Friday October 20, 2017

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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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017

India wins the Enactus World Cup 2017

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India wins Enactus World Cup 2017. Twitter.

New Delhi, Sep 30: After an extremely tough competition between different students across the world in the Enactus World Cup 2017, Team India, represented by Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University emerged as the winner. The winning projects were project UDAAN and Mission RAAHAT.

Supporting the Government of India’s Digital India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, RAAHAT strives to effectively eliminate open defecation and provide safe sanitation in the urban slums; whereas, UDAAN aims at narrowing the digital divide between rural and urban India by setting up computer centres.

The Delhi University college team was led by the college’s faculty advisor, Anuja Mathur and student president of SSCBS Student President Aditya Sharma. The winning projects included 34 more members. The Enactus India and Enactus SSCBS were presented the Ford Better World Award of USD 50,000.

Also Read: Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

President and Global CEO, Enactus, Rachael A. Jarosh congratulated the Indian for winning the world cup and called the projects- RAAHAT and UDAAN, inspirational success stories of Enactus students, who are sowing businesses. She said that the projects address the real world challenges efficiently and innovatively. Enactus India President Farhan Pettiwala said that the two projects created by Delhi University students contribute to the country’s betterment, as they support the Government’s civil and social agenda.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organisation, with 72,000 students from 1,700 universities in 36 countries, which held its annual global event in London from September 26 to 28. A selected group of 3,500 students, business, government leaders and academicians across the globe were present at the event. Participants for the final competition round are qualified from over 72,000 university students. Each team has about 17 minutes to present their projects of entrepreneurial action.

Enactus works to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of students, and to address fundamental, social and economic challenges by developing innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.