Saturday, March 31, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
There is an old saying, taken from the title of this book, "The Fox in the Chicken Coop".
The traditional approach for corruption is putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Usually the fox himself somehow gains this position and helps himself to the chicken. Putting the corrupt in charge is an old way to make money in the process. But over the years, this has become obvious. And in general people who indulge in corruption are not looked upon very kindly by commoners who have to slog for their daily meal and then some.
There is however a contrarian approach as we have seen lately.
Imagine that there is a treasury with a lot of wealth. And there is suspected looting from the treasury. The queen places a head guard who is seen to be honest. And assuage the unwashed masses that "we have placed this guard with unimpeachable integrity" and therefore there is no corruption.
So, there is guard standing in the front, ceremonial headgear and all that, while there is suspicion that looting happens from the back door, side door and many other entrances and exits. Over time it is proved that despite putting a honest guard in there to guard the treasury, looting happens and there is no respite whatsoever. Each time a commoner complains to the queen, she tells him that there is a great head guard there, and he is doing his best. And besides what better sign do you want than an honest head guard that we are serious about tackling the looting?
Can you spot loopholes in this theory?
Did I hear you say, but if the guard is of high integrity, why will be allow the loot to take place? The theory goes that he makes no personal money in the process. Hmmm, but isnt that dereliction of duty? As a guard of so called unimpeachable integrity, isn't looking the other way also a sign of his rather pliable integrity?
And is it enough if he makes noises that he hears noises in the night? And that there are people who seem to get into the treasury without his approvals?
And if his integrity was being used a cloak to loot, would he not have the balls to stand up and say dont use my integrity as a cloak to loot?
And if all this is true, would you really call the head guard a person of unimpeachable integrity?
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Second, there was no search function. If I had to search, I had to walk up the helpdesk and converse with some disinterested assistants who were happier in their own conversations. And the machine that hosted the search was running at a glacial pace.
The staff were barely knowledgeable – this I understand – to staff book stores with people passionate about books is not easy – perhaps they think costs would go through the roof. But why not hire college interns or retirees – who are knowledgeable and pay them in books – atleast for the stores busy season – which I presume is weekends.
Why not hold up other bestsellers list than their own? Why not a bestsellers list for teens, women, boys, kids and what not? Why should the stores be themed by section? Why not in some other way? Why not have a corner where people pick books they thought they liked and did not buy – I think this will be really interesting corner. Create a small reading section? With coffee?
Friday, March 16, 2012
Sunday, March 04, 2012
Being Different is a book by Rajiv Malhotra. This book is truly different - I would go so far as saying in contemporary literature, it is one of its kind.
Until now, there have been books on Hinduism or the Indic civilization written by Indian authors or Western Authors (from an Indian or a Western lens and it is not necessary that this flows from the nationality of the author). There are many books like that - written by authors across centuries. This book is one of its kind - that throws light on Western civilization from an Indic lens. About time that such a book was published - and it is amazing to think that such a book was neither conceived nor published at any point in time (that I am aware of atleast).
Also, the book avoids the familiar trap of the greatness of Indian civilization by hiding in rhetoric - and this is where Rajiv Malhotra scores - he uses hard data points to throw light on the Western civilization - the appendix is voluminous in itself for those interested in further research.
A couple of sentences and lines of thought that really made me stand and think...
One that, western civilization is rooted in history - they need a historical start date before which everything that happened is negated - whereas in Indic tradition, there is a difference between Itihaasa and Puraana and none of them can really be relegated to either history or mythology - the closest words in English as it were. And Indic traditions are comfortable with multiple versions of Itihasa - as is mostly the case - so by nature we are instinctively pluralistic.
Second, that Indic traditions believe that self realization can come from within - in the Abrahamic religions, it is usually external - by an afterlife in heaven - which results from obedience to a particular code. And which is again why mystics are part and parcel of Indic traditions and not in the others (or even if they are, they are not particularly encouraged by the hardliners).
Third, and I quote this sentence "Hindus intrinsic belief in pluralism means that many of them are blissfully unaware that their sentiments are not at all reciprocated by the Abrahamic religions, which not only reject every other deity, but also consign Hinduism to paganism and the worship of false gods".
Fourth, take the example of Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram - which is the trilogy of Truth-Good-Beauty where it is that Truth is above good and good is above beauty and each of them can exist without the other. There are many such concepts in the Indic traditions that give a fuller explanation of the cosmic connection of which we are all ultimately, but a small part of.
These are just a few teasers out of the book, but if you have any interest in Indic civilization this book is a must read.
Being Different, by Rajiv Malhotra.