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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lessons in Karma: Garuda and tiny bird

I read this article from the site below and liked it very much. It did give me answers to few questions which has been nagging me for some time.

Just reproducing the article in full without any adulteration with my thoughts. I felt that the article is written so nicely please give all the credit to the site and its author.

High in the reaches of Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva. One evening Lord Vishnu, came to see Shiva. He left behind at the entrance Garuda, the half-man, half-eagle composite, who served as his vehicle.

Garuda sat alone, marveling at the natural splendor of the place. Suddenly his eyes fell on a beautiful creature, a little bird seated on the arch crowning the entrance to Shiva’s place. Garuda wondered aloud: “How marvelous is this creation! One who has created these lofty mountains has also made this tiny bird – and both seem equally wonderful.”
Just then Yama, the god of death who rides a buffalo, came passing by with the intention of meeting Shiva.
As he crossed the arch, his eyes went over to the bird and he raised his brows in a quizzical expression. Then he took his eyes off the bird and disappeared inside.
Now, in the ancient Hindu thought, even a slight glance of Yama is said to be the harbinger of death. Garuda, who had observed Yama’s action, told himself, “Yama looking intently at the bird can mean only one thing – the bird’s time is up. Perhaps on his way back he will carry away the bird’s soul with him.” Garuda’s heart was filled with pity for the helpless creature.

That it was oblivious of its own impending doom further agonized Garuda and he resolved to save the bird from the clutches of death. He swooped it up in his mighty talons, rushed to a forest thousands of miles away and left the bird on a rock beside a brook. Then he returned to Kailash and regained his position at the entrance gate.
Soon after, Yama emerged from inside, and nodded to Garuda in recognition. Garuda greeted the god of death and said: “May I put a question to you? While going in, you saw a bird and for a moment you became pensive, why?”
Yama answered him thus: “Well, when my eyes fell on the little bird, I saw that it was to die in a few minutes, swallowed by a python, far away from here in a forest near a brook. I wondered how this tiny creature would traverse the thousand of miles separating it from its destiny in such a short time. But there are no such serpents here, high on Kailash, and I was briefly puzzled.” Then I forgot. Surely it must have happened somehow.”
Saying this, Yama smiled and went away. Did he know about Garuda’ s specific role in the matter? Nobody can know for sure. Again, Garuda marveled at the turn of events had taken unfolding  karma.
Karma, and its Consequences:
The word karma is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘kri,’ meaning ‘to do,’ implying that all action is karma. Technically, the term incorporates both an action and its consequence.
Thus Garuda’s karma consisted of the act of carrying away the bird and also its consequent snatching by the cruel hands of destiny. Hence, a deed, pure in its content, led to an apparently unfavorable outcome. Through this subtle tale, we are made to confront a dilemma which constantly recurs in our own lives, namely, the relative impurity and purity of an action. Is an action to be deemed positive or negative solely on the basis of the result it generates? Or, is there some other criterion? Indeed there is. What determines the nature of the karma is the will or intention behind an act.
“One who acts with the best of intentions, does not get the sin of the outward consequence of his action.” (Yoga Sikha).
For example, a doctor is not responsible for murder, if the operation per chance ends in the death of his patient. In the above tale, Garuda’s duty was not to protect the bird, but rather to try and protect it.
“Even if a man does not succeed, he gets all the merit of doing his duty, if he strives the utmost to his capacity.” (Mahabharata: Udyoga Parva 93.6)
Some undertakings succeed and others fail. That is due to the divine order of things. If a man does his part of the work, no sin touches him.” (Mahabharata: Santi Parva 24.30)
It is the psychological impulse behind an action that is ‘karma,’ that which sets going a chain of causes culminating in karmic fruits. Actions then must be intentional if they are to generate karmic fruits.
One of the most significant instructional references to karma comes from the Bhagavad Gita, which says:
“You have the right only to work, but not to the fruits thereof.” (2.47)
Significant here is the fact that we are entitled only to act, and have ‘no right’ over the ensuing results. This profound assertion is not mere discourse, but rather loaded with sound practical advice, which can act as a sensible strategy for whatever we set out to achieve. This is because the outcome of any enterprise is not solely dependent on our individual efforts but is bound to numerous other factors over which we may or may not have influence.
Thus why worry over something on which we do not have control? Also, detaching ourselves from the burden of anxiety over the impending result frees us from mental stress, and enables us to devote ourselves with calm concentration to the matter at hand.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The illogical argument for Dry HOLI...

There is nothing worse than giving a "Symbolic response to a serious problem". If global warming is the issue then "Earth Hour" is the symbolic response. The substantive action involves "Reduce - Shrink - Reuse - Recycle". 

Ask yourself if you can buy a smaller car or use public transport or reduce the usage of plastics? The answer from a majority of us is a firm NO for the above questions. If that's the case then let’s not pretend concern and sensitivity to ecology with symbolic responses. Without reducing the carbon footprint, without shrinking our actual requirements if we believe switching off lights once a year would solve our problems then even the gods can't save us.

If there is a terrorist attack having a candle light march is one of the symbolic responses we have mastered. There has been a campaign to encourage DRY HOLI without any wastage of water in certain media houses. I have been part of some of the discussion groups in Twitter and blogs on this topic. In some of the groups it takes a communal angle but I want to focus on some facts which many of us are not aware of.

Do you know?"

1. It takes 2487 gallons of water (one gallon is 3.75L approx.) to produce a 40g chocolate.
2. It takes about 1800 gallons of water to make a jeans pant.
3. It takes about 7 litres of water make one litre of beer.
4. It takes about 10 litres of water to make one litre of petrol.

More interesting facts on high water consumption is seen in this link:

It is very important to be ecologically prudent and conserve water, but we should not give a symbolic response for a serious problem. There can be nothing worse than that. 

Let us see few more examples:

1. It takes about 40000 litres of water to manufacture one car. If you fill 50 litres of Petrol every month then we use 500 litres / month and 6000 litres / annum of water. Have we stopped buying cars?

2. It takes about 45.4 litres to manufacture a computer chip. If you work for a telecom company or bank with 1000 employees, the data center equipment and personal computing requirements would consume upwards of 500000 computer chips. That's about 22.7 million litres. This is just to create and not sustain it. If we assume it’s the same amount of water Consumption is required to sustain it for 3 years then we are taking about 45 million litres being used for every 3 years. Should we stop all the data centers and personal computing usages?

Responses to water conservation and ecological protection have to be individual, community and government levels. I can suggest the following ways to conserve water at an individual and community levels which are substantive actions instead of symbolic responses.

1. How about foregoing washing our cars for 1 day a week periodically?
2. How about closing the swimming pool for few days this summer to conserve water?
3. How about a free maintenance on all the leaky pipes in your apartment complex?
4. How about installing water levelers with auto switch off in all the pipe outlets.
5. Well, how about cutting consumption of chocolates, wine, hamburgers, meat etc...
6. How about buying less cars, jeans etc...

And the list can go on.

At a macro level we have seen governments like Delhi drained INR 1700+ Cr for cleaning rivers yet have achieved nothing. Subsequent governments in Maharastra has systematically looted to the extent of INR 70000 Cr on irrigation projects and delivered nothing. In the same measure governments like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu have successfully improved water management and increased the ground water levels in the last decade.

"Pluralistic uniqueness is nature's own manifestation..." Nature manifests itself in innumerable ways - colors, shades and hues. Each one of us is the product of this manifestation. If nature did not wanted us to be so, it would not have created and sustained us.

Each of us is inalienable and inseparable part of the cosmic whole, linked to the unmanifested interconnections. We should just don't talk of tolerance and acceptance, but move beyond and celebrate the pluralistic uniqueness.

For me, HOLI is a very colorful festival that highlights the pluralistic manifestation of nature that every color and hue we see essentially asks a child to celebrate that plurality. It cuts across age, gender, caste and creed and one of the socially inclusive festivals that we can ever see across the world. Look at the joy on every child’s face celebrating this festival.

Let’s celebrate the plurality in the individuality and do that when you see the colors of different hues and shade on a HOLI day. Let’s celebrate HOLI with full JOSH.

Happy HOLI to all my friends and relativesJ ...

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The lost decade: (Mis)Governance lessons from India

Disclaimer 1: Its purely based on perception with facts and reports available in public domain! If you don't agree with this in part of full, its easy, just ignore / delete this link. If you agree, its easier, please leave a comment :).

Disclaimer 2: The author is not an expert in politics but the performance of this government gives him a serious delusion that he can be one. :)

A section of Indians were deeply worried that the contribution from ancient India on philosophy, spirituality, science, politics, language, literature, astronomy et al seems to have stopped and looked like a thing of the past. They were anxious as to when will India will start to teach the world on new management techniques catching up with the 21st century trends.

This blog is dedicated to those millions and I am giving a 4 point formula on (mis-) Governance which we seem to have mastered. As we look back the last 10 years we notice that millions have been pushed into poverty, thousands of crores of savings and investments lost, a generation of Indians have been pushed deeper into debts, morale of the armed forces dented, independence and efficiency of judiciary and institutions like CVC, CEC, CBI etc are seriously compromised. It takes lots of effort to do this to a billion people and let’s look at what those golden rules are:

Rule 1: With us or against us
Our government that is in power is sending a very strong message that "If you are with us, then everything is OK, if you are against us then every law, agency and resource shall be directed against you". This includes parties, NGOs, corporates and what not. You need to be matured to understand this rule. May be by the end of this blog you may understand this better. 

Rule 2: Limited Latitude
Opposition parties, NGOs, media houses all are given a latitude - a margin with which they are free to do anything as long as they don't target the first family or those closer to them. If you cross this margin then the above rule 1 would apply. Most of the parties and institutions seems to stick to this rule. Some examples listed below.

Rule 3: Partners in crime
This is the democratic aspect of this government where the loot is shared. There is enough for all of us to loot and share as long as you play along. The middle class tax payers and the honest citizens are the only suckers in India, rest all play this game. This is the circle some of our media companies and NGOs are part of. Be it ad revenues, sponsored news, planted articles or the anti-Modi industry all are benefited under this rule. In fact I can safely say that the only industry that survived under UPA is the anti-Modi cottage industry. Flagship ones like Telecom, Infrastructure, Insurance and Airlines have all bitten the dust.

Rule 4: Unique scam management methodology “IDD- TBD-HIM”
This 3 stage, 9 step methodologies can be patented by UPA and is very unique for the world. This also should encourage lots of quasi-democracies to adopt for democracy for they see that this technique would help them survive any scams and inefficiencies. The expansion of this anagram is:

Stage 1: Ignore – Deny – Divert
Stage 2: Technicality - Blame – Democratize
Stage 3: Helplessness – Innocence - Manage

This is the scam management methodology which is so far produced 6 sigma results for the government.

Stage 1:
Ignore the scam and then be in denial, then divert the scam with some other scam or news. Service of media houses comes in very handy here.

Stage 2:
The stage called ‘technicality” is the original script of UPA ministers like PC, Sibal and Manish Tiwari. Through the law book to you and explain how it is such a technically correct decision but a poor economic or a governance decision. 2G and Coal scam used this technique as much as possible. “Coal in mother earth” and ‘Zero loss theory” should be etched in stone and kept as a memorabilia near Qutub Minar for the future generations to know that we had such morons governing us.

Else blame the previous government or other parties. We followed NDA’s policy and other such crap. The last step in this stage is to democratize the scam like it has been like this since independence, across the world blah blah. Typical statements are “Law will take its own course”, we should not politicize this.

Experts and NGOs come in handy here.

Stage 3:
But the cherry is being openly helpless. Be it the prime minister or Congress ministers, they can throw their hand in air and say “What can I do?” The person governing shall suddenly become a party member, just descended from the mountains of moon and act as if there is no accountability on them and comment on their own performance.

But what is unique to India is the innocence of the first family in all that. Yeah! I don’t Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi is aware of the lathi charge order, hanging of terrorists etc. Even though everyone knows that nothing moves without the explicit approval of Gandhis. In fact we can safely say that this is the bedrock of this rule that if it happens to be controversial or adverse to vote banks then the first family is not aware of it.

If everything else has failed we can use the institutions to “manage the environment”. This can also be called the CBI stage which ensures that the enquiry runs for few decades and everyone related to the enquiry is dead or mentally old to remember anything so that there is an adverse or no Judgment at all. We can follow up by giving even a “Bharat Ratna” posthumously if he is from the first family. Ex. 1984 Sikh riots and Bofors..

I would consider them naive who believe a change in regime would change our course and dumb if they think that this technique will die with UPA.

Let’s look at some examples and why I say so:

  • Budget for CWG was supposed to be ~INR 7000 Crores which was increased to ~ INR 70000 Crores which is a 10 times increase approved by GoM and PM. Out of which only INR 1600 crores were spent by Kalmadi and the balance is spent by whom? Have you seen the opposition insisting on this apart from some passing remarks. Conspicuously silent!

  • Damadji's exploits with DLF and Haryana are very well documented. This episode was allowed to die a silent death by the opposition. Why? Again conspicuously silent!

  • Minor episode of Young Indians minor episode with the assets of the publication company (National hearld) was that serious that the congress party's registration as a national party could have been suspended / cancelled. Again a silent burial. Read more about it here

  • The whole political and industrial class seems to be one big family when it comes to issues against Reliance - be it Gas projects and its pricing, Delhi Metro rail project, Delhi electricity pricing, Issues around investments and approvals on Lavasa city project, Agricultural deaths in Maharastra and AP, Loots on irrigation projects,...  neither urgency nor action on any of the issues.. All are complicit and silent!

This article may sound very pessimistic and sarcastic and I agree that I have given vent to those feelings inside me. I am certainly discounting the thousands of PILs and the war waged by the Single man army like Mr. Subramaniam Swamy against this. I would also like to sound more hopeful and perhaps may be you can help!

Yours sarcastically

Happy reading!

A disaster called Dr. Manmohan Singh!

Disclaimer 1: This blog is based on my perception supported by facts as available.

As a wise man said, "Time is a great leveler". On the eve of the results of the last elections this is what i blogged about the decisive mandate received by UPA.  

Needless to add that I am one of those most disappointed citizens of this country and a review now on the State of the nation seems very different.

Dr. Manmohan Singh whom i have fondly started addressing as "Sikhandi Singh" has certainly taken us back to the 1991 days in his 10 years of reign or probably worse and would certainly find his way in all the management text books for the best case study of the century on "How not to run a country!".

Lets look at how the economy is mismanaged: 

Image Courtesy: Business Today

  • The revenue deficit which was sub 2.5% of GDP has more than doubled to 5%+.
  •  Subsidies which were 10% of the central government revenue expenditures in 2000-01 has increased by whopping 60% and is now 16% in 2009-10 as per finance ministry figures.
  • The worrying part is that the defense expenditure has reduced from 14% to 10% in the similar period.
  • Take every measure in economy like savings rate, investments, growth, inflation etc and every measure is on the wrong side of the health.
It is clear that the first 4 years of boom in UPA 1 is primarily because of the growth momentum and feel good factor that NDA government has left back.  
  • Experts are tearing apart the MGNREGA, that it encourages unskilled labor pools to remain unskilled and more so increases the labor costs for agriculture and other rural economy requirements.
  • Its better not to talk about inflation and government's response to that to avoid very un-parliamentary language in this blog.
Couple of years back few experts have expressed their fear that UPA government is taking India to be the Greece of Asia and i think we are very close to it now than ever.

Plight of flaggship Industries: 
Lets see how flagship industries were grounded. In 2004, Telecom, Infrastructure, Airlines and Financial sector were among the top industries which are now grounded and flushed through the drain - both in its current performance and its future outlook.

What happened to Telecom after 2G is very evident and the same thing happened in every big project be it how the airports are privatized, how the unofficial carrier of India is Emirates and not any Indian airlines, how Indian Airlines and Air India were screwed, looted and pushed into debt traps, the inordinate delay and corruption laden infrastructure projects, be it how our nation is held to ransom by Big brother on the gas projects... and the list is endless.

Screw the democratic institutions:

After the 2009 election euphoria the incident which woke me up was Shikandi Singh's statement on A. Raja on the 2G case. When the issue was raised in 2010, MMS replied to media that "I asked A Raja if there are any mistakes committed and Raja told me that everything is absolutely as per law, so we should drop this topic".

Well that when i thought we are setting new governance standards, were we inquire the accused if there are any issues and decide to drop the issue based on accused's assurance. How is that! But that was just a precursor of what followed.

Be it CVC (Where MMS pleaded ignorance after SC slapping him and he lost his face in front of the nation), PAC and JPC (for 2G), Armed forces on uniform pay and the issue with Army chief, be it SEBI (Which sometimes looks like our PM - muted and impotent for all the issues which we see around), Enforcement directorate, IT department, CAG and above all Congress Bureau of investigation, not one institution is spared and every setup is degraded to an extent that we have started looking at each one of them with suspicion.

In my opinion a Tsunami or Katrina like hurricane or a deadly virus like SARS or a nuclear attack or a combination of all would not have been as deadly but for what we are going through now. Japan took about 2+ years to recover from the triple disaster (Earth Quake + Tsunami + Nuclear disaster) but India may require more than 5 years to recover from where Dr. Singh has taken us.

Millions have been pushed into poverty, thousands of crores of savings and investments lost, a generation of Indians have been pushed deeper into debts, morale of the armed forces dented, independence and efficiency of judiciary and institutions like CVC, CEC, CBI etc are seriously compromised.

Had it been a country like China for this performance the corrupt, non-performing parts of  government and the leadership would have been sent to jail for life. Alas! we are not China and I am cursing ourselves on this aspect.

Apart from the economy, industry and democratic institutions, Dr. Singh has managed to create permanent scars in the self esteem of many Indians and deep dents in our hope for a better future. For this disaster needs more time to fight back, rebuilding our institutions and more importantly we need to mend our sense of hope and self belief.

May the almighty give us enough strength to come out of this disaster as quickly as possible.

Yours sadly,

Happy reading!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sourav Ganguly, Archimedes & Kamba Ramayanam!

Well!, If you think the topic is pretty wacky, please read on to know the similarity between them. Anyone who has been following cricket especially in India and England would know the following images and the incident behind them.

One is Andrew Flintoff taking his shirt on the field at Calcutta after winning a match against India and the other Sourav Ganguly returning the favor at Lords, just about a year later in 2002. If you want to quickly relive those moments, you can do it here.. discussions followed whether Sourav was right in baring his chest and the act of aggression is right or not? For me that match and sight was one of the most memorable moments, not because i like a single pack ab and hairy chest but that moment redefined Indian attitude in the cricket field. Till then Indian cricket had the best talent in the world yet lacked the fire power, aggression or the "Go for the Kill" attitude and mostly surrenders meekly in the field.

I know few friends who still don't agree with what Sourav Ganguly did, but the topic of this blog is not about who don't agree, but to look at couple of such scenarios. No. I am not going to talk about the F TV heros here but instances which were so exciting that they forgot or ignored their very own self in excitement.

 The first one is Archimedes who 2200 years ago understandably ran naked from his bath tub. He was so excited on seeing the upward displacement of water as he stepped into the tub that revealed the so called "Archimedes principle". It is told that he ran naked in the streets in excitement and it was probably not a calculated move like Ganguly's.

Secondly, I came across this song from Kamba Ramayanam while reading something and a similar incident appears in Ramayana. The act of baring their clothes in excitement is done by Devas (Angels) when they hear the news on death of Price Indrajit (s/o. Ravana).

The valor and skills of Indrajit has been very highly praised in many places and after the war Sage Vishwamitra tells Lord Rama that you killing Ravana is not as important as killing his son Indrajit. Such was his valor. Devas were very concerned that how Rama and Laxmana are going to defeat him. The following song is the reaction of Devas on hearing the death of Indrajit.

வில்லாளர் ஆனார்க்கு எல்லாம் மேலவன் விளிதலோடும்,
'செல்லாது அவ் இலங்கை வேந்தர்க்கு அரசு' எனக் களித்த தேவர்
எல்லாரும், தூசு நீக்கி ஏறிட ஆர்த்தபோது,
கொல்லாத விரதத்தார்தம் கடவுளர் கூட்டம் ஒத்தார் 

The meaning goes as follows:
When Indrajit died the devas were happy that Ravana can be defeated then in excitement they disrobed themselves and threw their dresses in the sky. When they did it they resembled the Jain monks. It is important to note that Kambar refers to the Jain monks as people who follow Ahimsa and non-killing as a principle and to negate the self and the attachment to their body then used to roam around naked.

The line by line meaning in Tamil is given below to those who are interested. Courtesy

To conclude this blog, Sourav's act seems to be more matured and moderated compared to the other two though all the three seems to have loads of excitement and a sense of achievement.

As a wise man said, "There is a very thin line between genius and insanity" and excitement seems to be a perfect enough reason to erase that thin line... many times over. 

Happy reading!

வில்லாளர் ஆனார்க்  கெல்லாம்  மேலவன்  விளிதலோடும-வில்வீரர்க்கெல்லாம்    மேம்பட்டவனாகிய     இந்திரசித்து    இறந்து விட்டமையால்;    
அவ்இலங்கை   வேந்தற்கு   அரசு   செல்லாது எனக்களித்த தேவர் -  ‘அந்த இலங்கை வேந்தனாகிய இராவணனுக்கு அரசு நடவாது’  என்று  களிப்படைந்த  தேவர்கள்;  
எல்லாரும்  தூசு நீக்கி ஏறிட ஆர்த்த போது - யாவரும்   உடுத்திருந்த ஆடைகளை
அவிழ்த்து விண்ணில்  ஏறிடுமாறு  வீசி ஆரவாரித்தபோது; 
கொல்லாத விரதத்தார் தம்  கடவுளர்  கூட்டம்   ஒத்தார்   - (அத்தேவர்கள்
அம்மணமாக   இருத்தலின்)   கொல்லாத   விரதம்   பூண்ட   அருக சமயத்தவரின் கடவுளர் கூட்டத்தை ஒத்துத் தோன்றினார்கள்.