Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hello 2015

I've been thinking of reading and writing more this year but neither have happened so far. But, if I have to take something from last year, I know now that its never too late. I have not written much in the last 4 years and I am a totally different person from who I used to be. wiser maybe not, humbled by what I've seen and experienced in the last one year, surprised at how far I can push myself, taken one leap of faith and only to restart taken another one and landed on my face and immediately after, going on the journey of a lifetime. 

I must write more now if only to remember; remember who I am and who I used to be; all the people who have touched me; falling in love over months in India to falling in love overnight in Arequipa. If I am writing my first post of 2015 today then may this be the start of another love affair with writing and reading.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Of Giving up

You said you were sorry
Your words as soft

As the last snow falling
On the first cherry blossoms.

-Hu Ming-Xiang

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Universal Basic Income in India

Every 5 years we have an awakening of our collective consciousness and we are at such a time again. There is not much to praise about what has happened in the country in the last 10 years, but the government has implemented 2 much maligned schemes whatever the motive; MGNREGA and The Right to Food Act. I propose that we scrap these and implement a universal basic income. No discrimination between below/above poverty line; every adult over the age of 18 gets a certain sum of money in his bank account every month. People will complain that it will make people lazy and use the money for alcohol abuse, sure some may, but the point is to have sufficient money for food and board nothing more. Despite the laziness argument, we should as a people be able to take a more positive view of human nature. So the majority of people would still be working. The idea makes other poverty redundant and any incremental social security would be in terms of healthcare and other aspects of well-being. The security would not only eliminate poverty, it would allow workers to ask for better working conditions and improve their quality of life. 

The idea of a guaranteed basic income is not new, philosophers and economists from Keynes to Hayek have considered the thought. Keynes believed that as human productivity increases we will increasingly move towards a "leisure society" where people will have more and more free time. One of the reasons this has not happened is "relative need" i.e. our needs have grown. In the current context, we may not be able to provide everyone with an iphone but we certainly can provide for the basic needs of everyone in the world. The major obstacle to this is the inequality between countries. The Swiss will soon hold a referendum on universal basic income, but the numbers just do not add up for a country like India where productivity has not reached the levels of the developed countries. 

Numbers for India:
  1. Assumption for minimum income: 1000 (poverty line; Tendulkar 2009) 
  2. GDP 2011: 52.44 trillion
  3. Number of people over the age of 18 (2011): 9.2 billion
  4. Expenditure as a %GDP: 17.5%
  5. Expenditure to be cut:
    1. Food Security: 1.3 trillion (FY15 est)
    2. Food Subsidy (PDS): 730 billion (FY11)
    3. Fertilizer Subsidy: 700 billion (FY11)
    4. MGNREGA: 400 billion (FY11)
  6. %financed: 34%

It is definitely not possible to implement this in India at the moment. Considering the defense budget is only about 5% of the GDP, it will take a lot of growth before we can implement something like universal basic income.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Speech by John Adams

“Let it be known that British liberties are not the grants of Princes or Parliaments. That many of our rights are inherent, and essential, agreed on as maxims and established as preliminaries even before parliament existed. We have a right to them, derived from our maker. Our forefathers have earned and bought liberties for us at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasures, and their blood. Liberty is not built on the doctrine that a few nobles have the right to inherit the earth. No. NO! It stands on this principle: that the meanest, and the lowest of people ARE, by the unalterable and indefeasible laws of god and nature as well entitled to the benefit of the air to breath, light to see, food to eat, and clothes to wear as the nobles or the king! THAT is LIBERTY. And Liberty will reign in America!”

Friday, November 09, 2012

Audacity of Obama

So, Obama is back. If I were to be honest, I am not a big fan of the Nobel Prize or the economic policies or of the fact that he promised thin air and that’s exactly what he delivered. Romney is like the guys I have grown up with and call friends; well educated, hard working, driven and successful… (We’ll talk about that in 10 years). But this election fills me with hope and great expectations for the future, if not in India (we will always remain the butt of the world) then for the world and definitely for the US.

Though I don’t like Obama’s policies, I still believe him to be an honest man tied down by deal making and consensus; and he embraces the liberal social policies. The singular reason I hold him in high regard is that he had the guts to come out in support of gay rights, is pro-choice and if pushed can stand up to the conservative nuts that dominate the world.

On 6th November the liberal agenda had its first victory in the geriatric world of politics. It was not just Obama; it was Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin; it was Washington’s victory over the 'legal' get high lobby dominated by tobacco, caffeine and alcohol. Same-sex marriage got approved in 4 states. Obama’s contribution was in accepting these changes not behind closed doors but openly. Not to garner more votes but for the sake of his moral compass. In victory, the Obama of old came out, the one that inspired, the Obama who stood for climate for change and for hope. “We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions” said Obama as he spoke of freedom and hope once again. And I do hope we get more decisive action from him this term while I smoke some pot that is.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

We are not so different, you and I. You who are bursting with all the joys of life, and I, who was left out in the sun to dry. For though the sun, cruel and harsh, may have sucked the life out of me, you, bursting with joy, are ripe for the picking.
HT: swb

Thursday, February 02, 2012


A lot had to be written and said in the last 6 months, but i have been honestly and truly lazy. In any case, the thought for the day is from a book:
The later history of African Americans was in some ways more dreadful than under slavery, since not counting as property they could be hanged or “lynched” by the thousands as a form of social control. Nevertheless, the subpopulation had become strong enough by the middle of the twentieth century to begin a political and social movement that led to eventual legal liberation, and with this yoke lifted, the intrinsic benefits of strong outbreeding associated with strong selection has produced a vibrant and powerful subgroup.
Are the so called lower classes in India resorting to the same solution? Strength in numbers; in out-breeding the richer class. Or strength in out-breeding US and Europe? As China falls victim to its 1 child policy, India rises as a bhukka-nanga superpower!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tahrir of India

As I walk back home, I see children selling flowers, books, toys and other articles, getting wet while people relax in their chauffeur driven SUVs after a day’s work. I wonder what stops them from breaking the glass and screaming “This is not fair”. As the scent of the jasmine continues to flourish in North Africa and Middle East we deal with our own demons. For centuries the belief in karma and caste has kept the masses content blaming past deeds for their suffering. In a culture where caste determines profession Nehru-Indira-Rajiv-Sonia-Rahul is hardly surprising; “hereditary democracy” for us is merely the circle of life. In a land where the gap between the haves and the have-nots was always vast the climate is changing.

Has the time for our rose revolution come? Even though the Arab spring has not come to India, it is time. It takes a spark to light a fire; if that is true I see sparks all around. The Naxalite insurgency simmering in the country is more of a economic movement than a political/militant one as our masters have us believe. It is supported by the poor that the government has let down. Can Anna transform his movement into the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back? Even though I am unsure of how to support him because I neither agree with is demands nor his actions. What I will give him credit for is the ability to rouse the masses; unseen since the time of Gandhi. His ability to generate interest in what we had discarded as the dominion of scoundrels. This year Anna may be victorious and the rain washes away all our problems. “Every country has the government it deserves”. Maybe we have decided that we deserve something better. Or the rains may calm our mood until another winter of our discontent. Will have to wait and watch if Tihar turns into Tahrir or Tiananmen.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Midnight Post

Landlord in Kota: What is your caste?
S: We are untouchables. Should we vacate the room? (S btw is a Brahmin)
X: No it is fine. But you should know your history.
Me: We have been alive for only 15 years there is no history. In another 20 years you will hear of us.

Me: Could I get a room please?
X in Gujarat: What is your caste?
Me: Isn’t this a government property? I have no clue what my caste is.
X: Don’t you have a father, a history? I am a poor Brahmin, I know what my lineage that is what makes me what I am. No having a caste is like not having a past; a culture. Are you a bastard?
Me: Who cares who my father is? He is not my identity, what I do makes me who I am. If you are a Brahmin, why are you working here or god did not consider you fit enough to allow you to pray to him? Please fuck off.
If the literate and supposedly aware among us refuse to reform old customs and change, we have a grim future ahead. People are easily made literate but imparting education is a different ball game. Literacy can be measured education is more subtle. It manifests itself in our application of sciences (if we use innovation as a measure here, we suck) in political and social debates, it manifests in how we interact as a nation, in how we think. Literacy is no use, education is. But that is not the point of this post.

We trace most of the problems in India to lack of education and rightly so. But for education to serve its purpose, it has to invoke thought. Science for all the good it has brought us does not do anything to develop a civil and harmonious society. It will be through a proper and unbiased study of history that we can create one. How many adult Indians can place Kanishka, Harshavardhan, raja raja, Chandragupta Maurya, Chandragupta Gupta and others who have shaped out history and culture on a timeline? I recently had a chance to look at what children in Maharashtra are taught in the name of history; Shivaji shivaji and more of him…is it any wonder that MNS has no difficulty finding goons and mislead the youth?

The history of the world is the history of ideas. But, in time it becomes a history of conflict as seen by the victors. History is deliberately erased, contributions to culture forgotten and only battles celebrated. History should not be written by the men of war but by men of peace. We make our story the story of violence of conquers whereas what affects us are the contributions to science and culture. Machiavelli is derided as a jackal while Krishna is revered as god. History should be read in context and it is context which we as a nation lack. We refuse to see the background or think beyond our limited memory.

Prof Siva Kumar once said in class, if you were a babu in the government in 1950 and you looked around; you had 10 servants working on minimum wages, a sprawling bungalow, a car and other “perks” then you look at your peers in the first world countries and they cannot even imagine having help at home. What do you do? Keep the masses poor and illiterate to ensure your lifestyle lasts. When you want the people to fight for a “hindu” nation, “hindutvise” the history books. Is it any wonder that we face problems of communal violence? If people don’t realize that it was the interaction of cultures; of Indian with Aryans, with Kushans from Central Asia with Muslims from Samarkand with the Portuguese who got knowledge and British who gave us law and Bombay, enriched and made our society what it is we have failed to educate ourselves.

I should sleep...gnite.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and somthing else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.
via Chuck Close

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Last Salute

It will remain, with permission from Allah the Almighty, a curse that chases the Americans and their agents, and goes after them inside and outside their countries. Their happiness will turn into sorrow, and their blood will be mixed with their tears...

Fare ye well Osama, there will be more like you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reflections on a Drunken Evening

I wanted to write today but I didn’t know what. False starts, dead ends, and incoherent beginnings was all I could conjure. I used to listen to music every waking moment; now it’s recognition of tunes I used to hum. I have become nonchalant about what I treasured the most in life. My guitar lies in a corner catching dust and I am out of rum without which my characteristic eloquence flows like the mud clogged Mithi…but who the fuck cares.

Some time back, I mindlessly answered questions about where I see myself five years hence; it’s been five years as I wait for another evening of alcohol induced apathy, that will make me numb to everything…but who the fuck cares.

I need a smoke; but I’ve stopped hanging out with those soldiers of death. Here’s to alcohol, the cause of-and solution to-all life’s problems. Now, I wait for the pain to pick me clean.

* Started writing this long back; finishing now, may not be a reflection of my current state of madness.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Life and Times

Its time to move again. Its surprising how your life can be packed into a few boxes leaving no trace of your existence except a concert ticket, some papers scribbled with various stages of sanity and a lingering smell of familiarity. You tell yourself again and again “time to tread new paths…new horizons”, “new opportunity” and the like. As another phase comes to an end you believe those words to be true. But when you see the boxes, you realize that they don’t contain your life. Its more ethereal, it is you or as I am wont to say now “our-soul” (sorry atma!). Personally, I think my backpack comes pretty close.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pearl Square

Protesters shot at point blank. Tanks, helicopter gunships, foreign troops...5 protesters dead. Cries of genocide and a state of emergency declared.

Where is the no-fly zone? Where is the voice condemning the Khalifa and the House of Saud?

May the miracle or Tahrir Square repeat in Pearl Square.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

One More Adieu

10 more days in Hyderabad...

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Travel Bug Time

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will lead you there.

It is time for travel again. The list for this year already includes China, Iran, Prague and Bratislava. I think I travel because I hope to find a connection where I have none. The answers I seek don’t lie is some far of place; I do not delude myself with that fantasy. Perhaps it lets me loose myself in a place where I am already lost. In a way I believe that you have to be looking for something to find something – although not necessarily knowing what you look for. It is a journey outside as well as inside. And in the best of trips you lose yourselves only to find yourselves.
“That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.”

Friday, February 04, 2011


There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and god in his heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain….or so says the legend.”
- The Thorn Birds

Monday, January 31, 2011

Let Freedom Reign

Marx believed that the most significant social change occurs through outright violence. A government derives its power from its monopoly over the use of force. Once the threat of violence by a government tips over into the actual use of force, the government forfeits its legitimacy and loses its raison-de-etre; i.e. to protect the life and property of its citizens. The power of the revolution lies in the willingness of the people to die for their cause. It lies in the power of ideas, of belief, of faith.

"Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof." – V

Not since the days of the Islamic Revolution in Iran has the possibility of a popular revolution been so strong. But the protests are dispersed and the military or the authoritarians may yet have the last laugh. Tonight I shall drink to the people of Egypt.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Notes on Ayodhya

I was aghast when I heard the verdict more so that people were welcoming it. Chopra and Deepti were at the receiving end of my rant on the day. But, finally the objections to the Lucknow High Court’s verdict have started coming out. Even though it "promotes" national integration, it must be said that the verdict is the victory of political correctness over truth and fact.

Firstly, I’m pretty sure that we would have had a different verdict had the bench comprised of 2 Muslims and 1 Hindu judge. Secondly, the mosque was constructed in 1527 about 400 years before there was any notion of an Indian state. When the court came into existence the mosque had been there for centuries and therefore should remain as such.

The court is overstepping its mandate by issuing judgment on a matter of history and archeology. There is no proof that ‘Ram’ the God ever existed. It is a matter of faith and religion and should remain as such: abstract. Assigning historical significance to locations and myths by issuing a verdict does not make his existence a fact. While dividing land is preposterous.

The court has allowed an act of lawlessness and shame to benefit the party that indulged in it. Had the mosque not been demolished, would the court on being petitioned by the VHP ordered the Masjid to be brought down and the land partitioned?

The verdict of the court is certainly well intentioned and in the interest of peace in the country. But will not the Muslims feel wronged? Does the court expect them to digest the 1992 humiliation of their faith by vandals? The talk of ‘reconciliation’ emanating from Hindu quarters is a disgrace. It is like the politician-criminal claiming victory after purchasing justice. In this case, justice was held hostage by the threat of violence. Let us hope that the Supreme Court will uphold the law and justice rather than sentiments.

To all the people who claim that Hindus may have been wronged when the mosque was constructed: “Get over it! It was 500 years ago.” (And you expect Muslims to get over 18 years?)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hello old Thoughts

We submit to the hypocrisy of our caste base politics and secularism as our ideal. Even so, the rise of caste based parties represents the flourishing of democracy.
- stumbled upon Zakaria

I should be studying for tomorrow's exam not reading Weber!