PM Modiji at Madison: A great world leader has taken stage

By this time everyone knows what Modiji said at Madison Square. But let me concentrate on what he said and to what he alluded.

He said that India has been ruled by outsiders for over thousand years.

Modi at Madison

Modi at Madison

I think he alluded to the fact that we Indians have to make clean break from our such past and from our entrenched mindsets (of servitude) because it. While we must recognize some unsavory aspects of our past like our servitude to aggressors, caste system, and our isolationist attitude of middle ages, and our ignoring of science and technology we have been guilty of being apologetic of our great heritage of philosophy, spiritualism, Yoga, Ayurveda, and music to name a few. I think he is the first major Indian leader who recognizes our apologetic attitude and you find its echoes in many of his actions. Arun Shourie describes our apologetic attitude in his article “Macaulay’s Offspring”

He said that many great people sacrificed their lives for India in every era, but they were individual efforts. It was Mahatma Gandhi, who brought common people into the struggle for freedom, showing them ways to contribute through what they could do in their daily lives -for example, a teacher could teach well, a sweeper could do a good job and both could work for India’s freedom. Modiji’s method of development is the same. The PM said that if we could participate in India’s freedom struggle we can do the same for our development: which to him means that by 2022 no Indian family would be without a home.

Doing our jobs well is not a part of our national character, barring some honorable exceptions like the ISRO’s great success… But Modiji is telling us Indians to do our jobs well and contribute to India’s development. His actions as PM like and the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, and the Jan Dhan Yojana of universal banking access all point in this direction: “participate” as his government does its part.Modi on stage

No Indian leader in recent times had courage to tell us to do our jobs well. A family line of leaders had nearly perfected the art of throwing crumbs at people and buying their votes and letting them rot in their poor lives. They used all of those sixty years in developing an eco-system of favors and disfavors and for sharing the loot. Modiji is making a clean break from this shameful past.

He spoke of Swachha Bharat Abhiyan and ‘Cleaning Ganga’ initiatives and brilliantly linked them to what was close to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart and to the revival of economic activity. Cleanliness brings in more tourists and a clean river which touches lives of over 40% Indians can boost economy. It is also a clean break from our ‘filthy’ past.

He assured the Americans and the Indian Americans that India is breaking away from its dismal immediate past. We will change, we will progress, come be a part of this, he said. Modiji is not asking for grants and doles or endowments or favors. He is offering big opportunities to the Americans and to the world to do invest in India and reap benefits through a combination of democracy, demographic dividend, demand supported by clean and efficient governance. This is another huge break from our Nehruvian past of going around with a begging bowl.

His vision goes beyond the economic revival: what Indian civilization can offer to the world Yoga and a way of living well. He shows this by a personal example of frugal living and working tirelessly and diligently (for others). His fasting for nine days of Navaratri while he is on a whirlwind tour and his energetic speech which brought thousands of wealthy Indian Americans to their feet and drew admiration of American law makers is but a dramatic example of what he said about India’s offerings.

In a short span of just over four months, he has captured world’s imagination starting with India’s neighbors, Japan, China and now America. He offered peace to Pakistan saying that we should fight poverty together and not fight with each other. Pakistan squandered it. Without saying much he had made world realize how different India and Pakistan are. Until very recently the Americans, the British, and much of the developed world were always bracketing India and Pakistan together. This has changed.

In India his government has got cracking on actions urgently needed for economic revival and for India’s security.

He shows us about what from our past we should be grateful and proud and about the things we must discard. There is neither an apology nor any arrogance. He is drawing attention, winning support to his vision wherever he goes.

There is a tremendous credibility to all his statements because he has a fantastic track record. modimadisonMuslimsIf you have read Madhu Kishwar’s ‘Modi, Muslims and Media’ you will find that his efforts in post earthquake reconstruction in Bhuj area and his other development efforts in Gujarat were done through participation of communities and people while his government provided support through transparent and fair administration. It did not exclude any community.

The Congress and its crony intellectuals and crony media are dumb struck and are trying to find faults with him where none exit. Not surprising. But I am surprised that some of Modiji’s supporters are saying that there are no ‘big enough reforms’. But let them say it.

We should applaud our new leader who is also new world leader. We should now get down to do what he has told us: to do our jobs well!


Reflecting on Teachers’ Day

It is customary to remember teachers’ contribution in one’s life on the Teachers’ Day. I did remember my teachers on the  Guru Poornima day,  but today I record my thoughts.

The earliest teacher in my memory is my teacher who taught us in 1st and 2nd standard. After my exam was over she visited our home to have a talk with my mother. This was common in those days. She had a question to my mother, “Why did he write just three lines in an essay on Ram (of Ramayana). He is capable of writing much more” Since my mother had no clue, I was hauled out of my hiding and was confronted. ” Write between 10 to 12 lines was in the paper. There are just 3 lines between 10 and 12 : 10, 11, 12″ I explained while counting solemnly on my fingers! My stunned teacher actually patted me on back and went away smiling. She gave me good marks. (was allowed those days).

I don’t recall my mother and my father really teaching me anything in particular, though my mother would shout for me to come home for studies from my play and she would make me study.  She gave up after I think I reached my 8th standard. But her passion for education remains etched in my mind.  I think of my mother’s and my father’s life -their hard work, honesty, persistence, striving for excellence in even mundane tasks, their gratitude for whatever they had, and their willingness to help others – were my silent, undemanding teachers. The best ones I ever got.

There were also some school teachers who inspired me to read more and think and discuss. Unknown to me they planted seeds of love for languages in me -first Marathi, later English, and then, yes Sanskrit too! I learned Sanskrit well enough to be able  translate into it from Marathi! Sadly, no one was there to bring to me the sweetness and courtesy of Hindi those days. Blame it on the silly text books and also on our Hindi teacher who was more like some politicians of these days -arrogant and uncouth. It took the beautiful music and sensitive lyrics of Hindi film songs penned by Sahir, Majrooh, and Neerja and many others  and later the oratory of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to learn something nice about this language. But I never took to reading it.

Somewhere before all this, reading -reading anything – had got me hooked. I don’t know who inspired me to read or how it all happened, but on this Teachers’ Day I think with gratitude of this unknown person(s) and all those books which I have been reading. Some of these books changed my life.

This love for language and expression stood me in good stead in my academic and professional career of science and engineering, balancing out dry and harsh logic with feelings and understanding and sensitivity. More importantly, it taught me how to reflect.

There wasn’t much of science in our secondary school though had the subject every year. Well into the IIT, we had this text book for Physics written by Resnik and Halliday. This book was my true teacher. It taught me not just the subject but it also taught me how to think scientifically. ( I think I should have included this book in the list of books which changed my life).

I can not thank enough and pay enough respect to my Brahmavidya teachers( a system of spiritual breathing exercises and meditation based on Yoga). I will not say anything more on this truly profound subject.

My drums teacher has more faith (and patience) in me than I have it in myself! To call him just a drums teacher is unfair because he a great guitarist and a complete musician. It is difficult say which is his greater passion: playing music or teaching it!

Then there are many many others from whom I have learned – like the one who taught me swimming without actually teaching me much (he wasn’t  even my teacher) and like some who helped me with my running. There are many people whom I met professionally and who have left some nice things with me like how to care for people and how to build confidence in others.

But there were also some teachers who really didn’t seem to enjoy teaching. Most them me left me alone to learn, which helped me greatly. Sooner or later one has to learn to learn.

I salute all my teachers.


Books which changed my life…

Books were the early influence on my life and they continued to influence me. So here is an incomplete list.

From distant past: Fiction: Papillon by Henri Charrière, In Praise of Idleness, by Bertrand Russell (ok, it’s an article), Hundred Years of Solitude ( by Gabriel García Márquez, Rosy Crucifixion, a trilogy consisting of Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus, by Henry Miller, Matruka and Savitri (Marathi), by P S Rege, The Space within the Heart by Aubrey Menen

In non-fiction The Goal by Dr. Eliyahu M. 200px-Plexus,_Henry_Miller,_Grove_Press_1965Goldratt (it’s in novel format), The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder, Serious Creativity by Edward De Bono.

In more recent times,
Fiction: Immortality : by Kundera, Milan Ines of My Soul by Isabel Allende, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Zorba the Greek: by Kazantzakis, Nikos

Non-fiction: Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? By Louis V. Gerstner, Antifragile: by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, ChiRunning: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running: by Dreyer, Danny , Lead to Regenerate Karandikar, Hemant (that’s me. ha ha)

Fiction & Non-fiction: Women Who Run with the Wolves: by Clarissa Pinkola Phd Estés (who wouldn’t love the story the Celtic woman’s love?)

A clarification: writing the Lead to Regenerate changed my life that’s why it is there. Never mind what happened to its readers 🙂