No need for any education? Is it only the entrepreneurial instinct that matter?
Or, the educators  must be the most enlightened people?
In new ideas and articulations?
Decide in whatever  fashion you want!
Here are certain new ideas and new ideological convictions!
That could give the Indian context, the present times and the challenges we face some  perspective!

Sometimes big ideas and ideology
give context and meaning for our smaller concerns!
This is such a time, we believe!

We talk of education, culture and even less corruption in our day-to-day affairs, right?
Do we live at  such a time now. I am afraid not.

Fredrich Hayek

Fredrich Hayek

We have learn’t to compromise  far too much with our own cherished values. The situation at the national, why even at the international and local levels differ so radically. At the ground level too, in the Indian states experiences vary. In a state like Tamil Nadu, the situation is so bad. The level of corruption, more so at the elections, is still beyond repair. In other states like Karnataka and other north Indian States, observers say many things.  Fine, what is the future like?

Short and long term? I am not sure.  But what I am able to articulate is this much only. Just now I read an article in the London-based New Statesmen, for me it is a very long years of attachment, a reading habit that doesn’t  easy go off. In the essay on Fredrich Hayek, the Austrian-born economist and visionary(born in 1899) was an icon in his times and he won the first Economics Nobel Prize and held on to his New Rightwing views that a free market capitalism was the only answer to the Communist regimes through which he lived all his life.

Now, I am an ardent admirer of Hayek’s many views and the irony is that he lived through the years to see before his years  the demolition of Communist regimes in Russia and other Europeans countries. Now, there is much to say on the issues of the times when great minds like Hayek and Karl Popper, his another Austrian colleague(author of the Open Society and its Enemies)  were witnesses to their own prophesies.

Now, what is the lesson for us in India today? How far we Indians are sensitive to the great issues of the day?
Of course at the very first thought, we seem not to care for such big issues, big themes, and right?

There is a great deal of shallowness in our politics, and in other areas of search and discovery of truth or truths, if we can say so. So, I like to draw the attention of our countrymen the latest news that income inequality in India  has reached high levels. This report comes from the World Inequality Lab with which such economists Thomas Picketty and other reputed names are associated. The top O.1 percent of earners have captured more growth than all of those in the bottom 50 per cent combined. The share of India’s national income captured by India, stop 1 per cent of was 22 per cent.

The point here is that in spite of our great economists and political leaders not speaking out, we the people have to raise our conscience and ask is this the way our economic policies would work furhter in our children’s times?

What about the globalisation impact? No impact on the living conditions of the fellow citizens? I find from Hayek’s analysis that capitalism, he is a strong advocate as a free market capitalism, he also shared his concerns with his felow rival and colleague, Lord Keynes of UK.

Though both  wanted to work with capitalism, there is a sharp observation in the essay that Hayek understood and said so that Capitalism   the distribution of resources won’t be fair.

So, in brief that even under our present state of politics that our very many hopes and aspirations like  a free and fair access to education and other social benefits might not be  fair and free and we would  continue to live under this basic unfair society and we would  be losers in the short and the long run.
What is the way out?

I ask the enlightened citizens, the upper class and the middle class intellectuals and other at the bottom levels as organisers  of people into parties and other pressure groups to give thought to what I have said here.

My submission here is that we can’t detach ourselves from the moral and ethical obligations to think and express a view and stand by it.
Are we ready to do so?

That is the serious question!

The London Crown Court proceedings on Vijay Mallya!

vijaymThe British media hasn’t given a damn about what is going on in the British courts, neither of the proceedings against Vijay Mallya nor the Indian media, except for the short sensationalism the persona of Mallya invites

As for a deeper and serious study of how India is faring in its many pretension, the status of the rule of law in India, we can learn a lot from what the British courts and judiciary rate of Indian institutions. This we consider a great education and learning about our own self-assessment.

Right now there is a high profile Extradition Proceedings against India’s famous Business Tycoon, Mr. Vijay Mallya who was almost our neighbour in Bangalore, now finds himself in the far off London fighting a grim battle against the Indian Government’s attempt to get him extradited to India to face court cases against multiple cases.

Fine. The case in London is going on as we write and as far as the many first days of the proceedings of the court hearings bring home, at least for us at this end of the intellectual and historic debate we get to know that how we Indians are exposed to be yet far from maturing as an independent nation.

You see, we in India, still talk long and loud and there is no open debate, we assume that once we are in power or authority however humble or elevated as politicians to petty officials we don’t owe any moral duty to behave within any known norms of humility or even with some moral responsibility.

See the series of exposes about the current state of Indian establishment practices here.
Our much-inflated self glorifications are utterly false and fall to the ground so flat.

Our Supreme Court had come for comments at the London Court! So, we hear from the London Barrister, Clare Montgomery, that our highest court’s proceedings are just often motivated for further career advancement. The Hindu and its other publications have this much to say: “A legal expert from UK sought to link the decision-making process of Supreme Court justices to future appointment prospects”. This is a very serious allegation indeed. So too comments on the functioning of the CBI and in particular the latest appointment of the CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, as well as the Enforcement Directorate.

What a shame to hear such allgations. But please don’t dismiss these as allegations. The British society and the media and also the long British tradition of freedoms of the citizens are an article of faith there. Here? We still live as pretenders! Please, Indian readers, realize this current reality. A professor, Lawrence Saez, a Spaniard, Professor of Political Economy for South East Asia at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) participated as a witness at the court. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at the Westminster Magistrates Court, how even our must rated CBI is found wanting when it comes to acting independent of the Indian government.

In fact, much unsavory details were forthcoming in London about own government functioning.

Our Supreme Court is so politicized, he quoted a court pronouncement, the CBI as a “Caged Bird “and it is also there in India everything, every institution, every controversy is politicized and the London Court is informed of the  new director of the CBI, Mr. Asthana was appointed not on objective grounds. These are all serious exposes and only in a liberal and open and free society such uncomfortable truths can be openly raised and discussed.

What are the lessons for Indian generation? You see we in India have learnt to live as hypocritical citizens, we are so afraid of the governments, why we even fear all governments; we even worship our politicians as demi-gods. That is one reason why so much corruption prevails and we have so many of our elected MLAs, MPs, why even ministers continue to live such openly unacceptable lives, as corrupt leaders. Why, even in such states like Tamil Nadu we have so many corrupt politicians as leaders of parties for so many years. How can we put up with such atrocities? Simply because we don’t have a tradition of good government in this country in all these years.

Our media is simply incapable of rising to the occasion. Many times, the major media don’t even like reporting uncomfortable political realities. Even our political parties don’t escape criticism for playing politics at every turn. The Congress, the BJP and the Shiv Sena are all drawn into the court proceedings and they are not even spared for their biased political conduct.
The allegation that the CBI is seen as a caged bird, said the professor, Saez, he cited a number of studies including the Supreme Court reference to the caged bird comment and said the prof, “is unfortunately a perspective widely acknowledged to be true”. He also referred to the research conducted between 1988 and 2009 that looked at the correlation between the election cycles and the number of corruption cases registered.

As for Indians from here, we can see the very obvious truth emerging from the exposures made against the functioning of the Indian government all through the years. Let us only realize that what we are assuming to be good governance is no more good governance but it is purely an outrageous ego play called Indian democratic politics. Though we are complacent about the governments in power here, from the regional autocrats, the chauvinistic outrages in the name of language, race and the very own cinema glamour, to the very many variations of ethnic violence and much communal outrages with which we are putting up with such helplessness.

The state of citizen freedoms, the individual freedoms and the rights of the most vulnerable sections of the people, the tradition of oppressions of many kind that go with caste and communal violence.

At the end of the day Indian citizens are putting up with such outrages and India is yet to be termed as an authoritarian government where the rule of law is the last thought that comes to mind. It is the sense of helplessness, the very many excesses of the political elite that cry for redressal. At last, we don’t know what is the real trigger the government has now woken up, to set upto 12 special courts to try the total number of criminal cases-linked politicans, numbering in all some 13,500 cases!
An analysis shows that by the way the courts in India is going about their functioning, that an average of 4.6 cases per day has to be disposed , if we have to reach the set target to dispose of all the pending criminal cases against the politicians.

This news about how Indian courts, Indian government agencies, even the apex court has come for comments at the London court, can’t have come at a worst time of the day for the Narendra Modi government. As on date there are 184 Lok Sabha and 44 Rajya Sabha MPs facing criminal charges. Maharashtra tops with 160 lawmakers face criminal charges! UP comes second with 143 legislators facing charges.

There are other states with equally damning cases. Criminal court trials waiting for their judgments like the 2 G and Coal Scandal and other latest cases involving former Chief Ministers from Bihar and also case from West Bengal as in Narada case.

Leonardo Da Vinci, By Walter Issacson, pages 599, Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2017

Culture can over-ride many other determinants of how a country or people are judged.

So, culture’s power of impacting countries and societies need to be understood and reiterated.

Mona-Lisa.-1jpgLeonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, just the two from Italy to have made the world a civilized place! This is a very rare and important book by a well-regarded popular writer who has produced some outstanding biographies. One is on Steve Jobs and many such well-researched and written in a very engaging style.

Da Vinci art sells for $450mn!
Salvator Mundi fetches highest known price for a painting, at auction or privately.

Back in 2005, a badly damaged painting that had been partly painted over, and attributed to a disciple of Leonardo da Vinci, was bought by a consortium of art dealers for less than $10,000. The art dealers restored the painting and documented its authenticity as a work by Leonardo. On it became the most expensive painting in the world.

Called Salvator Mundi, Latin for ‘Saviour of the World’, it sold for a record $450 million at auction on Wednesday, smashing previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately. It is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo known to exist and the only one in private hands. It was sold by Christie’s auction house, which didn’t immediately identify the buyer.

Very recently, there are reports in the media that a recent rare painting supposed to be one by Leonardo Da Vinci, titled Salvator Mundi, came for auction and that fetched an unbelievable 450 million dollars. This is the highest price so far for a painting. Even Da Vinci’s well-known painting Mona Lisa has not been priced at a high price.

Anyone who knows something or other of small or big news about Da Vinci knows how great he is in the history of the world art. His contemporary and somewhat rival, Michelangelo came near to him in art and what Michelangelo achieved in both sculpture and painting Da Vinci did in one picture, that of Mona Lisa and till this day no one has deciphered the secret of the smile you find in her picture. Before we proceed further we have to take some time to make the Indian readers at least to realize how art is such a power, then and why, even now.

I had written elsewhere about how a country or a society becomes powerful, both materially and otherwise, culturally and, to put it rather in an unsophisticated way, unsophisticated to me at least, even to win politically some sort of an international sense that you have to be a civilized nation, at the elite and the popular level that you can win world opinion if you are a civilized nation. This may sound a bit crude and unpleasant to some sections; it is art, culture and fine manners, best etiquette and good manners only if you show that you are a civilized society.

Seen in this light I like to cite the two countries, both in the Gulf, Qatar and now more recently Abu Dhabi, both have embarked on areas outside the crude political power and economic strength. Qatar runs the world’s most independent Television Channel, namely, Al Jazeera and is going to stage the Formula One football sport and Abu Dhabi recently opened a Louvre Abu Dhabi art and culture museum, as a Light to the world that had drawn much favourable attention to this small Gulf country.

Two small nations, geography-wise, yet two great attempts to bring in culture as a civilizing influence on the world affairs. This, in my opinion, is going to be the world’s future path to create a one-world consciousness. After all, given the developments in the material world, in the economic and other power political environment that given the climate change and other issues of environment and rising pollution and also limiting opportunities to spread the international aid and philanthropy etc., even as on date some 300 million children in the world don’t go to school!

This is a terrible situation and a serious reality of what we, as world citizens can’t do anything about this terrible reality.
Also health! As Bill Gates has pointed out, as he had met the Chief Ministers of India; that India is also lagging behind other middle income countries, our health budget is far behind other similarly placed middle income countries. Also, as the recent incident in Delhi showed how the private so-called corporate hospitals do, very unacceptable medical costs is one more emerging challenge.

How to make medical care affordable for the vast mass of people? These are terrible realities. So, what we are all doing? Not much, we have to sadly admit and become rather silent for some time atleast! Politicians’ rhetoric is one thing. This, we can put up with. But then there are the elite, the most gifted and the most privileged on the other side. We can also dismiss the voices of the big corporates. At the end of the day no Capitalist voice would win credibility. There is always the private profit motive to disengage us from the corporate glitzy voices.

So, you have to fall back on values, values that are derived from the non-material world. From philosophy, religion, from voices of sanity, from individuals living or those of the past, if we recall, we can only think of names like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, may be from the Christian fathers, the Saints who, individually and collectively, sacrificed their lives and energies to uphold what they thought as man’s highest aspirations and strivings.

The biography of Da Vinci comes at the end of such thought processes. At least from my end!
By Walter Issacson, pages 599
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2017

Reviewing the book
Book-ReviewNow, to review the current book, a full-length biography of the great Renaissance artist is almost an impossible thing. First, it is too important book, very lengthy and very carefully written and full of dense matter.

What I was surprised when I glanced through the pages rapidly, is that on the very day, newspapers in India had reported the unprecedented sale of the Da Vinci painting Salvator Mundi, this very book itself carries a description of the very same painting (pages 329-334). So, this was a distraction for me!

Second, I myself had travelled to Florence where Da Vinci had lived, first from 1464-1482 and again for the second time from 1500-1506, also he lived in Rome (from 1513 to 1516) and so he was a contemporary of Michelangelo. There are delightful comparisons and contrasts of the two rivals, Da Vinci, very elegantly dressed while Michelangelo, always not so well-organized etc.

The one chapter I eagerly sought to read is the one chapter (chapter 31) on the immortal painting of Da Vinci, Mona Lisa. So much new information!

So too the sculpture making of Michelangelo of David, the white marble statue which we were taken first while in Florence. The sitting of David first in the civic square, called Palazzo Della Signoria, now the Palazzo Vecchio which in 1498, as given in the book, delighted me. So sparsely populated!

Now, the square is full of people, mostly tourists. Even now, cars and other vehicles are banned. So, beautiful and so narrow the Florence roads.

From one end of the square our tourist guide, a well-informed lady, took us through a narrow lane to the other side of another square. On the way, she stopped and called us closely and pointed to a room above us. She said:”Look at the room above!

That is the room where the famed Mona Lisa lived!” Mona Lisa was and continues to be the most famous painting in the world, now jealously guarded by armed guard at Louvre in Paris! There is a whole chapter on Mona Lisa painting alone in the book. I don’t pretend to have read the whole book. It is a book for your leisure reading. The book reads well. The English language style is very comfortable to read through. You don’t feel tired by any new words of phrases. The style is very transparent and supple.
If you really want to learn anything serious about art and culture and how the world had evolved through the ages, from Greece, to Rome to Renaissance, then, this is the book for enlightened readers.

A reader becomes enlightened once he or she reads this magnificent book. How great we have been living through such times.

Beyond all wealth, there is the intellectuals and artistic wealth, the cultural wealth. We talk of culture in a special way. It is not the gun culture of the most materially affluent country, namely, the USA. Culture must inspire and elevate us to a higher sense of knowing and appreciating intellectual wealth.
This is a book of that category.

No need for any education? Is it only the entrepreneurial instinct that matter?
Or, the educators must be the most enlightened people? In new ideas and articulations!

Decide in whatever fashion you want! Here are certain new ideas and new ideological convictions that could give the Indian context, the present times and the challenges we face, some perspective. Sometimes big ideas and ideology give context and meaning for our smaller concerns. This is such a time, we believe! We talk of education, culture and even less corruption in our day-to-day affairs, right? Do we live at such a time now? I am afraid not.

We have learnt to compromise far too much with our own cherished values. The situation at the national, why even at the international and local levels differ so radically. At the ground level too, in the Indian states, experiences vary. In a state like Tamil Nadu, the situation is so bad. The level of corruption, more so at the elections, is still beyond repair. In other states like Karnataka and other north Indian States, observers say many things. Fine, what is the future like? Short and long term? I am not sure. But what I am able to articulate is this much only.

Just now I read an article in the London-based New Statesman; for me it is a very long years of attachment, a reading habit that doesn’t easily go off.

Friedrich Hayek

Friedrich Hayek

In the essay on Friedrich Hayek, the Austrian-born economist and visionary (born in 1899) was an icon in his times and he won the first Economics Nobel Prize and held on to his New Right-wing views that a free market capitalism was the only answer to the Communist regimes through which he lived all his life. Now, I am an ardent admirer of Hayek’s many views and the irony is that he lived through the years to see the demolition of Communist regimes in Russia and other European countries. Now, there is much to say on the issues of the times when great minds like Hayek and Karl Popper, his Austrian colleague (author of the Open Society and its Enemies) were witnesses to their own prophesies. Now, what is the lesson for us in India today? How far we Indians are sensitive to the great issues of the day?

Of course at the very first thought, we seem not to care for such big issues and big themes, right? There is a great deal of shallowness in our politics and in other areas of search and discovery of truth or truths, if we can say so. So, I like to draw the attention of our countrymen to the latest news that income inequality in India has reached high levels. This report comes from the World Inequality Lab with which such economists Thomas Piketty and other reputed names are associated. The top 0.1 percent of earners has captured more growth than all of those in the bottom 50 per cent combined. The point here is that in spite of our great economists and political leaders not speaking out, we the people have to raise our conscience and ask is this the way our economic policies would work futher in our children’s times?

What about the globalization impact? No impact on the living conditions of the fellow citizens?

Hayek is a strong advocate of free market capitalism and he also shared his concerns with his fellow rival and colleague, Lord Keynes of UK.

Though both wanted to work with capitalism, there is a sharp observation in the essay that Hayek understood and said that Capitalism the distribution of resources won’t be fair.

So, in brief that even under our present state of politics that our very many hopes and aspirations like a free and fair access to education and other social benefits might not be fair and free and we would continue to live under this basic unfair society and we would be losers in the short and the long run. What is the way out?

I ask the enlightened citizens, the upper class and the middle class intellectuals and other at the bottom levels as organizers of people into parties and other pressure groups to give thought to what I have said here. My submission here is that we can’t detach ourselves from the moral and ethical obligations to think and express a view and stand by it. Are we ready to do so?

This is the message from the new Abu Dhabi museum!
Look at Abu Dhabi universal new museum! There are lessons for India here!

MuseumWhat makes nations big and small? Not their geography or the population or its military power, it is a new set of universal values, new set of public conduct and also the public policy likely to elevate a nation on the international stage. Here are two examples of, what nations like Qatar and Abu Dhabi have done in recent times to elevate themselves to draw attention to what they can do for the benefit of the globe; in terms of mankind’s new aspirations and new standards of public conduct in the international arena. This is a model for small nations for what they can contribute to the universal appreciation of human values!

Indian obsession with America! This must end! It is time India learns to think differently and also look at other countries to learn to become globally relevant! Yet, Indians face discrimination in admissions to the US best universities! Indian citizens must wake up! They should learn to look at the world in a very different light!

Is America a global power? Asks a recent editorial in The Economist (November 11th-17th, 2017).Yes, America is a global power in the sense of its physical, material and military power. But says the editorial that America doesn’t champion universal values like democracy, human rights etc. After the Trump’s 12 day South Asia visit, the US harped on the theme of America first; this means in trade matters America puts its narrow national goal at the expense of any broader international good for all the nations.

Now comes the news that as for Indians, we are still the most obsessed lovers of everything American, including the university education there. As per a survey conducted by the Institute of International Education, Indians are prevented to compete on equal basis and that some extra scores in SAT are required from Indian students. This is practiced by even such prestigious universities like Harvard. As per statistics, China and South Korea have more students in the USA than India!

Yet, we see a certain perversity of mind, sorry to say so, by the Indian dominant classes, the big Indian corporates, the Tatas and Mahindras and Mittals and by the well-off Indians there to endow huge funds for research in managements and even to the study of languages.

We are sorry to say that while Indian universities starve for funds, we Indians go all the way to endow chairs in the USA universities. Why not endow such chairs in India and ask these universities to send their faculty for fixed periods? This will ensure more Indian students have access to the best minds to learn and nurture skills. Surely, this is a thought that must engage the Indian leadership. Also, India, while being the world’s largest democracy must emulate the histories of other mature democracies. The House of Commons is no more what it was once. So too the American Senators and Congressmen.
They are seen falling in personal conducts, British MPs charged with sexual misconduct and resign, American high officials alleged to have engaged with Russian officials and they interfere with American elections!

As for other big nations, China and Russia, we see many deficiences. As for democracy and democratic values, we at home must strive to set better standards. You become a global power, no more by military and other oppressive practices. But you win universal acclaim and appreciation by practicing what the world over admires: respect for human rights, observing the standards of international laws, be active at the UN so that you are seen as a civilized nation. Preserve culture, foster culture and also practice the highest standards on the international stage. Small nations, such as Qatar and Abu Dhabi have now drawn admiration from the entire world over by running the world’s most independent TV channel, Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi, running a culture museum.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is seen as a bastion against Islamic extremism and Iran. With this current priority, the LAD, is seen as the first universal museum to be built in the 21st century. This is the way for small nations but with big enough in resources and heart and mind!