Notes to Myself


Food for Thought

Namaskar, Secularism and Hindu Pakistan

My sage-like friend, who I respect not just because of his age, but experience and wisdom, sent me below video highlighting the importance of Namaskar (नमस्कार:) in Hindu culture.

While I understood and liked the video in principle, I found it flawed at multiple levels, and thought of writing my views because it serves as a perfect example of what I find wrong about the Right Wing ideology.

I’m not going to talk about far-fetched analogy between name of athelete (Hima) and snow (what would have happened if her name was Mary Kom?)

I will highlight two specific areas I find objectionable and elaborate on them.

The first objection is this:

The person says that if celebrities and youth show in public these identities (such as Namaskar with folded arms) of Indian culture (भारतीय संस्क्रुती) it will be great encouragement for all other youth.So very cleverly the person has mixed Hindu culture with Indian culture and made it synonymous. They are NOT. The right wing in subtle manner want to emphasize that everything Indian is Hindu.

Most common people use these words interchangeably because they do not notice the subtle difference. RW people do it with specific intention. They want to establish that India belongs to Hindus and other religions, other ethnic minorities can live here peacefully provided they accept that this is a Hindu nation.

This is not the idea of India our forefathers thought of, or majority of people identify with. And that’s why there is a secret mission to change the Constitution.Pakistan was born on two-nation theory and it’s a Muslim country by design. We (India) did not choose that route. We chose to remain a multi-religion, multi-culture, pluralist society – a secular state (which was added in the Constitution later, however the ethos was the same right from beginning).That brings me to the second flaw in the video:The person says: Today the environment is such that one should not identify with any culture or religion. This is what is called as secularism. This is not Bharatiya (Indian) culture.This is completely false and the RW harps on this version because it suits their agenda.Here is a note on Secularism from Wikipedia page:

Secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries (the attainment of such is termed secularity). One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs or practices

Note two important aspects above. State should be separate from persons. Secularism DOES NOT mean that “one should not identify with any culture or religion” as the person in video was asserting. It only says that the state, the government institutions should not identify with any particular culture or religion. Otherwise, we may have Muslim religion/culture in states where Muslim political parties are in power and Christian where Christian are in power and so on. And this may keep changing as power shifts hands from one tenure to the other. That is not good for democracy and stability. The state should be neutral to all religions and cultures…neutral does not mean insensitive or disrespectful. State should not impose religion or religious practices on people.

Second aspect is that Hindu is not same as India. If traditional Hindu practices, rituals are constantly referred to as “Bharatiya”/Indian, slowly the two get equated. That is what has happened in India. We consider the two as synonymous. They are not. RW wants them to be synonymous – and this goes back to their hidden agenda of “India belongs to Hindus and other religions, other ethnic minorities can live here peacefully provided they accept that this is a Hindu nation.”.

My economics Professor at IIM-A, who is a Christian, debated this point openly, and at length. He said that installing a Saraswati idol in a Government run institute (because Saraswati is Goddess of Education and Wisdom as per Indian culture) is wrong and subtle oppression. Some students argued, what’s wrong in that? It is commonly accepted local symbolism which goes beyond religion. Well, imagine having a tall statue of Jesus or Paigambar or some other saint from other religion in such institutes – not in place of Saraswati, but along side. Most people would find it difficult to digest.

Professor said that if people of other religion keep their religious idols in their cubicle or confined workspace, that would be “allowed” (some may have objection even with that). But having such idols at prominent public place is difficult to digest – let’s accept it.

Professors’ point was, religion and rituals are strictly private and personal and should not be brought in public domain. I agree with him completely.

As I am writing this blog, heavy sounds (actually noise) of Dhol and Taasha are disturbing me. The noise is from the practice sessions of troupes from Ganesh Festival, which is still 2 months away. These goons and rowdy people start their “practice” two months in advance, break all rules related to noise levels, deadline of 10 PM and yet nobody feels that there is anything wrong. They call is as their “cultural right”.

Imagine a Muslim or a Christian group doing such thing everyday for two months and it would be considered as an act of inciting or causing trouble intentionally. But when a Hindu group does that in the name of “culture” it is legitimate and “expression of sentiments of majority”.

That’s a good example why many say that RW’s agenda is to create a Hindu Pakistan (most recently reiterated by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and Ashutosh). All it means is to establish India as country based on religious identity (Hindu in our case) just as Pakistan was born on basis of a religious identity.

The fear is that the next logical extension of Hindu Pakistan would be conversion into Hindu Taliban – if (actually not if, but once) Hindu fanatics take over the control of Hindu Pakistan. Some may argue that the process has already started and there is enough substance in that argument – lynchings, attacks by Gau Rakshak, brutalities against minorities, threats to and murders or prominent thinkers from other ideologies, rape threats by trolls (even IT Cell members), abusive and demeaning quips by Union ministers and key leaders and above all – top leaders patronizing these incidents and supporting silently.

I have argued vociferously with many of my friends and almost all of them (after enough rounds of mental gymnastics and verbal diarrhea from both sides) have  conceded that they would like to see “Hindu” India. They would like to be known as Hindustan, where other minorities can live peacefully. And this is the true face of Hindutva – not Hinduism, which is totally different and sacred.

And we, I and people who believe in “idea of secular India”, oppose this idea of Hindutva and continue to fight it in our own capacity, across different forum! Hindutva is not Indianness (भारतीयता). Indianness is more plural,  all-inclusive and respectful of other religions and cultures. Let’s not allow a bunch of people to hijack the idea of India and impose rule of Hindu Taliban…



Arena, “A Shark In An Ocean” And Reliance Jio

Few months ago I wrote a blog (in Marathi) on “Strategy Diamond and Arena“. The core idea of Arena is that the field you compete in should be large enough to justify the efforts and reap handsome rewards. You do not want to be a “big fish in a small pond”.

I came across this note which summarizes the idea really well:


You should aspire to be a Shark in an Ocean! That is where the opportunity size is the highest!

Reliance Jio is a good example of this. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries is definitely a Shark – the biggest Shark there is in Indian Ocean 🙂

And Indian Communications, Media and Entertainment (CME) industry is definitely an ocean, which is going to become even larger in coming years. The telecom/mobile industry may seem to have stagnated, but there is still a lot of scope for consolidation (Reliance Jio has already disrupted the field with their mobile services launch last year). Reliance recently announced in their AGM that Jio will start offering broadband and cable/set-top-box from 15th August. They also announced plan to build an Amazon-like marketplace. Reliance has already acquired stakes in TV18 Network (which operates Colors, Viacomm, and CNBC-TV18 news channels, and, BookMyShow and few other digital properties. So they have good presence in communications, media and entertainment). They also own an IPL cricket team.

I won’t be surprised if they go Netflix or Amazon Prime way and start content streaming service and also take up Production (like Netflix did with House of Cards or Sacred Games in India). In fact that is just logical next step waiting to happen.

Controlling the fiber network, owning mobile handset/airwaves, controlling the content that gets streamed and having a share of wallet through marketplace – truly omnipresent strategy!

What would be a better case study of “A Shark In An Ocean”?

P.S.: With the recent announcement of Jio Institute (yet to be set up) getting the Institute of Eminence tag, the shark has just got bigger; he has entered another vast ocean called Indian Education Circus…I mean Sector. I’ll write a separate post on that since it deserves the Eminent attention!

Useful Pyramid For Investment Decisions

Useful Pyramid for investment decisions/ personal finance

Investment Pyramid

Bullshit Jobs, Bullshit Bingo and Anti-Bullshit Me

Bullshit Jobs

Few years ago I wrote a blog titled “TLAs: Which is your favourite?“. TLAs or Three Letter Acronyms are typical management jargon which you cannot escape in your corporate life. Technically there can be only 17,576 TLAs (26^3 i.e. number of ways of choosing 3 letters out of 26 letters, with repetition allowed).

TLAs are one form of bullshit buzzwords. There are many other types. And there are interesting tools around this concept. One of them is a Bullshit Buzzword Generator. For example, this:

The BS Generator generates three cool-sounding but totally meaningless phrases which can be fitted into any corporate communication!

Then there is a game called “Bullshit Bingo” created by someone like me (who is totally anti-Bullshit). It’s an interesting concept and there are several versions!

For example, this game:


The reason I remembered this was an interesting article I read in The Economist: “Are you stuck in a “bullshit job”?

The article is based on a new book titled “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory” written by David Graeber. I have not read the book yet; though I read the Economist article and got the gist of it. It’s really thought-provoking idea, and something that hits at the root of phrases such as “value addition”, “corporate efficiency” etc.

I started my career in a renowned IT Services company in India. Many of my family relatives had no connection with this new age industry. So a common question they would ask me was: What do you (actually) do? What do you produce and ship and sell?

They had seen factories and they had seen workshops and shops. But a work location which didn’t get any visible raw material, where there was no movement of goods or no smoke, no chimneys, and yet which “exported” millions of dollars of output was difficult for them to digest. So I told them that we make CDs and DVDs. Then they were OK. They had seen CDs and DVDs.

Similar question was repeated when I had moved up the ladder to become a Manager. What do you do now? was indeed a tough question to answer honestly. I often felt if I was adding the value (in true sense) compared to the paycheck I get?

Then there is typical question that haunts many mid-level managers (more so in IT sector): Is my job/role really needed? If I go away on vacation for a few days/weeks, would the work not get done at all?

The book, I suppose, tries to address such questions. This extract from the Economist article is really insightful:

Mr Graeber defines a bullshit job as one “that is so completely pointless, unnecessary or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence”, though they may have to pretend that they believe in it. This definition, and indeed much of the book, combines two categories of roles. In the first are jobs that Mr Graeber tends to think are socially worthless, such as corporate lawyers or investment bankers. (Some of those workers may take an equally dim view of the utility of anthropologists.) In the second group are jobs where employees find themselves with little or nothing to do and, worse, must still look as if they are frantically busy.

To be honest, I have felt this often in my job. And then I have tried to change company, or my job role. Because it is really difficult for me to sustain in a bullshit job for too long.

Some people manage to spend entire career in such bullshit jobs. Most do it unknowingly, and few others knowingly. Some even master the art of bullshitting and create a fortune!

When I visit public sector (Government owned) businesses – such as banks, insurance companies, power or telecom, I can see Bullshit jobs all around me. Most of them are really not needed. Even in private sector, there are plenty of bullshit jobs – and surprisingly many are in the top management!

In fact bullshit jobs are omnipresent! They are there in academics, in places of worship (temples etc), in Government offices and ministries, in arts (Movies, Music, television), in Sports, even in charity and philanthropy!

However the two that stand out, according to me, are:

  1. Government of India has created a Ministry for river Ganga Rejuvenation! There is already a Ministry of Water Resources and River Development. But the Government decided to add “Ganga Rejuvenation” so that river Ganga (or the Ganges – the most revered river in India) can be cleaned and transformed from its current state of sanitary canal into a living stream of water. The Ministry was meaningless right from the beginning, because they could achieve the mandate through the existing ministry of water development. Four years have now passed and Ganga is equally or more dirty! This definitely was a Bullshit job in the first place.
  2. The second is actually a case of irony. I mentioned that most of the Public Sector enterprises (Government owned companies) are extremely bad. They have no efficiency, lots of bureaucracy, unions, poor customer service and they suck a lot of taxpayers’ money. So the government, rightly decided to get rid of these PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings). This was in 1991 when India started process of economic liberalization. And ironically a new ministry was added: Ministry of Disinvestment! The mandate for this ministry was to identify and sell PSUs and generate some money for the Government. 27 years later, the Ministry of Disinvestment still stands tall and has a lot of work to do! This clearly was a useless job…but it has become bullshit job because they have not been able to do their job even after 27 long years!

It often reminds me of BBC Classic “Yes Minister” and the Department of Administrative Officers and the episode on empty hospitals, called “The Compassionate Society”. Do watch it! It’s hilarious and equally relevant after 3 decades…




Good Quote: I No Longer Have Patience…


“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

Quote attributed to Meryl Streep; originally written by José Micard Teixeira.


Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger’s Funniest & Wittiest Moments

This is far from the complete compilation of the funniest and wittiest moments of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger – not even 1% of what the duo have given over their combined life of 182 years!

But it is a good place to begin exploring…


Our Education System Is Broken…

I read this news yesterday and wanted to write a blog.

Today I read about the Maharashtra state board’s 10th standard exam results and wrote this piece:

I feel our education system is in shambles. Something is seriously wrong.

Yesterday Maharashtra State Board’s 10th exam results were announced.

125 students got 100% marks (last year 193 students had secured 100% marks).

Read the finer details. Now there is “Best of Five” system i.e. only top 5 subjects are considered, not all 7 (so first language routinely gets excluded as noone scores 100 in that subjct).

For many 100% scorers, the “best of 5” was 95-96%. Then you add extra marks (max of 5%) for extra-curricular activities in sports, arts. A state level (U-16) badminton player got 95% in best of 5 and 5% for Sports and scored 100%.

In spite of all this, a recent survey found that 94% of Engg grads are not employable.


The situation would be worse for other streams of education.

Education system should be a quality gate and by allowing ridiculously low standards of exam/marking system we are damaging young minds – who would feel devastaed after knowing that their 90-95-100% is also not good enough.

But I don’t think the education ministry and the officials care enough; and private tuitions and institutes have a vested interest in maintaining status quo.

At minimum we can create public awareness about the pathetic education system; maybe the “Butterfly Effect” will lead to something meaningful and positive.

A Talk By Gladwell , The Language Issue And Connection With Arranged Marriage

I recently watched an interesting talk by Malcolm Gladwell on the Pitfalls of Market Research and found it very interesting!

I particularly liked the piece where he talked about an experiment by Tim Wilson at UAV which he called as the Poster Test.

OK, those of you who are too lazy to watch the whole video and understand what I am referring to, jump to 22:50 minutes and watch the part.

For those who are lazy enough to even do that, let me briefly explain the experiment.

Tim Wilson got together a bunch of students and divided into two group. He had few posters to give away. To one group he said: “Pick any poster you want and take it home”. To the second group he said: “Pick any poster you want. Tell me why you want that poster and then take it home”. A couple month later Tim called the students and found that students in the first group (who didn’t have to explain their choice) all liked their posters. While the students in the second group who were asked to explain their choice, now hated the poster! Also, the people in the first group picked a different kind of poster which was abstract impressionist art work, while the second group picked very trivial and less arty poster (that of Kittens hanging on bar)

So, the observation or finding was that when people are forced to talk about their choices and justify/defend them, their preferences change – in a negative way; that is, they gravitate toward the less sophisticated choice. And the insight from the experiment was that it’s actually “Language problem”. It is possible that people in the second group did not have right vocabulary to explain the abstract impressionist poster, even though in their heart they liked it. It would have been easy to come up with a reason to justify why they selected a trivial and less arty poster – for example, they liked Kittens as a kid. So just by adding a condition of having to articulate their choice the preference could be changed. People in the first group did not have this burden of articulating why they chose it.

Now this experiment may not be generic, or it could be too far-fetched to develop any common “wisdom”, but the experiment itself was very thought-provoking.

It immediately made me draw parallels with another domain – which I unfortunately developed a lot of knowledge of – that is Arranged Marriage.

Now, the non-Indian readers may not exactly know what “arranged marriage” is, as opposed to Love marriage. So here are couple of lines. Arranged marriage is alliance sought based on particular parameters such as Horoscope match, Height, Weight, Body Type, Education, Job/Career, Hobbies, Religion/ Caste, Location and many other factors. It is also a form in which lot of discussion and argument and reasoning takes place among two families before arriving at “Yes/No” decision.

Did the last part ring bells (not wedding bells!)? It is the discussion, reasoning part where I could draw parallels with the Poster Test and the Language problem. People engaging in Love Marriage are like Group 1 students. They are rarely required to “explain” their choice – unless it goes against some fundamental belief or expectation set by the larger family. E.g. Religion or Education level etc. But by and large Love Marriage is like Group 1 students – they can just walk away with their choice. People condemned to go for Arranged Marriage (yes, nobody willing goes for Arranged Marriage of the kind I described. It is mainly because they do not have the necessary persona and skills to fall into love) are like Group 2 students. If they find a match suitable they have to explain it to their family members (and often relatives) before they can walk away with “poster of their choice”. And that is where the language problem is often seen. Lot of people don’t know what they are looking for – their ideas are usually shaped by someone else, or based on what is on “generally preferred” list. So they have no idea how to explain why they found a particular match suitable. And as a consequence, some may even lose out on making the right decision – if they take too long to explain. It also impacts the negative choice. When you don’t find an arranged marriage proposal fit, usually you are expected to give some reason and say No. Honestly telling that reason could be brutal! So people sugar-quote things and convey a polite No. Again, the language problem. I would also imagine some really unfortunate instances where you end up saying “Yes” (and regret whole life) because you couldn’t articulate your “No”. Just the necessity of explaining your choice can have such a devastating effect! 😊

Anyways, I think I am drawing unnecessary parallels when there exist none. The tormenting process of Arranged Marriage can create a permanent thinking handicap! But the core idea of “Language problem” is very interesting; and I have talked about it with my friends often in a different way.

For example, can we think without a language? Will I be a different person if I start thinking in different language? Because my ability to “express” effectively in another language could be limited. So it might impact my true choice – of feeling, words and action. I have seen that people who don’t speak a certain language as well appear silent, introvert and thoughtful when they are in group of people speaking that language. Whereas the same person may appear talkative, extrovert, reactive when he is talking in his native language – because he can better express his true feelings, and actions.

Do you agree? Or have I completely messed up the idea while translating my thoughts from my native language to English? In either case, I have made my point! 😊

Puzzle: High School Algebra

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑