Friday, January 30, 2015

Made in India vs. Make in India

This morning of 26th Jan, 2015 looking at the “Make in India” tableau on the Rajpath, my apolitical wife wondered should it not be “Made in India”? Oh my god! we made a fool of ourselves in front of the Americans!

This reminded me of the "Made in India" path we embarked upon in India nearly 60 years before. At the time I was growing up in seventies, as a nation we officially hated capitalist freemarket America.  We were a poor, under developed country that relied on the aid from the West. Yet we gave moralistic sermons to West while relying on their aid and leaning towards Soviet styled planned economy. We were a laughing stock of the world, no one cared about us. 

In our economic vision, a benevolent government would provide every basic necessity - food, housing, education, job, healthcare.   Self sufficiency was our motto. Nothing wrong, except that in past 60 years of independence we have produced many things that are at best shoddy, lacked any aesthetic sense and were extremely non user friendly. Our government would exhort us to buy India made goods using adverts like "Be Indian, Buy Indian". 

This was official line. Privately, most of our leaders and elites hankered after foreign goods from shaving cream to scotch whisky. Travel to US and Europe used to be highly sought after and rewarding. Any such travel would also entail a shopping spree of foreign goods that we are taught to despise. Our students from elite universities would fly away to the United States for higher degree and hopefully employment opportunity. A phenomenon we called brain drain.

On the 15th Aug, 2014 from the ramparts of red fort Prime Minister Modi made announcement on “Make in India”. Many of our intelligentia were amused. Some thought it must be a mistake. Actually, it should read “Made in India”. What is so novel about it, anyway. For the past 60 years we had been doing just that. So Modi is nothing but a copy cat. He copies past legacies, puts his stamp and claims credit for the idea. 

 “Make in India” is very different from “Made in India”. It asks foreign companies to come to India and set up shop. India will provide cost effective labor. Government is assuring investors of cutting red tape, making business environment conducive and make land acquisition for industrial purpose easy.  India in turn would get investment, job and hope for our young unemployed.  

Will Mr. Modi be successful, only time will tell. Left leaning political parties have started opposing land acquisition for building industrial corridor and smart cities. Mr. Modi and his party have to gather all the wits at their command to be successful. Moreover, industry has to come up in different states of India. Indian states are in different stages of preparedness in terms of physical infrastructure and intellectual acceptance to welcome foreign investment. Besides most state administrations are mired in corruption and red tape. Good thing is, states have to compete with each other and out to do themselves to attract investment. Only the fittest would be successful. So it would be in the interest of states to remove bureaucratic hurdles. There will be many who will claim that there is nothing new in all these. True, but credit goes to one who shows the way.

Tags: America, Bureaucracy, India, Investment, Made in India, Make in India, Narendra Moid, Self Sufficiency

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ghar Vedi Bibhisana

When I was a kid, I heard the term "ghar vedi Bibhishana" from my mother. She was telling me stories from Ramayana. She explained to me because Bibhishana walked over to Rama's side from Ravana's camp right in the middle of an ongoing war, he was considered a traitor. Bibhisana was brother of Ravana. He  must be privy to many strategies and tactics. He definitely provided insight to Rama's camp about how to defeat Indrajeet, son of Ravana.  Indrajeet was about to become invincible by seeking divine power.

I was confused. According to the epic, as I understood as a kid, Rama was the good guy and Ravana the bad guy. Ravana kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita, while Rama was away in search of food. Ravana wanted to marry Sita, inspite of already being married. So what was wrong in walking out from Ravana's side to Rama's side? My mother tried to explain that one should not let down ones own, even if they are at the fault. You may be called a traitor.

I did not understand the concept then. I do not understand it now. I do understand that it may take a lot of conviction and moral strength to walk out of ideas, beliefs and relations that one has been part of, and walk into an alien relationship. One may have to risk being called a traitor. But I think, it is worth it, if one is convinced of his / her mind. At the end of the day, however, one should be good enough to understand his / her thoughts and mind. There should not be any thought of hypocrisy or opportunism.

In today's politicised environment, one is frowned upon if they  oppose establishment point of view. After 9/11 terrorist attack on world trade centre in New York, US president Geroge Bush proclaimed "You are with us or against us". To everyone it implied that you are doomed if you criticise Mr. Bush and his policies. US created Home Land security, that has power to detain, interrogate, torture any person they considered a national security threat. People who spoke out against the draconian powers, were dubbed anti-national. Back home, when congress MP Mr. Shashi Tharoor praised Mr. Narendra Modi, he was frowned upon by  his party high command. Does that mean that if one is pro BJP, cannot praise good things of CPM or congress? Where does national interest and humanity fit in?

There are many examples in India and abroad, who ask uncomfortable questions far apart from mainstream thought process. Writers and original thinkers Prof. Noam Chomsky, Alexander Solzhenetsyn, Arundhati Roy, etc cannot be constrained by majoritarian point of view. Many of these people in their quest for humanity come out as anti-establishment. Nation must not call them traitors.  If we shut them out, who will speak for the minorities that are left aside by system driven by majority voice. Many scientists and thinkers were burnt on stakes or executed for going against majoritarian views. But without these people, where will be modern science today? Nation must listen to their views for enlightenment on dimensions that one tends to ignore in daily lives - compassion, empathy, kindness, accommodation etc. It is for the administrator to take all view points and take decision according to his conscience that he/she thinks is in greater common good. 

Tags: Alexander Solzhenetsyn, Arundhati Roy, Bibhisana, George Bush, Gharvedi, Noam Chomsky, Rama, Ramayana, Traitor, Ravana, 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Who Killed Sunanda Pushkar?

Everyday our news space is plastered with stories on mystery sorrounding death of Sunanda Pushkar. There is a lot of speculation, floating around the public domain. Was Mr Tharoor responsible for her death? Did he arrange it? Certainly, Mr Tharoor did not do it himself, because Mr Tharoor was at the CWC meeting. Well, nothing in public domain suggest remotely involvement of Mr. Tharoor, how so ever remote, in the matter. So far there are only innuendos and speculations about possibilities. 

Mr. Shashi Tharoor and Ms. Sunanda Pushkar lead a high profile lives. Both of them were good looking, polished, and had lot of money. Shashi Tharoor, I do not know about Sunanda Pushkar, is a well read person with opinions on a variety of subjects. The couple got married hardly five years before. It was third wedding for both Mr. Tharoor and Ms. Pushkar. What could have come in between two people in love, that one person was ready to kill the other?

It has come out that Mr Tharoor and Ms Pushkar were fighting. Well, which couple does not fight. Several journalists have claimed that Sunanda Pushkar had told them that Shashi Tharoor was having an affair with a Pakistani journalist. Ms. Pushkar had also apparently said that, she had taken blame for Mr. Tharoor's shady business dealings in buying a cricket club in Indian Premier League of cricket. In today's day and age, rich and powerful have many avenues to conduct their extra-marital affairs. It is difficult to understand, why some one would do so openly in full public view using Twitter as medium?

It has been said that Ms. Pushkar was probably poisoned using Polonium. Polonium is a radioactive material. To transport it and administer it, one may need specialised equipment and training. How could polonium be smuggled into India and then administered into Ms. Pushkar? Polonium has a long half life. So far no report of radioactive material in Ms. Pushkar's biological samples has come out?  One can measure radioactivity easily in India. It is strange that such a path was not followed. Where are the contaminated gloves, syringe and needle, contaminated vial, and how come not a single trace of radioactivity detectable any where in the room, or bed sheet? Strange, may be highly professional job! Only time and proper investigation will tell.

It is important to understand that Ms Puskar had reached an age where she was probably going through physiological / biological change in her body, called menopause. We do not know for sure,   but at the age of 50+ years, many women reach stage preceding menopause and menopause. Due to hormonal imbalance a lot of changes happen in physical and psychological space of a woman. One consequence of menopause could be irritability and proneness to suspicion. Could it be possible to lack of faith in Mr. Tharoor's fidelity was result of such psychological change in Ms. Pushkar?

It has been claimed that Ms. Pushkar was suffering from auto-immune disease like Lupus Erythematosus. Although many others have disputed such a claim. In any case Ms. Pushkar was taking a lot of medicines. It has been claimed that, Ms. Pushkar was not having proper sleep. At least one interview in NDTV indicated so. Could medicines have played a role in altering Ms. Pushkar's mood? Drugs can play havoc, if not taken properly. There can be drug - drug interactions also, if too many of them are taken simultaneously. 

Could it be possible Ms. Pushkar had made her comments about Mr. Tharoor's extra-marital affairs under influence of inherent altered psychology and effect of different drugs thereof? Only time and police enquiry will shed more light. We must certainly seek justice for Sunanda Pushkar, if she was indeed murdered. Till the time it is proven otherwise, we should leave Mr. Tharoor alone.


Tags: Extra-marital affair, Medicines, Menopause, Murder, Polonium, Radioactivity, Shashi Tharoor, Sunanda Pushkar,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why Common Sense is So Uncommon!

I read a story when in school. A young disciple was told by master god is everywhere and in everything. Walking down the street one day, the disciple heard a commotion. A wild elephant was running amok. Mahout was asking every one to get out of the way of the mad elephant. Our disciple remembered his master's teaching and stood his ground. Rampaging elephant lifted the disciple by its trunk and thrashed him on the ground. Master, on learning the predicament of his pupil carried him back to his school and nursed him to life. Once the young student had regained his senses, master asked "why did you not get out of the way of the mad elephant?" "You only told me to see lord narayana in everything. Why should I get out of the way of narayana that was in the elephant?" asked the incredulous disciple. "True, I told you narayana is everywhere and in everything, by that logic why did you ignore what narayana of mahout was crying out loud?" asked the master. The message I got from the fable was every dimension has its rule, we must follow the rule. Else we shall be cast aside, may be forcefully

I write this in the context of recent controversy and/or ridicule surrounding the claim made in Indian Science Congress that ancient Indians had access to technology of air travel and space travel. By the way, I do not deny technology may have existed in ancient times. At least ideas have been floated around in books like Ramayana and Mahabharata. However, in the present time we do not have any understanding of how people in those days designed those gadgets. If we want to take credit of those inventions, we must reconstruct them now and show them to the world that such inventions work. That is how science works. In the absence of any proof, grandiose proclamations remain only grandiose and exposed to ridicule and humiliation.

Since ancient times Indian quest for the truth is based on incessant questioning. Nothing is taken for granted. Swami Vivekananda in recent past, not more than 130 years before, asked Shri Rama Krishna, if he had seen god. Shri Rama Krishna said not only I have seen, I can show it to you also. No other luminary at the time could make such a claim. That is a Hindu quest based on proof and not faith alone. In the backdrop of such a tradition, I find it funny that one after another baseless claims are being made by so called ultra nationalists, and BJP functionaries have to appear in debates to defend such preposterous claims. If we are sincere about our national heritage, we must do research or tapasya or sadhana to understand the knowledge and then disseminate them. I fail to understand why common sense is so uncommon!

Tags: Ancient India, Common Sense, Mahabharata, Ramayana Science Congress, Space Technology, Sri Rama Krishna, Swami Vivekananda

Friday, January 16, 2015

Building a Just India

In last few years many jawans of central reserve police force were killed by naxalites. After the recent massacre in Chattisgarh, and watching innumerable TV debates for and against the killing, I wanted to learn a little bit of Naxalite movement. I admit, I have no understanding of the intricacies and nuances of their doctrine. My information gathering is from reading novels, and watching a movie. I read the novel “The Lowlands” by Jhumpa Lahiri “The Lives of Others” by Neel Mukherjee. I watched the movie “Hazaar Churashi ki Ma” on You Tube. Hazaar Churashi means 1084 in English. It refers to corpse of a young man which was numbered 1084. Mother of the young man goes to identify. The story revolves around the young man, his mother and society around them. 

Novels were sympathetic to naxalite movement. One may call them biased. Yet I could not but be moved by the courage of conviction of protagonists of the movement in novels and in the movie. What motivated them to give up their comfortable middle class lives, academic pursuits, sacrifieced their career prospects and started living in the jungle putting their lives at stake. Many had joined the movement taking stand against social inequalities and injustices and decided to do something about them. They were sufficiently moved to risk their lives. Some were killed by police bullet, many were arrested, brutally tortured and killed in fake encounter.

The naxalited movement believed, and still believes, in Chinese style social revolution where class enemies were purged violently.  The naxalites used the term annihilation  Growing up in the West Bengal of seventies, one could see walls plastered with slogan “China’s Chairman is our Chairman”. The Indian movement started from a village in North Bengal called Naxal Bari. The movement started spreading in rural areas. Young men and women would go live in villages and encourage poor and dispossessed to take up arms and kill landlords, money lenders, and police men. There was plan to start urban warfare and eventually throw out national government by force. Armed rebellion in Bengal was brutally suppressed by police and paramilitary forces. I do not know if there was other alternative. Subsequently, the movement has again resurfaced in other poor states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, where social inequality and injustice are rampant. In many states Naxalites are fighting for rights of tribals, at least that is what they claim, on ownership of forest land.

There is no doubt that the Indian administration is extremely corrupt and does not care for administering justice. People that we elect are more interested to serve themselves and their families than the community and nation. What answer can one give to a poor and helpless farmer whose land is usurped by landlord or money lender, whose wife and daughter are raped, and police does not want to register a complaint against the rich and powerful unless their palm is greased?. Even if a case is registered, for justice to be delivered it may take a life time. What do you do when a government buys up farm land at low price from farmers in the pretext of national cause and hands it over to private developers who sell the land at profit many times over the purchase price? Society wants justice, yet our government and justice system were not able to provide remedy to social injustice. 

In this backdrop many had taken to guns and adopted foreign ideology. I think, however, while the intent of naxalites was honest but the method was faulty, for the following reasons,  


Killing so called class enemies will spark retaliation. A civil war will  break out in all liklihood. Would eye for an eye not make the world going blind? Removal of class enemies in China as per doctrine of Mao Tse Tung resulted in loss of 1 million lives. 

Removal of intellectuals and professionals like doctors, engineers etc will result in a vacuum. Once party comes to power, new people will be filling the vacancies. How will they be different.

Communist China was not very successful economically. They have resorted to market economy since 1980s. Naxalite movement is anti-business and anti-profit. What would they say of the Chinese experience?

Creating an egalatirian society by taking from rich and distributing among less fortunate is a theoretical idea. After distribution, one person will invest and multiply the wealth. Another will squander on enjoyment. What next, are we going to redistribute again? Will this not promote laziness? We have seen, how efficient bureaucracy was in India where employment was guaranteed but responsibilities were not. 

It is the human nature to better his predicament. Those who are beneficiary of wealth distribution will protest strongly, if necessary violently, any sharing of their good fortune. I think charity should be left to individuals and should not be an organized government policy.

It is a sacrilege if a single Indian goes to bed hungry. No mother should go through what “Hazaar Churashi’s” mother had to go through. We must protect, preserve and see every Hazaar Churashi prospers. We cannot build a prosperous India by taking from rich and distribute among poors. We must educate our people, make them self reliant, create opportunities for people to take advantage of them. That may take long. But that is the only way. If people are not honest, then any system is going to become corrupt. In a society that is corrupt who will guarantee an honest administrator even if propped up by an honest movement?  By creating a responsive system, it may be possible to control corruption and bring justice to all. 

Tags: Central Reserve Police Force, Chattisgarh, Hazaar Churashi Ki Ma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Naxalite Movement, Neel Mukherjee, Lives of Others, The Lowlands, West Bengal

Friday, January 9, 2015

Speak or Not to Speak

We have recently seen the cost of hurting sent iments of a faithful. Editors of the magazine Charlie Hebdo in France paid with their lives. Yet Charlie Hebdo decided to continue as soon as the dust subsides. In this scenario, why in India we are so upset when BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj comes up with his utterances. Lunatic as he may sound, he may offend secularists or minorities, should he not be heard? More so when in India our press tries to argue that one should write or paint anything they want. For example, Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, Lajja by Tasleema Nasrin, or Maqbool Fida Hussain painting goddesses in nude. Sakshi Maharaj has opened his mouth again and again. First he said Nathuram Godse as a patriot. A statement he retracted. Recently, Sakshi ji has advised Hindu women to have at least 4 children each. I do not know why media pays so much attention to nuggets our honourable MP delivers? Why can these not be ignored? As a practicing democracy, we must respect all points of view no matter how radical and how lunatic. That is freedom of speech. But no one should be allowed to preach and exhort violence. Government must come down heavily on practioners of violence. My second confusion is that we voted for Mr. Modi for his development agenda. We did not vote for Sakshi Maharaj's Hindutva agenda. I also heard our prime minister has advised his MPs not to derail development agenda by speaking gibberish. Such activity will give opposition parties an opportunity to block proceedings of parliament. In spite of advisory, MPs of ruling party are unable to contain themselves. I think it is time PM showed his iron fist. Finally, I do not know if asking women to bear 4 child can be called unsecular. It can be stupid, it can be called none of Sakshi Maharaj's business, but it cannot be called anti-minority. God save us. By the way the same honourable opposition MPs blocked parliament because they thought Indian secular fabric is under threat, tried to justify Paris violence as an after effect of global war on terror. By same logic, should Gujarat violence be justified as a consequence of train burning at Godhra! 
Tags : Freedom of Speech, Hinduvta, Lajja, Maqbool Fida Hussain, Sakshi Maharaj, Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses, Tasleema Nasreen

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Padma Awards Becoming a Joke

Indian national awards like Padma shri, Padma bibhushan are increasingly becoming a joke. Everyone knew that a lot of politics goes behind the decision making. Pandit Yashraj made his displeasure clear when Pandit Ravishankar was awarded Bharat Ratna. It is well known how Prime Mininister Bajpayee had honoured his knee surgeon with Padma award. Not to be out done, UPA government, honer Sant Singh Chatwal with Padma award. Chatwal apparently had lobbied with US government for indo - US nuclear deal. To lower the dignity of awards even more,  now potential awardee can be seen or heard complaining or lobbying using the media for their selection or voicing concern about competitors selection. A case in point is Saina Nehwal. She first complained about not being nominated for Padma Bibhushan award, although she holds a Padma Shri. Government has agreed to consider Saina's case for a Padma Bibhushan, even if it has come late. Taking the clue from Saina, now boxer Vijender Singh has also jumped into the fray for an award. It is a matter of great debate what exactly have Saina and Vijendar done to demand a Padma Bibhusan?  

Saina Nehwal is a middle class success story. She has worked hard and reached where she is on the basis of her merit and not with the help of any godfather. Saina's parents have also dedicated their lives to make their daughter successful. Now Saina's financial future is also secure.  Saina has a multi crore rupee contract, thanks to sponsors like Airtel and others. 

The best thing I liked about Saina is that she had let her racquet do the talking. She had put her head down, kept her mouth shut and worked hard. That is where Saina stands apart from the likes of Jwala Gutta. I was disappointed to hear Saina complain about not being considered for Padma award. Has it come to this that sports people will demand to be considered for an award? Saina is still young. She could have waited and maintained her dignity and innate decency. People in the world know her for her prowess in the badminton court. Getting a Padma award will not make any difference in Saina's life. That too, when Saina already is bestowed with a Padma Shri.

Personally, I think awards are to be given and not claimed. But it appears that most Indians young and old think differently and are not averse to come out in public demanding their right to the honour. I think in changing time, even quiet and decent people lose their mind. Still love Saina, a middle class heroine, but she has left her admirer disappointed.

Tags: Bharat Ratna, Padma Shri, Padma Bibhushan, Pandit Yashraj, Pandit Ravishankar, Saina Nehwal, Vijendar Singh,