Rajesh Jain “On Turning 40”

Go read Rajesh’s mini-autobiography “On Turning 40,” which he did last year on August 15th (but posted it only today because he was on break from blogging.) Please to note that the “Atanu Dey” he mentions in there is indeed yours truly 🙂

I will take this opportunity to publicly recognize that it is an honor working with him. The other day when I was bitching and moaning about how I was dissatisfied with what I was accomplishing, a friend asked me why I don’t just get back to California where I was personally a lot happier. I would do that in a heartbeat. The only problem is that I will never get a chance to work with someone with the vision and integrity of Rajesh.

Alan Watts: The Vegetable Root Discourses

[Here is a transcript from one of the scores of Alan Watts’ talks I have in mp3 format.]

[Begin transcript of Alan’s talk.]

I’m not really a musician but it just so happens that I have in front of me a fabulous instrument which the Japanese call koto. I suppose it would be best described as a table harp. Long instrument stringed with bridges – horizontal harp.

It was customary among Chinese poets in the old days to read poetry and strum on the lute or table harp at the same time. And I have got here a curious old text called Ts’ai-ken T’an – which means the “Vegetable Root Discourses” – written by Koji Tse (sp?) somewhere around 1624.
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Advani’s Address to FICCI

Mr L K Advani, the leader of the opposition in the lower house of the parliament (Lok Sabha), addressed the 80th Annual General Meeting of the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi on 15 February 2008.

Here are some excerpts:

I can, in all humility, claim that ours is one party that has consistently followed a policy of supporting private enterprise and voicing our opposition to the license-quota-control regime even in those years when there was hardly any debate on economic reforms. Indeed, the Soviet model of government control was the dominant political fashion and intellectual obsession at the time.

He says that the BJP has had a consistent pro-enterprise economic philosophy.
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Lee Iacocca on Leadership

Lee Iacocca is 82 years old. The fire in his belly is undiminished, however. I have only read an excerpt from his bookWhere Have All the Leaders Gone?” But that excerpt resonates with me. He talks about the failure of leadership in America. He lists what he calls the “Nine C’s of Leadership” and indicts George W Bush on each of those counts. The C’s are: Curiosity, Creative, Communicate, Character, Courage, Conviction, Charisma, Competent and Common Sense.

Iacocca says it like he sees it. His rant — and that first chapter is a rant in the finest tradition — is sincere and direct. As he puts it, he is outraged and that every American should be outraged by what is happening in the US. I respect that sort of honest outrage. It forces people out of their complacency.

The US is facing a crisis of leadership. But it is not alone. When I try to measure the Indian leadership on Iacocca’s Nine C scales, I find them failing almost as miserably as GWB. But where is India’s Iacocca to hold Indian leaders’ feet to the fire?

Here’s an excerpt from the book, for the record:
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Jago Party

So there’s a new political party in the making — the Jago Party. A very hopeful sign. We need more and more people to enter the political arena. The consequence of good people not engaging in politics, as the wise counsel, is that you get ruled by your inferiors. The more choices one has in terms of political parties, the more likely it will be that a reasonable outcome may obtain.
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Boycott till the cows come home

A recently released movie called “Jodaa Akbar” appears to have started a movement to boycott the movie. I don’t know what the problem is with the movie and frankly I don’t care. Boycott whatever does or does not strike your fancy, I say. I just pray that they don’t press the government to ban the movie. If the movie is inaccurate, then the response should be to counter it with the accurate version, or to write and speak about it in the press, radio and television. By all means, refuse to go see the movie or read the book or see the cartoons or whatever. Boycott whatever you don’t want to support but for the sake of sanity, please don’t go the route of banning.

The Indian government is only too eager to ban stuff — with votes in mind, of course. It was the first to ban the Satanic Verses and thus provoked the mullahs in Iran to call for the murder of Salman Rushdie. Banning books and other information related goods is shameful, insulting and cowardly.

It is insulting because it means that the people are idiots and do not have the maturity to decide for themselves what to see or read. When a ban is imposed because of fear that some people may go on a violent rampage, then it is cowardly. If the attempt is to conceal the truth by banning something, it is shameful and on self-respecting people should stand for such a government.

Why is India poor?

Don’t read Tavleen Singh’s column “Educating the Education Minister” in the Indian Express today if you wish to continue being puzzled by the question why India is poor.

Basic decency and propriety prevents me from suggesting what should be done to the Indian minister she writes about. Shame on you, Dr Manmohan Singh. Please, in the name of everything decent and human, resign.

How we Subsidize the Rich

Yesterday’s Indian Express carried a piece by me on the perverse oil subsidy that the government of India provides. I begin that piece with my favorite Douglass North quote: “Economic history is overwhelmingly a story of economies that failed to produce a set of economic rules of the game (with enforcement) that induce sustained economic growth.” I used that quote in the other piece published in Mint today.

The reason I like that quote it because it goes to the very heart of the problem of India’s economic development. Indians as a collective are no less than other collectives around the world; India is endowed with natural and human resources; yet India is desperately poor. Why? Because we have failed to develop a set of rational rules to play by. Refusing to acknowledge that failing will ensure our continued poverty.

Anyway, here’s the text of that India Express piece.
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