Tuesday February 20, 2018

Bob Marley: Musical icon who bridged world boundaries through Rastafari spirituals

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By Gaurav Sharma

Renowned for his soul uplifting music through which he pierced the barriers and segregations splintering the human race with spontaneous ease, Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, was an artist par excellence.

Behind the curtain of artistry, though, was a man grounded in a deep spiritual tradition. A societal non-conformist, Bob Marley was an experience to be gained by the consciousness, not merely to be understood by the deluding mind.

Born in a Catholic family, Marley’s inclination starting bending towards Rastafari beliefs when he moved back to Jamaica after working as a lab assistant in the US district of Du Pont, Delaware.

The Rastafarian Way

Started in the 1930s, Rastafari is primarily an Abrahamic religion, whose followers worship a single God who they refer to as Jah, a term synonymous with the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as mentioned in the King James Bible.

However, Rastafarianism differs from the Biblical religion in that it believes that half of the Biblical story has not been told.

Rafataris believe Haile Selassie I (Ras Tafari Makonnen), the emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 to be the incarnation of Christ, and his message irrevocably revolved around Pan-Afrocentrism; the unification of the African continent which was being plundered by foreign rule during that time.

During a 1963 United Nations speech, which provided the inspiration behind Marley’s song War, Selassie clearly elucidated the Rastafarian ideologue as an all-inclusive way of life:

Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; That until the colour of a  man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.

Marley as a Rastafari Musician

Reggae, the genre of music for which Marley was most widely known for, incorporated elements of Rastafarianism. It started generating in Jamaica in the late 1960’s and was further popularized when Marly expanding it from the socially deprived areas to the international music arena.

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When asked by a scribe what it means to be a Rastafarian, Marley candidly answered:

I would say to the people, Be still, and know that His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is the Almighty. Now, the Bible seh so, Babylon newspaper seh so, and I and I the children seh so. Yunno? So I don’t see how much more reveal our people want. Wha’ dem want? a white God, well God come black. True true.(Bob Marley biography by Steven Davis).

Marley’s songs were directed towards inspiring people to fight for who they are as a person, crawling out of the “mental slavery” imposed by the richer and more privileged sections of the society.

To divide and rule could only tear us apart;

In everyman chest, mm – there beats a heart.

So soon we’ll find out who is the real revolutionaries;

And I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.

These ennobling words of Marley in the powerful song Zimbabwe, best define him as freedom fighter, a liberating revolutionary.

Such clarion calls for looking within one’s heart are further echoed in songs such as Exodus; an appeal to the people of Jah or God to evade the elusive wealth of the West by styming the flow of mass migration.

Open your eyes and look within:

Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?

We know where we’re going;

We know where we’re from.

Marley–The Cannabis Lover– symbolic of Indian Sadhus

Marley was an advocate of Marijuana legalization, a move which drew suspicious glances from the West at the time but has now been happily adopted by major states in the United States such as Colorado, Washington and New Jersey.

The federal prohibition on medical marijuana was further ended by the Obama administration in December 2014.

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For Marley, smoking herb was as natural as grass is to cow. But he attributed spiritual phenomenon to the plant and considered it a sacrament that cleanses the mind and the body, exalts consciousness and brings it closer to Jah or God.

The Indo-Carribean Ganja(a generic name for Cannabis) sacrament, however, has its roots connected with the importation of Indians.(Campbell 110).

In fact, the Rastafari’s fondness for cannabis bears uncanny resemblance to the ascetic Indian Sadhus love for smoking Ganja in chillums ( a pipe for smoking). The dreadlocks borne by Marley is further symbolic of the Sadhus concept of Jata, a vow not to cut something as natural as hair and as sacred as inherent energy in human beings..

Both believe that the smoking of the herb awakens one to religious growth, making one wiser and more receptive of one’s own nature and becoming closer to God or Jah.

“When you smoke herb, herb reveal yourself to you. All the wickedness you do, the herb reveal itself to yourself, your conscience, show up yourself clear, because herb make you meditate. Is only a natural t’ing and it grow like a tree”, revealed an enlightened Marley.

Football Fanatic

Apart from music, Marley was a football aficionado. Playing the game in parking lots, fields and even recording studios, Marley was a keen follower of the Brazilian club Santos and its superstar Pele.

Allan Cole, another famous football personality once became his tour manager, such was his passion for the sport.

The craze for football so defined his life that when a journalist wanted to know about Marley, he forthrightly asserted, ““If you want to get to know me, you will have to play football against me and the Wailers.”

Death and Legacy

Marley died of cancer in July 1977. Decades after his death, Marley’s message continues to reverberate through his pristine songs.

The youth and sections of society which have been disillusioned and isolated by the societal formation, particularly seek solace in Marley’s soul-stirring musical lyrics.

For example, the indigenous communities such as the aboriginals of Australia continue to honor his memory by burning a sacred flame in Sydney’s Victoria Park.

Numerous documentaries have been directed on Marley’s life, with the iconic Rastafari symbol of Red, Gold and Green transforming into a global sensation in the form of countless merchandize.

Throughout India, many restaurants, festivals and shops organize themselves on Bob Marley’s ideals of freedom and moving beyond petty labels and isms.

Words fall short while accurately deciphering the enigma that was Marley. Perhaps, the then Prime Minister Edward Seaga’s own words eulogize Marley most befittingly, ”Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter.”

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Copyright 2015 NewsGram

  • Taneesha Culture Clash Thomas

    Bob Marley died on May 11th 1981…How could such a fact be so clearly misrepresented in this article?

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How telecom has become driver of economic change in India

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The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front.
The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. Wikimedia Commons
  • India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution
  • The sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991
  • India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world

For the most part of human history, the change was glacial in pace. It was quite safe to assume that the world at the time of your death would look pretty much similar to the one at the time of your birth. That is no longer the case, and the pace of change seems to be growing exponentially. Futurist Ray Kurzweil put it succinctly when he wrote in 2001: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” Since the time of his writing, a lot has changed, especially with the advent of the internet.

India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution. The country’s hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. In fact, according to Reserve Bank of India data, the sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991, growing by over 10 percent. On the other hand, no other sector has had a productivity growth of above five percent during the same period. It is no wonder that it has also been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Indian economy, growing at over seven percent in the last decade itself.

Also Read: Social Media in India: Understanding The Dynamics of ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’

Such an unprecedented pace of growth has been brought about the precise levels of change that Kurzweil was so enthusiastic about. Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Meanwhile, India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world, which has hit rock bottom after the entry of Reliance Jio. This has ensured access to those even at the bottom of the pyramid.

A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country.
A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. Wikimedia Commons

Even though consumers have come to be accustomed to fast-paced changes within the telecom sector, the entry of Jio altered the face of the industry like never before by changing the very basis of competition. Data became the focal point of competition for an industry that derived over 75 percent of its revenue from voice. It was quite obvious that there would be immediate economic effects due to it. Now that we’re nearing a year of Jio’s paid operations, during which time it has even become profitable, we saw it fit to quantify its socio-economic impact on the country. Three broad takeaways need to be highlighted.

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First, the most evident effect has been the rise in affordability of calling and data services. Voice services have become practically costless while data prices have dropped from an average of Rs 152 per GB to lower than Rs 10 per GB. Such a drastic reduction in data prices has not only brought the internet within the reach of a larger proportion of the Indian population but has also allowed newer segments of society to use and experience it for the first time. Since the monthly saving of an average internet user came out to be Rs 142 per month (taking a conservative estimate that the consumer is still using 1 GB of data each month) and there are about 350 million mobile internet users in the country (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data), the yearly financial savings for the entire country comes out to be Rs 60,000 crore.

To put things in perspective, this amount is more than four times the entire GDP of Bhutan. Therefore, mere savings by the consumer on data has been at astonishing proportions.

Today's smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons
Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons

Now, this data has been used for services that have brought to life a thriving app economy within the country. So, the second level of impact has been in the redressal of a variety of consumer needs — ranging from education, health and entertainment to banking. For instance, students in remote areas can now access online courseware and small businesses can access newer markets. Information asymmetry has been considerably reduced.

Third, a rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. These effects arise not merely from the creation of an internet economy, but also due to the synergy effects it generates. Information becomes more accessible and communication a lot easier. Businesses find it easier to operate and access consumers. Labour working in cities has to make less frequent trips home and becomes more productive as a result. Education and health services become available in inaccessible locations. Multiple avenues open up for knowledge and skill enhancement.

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An econometric analysis for the Indian economy showed that the 15 percent increase in internet penetration due to Jio and the spill-over effects it creates will raise the per capita levels of the country’s GDP by 5.85 percent, provided all else remains constant.

Thus, India’s telecom sector will continue to drive the economy forward, at least in the short run, and hopefully catapult India into 20,000 years of progress within this century, as Kurzweil postulated. The best approach for the state would be to ensure the environment of unfettered competition within the industry. Maybe other sectors of the economy ought to take a leaf out of the telecom growth story. The Indian banking sector comes to mind. However, that is a topic for another day. (IANS)

(Amit Kapoor is Chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. He can be contacted at Amit. Kapoor@competitiveness.in and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, a senior researcher at the institute, has contributed to the article.)