Politicians almost never know what they are talking about

I absolutely love what David Brooks, New York Times columnist has to say in his column aptly titled “The Post-Lehman World“.

These words “We’d need regulators who could spot a bubble and squelch a boom just when things seem to be going good, who can scare away foreign investment and who could over-rule popularity-mongering presidents. (The statements by the two candidates this week have been moronic.)” are so absolutely true especially considering the kind of rhetoric that Obama and McCain have been building up regarding the Market Metldown.

Wish politicians understood more about the economy and how it works rather than just indulging in rhetoric and rabble-rousing just to garner more popular votes.


Related links
IndiaUncut by Amit Varma who pointed me to this article in the first place
David Brooks article in the New York Times

Kashmir Agitation – 3 viewpoints

I just read these three interesting articles about the entire Kashmir agitation issue and was a little taken back by the almost extremist stance taken by at least two of these articles.

While Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar has always been known for his crisp and candid comments in his famous “Swaminomics” weekly column in the Times of India, this particular article of his is a little radical in suggesting that the Indian Govt. go ahead and give the Kashmiris a plebiscite where they could decide between (a) independence (b) union with Pakistan (c) union with India. He cites history wherein the Kashmiris were denied their promised plebiscite in 1947 when the Union Govt of India wrongly denied these people their basic right of choice regarding their alignment and secessionism.

While this particular article does delve into history and talk about how India used force to secede the princely state of Junagadh (which had a Hindu majority but was ruled by a Muslim Nawab) and draws parallels with Kashmir (which had a Muslim majority but a Hindu ruler), the sheer audacity with which Swaminathan Aiyar seems to suggest a plebiscite and letting the voice of people win reeks of ‘blissful ignorance’ or ‘sheer innocence’ or a bit of both. And either of these traits coming from someone like him is a little disturbing.

The other article by Vir Sanghvi (who for some particular reason keeps shifting his loyalties in and out of the Star Group and the Hindustan Times, as well as between Television and Print as media-of-choice), is way more radical in suggesting that based on a pure cost-benefit analysis the only thing that makes sense in this whole chaotic Kashmir situation is a referendum. Although the choices offered to the people are the same as Swami Aiyar’s (for obvious reasons), the logic offered by Vir Sanghvi is reasonably different.

He seems to suggest that Kashmir or Kashmiris are taking too much advantage of the fact that they enjoy the privileges that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution offers them, and at the same time are utterly thankless to the rest of the Indian taxpayers who are pretty much subsidising every Kashmiri’s life today. His reasonably angry article (well, he uses the words “Damn all”) is peppered with facts and figures which seem to suggest that Kashmir gets over ten times more Govt. Grant than Bihar does, and that too in the form of money rather than grants or subsidies, but is absolutely thankless.

I then read the original post from The Acorn by Nitin which pointed me to both these articles in the first place. And I completely agree with him when he says that plebiscite is probably not the right way to go in a situation such as this where a majority of the people will vote purely based on current sentiment and historical reasons rather than looking forward to a better future. Nitin’s suggestion that “To ensure the well-being of people in the region, including those of its neighbours, India as a whole, and not just Jammu & Kashmir, needs to place a premium on individual freedoms on the one hand, and on tolerance on the other” is probably one of the better constructed sentences in all three articles.

I personally have no answers to this tricky question, but then somebody has to ask them and ask them loud enough so that the people who can look for answers hear them.


Related links –
Desipundit link which led me to The Acorn
The Acorn post which led me to the two articles
Swaminathan Aiyar’s column in the Times of India
Vir Sanghvi’s column in the Hindustan Times

More individual Gold Medals anyone???

Ever since the oh-so-charming Abhinav Bindra won the first ever individual Olympic Gold medal for India, I have heard lots of stories and conversations among almost everybody I know where they lament the lack of quality sport training and other related infrastructure in India. And one thing that stuck me whenever I was involved in such conversations was the fact that these people were missing out on the bigger picture here.

What a country like India needs today is basic infrastructure, such as roads, trains, food distribution mechanisms, means to ensure primary education to all young children, healthcare, sewage, drinking water, and not more stadiums or facilities to breed more individual Gold Medal winners. Yes, it feels good and proud to know that India finally has an individual Gold Medal but then the joy is momentary when you look out of your car window and notice the number of beggars at each and every traffic signal. Yes, there is warmth in the heart when the tricolor is unfurled and the national anthem sung at a world stage, but then there is immense sorrow when one notices the number of hungry, homeless urchins in our urban metros.

What India needs today is a working model of sustainable development and where distribution of economic wealth and social welfare is across cross-sections of society. We need to ensure that the Rich don’t get any richer at the cost of the poor getting poorer. Sports does precious little to alleviate the poor Indian’s life, and can therefore take a back seat, at least for now.

Amit Varma (of India Uncut fame) has written this article for the Wall Street Journal Asia on this topic and this article by him prompted this outburst from me. Hat tip Amit!!!


Related links –
India Uncut link to Amit’s article

Nikhil Alva – made to eat humble pie

I just came across this interesting interview with Nikhil Alva which gives us an insight into this maverick Reality Show maker’s mind. His company Miditech is currently producing show like Indian Idol, Fame Gurukul, Roadies, and if all you middle-aged people remember a show called Living on the Edge, it was Nikhil and his brother Niret who came up with concept sometime in the mid-90s when Indian television viewers had not even heard of the concept of Reality Television.

Although this post was meant to highlight his particular Livemint interview of Nikhil’s, the last line and I quote – “Rajyavardhan Rathore, our best bet, is not in form; and Abhinav Bindra does well everywhere else but freezes at the Asiad or Olympics,” is reasonably hilarious, especially after the performance of the said shooters at the Beijing Games. Anyways like people say, it is easy to put down somebody especially after he has been proved so conclusively wrong.

Not to take anything away from Nikhil and his wonderful achievements, but this time around, especially when it comes to his perception of Indian shooters, Abhinav Bindra and Rajyavardhan Rathore, both seem to have combined well together to prove Nikhil’s predictions woefully wrong.

However, the interview itself is a reasonably delightful one in which Nikhil recollects his childhood days, his relationship with his brother and wife, who are also his colleagues at his company, and his views on the Reality Television Scene in Indian television today.


Related links –
The Livemint Interview

Books and the reading habit

For somebody who used to read a lot of books (and I really mean a lot of books) when I was younger, this Hindustan Times article has egged me on to re-kindle the love for the written word again. (Hat tip: Amit Varma of India Uncut fame).

In the article, Soumya Bhattacharya berates our Indian aversion to reading books as a hobby, a past time or even as a passing fad. He cites simple arithmetic to show how buying books is as costly or as cheap as the other weekend-getaways that we spent upon such as visits to multiplexes, eating out, or even having a quiet drink with friends at a pub. Now don’t get me wrong, I personally do not advocate giving up these things for reading books, but then I do believe that books also deserve some place in our busy lives.

As for me, books opened me up to the wonderful world of fiction, the art of telling tales, the art of bringing alive magical worlds such as Narnia in my mind, when I was a teenager. Later on when I started reading biographies, and accounts of entrepreneurs’ struggles, autobiographies, they managed to give me an insight into what it took to be a reasonably famous personality in the world. Such books made me realize that the world, and everyday situations all over the world, are pretty much the same for all of us. Yes, while the circumstances that we find ourselves in might differ, the basic issues are pretty much the same.

So here’s a yeoman call to all readers of Jairam’s Jives to get back to reading some books. For starters, we could start with cutting down at least one eating-out session to save enough time and money to start off on that first book. What say?