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2

There is some debate on whether Hindi should be used officially as a government language, that is meeting resistance from anti-Hindi quarters who see it as marginalizing the non-Hindi population of India. On the other hand, there are those who think that English marginalizes most people of India, since effective communicators in English are a minuscule part of the population. Both views have merit and the government will certainly need to communicate in one or more languages, none of which will be acceptable to the entire population, given India's regional and economic diversity.

On a related note, it is rather distressing to see that there is little focus on the development of the regional languages of India. Today, quality education is increasingly available solely in English. Students who study in regional languages are forced to adapt to English to pursue higher studies and employment.

Whether government communication happens in Hindi isn't as important to the larger picture, as the development of education in regional languages. Most of the time, the citizens of India are rarely paying attention to official channels of communication by the government, and their needs of understanding government communication are adequately met by media in every language of their choice.

However, day to day opportunities for improving conditions are another story altogether.

One evening, around the campfire at the Indian Homeschooling Conference, a homeschooling parent, who is a foreigner married to an Indian described property disputes they were having with villagers where they had built their home. They were on the side of the right, and the court ruled in their favor, but after the entire case being heard in Marathi, the judge pronounced the judgement in English. "I wanted to scream," she said. "Speak in Marathi, so that this crowd of twenty people understand what exactly is being said! Tell them that we have not broken laws and are harming no one, so that the threat of hostility to our family ends!"

This is one among many ways in which how a country operating in a language most people don't understand clearly leaves behind citizens while it chases the ideal existence.

Today, we speak of India as a wannabe world power. We speak of our economy and market and democracy and more, yet our standards of living compare unfavorably with some of the worst developed third world countries. We have a large population that is a burden to progress instead of asset, because most of the time, people don't really know what is "officially" going on, though everyone is a master of "everyone knows", bribes to get stuff done, and plain old jugaad.

While the processes of the country operate in a language most people don't understand, access to them will remain limited to the few who speak the language (or actively find other ways of interfacing). While access to knowledge remains restricted to languages other than the mother tongue of citizens, the instinctive absorption of information, trivia and a hundred other forms of knowledge that come from exposure beyond training in an alien language will remain elusive.

It isn't just languages, but languages are gateways to culture. As traditions die out, and large scale displacement accompanies development, is it not important to sit up and take note of the hundreds of Indian dialects already vanished and prevent more from going the same route? With disappearing languages are disappearing histories, disappearing bodies of knowledge. Will a focus on revival of languages aid access to indigenous knowledge that has evolved in the circumstances it will be applied in? It cannot be possible that a continuous civilization spanning thousands of years brought only religious knowledge to the world that is worthy of keeping.

[Inserted update] Harini Calamur points out in her edit in DNA: The Eligibility of Language:

The 2013 survey of Ethnologue, a website that catalogues the languages of the world, declared that there were 7,016 languages and dialects. In the case of India, Ethnologue has this entry “The number of individual languages listed for India is 461. Of these, 447 are living and 14 are extinct. Of the living languages, 63 are institutional, 130 are developing, 187 are vigorous, 54 are in trouble, and 13 are dying.” 

India seems to have got into a rut of seeing its citizens as a liability. Yet, the density of the population itself proclaims that India is a place where life can and does thrive. How is it possible that centuries of practices that allowed life to thrive are seen as so unimportant as to not merit efforts to keep alive and evolve further? How is it that our focus of language and learning is so externalized, that we are desperately applying solutions that evolved in another place to use us to build the empires of others and ignoring that which made India fertile and prosperous enough to be an attraction through the centuries?

If we look at developed countries today, they all operate in languages citizens know. Be it English speaking countries or France, Germany, China, Japan... They have their traditions, they have their unique practices and indigenous knowledge. They have entire sections of the internet buzzing with active users, advanced knowledge translated effortlessly because their languages were considered important enough to make knowledge available in. Citizens do not need interpreters to seek knowledge for themselves. Compare the French or Spanish versions of Wikipedia with Hindi or Marathi. Compare the quantity and quality of education in each language. See regional WordPress users timidly using minimal installs, while Indian software coders write fancy themes and plugins in English alone.

But open content volunteers are still making an effort to extend the knowledge to more and more people, while governments remain content to operate in English. It is intellectual inequality that appears to train some people for jobs, and others for joblessness. Where are the excellent educators in regional languages? Where are the efforts to raise the intellectual potential in regional languages? What would happen if there were ministries for languages at the state and center tasked with ensuring flow of information to all citizens in languages they understand?

And not just regional languages, but languages of different abilities as well! Where has Doordarshan's news for the deaf gone? Why are there no braille newspaper versions sponsored by government funds if necessary? Why can't newspapers be forced to supply braille editions - subscription only, if necessary - and news channels forced to broadcast at least news highlights, if not more in sign language?

Access to knowledge grows people. Access to knowledge in languages people understand grows more people.

Imagine a country with the size of India and the size of its population able to seek and grow knowledge in the language they are at ease with. Wouldn't our intellectual capital grow? Wouldn't more people engage with development more effortlessly? What would happen if agricultural colleges provided translations of important knowledge in the mother tongue of farmers? If economic theories were available in every citizen's mother tongue? Forget all that, we don't even have laws accessible in regional languages easily. Laws citizens are expected to obey - without having access to read them to know what they say. How would lawlessness decrease, if the word of the law never reached the ears of the common man in a language he understands?

In my view, more important than nitpicking about what language the government uses, it is important that excellent and advanced education be made available in regional languages. It is important that the government takes an interest in world knowledge being made available to Indians in regional languages by forming various task forces that translate it. Teams contributing translations to public sites like Wikipedia, special knowledge banks of important works in other languages and more.

Language isn't merely a symbol of unity or supremacy, it is the breathing thread that weaves citizens together. Important weaves must be woven with threads that connect people.

So, the real question isn't whether the government should tweet and update Facebook in English, Hindi or both, the real question is why official government documents are not available in ALL the regional languages of India.

7

What really gets my goat these days is the bull in china shop approach to women's rights, which has a male dominated state and society trying to fix everything (sexual assault) - for women. I am a woman and I agree that there is vast gender inequality in India. I believe that women need to be empowered. I don't see our methods as useful. I have started calling the gender ghetto.

There are two lobbies in conflict determining women's rights that result in actions somewhere in between - usually what is acceptable to both. The "feminist" lobby - which seeks to create sensitivity and ease of justice for women - particularly for rapes. The "patriarchy" which would prefer to control women. Most of the women of India fall into neither of these two influential groups.

The feminist lobby (as per my observation in INDIA) looks to show humanity the right path - regardless of whether change results or is immediately useful for women. In less polite words, it is an upper middle class hijack of the female gender that appreciates itself and interprets "victories" against patriarchy as empowerment of women (which isn't necessarily true).

Patriarchy is on more comfortable ground. They have control and it is about managing so that no women actually get into bastions of power. The best way is to create luxurious ghettos for women, sold to feminists as special attention to women's rights.

As a result, there is an abundance of measures taken specially for women that do very little to change the ground situation. There isn't a single place where women can claim to feel safer after all the agitation, in spite of a steady stream of laws, schemes, special facilities, forces... Unfortunately, this doesn't cause the women's rights activists to pause and wonder if more of the same would be useful either. On the other hand, the special provisions cannot be made for all women - too resource intensive. So you create nice ghettos of women's rights where the loudest voices are - and keep peddling the idea that "something is being done". Unfortunately, Indian feminists ARE gullible enough to fall for it as long as their egos are stroked well.

Human rights as a special grant for women

Safety is a fundamental right. It isn't something that is a favor granted to women. Women only banks, women's credit cards, women police forces (more on that later)... You create a new breed of men who "know how to treat women". You have morally upright people criticizing social media abuse of women "Is this how you speak with women?", as though abusing men is fine... in the ghetto. I'd call it bubble, except it is really a psychological ghetto. Not merely isolation, but marginalization peddled as women's rights, confining women to "safe" spaces with "better" rights that "appreciate" them.

So, your pub going woman getting molested is an outrage, because that space is supposed to be safe for women - indeed, less "inhibited" women are part of the appeal - besides, don't the passes say "couples entry"? On the other hand, the woman getting molested in a seedy country liquor bar should have known better than to be there. Because, the pub is an official gender ghetto. Women are supposed to be in that space. On the other hand, the seedy bar is the "real world", where no concessions will be made to women, and they must know "men will be men" while walking in.

Put your hand on your heart and tell me this is not so. That this is not how your perception works too, even though you'd like to respect "all" women?

The problem is the same. Drunk louts harassing women or worse.

Any woman who has asked a husband, male partner or male friend to escort her to a dance bar (if you're around Mumbai) or red light area will attest to reason for refusal - or at least serious caution - being "it isn't safe for women". In spite of the dancers and prostitutes being girls themselves. Think about why one kind of woman wouldn't be safe in a place where women are the star attraction otherwise.

In essence, this is a class phenomenon, mostly limited to the upper middle class. Very rich people can do what they like to women and get away with it through money power or connections. Lower middle classes hover on fringes, knowing that this protection is very unreliable if the perpetrator is from an upper class. Lower classes get routinely harmed and no one gives a damn beyond stray newspaper reports or the occasional case that has enough TRP value to elevate the victim to a more deserving category of human.

The ghetto can also be layered and existing in the same place as the "real world". In other words, your pub goer getting raped will be news. A pub employee getting raped may be news depending on job (no sweepers, please), but if the woman security guard in the mall the pub is in gets raped by patrons of the pub? Forget it. Brief mention somewhere if at all. News item, not women's rights issue. You don't want unnecessary restrictions on the patrons of the pub over a nobody. It is the same reason that in spite of alcohol being a factor in many crimes and routinely in rapes, you will never find the elites bringing this up. You do not want to create an aura of shame around alcohol if you drink yourself - as a vast majority of public figures do.

Identifying a risk factor in rape is not as important as retaining elite freedoms. Not even as a minor caution point like - "Avoid being alone with one or more men you can smell alcohol on, as alcohol is known to reduce inhibitions. Particularly if there has been the slightest unwelcome flirting or sexually crude behavior or short temper." This gender ghetto is selective about risks it protects from. Only some are to be prevented. Others can be condemned in hindsight, as preventing will be inconvenient.

It is also an age phenomenon, where this insistence on safety is largely relevant to young women, but kids get harmed routinely with little protest, as do older women. So it is basically a phenomenon of nationwide statistics of enormous inequality against women used to give select women a carte blanche - which is also an illusion. It is given only as long as it doesn't inconvenience any of those with power. Rape convictions are overwhelmingly more from lower classes. No one has a problem with the nameless louts being taken out of the equation.

Feminism in India is not into hard wars. It prefers moral elegance and the high road. Patriarchy is not going to give up controlling women and treating them as primarily existing to serve the male will. Their interests do not converge on issues like domestic violence and marital rape. So we have some talk about it, but no serious challenge. The gender ghetto is that golden area where feminism and patriarchy agree and create a special safe zone where those who belong can expect safety to be their right.

Patriarchy prefers handouts to sharing power.

Patriarchy sees power as a male domain. It may be allowed to others - within limits. Misogyny actively seeks to exclude women from power. For the misogynist mind, it is better to give women a gilded harem than let them sit among the men as equals. Creating these gender ghettos works very well for them. Political parties having women wings with duties to support but very little control on party policies. Women only banks - even if they are not economically viable. Women's credit cards - why give them male ones when we can tailor features and cashbacks to define their identity with shopping, groceries and so on?

And of course, women to provide security for women, women only police stations... pitting women police against men who are highly likely to be threats to women, rather than create an overall gender sensitive police force. Risks to women were never the problem. The problem was complaints about it. This looks like a grand gesture. See! We gave women power to bring men to justice! Now vote for us please. Yet, do women only forces find it easier to deal with criminals? Why would bringing criminals to book be a gender issue? What are male cops supposed to do if they get a complaint of crimes against women? The same thing as the women cops. Yet, rather than increase the representation of women among the police force at large, it is more misogyny compatible to give them their corner to occupy.

Laws that "protect" women.

While women are overwhelmingly more harmed by men than vice versa, creating laws that institutionalize a bias against men does not help anyone. It is the legal ghetto. That sanctuary for women where they only have to name the justice they need. Of course, there is the "real world" where cops refuse to file cases - or worse to make them go away rather than exercise their rights. This successfully fudges the idea of justice for women, turning it into something that is specially granted for them in a very dramatic and unreserved manner, whereas the reality is different. Nor is creating a special issue out of the right of women to seek justice as generous as it sounds. It is the fundamental right of anyone harmed by another to seek justice.

In our grandstanding that wants to make sure we leave no space for any crime against women to slip through (regardless of applicability in real world), we make laws so unreal, that it is easy to show how a man accused of rape cannot be innocent short of an act of God - effectively turning a rape accusation into something women do that men have no defense against - when it is not true.

Consider a woman filing a complaint that she was raped a week ago by someone when they were alone in the office. Give me any possible way the man could prove his innocence short of proving he wasn't in the place at all. The man is presumed guilty - unless he can prove his innocence - yet, how does one prove an absence? It is a logical fallacy we have enshrined through reckless law making that only aims to deal out grand punishments without a view on the larger picture.

There is a strong motive to do this. To enshrine dramatic punishments as an exhibition of "doing something" to "fight rape". What is essentially a social problem - the inability of men to court women or take no for an answer - gets dumped on the legal system where it can reside happily, out of sight of a misogynist society, which is not required to face how it treats women. Naturally, for this, the law has to sound like it really knows what it is doing. Even if what it is doing is creating the provision to amputate a decade out of a man's life and reputation on the basis of an accusation he has no real way to disprove. A provision - which like India's thousand grey areas will usually be ignored and conviction rates will remain low at the discretion of judges - who must face their varying levels of conscience on sentencing a man for ten years on the basis of the crime described. Some misogynists will let all kinds of rapists go, others will let only a select few go, but the law if implemented to the letter will let no one go unless there is evidence of innocence. This is the legal system basically reduced to the level of a service for women to do anyone in. Non gender ghetto women won't be able to pull it off, because cops will simply laugh them out of the police station.

But surely it helps women? Even if it is an unfair service that caters to a few women, at least those women get empowered, right?

In my view, it doesn't. Judges who are often notoriously misogynistic will protect rapists for "small mistakes" when 10 year sentences seem to be disproportionate for an act that leaves no trace. Number of rapes on record will go high, but conviction rates will drop so dramatically that filing an FIR for rape will be rendered a joke. This will additionally provide fodder for misogynists to trivialize the act of filing a rape complaint itself, and it will be very difficult to debunk, because they will use the impossibility of proving innocence as their argument, even though lack of convictions will prove that "impossibility" false in practical application. All in all, a whole avalanche of controversial rapes will crop up, giving great boost to the feminist industry, but will lead to increased perceptions of danger limiting women, as well as increasing hostility from men once they start looking at cases. It will do a grave wrong to women whose PROVABLE rapes will now be further competing with scarce legal resources for justice.

***********

It seems we identify an ideal that should be, and start acting like it is fact and simply ignore what doesn't fit. We want uncompromising punishments and we also want every single wrong to be punished and we would rather a few innocents get punished than a few victims fail to nail their abusers.

Yet, is all this hand holding resulting in more assured women? More confident, more safe, more purposeful? Or merely more reckless? What is it that we are achieving, and how long is this supposed to continue and at whose cost? Why is it that we are choosing a hyperbole laden decision making process rather than something more scientific, measured and balanced?

Who will it hurt if women stop getting special favors and instead get their rights?

 

2

A collection of quotes by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, a visionary far ahead of his time with a vision that spanned across differences and time. Dr B R Ambedkar authored the Indian Constitution.
Babasaheb Ambedkar poster from the 1950s.
Babasaheb Ambedkar poster from the 1950s.

Dr. B R Ambedkar, or Babasaheb Ambedkar as he was fondly called, was a revolutionary thinker. It is unfortunate that India today has silenced most of his ideas, while continuing to give a token respect to a "dalit leader" and author of the Indian Constitution. Most Indians today have little idea of his words, and this post attempts to share some of his quotes that I found profound.

I measure the progress of a community by the degree of freedom which women have achieved.— Babasaheb Ambedkar

Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.— Babasaheb Ambedkar

History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them.— Babasaheb Ambedkar

I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.— Babasaheb Ambedkar

Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them.— Babasaheb Ambedkar

If I find the constitution being misused, I shall be the first to burn it.— Babasaheb Ambedkar

 

On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality.

In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value.

In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value.

How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions?

How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?

If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.

— Babasaheb Ambedkar 

I do not want that our loyalty as Indians should be in the slightest way affected by any competitive loyalty whether that loyalty arises out of our religion, out of our culture or out of our language.
I want all people to be Indians first, Indian last and nothing else but Indians.
— Babasaheb Ambedkar

 

In the Hindu religion, one can[not] have freedom of speech. A Hindu must surrender his freedom of speech. He must act according to the Vedas. If the Vedas do not support the actions, instructions must be sought from the Smritis, and if the Smritis fail to provide any such instructions, he must follow in the footsteps of the great men.
He is not supposed to reason. Hence, so long as you are in the Hindu religion, you cannot expect to have freedom of thought.

— Babasaheb Ambedkar 

Lost rights are never regained by appeals to the conscience of the usurpers,
but by relentless struggle…. Goats are used for sacrificial offerings and not lions.
— Babasaheb Ambedkar

1

There is a category of journalists and publications which consistently publish seemingly scientific articles that are aimed at one or more of the following goals:

  1. Trivializing the problem of farmer suicides and denying the agrarian crisis.
  2. Exonerating the role of neo-liberal policies, insufficient support to agriculture and the role of unsuitable crops (including GM) in the agrarian crisis.
  3. Promoting GM crops, privatization, FDI and reduction of "sops" to farmers.
  4. Discrediting activists and journalists who criticize the role of corporations in increasing inequality.

You will find the same names and publications determinedly plodding along on an agenda that is highly focused (these won't be the guys talking about rural sanitation or soil health or large dams, for example - unless it illustrates some other political issue they are working on - not in terms of important in their own right and requiring solutions)

The latest instalment in this branch of journalism comes from "The myth of farmer suicides" by Ravi Shanker Kapoor in Business Standard. To put it simply, the article aims to trivialize farmer suicides as some invention of sentimental journalists. Much opinion building in the article pads a nonsense central argument. And the argument uses a false premise (what a surprise!)

According to P Sainath, in the six years between 2004 and 2009, as many as 102,628 tillers killed themselves. The total number of suicides in this period were 720,528, which makes farmer suicides 14.24 per cent. The Economic Survey says agriculture accounts for about 58 per cent employment in the country. Out of the 100 employed in India, 58 are farmers. So, if there are, say, 90 farmers among the 100 people who kill themselves, the situation is alarming. But this number doesn't reach even 15. Therefore, farmer suicides don't indicate agrarian crisis.

This entire construct would have you believe that all employment from agriculture is in the form of small and marginal farmers. Either it is a malicious attempt to dismiss what farmers go through, or the author is completely ignorant about agriculture, in which case, it is an important question to ask - why write at all about something you don't know?

Capping ignorance with inhumanity, he goes on to say that a situation is alarming only when it is severe to be the cause for 90%. With this logic, we shouln't bother to fight terror at all. All deaths from terror wouldn't make up 1% of all unnatural deaths in the country. Let alone 15 - a number he pulls from God knows where (my hunch is because it is the closest multiple of five 14.24 falls short of - falling short of something is important to illustrate, I guess. 10% would be more dramatic, but 14.24% didn't fit.).

The shoddily written article forgets to spell out the point it is making, but I'll do it for you. It is trying to say agriculture provides employment to 58%, but causes only 15% suicides, therefore things are actually going well and the bleeding hearts are trying to fleece you of your hard earned money (article is obviously aimed at the middle class working in "service sector") by aiming policies at these better off people. He kind of subtly makes you aware of it by quoting NCRB suicide data for 2011:

While 11.4 per cent people who committed suicide were from the service sector, the corresponding number for the farm sector was 10.3 per cent.

On an unrelated note, this is the sort of thinking that refers to the country's funds collected from taxes as "tax-payer's money" as if since they own it, they have a special right to it. Quite forgetting that the tax payer's money is sitting happily in their bank accounts, and this is the country's account that they are eyeing.

But I digress. Coming back to the numbers:

11.4% people doing committing suicide had profession as "service" - which in India means "had a job working for someone else" - as opposed to doing business or housewife or farming, etc. This includes your workers in mines and factories - as opposed to the "service sector" - which usually refers to the tertiary sector - as in they do not have tangible goods as products. This is an important distinction, because there are far more people in India with jobs than merely in the tertiary sector. How many are these people?

Let's take a look at the employment data from the economic survey. 2,89,99,000 is the number of people employed in the organized sector. The unorganized sector happens to actually be the bulk of jobs. According to the National Sample Survey Organization total employment in both organized and unorganized sector was 45.9 crore workers (2004-2005), of which unorganized workers formed 94%. Out of the 43.3 crore unorganized workers, 26.9 crore workers were employed in the agriculture sector, 2.6 crore in construction and the remaining in manufacturing activities, trade and transport, communication and services. A large number of unorganized workers were home based and were engaged in occupations like bidi-making, agarbatti-making, papad making, tailoring and embroidery work.

So this number of suicides, which is 11.4% of all suicides is 15,482 out of about 45.9 crore employed people in the country.

Now, let us look at the farmer suicide data. The farmer suicides are not typical of the "agricultural sector", but specifically marginal and small farmers who own their own land. Yes. Owning the land is important. Tenant farmer suicides are not suicides according to our government, nor are suiciding farmer relatives of farmers who committed suicides - if the land is not in their name. If the land is in the name of an 80 year old man who no longer is able to work in the fields, and his 52 year old farmer son commits suicide, according to our "statistics", it is a suicide, but not a farmer suicide. Get it? So, the number of farmer suicides is from among owners of small and marginal farms strictly. While I don't have the latest statistics for this, the data from the agricultural census 2005-06 states that the number of individual marginal farmers is:

GroupIndividualJointTotal
Marginal726284571091503283543489
Small20913853298248023896333
Total9354231013897512107439822

In other words, the 14,027 deaths that have happened, have happened from among approximately 10,74,39,822 - which is about a fourth of the number of employed people.

In still other words, 0.003% of all employed people commit suicide, while 0.013% of all small/marginal farmers commit suicide. This looks like it is at least four times "normal". Damn straight that is an agrarian crisis that is being stuffed under the pretty carpet.

And this is without getting into realities that the suicide numbers are not equal across India. Want to tally farmer suicides versus farmer land owning small and marginal farmers in only five states - Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh that account for two thirds of all farmer suicides? Want to try it for the farmer suicide capital of India - Vidarbha? The percentages will be far worse.

Vidarbha: The Farmer Suicide capital of India

I was going to do it, except I can't find the land holdings records for Maharashtra. I have seen them somewhere. If I find those, expect this casual debunk to reach levels of devastation.

This is the broad logic. Specific numbers, detailed analysis, inclusions, exclusions, whatever - I'm no number juggler - may make minor differences, but they can hardly change the difference so completely that farmers suicides are the same as others. Let alone what the joker is trying to peddle - that farmer suicides are actually less than the average.

Similar one by "think tank" Takshashila goes a step further and *assumes* that 60% of the population is farmers. Yep. The assumption that 6 out of 10 people are farmers was needed to reach a point where you can say farmers aren't committing suicide any more than others. All nicely packaged as "Indians are killing themselves, while farmers are dying in Vidarbha" What does it imply? Farmers are not Indians? Non-farmers are killing themselves, but farmers are merely dying (as opposed to suicide - killing themselves)? Very cool subliminals. Wondering about the need to fight expert opinion on farmer suicides when agriculture is obviously way beyond the area of expertise or even casual knowledge.

Wiser people with numbers, please feel free to refine the calculations in comments, I'll add them as appropriate.

5

A collection of interesting quotes by various people and from a wide range of sources ranging from books to speeches and even Twitter on occasion.
misty idyll forest ukraine
misty forest in Ukraine. Image: Balkhovitin

More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity. — Francois Gautier, French writer and journalist

So, my position is just that it would be immoral of me to preach violence to anybody unless I’m prepared to pick up arms myself. But I think it is equally immoral for me to preach nonviolence when I’m not bearing the brunt of the attack. — Arundhati RoyFebruary 2011 interview with Guernica

This cocktail of religious fundamentalism and a crazed, irresponsible, unaccountable media is becoming a very serious problem, in India as well as Pakistan. I don’t know what the solution is. Certainly not censorship! — Arundhati RoyFebruary 2011 interview with Guernica

Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. — Prof. Randy Pausch,Last lecture: Achieving your childhood dreams

What other people think of you is none of your business

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. — Martin Luther King Jr

You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea. — Benazir Bhutto

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty! — Che

You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that caused the problem — Albert Einstein

Well, I would like to tell you the rat race is over. The rats have won. — P. SainathLecture: The Importance of Citizen Journalism

Growing insensitivity is often the baggage of deepening inequality. — P. SainathDregs Of Destiny

If we draw a baseline in the last Ice Age, everyone’s conditions have improved. — P. SainathDregs Of Destiny

Read the press on rural India. You’ll be struck by the fact that—in the press—the rural poor almost never speak. They invariably ‘lament’ or ‘plead’ or ‘cry’ or ‘beg’ for attention. Sometimes, they even ‘wail’ or ‘weep’. They rarely just ‘say’ things the way the rest of us do. Because we have decided that that is the way they are. — P. SainathDregs Of Destiny

How agonized we are over how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live. — P. Sainath,Globalizing Inequality

As famous last words, those rank along side the Tarzan’s “Who greased the grapevine?” — P. Sainath,Globalizing Inequality

Then there are the ideologically insane. The members of the sect have no interest in either farmers or agriculture. Only in upholding their Gospel.For them, farmers are dying because they have not been reached by free market reforms. If more of them keep dying after they are reached, it’s because the “reforms have not gone far enough.” It hangs a halo of righteousness around wanton ignorance. — P. Sainath

Always speak, write, live your highest truth. That is how you grow. And if you get lynched for it, at least you have that glow. — Vidyut

None of us can do curing. We are not medical people, we don’t deal with curing. And by the way, they can’t cure either. — Moshe Feldenkrais

No matter how ruthlessly you curb free expression, truth survives breathing in between those bruised lines. — A S Raghunath @asraghunath

The death of our civilization is no longer a theory or an academic possibility; it is the road we’re on — Peter Goldmar

i like my people like i like my coffee ~ rare beans in broken cups — Angad Chowdhry @angadc

MEDIA is a crime scene – ALWAYS take screenshots — @barbarindian

Individual victims get vilified and denied justice in a macabre tug-of-war when elephants fight comprehensive battles in the courtyards of puny mortals. — Vidyut

The opposite of consumption is not frugality, it’s generosity. — Raj Patel

When the man moves on, the woman is the slut. — Vidyut

“media objectivity” seems like a fictional concept, like the Yeti. — Srikanth R,https://twitter.com/_R_Srikanth/status/156806745061203968

Democracy runs on public debate — Subramanian Swamy

With a sudden gush of mist winter arrives, streetlights ogle with sodium eyes — Madhavan Narayanan

In a democracy if two people agree on everything then one of them is redundant. So we have to learn to agree to disagree. — Subramanian Swamy@Swamy39

You see her body. I see her courage. You see her morality. I see her priorities. — Madhavan Narayanan,@madversity https://twitter.com/madversity/statuses/138134884668542976

Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires. — Re

Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires. — Rene GirardViolent Origins

My soul would have no rainbow, if my eyes had no tears — Aisha ChaudharyThe INK Conference

My suspicion is that we as a society didn’t want any change, and didn’t have the guts to refuse to change. So we put in systems that wouldn’t work. — Vidyut

Violence in the home normalizes violence in the street and in foreign policy. — Gloria SteinemGloria Steinem on Rape in War, Its Causes, and How to Stop It

It’s been said that the woman a man most fears is the woman within himself. Men are punished by being cut off from human qualities denied to them as “feminine.” — Gloria SteinemGloria Steinem on Rape in War, Its Causes, and How to Stop It

Because we genderize the study of childrearing as “feminine” and the study of conflict and foreign policy as “masculine,” we rarely see that the first causes the second. — Gloria SteinemGloria Steinem on Rape in War, Its Causes, and How to Stop It

No society is beyond reproach or beyond repair. — Gloria SteinemGloria Steinem on Rape in War, Its Causes, and How to Stop It

We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will. — Whitney Houston

There are always alternatives. We like to pretend there are none, so that we can blame someone for our inaction. — Vidyut

Nations are composed of societies. Societies are made up of families. Families consist of people. The human being thus becomes the determining unit of life. — Vijay SimhaA Nation without mentorshttp://tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ws060711VSinsideout.asp

The one function that TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were. — David Brinkley

There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it — Bertrand Russell

If you can conceive of morality without god, why can you not conceive of society without government? — Peter Saint-André

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. — Albert Einstein

Man is certainly stark mad: he cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen. — Michel de Montaigne

Civil disobedience, that’s not our problem. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. — Howard Zinn

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. — Anatole France

When you philosophically oppose an entire power elite, you cannot help but sound like a conspiracy theorist. Social power is by nature a conspiracy. — Tom N

Our world is faced with a crisis that has never before been envisaged in its whole existence… The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe. — Albert EinsteinBulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May, 1946

To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor – sail, not drift. — Franklin D Roosevelt

The job of the editorial writer is to go down into the valley after the battle is over and shoot the wounded.— Murray KemptonNew Republic

Opinions founded on prejudice are always sustained with the greatest of violence. — Francis Jeffrey

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. — Isaac AsimovSalvor Hardin in “Foundation”

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. — John F. KennedyIn a speech at the White House, 1962

There are always survivors at a massacre. Among the victors, if nowhere else. — Lois McMaster Bujold,Ethan of Athos, 1986

A “reality” that is unjust needs to be changed, not accepted. It should be no one’s fate to be taking abuse and giving care. — Vidyut

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. — John Lennon

Everybody pities the weak. Jealousy you have to earn. — Arnold Schwarznegger

I have been in a heterosexual world all my life and I have not been influenced by heterosexuality, how do heterosexuals get influenced by my sexuality so easily? — Harish Iyer

Never mind that the British decriminalised homosexuality 46 years ago, we’ve still stuck with their ancient law with the dogged enthusiasm of an engineer on his fourteenth IIT attempt. On the bright side, the corollary to that is that it must also mean that it’s still okay to call Mumbai Bombay. — Rohan Joshi,http://www.mid-day.com/columnists/2013/dec/141213-idiot-penal-code.htm

I measure the progress of a community by the degree of freedom which women have achieved. — Babasaheb Ambedkar

Unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives. Man’s life is independent. He is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self. — Babasaheb Ambedkar

History shows that where ethics and economics come in conflict, victory is always with economics. Vested interests have never been known to have willingly divested themselves unless there was sufficient force to compel them. — Babasaheb Ambedkar

I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity. — Babasaheb Ambedkar

Indians today are governed by two different ideologies. Their political ideal set in the preamble of the Constitution affirms a life of liberty, equality and fraternity. Their social ideal embodied in their religion denies them. — Babasaheb Ambedkar

If I find the constitution being misused, I shall be the first to burn it. — Babasaheb Ambedkar

 

On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality.

In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value.

In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value.

How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions?

How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life?

If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.

— Babasaheb Ambedkar 

I do not want that our loyalty as Indians should be in the slightest way affected by any competitive loyalty whether that loyalty arises out of our religion, out of our culture or out of our language.
I want all people to be Indians first, Indian last and nothing else but Indians.
 — Babasaheb Ambedkar

 

In the Hindu religion, one can[not] have freedom of speech. A Hindu must surrender his freedom of speech. He must act according to the Vedas. If the Vedas do not support the actions, instructions must be sought from the Smritis, and if the Smritis fail to provide any such instructions, he must follow in the footsteps of the great men.
He is not supposed to reason. Hence, so long as you are in the Hindu religion, you cannot expect to have freedom of thought.

— Babasaheb Ambedkar 

Lost rights are never regained by appeals to the conscience of the usurpers,
but by relentless struggle…. Goats are used for sacrificial offerings and not lions.
 — Babasaheb Ambedkar

Free speech includes freedom to talk randomly and sound knowledgeable while being clueless. There’s a whole tribe that specialises in this. — Madhavan Narayanan