The Religious connection

After a whole day of travel from Karuizawa in Japan to Chennai in India, I was exhausted. Without asking me as usual, my mother booked film tickets for the movie PK for a couple of us, running a nearby cinema. Starring Amir Khan and Anushka Sharma, it was undoubtedly pretty famous around town. To summarise the plot, it was about an alien who was lost on earth and had his “remote” stolen, his only tool of survival. People he meets from around town tell him of “God”, the one and only greatest being who could grant anything by his wishes. He attempts following all religions, practicing all without fail, but doesn’t find his remote. Stumped by the unfairness of it all, he spreads his made up theory of the “wrong number”, stating that man’s wishes aren’t reaching god, and hence the entire system is messed up with priests and holy men the cause of it all. What follows after is the whole debate-and-controversy, once finally proving his point, this alien called “PK” is able to travel back home. In my opinion, this film boldly confirmed the absurdity of blind beliefs and the numerous values and practices associated with it, which got me thinking.

Masses of the world’s population, especially indian, have faith in god, the all-knowing intellectual being. How did religion become such an important part of our lives? Obviously, once the story of a great soul like Allah or Jesus is spread and is widely accepted, followers begin to pray and land their faith in these idols. They create prayers, superstitions, and beliefs, forming this religion spread worldwide. Besides this age-old craze, today’s youth aren’t extremely into such age-old beliefs. They have their family’s tradition passed on and unquestioningly follow it, or perhaps they have a pretty limited option as to what they can choose. Although human rights are granted to every being on the planet, oppressed nations and borders have citizens with no idea of the world outside theirs. Although the religious identity of an individual is no big deal, once a person begins to question, insult or mock at a religious idol, he or she is doomed. The 2015 shootings of France and nearly all terrorist attacks are a result of religious intolerance, which also make contribute to the enormous gross budget of films like PK and OMG. Undoubtedly, religion has had one of the deepest influences on mankind. Once a person puts in faith into an idol, and worships it for better days, praising it’s greatness, it ensures this devotee that his or her wishes will be answered. Millions of devotees can’t bear to see their idol mocked at, as their beliefs in this supernatural force is much more deeply ingrained than shallower objects they are attached to, like their new car or favourite ice-cream flavour.

Although science by all means is more rational than religious superstitions, this doesn’t stop the most educated men and women with diplomas and degrees from following a religion they believe in. Although in some ways, religion has taken a turn into business and commercialisation with construction of idols, maintenance of temples and churches and selling of books, movies and CDs with prayers and choir songs, it contributes enormously to human culture and development. Places of worship like temples and mosques have artwork with skill rewarded by international agencies like the UNESCO, contributing to the tourism industry. All religions emphasise upon peace and goodwill towards other men, respecting nature and other creatures, working hard and general moralistic values taught in the yearly years of school. The enormous gurdwaras and mosques feed free lunches for all devotees,  from far and near.

Although PK brings out the stark reality about illogical and slightly overrated religious beliefs, it brings fourth a really important source influences who the modern man is today-his religion, which brings about an identity, knowledge of the all-knowing god and the  and an “internal home” to mankind, still promising a better life.

The Political connection

While taking a shower at home one Sunday morning, I heard the general sounds and noises of street sellers and vendors, horns of the traffic and people outside. Among which, there was a blaring loudspeaker, promising a cleaner environment, more job availabilities and in general, a better life for each person. I noticed crowds of men and women outside the window, surrounding the politician or political party.The upcoming elections in May didn’t really effect or concern me, but these citizens surrounding them did want a change. The were hopeful, if not desperate, for the changes in facilities, rules and systems for every indian citizen. On the other hand, each politician or party had this underlying pressure on them, having to convince people of their policies, ideas and implementations they planned, being promising, but idealistic and exciting, to get into power rather than being an opposing party.

An underlying fact is that these parties or politicians had to have words and ideals strong enough to convince and integrate hope among their listeners, while at the same time, the voters had to be vulnerable enough to accept, believe and be swayed by what they heard, and use their own judgement to make the right decision, electing the most promising candidate when the time comes. But this isn’t always so easy. In tonnes of countries, citizens may be uneducated or backward and can be influenced by false promises and bribes. Some voters may be so wealthy that the elected candidate, good or bad , doesn’t concern them, so they don’t bother reading up manifestoes or going to vote. Of course, every person’s vote does count.  Enormous planning and efforts go into a large scale process like voting for a president, minister or village head, starting from the registration, to counting votes and compilation to make the process as just. An ultimate goal is to elect a leader who represents and fulfils the wants of each community, cast or creed, being the least biased. Whether a vote is cast in admiration, bother, desperation or boredom, they all accumulate to grant a party’s right to control an area’s taxes and expenses for the next five years. That one vote could change the ultimate result, changing the elected party. Besides a country/state’s attitude towards tourists, cleanliness, technological developments and availability of facilities, the ruling party of a democracy could have a massive impact on the country’s GDP and development rankings among the rest of the world, giving the country an international identity.

Of course, not just the number of votes can be blamed for nominating a leader, or a political party be accused of the state of a country. Errors in calculation of votes, citizens who fail to cast a vote and corruption can hinder as successful democratic system, yet on a deeper level, it’s the influence-or how convincing a candidate or party can be, that influences the quality of votes, rather than quantity. The thought, or reason behind casting the vote, or not casting it is the most powerful factor influencing who actually gets selected. Each individual reason ultimately affects the quantity of votes too. With as mislead or politically inactive youth, the initial thought behind each vote itself becomes weak, degrading the country’s political state, in the present and near future.

Going back to that hot Sunday morning, neither did those potential voters, trying to make that political decision nor did the politicians, persuading and begging those citizens wish to stand in the heat and humidity of Chennai, yet while the country’s in the midst of growth, development and urbanisation, this influence is just the beginning.