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December 1, 2017 / subramanyam

What GST,Aadhaar & Ujwala are doing to India?

We all have many questions regarding the GST , the troubles it is bringing to traders, the benefits it is giving to customers and all  etc…  Then we are all getting multiple reminders from mobile operators, LPG companies, banks, Credit card guys to update our Aadhaar number right.

However, Is all of this good to India. What are all these things doing to the country.  Here is an excellent talk by Mr. Nilesh Shah who is the head of Kotak Mutual Funds.  Please listen to this.

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October 11, 2017 / subramanyam

An Autobiography worth reading.

A publicity stunt, this was the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about this book for the first time. Well, that was in 2007. However, almost a decade later my maturity levels did increase, and I picked this book to read and thanked my self for doing so.

Here is the blurb of the book.

Fiery, outspoken and often wickedly funny, this candid account of one woman’s life as a sex Autobiography_of_a_SexWorkerworker in Kerala, India became a bestseller when it was first published in Malayalam. Nalini Jameela, who takes her name from both Hindu and Muslim traditions, worked as a child in the clay mines. She has been a wife, mother successful businesswoman and social activist-as well as a sex worker-at different stages in her life. This is Nalini Jameela’s story, told in her inimitably honest and down-to-earth style, of her search for dignity, empowerment and freedom on her own terms.

Does the society see sex workers as human beings? This was the question I had as I finished the book. I think that’s what happens to most of us when we read about a girl who comes from a good family, has aspirations of her own , stands up for injustice, ends up getting married accidentally, is pushed into sex work due to circumstances, gets cheated a good number of times and still comes back to tell us the story of her life.

Nalini Jameela does not just tell her autobiography; she tries to analyze happenings of her life as she narrates them to us. In this book, we see her journey from being a lady who chose to do sex work to make her ends meet to a person who is fighting for the rights of sex workers.

What did I like in the book?
1. The conviction of the author. She never tries to be apologetic about her trade, she tells us as to why she went into that trade and how her life transformed because of that decision. Her views on sex trade are worth reading.
Nalini jameela2. The way she presents her encounters with men. She did have romantic escapades with her customers, she makes no bones about it and speaks about them clearly. Again she does not play cheap tricks like giving out juicy details of her romance and all; she retraces her encounters and speaks her mind out.
3. Her views on feminism: While it comes only in one or two pages of the book, it is worth reading.
4. Her nature to call a spade a spade: Nalini Jameela is a master at this, she likes something, she speaks about it, she dislikes something she speaks clearly about it. I felt that the author was speaking without any bias.
5. Her views on God : I might not concur with her views on God, however, I did find this part very interesting.

What did I not like?
1. The editing of the book is poor; I had to struggle to read it.
2. Sometimes you don’t see the flow in the writing, that makes reading tough.

Conclusion

To Conclude this is a pretty good book that opens one’s mind to a new world. Do read the book when you find the time, you would definitely pick some useful perspectives.

Happy Reading.

Image Source

https://suneethaspeaks.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jameela. jpg

Amazon.in

You can buy the book here.

October 8, 2017 / subramanyam

Hindu Human Rights Report 2017

We have multiple reports on Human Rights that are published worldwide; there is no dearth of such reports being published in India too. Prominent organizations like USCIRF, Amnesty International, Human rights watch, etc.. publish their reports on Human Rights (say Human Rights violations) in India. However, there is a glaring difference here, while the human rights reports worldwide do report the attacks on both majority and minority communities (Religious Majority/Minority), in India, the reports focus mostly on the human right violations committed against Minorities and Dalits alone.

One of the prime reasons as to why the crimes against Hindus goes unreported is probably due to the biased views of the mainstream media. A number of media houses in the country are biased and they under-report the atrocities on the Hindus.

At this juncture, one ought to congratulate Indiafacts.org for the work they did andHindu_Human_Rights brought out a report on the Human Right Violations done against the Hindus. This report discusses the troubles and travails of Hindus in Hindustan.

The report begins with the discrimination Indians face in the hands of Government, it speaks about the way the Hindu temples are managed by the governments and the way the money from the temples is diverted for other activities. Then, we look at the horrors of RTE, the way the skewed policy is making the Hindus shut down their schools is very well articulated. The stats that were given in the report present a shocking picture.

The report then focuses on the attacks on Hindus from the hostile ideologies. Dravidian Ideology outrightly attacks Hindus; then we have the so-called intellectuals who have an alliance with the left wing extremists these people also attack Hindus. Then we have the Islamic extremists and the Christian extremists who outrightly attack Hindus.  Then the Christian proselytizing in India and the troubles they are creating to Hindus is another truth that is under reported.  All these incidents have been documented in the report.

The report has extensive stats and even the web links of all the crimes committed against the Hindus.  One should thank the Indiafacts for bringing all these crimes to light.  They tried to compile the entire data and have it in a single place.  They (The authors) also tell us that many crimes against Hindus go unreported and only a fraction of them have been brought out by the means of this report.  Nevertheless, we are still indebted to them as we get to know the scale and intensity of the attacks on Hindus, due to this report.

This is report is very welcome step and great first step in documenting the atrocities against the Hindu community in the country.  The authors of the report gave good number of recommendations at the end of the book as to how these attacks and the discrimination against Hindus can be stopped.  Right from the governments to the common man on the street , every one of us needs to read and understand these recommendations and work for the implementation of them.

Thanks a lot to the IndiaFacts team for getting this report out.

Dear friends, do have a look at the report, it will change your perception on Hindus.  Happy Reading.

October 2, 2017 / subramanyam

Immortal India – My Take

I am very scared of picking up books that re-tell Indian itihasas. The reason, my conservative views. Hence I read the Amish’s books very late. I read Shiva Trilogy very late and that too because a girl spoke about the leadership lessons she learned from the book. Here is what I wrote about it then. I did not read the Ramayana Series of Amish as yet as I have my own doubts.  This is by and large changing now but I am still rigid in many areas.

However, when I saw Amish’s Immortal India, I wanted to give it a try as Amish was speaking about the nation. Here is the blurb that caught my attention and made me go for the book.

India, a culture that witnessed the dawn of civilization. That witnessed the rise of other cultures and watched them turn to dust. It has been celebrated and attacked. Admired and vilified. But through all these millennia, after all the ups and downs of history, it’s still here! And now, after a few centuries of decline, it’s driving a new dawn once again. Ajanaabhavarsh. Bharat. Hindustan. India. The names may change, but the soul of this great land is immortal.

Amish helps you understand India like never before, through a series of sharp articles, nuanced speeches, and intelligent debates. Based on his deep understanding of subjects such as, religion, mythology, tradition, history, contemporary societal norms, governance, and ethics, in Immortal India: Young Country, Timeless Civilization, Amish lays out the vast landscape of an ancient culture with a fascinatingly modern outlook.

As the blurb points out, this book is a compilation of articles and speeches (of Amish) covering myriad topics across history, mythology, social issues, and religion.

The book begins with a section on Religion and Mythology. Amish speaks about his faith,Amish the way he is a devotee of Lord Shiva.  Then we get to see his thoughts on Lord Rama, the purpose of God, his thoughts on Divine Feminine and other topics. The article on Lord Rama is my personal favorite, the way he understood Lord Sri Rama is amazing.

The second section of the book speaks about social issues. Amish begins with a piece on LGBT rights in India, then moves on to give his views on the Caste system, religious violence, government, corruption, the way the TV debates are happening in the country, the age of money in which we live and Ancient India’s approach to Charity. I loved his views on each of these topics. My personal favorite in this section is the article on Charity. Here Amish compares the Ancient Indian model vis-a-vis the current one the world is following and tells us as to how and why the former was much better. He also speaks about having focus and the importance of leading a life that is focused on a few objectives. That makes this section is a must-read.

Then we get into the section on History. Amish voices his opinion on the Aryan Invasion Theory and bogey of lies that are being peddled along with it. Then he speaks about the Young Indians, their rebellious nature and his views on it, he speaks about the importance of history, and why we ought to educate ourselves on that subject. Then he speaks about the freedom of expression, the importance of our Vedic learning and a few other topics. I loved the piece on “British Mumbai — Aamch Mumbai,” this speaks about the much-forgotten fact that Britishers were actually smuggling Opium through India and the erstwhile Bombay was one of the centers for this. I also liked the piece that deals with “The Laws that are dividing the country”. Then the piece on Wajid Ali Shah is something one should not miss; it is heartening to know that a Nawab helped a musical tradition to be alive when the nation was under a hostile occupation.

The last section deals with Amish’s Musings, he tells as to what gets him going, why he writes, spirituality & his son, some of the most impactful incidents of life with his Mom, his sister and his wife. He ends the book with a patriotic manifesto where he discusses swadharma vs. the collective greater good.

All in all a fantastic book. The only drawback might be the fact that we see ideas getting repeated, sometimes you read the same content more than once, this could have been avoided. Nevertheless, this is a must read for every Indian.

I have always argued that the best-selling authors must speak about social issues too. Given the amount the following that they enjoy, every word they utter can metamorphize itself into an agent of change. In his speeches, articles and Q&A sessions Amish did speak with a sense of responsibility and gave the right message to his audience.

I thank Amish for doing the good work and bringing the book out. I did not know that Amish writes this frequently, I shall definitely keep following his articles going forward.

Do read the book.  This is a must read for every Indian. It tells us a few things that we all ought to know but are unaware of.  It speaks about the the Immortal nature of the this great country and its civilization.  Do read it. Happy Reading.

You can buy the book here.

September 7, 2017 / subramanyam

Avishi : My Take

This review is overdue for quite some time now. Yes, I did complete reading Smt. Sai Swaroopa Iyer’s book “Avishi” a few days ago. Here is my take on the book.

Before I give my opinion. Here is the Blurb of the book.

Long before the times of Draupadi and Sita
Immortalised in the hymns of Rig Veda
But forgotten to the memory of IndiaOpiobe1c5-avishi2bfinal2bcover
The Warrior Queen with an iron leg, Vishpala
Brought up in the pristine forest school of Naimisha, Avishi reaches the republic of Ashtagani in search of her destiny. When Khela, the oppressive King of the neighbouring Vrishabhavati begins to overwhelm and invade Ashtagani, Avishi rises to protect her settlement, but at a high cost. Separated from her love, her settlement broken, with a brutal injury needing amputation of her leg, can Avishi overcome Khela?

The queen Vishpala gets mentioned in a few verses of Rig Veda. It is told that the Gods of good Health “Ashwini Devathas” blessed her with a metal leg. The verses and the story available in the Vedas can hardly help a person create a short story, but then you are reading Sai Swaroopa Iyer dear friends, this lady made a novel out of this story.

The story begins with a small girl being saved from the repercussions of a palace coup and taken to a gurukul in the forest. This girl grows up to be a warrior. She leaves the forest to find her life’s purpose in a republic called AshtaGani. Now what challenges does she face there, how does she end up getting into fights that prove costly for her? How does she end up in a situation that needs the amputation of her leg? Will she be able to overcome the perils of her life? If yes, at what cost? Read Avishi for all the answers.

What did I like in the book?
Creating Avishi itself from the few verses in Rig Veda :  The research the author did on various Bhashya’s and arrived at the book is in it self a great achievement.

f70a8-img-20161125-wa0001Narrative:  Sai Swaroopa normally has a narrative other than the main plot of the book. While the story is about Avishi and she overcoming her perils, we see an underlying narrative that comes out clearly from the intentions of Khela and Anudatta. Do Economic Dominance and politics of aid ring a bell? Yeah, read the novel, particularly with today’s world in mind.

The way the author uses people from various walks of life and involves them in the story : The descriptions of Ashtagani are wonderful. The author shows how a farmer, a smith, a cowherd, a doctor, a potter are all equally important and should have a say in the day to day matters of the state. In a way, Ashtagani is an ideal society one can dream of. I loved the work because the author goes on to shw that even such a society can become weak when its people become weak. In a way you learn some Statecraft here.

The author’s eye for detail : While creating the societies of Jambudvipa, she takes enough care as to speak about the sort of dresses they wear, the things they use to save themselves from winter, the ornaments they used, the division of labor in the societies etc. That was done very well.

Un-put-downable  :  The word says it all, the pace of the book is superb.

Coming to the areas that I thought could have been dealt well.
Now, these are my opinions only. Probably due to my excessive attachment with the characters.

The question on marriage is left unanswered in the book. The book ends with a work around, but a solution would have been fantastic. My sole reason for this is, from the reading I did on the Sanatana Dharma, and its texts, marriage as an institution was always there. Right from the days of Prajapatis who were the direct descendants of Shri Chaturmukha Brahma Deva. So where did this question of this not being an institution come in and when and how was it solved. The author could have ended this subject on a high note. This might not have been the core subject of the book, but when this finds its mention in the first few chapters, there should have been an answer.

The last fight could have been better. There was a drag, and that could have been avoided.

This is my personal bias, to a person on the road like me, the male characters except for the antagonist and Shula seem to be incomplete. It is not that they are imperfect, I say it again, it is not that they are imperfect,  they are good in their own sense but we donot see a sense of satisfaction or joy in their lives, it is as if misery is after them.  Somehow, I felt there lives could have been sprinkled with a few moments of Joy.   Moreover, having read Abhaya, I was expecting more from the characters of Avishi.

Conclusion

A must read work on the ancient Indian Society. Please don’t go by my biases, the areas of improvement that I suggested are purely my opinions you might find it different when you read it. Do read it when you have time. A fantastic piece of work by Smt. Sai Swaroopa Iyer. Do read the book Happy Reading.

You can buy the book here .

September 3, 2017 / subramanyam

Victory for Hardwork

Is Nirmala Sitharaman the first woman defense minister of India? Or is she the second? Did Modi consider woman empowerment while elevating her to the position of a defense minister?  Is BJP more committed to Women empowerment than congress, does Nirmala Sitharaman represent the Nari Shakti ?The congratulatory messages, the debates and probably every other discussion in the country seems to be around these lines.

To me, Nirmala ji has achieved this with her dedication and hard work. It is not empowerment or appeasement. She worked hard and got her due at the high table. We

Nirmala_Sitharaman

More Power to You Madam— You are an inspiration

must be proud of the fact that a woman with a humble background achieved and  scaled these heights. We ought to respect the hard work she puts in. In fact, we ought to emulate work ethic and commitment this lady brings to the table.

Honestly, I did know about Nirmala ji before 2012. I used to see her in T.V. Debates after 2012. She used to stump the other panelists with the depth of her knowledge. I used to respect her for her research and the clarity of thought that she brought into her words.

She became a minister of state for commerce in 2014 and honestly she was one of those ministers who stayed away from lime light. We never saw her receiving the coverage that a Smt. Sushma Swaraj ji or Smt. Smriti Irani received. However, for keen observer, she was one of those ministers in the government who gave elaborate statements on the government schemes and plans both in the Parliament and out side too. Please check her speeches on GST, the stand of India in WTO, SEZ policy in India and many other issues. Then, her work with Start Up India received many accolades. She did all this as a junior minister for commerce.

Now, the Prime Minister and the senior ministers decided to have her as the defense minister, and she was inducted into the cabinet today.

One needs to understand all the years of hard work that has got her here. Yes, definitely it is a moment for celebration that a woman made it to the top. It is so good to see a woman take charge of something that was considered to be a male bastion.  However, just making a statement that this is true women empowerment and ignoring all the toil and all the hours she put in to get to the top is a disservice to Nirmala ji’s achievement.

It is not just with her, every Minister of State who worked hard to prove his credentials was rewarded with a bigger responsibility today. Shri Piyush Goyal who made the PM’s “Rural Electrification Mission” a huge success was rewarded with one of the most important portfolios “The Railways.” Same is the case with Dharmendra Pradhan ji, his good work in the Petroleum Ministry saw him get a cabinet rank. Then Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi ji,  his good work saw him become the cabinet minister for Minority Affairs.

In stead of discussing the genders, the castes and regional and sub regional politics we ought to discuss as to what got these people there? We ought to emulate their dedication for their jobs and the long hours they put in. That to me is the greatest take away from the cabinet rejig that happened today.
Bharat Mata ki Jai

 

Image Source : http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/050417/cow-protectionism-was-spirit-behind-freedom-movement-bjp-minister.html

August 20, 2017 / subramanyam

Effective Evaluations — 2

In the last post, I gave some tips that I knew regarding evaluations. This post is a continuation of that.

Analyze the Content of the speech.

Content is a tricky area. Many would argue that the content of the speech is best left untouched and as an evaluator, we ought to focus only on delivery of the speech. This is a very valid argument, and I do respect it.

I would respectfully differ from that argument and say that we can indeed try and analyze the content too. It is tricky but definitely worth a try.

Every speech has a purpose and an objective. As an evaluator, we ought to understand this part first. As we listen to the speech, we need to note the following.
(i) Generic Purpose of the speech
(ii) Specific Purpose & Objective of the speech

Once we understand the specific purpose / Objective of the speech, we ought to see as to how the speaker is trying to arrive at this objective.

If the speaker is trying to persuade/inspire the audience (most of the speakers try to do this), he/she would have to establish the problem first. Then they would have to tell us as to what motivated them to think about the solution and how they arrived at the solution. Then they will have to tell as to what the audience can take away from this / What they want the audience to do.

As an evaluator, we should not question the idea of the speaker. However, we can definitely look into the supporting material that the speaker has used to develop his/her arguments in the speech.

We can and should comment on the following areas.
1. The logical flow of the argument in the speech.  Does each of the stories contribute to the specific purpose of the speech?  Is the speaker arriving at the conclusion in well phased manner or is the speaker gate crashing towards the conclusion.

2. The time dedicated towards establishing the problem vis-a-vis the time spent on explaining the solution.  A speaker cannot harp on the problem for 5 mins and rush through the solution in a minute and conclude. Ideally, the problem statement, the realization, the solution must all get significant slices of time.

3. Logic Vs Emotion. Sometimes the speakers try to overuse the emotion so that the audience stays with them. For example, if I am speaking on a “rags to riches” story. I might harp more on the poverty of the protagonist and ensure that the audience of swayed to accept my position. However, I also need to tell the audience very logically as to how my protagonist came out of it. I cannot shirk it off by saying; he fought all this out with his determination. Every fight needs determination, but how did the protagonist fight it. Where did he get the help from, what tools did he use, how many time did he/she fail in the fight. Tomorrow if someone in the audience is fighting a similar battle how can they do it?

All this must be told. IF I am not doing that, I am just using emotion and not logic. Emotion is the biggest enemy to logic and memory. People might feel good for that moment. However, they would see no value in the speech after the emotion subsides. If you are my evaluator, I would want you to look into this trap of emotion vs. logic and let me know if I balanced both emotion and logic in my speech.

4. Appropriateness of the content to the audience. We ought to write speeches based on the audience. While I might be knowledgeable enough to speak about the economic conditions of the sub-Saharan nations I might not want to do that as a speech in ToastMasters meeting as it might be of little interest to my audience.

Did the speaker speak about a topic that is relatable, does that add value to the audience, what is the direct benefit that the audience would have from such speech? We can definitely applaud the speaker if the topic adds value to the audience.