Books; People; Ideas : These are few of my favourite things. As I live between day-to-day compromises and change-the-world aspirations, this is the chronicle of my journey, full of moments of occasional despair and opportune discoveries, of connections and creations, and, most of all, my quest of knowledge as conversations.
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
Indian Election 2014: Seven Fragmented Thoughts
Rahul Gandhi must have read Lincoln, "I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chances will come".
Instead, he should have followed,
"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle."
There are three kinds of people in politics, Self-Made, Never-Made and Self-Destroyed.
Good that there is never a category called 'Born Into" in democratic politics.
Larry Summers had a brilliant idea in the 1980s. He suggested all the polluting industries should be relocated from the First World to the Third World because the life costs less in the latter.
They just did that with Organised Political Marketing.
I was reading about the world's luckiest man, Frano Selak. Prakash Karat will somewhat come near him if he still survives this election being at the helm of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Perhaps he knows how to do what this man in video is doing.
India will have a Great Leap Forward under Narendra Modi. It will surely turn out to be like the last one. (Read Tombstone)
There are no contradictions in Mamta Banerjee's attitude towards Bangladeshis.
She does not want to give them water, so that their farming dies and they starve; that way, they ultimately have to become destitute, come to India illegally and vote for her against a ration card she would give because she is so humane.
May 16th 2014 is not like 15th August 1947. It feels like 30th January 1948 already.
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation."
The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which appeared …
Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper etal, 1991). Arunthanesetal (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something).
The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive season, is …
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago.
Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so.
Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself.
Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was, as I …
This has been the best and worst of the times for Higher and Professional Education. While people pursuing Higher and Professional Education has attained a new peak globally, new questions about its relevance and cost have arisen too. The expansion of formal education has crowded out the ecosystems of informal learning, in effect depriving societies with one of the tried-and-tested coping mechanisms for social and technical change (see my earlier post on this), but it has offered little in its space. Its claims on the territory, in various avatars of Lifelong Learning or Massive Open Online Courses, have underachieved, being too structured, too bureaucratic, too content driven and too top-down. Finally, its claims of being able to assess everything overshot its capability, and created dissonance with employers as they struggled to work out hard measures of the 'soft' skills.
However, among all these debates and questions, one that attracts maximum attention is the one about …
There are two reasons why I am writing this post, which is really a retake of an earlier post - Should Britain Apologise? - which I recently shared on Social Media.
The first is that there is a renewal of this debate. The recent political twists and turns - Brexit and emergence of Hindu Nationalist India most importantly - have brought the question of British imperial folly to the forefront, engaged in animated debates and denials (see here).
The second is a renewal of interest in history itself, made possible by the deliberate wrecking of the Post-War world system by Conservatives in America and Britain. After being presumed dead, history has been regularly invoked in claims, particularly by British and American politicians who are good at pointing follies of other nations. Hollywood made a film about Holocaust denial, though the question of American imperialism in the Pacific was never deemed worthy of retelling. The British Secretary of International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, recently …
My previous post, on whether Hinduism is the only thing to unite India, to which my answer was negative, was based on the idea that Indian culture is quite distinct from 'Hinduism'. It is this point that needs further elaboration, as the apologists of the Hindu India, both the traditionalists and the new liberal kinds, claim that they are one and the same.
I was brought up in a Brahmin family, and read Sanskrit - primarily as my grandmother was a 'Pandit' and a Sanskrit teacher - and read the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. For a year of my life, after I went through the 'Upanayana', I performed a puja three times a day. Later in life, I read Upanishad and Gita out of intellectual curiousity. And, yet, this still does not cover the core texts of Hinduism - most critically, the various commentaries by later Holy men, which, for many Hindus, represent the revealed religion.
But this is perhaps the key point: That someone may grow up in a Hindu milieu but never…
I remember this awkward dinner conversation. I was with my colleague in Northern Ireland, and a friend of his joined our table. After we were introduced, he wondered at my name and asked me what religion I belong to. I went for the simpler answer and kept my doubts aside: "I am Hindu", I said. That made him even more confused. "What's a Hindu?" he said, "Is that some kind of Muslim?"
When I tell this story to my friends in India, they are usually outraged. What an ignorant person, they would say. Particularly treating Hinduism as a branch of Islam, when Hindus love to believe that everyone was originally a Hindu, upsets them. I have also reflected upon this conversation later. It may indeed be that he did not know. He was particularly ignorant, just as ignorant as the lady, who, standing inside the Irish Bar at Mumbai's ITC Grand Central hotel, asked my colleague - the same person as it happened to be - where Ireland was. But the confusion about …
The title of this post is in quotes because someone told me this. This was some days ago, over lunch in London, something that I stayed with me since. This is one post I started writing, and then deleted, and then tried again, and again - until this moment when I resolved the question of the headline: Rather than trying the feeble 'reimagination' or 'new idea', using this quote directly was better.
Indeed, there is nothing new here. This is the current conversation in India. In fact, suggesting anything else risks being shouted down in India today. However, why this made me reflect is that this was not coming from any zealot, but someone I know and regard highly for intellect. Also, this came out of no online spat or shouting match, but a reasoned conversation about India's future, and came from someone who cares about the country as deeply as anyone could. Finally, and importantly, the person telling me this was liberal and highly educated professional, lest anyo…
Seventy years on, the Republic of India is now at one of those crossroads when its foundational ideas are being questioned. Its middle classes, in the throes of an existential crisis as the globalisation that made them reverses, have found their demon in the idea of India itself. Nations, usually, consider their origin stories with a special fondness and deep reverence, enshrining the creation ideas as the basis of all new imagination: Despite the passing of the years, the British therefore looks at the Glorious Revolution, the French to French Revolution, the Italians to Risorgimento and the Americans revere their Founding generation. But, in India, as a newly-rich, recently disappointed middle class hunt for the ghosts, they find their Republic flawed, its democracy rickety, its people disunited, and above all, the idea that unites it all misdirected.
This makes a re-examination of the idea of India worthwhile. Surely, this is much discussed, but as the optimism turns to pessimism…
The inspiration behind this post comes from several conversations with my colleague Pratik Dattani, the former UK Director of FICCI, an Indian trade body. Pratik, in a regular column he writes for Dainik Bhaskar, pointed out India's meagre tally of 30,000 odd foreign students, against 450,000 in China (which is growing at 10% annually), is a huge missed opportunity, in terms of foreign currency earnings, 'soft power' and diffusion of foreign cultures and ideas. And, besides, number of foreign students in India may be going down rather than up, and several factors, not least anti-African sentiments in some Indian cities, are contributing to it.
Pratik and I have collaborated on a number of projects over the years and I have been closely involved in a Conference, now in its fifth edition, that he organises on Education Innovation in London and in India. We both agreed that India's continuing weaknesses in attracting foreign students is something we want to put on the a…