Monday, October 20, 2008

Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya…..

Today in the newspaper, I read that Rajkumar Santoshi is planning a film on the play, Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya, Woh Jamiya Nahin. I've watched this play twice, once in the Jai Narain Vyas Auditorium (popularly known as Town Hall) in Jodhpur and then at IIM Indore. Both the times, I was very much carried away by the theme and the characters; not to take away any credit from the artists.

Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya (placed in the times of partition) is both an emotional story as well as a strong comment on the then prevalent socio-political scene. It starts with a character named Sikandar Mirza who migrates to Pakistan, and is allotted a Haweli by the custodian. He and his family are shocked to find the old hindu landlady Ratan ki Maa – still in the house who didn't leave for India like many others did. A victim of hate, violence and tragedy, she had lost everything but not the ability to give love and affection. The story charts the relationship of Ratan ki Maa with the Mirza family at one level. At another level, the story shows us how goons try to use religion against Ratan ki Maa for ulterior motives and how priests are wood to get legitimacy for their intentions and actions. The story progresses on these lines and it is really difficult to capture the feel of the play in a blog post, and it becomes impossible when a mortal blogger like me attempts to put-through an immortal story. Anyways, to continue with the story, one day the old lady dies and this is when the narrative reaches its climax demonstrating the clash of greed and fundamentalism versus sanity and love for fellow human beings.

Jis Lahore nahin dekhya is a poignant story of the dark time called partition; a partition that stood testimony to hatred, intolerance and fanaticism; thousands were attacked and killed, a generation was rendered homeless with a total loss of national identity. The story tried to define what is the pain of losing your place, losing your identity and what is the pain of falling prey to the dividing mentality of few people at the top. The story explains home as a place which has all your precious memories, a place where you feel at peace, and a place you would never want to give up for anything because you are so deeply connected to it that you can't probably imagine yourself without that place.

Well, I found the play a parallel (though not-so-brilliant) to the current sentiment against so called 'Non-Mumbaikars'. The other day I was talking to someone who born and brought up in Maharashtra. Not only this but according to him, whenever the flight arrives at the Mumbai airport and he inhales the air filled with smoke and dust he feel that he is finally at home. He has read not only about Shivaji but he is also a great fan of pula deshpande and for him, gateway is the world's best place to hang out with his girl friend. So when someone says that he is an outsider, he feels not only hurt but also confused. He is not sure why he is still considered a Madrasi when the language he is most comfortable with (after English) is Marathi. He doesn't understand how Mumbai is not his home despite the fact that his memories from school to college to job to his sister's marriage, all have been associated to this place. What I believe is, this is as much his home as theirs; his ancestors not living here doesn't dilute the fact that he has spent the most precious years of his life here and he feels as much for this land as any 'Marathi Manoos' does. In fact what I believe is, even if somebody has not spent his entire life in Mumbai deserves to call this place his home if he thinks so.

And most importantly he (and a lot many so-called-outsiders in mumbai) belongs to India and thus belongs to Maharashtra. Whichever part of the country I go to I never feel lost and actually I should not. The dirty roads, the narrow by-lanes, the beggars, the buses, people helping you out with directions, the chai/pan shops and even the lecherous men :) It's all the same. So how can someone stop me from living in any part of the country when the whole is mine!

This is a question which may not look very relevant today, in the presence of issues like terrorism and economic recession but its significance is growing with every passing day. This is important and equally alarming because it forms the basic foundation of a nation. If we can't allow a person from other state to earn his/her livelihood in ours, then we can't be a part of the same nation. The roots of this nation are shaking, this is the time to think and act.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sachin Tendulkar - An Icon

"He has become susceptible to the short ball early in his innings"

"He is not a match-winner"

"He is uncomfortable in the second innings of a match"

"He can't play left arm pace with ease"

The list above is not exhaustive as there are a lot more points highlighted by his critics from time to time. Though, the best part is that these critics have been silenced all the time, some times by the words of his fans while most of the times by Sachin's willow. So, these all comments didn't restrict me from celebrating when I read during a live commentary on some site yesterday, that he has guided Siddle's delivery towards third man to surpass Brian Lara's record. Records are meant to be broken, no doubt about this but yesterday, it was perhaps the last time we saw a record getting broken by Sachin Tendulkar. So, this post of mine is dedicated to a person who has always been a sports icon for me, and will always be.

There is a saying, a great batsman can handle any delivery, but a genius can punish the great delivery. This saying can be true for many batsmen from Sir Donald Bradman to Sir Garfield Sobers to Sir Vivian Richards to many more; but for me, the word "genius" has always echoed only one name – Sachin Tendulkar. For me, even the word "cricket" has been resonating with the same name since the day I could connect myself to cricket consciously. There were times when I felt disheartened with the religion of cricket, whether during match fixing scandal or during the 1999 world cup performance or during our early world cup exit in 2007; but I never felt disillusioned with the Cricket God. Sometime in the last week, two people asked me same question, "Tell me any wildest (but censored) fantasy of yours" and my reply was the same, "To open an inning, with Sachin Tendulkar standing on the non-striker end." If that day ever happens, I won't mind even getting a first-ball duck (which I hate the most), though I would definitely love to spend more time on the pitch. Anyways, that is a very distant dream and for time being, I want to just see Sachin completing the story in 2011 (again I'm acting very optimistic) which he left incomplete in 2003 WC final.

I don't know about others; but to make me feel happy from saddest of the moods, all it takes is a century by Sachin. I can recall those times when at home, we made a deal/bet about our respective players. It was like- the person whose favorite player would hit a century; he/she shall treat others by preparing the breakfast of their choice on the next day. I took Tendulkar (pretty obvious), my sis's favorite has always been Dravid, and similarly mummy's favorite has always been Saurav. However, papa has been changing his players (because his favorite has been Tendulkar and when I'm there in the bet, he has to select someone else) from Azhar to Jadeja to Sehwag so as to remain in the deal. That was the year of 1998 and it doesn't require any mathematics to deduce that I won (or lost, I don't know) that deal the maximum number of times. This is just a very small sample of my life which I spent with Sachin's performances. And I am sure there are lacs, if not crores, of people like me who have spent a big part of their life watching Sachin hitting the balls across the ropes.

At times when our heroes struggle and when they need our support we are out to crucify them. Perhaps age is catching up on him; perhaps his body has taken a toll from 17 yrs of test cricket. But instead of uniting and supporting our team, we are all out to discredit everyone else but our heroes. The tragedy in doing that is we as individuals deprive ourselves of enjoying great players. Whether Sachin ever recovers his magic is not important anymore, what matters is that India keep doing well and Sachin play his role. His role has transformed a lot, and till date, he has not disappointed. I won't suggest him, unlike most of the critics, as how to play because you simply can't teach the best; and at least I'm not competent enough. Anyways, what I think is that a day will arrive soon when Sachin would walk away from the pitch forever and 20 yrs from now we will be complaining how India never got a great opener in ODI and #4 in Test to replace him, just as we are still trying to find a half decent all rounder to replace Kapil.

We have many demands from him; most of the times he has paid heed, but when he doesn't, we cry in anguish. Life has many experiences in store for us, but it leaves very few permanent imprints. Those exuberant celebrations after the final ball of the Hero Cup semi final or those feats amidst the Middle Eastern desert storm and violating the dreams of Shane Warne or that 6 of Shoaib Akhtar in the World Cup match were such imprints.

We grew up being fanatical about our little champion and I can't help it but just growing old in those memories. So, if they ever tell my story, let them say that I lived with legends, with icons. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say that I lived in the time of Michael Schumaker, Roger Federer, Michael Phelps. Let them say I lived in the time of Sachin Tendulkar.

Monday, October 6, 2008


YAM is the term recently been discovered, if not invented, by me. It stands for "Yet Another Monday". Now I know you must be feeling like killing me for these kinds of nonsensical things. However, I think if there can be TGIF (in our case, TGIS) then there must be YAM too.

Anyways, after one full day of legitimate sleep, there comes the cruel monday morning. And same old routine starts all over again, controlled by a mesmerizing term called "Corporate Life". Though, I was on the driver's seat just few months back. This is probably the most killing difference between college life and corporate life. Your life becomes packaged. Throughout the week you wait for the weekends. After every four weekends you wait for the day when your bank account becomes a bit healthier. And then whole month goes in the realization - "Nothing is immortal, not even your bank account". And this goes on and on and on........ Want some thrill in your life???? All the best.

One of my friends was complaining about his boring and monotonous corporate life. These days he is enjoying (???) a thrilling life and exploring new ventures. Actually he has fallen prey to another horrifying corporate buzzword "Right-Sizing" which further came into play due to the recent debacle of people having green as their favorite color, popularly known as "investment bankers". Anyways, leave aside my pain of being a wanna-be banker, let's talk about my dear friend who aspired for thrill and managed to get it. Now, he is meeting new job consultants every day. Once in a while, consultants arrange an interview for him to keep things interesting. And interviewers make sure he does not get back to same old boring life. Someone has rightly said "But be careful what you wish for. You might actually get it."

Whenever one gets fed up with this boring life, memory goes back to college days. I do not agree that life at college is extremely thrilling. But it's not monotonous and you know it has a definite end (you can extend it, but that needs real talent). College life is like 'ek chidiya anek chidiya' video....sweet, short and always memorable. Corporate life is like Subhash Ghai's recent flicks especially 'Kisna' – while watching this, I spent more time looking at my watch then looking at the screen. Corporate life is like Glen McGrath is bowling to you. You know where he is going to pitch, what line he is going to bowl although there may be an occasional bouncer or yorker. Everything is so predictable yet it's extremely difficult to score off. And to worsen this, McGrath can bowl in loooooong spells. College life is like Shoaib Akhtar bowling to you. It's going to be fast but with a bit of courage and luck, you can definitely score. It can be wayward most of the times, occasionally unplayable but the best thing is you would love to play against him even after being clean bowled and better than the best thing- Shoaib does not bowl in long spells.

What crap?? It's human nature, think about your past, dream about your future and do not give a damn to your present. So, let me not follow that and come back to present; it's already getting late for my Teach India class.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Happiness & Success – A Chicken-Egg Phenomenon?

Often a question arises in my mind about the relationship between success and happiness. Whether success leads to happiness in life or it's the other way round, means, happiness gives success in one's life. It's a debatable issue and one can have views on either side.

First, let's see what success means in one's life. Most of us would certainly agree that success doesn't mean just to earn lot of money. What I feel success means to obtain things that society values, it can be wealth, good job, happy married life, close and well knit family, sincere friends or longevity or/and may be 'peace' in day to day life. It can be different combination according to one's ambitions or desires to achieve in his or her life.

One the other hand happiness is the sum total of one's well-being or feel-good factor at given point of time. Happiness also depends on general atmosphere about one's family or organization where he or she works/lives, or even city/nation where one resides. There are many prescriptions for happiness as being advocated. However, I feel that 3 things are very important for leading a happy and purposeful life. First, one must live and enjoy present moments of life by de-inking oneself from past memories specially the negative ones and to minimize future's anxieties. Second, involve passions in whatever one does even during day to day activities and also try to engage oneself with doing something when one feels happy and passionate. Lastly, maintain good physical and mental health.

If we see on international front, Indians are the fourth happiest race in the world, as claimed by The Economist. The reason behind such a high of happiness level has been that India, despite all the advances, remains a deeply philosophical society, as commented by noted sociologist Prateek Das. Rather than material goods, Indians have deep faith in time-held traditions and they have less desire for material goods. This is the reason that in developed nations, most people's desires for material and luxury goods are fully saturated so now look for alternate avenues for happiness.

Coming back to the relationship between success and happiness, according to the latest findings, happiness is the key to one's success in life. The reason is that happy and cheerful people are more likely to try new things and challenge themselves, which reinforces positive emotion and leads to success in work, good relationships and better health. The findings further claim that happiness extend across an entire nation with people in 'happy' nations being more likely to have pro-democratic attitudes and keenness to help others. One other study corroborates that happiness leads people to be more sociable and generous, more productive at work, to make more money and to have stronger immune systems. So, we can say that happiness is the key to many treasures, including the one which is carrying 'success'.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Being Busy

I am not so sure if I m really brilliant and finish off my work earlier than expected or my bosses/lecturers have been shrewd enough to realize my true potential. Because "being busy" is the state of life I have always wished for and it has always eluded me. Be it my days in school or engineering, be it IIM or RIL, be it under Head, Treasury or under CFO, I have always had more free time than most of my other friends. I wanted to use all, but used 'most' because there is one friend of mine who has just left the job on account of not having anything to do- can you just imagine this??? Some of my friends claim to be so busy that they find it difficult to even reply mails or IMs. And here I am getting sick with boredom and hoping that someone is kind enough to drop a mail to me or a IM will popup but all in vain. When I started writing blogs, I thought I had found out a very good tool to utilize my time. But I've been so much without work that I am even running short of topics (suggestions invited, I desperately need some).

Well, one cannot be getting intelligent and brilliant bosses and lecturers so consistently, so it must be my own skill and talent which has blessed me consistently with so much of free time. One day, all my friends who have been or claim that they have been very busy will reach the level my bosses have been. If first sentence is true, they are not that much skilled and talented. And this proves the point that one cannot be getting intelligent and brilliant bosses so consistently. And this proves that I am exceptionally brilliant. And there starts a cycle which will again and again prove that I have been intellectually better than my bosses. But this is a fact and you do not need to prove a fact. After all, do you need to prove that sun gives us heat? Or do you need to prove that color of our blood is red? Answer is simple…No.

It's not because facts do not need any proof or no proof could be provided for them. It's because they are too obvious to be proved. And………..forget it….someone has been kind enough to drop me a mail and save you all from the wrath of my boredom. Now I am going to bug her till she realizes that it was probably the biggest mistake of her life to do so….Haa Haa.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Anniversary of T20 WorldCup

I know that it is coming a bit late because the anniversary was on 24th September but as they say, "Better late than never". Actually, today morning I was discussing about all this with my friend so thought of scribbling something on it.

To start with, for all its shortcomings, team India is exceptionally consistent in one thing, proving the expectations wrong. When you expect the team loaded with most formidable middle order to murder a rookie spinner who had just sent tremors in the Gen-Next to follow, they fall flat to him. Few months back when you expected the same team to surrender meekly in the most deadly track against two lightening fast quickies in Perth, they came out winning. Be it 2007 world cup debacle or charismatic come back in 2003 world cup, they have always flourished when very few expected them and floundered when very few did not expect them to do so.

Hence, when a year back when Dhoni was handed over the captaincy for the T20 world cup, team India was written off even before the members got their security checks done at the airport. The experienced spearheads of batting line up opted out of the tournament – one because the format was almost alien hence not taken very seriously and two because they considered themselves too old to play a bang-bang game. It was taken as just a platform to test the new generation players. For any tournament which consisted of teams other than minnows, a team without Sachin, Dravid or Ganguly could not be imagined in last 8-10 years. If there was a team like this, it was a second string side like that sent in commonwealth games (remember? the schedule-clash with Sahara cup). However, this time the reason given behind choosing the young team was that it's the fastest version of the game which has no place for people over 30. While on contrary, critics' view was even more interesting, they said that what the team will do by saving runs as no one in the side is capable of scoring them. Anyways, they did leave for South Africa.

India had just played one T20 match before the tournament and there was not much in the domestic cricket as well. The batting was relying on the shoulders of Sehwag who was making a comeback after a consistent inconsistency in ODIs, Yuvraj Singh who was struggling with his form since world cup, Dhoni who was considered to be more of a pinch hitter, Gautam Gambhir who had a habit of pulling a short ball to boundary and getting out on very next short ball, Robin Uthappa who was hardly an year old in international cricket, Rohit Sharma who was, well just a name. Bowling department did not have a Zaheer Khan making it look completely inexperienced. Although, it did have RP Singh who bowled exceptionally well in England and a promising Shree Santh but they also had an ever inexplicably selected Ajit Agarkar (sorry, I meant Sir Aggi) and Irfan Pathan who was restarting after his journey of next Kapil to nobody.

Australia was the most favorite contender for the cup for the reasons well known. Apart from South Africa and New Zealand, England was another favorite and seen as dark horse because they did play a lot of T20 games in their domestic cricket. India was considered good enough to get the title of "also ran". What followed in next 13 days was something which was going to be a miracle.

First match against Scotland should have been taken as more of a formality to reach the Super eight. But team India has recently had a casualty in form of a formality in WC2007. The match was washed off meaning India was almost certain for the next round. "So what, reaching super 8 was not a big deal by any means in this format" was a typical remark. Though the same format cost a great deal to West Indies cricket board's revenue just 4 months back.

If team batting first set a target of 142 in IPL, the match was considered to be lost for them. But IPL was not invented yet. No one knew how to approach a target in these games plus wet conditions, good tight bowling and exceptional energy shown by Indians on the field made it look like a real tough one. After a lot of twists and turns, when 1 run was needed of last 2 balls, match ended in a tie which India won in a bowl-out (most of players on either side didn't even know that there is something like ball-out coming their way) Most of Indian supporters, as the tradition has been, considered it as the world cup win. When they did not know was that their team had not only won the match but also a very good friend in Misbah-Ul-Haq.

When India lost next match to New Zealand, it looked as if the team had run out of fuel after the last match. As always, every match in the cup became crucial for them. Yuvraj Singh's six 6s won India the next match against England. Yuvraj Singh created history but since then he has been living in the memory of that one over. Very next day India played against the hosts South Africa which not only had firepower in bowling line up but was also an exceptional fielding side. India needed to win this match to stay alive in the competition. South Africa could do even without a win but the margin of defeat needed to be small. Just before the start of the match, India lost Yuvraj Singh to an injury. "Ah, same old bad luck and it's the end of tournament for India" was a typical reaction looking for an excuse in a perceived defeat. After a decent start, India slumped to 61/4 with Yuvraj Singh's replacement Dinesh Karthik scoring a first ball duck. Dhoni and Rohit Sharma took the score to 153 and India had defended a score lesser than this before. Well, South Africa clearly showed why Steve Waugh allegedly called them Chokers. Brilliant bowling and superb fielding suffocated their batting. Dinesh Karthik might have scored a duck but he did take a splendid catch to dismiss Graeme Smith.

India was into the semi finals. But it was to be till semi finals because they were meeting Australia there. Circa 2003 WC? Someone needed to do something spectacular in all the departments of the game to beat Australia. Yuvraj Singh scored 70 off 30 balls and India set a mammoth target of 189. Sreesanth gave away only 12 runs in 4 overs and clean bowled both the Australian openers with his pitch-thumping celebrations at peak. Team fielded brilliantly. A team which was not given any chance by most of its supporters had beaten the mighty Australians to reach the finals.

The Finals – India V Pakistan. Organizers of at least 6 world cups would have prayed day in-day out for this but God did not listen to them. South African organizers must have prayed really hard this time. Like the first match between these two sides, the final too went all the way to the wire. When the middle order failed, Gambhir's 75 took India to 157. When Pakistan was reeling at 77/6, their friend of the first match Misbah took the center stage and looked like winning the match alone. When 13 were needed of 6 balls, Dhoni gave Sir Jogi (second knight of the team) the last over – I know, people would not have stopped cursing Dhoni for this decision at that time. May be Chetan Sharma was to be reincarnated after 1986. But just then Misbah failed second time in a row when he must not have and his dreaded scoop landed in Sreesanth's hands.

India had won the inaugural T20 world cup. The miracle had happened. But no doubt, the team deserved this miracle.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Economics can tell you things which you never really imagined. If you talk to most middle class people in India (yes my and your families) then they will always crib about how the tax in India is very high, how at one point tax rates were as high as 90-95% and a lot of stuff. If you talk to an employed person today then he will say that Government is taxing him so much and others are getting away with black money quite easily (even I used to think that way). But the picture above shows a completely different scenario.

  1. The Direct Tax's contribution to GDP has almost been constant since independence (around 2.5%) and only since 2000 has it increased slightly (to around 5%)
  2. The Indirect Tax has been moving up and is a very major contribution to Government earnings. It contributed around 4% in 1950s and is now at around 12%.

What does this imply?  Simply put you and me are not paying much because of tax but each and every citizen of India is paying extra through indirect taxes, this includes the people below poverty line as even when they purchase some food it will a share of indirect tax.

It is expected that the taxation system will take more money from the rich and less from the poor, right? In India that is not really happening to a big extent. Everyone is paying a lot because people avoid direct tax by black money methods; the result is when Government needs extra money, it simply adds another indirect tax.

Just a thought which made me think a lot and deserves a spot on my blog.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


It is the first day of Navratri, today and hence many people were gathered in the revered temple of Chamunda Mata in Jodhpur fort. Stampedes are not very unusual things at the crowded holy places across the world, and had been happening in the past almost regularly. There have been numerous attempts to tighten the system and avoid such incidents but that has not been of much help, till date.

Anyways, the stampede at Jodhpur which took place today is a bit different in nature or as it looks like, from the early media reports and local public opinions. It is believed that everything just started with the fall of a small wall in the fort (which is not so unusual phenomenon in an old fort). The important thing is that the wall didn't injure even a single person though that triggered the rumors of a possible bomb explosion. And this word spread like the fire in a jungle and everybody got nervous, which ultimately resulted in this stampede.

For non-jodhpur people, I want to share an incidence or at least a belief which is widely prevalent in the city. This Chamunda Mata mandir is of immense significance in the life of a common Jodhpur person and almost the whole city instills a lot of faith in it. During the war of '71, there were multiple air strikes over the city of Jodhpur and some 60 odd bombs were been dropped. However, there was not even a single casualty and people attribute it to the grace of Chamunda Mata and the akhand jyoti in the temple which acted as an unintentional deviation for Pakistan bombers.

However, now I see that faith is crumbling, and people have started believing more in terrorists than in Mata. Well, this is pretty obvious (because negative things attract attention more easily) but alarming as this is basically the much-feared-aftermath of the series of blasts which are happening these days, more frequent than ever before. And I consider this as a victory of the terrorists. I think, today's day is of much significance in their mission of terrorism than any other day because today, they have struck their first victory on the psychological ground. The terrorists have succeeded in filling the terror and fear in the minds of a common Indian to an extent that it has over-ruled even the faith and confidence.

I consider this incident to be an important learning milestone for us. If we claim to be the biggest democracy, then it's our duty to first provide everyone with a fear-free environment to live in. To achieve this, I think we need not to work only for instilling the devastated hope in the day-to-day life of our countrymen but also should try to develop the fear and a sense of insecurity among these terrorists. In my opinion, this physical as well as psychological warfare is not going to end the way we are approaching for it. We need to rebuild the fear amongst terrorists that even they can be killed and most importantly, can be hanged for their doing. Incidents like Afzal has somehow made our law and order look helpless in front of dirty politics; and these terrorists are doing nothing but exploiting this weakness and helplessness. We need to show a will, a desire to end this.

If we don't wake up now, it might be too late; one of my friend who called me up to know about the well being asked a good question, "What is happening yaar; everytime I open a news site or news channel, I am finding a new case - be it those blasts in malegaon or riots in Thane or this stampede and so on." We may call it just being a sad co-incidence but the number of these co-incidences is increasing and that's alarming. Some measures needs to be brought-in to counter this; may be POTA or may be something else in case the ruling party doesn't want to lose the "vote advantage". The other party is also not concentrating on the problems and relevant issues; rather they are indulged in self-massaging exercise and blame-game.

To heck with these political parties and their respective political games, we want to see these terrorists hanged by neck till death and we want our minds to be free, free from at least the fear of bombs and terror. That's it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Few people like the idea of fate. Fixed, immutable, implacable, with no option for choice or chance or challenge: just fate, and nothing else. Some people, perhaps, would seem to accept this bleak 'fatalistic' view of the world - perhaps because they see so many others try to combat the fates, and fail in futility instead. But most of us will fight against what we see as the unfairness of fate - whether it works or not - so as to at least have the sense that we're doing something. At first sight it seems we have only three choices about fate: we can abandon ourselves to it - which leaves us with no choice at all, and hence no power either; we can try to fight against it - which we can't, and hence tends to be an interesting waste of energy in support of an illusion; or we can try, very, very hard, to pretend that it doesn't exist really and it's all a load of superstitious hogwash and we don't believe it and we are not going to believe it.

But there is another choice - understand what fate is, and how it works, in order to help it work with us. However, the most loaded question in this context is how to determine the working of fate. This is a bit tricky, because many-a-times, it's not we who are controlling the fate. Look at it this way, few men sat together and played with the LIBOR rates in the wake of the US funds crisis and this has allowed in artificial interest rates into the world economy which could have serious ramifications very soon. LIBOR rates are used as benchmark for over 300 trillion USD worth of transactions worldwide!

Few men sit together at the OPEC and decide how much you and I will pay for our petrol or diesel. They decide the production limits of its constituent countries and this gives them large control over the prices of crude. Regarding the impact of crude on day-to-day life; well this has been discussed more than Shahrukh Khan on the public forums in India. In addition, there is another group of people who meet regularly to discuss global developments (as they put it). I am not talking about 'Freemasons' (or actually, they might belong to Freemasons, who knows!); rather they are "Trilateral Commission" and "Bilderberg Group". The former allegedly controls 60% of world's private wealth and the latter controls 33% of the pie. I know that you won't believe this blog, so better you just google up and search for the same.

Anyways, my point is while most of the 6 billion people in the world assume a world that is run by their combined choices, the reality seems to be otherwise. Things are more shrouded than they appear and ironically much simpler than we all thought.

So, do we have a conclusion for this blog post, obviously not- there can never be. Despite knowing that there is something which is beyond your control, you never ever stop caring about it and you never ever stop trying to gain a control over it. And this is where the biggest irony begins- you are trying to control something which you've assumed to be 'beyond anyone's control'. And so does the history say that whoever has tried to control fate or has possibly appeared to control fate has fallen in a bigger way than what has ever been thought. Ceaser, Hannibel, Xerses, Aurangzeb and recently, Investment Bankers are the examples of "The Great Fall of Apparent Fate-Controllers"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ripples, we need

Recently, I watched "Welcome to Sajjanpur" and found it a worth-watching flick. Curiosity drove me to look at the reviews by critics as well as users. Critics, well they all were unanimous about the performance of the film's cast and crew. They all held positive opinions just like me so I decided to stop reading any more of them. However, in context of user reviews, I found a very strange phenomenon. They all were divided into two groups with very different opinions. According to one viewer-class, this movie is very realistic and almost correctly pointed out the issues in villages. The other viewer-class was however saying that it was an unbearable movie, with obsolete issues (of 70s). The reasons behind the nature of second review, as I see, are rooted in the environment around us. Most of us don't realize that progress of metros has not been replicated in villages to complete extent and this is not just about progress, but also about the lifestyle and beliefs. Issues like widow remarriage, casteism, etc. may appear obsolete to us but they are still relevant in the context of villages.

The big problem with today's youth is that they are not bothered about things which indirectly affect them. It's not about the motive of going to cinema hall (entertainment) rather the real reason is that most of us want to receive only those messages which fit into our thought process. Rang De Basanti struck a chord with us, because modern youth can relate with these issues; however we can't feel similar empathy for other issues which don't concern us directly. Doesn't this indicate about our conditional morality! We ignore things which don't concern us directly bur fail to realize their impact on not only us but also on the whole society, whether in direct or indirect sense. This basic thinking is leading us nowhere but deeper in the well of immorality. This is also the basic reason why the society-divide is increasing day-by-day.

What seems is that if we are not careful, our society will rip itself from the inside out. We are definitely under attack every day as our morals and ways of life are being challenged. The most important reason for this is the lack of good moral leadership.  If the leaders and influencers of the upcoming generation can teach and live a good example, we can provide a good life for future generations. Who are these leaders? Who are these influencers? Who can be the champions? Of course the leaders of nations, the popular icons (music, sports, film etc), parents and teachers, and then last, every individual. Though I would like the highlight and dwell on roles needed to be played by parents, I will talk about the last and most important champion of moral reform, the "individuals" themselves. 

It's important to not to just cultivate our own gardens, and live in a comfortable family life, but also to participate in shaping the courses that govern our collective thought: and to have a say in the 'collective destiny' of humankind.  People need to be good and to be the cause of something that will better society as a whole. To put it this way, it's not just being simply good, it's about being good for something.

To have enough influence to create a moral change, we need the individuals themselves to have the drive.  This drive is something that cannot be forced or impressed upon any individual.  Moral reform of the country is a big movement.  If the individual is not deeply committed to the cause, it will not last, nor will it have to drive to push the much needed moral change. It takes conviction brought upon by the individual's free will.

Possibly these agents of moral change, these champions, maybe a minority when they begin but history testifies about the influence and end results of minority movements. Most freedom struggles, be it Indian or American, were a minority movements, and a minority movement is all it takes to make a nation aware of a problem.  It can be likened to the ripple in the pond.  All it needs is one starting ripple, and it will spread much farther than it started. And as Robert Kennedy once said,

"Each time a man (or woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ideal Match

One big disadvantage of getting a job is that people start following-up with your marriage. This phenomenon increases multi-folds when you've got a job after completing your MBA because an MBA degree indicates that you've completed your education and won't be interested in going for further studies though this argument doesn't hold true as many, sorry a few MBAs also go for research and similar things. Moreover, you would just be hanged if you are an MBA from some IIM because people would then become damn sure about a settled life for you with a decent salary. However, that assumption is now under scrutiny due to the fall of big-salary-packages famed investment banks.

However, I'm not been spared on account of that, due credit to my association with a firm known for retaining employees till death (but believe me, even this gospel truth is getting challenged as Reliance is also on a downsizing spree these days). So, as like any other common Indian boy, all of my relatives including nanad of buaji of bhanji of my taiji have started asking the questions like, "What kind of girl do you want to marry?". Now, there is another technical glitch associated to this problem – I don't have any girl friend so that has basically added to my misery in two ways: one, I can't tell them that I've decided for my life partner and two, I can't jot-down my wish list because I just don't know what traits I want in my life partner.

Today, during the leisure time in my office, I was thinking about this question sincerely. Well, I've not thought about this since ages. When I was in Standard XI, my mantra at for an ideal girl was very simple; she should have had the following characteristics though not in any specific order: good looks, good figure, a fantastic sense of humor, and a really good human being (I could have compromised of last point, though). Now you might have concluded by now, that why I couldn't get a girl friend. I applied Dr. Kalam's vision of "dreaming high" in this context as well and actually took it very seriously – resultantly, I'm still single just like him. However, I presume a person of his calibre must have been single on his own terms, unlike poor me.

Anyways, so I thought about few attributes in this regard and came up with this list:

1. Wavelength – I think by far the biggest element while choosing a partner should be the wavelength between the two - nothing else I feel matters as much. If the wavelength matches then there will never be pregnant pauses between conversations, there will never be statements like 'so what else is happening' a 100 times a day and not even a 'how do we spend time today' kind of feeling.

2. Humor – Strangely, but humor has still found its way in my list, even after 6 long years. I personally believe that humor plays a big part in the success of not only a marriage but also life in general. If a person has a sense of humor and is able to laugh off/at things, it reduces stress to a great extent and makes the marriage happy. It doesn't mean that she has to laugh on all pathetic jokes or non-pathetic-but-jokes by me, rather it's like both of us can take a joke at our expense and laugh off the most horrible situation life throws upon us.

3. Chemistry: After physics of wavelength, it had to be something related to chemistry. And this is not just about oxytocin (scientists claim that this is the hormone responsible) flowing in, after seeing someone. It's more than just looks or initial aura built up by her mere presence. It's about asking yourself whether I would like to spend 365 days a year with her and yeah, 70 years after that.

So that was all what I came up with and actually I realized that it is again abstract and hence, can't be presented as answer to never-ending-questions of never-ending-people-interested-in-my-marriage.

P.S. – Even while writing this, I have started reconsidering my new list and would like to add the first two attributes of the old list (which I prepared in Standard XI).

P.P.S. – Please don't tell my boss that I've some amount of leisure time in office (refer para 3)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Summer Placements

There are two times when I felt that most of my gtalk contacts become active – firstly, when CAT or GD/PI dates are approaching; and when Placement Season is approaching. Due credit to my IIM background, I've been a sought-after mentor amongst the b-school fraternity since the days when I was also a student (or rather, participant) of the b-school. And now as the summer-placement season is on in most of the b-schools, I'm been enquired about a lot of related and not-so-related things. I've found that a lot of people unnecessarily get stressed about getting a 'decent profile' (no definition available for this quoted word, not even in Oxford or Webster's) but as this post will illustrate, it's so simple.

Let's begin with résumé. Many people don't know this, but "résumé" is a french word that means "fictional short story". Do I need to say anything more, after this so-relevant translation? Anyways, let me continue for those people who still want to know more. Well, it is usually 2-3 pages long, and details the chronicles of your life in an entertaining fashion. What you write in your resume is very important, and if you are having trouble filling it up with funny anecdotes then try this. Think about what Superman would do if he had Einstein's IQ and could time travel. Write down all his adventures in your resume and put your signature at the end of it.

As you might know, most resumes have a "hobbies" or "interests" section. The key to filling up this section is to write unverifiable claims that show what an interesting person you are. If people decide to be honest (rather, brutally honest) then they might write lazing around, testing various sleep-inducing methods and collecting swear words in different languages and after writing this, they can be well assured of getting placed on day-n (where n is far greater than zero). It could have rather been rephrased as studying abstract impressionism, skydiving, helping impoverished poor people. No need to mention that the abstract impressionism is "TV", skydiving is really throwing paper planes from rooftops and the impoverished poor person you are helping is yourself.

Anyways, after getting a resume shortlist, the most important thing to follow is an interview. This may sound ironic, but the best way to do well in an interview is to have a misplaced sense of very high self-esteem. Most interviewers can immediately detect if you are low on what's called "self-confidence", so you have to go into the interview thinking you are Brad Pitt (or Angelina Jolie for ladies).

Think about it that there are more candidates than there are puzzles, so the interviewer is going to be asking the same questions over and over again. The best strategy is to ask your friends who went to the interview before you, and then act surprised when the interviewer asks you the same question. So, you can either react like "Aahaaa! I know this one. Page 45 of 100 most asked interview questions. Answer is 25" or you can opt to make few faces, humming dialogues like "interesting and challenging indeed", apply few fundae, and in some 5 minutes say like "Well, 25 should be the answer"

After puzzles, you would be grilled with the most difficult question and indeed a popular one – What is your weakness? Now what you can possibly do is to say, chocolate or gossips or communication skills. Well, these type of "real" weaknesses would blunder your chances. So, better try to say something that is really an advantage to the company, and you cannot help doing it. Something which I just suggested one of my friend on the day before. "I tend to work too hard, sometimes late into the night, because I find it unable to give up on a problem without finishing it."

That would be the "brahmastra" for you which would definitely get you in the firm; and if something is left then utilize the last question – "Anything which you would like to ask us". Don't ask if how much incentives are there, or regarding the work pressure and all. This would deplete your chances, so better ask something like, "What are the learning opportunities for me?" "What can possibly be my career path" and so on.

Follow these steps properly, and you will not be disappointed J

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saturday Night – Unbelievable!!!

People might have the first impression that I am going to scribble something about the night parties at discotheques of mumbai, or at least about some farmhouse party on the weekend. Alas, all of those who thought on these lines have to get disappointed. For me, as it was Saturday yesterday, so I had the enough leeway to watch 2 movies and 1st episode of Smallville Season-8 back-to-back. Coincidentally, both of the movies (despite not being connected to each other even remotely, in terms of cast, language, genre, plot or music) were unbelievable enough to propel me to scribble on them, here.

First movie was "Hancock". It was unbelievable because of the inclusion of things like "God", "Angels" in altogether a new light. It was unbelievable not only because of the stunts but also because of the extent of powers of both super-heroes (yes, for those who have not watched it, it may act as a spoiler) and yeah, it is unbelievable because the concept of Achilles heel and Kryptonite has been revolutionized by the old hindi proverb, "Ek myan me do talwaarein nahi reh sakti".

Second movie was though unbelievable in some other sense. It is unbelievable that how can somebody make such a disaster; its title was "Banaras- A mystic love story" but "Maine baba ko dekha hai" could have been more relevant title. I committed a grave mistake of downloading the movie; however the bigger mistake was that I started watching it. And then the biggest of blunders was to even complete the movie despite forwarding some frames (the whole movie finished in same time as Hancock did, i.e. in 93 minutes) but still I consider it to be blunder. Anyways, about the film- I won't go into the details, it is not worth it anyway, but yeah would like to discuss the hero who is basically an orphan who eventually grows up on the Ghats of Banaras and somehow manages to pick up the knowledge of music in depth. Oh yeah, he has a six pack too. I always wonder how come most of the bollywood heroes are born and brought up on streets and yet manage to have six pack iron pumped bodies. Also, no matter what, all have them manage to hold on to a girl. Sadly, I still belong to the under privileged strata of the society in this regard.

Anyways, I also watched the Season 8 Premiere show of Smallville, which definitely lived up to my expectations and made my comics-lover heart go for a refreshing ride. Amazingly and surprisingly this series, based on a super-hero (possibly, the first popular super hero), is far more believable than the movies which I watched before. It seems like this is getting better-than-ever-before and thus, it is the only series which have compelled me to watch as many as seven seasons (24 being the close second with five seasons). So this was technically not-so-unbelievable Saturday night and yeah, as they say, "All's well that ends well"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Winning - An Engima (contd...)

I don’t know why but I’ve always been fascinated by the winning. That is perhaps the reason why I’m here with another post on this phenomenon. I never planned for a sequel or something but that just did happen because of the quote which ended yesterday’s post. I don’t know if many people have been inspired by that quote in past, but I surely know two individuals getting inspired all the time hearing that. No prize for guesses, first person is Rocky and second one is yours truly. So, finally I get a chance to feature my name alongside Rocky, otherwise we’ve nothing in common be it in terms of grit, determination, focus or even in the number of girl friends.

Anyways, proceeding with the phenomenon of winning, I would like to refer to an anonymous quote (or at least I don’t know who said it) – “Destination is important, but not as important as the journey itself.” It all boils down to the debate of ends v/s means. The end can always justify the means. But each and everything you do may not be focused towards achieving the means. As I see it, this is just like the F1 Season. You may not win every race, you may not even have a podium finish all the time; but in the end, the one who endures and comes out on top collectively is the Winner.

Moreover, I consider winning to be a subjective concept at few times. Apart from those obvious victories, I hold the view that it doesn't matter if you're a winner or not in the world's eyes at the end. It will matter though - to yourself - which you stood up for what you believed in, and kept standing. Again, if I cite an example from a place which is known for both kinds of winning- obvious and not-so-obvious: The Olympics. When Wilma Rudolph’s mother was told by the doctors at the hospital that her daughter would never be able to walk again (due to the polio), she didn’t believe it. It was that disbelief that enabled her child to walk years later. It was that same disbelief that allowed America to enthrone the first woman in history to win 3 Olympic Gold medals in a row.

Winning doesn’t restrict to sports, it has far more meanings across various spheres of life. Life is said to be cruel and unkind, but I believe that life will never be cruel or unkind to that person whose face is marred by sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. That person doesn’t derive any meaning of life; rather he is the one who gives meaning to “life” in general, for he is the person who has made the world know the real art of living- living a life of champion.

My last opinion for today’s post is that we are all champions in our own way. That doesn't mean every one of us has to be number 1 or be the best. However, it definitely calls for every one to give his/her best. If you aren't first, then make those people ahead of you break records by pushing them with your personal best. Consider for a moment what we achieve from competition apart from the sheer fun of competing - courage, perseverance, dedication, commitment, selflessness and most importantly, the will to excel. So, let the people remember that there was somebody with the name Peyush or Sandeep or Nishant or XYZ, who competed hard and lived as champion. Mohammed Ali once said,

“Champions aren´t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a dream, a desire, and a self-belief.”

Friday, September 19, 2008

Talent v/s Temperament

In reply to Pakistan's 223, India was cruising along at 147 for one and looked all set to take a big first innings lead. Pakistan needed a miracle but Rahul Dravid looked all set and Sachin Tendulkar was all fit after the back injury at Chennai/Kotla which was going to hurt his career for quite some time in the future to come.

Bang!!!! A scorching Yorker dismantled the timber behind Rahul Dravid. More than 100,000 people welcomed the little master only to see him getting a golden duck for the first time in his career to a Yorker which was even better than the previous one. A star was born or proved the shine it had shown in his very short career so far was a promising one – Shoaib Akhtar. Indians wondered, like they had done for so many years, on how Pakistan keeps getting timely replacements for their soon to be gone speedsters. Pakistan was proud to see that someone could take the lead once the two W's would go in next few years and by than he would get the traditional training of conventional banana swing, mysterious reverse swing, toe crushing Yorkers and beheading bouncers. For the next couple of ODI series, he was the biggest tormentors for the gentlemen holding willow in their shaking hands.

He used to be a bowler who needed nothing in terms of pitch, weather, exceptional fielding or umpires' help to send batting orders packing. He had the hostility of Walsh but he lacked his honesty towards the game, he had the guile of Akram but he lacked his grit, he had the curving swing of Younis but he lacked his commitment. However, he never needed the poison spitting mouths of Mcgrath or Donald like those three. In his career he just displayed glimpses of his talent but when he did, he looked like a champion and a true crowd puller. You would love to watch him bowl no matter if he is in your side, against you or you are a neutral viewer. However, what followed is not-so-pleasant story. He became a classical case of "would have been" and temperament letting down the talent or an ultimate wastage.

I am writing on him because today an article attracted my attention which had his mention. The article stated that PCB has finally allowed him to play in the domestic 20-20 competition. After the reduction in ban (now it is only for eighteen months) and a splendid performance for Kolkata Knight Riders in his brief stint, this PCB decision must have added to his comfort level.

Anyways, what essentially I wanted to point out here is the role of temperament and talent in somebody's life or say, career at least. Talent can definitely give you a start but temperament and hard work has to be there for the support or else everything just turn out ugly. Already-very-much-discussed Kambli-Tendulkar saga is another example in this context. I believe, sports is just one area, there are a lot more places where this concept apply.

Even in real life, people often lose their bearings once they taste the success. I consider success to be a drug which rather than making people addict of it, turns them away from itself. And the worst part is that there are very less examples in this world, where people have made a comeback after falling into the depth of success-aftermath. Hence, I think that people need to be very cautious while handling the success and if they fail in doing so – they should still feel optimistic with these lines and fight for a winning comeback:


"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done. Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that."

Thursday, September 18, 2008


With women I refer to the whole female category which in turn includes all of them who consider themselves girls, ladies, women, or anything but men. They have actually acquired even the 'boy' tag and use it for themselves as 'tom boy'. So, you may decide to call the devil by any name, I would continue using the term 'women'.

Carrying forward this concept of nomenclature, I stumbled across two more terms: Fairer sex (commonly used by those popular guys upon whom girls fall like the all-out infected mosquitoes, and for obvious reasons one of which is the usage of this term) and Weaker sex (primarily used by organizations like Mahila Mukti Morcha or the political parties or the people who have lost their senses in recent past). I never understood as why these terms are been used to devise women.

Regarding the fair thing- well they might be fairer in color but in all of the other contexts, you would find them standing at the opposite end of the fairness spectrum. Moreover, even if a fraternity, after being painfully verbose, common sensically non sensical, with logic as a distant dream and with understanding of word cricket as a game of aliens, has such a decision power in its hands that makes a male wonder if he is going to die virgin, it cannot be weaker sex at least. Just cannot be. So, I seriously doubt on both of these things too.

Anyways, for those who have begun cursing me for what I've written till now; should begin cursing the movie from which I got an inspiration to write. The best thing about movie is not the plot, not even those few good acting performances, not even the fashion statement and not even Anne Hathaway. The best thing was its title which resonates with the common philosophy amongst misogynists (I hate these kind-of people) – The Devil Wears Prada. Actually, this title attracted me a lot and I was not disappointed either, because of some wonderful performances. One more thing (actually the best thing) which I liked about the movie was the ability of a woman to take her own decisions. And these decisions don't pertain to just career decisions by the leading ladies but also really "big" decision by the main character to step aside from something which she didn't want to do and to let go.

I strongly believe in this philosophy of letting go when you begin feeling that few things are not meant to be your priorities. I think that we do not earn-and-then-spend our money on a lot of material possessions - we rather spend money to create memories for the people we love. Those are the only things one can take away. When health is gone or someone dies… or it's a hard year at school, the memories are still there…to open the windows of a child's mind…to make him or her laugh and feel warm and strong inside where it counts. And this is something which I could find more in a woman than in a man. They have thus, indirectly (or sometimes, even directly) acted as an inspiration in evolving me from an anxious and a career-oriented (rather career-blinded) individual to a more optimistic, and a more caring person. For being my silent inspiration, I respect the women, I adore them, and love them, but yeah, I don't stop being afraid of them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Ohk, so it was again a big break from blogging, for me and this time there was no reason as such. Anyways, following the old saying of better late than never, I've decided to scribble something today. I was wondering if what should I begin with and this was not because of dearth of ideas, rather because of so many contemporary things happening in the areas of terrorism, economics, politics, sports these days, all at once. So, I decide to defer my opinion on these issues for some other time and meanwhile, I've my favorite thing to talk about – Smile.

Mother Teresa once said, "Peace starts with a smile." There is no second opinion on the ability of smile to completely change your mood, your outer appearance, and the impact you have on others: possibly even more so than positive words of affirmation and encouragement. Smile is one of the best expressions of emotions while somebody is having pleasure or is in good mood (apart from those regular formal gestures). You know what is the best part of an emotion is? It is that facial expressions are universally almost the same, regardless of what part of the world we are from. This does suggest that we as humans are hard-wired to express and respond to emotions in a particular way, rather which it being brought about through our conventional or cultural wisdom.

The sight of a person smiling triggers the observer's brain area associated with feelings of happiness or pleasure. Remember this old saying: "If you smile, the whole world does indeed smile with you" If ever you're feeling low, or life seems to be handing you just a bit more than you can handle, a very good place to begin feeling better is in your very own bathroom mirror. Practice smiling at yourself early in the day, or before you leave the house, because it can change how you're feeling, and therefore your whole day may change because of it. This does work so for your own sake - try it if ever you need to.

Even if you aren't near a mirror, and you're feeling less than average, learn to become aware of the smile process, and practice smiling and actually feeling the difference in your inner feelings. The difference may only be small at first, but it may be enough to change your day, and more.

Like everything in life: If at first you don't succeed, then fake it 'til you make it!

Regardless of how you're feeling right now, please smile at least once for the sake of this post. And keep smiling as often as you can - because it does suit you; you know - it really does!


Friday, September 5, 2008

Teacher’s Day

Teacher's day during my school-time, used to be a whole lot of fun as we used to put up small skits and other programs to entertain our teachers. I remember we used to take time off from our classes around two weeks before teachers day to practice for the program that was to be held on the main day. Some of us would put up a dance show, while others sang group or solo numbers.

On the final arrival of teachers' day, the atmosphere in the school campus was one of cheerfulness and lots of activity as everybody got ready for the days events. The best part for students of senior class was to enact his/her favorite teacher and take three or four lectures on this day. Apart from this, teachers would come in their beautiful sarees or suits and used to interact informally with the students. There were a lot of games to follow; in which we used to distribute some gifts to both the winners and the non-winners (how can we address our teachers as losers). With the approaching of teacher's day, I remember with much fondness the good old days in school. This year, I decide to celebrate the teacher's day with only paying my gratitude to whole teaching fraternity but also scribbling something, on them here.

After the loving lap of a mother, and safe surroundings of a family, the child goes to his/her second learning world called School. At this vulnerable age when the child is at threshold of a New World, what affects him most is his teacher. After mother, teacher is the most important part of a child's growth, his vision, his dreams and his future. The task of a teacher is to stimulate "apparently ordinary" people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners:  it is in making winners out of ordinary people. If we try to take an in-depth peek in some famous people's life we can see that they were motivated, encouraged and made to dream impossible by their teachers only. After reading Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam's autobiography, Wings of Fire, I was moved to see the influence of his teachers in his life from the early stages of his education. And today he is the dream man for India, who not only successfully ran his tenure but also gave vision to many and made them dream that nothing is impossible.

It is evident that a teacher plays very essential role, more than anyone does in a student's life. A good teacher takes students with him to the regions, which are shut and he is the one who opens them and let them explore on their own and stays with them as a guide. He needs to have a command that stays with a student and fills them with a fear, which is due to respect and not out of stick which he carries. Making a successful man out of every child may be a tough task, but making him humane enough is more challenging. Only a good citizen can serve his family, society and his country. Only a good human can cultivate another better human.

Well, there might be some views that teachers are getting more money-oriented and less caring for their students. I can't buy their views because all the teachers I had in my life were nothing less than great. They weren't mere a transmitter of bookish knowledge rather they were the creator of those conditions which helped me find my own way, allowing me to flower as an unique, integrated and some-what complete individual. My teachers form a part of not only my past but also of my present & future just because they are, in one way or another, a part of my personality.

Lastly, I could never be less thankful to my teachers for inculcating those virtues which transformed me from a living being to a 'human being'. I hope I'll not let you down, dear sirs and ma'ams – a very happy teacher's day to you all. J

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Free Society

Recently, I was going through some news portal when I found an article on free society. It reminded me of Milton Friedman's works on his point of view with regard to relationship between free society and economics. This made me feel like writing what I think about it from a non-economic angle. More than often, if not always, we all cry about India being no longer a free society. Also, people raise processions for certain other kind of freedoms and demand for a free society. However, do we really realize what it exactly takes to make it to a free society?

It is a common habit to get biased on some thing, and free society being no exception either. People forget that there are always two different sides of a coin (barring the famous 'Sholay coin' and also the one recently seen with Harvey Dent) There is no doubt that freedom is good but to what extent. To cope with it, we escape saying, "Freedom of a person should be unlimited as long as it isn't intruding his/her neighbor". Well, I believe that it is a good constraint however not an exhaustive one. For e.g. should we allow people to consume drugs or should we allow people to commit suicide? Well, we can't; actually we should not. Excessive freedom will take its toll, if not been regularized properly.

Forget about just the extent of freedom; I would also like to suggest something on the maintenance of a so-called free society. I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing and it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind. It requires a willingness to put up with temporary evils on the basis of the subtle and sophisticated understanding that if you step in to do something about them you not only may make them worse, you will spread your tentacles and get bad results elsewhere.

Talking about the obstacles in attaining free society, the fundamental threat is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated by a system of checks and balances. But is this possible in real world? I seriously doubt because the concentration of power could never have been stopped in the past, not by any form of governance whether democracy or monarchy, not by any form of society whether capitalist or socialist and not even by any form of religion.

Another big hindrance towards attainment of a free society would be on the accountability and responsibility side of life. The inevitable result of the acceptance of determinism, of the belief that no one is responsible for anything, is the kind of whining, blame shifting, and abdication of responsibility we have all around us today. Any advocate of freedom, any advocate of civilization, has to challenge the doctrine of psychological determinism and has to be able to argue rationally and persuasively for the principle of psychological freedom or free will, which is the underpinning of the doctrine of self- responsibility.

So, I think the need of present hour is to revisit the concept of free society and see if how relevant it is; and also, look out for the possible customized version of free society for our society.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Caste-based Reservation System

I consider the biggest hurdle in resolving an issue is either the communication gap or the reluctance of people to accept other person's point. In the context of reservation, both of these hurdles are acting simultaneously. This is a very sensitive issue and hence politicians often bypass it on discussing over it at public forums. However, if you've ever participated on any chai-ki-thadi-discussions (coffee house debates would sound more sophisticated) or get a chance to listen to any of the daily up-downers debate in train or even the canteen gossips, this issue rises almost everywhere. This is where the major problem lies, people proposes but politicians disposes. Anyways, I'm free to give my opinion over it and here, I'm.

Reservation supporters often argue that affirmative action schemes are in place in many countries including USA, South Africa, Brazil etc. However, these people forget that these affirmative action programmes especially in the USA, differ significantly from the caste-based reservation system in place in India. Affirmative Action in the USA recognizes that there are multiple factors of exclusion and discrimination working in society (such as race, gender, economic factors etc) while caste-based reservations focus only on caste at the cost of addressing social justice concerns more effectively for the sake of narrow political ends. I believe that reservation only on the basis of caste tends to only perpetuate caste in society rather than eliminate it as a factor of social consideration, as envisaged by the Indian Constitution. It also weakens the notion of democratic citizenship by evaluating a person not on the basis of his/her merits or achievements or personal characteristics, but rather on the basis of accidents of birth.

One very interesting thing about reservation in India is that the "new beneficiaries" of the reservation system has been on a steep fall for last two decades or so (refer ISI survey). Can anyone please explain me why it was so when we've yet not touched one-tenth of the lives which we aimed to. Let me tell you, it is just because of the lack of logic and sense in prevailing system. Whatever is going on, is nothing but a political melodrama where politicians (one of them who used to change diapers in a school is now a billionaire in such a short time) are playing with the lives of the people who elected them. People often say that to provide social justice to the most marginalized and underprivileged is our duty and their human right. Their argument is that reservation will really help the marginalized people to lead successful lives, thus eliminating caste-based discrimination which is still widely prevalent in India especially in the rural areas. (about 60% of Indian population stays in Villages) But they forget the basic point which is that villages consist not only of the so called "lower classes" but also of the "upper castes"(30% rural population comprises upper castes according to national surveys). The economic conditions of the latter might not be much better than the former due to the fact that India's rural areas are generally not developed and lack in basic infrastructure and education and health facilities(More than 25% of Upper castes are illiterates and 65% upper castes income is below Rs 525/Month). In light of this, it is unfair to exclude the poor amongst the "upper castes". It is also unfair to not to exclude the rich or the influential amongst the "lower castes"(Many people from backward classes & minorities appear in Forbes rich Indians list).

People often argue that the basic feature of the caste system is endogamy. According to them, reservation is everywhere in India - The head of a big firm is always the son of the company's chair, irrespective of the fact that there is another meritious person. They say that the post of Temple priest in some temples is reserved only for a man from the Brahmin Caste, even if there is another person who knows the mantras. They believe that there is no opposition to these kinds of reservations, since these are for the benefits of "upper castes" while the only opposition is the reservations in education, since those would benefit people from the "lower castes" to climb the social ladder. For all those arguments, I want to comment that a distinction has to be drawn between the actions of a family-owned company or a religious foundation and the policies of a state founded on the principals of Secularism and Democracy. Meritocracy does not mean father has to transfer his wealth to best person ignoring his son and mother has to feed food to best child ignoring her own child. Inheritance of family owned properties is accepted practice all over the world. Denial of rights to section of population only based on birth without considering other factors was being followed in countries like South Africa in Apartheid era and being followed only in India and Malaysia currently. The most loaded question of present hour is – Whether this prevailing system is serving the purpose of unifying the society or is it rather worsening the divisions within society!


Well, let me tell you the truth that this is an excerpt from just another nukkad-discussion which took place today and I've tried to keep the arguments .and counter-arguments as it is. More views are always invited as it would provide a broader approach to our thoughts.