an "a to z" of thoughts, conversations, remarks, observations,musings about

Friday, March 31, 2006

reporting something i heard

a colleague of mine hails from the countryside in Haryana. She was telling me yesterday about how she had just heard of a sad incident. In her village, a 47 yr old man committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree. He had earlier been employed in a small factory but that had closed down some time ago, leaving him dependent on his farm. This year, the unseasonal rain played havoc with the standing crop. Faced with the mounting pressure of ekeing out a living from the soil, he took his own life by hanging himself. He left behind a wife and two children.

The tragedy is unfolding closer and closer to us. Haryana is one of the richer states in India and if its starting to happen here, I shudder to think what it must be like everywhere else.

Oh, and the stock market continues its meteoric rise, breaking all records.

Upon a T-Shirt

Upon a T-Shirt
A very short poem.
By Evan Eisenberg


What does it say? No matter—it's
A pretext to peruse my tits;
Whilst on the other side you'll find


Post-text to study: my behind.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

south indian men

dunno if u read this before..but its old one..but nice.

How can a man like me brought up in roomy lungis and oversized polyester shirts ever walk the walk in painted on jeans (that makes a big impression) and neon yellow rib hugging t shirts? All I can do is don my worn "comfort fit" jeans and floral shirt. Which is pretty low on the "Look at me lady" scale, just above fig leaf skirt and feather headgear a la caveman, and a mite below Khakhi Shirt over a red t shirt and baggy khakhi pants and white trainers a la Rajni in "Badsha".

Manohar Shyam Joshi no more

A legend in the indian literary world has left us today. Though some would say that he wasnt up there with the famous literary giants of India, few would argue about the reach and impact his writing had in India. From popular television serials, to film stories, to editing a popular hindi weekly to writing a bunch of hindi books he left a lasting imprint in the mind of three generations of indians. No one has captured the flavor of bombay like he did in his book "kuru kuru swaaha" and no one has written more beautifully about the simple life in the small towns of the himalayas where he was born and raised. All through his writing there runs a vein of self deprecatory humor, a flair for hyperbole and farce mixed with a tinge of pathos and romance. Through it all, his writing rings true, he knows what he writes about and hold up a clear mirror for society to see itself.

Manohar Shyam Joshi, R.I.P.
Renowned writer Manohar Shyam Joshi,the litterateur, aged 73, breathed his last at around 5 am at the National Heart Institute here.

Joshi has written several books including 'Kuru Kuru Swaha', 'Kayap' 'Hariya Hercules Ki Hairaani', Baton Baton Main', 'Mandir Ghat Ki Pooriyan', 'Kaise Kissago' and 'Tata Professor'


A couple of weeks have passed since the day when Nanaji left us. Hindi has different words for grandparents. Dada means your fathers father, while Nana is your mothers father. Ji is a mark of respect. If my blog fills you with respect for me, then you can call me Bloggerji.

I was his eldest grandchild and I learnt a lot from him. All his life he was always polite, alert and disciplined. He loved the finer things in life and though a teetotaller had a really nice wine collection. He started out in business in Calcutta when India was yet to be free, and the British ran most of the businesses. After trying his luck in various trades, from film producing, to candle making he finally found his calling as a steel trader.

He was particularly suited for this business since he was very presentable, dressed impeccably, talked politely, listened attentively, went out of his way to make new friends and keep old ones, was meticulous in his accounting and disciplined in his expenditure. Ever since I remember, his day would start at 6 am, with a prayer, then a hearty breakfast and off to office. Evenings he would return, bathe, dress for dinner and preside over the dining table.

He once told me how he got his first break. As a young man with no capital and little technical education, he went from office to office asking for work. He didnt ask for a job, but met the people in big industrial houses, told them that he was in the trade and if they had any local requirements for materials he would be glad to try and help. Finally, one englishman at a electrical equipment manufacturing company, looked this young man over, and told him, Young man, if by tomorrow you could come with a few tonnes of a particular grade and size of steel, the order is yours.

This was his first break, and as soon as he left the office he searched the city, called at everyone he know in the trade, talked to the people working in warehouses and the next morning at 9 o clock he met the factory manager outide the factory gates. The manager thought that he would hear another excuse about how its taking a few more days....and was pleasantly surprised to find the young man asking him where should the goods be delivered, since there was a truck loaded with the exact stuff, standing right besides them. Since then he never looked back. The electric equipment factory was his client for the next 50 years and so were almost all the major manufacturers in Calcutta.

A rented apartment in a nice neighbourhood in Calcutta and a rented office in the business district were his base. From there he built up his fortune and those of his friends and family. He never bought any property or dead assets, preferring to keep all his investments in the stock markets. Once when he had to undergo a heart operation, he was able to just sign a piece of paper and pay for all the expenses himself. Till his last he attended cultural evenings, ate out in style and dressed expensively and correctly, all from his own pocket. He lived and breathed his last in his own house, in his own bed, early in the morning, without troubling anyone. Just called out once and then left surrounded by his wife, daughter, son, grandchild ( my sister) and greatgrandchild ( her daughter ). He left us all remembering someone who all his life wished to be a gentleman and a good human being and succeeded magnificently.

And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.
I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
No, oh no not me,
I did it my way.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

the bend in the river...from the land of the two rivers

theres this lovely funny bright girl in Iraq, Baghdad to be precise who is writing a blog from there....u can read her blog here . Below is an excerpt from her latest post.... I think she has done a lot for the credibility of blogging as a true journalistic medium. One gets a good feel of how things really are by following her blog while a lot of the print media reporting somehow seems very fluffy.

The line said:

وزارة الدفاع تدعو المواطنين الى عدم الانصياع لاوامر دوريات الجيش والشرطة الليلية اذا لم تكن برفقة قوات التحالف العاملة في تلك المنطقة

The translation:

“The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”

That’s how messed up the country is at this point

Quote of the day

Rita Rudner - "My mother buried three husbands - and two of them were only napping."

Friday, March 24, 2006

quote of the day

THERE'S a poem on a wall at Apple Computer's headquarters that starts like this: "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

One Morning in Haditha

One Morning in Haditha
U.S. Marines killed 15 Iraqi civilians in their homes last November. Was it self-defense, an accident or cold-blooded revenge? A TIME exclusive

Posted Sunday, Mar. 19, 2006
The incident seemed like so many others from this war, the kind of tragedy that has become numbingly routine amid the daily reports of violence in Iraq. On the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, a roadside bomb struck a humvee carrying Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, on a road near Haditha, a restive town in western Iraq. The bomb killed Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.) Terrazas, 20, from El Paso, Texas. The next day a Marine communiqué from Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi reported that Terrazas and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast and that "gunmen attacked the convoy with small-arms fire," prompting the Marines to return fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding one other. The Marines from Kilo Company held a memorial service for Terrazas at their camp in Haditha. They wrote messages like "T.J., you were a great friend. I'm going to miss seeing you around" on smooth stones and piled them in a funeral mound. And the war moved on.

But the details of what happened that morning in Haditha are more disturbing, disputed and horrific than the military initially reported. According to eyewitnesses and local officials interviewed over the past 10 weeks, the civilians who died in Haditha on Nov. 19 were killed not by a roadside bomb but by the Marines themselves, who went on a rampage in the village after the attack, killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their homes, including seven women and three children. Human-rights activists say that if the accusations are true, the incident ranks as the worst case of deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. service members since the war began.

read more

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


"As you gain experience, you'll realise that all logical questions are considered insubordination."
- Dilbert advises Asok the Intern

todays dilbert featured one of the most lovable indian geeks to inhabit cartoonspace....asok... check it out here

and the wikipedia entry has him as -

Pronounced "Ah-shook." A young intern. He works very hard but does not always get proper recognition. Asok is intensely intelligent but naive about corporate life; the shattering of his illusions are frequent comic fodder. Asok is Indian, and graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). He does not eat, at least, beef. The others, especially the Boss, often unwittingly trample on his cultural beliefs. If Asok mentions this, he is normally ignored. If Asok's reported test scores and college accomplishments are correct, he is the smartest member of the engineering team.

for some other dilbert quotes .... see this .

The bbc has a writeup about asok with one of the classic asok cartoon strips. see it here.

some more trivia about asok from

Asok - Summer intern [3/18+/96]
Graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology. [10/30/05]
PHB can't give him a raise because he's too young. [2/28/99]
Makes sarcastic remarks to the PHB via speakerphone. [12/8/96]
Alice threatens to launch Asok with the "Internapult". [8/23/96]
Tells the PHB about people using entire colons where semicolons would do just fine. [3/20/96]

...a lot of IIT ians get upset with what they see as stereotyping of the indian techie....but that just goes to show, even with a good college education, there isnt much difference between bearded mullahs and laptop warriors, when it comes to getting upset over cartoons. Its a cartoon for crying out loud.

one of my favourite asok things was when in one strip..the pointy haired boss (PHB)said that they were going to study if its possible to deliver the internet through the sewer systems and told asok to do a report. He would have to crawl through sewers holding a optic fibre cable between his teeth and breathing through a straw.

and Asok, his face lit up in the last panel, and he says...oh wow ..i get a straw.

my pal,parimal saw it in office...when it came out....and he came back laughing and told me, and for many a day, we would use this as our punchline...oh wow...i get a straw.

and to end...lets quote the bbc again -
In Dilbert, a comic character called Asok claims he is from IIT and therefore "mentally superior to most people on Earth".

In one strip, Asok says: "At the Indian Institute of Technology, I learned to use my huge brain."

"But I try not to frighten ordinary people with any gratuitous displays of mental superiority.

"For example," says Asok, "I no longer reheat my tea by holding it to my forehead and imagining fire."

Mr Adams, who began drawing cartoons in the 1980s while working in a telecommunications company, said he has several friends who graduated from IIT.

"I have known several IIT graduates over the years. The character Asok is named after an ex co-worker from my days in the tech world," he told BBC News Online.

"I thought it would be a funny contrast to have Asok come from the most competitive school system in the world only to find out that intelligence doesn't always help in the workplace."

Asked how IIT graduates differed from engineering graduates from all over the world, Mr Adams said: "They are smarter."

Friday, March 17, 2006

empire and energy

The end of previous empires, Phillips explains, also corresponded with the obsolescence of their dominant energy source. The Netherlands was the "the wind and water hegemon" from 1590 to the 1720s. In the mid-18th century, Britain, harnessing the newly discovered power of coal, became the leading world power, only to be left behind by oil-fueled America. "The evidence is that leading world economic powers, after an energy golden era, lose their magic -- and not by accident," he writes. "The infrastructures created by these unusual, even quirky, successes eventually became economic obstacle courses and inertia-bound burdens."

the full article is here...u will have to watch a free ad to read it...but its worth it...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

dumbest moments in business

In June, Guidant recalls 50,000 heart defibrillators--about 38,600 of them already implanted in people's chests--that might, in rare cases, short-circuit when they're supposed to deliver vital electrical jolts. The recall comes after the devices were reported to have failed at least 45 times, including two instances in which the patients died. Guidant fixed the flaw in devices made after mid-2002 but neglected to inform doctors and continued to sell units produced before the fix. The recall advises patients that, should the device malfunction, it will emit a beeping noise, at which point they should contact their doctors or head to an emergency room.

read more

and another from the same list -

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher, brought out of retirement to restore the company's image in the wake of ethical lapses by predecessor Phil Condit--including allegations of affairs with female employees--is forced to resign for having an affair with a female employee. Though the relationship was consensual, Boeing's board determined that Stonecipher had violated the company's code of conduct--a document that all 160,000 Boeing employees have been required to sign annually since it was put into place by Stonecipher in 2003.


"Women should be all dressed in white, like all other domestic appliances."

-- Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone, on Danica Patrick's fourth-place finish at the Indy 500, the best showing ever by a woman in the race.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

quote of the day :)

"In an age of advanced technology," Aldous Huxley foresaw, "inefficiency is the sin against the Holy Ghost."

the state of the nation

In Jangpura, a small neighborhood in Delhi, my friends Bela Malik and Tommy Mathew planned to welcome Laura Bush. As with all State visits, between the negotiations and the meetings, the hosts arrange for the dignitaries to tour safe "soft" sites that become front-page photo opportunities. As if to send a signal to their Evangelical base, on March 2 Laura Bush planned to visit a small NGO run by the Missionaries of Charity. Bela, Tommy and other friends stitched a couple of bed sheets together and made a banner that read: "Laura Bush, how about a photo-op with the orphaned, maimed, dead children of Iraq?" It was a loud question, written in a quiet way, and hung from a modest balcony. A few hours before Laura Bush's cavalcade was to go down the road, US secret service flooded the neighborhood. In their wake came the Area Station House officer who entered Bela and Tommy's apartment, confiscated the banner, refused to allow Tommy entry into his own flat, and posted a police officer on the balcony. A thousand of Delhi's finest overran Jangpura.

Laura Bush never got to the Missionaries of Charity. Something else came up.

In an email message, Bela wrote, "I came closest to feeling what being under an imperialist system was and feeling first-hand the might of an armed invasion. It wasn't that in a real sense, but for a few hours, it was that. 'Security' is a funny term in the way it is used."

read entire article here

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

spotted in Gurgaon

I saw a peacock today... sitting on the branch of a bare tree....facing away from me.
His long tail hanging down like a magic carpet...a splash of color amid the brown earth and grey sky...

Had been to my friends village on the outskirts of Gurgaon, and peacocks are common there. His sister-in-law scatters grain in the courtyard of her house everyday and they come to feed. They are her friends. Today that house and courtyard are being broken down to make way for a new house. I had gone along with my friend to take a look and give my views on how the new house should be. We sat discussing while in the background were the dug-up courtyard, a few scattered household possessions and the thud thud of the workmens tools. The family had gone off to stay in a small new house nearby while this one is rebuilt. An old village house, with mud walls, roofs of wooden beams supporting stone slabs and a brick lined courtyard would soon be no more. In its place, a modern house would come up, with hot running water and modular kitchens and air-conditioning. What would happen to the peacocks I wondered.

And then on my way back, I saw the peacock on the tree, its tail of blue green gold and red, sitting on the branch, waiting for us to hurry up and build the house, so his friend could return and scatter grain and the peacock club could hold its regular afternoon meetings again.

spotted in Newsweek

and I quote - "Even a college-educated Indian worker earns one fifth what his American counterpart does. And he's willing to put in 12-hour days, six days a week. That's why U.S. companies are expected to employ more than 1.5 million service workers in India by 2008, a threefold increase from today, according to McKinsey & Co."

12 hours a day, 6 days a week.....well yes..I did that once too...I did hear that some call centres were running 12 hour shifts...6 days a week. Not the best way to conduct business I feel.

Monday, March 06, 2006

IT Job Stats in US - 2001 - 2006

During the past five years (Jan 01 - Jan 06), the information sector of the US economy lost 645,000 jobs or 17.4% of its work force. Computer systems design and related lost 116,000 jobs or 8.7% of its work force. read related article from someone who argues against outsourcing.

an the oscar goes to

Oscar weekend has come and gone...Jon Stewart hosted them and we even had a rap act singing a sanitized version of their song. Below I present my take on some of the movies that were in the running..

Munich - Should have been an outright winner. Treading gingerly through a minefield of potential controversies, the real success of Munich is that no one could find anything much to protest about it. It is a story about the young men who become part of the official killing machines of their countries. It also is a look at Europe in its age old role of the theatre of war. Its a gentle attempt to hold a discussion rather than shout slogans or take positions. Probably the director too faced the pain that the main protagonist felt, that of being powerless to ask too many questions.

Capote I remember buying a tattered book off the pavement in Roorkee for 20 rupees called "in cold blood" by Truman Capote. I was 21 yrs old, and rather bored with life. The book starts off as a newspaper report and continues in the same way. Its a non fictional account of the last days in the life of two guys in america, who break into a house, kill the occupants, escape, are caught and executed by the state. I knew right away that I was reading something extraordinary, the dispassionate style, the clinical stating of facts, this was a new style of writing. Truman Capote who cynically hunted the story down, befriended the killers and wrote about them was no ordinary writer and no ordinary man. Having become nothing but a story telling machine while writing this book, he never wrote again and died an alchoholic. This movie tells of the writing of that book. It doesnt have many weak points and the heroine from " the 40 yr old virgin " plays a great part as Harper Lee, who wrote "To Kill a Mockingbird". I wish it had gone into the character of Capote a little more, looked at him from a few other people's viewpoint and given him more importance than the book. Still, its an awesome movie.

Crash This is a slick movie. Very very slick. It starts off with a roll and keeps on rolling through coincidences, chance encounters, stock situations, stereotyped characters and lyrical cinematography. Its beauty lies in the fact that it is almost a parody of itself. The mad iranian immigrant, the working class hispanic, the black yuppie, the white handsome cop, the fresh faced moralistic white kid, the bad black guy and his good black buddy, the scheming politician and his rich bitch etc etc are characters in this film. Still it works at the basic level because it is slick and does its job well. It stops you from thinking and just lets you float through a slick action packed day in LA and makes you love all the stereotypes and accept them as real. Worth a watch if for nothing else, for watching Matt Dillon feel up a pretty young thing in a cocktail dress.

Brokeback Mountain Well what do you expect when you get a Taiwanese guy to direct a movie about cowboys. Can alternatively be titled as " The secret life of the Marlboro Man". The title itself sounds faintly porno-graphic. Frankly I felt "The Birdcage" was more to the mark when showing a homosexual couple. This movie is about emptiness and silences. Its also shows that two guys with really hot wives can get it on with each other. Next expect movies about gay baseball players, marines, gay CEO's and gay policemen. Nicely crafted but with just a one page storyline.

Walk the line Faint traces of "Ray" show up in this movie, redeemed by Reesse Witherspoon and Phoenix making wonderful music together. Its the songs that carry the movie and its the songs that stay with you. The performances are intense. The storyline somehow is predictable but the performances just glow. Its like one big music video and you get your moneys worth. Its a black movie made for the man in black and it paints the canvas black, out of which the spotlight picks out Phoenix and Witherspoon singing their hearts out. Listen to a Johnny Cash song, if you like it, watch the movie.

Syriana This one is cute. It almost manages to tell the emperor that he isnt wearing any clothes. It shows the CIA conducting a targeted assasination of a West Asian political leader, it shows fingernails being plucked out, it shows the corruption of power, it shows how a suicide bomber is born and it shows the disease technically known as oil fever. It doesnt go too deep into these topics because then it would no longer remain a movie of the mainstream. The final image is that of George Clooneys face as he stands there panting, tired, weary trying to stop what he cannot stop. Its a great effort, but it raises too many uncomfortable questions and so its being quietly ignored and hushed up, hoping it will just go away.

Good night and good luck This is a TV movie. Again its understated and makes its point gently. Some characters arent built up properly, and u keep wishing that some more background was provided. Still its a stark simple look at a period in America when the witch hunt was on and all sorts of decent people were bullied because they held different beliefs from the mainstream. I say its a TV movie because it sort of looks like an old movie that you watch on Turner classics. The heavy larger than life characters, the cigarette smoke ( color film can never capture the beauty of smoke like black and white did ) the play of light and shadow ( ditto for light and shadow as for smoke ) and the footage of Senator McCarthy all give it a flavor that is unique. George Clooney hovers around doing his bit and the film never loses focus and stays on message. A job well done.

Memoirs of a Geisha Watch it with the sound off. To appreciate japanese art and aesthetics, all you need to do it let this movie play on a wall in the living room like a moving painting. The accented english spoken by the characters is funny, ridiculous and rather stereotyped. Would have been happier to watch it in subtitles.
The story doesnt inspire, the plot is non existent and its rather like a geisha performance, a thing of beauty and grace, but ultimately hard nosed and commercial.

Whats it like in eye raan

The greatest opportunity came after September 11, of course, when Iran sought to help the US break al Qaeda, a common enemy that threatened both nations. But Bush and his circle, as we now know, were not interested in breaking al Qaeda or fighting terrorism; they were interested in "establishing a military footprint" in Iraq, as part of a wide-ranging plan to "project dominance" over the energy resources of the Middle East and Central Asia, while fomenting "creative destruction" throughout the region, in the belief that when the resultant rivers of blood had at last subsided, there would be a series of obedient client regimes installed in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere--including, in the dreams of some of the crankiest cronies, new, even more obedient American satraps in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Therefore, there could be no accommodation with moderate elements in Iran; on the contrary, the existence of a moderate faction within the Iranian power structure could only be a hindrance to the Bushists' avowed goals. How could you maintain the profitable, fear-fomenting image of a dastardly nation--a member of the "axis of evil," no less--bent on the destruction of "the American way of life," if its leaders are trying reach an accommodation with you, if they speak of moderation, of a "dialogue among civilizations"? Khatami--already hemmed in by the hardline mullahs, unable to deliver all of his promised domestic reforms--was also left with nothing to show for his moderate foreign policy. Instead, Bush confirmed the mullah's criticism of Khatami: "You reach out to the infidels, and what do you get? They spit in your face, they try to destroy us."
read original article

Khatami served as Iran's president from 1997 to 2005. Now that he is out, and a hardliner is in place, it kinda helps Bush paint the situation in black and white.

14 days to go and counting.... 20th March is Irans National day, and they are planning to open their Oil Bourse ( oil trading exchange ) on that date, where they will also, I repeat also, accept payment in Euros for sale of barrels full of oil.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

all said and done

all said and done...the life that i want is ... a hut by the sea...sand under my toes...a laptop on which i write ..and maybe a car or bike or jeep to take me to town

i can live happily like that for years ..i know that

would write stuff...make stuff...paint tshirts.. and sell them in a small shed by my house

have a few small projects going on... the guitar..swim lots.....

sleep under the stars when i can...

harvest coconuts.... :)

ah my dream

when will u come true.

fact of the day

"The average American now owes $9,000 to credit card companies."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

iraqi blogs

Zeyad –

Baghdad Treasure –

24 Steps to Liberty -

Fayrouz Hancock -

Riverbend -

Hammorabi -

Salam Pax -

Salam Adil -

A Free Iraqi -

Iraq Blog Count -

mishti n me

The Paradox of Prosperity

He says it better....

The Paradox of Prosperity
The India That Can (No Longer) Say No

"Where freedom is menaced or justice threatened or where aggression takes place, we cannot be and shall not be neutral."

-Jawaharlal Nehru, addressing a joint session of US House and Senate October 13, 1949

Let us put Nehru's words in context: here is the leader of a country still dependent on foreign aid for food, militarily negligible, a country of crushing poverty, invited to address the Congress of the United States. We watch him treat the superpower as an equal, recalling it to its highest values. It lionizes him. JFK's first State of the Union speech invokes the "soaring idealism of Nehru". In 1962, C. Rajagopalachari (also known as Rajaji, an associate of the Mahatma and a political opponent of Nehru) visits the US and the USSR promoting the importance of nuclear disarmament. President Kennedy listens with rapt attention, later recalling his meeting with Rajagopalachari as "one of the most civilizing influences on me".

It was an era when India was regarded everywhere as a moral superpower, even if it was poor in material wealth. The authority India wielded on the world stage was lopsided, totally out of proportion to its military or economic power. Why was this so? Every country wants its people to eat well, but India, like America, represented something more -- the inspiration of high purpose. Gandhi's freedom movement set minds everywhere on fire. This was followed, after independence, by Nehru's forging of the entirely new paradigm of non-alignment where India refused to trade political allegiance for economic blandishment.

Paradoxically, today, when India is an expanding power, exporting not just food but steel, with rising incomes, foreign acquisitions and a nuclear bomb, she is often viewed as nothing more than 'a country with a middle class of 400 million'. And the moral voice? It hasn't been heard from in years! There was courage in rags, but there is only meekness and timidity in riches. And the bomb, far from emboldening us, seems only to have induced servility. This week, for regularizing a nuclear deal with the US, among other economic aims, India rolls out the red carpet to an American president who has sullied everything noble about America.

When Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, India remained mute, likely weighing the forfeiture of any potential contracts in post-war Iraq. How electrifying it would have been for India to resume its role as the world's moral superpower, to condemn the invasion from the rooftops, to recall its ambassador from Washington? India would have become the beacon of the world.

But all that is unimaginable today. For we are now rich, nuclear -- and fearful. In the words of my father, KG Ramakrishnan, "where there was the torment of the soul, there now was the swagger of the body."

Where the country of four hundred million 'subjects' overthrew the mightiest empire known to history, the weight of four hundred million 'consumers' forces a free nation to acquiesce in a fresh imperialism. Far from not remaining neutral in the face of aggression, as Nehru said, India this week is actually feting the aggressor! As Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "How heavy is the toll of sins and wrongs that wealth, power and prestige exact from man."

Niranjan Ramakrishnan can be reached at His blog is at

oh what a weekend it was .

im back... after a 4 day break. Had gone to Kolkata Friday to Monday and it was real fun. My sister and her daughter, my mother and her mother were there and it was feeding frenzy time. Happy times spent with my niece and lots of good food. Totally stress busting time.

its been a happening week. In Kolkata we went for lunch to Taj Bengal and my day was made when I realised that the cute thing loading her plate next to me was Katrina Kaif. An old buddy was in Kol too, ex sailor, attending the marriage of a college friend. So just a few miles from my home, there was a non-stop wedding party happening with lots of drunken current and ex-sailors managing to relive the old times. I too dipped my beak in the trough when I could.

This week saw the railway budget being introduced, the Indian Budget exercise being handled with aplomb by Chidu bhai and the invasion of the Bushmen. Small cars are cheaper now, rail tickets can be obtained on the internet and Manmohan Singh has to figure out whether to listen to the Indian scientific community or to the White Chief.

Delhi is going through a sudden cold spell, winter clothing that had been packed and put away in mothballs had to be retrieved. The sun shines bright, the air is chilly and springtime is here.

The Budget always highlights how precarious our position is. The non plan expenditure is twice the planned expenditure. This means that existing payment commitments by the government are so huge that there is very little left for new schemes. There does seem to be a quiet plan underway, where in no earthshaking changes will be announced, but focus will be on making the system work better and smarter. Again Defence expenditure is a black hole, huge amounts of our money just goes behind the cantonment walls and does god knows what there. This is a monster we are creating and it will have to be checked soon. Soon a stage will come where we will have created a parallel structure which has developed a taste for huge amounts of money. It is always pointed out that the indian army never has been politically active, but I think we are tempting fate here. This monster will grow on what it feeds on. It becomes an instrument of state power domestically and it resists all attempts to moderate its diet. It will soon be like riding a tiger. The record of the army in dealing with far flung areas and defenseless disenfranchised people is not too good. This government is very clever in balancing books, but hard social, political, strategic, geopolitical and ethical issues seem to give it a headache. Lets see how far the mantra - "Its the economy, stupid " works.

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