: “I have read *all* of Rand’s books. … Twice!”

I had to love that! 🙂

Anyway, it’s way too late in the night, and I have been literally surviving on 10-minute power naps for the past 10 days. So, a substantial post-event update is forthcoming, but only after I rest to my heart’s content! In the meantime, all my blog readers that I met this evening, now I know who you are and that you’re lurking around here. Place your comments about what you thought about the evening, about Rand’s interview, our discussions, the organizing–anything.

Here’re a couple pictures from the event:Atlas Shrugged Anniversary; Event audience. I’ll upload the rest later.

MEDIA UPDATE: I have just been contacted by a reporter from the Telegraph. She is interested in writing up a story on our Mumbai event.  I gave her some details and described the event to her. I also gave her the contact information of some who attended the event on Friday. She might contact you for quotes or opinions. [See the Telegraph article on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged celebrations. See my interview with the Telegraph reporter here.]

The Times of India has a short article on the Hyderabad event. The Pioneer ran an editorial on the Ayn Rand event in Delhi.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, India, Mumbai, Objectivism, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Rock Bottom

Posted by Jerry on October 4, 2007

I’m sitting here watching the evening news on Times Now India.

Here’s what’s playing: “Mystic” Rock Attracts Devottees.

Apparently, a sizeable rock weighing about 15 kilograms was found floating around somewhere. The rock refused to sink in water. So, some Indians have taken to worshipping the rock, considering it a miracle by their god “Ram.”

😐

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, India, Mumbai, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Indians and Ayn Rand

Posted by Jerry on August 28, 2007

Myrhaf writes a post on India that projects a rather generous view of the state of affairs and trends in this country. It is interesting to get a foreign perspective on India because, to some extent, it reflects on the kind of media coverage India receives abroad, and thereby, the perception foreigners have of it.

However, a more interesting point in Myrhaf’s post is his perception of Rand’s popularity in India, which reinforces my own view on the matter. He writes:

Along with the mysticism in India you can find many who subscribe to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, a philosophy of reason and reality that is the opposite of mysticism. I was fascinated in the 1980’s to read announcements in The Intellectual Activist of all the cities where Leonard Peikoff’s taped lectures could be heard. After the USA, the country with the most lectures by far was India.

Some time ago, I wrote up a post detailing my reasons for why I believed that Ayn Rand is more respected in India than in the US. The only thing I might be inclined to change in that post is its title. It would be more accurate to say that Ayn Rand *was* more respected in India than in the US. 

Prior to the proliferation of the Internet in India and the opening of its borders, Ayn Rand was known in India primarily through her books–her novels and non-fiction writings–and through the works of Dr. Leonard Peikoff. For this reason, her reputation in India remainded largely untarnished by the pseudo-intellectual rantings of both self-proclaimed Objectivists and non-Objectivists that now proliferate Rand-related forums, blogs, and online communities.

However, presently, with intellectual laziness and sloppiness being made even more feasible for mediocre minds by quick search engines and Wikipedias, rigorous and critical analysis of any idea is easily substituted with the regurgitation of someone else’s thoughts–however invalid, distorted, baseless, caricatured, or sloppy–that can be summoned before one’s passive mind with only a few easy clicks. 

It is no surprise then that the more Internet-savvy of the Indian crowds who may have actually read something of or by Rand–or may have only heard of her–find intellectual shelter in a kind of collectivist “online group-think” phenomena when they engage in pseudo-intellectual smears against her. The depth of depravity of such mediocre minds is that while it is granted that they can produce no original or insightful content of their own, even their smears, criticisms, and snide remarks of someone’s profoundly original ideas are second-handedly sourced and regurgitated.

Therefore, to return to my original point, I believe that while a few of the older generation who read Ayn Rand first-hand and were forced to critically respond to her ideas with their own mental efforts ended up developing an appreciation for her ideas, the more recent crop of Indian intellectuals for the most part neither share that appreciation nor have ever expended the mental effort. Further, all of this is in addition to the fact that the Indian socio-economic scene has changed drastically over the past 17 years, and it no longer resembles the kind of Socialist dystopia as presented in We The Living or the precipitated degradation of the society in Atlas Shrugged, which means that young Indians are becoming more and more removed from the ideas that Rand railed against and therefore fail to fully appreciate the gravity of her ideological positions.

[P.S. Check out the interesting comment thread under Myrhaf’s post.]

Posted in Ayn Rand, Books, Culture, Economics, General Work/Life, India, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Objectivism, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Why is Ayn Rand Respected More in India?

Posted by Jerry on September 16, 2006

Ayn Rand is rather well-known in India, though of course not as widely known as she is in the US; however, it can be argued that Rand is certainly viewed more respectfully and with admiration here in India than in the US.

The reasons for that are probably not quite straightforward: it’s not just because Rand’s reputation in India has escaped the lies, mischaracterizations, and attacks of the intellectual and academic elite in the US.

I think most people in India who like reading books, who are intellectuals (whether “elite” or not), who value ideas, etc. have read Ayn Rand. Rand’s works can be described as part of the canon for any serious Indian intellectual; I think I read an article in an Indian newspaper website someday that said something like reading Ayn Rand is the mark of an intellectual thinking person.

However, just because so many have read Rand does not imply that they all have come to admire her. In fact, I mentioned in my earlier post regarding the Ayn Rand at 100 book launch that though many of my colleagues had read The Fountainhead, some of them hated the book–and Ayn Rand–with a passion. Some others found her ideas very unrealistic, impossible, idealistic, and therefore, worthless.

Now, having said that, I would still claim that Rand enjoys much greater respect and admiration here in India today. In my opinion, the main reason for this is that the Indian people who read her actually understand the truth of her arguments, for the most part. Because Indians live in the collectivist, pseudo-statist, tradition-bound, mystic society that India is, the readers grasp the validity of Rand’s ferocious criticisms of these states and agree with her description of life under these conditions.

For example, Indians see the reality around them–of a massive bureaucratic government, socialist and collectivist policies, the influence of mysticism and religion in politics and in every aspect of life, the burden of tradition and familial obligations, the parasitic oppression of “needy” and the lazy on the hard-working average man–and they see how well Rand describes these very scenarios and reveals the root causes of them.

I think the Indians who read Rand identify with her because they feel she is exactly right; because they see what she denounces occurring in their own lives and in their societies. Moreover, Rand’s uniquely powerful, persuasive, bold, and lucid style of writing is perfect for the tastes of the Indian audience who are not into obfuscations, meandering musings, and equivocality. As a culture in general, Indians are rather direct in their communication (verbal and nonverbal), almost to the point of being tactless and crude. Thus, Rand’s admirable style of revealing things as they are, never faking reality, and calling a spade a spade, seems superbly customized for the Indian readership.

The American culture, on the other hand, does not have any of these contexts from which to understand the power of Ayn Rand. Americans have never encountered quite the conditions described in We The Living or that which is the reality in India. Americans have never really had to stand in long lines of ration to obtain food and groceries, face the corruption and stagnation of huge government bureaucracies, deal with corruption as a daily part of living, or have to deal with the politics of a collectivist mob. Americans do not face oppressive familial obligations arising from a collectivist and tradition-bound mentality; neither have they had the kind of mysticism rampant in this part of the world.

In short, Americans haven’t really experienced the full intensity of the consequences of bad ideas–the bad ideas that Rand exposed and harshly denounced. Therefore, to the Americans, Rand comes off as being “shrill” and “extreme”; to an Indian, perhaps, Rand comes off as being relevant, true, and like a “voice in the desert,” the voice of a brilliant mind.

Moreover, Americans are not “direct” people; as a culture, it seems that Americans like facades, appearances, euphemisms, pleasantries, vacuous conversations, avoiding uncomfortable remarks, and being polite. Thus, Rand’s blunt and bold style understandably comes off as being foreign and confrontational, and therefore, unlikeable.

These, in my opinion, are the reasons why Rand is accepted with considerable respect here than she is in the US. Moreover, in India, there is a dearth of intellectuals–much less intellectuals who write brilliant and successful books. Thus, Rand is respected right from the get-go as an intellectual who has published world famous books.

However, I must add this one final observation I have made: Indians also love ape-ing the West, especially America, in many aspects. And by “ape-ing”, I not only mean imitating, I also use it to refer to the Indian’s level of thinking as being at the functioning level of the Apes. Thus, I have noticed that some of the modern “elite” intellectuals in India who have read Rand–and have probably investigated some more about Rand via the internet or other sources–may have come to percieve the famine of interest in Rand-scholarship and lack of respect for her ideas in America. Some of them may have also read misleading reviews or heard of the straw-man criticisms against Rand (like, she was too “black & white,” or too “utopian,” or “teenagers read Rand, then one grows out of it), and they blankly repeat these criticisms and consider themselves “over” Rand, as in, “oh, I’m over her already.”

So, yes. I have noticed some Indian “elite” readers use the same criticisms against Rand that I have read on the Internet and in the US. I believe the “fashion” of being “over Ayn Rand” might be catching on in India also. But let’s hope that that does not happen.

Posted in Ayn Rand, General Work/Life, India, Objectivism, Personal, The Best of Leitmotif | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments »

Dissecting the Gay Indian Male

Posted by Jerry on May 29, 2006

India is quite arguably a very androgynous – if not an outright feminine – culture; Indian men are fairly well-adjusted to displays of sensitivity, emotional depth, and homosocial intimacy.

It is not rare to see men walking around the city hand-in-hand or arms over their shoulders, displaying signs of very intimate affection towards each other. Once I saw a group of young men caressing each other’s hair, one of them combing the other’s lengthy locks with what seemed to me like so much love in his eyes, while the other men in the group carried on a lively and animated conversation amongst themselves.

Well, all of this means, it gets awfully hard for actual gay men to figure out who’s in who’s “camp.” It’s incredibly risky to assume someone’s gay or that someone has the “hots” for you just by their non-verbal behavior and overt displays of intimacy.

I suppose this type of a cultural acceptance of homosocial behavior could lead to psychological burial or repression of a gay man’s proper homosexual expression. By that I mean, a gay man may not express his sexuality as much as he may express his homosociality.  The ambiguous sexual nature of the behavior he observes among the men around him may convince him that he can act likewise and be safe and find homosocial encounters as a satisfactory outlet to his gay expression. 

Since one can never be sure of the sexual intentions or persuasions of another man, it becomes incredibly risky to just assume the other’s sexual orientation and make an unsolicited or unwanted move–particularly given the paradoxical fact that while Indian men are notoriously homosocial, they are equally homophobic

At the same time, the sexual ambiguity in orientation also may lead a gay man to believe that he could effectively “convert” any straight man and convince them into being sexually intimate. While this may work for some, it also leads to disastrous consequences, such as homophobic backlashes.

Moreover, ambiguity in sexual behavior leads Indian gay men to try and seek the fulfillment of their desire to be intimate with another man in such homosocial–but non-sexual–relationships (i.e., in safe homosocial intimacies with straight men); the result of this disguised approach to homoerotic intimacy thereby represses a full-blown expression of proper gay male sexuality with other gay men. Some gay men might even end up convincing themselves of the delusion that they are not really homosexual, that they merely have strong affections for other men just like other genuinely straight men do for each other.

All of that (and possibly other socio-psychological factors) then probably leads some Indian gay men to delude themselves into thinking that they are in fact bisexual or maybe even straight!–not as a matter of fact, but as an act of conditioned auto-suggestion upon their own minds–undoubtedly with terrible consequences for themselves and for those they share intimate relationships contact with, like their wives or romantic partners.

Posted in Culture, General Work/Life, Homosexuality, India, Love and Romance, Mumbai, My Theories and Ideas, Personal, Political Issues, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments »

 
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