The Unlearning(s)

American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, and I quote, “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off.”

Many of us faced said fence two years ago, we had to choose who we wanted to be, what we wanted to do; a lot of us, not unlike me I presume, took a leap of faith and landed safely on one side of it – this side happened to be Institute at Pune.

Two years have flown by and today we find ourselves at another such fence, yet another fork in the road – while some of us know where we are headed, others are still battling this dreaded fence – study or work? Money, meaning, or both?

So how do we answer that today – Do we make another leap?

I used to echo Jim Rohn’s sentiment – decision-making is a step toward progress, but this last travail of mine – i.e. the Fellowship – has taught me a thing or two about fences, decision-making and what we all like to call progress. Getting off the fence doesn’t always provide an answer to ‘what matters most’.

What I intend to share now are three things I learned, or more accurately unlearned, in the endeavour that they may help each of us in our own traverses through the proverbial fence.

The first is the story about Faruk. Faruk was a student in my class who lived in a dilapidated shanty at least 4 kilometres away from the school. None of his classmates lived near him; he walked to school, whenever he did, all by himself. I barely used to see him once a fortnight so I confronted him regarding his absence whenever I got the chance to and on one such occasion he revealed that he used his mornings to sell bricks and earn money. Shocked and angered, I tried to dialogue with him explaining the ‘benefits’ of school and how he had his whole adult life to make money. I was convinced that he needed to give up work as he was toying with his future – something I narrated to him often. I couldn’t fathom one of my students engaged in labour. Children shouldn’t be working for their livelihood at the age of 8, should they be?

Today Faruk no longer comes to school – not even once a fortnight; his father can’t pay for their family’s meals and admittedly uses Faruk’s income to keep the stove burning. Instead of trying to find a way around his job, I pushed Faruk to give it up altogether and ended up alienating him from school in the bargain.

Unlearning 1: Good intentions are important, so are strong beliefs, for they may be the only real source of generosity and nobility in this world, but bereft of context and critical thought they often end up exacerbating rather than resolving issues.

Had I, only for a moment even, not perceived Faruk from my own adamant, prejudiced point of view, had I asked myself the question – why can’t Faruk study and work? I may have been able to arrive at a compromise; I may have remained his teacher. I got off the fence; I made a decision without thinking about or understanding the consequences – I lost Faruk.

This brings me to a story – about Suraj. Suraj is a tiny little, doe-eyed creature in my class who can often be found scribbling notes agonizingly in a corner. When I assumed the post as his teacher he would spell his name S-A-R-U-J, and yet language wasn’t even what he struggled at most, arithmetic was where he was really vulnerable – or so I thought. By the time the rest of the class was on question eleven for any given Math assignment, Suraj had barely got around to question two. I spoke to his tuition teacher about strengthening his mental math ability, asked his parents to help with number drills – nothing worked – if anything he was getting worse. “Every reform moves at the proverbial snail’s pace,” Gandhi had said, he had not met Suraj I thought.

After last year’s mid-year assessments I found that Suraj had managed to attempt only 30% of the questions on an average in all previous tests combined. But staggeringly, in whatever he had attempted he answered correctly 90% of the times. What is even more astonishing is that Suraj is my only student who solves each number-operation question pictorially to this today. His responses are marked with tedious block drawings representing each number of his solution. His answer-sheets are nothing short of artwork. Speed not arithmetic aptitude is his Achilles heel. Suraj, much too late to my own detriment I realised, possesses exceptional conceptual understanding of numbers – so much so that today he is in charge of teaching other students subtraction-with-carry-over and multiplication problems. These other students he teaches often manage to outscore him in assessments thanks to the more number of questions they attempt; none of them however are as accurate as Suraj who meticulously compiles his answers one block at a time.

Unlearning 2:Slow can be and is beautiful’. Remember the wise man (or was it woman?) who said, “good things come to those who wait”? I have forever known that speed thrills but kills, but never given ‘slowness’ its well-deserved due. There will come many a time in our futures where we will be stuck, ready to pull our hair out; we will have tirelessly worked for something, believed in something, taken a stand, made a decision and nothing would seem to budge. Let Suraj stand as an immortal reminder that although reform – inner or outer – moves at the proverbial snail’s (or Suraj’s) pace and doesn’t always occur how and when we want it to, it does have the propensity to leave us breathless – our job at times is to let it take its own shape, be its own being, and give it time; slow, I bet, will surprise you.

This brings me to my last, and I would argue indispensable, point. I, like many of you here I am sure, walked into the Fellowship knowing next to nothing about education. My ignorance coupled with curiosity led me to wage many a war within myself – Should children be driven through external rewards, won’t that kill intrinsic motivation? Why choose Dr.Suess and Shel Silverstein over Uncle Pai and R.K Narayan? Why track student behaviour; why the need to ‘train’ them, fit them to our notions of ‘good’ behaviour? Why backward plan from a ‘given’ objective, why not let students arrive at their own conclusions? Why assess performance in Math and English alone, why not in Hindi and Science as well? In India, English is the road to upward mobility and therefore must be taught, but isn’t our mother tongue a window to our culture and therefore equally, if not more, important?

This plethora of thoughts, unanswered riddles have left me burdened with conflict, saddled with chaos as you can well imagine. “The test of a first-rate intelligence,” said F. Scott Fitzgerald “is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” The fact is that none of the questions we’re plagued with today have cut and dry, black and white answers. Our jobs, in fact our lives, demand of us this first rate intelligence Fitzgerald alluded to. At times our students need external motivation, at other times they don’t. Are we any different? Suess may be taught in conjunction with Pai – who are we to deprive our children of either? English and Hindi both must be taught, must be assessed.

Unlearning 3: Chaos and conflict are good. Why? Because to walk ‘the middle path’ we need to first ascertain, comprehend the extreme. The world we live in is full of incongruent half-truths and myriad shades of grey. The country we live in is pluralistic, diverse, multi-lingual and multi-cultural. This not only inflates the number of tangential ideas, but at times also leads to intractable extremes – chaos. This barrage of opposing thoughts and ideas however, helps us dig deeper, better informs our decisions, and ultimately, most importantly, makes our choices inclusive – without which surely no nation can survive, let alone thrive.

I would like to end by agreeing and respectfully disagreeing with Mr. Rohn. Yes, there will be many fences like the one we find ourselves on today, and yes, we will battle many decisions even after getting off those fences. But, if there’s anything these two years have taught me it’s this – no matter how much chaos we encounter in our paths, if we remember not to get fazed by our inner conflicts, whilst also questioning our strongest beliefs, if we remember to bide our time, we will not have to get the off those fences blind. In our paths to ‘progress’ what we choose to do and how we choose to do it in fact ‘matters most’, for we are the true dispensers of India’s destiny as Tagore in his eternal words invoked –  Jana gana mangal dayak jaya hey, bharat bhaagya vidhaata! Here’s wishing a gallant victory to all of us – jaya hey!


Contours of competition

After months of sweat, toil through heat and downpour we were finally there – the final bout, a clash between perennial rivals. My school and that of my opponents had fiercely jostled for ascendancy in the gentlemen’s game, among other domains, for many generations. I had played my part on the road to these finals, but was not to take the field that pivotal day; my role was limited to the side-lines where I was to put the fear of god in them if only by the din of my cheer. And cheer I did – shouted myself hoarse, and then some – right from when the first ball was bowled up until the last wicket of theirs fell, just seven miserly runs short of the target. We had come out glorious victors in an unforgettable day of competition. I had not played and it was the biggest victory of my life still; defeating arch-rivals superseded on-field partaking (would you believe it?)!

It is most unremarkable then that I have carried similar, almost religious, fervour to the sphere of sport coaching. Some nine months ago, fifty minors and I set out on a journey analogous to the one I alluded to above. We tirelessly laboured in the fields of football, athletics and kho-kho, and inevitably arrived at – in the very least for those whom I coached – an unprecedented occasion – the finals of the biggest tournament of their lives. Competition had been tough, opponents valiant; my boys had somehow managed to overturn them all. Through the course of the tournament new rivalries were forged; we knew exactly who we were meeting in the finals – some of them big, some burly – for we had played them before and beaten them, we knew what need be done. Come the day of reckoning there was neither uncertainty nor indecision, not an inkling of doubt; the boys marched on gallantly to receive gold in all but one event, deservedly earning the tag of champions – the ones to beat, the favourites – and oh, did we celebrate! Chhatarpur! Chhatarpur! In deriving vicarious thrill in the successes of those I taught, my life, I thought, had come a full circle (a tad too early one would imagine!).

As the days leisurely passed, the jubilations subsided and the sweetness of the victory slowly dissipated; I was left brooding almost in lament, something major was amiss. As a sportsman victory was never this hollow, why then, as a teacher, a mentor, winning nearly felt like losing? My students had battled hard and won every single game they participated in, but should sport be reduced to only rivalry, victory, and glory I wondered – we weren’t feudal overlords warring to annex evermore territory, were we?

Here I cannot help but trace the roots of my disaffections to the modern neoliberal conceptions of globalization and marketization and their influence on international sport, consequently on sport in general, in the 21st century. The modern sporting industry is a multi-billion (if not a trillion) dollar business globally and ironically sporting arenas of today can be likened to the coliseums of medieval Europe, where players are all but gladiators, and crowds blood-thirsty fanatics (generalisation?) – evidenced by the brutal post-defeat vandalism players’ estates are often subjected to – the only essential difference being the sharing of the spoils; both the victors and the vanquished mutually partake in this respect nowadays. Advertising fuels the proverbial flame; old, defeated foes are often belittled, reduced to rubble only to be resurrected from the grime in order to rechristen rivalries – bigger and badder than ever before – come the next season, only to be surpassed by the season after that; and so the cycle continues. Thus, a deeply partisan and aggressive rhetoric is created in regard to international sporting events and the terms, concepts, ideas used to market them are constantly reproduced, albeit inadvertently, in local schooling environments by way of coach-speak, pep-talk further stoking the fire that is in desperate need of dousing.

Admittedly, there are assumptions in the argument above and generalisations I posit. Perhaps prior to the pervasive television (and now social media) era sport was as fervent locally, where the rest of the world (including me of course) was just not in the know; if sporting fever ran as high even in the untelevised, localised era, then my reference to the role of ‘modern, global market-systems’ in fuelling sport fanaticism is certainly exaggerated however not entirely unfounded; for in such a case sport was already fanaticised, just not in plain sight, and television ads (the symbol for modern, global market-systems) just happened to exacerbate the situation (take local fanaticism global) without actually causing it. Also, my description discounts inter-sport stratification and the race (or lack thereof) to supremacy in capturing consumer imagination that lies therein; there certainly exist certain sports and sporting superstars who don’t belong to or partake in said ‘race’ and therefore aren’t necessarily ‘worshipped’ products under consumerism. This reduces – not wholly removes – the size of the (sporting) universe that forms the premise of my argument and limits the scope of the point I intend to make to some extent.

So what is this point (the fire in need of dousing) I am trying to make? The present global sporting landscape within which school sport, school-level coaching and therefrom the lives of children are located exerts palpable pressure toward the normalisation of a certain brand (read fanatical, fundamentalist) of sport and competition making it immensely hard not to get swayed by it. Children (and undoubtedly adults) under such milieu may grow up idolising ‘fame’ and courting ‘war’ (sport-related), which I do not contend are necessarily evil, but in isolation may very easily detract from the other – I would argue indispensable – aesthetic aspects of sport. Contemporary examples of this phenomenon are aplenty and hence I won’t go into them here.

This is no way absolves us of our duties as teachers – I don’t wish to blame it all on capitalism and leave, no – rather impels us to be more aware, vigilant of the practices we follow whilst coaching our children. Cultivating the ideas of self-improvement and awareness, nurturing patience and perseverance, creating opportunities for service and applauding sacrifice, practicing humility both in victory and defeat, all regulated through use of judicious, unprejudiced vernacular, go hand in hand with skill, competition, victory and glory to create the holistic realm, the holy grail if you will, of sport.

The introductory account of my cricketing ‘glory’ falls abysmally short of mentioning what I in fact savoured most about my time as sportsman: the struggle. The countless front-foot punches to the hanging ball in my veranda, the laborious hours of fielding and catching practice whilst eagerly awaiting a hit in the net, the multiple defeats that heavily punctuated all the victories, the inexorable battle within the mind to stay at the wicket against all predilection for heaving the ball toward the boundary – all moments I learnt from, remember and cherish the most pertaining to my game; winning was never everything for me.

I sincerely hope not to have let my students down in this most solemn regard, and that they have through our myriad hours on the practice field imbibed a love for the struggle in their bid to overcoming adversity and claiming glory, which is the only thing I ever really wanted to accomplish as their mentor.


Why did I do this? Why become a teacher?

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how it started for me because to credit a particular incident with such honour would be a disservice to other influences that have been as responsible in their contribution. A way to explore this, I suppose, is to recall the experiences I hold dear with respect to those who taught me or I inadvertently learnt from.

Rai sir, my Cricket coach from Grade 7 through 12, taught me everything from gripping a cricket bat to catching a ball. What I cherish most is not what he taught me but how – he would let me bat the way I fancied, wait for me to get out and swoop in right then to ask ‘why’ I thought I got out; he made me think each time I failed where failure was never a factor of the runs I had scored but of how I had scored them. Jacob sir, my Grade 11-12 Math teacher, brought each class alive with his sarcasm and wit; I can’t thank him enough for making math both fun and funny. From him I learnt that boring is a matter only of perspective. Renu Ma’am, my Grade 12 Economics teacher, was sweeter than a bowl of sugar; not once did she ever so much as scoff at me; she epitomised what they call a ‘good teacher’. To me she was a guiding light in times of stress – the post-board-result-admission-rush; I will always remember her indelible support. I shouldn’t discount the role of my mother here who provided the twin blankets of financial security and intellectual freedom, and thus fostered my individuality; not once did she impose her views onto me or expect me to choose a specific life-path. These people are my window to ‘good education’, yes, but there are several other influences I’d like to detail here.

To be entirely honest, I hadn’t dabbled with the idea of teaching until the beginning of last year. My aim in school was to attain great scores. My aim in college was to secure a great job. After the job I was ‘supposed’ to pursue a decent post-graduate degree, post which I would secure a yet greater job. It’s funny how you think you’ve got your whole life mapped out and suddenly you’re on the top of a flyover, in the middle of the road, cars swishing past you and you have nowhere to go! Everywhere I’ve worked – a consultancy, a call-centre, a construction site – I’ve faced misery and disillusionment; blatant concentration of power, appalling objectification of people, insatiable thirst for profit, utter lack of value or meaning have all led me to question my pre-mapped-path. Why do employees hate their bosses? Why do a majority dislike their jobs? If they’re happy with their jobs why do they run away from work the first chance they get? Why am I selling this product/service? Who does it really benefit? Why do we as a species crave this ‘more’? Why am I doing this and for whom?

As is quite evident, I was deeply disturbed, making associations I’d never attempted before and so I decided to read. Literature helped me comprehend the gravity of my ignorance and instead of finding answers I was burdened with more questions. Why do we work, for livelihood or passion? What is work? Do we have to work for someone? What is an identity, my identity? How has it formed? What is a political agenda? What is an ideology? Why does the dominant ideology prevail? What are children of today learning? I suppose I can blame my business background for such an ignorant world-view, but I’ll leave that for another write-up. The ideas of socialisation and conditioning although new to me then, immensely distressed me. I remember feeling incredibly restive and helpless. I wanted to do something, anything. I wanted to ‘solve’ the problem – evils deeply entrenched in society cutting across caste, class and culture were perpetuated by education I thought. I may have suffered the same evils in my education, but at least there was freedom, both intellectual and economic, to explore the other – can we say that about all our children? Children are being misguided, and taught false ideals; every child deserves a ‘good education’, no? It was as clear to me as day – I had to teach.

The first couple of months were really quite difficult; being rejected by children was a daily occurrence; I struggled to teach skills, values and embed in them the English language. Slowly but surely a whole lot of them started showing interest as well as academic improvement. I found my work worthwhile; of course it was something ‘my world’ needed. This is not to say all is hunky dory; there is this group of children who I’ve almost always ignored partly because they’ve never been interested in anything I’ve had to say and partly because I’ve lost the patience to deal with them and thus found it easier to leave them be. About a month before the summer break I engaged a student from this group in a conversation about his peeves with school. To my surprise, he was elated with school, didn’t even mind the bullying. A little probing led me to discover his mother was a victim of domestic violence. After a few minutes of silence he asked me to save his mother’s life.

And that’s when it hit me – what do I even know?

It’s only just begun.

Is this my path?


To those of us who are battling the fence.

Life is fickle and so it is funny.  A small provocation can ruin an otherwise perfect day. The tiniest of happy moments can show us that elusive silver lining and capsize a dismal day. Part and parcel you’d say. But then there are those pressing issues which hover over us for a multitude of days, weeks, months, years. These build up to certain key moments; times when we find ourselves at a crossroads, when we have to take a decision; make choices that seem impossible to make: what will make you happier – this or that, what do you really want – one or two; face instances wherein choice ceases to be a boon but becomes the enemy. The crossroad I found myself at, a couple of months ago was not an unfamiliar one. I had been there before. But only now do I wish all of us find it, and find it soon.

I talk of the day I finally said to myself – this is it Bharat, you are going to teach for India. Not to call arriving at said decision excruciating would be a downright lie. The actual fellowship we’ll get to in a minute, but the decision in itself was amazingly tumultuous. It was going to alter my life, whichever way I looked at it, whether I accepted it or not. Today I am one of 450 odd fellows who have been trained at TFI Institute by some of the most inspiring people I have ever come across. Needless to say I have taken the plunge.

Was it hard? Yes.

Was it challenging? Most definitely.

Did it break me? A lot of the times.

If given a choice would I do it again? Without the shadow of a doubt.

Even before I applied I used to wonder what the fellowship was really about. Was it like a cult? A thought experiment that’s come to fruition? An indoctrination scheme? The only ray of hope? I remember discussing this time and again with my co-fellows, who were/are still sailing in the same boat. I mean we’re teaching for India, isn’t this just about the kids and their futures; how does it involve leadership? Wait is it like an MBA? Are they equipping us with tools to run massive corporations? What is leadership again?

Institute is now over and I don’t think we’ve managed to convince ourselves of any specific answers. No light bulbs or epiphanies, just more food for thought! Who am I to empower unprivileged kids? Who gave me the right to teach/influence impressionable minds? Why is power, almost always, construed negatively?

I guess this why I fell in love with TFI; I wasn’t forced to find all the answers, but I was challenged to ask the right questions. For sometimes there are no ‘right’ answers; one size doesn’t fit all, but that in no way means we stop asking questions. This has been my biggest ‘reflection’.

Of course there were some other takeaways: I learnt that pushing yourself can bring you unfathomable joy and a feeling of conquest. I learnt that making mistakes is just as important as striving for excellence. I learnt that being open and accepting can open doors you never imagined existed. I learnt that never being satisfied is not such a bad thing. I learnt that I alone can’t solve all the problems of this world, but collaboration will help ease my burden. I learnt that anyone can be a leader, all he/she needs is a vision, conviction and hard work, for what constitutes as leadership, like everything else, is constantly evolving. I haven’t even started teaching my class yet, I truly wonder what all I could/would learn in the next two years.

Most importantly I learnt that I am not alone.

I started this journey wanting to make a difference, leave a mark on this world if you may. Yes, I have made a huge difference; I walk away from institute having made the biggest difference not to the world just yet, but most veritably to myself. That is another incredible aspect of this organisation, critical thinking is first applied to the self and then to the universe.

I came into this dazed, unsure and pessimistic. I walk on a little more assured.

So could there be light at the end of this tunnel?

I think Jim Rohn’s quote would sum this up quite eloquently: “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off.”

The Long Con


Those of us who have followed the tenure of UPA over the last 9 years and consequently the subdued reign of present Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, know all too well, or in the least suspect, why he was elected, who pulls strings and how. Why both Congress party Chair Sonia and senior party leader/son Rahul, patricians budded from Nehru’s tree, touted as national figures, haven’t come to the fore-front to take their irrefutable position in the Government of India can be contended to no end. Both have the universal support of their coalition, not just their party. Their nod totes the power to joggle the entire establishment. I suppose if you wielded such influence and could simultaneously avoid accountability, why wouldn’t you? It is widely believed the puppetry will continue however, if UPA miraculously manages to win a 3rd consecutive term this time around especially now that progeny numero uno seems to have shrugged off responsibility in a fit of philosophy and somewhat ambiguously denied his prime ministerial ambitions; the main patsy’s post seems to be up for grabs yet again.

Usually marred by silence, unless we’re talking of economic surveys and statistics, the Prime Minister was seen spewing venom (only compared to his own standards) in a recent parliamentary session to the unanimous surprise of all alike. The content of his discourse was primarily economic one-upmanship, the target, of course, the Opposition. Was this transcendence? Or was the PM shirking responsibility with respect to the countless scandals his party members are alleged to have spawned under the cleverly disguised veil of economic mumbo jumbo? It sparked deliberation of exactly this nature, for the media feeds on such anomalous behaviour. The timing is controvertible, the bigger questions remain unanswered. Is Dr Singh ecstatic – with Rahul out of the way, does he feel his 3rd term is now secure? 9 years now under his belt, could this be him staking his claim?

The man behind the liberalisation of 1991, Dr Singh is an economic veteran. With 7.9% average GDP growth over the last 9 years as compared to NDA’s 6% for their preceding 6, he knows his numbers don’t fail him at least from what can be observed on the surface. Ex-boss Poltu da now warming the Presidential seat and favoured Finance Minister Chidu firmly on his side, the path seems all but clear for our current Prime Minister.

There is one major hurdle however. No consensus on the provisions of the Lokpal Bill and piling politico-familial conspiracies; the mounting question of corruption is the real skeleton for his government which is fortunately or unfortunately no longer in the closet. The only real rebuttal in the face of such profligation and perfidy is GDP growth. But with the global financial crisis at its peak since the fall of 2008 and no respite in sight, expanding GDP near the double-digit mark was always going to be more than an uphill task. So how does the PM get his party re-elected for the elusive 3rd term? How does he display stellar economic performance? Cut in then FM Pranab Mukherjee to announce the most dismal budget of the past two decades: Budget 2012. The strategy: stifle manufacturing, delay key infrastructure projects and clearances, scare away foreign investors (with retrospective tax regimes), don’t relent bottlenecks, procrastinate reforms, wait for the economy to come to grinding halt while food and oil prices rise along with one’s taxes. Populist budget or not, surely an economist of Dr Singh’s stature, with all his guile and wisdom, could’ve stopped this debauchery from unfolding seeing as he was in power. He commended the budget and gave it his blessing.

Budget 2013, to me, reveals what the Congress party clearly prescribes to: “you’re only as good as your last inning”. Dr Singh is well aware that 2013 will be the year of reckoning. Taking the economy from the abysmal 5% we’re slated in to clock by the year ending March 2013 to a minimum increase by 25% (to over 6-6.5%) in 2013-14 as stated in current budget should make it look like everything is back on track which could see him gleaming away to victory come 2014 on the back of strong economic revival. What’s more, we seem to be back on the reform track with concrete plans to boost investor confidence, foreign investment and reduce the crippling fiscal and current account deficits.

Could the woeful economic performance of 2012-13 be orchestrated – only to be adroitly surpassed by that of 2013-14? Has this been a devious plan from the start? Is this why Dr Singh found his voice in Parliament? Has our night watchman really scored a 6? Does he know something we don’t?

Financial year 2013-14 is yet to commence; it’s way too early to gloat. Even unparalleled economic performance doesn’t guarantee success in 2014 for Congress, that’s how bad they’ve had it these past couple of years. If however they somehow do manage to pull the rabbit out of the hat; Congress gets re-elected to power and Manmohan Singh to Prime Ministership, we may well have witnessed the longest con in the history of Indian politics. The economist may well have finally become the politician.

Image source :

Business as usual

Dear Mr Chaudhari

We know you know nothing of defamation, only that the term and what it may constitute makes your ‘business’ suffer. Nor do you comprehend what is essentially being debated here, since you have no clue what ‘freedom of expression’ in fact encompasses; by all accounts it seems like you couldn’t care less. But please can you do us – especially your students – a ginormous favour? Please google ‘The Streisand Effect’.

Kicking the axe with one’s own foot fits much better than axing one’s foot in this case – the latter, I guess, is still somewhat plausible. I truly feel for your students mate, and not because UGC doesn’t recognise you.

What a total wuss!

Shite! Was that defamatory?

PS: For the number of times Arindham Chaudhari uses the term ‘business’ for his educational institute and proclaims to have had the interests of such ‘business’ negatively affected by assumed-until-not-proven defamation in the following news show, he sure does attract a lot of students to his infamous ‘institute’. We the people need to start following the real actions of ‘business’ leaders and not their advertisements. I thank you lord for alternative/social media!


When you corner an animal, it lashes out. Such is the law of nature.

Our sovereignty when attacked, we vie for blood. We may practice this as a species, as a nation, as a community, as individuals. This is innate; animalistic.

But, we are humans. We have the capacity to think through such savage blood-thirst even in the darkest of corners, unlike most other animals. Our intent is to prevent rather than to cure and we know better than to judge a book by its cover. Isn’t that how or why laws came to be created in the first place?

So when the Supreme Court of India mentions the following, pertaining to an act of terror against our Parliament in what can be called a landmark judgment:

“The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, has shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender.”

after pointing out categorically: “As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no direct evidence amounting to criminal conspiracy.”;

When a man who was not guilty beyond reasonable doubt is hanged on the basis of circumstantial evidence, even if for an act of terror (,

It is most definitely worth asking: humanity or animality?

In circles


“Never to speak about oneself is a very noble piece of hypocrisy.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, The Man and his Philosophy

If I depend on you, but you depend on her and she depends on me, we form what can be called a circle of dependency. Replace me, you, her with the variables x, y, z and you give mathematicians/programmers a splitting headache. Such a shuffle makes this a circular logic. They go on to call it a ‘vicious circle’.

The term seems to have appeared first in 1792. I am unsure of its etymology, but from what I gather, it has mathematical/logical, medical/medicinal, and to some the most obvious – societal and philosophical connotations.

Today it takes me back in my day.

I remember my time at R.K. Puram vaguely. I can sketch a broad-ish picture. Didn’t study much but somehow did well. Was never going national at sport but established a position wherever I tried. Never conceived myself an expert, but strived hard to be one. Perfection was an obsession. The resolve was strong, the approach unimaginative. My perception of what was perfect of course needed some perspective, but I salvaged what I could and went with what I thought was ‘right’ (not unlike most of us I presume). Safe to say I was big on morality. Also, the idea of being a ‘model’ anything was so beguiling. Somehow that’s what felt right at the time. Never got around to determining a model ‘what’, but ostensibly it drove me. I just wanted to have it all – equal part work equal part play, be both – bookish and popular (as if that were possible), and master it all. As is often the case under parallel circumstances, one has to make peace with just being Jack. It’s not an easy balancing act; model success in one – let’s say work, is usually concomitant with ignorance of and therefore mediocrity in the other – play.

The days are hazy, some tenets though still resonate.

The ambition I speak of above and curiosity, I remember vividly. Trying anything, knowing everything was always the agenda. Questions haunted me even then. First how, then why; how does the world work? Why does it work that way? How do people think and why not that way? I realise now, I was barking up the wrong trees. The world was never quite listening son; the answers were always lying within. If you don’t understand how you work, how do you expect any answers of the world?

Such cognizance has to be what spawned my existentialism and therefrom the inexorable accompanying crisis.

A model what is one question, a model ‘for whom’ completely another. Is it myself? How can I dismiss the foreign forces at play here? Haven’t I always been a people person? I’m pensive sure, a partial introvert maybe, but certainly not indifferent. While my ambition arises from how I want ‘people’ to perceive me (call me self-conscious), my curiosity has led me to question why I want to be that which I want to be (call me contemplative). So it follows; I want to be perceived as a model (something) by others, while I constantly examine the morality of such perception, and therefore my ambition.

Soon I recognise I’m not entirely comfortable with my perception of me or this ambition. Why be concerned with what others perceive of me? If I don’t do whatever I do only for myself, how do I expect to be a model anything? Does being such model even have meaning anymore? Is this the answer I really seek to find?

My tenets lead to dichotomous paths. I think I walked into my vicious circle.

I seek out some philosophy to find perspective. As philosophised by eminent European intellectuals such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus in mid-19th and 20th centuries, existentialism is heavily debated world over in philosophical echelons even today.

That philosophy begins with the human subject – the thinking, acting, feeling, and living human individual is one tenet of existentialism; that each individual is responsible for giving meaning to his/her own life is another7.

‘Meaning’ of course is tricky. Some find meaning in providence, religion or morality; nihilists believe there is no meaning while others find the whole concept of meaning absurd.

Kierkegaard postulated that individuals pass through three spheres of existence during the course of their lives: aesthetic, ethical and religious. In the aesthetic sphere of existence, individuals live only for short term pleasure. Eventually they have to choose between losing themselves in the crowd and committing to the next stage. At the next, ethical stage of existence individuals pledge allegiance to a code which could be religious – say Christian code or non-religious – say Doctor’s code. Commitment is internalised at this stage. The next stage, the religious stage of existence entails contentment and fulfilment by a full commitment to God. An individual may or may not move to this stage.1

So I am, in all likelihood, smack in the middle of Stage I and II.

Nietzsche’s body of work contains innumerable references to his concept of ‘Perspectivism’. In ‘Will to Power’ he states, “In so far as the word “knowledge” has any meaning, the world is knowable: but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings.” 2 In ‘Human, all too Human’ he goes on to say “this world has gradually become so marvelously [sic] variegated, frightful, meaningful, soulful, it has acquired color – but we have been the colorists.”3 His theory suggests what constitutes as ‘truth’ (or I can say meaning) is merely based on many possible human perspectives and that no way of seeing the world can be taken as definitively true.

There is no one true meaning of life. What do I make of mine?

According to Albert Camus “you will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life”4 rendering such ‘meaning’ sort of meaningless. What is the point of finding such meaning; especially if such search never allows one to live? The ‘Absurd’ refers exactly to this disharmony between the individual’s search for the meaning of life and meaninglessness of this, his universe. Camus goes on to state that “from the moment absurdity is recognized, it becomes a passion, the most harrowing of all. But whether or not one can live with one’s passions …that is the whole question.”5 Camus embraced this Absurd and found his meaning (or what he calls passion) in the wholehearted experiencing of life. How people embrace life and its absurdity is the question his philosophy posits.

Life may or may not have meaning, what am I going to do about it?

There are some associated concepts that existentialism either breeds or abnegates.

‘Authenticity’ is a concept that entails finding one’s ‘self’ and living in accordance with this self. It is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures and influences. Essentially, how true are we to ourselves? Sartre wrote extensively on what he described as ‘bad faith’ or ‘inauthentic’.  He states, “As far as men go, it is not what they are that interests me, but what they can become.” 6 Bad faith according to Sartre is the habit that people have of deceiving themselves into thinking that they do not have the freedom to make choices for fear of the potential consequences of making a choice6. His example of the waiter best explains this point. A waiter displays exaggerated behaviour (eagerness to please, quick and precise movements, etc.) in his act to be a waiter. However, in order to play-act at being a waiter, the waiter must at some level be aware that he is not in fact a waiter, but a conscious human being who is deceiving himself that he is a waiter6.

Do I want to be true to myself and my meaning or not?

What I find most intriguing and profound though is the concept of the ‘Other’ and the ‘Look’. Sartre’s example of a man peeping at someone through a keyhole (into a room) can help clarify this: at first, this man is entirely caught up in the situation he is in; he is in a pre-reflexive state where his entire consciousness is directed at what goes on in the room (as viewed by his act of peeping through the keyhole). Suddenly, he hears a creaking floorboard behind him, and he becomes aware of himself as seen by the Other. He is thus filled with shame for he perceives himself as he would perceive someone else doing what he was doing, as a Peeping Tom (so in a sense he judges himself). This perception is what can be termed the ‘Look’. Another characteristic feature of the Look is that no Other really needs to have been there: It is quite possible that the creaking floorboard was nothing but the movement of an old house. It is only one’s perception of the way another might perceive him7.

How do I perceive myself?

See what I mean by circles? Reducing such discourse to the term ‘vicious’ is doing it a favour, for it is ‘contiguously vicious’.

Whenever I’m trying to interpret such philosophical rhetoric in totality I am reminded of Frodo’s journey to Mount Doom. Tedious, arduous, unrelenting! The one thing I’ve learnt from whatever little I know of philosophy is that it allows a lot of room for interpretation due to its subjective nature. One philosopher constructs an increasingly intricate, mostly convoluted argument based on his or her perceptions of the ‘world’ or the ‘self’ or both, only to have it dissected, denounced and renounced by other eminent philosophers. Rarely it is accepted then adopted and even then it is subject to elaborate interpretations, commentaries and critique.

Coming a full circle.

What I’m trying to say is that these concepts, albeit complex and circular, make tremendous sense, for they have stood the test of time and their share of criticism. Take Perspectivism for instance; applying Nietzsche’s view to the validity of philosophical concepts implies I can make what I want of them, since truth is subjective and only a matter of perspective. Further, I can infer that the meaning of my life is subject to that very same concept and therefore life is what I make of it, meaning is what I see fit. Whether I needed to spend countless sleepless nights to come to this trite conclusion is now the only matter worth considering it seems. Ha!

So what can I really take from all this? There may or may not be any meaning to my existence but the beauty of life is that I can define and construct my own meaning. If I am true to this meaning, to myself, I am authentic. But I don’t have to be. I may even think the whole concept absurd and attach no value to meaning, and therefore its search, at all. A lot many don’t. With respect to my ambition of being a model for others, it is unclear to me whether this ‘Other’ is in fact other people or just my own perception of how others might perceive me, which is to say I don’t exactly know whether I want to be a ‘model’ for other people or for myself!? Just the fact that it could be either ‘Other’ is enough to drive me however. When I tire from trying for other people, I am impelled to try for myself. When I’m sick of living up to myself, I am compelled to try for the sake of others (people) – for it is the way I’ve embraced life’s absurdity, it is the meaning I have constructed for myself, it is how I fuel my passion. Self-fulfilling circular logic to the rescue! This cycle of motivation I think I can live with; my circle doesn’t appear so vicious.

Curiosity redefined ambition for me. I just managed a modus vivendi.

Before I forget, if I depend on you, you should depend on me, please forget her; I don’t like vicious circles. And why was ‘I’ the subject today? Well, I’m not a fan of hypocrisy.

Being Jack has held me in good stead, but now back to – a model ‘what’? FML


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It bubbles


Looming unscathed

Today’s global financial markets are comparable to the coasts of the United States and the Philippines right before the onslaught of Sandy and Bopha. Markets world over face a potentially crippling cyclone of their own which threatens to tear the world economy into pieces with its expansive public debt, some $50 Trillion1, now dancing toe to toe with the gross world product (GWP) sitting somewhere at $70 Trillion2. The immediate cause of this next inevitable overhanging financial crisis is called the ‘bond bubble’ and is said to be of catastrophic proportions, biblical for some. This new bubble dwarfs the real estate bubble not unlike the Earth that dwarfs the Moon. Bursting of such bubble will reverberate in most homes between the two poles, unfortunately not just as dinner table conversation.


Governments meanwhile can be routinely seen kicking cans down the road, the fiscal cliff is a case in point3, and are too busy colluding with the media in what can be called the mother of all cover ups. US central bankers (or should I say banksters?) have become ever more aggressive (if that is even possible) wooing foreign governments/institutions into buying more of their debt in the form of government bonds thereby artificially increasing bond prices to record highs4, providing definite shape to the bubble. How US still maintains a credit rating of AA+ is truly beyond me. To recover from previous crises and set the economy back on the path of recovery banksters indulge in a cabalistic process known as ‘quantitative easing’ (QE). Essentially they print money out of thin air to provide liquidity to the economy (for more borrowing and consumption) by buying government and corporate bonds, further inflating bond prices. This has extensive negative fallout on pensions and exacerbates inflation5 (another widely debated topic in economic echelons worldwide). If we go by contemporary economics, US should be facing an escalating level of inflation by now because of the excessive money they’ve pumped into their financial system, however things seem eerily calm at the moment partly because they export their inflation to China and also because most banks are presently hoarding cash pumped in by the Fed21 (for a rainy day eh?).

The Governments that buy into US debt such as China do so because they sell a lot (of goods and services) to the west and re-invest the dollars they’ve earned in ‘safe’ US treasuries6. Of course, they don’t want the US economy to fail or the world economy to crash (as that would affect the value of their very own bond holdings or future earnings). This is why they deliberately keep the Yuan pegged to the US dollar, not letting the price of their exports rise naturally, therefore helping their own economy grow at the expense of their western counterparts, further swelling up the bond bubble, and potentially creating a much bigger mess than necessary. Bonds/debts carry interest liabilities which need to be paid periodically to creditors along with a date of maturity upon which the entire bond value is to be repatriated. Since none of the western economies are producing enough ‘goods’ or ‘services’ to manage this burden (which has primarily been fuelled by US’s consumption of foreign goods and services in the first place), they keep raising their debt-ceiling and allow printing of more money to pay previous debt obligations. Peter Schiff says “it is impossible to pay your bills by going into debt”; what the US is doing to avoid their debt resembles what I do by paying my VISA bill with my MasterCard, except the US uses the same credit card. It doesn’t take genius to see the cyclical counter-productive policies of the Federal Reserve Bank or the US Government and how it’s inescapably driving them and the rest of the world into the deep rut of recession.

What is interesting to note is how the government sells QE to its people along with low interest rates in the name of economic growth and recovery. Present day Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman will have us believe the real problem US tackles today is deflation (a fall in prices) which will result in sustained recession7. So, it follows that cheap credit (or low interest rates) have to be maintained to stimulate demand and economic growth. The fear of duplicating the great depression of the 1930s and 40s seems to have diverted US toward the path of a greater depression – a much bigger cliff. Growth based on QE and low interest rates is a deterrent to savers and pensioners and posits the threat of a partial wipe-out to their life savings8. The fact that real wages have steadily deteriorated over the past decade9 is proof that near zero interest rates and QE haven’t really done the job, haven’t trickled down in the least bit; even the diminutive recovery said to have been made by the US has been hollow. According to Peter Schiff though, recession is exactly what the US economy needs along with a rise in the interest rates. The US is afraid to let the interest rates rise because of its massive debt floating around the globe, which they find impossible to finance even at rock bottom interest rates, how do we expect them to repay such debt at higher interest rates? – we don’t!

Alarm bells

How banksters have conned entire countries into full blown sovereign debt crises and insolvency is also an intriguingly well kept secret; Jeff Nielson explains it quite brilliantly in his ‘Economic Rape of Europe Nearly Complete’10 articles. Each day new cases of banker fraud and complete inaction against them are unearthed; HSBC is deemed ‘too big to jail’ after its head honchos admit to money laundering for drug cartels and some of its clients are proven to have terrorist ties11. Barclays along with many other banks has been found guilty of fixing LIBOR, which is considered one of the most crucial interest rates in finance12. It will no doubt be fined a couple of billion dollars a fraction of what it would’ve wrongfully gained, but what of the real damages inflicted on ordinary people because of what Max Keiser calls ‘financial terrorism’? How will the people be repaid?  The first signs of pension defaults are beginning to show in the US, where San Bernardino, a city in California has failed to make pension payments for its employees to CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System)13 – I am guessing it won’t be the last.

Every financial expert who predicted the debilitating crisis of 2008 (Max Keiser, Peter Schiff, Gerard Celente to name a few) has thrown up his arms, for all such rhetoric falls on deaf governments, banks and people. Banks are too busy convincing the world of their socially responsible practices and ‘we are recovering’ platitudes, whilst still managing to pay themselves hefty bonuses14. Now we also know what happened to TARP15 (the bailout). The question is: are these doomsayers wrong when they question US’s ability to pay back its debt with its diminishing manufacturing and all its consumerist spending? I would think not. The day when the Fed can’t print more to repay its obligations is nearing which is why most countries are running around hoarding and holding all the gold they can possibly get their hands on16, contrary to what they did 40 years ago when gold was dumped onto the markets to crash its price. This is also probably why there are now talks of minting a trillion dollar coin!? dear lord! While Republican Ron Paul questions the very existence of US gold reserves in Fort Knox17 and forces the ‘Grand Old Party’ to mull returning to the gold standard, the Queen of England is witnessed visiting the vault of Bank of England to reassure herself of her bullion18.

Truth from what I gather

Why this sudden gold rush? They obviously know something we don’t and fear the worst form of market and currency crash, which may send the US economy in a hyper-inflationary spiral, devastating the global economy. How it will pan out according to the doomsayers is as follows – a sudden spike in the price of an essential commodity, like oil, will force the governments, banks, corporations, institutions holding US treasury bonds to sell these bonds in order to buy further into the spiked commodity and make a killing in the perceived bull run; the Fed will be forced to buy these treasuries in order to stabilize bond prices and not let them drastically fall. Since the bond-bubble rhetoric is already doing rounds, other holders of such bonds will want to cash out while the going is good and while the Fed is still buying. Those who are able to get out of the fire-sale early will seek to park their cash in ‘safer’ commodities such as precious metals, food, consumables, oil, thereby rapidly increasing the price of such commodities. This will trigger market panic and mass bond sell-out, the Fed will have to print trillions of more dollars it doesn’t have to buy bonds which will debase and destabilise the dollar further making goods expensive still. The fiat dollar will rapidly lose its intrinsic value and send the US economy into hyperinflation. Losses will be incurred across the board; the rest of the holders of US bonds, who aren’t able to exit like China and Japan, will receive their payment in worthless fiat dollars; their earnings will evaporate sending panic throughout global markets causing every single one of them to crash.

In the face of such an incapacitating predicament, where silver and gold may prove to be the only real refuge, the US has advised India to stop buying gold in order to reduce its current account deficit19 (I wonder why?). What’s worse is that India’s listening; RBI is planning to impose heavy import duties on gold in budget 2013-1420. I fail to comprehend why we always have to fetch.

The only country that has defied all odds, gone completely against the natural order of bail-outs and 100 cents on the dollar payments to bond holders, and put people before banksters has been Iceland. And where has that led them after being nearly wiped out in 2008? – To an impressive economic recovery22 only because they didn’t consider their banks ‘too big to fail’.

We should also remember how US is based on a fiat currency system and is also the reserve currency of the world (meaning it is perpetually in demand for trading goods and services in the global market by every globalised nation). Therefore, it can go on printing money into oblivion without having to worry about causing inflation as it will always have foreign buyers for its currency. But even this is only true till the time the world considers US credit-worthy and capable of repaying its debt. From where I stand, that trust is falling. The real worry will begin once the world realises that US doesn’t really intend to pay its debt with anything that’s worth any value. A currency is only as good as the amount of goods/services it can buy. Paper currency backed by air has zero intrinsic value. So, even though I have full faith in the ability of our leaders to delay the inevitable and avert crises, Chidambaram and co. don’t fool me; a crash is coming and you better fasten your seat-belts, we’re in for a rocky ride! It’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when.

Eagerly I wait for the day I can paint a brighter picture of the global financial-economic scenario.



Image source:

Now, more than ever



Today is no different to any other day. A girl is being raped in some remote corner of the country. It may or may not be represented in ‘rape sheets’. It may not get noticed by mainstream or any media. We may not get the chance to march for her rights. She may not have the fortune to get to a hospital, have even a chance at survival.

The recent publicised, popularised and politicised incident we know is not isolated. Let us make it not appear so. It might’ve been ‘rarest of the rare’, but let us make sure we vindicate also the rare and the not so rare. Let us question, not just the woeful enforcement of law and the insensitive policing, but also the archaic, unwholesome value-system residing within us; a malignant code that cuts across caste, class and culture paradigms. Let us acknowledge it, only then can we even consider contributing to the solution toward the real problem, the problem that is pandemic.

The 23 year-old needs her rest in peace, so does the middle aged woman from Nawanshahr, Punjab, and the 18 year-old woman who committed suicide in Punjab, and the 2 and a half year old child who died in Halol, Vadodra and countless other non-survivors. The survivors need support now more than ever, for our cry for justice is far from over; we need to show them that this is not the end, we need to show them we can change as a people.

#dented painted and proud

Benefit of doubt

Sachin Tendulkar

I don’t believe he wants this, I don’t think he should go, what I think sadly amounts to nada; he’s not coming back. As Sachin leaves the ODIs for good, I am loath to wonder many amoral, slightly boorish questions: why retire today? Why not play against Pakistan to try and find some semblance of form? Arguably the two best bowling outfits in the world are going to be gunning for your throat in the upcoming months, on hostile foreign wickets no less. You can’t play like you did against England and expect to score against Steyn and the like? Or can you? We’re all suckers for surprise, but the way it’s been going you wouldn’t bet your life on the 101st anytime soon. Sachin’s always had one form of the game to fall back on during his woeful spates of batting form in the other, is he now just going to walk into the field and blaze into a flurry of boundaries on his way to yet another test century against Australia come February, on the back of such a dismal year? We sure do hope so.

Sachin is a creature who can turn the worst cynics to optimists; but even his retirement can’t detract from what smells so foul here. The timing speaks for itself. Our Government imposes Section 144 and seizes our right to congregate for rightful cause, forces us to lament our demigod’s decision, impels us to watch the world bemoan its profound loss. Thankfully, it hasn’t worked. My mind takes me to unhealthy spaces; is the government recruiting? Sachin is already part of the upper house of parliament and any political party in its right mind knows the influence of the little master; ignores it at their peril. They also know the task of re-election in the 2014 general elections is going to be herculean, why not then employ and deploy Hercules himself? If this is true, Sachin can coolly go to South Africa in November and calmly get back to retire from tests in January 2014, just in time for the election campaigns.

I read back what I just wrote; quiver a bit from the chill and the thrill, realise what I just did. These are uncharted waters; never have I doubted Sachin’s decisions before, for I am a believer of his grit, passion and humility. He is a team player, a patriot and his decisions have always reflected that. I am not going let this dubiousness crop up today. I will not let this Government belittle what is important, corrupt my thoughts and malign the ethereal vision I have of the master blaster. Sachin is going, because that is what is best for the Indian Cricket team. The benefit of the doubt will always go to the batsman!

The world we knew ended today, the Mayans were off just by a couple of days.

The place I call home

India used to make me proud, Delhi even prouder; A privileged refuge, exalted status, abundant resourcefulness, luscious greens, burgeoning infrastructure, innumerable opportunities, demographic dividend, economic progress, lively culture, fresh air, vivid thought, humble faces, unfathomable freedom, uninhibited happiness.

Have I been dreaming?

How I see it today: refuge to the privileged, disparaging status, selfish resourcefulness, sporadic greens, choked infrastructure, profligate opportunities, demographic burden, economic instability, rotten elitist culture, air-ha! – loathsome, banal thought, pretentious or worse despondent faces, a charade called freedom. Unmentionable, the level of my happiness!

What in the heck happened? Is there something wrong with me? Did I just grow-ahem wake up?

No wonder I want to run away. Come to think of it, run away where?

#Missing my warm haven

Unconstitutional State


A leader of a backward class and also a state introduces inapprehensible changes in promotional reservation; the supreme court of the nation which has already rebuked such a policy, decries it unconstitutional, yet again. The government of the day attempts to change the constitution on its head and unsurprisingly the upper house of parliament clears such striking bill with near unanimous political consent.

Reservation is important. Our constitution states its case well. But so is the Supreme Court. There is strong reason for its existence, not allowing politicians to abuse power for one. Astonishing the number of lawyers occupying prestigious positions in the house of parliament these days, ironic how nonchalantly they undermine the decisions of their very own mecca. I don’t believe we indulge in the right usage of ‘merit’ as a society at all, but does quota in ‘promotions’ to high government posts provide credible justification to counter the evident ‘pseudo-merit’ in society; will it promote equality, the kind that is really required? Is our sacred government even attempting to do that with this bill? Does it all sound implausible and absurd, just to me!?

As the State loses support from the awakening middle classes, the politicos rise to the challenge and delve deeper into the rot of vote-bank politics. Afraid to relinquish power, they know exactly how to garner the minimum number of votes and secure their future seats, but what of those who aren’t backed by power, don’t have the influence, don’t belong to a backward class? Our nation it seems is a lab, its people lab-rats, policies are experiments, the constitution a whimsical code, the apex court a flexible enforcement tool, and the experiment conductor we call Government – the only real benefactor. This is the only explanation I’m able to conjure up; such is the level of my confidence in our government’s policies, no less its intentions.

Why are we just bothered about the numbers; enrolment ratios; research papers submitted by Indians; SCs/STs in schools or governments? Are we monitoring / going to monitor the quality of the numerous schools the HRD ministry intends to setup in SC/ST regions? Allocating more funds and public-private partnerships for increasing the number of schools is a start, sure, but it doesn’t guarantee more success or representation to the backward or anyone, nor does quota in promotions; providing quality education however, does. Quantities are important but not if they’re devoid of quality and this I believe applies universally. Whatever happened to better education to the backward; more incentives for top educationists to bring quality education in backward regions, better teacher allocation to eliminate backwardness at the grassroots, greater salaries, dignity and respect in the teaching profession? (India is in dire need of teachers, quality notwithstanding) Shouldn’t we be addressing these challenges? More quality education in a region will automatically translate to greater empowerment and more representation. We do almost nothing to promote quality education where it is most required and we flood the suburbs of our urban centres with grand elite educational institutions to profit from the ‘business’ they generate (the HRD ministry deserves a whole another blog by itself). We then deplore the poor representation of certain classes and shout out for quotas even in promotions. Are we not concerned about the quality of our education and of our polity along with the immensely prized equality? I find puzzling contradictions between the policies enacted by and the rhetoric of our government.

Freed from Imperialism only to fall prey to Statism, despicable is the state of the world’s largest democracy. In need of some inspiration, we truly are.

A dark matter of sorts

I have for long wondered what the future would look like.

While physicists struggle to understand the realms of Dark Matter, the entire scientific community believes it is of profound significance. If comprehended, it may help us advance technologies to greater heights and improve lives further, not unlike the discovery of sub-atomic particles or Matter. Some scientists would argue that Dark Matter poses the most intriguing questions in our entire Universe today, but what does it really mean for us ordinary folk? The process is painstakingly slow but, I have no doubt we will soon be applying Dark Matter to our daily lives in one form or another (maybe in the next century). What is disconcerting is the governance of its future applications. The question of governance and control, not just of Dark Matter applications but also of everything else, is what brings me to another form of ‘dark matter’ lurking in society.

While a multitude of scientists study the Dark Matter engulfing our Universe, there are only a few of us who investigate the applications pertaining to the ‘dark matter’ of the elitist mind. I do not refer to the rich, wealthy and famous when I talk of the ‘elitists’, although that does happen to come with the territory. I talk of those who have for long understood the system; for they built it, and use such system to their utmost advantage, without eliciting suspicion in ordinary minds (we continue to hope this is changing). For me, the idea of society founded on meritocracy is a manifestation of such dark matter, for I do not understand exactly how it functions, only that it extensively exists and ubiquitously affects. As is the case of Dark Matter in the Universe, there is huge mystery and significance surrounding elitist minds, as their chain of thought penetrates the very fabric of society as we know it. There is however a major distinguishing factor, scientists aren’t even a patch on the elitists when it comes to the widespread use of their respective dark matter[s].

Coming back to my perpetual wonder, the way I see it future will depend as much on our understanding of society’s dark matter as on the scientific applications of the Universe’s Dark Matter. Unravelling both is key. Of course I cannot discount what else the scientists now know, for each part of Dark Matter there are three parts of Dark Energy. Dark Energy is set to rip the Universe in the distant future and learning to ‘positively’ use Dark Matter maybe the only way to save the demise of our planet.

I can’t help but marvel at the uncanny resemblance of events that take place in our daily lives with those that may take place billions of years in the future. The ironies of existence! Epic!

A Poignant Proposition


I like how the Congress is harping on about the hollow solitary claim to fame of Modi’s political campaign – the relentless economic growth in Gujarat. In the words of Swapan Das Gupta, “Congress seems to be…questioning Modi’s credentials as the new messiah of development”. You can read his full article on Modi 2012 here:

I’m not saying I am for Modi, for I’m a humanitarian first and an endorser of progress second, but Congress has some cheek postulating under-performance of Gujarat on healthcare, rural housing and other ‘crucial fronts’ primarily advocating negligence of the common man. Doesn’t the kind of economic growth effected by Congress at the centre have resounding resemblance with that of Modi’s industrialised Gujarat? Of course not in terms of corruption, Congress at the centre is surely the front-runner there when compared to Gujarat. But, emphatically so in the terms of widespread neglect of the aam aadmi. The populist reform movements of Congress are grossly misleading; they do very little for the mango man, reek of crony capitalism and further enable control in the hands of a privileged few, our politicians no less.

Has Modi done well in Gujarat in terms of GSP? – can’t refute that. Considering Gujarat’s track record, do I think Modi is the right choice for Gujarat, let alone India? – most definitely not. What then of the Congress? – no thank you, please. With respect to the result of the forthcoming general elections, Swapan Das Gupta asks an incisive question:

“Will the aam aadmi also choose to overlook corruption as something inherent in the Indian way? Alternatively, will there be an angry vote, perhaps even for a different way of doing politics? In that case, which is the lesser evil?”

If the angry vote doesn’t  amount to Modi’s election but a totally different way of doing politics, unequivocally the latter I’d say.

Complicity & Consciousness

An economic problem

I would like to start by sharing some very interesting data:

Gross World Product (GWP) – 2007: $72 Trillion approx.1

World Population – 2007: 6.6 Billion approx. 2

Per Capita GWP – 2007: $11,000 approx. 1

World Bank Poverty Line – Present: $1.25 per day per person 3

US Poverty Level – 2010: $11,139 annual income for an individual 4

Size of Global Derivatives Market – 2012: $1200 Trillion approx. 5

People living below World Bank Poverty Line – 2005: 1 Billion at least 3

GWP, albeit ambiguous, is the sum total of all the goods and services produced in the world expressed in PPP or Purchasing Power Parity terms. Any economist / statistician / mathematician / analyst would rightly argue that this data is not sacrosanct; it is an oversimplification of much more complex calculations that need to be taken into account prior to presenting that which I intend to present. Fact: these are the standards used world-wide, by economists and analysts alike, to make all sorts of analogies; I would request you to extend to me the same courtesy and discount the exactitude of these stats, for the point I wish to make is much larger.

US is the world’s richest country, so their standards for poverty are much higher than say India’s or Uganda’s. In 2007, enough goods and services were produced worldwide to completely wipe poverty off, with respect to the standards of the richest country in the world. If we consider the much more generous World Bank standards, we could’ve wiped poverty off some 24 times. What’s even more staggering is that at least 1 Billion people, an extremely conservative estimate, 15% of world’s population lives in abject poverty, closer to 25% if we consider more recent estimates. The precision of this data notwithstanding, the sheer inequality we all live amidst is clear, present and mind-boggling. (For the sake of simplicity, other qualitative measures of economic well-being such as Human Development Index (HDI) have been ignored).

Any rational mind would there after ask the obvious question? Why then are we letting so many of our fellow homo sapiens live in such awfully impoverished conditions? The answer provided by contemporary economics is ‘improper allocation’. Wealth as we all know is skewed substantially in favour of the developed nations and primarily towards the top 1% of the large developing / developed economies 6. What is even more intriguing is how the same individuals keep propping up every time Forbes conducts its top-ten billionaires survey in emerging nations such as Mexico, Russia, India year after year, a fact so vividly elaborated by Ruchir Sharma in his bestseller book ‘Breakout Nations’. This is testimony to the poor churning of wealth and its concentration in private hands in these nations.

Finance and our complicity

The next apparent question then: why do we allow such poor distribution of wealth in our nations? To find clues to this amazing puzzle, we have to go back in history, and examine the roots of finance and capitalism. Finance was created only as a means to allow the ‘proper allocation’ of capital; to provide excess unused capital to those who needed it most and could put it to productive use, a process that required financial ingenuity and provided a lot of power to the harbingers of this ingenuity, namely the Financiers or the Bankers. Recent and frequent turmoil in the global financial sector is testimony to the use and abuse of power by these harbingers. Credit Default Swaps (CDSs) and Credit Debt Obligations (CDOs) might have been the immediate cause of the 2007 crisis but there is something more profoundly wrong with and intrinsic to Capitalism: systemic risk or ‘internal contradictions of capital accumulation’, a term coined by Marx, which essentially implies how Capitalism never solves its crises, it just geographically shifts them (US, now under recovery, has managed to shift the crisis to Europe), a concept beautifully articulated by David Harvey here:

Psychological factors such as human frailty; greed and cultural origins play their part in exacerbating the inherent systemic problem of Capitalism.  Raghuram Rajan examines the roots of consumerist culture and its consequent effects in this exacerbation with his award winning book ‘Fault Lines’. I attempt to explain the mind-set of the politicians who use credit expansion as a means to appease the economically weak with this excerpt:

“…it is not income that matters but consumption. Stripped to its essentials, the argument is that if somehow the consumption of middle-class householders keeps up, if they can afford a new car every few years and the occasional exotic holiday, perhaps they will pay less attention to their stagnant monthly paychecks.

Politicians endorse consumerism amongst the sluggish poor by using credit expansion policies and eventually end up feeding the greed of the bankers. This helps the banker coup amass huge wealth and culminates in the sort crisis we’re accustomed to seeing and is immensely detrimental largely to the poor. The sheer size of the derivatives market, $1200 trillion, at least 15 times the GWP, is another glaring mishap waiting to happen yet again.

I want to be clear, this problem is not local to the US or Europe or the other NATO countries; these issues encompass all their trading partners, essentially almost the entire world, especially because western economic policies are shadowed across the globe. Those of us who abuse or even use the system are just as complicit in this ungodliness as the financiers. What is unfolding is clear evidence to how we all lie in the direct path of economic instability.

One might argue that this is the bankers’ problem, or the problem of an empowered isolated group, regulate them properly and we are solved. However, this is not how I see it at all. Poor distribution of wealth is inherent in our system, no amount of regulation or morally correct behaviour on the part of parties involved will help resolve it. Till most major players (nations) accept responsibility and alter their policies to act towards a common global goal, we will have to witness crisis after crisis, meltdown after meltdown. Those of us with means will keep surviving at the expense of the poor, and inequality will keep raging. An open debate with mutual understanding, between people of intellect and significance, is crucial to preventing future economic disasters and the further widening of income inequality.

If we, the educated, the people with means, lie blind to what is staring us in our face, are we not complicit? Are we not then living under a facade?

Philosophy; the search for who we are

A true master of philosophy said the following words to me which stuck, “Recognizing systems of values we are all part of uncover[s] structural oppressions we are all unconsciously complicit in”. How our system is structurally oppressive and we complicit I have dealt with above, now I want to talk about ‘systems of values’. Matthew Taylor masterfully expresses the need for a new enlightenment; system of values here:

His wonderful logic states the case for new ideals to lead us into the 21st century. He explains the need for a concrete understanding of who we are as human beings and what progress really means to us now, today. Progress cannot just be measured in terms of material or money. Progress has to include the well-being of others. Responsibility and sustainability are key to future progress, and in turn our own existence. He also discusses the arguable decline of widening human empathy and the imperative role of empathic capacity in our collective future. For only a feeling of empathy will force us into action and truly be able to eliminate inequality.

Who we should aspire to be; consciousness

So how do we contribute? There are some of us who think the answer lies in charity. I would like to quote the great Slavoj Zizek in this respect, “In charity there is hypocrisy”. He goes on to argue that we should be trying to eradicate the very problem that created the need for charity; poverty in the first place, instead of delaying the inevitable with our charity 7.

There are a few among us who are aware and are working toward solutions. The need of the hour is clear: business decisions cannot be taken just to create more money, for there is already too much money in the world. Decisions have to be taken to create value, to fulfil a real need. We need to produce strictly what the world needs production of, nothing more, nothing less. There is need for sustainable businesses, clean, green energy and education of the unprivileged. There is a need to stop wasteful consumption and expenditure; reduce our own carbon-footprint (I don’t wish to stress the obvious importance and enormity of climate change here; there are new found threats of geo-engineering and weather manipulation which need to be looked at right away). There is a need to conserve water. There is a need to re-use and recycle. There will always be a need for research in science and technology. There is a need to alleviate the conditions of the poor and bring them up to a decent standard of living; the onus is squarely on the able shoulders of the privileged. There is a need to ask questions, of the government and of policy; of ourselves. Do we need more foreign capital? Will it really benefit the farmer? Do we really understand the consequences of our own decisions? Do we know the flip-side to every cause we support?  Does the social construct of means I was born into give me more of a right to a fulfilling life, more than that of the average Joe? Is it even fulfilling then, now that I know what I know?

To those of us who don’t see or comprehend the gravity of the situation, this has been my effort to create a little bit of awareness, the tip of the iceberg if you will. For now is the time for real reflection and deep introspection. Moreover, there is a need to change the way we perceive and conceive life itself.

It is only when we ask questions, do we come close to unearthing real answers. I certainly haven’t found all the answers, but I sure as hell won’t stop asking questions! I think it is about time we all do the same.




Is there any force left in this world, that is of any significance, not conspiring in selfish acts of promoting ludicrous self-interests?

I deplore such heinous pursuits; am appalled and petrified by what is slowly unraveling and the real despicable fact is that I’m not even close to comprehending the gravity of the situation.

It is only now that I understand the significance of the proverbial ‘red pill’ that the great Morpheus had to offer and the burden it entailed. What is ironical is how Morpheus wanted to free ‘Zion’ from the Matrix and it is Zionism, in the real world, that stands at the helm of global problems today, allegedly of course.

The conspiracies can easily boggle your mind. For someone who always considered his curiousity a boon, not a bane, it is changing quite quickly.

How I sometimes wish I had taken the blue pill.

The following is a must-see documentary about the crisis in Palestine:

Who’s No.1?

Yes, we are lions at home; the spin-kings of world cricket. We encourage our bowlers to bowl the way they want, endorse the flair of our world-class batsman. We might not hold the mantle of number 1 in Test Cricket right now, but I cannot concede anyone else does either. Till they beat this Indian team at home in a series or even come close to doing so, let alone dominate them on spin-friendly wickets, how can anyone be No.1?

To all those doomsayers of Indian cricket, the critics who write India off when they tour England, South Africa or even Australia, I want to ask a question Read More

The Iceman hath cometh!

“Just leave me alone, I know what to do”

That’s Iceman Kimi shunning away his team’s attempts to keep him updated on Alonso’s lap times behind him after Hamilton fizzled out to a sad end at the Yas Marina Grand Prix today. Raikonnen gained first position and went on the win his first race of the season. Feel so lucky to have witnessed an unbelievable race and the comeback story of the year.

I can never forget the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2007 Read More

The political plight

In a world where all arguments are based on certain premises and the very existence of those premises is put into question, how do you believe anything you hear?

If what I know as a fact is established by someone who was under the influence (of something or someone) while he/she was establishing the said fact, the very fabric of what I know and what I don’t know takes a catastrophic shift. It is in situations like these I feel inadequate and uneducated to make any decision; to take any stand.

The Politics of India: A must-do course, an education in itself, recommended to all!

A tribute


A profound sense of loss; the worst sinking feeling I’ve ever had; Rahul Dravid retired from all forms of the game yesterday! Opening the newspaper today, reading the wonderful kind words people wrote for him makes you realise what we’re going to miss so incredibly. What a true Gentleman of the Game he’s been, how long he’s held that mantle, how many of us he’s inspired, how much confidence he’s instilled in all of us, how much he’s taught us. He embodies the true meaning of a hero, there’s never been and there never will be another Rahul Dravid, you will be missed deeply and fondly Sir! I only pray that you are around for those who will be trying to fill your big shoes now! Wish you the best in all your future endeavours.