Archive for the ‘Indian media’ Category

Ignorant Teaching The Blind: Problem with the Parable

September 7, 2013 3 comments

To rebut shallow readings of Harishchandra story no external logic, data is needed Answers are in the criticism itself.

Advertisement for First Indian movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, appeared in Bombay Chronicle on 3rd May, 1913.

Advertisement for First Indian movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, appeared in Bombay Chronicle on 3rd May, 1913.


ndian ignorance of Bharattantra (the classical Indian political system that governed India) is so colossal that it only be seen when ‘respected’ writers expound on Indian classics in mainstream media – from a position of total ignorance and bias.

From Darkness

Take this. We have today a post on Raja Harishchandra which is being faulted for all the values that it stands against.

Below is an excerpt.

Fifty generations have been told to emulate the virtuous monarch. In order to keep his word, Harish Chandra was prepared to endure the worst possible misery. The nobility of this is emphasised in every retelling. Gandhiji, for example, loved the story and, certainly, he lived by this principle of accepting extreme personal hardship in the pursuit of his moral principles.

What is not emphasised is that Harish Chandra was also prepared to put other people through equally great misery, without consulting them, in order to keep his word. He ruined his family and humiliated his wife by forcing her to strip in public (that particular theme has always fascinated Indians). Apart from the patriarchal assumption that his wife and son were disposable goods, he thought his word outweighed his responsibilities as a family man.

We are not told what happened to the kingdom’s per capita income in the period between his abdication and the divine intervention. Perhaps the place prospered. Perhaps not. Either way, Harish Chandra handed over executive responsibilities and the state’s resources to someone with unknown competencies when it came to making executive decisions, or managing state finances. As an absolute monarch, he did not, of course, consult his subjects on the regime transfer.

The story also contains a raft-load of caste stereotypes and biases. Brahmins are good; Kshatriyas are good; corpse disposers are dirty, unless they are gods or Kshatriyas in disguise. The biases and assumptions offer fascinating insights into the social structure of ancient India: absolute monarchy, absolute patriarchy, caste rigidities and a twisted code that placed personal honour above the well-being of the family, or of entire kingdoms. In itself, this would be only of historical interest.

The scary thing is that Harish Chandra’s behaviour is cited as being worth emulating in 21st-century school textbooks. The negative externalities of his behaviour are ignored even in the modern versions of the story. Caste and patriarchal prejudices are reinforced, and the concepts of democratic consultation and consensus are conspicuous by their absence.

By contemporary moral standards, Raja Harish Chandra was a monster. He should have broken his word and taken whatever punishment the Maharishi handed out, sooner than cause this sort of harm to his family. Nor should he have disposed of state resources in this irresponsible fashion and placed the lives and fortunes of all his subjects in potential jeopardy.

Moral standards change. When you read an old story, you have to cherry-pick the moral lessons you should imbibe from it. Unfortunately, as a nation, we seem to have internalised all the wrong lessons from Raja Harish Chandra.

His laudable commitment to the truth and to keeping his word has fallen by the wayside. But the monumental self-absorption and absolute indifference to the well-being of others that he displayed characterise both our public and private behaviour.

The parable also supposedly teaches us to rely upon divine intervention. Raja Harish Chandra beggared himself and abdicated responsibility for the state’s resources. Only divine intervention put things right again. We emulate him as best we can, by playing ducks-and-drakes with our public finances. Unfortunately, divine intervention is not that reliable when it comes to fixing fiscal deficits.

via Devangshu Datta: The problem with the parable | Business Standard.

Usual Stuff …

The writer of this post, Devangshu Dutta (DD), makes the usual five points.

  1. Rigid caste system
  2. Absolute monarchy
  3. State-controlled economy
  4. Slavery
  5. Self-absorbed Indians

To see how shallow DD’s reading of Harishchandra story is, no external logic or data is needed. All the answers are in the criticism itself.

Caste System: If Raja Harishchandra could from a king become a chandala to a king again, how rigid was the caste system?

In which society, in the history of the world has a king become a king again after having come down in his life to a lowly status as a chandala?

Rajas & Nawabs: What are the marks of absolute monarchy? Grand palaces, monuments, costly wars, humongous treasuries, over-taxed peasants groaning in misery, oppressive police and soldiery, et al.

How many such elements do we find in Indian history for 4000 years after Raja Harishchandra?

From Indus Valley-Saraswati Basin cities till Mughal India how many monuments do we find? Over-taxed peasants make an entry after Mughal India and the British.

Royal Patronage: It may come as a surprise to DD that the ‘Indispensable’ State was not the engine for Indian economic activity till about 100 years ago.

While economies in the Rest of the World depended on royal patronage, Indians had unfettered right to land and gold. Even currency and coinage were not controlled by the kings. So much for DD’s silly argument of ‘absolute’ Indian monarchs.

This ensured that local and national economy did not depend on royal patronage or initiatives.

Unlike in the ‘modern’ ‘free market’ or socialist economies.

Slavery: Slaves have no control over slavery.

From capture to death, slaves have no control over their destiny – and this loss of liberty has State protection. Indian classics have many stories how kings became ‘dasas’ and later freed themselves from the position of ‘dasas’.

Dasas controlled their servitude – whereas slaves cannot. Indian legal texts expounding Bharattantra have no laws that give State protection to slave-owners. India remains the only society in history that has never given legitimacy to slave owners. It appears that slave owning societies were described as asuric societies.

In fact, there is no Indian word for slaves – except imported words.

Self-absorbed Indians: From Matthew Arnold to Max Muller, we have seen how colonial Britain has painted Indians as inward looking.

Factually, from the Indian woman who was the inn-keeper at Babylon to the Yogi who met Socrates, Indians have travelled the world over. Indians are the second largest diaspora in the world today – after the Chinese. Unlike Christopher Columbus or Vasco da Gama who were sponsored by the State, the Indian diaspora has spread across the world at their own risk –

Without State sponsorship.

The skeptical and unbelievers, will have counter-arguments – which is a valid position. But DD’s post seems to show that as far as Indian classics go …

In modern India, we have the blind leading the ignorant.


7-Most Important Things You Should Know About Narendra Modi

July 16, 2013 23 comments

Must you not know why you love or loath #NaMo – more commonly known by his full name Narendra Modi.

After you read these 7-Most important things about Narendra Modi you will no longer wonder why you loved him – or loathed him.

Clear your ideas about Narendra Modi.

1. From CM-to-PM

If Narendra Modi does succeed in his Prime Ministerial bid, he will India’s first Prime Minister (PM) who progressed from a party worker to a Chief Minister onto become the Prime Minister.

Narendra Modi’s move from CM to PM will not be an ‘accidental’ PM, as some of the other PMs. Like Deve Gowda (Karnataka-CM -11 December 1994 – 31 May 1996), Chandrasekhar (never a CM per Wikipedia), Choudhary Charan Singh (UP CM-18 February 1970 – 1 October 1970; 3 April 1967 – 25 February 1968), VP Singh (UP CM – 9 June 1980 – 19 July 1982), IK Gujral (never a CM per Wikipedia).

Narendra Modi’s kind of career progression, from party worker-to-minister-to-Chief Minister-to-probable PM candidate while logical, has never happened in India.

If it happens, it will open the minds of career politicians on possible career paths.

2. Modi’s Polity

How close is Narendra Modi to the classical Indian ideal of polity where concentration of power is impossible with wide dispersal of power, wealth and poverty – defined as Bharattantra by 2ndlook?

Narendra Modi is as far – or as near to Bharattantra, as any politician in India. After all, a fruit never falls far from the tree. Indian political parties, politicians, party workers are all part of the system – of which Narendra Modi is a product.

Narendra Modi’s activist, hands-on style makes it appear that he is more efficient – but as LK Advani pointed out, Gujarat is an already ‘efficient’ State. Modi ‘may’ lay greater ‘focus’ on agriculture, education, mega-projects, etc. Congress may ‘claim’ greater ‘commitment’ to ‘minority, women & child’ welfare, etc.

Is Modi likely to ignore ‘minority, women & child’ welfare? Unlikely, going by his sound bytes.

Is Congress likely to ignore agriculture, education, mega-projects? Unlikely, going by their manifesto and sundry noises made by talking heads.

More or less is the difference between BJP and Congress.

3. Modi As A Polarizing Figure

So, is Modi a polarizing figure?

More than 6 years ago, APJ Kalam, India’s erstwhile President suggested that India must move towards a 2-Party democracy – like the US.

This movement from multi-party democracy to a 2-party democracy calls for a kind of polarization that is now common across Desert Bloc. In Europe it is Social Democrats  (represented in India by the Congress) and Christian Democrats (which is BJP in India). In the US it is Republicans and Democrats. In Britain it Conservatives versus Labour. In the Islāmic world, it is Shia vs Sunni.

Only in India has there been so many political entities with a rainbow of ideologies. Till 1977 it was Congress and the Seven Dwarfs – Congress (O), CPI, CPIM, Forward Bloc /Republican Party, Jana Sangh, Praja Socialists, Swatantra Party. In 1977, Jayaprakash Narayan worked to create an amalgam of Janata Party – which managed to oust Congress for the first time. The amalgam melted under pressures of power-jockeying by the Janata Party constituents.

Nevertheless, the 1977 Janata Party victory unleashed a spate of regional parties, that made local issues centre stage. Now for more than 30 years, no single party has won a parliamentary majority on its own steam. In such a situation, political fluidity has forced a certain kind of national consensus that ensures whichever party is in power, has to follow a broad political consensus on national policy.

More than Congress, BJP is trying to break this mold, by polarizing voters – which it hopes will be at the cost of the regional parties. Congress with the momentum of being a party in power, sees less need for this polarization right now. But that can change. For now, it is BJP which is eager for this polarization.

What are the ideological underpinning to this polarization? Nil. Zero. Zilch. 零. Nul. Null. μηδέν. ゼロ. нул. cero. It is simple power-calculus by BJP-Congress to reduce the importance of the regional parties.

4. Will Namo Polarization Strategy work?

Considering the sheer number of issues that confront India, people will choose ‘specialist’ political parties to address specific issues. Can two-party system capture all the issues that bother the Indian Voter? For now, seems unlikely.

Modi instead of chasing coalition partners, is chasing polarization!

Will this polarization strategy work?

Modi has gathered around him many Indian-Americans and it seems like this polarization idea is coming out of an Brown YummRikan Hat. Much like how some Brown YummRikans crafted the India-Shining campaign, even the current Modi strategy seems to have significant Brown YummRikan inputs.

Many of these Brown-Foreigner voices are creating a red-herring agenda for Narendra Modi. In less than 10 days, two such foreign writers expected Modi to model himself on Reagan and Thatcher. Are these foreign-consultants influencing Modi?

For instance, this revealing statement

In a democracy there will be a polarization between Democrats and Republicans.

Namo’s inspiration from US, sounds much like Advani’s call for debate with Manmohan Singh in 2009 elections – just “like in foreign countries.”

Wonder why this preoccupation by Narendra Modi with taking direction from American democracy!

5. Namo’s Message

What is Narendra Modi’s agenda? If NaMo has no defining agenda, Congress will define it.

Like 2002. Or ‘Hindu Terror’.

He says Development. Modernization. What does this mean? Will words like development, modernization enthuse the Indian Voter to stand in a line and vote for Narendra Modi?

How many Voters will stir from their houses to ‘save’ India from dynastic politics? How many Voters share Modi’s concerns about dynastic politics.

After notching up more than 75 combined man-years of governance in 12 states and the centre from 1990-2013, does BJP have to answer silly accusations about ‘secularism’?

Will Modi get more votes, if he raises the debate pitch on ‘secularism’? In a nation, where people do not bother about their neighbours religion, will speeches about secularism brings votes or boredom?

In 2009 elections, Advani raised dead topics like:

  • Money in Swiss Bank (Why bother? I am not getting any of it?)
  • Television debates (I doubt if he has anything interesting?)
  • Terrorism (Bhai, yeh terrorism kya hota hai? Urban anxiety!)
  • Strong India (Looks pretty solid to me!)

Is this anything as simple and smart as ‘Garibi Hatao’? Narendra Modi agenda as PM and his campaign has, similiar-to-Advani lack of focus.

6. Modi The Reformer

While Narendra Modi keeps making sounds about ‘minimum government, he is also admiring how the Chinese State spends an amount far bigger than India on ‘educating’ Chinese.

While  data on Gujarat government has not been collated, it is also irrelevant. Narendra Modi’s policy-response as a Prime Minister are likely to be far different from his actions as  Chief Minister. The change in context will surely change the response also.

Apart from paying lip-service, Narendra Modi has made no policy outline on thinning or reducing the State. Of course, one must remember that the India State is the thinnest among all major economies of the world.

7. Modi & 2002

Which party organized communal riots in response to Direct Action announced by Jinnah? Congress!

India has long history of communal riots – and Congress has used this ‘tool’ – liberally and frequently. While this is public knowledge, no one penalizes Congress for being an organizer of communal riots.

Unlike BJP, Congress has managed to keep 1984 anti-Sikh riots out of limelight – and keep the 2002 riots in full focus. Even the horrific Godhra incident has been airbrushed out of the national RAM (random access memory).

Is this the first time communal riots have happened in India? No. Is it the last time. No, to that also.

Will communal riots happen in the future. Definitely yes. Just like tension and riots are happening in Belfast. Like the US police forces are readying for race riots after Zimmerman acquittal in the Trayvon killing case.

Assuming Narendra Modi did turn a Nelson’s eye to the rioting, in previous and subsequent cases (like in Assam) did riots happen without political connivance?

2014-The Bugles Sound

Clearly, the 2014 Election Bugle has been sounded.

BJP and Narendra Modi have time to clean up their confusion.

By early announcements by the BJP, Congress has been forced to drain their venom early. Will they have the bite left, by the time elections actually happen?

Anna-Kejriwal has seen their first defection. Kiran Bedi has thrown her lot with the BJP.

Interesting times ahead, folks!

Rajiv Malhotra – Fountain Of Gyaan For Desi Indians

April 28, 2013 25 comments

Inferior desi mind is Rajiv Malhotra’s biggest target. Phoren Maal like Rajiv Malhotra have superior minds.

Rajiv Malhotra has to run down everything that modern India has achieved. Why this antipathy to India?  |  Twitter - RajivMessage- Tata’s Nano will worsen ... 2013-04-28 14-25-45  |  Click to go message.

Rajiv Malhotra has has to run down everything that modern India has achieved. Why this antipathy to India? | Twitter – RajivMessage- Tata’s Nano will worsen … 2013-04-28 14-25-45 | Click to go message.

Rajiv Malhotra, I have bad news for you!

Too Late

It is a little late in the day to run down Tata Nano.

The Indian consumer has decided that at nearly Rs.2.0 lakhs the Tata Nano is not the deal that Ratan Tata had promised at Rs.1.0 lakh.

Sorry! One less, juicy Indian target, for you to run down!

Surely He Knows

But then, Rajiv Malhotra is not running down the Tata Nano for the lack of consumer acceptance.

He is attacking three things: –

1. How can Someone in India decide that they will design a car for India – in India, by Indians, made in India.

Now this is something that few outside Europe, Japan, and the US have been able to do. Korea alone has done this, after Japan. China’s attempts at car making have been plagued by charges of copy-cat engineering – unlike the Nano.

How can backward Indians do this? They have to be wrong, according to Rajiv Malhotra.

2. India will increase oil dependence by Tata Nano, says Rajiv Malhora.

This is his weakest argument. Indians have not accepted the Tata Nano. Instead have decided to go for diesel cars – which return a mileage much better than petrol. Also tax rates on diesel are much lower than on petrol.

The Indian Government misrepresents the difference in tax-rates between diesel and petrol as subsidy on diesel.

3. Inferior desi mind is Rajiv Malhotra’s biggest target. Phoren Maal like Rajiv Malhotra have superior minds.

India must go electric, says Rajiv Malhotra. Make electric cars.

In a country which does not produce enough electricity to light up all households 24-hours a day, India must now add electric cars and increase demand for electricity.

Such superior thinking Phoren Maal has!

Assuming that India can increase electricity production, what fuel will it use for electricity production? Coal, which it will have to import? Same dependence story! Domestic coal which has a high ash content? Washed domestic coal, which will make electricity more expensive than it is? Produce electricity using imported natural-gas that will increase import dependence further?

Maybe India should have lower the cost of public transport – and increase public transport? But that is such a unglamorous idea? Will it get him more twitter followers? Will adoring young men and women throng to hear him about public transport? I guess not!

Indians Love China Stories

But if he talks of how China is making great progress in electric cars, he is likely to get more twitter followers? More thronging audiences.

Never mind the fact, that facts go against Rajiv Malhotra’s brilliant ideas for us desi Indians.

One – China is the world’s largest car market. And electric cars comprise less than 0.1% of its car population. Actually, it is 0.06%. This is the great leap-frog, Malhotra-ma-an?

By the way, the biggest story on electric cars in not the car but the battery. Current Lithium batteries are too expensive. Probably aluminum-air batteries will make electric cars feasible. And where is China in all this? Nowhere.

Two – In August 2010, global media was agog with a traffic jam in China that was 10 days long.

Three– China’s electricity production using coal, is making air unbreathable in all major Chinese cities. China is trying to increase solar energy. But sadly!

3 weeks before this great tweet-gyaan from Rajiv Malhotra came our way, China’s largest solar-panel producer, Suntech declared bankruptcy.

Belly up!

Just like Rajiv Malhotra’s gyaan.

Who are you? asks the Indian SC

April 15, 2013 1 comment

Who is it that the Indian elittes are closing the doors on? The ‘person on the road’.

In a space of one week (Apr. 3-Apr-8, 2013) three events, proved one thing. Unconnected,  well-covered by the media (specially in Mumbai), these three events had one thing in common.

Power corrupts.

And that is why in Bharattantra, power was dispersed, centralization was frowned upon, society was classified into the chatar varnashrama.

Slavery vs Freedom

In March, 1857.

About 1 month before India went up in flames, against the British Raj, the  Supreme Court of the USA (SCOTUS) covered itself in infamy. On  March 6, 1857 the US Supreme Court upheld slavery (Dred Scott v. Sanford).

In March 1857, while Indians were preparing to battle the British for freedom and independence, the SCOTUS was busy finding new ways to keep slaves – stooped, shackled and in chains.

In a complex judgement (Dred Scott v. Sanford), on March 6th, 1857, SCOTUS stopped any slave from approaching US courts for justice.

It took another 100 years of protests, assassinations of leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, even a Civil War to change rampant discrimination in the US. But, above all, finally an acute shortage of factory labor and soldiers forced the US Government to withdraw its support to entrenched racism.

The SCOTUS just did not stop at slavery.

SCOTUS supported racism (United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204 (1923)), segregation by Plessy v. Ferguson 1896. Books have been written, news journals regularly compile their ‘favorite’ lists of Worst 10 SCOTUS judgements.

Unlike the SCOTUS, the Indian SC has not allowed such unjust judgements to escape its portals. The Indian Supreme Court, in its’ short history has been a remarkable body in juridical operations.

But …

“Who are you?” the Chief Justice (Altamas Kabir) asked Swamy, who said he had moved the contempt application. “I am asking you, who are you?” the judge responded. “I am sorry you are not an advocate. You have no right to appear. You have no right to argue. What will happen if any person on the road comes and says I want to argue. You might have done it earlier, but we will not allow you.”

In a nation where “Do you know who I am?” is the ultimate assertion of power, that’s pretty much the mother of all insults. But Kabir wasn’t finished downgrading Swamy. He went on to order him out of the front row, which is “meant for lawyers, not for litigants. You have no right to sit there”.

via Supreme Court smacks down Swamy: “Who are you?” | Firstpost.

Subramaniam Swamy is a powerful politician – and at times he has been brave also. In any dispute between two powerful people, it is best that small people like us keep our distance. But, when Justice Kabir starts on ‘person on the road’ then I am angry.



Corruption Is Not Only Bribes

Justice Kabir is not bigger than the ‘person the road.’ No one in this country is. The Biggest Man in this country is the ‘person on the road.’

Many a time corruption is also arrogance, Your Honour.

Of power over the lives of other people. Of being ‘above’ other people. This is probably a deeper form of corruption.

Less condemned, mostly not even recognized.

Image source & courtesy - on Friday, February 22, 2013

Image source & courtesy – on Friday, February 22, 2013

More Power Corrupts Even More

Second, was the Ajit Pawar urination disaster.

Under increasing pressure, Maharashtra‘s Deputy Chief Minister cracked.

Ajit Pawar was addressing a public meeting in Indapur tehsil in Pune district on Saturday. Referring to Deshmukh’s ongoing hunger strike, he said, “He is on fast for the last 55 days. If there is no water in the dam, how can we release it? Should we urinate into it? If there is no water to drink, even urination is not possible.”

via Ajit Pawar’s statement blackened face of democracy: Farmer – Mumbai – DNA.

From February 5th, 2013, between 50-400 farmers were on protest at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan. With increasing industrialization, Maharashtra Government had been prioritizing water for industrial use – depriving vast areas of water for drinking and agricultural purposes.

After days of protests, the government dragged its feet on earlier agreement to release some water for drinking purposes only – and not for agriculture.

With juicy footage looped for the next 24 hours across national television, Ajit Pawar ended up wallowing in his own filth.

MNS activists protest against Ajit Pawar's recent remarks on drought.  |  PTI Photo

MNS activists protest against Ajit Pawar’s recent remarks on drought. | PTI Photo

An apparently remorseful Ajit Pawar decide to go on a 1-day fast in atonement of his callous statement.

The State High Court went further and issued directions to the State Government to release water within 24 hours.

For old hands at the Chief Minister’s beat, this was not unprecedented. In a similar situation, Maharashtra’s earlier Chief Minister, Babasaheb Bhosale had made a similar remark.

Small consolation.

Unlike Babasaheb Bhosale, who got away with his arrogance intact, Ajit Pawar had to eat crow.

Kotak Presidium  |  Image source & courtesy -

Kotak Presidium | Image source & courtesy –

Three Strikes – You Are Out

Do you visit exclusive showrooms and restaurants?

More sensitive British traders in India labelled their premises as ‘exclusive’.

Who do you think they excluded?

Insensitive British officers went beyond exclusive, and displayed boards that read ‘Indians not allowed’ at various social and business premises.

This third element in the narrative is probably seen by most as harmless – which is why it is so dangerous.

It was a big advertisement by a prominent bank owned by a prominent banker, released in major newspapers like Economic Times, the Mint, etc.

Described as a meeting behind ‘closed doors’, covered by mass-media, it made me ask myself, one question.

The Supreme Court, these gatherings of financial muscle-men, who are these elitists shutting the doors on? Who are they urinating on?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

They are shutting the door on us. Pissing on us.

On us, the ‘person on the road.’

Wikileaks: Why Pranab was Replaced by Saint Anthony

Power politics is an expensive activity – and I have no clue where in the world we have got that this notion that fund raising in politics is corruption?.

Congress has not won an election on merit after 1980. Rajiv Gandhi's victory in 1984 was a sympathy vote after his mother's assasination.  |  Ajit Ninan cartoon in ToI, Ahmedabad on 10th September 2011

Congress has not won an election on merit after 1980. Rajiv Gandhi’s victory in 1984 was a sympathy vote after his mother’s assasination. | Ajit Ninan cartoon in ToI, Ahmedabad on 10th September 2011

2006 October 26, 13:07 (Thursday)

Classified By: PolCouns Ted Osius for reasons 1.4 (B,D) 1. (U)

In an October 23 cabinet reshuffle, President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam named Former Chief Minister of Kerala A.K. Antony Minister of Defense.

Our sources tell us that Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi and PM Singh needed to get Pranab Mukherjee out of his post as Minister of Defense because he was not sufficiently zealous in raising funds for the party. Mukherjee finally accepted the move after receiving reassurances that he would remain in charge of the many Ministerial Committees that help him maintain his domestic power base. The shift of Mukherjee to External Affairs left open the post of Minister of Defense, which A.K. Antony accepted.

Antony’s opponents question his ability to thrive in this high level, high profile position. His reputation for integrity is expected to slow down pending deals, as Antony learns the ropes and carefully examines all contracts, including pending arms deals with the U.S. Antony will bring much needed probity to defense acquisitions just before a large number of big deals are about to be considered. However, Antony faces a tough challenge since he will be functioning under the shadow of Mukherjee and under pressure from the heads of the army, navy, and air force, all of whom want to replace dated equipment. Managing these personalities will be a challenge for Antony.

via Cable: 06NEWDELHI7358_a.

So, does this mean that Saint Anthony has been more cooperative with Sonia-Singh in fund raising?

Such a silly message. It starts with Pranab not raising enough for the Congress. Was Anthony selected to replace Pranab to further increase difficulty of fund-raising?

Why would a ‘corrupt’ Pranab be less cooperative or Saint Anthony be less committed to fund raising? These are just silly stories, built over time, based more on style of fund-raising rather than corrupt or not corrupt.

Power politics is an expensive activity – and I have no clue where in the world we have got that this notion that fund raising in politics is corruption?

At least by Indian varnashrama dharma, rulers (kshatriyas) were in charge of large treasuries – which had to be emptied periodically with yagnas like Raysuya, Ashwamedha, etc.

These modern political affectations do nothing but raise discontent!

China:The Limits of Central Control

Chinese Govt drives a consensus with regional govts – using mostly persuasion, sometimes post-facto ratification, rarely central diktat..

China lifts Uncle Sam; cartoon by rodrigo; on September 02, 2009  Published at on August 25th, 2009; source & courtesy -

China lifts Uncle Sam; cartoon by rodrigo; on September 02, 2009 Published at on August 25th, 2009; source & courtesy –

China’s governance, in reality is contrary to the image widely projected or popularly understood.

Instead of a monolithic, unitary, autocratic dictatorship the Chinese central Government drives a consensus with regional governments – using mostly persuasion, sometimes by post-facto ratification, rarely by central diktat.

Smoke On Water

Probably the worst example of Chinese governance is production and promotion of tobacco smoking by regional governments. As cigarettes are a large part of the revenue for regional governments, cigarette smoking has been passively encouraged. Sometimes even actively.

China’s expenditure on internal policing and law & order is larger than China’s defense expenditure. If the control of the China’s central government was so strong, why is its expenditure on internal security so high?

There are many other elements to the Chinese puzzle.

Bit by bit

Earlier posts had examined the Chinese economy that thrived on exports for the last nearly twenty years aided by and supported with a cheap yuan. Will China go the Japan way?

The mysterious manner in which the Buddhist monk has disappeared from Chinese movies is an ominous feature. Especially when the Buddhist monk has been replaced by gangsters. To this add, how Tibetan protests in the form of self-immolation by priests and nuns have unnerved the Chinese administration.

Coming to foreign policy, Indian media paints a unreal picture of the Chinese threat. Even in the past, in the 1965 and the 1971 India-Pakistan Wars, China  maintained a distant attitude towards Pakistan, providing little more than verbal support to Pakistan. Indian Navy in the South China Sea, in alliance with Vietnam, is a significant counter-measure to aggressive posturing by China in the Indian North East.

Catching on and catching up with the emerging China picture.

The reality is that power in China is much less concentrated than it was in the days of Mao and Deng.

Far from being the all-powerful behemoth that some in the west admire for its omnipotence, the central government can often be oddly ineffectual and powerless.

A slightly frivolous but nonetheless instructive example is the government’s complete ban on the construction of golf courses that has been in place since 2004.

Since then the number of golf courses in China has nearly quadrupled. The point is that Beijing produces many well-intentioned laws and regulations that are often not implemented or enforced unless they directly align with the interests of cadres at the lower levels of state power.

The central government can impose its will and mobilise the nation when it absolutely has to but it uses up an enormous chunk of political capital every time it does that.

Because of this, China’s leaders tend to spend a lot of time giving positive speeches but they only really swing into action when faced with a serious crisis.

A good example was the Sars epidemic that emerged from southern China almost exactly 10 years ago and presented the now outgoing administration of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao with their first big test at the outset of their time in office.

After trying first to cover it up they finally responded by mobilising the entire country and eventually brought the disease under control. Mr Xi and his team have not yet been tested with their equivalent of a Sars moment but when they are it will provide more of an insight into their ability to govern the world’s most populous nation

via Xi’s task exposes limits of central control –

The Puzzle & Launch Of Sunny Leone

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Funding Sunny Leone: Not knowing Hindi or Bollywood, deep into porn industry, would Sunny Leone risk her own capital on a uncertain Bollywood future?

Not knowing Hindi or Bollywood, deep into porn industry, would Sunny Leone risk her own capital on a uncertain Bollywood future?  |  Cartoon by Satish Acharya in

Not knowing Hindi or Bollywood, deep into porn industry, would Sunny Leone risk her own capital on a uncertain Bollywood future? | Cartoon by Satish Acharya in

Stardom in Bollywood is an uncertain creature. It takes a mix of the following three factors to come close to success in Bollywood: –

1. Talent: Like Amrish Puri, Om Puri, Madhuri Dixit, last and not the least Amitabh Bachchan had significant talent to make their screen characters come alive.

2. Audience Connect: Rajesh Khanna, Rajendra Kumar, Joy Mukherji connected with the audience mood of their times. A few like Dharmendra could change from being a romantic hero in Blackmail, Jeevan Mrityu to the famous action hero (कुत्ते मैं तेरा खून पी जाउंगा; Kutte main tera khoon pee jaonga).

Google’s high search-rank for Sunny Leone is probably due to combining porn-search and Bollywood search.

3. Family-Other Connect: To decode deal-making clues in Bollywood needs insider information – which is many cases means family support or a sponsor. Dev Anand, Subhash Ghai launched many heroines between the two of them. The Kapoor family has been integral to Bollywood for the last 60 years. Is there any commercial logic for a Bollywood entity to sponsor Sunny Leone’s career? None I could imagine!

Is Mahesh Bhatt dumb enough to fund and launch Sunny Leone? It staggers my low-opinion of Mahesh Bhatt to believe that he can be so stupid.

Is google aggregating Sunny Leone's porn search with her Bollywood linked searches? | Cartoon by Satish Acharya in

Is google aggregating Sunny Leone’s porn search with her Bollywood linked searches? | Cartoon by Satish Acharya in

Twinkle, Twinkle

Sunny Leone has no Bollywood-related talent, no Bollywood-audience connect or unlikely to have a Bollywood sponsor.

A Bollywood career in the initial stages needs an estimated Rs.3.0-5.0 crores – to pay for people who will do the public relations, press management, contract negotiations, scheduling, coordination, deal-filtering. After spending Rs.3.0-5.0 crores, success in Bollywood is uncertain. It seems unlikely that Sunny Leone is funding her own career in Bollywood.

It has long been rumoured that some wanna-be superstars (Hint: A garment-exporter, a second-rung film-star, SS supposedly) fund movies to get a role.

This begs a question.

Dumb, Dumber

Who is funding Sunny Leone? Who is spending the nearly US$600,000-1 million that it costs to launch a Sunny Leone in Bollywood? What is the motivation behind launching Sunny Leone?

Sunny Leone has once again got the tongues wagging with her controversial tweet. This time it is quite more sensitive.

According to a leading news agency, the pornstar turned actress tweeted, “Rape is not crime, it is a surprise sex.”

In no time the starlet realized her mistake and deleted her tweet, but by then it got retweeted by her followers.

Later on Sunny even clarified her tweet on the micro blogging site and tweeted, “Who ever has said this rape comment is an idiot. I never said this. Grow up!!!!!!!!!?”

via For Sunny Leone, rape is not a crime but ‘surprise sex’ – Indian Express.

Live Insurance Scam: How To Steal A Trillion

February 15, 2013 Leave a comment

A fool and his money are soon parted. Better that fools handover money to a Sahara or an LIC – rather than these firangi types.

Even though there are no (significant?) depositor-complaints, Sahara is being forced to refund Rs.24,000 crores to various ‘depositors’. As though, Rs.24,000 crores amount was lying around. In some account somewhere.

Rs.24,000 crores – waiting for refund command from regulatory or judicial authorities.

Unspilling Milk

I am not sure where Sahara Parivaar gets its thousands of crores from – but surely we know where most of this money goes. I can quibble about the end-use of these funds – but can’t complain.

Wonder what is bothering RBI-SEBI-SC?

Phoren Maal

On the other hand, no one seems to be bothered about a similar scam being executed in the insurance industry. The Sahara scam is being executed by a back-of-beyond Bengali-huckster who appeals to the UP-bhaiyya – and that is not acceptable.

The insurance swindle is run by foreign-returned, slick-MBA types, with MNC connections. And that is is an ‘important’ part of our economy?

A fool and his money are soon parted. Better that fools handover money to a Sahara or an LIC – rather than these firangi types.

With Sahara-LIC we know where the money is going.

When one lives in a country of over a billion people, big numbers seldom come as a surprise. But when I looked at the number of Rs.1.5 trillion, I was astounded. That’s about 1.5% of the Indian gross domestic product, was the first thought. . Knowing that the industry will come after this number, as my colleague in this work so graphically put it, with their bazookas, we did the numbers again. And again. And several times again. Checked and re-checked the methodology with insurance industry experts, actuaries and academics. We used another, totally different method to see if we were way off the mark. But the final number refused to back down. Retail investors lost a minimum of Rs.1.5 trillion to the insurance industry and its agents over a period of seven years that ended in the financial year 2011-12. Mint on 6 February 2013 here:

Not only did companies manufacture toxic products, sold them through very large incentives (remember, the Insurance Act specifies the maximum limit for commissions, not the minimum), but once the policyholder let the policy lapse on finding out that it was unsuitable, kept the money with themselves, again imposing the maximum possible cost on the policyholder, and then moved that money over to their profit account. Question them about it and they say that the rules allowed it. They were just following the Insurance Act that allows them to do so after a waiting period of two years.

What next? One view is that now that the insurance regulator has changed the rules of the game, we should all get on with life. But is that the correct approach? Let’s look at how the industry behaved once the Ulip rules were changed in 2010. It moved to producing and selling traditional plans which still had all the features that made Ulips toxic.

The regulator will now change these rules as well to take most of the toxicity out before the end of the current fiscal year. But what does this market behaviour say about the industry? It says that the industry will continue to find loopholes in the rules and will use them to the detriment of the investor. What will make them move from checking regulatory boxes to really looking after the policyholder? It could be the fear of big ticket penalties.

We’ve proved that policyholders have lost huge sums of money. We now need the finance minister to put in place a mechanism to get this money disgorged and returned to the policyholder. And a stiff penalty for doing what they did.

via How to steal a trillion – Livemint.

Mother Teresa’s Legacy: Under a Cloud

January 31, 2013 5 comments

Why this strange acceptance towards Christian fraud and contempt towards ‘Hindu’ India?

Organized Religion, Organized Charity is Organized Fraud  |  Jeff Koterba Cartoon on August 30, 2010

Organized Religion, Organized Charity is Organized Fraud | Jeff Koterba Cartoon on August 30, 2010

Mother Teresa raised millions, if not billions in the name of Kolkatta’s poorest – and India’s poor.

From this exhibition of India’s poor and poverty, less than 7% of the total ‘take’ was spent on people in whose name this money was raised.

If any Muslim ‘missionary’ had done this, wonder what level of outrage this country would have felt.

But Indians have developed a strange acceptance towards this kind of Christian fraud and contempt towards ‘Hindu’ India.

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner; Cartoon courtesy -

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner; Cartoon courtesy –

For years now, there has been a malignant growth of Christian-Western NGO funding – known and documented for the last 8 years – at least.

Coming back to Mother Teresa.

Social workers all around the world have drawn inspiration from her work and commitment to her cause. Yet, today in her centennial year, her legacy has lost its shine and is in disrepair. Located in one of the lanes of Taltala, home to lower class workers in west Kolkata, it is calm and pious, a world away from the cacophony outside on the busy A.J.C. Bose road.

But the cacophony is threatening to spill inside the Missionaries. Followers and volunteers are questioning the quality of service given in the care centres. They feel the Missionaries’ care centres are allergic to using modern-day therapy and technology to care for the inhabitants. Often untrained volunteers are given tasks that would normally require one to be trained in medicine and therapy. Missionaries has always kept change at bay. But in a world where it is very difficult to hide behind secrecy, the number of disillusioned followers is increasing. Missionaries doesn’t keep a tab on the financial transactions that take place. No one other than the sisters knows where the money that is donated is spent. Donations continue to pour in but people are asking for transparency on how the money is used.

The discord is most pronounced in the first home that Mother Teresa set up in 1952 — Nirmal Hriday, the Home for Dying Destitutes. A former rest house for followers from the nearby temple of Goddess Kali, the Home is a perfect picture for the work that Missionaries is known for. Disabled, disfigured and homeless men and women, many of whom are living their last days, find shelter here. It presently has 99 inmates, served by six sisters and dozens of volunteers, mostly young foreigners. The poor are bathed, clothed and fed until they recover and leave, or die. “Over the years, 86,170 people have been admitted. Of which 34,815 died,” says Sister Glenda, the head of Nirmal Hriday. It was Mother’s favourite home.

It is the kind of work that inspired Hemley Gonzalez, who lived on the other side of the world in Miami, United States. A migrant from Cuba, Gonzalez had grown up in a poor neighbourhood and was inspired after reading a biography of Mother Teresa. Gonzales, who runs a real estate business in Miami, reached Kolkata in December 2008 and stayed for two months.

“I was shocked to see the negligence. Needles were washed in cold water and reused and expired medicines were given to the inmates. There were people who had chance to live if given proper care,” says Hemley. He narrates incidents of an untrained volunteer wrongly feeding a paralysed inmate, who choked to his death; and another where an infected toe of an inmate was cut without anesthesia. “I have decided to go back to Kolkata to start a charity that will be called ‘Responsible Charity.’ Each donation will be made public and professional medical help will be given,” says Hemley, who now runs a campaign on Facebook called ‘Stop Missionaries of Charity,’ and has over 2,000 members.

“We should remember that Mother Teresa was clear that Missionaries of Charity was not operating a hospital. The homes are to serve the poor and give them the basic needs,” says Sunita Kumar, wife of former India Davis Cup coach Naresh Kumar and one who has been working with Missionaries’ sisters for over four decades.

But this reasoning that has evoked harsh reactions. “What stops them from starting a hospital? Surely, money is not a problem,” asks Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based critic of Missionaries of Charity. Chatterjee wrote a controversial book Mother Teresa – The Final Verdict in 2002 and collaborated with British writer and well known Mother Teresa-critic Christopher Hitchens to produce a documentary called Hell’s Angel for Channel 4.
Apart from the hospital, volunteers also cite the need for a well-planned rehabilitation for the sick who go back to the streets once they recover. “Some were sent back to the streets of their own will, but some against it,” says a European volunteer who has been coming to Nirmal Hriday since 2006. She cites the example of an “old lady” suffering from diabetes and incapable of walking. “We were told she was sent to another centre outside Kolkata but just few days later someone saw her on the street close to our centre… We were worried but could not do much.”
Sister Glenda clarifies that professional help is never avoided. “Look at Buddhni Bakshi,” she says pointing to a bald teenage girl sleeping on a stretcher. “She was abandoned by her parents because the wound in her head used to stink badly. When she came here, we did tests at a local hospital that showed a tumour in her head. We spent Rs. 4 lakh for the surgery and now she is fine,” adds Sister Glenda. The initiative to get professional help, say former volunteers, is a change.
Gonzalez questions why money can’t be used to improve the service at the homes run by the sisters. “Even the inmates soiled and infected clothes are washed by hands. Why can’t they buy a washing machine?” he asks.
It has become a sensitive issue since 2005 when a British television crew filmed children at Daya Dan, a care centre, tied to their beds. Questions arouse about the “primitive practices and lack of using modern methods of teaching.” The incident forced Mother House to release a statement saying, “We value constructive criticism and admit that there is always room for improvement.” Volunteers, who come in dozens from countries like Spain and Italy, have separately narrated incidents about sisters resorting to “shaking violently” or “beating” to discipline the challenged children.
Recent developments though indicate a fresh thinking. “Hygiene has been an issue but has improved as sisters opened to better standard through volunteers from Western countries,” says Father Robin Gomes who has been working with the Missionaries of Charity for more than 20 years. At Daya Dan, which also runs a dispensary for the poor twice a week, sisters in apron and gloves (a change from earlier days) go about like trained nurses.
A bigger change at the centre is in the way the 60 mentally and physically challenged children are taken care of. “We now have speech therapists and physiotherapists coming in regularly who look after the children,” says Sister Karina, a Mexican nun who has been heading Daya Dan for one year. The therapists also help train sisters and volunteers and a few of them are sent to training institutes for week-long classes.
It is good news about some of the changes. Unfortunately, we are still in the dark when it comes to their financial records,” says Gonzalez. The donation issue first came up in the early 1990s when it was revealed that Charles Keating, an American banker known for the infamous “saving and loan scandal,” had donated up to $1.25 million to Missionaries of Charity. Amidst calls to return the money, Mother Teresa controversially chose to remain silent, an incident that is still sited by her critics who demand transparency.
In early 2000, Susan Shields, a former Missionaries sister who left the organisation “unhappy”, created a furore by saying she herself had “written receipts of $50,000” in donation but there was no sign of the “flood of money.” Forbes India talked to a volunteer in the Los Angeles office of Missionaries of Charity who admitted that “even when bread was over at the soup kitchens, none was bought unless donated.” A report in German magazine Stern, revealed that in 1991 only seven percent of the donation received at Missionaries of Charity was used for charity.
Former volunteers and people close to the Mother House revealed that the Vatican, home to the Pope, has control over the “monetary matters” ever since Missionaries of Charity came under its fold in 1965. The control got stronger after Mother Teresa died in 1997.  When asked about how much money the Charity gets annually, the then superior general Sister Nirmala in a rare media interview a few years ago remarked “Countless.” When asked how much it was, she answered, “God knows. He is our banker.” Forbes India’s request for details was turned down at the Mother House. Sister Mary Prema, the present superior general, did not agree to a meeting.

“To quote the Bible, she was “as cunning as a serpent and as innocent as a dove,’” says Father Gomes. “Like all organisations that were headed by famous people and suffer after they leave, Missionaries of Charity has a void. At the same time, the sisters at Missionaries of Charity continue the work that she had done. Every time you see the blue bordered sari, your remember Mother Teresa,” he adds.The association has worked well for Missionaries of Charity. The number of homes and sisters, despite a drop in those coming from India, has increased since 1997. Realising the importance early, the late Pope John Paul VI made sure that a council of sisters was formed before Mother Teresa died. That council, consisting of senior sisters, now runs the organisation and also recommends amongst itself the next head. This is then cleared by the Vatican. In its last meeting in March 2009, the council elected Sister Mary Prema as the new superior general of Missionaries of Charity. A German native, Sister Prema has been seldom seen publicly and few know her outside the Mother House. This, say observers, while keeping intact Mother Teresa as the face of the organisation even after her death, has also led to the disconnect with the local people. One indicator of this disconnect might be the almost complete absence of Indians among the volunteers.After her beatification, after which she is officially called Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the process is on now in the Vatican to bestow Mother Teresa with sainthood. In a 1989 interview with Time magazine, when asked about the future of the Order, Mother Teresa had replied that it was Jesus’ concern.Now would be the right time for God to take a closer look.

via Forbes India Magazine – Mother Teresa’s Legacy is Under a Cloud.

The Corruption Dilema: Fall Of Activist Politicians

January 26, 2013 2 comments

Artificial conflict between ‘corruption-performance’ vs ‘clean-ineffective’ has riven Indian polity.

The problem with conflict of interest  |  Creative credits embedded

The problem with conflict of interest | Creative credits embedded

In the quest for ‘progress’ and development, Indians have come to expect greater speed and ‘efficiency. Any delay in ‘obvious’ cases of decision-making are see as signs of Indian ‘inefficiency.

Ignoring Appearances – Conflict of Interest

To overcome this tag of ‘inefficiency’ some Indian politicians have fallen into the track of ‘activist’ development. In such a framework, getting things done becomes genuinely more important than who does the job – or who benefits. Conflict of interest is seen as an artificial restraint – sophistry at best and lame excuses usually.

Falling On A Sword

One of the earliest such political leader in India was Sardar Pratap Singh Kairon. Chief Minster from 1956-1964, of the united Punjab, before the split into Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Kairon was a whirlwind whose governance motto was performance.

For instance, Pratap Singh Kairon, actively worked to introduce lichees in Pathankot, potatoes in Spiti and personally directed the development of a seed-less variety of table grapes, that was fungus resistant. This ‘brave’ tale of Pratap Singh Kairon, much written about, was narrated to me by an agri-business technologist, in Hyderabad.

Or behind the funding of Chetan Anand’s Haqeeqat – the Bollywood tribute to Indian soldiers of 1962 war by China on India. To a nation traumatized by the 1962 experience, the Government turned to Bollywood for a healing narrative.

Prior to Haqeeqat, war films were unknown to viewers in the country. The morale of India was shattered after the hard-hitting defeat in the 1962 war with China.

Anand was passing through a very lean phase of his career in the 1960s, with almost no work. It was at this crucial juncture that Punjab chief minister Pratap Singh Kairon offered him finance and support to make a docu-fiction on defeated soldiers, with the 1962 Sino-Indo war as the backdrop. Jawaharlal Nehru, then Prime Minister, also promised help as he was keen that the betrayal of India’s respected neighbour be projected on celluloid.

Chetan Anand started working on Haqeeqat in an unconventional way.

via Celluloid war chimeras.

Corruption allegations is one good way to paralyze a government  |  Cartoon by TN Ninan

Corruption allegations is one good way to paralyze a government | Cartoon by TN Ninan

And those who wish to appear clean – are then portrayed as ineffective. This artificial conflict between ‘corruption-performance’ versus ‘clean-ineffective’ has riven Indian Indian polity for no real reason.

Except false moral standards.

%d bloggers like this: