What the government of Gujarat is encouraging children to read is dismaying

Many years back when I used to work in Ernst & Young, we were having a discussion in which one of my esteemed colleagues made these wonderful observations. Before you read the observations, let me tell you a bit about the guy himself. He is an engineer, belongs to Haryana, of the trader community and an MBA from a good college in India. He liked to lead the good life, besides being moderately religious like most of us are. He would be at that time be around 30. He was married, and had stayed in both Bombay and Delhi besides his native mofussil city where he grew up. So thats his background. The group he was grandstanding was made up of similar people in terms of education, economic background etc. So he says in Ancient India we had ICBM’s which was referred to divya astra, we had aircraft which was how Hanuman got to get the mountain and such other stuff. The unique aspect of Hindu faith is that people are practical about their faith. Yes there is the Mahabharata and other mystic and mythical parts of Hinduism, but thats faith and does not take away our logical mind which accepts the theory of evolution, the Big bang theory and genetics. If one were to compare Americans who are practicing Christians with practicing Hindus then the big difference is this logic and faith which works together in the case of Hindus unlike in the case of the Americans. So you have some crazies in America who have weird views on evolution and abortion while Hindus dont have a problem reconciling their faith with modern science and logic. This is what I think despite my colleague in 2000 and guys like Batra continue to spout. How do you learn Maths and Physics and go to the hospital to get your cancer cured instead of asking for God and sanjeevani is beyond me. How do we manage to fabricate pasts for ourselves which we know to be false. The reality is that these kids will learn Geometry and biology and anthropology but they will choose to pursue xenophobic and intolerant views if they can afford to.

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This should be a useful method….The Japanese and the Germans are two quite successful countries but their numbers are falling which means their economy, based on today’s knowledge of economics and other related sciences and arts, should start contracting and start declining. The same is true for England, parts of Scandinavia, America etc. However with the exception of Scandinavia, the other two might not really be very succesfful with the former using a lot of immigration anyway, so I have not got into it. So two questions, how do such smart people when behaving in a group or individually not know the impact of not having babies has on their economy. Maybe its the human race’s method of self control….as it is we are too many. The other question is if you have fewer people, whats the matter….You will earn less, because there are fewer people to make steel and cars. But then you are fewer people too. It sounds so simplistic that I must be making some big oversight…. t?sender=aZW1haWxnZW9yZ2VhbnRvbnlAZ21haWwuY29t&type=zerocontent&guid=ea671f8b-01ae-43af-94b3-90a4d7aef473

The Immigrant Soldiers Dying for Israel in Gaza

So….young people from Europe and US come on a free 10 day trip , of which some people become soldiers for a stipend….and they are called Lone Soldiers…..what a nice way to get somebody to die for you….and keep up this senseless conflict…the others who didnt become soldiers….probably go back and ensure Israel survives through money or support….so about 400,000 have made the trip so far and this article says there are about 5000 such soldiers..so a low percentage even if one assumes everybody came through the birthright program. But encouraging people to come from some other country and fight for you in the name of being Jewish is no different from Muslims from different parts of the world heading to join the ISIS. Only their website doesn’t look so good and they random kill..

TIME

Max Steinberg was from Los Angeles. Nissim Sean Carmeli was from South Padre Island, Texas. Jordan Bensemhoun came to Israel on his own from Lyon, France.

Each of the young men left his country of origin to join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and each was killed in action this weekend in the Gaza Strip, where Israel is more than two weeks into Operation Protective Edge, a military campaign against the Palestinian militant group Hamas. That campaign incorporated a ground invasion as of Thursday night that Israeli leaders say is helping to destroy Hamas’ ability to fire rockets – some 2,160 of which have been fired toward Israel since the latest round of hostilities began July 7 – as well as a network of tunnels that burrow deep into Israeli territory, allowing militants to attack. However effective that strategy might be, it exposes Israel’s soldiers to a higher risk of…

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Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: ‘Unreal’ Scenes from Photographer Jerome Sessini

The pace of our lives has increased and with that the unpredictability and volatility too has increased. a 1000 years ago a man who woke up in the morning, would think that he could die of fire in his house, a wild animal attacking him, or a bandit or a neighbor knocking him off, or such other predictable reasons….now it could be a terrorist bomb, being shot out of the sky, or simply going missing as in MH 370, a plane crashing into your building, a plane falling out of the sky [Lockerbie], bridge collapse, defective parts in an automobile…the list is very long….

Cant self help books be reduced to a few pages and bullets

Also: Countries with large populations will find their people being pushed back

TMM tools was the first client of the day. Sunday morning at Costa. The key problem a lot of  mid sized entrepreneurs face is lack of talent and therefore the hesitation in investing or starting up something. What would you think of a guy who has worked for Black & Decker in the Middle East, now in his late fifties wants to help a Rs. 30 crore company attain an all India presence?

As natives of the Middle East increase in numbers they realize that they need to find work for the upcoming generation. Work which currently is being done by Indians [among others] and so they are going to be squeezed out. How useful will these returning Indians be?
They have worked in a relatively constraint free environment [abundant petro dollars, large scale etc] and therefore may not know how to deal with a relatively much more constrained environment like ours. That said, the engineering resources in the Middle East must be gold standard if you go by the sheer size and complexity of many of their projects.

As I am writing this I am discovering that people like to have bullets, top x things, mnemonics, x things not to do, x ways, x tips and other such abbreviated stuff… If one were to think about it well, most books and blogs can ideally be reduced to a bulleted list with a couple of lines of explanation…Why do we need to write 300 page books. Do we expect people to then get off the book and distill whatever they accepted into a few ways that will impact their life. I dont think so. When we studied at school, we were made to answer questions at the end of every chapter which may not be more than 5 pages. So that at the end of a year, we know what we learnt….Funnily enough we read much more than what we read when we were in school and very little of it is retained. Conversely if just a few bullets were to be retained then why have so many pages….Lets save trees and print 10 page self help and self improvement books. We just like reading stuff…,like I am writing stuff…..

Andheri East and Andheri West…

Send a mail from my blackberry and that gets updated on my blog automatically, while I am reflecting on how people who made bombay put a railway track longitudinally and the rich got to stay on the west with the sea view while the others stayed in the east. The poor of course got to stay everywhere. On the beach, near the beach and of course the other side of the tracks too. Thats the way the world should be…..how else do you aspire to get to the other side of the tracks….

The red blooded general with the man-purse

You could make out from his physical demeanour, that he was in the army and probably at the level where there are a few stars on the epaulette. So he was a General and had seen action in Kargil, Kashmir, the Taj terrorists in Bombay, and was also ADC to the King of Bhutan. That looked like a lot of ground covered, but which I hoped would make him interesting to talk to. The most interesting part of the couple of hours we spent talking is what I want to get out first. I asked him about the North East. His instinctive or instant reply was ” what’s the problem there, its full of Hindus”. To his credit he didn’t elaborate on that line of thought. Then about Kashmir he said, the Pandits should return to the Valley as everything in most parts of Kashmir was normal. He also felt that it was the most beautiful place on the planet after which came Kerala…ok, A man of discerning tastes. (Disclaimer: my parents belong to Kerala). He then talked about the Bodos “how can a man become a minority in his own country”. In my mind I said, even I am a minority in my country. According to him the army’s message to the Bodos was “do what you want (with the bangladeshis)we will not look, but if you get hostile with us we will shoot you down”. So in my mind I started viewing him as a slightly right wing guy who feels Muslims are to blame for the stuff in Kashmir, and Bodos should kill a few Bangladeshis. I must admit here that if I was in Bodoland, and if there were people coming over across the border I may have done the same thing. Shoot them etc. Or would I? Would I have instead worked hard etc to gain economic superiority. That’s another topic on immigrants and the antiquity of immigration. But then, towards the very end of the conversation, and I can’t seem to remember how we got there, he made a remarkable volte face’. He said the Pandits are to blame for the whole situation in Kashmir. “They pay peanuts to a man who is working his ass of and who is so skilful”; “the carpet making guy uses huge magnifying lens and does incredibly intricate work and the Pandits pay these chaps a few rupees a day and pocket the big profits.” The guy who does boating all day, the artisans and etc, they all according to him, have been exploited by the Pandits and therefore militancy was a natural outcome. He was emphatic about the skill and hard work of these guys. “I salute these guys”.

Ok I remember now. The conversation got here when we were talking about Naxalites. He said “how can we take away their land, their lifestyle and give them nothing in return. We mine their lands and they get nothing”. His idea was to give them part of it through some mechanism.
When you sit to write everything comes back. I am reminded of Francis Bacon who said something about how reading makes you a full man and writing a precise or exact man. I think he mentioned talking too but I am sure that was lower than reading and writing on his scale.

So my impression of him started as right wing and then moved right back to the center. My impression is irrelevant. What I want to say is how people have a view which often is the popular view, and the one they trot out first in public, and another which may be quite different. Do individuals and groups have different views? I am reminded, which I am frequently reminded of, Nietzsche and how he felt insanity was a group and epoch problem rather than an individual problem. Let me quote. In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.” I read this first nearly twenty years back, and I felt then like I feel now, that its spot on. Though it does go against ‘crowdsourced wisdom is better’. That’s another topic for another day.
To come back to how my view changed: If I had chosen to complete Sudoku and therefore spoken to him for a much shorter period, I would have gone away thinking about how Muslims have screwed up Kashmir or how right wing a General in the Indian Army was.
I think its good to give his background, it will make you think. He is the fourth generation in the army; his great grandfather was a risaldar and his grandfather was in charge of operations during the Partition and was decorated with the equivalent of the Mahavir Chakra. He also was uncontested winner for 25 years in a constituency in Rajasthan. I didn’t google it because its not the veracity of magnitude, but the direction of his background, which is relevant. So the army is in safe and good hands. A feel good conclusion only. A Man purse looks incongrous even on a six feet plus lean and mean looking two star general. Who ever fnnng conceived this stupid practical idea. His daughters must have gifted it to him. He is still hopeful that the youngest of the two will be the fifth generation. I hope so too. I told him to write a book.

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