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Patriotism


Having considered thus, on 4 November 2006 I wrote to the Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair: 'DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE AND SCIENTISTS. After watching a news item of your new interest in promoting Science in the United Kingdom, I feel compelled to write to you with my story for which I have attached my full curriculum vitae as background. At the relatively young age of 49 I feel that the society has put me out to grass, so to speak. I was a successful scientist at the Natural Resources Institute, which was part of the Government of the United Kingdom until its privatisation to the University of Greenwich in 1996. At that time not only was a world renowned Institute being dismantled, numerous scientists of considerable knowledge and experience were made redundant and in the subsequent years they had to reassess their personal priorities in life by changing their careers or taking up other jobs that came their way. I was unfortunate in that I suffered racial discrimination and jealousy among colleagues, and to make matters worse I was then charged with gross misconduct for the manner in which I dealt with the problems that I faced in the University during a time of redundancies. I was dismissed from my job at the age of 41 after an 18 year unblemished career. No account was taken of my mental condition which was that I suffered from depression at the time caused by workplace harassment. In the years that followed I protested my innocence to the tribunal and courts but could not get a Hearing of my Case to my satisfaction. Still I believed that one had a duty to be patriotic towards the country in which one lives and the best way of doing this is to play a full part in society regardless of the problems one faces. I am therefore proud that my wife works in the Ministry of Defence. Since the loss of my job I have applied for at least 200 jobs, from those of a scientific nature in the areas that I am most qualified in to jobs in the Police force, Kent County Council and Medway Council, the Prison service and local schools. I even applied for menial jobs where I lived. I was totally unsuccessful in reestablishing myself as a scientist and could not even get an interview. The other jobs that I applied for came to the same negative result. I resorted to working in a factory as a fruit packer for a few months and for two years I worked as a part-time cleaner. Since August 2006 I have a fulltime job in a petrol station as a cashier at the wage rate of £5.50 per hour before income tax. But is this any way for a scientist with a PhD and 35 scientific publications in refereed journals to be treated by Society and for him to be spending his time and his expertise on? Is it also not a disastrous waste of talents for the United Kingdom? I am possibly the only scientist of my experience who mops floors for a living. Britain may be classified as a multicultural society and I believe that this is a good way forward for a nation to assimilate its minority cultures for it should then evolve into a tolerant and moderate society but individuals of minority groups should also be treated with more dignity than I have experienced. I came to Britain as a 15 year old boy accompanying my parents of whom my father was the Indian Liaison Officer in Kew Gardens. He was a scientist and encouraged me to go into Science from an early age and left me in the United Kingdom to complete my education after his period of deputation on Indian Government Service ended. I also grew up with the belief that Britain was the country of justice and fair-play. I am therefore writing to you directly to find me some way forward in reestablishing my scientific credentials'.


Rupa read this letter at the breakfast table and asked, 'What is patriotic?' to which Rashmi replied, 'love of one's country'. I responded with, 'being patriotic means doing whatever a state requires one to do. One owes it to the state that has fed, housed and clothed one to be so. Not doing what is asked of one is being unpatriotic'. I was tempted to write a letter to Mr David Cameron, the Leader of the Conservative Party in view of his interest in a Bill of Rights for the UK but Rashmi dissuaded me from sending it after reading the draft entitled 'A country to be proud of' questioning how it was possible for me to fulfill my patriotic duties when society was so fundamentally racist and prevented ethnic minorities from living with dignity and with the UK tending towards evil foreign policies again.


I did not send this letter but considered again whether I could remain patriotic towards the UK after losing my prestigious job as a scientist, going through an unsuccessful decade-long struggle to protect my reputation, seeking asylum away from this country to escape persecution as I saw it, and not being able to find a way back into a career in science or even a decent job. Further, how could one be truly patriotic towards a country when much of what it currently represented to the world was disagreeable to my mind to the point of being evil. British Government's interference in Suez against Egypt was proof of its evil ways. Mahatma Gandhi is reported to have believed that Britain was a satanistic country and an observation of the developments of the past twenty-five years indicated that the country had returned to the old ways of colonialisation and world domination. The UK attacked Iraq without any legitimate reason (under the pretext that the country was hoarding weapons of mass destruction) and the occupation of Iraq led to mayhem in that country. Many people believed that Iraq was actually invaded to plunder its oil wealth and to prevent this from reaching the hands of perceived enemies. The UK also invaded Afghanistan to inflict western values on that Islamic population, and then behind the scenes supported Israel in its wars against the Palestinian and Lebanese people. Thus rulers were toppled and countries destabilised under the propaganda that western civilisation was under threat from Islamic extremists. The UK had troops serving in conflict zones in many parts of the world and the Armed Forces were still considered 5000 troops short of what was needed for the worldwide operations, the shortfall to be made up by recruiting foreigners from the traditional parts of the world such as the Gurkhas from Nepal and young men from other sources prepared to die for this Queen and country.


The UK had also not condemned the new Iraqi government for the decision of its court to execute Mr Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity. This appeared to me to be wrong because what were lawful activities under one form of government, ie Mr Saddam Hussein's government, could be made punishable by the death of the Head of State in retrospect under new laws passed by a subsequent very different government. And killing someone was not a punishment because the person was no longer alive to pay for his crimes. It would only lead to Mr Saddam Hussein being made a martyr in Arab countries as having fought the western superpowers until he was put to death. He would go down as a great man in Arab folklore, and fuel more anti-western feelings for generations to come. Further, in the short term this state-perpetrated violence would lead to more violence in Iraq causing more destabilisation which will force the foreign occupiers into staying on longer. A life sentence in isolation was the way to make people suffer for murderous crimes, unless of course the idea was that of deterring other rulers who may also resist western values and imperialism. History would judge that America and UK were as much to blame for Mr Saddam Hussein's execution as the new Iraqi government because they were the policemen who apprehended him and threw him to the mercy of the wolves.


As a consequence of its foreign policy, UK had become a major target for Islamic terrorists and inevitably it was turning into a surveillance society in which the identity, actions and views of all its citizens and visitors would need to be monitored by the State and the information then used to establish the law and order required in a stable society. Without a written constitution and clear separation of powers between the judiciary, legislature, and the executive, Britain's elaborate justice system proved malleable enough to meet these new challenges so that laws were being passed to counter court judgements that would otherwise have gone against the government on the basis on the provisions of the Human Rights Act. The Big Brother control of the State meant curbs on civil liberties such as curtailing freedom of expression by jailing people under 'glorifying terrorism' and 'incitement to hatred' laws, keeping them under house arrests with 'control orders' if there was insufficient evidence to convict them in a court of law, or expelling them from the country like the case of Mr Bakri of Al Muhajoroun by a Home Office decree. These developments were an expression of a government that did not have faith in its people.


The environment was another aspect that had deteriorated greatly, the term environment also encompassing social attitudes. Although I too was concerned about the global climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use, I was more concerned about the continuing expansion of airports, roads and cities and the renewed emphasis on the generation of nuclear energy by fission. And house prices continued to rise relentlessly with the dismantling of family life from marriage divorces and the opening of the country to immigration: more homes therefore needed to be constructed every year.


Although when I first arrived in the UK in 1973 there was more apparent racism in the schools and on the streets where one could get insulted with 'Paki' and other racist jibes, racism was still insidious in the workplace and physical racist attacks were taking place frequently nowadays. However, much of the racism in society lay hidden beneath the surface and was only evidenced by the high unemployment rates among black and Asian people and the disproportionate numbers of this section of the population found to be serving prison sentences. There was in particular racism in the administration of justice. The appointment of black and Asian people to high places in society (for example, the Chairman of the Commission of Racial Equality and the Chief Constable of Kent Police were black men) seemed to be designed to provide a façade of respectability in an largely intolerant society.


I was also concerned about religious intolerance in the UK. Asians including Sikhs were attacked physically in the streets. People with a religion were being 'put in their place' by pressures being put on them to reform Muslim mosques, by the removal of so called undesirable Islamic preachers, and by supporting prohibitions such as the wearing of the veil by Muslim women at various places and of the cross by Christians.


Increasingly Britain was a nation where human beings were no more than mere machines and people had lost their creativity in science and technology. British people lived for their pets, their public houses where they drank alcohol, their motor cars, and their holidays in the sun. Those who could not get jobs or develop civil careers join the armed forces. University education which was free at one time with home students even getting living expenses paid for by local education authorities was now only for the very bright young stars or the rich, or those prepared to be burdened with student loans-related debt for part of their working lives. The education system did not encourage late developers. Without free education for all citizens regardless of the ability to pay the country was destined to losing its creativity and civility and prospects for a cultured society were doomed. There would be more ignorance and racial and religious intolerance and a carefree attitude for ones duties towards the state and the environment. Young people would not even be fit for the Armed Forces.


As the UK was now part of Europe, and in the era of globalisation did patriotism mean anything anymore? Britain's multicultural society, the transfer of Call Centres jobs to India, the movement of industries around the world especially to China, and the one million Eastern Europeans flooding into Britain to provide cheap labour as the country was opened up to another wave of immigration from the new accession countries of Europe, was making people less patriotic because the country did not have a steady culture any more. I disagreed with the new policy being followed of the State suddenly taking away peoples properties if they had to be confined to old people's homes so that their children could no longer receive this inheritance from their parents, although in a society where family-life and family-support had largely disintegrated this would leave a question mark over who should assist old people at their time of need.


At the turn of the millennium the nation openly promoted sexual activity and promiscuity outside marriage so that people in power were condoned for such acts as these were now to be regarded as personal matters regardless of the fact that politicians set examples for society to follow. The UK was very conservative in its policy on sexual conduct for its citizens twenty years ago but it now allowed sex shops for sale of sex-gratification material and the publication of pornographic magazines was quite acceptable with 'Page 3' nude women and 'Page 1 women' being printed in the tabloid newspapers day after day. Young people below the age of 16 were the most sexually experienced in the world because of these developments and television programmes openly displaying sexual behaviour. Easy access of child pornography from the Internet was being blamed for the paedophile problem, while no real measures were taken to prevent the websites enticing the individual. It was no wonder that considerable numbers of decent British people were leaving the UK for permanent settlement overseas in order to achieve a change in their way of life.


In a country however patriotism should not an immaterial concept for the immigrant and indigenous person alike. There should be more emphasis in the schools on citizenship to bring the young generation into a sense of civility and culture in modern UK. Young people should be shown more tolerance towards and encouraged to taking active part in shaping their country's future, not be burdened with anti-social behavior orders. The way to counter racial and religious intolerance was through education, which also generated new ideas and creativity leading to wealth creation. People could be motivated towards social responsibility but one must first have a vision of the culture that one wishes the nation to strive towards for this to work.


After Mr Donald Rumsfeld's dismissal as the United States Defence Secretary following the trouncing that the Republicans received in the Mid-Term Congressional elections Mr Bush described him as a patriot. Mrs Hillary Clinton (the prospective future Presidential Candidate for the Democrats) also continued to support the war against Iraq as did the Conservative Party in the UK so that on both sides of the Atlantic the people in powerful political positions were all 'singing from the same hymn sheet'. In such circumstances was it not the patriotic duty of an individual to shape the future of his country rather than accepting the status quo or living aimlessly and dwelling on the past? Inaction watching world go idly by was a waste of life. To be truly patriotic one had to respond to developments in society and change it towards a better course. One had to do what one could in the circumstances that one was faced with but without concern for the outcome of ones actions. One therefore needed to campaign for constitutional changes in the way the UK was governed. I felt that laws were needed to put a freeze on immigration regardless of pressures from the business community; to prevent the UK from going to wars and interfering in the affairs of other countries when there was no real threat to it or to world peace; to develop a culture that protected the rights of the individual from racial and religious intolerance at work and in the wider society; and to instill patriotism in the minds of young people for a new UK based on multiculturalism. A written Constitution, a new Flag and new National Anthem were to be recommended to reflect such a new culture.


On the other hand referendums in France and Holland had rejected a common Constitution for the people of Europe showing that people did not wish to belong to a superstate with diverse languages and cultures. Multiculturalism could arguably be destabilising for a country so that racist and fascist groups like the British National Party could one day rise to positions of power. The conundrum of the UK was however that it had always had high immigration and was a haven for 'asylum seekers', a facet that also represented the culture of the country. To remain a successful economy the major political parties knew that the country did not have the quality of graduates and skilled workers needed in Science, Technology and Industry for the economy to be kept running well. It was acknowledged in high political circles that a small nation aiming to become one of the richest and most powerful country in the world could not put a freeze on immigration.


The UK celebrated its achievements in wars and commemorated its war dead like no other country. The National Anthem celebrated the constitutional monarchy asking God to save the Queen or King. Every year there was a 'Remembrance Day' to which High Commissioners and other Heads of the Commonwealth were 'obliged' to arrive and place wreaths at the Cenotaph in London, and there was a march past. Church services were also held in which people together uttered, 'We Remember Them' for dead military personnel. These services were televised for the population to be brainwashed into thinking that a central part of national life was warring with enemies. Money would be collected for a month or so in a Poppy Appeal for the welfare of ex-servicemen and war veterens, and propaganda poems would be written like 'Remember our son who died in Iraq' to make people remember soldiers fighting in wars: the noble soldier dying for Queen and country. 'Rule Britannia, Britannia Rules the Waves' and 'Land of Hope and Glory'- type songs would be sung at the Albert Hall in the Proms Concert, year after year, to instill the only patriotism the nation needed from its people to support the nation. Plans were being made to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the UK's liberation if the Falkland islands from Argentina. And the UK also held church services to pay tribute to its citizens who died at the hand of terrorists, like for the victims of the 7/7 bombings on the London Underground, and for victims holidaying in overseas countries.


As a soldier engaged in the Suez invasion for the UK stated they regarded Egyptians as 'lesser mortals'. The same is true within the UK. The British National Party' Head, Mr Griffin was cleared by a court of inciting racial hatred towards Muslims by his speeches to condemn Islam on a technicality that it might have been religious hatred that he was promoting, whereas Abu Hamza the Muslim cleric was jailed for soliciting to murder and inciting racial hatred by another court. Incitement to hatred cases were tried by a Jury so that the common man is supposed to understand complex issues of freedom of expression, racial and religious prejudices, and incitement. The need to maintain freedom of expression and ban acts that destabilise society were therefore being tested in society. Sunday trading was prohibited by law twenty years ago but the law had changed radically. It wished to become an economic and military powerhouse and this was the way of life. Britain avoided a bloody revolution like the French Revolution preferring to tinker with laws instead and not to impose a cultural system based upon principles of liberty and equality, or other moral or religious values.


On the face of it British culture is an extreme in outward civility, such as saying 'Sorry' or and 'Thank you' for each little thing done, and 'Hello' or 'Hiya' as greeting. When they pass each other while walking in the woods they say 'Good morning' or 'Good afternoon' to signify solidarity among ramblers. They celebrate Valentine's Day as a day of romance between couples, giving each other cards and flowers. To invoke good fortune, the British touch any nearby piece of wood and say 'touch wood' before or after expressing their wish. Where I wondered did this expression come from. One could write to a Newspaper who investigate people's queries diligently and provide the answers to the people. Individually, people put flowers along roadsides where motor vehicle accidents have killed people or outside houses in which people have been murdered or killed accidentally presumably because it held some religious significance. (They also cross the forefinger and middle finger, at times of both hands, and utter 'keep your fingers crossed' as a wish, hope, prayer to to invoke good fortune).


There are proverbs which one is brought up with but on examination it was unclear what the truth really was. Do in Rome as the Romans do, was one. I believed in it and yet one does not because Rome did not do things all alike. Rashmi did not wear a sari in the UK for she does not wish to stand out of place and look like an alien. I supported her in her dress decision. However, not all British people were promiscuous although society was heading in that direction. And not all British people drank alcohol: I would not like to return to my bad days of alcohol abuse just to be one with the crowd. I had not touched a drop of alcohol in over a year but do not know what I would do when I next meet up with English friends. I was fortunate that I was educated in an English medium school throughout my childhood in India so that I did not have much trouble adjusting to life in the UK as a 15 year old boy. I copied British habits of politeness to do in Rome as the Romans do. I did not have an Indian accent and also tried to speak to English people in the tone that they spoke in order to make myself better understood. Rashmi similarly studied English in the University and was even a lecturer in English for a while before coming to the UK after our marriage, so that she adjusted to life here very easily. In the house we spoke in English, a habit that started when Rupa was young and was falling behind in school because she had difficulty in understanding English. So we started speaking to her in English. It was our duty but the result was that we hardly talked to each other in our mother tongue Oriya and Rupa was unable to speak Oriya or any other Indian language which I was aware would therefore cause problems for her in India.


As a family we were non-vegetarians and did not eat beef being Hindus and respecting our traditions, although in my youth in the UK I had eaten beef dishes inadvertently not thinking about our religion. As I went through school and college sometimes all dishes may have had beef in them in one form or another at the canteen. In those days Steak Houses were the commonest restaurants in the High Street, unlike today's Indian restaurants. I would not now eat beef as an offering to Sri Krishna who looked after cows in His youth. Hindus did not eat beef because the cow provided milk sustenance, and so on the consideration of how could one eat one's own mother. But I once had watched a Television film of an Aghori Baba living by the Ganges in India, thriving on human meat from funeral pyres in his quest for God-prapti and gyan so that it was quite possible that I might eat beef if circumstances forced it upon me. It remained to be seen however if I would ever end up in the position of facing starvation or eating beef or even human remains for that matter.


In Orissa in particular if one's foot touched someone you would touch that person and then your forehead to indicate that I need forgiveness for touching God in you by my foot. I practised this myself and encouraged Rupa to do the same. However, I was now not sure that I would continue to do so for I did not wish anything from the Almighty except what He would provide in His own Judgement and time.


I considered that a 'country was what that country was' and my religious convictions were to be at one with the truth, which was therefore at odds with engaging into the politics of changing a society. The quaint features of British life were to be observed and recorded. It proved itself to being a perennially changing culture with society always adjusting itself to meeting new challenges from within and without on a year to year basis. On 9 November 2006, a R. Smith of 10 Downing Street replied to the letter that I had written to Mr Tony Blair that the Prime Minister has asked me to thank you for your recent letter and the enclosure. He hopes that you will understand that, as the matter you raise is the responsibility of the Department of Education and Skills, he has asked that your letter be forwarded to that Department so that they may reply to you direct on his behalf. I was inclined to leave the matter alone until I was asked for my opinion and decided against writing any more letters.

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