Diogenes of Sinope

Diogenes with his lantern and faithful dog
Diogenes looking for an honest man

Diogenes of Sinope lived in a tub in the marketplace. Since it was a long time ago, around the 4th century BCE, the details are few. He is also known as Diogenes the Cynic.

I feel a certain intellectual kinship to Diogenes because I too am a cynic. He must have been a remarkable man, going by the stories told about him.

It is said that he sometimes walked around with a lamp even in broad daylight. When asked why, he replied, “I am looking for an honest man.” A cynic to the core.  Continue reading

An Open Letter to PM Shri Modi

“Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
Justice Louis Brandeis in Olmstead vs United States 1928

 

May 26th, 2015

Dear Prime Minister Shri Modi:

I write this letter as a long-time supporter. I have had great expectations from you. Considering the importance of the matter I wish to address, this is very short; considering that you will probably not read anything longer than a powerpoint slide given your busy schedule, it is much too long. Therefore although addressed to you, it is meant for the ordinary citizen of India.

The opportunity for transformational change arises rarely. Rarer still are the times when these opportunities are actually seized and the nation transformed. We never get to know about those missed opportunities because history neither records nor evaluates failures positively. The potential for change exists rarely but actualizing that potential is even rarer still. So rarely do transformations occur that when they do happen, they are highlighted in the history of nations centuries after the events, often long after the entire population has been replaced many times.
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Profiting from Conflict — The Monkey and the Cats

This question has bothered me for a long time: Why are there riots and other forms of social unrest in India? Are Indians intrinsically unsocial or is there a structural reason for this? What is it in its political makeup that there is inter-group conflict? I explored that question in a piece I wrote for Niti Central a few days ago. I am posting it here, for the record.
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The Unbearable Collective Stupidity of the Masses

It’s all karma, neh?

I usually use that line as a sign off to some of my posts. But this time I lead with it because — well, let me come to that. Karma is a Sanskrit word whose meaning is difficult to convey precisely but the two (of the many) important facets of the word are salient in this context. First is karma as action, and the second the consequence of action. This bears repetition: the same word refers to action as well as the consequences of action. This is by no means accidental.
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The Internet as the Great Truth-seeking Machine

rashomon Rashomon

After I watched the movie Argo, I had a one of those Rashomon moments, a realization that there is more to the story than was related to you. You may recall Rashomon (1950) introduced the master movie director Akira Kurosawa to the wider world. Set in medieval Japan, it is the story of the rape of a woman and subsequent mutually inconsistent accounts told about the incident by various eye-witnesses. According to Kurosawa, there are no particular truths, no definitive version of what actually happened at a particular time and place. What is recalled and later told depends on the observer and the particular vantage point.
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Hauled from the archives: The Three-ring Anti-corruption Circus is in Town

Dumbo is in town
Elephants
Alright, time to get down to some serious work. The weekend is here and I have places to go, people to meet. And of course I have to get back to reading and writing. So while I do that, here’s one old post hauled from the archives. It’s from August 2011 and titled “The Three-ring Anti-corruption Circus is in Town.

Below the fold I quote a bit from the start of that post to lure the reader into the tent.
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