The cornerstone of all relationships

Whether lying gets you to hell or not, the truth is that credibility is the foundations of all relationships which must be protected at all costs

The essence of life is credibility. There is a story from the Mahabharata where there was an announcement in the battle to the effect of “Ashwatthama Hatow” (Ashwatthama is dead). The play on the name Ashwatthama was intended. There was an elephant by the name of Ashwatthama, and the name of the son of Dronacharya was Ashwatthama. Therefore, it was not clear from the announcement who died: was it the man or the elephant? In the middle of the battle, Dronacharya heard this announcement and is reported to have opined, Let Yudhishthira say this.

The essence was simple: Yudhishthira being the ‘truthful’ man, was expected not to not lie on this. When evoked by the Dronacharya, Yudhishthira said in a loud voice, “Ashwatthama Hatow: ha Iti, Naro va Kunjaro va naiw Janamee” (Ashwatthama is dead, whether it is a man or an elephant, I can’t say). Shri Krishna knew that Yudhishthira was going to say this. To fool Dronacharya, strategically, as soon as Yudhishthira said Narova… he blew his conch. In the sound of the conch, […]

By |2024-02-29T10:24:47+00:00November 23rd, 2023|Columns, Contemporary|0 Comments

The alternate philosophy of ‘The World is one’

India is the most populous country in the world, and like many situations, this fact can be perceived both as an advantage and a disadvantage. Indeed, as many realise, everything in life possesses dual aspects of advantage and disadvantage, simultaneously. It all depends on one’s perspective. Given the constraints of our context, it is desirable to avoid delving into side discussions. Therefore, let us focus on the issue of India: its vast size and its immense population.

Geographically, from Kutch to Kamrup and from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, a population of 1.42 billion people is encompassed, representing a cross-section of civilisations spanning from ancient times to the present. It is reported that in certain hilly districts of the country, tribes still subsist using only the bow and arrow, untouched by generations of progress. In a country where such diversity exists, there is also the remarkable achievement of Chandrayaan and the upcoming mission to the sun. Numerous other examples highlight India’s significant contributions to the world.

In many ways, India leads the way in value-based behavior and fostering a higher level of commitment to a more evolved global order. In a country as diverse as India, as mentioned earlier, there exist civilisations of all […]

By |2024-02-28T15:03:07+00:00September 10th, 2023|Columns, Contemporary|0 Comments

Judgement, education and effective action

Whether one is the top man or the so-called bottom man, there is always an element of decision-making vested in the role

One of the critical components of decision-making is the ability to decipher decision spaces. Consider the example of a doorkeeper. By any standards, it is a lowly rank and humble in many ways. Yet, in times of knocking at the door, that position becomes more important than that of the Chairman himself. It is the doorkeeper’s decision to let somebody in or keep him out. It is a power loaded with security concerns and at times with grave implications of time, life and death. Consider a situation where somebody is ill, and a doctor has been summoned in the late hours of the evening to the building to take care of the ailing person.

The doctor does not get a security clearance, but his entry into the building is critical. Like anything else, there is a risk involved, and somebody may be impersonating the doctor; there may be a rogue doctor or the doctor himself may be very impatient—the possibilities are several. The judgement of the gatekeeper and the judgement to be exercised on the spot make him the kingpin, […]

By |2024-02-28T18:21:20+00:00June 2nd, 2023|Columns, Contemporary|0 Comments

The best is yet to come

These are seminal times. The entire globe seems to be grappling with more fundamental changes than it seems to be realizing

History has many shades. The rich and the powerful seek to find a place in it even while they are alive. Individuals seek it, communities try for it, ideologies make a bid for it. With the passage of time many aspirations, like many dreams, wither away. That which survives is often what cannot be controlled by interventions. Thus it is that efforts like inserting a time capsule seem a wishful endeavour. Each generation has its heroes and only a few of them become trans-generational. The truth of the matter is that whereas history repeats itself if people don’t learn from it, history also has a logic of its own, beyond human manipulation. In the cacophony of ideologies of statecraft, governance, the real nature of heritage and history in the shaping of reality gets diluted and sometimes lost. Truth and historical processes are inexorable and they cannot be argued with.

Simply put, history, heritage, intellectual thought and all that goes with it are given. History is also a testimony to circumstances and providence thwarting the powerful efforts of the mighty. Recall how […]

By |2020-12-18T18:43:23+00:00October 26th, 2020|Columns, Contemporary|0 Comments

Endless protests and their fallout

For any protest to last beyond a small fraction of sustainable time, it needs the support of sponsors. The challenge is in keeping it free from vested interests

There’s a feeling of disquiet among segments of the cross section of a news-aware people across the country. They consume news either in print or television, which is dominated by private players. This has led to a situation where financiers view their broadcasting channel to be a surrogate of their own political, social and economic inclinations. This is a fact of life that is seldom flagged. By and large, the so-called public is unaware of the political slant of the promoters and protectors of the medium who carry the news. Hence, the distinction between facts, comments and commentary often becomes dubious. Comments parade as facts and commentary often becomes the explanation thereof. This makes the job of the reader — to understand what is actually happening — even more complex. The result is that rabble-rousing often gets mistaken for a vibrant democracy.

The current atmosphere of agitations for and against an issue has raised some fundamental questions. One of them is: How significant are street protests as a counterfoil of a dominant majority of […]

By |2020-12-25T04:19:31+00:00January 27th, 2020|Columns, Contemporary|0 Comments

The anatomy of student activism

Students must be left to study and equip themselves for life. If some want to pursue social causes in an agitational mode, they should do it outside the campuses

On December 20, a weekly newspaper published from Delhi carried a photograph with the caption, “Citizens’ anguish” and the sub caption read, “I am a Christian, my husband a Hindu and my daughter is Indian.” It then referred to pages that carried details about the protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Earlier, demonstrations on such themes were captioned as “students’ agitation” by many media houses. By definition, CAA neither touches upon the veracity of those who are currently citizens of India, nor does it have anything to do with the “students.” But captions on CAA have been catchy. If perusing a genuine cause, where is the need to seek subterfuge under inaccurate and misleading captions? “Student” is a word that has several shades of meaning. At the time of writing this article, this word already surfaced in the front page of newspapers for nearly a week numerous times. In fact, courtesy a major Central university in South Delhi, it has been making headlines for over a year now for all sorts […]

By |2020-12-25T05:00:36+00:00December 24th, 2019|Columns, Contemporary|0 Comments

The disruptive power of disruption

Times require a very dispassionate analysis of the value of what the word means as a process

Till about 20 years ago, the word “disruption” evoked mixed responses at best and a deep sense of disapproval at worst. Gradually the environment began to change and disruption became a word of preferred choice for many. An increasingly large number were trying to use it, in context and out of context, hoping to cover themselves in a “revolutionary” aura. There were occasions when people would come around mouthing and flaunting “disruption.” It was tom-tommed by many that unless there was “disruption” it would be very difficult to improve things.

The point which was totally lost in this melee was that nothing can be debunked lock-stock and barrel. There were thinkers who saw this point and started talking of “selective disruption.” What was not quite clear was how this selection would take place. On what distinguishing trait would something be preserved or debunked? This was particularly the case with technology or more fundamentally, about methods of work.

In this vantage point of perception, one element was missing. The element could be termed “concurrent multilinearity.” Simultaneously, different eras can exist. Their concurrency does not take away the merit […]

By |2023-10-22T14:03:01+00:00November 25th, 2019|Columns, Contemporary|Comments Off on The disruptive power of disruption

Measurement of human evolution

It’s about time some stream of science addressed basic questions about what yardsticks are best for rating mankind’s advancements

If there is anything left on which an app has yet to be developed, it is on human relationships within an organisation. Be it a relationship involving one-to-one contact, one-to-many or many-to-many, there is often a feeling of tentativeness which leaves a sense of discomfiture with many stakeholders to the situation.

No psychologist, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst or anybody of that breed has been able to engineer a response to this, which is reasonably reliable or durable. In short, the human mind, the psyche, the cognitive system are so complex and their interpreters are so much at sea on these issues that the best of them is not able to fashion anything with some quality of predictive validity, on what intervention would trigger what response. It is, as if it were, the boundary lines of technological intervention being drawn on this issue.

The entire theory of predictive validity converts itself into a huge arc of grey in behavioural matters. Under these circumstances, sentiments of loyalty, friendship, reliability, fidelity or for that matter even enmity and dislike are difficult to sustain, maintain and be used as a […]

By |2020-12-25T04:04:18+00:00October 29th, 2019|Columns, Contemporary|0 Comments

Reality and forecasts

Forecasting is a flourishing business that keeps thousands of people occupied. But it does not worry any one too much that it often goes wrong

Everyone likes to know the future. The trouble with forecast is that often one does not know how much it will go wrong and in which direction. Nevertheless, forecasting is a flourishing business that keeps thousands and thousands of people occupied. People forecast by looking at the palm, at the stars, at the forehead, at the horoscope, through planchets, through numerology, the list is endless. Of course, one should not forget the columnists, who rake in money by sounding wise and profound through forecasts, by reading trends and extrapolating selective data. It does not worry any one too much that very often, these forecasts go wrong.

Certain times are more propitious for forecasts. One such case is at the beginning of the year. It is interesting to note how by a simple calendar change of date, a ‘New Year’ has been converted into such a ritual of consuming, dining, wining, buying and celebrating. It is possible to argue that there is really no difference between December 31 of any given year and January 1 of the next […]

By |2020-12-25T05:08:24+00:00June 10th, 2019|Columns, Contemporary|0 Comments
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