India: Economic Growth & Development

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

USD is a bigger problem than US debt

The real issue is the quantum of US Dollars in existence since every US Dollar in circulation actually represents a claim against the US Govt., and by extension, the American people. Unimaginable amounts of Petro Dollars and Eurodollars are currently in circulation, the vast majority in the hands of foreigners. I would not be surprised if the u.S. is owned, lock/ stock / Barrel by foreigners. Effectively.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Swami Agnivesh cannot be trusted

Imo, he was a trojan horse, a plant right from the start - the easy access he has to all the TV channels indicates that he enjoys backing from well connected sources.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Economics: The Pretence of Knowledge

Fred Hayek, one of the most prominent economists and political philosophers of the twentieth century once described Economics as "The Pretence of Knowledge". Nowhere has this been more in evidence than in the pathetic record of world economists in predicting the growth and development of India.

Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, Professor of Economics in the department of Economics at MIT writes: "If you ask an economist today what the body of economic theory has to tell us about the stability of the capitalist system, or whether the poor countries of today are destined to catch up with the rich countries, or even whether free trade is better than some protection, he would throw up his hands (though in the next instant he would probably offer his own opinions)."

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha, columnist for Businessworld, writes "I have for long been sceptical about the ability of economists to exactly predict the really significant long-term trends that change the destinies of nations."

The folks over at the The Economist have been puzzling over and scratching their heads non-stop over the past few years trying to figure out what's happening in India. In recent years, leading Business schools in the West have made it a point to closely analyze the phenomena of the Mumbai dabbawalas and Lalu Prasad Yadav, two "outliers" that do not quite fit conventional wisdom. The Christian Science Monitor equated the managerial and organizational simplicity, the efficiency and on-time delivery record of the dabbawalas with that of a modern, sophisticated global chain like McDonald's. One important lesson The Economist should draw from this is that education is not everything - entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking cannot be taught in schools.

Lalu Yadav's success with Indian Railways have been even more puzzling. How has a man with no formal education brought about a change of this magnitude? How has he transformed the loss-making organization into a profitable one without retrenchment and privatization? With no hikes in fare and freight charges? When Japan's railways faced the same problem a few years ago, did they not have to privatize in order to survive? Ironically, in the US, the bastion of capitalism, the Railways run at a loss and in Europe it survives basically on subsidies.

If you really want to understand the Indian economy, the first thing you need to do is tune out the economists and other "manufactured" experts. The next thing you need to do is become invested. Or maybe this order should be reversed.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

New Book, “Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America,” Explores Academic Anti-India Bias

New Book, “Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America,” Explores Academic Anti-India Bias

New York, July 9 2007:

The launch of a new book titled Invading the Sacred: an Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America, edited by Dr. Krishnan Ramaswamy, Prof. Antonio de Nicolas and Aditi Banerjee was announced today. This book brings together essays by many well-known scholars and seeks to facilitate a nascent grassroots movement to challenge the systemic misrepresentation of Indian culture and philosophy by certain American academicians.

Invading the Sacred is a product of an intensive multi-year research project that uncovered shoddy and biased scholarship driven by certain power cartels. This book narrates the Indian Diaspora’s challenges to such scholarship, and documents how those who dare to speak up have been branded as ‘dangerous’. This raises serious questions about intellectual freedom in the American academy.

“This is a thoughtful, reasoned, yet passionate plea that the perspectives and sensitivities of Hindus be considered in the presentation of Hinduism in scholarship, textbooks and the media. What is remarkable is that many western academics are so resistant to it,” wrote Nathan Katz, Professor of Religious Studies, Florida International University, Miami.
Air Marshall Raghavendran, (retd) PVSM, AVSM, warns that such biased but apparently scholarly images of India as a degraded and oppressive culture, impacts US-India relations, and paves the way for US intervention in India’s human rights affairs.

“In such an environment, acts of aggression against us - such as by sanctions, wholesale conversion, terrorism or ‘insurgency’ - can be ‘justified’ as ‘legitimate’ fights against an abusive culture. The foundations are being laid for this, under advice and prompting from scholars and faith-based organizations, by the US State Department declaring year after year that India is a country lacking in respect for human rights and religious freedom.”
The book also examines how such scholarship can wreak psychological damage on individuals and entire cultures, particularly second-generation Indian-Americans.

About the Book

India, once a major civilizational and economic power that suffered centuries of decline, is now newly resurgent in business, geopolitics and culture. However, a powerful counterforce within the American academy is systematically undermining core icons and ideals of Indian culture and thought. These scholars have disparaged the Bhagavad Gita as “a dishonest book”; declared Ganesha’s trunk a “limp phallus”; classified Devi as the “mother with a penis” and Shiva as “a notorious womanizer” who incites violence in India; pronounced Sri Ramakrishna a pedophile who sexually molested the young Swami Vivekananda; condemned Indian mothers as being less loving of their children than white women; and interpreted the bindi as a drop of menstrual fluid and the “ha” in sacred mantras as a woman’s sound during orgasm.

Prof. Kapila Vatsyayan, one of the most respected scholars of Indian culture in the world, notes that scholars have tried to over-sexualize and reduce the rich, complex, and multilayered world of Indian symbols, icons, and mythology,

“through a single perspective of a Freudian psycho-analytical approach applied to the exclusion of the others. Also there is a sense of bewilderment when one notes that rather outdated and almost passe theories of the psycho-analytical are being applied, when the discipline has taken in many more penetrative paths.”
Pandit Jasraj, the Hindustani music maestro, pleads,

“To American scholars whose negative scholarship on Indian Divinity has been highlighted in this book - If you do not have enough knowledge about a culture and religion, you should not write about it!”

The book inquires whether these are isolated instances of ignorance, or whether there is an institutionalized pattern of bias driven by certain worldviews? Are these academic pronouncements based on evidence, and how carefully is this evidence cross-examined by other scholars? How do these images of Indians created in the American academy influence public perceptions through the media, the education system, policymakers, and popular culture?

Prof. Anantanand Rambachan, at Saint Olaf College, Minnesota describes the book as

“a valuable historical resource for those who want to understand better this debate, and those who wish to become participants in the conversation ... Scholars should welcome a critical voice from the community that is the focus of their study, for a mutually enriching dialogue.”

Prof. Kapil Kapoor, the former pro Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, sees this book as a very valuable contribution to the dialog of civilizations:

“The intellectuals featured in this book, with their bold decision to take on this scholarship, have entered into a serious dialogue about motives, methodology and substance and, using their own tools, have reversed the gaze back on to the scholarly establishment to their understandable discomfort.”
The issues here are so critical that Air Marshall Raghavendran says that “It should be required reading for every Indian diplomat, the defense department and those in foreign affairs, and especially for Indian scholars.”

The book hopes to stir serious debate on topics such as:

  • How do Hinduphobic works resemble earlier American literature depicting non-Whites as dangerous savages needing to be civilized by the West?
  • Are India’s internal social problems going to be managed by foreign interventions in the name of human rights?
  • How do power imbalances and systemic biases affect the objectivity and quality of scholarship?
  • What are the rights of practitioner-experts in “talking back” to academicians?
  • What is the role of India’s intellectuals, policymakers and universities in fashioning an authentic and enduring response?
TITLE: Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America
EDITORS: Krishnan Ramaswamy, Antonio de Nicolas, Aditi Banerjee
PAGES: 545

Available at

Contributors to the volume include the renowned anthropologist Prof SN Balagangadhara (University of Ghent, Belgium); the scholar of religion, Prof. Arvind Sharma (McGill University); the noted psychologist Dr Alan Roland, Pandita Indrani Rampersad (the first ordained female Hindu priest in the West Indies), and the educationist Dr Yvette Rosser, among others.

About the Editors

Krishnan Ramaswamy PhD is a scientist with a background in psychometric research. His areas of research include clinical outcome trials in major mental and neurological illnesses. He is a student of the Vedas, Vedanta, Sanskrit and Panini, and has a lifelong interest in bhakti poetry from various regions of India, particularly in Marathi.

Antonio T. de Nicolas PhD is Professor Emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has authored twenty seven books, including Avatara: The humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad Gita, a classic in the field; and Habits of Mind, a criticism of higher education, whose framework has been adopted as the educational system for Russia. He received critical acclaim for his translations of the poetry of the Nobel Prize winning author, Juan Ramon Jimenez, and of the mystical writings of Sr. Ignatius de Loyola and St. John of the Cross. He is presently Director of the Bicultural Research Institute.

Aditi Banerjee received a B.A. in International Relations, magna cum laude, from Tufts University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She is a practicing attorney in New York. Her publications include: The Hyphenated Hindus, in Outlook India; Hindu-American: Both Sides of the Hyphen, in Silicon India; and Hindu Pride, in Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America (Jon Butler et al. eds., Oxford University Press.).

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gere: No officer, nor a gentleman

I was ignoring this story until I saw several Indians in the blogging community predictably use this opportunity to take cheap shots at Indian culture. Here is a typical example. In the context of Rajiv Malhotra's latest essay on Whiteness, it occurred to me whether this breed of Indian bloggers were displaying the classic symptoms of whiteness - adopting the white gaze to interpret everything Indian. After all, Fair and Lovely is only skin deep.

I decided to watch the Gere-Shetty "kissing" video on Youtube. I notice Gere's appearance - unkempt and shirt sleeves hanging out, flapping a bit. By contrast, Shilpa is more smartly dressed and it was she who practically pulls him on the stage in an attempt to get the job done.

In terms of the kissing sequence of actions, Gere starts by grabbing and kissing the back of her hand. Even this lingers for a while and clearly interrupts Shilpa's speech at the mike. Gere follows this up with a manouevre which sees him turn his back on the audience, move squarely in front of Shilpa, grab her upper arms and kiss both cheeks. At this point, Shilpa appears to me a bit taken aback; I thought she rolls her eyes a bit, steels herself but allows him to continue, hoping perhaps it will be over soon.

Little did she know that Gere was determined to do a practical demo of safe sex knowing his responsibility as an AIDS awareness campaigner. How better to demonstrate the risks of contracting HIV than to allow a total stranger to deposit significant quantities of saliva on your neck and cheek? at a public event? and one that ostensibly preaches AIDS awareness? Perhaps realizing that he had not yet made enough of a deposit, Gere essentially gets Shilpa in a bearhug and plants several more kisses in any exposed area his puckered lips could reach. Shilpa tries to escape without making a big deal out of it but one hand is holding the microphone and the other is trapped by Gere. At one point she is even bent 90 degrees at the waist in a bid to escape but to no avail.

The video catches a couple of guests, one of whom was probably Emraan Hashmi, the noted serial kisser of Bollywood movies - who appear to be watching indulgently initially but that soon starts to fade into sick smiles. The mad moment finally passes.

More than the actual kissing, this appears to be a case of outright sexual assault.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Brand India: need to better manage negative branding?

A lot of talk about Brand India nowadays at the start of Year 2007. In this article, India's Commerce Minister for State, Jairam Ramesh sees Brand India as “India is a cafeteria of brands and we need to expand the menu for the global audience." For him, the branding effort is a means to an end i.e. to generate value and wealth for the country. Working with The India Brand Equity Forum (IBEF), Mr. Ramesh has set out to "identify sectors that could spawn global Indian brands and activate branding initiatives for them".

According to Dr Jagdish Sheth, professor of marketing at Goizueta Business School at Emory University, Yoga and alternative medicines such as Ayurveda, are the Indian ideas most popular in the US.

“So much so that large retailers like Wal-Mart and Target have announced initiatives to target senior citizens market with herbal medicines and Ayurveda players from India can leverage that”

The article goes on: He sees increasing “Eastern-isation of the world” in the coming years and India along with China will influence the Western world. Take the case of Indian curry. The brand of casual Indian food has already taken over traditional fish & chips in the UK.

Yoga is successful because it is not seen as religion
So says Sat Bir S Khalsa, a researcher with the Harvard Medical School here.

According to Khalsa, close to 15 million Americans practice Yoga, which itself is a booming industry worth billions of dollars. A similar scene has unfolded in Europe, where thousands have taken to Yoga in a bid to soothe ruffled minds and normalize bodily functions hitherto sickened by prevailing lifestyles and a certain lack spiritual activity.

The paid circulation of Yoga Journal, the leading Yoga magazine in the U.S. has grown from 90,000 to 325,000; the readership as of 2006 was over 1,000,000. YJ estimates the number of yoga practitioners to be 16.5 million and attributes the success of the magazine to "honoring the 5,000-year-old tradition on which it is based."

A similar Yoga phenomenon is being seen across Europe. In France, it is growing rapidly and providing employment opportunities to Yoga instructors

"I earn around 2000 Euros per month. In Crest alone there are 1,000 people like me and roughly 60,000 Yoga teachers in France. The figure could be around 8,00,000 for Europe," Sharma said. However, some traditionalists like former dean of the Bihar School of Yoga, Swami Mangaltirtha, a professor of bio-sciences, rue the fact that Yoga is being overtly commercialised and manipulated in the name of adaptation. "We have been conducting regular teachers' training, diploma and therapeutic classes since the 1980s in the city of Crest in southern France. All our students are French," Kaivalyadhama Trust's French head Lav Kumar Sharma said.

The Indian State of Kerala appears to have taken the lead in offering
health tourism built around the traditional therapies of Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Homeopathy and combined it with Yoga and meditation. It makes sense for Kerala to work closely with The Yoga Journal to market this idea further.

Deepak Chopra is successful precisely because he offers Indian spirituality
Yoga is successful because it is not religion but that does not translate into a foolproof formula for success. The Times of India queried a select panel of Indians "Who best defines Brand India abroad?". Film maker Shekhar Kapur votes for Deepak Chopra "Deepak has a readership of 30 million outside India and is considered one of the 100 most influential men of our time, yet continuously keeps reaffirming his Indian roots as the very basis of his writings."

Unfortunately, yet another filmmaker, Mira Nair, misses the point when she names Indian writers like Amitava Ghosh and Jhumpa Lahiri as her choices. Apart from the fact that hardly anyone outside western literary circles has even heard of these authors, it is debatable whether these folks really do represent authentic, or an imagined, India.

Mahatma sells Brand India
A Hindustan Times-Cfore survey among 1,067 persons found that the Mahatma, far more than Bollywood, sells Brand India as a totality.

One wonders whether it is a Munnabhai spinoff. But 46 per cent Indians view Mahatma Gandhi as the country's best brand ambassador — a good 23 percentage points ahead of superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Cricketing idol Sachin Tendulkar, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani trailed way behind in the Hindustan Times-Cfore survey among 1,067 persons with different backgrounds.

Of course, to be considered a Brand, there must be tangible value attached somewhere. The box office success of Munnabhai globally, as well as in other countries around the Indian Ocean, do indicate the vibrancy of the Mahatma Brand. However, way before Munnabhai, Richard Attenborough's Gandhi had already capitalized on the Mahatma as well as another, more negative brand: the Hindu-Muslim conflict.

Yes indeed, the Hindu-Muslim conflict has become an India brand, at least in some circles. An example of a negative brand with a positive value attached to it. Perhaps the Commerce Minister needs to expand his mandate to more effectively manage such negative branding.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Jealous of Arundhati Roy? anyone?

In her recent opinion piece in Outlook, SABA NAQVI BHAUMIK, grandly proposes to examine why India allegedly loves to hate Ms Roy. While this appears to be an urgent life and death issue to Ms Bhaumik, I'm more interested in why she thinks this is a topic worth examing. Perhaps a bit inadvertently, she does reveal a bit of this by conceding that a "foreign journalist recently asked me how Roy is perceived by Indians". Point to be noted your honour that instead of turning around and querying the foreign journalist, on behalf of all Indians
Why do you care how Roy is perceived by Indians?
..... Ms. Bhaumik is satisfied with "how high?" Indians are left wondering about the motives of the foreign journalist. Is it (1) concern about the dwindling relevance of Roy despite all those expensive foreign awards & column inches in the foreign press? (2) is it perhaps the case that as India shines brighter, the light is revealing more and more of Roy to the masses?

There are increasingly rational and cogent arguments deconstructing Roy's public utterances against which she seems both helpless & defenceless. Here is one compelling case where Sankrant Sanu, a successful I.T professional based in the U.S. systematically & thoroughly
decomposes Roy's comments at the WSF. Something to which Roy has never been able to respond.