[Dump Thread] Javed Akhtar's stuff
Bala and others,

We should do a video/any other kind of artwork featuring Javed Akhtar. You guys may be busy now so I am dumping all the relevant links (videos and articles) as a kind of an archive to use later.

1. Recent nterview: JA talks about the death threats and his view regarding the fatwas issued against women working in public offices.


2. NDTV news bit: speaks against Fatwa


3. His stand WRT the MF Hussain controversy. Very Interesting interview video (embedded on the page), transcript also attached.


4. His now new website: 3 columns (Ayodhya, POTA and his rebuttal against SSS Ravishankar) and 1 TOI interview -- http://javedakhtar.com/inner/interview.html

5. His Poem after the Mumbai Terror attacks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLZX6LAjlNY

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
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Thanks for this murthy. This is good stuff though I'm not sure what kind of video you have in mind.
This is a great idea. Akhtar's ideas and sentiments would indeed make a powerful video, but I am apprehensive about one thing. Before we do a video with Akhtar, since this will be the first one with an Indian atheist, I think we should go with someone that will not immediately invite the anti-Hindu criticism. This is purely a political statement. I am well aware that it means nothing objectively, but most Indians who are atheists still ally themselves with the Hindus. It is important that Nirmukta not alienate this large group of Indian atheists, but rather try to court them and show them that it is in the interests of India that we lose such religious labels altogether. Perhaps we can first put together something on Amartya Sen (he has given a lot of talks on the concept of justice, which can be mixed in with statements he has made about his atheism) and others who will not be perceived of as coming from the other side to attack Hinduism.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.

Akhtar's fierce rebuttal to the fatwa against working women is not anti-Hindu, it's anti-Muslim. His best by far, is the one he spoke at the India Today Conclave, after ravishankar. But if 'spirituality' is something we do not want to take up right now, for political reasons, I think Akhtar's responses to fatwas can be typographed for starters.

Bala, I guess it is like your reason in motion videos. Akhtar's speech at the ITC has some fantastic & succinct bits, that will come out well if typographed.
(30-May-2010, 12:45 AM)egotwist Wrote: Akhtar's fierce rebuttal to the fatwa against working women is not anti-Hindu, it's anti-Muslim.

Rakshi, there is no objective truth to the idea that Akhtar is anti-Hindu, as I clearly stated above. My point was about the skewed perspectives of many of those who identify as Hindus, who are our largest audience and the most vocal opponents of Nirmukta. I realize that Murthy was suggesting using the anti-fatwa statements, but there is the criticism of Ravishankar as well. But the most relevant fact here is Akhtar being Akhtar.

Quote:But if 'spirituality' is something we do not want to take up right now, for political reasons, I think Akhtar's responses to fatwas can be typographed for starters.

The political statement that I was making is not that Akhtar is going after spirituality or any such thing. Nobody is refuting Akhtar's brilliance and his effectiveness when used to target people who think objectively. The problem is that few people think objectively. This is why political considerations are important. The political statement is that Akhtar has a Muslim name. As irrelevant as that is from an objective perspective, politics is seldom about the truth. I know what the reactions will be, because I know how many comments from 'Hindu-Atheists' I have to delete everyday.

I do not make these political judgments in vacuum. We have released two videos by Bala so far, one by Dawkins and another by Carlin. The purpose of those videos was to bring publicity, and it is working, but if we make it two ex-Christian (Im using the term loosely) foreigners and one ex-Muslim Indian, we will be dismissed/criticized by most 'Hindu-Atheists' who comprise the biggest group of people we should be courting.

Again, I definitely think that a video starring Akhtar would be awesome. But let's have an ex-Hindu Indian first, for political reasons. That is my point here. I am not saying this is not a good idea, just that good politics can sometimes relegate good ideas to a certain time and place.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.

Point noted. I appreciate your reasoning. I have also seen many of Amartya Sen's Videos. I will dump in the relevant links for Amartya Sen ASAP on a parallel thread.


"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
(30-May-2010, 11:46 AM)murthymail Wrote: Ajita,

Point noted. I appreciate your reasoning. I have also seen many of Amartya Sen's Videos. I will dump in the relevant links for Amartya Sen ASAP on a parallel thread.


Murthy, that would be awesome. In fact, I am very glad that you started this project. We could indeed create parallel threads with links to video and audio recordings of famous Indian atheists. These will surely come in handy.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Any headway with more stuff about Javed Akhtar ?

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
Adding some recent items...

Javed Akhtar on the perils of selective liberalism ( CNN IBN link )

A Nirmukta post in support of Javed Akhtar's 2005 speech critiquing the spirituality industry (Link)

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I think while someone may express more anti-Hindu views than anti-Muslim ones, it may purely be for reasons of expedience. There are two main reasons (along the lines of Nirmukta articles on this issue) for this:

1. By criticizing Islam, one may possibly invite harm, due to the inherent violence in its structure.
2. Hinduism is more subtly malicious than Islam, and one really needs more words to express this fact. It takes more effort to debunk Deepak Chopra's and Ravishankar's pseudo-scientific/irrational claims as they are cunningly cloaked in language that seem vaguely rational. The basic tenets of Islam obviously contradict humanistic values.

But from a PR perspective, Ajita makes a great point that people will readily point out Javed Akhtar's religion. Religious people and fence-sitters specialize in ad hominem arguments given the logical flaws in their other arguments.

"Science is interesting. If you don't agree, f off." GoodMorning
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Shoma Chaudhury of Tehelka interviews Jaggi Vasudev and Javed Akhtar:

Here are some soundbites from Javed Akhtar and some pointed questions by Shoma Chaudhury:

Javed Akhtar:

Quote:What is faith? And what is the difference between faith and belief?...Any belief which is devoid of logic, reason, rationale, evidence, witness...that is faith. And I really wonder what is the difference between faith and stupidity, for stupidity has the same definition!

Quote:Now, when you say, "Whatever the mind is, is 'accumulated', my body is 'accumulated'. That is not 'me'!", it is like saying that as long as you can peel the onion, you are not finding the onion. These skins are the onion! This accumulation is me. If you eradicate this accumulation, I don't exist.

Quote:There is no halo around it (intuition). There is nothing spiritual about. When you look at a fan, and a fan is running on full speed, you can't see the blades. It doesn't mean there are no blades. You know, when you think very quickly, you may not see the reason, but when you'll sit back and analyze it... if the conclusion is right, then there is a logical step behind it.

Quote:You should be humble enough to accept that there are many things you don't know, and only then wil you search. What is wrong with religions is that they know EVERYTHING. They can tell you how to make a universe in four easy lessons. They will tell you where you were before you were born, and where you will go after your death and so on...So they have all the answers. That is the problem.

Shoma Chaudhury's questions to Jaggi Vasudev (Were they answered?):

Quote:The purpose of spirituality was to some extent to disconnect people from desire, from materialism, to understand the limits of that. Why is it that with the Isha Foundation's philosophy, this self-actualization is the goal, you know, expressing yourself to the maximum you can, rather than to understand the finiteness of that?

Quote:Sadguruji, You know, we have called our session 'five-star fixes', and the reason I am saying this is because it perhaps something that one doesn't understand, that to be a part of your course, which actually a lot of my friends have taken and I must admit that it does transform them...the breathing techniques...they come back calmer people...but it costs a lot! Is your spirituality, your technique, your old technology not available for the poor?

Quote:Your central philosophy is to do with Yoga and with breathing techniques...but you also believe in past life...You know, one of my colleagues spent a week with you at the Foundation and wrote a big piece and he said that there, people feel they can see disembodied selves...Your wife, you felt was a sister from the past life...You know we've had James Randi here, who was shooting through this kind of faith system. And you said something very interesting to my colleague when he was being skeptical about this whole idea of past life and seeing spirits that are disembodied, you said, "The reason you disbelieve all this is because your mind is in the UK, in Greenwich Mean Time and not in India." So is it all about conditioning of minds?

Quote:Sadguru, you had a Mount of Sinai moment when you were young, when you felt instantly transformed. You don't speak of it much. But you also told people that you would die at 42, but you didn't...So there's no precision to that. How do you square with it? ...The paranormal is not empirical!

Quote:Sadguruji, When you said that essentially a spiritual person is a seeker, then why do gurus give all the answers?

Quote:But Sadguru, if the whole point of your 'technology' is to make people actualize themselves, why in the modern world is there cult creation? Why does your photograph adorn every devotee's, every practitioner's home? Why don't they just take the technology and become independent spirits themselves?

Quote:Sadguru, Consumption in this universe, in this earth is really becoming something unsustainable. What sort of sort of spirituality is it that does not talk about the finite end of consumption?
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Some thoughts on the (Javed Akhtar (JA) and Jaggi Vasudev (JV)) video in the previous post…

Why does she address JV as Sadhguru? Why not just call him Mr. Vasudev when she calls JA as Javed sahib (i.e. Mr. Javed). When addressing these quacks one should not give them unearned respect like Sadhguru or Sri Sri. These are not like title Dr. that you earn with a medical degree or a PhD degree from an accredited University.

JA comes across as very analytical in this debate. It was nice to see how he starts off by saying that for any meaningful discussion we need to first decide on the meaning of words used in the discussion. JV’s sophistry has no such constraints. He fluidly uses words like technology, method, engineering, etc without explaining what he means by these words. Do these words mean the same thing as technology in the term “information technology”, method in the term “scientific method”, and engineering in the term “electrical engineering”.

When JA ridicules the certainty with which Gurus tell you about past life and future life JV says “I don’t know which guru gave you answers. If you met all the wrong ones (the old no true scotsman fallacy) I could not help it. Gurus only give methods”…..

JV amorphously moves from the word “answer” to “method” here when in fact he means the same thing by these words. But when Shoma asks him what is the method that he teaches, he starts off with information gathering process and the fallibility of human senses with the example of the how hot or cold the table is. He clearly has not heard about the thing called the thermometer. BTW, he did not answer the question what is the method he teaches. But at a later point he says that 5 senses can only take you so far. That is when Guru tells you how to go beyond those constraints from their experiences. He does not however tell us that these experiences were obtained with these same 5 senses that he says is fallible.

Another thing I noticed in the video was that people like JV not only hide behind their sophistry but also behind their beards. These beards not only give these guys a fatherly larger than life look but also obfuscate their facial expressions in a discussion. This obfuscation is very important when you are trying to pull wool over people’s eyes. The Egyptian feminist and journalist Mona Eltahawy was apparently at this THiNK event and she tweeted “Confession: I am allergic to men with big beards of all religions.” during the discussion between JA and JV. I too get a visceral reaction when I see such bearded religious people in saintly garb.
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