Archive for the ‘Point of View’ Category

From RK Pachauri : Nobel Prize recipient on Global Warming : Myanmar is a grim reminder of climate change..

Do current patterns of growth and development define an improving human condition ?
The global economy has reached unprecedented levels of economic output and activity. Earlier predictions of grim disaster associated with Malthusian thought have proved completely irrelevant, because human ingenuity and technological development have provided solutions to the problem of stagnation in production of goods and services that were foreseen during the nineteenth century. Yet a consumerist society, which has focused relentlessly on accelerated economic growth measured according to conventional yardsticks has created problems at a staggering level, solutions to which are at the same time difficult, yet crucially urgent.
The most important challenge facing humanity – as has been voiced by several world leaders including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, United Nations Secretary General, Ban-Ki-moon and former US President Clinton – is the growing threat of climate change. Human society, ever since the advent of industrialization, has been responsible for emitting increasing quantities of greenhouse gases, the most dominant of which is carbon dioxide, which is largely the result of combustion of fossil fuels. This has led to a warming of the climate with several other forms of interference with the earth’s climate system. Precipitation levels have changed in different parts of the world and extreme precipitation events have become more frequent and more intense. Similarly, heat waves, floods and droughts have increased in frequency and intensity, with increasing misery and hardship for some of the poorest communities in the world. Thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of bodies of ice on a widespread basis have led to sea level rise which increases the extent of devastation from cyclones, storm surges and coastal flooding. The recent tragedy in Myanmar is a grim reminder of the severity of impacts of climate change with an increasing sea level……

(more…)

The depressed Mumbai constables

The other day I went ‘somewhere’ in Mumbai and got there early. So sat down with the really nice young constables outside and shared a cup of tea with them. How different they were to the constables either made fun of in our films, or derided as corrupt individuals. It was startling for me to discover that all of them spoke primarily about job related stress, suicides amongst young cops, and the inability to make two ends meet.
“you have no idea how much pressure we have from above, and can never be sure when and how we may be implicated in some political game to protect someone senior or a political big wig’. And this could happen in any of the jobs we are called to do, so constantly have to watch our backs’.
This was a startling statement – and it came passionately from every one of them ….

(more…)

Socially unacceptable behavior

Does anyone remember when Indira Gandhi declared an emergency ? And because there was a food shortage at that time, she forbade any party of more than 50 people if food was being served. Is it time to do that again ? In this lopsided world where some people fly private jets all over the world for fun, regardless of the shortage of aviation fuel, and the number of cars that cost 1 crore and above, which are the greatest gas guzzlers in the world snail through the Mumbai traffic, is it time for us to sit back and actually make it socially unacceptable to indulge in such consumption ? Instead f admiring their wealth and aspiring to do the same ? How can one talk about food riots, the economy on the brink of bankruptcy, and yet all over the world the very people that cause such shortages in the world through speculation and economic manipulation for their own profit, continue to act and live as if these problems do not exist ? And why do we, our press, our aspirations encourage such behavior by making such consumption socially acceptable ?

Steve Jobs : Are entrepreneurs artists ?

Which part of the brain does Steve Jobs use when he makes what we call a ‘seat of the pants’ decision ? Where the idea or solution lies in the realm of the subconscious – or as some would say in the universal consciousness – that somehow the mind/brain accesses. Not unlike Mozart’s discovery of an harmony in discordant and contradictory notes. Not unlike Einstein’s moments of finding the connecting equations between impossibly disconnected ideas/theories of time/space. Not unlike Archimedes’s Eureka moment. Not unlike Van Gogh’s first brush stroke knowing and trusting that there is a pattern that will emerge if he trusts his instincts and has the courage to move with it,
And so to the other similarity between an artist and an entrepreneur. Courage to paint an empty canvass, courage to create harmony where there was none in musical notes, courage to create a new products where there are no models to follow. Courage to isolate oneself for years even writing a novel. So is Steve Jobs and entrepreneur or an artist ? …….

(more…)

Cricket 20/20 : Going for the kill, not skill. Lets get back bodyline bowling !

Abi said :We watch EPL, we watch Spanish League, we watch FI races, where is it written that people should always uphold their national identities on the sports field? Why do we expect the fans always carry their national flags? Why do we expect them to be just Indian players, when they can be great cricketers without color or creed?
Abhi, I have no problem with Pakistani players playing in India and I love the idea that the whole Eden garden erupts when Shoaib Akhtar scares some of the great Indian batsmen into submission. Even if he is on drugs, it is great to watch him exult like a panther hunting down his victims. I think it is great that a retired Auusie player is proving a better captain to lead new young Indian players than Tendulkar, Dhoni and Ganguly put together. I think it is great that we get to see Jayasurya hitting sixes all over the ground one after the other. I think that Sharukh Khan and Ganguly would have still been winning and be friends if they did not let their best batsmen from ‘down under’ go play for their own country. I think they should double their salary to keep them here, for who wants to go and play for a national team with the old rules any more ? Boring, boring.

(more…)

Amitabh Bachchan and Amir Khan Blogs.

It is wonderful to see blogging come of age in India. I have always believed that blogs are the new way that people will express themselves, and bloggers will create communities that will become more powerful and more connected than newspapers and tv channels. Soon we will have blogtv – where the combined reach of the individual communities will far exceed those of the current (rather poor) tv channels. And because blogging is an interactive and democratic process through which no one person is allowed to become so powerful that he/she becomes the ‘gatekeeper’ of public opinion and even news, bloggers carry the responsibility to nourish and nurture this new medium. For like freedom, it is by the people, of the people and for the people. And so, while I love that both Amir and Amitabh are attracting so much attention from bloggers, I sincerely hope that ultimately their blogs will mature into creating communities that will become focal points for community discussions. For a Blog to be sustainable, it must go beyond being about an individual personality. Both Amir and Amitabh have the ‘pull power’ to create large blogging communities. I sincerely hope they do.

Identity crisis anyone ?

Language does limit comprehension sometimes. And the more we communicate, the more we rely on ‘key words’ as a means of speedier communication. And so the more we tend to define and therefore confine things into narrower and narrower meanings. So what do we mean by identity crisis ? Have I ever been without one in my whole life ? I am still unable to define myself, and am still trying to understand who I am, and why I am. I guess I take that as a positive – as long as I am searching for my identity, as long as I am yearning for something that I can identify myself as, so long will I keep searching for that part of me that exists eternally. And has always existed. Wonderful how I am able to escape the psychological definition and escape into the mythic one !

(more…)

The Indian people deserve better

No wonder Indians do so well when they move overseas. Look at the odds they have to overcome just to survive in their own nation. If they are not constantly fighting bureaucracy, corruption, lack of basic health, education, the state is unable to even protect their lives against acts of terrorism. Isn’t it time that the people forced the politician to overcome their obsession with their own power, greed and criminal irresponsibility ? Is it not time for the people to hold the politicians accountable ? The state is as responsible for these acts of terrorism as the terrorists themselves.

IPL 20/20, like quick sex with no foreplay- the end of cricket we grew up on ?

Will there never be another Gavaskar or Tendulkar in Indian cricket ? Is the time to nurture cricketing talent over ? With fortunes being decided on the hit and miss formula of 20/20 , will it all be about instant gratification and financial returns from now on ?
Don’t get me wrong. I am addicted. But I am completely confused about who plays for who. While I knew who’s side I was on in an India/Pakistan match, how do I root for a great Pakistani bowler against Tendulkar ? And how dare Vijay Mallya speak against Dravid, one of the greatest Indian batsmen playing the game and should he not confine himself to selling beer ? Suddenly the much maligned Indian cricket board seems almost benign in light of the ruthlessness of the current owners of the team ! And I feel disoriented when the fortunes of the teams are being decided by the Australians and the Pakistani players that float in and out. Are Indian players going to be sidelined ? Will we ever be able to raise the spirit of Indian team together again after they have publicly fought against each other ?
We need to say a one minute silence to the cricket we knew, even as we welcome instant gratification.

Global Food Shortage, who are we kidding ? It’s your daily starbucks that could be causing it !

Just came back from New York, where every paper is talking about food shortage, and the scepter of the US having to hoard food. In a country where it is impossible to eat your way through one serving, and where the biggest battle is not against terrorism but against over eating, it is a difficult idea to comprehend. And what did Condolizza Rice mean when she said part of the problem is a change in the eating habits of a more prosperous India and China. Like the world’s problem are increasing because we are eating better or living better ? That is not true in any case, except for a mere 5% of India’s population. But lets get this right. There has ALWAYS been a world food shortage. Since I can remember in any case. People in the US may not have noticed it, and those of us living in India, China, Africa and elsewhere may choose to avert our eyes to what is staring us in the face, but we have always been surrounded by people that live in a constant state of malnutrition and starvation.
So what do we mean when we say that prices are rising and food riots are breaking out ? What we mean is that something has gone wrong in the supply chain. That somewhere people have started to profit more from the supply chain, and somewhere people are hoarding. THAT THE PRICE OF FOOD HAS GONE OUT OF THE RANGE OF MOST POOR PEOPLE. But who controls that price, and if it is market forces, who controls those market forces ? Certainly not the individual farmers.

(more…)