Monday, 28 January 2013


“Sincerity is an openness of heart, we find it in very few people; what we usually see is only artful dissimulation to win the confidence of others” – La Rochefoucauld, Reflections

While signing letters we often write “Sincerely Yours”. Have you ever wondered how the word sincere evolved? The word “sincerity” indeed has an extremely interesting origin. At the height of Rome’s fame when the Tiber River was lined with noble palaces made of the choicest marble, men vied with each other in the construction of these dwellings. Immense sums of money were paid for the gifted sculptors. However some less skilled artisans resorted to deceitful tricks to maintain their position. If they accidently chipped the edges of the stone or discovered some conspicuous flaw in their carving they would fill up the chink or mask the deficiency with a specially prepared wax that looked exactly like marble. Sometimes their deception would not be discovered for months on end, until extreme heat caused the wax to melt and dislodge. Hence those who decided to erect additional mansions began to insert a clause in the contract to the effect that the work from first to the last was to be ‘sine cera’ that is “without wax”. Thus we derived our word sincere/ sincerity, which mean “to avoid any attempt to misrepresent”.
Let us then not ‘wax’ up our faults for this is not sincere! It is extremely important for all of us to be sincere, honest, and truthful in all that we say and all that we do. Very often we find it easier to shade the truth, and gloss up the facts. One of the distinguishing marks of the character of Jesus was His complete honesty. Being Truth incarnate His word can always be relied upon. It is beyond question.
White lie is one of the most common evils of our day. God cannot tolerate lies and deceitful soft soaping. He deserves within and without. Let us hence not bluff one another! Pretending to be that which we are not is living a lie. Being silent when we know the truth is also being insincere. Silence speaks and often does so very loudly!
If we are honest we will be sincere. Our God is a sincere personality and hence He lays a high premium on sincerity.
The older brother of Insincerity is Stealing. Stealing has different forms and often will not be recognized. It may be a carelessly prepared income tax return, taking a full salary for half hearted work, or even no work at all. Underpaying an employee or employing persons in jobs not corresponding to their expertise and qualifications, and then underpaying them amounts to cheating and robbing. One can be very insincere as far as promises are concerned; broken promises emerge from an insincere attitude. Keeping one waiting or going late for an appointment or for class also amounts to robbing -- robbing others of their time! All who encourage flattery; nepotism, discrimination, and bias are all different flavors of dishonesty. Pretending to be happy when the heart is in distress and worried or just the opposite are all the forms of insincerity - of nurturing the wax that glosses up the facts and the reality and are absolutely hypocritical.

“There should be more sincerity and heart inhuman relations, more silence, and simplicity in our interactions. Be rude when you’re angry, laugh when something is funny. And answer when you’re asked” ~~Anton Chekhov, Letter to A.P. Chekhov, Oct. 13, 1888.

~~ Crystal David John

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence!!

In stillness there is strength. In silence there is sound. According to Pascal most of a person’s difficulty materializes from the fact that the person is unable to sit quietly in one’s chamber.

All of us need silence to work,to reflect, to meet with oneself. Only by reflecting do we get to surpass exigent problems. Silence helps us think and meditate. Silence tends to challenge us, for in silence we actually face ourselves, and we have no cover - ups – such as words, and noise, and loud music. For the ones who can’t face themselves, noise is a balm – as escape mechanism to run from oneself!

In this world of addictive noise, words, and activity, it is a solace to withdraw into silence. Yes and in a crowd one can do so. In the din of the world one can acquire peace in silence! It is a wonderful experience to withdraw from the obsession of the clamour and clatter of the world. It is also the time we move away from all our inner obligations . Hence when we are quiet and tranquil, we withdraw from our own inner duress – from others’ expectations and our own cravings. If we are silent when we have to be, we will get the right words to speak. As Bonheoffer says "right words come out of right silence, and right silence comes out of right words. Yes there must be a healthy interaction between the right words and right silence."

St. Isaac of Nineveh, who wrote in Syriac, towards the end of the seventeenth century, clearly extolled the strength in silence. This is what he wrote: “Many are avidly seeking, but they alone find who remain in continual silence…Every man who delights in multitude of words, even though he says admirable things, is empty within.”

Talking of the value of silence Mother Teresa pointed out - -“See how nature, the trees, the flowers, the grass grow in perfect silence – see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”  It is imperative that we nurture the habit of resting in silence, for in restlessness and, the din of the world there can be neither growth nor fruition.

Yet the clamour and noise of our competitive driven consumerist society deafens and paralyzes us. For some of us God is deaf! For others their friends and colleagues are hard of hearing, and for still other all are deaf. For such folks the whole world will get to know all that has happened to them the previous day, week, month, year or even their entire lifespan!!! Such are the folks who suffer from verbal diarrhea!

Noise is highly destructive and isolates persons; it beats constantly on ones eardrums and drastically reduces efficiency in any work environment. Noise causes stress and nervousness for the one who is a victim to the all pervasive barrage of words! In addition it has the discomfiture of tearing one’s heart apart, away from one self. Yes, we in India are truly citizens of a NOISY DEMOCRACY, creators, and perpetrators of sonorous pollution, besides visual, corporal, material, and environmental pollution. Our productivity will surely increase if there is less clatter around us. However our competence can still be augmented, if the quiet around us is complemented by inner peace and stillness. Inner stillness is necessary if we are to be in perfect control of our faculties. There can be no stillness without regulation, and order of external silence can help us towards that inner serenity that is so indispensable. Stillness within an individual can beyond measure, positively influence society. A convent comes into being because some fine women see how wonderful a thing silence can be. Little things like respect for another’s space, freedom, right to think and work in peace, can be a great blessing indeed!

 People have rights, and one right is the right to silence. Let no one tread on this right, and all others of others! It often shows an excellent authority over language, to desist from using it!

However, an outer garb of tranquility may be very deceptive to others, if the person is in turmoil within. Stillness and silence hence, is not a certification for true tranquility. Sometimes silence speaks volumes and, at other times it is cowardly to remain so. The right balance is needed, as in all else.

Noise, vapid tranquility, and turmoil within  the outer array of silence and peace are the intricate forms of noise pollution that pervades our very existence and rends our hearts asunder. The noise of senseless sounds and the stillness of senseless silence are a bane to our society!

~~Crystal David John

Monday, 21 January 2013


Solomon has wondered about the way of an eagle in the sky. For him it was marvelous to simply watch the bird soar in the blue sky way above the mundane activities at ground level. In Proverbs chapter 30 verses 18 and 19 he states how the way of the eagle in the sky is truly awe inspiring!

Soaring never simply happens. It is the result of strong mental effort - thinking clearly, courageously, confidently and working with determination. No one can ever get out of mediocrity by being lazy. The person who has achieved excellence is the person who has won the battle of the mind and taken captive the correct thoughts. These persons are like the active pen that flows with ink and not like the passive blotter that just sits and soaks up what others do. The world is full of people who give up very easily. What if our Savior was such a person? God still works in and on us. So often it must be so disappointing for Him but he never gives up on us!

Those who aim high are like the strong willed eagle. They are above petty skepticism, or negativism of the majority. Jesus was a person such as this. In everything He did as He sojourned the earth was perfect. We worship a perfect God, who plans everything in His creation. Hence we too must be as meticulous as He is. Even looking at the smallest insect we notice God’s perfect work in it, and He has meant for us to excel like the eagle that soars up in the sky.

Look at the ugly caterpillar. It will remain ugly and spend its life groveling in the dirt if it did not have the perseverance to weave a house around itself and remain quiet inside the cocoon, when metamorphosis takes place. How ever when the caterpillar emerges out of its self built home there is a great struggle. If at this juncture it asked for help or someone attempted to help it out of sheer empathy it would have been maimed for life. For excellence God’s will sure must be honored. Things must be worked out totally according to His plan. Then and only then can we steer clear off mediocrity. Let us also remember that excellence just does not happen. It is not talent. The eagle works at soaring high, and it is the will of God that it perseveres.

Hence we should never be satisfied with mediocrity. We worship an excellent meticulous awesome God and His standards are high. As Christians therefore we must excel in every walk of life.

~~Crystal  David John 

Friday, 11 January 2013


A matchless growth of the economies of the world and the vast exploitation of resources has led to an ecological crisis.  This crisis has dawned upon us only recently. It is a proven fact that the world over development has in varied ways eaten itself up. While all are affected by the ecological crisis, the life of the poor, the women and other under privileged groups are largely impoverished. It is the correlation with ecological crisis and exploitation of women that ecofeminism attempts to highlight. The domination of women is interconnected with the domination of nature. Women are largely identified with nature, earth and matter – all of which are inferior as compared to culture that is identified with men. It is nothing else but the power of mind over body as in the philosophy set for us by Descartes the French Philosopher.

Ecofeminism grew out of various social movements – feminist peace and ecology movements in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The term ‘Ecofeminism’ was first used by Francoise D’ Eaubonne but became popular with the growing number of protests against environmental destruction that were triggered off by ecological disasters. The first position argues that particularly equates women to nature and hence in order to understand environmental problems a feminist analysis is best suited. Where women are degraded, nature will also be destroyed and abused. When women are ever giving and nurturing nature will be endlessly exploited as it is looked upon as endlessly fertile.
The ecofeminist argument is therefore based on the ideological fact that women and nature should not be placed hierarchically below men. It is because of such a patriarchal pact that development – much of which is over development has led to the suppression of the voiceless – marginalized groups, women and nature.
The addiction with consumption that has been intensely increased due to globalization has intensified exploitation. Material progress is in the driver’s seat and this kind of driving, a chasing behind development goals leads us nowhere, except to a position of total abuse of all that can be subjugated.  It is against this kind of a development paradigm that ecofeminism raises its voice. Maria Mies calls this the ‘Myth of catching up Development’ and she states clearly that it has no where led to the desired goals. Other writers too have echoed this opinion. They have highlighted the fact that the poverty of the under-developed countries is not because of ‘natural’ lagging behind, but a direct result of the overdevelopment of the rich industrial countries who exploit the so called periphery in Africa, South America and Asia. According to Mies, the relationship between the overdeveloped industrial countries and the underdeveloped fringe countries is a colonial one – a colonial relationship between man and nature, men and women, and between urban and rural areas.
The secret of unlimited growth is based on this colonial relationship which is not a partnership but a relationship of force and violence by the colonizer of the colonized. Ecofeminism recognizes this power relationship as the main cause of exploitation and squalor of the natural environment and women. This has led to the escalating marginalization of the weaker sections and to the widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots. The tragedy however is that the haves continue to amass wealth at the expense of the have-nots. Globalization and its impact has been both positive and negative, but the negative impact is borne disproportionately by women, the environment and other vulnerable groups.
Are we not then on the wrong path? We pursue the so called growth horizon, yet find ourselves discontented. This is nothing but the Easterlin Paradox named after Richard A. Easterlin who explained this contradiction. The contradiction as he stated refers to the phenomenon that once basic human needs are met (food, shelter, community stability, etc) human happiness does not quantitatively increase with financial gain. It is fundamental that students and the youth are taught this. The more we run behind wealth and all that growth has to offer us, the more apprehensive we get, the less time we have and more we deprive others of not even acquiring their basic needs. What we are then left with is a set of people/countries that have too much and are not happy, and the other set of people and countries that do not have enough and are not happy!
 The modern pursuit of capital accumulation, production and consumption patterns have to be abandoned. Social values of sharing have to be encouraged. The model as advocated by ecofeminists is rooted in a new vision of a non-exploitative, non-colonial, non-patriarchal society which respects, not destroys nature. Let us help turn this vision into our mission!

                                                            ~~~Crystal David John

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Knowledge is based on experience and experience is never gender neutral. Hence it is imperative that any body of knowledge must be inclusive of the experiences of the entire human population. Looking at the experience of only one half of the human race leads to the generation of fractional knowledge. Economics is a victim, so to say, of such partial knowledge, much of its analysis being largely a reflection of men’s experiences and an echo of men’s voices. In short Economics is largely androcentric and has been profoundly prejudiced by the ‘high value’ masculine attitude. This is evident from the very assumptions in the subject which is then bolstered together by male centered methodology.

Economics is based on the concept of cut throat competition and is obsessed with the profit motive. The classical writers like Adam Smith defined the capitalist market system and spoke vividly about the market mechanism which was termed the operation of the ‘invisible hand’…well the title of my article however does not suggest the working of this invisible hand (which is nothing but the price/market mechanism) which drives every decision in the jungle of wild competitors. What I intend to highlight is the working of the invisible economy which operates because of the invisible hands that drives it. No one sees them work - a population largely taken for granted, sidelined and under-represented in the national income accounts. Well I mean none other than THE WOMAN.
Since much of women’s labour is not marketed and economics specializes in the market economy, they get sidelined. They “labour for love” and this labour cannot be monetized. However the very fact that women work in this manner enables the man to be the bread winner. This however is not recognized. If these women did not exist or did no such labour out of love all household work like cooking caring cleaning (the therefore three Cs), or work such as provisioning for food fodder and fuel(the three Fs) would have to be paid for. Technically speaking therefore women are providing what one can term as LMC or Lifetime Maintenance Contract for their families. If it were not for the social costs they bear it would become extremely expensive for the man to be the breadwinner. In the real world there is a constant interplay between the production economy and the economy concerned with rendering reproduction, care and human welfare. Diane Elson has fittingly defined this, “we have two economies: the economy in which people earn wages in order to produce things to be sold on the market or financed through taxation. This is the economy based on goods, which every one considers ‘the economy’. On the other hand we have the veiled economy, the invisible one, the one devoted to care” What separates the two economies is the fact that domestic work is tremendously unwieldy to compute. Such work is generally carried out by girls and women inside the house and is only indirectly connected to the market. It is synchronized by ideologies, traditional, cultural and religious norms and of the society and is not assigned any pecuniary value. Household work is largely indivisible and not paid for. Indivisibility is coupled with patriarchal ideologies wherein only women are allocated the responsibility of providing the nurture and maintenance of the household. All such work which forms the major part of the embodiment of human capital is not accounted for at all - after all it is embodiment that flows from love, and love will not remain love if it is monetized!!!
Further even if they work for wages it is largely in the unorganized sector where again there are lacunae in the counting of the work done by them. Women hence get left out since much of their labour is contributed to the unorganized sector. It is non remunerative as there is an abundance of such labour available to perform such tasks freely. Very often women are the major or the only breadwinners in their families. However the meaning of the term worker tends to omit part time and seasonal workers, hence such women get counted out. These women are therefore veiled in data as portrayed by Ela Bhatt when she coined the term ‘Statistical Purdah’ to explain how women workers are under counted by the census and NSSO operations in India. These are the invisible hands in reality!! Not the market mechanism as promulgated by Adam Smith! Women’s work has always been looked at as secondary. Workers who earn just pin money. Yet without this contribution many a home will crumble under the yoke of insufficient finance. Many a home will come to a stand still if these invisible hands stop working! But ‘love’ will not stop these hands! Should I say love that is voluntary or love that is imposed artificially by moral cultural and traditional codes!
For most people and also the average enumerators women normally are housewives even if they work outside their homes for wages. Though the Census the NSSO and the ILO have widened the definition of the worker to include many tasks done by women, yet the mindset of such officials and policy makers needs total overhauling! There has to be the consciousness within these data office workers, as well as theorists and policy makers to recognize and accept women as equally productive workers. There has to be a revolution in the thinking process of both men and women.
If the working of the invisible hand is extolled on a pedestal in the Smithian system, is it not just and fair that these INVISIBLE HANDS are also duly recognized, for the work they do to keep the cogs of the economy functioning smoothly?

Dr. Crystal David John
Post Graduate Head
Dept. of Economics
Stella Maris College
Chennai 600 086