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May 17, 2016


Development

Development
Modi got a clear verdict at the hustings as people believed in him to deliver on development.
Development is a slogan nobody dares to doubt. But, what does it mean? We are usually in a spot of bother whenever we question what passes for common knowledge. I remember Finar discuss what an alkaloid is, leaving it inconclusive, even though people may never miss to identify an alkaloid.
Development takes place all the time whether one plans or not. We have come to assume by development a programme which will galvanise the factors of production creating employment and wealth. That much should be above dispute.
My problem arises when I look into the future from where we stand today. We live in overcrowded cities with pollution levels above tolerance and lack of basic necessities like water and power. Land is scarce too and what is attempted is redistribution with the concomitant social issues and political meddling. Can this game go on and on?
It is my guess that as technology advances, it guzzles up more and more resources to create fewer and fewer jobs, or automates cutting down jobs not really compensated by creation of jobs elsewhere as argued in the past. I wonder if any study has been made to see whether the change from agricultural to manufacturing has created or destroyed jobs. I visited a viscose rayon plant which was put up on a river bank cutting off water to the farmers. Even drinking water had become scarce to them. The state is reeling under drought today. There is of course no immediate connection between the two, but is it what we will be leading to in the not-so-distant future? Who can give a reliable answer?
Is the development model we have embarked on wise or is it a will-o-the –wisp?
Who is bothered? We destroy nature which supports life in the quest to make a living for a surging population and for increasing the comforts of a virtual world.
Is there an alternative? Maybe, but it will not be workable. We are holding on to the tail of a tiger.


November 30, 2015

ISIS

The West had dealt with the world on unfair terms. It has treated the life of a Westerner as more precious than others. It has paid lip sympathy when attacks were on the third world and presumably much of the money it has pumped for fighting terror has gone to strengthen it. It has acted in self-interest blindly and the result is the current reaction. Its consumerism is an abetting factor.
Unless the West sees certain broad humanitarian principles and acts in concert at the roots, there can be no peace. The bombing of Syria will not do away with ISIS. So long as people subscribe to a belief and are willing to die in its cause, terrorism will be a real threat. As of now, there is no solution in sight. We have to live to have equality, freedom and faith. Forces that threaten life in small or big way, in accordance with some archaic law or flouting law, have to be neutralized. That is a big challenge and we are yet to wake up to it.

November 28, 2015


Intellectual property
  
The West is at great pains to ascribe discovery to certain individuals, including philosophical ideas. In India, anonymity has been preferred.
I wonder how far it is right to credit anyone fully for anything. Even Einstein concedes that his theory is on the back of much that has gone before. Nothing happens from a vacuum, but for the idea of creation which is dogma till now.
No one may be accused of plagiarism, but certain things are at the subconscious level, and one may not really know the triggers for the ideas that appear novel and blaze a new trail.
Intellectual property rights is an offshoot of this fixation. It is believed that it encourages innovation and progress. This may have to be debated.
An open society with sharing and modest claim to originality may mean a better world where there is contentment and cohesion.



September 02, 2015


Village


Village must be made the fulcrum of India. That will be a real tribute to Gandhi.
When I visited a village in Germany, where Cosmos parked us for a night as the rent was cheap there, I saw it was a village for being small, but had every convenience. We need to develop our villages like that. Possibly, the villages can be powered by solar power. Clean air and water must be a relatively easy thing to provide.

A village can be economical by recycling and avoiding conspicuous consumption and waste. Even retired people must find a village a better place to spend the twilight years merging with nature as a precursor to absorption into nature. There could be old age homes in some villages for those who may not afford independent living.

What will sustain a village? Apart from agriculture, much of what can be done without a regular office can be done there. We can develop artisans, providing training, inputs and marketing.

It will be a good idea to take school children to live in a village during vacation. Learning agriculture and living with nature is a healthy pursuit.

Prof. Indiresan once wrote how providing metros, flyovers, etc. in a crowded city would attract more immigration and more crowd, necessitating such improvements on an ongoing, unsustainable basis. Cities must be made costly so that a city does not attract people who can live comfortably in a village.

Lalu’s call for smarter villages rather than smarter cities is the right noise. Why he did not do it when he had the power is fodder for politics. The sense in this call is undeniable.


February 14, 2015



Freebies

Freebies
Enticing the electorate with freebies, a form of large scale corruption, is indulged in even by parties that have an ostensible purpose of rooting out corruption. That is the true Indian-ness – susceptibility to corruption, obtaining something out of the way.
The mentality for this may have its basis in our desiring something free, without working or paying for it. In Tamizh, we have a word ‘கொசுறு’ something extra. When a vendor measures out the demanded quantity, the buyer asks for a little more, kosuru. This is dubbed as ‘kosuru buddhi.’ The election promise exploits this expectation.
Can everything be free? Perhaps, it was so before man’s intervention with economics. But, even in the natural order, effort was required to get one’s wants. Economics only tried to intermediate through money for the price of efforts and goods. A few people, the old and infirm, the destitute and neglected, may qualify for free goods and services. That is not an aspect of economics, but an essential of social justice. It is a well thought out state policy. But, when across the board anything is offered free, it defies economic fundamentals and social fairness. It cannot be sustained without adverse consequences sooner or later.
I heard it said that in T.N. agricultural labour has become scarce as people were getting things free. A contractor in Bengaluru told me that building labour was difficult to source because people who used to come from the border villages had no compulsion to work.
The freebies are mainly offered by state governments and they look to the centre for resources. That is a potential field of conflict. With different parties in various places, partisan attitudes are possible and will be alleged anyway. Is there a way out?
I feel that the free component of any goods or services may be prescribed uniformly so that in one nation, all people are equal at least in eligibility for freebies. The free component must be moderate and any usage above it must be so priced as to make the provider of goods and services viable overall. That will give inducement for production or make state where it is the producer stay afloat with its own accruals.
In the absence of a sensible solution to this mad rush to garner votes at the expense of public finance, we may be headed for disaster, a failed state as an equal to our neighbour.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014



Hindi

Hindi is not the sole language of India, nor is it the language of the majority. We can go back to a conglomerate of linguistic nations and avoid the conflict. Two nations among the conglomerate who do not share a common language may decide by mutual agreement how they should communicate. Maybe sign language can be tried. Just as Hinduism is not the sole religion of India, Hindi is not its sole language. We are a pluralistic society unlike Japan, Germany, France, etc. People from these countries do talk in English where it matters. No one is trying to say that all should know English. But, English serves a useful purpose and until such time the whole country is at ease with any other language, there is no sensible purpose in acting high-handedly, uppishly and provocatively. Let us attend to development, acche din, ridding of corruption, cleanliness, women safety, inflation, etc. We cannot eat literature or Hindi. Let us feed the people properly. Hindi can come by the bullet train when the whole country has connection by bullet trains.

I find conversing in Hindi as much a problem as any Indian finds English. I am comfortable in Tamizh, not English. I do not mean just me (so many non-Hindi speaking ordinary people, they are just not TN alone, but in 60% of the country at least; I have nothing to lose, I got everything by luck). The only viable is to continue with English as long as necessary, a solemn promise made by Nehru. Let Hindi people talk in Hindi, let them have everything English but English, who am I to object to it? But, let them not expect that I will be willing to be a second class citizen in the country in which I am born. I am proud of my language, and literature is being produced in Tamizh despite English dominance for more than 2 hundred years. It is a continuous stream running for several millenia. Tamizh is a classical language by global recognition. As for countries that are multilingual, I know of none that is as complex as India and which has forced its way to be unilingual. My arguments are sound and well-meaning. I want the real issues to be attacked and the country to make economic progress. Arts, literature, philosophy flourish in a prosperous country. Let us work for prosperity, let us feel our way through with concern and love not dogma and false call of patriotism.

To connect two people, desire and heart are needed. Thereafter, communication flows. Language arose from need to communicate, not the other way. My mother and a Bengali lady used to communicate with no common language in London. We will pick up. You are proficient in Hindi because of exposure and interest. So we have to create conditions of exposure and interest (applies to all learning). To make it compulsory is to stir a hornet's nest.

-http://en.wikipedia.org/.../List_of_countries_where....

en.wikipedia.org

One-third of the world deals in English from what I see. The point on which a swadesi is sore is that India has had a richer tradition and status than many of these countries. But, we let ourselves slip. We cannot make up for it in a draconian way. I believe we will enrich our mother tongues also by latching on to English and by freely borrowing English words. That is how a language grows. Look at the richness of English and the plethora of sources it has borrowed from.
  

June 21, 2014



How to end corruption



How to end corruption

Corruption is endemic in India. The reasons for this are many. It is said, and it has some validity, that our faith has in it the seeds of corruption. Leaving aside faith, which is a sacred cow, it is rather obvious that corruption is ingrained in us for some reason or other.
Corruption occurs at various levels. It is a fashion to ascribe corruption to politicians and public sector. While it is undeniable that there is widespread corruption among politicians, babudom and public sector in general, it does not stop there. Like service, corruption also is sector-neutral. In fact this is one field where there is wide public private participation.
How does corruption affect us? ‘Petty’ corruption pinches directly (like a policeman demanding money, money to be paid for water, electricity connection, etc.). Corruption of the scale of 2G affects indirectly. The difference is between direct taxes and indirect taxes. (Kalidasa describes Himalaya as the measuring rod for the earth. Likewise, 2G will be the yardstick for some time for ministerial corruption. Anything lesser may be overlooked as fleabite.)
Can petty corruption be done away with? This will be palpable if done since it concerns our day-to-day living. It will be difficult, however, to be sure of the Himalayan corruption. There are some well-educated, intelligent ministers who are past masters in leaving no tracks that will lead to them in an exposure.
Now, what do those who raise the ruckus on the issue promise?  Do they promise to eradicate all forms of corruption or only the 2G type? Performance comes later. Is there clarity on what they promise?
There is a saying that possession is nine-tenths ownership. The corrupt are of the view that taking money is nine-tenths outside the arm of law. It is far from clear how a new law (lok pal) will make a huge difference. It is in implementation that all laws tumble down.
It does not mean that there is no hope. But it calls for looking at what causes corruption possible and address those issues. Permit-licence-quota regime was a fertile breeding ground for corruption. When these were dismantled, corruption in those areas became impossible. Controls and discretionary release of controls breed corruption. We have to remove controls boldly in many areas.
Sales tax.
Computerisation has increased convenience and also made evasion and manipulation more difficult. Capturing transactions online and hyperlinking can make a dent. Railways is an instance where customer convenience has increased and an apparent order achieved by computerization.
Another way is to fix time limit for disposing of applications for government service and fixing accountability for non-observance of the time limit. All this can be done online.
Shortages lead to malpractices. Working on the supply side will reduce these.
The public have a duty too. Unless we are determined, corruption will never go. A village official who hoodwinked the illiterate villagers and made money on their ignorance remarked 50 years ago, ‘As long as there are gullible people, cheats will thrive.’ As long as people are ready to bribe, corruption will continue. The bureaucrats and politicians are not dropped from Mars, but are from among us.


uly 26, 2016 ·
Muslims

There is a strong air of distrust between ‘Hindus’ and Muslims. The more we want to be discreet not to mention it, the more it seems to grow.
All of us have true Muslim friends who feel warmly to us and whom we regard. In Mumbai and Hyderabad, I had Muslim drivers who shared a family feeling. The Hyderabad driver brought to me the sweet prepared for one of their festivals. The Bombay driver would not charge for personal trip if I engage him (not that I have used it). In my village, there was healthy respect showed by Muslims from neighbouring places. My father took me to a Muslim Unani practioioner in the fifties. I did not see any hostility between people.
Politics and half-baked history have created the prevailing atmosphere of distrust. When I had to leave my mother alone for 2 weeks in Jaipur, a Muslim colleague was her guardian. At the practical level, there is a lot of goodwill between the two communities.
Muslims are as much in fear of insecurity as Hindus fear a terrorist lurking in a Muslim. Both are justified in a measure, but are overblown and played on. A text book Muslim and a text book Hindu are not to be found. There is however a difference. Muslims believe truly and Hindus are indifferent mostly. Strength of one’s belief can lead to anger. But, there are many Hindus who try to emulate in intensity of belief. What we need is creation of open dialogue and build up of trust.
We do not want to see the emergence of a religious state of whatever shade. As it is impossible at present to think of a state with majority of Muslims which can be secular, we need to guard against India becoming a Muslim majority nation. That can happen if the current demographic trend continues.
But, it is necessary to believe in the human bond we all share and strengthen it on humanitarian lines forgetting religious difference.


November 6, 2017 ·
I have read that India was a nation and had a basic unity before the invaders. The notion that the British are responsible for the idea of India as a nation has been challenged. Let it be.
India as a nation or Hinduism as a religion has to be understood differently from other nations and religions.
India was one nation in belief mostly for a long while, the different beliefs appeared to share something common, but it was a collage of many states, 56 in literature, but much more in history. It may still be possible to think that we had several autonomous states, but one nation without the burden of common army, ruler, etc.
As to religion, the sects multiplied ironically with each reformer trying to unify it under some lofty banner and a single god.
The point that we should think as Indians and unite as Hindus remains a noble slogan, a destination that is as near as the horizon. The force of culture, differentiation being its basic trait, asserts itself over statement of intention. We think as a group within a group – region, language, caste, sub-sect, work, etc. forming the basis for grouping.
Let India roll on without our trying to check its course. Let there be threat to Hinduism. It will produce more great men. Its spiritual saga will continue under variety and adversity. Try to steamroller it into some homogeneity that is artificial and based on a unity that nature has not intended, it will lose its vitality.
Let us remember what Kunti prays: “May there be misfortunes to us so that you will remain in our hearts, O Krishna.”

And also what Krishna says, “Whenever there is decline of virtue, I appear to protect virtue and the virtuous.”


April 2, 2017 ·
Patriotism
The following are not marks of patriotism:
1. Hindi chauvinism. Preference for English is not anti-national. Yes, English is a colonial hangover, so are dress, hairstyle, etc. English is perhaps the most beneficial hangover.
2. Vegetarianism. Ancient India never advocated vegetarianism even to Brahmins. Non-veg. food of diverse animals has been in vogue. Only beef has been taboo. But, there were beef eaters and it was not imposed on them not to eat beef. I see why anyone should object to beef being eaten by people who have no compunction about it.
3. Culture. Like in language and rituals, we have been a country of varied culture and social practices. Absorption and tolerance have been the distinguishing traits. To expect some sort of cultural homogeneity is impractical.

4. Everyone is of Hindu origin. While historically it may even be true (one does not know however what a Hindu is) and scientifically we may be related in DNA, when we refer to Hindu, it denotes a faith, which is a dress we choose to wear. If someone has changed the faith, that is the external reality. Except bigots, no one knows about the soul and its after-death fate. To try to force the issue is to divide us irreconcilably.


November 1, 2017 ·
How far are we justified in complaining?
Everyone complains except the man in the street working for his daily meal. He has one means of complaint, a vote once in five years. He makes the best use of that rare chance, selling it to the highest bidder. We may say from ivory tower that there lies the rub; that if he exercises the vote judiciously, we will have better governance. That is just not true though. It presupposes that there is a choice between what is good and what is rank bad. It is like the assumption of the economics that man is rational.

There is a fruit vendor near my house selling on the road paying rent for the road to the policemen like all such vendors. He had spent a fortune in educating his son and is in debt of Rs.5 lakhs. His business is also tepid with police renting out the road to more vendors.

There was a lady selling greens, must be in her early fifties. One day, the servant maid brought the tragic news that she took her life because of dispute with her married daughter. That must be over money, I presume.
There is a coconut water vendor who told me that his mother was ill and he had to spend Rs. 3 lakhs. He was happy that she got better. He had to borrow Rs. 2 lakhs to defray the medical expenses.
There was another construction worker who had to keep pampering the greedy son-in-law’s family.
That is real India.
When I think of that and the numerous complaints that we have, how our salaries and pension are a pittance, medical benefits are stingy, interest rates are low, petrol price is astronomical, etc. (not minding anyway the fat hotel bills, entertainment costs, and so on), I am left bewildered.
Whom should the govt. care for more? The govt. seems to be bothered about legislators and its own servants going by the hefty increases to them in the recent past. The mischief started there. If they can be paid so much for talking nonsense or pushing files and even offered immunity for not doing work, those in public sector exposed to risk would deserve more.

It leaves me at a loss how we are going to become a better nation, Modi or no Modi.


Down the sinuous path of an unsteady mind
What should a singer sing? There have been popular singers who read the pulse of the audience uncannily and delivered masterful concerts. One singer, when asked whether he would like to go by the preference of rasikas, quipped, ‘Which rasika’s preference should I follow?’ That is both sensible and stupid. It is sensible because there will be divergence of views. It is stupid because the singer is singing for the audience and must take into account what the majority are likely to relish. That has to be done intuitively, not by some referendum. A singer, on top in concert circles, said, ‘I create music and make the audience relish it. I do not play to the gallery.’ That is the hallmark of an artist, a performer, a player, and a leader.
When we come to politics, which interests us and wrecks us, the question of doing what the people like or making the people accept what is done assumes polemical importance. People including me would like to show that we are democratic and that one must honour the sentiments of the people. We think that like weather report there is some bulletin from where we can gauge the public mood. Yet, a leader has to do it if he likes to survive. That eagerness to survive rather than perform is the bane of democratic politics, spawning freebies, violence, strange bedfellows, and many ills that plague us. 
One CM tried inviting public opinion on issues and no one hears of it any more. That was daft to start with, and failed miserably. A general must decide, not debate. A leader must lead, not follow. To be able to follow one must have been a good follower. (We see how someone catapulted to the top without grassroot experience makes an ass of oneself.)
Plebiscite or referendum is an option.
Yuval Noah Harari says: “Referendums and elections are always about human feelings, not about human rationality. .. If democracy were a matter of rational decision-making, there would be absolutely no reason to give all people equal voting rights.” About Brexit (the jury is out whether it is a sensible decision): “Richard Dawkins protested that the vast majority of the British public, including himself, should never have been asked to vote in the referendum, because they lacked the necessary background in economics and political science.”
What about data that may be available in public domain that is getting larger by the day? Harari says about data credibility: “Zuckerberg was about to bring out a book about building a global community based on data available with Facebook. At that time, Cambridge Analytical scandal revealed that the data entrusted to FB was harvested by third parties and used to manipulate elections around the world.”
A referendum in an emotionally supercharged atmosphere cannot be a reliable barometer of rational decision making. 
A decision on hunch, gut feeling or some norm is substandard, but then it may be taken when the givens are non-negotiable, time is of the essence and an opportune moment for a consultative decision making is long past.



The commoner’s obiter dicta:

The govt. must think of contributory PF for unorganized sector.
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The govt. must put in place a credible system of tracking the jobless. Everyone cannot be given a govt. or white collar or blue collar job. But everyone must be able to find an avocation to earn a decent living. The govt. must do something serious to keep people feel justified in their trust. It must also contemplate unemployment dole that is sustainable and leak-proof.
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The security cover for all politicians must be reviewed and removed or reduced. When I was in service, V P Singh’s son would come as an employee of an investment bank accompanied by security guards. That was extravagant. There must be many such cases.
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Jobs for locals
This theme is global. We are seeing a backlash to globalization everywhere. Trump is top of the chart. Ann Marie Harmony says that he is the man for the moment. We have to accept not because she is right, but because she is on the spot.
That theme came in Mumbai a long while ago and the protagonists have become a political force with more non-nationalist themes. We see it spreading.
The problem about reservations, and provincialism, stems from lack of enoughjobs. This is complicated by hierarchy in jobs. Most people converge to one type of jobs. General education produces clerical skills, and specialized education tended to produce engineers and doctors. Now, it is software. If dignity of labour were a reality and pay less discriminating, perhaps we would have a better situation. We need people for different types of jobs which must complement each other to let the society run well oiled. There is less glamour or no glamour for farm jobs and even planners and pundits feel that migration of rural people is the solution. That will create only more discontentment and garbage. The point is that there are not enough lucrative jobs.
The Economist brought forth the point that immigrants bring skills and contribute to the kitty much more than they draw. Even the development of Mumbai was due to talent moving in besides natural endowments. People from the south flocked to Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi and now there is reverse migration for jobs. That may be proper nationalism and economic sense. But, we have no time for cool thinking.
As reservations will be part of life, we must take care to see that it does not become too oppressive. There are several central govt. undertakings in various places. Reservation in them for locals will be miscarriage of justice. Private sector may feel that it is a mill round its neck. It must look for fits and not go by sentiments. The reservation cannot be across the board. It must be for unskilled jobs. Such niceties must be factored in.
It may be worthwhile formulating a policy for all regions based on consensus as it will not be possible to hold out against such reservations.
Well, I have expressed my reservations which is more hot air in a tropical country.

Pakistan and Congress have a shared vision: return of Nehru’s rule. That should not be surprising. All steps taken by Congress since 1947 helped Pakistan to turn Kashmir into a cauldron, the necessary background for a militaristic religion (Durant’s terminology, not mine) to take charge. As things seemed to get out of control and Indian options dwindled to zero, Modi govt. changed the game the way no one suspected until the time additional troupes were rushed to Kashmir under the pretext of perceived threat from across the border. Speculation went rife. Though 370 annulment was mentioned, no one knew for sure. When on Monday the announcement came in RS amidst predictable tumult, the surprise element was not total but still it stunned most people. One would have thought that it would have floundered in RS, but, be it behind-the-scene manoeuvre or parties sensing the national mood, the motion had a far easier sail with two thirds voting supporting it. The abstentions were an indirect support. Congress was caught with pants down and is still running naked. Many staunch loyalists demur openly or anonymously (most of them are near anonymous any way.)
I reacted, ‘An ill-advised step,’ a backstab by a ‘notorious bhakt’, and I keep my fingers crossed. There are hurdles to cross and the wisdom of the move will be known only with lapse of time, not days or months, but more. But, in a democracy, dissent cannot be converted to subversion and antinational propaganda based on hunches and fake reports, making it easy for the detractors to pull India down in international fora. Would Congress endorse its LS floor leader’s contention that Kashmir matters must be decided only in consultation with Pakistan?
All statements by Congressmen like Raul Sahib, PC, etc. are in perfect pitch alignment with Pakistan and they have openly acknowledged their indebtedness to Congress and NDTV. I have not heard the voice of Mani Shankar, who is the mole of Pakistan in India. He may be busy in Kashmir or Pakistan for helping the people there.
Right or wrong, no one is willing to part with Kashmir. The peace moves all these years have come unstuck. Right or wrong, the govt. has taken the bull by its horns. Let us not test the valour of the matador by exciting the bull.




July 11, 2016

Charisma

People accept some ‘leaders’ by some characteristic that attracts them, not necessarily their character, competence or contribution. This trait of hero worship is age old.

In independent India, the first instance that comes to mind is Nehru. When he died Rajaji wrote, ‘Vasikara nayakanin sakabdam mudivadainthathu – the era of the charismatic leader has ended.’ His contribution to independent India is rather emotional and ideological, not substantial. This is a bitter criticism, and India did make progress in science and industry in the years when Nehru ruled, but we must compare it with other nations in Asia in the same period and the pernicious dynastic succession that he had cleverly foisted on us. It is a big topic and the only point I like to stay on is that he was the unquestioned public figure of his days on the back of his popular appeal rather than performance.

MGR, a matinee idol, rose to become CM on the back of his carefully built up image as pro-poor and of noble character. We may not get even a glimpse to his real nature. As for pro-poor, his estate devolved on his relatives. I wonder what really has been his contribution to the governance as concerns the poor. Even otherwise, there has been nothing worth writing home about. But, no one dare question MGR in TN.

Diana was so popular. For what? For her looks. I saw nothing of her that deserved mention for public acclamation. She was after sensual things and lived opulently on public money. But she was an icon and her funeral was a national event. It did not happen in Timbaktu, but in UK which once ruled half the world.




We have grown up under the British for 200 years who did much to convert us if not religiously at least in mindset, and since independence in the same mould by anglophiles led by Nehru who despised anything Indian. It is no wonder that The Economist would sound reasonable. Well argued, with facts, so would we feel. I am also a party to it. But, I slowly realised how their take is skewed in matters I knew rather before reading their column. I began to wonder what it would be like where I read it for the first time. I realised that no media puts out news without its own bias and baggage.
Facts are always dicey. What media presents is not fact, but a view. The same event can be presented in different ways depending on the craft of the writer. Again, how material and relevant is the fact? Is an incident representative? Does it truly represent the psyche of the people as a whole? Our thinking is clouded and indecisive. The media tries to fix it for us. Surely we agree because we have arrived at a similar conclusion, but from a base that is common – groomed for long from convent to college and later, in conformity with the angle from which the westerner would look at it. Think for a moment: he looks at it from his perspective and advantage. We do the same. We look at it from his perspective and benefit. 
T C S Srinivasaraghavan once gave an instance of BBC’s objective reporting. When IG was assassinated, the govt. waited before going on the air because it wanted to take security precautions. BBC reported it first – a great feat! When Diana died, the British govt. delayed the announcement and BBC fell in line.
Our views are shaped day in and day out by the media that is controlled by the Lutyens who all operate with vested interests (see articles that bare their ugly face).

It is ok to agree or disagree, but to think that the thinking of others is biased whereas ours is principled is sham.

The problem of today in Kashmir is more of an attempt to establish a caliphate, it is said. The world must wake up. While Kashmir is internal to India and return of PoK has to be settled bilaterally, the idea of caliphate spreading its wings is a bad signal.
Caliphate is a mediaeval idea formed in the dark. In today’s world, the issue is how to make a good living within the reach of everyone by knowledge and application, not by subscribing to superstition and unverifiable promises.
Belief in god is in personal domain and perfectly legitimate so long as god is not turned into a politician vying for power. Through the entire history of organised religion, the clergy have been the regents for the never-to-come-of-age god. But, after the advent of modern ways of govt. like democracy, there are other impostors who rule in the name of the proletariat.
The common man is always an observer, a role caricatured tellingly by R K Laxman.
Let us have the modern impostors, not the mediaeval ones. Let each faith walk in dignity shoulder to shoulder with each other and with disinterested atheism.

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Confusing signals on economy
World economy in trouble. China’s growth falls to the lowest in 27 years. IMF cuts India’s growth rate, but India and China will be the fastest growing economies. What is there to complain for India in isolation?
I see hectic building activity in my neighbourhood and new shops coming up paying high rents. IIM chaps are in high demand. Stock market has bounced back. How do we explain this if economy is stuck?
I do not know of an unemployed youth. The son of a fruit vendor nearby resigned from one job and got into another. Any news of unemployed youth known to FB friends? People lose or quit jobs but land in another. That may be the story for quite some time now, unlike in my generation when it was one husband or widowhood. Is this applicable: “The irony is that the problem isn’t a lack of jobs. Rather, it’s a lack of people with the right skills and knowledge to fill the jobs.”
Prices are more or less steady. There is generally no shortage of any commodity.
Underutilisation of capacity must be there understandably because there has been feverish build-up incommensurate with demand. Auto sector can be in a tight corner because roads are narrow and parking space has been used for building! There was a cartoon that a pedestrian refused lift because he was in a hurry. Why do we need more vehicles?
Yes, some leading indicators show a blip. True, the govt. has been status-quo-ist, instead of boldly reforming and implementing least governance, but the condition may not be alarming. Let me be proved right in the interests of all.

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True nationalism is upholding the idea of India as a sovereign nation against all outside forces, without lionizing any individual, language, region or religion.
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We were long settled to what Rajaji dubbed as licence-permit-quota raj. The businessmen honed their skills in managing regulation whatever it meant. We saw one group being extra smart on it and reap a rich harvest. Their sway continues.
When this behemoth was done away with and deregulation came, the businessmen were not prepared for the change. Their management domain suddenly enlarged. Instead of managing the regulators, they had to manage multiple forces at play in the market. Globalisation (there are vehement critics of it not without reason) further escalated the boundaries of the domain. The businessmen had to retrain themselves, but the culture of hiding something was so well entrenched that they adulterated what must have been a pure market-driven economy with the hangover of hanky-panky.
The call for not proceeding against suspected wrong-doers in order to ‘restore’ the economy is emanating from a source that liberally backed the system for shared benefits. Demonetization must have flushed out a lot of black money into the banking system, though without commensurate accretion to govt. by way of collection of evaded taxes. The drive against those with unaccounted money (no sane person doubts that the people proceeded against are culpable, though they are a tip of the iceberg and handpicked to settle scores) has further jolted the players in parallel economy. The point is that the rules of the game might have changed and the businessmen who had a nexus with the media acting as brokers, bureaucrats and politicians find their links loosened. The altered scenario might have induced hesitancy and uncertainty.

If the govt. intends to clean up, it must do so even if there is a hiccup. Reassuring that the old ways can continue will only worsen the situation. The drive against tax evasion and bribes must be intensified impartially. It calls for the unthinkable political solidarity.

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