Thursday, December 12, 2013

Down with Article 377

Just read The Honorable Supreme Court's judgement on Article 377 in it's entirety. Couldn't help but wonder about those who petitioned the SC to rethink the earlier Delhi High Court ruling of 2009 that had decriminalized homosexuality. Those who moved the petition can be broadly classified into two categories:

1. Those who think homosexuality goes against our faith, our religion
I mean, seriously?

At their simplest, all religions preach a lesson of love. They don't preach a lesson of love with an asterisk. All religions teach us to be accepting of others. They don't teach us to be accepting of only those who do it the way we do it.

If anything, in India, a case can be made for bestiality to be legalized too! Don't believe me? Consider this: Hanuman (monkey god to those of you who belong to the less interesting parts of the world) is a cross between a human and "a monkey" - his mother was a human and his father an ape. Hanuman was one of the closest friends and aides of Lord Rama. In other words, one of our most revered deities didn't have a problem hobnobbing with a creature like that - a creature borne out of an intercourse between a human and an animal. Then why do we? Lets drop the act you hypocritical self professed protectors of our faiths and religions.

2. Those who think homosexuality is unnatural

Are you kidding me?

It is not just us humans who "go the other way". There are numerous species that engage in homosexual acts. From the smallest of nematodes to the biggest of mammals like bottle-nose dolphins and bonobos. There must be some reasons, from an evolutionary standpoint, that some species, including humans, engage in homosexual acts. There must be some benefit to the species, in the long run of the evolutionary time line, that engage in homosexual acts. The research is on going. Some day we will find out.

I personally believe, we, the human species, is going to turn into hermaphrodites. Just give it a couple of million years - provided we survive till then of course. The reason I am convinced is that the process of human reproduction as it is now, where only the female is capable of producing an offspring, is inefficient. If both the male and female can produce the offspring, it will be better for the species in the long run. Now wouldn't it?

It is just wrong

By (re)criminalizing homosexuality, the SC has exposed an entire segment of our society to the whims and fancies of a police force that is already known for it's utter disregard for, not to mention willful violation of, human decency and dignity. Our country-men and -women of the LGBT community can now be incarcerated just because of their sexual orientation.

We can't keep our girls and women safe from rapists, but we will put those who are probably least likely to harm them, in prison, because they don't like to have sex with the female gender. Can it get any more asinine than that?


There is a lot of room on the Indian Tri-color for other shades. Let us assimilate them, not discriminate against them. The violets, the indigos, the blues, will make our flag and our society, more colorful and more fun. The unity in diversity that we are so proud of, will be strengthened not weakened.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hero. And Hypocrites.

Nelson Mandela is no more.

Learnt about Madiba's demise when I just got in to my hotel room in Chicago after a long day at a conference and turned on CNN. Reactions of the who's who of the world were being telecast.

Among other things, President Obama said, " ... The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears.  And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him." And later on, President Obama goes on to say, " ... So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set:  to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice."

Now it may just have been the incredibly cynical bone in my brain, or it could be that I was dead tired and hungry, but, I remember having called President Obama a hypocrite and a sanctimonious ba*****. And I found myself thinking similarly of other world leaders' - Tony Blair's, David Cameroon's, Bill Clinton's comments too. I mean, really? You want to call the great man your hero, but you don't want to act on the many lessons that his life has to teach.

Madiba's body is probably still on the same hospital bed where he breathed his last. Had he been in a grave, he would be turning like crazy thinking of the gall that these people have. Of calling someone their idol, their hero, their inspiration, and then making decisions, especially in their politics, that are diametrically opposite to what they purportedly believe in. We really are hypocrites of the top order, aren't we?

I am almost a hundred percent certain that there are people in Obama Administration, in the White House, who are pissed that Nelson Mandela chose today of all days to die. Afterall Chris Matthews' interview of President Obama was to be broadcast today on MSNBC, and their audience got distracted a couple of hours before the President was to begin his defense of Obamacare on TV.

Fareed Zakaria said it best, in response to a question from Wolf Blitzer, that it'd be naive of us to expect the current crop of world leaders to learn any lessons from Nelson Mandela's life.

Mahatma Gandhi died, and we still killed each other. Martin Luther King Jr. died, and we still killed. Nelson Mandela has died, and we will continue to kill. So lets drop the act.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Oh god ... the small things!

I was chuffed to bits!

Had just reinforced the front buttons on a jacket and an overcoat - all on my own. Was going to the windy city after all - for a week, and a few buttons were coming loose. Had held a needle in hand after ... god knows how long. No needle pricks - not a single one. No tangled thread in other buttons. Unreeled about exactly as much thread that I ended up needing. My mother and both my grandmothers would be proud of me I thought.

The packing was a bit last minute. But, having thought through the night before what I needed to pack along and what I didn't, made it about as easy as last minute packing for a week long trip to Chicago for the first week of December can get.

Shirts smartly folded. Underwear nicely rolled up and tucked away. Sweatshirt - check. Sweater - check. Socks - check. Handkerchiefs - check. Jacket - got it - with freshly sewn buttons. Overcoat - ditto.

A pair of flip flops - in the back pocket of the bag. Toiletries - in the front one.

Passport, visa - in the carry bag. Documents - front pocket. Books - one for the way there, another for the way back - check, and check. Laptop, power cord and charger - packed. Cell phone charger - got it. Chewing gum and breath mints - of course. Jeans - on. Wallet, watch, belt, a handkerchief - on again. Socks and shoes - on the feet. Phone - in pocket.

Gotham city, here I come.

I step out of the door. Backpack on my back. The other bag in my right hand. And but of course, a nagging thought occurs - did I forget something. Naah ... I didn't. Everything went smoothly today morning. Starting with the needle work! Mann I was good, wasn't I?! How could I forget anything ... today of all days.

I put the bags on the back seat of the car. Slam the door. Get in the front. Turn the key. Ramp up the heater. Turn my playlist on. Take a sip of water from the water bottle. Spill some on my right leg. 

And right then it occurs to me ... damn ... did I pack any other pants for the trip? F*** me!

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

It took a village ...

It took a village to make Sachin Tendulkar into the Sachin Tendulkar that we love so much. And what a village it was.

Watching Sachin thank everyone, from his immediate family to his coaches and friends, his agents and managers to the sport's governing bodies, and his comrades in cricketing kit, made me wonder: what if every kid got such a support to do what he or she loved to do.

Curiously, I also couldn't help but wonder, what if his mother or his father or someone else in his immediate family had asked him, "Sachin, it is all well and good to be good at cricket. But, what do you plan to do to make a living?" Were those sorts of questions never asked of him? There can be only two answers to that question.

One - no, such questions were never asked. In which case, people around Sachin were cognizant enough to have recognized that they should let this kid with curly hair and a panache for holding the cricket bat do what he loved to do - play cricket. That they will not take this joy away from him, irrespective of whether he is able to eke out a living doing this or not.

Two - yes, such questions were asked. In which case, people around Sachin ensured that they would do everything within their power to let this kid with curly hair and a panache for holding the cricket bat do what he loved to do - play cricket. That they will do everything they can to make sure he becomes the best at what he loves to do.

In either case, the village that raised Sachin, so he could become the cricketer that he would, so he could become the man that he would, was one hell of a village. R E S P E C T.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A tale of two sons of India

Noticed Rahul Gandhi watching Sachin Tendulkar in his last international cricket match at Wankhede Stadium at Mumbai. Couldn't help but think of the contrasts. Two sons of India. Two diametrically opposite claims to fame.

One born with the silver spoon. The other born with iron will.

One who got it all. The other who gave it his all.

One who parachuted down. The other who rocketed up.

One who was thrust on them. The other who they embraced.

One abhorred by most. The other adored by most.

One considered confused. The other hailed as pioneer.

One put down by his peers. The other revered by his peers. 

One who says nothing when he speaks. The other who speaks volumes when he says nothing.

One who has been a slave of his own good fortune. The other who has been a master of his own destiny.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cricket Australia To Outsource Batting To India

   After a performance in Ashes that some in Australian media have lamented as 'stinky as little kangaroo's poo in mama kangaroo's pouch', Cricket Australia has decided to outsource top six batting positions in the team to India. The Indian board, BCCI, negotiated the deal such that they will be getting three fast bowlers, two twelfth men who are good at sledging and a hermaphrodite koala.

   However, England's Cricket Board has filed a strongly worded complaint with ICC against CA and BCCI's deal. They had offered to clone Ian Bell and lend those to Australia, but CA decided against it. CA's analysis suggests that if Ian Bell (slow)fires, like he usually does, the match will definitely be a draw and if he doesn't then they will end up losing the game - so it was considered a lose-lose situation. England had also offered CA the services of (full)Monty Panesar to water the outback. CA had declined that offer too.

   The English Board also believes that BCCI's currently-former-but-soon-to-be-current boss N Srinivasan strong armed CA into taking all outsourced players from Chennai. Both BCCI and CA have denied this. India Captain M S Dhoni has refused to comment on account of bad back.

   Australia have lost three of the four Ashes test matches they have played in England. For the fifth and final test match CA has requested ICC to let them use the batsmen that they are procuring from India. ECB has challenged that on the grounds that BCCI has low balled the offer way too much by accepting just one hermaphrodite koala instead of the two that they had originally asked for.

Disclaimer: This post was put together for First Post's 'Faking News' portal.

Friday, June 14, 2013

NSA, Up Yours

Listening, reading, watching this news about the information that Edward Snowden leaked about NSA's world-wide surveillance program, I couldn't help but think to myself: What if, everyone in the world decided to include in their electronic communication some bit that is almost bound to pop up on NSA's radar PRISM? What then?

In other words:
1. What if in every phone call people make or receive, they ended the conversation with: "While you are at it, F*** the NSA"?
2. What if every text message sent using cell phones included: "NSA, YCKMHBA" meaning, NSA, You Can Kiss My Hairy Brown Ass?
3. What if every email sent out from now on gave the NSA the finger, like so:
....NSA......./..../ / 
..........''...\.......... _.•´ 
4. What if every facebook post or tweet or whatever, ended in "NSA, GFY" meaning, NSA, Go F*** Yourself.
5. What if in every video chat, those video chatting, decided to moon the NSA by showing their butts in the webcams all the while swearing at them.

There will be so many flags popping up on NSA's screens they would not know what hit them. How will they go about telling the "good" from the "bad" then? I wonder.

And everyone will be happy, NSA 'cos their system is working well, and the people 'cos they get to tell the NSA like they've secretly always wanted to.

I know, I know. This blog post is definitely gonna be flagged by PRISM ... I am using Google's Blogger after all. :-| But I am sure people at NSA are good hearted ... and kind ... and smart people. Aren't they? They will definitely understand this is all tongue in cheek and in good humor. Won't you, you  motherf*****g sons of b*****s?

Errr, oops ... I am just kidding NSA, I am just kidding. Honest. Remember, still strictly tongue in cheek. All in good humor. kidding. Take it easy. I am on your side. Keep up the good work. We need you. We feel safe with you watching everything we do. You don't ever need to feel bad about snooping into our private lives. We totally understand you need to do this. This is for our well being. What would the world come to if it were not for you? You are the saviors. God is jealous of you. He wishes he had this good a system.

Phew! That was close. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

When (Wharton)Quakers Quaked ... And Then Crumbled

Someone needs to say it out loud. Wharton's current class blew it. And they blew it big time.

Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) has been an annual fixture since 1996 at Wharton business school. Some the most influential Indians, from various walks of life, are invited to two days of stimulating discussion about the promise of India, and how she can go about achieving it. One will be held this year too. Oh ... but the hash that WIEF's organizing team has made of it all this year.

WIEF organizers invited one of the most prominent, and admittedly, polarizing politicians of India - Narendra Modi - to deliver a keynote at this year's gathering. A few UPenn faculty members started a petition against this. The petition gathered some momentum - to the tune of a couple of hundred signers no less. WIEF buckled under the pressure and rescinded the invitation.

We are Quakers. We quake. Even to tremblors that are no more than 2.0. And then we crumble.

The organizing team, in its rush to appease the frail sensibilities of a few, failed to consider the very basic tenet of any decision making. A cost to benefit analysis. It may just be that the current class is still to get to that bit in their coursework. Oh, but this is Wharton. An Ivy-League b-school. These students must have strong fundamentals. That is precisely the point. It doesn't seem so. Go read the half-assed statement that WIEF organizing committee released, announcing its decision to un-invite Narendra Modi. Aah. Oh ... the mind numbing intellectual hypocrisy. Between that statement and the boasts about WIEF's goals (read the 'About' on WIEF's website -, you will not miss the point. For that matter, the petition that the few in the faculty had initiated, didn't set fire to any stationary either.

Of course the onus of this fiasco rests with WIEF organizing committee. WIEF organizing committee and it's members failed, miserably, not just to articulate and defend their position, but even to understand why they wanted someone like Narendra Modi to be speak at the forum in first place.

So what's the big deal you ask. Its just a bunch of students who may have mishandled a situation. The platinum sponsor of WIEF-2013 parted ways with WIEF - in protest. A gold sponsor followed suit soon after. At least two other prominent speakers of Indian origin decided, in protest, not to attend. WIEF had a hard time filling the suddenly vacant slots in it's agenda for this year's forum.

Who wants some future business leaders?

A lot has been said and written about why WIEF should or should not have, in the first place invited Narendra Modi, and subsequently un-invited him. What has entirely been missed are the lessons that can and should be learned from the fiasco that is WIEF-2013.

The question is: will the students of WIEF, and Wharton's current class at large, learn anything from it? They should, but they probably won't. Had this been an actual real world situation - as if it could get any more real than this while in school - one shudders to think what such gross mismanagement of a situation, especially one that is as hyperbolical and as insignificant as this one, would do to the bottom line and the reputation of the employers. The companies and organization that are bound to line up to hire these dolts must grill them. Or risk having to hire a bunch of incompetent twerps.

If nothing else comes of it, somewhere here there must be a case study about communication skills, conflict resolution, public relations management, situational awareness and strategic thinking. Gee. Only if this was part of Wharton's curriculum. But it was, and is. So what went wrong you ask.

Plain and simple answer? The ivy in ivy-league is not green anymore. It is confused. Confused between being socially responsible and generating profits. And it is withering. Withering under the vine of incompetence and political correctness that is sucking the very life force out of the mighty redwood that this nation, the US of A, once was. And slowly but surely this vine is taking over. All the way from the canopy (the government) to the deepest root (the citizenry). Its little wonder then, that Wharton's no different.

Go Fuck (Wharton)Quakers.

Monday, March 18, 2013

All of Spielberg in India ... in one place

Steven Spielberg recently visited India to meet and greet the who's who of Indian film industry. He must have talked to a bunch of people, but his conversations with Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan and the editor of 'The Indian Express' Shekhar Gupta are the ones that are in public domain. It is not at all difficult to google for videos of such events, but to save you all time and effort I've embedded the videos that I could find of those conversations here in this blog post.

The very last video is one where the brain trust behind Lincoln, the film, discuss all things Lincoln. This a an extended conversation with Lincoln's director Steven Spielberg, screen writer Tony Kushner and Lincoln historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Now this is a conversation worth a listen and a watch. If you were to watch just one video ... choose this one!

Steven Spielberg with Shekhar Gupta

Steven Spielberg in conversation with Amitabh Bachchan - Part 1 (courtesy: moifightclub's YouTube channel)

Steven Spielberg in conversation with Amitabh Bachchan - Part 2 (courtesy: moifightclub's YouTube channel)

Brain trust behind Lincoln - the film
Richmond Forum - Steven Spielberg (Director), Doris Kearns Goodwin  (Lincoln Historian) and Tony Kushner (Screenplay Writer) - courtesy Richmond Forum's YouTube Channel

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Memo to Narendra Modi: Deliver the keynote anyway. Via YouTube.

Chief Minister Modi,

Your office's website says, "Good Governance is Good Politics". It is now time for good smart ahead-of-the-curve politics. So you can get to applying your guiding motto to the rest of India. After the general election of 2014 that is.

So you won't be speaking at Wharton India Economic Forum. Good riddance. Please deliver the keynote anyway. Do it via YouTube. Or Google+. Or facebook. But, do it. Better yet, do it on one of the days of the Wharton Forum. Wharton may not be, but the internet is your friend. Do it for those of us who want to listen to what you may have had to say. Wharton may not have. But the rest of us do.

You have been presented with an opportunity here to kick start your, and your party's, campaign for 2014's general elections. You and your party may not, and likely will not, get another opportunity like this one in run up to the general elections next year. There is only an upside to exploiting this situation.

You talked to your party cadre at Talkatora Stadium a few weeks back. The videos of your speech that day have been put on the internet. They have gotten thousands of hits. Imagine the viewership that a live speech from you via YouTube or something such would garner. You literally will have the ear of millions of Indians and Indian expatriates. It is bound to go viral. Indian media will ofcourse go bonkers. The world media will not be behind. You will have set a precedent.

Your keynote address to Wharton would definitely have focused more on your vision for economic growth and development of Gujarat. And how you must envision extrapolating, adapting and applying that model and thought process to the rest of India. But, that keynote probably would not have allowed you to talk about issues that really matter to most Indians.

Furthermore, there are still a few more state assembly elections that are pending for this year. All of them before the general election next year. After your speech, you can hit the campaign trail in right earnest. And go to those states to help motivate your party cadre there, and help them turn in the vote.

All this in an effort to begin to organize the party better before the general election, so it can be ready when the time comes. Once the mud slinging, the free for all, of the general election campaign commences, you will not get a chance to do something such. To be able to talk to so many people without the mind numbing "background noise". So lets set the tone for your and your party's campaign. And lets do it right now.

It'd seem that your party is uncertain about it's leadership and the direction that it is going in, if not about its very existence and its future. So you also have an opportunity here to bring your party, and possibly other potential coalition partners, together. That is before the die is set in the form of your party's agenda for the general election. Lets not wait for things to happen. Lets make them happen.

If you are still not convinced, may be this will help: You have a chance here, to take the fight to the other camp. A chance to throw the first punch. A chance to kick them in the balls. A chance to bite their ear. So they don't know what hit them. And while they try to recover, hit the road for the campaign. With your speech you'd already have grabbed them from the scruff of their neck. Now you will be able to drag them through hell. The whole dynamic of the general election will change. You will be able to channel the popular opinion, and possibly the vote too, if not dictate the issues that should be debated in the run up to the election.

If that hasn't persuaded you, may be this will: Wharton, Wharton India Economic Forum, and others who did not want to hear what you had to say - both in the US and India, have shot themselves in the foot. That is for sure. Why not poke a finger in that wound, and then twist it some. Just for the fun of it. Lets see them squirm a little bit. Those politically correct self important jackasses.

If nothing else, then do it just for the fun of it. Indian politics is getting too predictable. And boring. A handful of families have been governing us since independence. It is time to show them that the rest of us are not there to slave. We the people made them. They are there to serve us. Its not the other way around. They better get their act together. Or be ready to face the consequences.

Here's hoping that we get to hear you speak on either March 22 or March 23. Preferably March 23. For reasons that, hopefully, are obvious.

Jai Hind.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Prof. Loomba, you missed the point too, and here is why

Prof. Loomba,

I sincerely hope you get to read this and respond. If only to make your position clearer yet so the rest of us can understand it better.

In your responses to NYTimes blogger Niharika Mandhana's questions[1], you seem to have missed the point of inviting Narendra Modi, as controversial and as detestable as his actions - or some would argue a lack of actions, in 2002 and since may have been.

In one of your responses to Niharika's questions you ask, "Why did the organizers change their mind? Was it only because of us?" They just were not able to articulately defend their decision to invite Narendra Modi. Which is especially sad, given that Wharton is a highly regarded institution that purportedly produces the business leaders of future. I'd go so far as to say that members of Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF), the organizers and student body of Wharton at large, got suckered, may be even bullied into rescinding their invitation to Narendra Modi.

Wharton, and UPenn, are institutions of higher learning and intellectual advancement after all. WIEF-2013 provided precisely the kind of forum where Narendra Modi could and should have been questioned about his role and thought process, during the violent riots that followed Godhra Train Carriage Burning Incident, and since. You, and the other petitioners, lost out an incredible opportunity to hold Narendra Modi's feet to the fire.

Once again, Wharton is a business school after all. Narendra Modi is arguably the most progressive of all the state Chief Ministers in India, especially when it comes to pushing the agenda of rapid economic growth and development. The b-school students should have cried hoarse upon even learning of the petition that you and your colleagues initiated. May be even counter-protested the protest that you and your colleagues led. How else are they going to be able to hear the competing arguments about various policy decisions that are being made by both the federal and various state governments in India? Now, the line up of speakers is so one sided in favor of the ruling coalition led by Congress that Sonia Gandhi and her coterie would be laughing their behinds off. This year's forum increasingly looks like an exercise where India's ruling combine will be stroking their own ego, without so much of a whiff of a counter argument.

I found your use of Amartya Sen's name and the "quote" from him that you "quoted", particularly disingenuous and facetious. Amartya Sen, in his book Argumentative Indian, was effusive in his praise for the Mughal Emperor Akbar: "Akbar's overarching thesis that 'the pursuit of reason' ... is the way to address difficult problems of social harmony included a robust celebration of reasoned dialogues." That was Amartya Sen's analysis of Indian tradition of argument and debate, using an example from 16th century India. 500 years later, in the 21st century, the petition that you and your colleagues penned, took as backward. Didn't it? And it would seem that you, and the rest of you at UPenn and Wharton, purportedly the progressive thinkers, just shredded the incredible heritage of "the pursuit of reason ... with reasoned dialogue" together with the principles that are enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and flushed it down the toilet bowl full of shit that is political correctness.

Go Quakers!

Sincere Regards,
- aman


Monday, March 4, 2013


Note: If you do not begin to get what this post is about from the first few lines, you may want to read the 'essential background' at the bottom of this post first.
WIEF, you just blew it. And you blew it big time.

Do any of your members, or any of the "chairs at whartonindia dot com" for that matter, have any clue as to what WIEF's goal  is? It certainly doesn't seem so from the way you so quickly went about rescinding your invitation to CM-Gujarat Narendra Modi to deliver the keynote address at this year's WIEF. The 'About' page on your website[1] says that WIEF is a forum to " ... to discuss India's evolution from an emerging nation to a prominent global economic power ...". So you decided that you didn't quite want to listen to the guy who would inform you about exactly that. Bravo.

Not only did you lose out on the opportunity to listen to an Indian politician who is rapidly pushing through an agenda for economic development, you also missed out on the opportunity to ask him some hard hitting questions about his role, or lack there of, in the horrendous violence that followed the Godhra incident in the March of 2002. A ready question that could and should have been asked of CM Modi would have been: Mr. Modi, how do you envision making the growth in Gujarat inclusive - inclusive such that the minority communities of the state are also able to reap the benefits of that growth ... without fear? Now there is a conversation starter, isn't there?

There is something else that you did not think through. The official statement that you released announcing your decision to un-invite CM Modi says, " ... our goal as a team is to provide a neutral platform to encourage cross pollination of ideas as well as work towards contributing to India's success". A neutral platform? You have two speakers from the current Congress led coalition government - a 'Minister of State' in Milind Deora and Planning Commission of India's Deputy Chairman (and one of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's chums) Montek Singh Ahluwalia - as keynote speakers, don't you? But having un-invited CM Modi, you will not have any speaker from the any of the parties in the opposition (which CM Modi would been, owing his affiliation to the BJP). So much for the neutral platform. The cross pollination of ideas will surely go very well.

The statement goes on to say, " ... we hope to present multiple opinions and ideas ... and constructively contribute to the intellectual milieu for which University of Pennsylvania and The Wharton School stand." Multiple opinions and ideas ... huh. And the way you thought you'll do that is by not listening to someone whose opinions you don't like. You left out a speaker whose actions/policy some at your university disagreed with. So the intellectual milieu certainly got constructively contributed to.

"Our goal as a team is only to stimulate valuable dialogue on India's growth story, and to act as a forum where students and audiences interact with influential leaders from across India." You certainly did a bang up job of accomplishing that goal by un-inviting CM Modi.

There's more. " ... potential polarizing reactions ... might put Mr. Modi in a compromising position, which we would like to avoid at all costs, especially in the spirit of our conference's purpose." Now this is a good one. Mr. Modi will be put in a compromising position? Over Skype? What is this - Playboy India Economic Forum? Uncompromising the compromising position that you think you would have gotten CM Modi into, would have been his headache, now wouldn't it? Oh ... you did in the spirit of your conference's purpose no less. The same spirit, and the purpose, that you talk about in the first paragraph of your website's 'About' page[1] I presume.

Okay. So there was a petition circulated demanding that CM Modi not be invited to talk at WIEF[4]. Many UPenn students, faculty and alumni signed. What exactly in that petition led you to your decision to un-invite CM Modi? Pray tell me. I'd analyze the damn petition myself, but my stomach is petitioning me to go have my dinner now. Moreover, having read the thing, I think you guys just got suckered, even bullied, into this.

Essential Background

1. Per Wharton India Economic Forum's (WIEF's) website, it is "an annual India-centric conference hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, bringing together business and political leaders, professional, academics and students from around the world to discuss India's evolution from an emerging nation to a prominent global economic power, and the key social, political and financial challenges which still stand in its way."
2. Narendra Modi is the current Chief Minister (CM) of the Indian state of Gujarat. He is a particularly polarizing figure when it comes to Indian politics. And not just because he belongs to the "right wing" party in India - the BJP - Bhartiya Janta Party. One of the most horrendous bouts of communal violence in Indian history took place in March of 2002. Modi had been the CM of Gujarat for a little over six months by then. His role as state's top administrator in the run up to the violence, during it and subsequently, has come under the scanner. Many going so far to accuse him of something that would amount to "willful negligence". However, off late his work as CM of Gujarat has been applauded, especially by big business houses from India as well as abroad. Many see him as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate.
Mr. Modi's role as CM, or lack thereof, before, during and after the violence that took place in Gujarat did not go down well with the US. Bush administration denied Narendra Modi the visa to visit the US. Obama administration has followed suit.
3. WIEF invited CM Modi to deliver a keynote lecture at this year's forum.
4. A "segment of UPenn community" believed CM Modi should not be invited to speak at WIEF owing to his involvement, or lack thereof, in the violence in Gujarat in 2002. A petition was circulated online and signed by many at UPenn and Wharton.
5. WIEF decided to rescind the invitation to CM Modi due to protestations and the online petition. The statement declaring that is here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cameron, Go Back

So British Prime Minister David Cameron is, per 10 Downing Street's website, "leading British trade delegation to India." One of his stops on this trip to India was Jallianwalla Bagh. 

<History lesson alert: Jallianwalla Bagh is the site of the bloody massacre (in 1919) of unarmed civilians who had gathered at this public park for a peaceful protest meeting - it is located in the city of Amritsar in the Indian state of Punjab. They were gunned down on orders of Brig. Gen. Reginald Dyer of British Indian Army. This event is considered one of the watershed moments in India's freedom struggle. This particular incident galvanized the movement for Indian's independence, especially the restive youth, like no other.>

I don't quite understand the rationale behind this token visit by him to one of the sites that epitomizes British atrocities while India was still a colony. Okay, so you want to pay your respects and lay the wreath at the memorial. But, why now? Why during this visit of the trade delegation? Moreover, what is the deal with the non-apology apology Mr. Prime Minister? 

It seems quite apparent that Prime Minister Cameron is, to quote an Indian newspaper, " ... wooing around 1.5 million British voters of Indian origin ahead of the 2015 election in his country." Does he think people of Indian origin who are residing in the UK are that stupid? The people of Indian origin that he is trying to woo are no more Indian than Chicken Tikka Masala is. They may be of Indian origin, but they have chosen to make the UK their home. The domestic policies that the government of the day in the UK chooses to implement affect them, don't they? So why this charade Mr. Cameron?

Mr. Cameron noted the following (text reproduced as is from the picture released on 10 Downing Street's website) in the visitor's book at Jallianwalla Bagh: "This was a deeply shameful act in British history-one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as monstrous. We must never [emphasis his] forget what happened here. And in remembering we must ensure that the United Kingdom stands up for the right of peaceful protest around the world." Mr. Cameron's remark is only slightly less pitiful than his handwriting. 

We are glad you visited. As glad as we can be. But, please don't desecrate the place and our sentiments that go with it, with your small minded attempt at procuring a few more votes from the people of Indian origin during next election back in the UK. 

Mr. Cameron, Go Back.

Friday, February 15, 2013

We invented the zero. That is why we will be the greatest country in the world.

We invented the zero. May be that is why we are the back office of the world - every time someone dials a '0' to talk to a customer service representative instead of having to listen to the voice menu, they end up talking to someone from India. 

We gave the world the concept of 'non-violence' - Ahimsa. May be that is why we are hoarding weapons like a six year old would colored pencils. We may not ever use them, but we would sure like to have a few.

We taught the world the art of love-making - the Kamasutra. May be that is why we have one of the largest and one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

We gave the world the very manual of political science - the Arthashastra. May be that is why our politicians keep quibbling over ginned up issues.

We invented the free email - Hotmail after all was an Indian's brain-child. May be that is why the bulk of the spam in the world originates from India.

We were the Golden Sparrow - the richest country in the world. May be that is why we are having a hard time getting almost one third of our population out of poverty.

We invented the zero. The very concept of nothing. May be that is why we will be the greatest country in the world.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

'My dear brain, please learn how to turn the f*** off when asked' a.k.a US Immigration Reform, STEM students, Impact on India and the US

Aah mann. I can't wait for the day when we will have created a switch to turn our brain off at night and go to sleep right away. It is so damn difficult to not-think.

Another recent post on an online forum. Another comment (misinformed IMHO) from a reader. Another analysis fomented in my head. Another sleepless night. The story of my frigging life ... my night life, or of lack thereof ... aaaaah ... whatTFever.

Here is what happened: I follow an online forum dedicated to international students in the US. While its an open forum, the target audience is students from India. A recent post on the forum was about the hullabaloo over immigration reform that may soon happen in the US. Some changes that are being proposed are bound to have an impact on the futures of students who get their advanced degrees i.e. MS, ME, PhD etc in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related fields in the US. Some legislators and even President Obama have suggested that those students who get higher education in the US should be given 'Green Cards' right away!

One of the readers made a comment with a back of the envelope analysis that did not quite agree with me. I decided to explore a little bit ... the key phrase here being 'a little bit'. Before I go any further - here is a free piece of advice - don't push your kids into STEM related fields. The ability that they will gain to critically analyze shit will mess up their head. Like it has mine. Okay? Okay. So, I did my own back of the envelope calculation and found something drastically (again, IMO) different than what that reader had concluded.

My reply to that comment was getting pretty long, so I decided to post it here. You can read the original article and the reader comment that kept me awake here. Below is what I wanted to say to that commentor - is that even a word? Anyway. You get the point. Read on ... the product of my damn brain that won't frigging turn off when its asked to - this piece of sh ... ... slimy goo - with its two wrinkly lobes and two matters and weird sounding nucleii.

# Spoiler Alert - I really do make a good point at the very end!

"Interesting analysis. I agree with you that US shall benefit from retaining those that acquire advanced degrees in STEM and related fields of study. But, I think you overestimate the extent of that benefit.

I don't quite understand how you went from the figure of $2 Billion to $1 Trillion. What makes you say that " ... the impact is about 10 to 100 fold per person". Moreover, if the "benefit" from such changes to immigration policy were to amount to $1 Trillion over next 10 to 20 years, it wouldn't have been so hard for the US to cut its deficits and balance its budget. Now would it?

There will definitely be a considerable contribution made to US economy by the STEM graduates that will get to stay back in the US. Using your figure of $100K/year for 100,000 STEM graduates, lets do the math again, only slightly differently. For the sake of the argument lets assume that all the money that a STEM graduate shall make during a year will stay in the US i.e. it will stay in circulation in the US economy in one way or the other. That means in one year that will contribute 'at least' (you'll see why I've used this phrase here, later on) $10 Billion. The size of the US economy is roughly $16 Billion, give or take a few hundred billions. That makes the contribution of STEM graduates barely 1/16th of 0.01% to the GDP. This is not a small number - we are talking about tens of billions here, but in the bigger scheme of things ... .

I am inclined to agree that " ... the impact ... per person" will be high. For STEM graduates will invariably end up contributing to the economy by way of entrepreneurship and innovations in academia as well as industry i.e. more patents, more high-technology businesses, more people get jobs, etcetera. But that still may not amount to 10 fold benefit that the US will end up deriving per person, let alone 100. However, I do hope to hear from you how you go about calculating the impact per person.

Now, lets get to the next paragraph where you discuss the adverse impact of this "brain drain" on India and its economy.

The figure of $500 million that you calculate for the amount of immediate loss to Indian exchequer is completely misplaced. If those 25% of the STEM pool students were to come back to India, in all likelihood, their paycheques will not nearly be in concert with what they would make if they were in the US. According to IMF, implied PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) rate of conversion of India in 2015 will be ~19% i.e. INR 100 will possibly buy you say amount of shit in India that $19 in the US. So, per your numbers, factoring in the implied PPP, India is set to lose <$30 million.

It is not the direct loss of revenue that is the sad part for India. What is sad is that our government back home in India refuses to recognize that we are raising and teaching kids to adulthood - everything at our expense mind you - and then sending them to the west so they can contribute to those economies. The funny bit is yet to come. Most international graduate students of Indian origin raise loans back home in India to come over to the US - and that money goes to the US too in the form of tuition/fees. How twisted is that? It is as if it is not just a "brain drain", but a dedicated pipeline of top notch human resource and monetary wealth from India's treasure chest to US's coffers. And here I thought the British had left 70 years ago and now our destiny was in our own hands. It is more like: the British were fucking the Golden Sparrow earlier and now it is the Americans. If we think through the sops that India has to provide to US as part of various trade deals, and yes, that includes the Indo-US nuclear deal too - not only are they fucking the good old Golden Sparrow, but beheading it and then barbecuing it and eating it. Actually, now that I think about it, it is more like a gang rape and a gang-bangers' barbecue, for other western countries want a piece of the pie too. Virtues of globalization I guess. And our politicians don't have time to sit their asses down in the parliament - those two timing rat bastards.

We have to wise up, and soon."