Tamil New Year


Every 5 years with the regime change, the Tamil New Year also shifts from January 14 (Month of Thai) to April 14 (Pongal). What people forget is that that is true with almost all important festivals.

Christmas was not even in December. Infact forget the month, it is still debated in which year Jesus Christ was born. (l) The new year was always in the spring (1st March) rather than 1st January. In fact the months are also numbered accordingly September (seven), October (eight), November (nine), December (deca- ten)

Skulls, Caps & Secularism


Guest post by T.R. Ramaswami

I write with reference to your front page news item “I Won’t Wear a Skull Cap Just to Pose : Modi” (ET 12 April 2014). At last someone has the guts to say so in contrast to the pseudo-secular wimps we have in politics. Why should anyone wear a skull cap to show that he cares? Will a mullah or Imam put on some vibhuthi, chandan and kum-kum on his forehead, or wear a rudraksha mala or carry a trishul as a reciprocal gesture? The answer is clear – it is some opportunists from the majority who are making asses of themselves by soaping the minority in the hamam of vote bank politics, while the minority has a good laugh at all of them. Incidentally let all these “secularists” be told – it is not enough to wear a skull cap on your head. You have to also remove the cap on the head of another extremity of your body. Can they confirm that they have done this? You don’t become a Mahatma only by sleeping with two young naked females.

Evolution of “Per Capita Income”


Traditionally men (women rarely had any value) were viewed more as a silver earned by selling them as slaves or how large an army could be drafted from the region. The value of human life was so low in the medieval ages that people stopped buying slaves (you could inherit a fief and its serfs for free so why pay). Go East for riches campaigns during Crusades (and later go west during settlement of America) was probably the only historic references where establishments tried to place a value to a free-man’s life.
Simply put if human life had any value, you would have emigration checks and not immigration checks. Till recently many middle east regimes did not encourage university education because graduate students would destabilize the regime. (much like early industrial age governments saw factory workers as a threat). So development of human capital was always a private endeavor and only recently has it been institutionalized.
Similarly land traditionally used to be viewed in terms of how much taxes it could yield (cities, ports) or how much grain/men/resource it could produce. A land surveryer Sir William Petty in early 17th century tried to resolve this by coming up with GDP, a unifying parameter to place the value of the land & tax it aptly.
Now the question is how did the concept of per-capita income evolved and why? Except for the first half of 1940s (towards the end of of 2nd world war) there has never been a global shortage of manpower, but the earliest references date back to 1934… at that time the world still was recovering from great depression and had double digit urban unemployment (rural unemployment was never measured and is hard to compute even today)
Also what is the relevance of per-capita income? Given a choice between 2 regions both producing the same GDP, would a statesman/politician prefer a larger population base or a smaller? (smaller or larger per capita?)

SECULARISM & THE MINORITY VOTE


Guest post by T.R. Ramaswami

A hotly debated recent subject is secularism and the statement that the minority vote is so important that it will decide the fate of any election. You cannot have “secularism” and the concept of a “minority vote”. This is an insult to both, the minority and the majority. It implies that the minority individuals have no will of their own and are no better than a herd of buffaloes. But there is one more angle. If the majority voters are about 70 crores (80% of the voters) and the minority is only 12 crores then how does the majority allow the minority vote to be the deciding factor?  So here is a clarion call for the majority. Come out to vote. This call is not to ask you to vote for this or that party but ONLY TO VOTE. After all in a democracy the majority decides and what it wants prevails. Right?  And remember – if the majority does not vote then it has no right to wail or complain that the minority is deciding the polls. They will. And bad netas are elected when good citizens do not vote.

 

SECULARISM – THE WAY AHEAD

 

With elections just begun, some of the recent balderdash relating to ‘secularism’ needs to be clarified. “Secularism’ means that the state does not sponsor or have an official religion and all citizens are allowed to practice any religion of their choice. But the state unfairly supports some religions by way of subsidies. There is also another important religious choice like NOTA – Atheism. In fact atheists are the most secular. But secularism has been made political by first introducing the word in the Constitution during a turbulent time – the EMERGENCY. Were we not secular from 1947-1975?  India is not secular because that word is there in the Constitution. It is there because the majority in this country belongs to a secular religion. Show me one country in the world which has a minority religion of more than 10% and is secular.  If we are secular then we need a secular civil code. Let us formulate one and throw it open WITHOUT COMPULSION to all Indians. There are many who want to boot the religious clergy of mullahs, bishops and purohits out of their lives. In one generation religion will cease to be a vote garnering issue.

 

 

MOST SECULAR CONGRESS LEADER

 

In the media and electoral brawl on secularism, minority votes, etc people seem to have forgotten the most secular leader of the Congress. Unfortunately his death changed the course of Indian history. Many Hindus and even members of the RSS and BJP shed copious tears on his death and the minority heaved a sigh of relief. He was so secular that he would have put the RSS and BJP to shame making them look like boy scouts. The secular leader – Sanjay Gandhi.

 

UNHOLY SECULARISM

 

I write with reference to the letter “An Appeal to the Secular” (ET 8 Apr 2014) signed by Achin Vanaik and many others. This letter represents the height of unsecularism and a biased hypocritical view.  Such a letter should not name anyone, but it chose to – Narendra Modi – for the so-called progrom of 2002. Where were these worthies when Sikhs were slaughtered in 1984? Was that secular? And even more Muslims – estimates are between 30-50 thousand – were slaughtered in 1948 after Operation Polo. The Sunderlal Report is still under wraps like the Henderson-Brookes Report. Was Sonia Gandhi’s sucking up to the Imam secular?  Would you have remained silent if Modi had met the Sankaracharyas? Now will you have the decency and fairness to publish this letter or confirm your true colours which you have revealed by publishing the above referred letter?

China’s Iron rice bowl policy


Poor are hardworking, they are very calculated (i.e. they plan their expenses and never waste money on frivolous trinkets), they are very versatile & adapt to the situations and they don’t mind even travelling far and wide to meet their goals. Yet for generations they are poor. Why? They were born poor and are now trapped into a vicious circle. If you belong to a country with predominantly poor/marginal citizens, a lot of them farmers on hand-to-mouth sustenance, what would you do to transform the country?

It’s not an overnight job, China formulated their Iron-Rice Bowl policy way back in 1949 and today they are reaping its rich dividends. There have been several theories around what Renaissance started in Italy, Why industrial Revolution started in England, Why in the early 20th Century America became the industrial powerhouse and why Japans overtook them. But I am yet to read about one single theory which says why China has become the manufacturing hub of the world. Because what China did was transformational and it changed the entire DNA of the country most economists don’t like to acknowledge this reality.

The viscous cycle that I was talking about was education & healthcare. Without proper education the masses don’t have the tools and knowledge to offer anything more than unskilled manual labor. But if the children work instead of going to school then they can never be truly educated. I am sure there are a couple of exceptions, but generally child laborers are destined to work their entire life as unskilled daily-wagers. China has 100% literacy while in India 1/3 of the people still cannot read or write. Furthermore we have created a pseudo-caste system revolving around English. So that anybody who is not convent educated and fluent in English will always feel inferior.

The second element of the viscous cycle is “Healthcare”. I have rarely met any poor family that is not able to save a considerable percentage of their daily income on a regular basis, while most middle class families would take lifestyle loan and show little or no financial planning. This fund enables them survive not only the rainy day but also improve their earning capacity through productive assets (vehicle, shop, land, cell-phone, etc.) So over a decade through diligence & discipline most families can escape poverty. However more often than not you would see is that a disease or injury would force the family to dip into their savings and borrow heavily to pay for the medical treatment. This unfortunate & unforeseen hardship sets the family back by 10-15 years and often leads to splitting of the family so that individuals could survive and escape the debt burden. Hence in absence of a strong affordable public healthcare program, no poor can even dream to be happy. In China I have seen expats & senior officials of rich companies often going to public hospitals. In India…. Anybody who can afford will find out reasons of not going to a public doctor (I was an exception, my daughter was born in a government hospital)

It’s been 67 years since India’s independence but are we free yet? Do we have the culture and environment around me which enables us reach our fullest potential? Is the system around us empowering us for “pursuit of happiness”? India is on the verge of the next General Election and these are the questions that are bugging me. A few slogans don’t amount to anything unless the systematic rot in the system is addressed.

Snapdeal: Lame ass excuses & unfulfilled promises


In business sometimes exogenous circumstances leads to failure to meet the commitment. I can understand that, but good people never make lame ass excuses or lie to their customers. And most customers respect them for their honesty. Snapdeal is neither snap/fast nor it offers a good deal/discount. I wonder what is the purpose of this store and why is it still in existence? 8 days ago I had placed an order ( Order ID : 1885222339) at snapdeal.com for “Eureka Forbes 4 Ltr Nano Aquasure RO Water Purifier” which this company promised to ship in 2-3 days. The company gave no intimation or updates to me and then when today I called them up to inquire about the status they email me this response.

Dear ankur aggarwal, You are receiving this notification because one or more items in your order: 1885222339. We at Snapdeal deeply regret the inconvenience caused to a valued customer like you, and extend our heartfelt apologies. We regret to inform you that our brand partner is unable to process your order due to unmanageable circumstances. We value your relationship as a customer and did not want to keep you waiting, so we are cancelling your order. We request you to treat this instance as an exception as we constantly strive to provide the best of service for our valued customers.

As you can see from the snapshot from the snapdeal portal (taken today), they have not stopped selling this item. In fact they are showing 10 partners  who are currently stocking it. Whats more they are giving them rating of 4.5 out of 5. I live on one of the main streets of Bangalore and not some remote area where no logistics partner can deliver. I also did not apply any discount/cashback/code which made it economically unviable for the company to fulfill the order.

This is the order summary page from Snapdeal.com

This is the order summary page from Snapdeal.com

This is an off-the shelf standard product which Eureka Forbes has not stopped making, Snapdeal has not stopped selling. Hence only logical explanation I can get is that this company is unable to manage its operations and it has been a complete waste of my time & efforts to even log on to it.

Snapdeal is a company without focus, mission or even a strategy. It was started by a bunch of day-dreamers who wanted to distribute discount coupons around Delhi. They failed miserably so they went online and created a deal website, which again they failed in so they went to venture capital and burned all the capital. Now they ventured into online retail which typical of Snapdeal is grossly mismanaged. I won’t be surprised if its 3rd avatar also shuts shops and goes under the gutter, like most of the e-commerce platforms. PS: I called up Croma and they are going to ship & install this product in my kitchen in 5 hours (Now that is called customer service)

Adult jokes


Starbucks isn’t so expensive if you compare it to what Victoria’s Secret charges per cup!

 

A man got a text from his next-door neighbor: “Must confess. Been tapping your wife when you’re not around. Probably more than you. No excuse. Can’t live with the guilt. Please accept apology. It won’t happen again.” The distraught, betrayed husband found his gun and, without a word, aimed it at his wife. As he prepared to pull the trigger, he got another text: “Damned auto-correct. I meant wifi, not wife!”

 

You never appreciate the non-violent resolutions to a problem till a fly sits on your testicles