Archive for July, 2009


July 13, 2009 7 comments

Subroto Bagchi writes about growing up around tribal villages in Orissa. These are the same tribals who have organized and revolted in Lalgarh.

Sauvik -with characteristic satire – provides the antidote viewpoint.

I wonder, I wonder – why are people not happy? Lust has made us all and it has made us all blind too.

Traditional people eking out a subsistence refusing to modernize, government “by the people” exploiting and killing “the people”. Is there anything simple and uncomplicated in the world anymore?

Categories: india Tags: , ,


July 8, 2009 6 comments

If I could live again my life,
In the next – I’ll try,
– to make more mistakes,
I won’t try to be so perfect,
I’ll be more relaxed,
I’ll be more full – than I am now,
In fact, I’ll take fewer things seriously,
I’ll be less hygienic,
I’ll take more risks,
I’ll take more trips,
I’ll watch more sunsets,
I’ll climb more mountains,
I’ll swim more rivers,

I’ll go to more places – I’ve never been,
I’ll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans,
I’ll have more real problems – and less imaginary
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives –
each minute of his life,
Off course that I had moments of joy – but,
if I could go back I’ll try to have only good moments,

If you don’t know – that’s what life is made of,
Don’t lose the now!

I was one of those who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
and without an umbrella and without a parachute,

If I could live again – I will travel light,
If I could live again – I’ll try to work bare feet
at the beginning of spring till
the end of autumn,
I’ll ride more carts,
I’ll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live – but now I am 85,
– and I know that I am dying …

-Jorge Luis Borges

Categories: poetry Tags: , ,

The hacker.

July 7, 2009 4 comments

He hacked it off. Like a barbarian, he took an axe and hacked it off, his own left hand.  He was a control freak. All his life, things had to be exactly the way he wanted them to be. On the table lay a letter from the hospital, saying diagnosis: Parkinson’s, chances of recovery: none.

PS: My first attempt at a 55er.

Categories: light Tags: , ,

In response to “Budge it”

July 6, 2009 2 comments

G posted recently on her blog about the Indian budget and her reaction to it. I commented, saying I would respond with a post! So here goes.

At the outset, I must mention that I detest centralized planning, hence the central government spending craploads of money is not desirable. That said, it is how it is.

Note: Points beginning with # are from G’s original post. Stuff below that is my response!

# So why make so much noise about it? Most aam-aadmis are not going to feel much.

This begs the question of who the aam-aadmi really is. I am at a loss to understand this much bandied about word in the Indian media. Let us assume for now that any person who travels by local train in Mumbai is an aam aadmi (this is as arbitrary a definition as any other). How will this person be affected by the budget? Presumably some aam aadmi’s are salaried professionals who will be affected by changes in tax rates. All aam-aadmis are consumers who will be affected by indirect taxes, duties, subsidies and such which affect prices of goods and services. Budgets have an impact on inflation, so the rupees in the aam aadmis pockets might lose value due to the budget and so on. Effectively, aam aadmi’s are directly affected by central budgets. Whether they think they are or not is another question.

# A negative ball is sent rolling by the media and it amasses so much mass along the way that it might fatally alter the original intent and actually have a negative impact versus the projected negative impact.

The mainstream media will pass judgment on the budget and impart a positive or negative spin on it depending on what they believe to be true. Given that a country like India has a relatively free press, I think this is desirable if not a must. The press must objectively judge the State and its decisions and criticize or praise them. The impact of a budget decision is never totally deterministic given the complexities of economics (hence my dislike for central planning), however I agree that opinion makers influence decision makers, thereby having an impact of their own.

# The point is, most people, especially the aam-aadmi, have very little clue as to how to interpret the budget.

This is precisely why a free and objective press is necessary.

# Hence, a good thing for the govt. to do would be to step in the media and influence it to say good things about the budget. By hook or by crook.

ZOMG, here G gets into Orwell territory. If the government starts controlling the press, then all hell breaks loose (in my philosophical world). For starters, the italicized free press in the previous statements implied freedom from government control. The press must be free because only then can the aam-aadmi expect to understand what is truly being done with his money. If the government has to be “for the people”, it must be questioned repeatedly and pointedly as to how its decisions are “for the people”.  This can only be done if the press is indeed free of government control. In addition, in today’s electronic/social media world, the press is an aggregate of all free speech and free speech is integral to a functional democracy. As T. Jefferson says,

“There are rights which it is useless to surrender to the government and which governments have yet always been found to invade. These are the rights of thinking and publishing our thoughts by speaking or writing; the right of free commerce; the right of personal freedom. There are instruments for administering the government so peculiarly trustworthy that we should never leave the legislature at liberty to change them.

#Don’t we want this? Don’t we want to perceive that their govt. is on our side?  …  then why not shove a positive opinion about the budget up people’s a##?

We want the government to actually BE on our side, not create the perception that it is. The government is us! There is no us and them. We need to fight this perception of the government as some sort of magical being that does things that we cannot control. The only tool we have to do this is free speech. Take stands, make your voices heard – the platforms exist, use them!

# In any case, the aam-aadmi will be a happy even if he’s got a highly frustrating educational system and repressive social system to deal with.

Again, who is the aam aadmi? Are *you* an aam aadmi? Even so, if enough aam aadmis are frustrated then change will come, though – in my humble opinion – in spite of the government, not because of it.

Comments and debate welcomed!

Categories: india Tags: , ,

Two Ustads

July 1, 2009 7 comments

Rumi. Persian poet, philosopher.

I used to be shy.
You made me sing.

I used to refuse things at table.
Now I shout for more wine.

In somber dignity, I used to sit
on my mat and pray.

Now children run through
and make faces at me.
You've so distracted me,
your absence fans my love.
Don't ask how.

Then you come near,
"Do not....," I say, and
"Do not....," you answer.

Don't ask why
this delights me.

Ustad Amir Khan, doyen of the Indore Gharana. He was well versed in Persian and Sanskrit. I envy his riches.