Showing posts from December, 2017

On The Uses of Compassion

The easy point to miss about the different modern institutions that we live by - markets and democracy - that these take for granted a compassionate society. Take away compassion and democracy looks like a majoritarian oppression, and markets a grinding mill where all human values are destroyed for a self-defeating end. Hannah Arendt may have got Adolf Eichmann wrong and took his defence strategy - that he was a mindless, powerless, small cog in the Holocaust machine - too seriously, but she was accurate in her meta-diagnosis of the Nazi mind, the complete incapability to see anyone else's point of view or to contemplate the consequences of one's own action. The difference between the American Democracy as imagined by the Founders and in the age of trump is the abandonment of compassion, and suddenly that shining example of Republican imagination looks like a belligerent monstrosity intent on tearing itself apart. And, withering of compassion turns Adam Smith's dynamic

Working Notes on Nazi Ideology and Holocaust

I have spent this holiday season working on my essay on Nazi Ideology and Holocaust. Earlier this year, I spent the first two weeks of the New Year doing another essay, a mistake that I don't want to repeat this year: I would rather start the New Year completely focused on making a new start on the various work projects. So, in essence, I am working through the holidays, which may not sound like fun, but I feel very good about it.  However, the claim that I am working on the essay is a little overblown, because I have not typed a single word yet. What I am doing now is reading and thinking, and writing the essay in my mind. This is usually my style - I take more time thinking and less time writing - though this is by no means optimal and many a times in the past, I pledged to myself to start writing sooner. And, yet, here I am - doing this again! However, this time, I hope, I am not just procrastinating, but rather developing concrete ideas. So, what I am trying to do is

Summing Up 2017

When I migrated in 2004, I suddenly became, from being comparatively well-off in a poor country, poor in a rich country. I did not come with a job in hand, and did not have a technical degree of one kind or another. So, I had to start from scratch: From an warehouse to a front-line sales job and thereon. At this point, I developed a theory of existence: That the world is not going to be perfect, but as long as I have done better in the current year than the previous one, I have done well.  I ended up violating this golden rule of immigrant existence in 2017. As I end the year, I have gone backwards. Ironically, this is a result of one thing I knew an immigrant can not afford - living in hope - and yet I took the eye off the ball. Got carried away, as one would say, as I loved what I was doing, and let other considerations, rather than the maxims of my own rule, take precedence. So, I am back at ground zero, almost. When I made a comment about going back in time on Facebook, a

The Idea of India At A Crossroad

The Idea of India, as conceived just after the country's independence, is facing an existential challenge, but that may not be a bad thing. It is being challenged because it was an act of imagination, something that ought to be clarified from time to time. Republican Nationhood should be no stranger to challenges - the American nationhood was forged not just through its Founding ideas, but also through the travails of the Civil War - but rather be a dynamic concept which is refreshed from time to time, and such a moment is now. At this point, though, the politics of secularism is a baggage. By this, I argue not for abandonment of secularism, but placing it in the proper order after the commitment to Republicanism and Rule of Law. The politics of secularism reverses this order. The objections to the current regime is expressed because 'it is not secular' and being 'secular' becomes a goal in itself. This makes 'Secular' a sacred idea, and debate about t

Innovation in Education: The Hidden Challenge

Even when the limitations of an education system are quite obvious, innovations are hard to come by. This is a lesson many well-meaning investors and hard-charging entrepreneurs have learnt at great cost, yours truly included, but why this is so has evaded them completely.  Usually, one finds soul-comforting explanation in bureaucracy or in institutional politics. But this do not explain why there is so little demand for all these 'innovative' offerings and why, unlike other sectors, the customer preferences - employer demands and students' desires - do not overwhelm the traditional sectors and ease the path of innovation. And, even where swelling demography and broken education seem to be hurtling towards certain disaster - like in Asia and Africa - new ways of educating appears more, and not less, difficult.  For example, India, faced with the task of educating a huge workforce at a time when automation and reversal of globalisation threaten most jobs and indust

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