Whither Indian Businesses?

Where are things headed for for the ordinary citizen in India?

2.The mounting  greed, the dwindling respect for and fear of the law of land and ability   of the resourceful to get away with high handed behaviour vis-a-vis their victims has emboldened some unscrupulous businesses to ask their clients who have invested lakhs with them trusting their past record, to sign away their legal rights in their favour on pain of jeopardizing the investments or having to undergo tortuous legal processes involving expense of huge amounts of money and years of their life.

3. It is a universal every day practice that when a purchaser intends to buy a manufactured or constructed product, the seller offers guarantees of good quality and undertakes to repair or rectify or even replace the product free of cost during a specified period of warranty if the products fails on the quality test. If satisfied with such assurances, the buyer pays up and gets possession of the product. A renowned builder in India (namely DLF India ) obviously unsure about the quality of products it offers in its project DLF Valley, Panchkula,  has come up with an innovation unworthy of an ethical entity. It offers products, say residential flats, realises full money for them before completion and when ready and after realising every penny of his cost (and more) invites the customer who had trusted him with his money and patience over the  time taken to build, to take possession of the product but – here is the twist – only if he is ready to sign an indemnity on a stamped notarized paper saying that:” I confirm and acknowledge that I am completely satisfied  with respect to the overall construction quality and amenities/facilities provided by the company in the said colony and the flat and  shall not have any claim against the company in this regard”. Now, if the purchaser is not satisfied with the quality of construction and does not want to sign away his rights, he is denied possession of the property he has paid for and waited to own for years.I can state from personal experience that not only  written requests of such a purchaser for relaxation of the condition for signing the indemnity  are not taken cognizance of, he is kept bombarded with notices that since he is not taking possession of his property, he is liable for further penalties like imposition of holding charges , cleaning & maintenance charges etc. In other words, the dissenter not only gets stuck with his investment for an indefinite period but is also threatened with other extortion. Many of the customer who are more worried about the immediate impact like loss of immediate possession and  having their investment blocked for an indefinite period, sign on the dotted line. But, in the process they not only encourage such malpractices by sellers but also  help further loosen the moral fabric . They also suffer many personal irritants & even financial losses arising out of their voluntary surrender of their right for legitimate  claims.

4. It is a matter of amazement how a company can dare to enact a rule like this for its customers in a country like India where law making authority is a preserve of the legislatures. One reason may be that it is not within the purview of any administrative authority to act in the case of such aberrations. Courts of law are the only resort – to the great consolation of the offending Companies because of the excruciatingly time consuming legal processes which deter citizens from approaching courts unless absolutely necessary. The Government ought to nominate an administrative authority to act in such cases when brought to its notice. Such authority and the  courts ought also to take suo moto cognizance of such company framed regulations which make a mockery of consumer protection laws. If some such steps are not taken immediately, more and more companies will feel encouraged to frame self-serving regulations leading to ultimate demise of trust in Companies.

 

 

 

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The Theory of Evolution

Shri  Satyapal Singh, ex Police Commissioner of Mumbai and presently  minister of State in the Human Resources Development Ministry in India’s Central Government made a statement  at an event  in Aurangabad the other day that “Darwin’s  theory of evolution is scientifically wrong. It needs to change  in school and college curricula”.

Some members of the scientific community in India have taken  umbrage to the minister’s statement saying that the “minister’s lack of knowledge is shocking”.

In my view as a layman, the strong reaction of the scientists betrays a lack of scientific temper. Science does not command blind following.

The theory of evolution, in fact, has never received universal acceptance. No religion supports it and few thinkers in other fields of human thought have been enthusiastic about it. It remains a theory which has not been scientifically disproved.  It finds a respectful place in scientific literature including school and college text books without any organised challenge by other schools of thought.

Any scientific finding has to succeed on certain established parameters which include observation, research and experimentation. This theory cannot be experimentally tested. Observation no doubt shows various species co-existing , one seemingly an improved version of the other, such as monkey and man,  but it cannot be conclusively stated as to whether the improved version is the result of unguided mutations or evolution, or a deliberate different version to satisfy different needs or purposes. In ordinary human endeavour, when an improved version of any product is successfully developed, the older version of the product is allowed to go defunct. But that has not happened as part of evolution. The newer versions continue to co-exist with the older ones and have their own independent  roles. Wherever any species has become extinct, it was not because a newer version had been evolved. Nature cannot be accused of being wasteful and developing multiple versions unnecessarily.  Or do the scientists think the universe is a developing anarchy?

Another feature of this theory is that it finds no practical application in life. So it does no harm and is not seriously questioned. But the over enthusiastic Indian scientists must give some space to those who have different ideas.

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. New India

 

The resounding win of his party in the elections to the largest State in the heart of India, Uttar Pradesh, made the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi  revive the talk about a New India. In a radio talk on Sunday, March 26, the Prime Minister said: “It is neither a government scheme nor a political party’s manifesto nor a project. It is the essence of  the emotions of 125 crore Indians wanting to come together  and create a magnificent India” He further added “when there is talk of New India, its criticism, its analysis and its counter views  are natural…… But it is true that if 125 crore Indians resolve, the dream of New India can be fulfilled in our life time”.

2.  I wish to state that as far as the people of India are concerned, the yearning for a new India has always been there. They fought the battle of freedom from Britain and made all the sacrifices for a new India. When the country won its Independence in 1947, the people naturally hoped that a new India would emerge. But the people were badly let down by those who inherited political power from the British. Not only the same administrative structure was continued, there was no attempt to change the mind set of those manning the structure. There  was so little palpable change that people  in the course of time brought themselves round to accept the reality  that only colour of skin of the rulers had changed and new India  would remain a dream. The situation has persisted for the past 70 years though the people have tried to extract some positive outcomes during the years through the power of voting. I do believe that Narendra Modi is one such positive outcome.

3. The Prime Minister has said that New India is not a government project nor a party manifesto. Yet it appears to me that from the common peoples’ point of view, the first pre-requisite of a new India has to be the installation of an administrative (including police) structure that cares and works for the people. The present set-up is practically unresponsive to peoples’ needs and aspirations.. This is obvious from the thousands who turn up at the Janata Darbars held by various Chief Ministers, Ministers and representations in hundreds of thousands received by the Prime Minister daily. When Mr. Arvind Kejriwal tried to hold a Janata Darbar on  taking over as Chief Minister of Delhi in 2015, there was virtual stampede with hundreds of thousands turning up. The adminstrations are also not upto their primary task of securing compliance with laws for whatever reason. It turns out, for example, that abattoirs shut down in UP on taking over   of the  new BJP Government were functioning illegally for years. Other illegal activities also continue under the nose of the administrators and the police who obviously wait for political signals before  doing what their duty otherwise calls for.

4. Another pre-requisite for a new India is delivery of justice in reasonable time. In this regard, the less said the better as far as the present situation in India, after 70 years of Independence is concerned.It can be no body’s case that mere resolve of the people can solve this problem. Only a concerted effort by the Government and the judiciary can do so. The same can also be said about the problem of corruption in services and by politicians. In fact, the emergence of new India calls for a host of other endeavours  by the Government, like the creation of infra-structures, reform in education, pro-growth economic policies that a mere resolve by the people cannot bring about.

5.The political parties have not covered themselves with glory in the matter of transforming India . The responsibility for  failure to reform the administration and the  police can be safely laid at the door of the politicians. It is to be hoped that the 2014 election to Lok Sabha and 2017 election to UP assembly will prove the turning point.The intention of the Prime Minister in transforming India cannot be doubted. It is to be hoped that the purification of political parties will get a push and the rest will hopefully follow.

 

 

 

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mmam in 2015 on taking over as Delhimanifesto.

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Discrimination hits all

An unfortunate suicide by a   Jawaharlal Nehru University scholar,  named Muthukrishnan, was reported on Monday this  13th March. His being a Dalit  revived memories of another suicide by a Dalit scholar, Rohith Vermula, in another University  over a year ago. But while the latter (Rohith) had been involved in various controversies,  agitations and confrontations with the University authorities and rival student union for more than a year,  the former (Muthukrishnan)  had (happily, it seems) participated in Holi celebrations that morning and later departed for the residence of a friend  to have lunch.  On reaching his friend’s house , he complained of sleep deprivation having worked on his assignment till late at night, latched into a room ostensibly to have some sleep but was later found hanging to death.

2.  His being a Dalit was initially held to be a coincidence by his fellow hostelers , students and teachers. His fellow students even appealed  that the matter be not politicized. However, his father, suspected foul play (not discrimination) due to the position of his son’s body and wanted a case to be registered invoking provisions in the SC/ST Act  A student’s Union, BAPSA, also  jumped in claiming that the deceased faced casteism wthout giving any concrete instances.The police did register a case and are investigating it from all angles.The politicians and some intellectuals did not fail to perform their act and hit out at the authorities for the happening giving the issue a Dalit hue.

3. Muthukrishnan’s life story is nothing short of being inspiring the way he, in spite of being born to very poor parents,  battled/ struggled relentlessly to educate himself. He raised money by doing menial jobs, “saving like ants”, even went hungry on occasions and ultimately managed to qualify for the PhD course in JNU  after facing repeated failures in his post graduate exams and admission tests to JNU. During all these struggles, he must have faced various kinds of discrimination. But obviously, he was not the one to give up. Obviously,he did not go through all this to one day end his own life when he was very near his goal. The police have, therefore, done well to decide to investigate his death from all angles.

4. Casteism is a fact of life in India. Not only Dalits but all castes suffer discrimination in one form or the other socially.However, discrimination against Dalits was the severest historically.  They were even treated as untouchables. However, on attaining independence, India took vigorous steps to put the situation right. Not only was any kind of discrimination against Dalits made unlawful and severely punishable, the Constitution of the country also provided for reservations in government jobs and in institutions of higher education for Dalits to accelerate their economic advancement.Apart from reservations, eligibility conditions were also relaxed in their favour.  Dalits have been enjoying the benefits of these provisions for well over 65 years and have in the mean-while reached high positions in governments (like  Ministers and high officials) and in all other spheres. We now have Dalits in high positions in all spheres like judiciary, medicine, education, engineering, science etc. They are also enjoying benefits of reservations in institutions of higher education equipping them for good status in life.

5.  Yet whenever any thing untoward happens to a Dalit  in an individual capacity in  government service or in an educational institution, attempts are made to politicise the issue and make it appear that the problem has arisen just because the individual is a Dalit. We are presently having a very extra-ordinary case of a High Court judge . Justice Karnan, who, faced with issues of his functioning as a judge, has accused Chief Justices of Madras and Calcutta High Courts and seven judges of Supreme Court of acting against him because he is a Dalit. This is a  practice that many Dalit persons adopt when sought to be  proceeded against for  any individual lapse. This attitude is, however, likely to weaken the legislation intended to protect Dalits as a class.

6.  The need is for all concerned to act responsibly. Every issue should be dealt with on merit.. Dalits should realise that discrimination is a part of life and does not affect Dalits alone.Suicides have also been committed by other students e.g.in Kota.  Come to think of it, do the reservations in favour of Dalits not constitute a kind of discrimination against others? Every thing has to be considered in the context of its effect on and in the interest of the Society and the country as a whole.

 

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Is Democracy Divisive?

India is the largest democracy in the world. The country has a bewilderingly multifaceted  demographic profile. The country  is peopled by followers of several religions including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism & Jains.  While Hindus constitute over 80% of the population and Muslims over 13%, the followers of other religions too have significant presence and political relevance in pockets. While this religious  divergence has its political dynamics, the situation is made more volatile by the division of Hindu society into thousands of castes and sub-castes.. Of these , certain castes, listed by the Government as scheduled castes are historically oppressed and deprived due to  social discrimination. These constitute a little over 16% of the population. Then there are scheduled tribes comprising a little over 8% of the population who are also historically backward. The Indian Constitution, recognising the need for special measures for accelerated economic and social uplift of these historically deprived classes, provided for reservation in government jobs (at recruitment stage) and in higher educational institutions roughly in proportion to their component in the population viz. 15% and 7.5%.for a period of 10 years from 1952. This period, however, proved to o little and has been extended from time to time and the reservation continues till now.

2. Apart from the division into religions,castes and communities, the country is also divided on linguistic basis. Boundaries of different states in the Union have been determined on a linguistic basis. Language has become an important factor in Indian demographics. People become emotional as much on issues of language as on issues of religion/caste/community.

3. It is expected that each religious, caste and linguistic group will have its own special or unique interest, some times in conflict with the interests of other   groups. The multiplicity of groupings and their interests in India occasionally manifests itself in conflicts, localised or pan-India. The conflict over Babri Masjid and construction of a temple  for Hindu Lord Ram at the same location, for example, has,   persisted for several decades and has given rise to several bloody riots and disturbances at several places in the country. Economic issues have also been at the root of major upheavals with significant segments of population facing each other.

4. Unemployment being  a dominant and distressing problem in the country, some major conflicts have centred around this issue. Taking a cue from the constitutional provision for reservations for scheduled castes and tribes, various caste groupings started raising demands for reservations in governments jobs on grounds of being backward. With struggles assuming law and order  dimensions and a Commission, named Mandal Commission,   . recommending reservations for some castes termed as ‘other backward castes’, the Government conceded the demand. and thus opened flood gates for similar demands from more caste groupings, such as Jats in Haryana , Uttar{Pradesh & Rajasthan and Patels in Guajrat.(which were not included in the original OBC list)  The agitations by Jats and Patels , who are viewed as relatively prosperous groups, claimed reservations on grounds of being backward, caused huge law and order problems, claimed a number of lives and huge destruction of public property.

5.Times when people were exhorted  to ask “not what the country can do for you but what you can do for the country” are long past. The democratic nature of governance perhaps encourages people to think that it is for the government to sort out and solve all problems. What is worse, people demanding solution of problems do not even wish to compromise and make space. Examples are river water disputes in the country. Punjab pledges to spare not a drop of water for Haryana, never mind how Haryana will manage. Similarly,  various caste groups demanding reservations do not care whether any thing is left for those not entitled to reservations.

6. But are the people to blame or their leaders? I think the leaders have a greater responsibility since they know that people are emotional when it comes to matters of religion, caste, language or state. In fact most leaders exploit this fact.  The leaders in the government, who have it in their power to take decisions on demands raised, also represent particular party or parties,  have to safeguard interests of their own party by ensuring not only that the continuance of their party government is not threatened  but is also ensured in the next election. Decisions  taken with such factors in mind are not necessarily in overall interest always. This is why the judiciary has had to step in several times to reverse the decisions of the elected governments.

7. In India, particularly since independence, political parties have tended to be formed  around religious, caste, linguistic or regional lines apparently as it was found that the sectional interests are better safeguarded, served and promoted by having parties on these lines.      This approach has thrown up many  narrow minded leaders and divided people into fragmented groups. Parties aspiring to form governments have to  do a lot of tight rope walking to win the support of as many sectional groups as they can and do a lot of balancing acts after they get elected. A lot of fire fighting has also to be done to curb or contain sectional conflicts which continue to flare up from time to time.

8. While democracy in India has thus resulted in some divisiveness among  people it goes greatly to the credit of people at large that the federal character of the country has been maintained . This underlines the over-riding nationalist mind-set of the people which involves keeping the country united even while keeping alive some conflicts of sectional nature. However, these sectional conflicts cause considerable damage to life and property and what is required is to revive the spirit of give and take and to revert to ” ask what I can do for the country rather than what the country can do for me.”.

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2. Democracy is essentially a game of numbers. Those who command the support of majority

get to fo

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Pitfalls of Democracy

We in India take pride in the country being a democracy though some aspects of how it works in our country also shame us. We have political parties, each of whom is supposed to have a political ideology based on which they are supposed to have their cadres, or grass root workers and memberships culminating in executives and controlling leaders at the apex.

2. Pursuit of power (which they prefer to refer to as service to the people) through elections held periodically to form the government, is the avowed purpose of the political parties. Political activity during the interregnum between two elections is kept abuzz by those in opposition through organising protests/agitations/demonstrations against policies and actions of the ruling party while those in the ruling party organise counter demonstrations to defend the policies and actions of the ruling party. In organising such demonstrations/agitations, the cadres and members of the parties concerned play an active part in mobilising support of the public at large. The cadres and members thus play a vital role in sustaining public support for the respective parties.

3. Naturally and obviously, all cadres aspire to share the pie if and when their party comes to power in return for the hard work they put in for sustaining support for their parties. But unfortunately, their leaders who have it in their power to reward them, have other ideas and at the root is their own instinct for self preservation or promotion.. They too want to retain or win electoral support for their parties but promoting their cadres is not their primary concern and, in fact, they are all too ready to dump the cadres or members if they perceive that the party’s race for power may be better served by favouring those who may not be normal sympathisers of the party but just eyeing it to better their own prospects by siding with what appears as the winning horse.

4. Come election time and there is a feverish run for party tickets to fight election. Some who have tasted power, or have an irresistible urge to taste it, want a party ticket by hook or crook and to satisfy this desire, they do not mind jumping parties, joining even those whose professed ideologies are diametrically opposite to what they have been professing so far. Such people are dubbed turn- coats and to the dismay of people at large,this does not hurt them. This may be understandable but what is surprising and even shameful is the willingness of the parties they are seeking to join to welcome them, some times even at the cost of their loyal cadres or members just because they perceive that such turn-coats have a greater chance of winning the election than their own members. All some of these turn-coats have to offer is their muscle and money power. Thus parties without exception give up all pretense to principles or ethics and have no compunction about being seen as brazenly running for power.

5. Five states in India are due to have elections to their State assemblies between February and April, 2017 and the country is witnessing an unseemly spectacle of candidates jostling for tickets. Ambitious people are changing parties like they change their clothes and some are being welcomed for doing so. Admission of turn coats into the new parties is giving rise to rebellions by old faithfuls of those parties. This is causing distress and even shame to the people at large who are equally disdainful of the turn-coats and the parties who accept them. Because this goes to show that power is the sole objective of those pursuing politics and service to the people a mere ploy. Voters do punish the turn-coats and their parties by not voting for them but they also take into account the over-all composition of the party they chose to vote which some times results in even the turn coats winning.

6.Democracy would be much purer if such pitfalls were avoided. The only alternative is that parties should not encourage turn coats and stick to their principles and ideologies at all costs.

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Odd Thoughts on God

Suppose you were the supreme boss of a set-up. You have hundreds of people working in the set up organised in different groups, each group functioning under a lesser boss. Some of the lesser bosses treat their workers cruelly or neglect to do their assigned duties so that the working of such groups gets messed up and their workers suffer. Or some workers in some groups have serious problems and the concerned group bosses fail to rectify matters allowing the workers to continue to suffer. The matter ultimately comes to your notice. You thereupon (i) act swiftly and set matter right so that no one is allowed to suffer and the set-up delivers on its agenda or (ii) let matters drag and work out on their own. If you adopt course (ii), wouldn’t you be called heartless or incompetent?

2. Now God is supposed not only to be the super boss but also the creator of this universe. The universe is undoubtedly incredibly diverse, expansive and complex consisting, as it does, of the earth, the seas with innumerable species of living creatures on them, plus the sun, the moon, the stars, other planets and many other objects man may not even be aware of yet. Most of the creations, it appears,perform in an orderly and precise manner. The earth, for example, orbits around the sun to a precise time table . Events related to its rotations, such as eclipses, can be precisely fore-told even centuries in advance because of the precision with which the earth and the moon follow their course.The distance between the sun and the earth is said to be so precisely set that even a mm here or there would not be sustainable. Like-wise, most other creations function and behave in orderly, predictable and mutually accommodating manner including the various living species on earth like plants and animals. With one exception that I will take up later in this blog.
3. Dissect or analyse the design and structure of any creation and one is struck by the astonishing degree of intelligence, foresight, planning and thought that goes into ensuring the existence, sustenance, growth and ultimate demise of every single object of the creation. That is what brings all the praise to the creator, namely God, and all the wonder and excitement about his creation.

3. The human species appears to be an exception. While its
bodily structure and design is as perfect as may be, the human species is blessed with an additional faculty , namely the mind. The human mind does not appear to be programmed to any predetermined behaviour and is given a surprising degree of independence. It is the mind that makes different people behave differently in similar situations, devise different ways to meet similar needs, divide humans into different faiths (or religions), sects and communities each with distinct sets of beliefs and attitudes to life and fellow human beings. Yet individuals belonging to the same sects and communities may have their own distinct ideas and practices due to mind’s inherent independence.

4. The mind imparts to humans certain traits of behaviour individually or shared by groups. Some of the opposing traits are: love and hatred, kindness/benevolence/compassion and cruelty, tolerance & fanaticism, violence & peace,selfishness/greed & generosity, conformity & defiance, anger/rage & placidity, etc. Each individual has all these traits in varying degrees but in some individuals, some particular traits may exhibit themselves to an extreme degree which may affect the lives of other individuals or groups positively or devastatingly negatively. People or groups having a preponderance of negative traits may be described as evil while those with preponderance of positive traits can be categorised as good.

5. Humans have another peculiarity. Probably because they are possessed of a mind, nature is not as protective of them as it is in the case of some other species. For example, humans need to supplement themselves with clothing as a protection against vagaries of weather which no other species does. Also nature does not help human beings enjoy more or less an equal share of resources it has made available and humans, guided by their traits of selfishness, greed and fear of insecurity, do not share with others the hoards of surpluses they manage to build through means fair or unfair. This has resulted in gross inequality among humans with some being reduced to extreme poverty and deprivation and others wallowing in indecent luxury and affluence. Humans develop various kinds of diseases and they have built such systems that only the materially well provided have access to proper treatment and the poor suffer helplessly and grievously. Apart from these causes of suffering for which humans may not be wholly responsible, the evil among the humans unleash wanton cruelty on fellow humans to satisfy their greed and desires and leave their innocent victims suffering grievously or losing their lives. There is also exploitation of the weaker by the stronger including exploitation of women and children. Even worse are crimes committed in the name of faith or religion where hordes of fanatics destroy or maim millions of innocent men, women, children and other living beings and ravage properties to dust and rubble causing indescribable misery and suffering in the process.

6. The question that bothers most people is why innocent people should have to suffer this kind cruelty and depredation when there is God who has the attributes of being merciful, compassionate , omnipotent and omniscient,to whom they pray frequently and look forward to for help and protection and whose revealed commands they abide by in their day to day living? Is He in reality heartless or indifferent and not merciful and omnipotent? The reality appears to be that He just looks on and does not interfere or help. Since this reality or apparent reality is incompatible with what faith presumes, some people become atheists and deny God and refuse to believe in Him or His existence. And such atheists are no worse off or better off in life than the believers. And again, it appears, God is indifferent to this fact.

7. In spite of undergoing all the sufferings and apparent neglect or indifference, the believers stand firm in their belief in God, his compassion, mercy and infallibility. They comfort themselves with various explanations. Mostly, rather than blame the evil forces for their malfeasance, they rue that they have brought the wrath of God upon themselves by their own actions in this or previous births. This implies that the evil forces act as God’s agents to render their due to the believers and that God uses the forces of evil to carry out His will. This belief appears to absolve the evil doers of their responsibility for their despicable acts.

8. The question why God does not protect his faithful from the depredations of the evil forces is just one of the questions that evades human understanding. In fact, a more direct unanswered question is : why does God allow evil to exist at all? And why are the evil persons generally happier and more prosperous and powerful than the “good” and God fearing people? There are other questions to which humans do no know the exact answers, e.g. will there be a tomorrow or, for that matter, the next moment for me or you? What does tomorrow, if it happens, hold for me? What after death? Why do people dream in their sleep and do dreams hold any meaning or message? What will be the gender of one’s first or next child? & so on. When God has kept so many secrets from man, it is not foolhardy to believe that the question about the existence or meaning or power of evil is one of the questions whose answer God does not want man to know. And thus, trusting in ultimate vindication and redemption,the faithful continue to believe in the existence and supremacy of God.

9. Considering the architecture of the universe as a whole or the smallest of the creations and how they are sustained, it is impossible not to believe in the existence of a supremely intelligent entity, name it God or whatever. It is unfortunately also impossible not to be troubled by questions about the pervasiveness and power of evil. But one thing may be safely believed: Man is not God’s most favoured creation. Also, perhaps, man is condemned to more suffering than any other creation.

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