The Mlechha and Aryavarta – Part 2

1900 AD: The colour of the solution in Devdutt’s test tube turned slowly from dark blue to light blue to pale white until finally disappearing as the solution turned clear. “This is it!” Devdutt thought and he could hardly believe himself. He had done it! He had discovered the cure to HLN5, the deadly disease that had gripped London since the last six months. Overjoyed, he repeated the simulation thrice but as we would expect, he had been meticulous. The 22-year-old Devdutt had created history. He shouted out loud and jumped across the room, thanking the gods and laughing his heart out for this triumph. Life will never be the same again! With brisk eager steps, he began walking towards his supervisor’s office.

Dr Reynolds had the air of a man who was not sorry for his actions. A former ‘major general’ in the British army at Bengal, the now retired Doctor liked to dabble in many ‘intellectual pursuits’. These pursuits included, but were not limited to, anthropology, sociology and the increasingly popular disciplines of genealogy and eugenics.  He had an avid interest in the origin of mankind and his unabashedly racist mind was willing to jump through as many hoops as required to reach the only ‘just’ conclusion – that Europe had been the cradle of civilization. He often sighed as he sat in his chair, thinking about the responsibility that ‘The Man’ had towards savages around the world.

Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

As he sat brooding in his leather chair, munching absent-mindedly on the choicest slices of mangoes from India, his reverie was disturbed by a loud savage knock on his door. Before he could gather himself, the door thrust open and Devdutt walked in with a glee as wide as Dr Reynolds’ slice of mango.

‘I have discovered the solution Dr. Reynolds.’ Devdutt announced in a quite voice that had been forced into politeness.

Devudutt’s conscious effort and natural difficulty in being polite was not lost on Dr. Reynolds who hated Devdutt more than he hated anyone or anything else. He maintained a blank face and tried to register the announcement in his mind. Dr. Reynolds liked and always tried to keep his face blank and emotionless when speaking with Devdutt. An appropriately civilized stoic, Reynolds fashioned, should not be disturbed by emotions that registered with abundance on the faces of these savages.

‘Did I not tell you before’, the proud doctor inquired curtly, ‘to wait for me to open the door?’

Devdutt stared back in defiance. In the depths of his consciousness, beyond ages lost and forgotten, the anger of a slighted king rang out loud with ferocity.

‘’My apologies, Dr Reynolds”, his mouth said as if it had been separated from the rest of his body, resisting the latter’s urge to flinch.

“Please leave”, the stone-faced doctor declared, turning around with finality as a confirmation of his victory.

Dr Reynolds was unperturbed. The thought of a savage discovering the solution had registered in his mind for less than the fraction of a second before his appropriately civilized constitution managed to abandon it. To be fair, he should exercise restrain and inquire into the matter the next day. He should not let the timing of his sleep be disturbed by this event, as any sense of urgency would betray the conclusion that he cared.

The next morning, Dr. Reynolds deigned to step inside Devdutt’s laboratory and examined the results himself. To say that he was surprised would be an understatement. He tiptoed back home and quietly initiated an inquiry into the matter. It did not take long for the ‘truth’ to come out. Robert, Dr Reynold’s other assistant and Devdutt’s colleague had been working on this problem and claimed very honourably that he had discovered the ‘essential ingredients’ to the solution first. In fact, Robert declared that the ‘big picture’ ideas for the solution had come from Dr. Reynolds himself. It was indeed quite thankless of Devdutt, to try and appropriate credit for this work when all he had done was implement the mere ’details’.

Dr. Reynolds’ mind needed no further explanation. In a true display of his ‘blue blooded’ manners, he expelled Devdutt without interview, published results of the solution with himself as the lead author and Robert as the second author but graciously gave credit to Robert during dinner-table conversations. He shrugged when asked about ‘that Indian lad’ who tried to steal credit for the work. ‘I might have allowed him to get away if it was all my work; after all I am too old to care about these things. But I just cannot!’ and his eyes blazed with righteous indignation, ‘I cannot allow him to do this to Robert’.

Devdutt was quickly forgotten as the conversation turned to more interesting discussions about India. Historians had finally proven that the ‘Aryans’ were in fact Europeans who had originated in Central Asia and displaced India’s native ‘Dravidian’ population sometime around 1500-1000 BC. Dr. Reynolds spoke at length to a spellbound audience, eagerly displaying his knowledge of philology. He was all praise for the ‘Vedas’ and for ‘Bhagwad Gita’– the finest products of that ‘Aryan’ civilization and quoted many verses to show his familiarity:

The soul is beyond space and time. It is not limited, it simply exists. It exists on both the shores of time and it exists also in the waves of time. Your duty in this life is to do the right action that is your Karma as well as your Dharma. This is the only yardstick by which you will be measured. And measured you will be, because no one can escape karma – like soul, karma simply exists. Karma is your duty and it is also the reward for that duty. Its judgment is impartial, it is the Yama of existence’

The Mlechha and Aryavarta

3000 BC: Devdutt stared into the emptiness that stood between him and the mlechha.

The king of Suryavastipur had many credits to his name – a name that reverberated far and wide evoking half-truths and half-fantasies of an intrepid warrior and astute scholar. His age belied his abilities.  Still a 22 year old boy, he had fought more wars, conquered more kingdoms and disciplined more rebels than many dynasties had done in generations. His rule covered the vast expanse of Aryavarta, and no man living north of Vindhyas and south of the indomitable Himalayas questioned his status as the supreme ruler of Bharata.

But inexperience often makes itself known in the unlikeliest of situations. Always aware of his accomplishments, Devdutt had allowed the disease of vanity to creep into his heart. This vanity centered not so much on his self as it did on the noble lineage that marked his family’s bloodline. And it was this vanity, the raw fruit of his inexperience, that made him stare in wonder at the empty space between him and the mlechha.

Could it really be possible that this barbaric mlechha had discovered a cure to the vyadhiThe rules Devdutt had laid down were as clear as the water in the pond outside his palace. Any physician who could cure the cursed vyadhithat had mysteriously gripped the subjects of his empire, would be made rajan of the four villages that stood on the shores of Sarayu. In his wildest speculations, Devdutt had never imagined a mlechha to come up with a cure. To Devdutt, these pig coloured barbarians were the wretches of human existence : nomads who ate anything that moved and who lived an uncivilized life of one sin after another. He or any other king in Aryavarta would not deign to even conquer the land these nomads lived on, the disgrace of attacking someone so helpless being outside the realm of any civilized king’s imagination.

And yet, there he stood : the mlechha who had cured the vyadhiDevdutt’s mind was crisscrossed with possible explanations for this anomaly. Surely this mlechha must have stolen the cure from some civilized citizen, perhaps even murdered the citizen. He made arrangements for the mlechha’s stay and ordered an empire-wide probe into this strange occurrence.

The story gripped Aryavarta, especially its intellectuals, like a fever. How could a barbarian accomplish what their own physicians could not? Their collective pride created a vacuum which quickly began filling itself with hypotheses, explanations and specious arguments. A physician claimed that he had discovered this cure first and the barbarian had stolen it from him. A respected lady in one of the four villages that stood on the shores of Sarayu declared that she would burn herself, should the mlechha become her rajanDevdutt allowed himself to be convinced by the collective zeal of his citizens.

It was a blistering noon and Saraswati shimmered in the heat of the sun. Outside Suryavastipur’s palace, the aushadhi that the mlechha had ‘stolen’ was being used to cure the civilized citizens who had been affected by the vyadhi. Inside the palace, Devdutt sat on his throne and watched the mlechha get his skin peeled by the whip. The barbarian writhed in agony and helplessness, shrieking with pain every time the sharp whip cracked on his body. He was thrown into the forest, a helpless pulp of flesh and died a few days after justice was thus delivered.

Inside a Gurukul that stood enveloped by the forest, the Acharya imparted knowledge of the universe to his sleepy students:

The soul is beyond space and time. It is not limited, it simply exists. It exists on both the shores of time and it exists also in the waves of time. Your duty in this life is to do the right action which is your Karma as well as your Dharma. This is the only yardstick by which you will be measured. And measured you will be, because no one can escape karma – like soul, karma simply exists. Karma is your duty and it is also the reward for that duty. Its judgement is impartial, it is the Yama of existence’

Expertise

One thing which has been bothering me of late, is how we have lost a culture of building experts. And I mean experts like Michaelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci or Isaac Newton or Mozart – people who dedicated their lives to their professions. We dont build such people anymore. If we take a look around, all we see is a bunch of salesmen in suits posing as experts.

How did this happen? Previously it was a way of life. A man’s life was defined by his profession and he took ownership in the work. Expertise carried a mark of respect and exclusivity. It became a purpose of living – something you could dedicate your life to.  But now, its just not the same environment anymore. Work has been sliced to such a fantastic degree that you just dont feel proud of it.

I remember reading about an IIM interview when I was preparing for CAT. The professor was questioning the candidate on ways to improve efficiency in a manufacturing plant. The candidate mumbled some words on ‘motivation’ upon which the professor laughed and said, “You have a guy whose only job is to turn the lever on and off. Now do tell me how you intend to ‘motivate’ THIS guy about his work”. And that’s how it is.  One advantage of graduating from an IIM is that you can get good work. You can get work that you feel excited about. That’s not always the case with engineering. Lots of engineers in India get jobs in back offices and support centres where its very difficult to feel excited about the work. Sure you can earn decent money, but that’s about it. Its certainly not the best way to breed experts.

One friend gave a very interesting opinion on this. She said that earlier, bankers and merchants were heavy patrons of art. Charging interest (or its excessive variant ‘usury’) was considered sinful, so behemoths like Medici patronized fine arts and sponsored talented artists, to atone for their guilt. And because charging interest is not considered immoral anymore, the extent of patronization by wealthy has gone down. Hence, the lack of expertise. Its an interesting opinion and might be a contrbuting factor but I think thats not the only reason. I think part of the reason is the spread of social media and the culture of consumerism. You cant be an expert if you spend hours on facebook and twitter.

So thats how it is I suppose. We have lost touch with genuine expertise to such an extent that we abuse such words on the drop of a hat. In the TV series ‘Prison Break’, Michael Scofield’s psychiatrist explains that Scofield’s high IQ combined with a medical condition of low latent inhibition (disability to block out peripheral information or an excessive attention to detail) makes him a creative genius. The explanation is very mathematical, unlike (as the psychiatrist remarks) the way we generally abuse the word “genuis” in context of those who are merely above average. The sad part is, our education system, our culture has reduced the encouragement and even production of true genuis and genuine experts.

On Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Part One

The book is written in third person and tells the story of Jonathan Livingston, who is a seagull living with a pack of his own kind. But this is where his similarity with other seagulls ends, as he is essentially different from the rest. Seagulls as a species do not concern themselves with pursuits beyond their daily existence. But Jonathan wants to fly – and fly not just enough to catch the daily fish and muddle through a mundane life – but fly at a speed beyond the imagination of any seagull.

He wishes to fly at a sinful speed. And learn how to stall in mid-air, how to swerve like a fireball and glide effortlessly through the morning sky. The very first page of the book rivets our attention by the skillful presentation of both the fine details about flying and the single-minded determination of our protagonist. The former derives mainly from Bach’s experience as a US Air Force pilot and the latter from his personal fascination with flight. The writing style is direct and without any superfluous details. This is not to say that the work lacks in descriptiveness. Quite the contrary – it gives a fascinating account of the way Jonathan tips his feathers and folds his wing to achieve the necessary control for flying at extra-ordinary speed. But the description is always precise and bangs the head of the nail with one solid stroke.

The book is philosophical. Jonathan realizes that his pattern of thinking “is not the way to make one’s self popular with other birds“. Bach describes the many facets of resistance that Jonathan faces. The episodes are uncomfortably close to ordinary life. Jon’s father admonishes him with practical epithets on survival. His mother beseeches him to conform to the rest and for a moment Jon makes a genuine effort to mix in. But his feeling of disgust for the ordinary soon overcomes his obedience and he reverts back to his old ways.

This part of the story about Jon making a desperate effort to “join in” adds the wonderful touch of reality to his character. He is not the grand idealist who is beyond feelings and temptations but an ordinary individual who is motivated by an ideal higher than mere existence. In particular, I liked the way in which Bach describes the final act of him giving up on his effort to confirm. Jon deliberately drops a “hard won anchovy to a hungry old gull chasing him“. By doing so, he raises himself above the incessant bickering of the ordinary and symbolizes free thinkers who deliberately step out of the rat race engulfing their neighbours.

Jonathan dreams big. He climbs a thousand feet and launches into a vertical dive. He is relentless in his pursuit of an over-arching purpose. Ten times he tries and ten times he bursts into a churning mass of feathers crashing down into the water. He keeps learning, stalls his feathers and attains a speed of ninety miles an hour – setting a world record for seagulls. Jonathan now climbs two thousand feet. He wants to learn more, to fly faster and to touch the edges of possibilities. Basking in his own success is not a part of Jonathan’s DNA.

Bach is extremely adroit with words and when he expresses the frustrations, joys and incremental victories of Jonathan; he makes the reader travel across space and time to experience the emotions themselves. “He was alive, trembling ever so slightly with delight, proud that his fear was under control. Then without ceremony he hugged in his fore-wings, extended his short, angled wingtips, and plunged directly toward the sea.” Jonathan conquers terminal velocity and masters the art of turning in mid air with the slightest movement of a single wingtip feather.

He joins the Flock filled with ideas and dreams of a life built on reason and a higher purpose. To his utter amazement however, the elders and other seagulls in the flock banish him as a shameful outcast who has encroached upon the sacred lines of order. Jonathan is dumbfounded. He tries to reason with them but he might as well have reasoned with deaf walls. Bach captures this moment perfectly. Jonathan finds it very difficult to understand the frame of mind and line of reasoning that causes his kinsmen to reject the idea of a better life. He is not sorry for his solitude but feels pity for their ignorance. He is comfortable in his own skin and finds it ridiculous to seek approval from others. In fact, this lack of need to seek approval is what differentiates Jonathan from the rest of the pack. “He learned to fly, and was not sorry for the price that he had paid. Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.”

Had the author ended the story here, the book would have gone down as a fine, well written fable with a distinct moral lesson served in a convincing narrative. But the genius of Bach had just started and what follows from this point, raises the level of the book to heights scaled by timeless classics.

One day, after his ostracism from the flock, Jonathan is accosted by two magnificent seagulls that are as skilled as he is in the art of flying. Upon questioning, they inform Jonathan about a different place where people like him live and practice the art of perfect flight. Understanding dawns on our protagonist yet again. He takes one long look across the sea at the place where he had learned so much and rises with the duo to reach a place where he would be welcome – a place which he can call his home. Jonathan Livingston Seagull reaches heaven.

Part Two

So this is heaven, he thought, and he had to smile at himself.

Bach gives a beautiful description of the place. There are seagulls like him practicing towards achieving perfection. Bach’s idea of heaven is not an idle place where angels roam around singing praises for an Almighty God. His idea is more evolved. Heaven is a place where the idealist struggles uphill, beleaguered but without the antipathy that such a conviction generates from inhabitants of our un-heavenly earth. In fact Bach’s idea of heaven is even more evolved which we discover shortly as the story proceeds.

Jonathan realizes that in heaven, he can fly at speeds as high as two hundred and seventy three miles an hour. But the moment he realizes this, he begins to question the validity of a heaven where there are limits on the speed at which a seagull can fly. He notices that there is lot more to learn. The seagulls accompanying him have more control over their flight than he does. He yearns to learn their skill immediately but tired and exhausted with all that has happened over the day collapses into a deep slumber.

Upon waking up, Jonathan surveys his new companions. He feels sad for the limited number of seagulls who could reach here and questions his friend, Sullivan about it. Sullivan then describes a cycle of life that seems to be inspired by the Hindu belief of Karma and rebirth. He says that Jonathan is one in a million seagulls who has achieved so much in a single life. For the rest, it took them thousands of life to even understand that there was more to achieve than living on daily crumbs. Bach’s idea of rebirth is strikingly similar to the Hindu philosophy. A seagull accumulates knowledge over his life and is reborn with that accumulated stock over and over again, till he achieves perfection. And that perfection is heaven. The Hindu philosophy calls this achievement of perfection “Moksha” or salvation where the entity joins with Brahma and becomes a part of this cosmic endlessness. His soul, which is in fact the true measure of his identity, then becomes free from the endless cycle of life and death.

Jonathan continues to learn more techniques and ends up meeting Chiang, the eldest of the flock. Chiang is described as a seagull who has achieved near perfection and is about to depart from the cycle of life and death. Jonathan confronts him with the question that the place they are in cannot be heaven with all its limitations and Chiang nods approvingly in reply. He explains that heaven is a state of being. “Heaven is not a place. Heaven is not a time. Heaven is being perfect.”

He continues by informing Jonathan that “you will begin to touch heaven in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that is not flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit and perfection does not have any limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there”. And saying so, Chiang vanishes from his spot and reappears on another spot. Jonathan is astounded. He entreats the master to teach him the art and Chiang agrees with a smile. “The trick, according to Chiang, was for Jonathan to stop seeing himself as trapped inside a limited body that had a forty-two-inch wingspan and performance that could be plotted on a chart. The trick was to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time”. Here again we see that the teachings of Chiang acquire an Oriental mystique and a Hindu wisdom.

Jonathan practices the art ferociously, day in and day out, but is unable to learn it. And one day, just like that, understanding dawns on him and he comprehends his master’s words in a flash of enlightenment. The incident is reminiscence of the ‘koan’ tradition in Zen Buddhism. The master gives his disciple a short verse (known as a koan) which appears nonsensical at the first glance. The disciple is expected to meditate on the verse day and night until understanding dawns on him and he grasps the message behind the verse.

Jonathan is delighted about his accomplishment. He can now travel across space instantaneously. Chiang continues commenting on the finer points of his skill serenely and asks Jonathan to start working with time. The next level of skill would involve travelling across time at will. And when Jonathan has mastered that skill, Chiang says, he would be able to fly up and learn the most beautiful and the most difficult of all flights – the flight of kindness and love.

Chiang’s day of departure arrives and he exhorts Jonathan to continue working on love. Jonathan keeps meditating on it and recognizes a longing in his heart for those at Earth whom he had left behind. He confides his uneasiness to Sullivan who prevents Jonathan from leaving for Earth by reminding him of the narrow-mindedness that reigns there. Sullivan contends that Jonathan is much better off staying where he is and teaching seagulls who think like him. “The gull sees farthest who flies highest”, he says and for a moment Jonathan is convinced to stay put.

But the longing to return home and teach someone like him continues to haunt Jonathan. He now starts understanding the power of love and kindness and decides to leave for Earth. Sullivan becomes sad on hearing this decision but does not stop Jonathan again. I think I’ll miss you Jonathan, is all that he says. At this moment Jonathan gives a reply that is my favourite quotation from the book. He says, “Sully for shame! And don’t be foolish! What are we trying to practise every day? If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we’ve destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don’t you think that we might see each other once or twice“. The message shows that Jonathan has finally grasped the idea of limitless freedom and has ceased to be constrained by space and time.

Far away from this heavenly abode, Fletcher Seagull is treading the path that Jonathan walked on not a long time ago. He has been cast out from the flock because he wished to fly and wanted more from life than just “flapping around”. In a moment of utter disappointment, Fletcher Seagull hears a voice inside him and when he looks around in astonishment, he notices the heavenly body of Jon who is flying with utter ease. Jonathan asks Fletcher to cast away his unkind feelings for the flock and forgive them with a noble heart. He then starts instructing Fletcher in the skills of flying and begins his lessons with ‘Level Flight’.

Part Three

Jonathan continues teaching Fletcher the different levels of flying with precision and is soon joined by six other students who were thrown out of the Flock for wanting to learn the skills of flight. Jonathan teaches them all and in between his instructions, gives them lessons in life and morality and on the overarching purpose of a gull.

Each of us is in truth an idea of the Great Gull, an unlimited idea of freedom, Jonathan would say in the evenings on the beach, and precision flying is a step toward expressing our real nature. Everything that limits us we have to put aside. That’s why all this high speed practice, and low speed, and aerobatics…

The other gulls are not up on ideas of unlimited freedom and would unmistakably doze off in the middle of Jonathan’s speech. Then one day, Jon informs them that the time had come for them to return to the Flock. The disciples protest vehemently but Jonathan flies off alone which leaves them with no choice but to join him. Fletcher gets concerned about the safety of Jonathan and braces himself for a fight.

The formation arrives home and performs amazing acrobatics to the astonishment of the entire flock. They watch as the six disciples perform feats which were hitherto impossible and Jonathan quietly critiques them and teaches them to further heights in mastering flight. They turn their back against the mavericks and for some days this pattern continues with Jonathan’s crew practicing flight and the flock of gull ignoring their performance. At night, Jonathan would notice a group of curious gulls standing in the darkness listening to his instructions but too afraid to get noticed by others in the flock.

Then finally, after a month it happens. Terrence Lowell Gull crosses the line and is immediately ostracized from the flock. He is soon joined by Kirk Maynard Gull whose left wing is badly hurt. Jonathan exhorts him to free himself from the limitations of his body and Maynard is transformed by Jon’s instructions. This sends off an electrifying wave across the flock and the next day, a thousand gulls cross line.

Jonathan accepts them all and teaches simple things like freeing the self from all limitations. The other gulls hail him as divine and this disappoints Jon exceedingly. He sighs at the price of being misunderstood. “They call you devil or they call you god”. Fletcher quips that they are merely ahead of the fashion.

A week later, Fletcher is instructing other gulls in high speed flying and in between the lessons, is about to collide with a young gull who comes in his way. He swerves sharply and blasts off into a solid rock. Fletcher opens his eyes in another world with Jonathan gliding beside him. He is amazed at having escaped death and asks Jonathan about the place they are in. Jonathan informs Fletcher that in the moment of urgency, Fletcher had learnt the skill of flying past objects. He gives Fletcher the choice of continuing to learn from this level or returning back to Earth and building up from his previous level. Fletcher agrees to the latter and they return back to the flock.

Upon arrival, they notice four thousand gulls screeching and walking towards them menacingly with blood in their eyes. Jonathan is dismayed to see such hatred and vanishes with Fletcher to another spot half a mile away.

Jonathan now decides to leave the Flock and gives Fletcher the task of leading them to truth. Fletcher is amazed at how Jon continues to love a mob that just tried to kill him. His instructions in the lessons of love have now begun.

Further Thoughts

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is one of the few books that touch the core philosophy of three very distinct religions. It talks about “karma” and rebirth drawing parallels with Hindu ideas regarding the same. Its emphasis on love and forgiveness are reminiscent of Christian virtues. The underlying theme of the book and the nature of its characters also draw attention to the importance of “focus” and “non judgemental understanding” which form a cornerstone of the Zen philosophy.

The font size and display of text is minimalist and the book is able to get its message across without being centered on melodramatic experiences or other forms of ornamentation. There is a sense of quietness in the attitude of its characters. This degree of minimalism is one of the core virtues of Buddhist traditions. One incident that stands out in this regard is the mode of communication in the world of Chiang and Sullivan. The author mentions that gulls like Sullivan communicated via telepathy instead of screes and gracks. Such a fine attention to detail can only have one explanation – that Richard Bach himself was a deep philosopher and understood the subtle nature of things as they are and as they ought to be.

The overarching attitude that gets reflected in every page of this book is a highly developed sense of perseverance. The feats performed by Jonathan and Chiang are nothing short of miraculous but the author continues to stress that they are the natural outcome of a relentless practice. For instance, when Jonathan is learning formation point rolls from Sullivan and keeps failing, we do not see any judgement being passed on Jon’s ability. Instead Sullivan continues saying “Let’s try it again” like a chant until Jonathan is able to master the art. This ritual of intense focus on the task at hand is almost like a prayer and it places a very high emphasis on action and on the ability of an individual to overcome all barriers.

This is a very likeable idea because our society today places an exaggerated amount of importance on IQ and natural abilities. We instinctively admire the guy who smokes pot all night and still manages to score an A+ in the examination next day. Such a disposition breeds an unconscious contempt towards hard work which is very unhealthy for development. Richard Bach places absolutely no limits on what an individual can achieve given the right directions and the right amount of hard work. This contrasts very sharply with the attitude of authors like Ayn Rand (or Nietzsche) who consider the majority of human race as “social ballast”. It is this departure from the existentialists that places Richard Bach on a more Christian path which, I personally feel, is a step up in the development of an individual’s paradigm.

Another incident that stands out in its relevance is the attitude of the flock towards Jonathan and his disciple when they return back and show their flying skills. The flock either damns Jonathan by calling him a devil or they put him on a different plane by calling him a “Son of God”. This response is very characteristic of the society towards those who create breakthroughs in science and technology. Part of the explanation can be the insecurity that Jonathan engenders in the minds of other seagulls. Should they admit that Jon is as ordinary as they are, the utter failure of their life would stare them back in their face. The ostracism of Jonathan then serves as a defense mechanism that allows them to maintain inertia and continue living as they are with a moral compass that validates their point of view. Clearly such an attitude disappoints Jonathan acutely. As Fyodor Dostevsky remarks, “Man, so long as he remains free, has no more constant and agonizing anxiety than find as quickly as possible someone to worship.

The genius of Bach goes one step further when he outlines a clear and simple response to this attitude. He advocates love and forgiveness. Loving and forgiving those who damn your soul can only come from a highly developed sense of understanding and empathy. It is precisely for this reason that Chiang describes kindness and love as the most difficult lessons and the last step towards achieving perfection. This attitude is out and out Christian and is also present in many other philosophies. The great Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”. That Richard Bach was able to advocate this path to someone who has clearly outperformed the rest is what gives Jonathan Livingston Seagull a fitting end and makes it a wonderful source of inspiration.

IIMA revolutionizes quizzes, Facchas cry foul

THE GOLDEN AGE OF TUCCHADOM – ACT 1

(glossary of some IIMA specific lingo added below the article for non-IIMA visitors)

Ahmedabad: Taking the surprise element in quizzes to a new level, IIM-A faculty stumped the hapless facchas by announcing a quiz at 14:29:59 – without mentioning the subject!

Students who arrived later than 14:29:59 were stripped off their “calcis”, and asked to pen a juice within 5 minutes. The resulting outpours, which were deemed “inadequate by IIMA standards”, attracted penalties of so many sub-grades as fit the depth of their impotency.

“I thought it was a joke”, said a tear-stricken faccha, “and realised the truth too late. I have never written a juice in my life before. It was terrible! (Ed:the juice as well as his fate)”

“Yes, we have decided to make this process permanent”, said an overjoyed representative of PGP-Exams, “We tried to introduce academic rigor by setting difficult questions, but some muggus still aced all exams”, he frowned and admonished as he held up his finger, “Nobody should score above 70%. 70’s style!”

While facchas rummaged in their rooms to predict the subject and make heads or tails out of their notes; Tucchas shouted “Muggo Fucchon Muggo”, with such tempo and unison that the scaffoldings of our half-constructed Dorm 85 came down. This encouraged the tucchas who were joined by exchange students and our energetic dogs. Together, they started barking “Long Live PGP Office” in C minor.

“I was predicting a FRA quiz”, moaned a forlorn facchi, “but it turned out to be Marketing”, she said and added acidly “There was no case. They asked us to write an elegant, exhaustive and efficacious marketing plan that would help Apple collaborate across semantic content and generate promising sales performance by optimizing global P&L responsibility, organizational diversity, environmental accountability and emerging supply chain executability keeping in mind the logical evolution of their service matrix pillar and the re-contextualization of their converging collaborations”

The administration has found the new process encouraging and has decided to extend it to end term exams. For instance, Slot 1 MC end term exam can be held on a Sunday in slot 3. Of course you wouldn’t know it was MC (or Slot-1) until you looked at the question paper. Timing would be of paramount importance. The night after cluster1 placements can have a mega end term covering Slot1, 2, Engineering and 12th.

“This would prevent those who bagged job offers from enjoying until the entire batch got placed”, said a thoughtful placement chair.

When asked if the same process would be followed for tucchas, the administration declined and laughed it off by mentioning the pecking order at IIMA – faculty followed by TAs followed by dogs followed by Tucchas followed by Facchas. After all, the move was aimed to make facchas realise the degree of their worthlessness.

The grand culmination of this scheme is expected to result in a “Handbook on standards to conduct MBA exams”. Unlike the placement standards, other IIMs are already considering its adoption.

Glossary

faccha – first year student at IIMA

tuccha – second year student

juice – Ah!..you can say that its a poetic expression of love written from the email account of someone who has left his laptop open and sent to the entire section (or batch)

Muggo Fucchon Muggo – The battle cry of IIMA exhorting facchas to stop fooling around and get their ass on the study-table

PGP – Post Graduate Program (in Management) – the 2 year management program at IIMA

TAs – Teaching Associates (to faculty)

Dedicated to the Golden Age of Tucchadom where I am vella enough to write such things :)

Measuring Success

In his book, “A Better India, A Better World”, the veteran Indian businessman Mr Narayana Murthy acknowledges that he has been successful to the extent that

“Back in the 1960s (Ed: when he was a youth), the odds of being where I am today would have been very small indeed. Yet, with every successive step, the odds kept changing in my favour, and these life lessons made all the difference.”

I am writing this post so that I don’t forget such an insightful way of measuring success but share it with so many people as I can.

And why is it insightful? It is because judging people relatively on the scale of success is an attitude shared by many. Mr Murthy’s expression tells us that such a judgement is always flawed because different persons begin their journey on incomparable starting points and proceed with contrasting turns of fortune. In other words, “the odds of success” at any point of time are radically different for different people. We can thus measure success only to the degree by which the subject has overcome outcomes of failure by his own choices and actions.

The idea is indeed very simple but so many of us fail to internalise it. For instance, many students with privileged background mock those who had to study in vernacular schools and are thus not conversant with the English language. The insult is very often covert, in the form of insinuations, side remarks and un-acknowledgement of ideas or sometimes of existence.

Take debates for example. So many debates proceed with one speaker using clever lines/sarcastic comments/flowery language but almost no substance in his arguments. The result is a hearty laugh, a distraction from the issue at hand and frequently a subconsciously collective assignment of lower status to the opposite party. The ‘eloquent’ party generally ends up gleeful and all the more convinced of his right to blabber and impress the world with his intelligence. He begins the process as a fool and ends up as a bigger fool. His pseudo-intellectual spree continues, sometimes indefinitely, punctuated by occasions where another more eloquent party gives him a most deserved kick of his own medicine. But otherwise, our silver-tongued hero lives happily as we can see from so many people around us who have made a career out of this sham, the sole purpose of their existence and almost elevated it to a rogue form of art.

But that was the funny part. The sad part comes from the inarticulate party who, unless he is an extrovert, slides into his cocoon and misses out on his rightful self-development through trial and error.

The example was just one of the many. The same thought process applies to rich students mocking (covertly, its always cloaked and underhand) the poor; city-dwellers mocking those from towns and villages; fashionable mocking the supposedly unfashionable; and supposedly intelligent mocking earnest and innocent students. We see so many cases of such victims recede into inferiority and miss out on their rightful honour. It’s almost a crime, a low trick by the perpetuators to create barriers to honest competition. But then as one of my friends suggests, it’s also a test of the strength of victim’s character. Whether it is strong enough to see the buffoonery for what it is and deal with it in the right spirit.

So coming back to Mr Murthy’s idea of measuring success – I admire him for the way he puts it. He did not give a list of the grand things he has done but decided to put it the way he did. Not that I would have hated him, if he had done the former. Just that his expression suggests a development of mind which is commendable to say the least. And it is also exemplary. I am sure many of us would do well to examine our “success” on the test of his expression and see things for what they are. But again, that would require brutal self-honesty which God did not see fit to give to a lot of us.

Nevertheless, examining positions on Mr Murthy’s statement would certainly help victims see the objective truth. If they can recognize the ludicrous psychological game which is played against them and see their criminal’s “success” and “superiority” in all its vulgar nakedness, if it can give them hope and confidence to let the dogs bark for all they may – the purpose of this post would be more than served.

CAT coaching institute waives fee for women and non-engineering students

Ahmedabad: In light of IIMs’ recent march towards diversity, TopCAT classes have announced that they would waive fee for their women and non-engineering students. The fee for male engineering students would be increased by 20%.

“Yes, we have decided to take this progressive step”, said a representative of TopCAT, “Majority of students in our batch are male engineers and they apply the same thought process to every question. Sometimes they also arrive at the same answer. It is disgusting”.

When asked that since questions are based on Math, shouldn’t it be right if all  students arrive at the same correct answer; the representative declined to comment.

Male engineering students have responded with mixed feelings.

“I hope we have more girls in our batch now”, said Chulbul, a CAT aspirant from IIT Rampur (yes, even Rampur has an IIT now), “But i think a waiver for male non-engineering students is atrocious. When I am forking out an extra 20%, I expect to get a bang for my buck”, he added stressing the last few words.

His friend Babloo, who has abandoned his CAT aspirations for GRE, saw the issue as “circuitous with multifarious dimensions”

“I conceive we abscind the contention in its disjointed entities”, he said in a strange accent and proceeded to speak in a mixture of Greek and Latin.

Upon translation, we found that he favoured the division of women and non-engineering students on the basis of caste and provide a double waiver to those from the reserved category.

He had a mind to go on a fast-to-death for the same but decided to do so only if more than seven media houses are willing to cover him.

Competitors of TopCAT are aghast but many have decided to join the bandwagon.

“If TopCAT gets all the girls and non-engineering students, it will generate more IIM calls than us”, said a CATty representative, “so we have decided to follow suit”

Inspired by the happenings, aye-aye-PM has dared to think beyond the IIMs and announced that it will “extend grace marks to animals and birds applying to its institute”.

We promise to cover that as and when it happens.

She

I burped. And cursed the cheap whisky. My head was spinning from the carousal last night. It was “cult-fest” time on campus and I was one of the organizers for the same. CV points were hard to come by these days and a man was obliged to sink as low as organizing events called (I kid you not) “Stratagem – the strategy game”.

Participants from all over the country had flown down come down (hehe). I scuttled towards the registration desk with drunken steps resembling those of Jack Sparrow (and one of our professors).

“Umm Excuse me”, a sweet voice called from the crowd.

The voice belonged to a beautiful face, pretty enough to be marked as an outsider from some lesser known college where students have more free time. She was from IIM Calcutta. Dressed in tshirt and a long skirt, she looked like one of those cute girls you see in TV ads.

“Yes”, I managed to say without gaping at her breasts.

She looked at the life size badge around my neck to confirm that I was one of the co-ordinators.

“Please can you show me the way to Classroom 8″, she said and added importantly, “I am one of the shortlisted candidates for the strategy game”

The words “for the strategy game” resounded in my inebriated head. I repeated it again and again and mentally high-fived myself. Making a supreme effort to conceal my happiness, I started walking her towards my room classroom 8

“Hum jo chalne lage,
Chalne lage hai yeh raste,
Ah haan haan, manzil se behtar
lagne lage hai yeh raaste”

(Now that we have started walking,
the roads have started walking with us,
Oh Yeah!, I have started liking these roads now
More than I ever liked the destination)

We exchanged introductions and started chatting. She was Nina, a loquacious arts graduate from a nondescript city, whose dream had come true the day she stepped into IIM Calcutta. Full of strategies for the competition, she unburdened herself of the infinite ideas that were running through her mind. They covered vast expanses including (but not limited to) the way we should maintain our campus.

“There are  lot of dogs around”, she declared

“Don’t you like dogs? I thought girls had a soft corner”. We had reached the classroom. It was empty, as there was still an hour to go before the event started. Other participants were evidently not as enthusiastic.

“No! I hate them. A dog once bit me. Look!”. She sat down and pulled up her skirts to show me the scar.

The exhibit was as unexpected as it was pleasant. Her well formed thighs were as smooth as ivory pillars and their glorious underswell immediately set my blood on fire.

I reached out and touched the scar.

“Bad. Very bad. Did it hurt much ?”

“I cried for two hours” she said rearranging her dress.

For a few seconds, we just looked at each other.

“I dont know why IIMs admit so many engineers”, she asked the ceiling

“You dont like engineers?”

“Ofcourse I dont! All they do is pass cheap vulgar jokes and play video games”

“Whats wrong with that?”

“What do you mean ‘Whats wrong with that?’. Just look at them. Do they ever take out time to..to..i mean to cultivate themselves”

“I think its a matter of opinion. Do you know that Shakespeare was considered vulgar when he lived? Ofcourse he couldnt play video games, the poor guy”

“Whatever!”, she rolled her pretty eyes and as Salinger would have said: “It killed me!”

Her impatient mouth was about to say something when the phone in her pocket made its presence felt.

“Hiiieee..i am in classroom 8 baba…no..ofcourse not sweetheart”, her eyes asked me to move away. I stood there, just for the fuck of it.

She walked out impatiently, speaking on the phone in an animated voice

“I dont have to tell you everything, you know…”

I sat there with my pensive thoughts. Cultivate myself! What a load of shit!

She came back with a frown on her face and as I looked carefully, with the rudiments of a tear in her eye.

“Boyfriend got you on leash ?”, I asked unable to control my laughter.

“Just shutup okay!”, she croaked in a broken voice and made an abrupt move to walk away as her tears finally found vent.

“Whoa! Okay..wait..just relax okay”, I beseeched pushing her down on a chair. She was sobbing intermittently. An embarrassed sob. I got her a glass of water and smiled as she drank it obediently.

“You know, I’ll look away and you can wipe your nose off. It wont make you look less pretty though”

She smiled and looked at me. The welcome smile on a pretty girl’s tear stricken face.

‘She’s just an ordinary girl’, I thought. The word “common” rang in my head. It was a big turn off.

“I say, i am quite hung up on the ‘cultivating’ thing”, i spoke to change the subject, “and meeting someone who thinks that way is refreshingly sane”

She didnt say anything but smiled a bit more.

“No, seriously”, I prodded, “tell me what you do that has made you so..so..uh..refined”

“Nothing”, she muttered although it was obvious that she was flattered.

“Well on my part, I like to read”, I said after a pause realizing that this might become a long monologue. Bending forward, I added in a slow whisper, “I like to read besides passing cheap vulgar jokes and playing video games and I like doing them very much”

That did it. She smiled decisively and looked at me with an innocent and interested look.

‘What a sorry lamb’, I thought.

“Now if you just sit there and dont say anything, I would have to do all the talking myself and trust me, I am really really bad at that”

“No, you are not bad at all”, she said laughing heartily now, “do you talk so sweet to everyone”

The phrase “only to pretty girls” rang in my head but that was such a cliche. In fact, it was not even a cliche anymore. I hmmed for sometime.

“Do you have a girlfriend ?”, she asked in the most forward manner.

I started. And said slowly, “Are you sure you want to talk about relationships? Dont you think you have had enough for the day?”

“No..no, he’s not that bad you know. Actually, he cares for me very much. And he – “

“I am sure he is a jolly good chap and that you are both deeply in love”, I interrupted to indicate that I had absolutely no interest in listening about ‘him’

“No, its not that..”, she frowned, “but anyways tell me about your girlfriend please. I am very interested”. And indeed she was, judging by the eagerness of her posture.

“I dont have any”

“Oh. Any past relationships?”

“None. I have dated a few girls but just that. No relationships”

“Why?” she blurted involuntarily.

I was completely turned off by then and stood up.

“I dont think any girl can put up with me”

“But you are such a nice guy”

I looked at the puzzled expression on her lovely face and touched her cheeks, gently wiping off the tears with my thumb.

“No I am not”

She just looked at me. I bent down and kissed her forehead. Its surprising what you can do when you are not interested in the girl anymore. She blushed to the roots of her hair

“What the – “, came a voice from the door. It was a guy. She stood up and hurried towards him. So this was ‘him’.

“What the fuck do you think you are doing!” he shouted at her. I was taken aback. Talk about a boyfriend wih a leash!

“Listen, Rahul..please-“, she tried to sooth him as he walked menacingly towards me. “Who the fuck are you..huh..what the fuck were you two doing?”

I laughed aloud. “You shouldnt use so many ‘fucks’ in a sentence. It makes you look very – “

“- very uncultivated”, I finished with a smirk.

“You fucking bastard”, he went on using the word “fuck” liberally as he walked towards me. I braced myself to punch his nose.

But before we could test our muscles, she jerked him around and lashed out at him with a surprising amount of bitter eloquence. It shocked him out of his wits and he just stood staring at her.

The interesting scene would have gone on  for sometime but was interrupted by a host of participants coming in for the competition.

He grunted at her and walked off.

She stood there, breathing heavily and looked at me with a triumphant expression.

“Lets get out of here”, I said and took her arm.

We walked off, leaving a bevy of gaping participants rooted behind us.

Markets over the week (13-17 June 2011)

Global Markets:

Breaking its six week long fall, the S&P 500 registered its first weekly gain to close at 1271.50. However, the NASDAQ which leads the market moves has not fared so well and closed below its 200 day average (1% down over the week) at 2616.48, falling at a time when all other indices seemed to have stabilized (DJIA was up 0.36% at 12004.36)

The bond markets meanwhile anxiously await the climax of Greek debt crises as the default probability (using the CDS prices from Markit with 40% recovery rate) reaches as high as 81%. Many economists believe that the problem is unsolvable with the debt reaching 150% of the GDP.

In Greece, Prime Minister Papendreou appointed a new finance minister Venizelos to push through the austerity programs. Concerns over the Euro debt crises also caused Moody to review Italy’s credit rating.

The last few weeks have seen a glut of data indicating slowdown in the US economy leading to heavy selling in the same. Investors are now taking a wait and watch approach as the US Q1 GDP numbers come in next week. The expectations is tepid at 1.9%. Another event of significance would be the two day Fed meet ending Wednesday from which investors are expecting a mild continuance of the Fed’s asset purchase programs (by reinvesting the coupons at least). With a gloomy outlook already priced in, any indication of economic recovery can lead to a rally.

The CBOE VIX index is still at depressed levels (despite spiking during the week) indicating a complacent attitude to the risks ahead.

Meanwhile oil prices dropped on Friday with the US crude slumping to a four month low at $93 on concerns over the Greek crises. US futures fell by  more than $3 a barrel while the US crude’s discount to Brent widened by more than $1 to $19.90 a barrel. Oil’s slump broke its inverse correlation with the dollar which has eased to its weakest since mid-April dropping by more than 22%.

World stocks and euro rose on Friday as member countries France and Germany indicated the possibility of aid to Greece (as large as 120 billion euros before they run out of the present cash this summer).  The World MSCI index rose by 0.4%  to rebound from a 3 month low.

However risk aversion still remains high as indicated by the drop in the oil prices, jump in gold prices and resilience of the Swiss franc (seen as a safe-haven currency). The demand for low risk government bonds also increased over the week.

Indian Markets:

With RBI raising rates for the 10th time (25 basis points this time) since 2010 to curb inflation, the Indian stock market took a tailspin this week as Sensex closed 2.18% lower at 17870.53 while Niflty slid down the same percentage points to 5366.4. The repo and reverse repo are as high as 7.5% and 6.5% now.

Rate hikes notwithstanding, inflation remains stubbornly high, with the May data clocking 9.1% yoy compared to 10.5% a year ago. Food inflation  was as high as 8.96%  and fuel inflation was 12.84% giving concerns about real possibilities of further rate hikes in future. This is exacerbated by the RBI indicating a clear stand against inflation and putting growth on the backseat.

Sentiments were further made negative by a sharp drop in the RIL stock and vigorous selling by FIIs.  The latter has been casued by a whole host of reasons including, but not limited to rising rates (and thus higher costs of capital), increasing delays in undertaking economic reforms, scams in government bodies and the slothful pace of infrastructure projects. The positive news included healthy signals on the progress of monsoon, increase in advance tax payments by big names and the drop in crude prices internationally.

Top losers for the week were techology sector with the BSE IT index losing 4.5% on concerns of slowdown in US economy and Greek debt. TCS was down 6.6%  and Wipro 6.5%. The BSE Oil and Gas sector was also down by 4.8% with Reliance loosing 4.5% on the CAG report of RIL inflaing KG basin development cost an fears of a stern SEBI over insider trading charges. The BSE FMCG sector was the only sector which showed a northward movement rising by a small 0.2%.  Top gainers included Marico rising by 3.7% and HUL moving up by 3.1%.

The week ahead is likely to remain bearish on similar global cues. Apart from government cues on macroeconomic and policy reforms, events to look out for include US Q1 GDP numbers, US Fed meet and possibilities of a consensus on the Greek bailout.

Also, with the possibility of  sugar inventory getting spoiled by the high moisture in the monsoon winds, there are chances of government relaxing export quota for the same and of a mid-rally in sugar counters.

Musings

When I was a kid, we had a very popular topic for high school essays: “Is man better off in modern society than in primitive nature ?”. I remember being astonished by the absurdity of the statement as it seemed to me then. Of course, man is better off in modern society! Look at the benefits like electricity and healthcare to name just two. Can we really imagine a life without them? The various posts on the internet also seemed to confirm my view. More often than not, netizens agreed that the world today is a jolly good place to live in.

But really, is the internet representative of the world population at large? Around 70% of the global population does not even have access to the internet [1]. And forget about internet, what about the views and opinions of those whom the modern world has not even taught to read and write.

One of the many

This child does not know how to read or write. Would she have been better off in the primitive world? I don’t know? Do the benefits of modern healthcare reach her? Does she have electricity in her home? Is she being forced to breathe in an environment polluted by the privileged? Is  she being forced to drink water contaminated by industrial wastes?

More importantly: Do the privileged look down upon her as if she is an insect, a burden on the society and if only her hut was removed, land prices would go up? Does she have a concept of future and living an honorable life? Is she just a statistical anomaly?

I can answer the last question. She is not a statistical anomaly. In fact it is the privileged who are a minority (the Pareto principle rings in my head).

So yeah, there are a lot of people in this world who live on less than a dollar a day and well, too bad they cant rise up. What of it? The answer is “Nothing” or more accurately “I don’t have a fucking clue”.

I DONT HAVE A FUCKING CLUE.

Off late I have realized that I don’t have a fucking clue about a lot of things. I spent two months on a trading floor and if someone asks me if I can be SURE about a trade idea; I would say “of course not!”. I mean, yeah I will pull dozens of economic theory out of my hat and support my arguments with technical analysis but the best I can hope for is to make an opinion on “what should happen”.  This, in itself would be a wonderful feat.  The problem is that “what should happen” does not equal “what will happen”. Will it happen in the long run? Is it just a matter of time before “what should happen” happens in reality? I don’t know and I don’t care. Because “given enough time”,  anyone can be right. And since, “markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent” (Keynes), betting on the “eventual certainty” of a thesis is a very dangerous game to play.

So coming back to inequality, who are the “privileged” people on the other end of the tunnel? And do I believe that this gap would be closed, not “eventually”, but in the foreseeable future?

The answer to the second question is “No, i don’t think it will”. And the reason for that is: humans are not just. Plain and simple.

In his essay, “On human nature”, Schopenhauer says:

“For what is our civilised world but a big masquerade? where you meet knights, priests, soldiers, men of learning, barristers, clergymen, philosophers, and I don’t know what all! But they are not what they pretend to be; they are only masks, and, as a rule, behind the masks you will find moneymakers. One man, I suppose, puts on the mask of law, which he has borrowed for the purpose from a barrister, only in order to be able to give another man a sound drubbing; a second has chosen the mask of patriotism and the public welfare with a similar intent; a third takes religion or purity of doctrine. For all sorts of purposes men have often put on the mask of philosophy, and even of philanthropy, and I know not what besides. Women have a smaller choice. As a rule they avail themselves of the mask of morality, modesty, domesticity, and humility. Then there are general masks, without any particular character attaching to them like dominoes. They may be met with everywhere; and of this sort is the strict rectitude, the courtesy, the sincere sympathy, the smiling friendship, that people profess. The whole of these masks as a rule are merely, as I have said, a disguise for some industry, commerce, or speculation. It is merchants alone who in this respect constitute any honest class. They are the only people who give themselves out to be what they are; and therefore they go about without any mask at all, and consequently take a humble rank.

And this brings me to the question of who are the “privileged” people on the other end of the tunnel? I would not point my fingers at traders/merchants/businessmen as much as I would point them at the dishonest class of public servants that squeeze the lifeblood out of an economy. A businessman does what he proclaims to do: “earn superior returns for his shareholders”.  A good trader makes money by accurately predicting what people at large would do. He is a mirror on which the society can see the intent of their actions. Despite the seething hatred against businessmen in general and  groups of businessmen in particular, I don’t see them as dishonest due to the simple fact that they do what they proclaim to do.

But let us turn our heads to public servants. And I mean the entire class of people who ostensibly work for the benefit of public. Two examples that come to my mind are government (including public sector companies) and religious activists. If I start measuring the degree to which corruption and falsification rots these bodies, I would run out of instruments.  The amount of wealth that they have looted from the public is beyond any living soul’s imagination.

But you already know this so what I am I doing singing the old song again.  Well, I am singing this song because we are so used to being looted by these wretches that our hatred for them is subdued in the resignation to “this is how it always happen”. And this in turn leads us to point the torch of our animosity to the groups of businessmen who look like the “new kid on the block of looters”. Say what we may, businessmen don’t have the degree of power that is wielded by public servants and if we really want to clean our house, it is this corner where we should use our mop.

So people with wealth and power want to maintain the “status quo” and the poor girl would have to live a life of misery. A life of utter and abject misery without any material comforts, without honor, sometimes without acknowledgement of existence. And that has always been the case. And it looks like that would be the case always.

“Is man better off in modern society than in primitive nature ?”

I dont have a fucking clue.

References

[1] http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

Image taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mckaysavage/3198657657/lightbox/ (distributed under the Creative Commons license)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers