I get invited for lunch by colleague. I order pasta and burrito.
I hope I can live down the embarrassment for rest of my stint
*Must explore less*
Thursday, April 26, 2007
I get invited for lunch by colleague. I order pasta and burrito.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Please read this post to understand why Amit Varma is, well piece of bovine excreta.
As afterthought since he likes Pakistan so much, can Indian government send this clueless moron to "land of pure", he shouldn't mind, considering how he is a perfect dhimmi.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Once again our benevolent (and clueless) babus have struck. It is a familiar (and depressing) story. Some bureaucrats go to foreign junkets in order to improve standard of Indian education, generally have a good time. When it is time to leave, a report is hastily compiled full of recommendations, the gist of which is to copy the system of visiting country in entirety.
The result is as to be expected, Indian education system remains in mess, hence another junket, another set of recommendation and so on and so forth.
I have no idea where our rulers went this time, but the result is on expected lines. "Too much burden lies on Indian student", the wisdom goes, "so do away with exams".
Now I am not saying that there is no pressure on student in India. There is, and lots of it.
However the powers that be, are looking in the wrong direction and hence the solution they find is also flawed.
The problem with our education system is that it sucks, big time. It is insipid, tedious and uninspiring. The books are abstruse enough to thwart most from reading them and instruction is laboured. Over a period of time a typical Indian school transforms a curious child into ignoramus duly stamped and approved, closed to any further inquiry or instruction. Our educational institutions have become factories churning degrees, with education sporadic and accidental occurrence.
Before he can transform into entirely worthless degree holder, Indian student has to labour for years, learning by the rote a humongous amount of irrelevant and outdated information. So, yes there is undue pressure.
But the solution to this problem is not eliminating exams. If anything it aggravates the problem,
essentially eliminating any possibility that any education will be introduced to student even accidentally. This has certainly been the case when primary promotion to next grade was made mandatory. The result was that student admitted to secondary did not have the required knowledge and it meant all the more toil (mostly fruitless) by secondary teachers.
If the solution is to be found, the syllabus has to be updated as well as trimmed. There is no need to teach a student of grade 6th about what kind of pottery was made in Harappa, or inundate with irrelevant geographical information, or description of all the five year plans since independence.
Instead the efforts should be made to familiarize students with basic concepts behind economics, history and statistics.
One thing must be understood here, pressure on children is a result of competition to get higher education. Now much of present competition is due to the artificial scarcity created by our socialist system. Removing unneccessary barriers will go a long way in easing up this pressure, but as long a society has aspiring and ambitious individuals, competition is inevitable fact of life.
Framing policies under the delusion that pressure can be altogether eliminated is not a good idea, as it will end up setting roadblocks in way of aspirations and mobility.
The purpose of education should be development of informed and thinking person. Failure to do so is denying a child the opportunity to realize his full potential and hence is a disservice to nation.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Good cop/bad cop is one of the routines which has been employed countless times in movies/fiction to point of being reduced to cliche and generally considered to be indicative of run of the mill and unimaginative narrative.
A routine, similar to but not as publicized as, aforementioned, has been employed with increasing frequency in recent past, as a position in public discourse, by individuals belonging to both the dominating as well as emerging section of Indian intelligentsia. This routine can be termed as "Reasonable liberal maneuver".
A little background, as I have written earlier liberal infested intelligentsia of India (also true in general for world) suffers from lack of criticism. From this shortcoming following flaws manifest
First, and also most benign, when Indians import the ideas from west without understanding the context and development of the particular system, result is instead of assimilation, it is undigested mass of confusion.
Second, to assume middle path as a default liberal position. Again assuming middle path is not a cardinal sin, as long as it is after deliberating or as a political compromise. This, however, is not the case, instead "moderation as virtue" creeps in discourse.
But the above are nothing compared to the last, which is failure even to understand the meaning behind term which one is introducing. Where ideas are reduced to slogans, to be unleashed on masses, which are used as a means to drive the agenda, to monopolize term of debate, to stifle dissidence, to capture the institutions, to acquire control over collective consciousness, the ultimate goal being power unchallenged and untrammelled by any contrary position.
Whatever passes for intellectual discourse in India is, for most part, chicanery and obfuscation, the aim being to occupy moral high ground, dictating the contours of debate and therefore secure power as guardian of social conscience and position as elite in social hierarchy.
This is accomplished by using slogans as weapons.
Unfortunately for our intellectual establishment, their stranglehold is breaking. Partly as a result of intellectual bankruptcy disguised as public policy, and partly because Indians have become restless. This slipping of power makes them nervous, hence this fake contrition and drama of repentance. Point is, they still do not think, they still covet power and they still persist in dishonesty. The only reason they are even carrying out this charade in the first place is, they are trying their best to somehow accommodate rise of Hindu aspirations, and still maintain their stranglehold. They are not going to succeed.
Present lunacy notwithstanding, it is my firm belief that Indians are reasonable people, also that historically Indic civilization has always been open to constructive dialog. What India rages against today is the grandiose posturing and false pretence of Intellectualism. The need of hour is more original thinking and honesty and less maneuvering, less dissimulation.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Well, I forgot to tell, I happened to watch Guru few months back. Although not as good as Red or as path breaking as Nehle Pe Dehla, it is a decent movie. What is more it doesn't fair too bad even if the fact that the narrative tangentially involves a political statement, is taken into account, compared to movies like Nayak or even the Maestro's previous venture.
Anyway there are people who are much better than me at doing reviews and we shall leave the task to them, considering that my preferences are blasphemy to good tastes. Now what interest me is the political statement, the message that the movie attempts to convey.
In the climax (arguably among the best of Indian cinema), Abhishek Bachhan delivers a forceful monologue defending his actions.
To summarize, he was compelled to bend the laws ("to open the doors", in his words) because these laws and the bureaucracy they spawned, stifled entrepreneurship, by restricting freedom to acquire property, employ labour, produce goods, provide services, and determine price for them.
To Guru, who had come from a small village to do "bijness" which to him was a perfectly moral and ethical way to earn money, these laws, which prevented him from carrying out his enterprise and from realizing his goal, were unjust by their very nature.
Hence to him, "opening doors" was within his moral world view.
Reality, if I am allowed to use the adjective, is little more interesting. Dheeru Bhai Ambani, inspiration for the protagonist, was frequently accused of influencing policy decisions, both to promote his ventures as well as to stifle competition.
By any stretch of imagination, he was not a free market Gandhi, but this is not a big negative against him, true he exploited the pervading corruption and perversion in system, but he was a entrepreneur par excellence, and he would have succeeded even in free market unrestricted by government interference.
Our entrepreneurs had to battle, laws and rules which would make Byzantine envious by their convolutions, and reckon, with babus who would warm the cockles of both Kafka and Orwell by deviousness and absurdity bordering on surreal, to even exercise what should be the very basis of a just and vibrant society, freedom to work.
Imagine, the effort wasted in countering this perversion of a state perpetrated and perpetuated by a cynical dynasty, vitality sapped by delusions of ego maniacal ignoramuses, and industry frustrated by a system meant to nourish leeches.This is the first tragedy of the India.
But there was a bigger and even more bitter truth in the movie. Granted India was ruled by tyrants, also granted that socialism was a blight which rendered mind scape of newly independent republic barren, but even then the question remains, who enabled these tyrants and the ideology.
The answer, which should be clear to all, is Manikdas Gupta. Manikdas 'Nanaji' Gupta is typical of the Indian intellectual,who have decided the direction of public discourse in India since independence and has monopoly over information dissemination and opinion formation.
This group, comprising primarily of (but not limited to), liberals of various hues, was influenced by development of social theories in contemporary west. However this group at no point of time made an attempt to initiate a thought process or formulate any original ideas.
Instead of contemplating and reflecting on what west had to offer and whether there was any context (or framework) to social and political ideas of west, they sought to import and impose them upon Indian society without any critical examination.
This act of intellectual sloth could only result in failure, and it did, stagnation of India in the ensuing decades, in economic as well as social sense is testimony of this.
The fact that central planning has failed was apparent even during the reign of Jawahar Lal Nehru, honesty demanded admission of this failure and a change of course.
But this class, arrogant and self-righteous due to their (self perceived) superiority over other Indians in matter of intellect, could not accept that its vaunted ideals had bit dust.
The result was denial instead of introspection, and the original folly, of sloth, was compounded by even more grievous one, of intellectual dishonesty. Our intellectual class, instead of admitting their mistake placed blame on the inadequacy of Indians. This was almost similar to what our British rulers did, the only difference being while they blamed Indian race, our "brown sahibs" shifted the blame to some inherent flaw in our cultural DNA, even worse, to cover up their error, they, just as missionaries belonging to bygone era were wont to do, drew a distorted portrait of Indians as uncivilized savages.
By taking refugee in such deceit and denial, the intellectuals were forging a chain, chain of self-doubt, abnegation, cynicism, decay, dhimmitude, inertia and infirmity. For fulfilment of their moth eaten ideals, they linked this contraption and chained this country.
Hence insults like Hindu rate of growth became the accepted wisdom
And this is where Guru was wrong.There were no doors to simply open, this was slavery opted on voluntarily by a comatose civilization.
For decades this chain has shackled India, biting into the flesh, crushing the bones, cutting off the circulation, denying even the breath. And India rages, the rage is all visible, on marquees and on road. We have million mutinies, we also have million tyrannies.
The last decade has seen some progress, to some extent by intent, mostly by accident. India is shining, Indians are euphoric, inboxes are getting inundated with mails reeking of triumphalism,
Analysts of investment banks and consultancy firm, in manner harking back to time of oracles, are prophesying about incipient golden age, and like ancient greek, we are complacent, confident on infallibility of these worthies.
But there is still no freedom, because there is still no enlightenment. The labels may have changed, earlier our intellected were besotted with socialism, now we are witnessing, beginning of affair with libertarianism, but the sloth persists, still our intellectual class is stupified with west, there is no insistence on contemplation, no reflection. No examination of the context.
The chains are still there, only we have become accustomed to them, only we have adjusted ourselves that we don't feel the sting, for the time being. But we will, sooner or later, our cities are dying, our roads are disappearing, we have miserable indices for human resource development. Our society is still raging, we are still buffeted by mutinies and tyrannies. And this will continue, as long as the chains remain. For India to prosper, the chains have to break.
And this is true story of the film.
Monday, April 09, 2007
(Previous posts , , [2.5], ,  & )
Having attempted to analyze the factors that influence civilization and its evolution, this last post(hopefully) examines the mechanism behind "resurrection" of civilization.
Here "resurrection" is used intentionally. Basically "resurrection" is a different and difficult process from "advent".
The reason is not very difficult to understand.
During advent, the instinct that drive civilizations are still primal and unconditioned, and the network arising out of interactions is only beginning to form.
On the other hand decline is a symptom of imbalance of instincts, thus "resurrection" implies restoring the balance, which means "rewiring" the connections to make social network functional.
Like the previous posts, this post too is concerned with how memories can be utilized for revival of civilization.
I make a distinction between memories dependant on their utility to the civilization.
One set of memories represent the decline and atrophy of civilization. These must be eliminated from the psyche. The other set represent the evolution and ascendancy, these should be promoted. Here I will emphasize that value system to which evolution aspires to, changes from stage to stage, hence memories do get reclassified during the evolution, resulting in rejection or assimilation. Also all the modes of memories can be classified as belonging to the either set.
One last point is about importing "value system". It is fashion of the modern times to proclaim certain values as universal. This is nothing but self-deception and unfortunate result of intellectual triumphalism of modern age. A more accurate statement would be that there are certain values which are "almost" universal.
Now before someone starts thinking that I am just rambling, let me emphasize, this "almost" is important, because it denotes the context in which value system evolved. Now much like evolutionary biology, development of civilization also ends up exhibiting convergent evolution, and as in biology while the basics remain same the details may vary. Hence attempting to impose a value system, evolved in a different environment,"in Toto" upon a different civilization is recipe for chaos and disorder, much like what is happening in India.
Instead, the preferable course should be to imbibe the vigour and contemplation which drove the development of value systems underpinning a vibrant and advanced civilization, to internalize the essence of such values.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
(Previous posts , , [2.5], &  )
Extending analogy between biological and social memories, it is possible to draw parallel between the situations when both the faculties do not function as desired.
But first, there is one more deviation that can be added to the abnormality of memory (as discussed in one of the previous posts). This is false memory, this is memories of events which never happened, this is again indication of some trauma or shock.
Coming back to civilization, there are times when memories atrophy. Before that a note of caution memories stabilize civilization, they do not make it impervious or eternal. However vigorous the civilization might be, it is bound to decline at some point, the best the memories can do is to act as seed of rejuvenation.
Now the memories atrophy when the process whereby new memories are created ceases. This happens when the intellect, the creative constituency of civilization declines. This may be due to,
a) The material decline of the civilization, when the production and trade declines due to geopolitical factors, dependant societies wither. I assume something like this happened to Harappan civilization (more accurate description may be Saraswati Civilization).
b) The intellect and the creative accomplish the task when they have a well defined (and respectable) position in the hierarchy which sustains them. However if this position or the whole hierarchy is undermined, these decline.
c) When rituals and traditions restrict restrict mobility and society becomes stagnant.
Now the first cause is beyond domain of human influence and hence outside the scope of this discussion.
Second cause deserves a more detailed analysis.
The social fabric can be riven from outside by foreign invasions. Again there can be a foe so overwhelming and resolute against which mightiest effort are futile, at that point one can surrender or take a last stand depending on what are the conditions. But many the times the foe is comparable in military power and it is the lack of political unity and presence of infighting and intrigues, which does the society in. These conditions indicate both decline of moral virtues among the ruling elite (Kshatriya) and the inherent flaw of political institutions.
The social fabric can also be sundered by internal uprisings and revolution. This has less to do with elite than with discontent of masses. This implies either the inherent injustice in the system, or a mismatch between ethos of elite and masses. Most of communist revolution point to the former, while religious persecution in Europe points to the latter.
Third point is more complicated
There is another aspect with the memories, the most persistent mode of memory is as rituals and tradition. These are formed by the most potent action of the instincts and hence survive for the longest duration. A big drawback of this is that they remain even when they are outdated.
I stated earlier that intellect drives the creation of memory, but here intellect was used in the sense the instinct to think, even this instinct is conditioned by social norms. It is necessary that it be distinguished from the ability to reason. Reason is more than a instinct, it is a system of thinking.
The second problem is that any shift in the configuration of forces implies disadvantage to the group(s), usually the predominant or the elites, it is but natural then these groups will seek to resist any change, a very effective way to eliminate any challenge to hegemony is to prescribe rituals and rites which in effect restrict any potential challenge and at the same time amplifies the actual power wielded by status-quoits. This results in proliferation of rites and inflexibility of system.
This, I believe, can explain in part, the rigid caste system, this I believe also explains a gargantuan bureaucracy.
Associated with the atrophy are closely related phenomena, loss of memory, denial and manufacturing of false memory.
These again are analogous to the phenomena manifested in individual humans.
First two tendencies are usually the result when a society or civilization is re-ordered on basis of a new set of ethos and ideas, which is a radical departure from the traditional values.
This might happen when either an external conqueror imposes his values over the vanquished population. Other possibility is when a radical social movement (usually alien to the traditions of host civilization) supersedes over the prevailing social norms. The time this process takes depends on the robustness of the host civilization. Islamic conquests for the large part are examples of the former and spread of Christianity in Europe of later.
Denial on the other hand occurs when the old civilization even though vanquished still maintain their presence, the new order unable to eliminate old memories, ignores or actively suppresses them. In this it is somewhat similar to case of false memories. A typical example of this is Pakistan. Basically what we have here is a society in dilemma, caught in between two conflicting identities, the urge to belong to one identity is the driver behind this suppression. Usually this suppression is society wide. But there is other case which should be discussed in the end.
False memory on the other hand is a device to protect the collective ego and self-identity (again much like as in case of individuals). It has two forms, one to shift the blame, or to boost the esteem. One example of former is how one major component of Islamic identity is victimization with blame shared by US/Israel/loss of Andalusia/unrighteous caliphs. Example of later is how Muslims who are non-Arabs invent lineage originating from Arab.
Last is the case for denial which applies in case of India, this time too there is active suppression of memories, but this is not driven by conflict between civilizations. This happens when some pernicious, where pernicious implies that it harms evolution and leads to decline of society, ideal
infects the psyche, as is not hard to see that the very first section which is infected by this is of intellectuals. Which will explain why seduced by the ideologies of universalism of 20Th century our intellectuals on one hand actively create a false picture of Indo-Pak bonhomie and on the other hand pine for a socialist utopia.
It is this disease of the intellect, and obfuscation of civilization's memory, which is hardest to counter, because this malaise is internal.