Read the Printed Word!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Some Amazing Coincidences

Swami Vivekananda and Subramanya Bharathi
Some amazing coincidences

Swami Vivekananda and Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi are perhaps the greatest personalities in 18-19th century to have influenced the youth.
Both died young at the age of 39 years. Both were philosophers with an aggressive patriotic fervor. Everyone knows that Sister Nivedita was the disciple of Swami Vivekananda but few are aware that bharathiyar himself was a disciple of Sister Nivedita. Sister Nivedita's parents were active members of Irish Home Rule Movement and it was natural that she encouraged the freedom struggle in India.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 , then and now

11 Sep 1897

Swami Vivekananda addressed the parliament of religions at Chicago,Hinduism shook US as only Hinduism can.

11 Sep 2001

Attack on WTC, Newyork, Islam shook US as only Islam can.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Status of Army in a democracy

A news item in Hindustan times
Army officers, studying in MHOW, allegedly broke window panes and ransacked furniture of the Sri Aurobindo College of Medical Sciences (SACMS), Indore, late Monday in retaliation against medicos allegedly attacking two of their colleagues earlier in the day.

'The officers, yet to be identified, created ruckus at the college as they went there on some 30 to 40 motorcycles, pelted stones, entered the college hostel and ransacked furniture in the rooms and the mess,' said Senior Superintendent of Police Vipin Maheshwari.

'They however dispersed as police arrived,' he said.

Earlier in the day two army officers had picked up a fight with medicos while they were dropping a student of SACMS to the college hostel, officials said.

Following the fight police was posted at the college.

'Acting on the complaint of Lt Ramandeep Singh Negi, Banganga police Monday registered cases against 10 students of SACMS under various sections of Indian Penal Code and arrested Ayush Gupta and Akash,' a police officer said.

SACMS administration said that they had also lodged a complaint against the army officers alleging that they had forcibly entered the hostel premises at around 3 a.m. Tuesday.

'We have lodged a complaint against the army officers at the Banganga police station and expect prompt action,' said SACMS COO G.S. Khanuja.


It is a familiar story for anybody who knows Mhow.

the civvies street is very quick to point out that we live in a democracy and army cannot flout the laws of the land and civil police are the sole authority for enforcing law.

fair enough.

what i would like to tell my civilian friends is that, in a so called democracy, army personnel have none of the rights that a civilian takes for granted. They cannot strike work like trade unions, cannot go on mass casual leave like our pilots, cannot bring a system to a stand still like our political parties, local or national. when a lawyer is roughed up, the judicial system comes to a halt, when a pilot is sacked, all air traffic is frozen, when a truck runs over someone , the local basti (often encroachments with the blessings of a political party) blocks the highway. And army personnel are not 'locals' anywhere, so they cannot expect local support anywhere; they are apolitical and so have no political support; they cannot be involved in business activities and so no money power either.

When someone misbehaves with an army officer, he is expected to report to the local police, who also knows that army has no rights in a democracy. He is expected to swallow the insult and move on. A war-horse hitched on to a wagon and made a work-horse for a day, cannot be expected to be used for war again.Well, these are the young officers who got the Kargil back for you. A million shiv sainiks or congresswallahs could not have done that.

This country does not deserve this army.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Middle game and End game

It is all a chequered board of nights and days,
where destiny with men for pieces plays,
Hither and thither, moves, mates and slays
And one by one in the closet lays.

Rubiat of Omar Khayam translated by Fitzgerald

The opening game of life gives you hardly any options. It is only in the middle game you get some control of your life.
You get to choose your line of attack or defence ;there are gambits, traps, pitfalls, positional play and sacrifices.
All the time, you only have a periferal view of the end game; after all if you don't play your middle game well, there would be no end game.
What is good for the middle game may not be good for the end game and vice versa.

As you move on in life, the options get narrowed down, the board is clear enough to see the steps ahead through simple, mathematical calculations. You can take stock of what you have got and what you have lost. The battle has to go on till the last move, probably till you find only the two kings on the entire board. Then there are no calculations to be made, no moves and counter moves; it is total peace. After all a draw is the logical end of a well played game.

some lessons from behaviour of animals

Anyone who has driven on a narrow hill track would have had this experience. you come across a cow on your track which you cannot overtake. the animal is convinced that the only purpose of your vehicle being there is to run over the cow. It starts running for dear life; may be for a kilometer or more, and then it is too tired to move a step; It moves to the side of the road and your drive on. One particular cow , I remember was very aggressive. She would give a menacing look, "Stop where you are ...or else.....". The jeep wouldn't stop. Then she would start running and after a while she would turn around to give another deadly look, to no avail. This went on for over four kilometers when the inevitable happened and I could overtake. The cow could hardly move , but once the perceived threat cleared, she gave a victorious snort at the jeep, before moving away.

I always have that eerie feeling that even as we worry about some real or perceived threat, there is some higher being laughing at us. We worry about a number of events like, sisters'/ daughters' marriages, higher education of children, construction of house, retirement and so on. We start running. When the time comes, the events pass off quite peacefully, leaving us just tired and relieved.

Another case is a monkey trap. Monkeys are trapped using a tin with a small opening. The tin is anchored to the ground and the opening is large enough for a monkey to put its hand inside but too small to withdraw a clenched fist after grabbing some nuts. The monkey is caught, since it would not let go of the nuts.

So many times we find ourselves in a difficult situation when all we need to get out of it is to let go of something we are dearly clinging on to. It may be sheer ego, some property/ material , position, power and so on.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Open source movement is not just a movement, but a philosophy

Written in 2001 for a newsletter Infantry School, Mhow. since then Linux has taken huge strides

The winds of open source movement are sweeping across the globe. Even as I am writing, the India-chapter of the Free Software Movement (FSF) is being inaugurated at Thiruvananthapuram, by Mr Richard Stallman. Mr Richard Stallman is the father of FSF and his grand aim is to develop an Operating system and a complete set of utilities under an open licence, so that one would not have to pay for software again.

What is open source software? It was born to counter the propriety software. Propriety software is developed by a monolith company like Microsoft, hiring the best available brains, to produce a high class, high cost software. Mind you the best brains come with a huge price tags. The source code is kept a heavily guarded secret and so are the bugs. Should the user face any problem, he just has to wait for the developer to come out with the next version with less bugs and more features. However, Microsoft is a past master in convincing the users that the bugs were actually features.

As against this, under open source concept, a programmer allows free access to his source code so that anyone is free to edit or add to improve the software. The only condition is that he too must keep his amendments open to everyone else. Of course, he retains the copyright to his contribution in the project. Who maintains the program to ensure it functions correctly? The creator of the software does it, not for money, but for maintaining his reputation among peers. For eg. JOE (Stands for Joe’s Own editor) is a text processor which works on Linux(pronounced as Lee-nucks). Joseph H Allen requires no further motivation to maintain this software than the fact that the program is named after him.

With the advent of Internet, the concept need not be limited to development of software alone but can even be used for developing a soft drink. Will Coca Cola or Pepsi ever open their formulae to the world for analysis and improvement?! Open Source Movement aims at tapping the hidden talent from all over the world. It fosters a spirit of working for self-pride rather than for material benefits. It is not just a movement; it is a philosophy, a religion, a way of life.

The message of this religion is clear; “Whatever you have to give to the world (Everybody has plenty to give), give it freely and ungrudgingly. Do not work only for money or position. As for accepting contributions from others, do so graciously and pay back with recognition, not just money or position.”

when is work not work, but play ?

when is work not work, but play ?

obviously, when you enjoy your work.

when does it happen?

when you work at your own pace, on your own volition, with no expectation of reward or fear of punishment/ failure.

(of course there are exceptions for example, when someone is cooking for his daughter, he doesn't mind being rushed ...)

you can set your own pace if you or are the top man in your organization.

top man doesn't mean NO 1 in a huge organizaton ... it can also mean at the bottom of the heap in an one man army.

well as for the reward, you can afford not to expect if you have enough self esteem, and of course, enough means for day to day living.


under such conditions work will become truly enjoyable, and such work will also be very productive.

So, barring a luck few, work for most people should start after retirement from 'regular work'.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


No, It is not about the famous train to Jaipur, it is about the life in the Army. Atleast for the families, life is nothing but 'palace on wheels' and for the army personnel themselves, the word army may sometimes be substituted by 'jungle'.

Palace or jungle, the real operative word is 'wheels'. Life in the army is like being always on the move. Like a traveller, you can experience the weather change ,look at a city through its railway station, but never be part of the town.

There is a time in life, when you want to get away from the train and get on with real life in the town, among real people. But then you are too scared to to leave the security of the train and venture into the big bad world of town people.

Even the families opt to stay in the railway stations (Read 'Cantonments') at times when the 'palace' turns into 'jungle' (Read 'Field Station'). A few daring ones stay in the town but come back to the cosy comfort of the train after two years.

As always there are pros and cons to everything, including life on wheels. The advantages first; there is security and for the officers and families there is a tremendous sense of a privileged existence, since they travel 'Deluxe class”. Though people keep moving in and out of the train, you do get good company. You get to see a lot of places and meet a lot of people though under controlled settings.

The disadvantages include the inability to settle down anywhere. There are no long lasting friends and no relatives, unless they are co passengers. Staying 24 x 7 with the same people, there is an artificial existence. The worst damage is the kind of belief that the world is just the train and the railway stations. The feeling of animosity comes out through the not infrequent reference to 'The B----- town people (Read 'civilians')'

The divide between the train and the towns is really widening. Particularly for the officers and families, 'deluxe class' existence is unaffordable outside the train, due to the currency variation. The classic case is the kind of people who are born in a train, live the entire life in trains and settle down in a railway station, when too old to keep moving.

may you live a hundred years

may you live a hundred years ! is it a curse or a blessing ?

quote from an life insurance agent

"a policy caters for two tragedies in life

dying too early (covered by insurance component)
living too long (covered by the savings component)"

the first case really doesn't affect you , it affect only your Dependants
the second case affects you the most

so what do you do ?

as long as you continue to enjoy the fruits from trees planted by your predecessors, it is only fair that you cater for the insurance component for your dependants

any financial planning requires an important input ; how long will you live ?

without this input either you will run out of your savings


will be left looking fondly at the unspent savings when you are in no position to really spend

so, what do you do ?

well, if you have run out of your savings, it only means you have lived your life to the full , so why regret ?
if you are left with assets you wish you had spent in your younger days, then be happy you are leaving something for your successors or for charity.
what if the beneficiaries are not worth the largess ? a tree providing shade or fruits doesn't judge the beneficiaries be it...