Although it is true that I went to Addis Ababa to attend the World Information Technology Forum 2007 as a speaker, it is a hollow claim to say that I visited Ethiopia, or even Addis Ababa. I did land at the Bole International Airport early morning on 21st Aug and departed late night on 24th, but for all practical purposes, I might as well have been elsewhere. The airport terminal was the generic glass and steel tubing terminals you see around the world. The Addis Hilton was just another Hilton. And the UN Conference Center where the conference was held was, well, just a UN conference center which could just as well have been in NYC. The only thing that I was surprised by was the weather. I had expected Addis to be hot; it wasn’t. Temperatures were around 20 degrees Celsius and even though it rained frequently, it was not humid.
If you were wondering what happened, wonder no more. I am in Africa. To be more specific, I am in Addis Ababa attending a conference called World IT Forum 2007. Yesterday I made a presentation on “Information Technology and Economic Opportunities.” Went off OK.
Lots of interesting things going on. Will get in touch later. Bye for now.
Chennai Policy Makers’ Conference Oct 2003
Date: 10th October, 2003.
The digital divide seems to be all the rage these days. Take for instance the recent two days I spent in Chennai. The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) had organized a Policy Makers’ Workshop at their campus in Chennai on October 8th and 9th. The workshop was supported by two “Canadian crown corporations”, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). (Those two have a budget of about Canadian $100 million.)
Ever wonder why we call 15th August “independence” day? My interpretation when I first heard this English term was, “on 15th August 1947 the British became independent from India”, because before that day, they depended on India for cotton, silk, indigo, metalware, jewelry, perfume, paper, grains, spices, labor, and many other commodities and services. I was soon “corrected” and it was explained to me that before 15th August 1947, WE were dependent on the British. I could never figure this out. Clearly “independence” and “swadhinta” are two different words? Shouldn’t we call it “liberty day” or “freedom day”? How did “independence” work in its way into the jargon? Or was that the parting shot of imperialism?
That is from an email from a friend. Hmm.
Yoda editor must have been of the column Ashok Desai by Telegraph in of Aug 15th.
If instead of the Hindu rate of growth of 3.5 per cent, India had achieved 6 per cent in 1950-80, we would have been twice as rich as we are today. But we have lost even more in terms of distribution of growth than of growth itself. We would have been even richer in terms of consumer goods. We would have worn better and cheaper clothes, and owned more white goods that take the daily toil out of people’s lives. Our villages would have received cheaper and more widely available electricity; with that electricity and their labour, they would have produced consumer goods at a fraction of the present cost. There would have been far more non-agricultural employment in rural areas. Instead of 5 per cent, we would have generated 25 per cent of world trade; all the nations of the Indian Ocean would have been closely tied to us by trade and investment. All we have to boast about today is our democracy; if we had been liberal for sixty years, we would have been a world model for lifestyle.
Quite a fine piece of analysis. Marred by the idiotic characterization of India’s dismal growth rate of 3.5 percent per year as the “Hindu rate of growth.” It was Nehru, Chacha Nehru and his band of clueless retards, that imposed socialistic state planning that doomed India to its retarded growth rate. Neither Nehru nor his bunch of moronic cabinet drew their inspiration from Hindu scriptures or Hindu ideology. The rate of growth of India during the Congress rule was not enforced by Hindu thought or Hindu philosophy. Hinduism is not an economic school of thought and it does not speak to state planning nor does it advocate socialism. The “Nehru rate of growth” has nothing to do with Hinduism or any other religion for that matter other than the religion of socialism.
Piece I have said my.
Sri Aurobindo was born on this day, Aug 15th, in 1872.
Among the intellectual and spiritual giants born in this land, Sri Aurobindo has a special standing. Go read about Sri Aurobindo and lament the fact that dwarfs rule the land today.
Here’s Sri Aurobindo on Indian spirituality:
Spirituality is the master key of the Indian mind. It is this dominant inclination of India which gives character to all the expressions of her culture. In fact, they have grown out of her inborn spiritual tendency of which her religion is a natural out flowering. The Indian mind has always realized that the Supreme is the Infinite and perceived that to the soul in Nature the Infinite must always present itself in an infinite variety of aspects. The aggressive and quite illogical idea of a single religion for all mankind, a religion universal by the very force of its narrowness, one set of dogmas, one cult, one system of ceremonies, one ecclesiastical ordinance, one array of prohibitions and injunctions which all minds must accept on peril of persecution by men and spiritual rejection or eternal punishment by God, that grotesque creation of human unreason which has been the parent of so much intolerance, cruelty and obscurantism and aggressive fanaticism, has never been able to take firm hold of the Indian mentality. [Wikiquote.]
Happy 60th Independence Day!
My analysis is one of hope, potential and possibilities. Although political freedom was achieved 60 years ago, economic freedom is still a distant dream for the majority of the population. It is understandable why political freedom is easier to achieve relative to economic freedom. The entire population of the nation has an interest in political freedom — with very rare exceptions. But there are factions within the country that oppose economic freedom because they have a vested interest in the perpetuation of a command and control economy. Yet without economic freedom, the nation is unlikely to achieve its potential.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When we first practice to deceive,” lamented good old Scotty (the poet that is, not the guy with his warp drives and dilithium crystals). But I have noticed that in our attempt to un-deceive ourselves, which is what learning is about, we are also forced to weave a tangled web. It is a tangled web of relationships we slowly build in our minds and gradually a pattern emerges if we are lucky. Unresolved variables and dangling references scattered around the edges of our minds wait to be added to the mental construct over successive iterations.
My friend Nitin Pai of The Acorn has an op-ed in the Mint, “Why India must export its Islam.” He writes:
In a secular state such as India, there is little role for the state in matters of faith and religion. But the rise of a radical, intolerant version of Islam around the world is also not in its interests. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran have no self-imposed restrictions on promoting their own Islamic values. It is unlikely that India can counter these exertions of soft power by promoting the virtues of secularism to the Islamic world. But it could promote its own syncretic Islamic tradition to offer an alternative narrative to the world’s Muslims.
Nitin is an astute observer and I have the utmost respect for his incisive commentary and analysis of matters of importance. Try as I might, however, I cannot see what he means in that op-ed.