2014 So Far

Four months seems to have done a Bolt. I am finding myself receiving sever sweltering May at my door step, waiting eagerly to start where we stopped last year. Since 2012, May has been exam month for me, when, in the mercurial Chennai summer, UPSC aspirants will be busy revising every bit of information so that we do not become a footnote in the palimpsests of history (to borrow from Orwell).

Interesting developments have happened as the first trimester of year comes to an end. I exercised my duties as a responsible Indian citizen and voted. I will be an uncle in July, the month of my birth. I consider this to be a rebirth of sorts, when I become a grown-up, responsible for the next generation. Moreover, I join the great working middle class of India. I must say that I have ambivalent thoughts about this. I asked one of my senior and wiser friends about this, about how pointless the days are, how mundane the passage of time seems while one waits for life to begin. He offered a striking perspective saying that whatever happens while we wait for life to begin is, in fact, life or something to this effect. I agreed to take up the job.

As to my goals, it is better not to discuss as to how consistent I have been with regards to their accomplishment. None the less, for naming and shaming me, I do a brief review.

1. Clear IAS Exams.

We got time, remains to be seen. So far, preparation has not been up to the mark.

2. Become diligent and go that extra mile. **

I was diligent in November 2013. Went the extra mile in November 2013. Which means, I failed.

3. Become knowledgeable in India’s foreign policy and World Politics.

Uh uh, no.

4. Learn 1825 new words in English, 5 words per day for 365 days.

Stopped.

5. Master English grammar.

I made a lot of errors. Does that count as part of the learning process?

6. Learn German thoroughly.

Check #4.

7. Make 30 Day Projects and stick to it. ( 30 Day Project is the most wonderful thing that I decided to implement, even though at the far end of the year.)

Check #4

8. Write 50 scholarly articles.

Did not even write one.

9. Write at least 4 blog posts per month.

I have written only 3 blog posts, excluding this one, instead of the supposed 16 articles.

10. Maintain a personal journal and make sure to write an entry even if it’s the most uneventful day.

Did not.

11. Finish at least 50% of the reading list.

Ah, okay some success. I have finished Murakami books – Norwegian Wood, Hear The Wind Sing and Pinball 1973. Also on the verge of getting completed is Guns Germs and Steel, also started reading Granville Austin. Did something right!

12. Restart singing classes.

I have stopped my violin classes. Boo hoo!

13. Do research for the Novel.

Nope did not.

It seems my resolutions have been a miserable failure for the first 4 months. And I feel utterly terrible, but never to bother. There are still 8 more months. And I can be satisfied at the end of the year, if I am consistent. But consistency, thou art unobtainable to men of meagre will!

Reading List on Development and Poverty

UNDER THE SHELTER

poverty2

One of my personal goals for 2014 is to become better informed on issues of poverty and development.  For me the place to start is with a reading list.  I hope to read several of the books on this list over the course of this year.  I share it with you with the hope that it might encourage you to do the same, or perhaps you know of a book, article, or resource I should add to my list.  I recognize that being well read on a subject like this is not enough, but it is a place for me to start and will help me at least better understand the conversation taking place around how to alleviate poverty and bring positive development to the world. I owe a special thanks to David Husby, the Director of Covenant World Relief of the Evangelical Covenant Church, who reviewed this reading list…

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A Case Of The I Don’t Cares

Fish Of Gold

My depression has taken root again. Depression on antidepressants is interesting. It’s way different from depression without them. With the antidepressants, I’m not crying all the time. I don’t hear a voice screaming that I should just end it. In fact, it’s so subtle that, if I were not well versed in depression having had it my entire adult life, I wouldn’t even notice it was there.

This time, my depression has taken the form of a fair to middling sense of malaise and generally not caring about anything at all. I don’t care about anything. I don’t care about this blog, my friends, getting a new job or even my appearance. I’ve worn a ponytail to work for the last three days because I can’t be bothered to do anything with my hair. I have blown off my friends so that I can sit in my darkened house not…

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Modi and Kerala

Modi recently visited Kazargod in Kerala and loudly proclaimed in his rally that Kerala has become a nursery for budding terrorists. Some in facebook took exception to this comment and posted in facebook that Modi is trying to indulge in fear mongering in Kerala since he know he has no substantial voter base here.  I try to dissect here what Modi meant, and how a possible Modi Prime Ministership will affect Kerala. Most of the following is part of a discussion I had in facebook and need not be in the form of an actual essay.

This was the initial post

So, the ones who can’t be coerced into following his ideals must all be terrorists. Oh yes… We won’t follow his ideals like the others who would do so blindly without a thought and this makes us terrorists? Applause! Applause!

To all the Modi supporters… Is this the person who you want us to vote for? So sweet of him…

Just because Narendra Modi said it, do not jump your guns. The messenger may not be to everybody’s liking, but the message is important here. Kerala has been slotted under the Red Zone category of terrorist activity by National Investigation Agency acc to whom SIMI and IM are operating in Kerala via ‘micro-modules’. A Kerala-link has been in one way or other established in some of the major blasts in other parts of India (for ex – Chinnasamy Stadium blast in 2010, Gujarat Blasts 2008, 2008 Jaipur blasts,

In Oct 2013, 13 Keralites were given life sentence for training and recruiting 200 men into LeT to work in Kashmir. These 13 jailed people have allegedly misled the 200 young men saying they were going to given a good job. In fact these men were told that if they do not take part in terror training, their families would be harmed. K. P. Sabir, considered to be the ‘kingpin’ of Kerala terror network is still off the radar.

The annual remittance through hawala channels into Kerala alone is Rs 20,000 crore, a % of which has been used to fund the above mentioned blasts. And because of this not just NIA, all anti-terror org in India focus specifically on Kerala. Even the Intelligence Bureau says that up until a few years ago, Kerala, which was only a mere entry point for larger terror activities in India has turned into a breeding centre for extremist groups. IB says that Pakistan ISI uses the Gulf connection of Kerala to sponsor dubious anti-Indian activities.Kerala Police themselves have seized CDs which showed Taliban-style training for new recruits in Kerala.

Main advantage of Kerala for such extremist group is that

1. there is no political will to tack the situation
2. Kerala offers an easy exit route to Gulf due to its long coast.

I must tell here, that I have no bias against anyone. I am just trying to point out the facts. I have not even accused any political party of terror links. I have merely reproduced what the top Anti-terror organisations have put out in the public. Anyone can easily search it and obtain the required information from internet.

I just took the effort to write this because you commented

“We won’t follow his ideals like the others who would do so blindly without a thought and this makes us terrorists?”

That is not the case. Scoring political points is one thing. But, accepting certain facts, how ever unpleasant they are, is the need of the hour.

To this, I got the response

That was a long one. And I assume you must have done your research before writing it. Well and good. Since we are talking about hard truths here, I will also ask you… Can you also assure me that if he wins the election there won’t be any biases to the steps he will take? He already has an impression that Kerala is a nursery to terrorism. How could someone be expected to rule fair if he has such a biase about the people who he will be ruling? Also, if Congress rule was responsible of the rise in terrorism in Kerala, Modi should be for Gujarat riots, should he not be?

Government doesn’t work that way. Similar question can be asked about Chattisgarh which is the breeding centre of Naxals. Is the question going to be, “Oh! Is the government now going to view Chattisgarh with a biased eye?” or is the question going to be “How will government eliminate Naxal problem?” Hence the question of bias, I feel, is irrelevant. It is like a cancer patient asking the doctor “You are biased against my cancerous cells compared to my normal cells.”

That aside, politically speaking, Kerala is a very very important state to India. More imp. than half the states we have, due to a variety of factors. And no government can be stable if it is viewing Kerala with a biased view. Modi cannot sustain if that is the case. His fall will be imminent. And he is a smart enough politician not to let go of something as precious as his Prime Ministerial post. That is, assuming that Modi will be biased in his mind. I, do not feel he is biased. He is genuine.

Post May 2014, if exit polls are anything to go by, Congress will be at its worst tally. Regional leaders like our own Chandi and Assam’s Gogoi will have more muscle power than ever in Congress. Chandi is practical. Modi is too. I think they will make a fine PM-CM duo for the betterment of Kerala.

As far as your Congress responsibility and 2002 is concerned: I do not just blame Congress. I blame all the dominant political parties in Kerala, who have no individuality or ideology. They are nothing but a disgusting alphabet soup of political outfit. I will give a small example to compare Gujarat and Kerala. Ma’adanis case; who is Bangalore jail in Karnataka, where a BJP govt was in power just a few months ago, is no where near the end, not least due to endless influence by our own state politicians. You see our politicians acting like running lackeys of fanatics. But in Gujarat, convictions have been made. Many have been packed to jail. Case is going on with so much scrutiny by media and that too when a hostile government is at the centre. I am not saying everything is A class in Gujarat. But you see movement towards an eventual justice. In Kerala, everything is still in air.

To this I got the response

All of us are pretty sure how irresponsible the leaders of Kerala has been in all the cases that you pointed out. I am just panicking because I’m not sure if we should run away from one evil into the hands of another. I am concerned what will happen if Modi comes to power of the whole nation. People have died in Godhra, and in Naroda Patiya, both of which are the worst hit on man’s conscience. I’m just not sure because Modi took a side in the matter.
Quoted from NYTimes, “A top state official tells one investigation panel that Mr. Modi ordered officials to take no action against rioters. That official was murdered. Thousands of cases against rioters are dismissed by the police for lack of evidence despite eyewitness accounts.”
and Modi himself in 2012,
“There may have been a time when I hurt someone or when I made a mistake,” he says, adding, “I ask my 60 million Gujaratis to forgive me.”
You see, I am just concerned about a leader and followers with a biased state of mind.

I am not here to defend Modi. Do not support NDA just because of Modi. Support them since they have an efficient team who can put an end to the imminent problems we face in a swift manner.

For one quote from New York Times I can quote from a dozen other articles in Time or Guardian or NYT itself.

In fact, I can quote even from Raghavan-headed Special Investigation Team whose investigation was monitored by the Supreme Court, which has absolved Modi of all the allgations levelled against him. I can quote from cases where those “human rights” activists, like Teesta Setalvad, are facing a court cases for misusing the money collected for seeking justice to Gulbarg Society massacre victims, or are linked in a doubtful manner to Congress party (ex – Sanjeev Bhatt; R B Sreekumar). I can go ahead and say that they are just trying to frame Modi so that he will become eletorally irrelvant and Congress can maintain its dominance over Indian political scenario. One can view it this way too.

Regarding Modi’s role; I think he can be accused only of mismanaging the riot situation. Even then, for a newly appointed CM, he handled the situation pretty well compared to Assam Riots under Congress CM Tarun Gogoi or Muzaffarnagar Riots under Mulayam Singh – Akhilesh Yadav govt. I did not see anyone criticising these men with the ferocity that is reserved for Modi. In fact, half the people do not even know the details. And if Modi has apologised he has apologised for his mismanagement; not for plotting the murder of minorities. And in fact, it is good that you are quoting his apology, since one of the charges against him is that “He is so arrogant that he hasn’t even apologised.” So, that takes care of it. Asking for apology shows that he is ready to own his mistakes and not to repeat them. I see no reason why his apology should be used against him. If anything, it should be used to give him another chance to prove that he is being truthful.

The accusation that he is prejudiced against the minorities cannot be proven. What he thinks, feels etc is in his head. Neither I nor anyone else can assume that he must be thinking in a particular way. It becomes your perception versus my perception of him. n fact, what he is fighting is a Battle of Perceptions. Some feel he is a good administrator. Some feel he is a tyrant. Those who feel he is a tyrant, I can only tell that India is not Germany or Italy were Fascist elements sprang up. Those who have read history, in an unbiased and objective manner would know and realise how pluralistic and diverse India is and how different India is from the west European nations. There has been only one tyrant in our history. Her name is Indira Gandhi. And her descendants are still ruling the government. Constitution has been amended since the times of emergency, so that no one, not even the most popular PM can over turn the basic rights of Indians.

At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you believe in our Constitution or not. I believe in it.

Quotes from The Discovery of India – Jawaharlal Nehru – Part 1

Cover Page

Cover Page

Chapter 1 – Ahmadnagar Fort

The Past in its Relation to the Present

I suppose I have changed a good deal during these twelve years (between writing his Autobiography and The Discovery of India). I have grown more contemplative. There is perhaps a little more poise and equilibrium, some sense of detachment, a greater calmness of spirit. I am not overcome now to the same extent as I used to be by tragedy or what I conceived to be tragedy. The turmoil and disturbance are less and are more temporary, even though the tragedies have been on a far greater scale.

Is this, I have wondered, the growth of a spirit of resignation, or is it a toughening of the texture? Is it just age and a lessening of vitality and of the passion of life? Or is it due to long periods in prison and life slowly ebbing away, and the thoughts that fill the mind passing through, after a brief stay, leaving only ripples behind? The tortured mind seeks some mechanism of escape, the senses get dulled from the repeated shocks, and a feeling comes over one that so much evil and misfortune shadow the world that a little more or less does not make much difference. There is only one thing that remains to us that cannot be taken away: to act with courage and dignity and to stick to the ideals that have given meaning to life; but that is not the politician’s way.

Someone said the other day: death is the birth right of every person born – a curious way of putting an obvious thing. It is a birthright which nobody has denied or can deny, and which all of us seek to forget and escape so long as we may. And yet there was something novel and attractive about the phrase. Those who complain so bitterly of life have always a way out of it, if they choose. That is always in our power to achieve. If we cannot master life we can at least master death. A pleasing though lessening the feeling of helplessness.

Life’s Philosophy

What was my philosophy of life? I did not know. Some years earlier I would not have been so hesitant. There was a definiteness about my thinking and objectives then which has faded away since. The events of the past few years in India, China, Europe and all over the world have been confusing, upsetting and distressing, and the future has become vague and shadowy and has lost that clearness of outline which it once possessed in my mind.

This doubt and difficulty about fundamental matters did not come in  my way in regard to immediate action, except that it blunted somewhat the sharp edge of that activity. No longer could I function as I did in my younger days, as an arrow flying automatically to the target of my choice, ignoring all else but that target. Yet I functioned for that urge to action was there and a real or imagined coordination of that action with the ideals I held. But a growing distaste for politics as I  saw them seized me and gradually my whole attitude to life seemed to undergo a transformation.

The ideals and objectives of yesterday were still the ideals of today, but they had lost some of their luster and, even as one seemed to go towards them, they lost the shining beauty which had warmed the heart and vitalized the body. Evil triumphed often enough, but what was far worse was the coarsening and distortion of what had seemed so right. Was human nature so essentially bad that it would take ages of training, through suffering and misfortune, before it could behave reasonably and raise man above the creature of lust and violence and deceit that he now was? And, meanwhile, was every effort to change it radically in the present or the near future doomed to failure?

Ends and means: were they tied up inseparably, acting and reacting on each other, the wrong means distorting and sometimes even destroying the end in view? But the right means might well be beyond the capacity of infirm and selfish human nature.

What then was one to do? Not to act was a complete confession of failure and a submission to evil; to act meant often enough a compromise with some form of that evil, with all the untoward consequences that such compromises result in.

*

Some vague or more precise philosophy of life we all have, though most of us accept unthinkingly the general attitude which is characteristic of our generation and environment.

Wikileaks on Rahul Gandhi

Link – Click Here.

 

Classified By: DCM Robert O. Blake, Jr. for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)

 

1. (S) In a March 1 conversation with Poloff, influential columnist and political insider Saeed Naqvi commented on Rahul Gandhi at some length. Naqvi prefaced his remarks by noting that he was a personal friend of Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, and a well-wisher of the Gandhi family. Naqvi was initially delighted when Sonia Gandhi projected Rahul as the heir apparent, but has since lost faith. He claims that the word among Congress insiders, including those in the coterie surrounding Sonia Gandhi, is that Rahul will never become Prime Minister for several reasons. Saying that he “refused to indulge in gossip,” Naqvi claimed that it is increasingly common knowledge that Rahul suffers from “personality problems” of an emotional or psychological nature that are severe enough to prevent him from functioning as PM.

 

2. (S) Naqvi also claimed that his Congress contacts tell him that Rahul has failed as an MP representing the Gandhi pocket borough in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. Congress purportedly hoped to create a revival campaign in UP based around Rahul and his appeal as a member of the Gandhi dynasty, but has now given up, as he “is causing more harm than good” and operates at cross-purposes to the state Congress leadership. According to Naqvi, Rahul has done nothing for UP except to make pro-forma appearances in Amethi, and has “made no impression on the people of the state.” This is leading to growing discouragement that Congress will be able revive and take over the state from Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his Samajwadi Party (SP) any time in the near future. This growing impatience is reportedly fueling internal debates as to whether it would be better for Congress to accept a junior partner status and cultivate an appropriate regional ally, such as Mayawati and her Dalit-based BSP party.

 

3. (S) Naqvi stated that the Gandhi family always preferred that Rahul’s sister, Priyanka, enter politics, as she was judged to be more intelligent and savvy. Arguing that Sonia Gandhi is an Italian mother, and “like an Indian mother,” has a protective feeling regarding her son, Naqvi speculated that Sonia apparently went against her better judgment and selected Rahul over his sister as “heir apparent.” Naqvi claimed that Gandhi dynastic politics had no future, as the family has run out of prime ministerial candidates with appropriate charisma. Indira Gandhi was the last member of the dynasty capable of being an effective PM and Rajiv would never have won re-election had he not been assassinated. Naqvi implied that the common impression among Congress insiders is that Rahul is far below even his father in political ability.

 

4. (C) Comment: Naqvi offered an unusually sharp commentary of views we have heard elsewhere. While our Congress contacts invariably hail Sonia as a “visionary leader” with a special feeling for India’s “common man” there are few in the party who are willing to offer such glowing comments on Rahul. Rahul disdains the Delhi social scene, in contrast to most of his political peers. In the few instances we have come across Rahul, he has kept a very low profile and kept mostly to himself or close friends. Despite signs of growing unhappiness from Congress insiders regarding Rahul, however, he continues to be the subject of press reports that rave about his participation in the early January Congress Youth training camp and suggest that he is preparing to take the mantle of the “leader of young India” and “blossoming into a leader with mass acceptability.” During the two-day youth training session, Rahul engaged in interactive discussions ranging from pesticides in cola products — he was against closing the plants — to defending the GOI,s globalization policy and economic reforms. Given this publicity machine that Rahul enjoys, we, unlike Naqvi, are not yet prepared to write him off just yet.

 

MULFORD

 

Books! ! ! !

Books

Books

 

India’s Tryst With Destiny – Jagdish Bhagwathi and Arvind Panagriya
Guns Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond
Contemporary Banking in India – Naina Lal Kidwai
India – A Million Mutinies – Naipaul
Barons of Banking – Bakhthiar Dadabhoy
Great Game East – Bertil Lintner
Discovery of India – Jawaharlal Nehru