Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Curtains Fall on High Technology Denial

The nuclear agreement that is to be signed between India and US will allow India to access technologies which have been denied till now on the ground that it can also be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. India's political parties do not understand the momentous importance of this development as they are still imprisoned in cold-war rhetoric in a world that is evolving into a polycentric balance of power system. Access to these technologies can help India develop fast into a world economic power.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Subaltern Politicians!

The new tribe of political leaders who emerged and still are emerging in various parts of India stand outside the ambit of mainstream political parties and is a phenomenon to be watched carefully. They rightly claim an autonomous following, are autocratic in their ways and enjoy electoral clout though restricted to specific regions or castes or interests. They stand for the voiceless millions whose demands and needs have not been listened to or attended to actively by India's mainstream parties. Their despotic and oligarchic ways of functioning lead to the emergence of many corrupt practices but the same do not dent their popularity.

Why don't India's mainstream political parties include or nurture leaders with mass following. The mainstream parties seem to be too centralised, systematic and policy oriented. Though there are limits to the corrupt practices and illicit dealings that leaders in mainsteam political parties can indulge in, the fractured polity has led to mainstream parties knocking at the doors of these charismatic leaders to help them form governments. The coalition government at the centre comprises of such parties.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

'Failure of Invariance'

Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman together are the architects of 'Prospect Theory'. The word Prospect was used not because it had anything to do with their ideas but because they believed that the word was catch and could immediately draw the attention of the reader. They have studied in detail the failure of invariance which refers to the inconsistent choices people make when they encounter the same set of problems in different situations. Choices though inconsistent need not necessarily have to be incorrect.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Je deteste la pluie!

The rains began in late May and show no signs of subsiding even in mid-November. My tennis sessions have gone for a toss as rains muddy up clay courts in which i am used to playing. It's been depressing as one's activities get obstructed and the morning sky appears dark and cloudy. The long monsoons and rainy days are persuading me to search for a change of habitat. Ideally, I shoud migrate to one of those Meditterranean climes where the days are sunny and the nights cool, the clear blue sky during day and the starry heavens gazing at me in the night. But pending such a transition, I should immediately find a second home in that part of India where it doesnt rain during much.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Another Vijayadasami!

On Vijayadasami day last year, I wrote in this blog that indolence is what kept me away from blogging and promised to correct myself. One year has passed and Vijayadasami is again with us. I freeze as I understand that my promise remained largely unfulfilled for almost an year.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Local Indian, Global Indian!

India has always been in close contact with the rest of the world.Right from the dawn of civilisation India established limks with the then known parts of the world. We were a nation of great seafarers and our ships sailed to many directions. We had the famous 'Silk Route' and land routes to China. India had a great entrepreneurial and business tradition and commerce flourished. The first fifty years of Independence saw us adopt the wrong economic policies which capped our abilities and talents. Of course, it is hindsight bias which makes us say so. We were cocooned and many controls put on foreign travel. Now with Indian software companies going places, Indians have begun to travel extensively to many different parts of the world. The Continent, Far East, South America which were all places that our Anglo-Saxon education never taught us as in existence. Our professionals or techies do find it difficult to comprehend those cultures and life styles. Modern day business being 75% people skills and 25% technical knowledge. Sotware companies have begun to invest heavily in imparting soft skills or cross cultural training to their employees. Other industries are to follow suit. Soon we shall see the Global Indian, suave, sophisticated, polished and at home in any clime and culture. May that day dawn soon.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006

V.S. Achuthanandan - The Virtue of Persistence

The elevation of Sri.V.S.Achuthanandan as Chief minister of Kerala is a saga in persistence, hard work and courage. At 83, when others of his age are either retired,inert or enfeebled he travelled the length and breadth of Kerala inspiring the masses and lead the Communist movement to victory in the state legislature elections. The Chief Ministership which eluded him in 1991, from which he was treacherously excluded in 1996 and which the misrule of his comrades denied him in 2001 is finally his in 2006. What an achievement for a man in his eighties! And the greater honour is the hope and trust that the voters of Kerala,especially its women and youth reposed in him. In the last five years, 'VS' as he is endearingly addressed by millions was the symbol of integrity, uprightness and the fight against corruption and misrule. The people took him for his word for they felt his sincerity to be childlike and transparent.

In the last five years as Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislature, VS did not merely spend his time in quick repartees, witticisms or making fiery speeches on the floor of the House. Instead he learnt quickly that his success lay in reaching directly to the people and alerting them to the nepotism of their rulers and the dangers facing them from the mafia that their policies were encouraging. The reach of the electronic media in Kerala with a dozen channels took the struggles and views of VS to the drawing rooms and the burgeoning middle class and upper middle class who are the opinion makers of society began to admire of this man whom they once saw as unschooled and whom some mainstream media once derisively portrayed as a tailor, a job he did in his struggle to earn a repreive from poverty and a cruel fate that beset him with the death of both his parents before he was 11yrs old.

The image of VS as a rigid, ideological puritan who would oppose any development agenda seemed misplaced when people watched him deliver in flawless English a speech in the presence of Prime Minister A.B.Vajpayee at the inaugural session of 'GIM', Global Investors Meet, the showpiece of the A.K.Antony government which promised to open the flood gates of investment into kerala. Though it turned out to be a flop, it was not because of VS who in his speech offered to welcome with open arms any investment with honourable intentions of capital creation and not a ruse to plunder the state of its natural resources or to live off state sponsored subsidies.

The sand mafia and the sandalwood mafia, the plantation companies encroaching on public land, the tourist resort operators who ravaged the environment of 'God's Own Country' to fill their private coffers, the Sex lords who considered it their divine right to abuse women and minor girls, the private hospital owners who surreptiously built up a business of trading in human organs, all met their match in this dimunitive man clad in traditional attire. He would not be cowed down by their threats or trapped by their inducements. Political leaders of all parties who compromised with these elements for their personal safety and political growth cynically described VS as a fool who rushed in where angels feared to tread. They privately chuckled for they saw this man committing political harakiri and noted it was only a matter of time before the combined might of this mafia would lead him to the exit door of kerala politics.

They nearly succeeded for they found friends in unexpected quarters ready to oblige them. The names of the dramatis personae in the conspiracy to deny VS an opportunity to contest these elections need no mention for it is known to all. The surge of protest that enveloped the state following this decision of the CPI(M) state committee were unparalleled in recent history. Never before have so many naturally joined a protest on behalf of a political leader. The profuse outpouring of support for VS and moral indignation at the CPM decision showed the place in which VS in held in the hearts of the common people of kerala. The crafty manipulators and ruthless terminators who had managed this decison inside the CPM beat a hasty retreat once the Politbureau reversed it on becoming aware of the plummeting reputation of the party consequent to it.

The political line which VS put forth has been proved right by the turn of events. There was considerable pressure within the CPM to enter into an alliance with the DIC(K) which had split from the parent Congress party. VS oppposed it on the ground that to enter into such an alliance would smack of political opportunism. He was sure that the CPM and the LDF could return to power on their own strength and mass support which was clearly indicated in the 2004 parliamentary elections. There was no need to enter into a marriage of convenience with a new born political group for temporary ends. Today after the election results, DIC(K) has become a shattered myth in Kerala politics and is likely to sink into oblivion in a short time. VS was right when he warned against such political adjustments mortgaging one's principles.

Though VS has become the Chief Minister his enemies who have been thwarted are not going to take things lying down. They are alert, ready to strike at the next available oportunity. They know that the ocassion to politically finish VS slipped past due to their miscalculations. This would make them more vigorous in their efforts. Let us pray they don't meet with success.

Friday, May 05, 2006

disease of perfectionism

''Anything worth doing is worth doing badly'', this line from the Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon came to my notice a few days ago. What a sound advice. Most of us fall prey to the disease of perfectionism and this prevents us or obstructs us from producing our output. We measure our performance against lofty or distal yardticks and find ourselves wanting. It is a vicious circle. And Simon's words are an escape route. Anyone who takes it to heart is freed from the yoke of being a perfectionist.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

South Asians - Eat Less

A very interesting conversation with my friend Dr.Roy who told me that the South Asian has been on the starvation mode for centuries. The lands have been ravaged by famines since time immemorial and this has forced people to consume less and hoard grains for the lean season. As a group we have got accustomed to frugal diet for generations with the result that our pancreas secrete minimal insulin to maintain blood sugar levels. But in the last two or three generations the dietary habits of the population has undergone a radical change as the threat of famine receded. South Asians have become gluttonous, consuming large quantities of food as compared to earlier generations. Today their bodies do not secrete enough insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. Combined with the sedentary lives most of them lead, diabetes has assumed the proportions of a pandemic both in South Asia and particularly among the expatriate community living in Europe and US. It would be ideal for the South Asian to return to the frugal dietary habits of his ancestors.