“Let us weep” for Aaron Swartz

Computer prodigy, cyber activist and social justice activist Aaron Swartz died three weeks ago on Friday 11th Jan. He was just 26 years old. He killed himself in his Brooklyn NY apartment. Some have claimed that he was driven to his death by government prosecution — and indeed persecution. There are many reasons to mourn his death but the most important from my point of view is what could be the government’s role in this tragedy and therein lies the importance of this entirely pointless tragedy. Lawrence Lessig calls it bullying and Aaron’s family called it the “prosecutorial overreach” by the Massachusetts US attorney’s office. That’s serious for a number of reasons. But first, here’s the background.
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Happy Banana Republic Day

Someone, I forget who, recently tweeted “Happy Banana Republic Day.” It is funny and tragic since it cuts so close to the truth. If it isn’t already a banana republic, India is well on its way to become one under the stern guiding hand of an Italian lady ably assisted by loathsome sycophants like Digvijaya Singh and Sushilkumar Shinde, people who can easily be mistaken to be spokespersons for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. What’s leading India down that path? My answer is simple: democracy. Give any democracy enough time and it is likely to degenerate into a banana republic. Well, you may ask, what was the alternative? The alternative was to make sure that India was a republic and not a democracy.
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A Simple Question on Subhas Jayanti

Netaji Subhas Bose
Netaji Subhas Bose
Today is Jan 23rd, the birthday of Subhas Chandra Bose, also known as Netaji, who was born in 1897 on this day. Thinking about him and what he stood for, I realized that I don’t know the answer to a simple question that is of great significance for India.
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Rabindranath Tagore: “The Stream of Life”

Rabindranath Tagore's Stream of Life
Rabindranath Tagore’s Stream of Life

This poem is from Tagore’s Gitanjali. It is simply titled “Praan” which means “life” in Bengali. The English translation is by Tagore himself.
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Lord Acton: “Great men are almost always bad men, . . . “

I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

Lord Acton (John Dalberg-Acton) (1834-1902) English historian

Renovations and remodeling

maintenance_Image This blog is undergoing some much-needed remodeling and renovating. Thanks to my friend JP, it has a new look and feel. Even as I write this, I am installing DISQUS as the commenting system. During all this, there is likely to be some disruption. For instance, all comments appear to have disappeared. I believe that they will be back once the DISQUS system completes its bits.

Please provide feedback on the changes. Suggestions and recommendations are always welcome. Thanks for visiting.

Where to be born

I had named the first blog I ever had way back in 2001 when I was at UC Berkeley, “Life is a Random Draw.” It was in recognition of the fact that the endowment we are born with (and where) is something that we have no control over; it is truly a random draw from the great big pack of cards in the sky. You are stuck with this naturally inherited set and it powerfully determines your destiny. But wait, there’s more. What you can do with your natural endowment is limited by the environment you find yourself in — that too is random.
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