Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Raghuram Rajan is Modi's best friend

Sometimes you need luck on your side. India is exceedingly fortunate that Narendra Modi brings with him heaps of good luck. In the 6 months that have been 'acche din', Modi has reaped the good fortune of revived animal spirits, crashing crude prices and benign inflation. He is also going to benefit immeasurably from Raghuram Rajan's helmsmanship of the RBI.

My theory is that the real reason the Sonia - Manmohan duo have sounded the death knell of the Congress is because of bad economics. Manmohan Singh, that oft praised politician, has proved to be a total failure in the one area that was supposed to be his strength i.e. economics. He did not realise how entrenched inflation and inflationary expectations had become in India, and how burdensome a tax it is on the common man. All the doles in the world, all the NREGAs and all the food security bills possible cannot win you votes if the common guy is finding it tough to consume his daily basket of essentials. Enter Raghuram Rajan.

I often find it puzzling why politicians and indeed self proclaimed economists cannot understand 2 simple facts - 1) low inflation wins votes and 2) inflation is volatile but inflationary expectations are deeply entrenched. Every RBI meeting sees the FM raise asinine clamour for policy rate cuts. He is championed in this by 'captains' of industry, who are always on the lookout for the next dole from 'mai-baaps' in the government. Why doesn't the FM realize that lowering inflationary expectations will eventually benefit his own government? Or perhaps he wants to make sure that the 'captains' keep funding his election campaign if he obliges them by putting in a good word with the RBI governor?

Tough to say. Modi did not choose Rajan as the governor, but he will reap the benefit of low inflation for his 5 year term as PM, thanks to Rajan's efforts. Just for this, India should be thankful!   

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A debate on morality and absolute good or bad

I was recently debating with my mother on the necessity of absolute good or bad. My contention was that nothing is absolute, all is relative - morality more than anything, since actions cannot be seen outside of the context that they take place in. My mom, on the other hand, seemed quite horrified at the idea of my moral agnosticism, and argued that some truths are absolute. For example: one must be kind.

My argument against moral absolutism was principally that the truth we know or perceive is coloured by our experiences or senses, and that there is no way of arriving at a common axiom. E.g. I think that green is the colour of leaves. I have no way of knowing how anyone else sees green. Similarly, I experience happiness, sadness, pain etc in ways that are particular to me - i have no way of knowing for sure how others would experience it. Ergo - what i think is right or moral may or may not be moral to someone with different contexts or experiences. Therefore, there cannot be an absolute axiom or truth.

Drawing this even further, the only question is therefore - Why am I here? Why do I live? And the answer (at least the least offensive one to me) is that i live to maximize my happiness. Someone gets happiness by being moral, and someone else gets it by being immoral. To each his own.

The debate ended without conclusion, but i have recently found sympathy with my point of view in no less a person than Hamlet. Check out what wikipedia says about the philosophy behind Hamlet:


Hamlet is often perceived as a philosophical character, expounding ideas that are now described as relativistexistentialist, and sceptical. For example, he expresses a subjectivistic idea when he says to Rosencrantz: "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so".[75] The idea that nothing is real except in the mind of the individual finds its roots in the Greek Sophists, who argued that since nothing can be perceived except through the senses—and since all individuals sense, and therefore perceive, things differently—there is no absolute truth, only relative truth.[76] The clearest alleged instance of existentialism is in the "to be, or not to be"[77] speech, where Hamlet is thought by some to use "being" to allude to life and action, and "not being" to death and inaction.
Hamlet reflects the contemporary scepticism promoted by the French Renaissance humanist, Montaigne.[78] Prior to Montaigne's time, humanists such as Pico della Mirandola had argued that man was God's greatest creation, made in God's image and able to choose his own nature, but this view was subsequently challenged in Michel de Montaigne's Essais of 1580. Hamlet's "What a piece of work is a man" echoes many of Montaigne's ideas, but scholars disagree whether Shakespeare drew directly from Montaigne or whether both men were simply reacting similarly to the spirit of the times.[79]
In his openness to embrace the message of the ghost, Hamlet assuages Horatio's wonderment with the analytical assertion, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Must See!

Reminds me of engineering days :-)

Saturday, April 06, 2013

On an airplane

I write this on yet another aircraft. In a very difficult position. This is because my little princess is fast asleep on my lap. I have just sung her songs for the past 50 minutes to get her to sleep. 

Elina and I are going together to delhi to her dadu and dadi's home while her Mom stays back in chennai. When most people hear this they are surprised. Their being surprised surprises me, because Elina and I have been travelling together since she was not even two. Perhaps there is something in the old saying about the bond between fathers and daughters. Or maybe she is just an absolute darling who is easy to manage.

One thing I've never been able to understand is why planes make passengers sit straight / switch off phones / wake up once they 'begin their descent'. this is generally a full 30 mins before actually landing. Seems very suboptimal to me. Especially when you have a tiny princess sleeping in your arms and you don't want her to wake up. 

I hope and pray she is able to sleep soundly all her life. She is now smiling in her sleep. Probably having a pleasant dream. My heart melts totally and I'm unable to write anymore.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More Ishiguro

I read Sputnik Sweetheart on a couple of airplane rides on my new iPad. Typical Ishiguro stuff - metaphysical, poetic, abstruse and spooky. The best part about it was that it is short and has a single event as its main plot device.

However, two weeks out, I remember it as a bit of mumbo-jumbo. I preferred Dance Dance Dance instead. At least it had a lesson for me!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The concept of father

On an airplane, reading poems of William Blake, I come across one called Little Boy Lost. It makes me think of the concept of fatherhood. I always thought of my father as all knowing, all wise and all powerful. Only when I grew up, perhaps in the twenties, did I figure out that Father was also a human being. Now he is a friend, an ally, and a staunch supporter.

I am now a father myself. I wonder what my three year old thinks of me. Does she see me as I saw my father? A distant, powerful entity hovering in the background? Or does she think of me as her confidant and cheerleader? When she is upset, or insecure, she seeks her mother. She wants to cuddle with mother while sleeping. She complains if father kisses her too much, since she gets scratched by his 'gaadi' as she calls it. 

I wonder if my daughter knows of the immense depth of my love for her. Her lightest smile makes my day. Her most frivolous wish is my command. Sometimes I miss her so terribly that tears come to my eyes. Perhaps when she grows up and becomes a mom, she will read this. And think with love of her father, her greatest cheerleader and her biggest fan.

As I think of my father today.

A nice movie and general rumination

I saw Kai Po Che recently and loved it. I haven't read the book, so had no idea of what would happen, or even how it compares to the book. What I liked, apart from the songs (which I think are really brilliant - my daughter concurs wholeheartedly!), was the idea of the main protagonist - your beliefs are worth dying for.

Generally speaking, I measure movies by how much they make me think, or how much they change me, and on these metrics, this one is a winner! I loved all the actors, the story, the direction, everything.

May I have the courage of my convictions always!

Speaking of movies, I somehow really like the type of roles that Deepika Padukone plays. The definitive one coming to mind is the one in Love Aaj Kal, where she is a generally happy, modern, easy going girl. The pretty looks don't hurt either, I guess. Strangely enough, the other role of hers that I can think of is from Kartik Calling Kartik. Now that is another movie that really hit it on the head for me. Indeed, given I still remember it quite well after 4(?) years tells me all I need to know about its quality.

Strangely enough, other movies that I thought I liked when I saw them (eg ZNMD / Talaash) don't make it to this list anymore.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One equal temper

My favourite scene from Skyfall...