svocabulary is S-Vocabulary, a selection of essential vocubulary for a skeptic to survive in a world full of believers. It discusses concepts words and books that make up the survival kit of an agnostic.
I am a neurologist born and bought up in Calicut , in the southern Indian state of Kerala. I did my medical undergraduate studies in Calicut Medical College, my graduate studies in Vadodara in the western Indian state of Gujarat, and my post-MD specialisation in New Delhi, the Indian capital. I worked for half a decade in in the South eastern coastal town of Pondicherry, and thereafter moved to the Muscat in the West Asian capital city of Oman. I am now in sabbatical to revisit my long cherished interest in reasoning and debate.
Calicut is a historical town in that it was where Vasco da Gama landed in his conquest of the eastern sea route. Vadodara in 2012 was the epicentre of the Gujarat riots that defined Indian politics ever since, while Pondicherry was the capital of the former French colony in India. Oman was the ground zero for an important political event that shaped the contours of the west asia as we see today. In 1960 and 1970s it witnessed a lesser-known British sponsored war that contained the spread of communism and leftist ideology to the oil-rich west asian peninsula.
In this blog I discuss geopolitics, conflicts, philosophy, science and religion.
It is the outcome of my reading and debates spanning last two decades. My choice of subjects in this blog is defined my itinerary through these years and my inspection of the geopolitics through the prism of a skeptic.
For a long view of my potential ‘conflict of interest’ see my detailed bio below
I am bought up in a patriarchal family where my father a middle-level bureaucrat in Kerala government was politically neutral, although in the usual knee-jerk response of an apolitical ‘bourgeois’ had an affection for the ‘politically distant’. In his times of Kerala in the 1960s and 1980s, the ‘poltically distant’ was the right-wing nationalist ideology of the Rastriya Swayamseval Sangh (RSS) and Janasangh. My childhood impression of the ruling Congress party was that of a corrupt bunch of people, given to nepotism and inefficiency. , while their state level opponents, communists were considered to a violent grouping given to wanton strikes. As a child my father put me in an RSS shagha (branch) to cultivate ‘character’. However, given my introversion and asocial nature, I quit the shagha in a week or two. I was given a steady dose of ‘nationalist’ fervor through the right wing periodical ‘Kesari’. I ‘learned’ through multiple sources that we Indians had a golden age when we were the most advanced of all civilization, and that the Westerners had stolen all our treasures. I also learned about amazing parallel between the ancient wisdom of Hindu philosophy and the inscrutable theories of quantum physics ( Fritjo Capra, Gary Zukav).
I was exposed to the wonders of the Soviet Union and the communist literature through the subsided books that flowed through the Soviet publication houses Prevda and Mir. The heavy leftist literature in my vernacular Malayalam ensured that I despise the scourge of ‘imperalism’ and the ‘hegmony of the American capitalism’. I hated businessman and thought business a lowly occupation.
Thus in early 1991 when the Soviet Union fell like a pack of cards, I, just like every other leftist Keralite shuttered in disbelief. I was confused. There was no way I could contain the confusion as 1992 was the year when I joined my medical school. Medical school kept me busy cramming mindlessly for the next 5 years.
When I got some respite between my terms I read with amazement the tapestry of theories of Sigmund Freud and CG Jung. I thought they were true, and was further sucked into reading the stuff of violent speculation like that of Desmond Moris and Thomas Szas. I thought they were true.
After my under graduate studies in Calicut medical college as I was doing my internship, I caught up with my reading, but this time a league of different kind. I learned from Ayn Rand a completely different version of narrative that I learned until then. I was flummoxed. Then I stumbled upon a book of its kind. Language, Truth and Logic by Alfred Ayer. That was quite a discovery. I confirmed from Ayer what I long suspected. Writers can be carried over by language. By their own theories. And can utter sheer nonsense.
I did my graduate study in internal medicine in Baroda medical college, in Vadodara a city in the western state of Gujarat . Working as a resident doctor in Baroda, I witnessed what would be a defining and often divisive event in Indian politics. The Gujarat riots of 2012. Vadodara was the ground zero the the infamous Best Bakery case. During the riots I had the first hand experience of another side of the coin. Gujarat, in contrast to my state Kerala was an avowed Hindu right-wing state. It was considered the ‘laboratory’ of Hinduvta politics in India, and where leftist was an insignificant minority. I also learned from Gujarat the order of hierarchy in medical residency in provincial towns. I faced quite a lot of problem when I didn’t recognize its significance in a place where irreverence was a taboo.
I did my postdoctoral degree in Neurology from All India institute of medical science, New Delhi, the capital city of India, in the Northern part of the subcontinent (map). Here I saw power at close quarters. From George Fernandez, the firebrand socialist turned right wing fellow-traveler , who presented with early dementia to the notorious criminal-politician Shahabudheen enjoying his medical sojourn while in police custody. I learned through my patients the squalor and poverty of Bihar and crime and passion of Western Uttar Pradesh. In 2009 I joined as a faculty in JIPMER Puducherry in the eastern coast of the Indian Penisula. Puducherry is an old French colony and is famous for two things: One, the Aurobindo ashram, where the revolutionary-turned-Indian mystic Aurobindo spend his later years after reclusing from his political activities. Two, an international ecoconservative self-sustaining commune that follows the directions of Aurobindo’s spiritual companion Mirra Alfassa. In 2014 I relocated to Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, and had the opportunity to learn about the drama of a crucial theater in the global politics. Oman was the ground zero for an important political event that shaped the contours of the west Asia as we see today. Here in the 1960-70s a British sponsored war contained the spread of communism and leftist ideology to the oil reserves of the West Asia.