Friday, November 23, 2012


Trees, birds, animals, and all other small and tiny life forms; all accept nature as it is. Only man does not. All other life forms also have intelligence but they all use it to survive and not to create. It is we Humans alone who try to make it better, think to make it better and try to achieve perfection. We get involved and get bound by the world. That becomes the purpose of our life. We somehow foolishly want a better experience, a perfect experience. Man has been trying to create a better world to live in since ages. In the process he also tries to establish his own identity. “I want to do this” and “I have done that”.  But EGO for the benefit of others or EGO to establish his own identity has separated man from nature. Education too is directed towards creation. What has been created so far, and who has done it gets praised. So the next generation also wants to create, wants to tamper with nature, not simply to life of it but rather to bend it to his desire.

Definitely a lot has been achieved in that. Progress made by science in various fields cannot be overlooked. But scientific progress which disturbs the natural state of the world as made available to Humans; is it good? Electricity, cement concrete, petroleum products, newsprint are all for the benefit of man but has come after severe exploitation of nature. All these above have become necessary for modern living and the pressure is high to carry this forward. As more modern aminities and facilities are available more people seem to want them. Take the case of telecommunications. It has progressed from land telephone to mobile phone to internet to 4G and now 5G. As demand grows, it becomes cheaper and reach widens. But do we realize now that it operates only on electricity. Forests are destroyed, birds and animals are destroyed, all without being replaced, just because more population wants more land, wants more minerals, wants more food and want more electricity. This Human desire for better facilities has disturbed nature immensely as if it were irrelevant and inconsequential. Are Humans not a part of this nature? Is man extra-terrestrial? Does he not feel for nature? Does he not belong to this nature? Would not a higher and practical purpose be served if man focused his intelligence to find out; what is life, why does the heartbeat, how does the mind work, why does the universe exist and what is beyond?

Sadly and with sizable remorse I have to admit that we humans are the only selfish life form on this planet. Coupled with that we are also the most stupid because we do not understand our own benefit. It is very easy to be distracted by the world. Everything around us, that which is created by nature and that which is created by man, enters through sense organs and distracts us. It gives us a sense of being, which is both hollow and false, that we are entities of permanent reach and value. Everything around us distracts us from realizing our real and true potential which is within us, which is to break free from the shackles of pain and suffering, to real and lasting happiness. That is to merge with nature itself.


I am returning to writing after a long break during when I did not feel the inclination to put the keypad to my thoughts. During this period I was losing as well as finding myself alternatingly, hurtling down the abyss and then climbing to the peak only to fall again. A very disagreeable phase of mind I should confess. Official work has been going on as usual without any major hiccup and all these up and down travel have been of the mind alone.
During this time a lot has been happening on the conscience of this erstwhile great country with reference to the matter of corruption and degradation of its moral fiber. Like a couple of ugly ruptures on the wounds of an injured body, a number of fraudulent practices have been exposed in great detail by the various groups (media, NGO’s, IAS executives, etc.) Let’s look at what nature of ugliness that is seen.
The visible conclusions being;
(a) Every occupation, profession and every economic activity without any exception (including the judiciary and the military) is dense with corrupt practices. The plight is such that we now feel the immorality and corruption creeping into non-economic and innocent activities like prayer, friendship, and leisure.
(b) Every immoral and corrupt activity has an objective of obtaining an unfair advantage, undeserved benefit, and illegal wealth.       
(c) While everybody would turn a blind eye to the immoral acts of the other whether friend or foe in a quid pro quo kind of expectation; every exposure of corruption is always motivated, with an obvious personal axe to grind.
The invisible conclusions being;
(a) Every Indian wants to become wealthy and famous overnight without having to work hard for it.
(b) Immorality has become the acceptable standard of life amongst those born after independence. Honesty, transparency and accountability have been erased from the ethos of the Indian people.
(c) Hypocrisy is on the forefront of every mouth that opens to talk on this subject including mine. All of us can only talk about others; none of us have the courage to rectify our own selves.
(d) The immediate future of this country is dark. Mark my words, as of now we have yet to hit the rock bottom.

 Of late there has been a series of discussions in the news media about the extent of immorality in our lives our society and how to cope with it. However as long as money making and materialistic philosophy continues to rule at the heart of humans there cannot be an escape from the insecurities of loss. Sadly people do not have any solution in sight and neither is there a charismatic leader who is clean at the same time and who others can look up to. The entire nation has accepted mediocrity in every sphere of live and in every branch of activity to be the gospel supreme.

Lest it be assumed that this is another note on current affairs I wish to link the awareness of this dull mediocrity in my life as well which has depressed my sensibilities. An overpowering sense of impotency has impregnated all my thoughts and actions and makes me feel like a zombie slowly walking through life without a purpose. A keen sense of being corrupt flows as a strong undercurrent in all my activities accompanied with a fatal acceptance that I am a good for nothing. Let’s take my work first. I do rubbish for clients who have no moral character as well. I help them to indulge in their vanity and their dastardly attempts at image projection and its protection. Till date I have not mustered the courage to refuse them this pleasure only for the fear that they will get it done from another who also will get paid for it instead of me. What a coward! It isn’t that professionals with higher skills are exempted from such nefarious practices or that some professionals can afford to and some are permitted to remain aloof from doing despicable acts of omission and commission. Ii is accepted and understood that if a CA doing any type of work wants to move ahead in life then he/she has to get their hands muddied some way or the other.  It boils down to the issue of earning enough money and the individual definition about what enough means. A rotten profession indeed! Even so convinced I cannot bring myself to walk out of it as yet, atleast not at this moment. Probably I do not have the stomach to take an immediate fearless stand. I am the typical mango Indian who has let himself and the country down. Hollow and insipid! Next on the personal front too I have allowed myself to drift away from my preferred or chosen path. Of late it has been a lot of movies, comic books and other bodily and external charms which has captured the attention of my mind and there seems to be no let up. One distraction leads to another and quickly a habit is established. Over a short period of a couple of weeks I come to realize that I am held captive by some external fancy. The immediate next agenda then becomes the process of breaking the habit. Somehow I am beginning to comprehend that the level of seriousness which is needed to keep myself on the chosen path is missing. Either I am faking this whole chosen path ambiance which reduces me to the level of a silly melodrama. Otherwise it is very obvious that I am not good enough which then culminates into the realms of sober self-doubt.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Father the Mighty

The mountain my father he is
Who shelters and protects
And exposes me to every danger
With parental grace.

He inspires me strength to face risks
And sense to pull my wits
He whispers of uneven weather and
Holds it till my destination.

He blocks the cloud and
Brings down the rain to serve
The trees and animals and me
Big heart he is my father the mighty.

He adorns himself in multi colour
Every time I come along
He wants me to return often
With promise of gaiety and sunshine.

Bo too loves him a lot to
Keep coming back to the hardship
This relationship is a secret one
Between me and my father the mighty.

Islam Baiting

Some pseudo-wise man in America makes a provocative video and sarcastically names it ‘Innocence of Muslims’ and immediately as if on cue the entire Muslim world dances with rage. Joining the fun and enjoying the desperation of the Muslims another one such wise guy makes some more cartoons in France. The Muslims are now going red beyond rage, but can very well see that the Christians are playing with them. The earlier Denmark cartoonist must be grinning widely on all his 32 teeth. The more the Muslims will agitate, the more the Christians will continue to poke fun. I guess Muslims and Christians share a great love for each other. They can’t live without each other. Otherwise there is no justifiable reason why one purposely provokes the other and the other gets provoked knowing fully well the intention and the consequence. It is said that love and hate are two sides of the same coin. Greater the love; greater is the hate. If there was no love there would not have been any hate. That makes the Muslims the greatest lovers on earth because there is always a simmering tension between the Hindus and Muslims in India as well.

On a serious note, I would say that both the groups are wrong and are being immature. One group uses the phrase ‘freedom of expression’ to say and get away with insults.  It is their sophisticated manner of expressing their anger. Since their civilization has evolved to a level that murder is looked down upon, they resort to ridicule. As they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. The other side is more basic and simplistic in their emotions and expression, shying away from sophistication and diplomacy and where killing is the ultimate way to resolve a dispute. Both the sides get angry very fast and react only to hurt. Both sides do not actually believe in God, do not respect and love God, inspite of arguments purported to the contrary.

Communal baiting has for centuries been seen all around the globe. It portrays the culture of groupism the propagation of a homogenous population which sees and does things in a common fashion and therefore results in reduced levels of survival related fears and tensions. To survive with safety and comfort has always been the basic instincts of humans and strength is always in the numbers. Any attempt to break this logic accentuates the fear and is therefore not tolerated. However as evolution progressed humans have learnt and realized that individual freedom is also possible and can be placed on the same pedestal as community freedom. But sadly some people have still not evolved.

For one group I would say that the term ‘freedom of expression’ is meant to allow the voice of the weak to be heard, against the atrocities of the powerful. It is not meant for hurting with an intention to hurt, especially when there is no ground to justify the resultant hurt. When the purpose is to ridicule, the idea of freedom of expression should be used wisely, lest someone else takes advantage of it and use it against them. Jesus has said to do onto others what you would want them to do onto you. Secondly the need to ridicule arises because of a feeling of superiority and inferiority on either side.  In a globalized world where man is dependent on each other for the survival of human race, who is superior and who is inferior? If nature wanted it so, then someone would have been born with an extra pair of arms.

For the other group I would suggest to look inwards, introspect. What is there to lose? Is the faith so fragile that a mere insult can destroy it? In India we say, when the Elephant walks the Dogs always bark, but that does not affect the Elephant. It has faith in itself and its strength. When the hurt community agitates and attacks the offender community, they end up giving too much importance to them as well as make them look justified, which is much unwarranted. To react to provocation and agitate betrays a sense of inherent weakness instead of any strength. Rather to ignore such irrational provocation would make the perpetrators look foolish as they really are. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

A take on current affairs

The struggle going on in India these days is the attempt by citizens towards the preservation of the existing structure and form of living as against the unknown structure of the future. The past and its traditions have been overthrown by the generation born after independence. This generation has grown up without any baggage of rules and culture in a new country trying to find its feet and match steps with the rest of the world. Corruption has now come to be accepted as a national cancer; malice with no cure. The scams (2G telecom, Common wealth games, Coal blocks, etc.) that are being reported in the media these days do not strike any cord of a sense of national shame anymore, but rather has become a spectacle to laugh at those who were not smart enough to cover their steps properly and foolishly got caught. The current commercial philosophy is, ‘steal since you must but don’t get labeled as one’. Of course a fair proportion of the obnoxious remuneration doled to top corporate executives is meant to ensure that both the organisation and the individual escape entrapment. But when one looks at the country as a whole, to maintain material growth in the economy, which is also a so-called democracy, with multiple variation of population pulling in diverse directions, requires both blind faith and raw guts. The past decade has been spent in learning from mistakes and trying to placate political friends and foes with various arguments and theories as well as horse trading. Now once again the country charts ahead with bold moves concerning foreign direct investment and aiming to woo internationally floating capital funds which is expected to stimulate material growth and lift people out of poverty. These moves have once again raised the cacophony which forecast a bleak future and enslavement by some quarters. The central government is now however committed on moving into an unknown future because prolonged discussion and debate on this subject have yielded no single common perception.

My personal take on permitting FDI into retail trade is that it will benefit both the consumer and the producer and will wipe out the existing middlemen. These middlemen who are basically traders and hoarders and contribute mainly towards cost escalation and inflation will now have to search for new occupation. The ill effect would be that cheap foreign products will swamp the market place too. The consumers will have to decide judiciously on which product to buy that which will help the national cause.

On the side, the double talk of one of the political parties was also exposed in the past few weeks. The Lokpal bill of Anna Hazare was being opposed tooth and nail by the political party on the ground that the Parliament alone has the right to debate and decide, that the Parliament is supreme, and that after a proper debate on its pros and cons inside the Parliament the Lokpal Bill would be passed. Now all of a sudden there is a change in strategy and the political party thinks that a debate on the Coal blocks allocation scam inside the Parliament would only dilute the seriousness of the charges and the pages of newsprint is the appropriate place to fight this out. Politics is indeed a slippery path. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Education

Last week I was teaching my class at the Department of Business Management and during the process of coercing and cajoling them to express themselves I was becoming a bit exasperated. We were interacting for the first time and neither of us was too sure about the other. Therefore probably and understandably so, the young generation was holding back either out of non-confidence at best or indifference at worst. But I was seeking a battle from the very first day and it was not forthcoming.

I expect students to blurt out whatever comes to their mind; nonsense as well if worse comes to worst. Education is about the process of learning which is much more important than whatever subject matter which is easily available in the text books. By process of leaning, I mean the manner in which we learn. This is an essential life-saving tool and comes handy even in the future long after the student leaves the institution. The student life phase is the only time when mistakes and allowed, welcome and forgiven. The process of leaning is how we absorb our circumstance, how we react to it, and how we overcome or allow to be overcome by it. This is the real knowledge which a student is expected to pick up from school and college. Subject contents are tools for the student to use, and they are expected to carry them at the back of their mind. When the content becomes vast and unwieldy, the student can resort to reference books. These subject matters also change over time, become outdated and need to be refreshed. But all this is easily available in numerous forms and therefore cannot be the primary reason why students go to school and college. Unfortunately our education system is so skewed towards examination that the impression the youngsters carry is that education equates to getting more than passing marks.

In my opinion, for success in life (whatsoever definition of success that one may align with) the three essential factors are: Diligence, Confidence and Good Luck. Diligence means the discipline and the ability to delve into details. The more one goes into the depths of any subject and deciphers its basic strands with a clear understanding of its how and why; more is the chance of success. But like I said it requires great discipline and ability. Confidence is about being articulate about ones’ understanding of any subject matter, to be able to convince others or be convinced by others. This power of expression is a leap of faith, faith in ones’ own self. Therefore essentially it requires that the student should be aware of ones’ own self, own strengths and weaknesses. Good luck is of course simply good luck. A calm mind and an all accepting disposition helps because then the students learns to control the senses, think out solutions and not to over react to difficult situations. Student life is the best time to learn all these things.

Why to read Scriptures

There once lived in the mountains of the Himalayas, a family of a farmer his wife and son, who lived along with the farmers’ father who was a spiritual man.  The grandfather and grandson got along famously; they loved each other and spent a lot of time together. The grandfather taught a lot of things to the grandson about nature and human behavior from his own experience. The grandson wanted to be just like the grandfather and tried to imitate him in every way he could.

As was his routine, every morning the grandfather would get up early and read the Holy Scriptures. One day the grandson said to him, “Dadaji of what use is the reading of Holy scriptures? I tried to read but cannot understand it, and whatever I don’t understand I immediately forget the moment I close the book.” The grandfather smiled at the boy, slowly turned and emptied the charcoal from the bamboo coal basket into the fireplace. As soon as the coal caught fire he told his grandson, “Here take this basket down to the river and bring it to me filled with water.” The grandson didn’t question his Dadaji picked the basket and simply ran down to the river, filled it with water and ran back. But by the time he reached home, all the water had seeped out from the basket. The grandfather looked disappointedly at the basket and said, “You will have to run faster than this?” The boy once again picked up the basket and ran, this time faster, filled it with water and again ran fast back home, but still the water managed to seep out before it reached his grandfather. The grandfather said “Faster”. The next time the boy ran even faster but to no avail. There was hardly any water remaining in the basket. This exercise went on for a while and then the boy in exasperation cried out, “Dadaji, it is impossible to carry water in this bamboo basket, let me bring the water in a bucket”. The grandfather laughed and said that he wanted water only in the basket. The grandson was not the one to give up and he tried harder and harder but as always the result was the same. At long last he said, “Dadaji this is a useless exercise, why are you making me do it”.

The grandfather said, “So you think it is useless. Just look at the basket”. The boy now looked at the basket and for the first time realized that it had transformed from a dirty coal basket into a sparkling one, as good as new. “Son that is what happens when you read Holy Scriptures, you may not understand or even remember but inside-out you will become clean”.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Extracts from "Kadambari by Banabhatta"

The following extract is from the novel “Kadambari” written by Shri Banabhatta an author who lived in the period around 645 AD. He was attached to the court of the famous King Harshavardhan. Kadambari is an epic novel a classic and this extract has been chosen to show that worldly advise regarding wealth and character remains the same irrespective of the period and time. In the novel these are the words spoken by the wise minister Shukanasa to the King Tarapedi’s son Chandrapida on his coronation as the crown prince.

“Dear Prince,

You have learnt all the sciences and read all the shastras (scriptures). But there is much that you have still to learn. The darkness arising from youth is very thick and cannot be pierced by the sun, nor by the radiance of all the jewels in the treasury. The intoxication of Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) is terrible and does not leave us even in old age. The blindness of power admits of no cure. The fever of pride does not yield to any cooling appliance. The poison of the senses is maddening; no charms or medicinal herbs can counteract it. Passion leaves a stain that cannot be washed by bathing or purification.

In early youth the mind often loses its purity even though it is cleansed by knowledge of the scriptures. Nature carries a young heart before it like a dry leaf borne by the wind. The senses are captivated by pleasure, as deer are charmed by a mirage.

Beware of Lakshmi, my Prince. She is fickle and her ways are but little understood. When acquired she is hard to keep. Even though held fast by the cords of heroism, she escapes. Though guarded by elephants she flees away. She does not regard race, she does not follow the fortune of a family, does not consider character, does not count intelligence, does not court righteousness, does not honour generosity. She has no use for sacred learning, she does not understand truth, and she does not value discrimination. Like the hazy outline of an aerial city, she vanishes as soon as we look upon her.  She dwells on the edge of a sword, as if perpetually engaged in learning cruelty. Like a creeper she is a parasite, like a river she is full of bubbles, like the sun’s ray on a cloudy day she rests now on one thing and now on another. She regards the virtuous as impure, she despises the lofty as unpropitious, she looks upon the gentle as worthless. She avoids a hero like a thorn, leaps over the courteous man as if he were a snake, shuns the giver of charities as a nightmare. She keeps away from the temperate and mocks at the wise. Her ways are full of jugglery and contradiction. Though creating a fever she produces also a chill; though rising from water she increases thirst; though of earthly mould she is invisible; though attached to the highest she really loves only the base. For the poisonous weeds of desire she is like a fostering shower; for the deer of the senses she is like the hunters alluring song; for the picture of virtue she is like the polluting cloud of smoke. Lakshmi is the cataract filming over the light of wisdom, the lair of the serpent of sin, the watchtower for the monster of pride, the prologue of the drama of deception. Under her influence the heart of a king becomes the abode of shameful thoughts.

And remember, my dear Prince, that success is an uncertain commodity. Sometimes kings are puffed up by their achievements, and their natures are poisoned as if by an accumulation of diseases. Moreover, kings are liable to be tortured by the senses which, though only five in number, turn into a thousand. Pierced by the arrows of Cupid, kings, already sunk in luxury, are struck down and writhe in their agony. To make things worse, they are deceived and misled by rogues who hang around them. These evil companions describe gambling as a relaxation, adultery as a sign of cleverness, drinking as a necessary pleasure, neglect of the family as freedom from bonds. To them contempt of a guru’s words is a sign of originality, disregard of the gods is freedom, flattery is forethought, recklessness is enterprise, and lack of discrimination is impartiality. Guided by such boon companions and cheated by their sweet words, kings become conceited and blind. Though subject to all the limitations of ordinary mortals, they regard themselves as divine beings. They esteem their glances as a favour and their words as a glorious blessing to others. Burdened by the pride of their imaginary greatness, they neglect the gods, slight the teachers, and make fun of the learned as fools wasting their opportunities of pleasure in useless labour. They accept a counselor’s skill only in deception and appoint as their family priests only those charlatans who indulge in magical rites and the like.   
My Prince, you must beware of the fate that overtakes such kings. You must strive never to earn the scorn of your people or the reproaches of your friends. Do not let wolfish courtiers prey upon you, nor rogues mislead you, nor women delude you. I know that steadfast and have been trained for a life of virtue. Yet it is my duty to have warned you. Now go and enjoy your consecration to kinghood. Bear the yoke which will be handed over to you, as your forefathers have borne it. Bend the heads of your enemies and raise the heads of your friends. Crown yourself with glory.”   

Friday, July 20, 2012

RAJESH KHANNA – a layman’s interpretation of the phenomenon

I was born in the year 1966 and Rajesh Khanna started his career a short while later. He became a phenomenon in front of my eyes as I grew up observing the hysteria around me. In those days we used to stay at Margaon Goa a nondescript town not too far from the sea shore with two cinema theatres. On Saturday’s my school used to function for half-day, invariably my mother used to hurriedly push in some lunch into mine and my sisters stomach and then along with her friend Neela Patkar who also was our tutor, we all walked about a kilometer and half to Vasant cinema to reach in time just before the ticket counters opened for the matinee show. Barring the rainy season and the times when we went on holidays to my Grandfathers place, the Saturday matinee movie was a once a month feature in our lives. I remember having seen Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini, Mumtaz, and Asha Parekh on the screen, in between those moments when I dozed off inside the cinema theatre.

At that small age I understood very few things about the movies. There were some common elements like songs and dances in every movie, a scheming villain and a big fight with the hero just before the end, there were decked up actors and actresses and old crying parents in every movie. But one man was special.  There were other good looking actors and even Dharmendra had a disarming smile, yet Rajesh Khanna was special. Great songs could be attributed to Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar or Dev Anand but Rajesh Khanna was special. He was not a swashbuckling macho hero, nor did he perform great stunts. He did not possess the acting abilities of Dilip Kumar and when it came to box-office success, Rajendra Kumar was often called Jubilee Kumar, yet Rajesh became the Superstar.

In those days when there were no televisions or internet, people walked over to their neighbour’s home in the evenings for a cup of tea or dinner. Inadvertently Rajesh Khanna was the topic of conversation amongst men and of gossips amongst the ladies over drinks and food. I remember that my father did not like him one bit and my mother swooned at his mention. Most adored him and his movies had a great repeat value. A common boast in those discussions was how many times a person had seen his movie. Folks deliberated for hours, the story line, the script, the acting performance, the director, playback singers, the music director, the melodies, the personal life of the actors, and finally as was customary the main cause for success of the movie was conferred on the shoulders of Rajesh Khanna.

When I look back and try to decipher the madness, the only factor I can see that worked for Rajesh Khanna was his genuineness. He was a man of independent thought and lived life at his own terms. He remained in his personal life a very proud and strong willed yet a vulnerable man and it was this same vulnerability lurking in the shadow of strength that he projected in his earlier roles which made him almost fragile and endearing. This is a paradox since that acting is appreciated where the actor overcomes his personal nature and performs as the character of the role requires. But Rajesh Khanna as he was in those initial days was also exceedingly charming, stylish, a dream-boat. Forget the tilting of the head mannerisms and forget the million dollar smile, but when Rajesh Khanna cried or when he emoted a pensive moment or when wooed the heroine, or when he lightened the mood of his friend and family members on screen, his own personal vulnerability was on display. He was being himself. This invisible vibration is what touched and connected to the hearts of the viewers as they could see the genuineness of the man and not someone trying to act some irrelevant role. People loved his honesty and continued loving him as long as he portrayed himself with honesty in the role. With age Rajesh Khanna the person also changed. The fall of the Superstar started when he was offered such roles where he had to act and had to perform characters he could not connect with until much later in his career in the movie Avataar which once again saw Rajesh Khanna at his brilliant best.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Lothal is an ancient ruin located near the mouth of the Gulf of Kambath in south Gujarat. It was a live township under the Harappan culture belonging to the Indus Valley civilization and experts have marked it to have been occupied during the period from 2400 BC to 1600 BC. That makes it about 3500 year’s old town. How would one like to imagine people living so many thousand years ago? How did they look? What did they wear? How did they live? Were they rustic, uncivilized? Were they hunters, a barbaric lot? Did they practice religion? There is no written history nor are there any pictures or drawings to help us visualize. However a visit to Lothal can clear the cobwebs, demystify the air and make us feel proud of the quality of life that our ancestors lead.

The name Lothal is suggested to mean ‘place of the dead’. This however could not have been the real name of the town when it was in its prime. That name has been lost and during the fag end of its decline the nearby locals have thought it apt to call it Lothal. The same logic goes for Mohenjo Daro another great Harappa city which translates as ‘the mound of the dead’. It appears that the geographical area under the Indus Valley civilization was slowly vacated by its inhabitants and those who could not change with the circumstances remained behind to die for all practicality a painful death. But why did the inhabitants leave? A couple of deductions that archeologists have thought out are; (a) During the rains the main rivers namely Sindhu and Saraswati, constantly changed course causing flash floods and sheet floods. This caused widespread loss to life and property and many a times rendered the city and town unfit for living. Slowly over time due to tectonic shifts in the Himalaya Mountains the Saraswati dried out completely. After repeated and successive catastrophes people became dejected and migrated to the Upper and Lower Ganga fed regions. (b) The seasonal rains slowly changed its intensity and trajectory and started moving south. Desert like conditions came to prevail and life became an ordeal. Saraswati which they claim was a rain fed river soon disappeared. People had no other option but to migrate to the Ganga Valley and plains. (c) The wealth and fame of the Indus Valley people attracted mercenaries from places far away like Europe, Russia and China. The Valley became a flashpoint for attacks as numerous rulers wanted control over its prosperity. Unable to defend itself over prolonged attacks, people thought it wise to migrate to the South and towards to the relative safety of the Ganga basin.

Lothal was a multi-cultural settlement. Earlier to 2400 BC, Lothal was initially occupied by an ethnic local group who were primarily craftsmen, traders and agriculturists. They had great commercial acumen and either sailed the seas to sell their beads crafted out of semi-precious stone and smooth finish pottery of red color with black painted figurine to consumers in Middle East, Indian subcontinent and also to the neighboring Harappa traders of the Indus Valley. They also produced their food grains and lived a simple ordinary life. This is so because their township was not at all sophisticated when compared to the Indus Valley towns which existed during the same time period. However the same cannot be said about their skills as artisans and sailors which gained reputation in far away lands. The Harappan people were attracted by this fame and they entered Lothal over time and started living in close proximity with the craftsmen, purchasing their wares completely and then exporting under their own banner. These two cultural groups coexisted peacefully for some time. It is said that probably a high intensity flood somewhere near 2400 BC caused by river Sabarmati which caused widespread loss to life and property gave the Harappa people a better say in creating a Harappa style town planning at Lothal. The Harappa people then took over the place.

Those were the days when art, philosophy and culture were traditional. However with the influences from the west old traditions were being uprooted and new ones taking shape. Therefore the Veda’s had to be written, the Ramayana as well as the Mahabharata were in the process of being composed. Religion was primarily pre-Hindu which worshipped the natural elements and considered all nature sacred. Sages living in the forest and Ashram schools were popular ways of living. However international trade, wealthy merchants and powerful kings were also visible. Huge mansions, palaces as well as thatched huts of the ordinary folks were all existent. Medical science, physics, mathematics was its zenith with legends like Aryabhatt (master astronomer and mathematician), Acharya Charak (father of medicine), Acharya Kapil (Father of cosmology), Acharya Sushrut (father of plastic surgery), Bhaskaracharya (genius in algebra), Patanjali (father of yoga) to name a few making their mark. When one walks on the grounds of Lothal, one can listen to the 3500 year old bricks telling stories of such time such men women and their lives which they had heard or witnessed.  

The Harappa people took Lothal many notches up in sophistication as far as infrastructure was concerned. They diverted the river water inland and constructed a dockyard to load smaller boats with merchandise which would then transport it to bigger ships on high seas. In the words of Mr. S. R. Rao of Archaeological Survey of India who excavated Lothal and then wrote a book about the place, “The dock built on the eastern flank of the town is an engineering feat of the highest order”. They built a central main street with commercial shops on either side. Residential houses were constructed behind the shops on both sides of the street. A huge palace referred to as the Acropolis for the town’s leader or chief on one side of the town and an even bigger warehouse besides the acropolis to store material belonging to the traders to be imported and exported. All constructions were first laid with many inches of brick work forming a high rise platform to keep the flood water out. Underwater and surface drains connected each and every house and shop to the river for the disposal of waste water and storm water. Such was the sophistication that it would put many a present day towns and villages to shear shame. Unfortunately the vagaries of nature are such that Lothal was destroyed by flood many a times and was rebuilt as many times. Each time the construction was built on the debris of the previous construction. The death bugle was sounded when the river changed course to flow some distance away from the town. Ultimately after a prolonged period of about 800 years of fighting against nature, the place was finally abandoned.

The Harappan people were said to be sticklers for discipline and quality. Consistency was their hall mark. The main street running north-south was of the same size throughout its straight length with no encroachments. Their weight measure which was a constant 8.753 gram to a unit was consistent throughout the region including the Indus valley. They standardized their production process from raw material to finished products so as to take advantage of mass production akin to the present day factory style. But at the same time the craftsman had the freedom to modify a design to make a better product. They made goods made of copper, bronze, hard stone, clay pottery, shell and semi-precious stones and exported then to all four sides of the world. Their seals were identification for quality and value throughout the world. In return they imported gold and gemstone jewelry and other objects of tasteful and better life style. Such was the reputation and living condition of the Harappan people. Similar to the reputation that Americans enjoy today in the eyes of the world.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


A very funny observation about a certain attitude amongst us Indians is that we are generally intolerant about the happiness of others, the wellbeing of others, the success of others but at the same time we are very tolerant and almost sympathetic towards common ill-being, common difficulties shared by us and others. We find it difficult to accept the rich becoming richer or even do not like the poor to become rich and on the other hand we are contented and satisfied when none of us get rich, not even marginally comfortable. This can be seen typically in any organisation during the period of salary increment where employees who have got poor or no salary increments due to weak and no performance are more concerned and unhappy about people getting good or better increments rather than finding solutions for their poor performance. In an event of all the employees getting sacked or given no salary raise there won’t be as much fuss as when a few good performers are rewarded. This tolerance of common plight and shying away from introspection towards individual betterment is the sign of a nation without hope, without responsibility, accountability, without attitude of leadership.

Our political masters have given this phenomenon the name ‘inclusive growth’. It has now become the burden of the government to ensure that all citizens have to improve their living conditions together or there should be none at all. Economic reforms due to which a few groups or individuals making progress in this country have now become distasteful and forbidden. It has been observed during the past two decades that economic reforms have only helped to improve the conditions of a section of society and this has led to the defeat of the ruling party in successive elections. The Congress lost within a few years after Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced economic liberation policies and even Atal Bihari Bajpai lost after proclaiming India Shining. It has been seen even in the state elections in Andhra Pradesh when Naidu lost after pursuing economic policies that helped only Hyderabad raise as a global city. Now it appears that the Congress party which is ruling at the center has taken these lessons very seriously. The Congress think-tank and its High Command makes it a deliberate effort by going against every conventional opinion, to scuttle economic reforms which would help elevate the living conditions of any section of the population. They simply would like to avoid the unhappiness of the remaining. The cost to the nation of such thinking could be enormous but atleast it would lead to the Congress victory at the ballot because the entire population will be in the same boat sailing slowly. The country has now come to a stage where we would witness certain prolonged time frames of slow growth slightly above the Hindu growth rate. Populist measures (some half-baked) prolonging a subsidized economy will continue to rule for a while to come.

The wisdom of men like Dr. Manmohan Singh cannot be denied. Inclusive growth is a worthy goal for any nation. But unless someone is allowed to become the best by personal enterprise how would the others know how much behind they are? Is it possible to take everybody on the bus together? Only those who can afford to buy the tickets will be on the bus, others have to walk. But on the other hand how can one overlook the greed and unscrupulous practices of the profiteers who would go to any extent to project and protect falsehood. The problems faced by the US economy are ample proof. People have to come out of viewing events from their narrow personal circumstance and think for the benefit of all. For this India only needs quality leadership from everyone.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Pakistan bashing has become a favored pastime for many international organisations lead by the Americans. Yesterday the lone shrill voice in this context was India’s but today we hear a cacophony. Witnessing this transformation from a distance, one can’t help but wonder as to why it is happening.
The North West part of the Indian subcontinent is a treacherous place, both in metaphorical and literal sense. It was in the long forgotten pages of history when the Indus valley civilization existed, whose people were accepted to be advanced based on what-so-ever visible excellent living conditions. That civilization declined. Today we see only a shadow of that human mind and spirit. In no way am I blaming the people of that region. In fact over many countless centuries, the people of that region have seen the rise and fall of religions, the rise and fall of empires, the rise and fall of cruel and not so cruel kings, and the bad and not so bad changes in environmental conditions.  Their sensibilities have been strongly tempered and they have learnt to live with a certain limited quantum of principles. Over generations these have made in-roads into their behavior patterns and into their understanding of life and living. It is unfair and unethical to expect anything alien from them, precisely which today the world is doing. It could be very easy to compare the history of this region with another so as to highlight similar circumstances but dissimilar behavior, but that would be merely a theoretical and futile exercise.
Mass migration in and out has left the region populated with variety of tribes and cultural groups from different faraway locations. The erstwhile riches of the river valley civilization have served more as a bane than a boon. These migrations have happened along with invasion and bloodshed, therefore there is little by way of a binding kinship within them. Due to their warrior background, individual honour and pride plays an important role in their psyche. These numerous tribes have accepted each other through an unspoken bond based on mutual respect and a mutual tendency to avoid trouble. As long as self-respect and honour is permitted to remain intact there would be no fighting. Secondly most amongst these people were mercenaries with an easy willingness to sell their soul to the devil in exchange for some wealth and physical comforts. Such attitude is still not considered unbecoming because condition of life in the region has always been unpredictable and harsh. Third, this region as a whole had never had the opportunity to develop an independent nationalistic feeling until the creation of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1950’s. They lived under the rule of the Hindu Kings of Maghad and then the Mughal emperors of Delhi but being the border region, skirmishes were too common and frequent. Each small group of men was a sellable commodity in the war market and thus they considered every other group as potential enemies. The ideas of nationality and one people never took root. Fourth, the cold dry mountains, the wayward rivers, the flooded plains and the unpredictable monsoons have all added to an unstable and poverty stricken lifestyle where people are more concerned with todays’ food rather than the niceties and extravagance of science and arts. Physical hardships have also made them strong willed and a determined lot. Therefore these people know tenacity, they know hardship, they know warfare, they know an enemy and they know what is loyalty honour and pride; all too well.
Since nationhood was thrust upon people of this region by Mohammad Ali Jinnah six decades ago, they have surprisingly chosen democracy over anything else. To their credit they have been trying but not without failing at every bend. The very principle of democracy cannot be acceptable to people who have accepted to live with the notion that might is right and so to consider that every ordinary man has a right is a difficult concept to digest for most. Military rule would be most suited to the people of this region however the urban population who had witnessed the rich luxuries of the British and Europeans would have none of it. The urban population has therefore taken to democracy more easily as compared to the non-urban population. Thus what the world can see today is a divided population based on their ideology and history.
Militancy and mercenary justifications are not new to the people of Pakistan. Thus whether it is the Taliban of Afghanistan or the Jihadists of Kashmir, the people of this region have been sympathetic to their cause. They relate easily to the need to take up arms because it strikes a deep rooted cord in their hearts; cords of honour, of living with pride and of economic deliverance. To expect ordinary citizens to desist from supporting the so called freedom-fighters is like asking for the moon.
Pakistan is a fragmented country with a striking display of different people from different backgrounds doing different things. The political and judicial class is trying to live up to the notion that they are a single nation. The urban rich and middle class population is only focused on earning money through every legal and crocked means possible. The tribal people are busy fighting for their pride against foreign forces. The army is confused and awkward being out of power and wonders why it is not being allowed to take control which infact only they can. It appears that everybody is fighting against each other which as a matter of fact they are not. However it is very clear that nobody is in charge, nobody has a length and breadth of vision and nobody knows how their problems can be solved. It is not their fault because too much maturity is being expected from too young a nation. Left to themselves they will slowly settle down and start improving in about another century.
However America as always is once again using dollars to get events in Pakistan to move as per their desire but amongst such fragmented people it is not happening. The Americans then end up bad mouthing the Pakistan government, calling them names, threatening them with not paying more money which is only denting their own reputation and jeopardizing their future abilities to extract better relationships with other nations. It is also hurting the Pakistani peoples pride and pushing them into a depressive corner. It is a lose – lose situation for both that is being created and pursued. It would be to everyone’s benefit if the Americans left Pakistan for good, to mind their own business.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


A small but educated and diverse group of employees of a business got together last month in their Directors room to discuss the strategies for maintaining and if possible increasing sales. The problems that they were facing was myriad ranging from sharp rise in cost of imported material, to non-availability of indigenous material, to falling sales volumes, to change in consumer preferences, to increasing cost of production, to workers unhappiness, etc. All possible scenarios were analysed and factored in but no satisfactory conclusion was being drawn. I was sitting and witnessing the proceedings. Everybody was disturbed by the levels of uncertainties prevailing in the economy due to a host of national and international reasons. Economists and pundits always seem comfortable projecting the growth percentile for the country but sitting at the micro level there is not an inch of comfortable space. Growth feels distant given the chaos prevailing in the country today. Somebody in the group remarked that the country had set out on the path of liberalization two decades ago, had seen some unprecedented success but the road has ended up now because we as a nation do not know how to handle growth. The thought set me thinking. Are we Indians really incapable of handling growth? What’s wrong with us?

One very big reason that I can see is that we have all become narrow minded and individual centric. We no more trust the concepts of collective wisdom or the good of the maximum. All we want today is personal benefit. Since the beginning of the 90’s many people have become rich but many more have faltered, tried and failed. Over the years people instead of becoming concerned or happy with what they have achieved, were more focused on becoming concerned or unhappy with what others had achieved. They started gauging their personal success or failure by comparing with that of another instead of comparing what they had yesterday to what they have today. What started out in the early 90’s under the phase of need of the nation has now turned into the phase of need of the individual. Slowly the collective national feeling fragmentalised. Everybody found that each one was thinking of their own self. The economically weak people found that a homogenous group identity had some better bargaining power as against the weak individual. The election process came as a shot in the arm for those who could form some sort of homogenous groups and slowly regional parties took shape which transformed the single party majority rule into a coalition form of government. In the end today no one speaks about national interest, each group only have their own interest to focus on. In a way this country has returned to its roots as was visible before the British arrived. A wise sage has once said that little in security is better than plenty in fear but today we have forgotten our wise men and their words. We have transformed ourselves into a nation of fearful people.

Another major problem with us is the level of corruption which we have assimilated in our daily lives in every sphere of activity. As a nation we all have failed ourselves in allowing such base instincts to take control of our lives. As human we have allowed fear to win over faith, over our talent and ability and have adopted the instincts a weak and sly creature. I cannot call it animal instincts also because even animals won’t kill unless hungry. They atleast do have ethics and we have gone even below that level. It is a pathetic situation that we don’t trust each other, we don’t trust the rule of law, we don’t trust principles, we cannot be contented with what we have, we cannot wait for our turn to come, we believe in hiding our faults, we believe in projecting and protecting a false image. What to say about believing in God, we don’t believe in ourselves. Falsehood has become our creed. We very easily accept falsehood in others and contemplate to adopt the same as a natural sequence of events. By extending the logic of the argument an honest person is practically considered to be a fool, a person without any trace of smartness, a non-achiever, and a loser. Such practices do not pay in the long run but fortunately or unfortunately India is a young nation and it will take time for everybody to become old and realize the truth in the statement.

With such a legacy, how far is India expected to travel in the path of nationhood is anybody’s guess. Maybe the Orient was meant to remain mystic, spiritual and poor. My pessimistic conclusion is that we were never brought up to handle material wealth and my most optimistic conclusion is that if we want to progress on the material front then we will have to first mature as human beings and then mature as a nation. How much time it will take will depend on the collective desire of everyone. 

Friday, May 18, 2012


                                                         (Cartoon carried by The Hitavada newspaper Nagpur on 16-5-12)

Of late the Indian parliament has been debating on an issue concerning grave national importance. Impact of political cartoons on children! Obviously when we club the two words namely politics and children together, it causes deep concern and fear in our minds. No Indian would want our children to be influenced by our politicians. We do not want the future of this country to be jeopardized. Let ours be the last generation to suffer these pigmies’s impersonating as men. Please, let us spare the kids. Even though this was my initial reaction, on further going through the debates I realized that I am not on the same page as our honorable and wise Members of Parliament. How silly of me not to grasp that by viewing political cartoons which are critical of the politicians, the minds of our children will be biased. How dumb of me not to realize that our children will grow up with a preconceived notion that the politicians are a stupid lot.

How amazing! How convenient! These politicians trying to tell the country that they are all sincere and honest and inspite of their best intentions the media and the cartoonists are hell bent upon creating a bad impression about them. Are they trying to tell the country that this is all smoke without any fire?

Should the Members of Parliament be spending public money on debating such issues? Instead they could really all work with a selfless heart for the benefit of each and every citizen. It is this lack of right efforts that is bothering me; it is this wrong focus of cunning efforts that is bothering me. My annoyance is also because a trivial issue is being treated as crucial.  These politicians won’t raise a finger to polish their image but will raise their hands to bring it down upon those who show them the mirror.  It is only these politicians who are concerned about the cartoons because they don’t bother about performance, instead if they really worked hard then the entire country will no longer have any chance to view such cartoons. Can’t they realize such a simple thing?

The ruckus in the Parliament was raised on a four decade old cartoon about politicians who are dead and gone and reportedly were not affected by it. Recently there was another din in the West Bengal state government over a cartoon depicting the chief Minister in poor light and the cartoonist was packed away to prison. Cartoons are meant to lighten the hardships of life. They are meant to laugh at ourselves and our problems. Today if the politicians are our problems and when we have graciously accepted this fact of life, how can the politicians deny it? The whole debate sounded like a live cartoon to me. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012


People want the fruits of virtue but do not do virtuous action; they do not want the fruits of sin and yet commit sin with great efforts.

The sins that begin with fear of God and ends with begging forgiveness from him may bring one closer to God; the penance that begins with ego and ends in pride will take the person away from God.

Lust for wealth, expectation of respect and desire to be famous are three most dangerous enemies; be cautious.

Lust spoils but contentment satisfies. Be content with what you have and where you are; and travel inside for greater things and better places.

While enchanting the world gives a lot but when lured it takes all.

Debate, oratory and egotism are all outer presentations. Inside there is complete silence, immobility and tranquility.

Slowly O mind, everything happens at its own pace. The gardener may water a hundred buckets, but the fruits will arrive only when it is due.

I stand in a market place and desire the benefit of all; I am neither related to anyone nor am I anyone’s enemy.

The world keeps dying but no one knows how to die. No one dies in such a manner that he won’t die again.

Don’t be proud if you get immense riches; don’t get aggrieved if you get nothing. Think of God and do your duties.

He is wise who has no worldly attachments. He is wise who neither thinks of nor waits for death. He is wise who knows that his God is pleased with him.

Detachment is the way to salvation. Be detached without exposing it. Exposition incites others and hardens the pressure.

What you call salvation happens in the time before death. Oh friend, hope for him while you live, know him while you live, understand while you live; for in life lies the secret of deliverance.

Do whatever you can in coming closer to God, but always take that as God’s grace.

What is God? He is the breath inside your breath.

If you know God, you don’t need to say that you know God. The light of God will inform all.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yudhishtira answers the Yaksha

In the Mahabharata, Yudhishtira once encountered his father Dharma in the form of a Yaksha. The Yaksha posing as the lord of the lake asked a number of questions which  Yudhishtira answered successfully to bring back to live all his brothers. 

Who makes the sun rise?
And set?
The sun’s natural duty, its dharma.
In whom is the sun established?
In truth.
Where is truth captured?
In the Vedas.
What makes a Brahman?
Understanding the Vedas.
What makes Brahman worthy of worship?
Ability to control their mind.
What makes Kshatriyas powerful?
Their weapons.
What makes them noble?
Their charity.
When is a man who is alive considered to be dead?
When he does not share his wealth with gods, guests, servants, animals, and ancestors.
What is faster than the wind?
The mind.
More numerous than grass?
What is more valuable than gold?
More desirable than wealth?
Most desired form of happiness?
What is the greatest deed?
What measures a man?
What is forgiveness?
Enduring the worst of enemies.
What is mercy?
Wishing happiness to all.
What is simplicity?
What is the only thing man can conquer?
His own mind.
What when renounced makes one agreeable?
What when renounced makes one wealthy?
Who is man’s most dreaded enemy?
What is the worst disease?
What is charity?
Helping the helpless.
What is the most amazing thing about the world?
Everyday creatures die, yet the rest live as if immortal.
How does one know the true path?
Not through arguments – they never reach a conclusion; not from teachers – they can only give their opinion; to know the true path one must, in silence and solitude, reflect on one’s own life.