Prof.Irfan Habib’s  insightful criticism of the PM!

What is at stake?

Dr.Manmohan  Singh, the Prime   Minister,   had been duly honoured by Oxford  University with a honorary degree. It is Doctor of Civil Law, not D.Phil, as the Hindu newspaper’s typical longer than usual ponderous editorial wrongly carried it! On reflection I thought it is how the Indian mind still works! Dr.Singh’s speech to suit the occasion with lots of scholars present was mild and quite typical of the man, soft spoken Singh had soft pedalled many touchy topics. The India-British connection is at best a controversial one.

As we grow into a mature country, with a sense of mature independence and with some wisdom, we Indians must also grow into a more assertive self confidence. By this we don’t mean we should be offensive to other’s sentiments. At the same time an occasion like the Oxford crowd gives one a rare opportunity to give an indication of what India today means to Indians as well as to the outside world. In this perspective the Prime Minister of India hadn’t done his job in keeping with the power and prestige of his high office. The PM had dwelt with certain light-hearted, if not lightweight observations. May be he and his speech writers would have wasted quite a lot of time as to come up with some typical English sahibs’ style self-deprecatory humbug! There is every indication in the carefully written (or constructed) with many juicy ordinary jocular-like remarks on Indian English is “okay” provided you also give some “embs” to the so-called stiff upper lips in the audience!

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Studied economics, didn’t become an economist !
I became an entrepreneur!

I had always wanted to become an entrepreneur, wanted to have my own independence, I wanted money, lots of money and do a great many things! In this I encountered obstacles at every turn.

Yes, it is ironical that I studied economics both at Santiniketan and Oxford and yet I didn’t become an economist!

Instead I had always wanted to become an entrepreneur, wanted to have my own independence, I wanted money, lots of money and do a great many things! In this I encountered obstacles at every turn. More cruel irony is that these sorts of obstacles continued when my son came back from Oxford and when I wanted to induct him into an independent entrepreneurial career! Somehow in our home there was this aversion for jobs from a very early age of my life. Perhaps, my going to a Gandhian school must have put in me much of an idealist outlook. More than that perhaps is my rural or rather feudal background. I always looked upon others, the society from my family’s point of view. Our family had a fiercely independent existence and the very village environment gave us this, robustness. My mother was known for her extraordinary mental courage and resolve. She always faced uphill situations, so her in-born native courage stood her well. May be, I might have inherited this trait from her, so, I believe. Read More →

The trends and the tensions!

Jack Welch

Nearly 1 million engineering graduates and others  are now being employed in the IT industry in India. This is expected to go up fast, given the projections for the IT potential in the coming years. He says it is the small start-ups, by unknown names and faces in Bangalore that triggers growth! So also says Jack Welch, the legendary GE’s long time boss. In his latest book, “Winning” he says that it is the small start-ups in Shanghai or Bangalore that hold the clue to the future of the world’s wealth!

So, engineering education, trained manpower holds the key to India’s competitive advantage. to use a much hyped phrase! In Karnataka, this year, there are 60,097 CET engineering rank holders and 42,515 medical rank holders waiting (as on date)for the seats that are allotted or shared among the government and private quota,a complex evolutionary process, now almost a high powered religious cum mystical exercise of altruism and plain greed!

There are  26 medical, 37 dental and 115 engineering colleges across Karnataka. What is at stake is the wild dreams and hopes of so many highly motivated youngsters! The government is clearly caught up in a complex web of selfishness of powerful individuals and lobby leaders and also the government’s own commitment to ensure equity, again a complex process of accommodating the various social and caste permutations and combinations. The creamy layer among the BCs and OBcs  as well as other pressure groups had put the Dharam Singh government in a delicate stage of survival and performance! Read More →

The Parthenon-the temple of goddess Athena is a masterpiece of architectural beauty. This was a rebuilt version of an earlier one, to celebrate the victory of the Athenians over the Persian conquerors! It proclaimed the greatness of the Athenian Empire. Even today, it remains unsurpassed by its originality. We haven’t exceeded the original design! Imagine! Words like democracy, freedom, philosophy, ethics, Olympic Games, a balanced life, objective, critical truth were all concepts without which we can’t live for a day!

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I made him speak at Oxford!

Swami Rangandananda,till  now the president of the Ramakrishna Mission had passed away recently. Born  in the Kerala village of Trikkur, near Thrissur in 1908,the swami had  very impressive life, starting as a humble young boy to reach the top and emerge as a scholar, speaker and philosopher.Why I write about him here is that I knew him,off and on, as I myself went to a Ramakrishna Mission school in Coimbatore where he was a frequent visitor. I knew him also in Kolkatta as I was a student in Santiniketan and again I was a frequent visitor to the Vivekananda Culture Centre of which he was  the moving spirit.

Once I remember to have gone there and found myself attending a very interesting lecture delivered by one Tagore (the name I forget),the  talented Tagore family members were all  very distinguished in different fields of arts and culture,this Tagore in his flowing silks, was a brahmo exponent.The Tagores were brahmos and in a way I should say I myself was greatly influenced by this doctrine, as this was much propagated by Raja Rammohan Roy to Rabindranath Tagore himself. Our weekly prayers at the brahmo ‘mandir’ was a special experience for us, students, with the Sanskrit texts read and the Rabindra sangeeth  sung so beautifully by students.In fact,I became a semi-Bengali in my love for Rabindra sangeeth and the very artistic and spiritual environment that prevailed there. Read More →