Archive for the ‘India Minds!’ Category

As a society and as individual citizens we must decide on how we define “development”, nuance the kind of development models we subscribe to and want to pursue and how do we fund any such development. Do we define ‘development’ as merely an economic concept measured by macro economic metrics like GDP / Inflation or do we want to attribute a holistic socio-economic connotation to it that includes social indicators of development (e.g. related to health, education and environment)? Do we have a short Vs. long term perspective and appropriate policies for both?

It is critical we form an informed, critically analysed and thought through opinion and participate directly in the legislative process. Let not “development” become the next political cuss-word (like ‘secular’).

I see several specific areas / issues we can start with immediately. I plan to do my part by (1) Doing my own research, going through the legislative collateral etc. to form a personal opinion (2) Publish my views here and on other social media for constructive debate / criticism (ignoring rhetoric and unsubstantiated opinions) (3) Write / Communicate to the lawmakers and hopefully have a dialogue in some form.

Here are the issues in my radar currently that I plan to spend cycles on.

  • Land and land acquisition reforms and policy
  • Politics and Economics of Subsidies (aka Freebies)
  • Development and Environment / Natural resources

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झूठी लोक-लाज से डर के जिसने सीता को दुत्कारा था,
क्यों नहीं राम का चरित किसी अग्नि ने ललकारा था?

जब पांच नपुंसक बना रहे थे नारी का परिहास,
रचा जा रहा था भारत के घर-घर का इतिहास!

अब आस-पास सबको सबके चेहरे काले दिखते हैं,
पर झांके दर्पण में, हम खुद कैसे सारे दिखते हैं!

जहां युधिष्ठिर धर्मराज हो, अर्जुन को वीर कहा जाता हो!
रक्त-पिपासु धर्म-ग्रन्थ हों, मानव का लहू बहा जाता हो!

जहां राम को देव-पुरुष, उत्कर्ष बना रखा हो,
राम-राज्य को नीति का आदर्श बना रखा हो!

साहस का, धर्म का, नीति का फिर क्या पर्याय मिलेगा?
सीता! ऐसे समाज से तुझको कैसे न्याय मिलेगा?


To Malala Yousafzai, to the girl from Delhi and to every other girl in our part of the world – We’ll murder you in the womb. If you survive that, we’ll stop you from going to school. If you manage to, we’ll track you down with a gun and shoot you in the head. If you still survive that, we’ll gang-up, 6 or more to 1 and rape you till your guts fall out – show you your place in our world! Will you still fight back?

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Ankik and Anindyee Dhar, Shilpa Goenka, P Sundari and Binita Gadani – 5 youngsters at the threshold of their lives and careers – were among the 9 people killed in Pune on the eve of Valentine’s day.

They were people like us – like you and me. It wouldn’t be hard to stand in their shoes and imagine oneself in the midst of those moments – just before the blast – a bunch of youngsters, friends, celebrating the simple joys of life – a promotion at work, a friend visiting from another city or perhaps just  a weekend… It could have been any of us. It could still be any of us tomorrow!

Munish, a friend who works in Pune, while trying to pen his feelings in his blog, says,  “I don’t want to write more”. I completely understand him! His post carries pictures of the (erstwhile) German Bakery. Pictures that are wonderful and scary at the same time!

As my heart swells for these five young people and others who lost their lives and for their loved ones, I realize that of late, I have been getting angry at and have been ‘hating’ a lot of people. The Pakistani terrorists and the government, the Thackreys and the Shiv Sainiks, the VHP and the Bajrang-Dal…

But today I don’t want to hate anyone. I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to fight. And I don’t want anyone to hate me for any reason. If at all possible, I want to lose all my identities – I don’t want to be a ‘Hindu’. I don’t want to be a ‘Delhite’ or a ‘Hyderabadi’. I don’t even want to be an ‘Indian’.

Is there a place where a group of friends, who mean no harm to anyone in the world, can devour and relish life over a cup of coffee and be sure that it won’t be their last?

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Here’s a very good read on “behind the scenes” making of the global financial crisis we are in today and how it all started with the U.S. home loans market and spiralled into a worldwide phenomena.

On a different note, I believe this whole crisis and the recent happenings have removed all doubts, confusion and hesitation, if there were any, about the rules of the game in the “Flat” world we live in today.

I can no longer ignore or be oblivious to what happens in a remote part of the world, 12 hours away from me, because whether or not I can earn my daily bread depends on that!

So, now that our fates and lives are so closely entwined, can’t we, as citizens of the world, use this as an opportunity to come together and resolve not only the current financial problems but also the problems that mar humanity once and for all – poverty, hunger, illiteracy, global warming, terrorism…

Perhaps this is our chance?

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TOI Editorial

Interestingly, yesterday’s (Sunday’s) TOI editorial carried an article by Shashi Tharoor on the M.F. Husain issue. He provides more perspective on some of the issues I argued for by quoting from the recent Delhi HC judgement on this matter.

Time and now, our judiciary has acted in a manner which helps to restore at least some faith in a system otherwise marred by short sightedness and vote bank politics.

Here’s a related recent article on the HC judgement.


Today’s editorial also carried an article (Swamionics) criticizing the govt’s policy of continuing to subsidize oil prices despite the atrocious rise in crude oil prices in the global market – an issue I had touched upon in one of my posts some time back.

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Yesterday I received a mail with some supposedly controversial M.F. Hussain paintings of Hindu deities. I felt that it was important for me to make my stand clear, so despite it being a spam, I replied to the mail. What resulted was a debate which I am reproducing here as is.

My intention is not to pass a judgement on M.F. Hussain or his work but to raise some issues which I feel are critical for the functioning of a secular democratic system and my views on culture.

(I am not posting the names of people to protect their privacy)

Original Mail Text:

it is a kind request if u hav an inch of respect on the religion u r born and the almighty god u that u worship ….plz think for a  while  and introspect and take decision on your own ..and forward this to countless people u know and with a bare minimum of 10 people u know.
and reply………

(Me: Attached with this were some paintings whose captions had been deliberately worded to influence people so that the phrase ‘take your own decision’ was really not useful!)

My Reply to original sender and the mailing list:

I would not have normally replied to this mail but given the fact that this is not merely spam but something much more dangerous because it evokes communal feelings, I felt compelled.
I do not find anything offending here as my respect for a religion or God is not dependent on whether someone else depicts them with or without clothes.
I believe that in a free democratic country, everyone has the right to freedom of ‘peaceful’ expression. At least as educated mature people, we should understand that artisitic freedom is important for growth and enrichment of our culture.
Also, whether or not M.F. Hussain or anyone else has respect for my beliefs and faith does not, in anyway affect me unless he/she forces his views upon me. Similarly, I should not try to force my views upon M.F. Hussain!
I have as much respect for a fellow human being as for any religion.
I am sure M.F. Hussain is not going about sending mails or barging into people’s houses with his paintings and forcing them to see his work. You can choose to criticize his work but please don’t turn this into a communal issue.
In any case, we are all born naked, aren’t we?


Reply (From someone in the ‘To’ list, not the original sender) to my mail:

you have done a good job indeed but it is the diversity of that vibrant culture in which we all are born which allows us to express our feelings like you expressed.But dear there are some ethics ,morale and code of conduct which should be maintained by everybody .
No one would allow any artist such a freedom making  xyz  mother’s nude pictures in a derogatory manner whosoever he or she may be just because he is an artist .It is not the first time he has been summoned by court ,in 1970 .1990,1996 simillar cases were registered against him.
As you rightly said it is not the God who feels weather He is presented in any nude form or not & He will never feel bad even if we pray him by spitting on him rather it shows our perception & thinking  how do we pray Him ???and this is why we pray by closing the eyes.by assuming certain picture in our minds
when the sensibilities of million of hindus are hurt and soft targeted and also if it is peacefully   protested even through mail by allowing them taking their decision on their own  people call it “COMMUNALISM”
it is critical situation  where in secularism does not takes care of hindu sentiments,if it takes it is ornamented by the “communal” word
.lata mangeshkar is also a great artist but she never hurt anybody’s sentiments.
i remind you art is a beautiful creation of God like human beings . a real  artist  
always takes note of this. and always respect other religious beliefs.
dear,it is  merely a  childish perception culture never enriches by nudity rather it deteriorates
if he   is a real artist why he fled away????  he has not even send an apology letter .He is only a born indian   because he has outrightly denied the trials and Democratic Indian Law and is living in dubai  and Dubai Govt and many extrimist org has awarded him for this act and he has recieved it wid full pleasure
think before you write…….

My Reply to above mail:

I have written after I have thought well and I stand by what I have written.
There are more important reasons in this world to worry about, for me, then to be worrying about what one particular person does or feels. There are millions who die of hunger everyday, millions who are rendered homeless, not only in our country but around the world. I’d rather worry about them.
“It is a childish perception… culture never enriches by nudity”
What is culture, and what it is enriched by, is not limited by what you and me believe. Culture is all encompassing. There are good and bad aspects within a culture so that people can make choices. You can not disrespect people’s wisdom by making this choice (of good and bad) for them. Moreover, what you see as wrong may be right for me. For an example, I do not believe depiction of nudity is bad.
I am entitled to my opinion as you are to yours. Terming somebody else’s perception as ‘childish’ is disrespecting difference of opinion and doesn’t lead to a healthy debate. And difference of opinion is vital for democracy to exist.
As for M.F. Husaain’s fleeing the country, I believe that is a matter of shame for our country that an artist had to flee because he could not pursue his art freely in a democratic country.
“Many extremist organizations have awarded him”
What proof do you have? Please do not accuse anyone without ample proof.
“No one would allow any artist such a freedom making  xyz  mother’s nude pictures in a derogatory manner whosoever he or she may be just because he is an artist”
Absolutely not. Did I ever say that an artist had the right to make personal attacks against a fellow human being? Please do not extrapolate my words.
My intention is not to defend a certain person. If M.F. Hussain has done wrong, let him be brought to justice but let it happen under a court of civilized law and not under a court of religion.
“When the sensibilities of million of hindus are hurt and soft targeted and also if it is peacefully protested even through mail by allowing them taking their decision on their own  people call it “COMMUNALISM”
Religion is and should be a personal matter and not one of the society or country. Who are I and you to decide if ‘Millions’ of ‘Hindus’ were hurt. Did they come and tell you so? Let us not impose our opinions on others. If you feel hurt, you have every right to go to a court of law and demand justice. You have the right to speak for yourself but not for so called ‘millions’.
Let them speak for themselves.
What I am against is intolerance and disrespect for difference of opinion. Without these, it will be impossible to sustain a democracy.


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Back to Licence-Raj?

Two articles in today’s ET woke me up from my mini writing-slumber.

One: Worried by rising inflation, the government is contemplating invoking the long defunct section 18G of the Industrial Development & Regulation Act, 1951, which would allow price ceilings to be imposed on ‘essential’ commodities. Now, one doesn’t need to be an economics or public policy expert to understand that the govt. does need to keep rising prices under check, and, not only because this happens to be the election year! Hence, I do not doubt the FM’s intentions behind this move. What worries me is the execution part.
I do not think that our corrupt-to-the-core state politicians (not that most of them at the center are any better) are eligible to handle this extra authority. Horror tales of the pre-liberalization era force me to believe that this might be another Frankenstein in the making.

The second article was kind of funny (and tragic!). It read like a spoilt child throwing a tantrum, “Papa, change the rules of this game because I can not win it by fair means!”
(Well, it didn’t literally say that but almost did…)
The gist is this: The Indian Postal Department wants the postal and courier services to be regulated so that:

  1. The private players have to obtain a licence from the postal department for offering their services.
  2. The private players have to price their offerings at least 5 times higher than the corresponding services provided by the postal department!!!

The second point is so ridiculous, I still can’t believe they actually asked for it! Apparently, the PMO has shot down the proposal. (Thank God!).

Those of us born in the 80’s (and later) are fortunate to have grown-up in an open economy. Today, a passionate middle class young person without any political connections can at least dream of and hope to start his/her own entrepreneurial venture and be a wealth-creator. An employment-generator rather than a job-seeker.

Please, we don’t want to go back to the licence-raj!

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