Saturday Special: Need to Change Course of Failing on Global Access to Education

  • About 263 million children and youth are out of school.
  • Privatization of education is intensifying and funding for public education is being cut, increasing inequality.
  • The world is not on track to achieve the UN goal on education for all.

With less than a decade left on a critical global deadline, here in the early months of 2020, we know that the world is not on track to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all.

Across the board, the numbers are relentless, the trend consistent. According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, approximately 263 million children and youth are out of school, equivalent to about one-quarter of the population of Europe. The total includes 61 million children of primary school age, 60 million of lower secondary school age, and the first ever estimate of those of upper secondary school age at 142 million.

Missing the target by 88%

At current rates, if we continue to make this same rate of progress then by 2030 that number will have reduced by only 32 million students and we will have missed the target by 88%.

The UN has also reported that almost 69 million teachers need to be recruited worldwide by 2030 if international pledges on education are to be kept. Again UNESCO, using national definitions, has calculated that 85% of primary school teachers globally were trained in 2017, a decline of 1.5% since 2013. The rate is lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, where the pupil/trained teacher ratio is 60:1.

A survey among Education International’s 400 member organizations in 172 countries in mid-2019 provided a teaching perspective on the issue; that too few governments have taken the necessary steps to implement Goal 4 and some have implemented policies that are actively undermining it. Among the factors cited by our organizations are under-investment and increasing privatization in public systems, and poor employment and working conditions for teachers and education support personnel, including precarious contracts, unsafe work environments, high workloads, and low salaries.

The privatization of education

Privatization of education is intensifying and funding for public education is being cut, accelerating inequality by excluding the vulnerable from accessing quality education. Our report calls on governments directly to ensure a different outcome, to urgently step up investment in free quality education and in the education workforce.

All this takes place in the context of a global wave of nationalism that prompted one observer in a UN-sponsored review of the progress of the SDGs to write: “Across a wide spectrum of countries, protection systems are being weakened rather than reinforced, levels of well-being are falling, and inequalities are rising.”

Inequality in education

On the subject of inequality, Katherine Trebeck of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance writes that “the root cause of so much of this is directly due to how the economy is currently and proactively designed. Our economic system does not sufficiently account for nature, is blind to distribution of resources, and elevates measures of progress that encompass perverse incentives (such as short-term profit and GDP at the expense of human well-being). The system is not broken: it is doing what it was set up to do.”

Corruption exacerbates the problem

Less a wave and more of a steady current is the global level of fraudulent activity stifling the ability of governments to provide a robust and consistent public sector. Citing UN and IMF estimates, Transparency International has revealed that approximately $1.26 trillion are drained from developing countries every year through corruption, bribery, tax evasion and related illicit financial flows, while corruption reduces global tax revenues by $1 trillion annually.

Of course, this hollowing out of the public sector is to the advantage of many private companies and individuals, but it is the antithesis of sustainability.

True leaders act on what they know and what they see. We all know that every sector of the economy has a vital stake in the renewal of education in the public sector, the places in every community in all of our nations, rich and poor around the globe, where students come to learn.

It is critical to understand the growing privatization of education in the full context of the SDGs and the world of 2030 and beyond. Productive economies, like productive lives, require the ability of individuals to adapt, to negotiate complexity, to embrace creativity and entrepreneurship and interact with others as leaders and contributors.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2014-2018) wrote that companies need to “step up” to play a critical public role. “Business cannot thrive in failing societies, where tension spikes and communities bristle with grievances and mutual contempt. Strong civil societies, due process, equality and justice: these are what enable real economic empowerment. Corporations need to respond that they make not only dollars, but sense.”

Social cohesion is critical

The social cohesion of educated individuals so critical to sustainable development can never be realized if we allow markets to segregate students, to elevate a caste of payers/winners and leave others to deliberately withered education systems, the shadow of lowered expectation and the certainty of lower opportunity.

The challenge of technology displacement

We know some of the predicted force of technology displacement and, increasingly, artificial intelligence in our workplaces and we can envision severe aftershocks in entire industries and dependent communities. Now is not the time to privatize our ability to prepare and respond.

Now is the time to temper the impulse for velocity with the reason of trajectory; to use what we know and what we can clearly see to invest in and renew vibrant public education systems, with fully trained professional teachers; systems that are fundamental to the equitable, just and productive human-centred society we all want.

Redefining Capitalism @Davos 2020

In the last decade
There’s been trade
There’s been globalization
There’s been technology

It’s all good
Or not?
Companies are flush with funds, but real incomes of people have declined 
Growth has not been equal; the richest 2000 own more than 4.6 billion others
Capitalism has flourished while people have been left behind
Capitalism has flourished while our environment has been severely degraded

It’s not all good

These are the debates and the discussions at the World Economic Forum at Davos where business leaders and experts are highlighting the need to redefine the current form of capitalism also called “shareholder capitalism” which is the dominant form of business the world over. This form of business maximizes profit over everything else. While this has yielded many benefits, unfettered capitalism at the expense of society has led to many ill effects. This form of capitalism has ignored that business is part of society, and the environment provides eco-system services to sustain life. We are in the midst of the biggest mass extinction of all species. We are seeing horrific climate events such as excessive rainfall, extreme temperatures and erratic weather patterns all through the globe. Further, the impact of trade and globalization has not been equal. Some have benefited, others have become poorer. Stock markets have gained in most countries, almost tripling in value while Inequality is at an all-time high in most countries. Most business leaders and experts seem to agree that capitalism in its current form is broken.

Something else is needed. But what?

Then a group of American companies last August announced that the role of business needs to move away from “shareholder capitalism” to “stakeholder capitalism”. This means other stakeholders that were hitherto ignored employees, society, environment need to be equal stakeholders in business. A similar theme has now taken over Davos this year. The Asian presence as always, has not been centerstage. Notable though, have been the Chinese companies and experts who at various panels and forums have been talking about sustainability and business responsibility with remarkable ease. One thing though is certain, business responsibility is now getting the attention it deserves and Indian companies who have profited from the old form of capitalism are now going to need newer methodologies and newer thinking. 

But no matter what name we give it, one thing is certain, things are certainly changing and the increasing clamor for sustainability at scale is reaching a crescendo. The implications of this on business as usual are profound. As Dipali Goenka Chief Executive Officer and Joint Managing Director, Welspun India said, “We cannot be complacent even for a day. The disruptive shifts are coming in from many directions. AI, Robotics and IOT which are transforming manufacturing. Customers and governments that are demanding sustainability and global trade trends that are shaking up the eco-system.”

There are 5 key takeaways from the deliberations on stakeholder capitalism

  • You don’t need a sustainability report, you need sustainability inside

The focus on business responsibility has often been termed by the financial community as ESG i.e. environmental, social and governance issues. The focus on ESG has been picking up momentum in the last few years and companies have increasingly focused on generating sustainability reports and cause marketing campaigns to promote themselves.

Now though, we have reached a tipping point with global investors who are demanding action and this action should not just be local or limited. They want transformation at scale because nothing else will do in the state of a climate emergency. A compliance driven approach where you simply submit a sustainability report is passé. Indian companies will need to look at everything that forms the core of their business to drive value and consider their impact on the environment and society. 

  • ESG for companies and countries

The belief behind shareholder capitalism was that if companies maximise profits, they will pay taxes, which the government can then in turn allocate to achieving social goals. The challenge, of course, is that many governments have failed to live up to this promise. Many government policies allocate capital injustice and exclusionary ways. Now, when ESG becomes the cornerstone of investing in companies the impact on countries cannot be far behind. The country risk reports do cover several important facets, but overall the focus has ESG data is now going to be needed and mandated not just for companies, but for countries too. Further, GDP as the only measure of growth will therefore need a relook. The Indian Government will therefore need to look at not just internal measures such as ease of doing business but how they are contributing to the global SDG’s through far reaching, environmentally and socially sound policies. Abhijit Banerjee’s social income transfers that achieve common good might have an important role to play in this. Measures such as natural capital accounting that put in a value to the natural capital owned and preserved will also pick up.

  • Global Supply chains will transform….and shrink

Today’s world functions on shipping things around. Fruit, clothes, cars, shampoos, washing machines may have parts and materials sourced from all across the world. The emissions from logistics and transportation are perhaps the biggest culprits in our high carbon economy. With climate change and wild weather events these global supply chains are increasingly at risk. In fact, the top 5 risks in the Global Risk Report released at Davos are environmental risks. In such a situation, global companies are looking at new technologies that can create products out of local materials. If, for instance, production and consumption of certain things moves towards localization, Indian companies with a large export footprint need to de-risk themselves and determine what their new solutions will need to look like.

This will mean an increased emphasis on understanding customer needs, new materials and creation of brands with purpose.

  • ….So will production and consumption

The last decade was about making human to human connections, where we used Facebook, Twitter and other such social tools to speak with anyone across the world. The coming decade will be about changing the way we produce and consume things because these processes currently, across sectors, are hugely wasteful. Fashion produces more clothes than we need and has possibly damaged the environment in equal measure to the oil and gas industry. The same is true for FMCG that produces large quantity of things in packaging that harms the environment.

The new decade will be about producing goods in different ways. As we get into the 5G world, machines will get smarter and quicker. AI and machine learning will be able to anticipate, produce and deliver products based on demand. New products that can upgrade via software may mean that the source of value by putting in natural obsolescence may disappear. Reverse supply chains will become an integral part of business as companies integrate into the circular economy. This will be enabled by the new generation of customers who will demand corporate action against waste and brands that care not just for their profits but causes that create a better world. 

  • Technology acceleration and Network effects will create new value sources and business models. 

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei and historian Yuval Noah Harari spoke in Davos about the future of technologies and the rise of digital surveillance which will increasingly become centerstage to how companies capture and use data.

AI led automation is also growing rapidly as is the fear of huge job losses, which runs counter to the idea of broad stakeholder capitalism. Dr Shefaly Yogendra, currently serving on UK Research & Innovation’s AI Review external advisory group, sees this differently. “We have had periods of near-full employment in recent history and we are currently in one, although there is understandable fear of automation related job losses. What history tells us is that jobs change. Some jobs that exist today will not exist tomorrow, but new jobs will be created. This means the real challenge is re-skilling and constant learning and easy access to ways to update skills. Big data for insights and predictions is equally available to policy makers and to those shaping future trajectories in education and skills.”  

Davos 2020 has seen an unprecedented focus on sustainability and perhaps these discussions and concerns can spearhead the change towards rapid, scalable and sustainable action. Prince Charles, a long-term vocal environmentalist, outlined a 10-point agenda highlighting that sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive. He has called for deploying nature-based solutions for various sectors and valuing natural capital to reshape our economy to fight climate crisis. According to Lutfey Siddiqi of the London School of Economics, it is clear that Davos 2020 marks a tipping point in terms of bringing sustainability to the core of the dialogue. The battle of rhetoric appears to have been won by “stakeholder capitalism” with major corporations outdoing each other in their attempts to be associated with it. However, the jury is out on whether that rhetoric is matched by action and action by material outcomes.

The Romance of Rebellion

Poetry is the single most powerful weapon against brute, authoritarian regimes. No one understands this better than the young. That is why they sing hum dekhenge

On February 13, 1986—the 75th birth anniversary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, who had passed away 15 months earlier—the renowned singer Iqbal Bano, clad defiantly in a black sari (black for protest and the sari, seen as an anti-Islamic dress in dictator Zia-ul Haq’s oppressive regime) got on stage at the Alhamra Arts Council in Lahore to sing before an audience of 50,000 people what was perhaps Faiz’s most memorable poem– hum dekhenge

The public rendition of Faiz’s poetry was banned at the time and hum dekhenge, written in 1979 when Zia was at the height of his power, was a clear message of defiance by a poet who had spent his whole lifetime talking about love and the need for social justice. His words inspired millions of people to stand up to political oppression and authoritarian regimes. The poem hum dekhenge first appeared in Faiz’s book Mere Dil Mere Musafir and had an instant connect with the young for it spoke of the power of rebellion against the traditional instruments of authority, like religion and brutal force that politics so openly exploits.

As the first line of the poem reverberated in the auditorium in Lahore, in Iqbal Bano’s rich voice, there was complete silence— and then the shocked audience broke into thunderous applause. It was an act of political defiance that will remain forever etched in the memory of this subcontinent. In that one amazing moment Iqbal Bano had transformed the poem into an unforgettable anthem of protest, an open challenge to the regime of that time. As she continued to fearlessly sing hum dekhenge, the applause became so loud and so often repeated that she had to pause and wait for it to die down before she could continue. In those pauses, pregnant with dare and defiance, the song became a fluttering banner of dissent against all repressive regimes across the world.  

That incandescent act onstage still remains an inspiration for young people all over the world and when that night the police raided Faiz’s home, they could not find a single recording of the song. But one recording did indeed exist and it had been smuggled out long before the police got there. For young students today, almost 35 years later, long after Faiz has gone and Zia is no longer even remembered, in the age of cell phones and viral media, hum dekhenge remains this unforgettable chant of protest, courage and inspiration. It reminds us that no politics can suppress great poetry. Poetry that inspires people to rise and rally in protest.  

I saw this happen in Dhaka during the freedom struggle there. I heard young students on the campus recite the poems of Shamshur Rahman, their favourite poet of protest, as the repressive Pakistani army tried to silence them. But no guns were powerful enough to silence the voice of those young men and women who kept repeating the word swadhinata in Bengali, synonym for another powerful word in Urdu– azaadi. The word that poets across nations have lent so many rich layers of meaning to. I was therefore not surprised when the students of IIT Kanpur, one of our finest institutions, recited hum dekhenge last month on the campus to support the protesting students of Jamia Millia Islamia who had faced brutal assault by the police. 

The poem by Faiz is today an anthem of defiance. It is the chant of all those who are fighting authoritarian regimes. And it no longer matters that a left-wing poet from Pakistan wrote it. Language belongs to us all. So does a song of protest and defiance, the two great qualities that define young students everywhere.  

Some foolish people (and there are far too many around today) are trying to denigrate the poem as anti-Hindu ergo anti-national. It is neither. It is anti-establishment, anti-authority, anti-brutality and (since Faiz was a professed Communist) anti-fascist. The romance of rebellion breeds in the fertile ground of repressive politics and that is why the richest poetry comes from nations in turmoil. Pablo Neruda of Chile was a perfect example. But all protesting poets are not left-wing. Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet who won the Nobel, spoke of the repressive politics of Communist nations as loudly as Nicolas Guillen of Cuba defended the Castro regime. Subhash Mukhopadhyay, one of Bengal’s finest poets (and a CPI member) wrote a poignant book of poems on the young students who had abandoned their studies and joined the Naxalbari movement. His party did not approve of the book but Mukhopadhyay became an icon for the youth. Today, when farmer suicides have multiplied many fold, we must remember that those young students who went to Naxalbari were the first to tell us how bad agrarian distress was.   

I have watched over the years the undying romance of rebellion inspiring student movements. It is freedom that they ask for. Freedom from hypocrisy. Freedom from lies. Freedom from political chicanery and doublespeak. Freedom from fake lectures on nationalism. It is this that they call azaadi— the azaadi that the young men and women in JNU sing of. Never under-estimate its power. It is what once defined our struggle for independence. It defines today our continuing struggle against a state that refuses to understand what the people of this nation want. 

Apocalypse Chow: Dodging the Bullet of Pandemic

Humankind embraces ‘end of the world’ scenarios willingly, even expectantly. Any time there is a nuclear crisis or an outbreak of a pandemic, human emotions, centred in the amygdala, a set of neurons located deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe, go into overdrive. Fears rise about the imminent demise of the planet. Humans conflate their departure with the end of the earth. In truth, Planet Earth will be just fine; it has been around some 4.5 billion years and will regenerate after yet another apocalypse. It’s only humankind that may perish – if at all.

Polls conducted some years ago across 20 countries found that over 14% of people believe the human race aka world will end in their lifetime, with percentages ranging from 6% in France to 22% in the United States. In general, those who are religious are more inclined to believe in end of the world theories, citing unspecified versions of ‘judgment day’ that have no scientific basis. Among the educated, reasons attributed to end of human civilisation range from nuclear holocaust (the most cited cause) to asteroid impact, alien invasion and ensuing hostility, catastrophic climate change, runaway artificial intelligence, etc.

Pandemics feature somewhere in between. It is the nature of polling (and human character) that if a survey was to be conducted right now, pandemics might be at the top of the list of concerns. But as recently as a week ago, when scientists reset the so-called Doomsday Clock at 100 second to midnight (a hypothetical countdown that represents the likelihood of a manmade global catastrophe), the closest humankind has been to annihilation, pandemic was not cited among the reasons.

In part that is also because pandemics are currently classified as a non-anthropogenic risk alongside potentially catastrophic events such as asteroid impact, a super volcanic eruption, or hostile extra-terrestrial invasion, which are not attributed to a human hand. Humankind has a certain resignation – even excitement, going by the number of video games in this domain – when it comes to non-anthropogenic risks. But as can be seen with the outbreak of coronavirus in China, pandemics beg to be classified as an anthropogenic risk (caused by humans). As someone remarked, you have to be “batshit crazy” to think you can consume unnatural foods and not expect it have some effect.

Based on swabs and blood from patients at Jinyintan hospital in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, scientists have found that the genetic sequence of the coronavirus closely matches one known to live in bats. Two plus two has been arrived at quickly. Bats – and snakes that eat bats – are a delicacy in some parts of China, part of folklore that attributes curative properties to consuming various critters. Chinese authorities quickly shut down the Huanan seafood wholesale market in Wuhan – now identified as the ground zero of the outbreak – which sells many such critters. A photograph of a young Chinese woman savouring bat wings is scorching social media. Could chicken wings make the same cut some day?

So far at least, the outbreak of hysteria has surpassed the spread of coronavirus. Fewer people have died of coronavirus infection than say in traffic accidents every day, but you can already hear the gates of travel and commerce being shuttered down with greater speed and vigour than during the ebola crisis in Africa – the difference being that China is seen to matter a lot more for the world economy than the continent humankind emerged from. Some US health experts have predicted that coronavirus could kill 65 million people in just 18 months if it is not contained.

This fear challenges the hypothesis that pandemic causing pathogens have an upper limit to their virulence, particularly when it infects humans as a secondary host. The worse pandemics in human history, from the bubonic plague in the 14th century, dubbed Black Death to the HIV/ AIDS in the 20th/ 21st century, left humankind scarred but not destroyed. It is not often realised that even ‘ordinary’ flu kills up to 6,00,000 people every year (80,000 in the US in 2018), mostly from complications arising from it. The human race is resilient – and large.

Reassuring as it is in terms of modest lethality and human ability to react quickly, some of the dynamic with It should eat safe and stop monkeying around with science.regards to spread of coronavirus may be different with the increasing migration and mobility of people and products, which explains the massive quarantines now underway in China and secondary sequestration elsewhere. According to one report, some 2,05,000 people took flights into and out of China each day in 2018, six times as many as on the eve of SARS in 2003, which claimed some 800 lives and is now seen as a minor blip in the pandemic chronicles.

Still, the primary issue is not travel and migration but humankind’s inclination to take risky bets in science. The Chinese have been particularly audacious in this regard, going beyond dietary adventurism. From engineering a mutant version of the bird flu virus H5N1 that was transmissible in ferrets and transmitted via air, to gene-edited babies, they are pushing the limits of science, bordering on the irresponsible. Epidemiological screening and efficient travel roadblocks are no substitute to fundamental obligations in dietary and sanitary responsibility and research accountability.

Obsessed with the past and worrying itself to death about a future that it wants to be utopian, humankind should just take a moment to appreciate the present, imperfect though it may be. It should eat safe and stop monkeying around with science.

Weekend Special: Midlife Crisis is Real

Yes, Midlife Crises is real! Midlife crisis is a catastrophe, which arrives at a phase of life, where everything turns out completely different. Miles have been walked, toiled hard, put your sweat and blood; but suddenly you start encountering strange feelings. You start having an outlook to the other side of your story, which remains not so bright and unsettling. This creates a hindrance in your current lifestyle.

The occurrence of midlife crisis, also termed as psychological crises, in which a transition of identity and self-confidence takes place, when a person confronts various drastic changes to their current lifestyle, brought by certain episodes in life. This adversely affects the present self-reflection in a person which is unanticipated or despairing. There are leftovers from the chapter of life which couldn’t be finished due to varied circumstances.

This looming phenomenon occurs mostly in the midpoint of human lifespans ideally around 30 to 50 of age. According to a recent survey, men and women during their midlife suffer the most traumatic events. There are many grounds of disappointment in life and if it occurs in midlife, then you are facing ‘Midlife Crisis’.

Midlife Crisis Examples/Symptoms:
Everyone goes through it and it happens in reality and is not a myth. Factors which influence midlife crisis are listed below:

Disturbing Mental Health: Self-sabotage behaviours can make us encounter massive level of depression or anxiety due to a failure or having a fear of facing failures in life. We subconsciously undermine our own ability to avoid possibilities of failures. This can also lead us to face big disappointments in midlife.

Emotional Crisis: Emotion or behavioural disorders, emotional disturbances with onset usually occurring in childhood or adolescences due to biological abnormality, an underdeveloped kid mentally or physically or adults who didn’t pursue their education wisely.
Life in Auto-pilot Mode: Putting yourself into an auto-pilot mode throughout your life due to low self-esteem and low self-confidence.

  • Drastic changes in habits and impulsive decision making
  • Shifting of sleep habits, due to depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Changing jobs and careers
  • Less interactive and not being conscious about realistic activities of life
  • If you find yourself spacing out while performing any task
  • Boredom
  • Less productivity
  • You are very, very comfortable

Difficult to Bounce Back to Resilience: Facing difficulties to bounce back from the disappointments, traumatic and painful events occurred before midlife.

  • Difficult to overcome the death of loved ones
  • Dealing with divorce or break-up
  • Sold your favourite car or flat due to financial losses
  • Wife/husbands having extramarital affairs
  • Abortion
  • Lack of good funding in child’s education
  • Loss of job
  • Environmental traumatic events
  • Unable to get back those beautiful emotions which were connected to place, person, thing or animal.

Amateurish about new approaches: Not willing to take up any new projects for rejuvenating current positions in life
Behaving cowardly to get themselves off from the situation

How to turn Midlife Crisis into Wisdom

A person can always turn their life from crisis to opportunities. Let us see how to combat the crisis:

Say hello to crisis: To acknowledge your crisis you must first learn to accept the reality of your current circumstances, try analysing your habits which are making things personally and professionally more worse and complicated
Try solving bit-by bit – Chart out your problems and address them one by one with careful consideration and determination
Declutter negative/unwanted thoughts – Unnecessary thoughts are just a waste of time. Embrace yourself with positive approach and attitude in life, helps you stops dwelling into vague fear and refocus on your mind
Designing a positive affirmation is a powerful tool that can be used in different ways. As soon as you get a negative thought, you might say an affirmation to make you feel strong and think wise. A positive affirmation can also be recited standing in front of the mirror, looking at yourself, so design your affirmations carefully
Sense of gratitude: Nothing of me and everything of you should be the prayer offered to the divine. Be thankful for the life and the daily bread you receive
Be thankful for:

  • Three steady meals a day
  • A roof over your head during the dark cold night and rainy and windy days
  • Drinking clean water every day
  • Having loved ones around you

Write it and destroy it: If your negative thoughts are linked with specific strong emotions like fear, anger, jealousy, sadness etc, jot it down in a piece of paper and burn it
Meditational practices: Start your morning with a positive note, practice meditation and concentration exercises to help you focus more on the good side of your story
Holistic approach to life: Holistic approach heals your body with natural remedies. Practice meditation and yoga which help balancing 7 chakras in your body to rejuvenate yourself as whole
Comfort zone: Dare to become adventurous! Yes, explore new things in life, moving out from your comfort level, create new goals, try new activities, enhance a base of knowledge and travelling can also push you to keep going and mastering your targets. It’s never too late to freshly adopt creative things in life because knowledge makes a man wise
Talk and motivate yourself: If you work on being a compassionate listener, then it will definitely work wonders for you. It helps you placing in a right direction. Listen or read stories of successful people who have come across several hardships. The best is always to get an expert advice by a midlife coach or a lifestyle coach.
Have faith: Start believing, it is possible! Should be your daily dose to life.
Think again: Major decisions in life for marriage, relationships, divorce, funding, investment planning, parenting, career planning and opportunities should be taken with a quite careful consideration. Think several times before you take any crucial decisions in life.

Iran to Wuhan: Nehruvian Delusion of Panchsheel Still Ensnares India

If you are a sci-fi enthusiast, we are living in the most wonderful time as every day brings something new and exciting. Technology is galloping ahead like never before and even the sci-fi movies made barely a decade ago are looking pale against the AI and drones and machines that are waiting in the wings to break out.

BUT, all that sense of wonder and excitement that you could be feeling, if you are in India, I want to puncture your balloon.

Sorry. The future that we all can see for the human race is exciting and promising, but it isn’t for you.

The talks of singularity and man-machine convergence are real and even more than we can imagine today is surely coming, but if it does and India carries on the path that Nehruvian Panchasheel ideas, you are not going to be part of it. In fact, there is a great chance that you will end up dead or become fodder for the technology that is rising outside India.

2020 is young and yet it has started showing us a possible future that we need to wake up.

We have started the year with the drone wars between USA and Iran culminating with USA proving that it can take out anyone anywhere on the globe by just giving orders from the Oval office and now we have something even more interesting happening in Wuhan in China.

Though there is no conclusive evidence to suggest the artificial nature of coronavirus, we are already hearing unsubstantiated news of Wuhan having a highly advanced laboratory researching on virus.

Though it is a bit irresponsible for a non-expert to try to put two plus two, just to show how dangerous is the world that we are living in, my twenty-minute search on internet reveals that the current version of coronavirus is about 80-90 % of the SARS virus (that caused equally big scare in 2003) and the rest could have been grafted or arrived from other virus genomes.

If I have a cursory glance at Wikipedia page, it tells me that the spiky morphology that has given identity to the virus is created by the viral spike (S) peplomers, which are proteins that populate the surface of the virus and determine host-tropism. In simpler words, there are spikes (peplomers) on the surface that decide host-tropism, i.e. who the virus can infect.

And another search to see if there is way to control how these spikes behave, in next half a minute, I find a paper titled “Conformational Change of the Coronavirus Peplomer Glycoprotein at pH 8.0 and 37°C Correlates with Virus Aggregation and Virus-Induced Cell Fusion”, (which is actually good news as this offers a way to reduce infectivity of the virus) but it also means that there could be at least some handles to play around with the peplomers and even a possibility of making more virulent strain, and worse, even make it more host-specific.

While admitting that I have no qualification to validate my above cited hyper-simplified and paranoid wild goose chase after coronavirus, the bitter truth is, even if no one is playing with the virus, someone can and hence will.

As someone who has read a bit of a history of humanity, all I know that whenever a transformational technology arrives amongst humans, it leads to reorganisation of the world, more often with wars than not. And someone who has read a bit of history of India (that is left for me to read by the past-masters), I know that we have always been at the receiving end of such a change.

But, when I look at the rise of AI, the drones, the CRISPR and more that is bubbling in tech-space across the world and look back at my nation, I see no recognition of the change coming at us.

I see no large AI initiative, and worse, I see hardly any BSL IV (Bio Safety Level IV) labs that can even work on thousands of dangerous pathogens like SARS that already exist. So, if someone wanted to research on coronavirus for something similar to the paper cited above, there are hardly any laboratories with matching level of biosafety.

I see that we are a sitting duck and yet we are still living under the delusion that the world is a brotherhood of Men.

We have started on the slippery path of peace and love with Panchasheel principles governing how we look at the world. I don’t dispute that Jawarhalal Nehruji’s world vision could have been right in the world ravaged by world wars and hence passing through a phase of “smashan-vairagya”. But, now it is time to wake up.

India needs to recognise the world has always been a dangerous place and we need break free from the delusion of Nehruvian ideas in a world about to reshape itself. Wars are as real as they can get, and if a nation doesn’t understand that being prepared is not paranoia but sense, it can be doomed

US Academia, Here Comes Communism to Conquer You

Marxism is dead everywhere except American universities.” That was the wry joke some told after the Soviet Union fell in 1991, at the end of a century in which 100 million people were killed in the name of communism. But 29 years later, communism has spread from the fringes of academia into mainstream education. Millions of former and current college students now support radical candidates and radical demands for America’s future.

In 2006, about 3 percent of American professors said they were Marxists, according to a national survey conducted by Neil Gross of Harvard University and Solon Simmons of George Mason University. Within the social sciences—a field partially fathered by Karl Marx—that number was 18 percent—nearly 1 in 5.

The number of professors who admit to being more socialist than conservative has risen from 43 percent in 1970 to around 60 percent today, according to the American Institute for Economic Research. And the number of professors who admit to being “far left” has more than doubled, rising from 5 percent to 12 percent. Beyond these, however, many more professors follow the advice of leading socialist thinkers by masquerading as moderates.

Whether professors admit it or not, Marxist-Leninism is now the dominant model of history and society being taught in American universities. Under labels like “post-colonialism,” “anti-neoliberalism” and “social justice,” professors are teaching that the American narrative about individual liberty and limited government is a mask for the power of wealthy, white, European males. They tout alternative histories like Howard Zinn’s Marxist-inspired textbook A People’s History of the United States. This is why millennials are increasingly embracing socialism over capitalism.

How did communism become so strong in American academia?

During the Cold War, a Soviet Union spy named Yuri Bezmenov defected and escaped to Canada. He revealed that the KGB spy agency considered subverting nations so important that it allocated most of its resources to the project. “Only about 15 percent of time, money and manpower is spent on espionage as such,” he explained in an interview with G. Edward Griffin in 1985. “The other 85 percent is a slow process, which we call either ideological subversion or ‘active measures.’”

This “ideological subversion,” Bezmenov said, is a long process involving four stages: demoralization, destabilization, crisis and normalization. The first stage, demoralization, is now a familiar concept. Many who recognize America’s obvious demoralization in the 20th century think it occurred accidentally, naturally or even fortunately. But former KGB  agents, said Bezmenov, recognize it as an intentional attack designed to “change the perception of reality of every American” and destroy the country.

“It takes about 15 to 20 years to demoralize a nation,” Bezmenov wrote in his book, Love Letter to America. “Why that many (or few)? Simple: This is the minimum number of years needed to ‘educate’ one generation of students in a target country (America, for example) and expose them to the ideology of the subverter.”

Bezmenov warned—again, in 1985—that KGB agents and their socialist sympathizers would use abstract art, perverted music, pornographic images, homosexual activism, accusations of racism, pacifist foreign policy and socialist economics to demoralize America. Whether you believe him or not, does this sound familiar?

The obvious objective of socialists is to destroy America’s morals, traditions, institutions and laws, and to conquer it with socialist ideology, policies and enforcement. It is now obvious to many that socialists recognized the importance of American education when many conservatives did not.

According to a former staff director of a Senate investigations subcommittee, in the years between 1935 and 1953, the Communist Party “enlisted the support of at least 3,500 professors—many of them as dues-paying members, many others as fellow travelers, some as out-and-out espionage agents, some as adherents of the party line in varying degrees, and some as the unwitting dupes of subversion” (J. B. Matthews, “Communism and the Colleges,” American Mercury, May 1953).

The Communist ideology introduced to America has spread throughout the university system and is beginning to dominate high schools and even elementary schools. This fact is more significant than you might realize. Bezmenov warned that the end goal was to “change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite the abundance of information, no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community and their country.” You could argue that this goal has been reached.

The Man Responsible for Fundamental Transformation of America

One man, foretold in your Bible, has wounded the nation from within. And who is he. Respected by most people-who are just followers of biased media, victims of a sustained PR onslaught, the reality eludes them.  America’s government has been embroiled in a shameful impeachment charade for months now. The Democrats are demonstrating that there is virtually no limit to what they are willing to do to attack the president and undermine the last election—and the next one. Meanwhile, revelations continue to emerge about their abuse of the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, even the president himself.

People need to understand what a dangerous threat this is to the very foundation of this nation!

What is happening in the Democratic Party is an extension of and intensification of a process started by the previous president.

When Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally change America” during his 2008 presidential run, few people knew what he really meant. Now that he is out of office, it is becoming clearer all the time that the change he was talking about was something far more dangerous than many people assumed.

He meant changing America from a constitutional republic. And what we are witnessing in the country today shows that, to an alarming degree, he succeeded!

In an address to Democratic donors this past November, bObama said that if Democrats want to be elected, they need to conceal their radical views. “This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement,” he said. “Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality. The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it” .

The average American doesn’t think that, but he does, and these donors do! And he wasn’t telling them to abandon that goal—only to be more underhanded about it!

Obama is contemptuously and openly discussing what he meant by fundamentally transforming America. Now that he is out of office, he tells us what his real goal was and still is—“to completely tear down the system and remake it”!

In the past, such revolutions usually caused millions of people to spill their blood.  If you think my view is unreal, consider this: Never have we seen a more bitterly divided America, and this man who fundamentally transformed America caused much of this division. He almost destroyed America’s constitutional republic. Never have we seen such hatred between American people.

All this ought to terrify every American. Many revolutions end in a civil war filled with suffering and death. In America’s civil war, neither side will win. Bible prophecy thunders a deadly message that an enemy nation will conquer us. We must wake up and repent for God to save us this time. Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality. The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.

America’s current president, Donald Trump, is fighting back against that radicalism, and having some success. Perhaps the most important is the way he is exposing the crimes and evils of the radical left! Because of the progress he is making, many people believe that the danger is past and the nation is heading in a new direction. But sadly, this will not change the country’s direction.

Communist Threat

After World War II, attention in America shifted away from the threat of Nazism and toward communism.  Russia was waging a new kind of war against America, a psychological warfare of propaganda, infiltration, subversion, demoralization. It is a warfare that has attacked our minds, our moral and spiritual values, rather than our bodies and our earthly possessions.

It’s a kind of warfare we don’t understand or know how to cope with. It uses every diabolical means to weaken us from within, sapping our strength, perverting our morals, sabotaging our educational system, wrecking our social structure, destroying our spiritual and religious life, weakening our industrial and economic power, demoralizing our armed forces, and finally, after such infiltration, overthrowing our government by force and violence!

Think seriously about that statement. In a sense, this plan has been coming to pass in America!

When Barack Obama was a boy, his grandfather introduced him to Frank Marshall Davis, a card-carrying Communist Party member. Since young Barack lacked a father at home, his grandfather thought Davis would be a good role model. Davis was a rabid supporter of Joseph Stalin and his kind of communism.

How strong a supporter was Davis of Stalin’s Soviet Union? Here is an excerpt of a poem Davis wrote called “To the Red Army,” calling on the Soviets to rise up and show the West the real power of communism: “Smash on victory-eating Red warriors! Drive on, oh mighty people’s juggernaut! … Show the marveling multitudes, Americans, British, all your allied brothers, How strong you are, How great you are, How your young tree of new unity, Planted 25 years ago, Bears today the golden fruit of victory!” Obama had a close relationship with this radical Stalinist!

Barack Obama was also an admirer of Saul Alinsky, the infamous Rules for Radicals author. Yet a lot of Obama’s beliefs were unknown before he was elected because the mainstream media didn’t vet him. The press has a lot to answer for in the way they abetted this man and his ambitions!

Dr. John C. Drew, a political scientist who knew Obama at Occidental College, recounted how his girlfriend introduced the 19-year-old Barack to him as a fellow Communist in 1980. In a radio interview with Dr. Paul Kengor on The Glen Meakem Show, Drew said that back then Obama was predicting a violent people’s revolution in America. But Drew explained to him that such revolutions are only successful in Third World countries, so it would be better to try to transform America into a Communist state one step at a time.

This is exactly what President Obama worked to do during his eight years in office.

 “[T]he ‘Communist Party’ is merely a trick term to pull the wool over our eyes and deceive us—a means of getting a fifth column into our midst—of getting the enemy’s government into our very midst, leading us to accept it as a part of our government. Its only object is to destroy our government.”

That is valuable insight! Communists mentored Barack Obama, and today he is telling Democrats that they have to be more deceptive if they really want to tear down the system and remake it.

Listen to the Democrats today. There is a lot of revolutionary talk. That party has been infiltrated and taken over by many of the ideas that the Communists promoted decades ago—ideas that are transforming the nation! It has become a political party far more destructive to America than the Communist Party!

Attempted Coup

A Czech Communist named Jan Kozák wrote a 1950s tract titled “And Not a Shot Is Fired” that explains how to hijack a nation through parliamentary maneuvers. The strategy requires pressure for radical change from two directions simultaneously: from the upper levels of government and from provocateurs in the streets.

The Obama administration used a similar strategy to fundamentally transform America. As president, Barack Obama appointed far-left judges and “deep state” bureaucrats to some of the highest offices in the land. At the same time, he supported radical firebrands from organizations like Black Lives Matter. The goal is to create chaos in the streets, and then have socialist leaders step in to “solve” the problem.

John Brennan was one of the most radical deep state bureaucrats in the Obama administration. While still a student at Fordham University in 1976, Brennan voted for Communist Party USA presidential candidate Gus Hall. Shockingly, Brennan was recruited into the Central Intelligence Agency just four years later!

Brennan rose through the ranks of the CIA until he became acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center under President George W. Bush. He retired in 2005, but then Obama asked him to become his Homeland Security Adviser in 2009. Four years later, he was promoted to CIA director.

Why did President Obama want a Communist running the CIA for him? Well, shortly after Brennan took that job, his department began illegally spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. When he was caught, he lied outright and absolutely denied it, but he was finally forced to admit it.

Then, during the 2016 presidential election, Brennan was instrumental in drafting and publishing an Intelligence Community Assessment suggesting illicit ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. This assessment relied heavily on a 35-page dossier compiled by British former MI-6 intelligence agent Christopher Steele and paid for by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The dossier accused Donald Trump of escapades with Russian prostitutes, among other things. Not one bit of the dossier was verified, yet U.S. law enforcement agencies used it to obtain approval to spy on Trump campaign staff member Carter Page

This opened the door for spying on everyone surrounding Donald Trump. Conservative journalist Andrew McCarthy covers this history in his book Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. He explains that the real collusion in the 2016 election was not between the Trump campaign and Russia. It was between the Clinton campaign and Obama’s deep state. Had Hillary Clinton been elected, the destructive trends that unfolded during the Obama presidency would have continued unchecked and surely would have intensified. Many people believe it would have meant an end to our constitutional republic!

“The main purpose of counterintelligence operations is to keep the president informed,” McCarthy writes. That is basic truth. Yet these agents are somehow convinced that their job is to overturn America’s last election and destroy the president! They are focusing all their attention on hunting for crimes so they can bring him down and overthrow the government! That is a counterintelligence invasion—and it has unfolded right before our eyes.

And it all revolves around former President Barack Obama! That must be our focus.

McCarthy writes that “no administration in American history was more practiced in the dark arts of politicizing intelligence than President Obama’s.” That is an insightful statement!

The National Security Administration touts itself as being “the world leader in cryptology—the art and science of making and breaking codes.” It uses this expertise, it says, to safeguard U.S. secrets and outmaneuver enemies, “while at the same time protecting the privacy rights of the American people” (nsa.gov). The truth is that this agency was doing the opposite of protecting Americans’ privacy rights: It was spying on Americans, and trying to invalidate the will of 63 million American voters!

Barack Obama appointed far-left judges and “deep state” bureaucrats to some of the highest offices in the land. The goal is to create chaos in the streets, and then have socialist leaders step in to “solve” the problem.

I have written before about the meeting President Obama held on Jan. 5, 2017—15 days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration—with the NSA director, the CIA director (Brennan), the FBI director (James Comey), and the director of National Intelligence. “The officials in this meeting would need to figure out how the investigation of Carter Page and the Trump campaign could continue despite the fact that its central focus, Trump, was about to be sworn in as president,” McCarthy writes. Their effort had nothing to do with Page, who was never charged with a crime—it was all meant to take down Trump.

Together with Brennan and a group of top spies, Obama sought to overturn the results of the 2016 election, overthrow the Trump administration, and establish something much more than a new socialist government in the United States!

The spirit of trying to “blot out the name of Israel” is strong in the left and the Democratic Party.

Look at all that the Obama administration did to undermine American interests and empower America’s enemies! Think of the way they supported the popular Islamist uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that ousted him from power. Think of the way they then ignored the popular uprising in Iran—then negotiated a grotesque nuclear deal with Iranian leaders that flushed them with cash and provided cover for ongoing nuclear activity! Think of the way they handled Benghazi, when a jihadist mob attacked America’s embassy on the anniversary of 9/11. Obama officials shamefully told our soldiers to stand down—to let it happen—and those terrorists killed an ambassador and three other Americans! Then the administration tried to excuse the attack by dishonestly blaming a video made by someone in America! Libya’s leader, Muammar Qadhafi, had been an ally, providing the U.S. with important intelligence. He even gave up his weapons of mass destruction. But the Obama administration wanted him gone, and they laughed when he was brutally dethroned and abused by a radical mob. That country has been a hotbed of jihadist chaos ever since!

These are not the actions of a man promoting America. These are actions aimed at blotting out the name of Israel!

The radical left and its anti-American, Marxist ideas have virtually taken control of America’s Democrat Party. Democrats have taken to heart Barack Obama’s pledge to “fundamentally transform America.” And look at the ways they want to transform it: They want to tear down America’s history, America’s Constitution, America’s moral standards, America’s freedoms. They want to redistribute the nation’s prosperity, revolutionize its economy, and revise its form of government!

Led by an Antiochus, their goal to “fundamentally transform America” is just a politically correct way of saying they want to blot out the name of Israel! These officials have relied on the media to spread this information, and the mainstream media have been shamefully complicit! They too want to do all they can to overthrow the government! This has been their goal from the moment Donald Trump got elected! That is treason!

‘Coup Has Started’

Mark Zaid, the attorney for the Ukrainian whistleblower, tweeted on Jan. 30, 2017, just days after President Donald Trump was inaugurated: “#coup has started. First of many steps. #rebellion. #impeachment will follow ultimately. #lawyers.” Later that day he tweeted, “#coup has started. As one falls, two more will take their place. #rebellion #impeachment.” In other words, if someone like James Comey gets fired, two more will rise up from the deep state to carry on the mission. And that is exactly what has happened!

coup is a violent or illegal seizure of power. That is precisely what they have been working to do!

In December, the Justice Department watchdog reprimanded the FBI for relying on the Steele dossier to obtain its FISA warrant. In a 476-page report, the inspector general “identified at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications.” In reality, those were not 17 errors—they were 17 treasonous crimes! The whole process was aimed at staging a coup!

These people believe the end justifies any means! They will lie, defame, slander—anything they have to do to get rid of Trump! Do we want a constitutional republic? The Democratic leftists do not! All these activities that are being exposed show that in many ways they have already changed this nation from a constitutional republic to a nation governed by something even worse than Communist philosophy!

Look at history, and you see the way Communists work: They tear things down until the chaos is so bad that they get control and then can kill the opposition. They have always done that! And the United States has a lot of Communists.

You have to view their attacks on the Second Amendment in this context. They want to take away people’s guns, because America’s founders equipped the people to resist tyranny if necessary. They spilled blood to give Americans that freedom! Many lost their lives to create this constitutional republic and guarantee the freedoms. But there are always those trying to take those freedoms away, if Americans allow it.

They almost got away with a satanic coup! If Hillary Clinton had been elected, they would have.  Despite all the attacks on Donald Trump, first as a candidate and then as president, he seems to continue to come out stronger. Just look at the difference between the Benghazi debacle and the way that President Trump handled an attack on America’s embassy in Iraq. He quickly ordered that attack put down, and then killed the top Iranian general! That sent the American left into a frenzy—but it shut Iran down quickly! It was the first bold move America has undertaken against Iran in decades, and I’m sure it will raise America’s stature for some time.

Why are things going so well for Donald Trump?  Sadly, this resurgence will not have the lasting effect that many people hope. But it is revealing in stunning detail just how corrupt the left is and how damaging their efforts have been! And in some ways it is driving them to even greater desperation and more extreme radicalism.

In fact, the radical left has become so emboldened by almost a decade of victories under the Obama administration that many of today’s Democrats are no longer willing to accept Obama’s deceptive strategy. If their efforts to stop President Trump don’t succeed, they want a socialist revolution in the streets! 

Regarding the Communist goal to overthrow the government. Of course, if it could do this peaceably at the polls, it would—but it knows it can’t, so it does stand for the violent overthrow of the United States government. The nation degenerated so far that radicals were able to win at the polls! They won the highest office in America twice! But then their attempt to overthrow the country was thwarted. So now more people are talking like actor James Cromwell, who said, “If we don’t stop [President Trump] now, then we will have a revolution for real. Then there will be blood in the streets.”

Civil War

In a Federalist article titled “How Black Lives Matter Is Bringing Back Traditional Marxism,” Thurston Powers wrote: “It isn’t surprising that Black Lives Matter [BLM] is a Communist organization—but the type of communism they subscribe to is. They are conservative Communists attempting to fold the progressive movement back into traditional Marxism. … The policy platform proposed by BLM in August did nothing to hide this traditionalism. Its calls for collective ownership of resources, banks and businesses, a highly progressive income tax, a guaranteed minimum income, and government jobs are lifted straight from the pages of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto” (Sept. 28, 2016).

During the presidential campaign, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton gave their full support to Black Lives Matter.  Obama and his administration even invited its leaders to the White House on several occasions. So, though he is out of office now, the radical organizations he empowered are still agitating for change—with his encouragement.

When Obama recently told Democratic politicians to tone down their radical rhetoric, he noted that this criticism was not aimed at Democratic activists, whose job is to “poke and prod and text and inspire and motivate.” These comments are about inspiring the violent overthrow of the system.

You can tell a lot about  Obama’s ultimate goal by the company he keeps. When he first launched his political career in 1995,  Obama kicked off his campaign for the Illinois state Senate in the living room of Bill Ayers. Ayers is a radical terrorist who bombed the Pentagon in 1972. He escaped prosecution on a technicality and now teaches at the University of Chicago. But from 1969 to 1977, Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground Organization—a militant group of young white Americans that practiced Mao Zedong’s kind of communism. An FBI agent named Larry Grathwohl infiltrated this organization and reported in 1985 that the Weathermen estimated that they would have to slaughter 25 million Americans to establish Communism in the United States.

That is what true Communists mean when they talk about the violent overthrow of the system!

Even those who see there is a real problem in America today don’t recognize how deadly dangerous it is! Though President Trump has made strides toward purging the government of radical, Obama-era appointees, the nation is still sharply divided. America’s temporary resurgence is giving people a window to repent, but that window won’t stay open long. Eventually, warnings are followed by consequences for inaction.

Hypocrisy of EU parliament lecturing India on human rights

Is it not the case of a kettle called the pot back?  Does the sanctimonious hypocrisy not deprive EU of making moral and ethical criticism of India? Does the Parliament of the European Union have the moral authority to pass an anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act resolution against India for discriminating against Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh? Or has a section of the Indian press exaggerated the pitfalls of the European Union Parliament standing in judgment of India?

559 members drawn from five groups of the 751-member European Parliament have moved resolutions that slam the CAA-
which was passed by the sovereign Indian Parliament. If the Modi government fails to bring pressure to bear upon the European Union the resolutions will be put to vote on Jan 29 and 30. One of the resolutions moved by the liberal Renew Europe Group states the CAA “is fundamentally discriminatory in nature” and constitutes a “dangerous shift” in the way citizenship is determined in India. As a consequence, it is argued that the resolutions could end up creating the “largest statelessness crisis in the world causing immense human suffering”.

The driving force behind the resolution is Shaffaq Mohammed, a Briton of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) origin who represents Yorkshire and the Humber constituency in the European Parliament.

Now Shaffaq Mohammad deserves special mention. This European parliamentarian is a member of the British Liberal Democrat party but has never fulminated against Pakistan for virtually condemning hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees to their deaths by coercing them to return to their conflict-ridden homeland.

Neither has he ever tweeted a word against Pakistan for its fundamentally discriminatory role in converting PoK into what is widely recognized as an open prison, where people live in perpetual purgatory under a puppet leader who masquerades as an elected prime minister of the region. This is perhaps because Mohammad is a great friend of this puppet PM, who goes by the kingly name of Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan. The two have routinely shared a stage from where they rail against India.

Mohammad has also kept quiet on the seminal contribution made by the British Home Office in causing “immense human suffering” to asylum seekers in England.

Those who concern themselves with the facts may be interested in knowing that Britain’s Conservative government has doggedly refused to receive refugees. A quick check reveals that Britain received only 3% of the total asylum applications filled in by refugees seeking asylum in Europe. Is this because even the most desperate are put off by Britain having earned the odious distinction of being the only European country to imprison asylum seekers indefinitely in removal centres?

Pakistan and Britain aren’t the only accomplices in this great travesty being perpetuated upon asylum seekers. Europe, which is under the thrall of center-right governments, is itself guilty of building formidable policy walls to exclude refugees.

Nothing has exposed this racist Euro-centrist attitude to its problem with immigration more than the heart-breaking picture of a lifeless 3-year-old Syrian child who was washed up on a beach in Turkey in 2015. The boy belonged to a family of Kurdish-Syrian refugees who tried to unsuccessfully navigate the treacherous Mediterranian waters that had been roiled by a cold-hearted policy titled, without irony, the ‘hotspot’ system. This policy cemented deals with Turkey and Libya to specifically keep the so-called ‘refugee problem’ confined to camps on their soil and consequently at arms-length from mainland Europe.

Did European Parliamentarians who have signed up to deliver India a warning against making a “dangerous shift” in determining citizenship ever hold their own conscience to account over these omissions? No.

Furthermore, did it ever pass a resolution against America for passing the Frank Lautenberg-Specter amendment which makes the same reasonable classification as the CAA? Again, no.

What it has shockingly done instead is to recently vote against a plan to step up search and rescue operations for refugees and immigrants bobbing about in dinghys in the Mediterranian. In other words, these bleeding hearts have withdrawn a crucial lifeline to those fleeing religious persecution and other untold privations in the Middle East and North Africa. What makes matters worse is the fact that 8 EU Members of Parliament from the UK’s Liberal Democratic Party that would have voted in favour of continuing the lifeline absented themselves from the House to attend a conference. Their absence is the difference between life and death for the persecuted condemned minority refugees of West Asia and North Africa.

This abdication of duty to humanity is in stark contrast to the Indian state that has invoked compassion to rescue condemned minorities from the clutches of ethnic cleansing in three neighbouring Islamic nations. Given the hypocrisy at the heart of the issue, the Indian government is well within its right to feel umbrage against the cheek of the European Parliament.

Lincoln would’ve been impeached Under Dems’ Trump impeachment justification

But for the modern political chicanery and selfishness, Lincoln- now revered- would have been deemed a villain and a target of impeachment, had the Nancy led democrats been there at that time. If Rep. Adam Schiff was around in 1864, he would have orchestrated the impeachment of President Abraham Lincoln.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff, D-Calif., and his confederate impeachment managers demand that President Trump be removed from office because the president did something that might advantage him politically in the upcoming election. This, they claim was an impeachable “abuse of power.”

On the floor of the Senate, Schiff exclaimed that Trump wanted “to cheat” in the November presidential election by asking Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son over potential corruption. Democrats are the only ones who are buying this thin gruel.

History tells us that American presidents often take actions that advantage themselves politically. Indeed, one can argue that nearly all presidential decisions have some ancillary political calculation. It is the inherent nature of politics

I recently read historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s brilliant book “Team of Rivals.” In Chapter 24, she recounts how Republican President Lincoln utilized the powers of his office to ensure that Union soldiers in the field, who vigorously supported Lincoln’s reelection in 1864, were given the chance to cast their ballots for him. Most states permitted absentee ballots for troops. But the crucial state of Indiana did not.

So Lincoln wrote General William T. Sherman encouraging him to grant his men leave to return briefly to the northern state of Indiana. “Any thing you can safely do to let … soldiers, or any part of them, go home and vote at the State election, will be greatly in point,” wrote the president. Despite the risk that this might compromise his troop strength, Sherman consented.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton saw to it that furloughs were granted. Goodwin quotes the Civil War journalist Charles Anderson Dana who wrote: “All the power and influence of the War Department … was employed to secure the re-election of Mr. Lincoln” (pages 663-4). At Lincoln’s direction, the government also provided Navy boats to gather ballots from sailors.

Did Lincoln use the power of his office for personal political gain? Of course. Was it an “abuse of power?” No.

While Lincoln was the clear beneficiary of the military votes, there were other compelling reasons that justified his actions. He felt that soldiers should not be disenfranchised because of their service. However, his larger goal was to preserve the union and end slavery.

Lincoln’s opponent in the election, Gen. George McClellan, was nominated by Democrats on a platform that promised to end the Civil War immediately and tolerate slavery in the South.

It is folly to criticize Lincoln’s motives, although Schiff surely would. Under Schiff’s contorted impeachment standard, anything that “benefits the President’s personal political interests” is an impeachable offense, regardless of whether another legitimate or lawful purpose may exist.

History is replete with examples of how presidents have rendered decisions that benefit themselves and the nation simultaneously.

In an excellent opinion column in The New York Times, Constitutional Law Professor Josh Blackman reiterated the Lincoln example and also cited the actions of President Lyndon Johnson in 1967 when he maneuvered to appoint Thurgood Marshall as the first African-American justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. This advanced civil rights enormously, while also burnishing Johnson’s political standing.

As Blackman explained: “Politicians routinely promote their understanding of the general welfare, while, in the back of their minds, considering how those actions will affect their popularity. There is nothing corrupt about acting based on such competing and overlapping concerns. Yet the impeachment trial threatens to transform this well-understood aspect of politics into an impeachable offense.”

Against this backdrop, let’s reexamine what President Trump actually said in his July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to a transcript released by the White House, Trump stated: “The other thing … there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. … It sounds horrible to me.”

Zelensky responded that he was “knowledgeable about the situation” and vowed that a new prosecutor “will look into” it. He added that a renewed investigation of “the company” (Burisma), which paid Hunter Biden more than $1 million to sit on its board despite no real experience in energy, was important “to restore honesty.”

Schiff insists that Trump’s motive was driven purely by personal political gain against a prospective election opponent because Trump wanted Zelensky to publicly announce his promised investigation.

Yet Schiff ignores the concomitant or dual purpose supported by the record. Trump was reluctant to hand over nearly $400 million in American taxpayer funds to a country rife with corruption.

“Since taking office, President Trump has criticized Ukraine for corruption,” reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In the Zelensky conversation, Trump expressed concern that Joe Biden had bragged on camera of how he had engineered a financial quid pro quo that resulted in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who has stated to news organizations, including The Washington Post, that he was investigating corruption at Burisma and Hunter Biden’s role.

Therefore, as president, it was appropriate for Trump to ask Ukraine to look into any potentially corrupt act by a high-ranking American public official involving Ukraine. Isn’t this something that we should know?

If it was Joe Biden’s intent to protect or benefit his son by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer money from Ukraine unless the prosecutor was fired, it might well constitute a violation of various corruption laws. Trump had every right to inquire.

Under the terms of a treaty that is two decades old, Ukraine is obligated to furnish the U.S. with such information. Biden does not enjoy immunity because he is now running for president.

Trump’s request was perfectly legal. The first article of impeachment does not allege a crime or violation of law. Instead, House Democrats assert that the president’s motivation was political –as if that is a novel concept. As history instructs, this is not uncommon in presidential decision-making and has never before served as the sole basis for impeachment.

History also informs us that the second article of impeachment is without merit. It accuses the president of obstruction of Congress because he resisted congressional subpoenas by invoking legally recognized privileges and immunities.

In Ron Chernow’s influential biography “Washington,” the author explains in Chapter 61 how our nation’s first president defied demands by members of the House to access confidential communications and deliberations involving a treaty of neutrality with Great Britain negotiated in 1794 by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay.

Washington eventually reached a compromise with the Senate, but the principle of executive privilege was firmly established and followed by subsequent presidents under the doctrine of separation of powers.

Nearly 200 years later, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that it is “patently unconstitutional” to penalize a person’s reliance on his legal rights. This would certainly apply to the president, as

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., reminded Congress of during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton 21 years ago.

Nadler said during the Clinton impeachment: “The use of a legal privilege is not illegal or impeachable by itself.” Yet now, as a House manager in the Trump impeachment, Nadler is arguing just the opposite.

Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley warned the House Judiciary Committee during his Dec. 4 testimony that “basing impeachment on this obstruction theory would itself be an abuse of power … by Congress.” He was correct.

History will not be kind to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California, and Nadler. Driven by an abiding hatred of

Trump, the tortured interpretation of the Constitution by these Democrats has diminished the exceptional power of impeachment. Their unconscionable quest to evict him from office will not hold up to scrutiny when the final chapters are written.

The Democrats are the ones – not Trump – who have been motivated by personal political gain.

An Untold Tale-Industrial History of India

Hordes of tourists’ marvel at the Iron Pillar at the Ferozshah Kotla in New Delhi: it has stood for centuries without rusting. Many Indians (and others from elsewhere in the world) would be amazed to know that crucible steel from South India—called ‘wootz’—was renowned in ancient times for its quality. But there is woefully little information available today on this aspect of India.

Inside the Times of India’s heritage building in Mumbai is an old machine used back in the days when printing a newspaper was a hot, inky, fumous affair. The contrast with the ultra-clean, almost anodyne, modern process is dramatic. For me as one of the few who have seen both eras the connection is instinctive; but others could certainly benefit from a proper interactive museum.

Western countries are replete with museums set up by companies big and small, telling the story of how their products came to be; India has hardly any, either public or private. Museums here mostly focus on historical memorabilia and artefacts rather than industrial. Besides, that dreaded word ‘obsolescence’ tagged onto anything old in this genre almost pre-ordains that they be forgotten.

However, a young conservation architect lobbed a phrase at me last week that encapsulated the discipline that seeks to remedy this lacuna: industrial archaeology. Simply put, it is the study of material evidence of our industrial past, from clumps of ancient forged iron and rusty machinery from only a century ago, to factory structures and documents relating to manufacturing products.

Industrial archaeology only established itself as a discipline in the latter half of the 20th century, prompted in Britain in particular by the destruction of old industrial areas due to urban development. But it also involves researching, cataloguing and interpreting artefacts, restoring old machinery and other tangible remains of industrialisation and adapting and managing industrial heritage.

There is a regrettable ignorance about India’s considerable industrial heritage in officialdom as well as the common person. A government document from Tamil Nadu, for instance, declares that Dharmapuri is one of the industrially backward districts in the state, and known mostly now for vast mango orchards. Yet, it was the epicentre of the world’s best steel production 2000 years ago.

In 2010, a team of British and Indian researchers found over 120 ancient metallurgy sites in the area around Dharmapuri along the Godavari and in northern Telangana, proving it was the Ruhr of the ancient world but few Indians would be aware of it. Younger Indians may not even know that a more recent equivalent of the Ruhr in terms of steelmaking was Bardhaman in Bengal!

Indeed, Bengal is seen now as the very antithesis of industry. Poetry and poverty, protests and polemics are what is generally identified with the state today; yet, it was the crucible of the industrial revolution in India. But there is not an iota of well-presented evidence to showcase that legacy, if only to tell Bengal’s current inhabitants that it is time to reclaim its preeminence in that field.

The buzzwords most associated with India’s past are rarely industrial; most are social, political, religious and even mythological. More recent history is all about colonial rule, the freedom struggle, the status of communities, castes and genders, and other socio-economic and political issues. The memorabilia of industry remain mostly unsung and undocumented in an engaging way.

One welcome aberration is the Tea Museum at the Nullathanni Estate in Munnar. Exhibits range from a 1905 Rotorvane tea roller to today’s automated machine, a 1913 granite sundial, an Iron Age burial urn found near Periakanal Estate, a ‘Pelton Wheel’ water turbine used in a 1920s power plant on the Kanniamally Estate and even an engine wheel of the Kundaly Valley Light Railway!

Indian Railways is the only Indian institution that even remotely encourages industrial archaeology. National Rail Museum in New Delhi, CST Heritage Gallery & Railway Museum in Mumbai, Kolkata Railway Museum, even the Patel Chowk Metro Museum and many others tell the industrial (hi)story of the railways from the steam-spewing dragons of yore to the imminent Bullet Train.

But India’s industrial history has many more facets than tea, railways and steel, of course. Every product ever manufactured in India is part of that legacy and deserves discovery, documentation, preservation and presentation. Tonnes of old (and mostly rusted) machinery, derelict factories and warehouses, dockyards and grand offices have tales to tell of an ancient land’s journey to the present.

Britain is particularly replete with the results of its sustained efforts in industrial archaeology. This month, for example, Murgatroyd’s Brine Pump in Middlewich which is listed and protected as a “historic industrial site” –a phrase unknown in India!—because it is UK’s only intact pump over an original wood shaft and gantry, was restored and reopened as a museum for the region’s salt industry.

Salt played a pivotal role in India’s freedom struggle, with the Dandi March cited as a watershed event. But few Indians know that high quality salt production in Odisha threatened Britain’s salt industry (in the very region where Murgatroyd’s Brine Pump is situated) and precipitated a rebellion here that alarmed the Raj. When will we see a Salt Museum here chronicling this industry?

Industrial archaeology’s potential also comes to mind now that the Currency Building in Kolkata built in 1833 has been restored and rehabilitated as the National Gallery of Modern Art, albeit only after its domes had been demolished by a callous earlier order. But an interactive museum chronicling India’s fascinating monetary heritage could also have been considered.

As more buildings are sought to be restored rather than demolished thanks to changing perceptions, it is time that some are rededicated to chronicling India’s industrial history too. Legendary Indian companies in particular must also consider showcasing their stories like their western counterparts. Their invaluable legacy should not become a mystery for posterity like the Iron Pillar.

India Needs Activate its a New Regional Diplomacy

India cannot afford to take sides. Energy supplies and the safety and security of its vast diaspora in the Gulf are of utmost importance. India has a substantial Shia population too, with sympathy for Iran.

But war clouds seem to have dispersed for now after Iran retaliated with several missile attacks in the early hours of January 8 on two US bases in Iraq at Al Asad and Irbil and rocket attacks on US embassy in Iraq. .

The tensions between the US and Iran peaked following the killing of the head of Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), General Qassem Soleimani, in a drone attack in Iraq on January 3. But war clouds seem to have dispersed for now after Iran retaliated with several missile attacks in the early hours of January 8 on two US bases in Iraq at Al Asad and Irbil. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US, General Mark Milley, said that the missiles were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and aircraft and also kill personnel. The US denied any casualties even as Iran claimed that 80 people had died.

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted that Iran “took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defence”. He added that “we do not seek escalation or war”. President Trump gave a much-awaited statement later that day to announce that the US “suffered no casualties” and its military bases sustained only “minimal damage” and that “Iran appears to be standing down which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world”.

Taken together, it is clear that both parties have stepped back from the brink. It appeared that the US had advance warning and took necessary precautions to avert loss of lives, while allowing Iran to vent its spleen. On its part, Iran’s claim to have avenged the killing of a national hero was aimed at placating the deep public sentiment that had built up. That Iran had “concluded” its retaliation clearly indicated that Tehran had no intention of escalating matters beyond the symbolic strikes.

Reports suggest Soleimani was on a mission for reconciliatory talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia. His killing seems a well-calculated move given that he was a long-standing thorn in the US’s side in the region. It is not inconceivable that the US had hoped to capitalise on mounting domestic discontent and demonstrations after the fuel price hike in recent months against the regime in Iran, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of a large number of protestors. For a brief while, it seemed that Soleimani’s death and tensions with the US had united the Iranian people behind the regime. But the fresh outbreak of anti-regime demonstrations in the wake of Iran admitting that it “unintentionally” downed a Ukrainian airliner on January 8 suggests that the internal situation remains incendiary.

Iran had a range of options at its disposal but stopped at retaliatory strikes on US bases in Iraq. The use of regional proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen would have been risky and could have enlarged the conflict, leading to entirely unpredictable consequences for Iran.

On the escalation ladder, the US could have resorted to further attacks on select military and other targets if Iran’s retaliation had resulted in US casualties. Trump had earlier warned Iran that the US would target 52 sites in Iran. That number was a symbolic reminder of the 52 US hostages taken by Iran during the siege of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. Trump was emphatic about not countenancing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons capability. The first words he uttered before even greeting the gathering at the White House were that “as long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon”. That is a clear enough red line, which Iran would have noted.

Notably, even when Iran publicly declared its intention to walk away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the aftermath of Soleimani’s killing, it was careful to reassure the international community of its continued commitment to the NPT and IAEA inspections.

If Iran has regional proxies, the US has a strong ally in Israel in addition to its many bases and carrier forces in the region. Given Iran’s implacable hostility towards Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu had unequivocally lauded Trump’s action after Soleimani’s killing. After Iran’s retaliation, he had said Israel had both the will and the capacity to inflict a “crushing blow” on Iran if attacked. Any armed conflagration between Iran and the US would only deepen the faultlines between the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds, worsening the fragility in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament’s non-binding resolution to end the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil is unlikely to make any difference. On the face of it, one can infer that it is not only aimed at the US and its allies, but also at Iran.

The receding war clouds may not be enough to calm the nervous energy market, where a spike of one dollar per barrel can result in a magnified surge in India’s import bill by about $1.6 billion, according to CARE Ratings.

In his parliament speech, Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi had stated that Soleimani was in Baghdad to meet him to discuss reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This may seem premature given the historical rivalry between the two countries for leadership in the Islamic world. At the same time, the reality is that Saudi Arabia is chasing the mirage of a military victory in Yemen. In the aftermath of “black swan” events such as the drone attacks on two Aramco oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in September, and the unexpected killing of Soleimani, Saudi Arabia may be willing to explore a back channel deal with Iran that permits a face-saving retreat from the quagmire in Yemen.

Russia has been supportive of Iran’s policies in Syria. It condemned the US attack on Soleimani as a violation of international norms, though China was by far the more vocal of the two, calling it dangerous military adventurism. China remains Iran’s biggest oil market, an arms supplier and a top trade partner. Iran was reassured of China’s support for safeguarding the JCPOA. Oddly, amidst the rising regional tensions on December 27, Russia, China and Iran came together for a four-day trilateral naval exercise, the first of its kind, in the Gulf of Oman. It was intended to send a strong message to the US that Iran was not isolated.

Each time there is a regional crisis, whether the tide of communism in the 1950s, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, or more recently, the global war on terror after 9/11, Pakistan has returned to the game with newer chips. However, the US should not take Pakistan for granted. It is driven by its own compulsions and has a history of perfidy. If the Saudis could not get Pakistan to rally around it in Yemen, it is doubtful if the US will be able to secure Pakistan’s support against Iran. Pakistan would more likely gravitate towards any emerging tandem between Russia, China and Iran.

India cannot afford to take sides. Energy supplies and the safety and security of its vast diaspora in the Gulf are of utmost importance. India has a substantial Shia population too, with sympathy for Iran.

Proposals for regional security abound — from Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) to the US’s International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC). Russia too has a proposal for collective security in the Persian Gulf. As a large and influential country with goodwill and abiding stakes in the extended neighbourhood, it is in India’s interest to activate its regional diplomacy in order to shape outcomes.

A Rubber-Stamp Parliament & Its Insecure Puppeteers of Pakistan

What a mockery of the democracy it is that now the chiefs of Pakistan’s armed forces will enjoy a longer service term than their puppet –country’s Prime Minister. Pakistan was never a democracy of course, but the most-cherished 18th constitutional amendment made some space in the middle of the ultimate power hierarchy for the so-called elected representatives of the country to have at least some control over the important sectors of this failed nation-state since 2010. But as the Army Act 1952 along with the Pakistan Air Force Act 1953 and Pakistan Navy Ordinance 1861 has been amended, from now onwards the people of Pakistan will be forced to endure an unprecedented political reality.

The de-facto ruler of the state is the serving Chief of Army Staff whether he is holding the office of the executive of the country as a result of a successful coup d’état or is just the chief. In past, the world witnessed Presidents of Pakistan dissolving its Parliament on the will of the Army Chief but then the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government amended the 1973 constitution for the thirteenth time in 1997 to strip the President of Pakistan of his reserve power to dissolve the National Assembly. It triggered the sense of insecurity among the establishment as the amendment was thought of as “piece of paper” that chewed on its powers and thus the dictator General Musharraf in 1999 crushed the constitution underfoot and took over the country as it was the only way to get the lost authority back. He amended the constitution seventeenth time to restore the lost powers of the president which could be used as the chief sees fit. Former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari during his term constitutionally deprived the President (himself) of his powers to dissolve the Parliament. Amending the 1973 constitution for the eighteenth time, Zardari triggered the sense of insecurity among the supremos once again.

Because there were no powers left in the constitution for the President, the tradition of lobbying the government initiated so to force the ‘theoretically powerful’ Prime Minister to consider the Chief of Army Staff for a reappointment. Zardari kissed the feet of General Kayani by awarding him with a 3-year extension in his service tenure. Kayani’s doctrine was given more time to let it be absorbed in sufficiently-dead bedrock of the democracy and to help the establishment contain its insecurity by making its boss satisfied. Nawaz Sharif refused to extend the tenure of General Raheel Sharif and is, therefore, facing the consequences of that till today. For Pakistan, its insecure establishment brings more political and economic instability and uncertainty than anything or anyone else.

The full-fledged puppet of the establishment Imran Khan acted as he was dictated to victimize the opposition to bring its leader on its knees in front the true rulers. Khan –like any other puppet –followed every order of the puppeteers and let no strategy left to turn the Parliament into a complete rubber stamp for the establishment and its chief. The way Army/Navy/Air Force amendment acts were made to pass through the parliament can convince any rational human being to declare the process and the amendments unconstitutional, undemocratic and immoral. The puppet Prime Minister Imran Khan called an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday (January 01, 2020) where the bills were ‘unanimously approved’ by the members. On Thursday, the main opposition parties (read, the latest shameless turncoats of modern failed-state) Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) assured their unconditional support to legislate over the issue of Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s extension. On Friday, the puppet administration tried its best to get the approval of the defence committees of National Assembly and Senate in a meeting but had to reschedule the National Assembly’s Defence Committee’s session to Monday. On Tuesday the bill was finally presented by the glove-puppet defence minister of the country in the National Assembly and without any debate, the bills were voice-voted over by the members of the lower house. In mere 45 seconds, the bill was accorded the approval by the Khan administration and the major opposition parties. On the same day, the Senate’s Committee on Defence approved the bills and the next day it was presented in the upper house. State broadcaster Pakistan Television (PTV) muted the audio when the senators who opposed the bill said “No” during the voice-vote. Indeed, for those who exercise their fundamental right to free speech –Parliamentarian or a common citizen– Pakistan is nothing short of the concentration camp of Auschwitz. This is how you strangle the democracy to death by crushing the constitution underfoot and betraying millions of votes in the Parliament at once!

Before these amendments were made in the constitution, it was considered a highly unconstitutional practice for a Prime Minister to extend the term of the Chief of Army Staff and therefore could easily be challenged in the Court of Law. Former PM Nawaz Sharif refused to extend the service tenure of General Raheel Sharif due to the same reason. He’s been subjected to Khan’s political victimization due to the same reason. Now that the constitution authorizes the executive to extend the service tenure of the chiefs of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, without any delay or dither it could be extended if the chief wants so. From now, every COAS will enjoy a 6-year term, more than an elected representative of the country. In my view, the amendment should have been made to authorize the Parliament to extend the term of service of a chief as it sees fit. But that would have strengthened the democracy up and down the suffering nation-state, increased the insecurity of the supremos and wouldn’t let the fake Nelson Mandelas of Pakistan –Sharifs and Bhuttos –to advance their self interests at the cost of the interest of the country.

Delhi-The heartbeat of Urdu Poetry

On this Republic Day of India. when we are viewing the military might of India, let me recapitulate the poetic beats of Urdu poetry that resonate in the city and despite its many-hued cultural flowers blooming. Go where you will, watch the rear of any truck or auto-rickshaw and you find Urdu poetry or an Urdu doggerel. Let me dedicate to the celebration of this Republic Day, not the military might, but the eternal charm and the heartwarming cultural undertone of this pulsating city that is powered by dirty politics on one side and lyrical Urdu poetry on the other.

Tazkira Dehli-e-marhoom ka ae dost na chhed /Na suna jaayega hum se ye fasaana hargiz

(Don’t talk to me of Late Lamented Delhi, my friend /I don’t have the heart to hear this story.) — Altaf Husain Hali

“Delhi gives me permission to be obnoxious” — this was the reply I got from a Pakistani friend when I asked her why she insisted on living in the city even though her Indian husband did not want to. Delhi’s charms are unpredictable. The chaotic streets, the unruly traffic and polluted air, the aggressive inhabitants and their hurried life, the tolerance for the obnoxious – all of these constitute an integral part of this phenomenal city. In beauty resides horror, and vice versa.

Inextricably intertwined with Delhi’s complicated present is her violent history – a history of invasions and assaults, even massacres. It has been “late lamented” many times through the centuries, yet it lives. Each time it was razed to the ground, it came back to life with startling vivacity. Nothing dies in Delhi, the ghosts of its past lives roam the streets or bide their time in half-ruined buildings, and they rise up to speak in a thousand stories that are still told about the city.

Struggling to breathe under the angry modern façade of the megalopolis is another one, timeworn and easily missed that teems with art, heritage and poetry. It is the Delhi of Mir and Ghalib, the Delhi of the fabled Seven Cities, all of which have risen and fallen and risen again, or been changed beyond recognition over time. Delhi’s indestructible spirit has haunted writers and poets for generations; some of them have written out of love, others in awe and yet others out of bewilderment. In the eighteenth century, Mir said:

Dil-o-Dilli donon agar hain kharaab 

P’a kuchh lutf is ujde ghar mein bhi hain 

(My heart and my Delhi may both be in ruins 

There are still some delights in this ravaged home.

In the middle of the twentieth century, Percival Spear compared Delhi with Rome:

“Delhi can point to a history as chequered and more ancient than the ‘eternal’ city of Rome; it was a famous capital before the days of Alexander, and it has survived all the vicissitudes of time and fortune to become one of the youngest and certainly the most magnificent of recent imperial cities. For it has undergone transformations as numerous as the incarnations of the God Vishnu; if it has frequently changed its site, its character and even its name, it has preserved through all a continuous thread of existence…Like most ancient cities it has succumbed to the magic of the number seven, but as the plain of Delhi is too flat for even the most exuberant imagination to discover seven hills on which the city can rest, historians have played with the idea of seven consecutive cities. The ‘seven cities’ of Delhi are in fact no more accurate description of Delhi history than the seven hills ascribed to many other places.”

And at the beginning of the new millennium, Rukmini Bhaya Nair wrote (in her essay “City of Walls, City of Gates”):

“There are many etymologies that have been offered for Delhi, but perhaps one of the most appealing is the philosopher Ramachandra Gandhi’s suggestion that its name could derive from the words ‘dehri’ or ‘dehli’, both meaning ‘threshold’ – a permanent point of entry and departure but forever resistant to any stamp of permanence…

The city Delhi most resembles…is Athens – with its monumental, crumbling history strewn all around, its ramshackle, seething present.”

In this “seething present”, Delhi is bigger, more sprawling than it has ever been. Officially called the National Capital Territory of Delhi, it is the third largest city of India in terms of size—covering an area of approximately 1500 square kilometres—and the second largest in terms of population—home to more than 25 million people. And in the heart of this mega city, in the north east of its central district, lies Purani Dilli, Old Delhi, where the tale of its glory and ruin and haphazard regeneration is best perceived. It is this “walled city” of narrow, crowded and cacophonous alleys—where it is impossible to walk a few paces or even stand still without touching, literally, at least ten other human beings – that this book is about. Or rather, about a few great men of verse who internalised the spirit of this remarkable patch of the Earth so deeply that they were Dilli, and Dilli was them.

And together, Purani Dilli and its iconic poets tell a 300-year-old story; the story of one of the most evocative languages ever known to humankind: Urdu.

In or around 1700, Wali Mohammad Wali Dakhni, who is widely believed to be the father of the Urdu ghazal, visited Delhi from his native Deccan. His poetry was romantic and his expression typical of his home-region:

Tujh lab ki sifat laal-e-badakhshaan su kahoonga /Jaadu hain tere nain ghazalaan su kahoonga 

(The beauty of your lips I’ll extol before the Ruby of Badakhshan / I’ll tell the gazelle how magical your eyes are.) 

Disdainfully called Rekhta or “assorted dialect”, Wali’s language was considered rustic and inappropriate for something as refined as poetry which, till then, was exclusively monopolised by Persian. But Wali’s expression was so powerful and evocative that he ended up setting the tone for what would soon develop as the Urdu ghazal.

In Delhi, meanwhile, what is now called Urdu was still in the early stages of developing into a language of poetry. It was still called Rekhta, or sometimes Hindi, and was used only by a few native poets. Among them was Mir Jafar “Zatalli”, a satirist who did not shy away from calling a spade a spade, and did that in rather derisive verse. The word “Zatalli”, it seems, had been specially coined by the poet himself to refer to a person who spews nonsense – “zatal”. The mayhem surrounding the decaying Mughal Empire and the incompetence of the emperor and his advisors and officials in dealing with the unfolding crisis kept Zatalli’s incensed mind sufficiently nourished and he frequently expressed his anger and frustration in verse. Farrukhsiyar had just ordered the minting of a new coin to mark the beginning of his rule. On the coin was inscribed a Persian couplet:

Sikka-zad az fazl-e-haq bar seem-o-zar / Padshaah-e-bahr-o-bar Farrukhsiyar

(By the grace of god, [he has] minted coins of silver and gold /The Emperor of the earth and the oceans, Farrukhsiyar.)

In a parody of this couplet, also in Persian, Zatalli lashed out at the Emperor, referring to rampant corruption, even in the distribution of public supplies and food:

Sikka-zad bar gandum-o-moth-o-matar /Padshaah-e-tasmakash Farrukhsiyar

(He has minted coins even of wheat and lentils and peas /The Emperor whose face is inscribed on the coins – Farrukhsiyar.)

The enraged Emperor pronounced a death sentence on Zatalli, and in the very first year of Farrukhsiyar’s rule, Zatalli was hanged to death.

In this politically intimidating milieu was born, in 1713, Mirza Mohammad Rafi “Sauda”, who would later be known as Mughal Delhi’s first classical Urdu poet and the greatest satirist ever. A fearless poet who raised his voice against the growing decay of the Empire, he was famed for his razor-sharp tongue. Among his contemporaries was Shaikh Ghulam Hamdani “Mushafi” (1750-1824), a prominent poet who spent his initial years in Delhi. It seems that the name “Urdu” was first used for the language by Mushafi sometime in the 1780s:

Albatta Rekhta mein hai Mushafi ko daava /Yaani ke hai zabaandaan Urdu ki voh zabaan ka

(Mushafi does claim expertise in Rekhta, /Which means he’s a whiz of the Urdu language.)

While in the political scheme of things the supremacy of the Qila-e-Moalla was fast shrinking, Delhi was playing capital to a parallel empire. It had become the most vibrant centre of Urdu literature in India. Though the language and its poetry were being patronised by the ruling Nawabs in Lucknow and Nizams in Hyderabad as well, because of it being the home of the Mughal rulers and nobles and because of its cosmopolitan society, Delhi was the Urdu poet’s chosen destination.

With the rising control of the Company, Delhi’s elite had begun to cultivate the English officials and traders who had taken up residence in the city. Since Urdu transcended boundaries of religion and ethnicity, it acted as a secular bridge between the different communities of Delhi, and this led to the white man’s interest in Urdu poetry and, occasionally, its patronage by the English sahib. Young officers would be invited to lavish poetry evenings by prominent Dilliwalas. Some of them even took to formally learning the language and trying their hand at poetry. Thus, while Mughal power and influence diminished, Urdu continued to grow and evolve.

Boasting of unique idioms and inimitable figures of speech, Delhi’s Urdu had an atypical flavour, different from the character of its Awadh or Deccan sisters. The city’s women, especially courtesans, who were women of independent means, often widely read and remarkably self- possessed, had adopted Urdu enthusiastically. They enriched the language with their own vocabulary and mannerisms. They could either be very proper and decorous or sardonic and even coquettish. Mushafi had famously said:

Ae Mushafi tu in se mohabbat na kijiyo /Zaalim ghazab hi hoti hain yeh Dilli-waaliyaan

(O Mushafi! Don’t fall in love with them /These damsels of Delhi are damn cruel.)

The Qila-e-Moalla, too, occupied a dominant position in the literary life of the city. Its customs were different from those of the city outside. Its syntax was distinct, and it influenced Urdu just as much as the vocabulary and syntax of the street, salon and pleasure house.

It was customary for Urdu poets to adopt a nom de plume or takhallus. One of the first Urdu poets of Delhi was Shaikh Zuhuruddin (1699-1792) who adopted the takhallus “Hatim” and is, thus, known as Shaikh Zuhuruddin Hatim. Fed up of the anarchy and chaos that followed the city’s incessant invasions, it was he who had remarked:

Pagdi apni yahaan sambhaal chalo / Aur basti na ho ye Dilli hai

(Take care of your turban here /This is no other city but Delhi.)

Hatim was followed, in the eighteenth century, by Mirza Rafi “Sauda”, Khwaja Mir “Dard” and Mir Taqi “Mir”, and in the following century by Shaikh Mohammad Ibrahim “Zauq”, Momin Khan “Momin”, Mirza Asadullah Khan “Ghalib” and Nawab Mirza Khan “Daagh” Dehlvi. Of course, there were a number of others too. Many of the later Mughal Emperors themselves were poets. Shah Alam II wrote under the takhallus “Aftab” and the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah, called himself “Zafar”.

Nobel thoughts and affiliations

Contemporary wisdom is that the United States is a declining power. You don’t want to bet on that looking at the Nobel winners list. Americans continue to dominate the honors. They have won more than 300 Nobel Prizes since they were instituted in 1895. The next best is Great Britain with nearly 115. Germany is a close third with around 106. France is a distant fourth with 50 plus. The rest – USSR/Russia, Japan included – can’t match the U.S tally.

Why such qualifiers (nearly, around, plus etc) suggesting imprecision? Because it’s hard to nail down a Nobel winner’s national affiliation, especially in the sciences. The prize is awarded to individuals, not countries. And scientists move around quite a bit, and often have multiple affiliations. So does one count the Nobel for the scientists’ country of origin, or residency, or citizenship? Or current organizational affiliation?

The Nobel Committee identified Albert Einstein as both German and Swiss when it awarded him the prize in 1921. Claud Cohen Tannouji, a French physicist who won the Nobel for physics in 1997 is also claimed by Algeria because he was born in Constantine to Algerian Jewish parents when Algeria was then a French “département.” Two “India-born” scientists who won the Nobel as U.S citizens were born in what is now Pakistan – Subramanyam Chandrasekhar (Lahore) and Hargobind Khorana (Kabirwala.). Mercifully, this foolish country has not claimed them; it disowned its own Nobel laureate, but more of that later.

This matter of national affiliation rose again when Venkatraman Ramakrishnan shared the Nobel for Chemistry with two others earlier this week. Most Indian media was quick to own him and declared it a Nobel for an Indian scientist. The U.S media announced that two Americans and an Israeli had shared the prize — not even mentioning “Venky’s” country of origin – probably because he is a U.S citizen. But the Nobel committee itself identified his country affiliation as U.K because he is currently attached to a lab in Cambridge, while mentioning that he was born in India. It did not identify the birthplace of the co-winners.

The claims on a winner can go to ridiculous extents because everybody loves a success story. So Tamil Nadu/Chennai media will claim him as their son because he was born in Chidambaram in TN. But Gujarat may have better claim to him because he moved with his parents to Baroda when he was two, went to school and college there, and speaks Gujarati as well as Tamil.

Fervent association with a winner happens in the U.S too. American universities love to brag about the number of Nobel laureates they have produced. But do you count laureates who might have graduated from a particular university (and are not affiliated with it any more) or those who have researched/taught/worked there at some time, or just those who are currently on the faculty?

Most universities count from all categories, so you will see some Nobel laureates being claimed by 3-4 universities. So Venky will be claimed by University of California in San Diego, the University of Utah, and Cambridge University, not to speak now of Baroda’s M.S University, where he got his undergraduate degree. That’s why the number of laureates claimed by universities is more than Nobels handed out. For the record, Cambridge claims the highest number of Nobel affiliations (85) among the Top Five followed by University of Chicago (84), Columbia University (78), Harvard (74) and MIT (72).

Most scientists themselves aren’t particular about citizenship. They are married to their work. As Venky said in an interview, he’s more into people than nationality. His life revolves around ribosomes, not passports and visas. That national adulation can be fickle is best illustrated by the poignant story of Dr Abdus Salam, the great Pakistani physicist who was disowned by his own country because he was an Ahmeddiya. After he died, the epitaph on his tomb initially read “First Muslim Nobel Laureate.” But on the orders of the local magistrate, the word Muslim was erased (because Pakistan does not consider Ahmeddiyas to be Muslims) making him the “First Nobel Laureate.”

Sunday Special: Become a Dynamic Learner

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said that no man can step into the same river twice, because it’s not the same river and he isn’t the same man. It was his way of expressing the reality that change is the only constant in the universe. Between globalization and fast-evolving technology, that truism is as relevant today as it was in Heraclitus’s times. Continuous education and self-improvement are imperative to keep up with work and life in a rapidly changing world.

A book by Bradley Staats explains the benefits of dynamic learning and outlines the methods of becoming more effective as a lifelong learner.

We need to learn all the time. If we fail, we risk becoming irrelevant. We solve yesterday’s problems too late, instead of tackling tomorrow’s problems. But the issue is that, it turns out, we’re bad at learning. We’re supremely bad. In fact, we are often our own worst enemies. Instead of doing the things that will help us learn, we do the opposite.

We are, however, “supremely bad” at learning. We often end up being short-term focused, and the thing that we do in the moment isn’t the thing that’s going to help us learn in the longer term. Let’s think about failure as an example. Of course, we want to avoid failure. We don’t like it when things go wrong. It’s not comfortable. But we also recognize that if we’re going to innovate and accomplish new things, it’s not always going to work the first time. But because of that fear of failure that many of us have and that our organizations often impose on people, we end up never trying that new thing, never moving in a direction that might allow us to create something extraordinary.

It’s an appreciation that failure is a means to an end, where that end is learning. We aren’t willing to try new things. It’s the fear of failure. It’s because of the emotion we get — the anxiety and shame — that we often overemphasize the negative outcomes. We think so much about what can go wrong that we don’t spend enough time thinking about what can go right. Sometimes we even neglect to see what’s going on around us. We reinterpret the environment in order to make us think everything’s OK when it’s going poorly.

Valuing failure means being open to the environment that we’re in. There’s a quote from (Pixar co-founder) Ed Catmull that “mistakes are not a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They’re an inevitable consequence of doing something new.” I think that gets to this point of valuing failure. It’s not that we’re eagerly seeking out how to do things wrong intentionally. These mantras of “fail fast” or “ready, fire, aim” are a recognition that we’ve got to get it out there, we’ve got to be willing to try that new thing and then see what happens, learn from it and adjust.

In order to stay relevant, we must become dynamic learners. Dynamic learning involves four steps that I’ll call the four Fs. The first is focus, or choosing which topics we’re going to learn. What are we going to say no to, enabling us to say yes to things? Where are we going to gain that deeper knowledge? Where are we going to have an impact? That means picking an area and moving in that direction.

The second F is fast; the acceleration rate matters. Once we’ve selected what we’re running after, then we need to be able to move in that direction and get up to speed quickly. It’s not, “Great, I’ll get back to you in three years with my approach,” but rather, it’s days, weeks, months.

Then there’s recognition that we’ve got to be frequent in our learning. Opportunities present themselves at unexpected times or unexpected places, so we need to constantly be looking at how we can improve what we’re doing, how we might recognize a need to change direction, which is really the last principle around flexibility. We’re picking an area to run at right now, but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to get it right every time. In fact, dynamic learners recognize that they’re often going to get things wrong. So, just as they quickly accelerate, they are willing to decelerate, change the direction and move to that next opportunity.

If we can focus, if we can be fast, if we can be frequent, if we can be flexible, then we start to build our our tool kit around dynamic learning.

 I lay out eight elements that make up dynamic learning, so I’ll mention them and then we can dive in where you would like to go.

The first is this idea of failure that I was talking about — a willingness to try things, have them not work out, but learn from that and move on. The second is an appreciation that process really matters. This shouldn’t be shocking to hear from an operations professor. Too often, as learners, we focus only on the outcome rather than the process. We know that sometimes you can get a good outcome and have done all the things wrong. You just got lucky. Sometimes you did it all right, and it didn’t work out. So, if we don’t focus on the process, we’re never going to get to a good spot.

The third is around asking questions. We tend to rush to answers. We tend to think we need to go, go, go, but we should be pulling ourselves back to ask questions. Fourth, related to that, is taking time to reflect and to think. A mentor of mine advised me to not avoid thinking by being busy.

The next two are really around ourselves. Recognize this need to not be a poor imitation of others, but to be ourselves to learn. What are those things that really energize us that allow us to bring our best selves to work? This is related to the sixth point that we need to play to our strengths. We often think of learning as a story of how do I fix the things that are wrong? Instead, we should ask what things am I great at doing? What are the elements that differentiate me? Think of it as your personal competitive advantage. How do you build those out?

The last two are thinking about one’s range, and also the depth of knowledge — specialization and variety. As learners, I suggest we need to aim to be T-shaped. What I mean by that is that we have a depth of knowledge in certain topics, but we’re also willing to appreciate breadth. It’s not either/or between those two. The final piece that goes into the puzzle is the critical role of others. Others educate us and provide valuable knowledge. They give us more detail and show us where there are opportunities for us to do even more. As we step through those eight different elements, we have a chance to accomplish the goal of dynamic learning.

It’s often not so simple. Something that has been fascinating to me in working with companies is trying to understand, well, why don’t we speak up? The research shows there are a couple of different reasons. One class of reasons just goes into this general problem we have of being constantly busy, we have so much going on. Alarm bells go off in our head when we look at something that isn’t quite right, but there’s the next thing on the to-do list, or the next meeting alert that’s going off, or the phone’s ringing. So, we keep running. There’s this element of busyness that we have to step back and look at our calendars. Are we dealing with the important stuff, or are we just dealing with what is urgent?

The second piece, which needs more unpacking, is around self-censorship. We have the time to ask the question, we’re sitting in that meeting, and we choose not to put our hand up. That’s driven by two reasons. One is, we incorrectly think about how people are going to judge us for asking questions. If I say I don’t know that, it will be like being back in elementary school and the kids will laugh. But what’s fascinating — and the research shows this quite compellingly — is that when we ask questions, people like us more. They see us as curious, as engaging them — assuming it’s a legitimate question. There is tremendous value in overcoming that fear of asking questions. Some of my favorite research on the topic looked at speed dating. It showed that people who asked more questions were more likely to get dates. There are broad lessons not just for organizational life, but perhaps outside of the organization as well.

The other element around self-censoring is sometimes we don’t realize that we need to ask a question. We end up lacking an accurate picture of our surroundings. This is where some of the different cognitive biases that have showed up over the last 20 to 30 years in research really can be highlighted. You can think about something like the selective attention test, the fact that we tend to only identify certain things and fail to realize what we’re missing. We get so focused on individual pieces of the tree that we miss the forest.

Let’s talk about learning from others. If there is more of an open feeling about asking questions, then not only is the person who asked the question going to learn, but others around are going to learn as well.

When you ask the question, odds are that a handful of other people in that same meeting also are wondering about it. As a leader, you have to make it clear that asking a difficult question isn’t going to get the messenger shot, but it’s going to be seen as attractive behavior. We often think tasks are far more individual than they really are. We get obsessed with our little component, failing to see the broader element.

When we work with others, we have the ability to ask questions. What’s interesting is we also have the ability to share what we know. Incorporating others in all facets is huge as we think about dynamic learning.

Transform Docile Snow White to Become Belligerent Ninja Warrior

In my daughter’s eyes
Everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light
And the world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me
Gives me strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter’s eyes…

Martina McBride couldn’t be more perfect to express how angelic daughters are. They chirp all the day like sparrows, fill the house will their giggles and their age does not bear any direct affiliation with the love and warmth they radiate, even a four-year-old sounds like ‘Daadi Maa’ of the house. Who can tell this better than their daddies? When King Janaka found Sita in a furrow while ploughing, a ritual during yagna, he brought her home and raised her as his own, not only this, he named her synonymously as ‘Janaki’.She was also known as Maithili since she was the princess of Mithila. This recognition reveals the pride and adoration of a dad for his little fairy. It needs no endorsement that Sita was much loved by her father but little did the king know that his beloved daughter would face the severest gales of life. All this happened approximately 9600 years ago and nothing much has changed till this present day.

We bring them in this world hoping to see them happy and getting all that they deserve from life. The best gift a daughter can ever give to her parents is by being self-dependent but the best blessing parents seek for their daughter these days is her ‘safety’ as they don’t even know whether she would be back home alive or not. All their independence and existence is at the mercy of the monsters who live amongst us in our own society.

The verdict in Nirbhaya case has filled us with some security for our little darlings but this hasn’t been easy, the whole nation has patiently waited for eight long years. The root cause for the epic battle in Ramayana was ‘disgrace to a woman’ but even thousands of years ago justice was served the very moment lord Ram encountered Ravana and here we are, in the twenty-first century, bragging about the information age and nuclear weapons but being slow as molasses when it comes to shielding females and punishing the crooks. We close our eyes, seal our lips and turn a deaf ear to every wrong thing happening around us. We have to be alert, prepared, aware and most importantly ‘considerate’ if we want to stop this evil. Self-defence has now become more significant than self-dependence. It’s high time for the little Snow White to become belligerent Ninja warrior for her own sake.

Lahore Apparently Forgets Its Contribution to January 26 India's Republic Day

Lahore is the city in which I was born and this cultural capital of undivided India at one time and a fashion trendsetter seems to be lost in the morass of history. This city about which the popular song “he who hath not seen Lahore, Hath seen Nothing” seems to have forgotten the golden reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the romance of Anarkali Bazar, the meandering Ravi- the place of tryst of young lovers. It has also forgotten that it was here that the clarion call for absolute freedom was trumpeted on the banks of river Ravi. It was here that Bhagat Singh and his partners were seeking revenge of the killing of Lajpat Rai. And it was here that the premier newspaper The Tribune was published. 

The cities of Lahore and Ferozepur were linked by an ancient bond that several ravages of history – Mongol and Afghan invasions, and British colonialism – could not cut. But this bond was finally ripped apart in 1947 when the two new nation-states of India and Pakistan were formed. The Ferozepur road now forlornly runs through Lahore, hastily abandoning its destination at the first sight of armed soldiers, betraying the traveller. Somewhere along its path, a boundary fence has been constructed. Two of the largest armies in the world, armed to their teeth, stand guard on either side of this fence.

Old Lahore

Located on this road, facing a modern multi-story building, is the Gulab Devi hospital, which sprawls over an area of 40 acres, an indulgent expanse of space in an increasingly congested city.

For any young citizen, who has only known Pakistan, this name is likely to stand out. After Partition, this name would have been lost, just like the others, when the multi-religious Lahore of the past, with its several temples, gurdwaras, churches, mosques and dargahs, made way for a homogenous city.

Old names, guilty by association with what was seen as an “impure” past were hurriedly jettisoned to keep afloat a new nationalist project. Gulab Devi survived because the hospital is run by a Trust, and one of its conditions is that the hospital’s name cannot be changed.

Constructed in 1934, and inaugurated by M.K. Gandhi, the hospital is named after the mother of Lala Lajpat Rai, the prominent Indian National Congress leader and freedom fighter.

Gulab Devi had died in Lahore due to tuberculosis. Lala Lajpat Rai formed the trust in 1927, and intended to build a hospital in his mother’s memory. Unfortunately the following year, before he could see his dream come true, he died due to a blow to his head at the Lahore Railway Station where he was a leading a procession to protest against the Simon Commission.

The protest against the Simon Commission and the death of Lala Lajpat Rai prompted the Indian National Congress to form a commission to propose constitutional reforms for India.

The Nehru Report of 1928, written by Motilal Nehru, the president of Congress at that time, was a step towards the Congress’s demand for self-rule, or Purna Swaraj, from the British. The report demanded self-government under dominion status within the empire.

The Nehru Report was made possible because of Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement, which was launched in 1920 after his return from South Africa. As part of this movement, Lala Lajpat Rai founded the National College in Lahore to cater to the youth who were now boycotting British colonial institutes.

The road to self-rule

Located a few streets away from the office of the superintendent of police where freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and his comrades assassinated assistant superintendent of police John P Saunders to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, is the Bradlaugh Hall.

The red brick building is a beautiful amalgamation of colonial and indigenous architectural traditions, but is locked and has fallen into disrepair. This building used to house the National College that Lala Lajpat Rai set up. It is here that Bhagat Singh and his friends received their initial doses of nationalism. During Bhagat Singh’s trial in Lahore, his parents used to receive visitors and sympathisers outside this hall.

Even though Bhagat Singh had parted ways with the Indian National Congress after being disillusioned by what he perceived to be their passive nationalism, the impact of his revolutionary fervour resonated with the younger cadre of the Congress.

Jawaharlal Nehru had been appointed president of the Congress to take over from his father, Motilal Nehru, at the annual session of the Congress in Lahore in December 1929. Riding through the streets of the Lahore on a white horse, Jawaharlal Nehru, who had turned 40 just the previous month, arrived at the historic Congress session to proclaim “purna swaraj’ or complete independence, rejecting his father’s proposal for a new dominion status constitution for India.

The All India Home Rule League and the All India Muslim League too had favoured a dominion status, but leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo and Bipin Chandra Pal argued for a complete separation from British rule. Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose agreed with them.

It was in this session in 1929 at Lahore that the Congress voted for complete independence as against a dominion status for India and passed a resolution fixing the last Sunday of January 1930 – which happened to be January 26 – as the Complete Independence Day.

On the midnight of December 31, 1929, on the eastern bank of the river Ravi, in the shadow of the Badshahi Masjid, Gurdwara Dera Sahib and the Lahore Fort, Jawaharlal Nehru raised the “swaraj” flag that was later adopted as the national flag of India. After Partition and Independence on August 15, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru saw to it that India’s new constitution took effect on January 26, 1950, thus ensuring that it would not remain just a date in history.

Revisiting history

Not very far from where the Congress session took place, on the other end of the Ravi Road, is Iqbal Park, earlier known as Minto Park. At the centre of this historical park is a tall minaret, Minar-i-Pakistan. It commemorates the Lahore Resolution – that demanded provincial autonomy – which the Muslim League adopted here on March 23, 1940.

Gradually, after the creation of Pakistan, the resolution was appropriated as a demand for Pakistan, and was renamed Pakistan Resolution. Every year on March 23, the country celebrates Pakistan Day.

Every day, thousands of visitors descend upon Minar-i-Pakistan, paying homage to the founders of the country. In popular political discourse, politicians refer to the events of March 23 as a momentous moment in the history of Pakistan. Accolades are showered on Lahore, which is seen as the home of the movement that brought about Pakistan.

Perhaps consciously, or out of ignorance, Nehru’s declaration of independence, Lala Lajpat Rai’s protest against the Simon Commission, and Bhagat Singh’s sacrifice have now been forgotten in a city where these freedom fighters were warmly received once.

70 years on, India and Pakistan have successfully dehumanised each other in popular imagination. On the 70th anniversary of Partition, intellectuals, analysts, writers, artists and engaged citizens seem driven to try to understand 1947, to make sense of the bloodshed and trauma, to explore the legacy of Partition, and to uncover the personal stories that were far too often sidelined in favour of grand state narratives on both sides of the border.

The first Partition Museum is being inaugurated in Amritsar this month while the 1947 Partition Archive, the largest repository of Partition interviews, has just moved forward to release the narratives for public consumption.

This is indeed imperative – 70 years on, we are on the brink of losing the Partition generation and there is an urgency to record their stories, to understand history more holistically, to uncover the nuanced experiences Partition survivors had, and to try and challenge one-sided jingoistic state narratives.

This is even more important because Partition is not just a static event that took place in 1947 that we can move on from. Even as we lose the Partition generation, Partition will remain a centrepiece in our history and in our present day discourse, it will continue to inform our politics, our media debates, our nationalism, our external affairs and most importantly our identity formation.

Partition is very much an ongoing process, its journey after 1947 only becoming more complex. The residue of Partition is perhaps most acutely felt by divided families, separated by hostile politics, visa hurdles, wars and mounting Indo-Pak antagonism.

Some years ago, I met two sisters in Lahore. One held an Indian nationality while the other was Pakistani. They spoke about not being able to meet each other for years, of missing out on special occasions, of the blackouts during war, and of the breakdown in communication channels. They spoke of the pain of being kept away from the countries they saw as home, from their family and their friends.

Another man told me of how he’d opted to move to Pakistan when he was barely 18-years-old even though his family supported the Congress and decided to stay back in Nagina, Uttar Pradesh. He spoke of how much independence meant to him, of the freedom Pakistan symbolised, and of how he thought he’d continue to have two homes, one in Nagina and the other in Lahore. And for many years, it stayed that way. He could easily travel back and forth and felt that he really belonged to both worlds.

But over the years, wars, terrorism and growing animosity between India and Pakistan left imprints on his life. When his parents passed away, he was unable to get a visa to attend their funeral. Such was the price he had to pay for his country.

He told me, “You have to fight a constant struggle every day, to visit, to be one with them. I don’t regret my decision [of moving to Pakistan] but I had never realised how much I would have to give up for Pakistan. I had no idea that things would ever become so bad… I was unable to make it for my parents’ funerals. I didn’t have the visa to go. I was their son and I couldn’t go…”

However, the impact of Partition and its ongoing journey doesn’t only affect Partition survivors and their families. The communal identities and resulting communal tensions, which were crystalised at Partition, have penetrated deep into the fabric of society today.

Both India and Pakistan currently define nationalism in terms of religious identity. To be Pakistani has become synonymous with being Muslim, ideally Sunni Muslim, and even more ideally Sunni Muslim hailing from Punjab. In India, religious nationalism is also on the rise, with extremist Hindutva ideology making inroads into all segments of society.

Textbooks are hence revised on both sides of the border in an effort to purge Muslim and Hindu influences respectively, trying to carve out national identity premised on religious fervor, teaching children that a particular religion or civilization has always been superior to the other.

Hindus are cast away as deceitful and treacherous in Pakistan and Muslims as barbaric and savage in India. Mob lynchings become increasingly common, whether on blasphemy allegations or in the name of gau raksha.

Patriotism is questioned at whim and it becomes all too easy to be charged with the anti-national label. Cricket matches become a war of civilisations, people feeling dishonoured and resorting to burning posters and pelting stones after losing at the hands of the enemy nation.

In short, Pakistan and India define themselves in opposition to each other, both nations determined to justify that they are better than the other: they insist they are more pious, more righteous, more prosperous, mightier and stronger than the enemy lurking across the border.

Not only is the Two-nation Theory still endorsed at the state level in Pakistan, the rise of the Hindutva movement in India is also premised on a similar idea that to be Hindu is somewhat superior, and distinct to Islam. Both countries are clinging on to Partition to convince their citizens that they are indeed better off than the other, and without the other.

Over the years, the consequences of this rhetoric have been felt by millions of people on both sides. The same narrative of otherisation was used to demonise the Bengali Hindus and their influence over the Muslim population of East Pakistan after the creation of Pakistan.

The indigenous resistance movement was sidelined in favour of grand narratives of Indian-funded separatism, encouraging the public in West Pakistan to turn a blind eye to the civil unrest and violence brewing in the other part of the country.

Today, the war is taught as an Indian conspiracy, with Pakistan refusing to introspect upon its own unjust policies that may have led to 1971. This holds an eerie resemblance to India’s narrative in Kashmir, which dismisses local grievances and struggles and labels the movement for freedom as Pakistan-funded terrorism.

By blaming the other both states are able to shrug off any responsibility for their own actions and inactions.

Today, minorities on both sides have to constantly prove their patriotism, the vulnerability they face palpable. The Gujarat riots of 2002, the recent lynchings of Muslims in India and attacks on Hindu temples and forced conversions in Pakistan are all residues of Partition.

70 years after 1947, India and Pakistan have successfully dehumanised each other in the popular imagination of its people.

Children in Pakistan today openly call Indians infidels and demons. In India, students have come to believe that all Pakistanis are savages and fanatics. Many of them even refuse to talk to each other, holding their biased textbook curriculum and media reports as sacred opinions of the other.

70 years later, both nation-states are holding onto Partition like an existential imperative; it helps them define national identity, lead antagonistic state policies, and instill patriotism in citizens – patriotism based on the hostility of the other.

The pity is that the Partition narratives they cling onto are myopic and simplistic understandings of a complicated past. These metanarratives are bent upon juxtaposing one religious community as triumphant and humane over the other.

Nowhere in these narratives do we find the possibility of understanding the complexities of Partition, the diversity of experiences, the coexistence of fault lines and inter-communal harmony, of violence and  rescue stories.

Linear, simplistic versions of 1947 are promoted on both sides, with clear lines between victims and perpetrators. And these versions are here to stay for they serve as the raison d’être of both nations, instilling hostile and jingoistic ‘national spirit’ in post-Partition generations.

70 years later, Partition lingers on, its shadow deformed and distorted but stubbornly looming over us for the years to come.

Racism and Anti-Immigration Sentiment in America Analyzed

Toni Morrison, renowned author and Nobel Prize laureate in literature, remarked in her memoirs that “in this country, American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” In this era of inflammatory claims, alleged concentration camps, and immigration bans, a sharp political divide has resurged in the United States on the topics of racism and bigotry. 

Only five years ago, a large majority of Americans believed that systemic racism was not a factor in the success of African Americans. Now, current and former Democratic presidential candidates such as Warren, O’Rourke, and Biden have argued that systemic racism persists. 

Of course, racism and bigotry are nothing new. To be clear, racism and bigotry are distinct concepts. Bigotry is usually an individual bias that one has against a person for any reason. For example, according to the Washington Post, “long before Americans began associating Muslim immigrants with terrorism, they saw the Irish as terrorists who threatened U.S. national security. That’s right: The immigrant group that today most Americans associate with leprechauns, the Blarney Stone, and Guinness beer was reviled as a band of foreign terrorists 150 years ago.” However, after a generation or two, this bias faded away as the children of Irish immigrants categorized themselves as White Americans. For our purposes, we define bigotry as discrimination against a foreign-born person for differences in culture, accent, etc. On the other hand, racism is systemic and intergenerational.

 An oft mentioned example is the legacy of slavery and the bleak failures of Reconstruction to the present to bring about true racial equality. For over a century after the abolition of slavery, state laws and domestic terrorism prevented generations of African Americans from participating in politics. In mainstream political discourse, bigotry and racism are often conflated for understandable reasons. Japanese Americans, many who of whom had never seen Japanese soil, found themselves in internment camps during World War II, while the Roosevelt administration trusted the vast majority second-generation German Americans to fight the Germans.

A study was done that seeks to analyze the effect of this overlap by asking the following question: how does native or foreign-born status affect income when accounting for the race? That is, how do the respective incomes of foreign-born Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Black, and White workers in the US compare to those of their native-born counterparts? For example, some have argued that Black immigrants are an ‘invisible’ model minority for their relatively high academic achievements. Others argue that Asians are an American “model minority”—a term used to refer to a group perceived as particularly successful, especially in a manner that contrasts with other minority groups. 

The results upfront:

The average native-born worker in the US earns significantly more than the foreign-born worker. However, when broken down into racial categories, only one foreign-born group earns significantly less than their native-born counterparts: Hispanics/Latinos, earning 16.2% less. Interestingly, foreign-born White and Asian workers actually earn more than their native-born counterparts. The average foreign-born Black worker sees no significant difference in income when compared to their native-born peers, possibly debunking the idea that foreign-born Black workers are a model minority. 

Upon further investigation, it is found that differences in income across birthplace in the White and Hispanic/Latino groups could be attributed to discrepancies in education levels. The average foreign-born White person has more education than their native-born counterpart, while the average foreign-born Hispanic/ Latino person has less education than their native-born counterparts. The education levels of the average Asian and average Black person in the US were roughly the same regardless of native-born status. 

In broadening the analysis to observe differences across racial categories, the only group not significantly disadvantaged relative to Whites in terms of median income is Asians; they earn significantly more than Whites in both the native-born and foreign-born groups. Hispanics/Latinos and Blacks are relatively disadvantaged, on the other hand. 

In terms of analysing the effect of bigotry, we find that bigotry against immigrants may be a factor for Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos when earning income. One is unable to find evidence of bigotry against foreign-born Whites or foreign-born Asians due to limitations in the data set. 

Analysis: 

The statistical significance of a variable is defined as having a t-score equal of greater than 1.96 (in absolute terms). Due to a lack of panel data from the BLS, it was assumed that the difference between median and mean income for all groups in subsequent hypothesis testing is identical. That is, if the mean is $50 dollars higher than the median for native-born White workers, then it will be the same for foreign-born Asian workers, native-born Black workers, etc. This assumption results in a difference between medians equivalent to a difference in means, allowing us to conduct our two-tailed hypothesis test.

We first calculate whether there are statistically significant differences between being foreign and native-born on income without accounting for race. The null hypothesis is quite simple: there is no difference between the groups; differences between groups in our sample are due to chance.  The null hypothesis is similar to the native vs. foreign-born comparison of the holistic sample: there is no difference between native-born and foreign-born wages in each racial group; differences in our sample are due to chance. 

t=(average of foreign-born with race X wage – average of native-born with race X wage)standard error of wages

In the event that the differences are statistically significant, the team estimated the modifiers associated with native-born status and race.  They calculated the standard error of wages using the following equation: 

Standard error=(standard deviation of wages)sample size.

The standard deviation of weekly wages was calculated using Bureau of Labor Statistics data under “CSVs single file” under annual 2018 data.

Finding of the study:

Foreign-born vs. Native-born:  

The average person in the foreign-born population earned $758 per week.

The average person in the native-born population earned $910 per week.

This represents t = 70.53771 with a corresponding p-value of virtually 0. Therefore, we can assume that there is a real difference in earnings from being a foreign-born person employed in the US—$152 less per week. 

Foreign-born vs. Native-born within Racial Groups: 

Whites: 

The average foreign-born White person in the US earned $1,083 per week. 

The average native-born White person in the US earned $986 per week.

Blacks: 

The average foreign-born Black person in the US earned $699 per week. 

The average native-born Black person in the US earned $697 per week.

Asians: 

The average foreign-born Asian person in the US earned $1,129 per week. 

The average native-born Asian person in the US earned $1,065 per week.

Hispanic or Latino:   

The average foreign-born Hispanic/Latino in the US earned $621 per week. 

The average native-born Hispanic/Latino in the US earned $741 per week.

A Seemingly Paradoxical Result: A Lesson in Medians

To reiterate, in examining the holistic sample without categorizing by racial group, foreign-born workers earn less than their native-born counterparts. However, upon accounting for race, foreign-born Whites and Asians earn more than native-born Whites and Asians, Blacks earn roughly the same regardless of birthplace status, and foreign-born Hispanics earn significantly less than their native-born peers. 

A striking result is that, although the average foreign-born worker in the US earns $152, or 16.7%, less than the average native-born worker, there is only one racial group whose foreign-born individuals earn significantly less than their native-born counterparts: Hispanics/Latinos, earning $120 less. How could every other foreign-born subgroup within the other racial groups marginally out-earn their native-born peers, yet the average foreign-born worker still earns less? 

It is possible that our use of medians is responsible for this contradiction. By definition, medians are the value of the 50th percentile of earnings. Means, on the other hand, are overall averages. Contrary to our assumption earlier, it is very possible that the distributions of incomes within each racial group have differing degrees of skew. For example, foreign-born White earners could have a far more unequal distribution of wages than their native-born counterparts; the use of medians conceals these differences.

BLS makes definitionally incorrect statements, conflating median and means. For example, according to its publication, “Hispanic foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers earned 83.8 percent as much as their native-born counterparts in 2018.” This is a misleading statement. A more accurate statement would replace “Hispanic foreign-born […] workers” with “the average foreign-born Hispanic […] worker.” 

The Role of Education: 

First, according to the BLS report, foreign-born individuals earn less than their native-born counterparts at every education level except for bachelor’s or higher (in fact, foreign-born workers earn more at that level); our average foreign-born worker would naturally earn less than our average native-born worker, since only a minority of people have completed higher education. 

Taking race into account, we can observe the education level of each racial group. We calculate from the table given in the BLS report that 56.76% of the White foreign-born labor force had a bachelor’s degree or higher. Meanwhile, only 44.78% of the White native-born labor force has a bachelor’s or higher. Therefore, the average White foreign-born worker holds a bachelor’s, while the average White native-born worker does not. The average native-born White worker does have some sort of college degree. This difference in education may explain the “bonus” that foreign-born Whites take in. Political economist Mark Blyth, himself a Scottish immigrant to the US, once said, “immigration to me is where another person from another interesting country has a PhD.”  

For Asians, education levels are quite similar—the majority of the labor force in both the foreign and native-born groups are highly educated, at 63.02% and 64.95% respectively. It makes sense that the earnings gap of $64 between Asians is less pronounced than the earnings gap between Whites of $97—the median Asian person in both groups is highly educated. 

For the average Black person in both groups, there is no substantial difference in education levels. The average Black person, in both the native-born and foreign-born groups, has a college/associate degree. There is a difference in the percentage share of the two groups with a bachelor’s degree or above; 38.06% of their foreign-born population and 30.52% of their native-born population has a bachelor’s. However, we do not see a substantial difference in median income that results from this higher education gap; a natural consequence resulting from the exclusion of higher education from the use of medians. We may have observed a difference in income due to a higher education gap if mean data was available. 

Finally, for Hispanics and Latinos, there is also a substantial difference in education level. While 26.76% of the native-born population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, only about 15.39% of the foreign-born population does. What explains the difference in median income is that the average native-born Hispanic/Latino has some college/associate degree; the average foreign-born Hispanic/Latino only has a high school degree. In other words, native-born Hispanics/Latinos are better educated on average when compared to their foreign-born counterparts. It could very well be the case that the foreign-born population has higher poverty rates, because of factors such as bigotry.

Overall, the discrepancy between the earnings of the average foreign-born White worker and the average native-born White worker may be rooted in the comparatively higher education levels of the former. There does not appear to be significant discrepancy in education between the native-born and foreign-born subgroups within the Asian and Black racial categories; it is possible that foreign-born Asians may benefit from some other factors, perhaps differences in profession, upbringing, or existing connections in the US.

Final Thoughts: 

One surprise is that bigotry against foreigners doesn’t seem to appear in the data for every group, except for Hispanics. The potential role of bigotry in negatively impacting foreign-born Hispanic/Latino incomes may stem from the recent surge of anti-immigrant sentiment and rhetoric targeting Hispanics/Latinos specifically in the United States. 

Overall, the results of our analysis produce this ranking of median incomes by birthplace and racial group, ordered from highest to lowest:  

  1. Foreign-born Asian 
  2. Native-born Asian 
  3. Foreign-born White 
  4. Native-born White
  5. Native-born Hispanic/Latino
  6. Either foreign or native-born Black 
  7. Foreign-born Hispanic/Latino 

However, this ranking does not capture income inequalities within each racial group. For example, arguments such as the Asian Model Minority argument are misleading. While Asians do earn more in terms of absolute dollar amount, they are 50% more likely to be impoverished than Whites when taking cost-of-living into account. 

Every racial group except for Hispanics/Latinos is adjacent to the native/foreign-born counterpart in the rankings, possibly implying that the effect of race on income is higher than the effect of the location of birth. If there is any evidence of bigotry against foreigners, it is the vast disparity in earnings between the foreign-born and native-born Hispanic/Latino population. 

For over a century, immigrants have comprised a significant share of the United States.  From 1860-1920, the share of immigrants was roughly the same, fluctuating from 13-15% of the US population. As of 2017, 44.5 million immigrants reside in the United States, a number that represents 13.7% of its population. In other words, we do not live in a unique era regarding our large share of foreign-born. Whether it is the Irish, the Chinese, the Japanese, or Hispanics and Latinos, immigration has indisputably remained a persistent point of contention throughout the entirety of US history, and will likely continue to be so for decades and perhaps centuries. The best that we can do is to continue researching these issues, elect representatives, and pressure the political establishment to enact better social and economic justice measures.

Saturday Special: Truth Within & Without

 Truth is both out-there as an ‘object’ & within me as the ‘knower’. Scientists and we the educated seek for Truth “outside”: We’re the modern, scientific, rational and educated people of today. We seek basic fundamental truths like How and why did the universe begin? What it’s made of? What is its purpose? Are we alone in this universe? Why does it exist? Why is it the way it is? Who has made fundamental laws and why do they exist? For fear of whom do we and the universe follow them? How big is the universe? From where could arise so intelligent and mathematically precise and complex universe of matter and infinite variety of beings? How do we discover this mystery? From where do we start to know this infinite variety of things and beings?

Scientists have made great and tremendous discoveries in just a few centuries. In just a hundred years, Real-scientists have created instruments that can look deep within matter and also far into this infinitely vast space. They’ve discovered quantum mechanics, uncertainty principle, quarks, bosons, string-theory, etc. but the problem is that when they go deep inside matter, matter loses its fixity and appears to be in perpetual motion! Layers within layers are found, just as we peel onions. Or like we go deep into a seed but find no plant. And, from that ‘nothing’ we see the seed sprouts into plants. And, we’re left wondering. Similarly, when they explore the infinitely vast universe, they discover it is still expanding at a terrific speed! So, where do we seek for truth!

A basic question which our real-scientists are asking, is, what is the universe made of? Cavemen would say, me, you, they, rocks, earth, light, dark, things that run, things good to eat and so on. Today, Real-Scientist have gone much further.

Some of the grand mysteries that scientists are grappling with: Only in recent times we seem to know much more about our common daily world in which we live. Any child can explain natural phenomena’s that occur better than a common man of yesteryears.

Theory of Everything – The truths real-scientists are seeking: Surprisingly, we understand the world of matter around us, but know nothing about how and why the universe works! What the universe is filled with? Dark matter? How to describe the powerful forces that control it? Dark energy? Quantum gravity? What is the smallest building-block of which the universe is made? What is the smallest distance between those building-blocks?

Scientists are trying hard to find the ultimate Theory of Everything, which will explain it all as it will be ‘the simplest possible mathematical description of space, time, all matter, and all forces in the universe at its deepest level’. The more they discover the more they realize how little we know! And they now readily agree that it is really absurd to think that we’ve any clue what’s going on or how the universe really works.

What about us, the intellectuals of today? Our ancients the rishis, or the scientists in Europe and the Middle East, were real seekers of Truth. Let us not fool ourselves that we’re more logical, rational or scientific than our forefathers, just because we’re Ph.Ds., B.Sc.; M.Sc.; Scientific Officers, etc. We neither seek for truth in the external word of the matter, nor within ourselves as our rishis did. Our rishis made profound discoveries relating to man, nature, and ideas about the origin and purpose of life and of the universe. In contrast, we’re simply clerks who memorize what we’re taught and are busy looking after ourselves.

Unfortunately, we o have no trust and confidence in the wisdom and the vyavastha, i.e. individual, societal, and institutional codes of systems and ethics, swadharma, left for us by sages of the yore. We ignore the scientific findings of our rishis and their long-term wisdom of work and life; and, we think all is well as long as we’re well. And we blindly follow the greed and short-term-pleasures-driven goal of the Western cultures.

We’re not real-scientists; we’re merely those who’re learning of science like a parrot and clerks, but none of us have any sense of wonder; we’ve no passion to know, to explore, to discover the secrets of the universe like our forefathers had. We’re mere intellectual babus, not real-scientists. And, yet we call ourselves educated and look down upon our own traditional scientific wisdom, without even having tried to find out how much of wisdom our forefathers have discovered.

Whom do we trust? An intellectual, educated, logical scientist or a simple man of Wisdom, who may not be educated? Why not both? After all, any intelligent, sincere scientist of humility with an open-mind, can immediately recognize, at least when specifically pointed out, that I am just an integral part of the nature that I am trying to study out-there. So, why not first know ourselves? This is what rishis did!

Am I not an integral part of nature? It is not at all difficult to get an intellectual conviction in the very simple truth that all that I am seeking to study ‘out-there’ can be easily studied by knowing ourselves! In fact, there is nothing different ‘out there’ from what constitutes ‘me, you, and all of nature and all of living beings’.

Now we must join the search for Truth with the real-scientists of the West and share with them our spiritual wisdom: After long searches here and there, in the world of matter and forces; in temples and churches; in earths and in heavens, at last, you come back, completing the circle from where you started, to your own soul and find that He, the Theory of Everything, for whom you have been seeking all over the world, for whom you have been weeping and praying in churches and temples, on whom you were looking as the mystery of all mysteries shrouded in the clouds, is nearest of the near, is your own Self, the reality of your life, body, and soul. All glory, power, and purity are in the Self already…All admit the power is there – potential or manifest, it is there – and the sooner you believe that, the better for you.

Remembering Barack Obama’s historic election campaign

I am no admirer of Obama as a President, but his election campaign was markedly great. Who would have thought that Barack Obama, a first time senator, who was looking to rent a place in Washington DC (early 2005) would go on to live in the White House on January 20, 2009. An unwonted childhood, non existent political background, lack of money power and the one who started his career as a community organizer would go on to become the most powerful man in the world. For all the dreamers and believers, his story would be the finest example of immense human potential.

In 64 BC, when Marcus Cicero, ran for consul (highest elected political office of the Roman Republic) his brother Quintus wrote a letter to him and gave some advice on running an election campaign. This letter is a timeless classic, interpreted by many laureates and translated into many languages. The suggestions given were mainly :- ‘Make Sure you have the backing of your family and friends’, ‘Surround yourself with right people’, ‘Build a wide base of support’, ‘Communication skills’, ‘Know your opponent well’ and ‘Give people hope’.

Barack Obama’s campaign was also based on ‘giving people hope’. After 11 years, Obama’s successful presidential campaign remains the best case study for political pundits.

A grassroot campaign

It was the first time that a grassroots campaign was built at such a huge scale in such a short period of time. The belief was ‘a dedicated group of volunteers with clear understanding of candidate’s vision, interacting directly with people, work better than any digital army’.

David Plouffe, Obama’s Campaign Manager (for 2008 bid), wrote in his book, ‘The Audacity to Win’, “As a former community organizer Obama felt in his gut that if properly motivated, a committed grassroots army could be a powerful force”.

Communication strategy — Storytelling, Uniformity

Obama is a great story teller and those who follow him regularly know it. He was able to connect through his incredible stories with every American Citizen. His “Joe the Plumber” story to explain Tax policy dominated the third debate with his rival Lt. Senator John McCain.

Apart from Obama being an incredible story teller, the campaign team ensured uniformity in message delivery. If Obama is talking about Climate Change in a rally or in a TV Interview, all the ads will be on climate change and volunteers will be talking about climate change with the voters. The various communication channels were in sync with each other to deliver the message.

Team of Rivals

“It involves having a vision where a country needs to go, it involves to bring together best people and being able to spark the debate how we are going to solve healthcare, energy and going to deliver good jobs. And, then going to mobilize American people to get behind that agenda for change. That’s the kind of leadership that I want to show as president of the United States”. President Obama answering a question on ‘How he views presidency’ in early 2008.

President Obama clearly stated the role of a leader; bring specialists together, create a conducive environment to debate and ensure the co-existence of opposing views.

Small but diverse Inner Circle

A small inner circle is very important to avoid leaks of electoral strategy and tactics. In the days of primary only three people were in his inner circle, David Plouffe, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs. David Plouffe writes in his book “We learnt this from George W Bush’s campaign where they kept their inner circle small and never expanded it which meant if they had to add someone, somebody had to go”. Interestingly, all three of them had worked for three different candidates and brought diverse and unique experience to Obama’s successful presidential bid.

Use of Technology and Data

Technology didn’t replace ‘People to People’ connect but it helped to scale, get the message delivered instantly and also proved to be a powerful tool for fundraising. Furthermore, Obama’s Campaign team relied more on data than believing on what political pundits have to say on news channels and newspapers.

Campaign office, headquartered in Chicago conducted training programmes for volunteers and used technology to communicate with them. There was also a performance management system for volunteers and staff.

If you have a strong opponent — reset the race to change momentum

It was similar to a cricket test match played between Australia and India in the year 2001. Australian team of that time was invincible and had won 16 test matches in a row. India won that historic match even after compelled to follow-on. It disrupted the momentum and made Indian team believe in their ability. Similarly, when Obama won Iowa primary, not only his team but the world also started believing that Hilary Clinton can also be defeated.

Magic of 3H — Humility, Humble, Honest

When President George W Bush was asked about the most important quality a leader should have, he replied “Humility, I think it’s really important to know what you don’t know and listen to people what you don’t know”.

Obama never attacked his opponents personally and refrained from highlighting past controversies. David Plouffe wrote about one incident: “Obama became furious when we circulated D-Punjab memo in the press and said this is the first time I am embarrassed by my campaign”. Next day he apologized to Hillary Clinton taking full responsibility of it. Barack Obama throughout his campaign and later as a President raised the standards of public office through his personal conduct.

A Word in Defense of the British Empire

Like a colossal riptide, the shattering news of Prince Harry’s abdication is swallowing a whole range of innocent victims. One of which is the British Empire.

More than once over the past few weeks, I have heard “experts” discussing Megxit portray the British monarchy as little more than archaic residue of the ghastly British Empire. This New York Times article by Afua Hirsch is a good example. From the moment Meghan met Harry, wrote Hirsch, she has been under attack. At its core, this hatred for Meghan is the result of “Britain’s history of empire,” which is “a global construct based on a doctrine of white supremacy.”

To Hirsch, British society is intrinsically racist, and the source of this abhorrence for people of color is the British Empire.

This corrupt view of the empire is not new of course. For many years now, slandering the British Empire has been the sport of countless scholars and pseudo-intellectuals. Driven by utter hatred of Britain’s imperial past, these people write and tweet and broadcast their ignorant, one-dimensional views virtually without consequence. Today, the view that the empire was evil beyond the pale is so widely accepted, many find it treacherous to their reputation and careers to rise to its defense.

Not us. I am no lover of the colonial powers, but I also object to one-sided criticism of those powers. I firmly believe that if these powers with handful of soldiers could win vast countries in hostile environment, then something was wrong with the conquered countries.

The legacy of the British Empire, like every empire and civilization, race and tribe, has its black spots. History shows that evil lies within the nature of all humans. The story of human civilization is one of competition and conflict, subjugation and exploitation, violence and murder. It is this inherently selfish nature—not the British Empire—that is the ultimate cause of all the world’s problems.

The fact that evil is endemic to human existence is not an endorsement of Britain’s ugly behavior (such as its treatment of the Boers, for example), but it does mean that the flaws of the British Empire were entirely unexceptional. Actually, compared to other empires, Pax Britannica was quite exemplary.

Measuring the character of an empire (or nation, race or individual) by reflecting on its mistakes alone only confirms that it was comprised of humans. The more accurate gauge of an empire’s quality is its fruits: What was the extent and importance of its contributions to the peoples it ruled and to human civilization. By this standard, the British Empire is unrivaled.

Consider global trade and commerce, a phenomenon we take for granted today. No nation or empire in history has done more to promote the free flow of goods and capital around the world than Britain at the height of its empire. It was England’s prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and rapid economic growth, that created its insatiable appetite for raw materials for industry and luxury items. Overflowing with cash, English bankers went on a buying spree.

The colonized responded, often eagerly, working harder and faster—building, sowing, digging—to sell their wares and take their share of English wealth. As England’s demand for goods grew, so did the gush of money flowing into the colonies, and trade between the colonies and England. Between 1750 and 1914, the total value of global trade increased fivefold. During the 1800s, global shipping tonnage grew from 4 million to 30 million tons, thanks primarily to Britain’s promotion of free trade. When piracy became a problem, the British Navy stopped it. When new laws and policies were needed to promote free trade, British lawyers responded.

Critics say the explosion in world trade did not benefit the poorer nations, but actually resulted in their exploitation. Not true. Consider Zambia, an example cited by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson in his book Empire. Zambia’s gross domestic product per capita is currently 1/28th of Britain’s, meaning the average Zambian is 28 times poorer than the average Briton. In 1955, at the end of colonial rule, Zambia’s gdp per capita was one seventh of Britain’s. Since the British left, Zambia has become four times poorer compared to Britain. “The same is true of nearly all former colonies in sub-Saharan Africa,” Ferguson writes (emphasis added throughout).

During British imperial rule, London was the world’s central bank. Each year, tens of millions of pounds would flow from England to the rest of the world. Naturally, like any bank, the empire sought a return on its investment; hence the boatloads of merchandise that flooded in from its colonies. But the flow of goods into Britain is only half the story. The other half is the hundreds of millions of English pounds reaching foreign shores and filling the pockets of local farmers, tradesmen, shop owners and bankers, greasing the wheels of colonial economies.

In India, the jewel of the empire, agricultural production exploded under the British Raj. Between 1891 and 1938, the amount of irrigated land more than doubled. The British built 40,000 miles of railway track in India, as well as postal and telegraph systems. Millions were employed. British rule, writes Tirthankar Roy in his book The Economic History of India, “appears to have done far more than what its predecessor regimes and contemporary Indian regimes were able to do.”

The same occurred in British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean. As the empire expanded, English bankers, engineers, architects and tradesmen invested time and money constructing vital infrastructure in Britain’s colonial lands. In India, Roy notes, “the railways, the ports, major irrigation systems, the telegraph, sanitation and medical care, the universities, the postal system, the courts of law, were assets India could not believably have acquired in such extent and quality had it not developed close political links with Britain.”

Beyond the vast material construction, the British in many instances created vital and revolutionary political, legislative and educational infrastructure for the colonized peoples. In many colonies, the rule of law was established, aiding economic growth and political and social stability. Britain’s superior legal system was also exported to the far corners of the Earth, where it often replaced brutal tribal laws and rituals with the more civilized and fair English system of justice.

Finally, the British Empire played the key role in protecting the world from tyrants. It’s no coincidence that the 19th century, when much of the world dwelt under Pax Britannia, was a century of relative peace. In the early 20th century, the British Empire emerged as the savior of the free world, almost single-handedly stopping the march of tyranny. During that period, writes Niall Ferguson, the British Empire “more than justified its own existence, for the alternatives to British rule represented by the German and Japanese empires were clearly far worse. And without its empire, it is inconceivable that Britain could have withstood them” (op cit).

Then there’s the issue of slavery. Revisionists love to recall Britain’s participation in the global slave trade. They neglect to mention that it was Britain that made the unilateral decision to ban slavery. Slavery had been practiced for thousands of years and was a key component of the economies of the colonial powers. The decision to be the first to eliminate the slave trade was brave and risky. Once made, it began to be enforced globally by British lawyers and guns!

When we measure British imperialism by its contribution to its colonies and the rest of the world, it has no parallel. Historian Andrew Roberts summarized: “The British Empire provided good government, uncorrupt public administration, inter-tribal peace, the rule of law, free trade, the abolition of slavery, famine relief, the abolition of barbaric customs …, huge infrastructural advances such as railways, roads plus irrigation projects, and in every colony nurtured its native peoples towards running their own countries once they were ripe for independence” (Frontpage interview, Feb. 26, 2007).

Not much to apologize for there!

“The fact remains,” writes Ferguson, “that no organization in history has done more to promote the free movement of goods, capital and labor than the British Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And no organization has done more to impose Western norms of law, order and governance around the world”

 They did exploit the conquered nations shamelessly, but also provided vast material, institutional and ideological blessings.

India streamlining and overhauling its armed forces

India has started 2020 with a series of military tests. On January 1, Army Chief Bipin Rawat was announced as the new chief of Defense Staff (CD), a post the type of which hasn’t existed since India attained independence in 1947. Since January 1, India has test-fired a new submarine-launched missile and a new series of fighter jets. India will play a significant role militarily in the end time. The way it has started 2020 supports this forecast.

Before Rawat’s promotion to CDS, the role was split between three different chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, each battling for supremacy over the other. Rawat will now head a department of more than 60 people, directly under the defense minister, as well as have power and authority to unite the three military branches of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

This has all been orchestrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who enjoys the largest parliamentary majority since 1984. A perceived threat from China and Pakistan, has led Modi to reform India’s army.

The new CDS will organize the armed forces based on the American model, which places all forces in a particular area under one officer. India’s military transformation isn’t just in its structural organization, but also in its weapons of war.

On January 19, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization test-fired a submarine-launched, nuclear-capable ballistic missile off the coast in southeastern India. These missiles are crafted to launch from a fleet of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, which are expected to achieve long-range nuclear capability by 2021.

On January 20, India showcased its Tigershark fighter jet squadron, commissioned by General Rawat. The commissioning ceremony featured four fighters, but a complement of 18 fighters is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Most of the fighters will be capable of carrying a 2.5-ton, air-launched supersonic cruise missile, with 42 older models slated to receive the necessary upgrades to match.

While Prime Minister Modi’s efforts to revamp and streamline the Indian military are partly motivated by hostile neighbors, Bible prophecy reveals that India will be a part of an end-time Asian military alliance.

India has a vast and young population, much younger than China’s, giving India, which already has the world’s fastest growing major economy, considerably more potential. India also has the world’s fourth-most powerful military, including the second-largest standing military and an advanced array of nuclear weapons.

With its recent military restructuring, development of advanced weapons, large population and powerful economy, India is primed to become an important part of a prophesied 200 million-man army (Revelation 9:16).

This is significant because India has a population of 1.2 billion people—plus an advanced nuclear arsenal! When you put India and Japan together with Russia and China, it is easy to see how an army of 200 million soldiers could be formed. With other Asian nations joining in, you quickly reach combined populations of 3.5 to 4 billion people! Under extreme circumstances, it is not hard to imagine 1 in 10 or 20 people going to war.

Weekend Special: Emojis are the next step in digital communication


We’re much more likely to be hanging out on social media than at the watercooler these days. But just because we’re no longer face-to-face when we chat, doesn’t mean our communication is completely disembodied.

Over the last three decades, psychologists, linguists, and anthropologists, along with researchers from other traditions, have come together to understand how people gesture, and the relationship between gesture and speech.

The field of gesture studies has demonstrated that there are several different categories of gestures, and each of them has a different relationship to the words that we say them with. The same is true of emoji. The way we use emoji in our digital messages is similar to the way we use gestures when we talk.

What gestures and emoji have in common

We can break speech down into its component parts: sentences are made of words, words are made of morphemes, and morphemes are made of sounds.

Signed languages have the same features of grammar as spoken languages, but with handshapes instead of sounds. They have some advantages in complex expressions that spoken languages don’t have, but there are gestures as well as grammatical features when people sign.

By contrast, gestures and emoji don’t break down into smaller parts. Nor do they easily combine into larger words or sentences (unless we’re using a clunky version of the grammar of our language).

While there are preferences, there is nothing “grammatical” about using 😂 instead of 😹. Rather, what is most important is context. 🐶 could be a reference to your own dog, a good dog you saw while out for a walk, or a sign of your fondness for puppers over kitties.

There are some gestures that can have a full meaning even in the absence of speech, including the thumbs up 👍, the OK sign 👌 and good luck 🤞. Gestures like these are known as emblems, some of which are found in the emoji palette. Some object emoji have also developed emblematic meanings, such as the peach 🍑, which is most typically used non-illustratively to represent a butt.

Many gestures and emoji do not have these specific meanings. So, let’s take a look at different ways emoji are used to communicate with reference to a common framework used to categorise gestures.

Illustrative and metaphoric emoji

Illustrative gestures model an object by indicating a property of its shape, use, or movement, such as the classic “the fish was THIS big” gesture. Similarly, we often use emoji to illustrate the nature of a message. When you wish someone a happy birthday you might use a variety of emoji, such as the cake with candles 🎂, a slice of cake 🍰, balloon 🎈, and wrapped gift 🎁.

It’s not grammatically correct to say “birthday happy”, but there’s no “correct” sequence of emoji, just as there is no one correct way to gesture your description of the fish you caught.

We also have metaphoric uses of gesture and emoji. Unlike a “big fish”, a “big idea” doesn’t have a physical size, but we might gesture that it does. Similarly, our analysis showed that people typically use the “top” emoji 🔝 to mean something is good.

Beat gestures are used for emphasis

Another common type of gesture used to draw attention is a beat gesture, distinguished by a repetitive “beat” pattern. Some uses of emoji have a direct parallel to beat gestures. For example, using the double clap 👏 for emphasis, which has its origins in African American English.

The emphatic nature of beat gestures helps explain something about common strings of emoji. When we looked at sequences of emoji the most common patterns are pure repetition, such as two tears of joy emoji 😂😂, or partial repetition such as two heart eyes and blowing a kiss/heart 😍😍😘. Repetition for emphasis is rare (but possible) with words, but very common for gesture and emoji.

Along with these categories, we also looked at pointing and illocutionary gestures and emoji, which help show your intentions behind what you’re saying – whether that’s amusing 😂 or ambivalent 🙃.

Emoji have limitations that gestures don’t

There are obviously some differences between online and physical chat. Gestures and speech are closely synchronised in a way emoji and text can’t be. Also, the scope of possibilities with gesture is limited only to what the hands and body can do, while emoji use is limited to the (currently) 2,823 symbols encoded by Unicode.

Despite these differences, people still use the resources available to them online to do what they’ve been doing in face-to-face conversations for millennia. Bringing together research on gesture and internet linguistics, we argue there are far more similarities between emoji and gesture than there are between emoji and grammar.

Instead of worrying that emoji might be replacing competent language use, we can celebrate the fact that emoji are creating a richer form of online communication that returns the features of gesture to language.

The disenchanted currencies of the world talk of 'Currency Manipulation'

All major bills and notes of the world gathered in The Vault to discuss the fallout if Lakshmi, the Indian goddess, was put on Rupee, the Indian currency, as suggested by one of the country’s eminences grises.

“Well, whaddya know … putting a goddess on bills will be a new high. People may treat you with more respect,” said Dollar, a heavyweight in the currency world. “I have seven people on seven different bills including four dead presidents, and I’m tired of being used for drug trafficking, wars and mindless consumption.”

“You are lucky you get seven different people on seven different bills,” said Renminbi, the Chinese currency who Beijing was secretly manipulating to get him ahead of Dollar. “Imagine having Mao Zedong on notes of every denomination.”

Rupee agreed, saying, “Not to speak of the Father of the Nation being abused all the time by people stashing away black money, not paying taxes, and using us for nefarious purposes.”

Several bills, notably the South African Rand, who bore the image of Nelson Mandela, nodded, saying there should be more variety, and it was unfair that one iconic figure should take all the abuse.

“Indeed!” chimed in Pakistani Rupee, who was envious of his Indian counterpart because he was now worth less than half after being on par at Independence. “It is unfair that Jinnah has to represent mismanagement of the economy resulting from wars and terrorism the government indulges in.”

The Iranian Rial and Turkish Lira, who mainly carried Ayatollah Khomeini and Kemal Ataturk respectively, agreed, snorting that they had been devalued so much so often that it made no sense to carry images of national heroes.

“Ka-ching!” said Pound, who was trying to recapture the halcyon days she had lost to Euro with Brexit by putting photos of people other than Queen Elizabeth. “Why not everyone go heavy metal?”

“Easy for you to say that. You come in only four small denominations,” chided the Zimbabwean Dollar, who now came in bills of trillions, quintillions, and septillions. “Plus, you’ve never experienced hyperinflation and demonetisation.”

The Egyptian Pound and Mexican Peso complained of schizophrenia, having to bear photos ranging from ancient heroes such as Rameses II and Nezahualcoyotl, to physical structures and modern icons such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

All currencies finally agreed that they were sick and tired of humankind’s grubby hands manipulating, abusing, soiling and misusing them all the time. They were happy their time would soon be up and they would take on an electronic form where there would be no arguments on whose picture they should bear.

Constitutionally Correct CAA is a Victim of Sheer Idiocy & Sophistry

Stripped of the web of deception, spun by its detractors of both the tendentious and ill informed variety – The Citizens Amendment Act [The Act] serves the twin purpose of resolving a long neglected issue of statehood to refugees to India and doing so in a manner which is wholly compliant with constitutional morality.

There are essentially two canards leveled against the act and its provisions.

First that it is discriminatory in as much as, it opens the door for conferment of citizenship to refugees of six (6) religious communities who were victims of religious persecution and who sought sanctuary in India before 31st December, 2014, while denying it to similarly placed persons belonging to the Muslim community. The Discrimination Canard)

Second that it is arbitrary for that its scope is restricted to those fleeing religious persecution from three neighboring countries viz Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh [PAB] and excluding those facing such persecution in other neighboring countries, predominantly Myanmar and Sri Lanka. (The Arbitrariness Canard)
For these two reasons it is alleged the Act violates Articles 14 and 21 of The Constitution of India.

The Discrimination Canard

The basis of the Discrimination canard is that while PAB are admittedly Islamic Republics at least two of them – Pakistan and Afghanistan have persecuted not merely non-Muslims but two religious sects within the Muslim community – the Ahmadiyas and Shias in the case of Pakistan and Shias (mainly Hazaras) in the case of Afghanistan.

As far as Ahmadiyas are concerned , all Indians should be aware that one of the chief architects of the creation of Pakistan was Sir Zafarullah Khan, one of the most prominent members of the Ahmadiya community in pre-partition India. It was Zafarulla Khan who authored the infamous Lahore Resolution of 1940, which called for creation of a separate homeland for muslims, in which he specifically used the word “Pakistan” as the name for that homeland. He was one of the leading voices in Pakistan’s first Constituent Assembly and the seeds of Pakistan’s rapid transformation from an independent nation with early secular hopes into an Islamic Republic brutal in its treatment of its minorities were sown during the debates of its very first Constituent Assembly.

Notwithstanding his pernicious two nation theory Pakistan’s founding father – Jinnah envisaged a secular constitution for Pakistan, as is unambiguous, from his August 11th 1947 speech to the constituent assembly of Pakistan in which there were representatives of every Muslim sect and every non-muslim community. Jinnah’s words …”

… We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state…we should keep that infront of us as an ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State …”

… undoubtedly encouraged non-Muslims to choose Pakistan as their home in the legitimate expectation that they would have the freedom to practice and profess their respective religions and be secure in life and property.

If Pakistan had any hope of being a future secular State at all, that hope died with the premature death of Jinnah in 1948. Liaquat Ali Khan who succeeded Jinnah presided over and lent strong support to the infamous ‘Objectives Resolution’ of March, 1949. That resolution proclaimed that the future constitution of Pakistan would be modelled on the ideology and faith of Islam. Every non-muslim member of the Constituent Assembly vigorously opposed the resolution and voted against it. The Objectives Resolution effectively rendered non-muslims second class citizens and later formed the basis of Pakistan’s constitutional theocratic doctrine which proclaimed Pakistan as an Islamic Republic. What is most significant however is that the Objectives Resolution was supported by Shias and Ahmadiyas too. In other words Islamic theocracy was the wish of every Muslim in Pakistan irrespective of sectarian allegiance.

What ensued in Pakistan pursuant to the Objectives Resolution was a ringing vindication of the prophetic words of Sris Chandra Chattopadhyay, the Dhaka born leader of the opposition in the constituent assembly on March 12, 1949

“The state religion is a dangerous principle. Previous instances are sufficient to warn us not to repeat the blunder. We know people were burnt alive in the name of religion.”

Ever since the Objectives Resolution non-muslims in Pakistan – Hindus, Sikhs and Christians were subjected to abominable atrocities of every kind- violence and murder; appropriation and arson of property; abduction and rape of women; forcible conversions and the destruction and burning of their places of worship. Undoubtedly many of these acts were the work of a Sunni majority imbued with the Wahabi fervor that a Deobandi Ulema imparted to them. But at the very least Shias and Ahmadiyas who first connived at the passing of the Objectives Resolution stood idly by at this barbaric treatment of their fellow countrymen at the hands of their co-religionists. The final denouement of the Objectives Resolution was the ethnic cleansing of the non-muslim citizens of Pakistan. Whereas in 1951, the non-muslim population of Pakistan was 3.44% of the total population as per the Pakistan Census of 1951, the non-muslim population (excluding Ahmadiyas) today has declined to barely 1.5%

True the chickens did ultimately come home to roost, as a State governed by theocratic majoritarianism, had to find new “others” once they almost obliterated a non-muslim minority. Thus, early attacks post partition on the Ahmadiyas grew in number and intensity and led ultimately to them being declared as non-muslims or apostate by a Statute of 1974. The ultimate irony is the frequent subjection of Ahmadiyas to the blasphemy law if they so much as dared to hold themselves out as being Muslims.

Not surprisingly the next new ‘other’ are the Shias who now face the brunt of Sunni oppression. As suicide bombers exterminate Shia populations when they gather in large numbers for prayers or processions and destroy their places of worship, the question being asked both inside and outside Pakistan, today is how soon will it be before the Shias with their sharp differences with the Sunnis on the question of succession to the Prophet are declared by the now theocratic Sunni majoritarian state as heretics outside the Muslim fold?

In the light of the above brief excursion into Pakistan’s constitutional origins, its fallout and those responsible for it would it be fair to condemn the Citizens Amendment Act as discriminatory against persecuted Muslims like the Ahmadiyas and Shias? The statement of objects and reasons for the enactment of the Citizens Amendment Act is that the Constitution of PAB provides for a specific state religion and hence the six specified religious communities faced persecution on the grounds of religion. This is a statement of fact based on empirical evidence. Grant of Indian citizenship to those facing religious persecution in neighboring theocratic states is by itself a rational classification with a reasonable nexus to the objects which the Act seeks to attain ie to grant citizenship to persons who are refugees in India on account of religious persecution.

The Discrimination canard however is based on the present plight of Shias and Ahmadiyas in Pakistan. Infact the Act is not discriminatory against persons belonging to these sects seeking citizenship on the ground of religious persecution for atleast three compelling reasons …

a. That Ahmadiyas and Shias are hoist by their own petard. At the time of their country’s (Pakistan) independence they consciously eschewed a secular constitution and opted for an Islamic Republic which relegated non-muslims to the status of second class citizens. Worse they connived in or stood idly by while their non-muslim brethren were subjected to a process of slow ethnic cleansing. As Indian critics of the Act never tire of reminding the nation our constitution is a secular one. Would it thus be subversive of our constitution if parliament in its wisdom deemed it inappropriate to grant citizenship to members of persecuted communities who had no commitment to secular principles, had a strong allegiance to a theocracy of their own religion, were insensitive to the rights of minorities and whose consciences appear not to have been stirred in the face of atrocities and even ethnic cleansing of their fellow countrymen merely because their religious beliefs were distinct?

b. Although the Indian government officially recognized Ahmadiyas as an Islamic sect in 2011 census, not only do Indian muslims not consider Ahmadiyas as muslims but have indulged in acts of acute hostility and violence towards them as is evidenced by some circumstances reproduced below:

1. In June 2008 prominent muslims led by none other than AIMM chief Assauddin Owaisi called upon the then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy to demand that Ahmadiyas be denied permission to hold a public meeting in Hyderabad. The CM ordered the police not to permit Ahmadiyas to hold the conference.

2. The Majilis Tahaffuze Khatme Nabuwat (MTNK), a prominent body of religious scholars, slammed the Central Government for treating the Ahmadiyas as part of the Muslim community in the 2011 census. According to MTNK, the Ahmadiyas cannot be considered an Islamic sect and they follow a different religion.

3. In September 2011 in Delhi, a Koran exhibition held by Ahmadiyas was called off after shrill protests from the Jama Masjid Imam – Ahmed Bhukari.

4. Ahmadiyas are not allowed to sit on All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a body of religious leaders that the central government recognizes as representatives of Indian muslims.

5. In February 2012, the Andhra Pradesh Waqf Board issued a decision to take over Ahmedi mosques and graveyards since “sunni or shia mosque cannot be administered by a non-muslim”.

6. In March 2012, an Ahmedi mosque was attacked in Saidabad, Hyderabad by the aforementioned MTNK.

7. In May 2012, Jamat-e-Islami-Hind called for a complete social boycott of Ahmadiyas during a public meeting in New Delhi

8. In May 2012, the Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir requested that the J&K State Assembly pass a law that would deem Ahmadiyas to be non-muslim.

9. There have been reports of attacks on Ahmadiyas in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

The protesting students of Jamia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University in their opposition to the CAA have never declared whether they consider Ahmadiyas to be part of the Muslim fold and would want them to be granted citizenship if they so desired on the grounds of religious persecution. But it is at least undeniable that a very significant section of muslim leadership in social, political and religious spheres not merely consider Ahmadiyas as apostate but are willing to express their opposition to their very presence in India through violent and disruptive methods. The treatment of Ahmadiyas by prominent and powerful individual muslims/institutions representing them reveals that the grant of citizenship to Ahmadiya refugees is fraught with grave risk in as much as it has the potential to foment acute sectarian strife. The Indian government would accordingly be ill advised to open the doors for conferment of citizenship to Ahmadiyas as it would result in grave threat to public order and law & order.

c. Should India grant citizenship to victims of intra- religious sectarian disputes based on esoteric and post-Koranic differences which while they may be of great significance to the protagonists of those debates are meaningless to a host country and which in a civilized world ought to be resolved by a rational consensus between the respective clergy of the protagonists and not by the imposition of the will of those entrusted with governance?

As regards Hazara refugees from Afghanistan – these number about 500 to 700- most of who are settled in Delhi. The Hazaras are not victims of religious persectution by the Islamic State of Afghanistan. The Hazaras have fled Afghanistan mainly on account of persecution by the Taliban during the period when they ruled Afghanistan between 1996 to 2001. It is true that the attacks on the Hazaras continue till the present day by the Taliban and the Islamic State. But since 2001, however Hazaras are not victims of religious persecution by the Islamic State of Afghanistan and the Hazara community has carved out a thriving urban enclave in West Kabul. It is perhaps even safe for Hazaras to return to Afghanistan in present times.

The Arbitrariness Canard

The constitutional challenge based on arbitrariness on the ground of the exclusion of other religious countries like Mayanmar and Sri Lanka from the scope of this Act is misconceived. The CAA has limited the scope of its operation to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh on the grounds that these are self-proclaimed Islamic Republics. Myanmar has no state religion but its constitution does sanction the promotion of Thervada Buddhism practiced by 90% of the country’s population, though freedom of Religion and Worship by minorities is permitted by the constitution. Sri Lanka’s Constitution while declaring that the Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place nevertheless by Article 10 & Article 14 grants freedom of religion to all persons in the widest possible terms. The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has categorically asserted that Sri Lanka is a secular country. However, it must be conceded that countries professing secularism as their constitutional creed can persecute religious minorities. The critics of the CAA highlight the persecution of Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar and Tamils in Sri Lanka. The question is that does the CAA pass the test of constitutionality by excluding these two countries from its scope.

Essentially the Rohingya crisis is an issue between two neighbors friendly to India i.e. Myanmar and Bangladesh. Rohingyas were originally inhabitants of Bangladesh but after the British took control of Burma in 1824 they felt the need for migrant labour to cultivate the fertile rice fields of that country. Thus they transported Rohingya labourers from Bangladesh to the Rakhine region in Burma. When Burma attained independence in 1948 one of the vexed issues that arose was entitlement to citizenship of its residents. The Burmese never regarded Rohingyas as original inhabitants of Burma and after the Burmese military took over the reins of power in 1962, the Rohingyas were not recognized as citizens both by the Constitution of 1974 and by Citizenship Act of 1982.

The opposition of the state of Myanmar to grant citizenship to the Rohingya inhabitants of Rakhine state is not in virtue of the fact that they are Muslims but on the ground of their origins being in Bangladesh and their presence in Myanmar being transient on account of British labour policy. Moreover, culturally the Rohingyas have greater affinity to Bangladesh in as much as they speak the Bengali dialect common in the Chittagong Area of Bangladesh and not Burmese. On the other hand, there are other Muslims in Myanmar whose presence is to be found all over the country including Rakhine state. These Muslims are ethnically distinct from the Rohingya Muslims and speak the Burmese language. These Muslims have not been subjected to any religious persecution during the 2 waves of Rohingya exodus that occurred in 2012 & 2017. In other words the Rohingya refugee crisis which has engulfed India and other countries does not stem from religious bigotry or persecution but is more akin to an Assam- type “outsider” issue and is in fact a clash of conflicting claims to citizenship. The genesis of the Rohingya problem in as much as it does not stem from a Buddhist- Muslim divide is dehors the scope of the CAA which deals with grant of citizenship to minorities fleeing religious persecution.

Secondly, the rights enshrined in Part 2 of the constitution have been held by Supreme Court to be subject to reasonable restrictions such as security of the state. While there has always been tension between Rohingyas and non Rohingyas in Rakhine State, the first major flare-up resulting in displacement of Rohingyas occurred in June 2012 on account of the gang-rape of a Rakhine woman by the Rohingya Muslims. This led to sectarian violence, deaths of both Rohingya and non Rohingya and the burning of both Rohingya and non Rohingya homes in equal measure. The incident led to the first exodus of about 90,000 Rohingyas from Rakhine State. Thereafter there was no outbreak of violence till October 2016 when a group called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked a police post in Rakhine State, killing 9 police officers. The situation spiralled out of control when on 25/08/ 2017 ARSA carried out an even more virulent attack on around 30 Myanmar security posts. These attacks were carefully planned & co-ordinated. The Myanmar security forces responded with brutal grossly disproportionate violence marked by killings, rape, sexual violence & burning of entire villages (Amnesty International).

As a result of this retaliation more than 750,000 Rohingyas fled the Rakhine state to seek refuge in neighboring countries-the largest contingent fleeing to Bangladesh where they now live in camps in Cox’s Bazaar.

Amnesty International reports that almost immediately after the 25/8/2017 incident & after ARSA again carried out terrorist attacks against innocent Hindu villagers in the village of Kha Maung Seik in northern Maungdaw township in Rakhine killing 99 of them. The Myanmar Government has designated ARSA as a terrorist organization. The International Crisis Group (ICG) also says that ARSA militants have trained abroad & released a report in 2016 saying the group was led by Rohingyas living in Saudi Arabia. The ICG also says ARSA’s leader is Ata Ullah who was born in Pakistan & raised in Saudi Arabia. Indian intelligence inputs disclose that global jihadi groups such as Islamic State & Al-Qaeda & also Pakistan’s ISI & its proxies are sponsoring ARSA terrorism. These inputs also suggest that Lashkar-e-Taiba is seeking to recruit Rohingyas in India for their jihadist activities within India.

India is not alone in viewing Rohingya refugees as potential sources of terrorist recruitment. In November 2019 addressing a three day “Global Dialogue 2019 Conclave in Dhaka, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Haseena stated that more than 1.1million Rohingyas of Myanmar who fled to Bangladesh in the face of persecution were a threat not only to security of Bangladesh but for the entire region. In Indonesia where Rohingyas have travelled by boat and settled in the Indonesian province of Aceh on the North-West tip of Sumatra Island, Indonesian counter-terrorism officials are worried about possible retaliatory attacks by the country’s violent extremist fringe or extremist outreach to ARSA in the interest of sending Mujahideen to Myanmar. The Indonesian government is worried that with many Indonesians now visiting camps in Cox’s bazaar, some Indonesian extremists will eventually make contact with ARSA militants [The Institute of Policy Analysis for Conflict (IPAC)].

Thus, there is no doubt that a persecuted, displaced & totally impoverished refugee population is a fertile breeding ground for Jihadist footsoldiers. The Indian state is not unjustified in excluding Myanmar & the Rohingyas from the scope of the CAA on the further ground that the continued Rohingya presence constitutes a threat to the security of the state.

As far as question of Sri Lanka’s Tamilian refugees in India is concerned, the refugee problem has arisen as a result of a three decade long civil war and ethnic conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamilians. Tamilians have fled to India from time to time during those 3 decades to escape either war or persecution and most have settled in either Tamil Nadu or Kerela. Again, the Sinhelese- Tamil conflict is not religious but an ethnic one; it is not a case of Buddhists persecuting Hindus and Christian Tamils.

In any event since 2009, sectarian conflict in SL has ended. The civil war and the ethnic conflict was largely the result of the call for a separate Tamil state called Eelam by the LTTE in the north and east. With the defeat and the disappearance of the LTTE, peace and tranquility has returned to the island country. Tamils now constitute 11% of Sri Lanka’s population, a majority in the Northern Province and are present throughout the rest of Sri Lanka. In view of the absence of tensions between Sinhalese and Tamils, it is safe for Tamilians to return to their homeland and reportedly several Tamil refugees have been returning home voluntarily with the help of UNHCR.

Those Tamilians who wish to acquire Indian citizenship can do so and they can be conferred citizenship by naturalization by the Indian government if they fulfill the requisite criteria for such grant. The exclusion of Sri Lanka from the scope of the CAA is thus wholly justified; it is a friendly neighbor, a secular state, its previous ethnic tensions have sharply declined and its Tamil population is presently safe and secure in the country.

In the light of all that is stated above, the CAA is constitutionally valid. It is a humanitarian piece of legislation, which offers citizenship to certain persons who have been refugees in this country and stateless for far too long. The Act is not anti-Muslim: Muslims can apply for citizenship by naturalization under a separate section of the Citizenship Act. Indeed more than 600 Muslims have been conferred citizenship through this route in recent times. The limited scope of the Act is based on both – compelling principles of constitutional morality as also public policy. With the greatest respect, the Act is not divisive; unfortunately its motivated opponents are.

The Richie Rich Get to Play at Saving the world

It’s a new year and a new decade. Yay! Iran and the United States haven’t dragged us all into World War Three yet. Yippee-Ka-Yay! It’s day one of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Ya……oh…ugh! Lucky us. For the next week or so, we get to hear the great and the good (mainly the super rich) tell the rest of us mere mortals how they will help save us and our crumbling world. “Ok everyone. The billionaire club has got your back. Nothing to see here. Move along now.” Joe Schmo, your input is not required.

Most of us regular folk will never, ever go to Davos Klosters, let alone attend WEF. For starters, how many of us have a helicopter to hand to shuttle us from the Zurich to this uber-exclusive, ultra-bull market ski resort? Moreover, despite all the speeches and powerpoint slides, it does seem to most of us standing outside the tent in the freezing cold, that WEF is just one big private social. Indeed, from what I’ve heard from friends who’ve attended, the after parties are the only reason to go. Here’s a downright crazy idea – how about having next year’s WEF in a slum in Africa or next to a polluted beach in India?

 Predictably, it’s all about sustainability this year. With all the pressure from Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, how could it not be? So we now get advice on how to fix the world from the very same people who were probably involved in wrecking it. It was ever thus. Gosh, I’m turning into such a cynic in my old age.

Lip Service: Now it’s all very good for the likes of Al Gore to shock us with pictures of burning skies and flash floods but there is very little in the way of usable output. Very little comes out of Davos that speaks to the wider population. The truth is that the rest of the world has stopped listening. No one cares what a small group of privileged people, sitting atop a mountain in Switzerland, have to say about our collective futures. Indeed, there is widespread doubt that the rockstars, politicians and otherwise rich attendees of Davos actually care about making any real impact. It’s all a show and the attendees are their own audience.

If we are going to save our planet then it’s going to get done as a collective. It will mean a change in behavior and lifestyles by each and every one of us. Moreover, it will mean more of us choosing careers away from banking and finance and instead head into the green sector. Herein lies a major bottleneck.

It is currently financially prohibitive to pursue a career in the green sector. Finance and tech still attract the bulk of the top talent because they are the sectors that pay well and career paths are well mapped out. For those who still wish to follow through on their convictions and wave goodbye to the big bucks, access to good courses is often difficult and we already know that the education system is rigged toward the wealthy. Thereafter, there is little or no clarity in the path to paid employment. I have seen this first hand.

I have known several people who are post-graduate level conservationists. They have all had difficulty in finding gainful employment in the field – lots of unpaid internships and placements but nothing paid. One of them estimates that only 10-20% of his undergraduate class stayed in the industry. That figure, he says, climbs some with a masters and/or a PhD. That’s disappointing.

Furthermore, internships with reputable conservationists cost money. Indeed, one well known conservationist (with whom we connected via WEF network ironically) asked for a US$100,000 contribution to his fund. This was the going rate for an internship he said. I’d heard an evidently spurious rumour that bonded slavery was dead?

WEF’s stated objective is to “improve the state of the world”. It does well to bring together world leaders and society’s greatest minds. However, unless it can also engage the rest of the population into conversation and get them along on the journey, the event is nothing more than a momentary distraction. Most international businesses will require conservation knowledge going forward. So to make it so difficult or unattractive for young people (especially those from less wealthy backgrounds) to pursue this field can only be a negative for economies and society in general. We need more investment in the sector to drive job creation. We need an orderly transition from legacy sectors to the new world helping match people to opportunities. We can’t simply rely on market forces.

Back in the ski lodge, the big hitters continue to roll in along with their colossal carbon footprints – Ren Zhengfei, Christine Lagarde, Deepika Padukone, George Soros and of course the now almost mythical teen activist Greta Thunberg. Now, I’m not questioning the positive impact this young lady has made on the world. Kudos to her. However, once again, this is not a kid who hails from a ‘normal’ background. Her mother is a successful opera singer and her father an actor. Her grandfather was an actor and director. There is also a Nobel Prize winner in the family. Just saying.

Talking of Greta, her ‘bestest’ friend, Donald Trump had just touched down on the helipad. My goggle-box had gone into a frenzy as anticipation grows about a showdown between the 73 year-old President and the 17 year-old Swedish activist. And then it fizzled out.  It’s all just reality TV. Queue Bono’s monologue….

Youth leads the Change

The young have taken to the streets world over and taken the charge for leading change. What has altered?

As an older, cynical generation holds their punches and sits back in wonder, the youth has taken to the streets all over the world for issues they sense are vital to their future. Increasingly the younger generation has taken lead roles on the world stage in public protests and advocacy related to the environment, corruption, rape, censorship, campaign for gun control in the US, issues of citizenship and extradition as in Hong Kong, and recently in India, in support of the continuing secular spirit of the nation.

And it is but natural the youth should be concerned, as they are the ones who hold the future of the Universe in their hands. Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai are the universally recognized faces of youth activism. However, there are thousands other young people working for various political, social and economic causes in the background.

Adults dominate the political discourse, but young people like Greta have demonstrated ably that today youth are informed and concerned citizens who can be trusted to advocate for change within their communities. How many adults would have the gumption of Greta to tell the US Senate law makers, “Please save us your praise. We don’t want it. Don’t invite us here to tell us how inspiring we are without doing anything about it.”

What has changed? Nothing actually. India is no stranger to youth activism. Whenever the need has arisen, students have been at the forefront of political and social movements — the Young Bengal Movement of 1830s, the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920, the Emergency in 1975, the anti-Mandal agitation, candlelight vigils for violence against women, for Jessica Lal and Nirbhaya, agitation after Rohith Vemula’s suicide or for Kanhaiya Kumar and now protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens!

The one change is in the impact and reach of protests. Technology makes communication far more effective — not just for organizing movements, but also for disseminating information and raising awareness. Technology and digital media have given youth activism a new boost.

The first step towards change and a better future is awareness. Then comes dialogue. But what follows dialogue has to be a show of solidarity and action. Everyone must do what they can. Action does not necessarily mean taking things in your own hands or trying to force immediate change. Even stepping up to share your views or raise your voice to create solidarity is action. And that is where digital media helps all youngsters feel they finally have a voice and arm as strong as that of any adult!

And we adults sit up and take notice when our children protest or take out processions and expose themselves to threats and danger. Most families will admit that it is children who have taken the lead in homes to create environmental awareness.

In today’s technologically advanced environment, Greta’s simple, solo act snowballed into a global wave of school strikes for the environment, taking her to the UN climate talks in Madrid and beyond.

Not every youth activist need or will get the attention that Greta did. Not everyone needs to be at the forefront of protests and movements. But yes, every child and young person needs to, and must remain connected and aware. From Arab Spring to the Vietnam War to Tiananmen Square, young people have always been at the vanguard of protest and change. The world’s leading philosophers and thinkers have always stressed the importance of political consciousness amongst youth.

Spreading awareness is action – on whatever platforms you have access to. And for this you do not need big stages or spotlights

The Real Reason Why India Lags Behind China

Many of us increasingly believe these following five myths about China: 1) China’s authoritarian governance model is primarily responsible for its unprecedented economic rise; 2) China has made impressive gains by manipulating global trade and investment rules, stealing IPRs and resorting to unfair subsidies; 3) China promotes exports by all kinds of fair and foul means but remains unreceptive to imports; 4) Favourable global factors such as emergence of WTO and Information Technology Agreement (ITA) helped China to become the world’s factory; and 5) China’s been able to create its local tech biggies like Alibaba by restricting global tech giants such as Amazon.

In this view, India should take the following lessons. We should be cautious about FTAs (that lead to more imports than exports), and shouldn’t be all-welcoming towards FDI and MNCs. We should promote desi companies over foreign ones. Most countries have now turned protectionist so we should focus on our large domestic market. We had a glorious past and unmatched scientific prowess. We’re destined to have a glorious future when we’d be mightier than China or the US like we once used to be.

In this view, China doesn’t have to worry about political parties, interest groups and states pulling in different directions, which explains India’s slower economic progress. What we forget is that Iraq, North Korea, Russia and several African countries despite being authoritarian have done badly when it comes to bettering the material life of citizens. Several Western democracies have done far better.

Back home, BJP has a clear majority in Lok Sabha and is now also strong in Rajya Sabha. It’s in office in most states. The prime minister is in full control of government and the party. Yet, his government is the most defensive when it comes to pushing tougher reforms barring a few exceptions such as the insolvency and bankruptcy code. The Congress government led by PV Narasimha Rao or NDA led by AB Vajpayee were far gutsier. UPA-1 with thinner majority did better economically than UPA-2 with stronger majority. Modi 2.0 with better majority has delivered us 4.5% amid worsening investment climate. Conclusion: strong governments don’t automatically lead to stronger economic growth.

China has not been accused of manipulating trade and investment rules, stealing IPRs and subsidising its businesses without reason. However, thinking that China has become a $14 trillion economy by cheating and manipulating is too naive. This is part of American propaganda that we have fallen for, but shouldn’t. If it was that easy India doesn’t have an impressive record on respecting intellectual properties or trade rules. China accounted for 21% (similar to the US) of all patents filed globally compared to 1% for India in 2018.

China doesn’t often play by the rule book but the US is now trying to close down WTO. The US remains the world’s top agriculture subsidising country, yet Australia, Brazil and New Zealand run the most efficient and profitable agriculture and allied industries. Thus, subsidies alone can’t be the differentiator.

China is the world’s second largest importer. Its import of goods and services stood at $2.65 trillion against export of $2.75 trillion in 2018. Critics say it mostly imports raw material and industrial inputs that it doesn’t have or can’t competitively produce. That explains India’s substantial trade deficit with China. What critics forget is that India’s raw material protectionism is primarily responsible for increasing import of high-value finished goods and export of low-value raw material, and not necessarily Chinese trade manipulation.

China has devised Made in China 2025 to promote futuristic industries. In contrast, India’s industrial policy is obsessed with protecting manufacturers of globally over-supplied commodities such as steel, aluminium and synthetic fibres that’s hurting the prospects of more dynamic downstream industries.

Like China, India too joined WTO and ITA, but it couldn’t capitalise on global export opportunities. India’s tax terror drove out Nokia, and ruined its chance to push electronics exports. Our exports remain sluggish not because of external factors but internal mismanagement. GST was supposed to be a game changing reform but it’s actually causing a compliance nightmare for SMEs.

China might have been able to create local imitations of Facebook and Google by banning them. But the US created the originals while being open. India too has created its much admired Unified Payment Interface (UPI) that Google wants the US Fed to replicate, without banning competing payment platforms. Thus, we shouldn’t fall prey to the idea of blocking competition.

It’s a crony propaganda that higher corporate taxes and expensive capital is making Indian businesses inefficient and thus they need protection. Rather, it’s the lack of competition that is making them complacent leading to poor performance both domestically and globally. India Inc is scared by any mention of competition. Take any Indian industry except pharmaceutical or IT, oligopoly is a common feature. That needs to change if we’re serious about $5 trillion GDP by 2024-25.

We don’t need to copy China to be an economic superpower except maybe its long-term focus. And yes, we had a glorious past and we should be proud of that. However, we’ll need to work harder to have a glorious future as competition to the top is intenser now. Even if India is a large economy, its per capita income at $2,000 is too low and income inequality too high. That will cap domestic demand, and in turn, its growth prospects. Thus, it doesn’t have a choice but to push exports to grow faster. That calls for urgent internal actions. And, an open market and double digit growth is the way to glory, not shutting our doors to the world.

It’s Time to Study Your History

Do you have time to read history? The situation in America, Britain and across the globe is now a slow-motion world crisis ready to explode. And for that reason, I submit to you that you no longer have time not to read history.

When Winston Churchill faced his world crisis, he had to muster every ounce of knowledge, wisdom and courage he had accumulated over his lifetime to try to save his people, their nation and its virtues. Imagine if that lifetime had been spent flipping through the sports pages, reading trashy novels, and relaxing at the cinema, absorbing frivolous content. If Churchill’s mental diet had been anything less than what it was, he could have never become the one statesman alive whom God could use to save Western civilization.

What was it that Churchill did devour? As the crisis struck, what was it that fueled him? To Winston Churchill, history was more than a subject or a hobby. It was his identity. William Manchester wrote in The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, “Churchill did not simply observe the historical continuum; he made himself part of it. … He did not live in the past; the past lived on in him.”

History became Winston Churchill’s personal memory.

That is what history is. It is our shared, extended, personal memory. Most of us just ignore it or forget it. And we therefore plunge into the world crisis totally vulnerable. “History was the way he understood the world, the lens he used to bring reality into focus,” Stephen Mansfield writes in Never Give In: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill. “Churchill thought historically, meaning that he understood life in terms of generations, great men, the succession of ages, heroic events, noble conflicts and the linear connections of time. …

“For him history was more than something to study; it was a way of thinking. As Lord Ismay, Churchill’s chief of staff, said, Churchill ‘thought in terms of history all the time. He felt that the light of history played upon all that we did, and he acted accordingly.’”

In the preface to Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Henry Steele Commager wrote that the work, almost two decades in the making, “was a very personal book,” like almost everything else Churchill had written: A Roving CommissionThe River WarThe World Crisis, Marlborough, The Second World War. “This history was a project long close to Churchill’s heart and long in his mind, as well.”

Studying history informs you of your identity! Why are the minds of most people—the sports fans, the cinema-goers, the app-users of our day—so adrift, so ignorant, so susceptible to trivialities and insidious ideologies? Why don’t they know their own identity? They don’t remember history.

Churchill became a dynamic, vibrant, pulsating part of his people’s history. His boldness, ambition and passion for empire impelled him to do things, change things, build things, save things. His exhilarant way of living added richness and color to his writings.

One of the history books Churchill read—as a history book—was Exodus. He wrote an essay in 1931 titled “Moses: The Leader of the People.” In it, he took issue with skeptics who said Moses was only an allegorical figure. Moses, Churchill replied, “was the national hero who led the chosen people out of the land of bondage, through the perils of the wilderness, and brought them to the very threshold of the Promised Land ….”

Churchill wrote this essay at the beginning of the “wilderness years,” when he was a political outcast languishing on the back benches of the House of Commons.

Every prophet, Churchill continued, has to go into the wilderness! “He must have a strong impression of a complex society and all that it has to give, and then he must serve periods of isolation and meditation. This is the process by which psychic dynamite is made” (ibid.).

That’s what Churchill was doing during the 1930s. When the ruling class was disarming Britain and coddling Adolf Hitler, he was making psychic dynamite. During that decade, he wrote 11 books and hundreds of articles, and delivered dozens of speeches in Parliament. While his countrymen were fast asleep, he sounded a jarring alarm.

He was the only Briton who was actually preparing for war during those so-called wilderness years. He wrote his four-volume, 1 million-word masterpiece Marlborough between 1933 and 1938. This deep dive into history helped prepare him for Britain’s darkest hour.

Commager said this about Churchill’s famous ancestor and Britain’s most decoarated general: “The hero was a man after Churchill’s heart: the greatest soldier in the annals of the race, ever victorious and ever magnanimous; the statesman who welded together a continental alliance; the diplomat who mediated between the English, the Dutch, the Prussians and the empire; the captain loved by his soldiers, trusted by his allies, respected by his enemies. But the theme was more than biographical; it was nothing less than the theme of the struggle for Europe” .

This was more than a work of history, said one British historian. This was a biography that changed history. When Churchill finally came to power in 1940, he was prepared for battle. The story from his nation’s glorious past—a story he knew well—continued living right into the present.

As an avid lover of history, Winston Churchill was advised, inspired and motivated by giants of history like the duke of Marlborough and Moses.

I don’t know if he knew it, but the history of the Israelites recorded in Exodus was especially, literally personal to Churchill, and not just because the British needed supernatural deliverance. The Israelites were, in fact, his ancestors, just as was Marlborough.

In fact, the Israelites are your ancestors. Their history is your history. This is true of those who physically descended from the Israelites (mainly the modern English-speaking peoples Like Churchill, we are living in historic times. I daresay it is time to shake out of your right hand the distracting smartphone apps, the gaming, the frivolity and dissipation. It’s time to devote your precious hours to serious pursuits that could very well be life-saving pursuits. It’s time to become part of something bigger than yourself. It’s time to become part of history.

Concept & Working of Democracy in Islamic Countries

Islamic countries despite proud declarations of biding by basic tenets of Islam seem to be going back on Islamic traditions. Islam perhaps is the only faith which provides a strong example of early democracy, and yet most of the counties are despotic.  In dividing the globe by faith, it appears that among the nearly 50 Muslim-majority states globally, only five (Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Senegal and Sierra Leone) meet the two common norms for being called electoral democracies: the last two elections were fair and unelected entities don’t have formal veto powers over the elected regimes.

A few flirt with these norms, i.e., Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Albania and Bosnia. No Muslim state is a well-ruled democracy that ensures civil liberties. About half are misruled autocracies. The status is better among other faiths. Among the 100-plus Christian-majority states, around 70 are electoral democracies. Among 10 Buddhist majority-states, half are; and among three Hindu-dominant states, India and Mauritius have regular free polls. Israel, the only Jewish state, is a democracy. Among the four to five states where non-believers are the largest group, about half are advanced democracies.

These stark figures inspire Islamophobes to argue that Islamic edicts discourage democracy. When I analyse social issues as a social scientist, I only use agnostic lenses. But even such lenses show that such Islamophobic logic is vague and fails to compare a specific set of core edicts properly with similar beliefs in other faiths. Actually, it could be argued more lucidly that Islam perhaps is the only faith whose early history (of the Medina state) provides a strong case of early democracy in practice.

Caliphs were chosen with consensus and on merit, and they ruled fairly accountably when other major states then had autocracies. Early rulers linked with other religions were dynastic kings. Clearly, the Medina state existing many centuries ago differed much from today’s democracy. But today’s democracy differs much from even modern Western democracy a mere 150 years ago, which had colonialism, women’s non-suffrage, slavery etc.

Today, it is contemporary factors that explain the current major democratic deficit in Muslim states. Regional analysis reveals that these factors undermine democracy not only in many Muslim but also many non-Muslim regional states. In East Asia, Indonesia and Malaysia are electoral democracies while only Brunei is an autocracy among Muslim states. Many more non-Muslim East Asian states are autocratic, eg, China, North Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. In the ex-Soviet bloc, the six Muslim STANs (Kazakhastan, Uzbekistan etc.) are non-democratic but so are Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. South Asia’s four stronger democracies include Bangladesh and Pakistan while its four laggard democracies include two non-Muslim states. A similarly mixed picture is found in Africa. The Middle East is almost entirely Muslim, and an intra-regional comparison is not possible with non-Muslim states there. Thus, outside the highly developed Western and East Asian states, the frequency of democracy across states of various faiths is more even.

In looking closely at Muslim states today, one hardly finds religious edicts influencing the thoughts and decisions of elites either way about the nature of the political systems anywhere, except Iran. Elsewhere, eg, Saudi Arabia and Brunei, they are used as facades to justify corrupt autocracies. Several secular factors also undermine democracy in Muslim and other regional non-Muslim states. In the Middle East, US support helps keep secular autocrats in power as earlier in East Asia. The ambitions of politicised army generals, almost all secular, have kept democracy in check in other Muslim states as earlier in non-Muslim Latin America. In many small African states with few competitor power bases, both Muslim and non-

Muslim, autocrats are able to survive for decades. Democracy also fails to thrive in natural re­­source-based rentier states, ­eg, Muslim Gulf states and non-Muslim Angola.

Thus, there does not appear to be a single, faith-based explanation for the current Muslim democratic deficit. Instead, there are multiple contemporary factors at play in different regions. It is true that linked fundamentalist movements are much more powerful in Muslim rather than non-Muslim states today. Such movements, which first became strong a few decades ago, today have a presence in over half the Muslim world. However, the trend towards democratisation has actually increased in the ummah in these decades despite the rise of fundamentalism. Even Iran, the only Muslim state run by clerics, became a bit more democratic after its Islamic revolution.

Catholic and Buddhist states, which were once called unripe for democracy due to faith-based issues, have eventually moved towards democracy. It is a matter of time before the same happens within the ummah as citizens’ movements thrive.

Delhi-Davos Disconnect

As the world’s business elite, political leaders and the chatterati show up at the annual Davos conclave in the Swiss Alps this week, the talk is about “stakeholder capitalism”. Klaus Schwab, who founded the World Economic Forum 50 years ago, wants capitalists to look beyond their shareholders and consider the interests of all the stakeholders. Some hope that the debate on stakeholder capitalism is a long overdue recognition of the capitalist excesses of recent decades. Last August, the Business Roundtable in the US, which brings together some of the top American corporates, said American companies must now generate value for customers, invest in their employees, deal fairly with suppliers and support the communities in which they operate even as they service their shareholders.

Sceptics, however, dismiss this as a gimmick. “Stakeholder capitalism,” they say, is a nice way of saying the right things, repackaging old ideas on corporate social responsibility and creating illusions about reforming capitalism. Cynics insist that it will be business as usual for the world’s capitalists.

Beyond this divide between optimists and pessimists, there is no question that the discourse on “stakeholder capitalism” is a reflection of the deeper crisis afflicting the global economy today. In its annual survey on global risks, the WEF has identified many challenges. Three of them stand out and relate to polarised politics in major industrial societies, trade wars and technological change.

US President Donald Trump, who is joining Davos this year, is at the heart of the wrenching debates on all the three issues. Trump’s politics have been defined by his trenchant opposition to “globalism” — exemplified by the Davos gathering. As he brushes off the impeachment trial in the US Senate and begins his campaign for a second-term in the White House, which many fear could well be successful, there is great interest on what he has to say on key global issues.

On political polarisation in America, Trump is unlikely to be defensive. While the dominant sentiment at Davos sees Trump as the very embodiment of nationalism and populism that are polarising politics around the world, others point to the structural conditions that have bred these forces. They suggest Trump has merely mobilised these popular resentments. As Robert Reich, who served as Secretary of Labour in the Bill Clinton Administration put it recently, “Trump’s support comes largely from America’s working class whose wages haven’t risen in decades, whose jobs are less secure than ever and whose political voice has been drowned out by big money”.

As the Democratic Party abandoned its traditional working class supporters, Trump drew them towards the Republican Party — long seen as the party of the rich. His political genius lies in simultaneously appealing to both capital and labour — massive tax cuts to the former and the promise to the latter of bringing jobs back to America that were lost through globalisation and immigration.

Much the same happened in the British elections last year, where the Tory leader Boris Johnson won a sweeping mandate by breaking into the working class strongholds of the Labour Party. Trump’s success in mobilising the working people was tied to challenging the logic of globalisation that was taken for granted by the Democratic Party, large swathes of American capital and the policy wonks.

Long before the 2016 election, Trump had a long record of denouncing free trade. His attack on globalism was mistaken by many as an electoral ploy rather than a considered strategy. Many had hoped that Trump will moderate his anti-globalist rhetoric once in office. Instead Trump has taken a pickaxe to the core principles of the globalised economic order — free trade, open borders and multilateralism.

Anti-globalisation protests have become common over the years at the annual gatherings of Davos as well as the G-7 and G-20 summits. But few had anticipated that the president of a country, long the champion of globalism, would be at the forefront of dismantling it. Many had also hoped that Trump’s war against global trading regime would come a cropper, for it was assumed that the cost of uncoupling with the global economic order would be too costly.

But Trump, who is scheduled to speak on Tuesday at Davos, could well boast about his successes on the trade front. He has renegotiated a 25-year old trade agreement with America’s neighbours, Canada and Mexico. Trump’s threat of an all-out trade war with China over the last couple of years has led to an interim agreement that commits Beijing to reduce its trade surplus with the US by importing more.

At Davos, Trump is also expected to turn his ire on the EU, which has a near $200 billion trade surplus with the US. Trump has often said the EU treats America “worse than China”.

The trade wars among the world’s major capitalist centres is accentuated by the technological revolution, especially in the digital domain. The Davos report on global risks argues that the realisation of the full potential of new technologies depends on unprecedented coordination among all stakeholders. What is emerging instead is “digital fragmentation” marked by the extension of geopolitical and geo-economic rivalries into the new domain. Digital issues have come to the front and center of American arguments with both and Europe.

Given its growing stakes in the global economic order, Delhi ought to be at the leading edge of the current debate on the future of capitalism. India, though, seems too preoccupied sorting out the persistent legacies of feudalism. But sooner than later, India must find ways to take advantage of the new opportunities from the unfolding rearrangement of the global capitalist system.

Iran’s tightrope

A new compact to deal with the domestic crisis, a framework to deal with US, are needed. But they also open up risks for the Khamenei regime

It is often accompanied by the hope that mounting external pressure and deepening internal dissent will combine to produce a “regime collapse” in Tehran.

In the confrontation that has unfolded with the Islamic Republic of Iran over the last couple of years, US President Donald Trump has often insisted that he is not seeking to overthrow the clerical regime in Tehran led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Yet, the temptation for a policy of “regime change” in Iran has never disappeared in Washington. It is often accompanied by the hope that mounting external pressure and deepening internal dissent will combine to produce a “regime collapse” in Tehran.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has presided over the Islamic Republic for more than three decades, has been successful so far in fending off these external and internal challenges. He has put down repeated mass uprisings and neutered attempts from within the elite to reform the system. But can he cope with the intended and unintended consequences of Trump’s decision to eliminate Qassem Soleimani, a leading figure in Iran’s political, military and diplomatic hierarchy?

The widespread assessment after the killing of Soleimani was that Iran would inevitably escalate the confrontation. What happened after that was quite the opposite. Tehran set up a token retaliation for domestic political consumption and quickly called for de-escalation. Khamenei was realistic enough to recognise that military escalation against the US, which enjoys overwhelming military superiority, would be suicidal for the regime.

As he welcomed Tehran’s decision last week to stand down, Trump also addressed the people of Iran. “We want you to have a future and a great future — one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world.” Trump also told the Iranian leaders that America “is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it”. He reminded the shared interest between Washington and Tehran on combating the Sunni extremism of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.”

Before the long-term possibilities of the temporary pause in the US-Iran conflict could be assessed, another development began to unfold. As Iran announced an end to its retaliation, a Ukrainian passenger jet crashed near Tehran killing all 176 passengers and crew on-board. It included 82 Iranian nationals and many Canadian citizens of Iranian origin. After initial denial, Tehran was forced to accept responsibility for shooting down the plane. Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, blamed human error in air defence management and expressed regret at the “great tragedy” and “unforgivable mistake”.

Soon after the confession, protests broke out against the government. The Iranian people, who had apparently rallied behind the flag after the US killing of Soleimani were now turning their rage against the government. The chant “Death to America” a week before were replaced by “Death to the Dictator” in a reference to Khamenei. Iranians are angry at the attempt of the government to cover up initially and are demanding full accountability.

The latest round of protests must be seen as a continuation of those that have raged since the end of 2017. Economic grievances, frustration with widespread corruption, demands for liberalising the restrictions on women and political opposition to the regime came together to give considerable traction to the protests. There was also strong criticism of the government’s costly external adventures in the Middle East amidst the deteriorating economic conditions. One of the slogans that became popular was “No to Gaza, No to Lebanon, My Life is for Iran”; another was “Let go of Syria, think of Iran”.

As the economic crisis deepened last year amidst the tougher international sanctions imposed by the US, a huge uprising unfolded across Iran in November triggered by a hike in gasoline prices. Reports say more than 1,000 protestors were killed by the Revolutionary Guards, headed by Soleimani.

While the anger at US killing of Soleimani might have been real, there is little love for the Revolutionary Guards, the principal face of state oppression. Iranian protests at the end of last year coincided with protests in Iraq and Lebanon against Iran’s meddling in the internal affairs of these countries.

As the regime cracks down on the protests against the airliner shooting, the external pressures against Iran are only likely to mount. Extending support to the “brave and long-suffering people of Iran”last week, Trump promised “to stand with them”. He also warned the regime against “another massacre of peaceful protestors” and demanded that international human rights groups be allowed in to monitor the situation.

In rejecting “regime change” as a strategy, Trump insists that his policy is to seek a change in the “regime’s behaviour”. His demands were an end to the nuclear and missile programmes, stop supporting terror in the region and end the interference in the internal affairs of its Arab neighbours. Khamenei had no interest in responding to any of those demands and dismissed them as “regime change in disguise”.

However, as sanctions squeeze the Iranian economy, the costs of regional overreach become apparent, and internal protests become persistent, Khamenei has few good options. Offering a new political compact to the people of Iran or a new framework to deal with the Arab neighbours and the US would seem reasonable goals. But they involve considerable risk for the regime.

All revolutionary regimes come to a point when they need to replace ideological fervour with pragmatism. It is also the moment, history tells us, of greatest vulnerability for the regime. For now, the speculation about regime change or regime collapse might be premature. But Tehran’s friends and adversaries will surely begin to debate, if privately, the implications of the deepening regime crisis in Iran.

Cry me a Constitution

Come on and cry me a river
Cry me a river
Cause I cried, I cried, I cried a river over you
 ~ Ella Fitzgerald 1961,  song written by Arthur Hamilton.

Shorn of constitutional  semantics, CAA and NRC  have little to do about citizenship. It is  plain and simple, emasculation of the Constitution from we  the people. Millions of men, women and children overnight will scramble for the documentation to prove their citizenry. By this one stroke, they will divest millions of citizenship and consequently  their  voting rights. As is wont, it will, without doubt be the poor, the disenfranchised and the most miserable of the lot be of whatever religious hue, who will not pass the test. They, like those in Assam, will be herded into what are euphemistically called ‘detention centres’ –  a form of a benign concentration camp.

This exercise of unhinging the citizenry from the Constitution and citizenhood  from the individual is neither new nor unique. This exercise was conducted with far greater efficiency, with little resistance and equal complicity of all institutions, in the middle of the last century in Germany and many parts of Nazi occupied territories.

In September 1935, Nazi Germany enacted  the ‘Law for Protection of German Blood and German Honour’ which forbade Jews from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of “German or related blood“.  The ‘Reich Citizenship Law’ declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be citizens. Anyone who had 3 or 4 Jewish grandparents was by definition of law a ‘Jew’. The law was clearly aimed at the Jews who were targeted to be stripped of all citizenship rights . Two months later, Romanis and Blacks were added to the list and stripped of citizenship. They were “Lebensunwertes Leben”, or “life unworthy of life”.

Between 1933 and 1945, according to Holocaust historians, Nazi Germany and its allies established more than 44,000 camps, ghettoes and other incarceration sites in Germany. The camps were  filled with Jews, German communists, socialists, social Democrats, Roma gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, prisoners of warand homosexuals. Over 17 million of those incarcerated perished including 6 million Jews.

The laws relating to segregation and disenfranchising were conceived long before the Nazi regime. In  the 19th and early 20th century, laws popularly called as Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation in the southern states of America. In 1896, the United States Supreme Court in outrageous constitutional perversion upheld the Jim Crow laws in the infamous decision of Plessy v. Fergusson. The court has never been able to overcome the odium of this decision till  date. Five years later, in 1901, emboldened and aided by the tainted antecedent of the Plessy decision, the State of Alabama, brought forth a new constitution to disenfranchise voters of African-American descent. One of its founders – John B Knox – articulated its object, “to establish white supremacy in this state”. It declared that persons “convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude” could not vote.  These disenfranchisement legislations in symbiotic relationship with the system of mass  incarceration still persist and plague America. As of 2016, 6.1 million people were disenfranchised due to a felony conviction. The racial bias inherent in the system is manifest from the fact that over 7.4% of the adult African-American population is disenfranchised compared to 1.8% of the non-African American population.

Millions of Indians paid with blood, tears and incarceration, faced the bullets, bayonets  and  lathis after having  heeded to the calls for non-cooperation, salt satyagraha, swadeshi and the many movements and counter movements for the independence of India. However, for their  labours and sacrifices, they did not demand a certificate of citizenship. They simply put their faith and their fate on the Constitution and its institutions. The Founders of our Constitution, by the solemn writing in the Constitution, promised the millions that they would be citizens of a free  India.

All we have today are sepia coloured photographs and grainy movie footage of the millions, who at the mere suggestion of our tallest of leaders, confronted the British in large numbers across this very vast land of ours. There were Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, atheists, agnostics and Parsis. In retrospect, yes, our forefathers  ought to have obtained a parchment to formalize their citizenry. If only they had studied history, they would have  known that there would come a time when their children and their grandchildren would have to prove their citizenry.

Seven decades later, one billion Indians, the children  and grandchildren of those  who fought the imperial rule and endorsed our constitution for seven long decades by exercising their franchise, stand at the crossroads of this Democratic Socialist Republic.

In one stroke, the Parliament passed the Constitution Amendment Act 2019, where every citizen’s citizenship stands challenged by the state. The onus to establish citizenship shifts to a billion Indians. The millions will now queue up before the many bureaucratic establishments to prove their citizenship. In the interregnum, will they be entitled to any of the fundamental freedoms to democracy or to vote? The millions in stateless limbo, bereft of voting rights and the scale of mass incarceration would be unparalleled in the history of mankind.

Citizens with voting rights is an ‘unruly horse’ to use a much abused phrase in legal literature. Those who voted you into power, also have the power to vote you out of power. Napoleon once said “a leader is a dealer in hope”. He did not need an NRC. Because his authority did not depend on the millions of Frenchman casting their  ballot in his favour. Napoleon’s act of crowning himself emperor without the sanction of the people is forever a tempting proposition.

There is a corollary and a sequitur to this. It is the vulnerable classes, the Schedule Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and  others in the many others in layers on the scale of repression who will fall of the map of democracy. They and their future generations will forever be in the black hole of human existence. They will be the millions of  voiceless and voteless and forever be stateless in their own country.

“As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O’Connell, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of purchase today and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world.. In politics, Bhakti or hero worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.”

So spake the greatest constitutional scholar Dr. B.R.Ambedkar in his final speech to the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949.

Why did the millions not demand a parchment to establish their citizenry, their fundamental freedoms, their Constitution, for themselves and their progeny?  They however, did get a promissory note against executive and legislative tyranny. That promissory note was the judiciary. So great was the faith in the judiciary to protect the citizenry, that our founders made it a fundamental right of every citizen, to approach the Supreme Court directly for any infraction of his/her fundamental freedoms.

The recent events have sent shock waves across the nation. Students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University were attacked by masked men. The police had blocked all roads to the JNU campus. It  was ‘hermetically sealed’ to borrow the catch phrase used in twentieth century’s cruelest massacre. Mayhem had broken loose. The pictures of students and professors beaten and badly bleeding have emerged on social media sites. The police have charged the injured.

Is our journey,  a temporary tryst with a free and living constitution? Did our forefathers shortchange their sacrifices for a free India for  a momentary and fleeting teaser of a democracy?.  It remains to be seen, whether the promissory note given to our ancestors, will be honoured.

Two Decade, No Change in Pakistan

Two decades pass, but Pakistan is the same. Terms changed, the reality remains unchanged.  Twenty years ago, the military overthrew the elected government of the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and the army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf took over the country as ‘chief executive’ rather than the chief martial law administrator.

For all practical purposes, the country was under military rule but the army chief possibly wanted an aura of credibility, and international acceptability, so he hid behind the new title. Nobody was fooled in Pakistan or abroad as the sermon by Bill Clinton, during his few hours’ visit to Islamabad in 2000, demonstrated.

Less than 23 months into his rule, 9/11 happened and suddenly Gen Musharraf became the most sought-after leader in the region, an absolute darling of the West, as he appeared to unconditionally plunge headlong into the US-led ‘war on terror’.

When Nawaz Sharif won the 2013 election, he appeared to be a different person to the compliant politician who’d been nurtured by Zia.

In any case, ahead of the dramatic change in the regional environment post-9/11, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had not only endorsed the extra-constitutional actions of the general but gave him three years to hold the elections and en route amend the constitution as he liked.

History from the 2002 elections onwards is too recent to be recounted in detail. Gen Musharraf created a hybrid system where a parliament controlled by compliant politicians and a handpicked prime minister would do his bidding.

Musharraf’s key lieutenants in the military intelligence services have since detailed how the electoral exercise of 2002 was manipulated both before and after polling day to keep the legitimate public representatives away from power and provide the military ruler with a civilian façade.

At least in his initial seven years in power, there was no ambiguity in what Gen Ziaul Haq was: he was the chief martial law administrator and this continued till such time he tried to create a hybrid system, with parliament to rubber-stamp his decisions.

Major political parties including the PPP, ANP and JUI-F, to name just a few, which were part of the MRD or Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, boycotted the 1985 elections (and later regretted the decision) when Zia announced that these would be held on a non-party basis.

Even then, the parliament that came into existence as a result, despite approving a somewhat watered-down version of the Eighth Amendment that conferred extraordinary powers on the president’s office, slowly started to assert itself.

The dictator’s handpicked prime minister Muhammad Khan Junejo ran a tight ship and soon became the bane of his patron’s existence as he is believed to have unilaterally announced the date for lifting of martial law, pushed for the Geneva Accords and threatened to ‘shove’ generals into small Suzuki cars.

When the ISI’s ammunitions depot in Ojhri camp in Rawalpindi exploded in April 1988, raining its surrounding areas with missiles and flying debris that killed nearly 100 people, Junejo ordered an inquiry into the incident.

A civilian head of government ordering an inquiry into the military’s conduct got a bit too much for Zia. In May, Zia sacked Junejo, dissolved parliament and called for fresh elections. Before these could be held, the military ruler perished in an air crash on Aug 17.

What followed was a Benazir Bhutto-led government, despite all machinations to deny her a majority in the November elections that year. The military/ civilian successors of Zia in the Army House as well as Aiwan-i-Sadr used Article 58(2)(b), the most controversial part of the Eighth Amendment, to subvert the will of the people by dissolving parliament and dismissing an elected government before she could complete two years in office.

This axing of prime ministers and parliaments continued through the first tenure of Nawaz Sharif and the second term in office of Benazir Bhutto. In the 1996 elections, Nawaz Sharif’s party emerged victorious with a two-thirds majority and did away with the dreaded Article 58(2)(b).

Emboldened by this majority in parliament, Sharif started to assert civilian authority and, in an ill-advised move, called for army chief Jahangir Karamat’s resignation when the latter suggested at a public forum the need to set up a National Security Council. Talking to me during a BBC interview on the day of his resignation, Gen Karamat insisted he had jumped and not been pushed. In response to a question whether his NSC proposal was his own or represented his institution’s collective view, he ominously said that the army chief always articulated the collective opinion.

A week and a year after Karamat’s resignation, the prime minister sacked his successor Pervez Musharraf after the latter launched the ill-fated Kargil operation without reportedly seeking the government’s approval. The coup followed.

One of the major consequences of the coup was the restitution of presidential powers to sack elected governments and parliaments. Since the 1977 coup, the first assertion of civilian supremacy was post-1996 elections once Article 58(2)(b) had been done away with. The second came as a result of president Asif Zardari’s order to his party to initiate a constitutional amendment, with the opposition’s support, to empower parliament and its elected leader and take away the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. In the process, he surrendered his immense authority.

In its 2008-2013 tenure, following the tragic assassination of Ms Bhutto in December 2007, the PPP’s relations with the army often appeared strained but things always receded from reaching boiling point and leading to disastrous consequences.

When Nawaz Sharif won the 2013 election with a thumping majority, he appeared to be a different person to the compliant politician who’d been nurtured by Zia and his regime. Rather than be chastened by his imprisonment and exile after 1999, circumstances appeared to have cemented his will to assert his constitutional authority.

Who does not know what followed. Today, we may not have the controversial clause but do have a government in place that seems to concede more and more ground to the military. Perhaps, it is an expression of gratitude for being ushered into office.

What used to be a civilian façade or a ‘hybrid system’ has been rechristened as a ‘same page’ arrangement. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Change is just cosmetic, and may even not that.

Impeachment Farce & The 2020 Presidential Race

On a cold January day in Washington DC, January 15 2020 to be precise, two signing ceremonies took place not too far from each other. One was where the US President Donald Trump signed the first phase of the US-China trade deal in the East Room of the White House. The deal promises to ease the tension, tariffs, and counter-tariffs that have been lurking over the two trading partners ever since Trump took office. In the other signing ceremony a few blocks away, the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the two articles of impeachment against President Trump to be sent over to the US Senate for trial.

These two signing ceremonies have come to symbolize what has become the reality of the American political landscape in the past four years or so. Ever since Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United State of America in 2016, a section of the establishment both in the US media as well as in political circles has remained somewhat gobsmacked with the outcome of the elections. There are still some, one could argue, who never came to terms with the outcome of the presidential race as has been evident by the recurring social media hashtag ‘#NotMyPresident’. The ceremonial signing and the subsequent ceremonial delivery of the two articles of impeachment to the Senate marked the culmination of a month-long stalemate after the House passed the resolution on December 18, 2019. 

The US Constitution has provisions for the removal of a sitting president from office through the process of impeachment and it lays out two specific reasons for it – treason and bribery. A sitting president can also be charged with ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’. A resolution to impeach a sitting president is introduced in the House of Representatives (House). A committee then holds the hearing on the resolution. If the committee approves (by simple majority) the resolution, it moves to a full vote on the House floor where once again a simple majority is required to approve the article(s) of impeachment. If passed by the House, the president is considered impeached.

The theatre then shifts to the Senate where a trial is conducted to determine whether the President has indeed committed the ‘crime’ he is impeached for. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the US presides over the trial. If the Senate with 2/3rd majority finds the president guilty, a president is then removed. President Trump became just the third president in the history of the US to be impeached. While President Johnson got the ‘not guilty’ verdict in 1868 by one vote, the Senate was 22 votes shy of convicting President Clinton in 1999. President Trump’s Senate trial is expected to start next week after it reconvenes following Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. 

From feminists to environmentalists, and from human rights activists to socialists, Trump’s presidency has been a sore point for most liberals, not only in the US but across the world. After all, Trump won beating the now-famous 90-something percent odds of Hilary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, a senator, and a former First Lady, winning the election in 2016. One would remember how one prominent Indian journalist who had come to the US to cover the breaking of the ‘glass ceiling’ live was visibly disappointed. What started in India with the BJP victory in 2014 under Narendra Modi continued to disappoint and unsettle the left-liberal elites in Poland, Great Britain, the US, and other parts of the world. So when US House speaker Nancy Pelosi gleefully sat down with dozens of custom engraved ceremonial signing pens in front of the glitter of press cameras, many were disgusted but not surprised.

The US Senate will decide the merits of the case which many believe is a weak one on legal grounds. According to a prominent newspaper, President Trump despite exhibiting a ‘poor judgment’ in dealing with the Ukraine matter did not commit an ‘impeachable’ crime. The newspaper in its editorial opined:

“… having failed to make an adequate case to remove Mr. Trump, Democrats are trying to drag out impeachment to further tarnish his reputation and mousetrap Senate Republicans running for re-election. She [Speaker Pelosi] demands what she calls a ‘fair trial’ after preventing a fair impeachment probe in the House. This is an abuse of impeachment power.” 

The ball is in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s court now. There are some wrangling between Republicans and Democrats on calling witnesses and other procedural issues. Writing for Politico, political analyst Rich Lowry, however, argues that Senator McConnell is “on solid ground in replicating the process from the Bill Clinton impeachment, which began with opening arguments before a vote on the witness. In the end, the Senate heard from only three.”

As the impeachment drama now plays out on the Senate floor where President Trump is expected to be ‘acquitted’, the real fight will continue on campaign trails. While the Democrats are locked in an ugly fight to claim the left-liberal mantle with even radical left ideological posturing, Trump, on the other hand, is chugging along merrily without any opposition on his side of the political spectrum. With the US economy firing on all cylinders, unemployment at its lowest in history, and dreaded Iranian general Soleimani eliminated, it will be interesting to see how US voters will judge not the Trump presidency but more importantly the Democratic alternative to Trumpianism.

Sunday Special: Honest Empathic Conversation is the Best Gift for Your Elders

Aging was, and always will be, an honor. Growing old is a mark of the strength and wisdom that can carry a person through many decades.

But as modern medicine feeds our expectations for extended youth, watching those we love age can be jarring. “What shakes us when we see someone changing and we don’t know how to adjust with them,” says Paul Malley, president of Aging with Dignity, a non-profit based in Tallahassee, Florida. “We may want to be the best son or daughter, but we don’t know what that means.”

Because of that, when it comes to the realities of growing old, the default is to say nothing. But planning for old age is critical, especially when it comes to dealing with unexpected events late in life. So this holiday season, as you visit your family young and old, consider giving a different kind of gift: an open conversation about how they want to age, and ultimately pass on.

Yes, yes, it’s morbid, and this time of year is supposed to be all about rebirth and new beginnings and all that. But it’s that kind of perspective that keeps families putting off these talks until they’re too hard to have at all. With the help of a few experts in navigating the bumpy road of aging, here are some tips for how to approach these tricky discussions.

Getting to know you

Nobody wants to imagine a loved one reaching a crisis point in their care: a sudden fall, maybe, or rapid-onset dementia that leaves a family member unable to live on their own or make decisions for themselves. But it’s possible to plan for aspects of aging—even these unpredictable moments—and eliminate the stress of making educated guesses about what our older loved ones want.

It starts with easing family members into these conversations early, while they’re still well and able. It could be when they’re in their 40s or 50s—whenever you as a potential caregiver feel comfortable broaching the subject. Realistically, this won’t be just one conversation: Building up trust and compassion before you introduce the idea of advanced planning and priorities can take years.

Every time the topic comes up, the key is that the conversation doesn’t feel confrontational. If you put someone on the spot by asking them if they want to be on life support if they have a heart attack, the conversation won’t go very far. Focusing on a specific situation implies that you’re planning for the worst, and only adds to the idea that aging is inherently an unpleasant process.

Instead, you can ask your loved one what matters most to them in life. Frame the conversation in a positive light not just in the way you ask questions, but by choosing your scenery: Malley advises that you find a setting that makes the other person most comfortable, like going for a walk or sitting in a favorite coffee shop.

“What’s most important to you” doesn’t have to be a direct question, either: You could ask your family members to tell stories about different parts of their lives, or to share some of their favorite memories. It could even be about what their favorite comfort food is. Collectively, all of these questions acknowledge who they are, and recognize their individuality, Stiles says.

There’s no right time to have these conversations—except early, and often. But if someone says it’s the wrong time for whatever reason, it’s best to back off. It’s not about you, as a caregiver, trying to get these conversations out of the way; it’s about your loved one feeling supported.

The gift of planning ahead

Once they do feel safe enough to discuss these broader questions, though, they can be a gentle entry point into thinking about how they want to age, and how caregivers can support them. By asking your family members how they’d like to live as their health declines, you can give them back some of their autonomy—especially if you’ll be a primary caregiver in the future.

Ultimately, these conversations can carry a person through the end of their days.

Of course, while it can be a tremendous help for a potential caregiver to broach these topics, in the best-case scenario your loved one will be the one to bring them up. If a person can come to you and tell you what they want at all stages of their aging progression—whether it’s to maintain friendships, make sure they can cook their own food, or decline life-extending measures at a certain point—congratulations! Your job is simply to listen.

You just have to be compassionate, and let your loved ones know that you want to do your best to help them live the way they want

Beware of a Dystopic Democracy

The film Joker – starring the amazingly versatile Joaquin Phoenix  is a graphically violent and deeply despairing portrayal of a society sans any empathy for “losers” – those who end up believing they are one.

Every society has its share of drop-outs, misfits and the unlucky. Good, caring societies try and minimise both their pain and their isolation. Bad, uncaring societies shrug their shoulders, lock up the losers and carry on. Where do we stand in this spectrum?

India has a long tradition of living with non-conformists. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Dalit icon, was one such. His progressive ideas on social reform only had lukewarm appeal in the Constituent Assembly debates. Neither did Hindu activists have universal appeal. The need to present a united front and get on with nation building diluted resistance to opposing points of view. But it also never built a new social ethic with wide public support. We got a wonderful constitution. But all it proves is that we are good at dampening dissent and in doing so hope to render it harmless. It rarely happens that way, as we have seen in Kashmir.

Sheikh Abdullah broke the status quo in 1930 through a peasant revolt against the ruling dynasty. Subsequently, the goal of independence from the British and post-Independence, the substitution of the ruling dynasty by elected representatives – aligned well with his own objectives. Over the two decades it took for these ambitions to be realised, the more substantive differences between him and the Congress, around the distribution of local political power remained subsumed. Thereafter he remained locked up for a decade from 1953 till he reconciled to the prevailing stalemate in Kashmir. Since 1989 Kashmir has been a cauldron of dissent. The most recent extended lock-down has yet again dampened dissent. We assimilated Kashmir but have yet to win the battle for minds and hearts.

Imagine if our poorly managed and institutionally weak metros go the same way. The film – Joker situated in mythical Gotham City – a replica of New York, spells out how cities become dysfunctional, crime endemic and institutions crumble till they are saved by a mythical Batman in the face of a hapless police force.

In the urban context back home, it is puzzling that the few who work to highlight deficiencies in governance systems for the social protection and inclusion of the poor should be labelled pejoratively as “Urban Naxalites”. They are anything but that.

The Naxalites of the late 1960s and early 1970s believed that a violent, rural revolution was possible and around the corner in Naxalbari, West Bengal. They were wrong. The one lesson missing in their little Red Books was how to deal with a seductively supple State and an extraordinarily passive population, both of which are ready to absorb organised violence or prolonged civil unrest and carry on.

Far from seeking to topple the State, the “Urban Naxalites” of today believe in preserving the State and improving it to deliver services more effectively to the poor. The Nobel Prize for Economics, this year, has gone to three economists – two Americans and a Frenchwoman – all of who have spent the last two decades experimenting how to make education, health and social protection interventions more effective, not outside the State architecture – as the Naxalbari gang would have liked – but very much within the existing State architecture. These die-hard, do-gooders need to be celebrated for their efforts, not reviled because they are showing a mirror to our grotty selves.

Consider also the issue of human rights. Those who have the courage and the doggedness to highlight “zulum” during the inevitably heavy handed rule by the uniformed forces with a bureaucracy in disarray because of conflict in central India, the North East and in Kashmir, do so not to destroy the Indian State. They act as unpaid agents of the State to make the administration of conflict zones less intrusive and liveable for innocents.

Human rights come with a fundamental belief in “property rights” both of which are anathema to Communists for whom, the State is all encompassing and people exist because the State exists. By extension if tribes in central India or in the North East prefer to preserve their life in the forests, even though valuable natural resources lie unexplored and unexploited beneath them, the “property rights” principle advocates giving them the right to do so whilst

reserving the right of industry or the State to persuade the owners to sign away their rights against agreed compensation. Ending a basic commitment to either human rights or to property rights ends the incentive to be productive and respectful of the law. We know that well since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.

In two decades more Indians will live in cities than outside them. Cities – particularly metros – with their higher population density, the pressures of synchronised co-existence, their 24X7 eco-system and the anonymity of its citizens, lend themselves to dystopia unless they are carefully managed. What if city managements abandon the principles of human and property rights? How then would city managements be held accountable? More importantly how then would city managements hold empowered elites accountable? Would government itself, not become a mere hand-maiden of the rich and the powerful – usually a select few within the top 0.1 per cent of the population?

By abandoning the principles of human and property rights, governments would resemble the erstwhile hapless zamindars, who had little to do beyond extracting as much revenue as they could, for feeding the beast in London – the East India Company. We would have wiped out every institution we have built since 1947.

We must choose. Either we should submit to becoming a big, all-pervasive State like China and hope that it will throw up benevolent, far sighted leaders. Or we must act on our belief that a State exists only because citizens choose to believe in it. Democracy is never divisible. Either it exists or it doesn’t. There is no “happy” path which can take us to a “Democracy with Indian Characteristics”. .

Megan-Harry Story: A Classic Case of #Megxit Misogyny

Now all of us love watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix, don’t we? Here’s the thing about that show – watching the royal family navigate their way through political and personal scandals gives us a false sense of entitlement.

It’s almost as if knowing the deepest, darkest secrets of the Royals makes us entitled to voice our uninformed and frankly ignorant opinions on, say, how Meghan Markle is the ‘homewrecker’ who has made innocent, gullible Prince Harry drift away from the Royal family, how she’s only ‘after the money’ and that deep down, she is still an LA star struggling to cope with the pressures of being a royal (more on that, later).

Sprinkle some good ol’ misogyny and ‘blame it on the woman’ attitude and there you have it – the perfect recipe for disaster where Meghan Markle takes the metaphorical and literal ‘fall’ and is made into a scapegoat. If it takes a successful woman in her 30s to bring down the Royal British empire, then maybe, just maybe, the empire wasn’t strong enough to begin with.

British tabloids and journalists like Piers Morgan have launched a brutal attack on the ‘Suits’ actress and have gone as far as blaming her for bringing doom to the Royals. “People say I’m too critical of Meghan Markle,” tweeted commentator Piers Morgan. “But she ditched her family, ditched her Dad, ditched most of her old friends, split Harry from William (and) has now split him from the Royal Family. I rest my case.”

Well, Mr. Morgan, if it takes a successful woman in her 30s to bring down the Royal British empire, then maybe, just maybe, the empire wasn’t strong enough to begin with. And, just a question – who asked for your opinion anyway?

What cannot be ignored though, are the rather disturbing undertones of racial discrimination in this scenario. Markle identifies herself as a biracial woman who was brought up by an African-American mother and a Caucasian father. Black women though, see Meghan as a woman from their community who married into the Royal family.

Nsenga Burton, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta who specializes in the intersection of race, class, gender and the media told CNN on January 10, “People are cool with black women as long as we go along to get along,” she said. “As soon as we start standing up for ourselves and saying, ‘This is not working for me,’ we become the problem.”

Perhaps, that is exactly what is happening with Meghan. For some reason, the world cannot stand African-American women making major life decisions and going their own way. If a black woman as much as decides to move to Canada, there has to be an ulterior motive, vested interests and as per Morgan, a full blown conspiracy to bring down the Royal family.

If you ask me, the move isn’t surprising at all. Let’s just shift our focus to Prince Harry for a bit. For those of you who have followed the British Royals closely, you probably know that Prince Harry has gone on record a few times to share his discontentment with Royal life.

Growing up, Harry has witnessed just how brutal the media was towards his mother and perhaps, he doesn’t want his wife and son to go through the same.

Besides, it’s not that the Canadians are welcoming the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with open arms. The cost of accommodating the Royals and most importantly, providing them security will burn a hole in the pocket of Canadian government. It will be the average Canadian taxpayer who will have to face the brunt of financing the Royals.

Given the mixed responses from Canadians, it goes without saying that Harry and Meghan will have a tough time winning over the Canadian public. The Royals of Sussex could have chosen a life of comfort (barring a few but considerable restrictions) but instead, they chose the tough path. If anything, we should applaud their courage for standing their ground and stepping back from the Royal duties.

As for Meghan Markle, I always viewed her as someone who fell in love with Prince Harry, unconditionally and irrevocably. It is highly misogynistic to suggest that she was ‘after the money’ when Markle (as per the website knownetworth.com) was already worth a gigantic $5 million, thanks to her role in the TV show ‘Suits’ and brand endorsements.

After all, for a successful, career-driven woman to leave it all behind, marry a Prince and expose herself to the critical eye of tabloids and now, give up the rather comfortable life of a Royal and earn her own bread and butter must, in all probability, have been a decision that stems out of unconditional love.

And, maybe, just maybe, the Duchess of Sussex has had enough- enough scrutiny, enough criticism targeted at her family. What’s more? Harry is the 6th in line to be the King and at this point, my friend Ramesh from Lajpat Nagar has a better shot at getting the throne.

In such a situation, it is only obvious that the two give up their lives as royals and go to live in a ranch in Canada where baby Archie can live a normal life. Hell, I would have, in all probability, done the same thing.

So, if by any chance, you’re a so-called ‘royal critic’ who binge-watched ‘The Crown’ and now feels that they are entitled to shoot their opinions on #Megxit, kindly keep them to yourself.

We don’t need more Piers Morgans. One is enough

Saturday Special: Visualization-the Mental Imagery Betters Your Life

Improve your precision skills, achieve your goals, and optimize your health by visualizing desired outcomes. Visualization is simply a mental practice of imagining or meditating, with a particular focus on imagery.

As opposed to silent meditation, where you let go and don’t intentionally guide your thoughts, visualization is about consciously creating mental images.

Our minds can treat visualized experiences and real experiences as much the same when it comes to practice and learning. This effect is so profound that visualization has been scientifically proven to benefit the development of fine motor skills, such as hitting a golf ball or shooting a target.

The benefits of a visualization practice can apply to health and business, too. How you see yourself and how you imagine your desired future can improve blood markers and may make you more capable of achieving your goals.

In this article, we are going to dive into the science-backed benefits of visualization, and then I’m going to share the specific mental imagery practices I use to optimize my life and that you can use in yours.

Plastic Surgeons, Self-Help, & Science

My first major introduction to visualization came in the form of a powerful book called Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Though few today have heard of this work, it was once known as “the bible of self-help” and has been changing lives since the 1960s.

Despite having been written over 50 years ago, I found the book to be positively fascinating and surprisingly scientific. Maltz was a prominent plastic surgeon, whose most common service was to give people new faces by correcting abnormalities. He quickly noticed that his clients often became whole new people after the surgery, finally freed from this-or-that blemish or scar.

To Maltz, however, it wasn’t these incredible success stories that caught his attention, but the failures. Though most people came out of the surgery feeling like a brand new human being, others would feel that nothing had changed, and even accused Maltz of doing no surgery despite the obvious changes to their face. Family and friends could see the obvious differences, but the client denied it vehemently.

Maltz developed a theory that physical changes to one’s image only matter if they cause a simultaneous change to one’s internal “self-image.”

Our self-image is, simply put, the way we see ourselves — not just physically, but also the many talents, traits, strengths, and weaknesses we believe ourselves to have.

If the image we see in the mirror and the image we have in our head does not align, we will deny the evidence in front of our face in favor of our mental visualization of reality. Maltz felt that people were not capable of doing something that contradicted their self-image without also changing that image.

For example, if you believe strongly that you are incapable of making a basketball three-pointer, and then you make one, you change your self-image.

Some people hold so tightly to their self-image that even proof that it’s false will not get them to change. If you’ve ever seen someone like this, it feels like witnessing a person with short-term memory loss.

I used the three-pointer as evidence for a reason. When I was a kid, one of our basketball team members, Jacob, was absolutely convinced he couldn’t make a three-pointer. We spent a whole practice making him shoot for a three to (hopefully) prove him wrong and get him out of his funk.

First, we could tell he was shooting badly on purpose, trying to get out of it. When he realized our resolve to make him shoot for the whole hour, he began trying. Eventually, perhaps purely from the pressure of being singled out, he made a three.

Of course, we all celebrated, but Jacob didn’t react to it. It isn’t that he tried to deny it or be humble, or even sulk. He just went back to the rest of practice and continued to insist he couldn’t shoot threes.

This is similar to what Dr. Maltz experienced with clients who claimed he had skipped performing surgery on them, and that they couldn’t see any changes even when it was obvious to everyone else. Their self-images were stubbornly rooted, and physical evidence alone wasn’t enough to change them.

Wanting to solve his client’s problems, Maltz began to explore the deep realms of psychology, and soon having clients who he’d council and help to change their self-image without ever going under the knife.

Maltz coined this field “psycho-cybernetics.” Psycho refers to the mind, and cybernetics refers to the feedback-based system of the self-image. Like a thermostat, your self-image is a feedback-based machine. You feed it images and experience, and it aligns with reality based on that.

Another great metaphor is the homing missile. Homing missiles don’t just go straight to their target. They are actually making slight mistakes on their flight path and making constant slight corrections the whole time. They operate by having an aim and correct themselves along the way to reach that aim.

Maltz believes this is how your self-image operates. You supply an aim, like the missile’s target, and then your self-image edits itself over time to reach that aim.

I know this may seem like a lot to wrap your head around, but it will become more clear once we look at some research.

The Science

Maltz’ concepts sound great in theory, but in the modern era, they’d be worthless without science to back them. Fortunately, science we have.

One of the easiest ways to see the benefit of visualization is to observe it’s use in physical skill, such as improving one’s golf game or improving one’s basketball shot. In this study by the Department of Justice at The University of Lewisville, visualization was used to improve firearm capability as a way of aiding in police training.

72 student volunteers were grouped into visualization and control groups to test the efficacy of visualization. All students practiced their marksmanship physically, but those who also made use of visualization improved an average 32.86 points higher than those who simply practiced physically.

In psycho-cybernetics terms, these students improved their shot by providing their mind with a target to aim at. Just like the homing missile described earlier, the students aimed mentally at their target, and visualized themselves successfully shooting.

This process helped tune their self-image to see themselves as capable of shooting well, and then their shots improved more than if they had simply practiced physically.

I have a personal story that convinced me of the power of tuning your self-image for success, especially with motor skills.

One of the most famous, yet most difficult movements in CrossFit is the Ring Muscle-Up. To perform this move, one must grab onto a pair of gymnastics rings hanging high above the ground.

Then, you must find a way to get the rings under your shoulders so that your torso is above and between them. Then, you do a tricep press. The total sum of this movement looks something like swinging your body to gain momentum, jerking your body up towards the rings at the top of the swing by using your arms, and then engaging your core like you’re doing a sit-up to swing your torso above the rings and “catch” yourself in the upright position.

Despite watching several technique videos, I could not for the life of me finish the movement. I knew I had the strength, and my technique was great, but I just couldn’t get my torso to pull upright over the rings.

But this whole previous year I’d been using Maltz’ techniques to optimize my life across multiple spectrums, so I decided to apply a little self-image tuning to the muscle-up.

I sat down, and first visualized myself performing the muscle-ups in the third person. I saw myself doing the entire movement smoothly and perfectly. Then, more importantly, I visualized myself in the first person, as though I were actually doing it in real life.

When I stopped visualizing, and got on the rings, I did my first muscle up like it was easy, and went on to perform the move regularly.

The biggest change I noticed had nothing to do with technique. It’s that when I tried to do a muscle-up this time, I felt like someone who already knew how to do muscle-ups. Before, I felt like someone who had never performed a muscle-up, so I wasn’t confident.

By behaving as though I’d already performed muscle-ups, even if it was only true in my mind, I blasted through the movement with no issue. The biggest barrier was confidence, not technique or strength.

Visualization can heal the body

Before we move into the visualization techniques, I want to discuss one last thing.

Visualization can literally heal you.

Consciousness is one of the least understood realms of study. We know that our biology houses consciousness, but so far, it is impossible to tell where physical body ends and consciousness begins. Sure, the brain is the primary engine for consciousness, but the brain and mind affect the function of the body.

With regard to visualization, a meta-analysis of 15 studies by Peter R. Giaccobi et al. found that guided imagery, aka visualization, appears to be beneficial for improving arthritis in afflicted patients.

Guided imagery lowered the stress hormone cortisol, which is often implicated in inflammation, and patients reported reductions in their arthritis symptoms.

Now, I don’t want to over-hype that power of visualization. If you have cancer, don’t try to solve it using visualization only. But the fact that there is some influence on health markers is mind-blowing in its own right.

Visualizations for Life, Goals, & Skills

While the implications of visualization for sport are obvious and studied, one of the most common uses for visualization is for long-term goals and business.

When it comes to life goals, rather than tuning a fine motor skill such as shooting a target or performing ring muscle ups, visualizing is about tuning your confidence and “alignment with opportunity.”

A huge component of achieving major life goals is the confidence and belief in oneself that you are capable of achieving them. That sounds like common sense, but think about it.

How often have you stressed over a major goal and caught yourself worrying whether you have what it takes? Then, when you finally achieve it, you realize it was easy. Our beliefs about ourselves limit achievement, and a visualization is an amazing tool for rectifying these limiting beliefs.

I use two types of visualizations for pursuing life goals and business targets.

First and foremost is something called a “future me” visualization. I learned this from the book Way of the SEAL by Mark Divine. Mark is a former Navy Seal commander who served for 20 years, as well as a master of karate and a yogi. On top of his military and fitness accolades, Mark has also started 6 multi-million dollar businesses since he retired from the Navy — and he attributes a huge component of his success to visualization and meditation.

“Future me” is a practice Mark uses to keep his aims clear and his life-path consistently in his mind, as well as to identify limiting beliefs that may stop him from achieving his goals.

The Future Me visualization for life goals

To do the future me meditation, start by taking deep breaths through your nose for 5 minutes.

If you get impatient, try putting on a calming musical track like The Mighty Rio Grande by the artist This Will Destroy You.

After 5 minutes of deep breathing, begin a visualization.

3 months: Imagine your ideal self in 3 months, having achieved your most immediate goals and in perfect health. Try to conjure up as much detail as possible. See yourself working in an ideal, happy, and diligent manner, as well as participating in activities with good friends, or doing things you haven’t done yet but want to do. Try to see color, and even bring smells into your visualization.

The more detail, the better. If you can, try to visualize the highlights of a whole day playing out as though watching a movie. What time are you getting up? When and where are you working, and with whom? What leisure activities are you involved in? etc.

1 year: Now take the visualization out even further, and see yourself living your ideal life a year from today. What are you doing? How is your work? How fit/healthy are you? Really get into it and see yourself living ideally in a year.

3 years: Lastly, paint yourself a picture of your ideal life as it is happening in 3 years. This is often where I visualize myself doing very difficult things I have always dreamed of, such as doing Kokoro camp, an event that allows civilians to experience 48 hours of Navy Seal Hell Week training. This is also where I imagine myself living in the cities I’ve always wanted to live in, having a kid on the way, or things of that nature.

You want things to still be realistic. You should have some goals you are still pursuing, even in the 3-year meditation. Maybe you’ve achieved all the goals you have now but are pursuing something new, like another degree or an independent business.

Merge: The final part of this meditation is the most important. Visualize each of these future versions of you, and collapse them into the you that exists now. See yourself as already being the person who has done the things in your visualization, so that you see yourself as someone capable of such goals.

Fantasize with purpose

Fantasize with purpose is another visualization I learned from Mark Divine’s Way of the Seal. This one is similar to Future Me in that it focuses on a desired future, but is instead focused on a specific goal.

To perform fantasize with purpose, pick a major goal you are pursuing. For my part, my goal is to have Keenan Eriksson Fitness become a powerful hub for online courses, one on one coaching, and to have a physical location in San Diego where I can train clients and run my business with a team.

Once you’ve picked a goal, again begin by performing deep breathing for 5 minutes.

Now, imagine your goal either as you are fulfilling it, or after it has already been fulfilled and you are maintaining it.

For example, if you have a goal that involves a one-time achievement, such as making a big sale or climbing a mountain, then visualize yourself training for it and then performing this achievement perfectly.

See yourself doing the prep necessary, such as reading books like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, or doing hikes around your neighborhood with a heavy backpack.

If your goal is something that will fundamentally change your day-to-day life, then you also want to include visualizations of that life.

For example, with my goal to house Keenan Eriksson Fitness in a physical facility in San Diego, I both visualize the training and steps to make that goal a reality as well as the day to day life after I have achieved it.

I see myself and my training team working at the facility and teaching clients, and living this ideal life.

Batten down the hatches

Once you start visualizing achieving goals, you will likely notice areas of your mental practice that seem more important. For example, you may notice that future version of you has a set of skills that you lack, but are crucial for making your goal a reality.

This is where you want to identify a piece of your visualization to practice daily.

You can still explore your fantasize with purpose visualization by adding new things, but make sure to repeat your visualizations of things you find difficult. This is akin to the students who used visualization to improve their shooting, but instead you are practicing the most difficult steps of your future goals.

Now, not everything can be practiced in your head. Some of these steps will be less like skill-practice, and more like advertisements for things you need to do in real life.

An example would be seeing that you need to read a book about marketing or buy a backpack for hiking. For these types of visualizations, I still suggest repeating them daily, but you should buy these tools or start doing it in real life within a week.

If you still haven’t bought a backpack in a week, put a pin in it and visualize something else. Otherwise, the backpack visualization will simply be noise and time you could spend identifying other important tasks. It will come back up when and if it is important enough.

The key to fantasizing with purpose is repetition. This is the kind of practice you want to perform daily until you achieve your goal.

Mark Divine used a mix of Future Me and fantasize with purpose to blast through BUD/S, the section of Navy Seal training that includes Hell Week, which is considered by many the hardest military training in the world.

Mark not only became a Seal, but also a Seal officer and the honor man of his Bud/s class, which is a distinction given to the person considered the best among a Seal graduating class by his peers and instructors alike.

Mark attributes his success to a visualization he started performing in the year leading up to his joining the Navy. Mark would watch a popular TV advertisement for the Navy Seals at the time, and then visualize himself in the ad. He’d see himself performing drills, doing log PT, and getting “wet and sandy” with “his” crewmates. Mark would visualize himself not just surviving, but thriving through navy seal training, and that’s exactly what he did when the day came.

Skill practice visualization

Last but not least is skill practice. This is actually the first visualization we discussed, as it is the act of practicing a skill in your head to improve in real life.

This one is pretty simple. Start by taking 3 large abdominal breaths, relaxing with each exhale. Ease your mind and come to a place of stillness.

Now, imagine yourself performing a skill you are aiming to improve, perfectly. This is easiest to imagine with sports skills, but it’s also incredible for things like music or preparing for an event.

First, see yourself in the third person as though on video. See yourself perform the skill a few times perfectly, as though you were a world-class expert.

Now, move to the first person, and feel yourself performing the skill perfectly a few times. Notice how your body is moving, how it feels, and really get into the visualization physically.

I use this meditation often in fitness or sports. I’ve used this to improve in martial arts, dance, Olympic lifting, swimming, and even to exert more strength during exercise.

A great way to boost the power of this visualization is to record yourself performing a skill on video and watch technique videos before visualizing. This will arm you both with the knowledge of what perfect looks like (the technique video) as well as what you look like.

Many of you will find this visualization more useful in business or general life. Use it to “rehearse” before an event or anything that intimidates you.

Giving a speech? Practice it in your head. Going bungee-jumping and feeling nervous? Practice doing it calmly in your mind. I used this meditation before doing door-to-door sales for the first time.

Virtually anything that can be practiced can be used in this meditation. Don’t limit yourself. It’s incredible how much you can improve by taking a few minutes to visualize detailed success before going to perform in real life.

Bonus: Freestyle visualization

Though I’ve outlined 3 specific visualization tools you can use, you can expand on them to develop your own. If possible, begin with at least 3 deep breaths, and ideally 5 minutes of deep breathing for more powerful visualization.

Then simply visualize desired outcomes. Don’t be afraid to visualize things you may think are beyond your control.

When I was sick, I would visualize myself healing. Meditation has been shown to lower inflammation, and it’s possible that visualizing yourself healing can actually “heal” you, to some extent.

In the realm of chronic disease and functional medicine, it is a common experience that people will not heal until they address their emotional state. Even though they’ve done all the supplements and have their body should have the resources to heal, they stay sick until they go deep and see themselves as a healthy person instead of a broken one.

We don’t fully understand the mechanisms of how consciousness affects the physical body, so don’t underestimate the power of getting your head in the right place.

Other forms of freestyle visualization are to see yourself in a loving relationship or having a family. This isn’t about making things happen for you without doing the work. I don’t think of these practices as magical or that they get the universe to give you what you want. However, I do think they prime you to believe in yourself, and see yourself as someone who could confidently get the things you desire in life by doing the work.

Some of the most difficult problems can be at least aided with these practices.

For example, perhaps you have infertility issues, which are all too common among both men and women these days. I know of people who have solved their infertility with lifestyle and dietary changes. Visualizing yourself as fertile and conceiving a child probably won’t make it happen on its own, but it can prime you to be more receptive to solutions—and then follow through with action.

Remember, the main purpose of visualization is to set your aim both consciously and subconsciously. The better you have aimed your mind at a goal, the easier it will be to take the needed action to pursue and achieve it.

My main point is to say: don’t limit yourself. If you want something in life, no matter how out-of-control it may seem, apply your visualization process to it and truly imagine it becoming a reality.

It Works

My own story is actually one you are witnessing right now. I had health problems for about a year and a half, and I was determined to make an income despite being unable to work classical jobs.

I also realized I had a huge tome of powerful health and fitness information in my head that could help others. There were many things I had tried that helped, and I had deeply researched many others.

I re-read Mark’s book, as well as Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau (which is about turning an idea into income in 5 weeks) and within a month created a website where I wrote health and fitness articles. Within 4 months, I was writing for Better Humans.

Without my visualizations, I would not have believed myself to be skilled or knowledgeable enough to write for this publisher, but in my head, I saw myself as a true expert and leader in this field during my “fantasize with purpose” drills.

A year ago today, I couldn’t work out and I had bad mental and physical fatigue. Today, as I type, I can feel the soreness of yesterday’s kettlebell workout, and later tonight I’ll go two-stepping with some coworkers from my part-time job at a dog training facility.

Anyone who is familiar with chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid disease, adrenal problems, or other chronic disease knows that these conditions often plague an individual for decades, if not for the rest of their life.

I employed many tactics to overcome my health issues, but the bedrock was my aim to heal and belief in myself. I learned to do this by practicing visualization, and even when I was too mentally frayed to meditate, I would write down my fantasize with purpose and future me exercises as stories in a journal.

The result? I healed from a chronic condition in two years, instead of the 15 or more years that it often takes others.

Visualization is a free and easy practice that can have magnificent results for your life.

From improving motor skills such as shooting a target or perform sport skills, to pursuing goals, and even becoming your ideal version of yourself, use of mental imagery is a powerful way to optimize your life