Things the Left needs to do Right

Prabhat Patnaik writes a useful critique of the Left in this thoughtful piece in The Hindu.

What is true, however, is that even the Indian communists, despite being opposed to globalisation and associated neo-liberal policies, have not charted a concrete alternative development strategy. Their opposition has taken the form of identifying particular parties as neo-liberal and having no truck with them, which has hampered united struggles for the defence of secularism and democracy. But uniting with others in struggles, on platforms, and even in government, against the Hindutva and semi-fascist forces and on the basis of a concrete alternative agenda to neo-liberalism, will serve the people better.

We need a good Left and a Right in politics to have a more balanced world. Also, waiting to see such a useful critique of the Right.

Desire

There are moments when I wonder if I had done such and such a thing at such and such a time, how my life would have changed. I realize the importance of doing that thing at that time but never actually do it. That is what makes me average. People who know what to do and then who have the gumption to actually do it are the people who are successful.

Where does the gumption to do it come from?

It comes from previous successes.

How does one go about building the gumption?

It comes from small victories.

Where do these small victories come from?

From taking the first step.

What motivates one to take the first step?

Having the desire to achieve the first step.

The world is full of suffering,

The suffering has a cause

The cause of suffering is desire.

Mumbai. January 8, 2016.

Magic

Human beings associate magic with things they do not understand. It is for a category of things that are not so spectacular so as to be associated with God.

We logically conclude as above based on very limited understanding and with techniques that have not matured enough yet to give us a complete picture.

But, one by one, we understand things that are magical. Hence, the category of magic is for me, a vision of the things we need to understand and the things we need to create.

Empathy

In our fast driven world, one of the spaces that needs the slow movement and quickly, is the services industry. There is need for fast and efficient service in the services industry but these need to be limited to work that can be done by robots rather than human beings.

Human beings are slow by default. Only a rare few can deliver the quick service that has become an expectation today. This becomes even rarer when there are no support systems in place to provide the speed in service even when the service provider sometimes wants to.

My post today is only to urge you, the customer, to show a little more patience and a little more empathy. The person providing you the service is also a human being and bound to have feelings, have his own issues and also trying to make a living.

If you are not getting a service at the speed that you demand, try to understand why. It will take you only a few more moments of your precious time and will lead to a much better understanding of the service that you sometime take for granted. You only realize the value of the service rendered once it is gone.

Lower your expectations. Show a little more empathy.

Mumbai. January 6, 2016.

Hindu

It was only right before marriage when I sought to write down what my essential beliefs would be. I saw marriage as introducing chaos into my world, one which I embraced and enjoyed. Before the introduction of this chaos, I wanted to reduce my involvement in other things and prioritize them when I could not totally remove them.

One of the things that I had the most difficult time was to select what would be the set of beliefs that I would follow. I am a Hindu by birth but I have the choice of what set of beliefs I would take in and what I would keep out in the multitude of beliefs.

I read through books on Christianity, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism and Islam and chose Hinduism to be the broad umbrella in which I’d like to continue to stay. Like all teenagers, I’ve been through atheism as well.

After choosing the broadest stream that there is, in religious beliefs, there were still many more options left to choose from. Even within Hinduism there are a range of practices and beliefs. There are organisations and traditions. This too left with me far too much diversity and only increased the chaos.

After a study of the books, I looked at how many of the people I know practiced the religion on a day-to-day basis to help me get a little more handle on things. I noticed how my grandfather practiced Hinduism. He would light the lamp at the small altar in his house and pray. He would visit temples but would stay away from elaborate ritualism but still supported the festival in the temple close to his house. He had an interest in astrology but did not let it guide him. He was content with this and had a remarkably simple practice of the religion with little interest in its theology.

After a lot of thinking, I adopted this practice as well. I would pray every day at the altar at my house and visit the temple one day a week. I’ve had an interest in some philosophy and rather than take in too many differing views have restricted myself to reading stuff mostly ¬†from the Chinmaya Mission and to talks on Buddhism on the Against the Stream podcast to satiate my philosophical appetite.

Mumbai. January 4, 2016.

 

Bidding adieu to Dr A P J Abdul Kalam

There were three things Kalam stood for me. One was his pioneering effort in developing India’s first launch vehicle, presenting the story of the Indian space programme for me. Second was his creation of realistic visions that are achieveable ergo sometimes controversial. Third was his leadership style that presents a challenge in today’s heavily result oriented market.

I was introduced to Dr Kalam’s name in a book on the history of Indian space programme as the director of the SLV-3. He suddenly came into prominence when he was elected as the President of India. It was through his book, Wings of Fire that the Indian space programme became to me something more than an academic study. He introduced characters, events, trials and tribulations which made it more human. Compared to earlier texts which read more like a presentation of facts, figures and milestones, he shared the story in a language that any lay man could understand. The experiment, the calculation and every effort made to measure twice and cut once that was involved in the development of the SLV-3 perhaps presented what it meant to the whole nation to have a capability to become a space faring nation.

As President, he also presented a somewhat rational and more modern version of the vision of India as a developed country by 2020. The economic crisis in 2008 likely dampened the achievement of that vision, but it seems to have been laid by the side by subsequent governments. But, it was not replaced with anything better. No person or government has since sought to present a vision for the country and then work to get a popular consensus to work to achieve it. Since then, the country has had no clear vision on what it means to be a developed country in the 21st century. Our future has since then changed to the whims and fancies of politicians and economists.

Dr Kalam’s leadership style as presented in his books through anecdotes, is also something that inspired me. We don’t see leaders like those any more. He was one of the first who made a usable website understanding the role the web has to play, with inspirational quotes and quotations, opening up Rashtrapati Bhavan to visits for the common man and challenging the governments of the day to undertake ambitious projects that would work to inspire future generations. Leaders see things that others don’t. In his later days, he spoke of human presence on the Moon and Mars. He pushed ISRO to carry an impact probe on Chandrayaan-1 so that India touched the Moon on its maiden mission. These touch a vision that not many can see.

The only thing that I can think of doing is dust my old copy of Wings of Fire and read it again and perhaps gain a glimmer of inspiration that could perhaps push me to do something extraordinary. He may have passed away but his mission of making India and the world a better place to live in lives on.