17 October 2017

India's Politics: Right & Left

India's politics - Right and Left:

India-Politics-Right-Left

15 October 2017

Islam & Christianity: Absolutism and Imperialism

The central feature of both Islam and Christianity is absolutism. That is, both Islam and Christianity say:
1. It alone is true
2. All other religions are false
3. So it must replace all other religions.

Absolutism logically leads to imperialism - which consists of:
1. Military conquest
2. Political control
3. Religious conversions.

12 October 2017

Demonetisation + GST = Slowdown in India's Economy?

All these days we knew that our political system is built on the foundation of corruption. Now we are realising something else: our economy is just like our politics - it is also built on a foundation of corruption. This is clear from the slowdown in the economy following two major measures against corruption: demonetisation and GST.

Last week the Prime Minister said he will not hurt the country's long-term economic interest for the sake of his short-term political interest. This sounds like a typical political statement. But its corollary is very true: the Prime Minister has hurt his party's short-term political interest for the sake of the country's long-term economic interest. In any democracy this is a bold gamble. In India it is suicide. (Forget the Uttar Pradesh election result: now it's a different ball-game altogether)

The Prime Minister has taken not one, but two big gambles. Most economists say both DeMo and GST will improve the economy over the long term. But 'long term' is an unaffordable luxury for a political party in a democracy. And this is not just any democracy - this is India. So cross your fingers and watch how the economy performs over the next several months. India-Pakistan cricket matches are just for time-pass. This is the real high-stakes edge-of-your-seat nail-biting cliffhanger . . .

PS: If this gamble works, it will be for two reasons:
1) The faith that crores of poor Indians have in the Prime Minister
2) The awesome quality of the alternative option.

08 October 2017

'Blade Runner 2049' Review: Science Fiction and Philosophy

Review:

Q: What is 'the real world'?
A: The world we live in, the world we know - the world we see, hear and touch every day.

Q: What is philosophy?
A: Asking questions about the world and about life. What is truth? What is reality? Is there a truth/reality beyond this world?

Q: What is science fiction?
A: An imaginary story set in an imaginary world of the future with imaginary advanced science & technology.

We live every day in 'the real world'. We accept it as it is and don't ask any questions. Art - especially science fiction - can be a powerful tool for looking at our world in a different way and asking questions about it. That is, science fiction can be a powerful tool for philosophy.

In movies, the best examples of this are the Wachowski brothers' Matrix 1 (1999) and Matrix 2 (2003). Matrix 1 dealt with reality vs perception. Matrix 2 dealt with free will vs determinism.

In other words, science fiction is the means and philosophy is the end. This is how it should be. The problem is sometimes the opposite happens - science fiction becomes the end and philosophy becomes the means. That is - instead of using science fiction to ask philosophical questions about our real world of today, a book/movie tries to ask philosophical questions about an imaginary science-fiction world of the future. This is not philosophy - it is pseudo-philosophy.

The classic examples of this are Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982). American and European critics hailed both these movies as masterpieces - because they don't know the difference between philosophy and pseudo-philosophy.

And now Dennis Villeneuve gives us the sequel to Blade Runner - Blade Runner 2049. Again, American and European critics have hailed the movie - calling it the 21st century version of Blade Runner. They are absolutely right. In Blade Runner, a man falls in love with a robot. In Blade Runner 2049, a robot falls in love with a hologram.

27 September 2017

The Anti-Hindu Anti-Secular Republic/Constitution of India

The Republic/Constitution of India is anti-Hindu and anti-secular:
* State governments control temples through the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HRCE) Acts. But mosques and churches are free from such government control.
* Article 30 gives special rights to minorities – which the majority (Hindus) do not have.
* Article 25 gives the freedom to propagate religion – which is abused by Christian missionaries to insult Hinduism and fraudulently convert poor Hindus.
* Muslims and Christians have separate family laws based on their religions – while Hindus have secular family laws.

How to change our anti-secular republic into a secular republic:
* Scrap the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HRCE) Acts.
* Delete Article 30.
* Delete the word 'propagate' from Article 25.
* Enact a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

26 September 2017

Hindutva and Free-Market Capitalism (FMC)

* Hindutva is nationalism.
* The aim of nationalism is to build a strong country.
* A country can be strong only if its economic system is efficient.
* Free-market capitalism (FMC) is the most efficient economic system.
* So FMC is an integral part of Hindutva.

17 September 2017

What Is Hindutva?

What is Hindutva?

* A nation is a cultural entity.
* Culture is the foundation of a nation.
* Hinduism is nothing but the Indian way of life.
* So Hinduism is the foundation of the Indian civilisation.
* The best way to strengthen a nation is to strengthen its culture.
* So the best way to strengthen India is to strengthen Hinduism.

15 September 2017

The Cardinal Virtues of Hinduism

The cardinal virtues of Hinduism:

1. Satya (Truth)
2. Nyaya (Justice)
3. Buddhi (Intelligence)
4. Jnana (Knowledge)
5. Dhairya (Courage)
6. Shakti (Strength)
7. Shrama (Hard work)
8. Anushasana (Discipline)

07 September 2017

'We Are One'

We Are One

Shiva or Vishnu
Rama or Krishna
Allah or God
What's in a name?

Vedas or Geeta
Ramayana or Mahabharata
Quran or Bible
What's in a book?

Shankara or Nanak
Buddha or Mahavira
Muhammad or Jesus
What's in a man?

Yugadi or Sankranti
Dasara or Deepavali
Ramzan or Christmas
What's in a day?

Temple or gurudwara
Mosque or church
What's in a place?

A poor field grows one crop
A rich field grows many crops
A weak tree grows one fruit
A strong tree grows many fruits.

The more the flowers
The more beautiful the garden.
The more the trees
The more beautiful the forest.

Fools want less, the wise want more
Fools say this is mine, that is yours
The wise say mine is yours, yours is mine.

When we divide, we have less
When we share, we have more
Fools divide, the wise share
Sharing decreases nothing
Sharing increases everything.

Gold, silver and diamonds
Are all false wealth.

Broad minds
Large hearts
Smiling faces
Are the true wealth.

Hands that help
Arms that support
Ears that listen
Voices that soothe
Are the true wealth.

Friends and neighbours
Brothers and sisters
Are the true wealth.

Fools destroy their wealth
The wise nourish their wealth.

Fools think strength is in
Narrow lanes, thorny fences and stone walls.
The wise know strength is in
Open fields, warm sunshine and cool breeze.

Everything here
Belongs to all of us
We have a choice
We can be fools
Or we can be wise
We can be small
Or we can be big.

The happiness of each
Is in the happiness of all
We can be happy together
Or be unhappy separately
The choice is ours.

The wealth of each
Is in the wealth of all
We can be rich together
Or be poor separately
The choice is ours.

The strength of each
Is in the strength of all
We can be strong together
Or be weak separately
The choice is ours.

Because we are one
Beyond all lines
Left, right or centre
We are all one.

20 August 2017

'ಮಾರಿಕೊಂಡವರು' ('Maarikondavaru') Review

Review of 'ಮಾರಿಕೊಂಡವರು':

The Patel (zamindar) of a riverside village is engaged in illegal sand mining. He wants to get a road built along the river to facilitate his operations. But this will lead to several poor farmers losing their lands. An educated young Dalit of the village takes up the farmers' cause and fights against the Patel. The Patel responds by using his money, power and also the caste divisions in the village.

Director K Shivarudrayya has seamlessly combined writer Devanur Mahadev's three short stories into a simple but realistic depiction of a village. With its cocktail of corruption and casteism, the village is also a microcosm of India.

Maarikondavaru won the second prize for Best Picture last year (the first prize went to Tithi).

12 August 2017

'ಹಿಂದು' ಎಂದರೆ ಯಾರು?

ಭಾರತ ಜನಿಸಿದ್ದು ಸಿಂಧು ನದಿಯ ದಡದಲ್ಲಿ. ಪ್ರಾಚೀನ ಭಾರತದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಜ್ಞಾನದ ಭಾಷೆಯಾಗಿತ್ತು. ದಿನಬಳಕೆಗೆ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತದ ಸರಳ ರೂಪವಾದ ಪ್ರಾಕೃತವನ್ನು ಬಳಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಪ್ರಾಕೃತ ಶಬ್ದಗಳು ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಶಬ್ದಗಳ ಸರಳ ರೂಪಗಳಾಗಿದ್ದವು (ಇಂದು ಹೇಗೆ ಕನ್ನಡ ಶಬ್ದಗಳು ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಶಬ್ದಗಳ ಸರಳ ರೂಪಗಳೋ ಹಾಗೆಯೇ). ಅಂತೆಯೆ ಪ್ರಾಕೃತದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತದ 'ಸಿಂಧು' ಶಬ್ದ 'ಹಿಂದು' ಎಂದು ಬದಲಾಯಿತು. 'ಹಿಂದು' ಶಬ್ದದ ಮೂಲ ಅರ್ಥ ಸಿಂಧು ನದಿ ಎಂದು. ನಂತರ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಅರ್ಥ ಬಂತು: ಯಾವ ಜನರ ನಾಗರಿಕತೆ ಸಿಂಧು ನದಿಯ ದಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಟ್ಟಿತೋ, ಅವರು ಎಂದು.

ಈ ಹಿಂದುಗಳು ಹಿಮಾಲಯ ಮತ್ತು ಮಹಾಸಾಗರದ ಮಧ್ಯ ಇರುವ ಭೂಭಾಗದಲ್ಲಿ ವಾಸವಾದರು. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಈ ಭೂಭಾಗ 'ಹಿಂದುಸ್ಥಾನ' ಆಯಿತು. ಈ ದೇಶದಲ್ಲಿ 'ಭರತ' ಎಂಬ ಮಹಾರಾಜ ಇದ್ದ. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಈ ದೇಶಕ್ಕೆ 'ಭಾರತ' ಎಂಬ ಹೆಸರೂ ಬಂದಿತು. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ 'ಹಿಂದು' ಮತ್ತು 'ಭಾರತೀಯ' (ಹಾಗೂ 'ಹಿಂದುಸ್ಥಾನ' ಮತ್ತು 'ಭಾರತ') - ಇವು ಸಮಾನಾರ್ಥಕ ಶಬ್ದಗಳು.

ಈ ಹಿಂದುಗಳು ಒಂದು ಜೀವನ ವಿಧಾನ ಅಥವಾ ಧರ್ಮವನ್ನು (ನಂಬಿಕೆಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಆಚಾರಗಳು) ರಚಿಸಿದರು. ಅದು ಹಿಂದುಗಳ ಧರ್ಮವಾದ್ದರಿಂದ ಅದು 'ಹಿಂದು ಧರ್ಮ' ಆಯಿತು. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಹೆಸರು 'ಸನಾತನ ಧರ್ಮ' ಎಂದು. ಜತೆಗೆ, ಈ ಹಿಂದುಗಳು ಅನೇಕ ಮತಗಳನ್ನು (ದೇವರ ಪೂಜಾ ಪದ್ಧತಿ) ರಚಿಸಿದರು: ಶೈವ, ವೈಷ್ಣವ, ಶಾಕ್ತ, ಬೌದ್ಧ, ಜೈನ ಮತ್ತು ಸಿಖ್ ಎಂಬ ಮತಗಳು.

ಇದು 'ಹಿಂದು' ಶಬ್ದದ ನಿಜವಾದ ಅರ್ಥ. ಅದು ಒಂದು ಜನಾಂಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಅದಕ್ಕೂ ಮತಕ್ಕೂ ಯಾವ ಸಂಬಂಧವೂ ಇಲ್ಲ. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ: "ನಾವು ಹಿಂದು ಧರ್ಮವನ್ನು ಪಾಲಿಸುತ್ತೇವೆ, ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ನಾವು ಹಿಂದುಗಳು" - ಇದು ತಪ್ಪು. ಸತ್ಯ ಬೇರೆ: ನಾವು ಹಿಂದುಗಳು, ನಮ್ಮದೊಂದು ಧರ್ಮ ಇದೆ, ಅದು ಹಿಂದುಗಳ ಧರ್ಮವಾದ್ದರಿಂದ ಅದಕ್ಕೆ 'ಹಿಂದು ಧರ್ಮ' ಎಂದು ಹೆಸರು.

'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha' - Review

Review of 'Toilet: Ek Prem Katha':

Keshav (Akshay Kumar) runs a cycle shop in a village. His horoscope says he is cursed and that the curse can be removed only by marrying a girl with 3 thumbs. His father, an orthodox pandit, believes this strongly. So Keshav is 36 years old and single. Then he meets a girl called Jaya (Bhumi Pednekar) and they fall in love. But she has only 2 thumbs (like most of us). Through some innovative bio-engineering, Keshav manages to fool his father and marry Jaya. The next day, she comes to know that there is no toilet in the house. An educated girl from a middle class family, she is shocked and disgusted. But the pandit is dead against having a toilet in the house (due to a medieval degraded version of Hinduism). Jaya somehow manages for some time, but finally her patience snaps and she goes away to her parents' house. Keshav then starts fighting against his father, his village and the government to get a toilet in his house.

Shree Narayan Singh's Toilet: Ek Prem Katha may sound like a documentary at some points. But it is first and foremost a heartfelt story of a man/husband and woman/wife who love each other - but have to struggle against the society they live in. Toilet is both a hilarious comedy and a sensitive love story. It is also an angry protest against feudalism and a passionate cry for common sense, decency and dignity of women.

The English-language media (ELM) has given Toilet mostly negative reviews. So ELM's movie critics are as biased as its political news reporters/anchors/editors.

05 August 2017

'Raag Desh' - Review

A review of 'Raag Desh':

In 1937, Japan started World War 2 by invading China. In 1939, Germany started the war in Europe by invading Poland. Britain declared war on Germany on behalf of the entire British Empire, including India – without the consent of Indians. In 1941, Japan attacked America and invaded South East Asia. Again Britain declared war on Japan on behalf of the entire British Empire, including India – without the consent of Indians.

Accordingly, the British Indian Army fought against the Japanese Army in South East Asia. Though it fought bravely, it lost and had to surrender in 1942. Then Subhash Chandra Bose came and told the Indian soldiers that their real duty was to fight against the British – and free India. Around 50,000 soldiers answered his call – and the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) was born.

INA fought bravely against the British under the leadership of Bose. But finally in 1945, America defeated Japan – and INA had to surrender to the British. The British denounced all INA soldiers as traitors and decided to court-martial all INA officers for treason. They started by court-martialling 3 officers (Prem Kumar Sehgal, Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, Shah Nawaz Khan) in Red Fort in November 1945. The Indian National Congress decided to defend the 3 officers. It chose the eminent lawyer Bhulabhai Desai for the job.

The court-martial was just a formality. The verdict was a foregone conclusion. But Bhulabhai Desai fought the case like a tiger – using all his legal expertise. Finally in December the trial ended as expected: all the 3 officers were found guilty.

Meanwhile with the end of the war, Indians gradually came to know about the heroism of Bose and his INA. The whole country was filled with respect and admiration for their patriotism and courage. The court-martial only served to ignite the already burning hearts of Indians. The British came to know this and wisely decided not to punish the 3 officers – they simply dismissed them from the Army.

How did Britain rule India for 200 years? A country can rule another country only by force – ie, by its army. But an army needs men. So how could a small country like Britain have an army big enough to control a big country like India (which was 25 times bigger)? The simple answer is that it did not. The 'British Army' in India was actually a British Indian Army. That is, only its officers were British – all the soldiers were Indians. So how did Britain control India with this British Indian Army? Simple: The Indian soldiers were loyal to the British. Thus the central fact about British rule in India was that it depended completely on one factor: the loyalty of Indian soldiers to the British. As long as this factor existed, the British Raj was unshakable.

The heroics of INA in the war and the court-martial of its officers ignited the flame of patriotism in not just ordinary Indians – but more importantly, among Indian soldiers. Just a month after the court-martial (in February 1946) 10,000 sailors of the Indian Navy revolted against the British. The revolt was somehow put down, but the British realised what was happening. The foundation of their rule – the loyalty of Indian soldiers – had disappeared. The writing was on the wall – their rule in India was over. A year later (in February 1947) Britain's Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that the British would leave India.

Tigmanshu Dhulia's Raag Desh tells the story of this important chapter in India's history. Our Leftist historians have completely erased Subhash Chandra Bose and INA from the story of our freedom struggle. Raag Desh provides a much-needed corrective to this gross distortion. Mohit Marwah, Amit Sadh and Kunal Kapoor play the 3 officers and Kenny Basumatary plays Subhash Chandra Bose. The movie features the famous INA marching song 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja'.

31 July 2017

'Indu Sarkar' - Review

Review:

There are two types of historical movies:
1. Non-fictional
2. Fictional
A non-fictional historical movie tells the story of actual historical events and actual historical persons. Example: Richard Attenborough's Gandhi tells the story of Gandhiji's life and India's freedom struggle. A fictional historical movie tells the fictional story of fictional characters against the backdrop of historical events. Example: Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace (made into several movie versions) tells the story of three characters against the backdrop of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Non-fictional historical movies focus on the decisions and actions of rulers and leaders. Fictional historical movies focus on the lives of ordinary people and how they are impacted by historical events.

These were the two models in front of Madhur Bhandarkar when he decided to make a movie on the Emergency (1975–77). Which one did he choose? Strangely, both. His Indu Sarkar is a hybrid movie: 50% non-fiction and 50% fiction. The non-fictional part shows Sanjay Gandhi and his gang of thugs implementing the Emergency. The fictional part tells the story of a girl called Indu Sarkar (?!) whose life is impacted by the Emergency.

Madhur Bhandarkar has made two blunders here. Firstly, he should have junked the non-fictional part and kept the movie completely fictional. Secondly, the Emergency was a complex event with many different features:
1) Forced sterilisation campaign
2) Demolition of slums
3) Imprisonment of political workers
4) Censorship of press
5) Underground resistance movement
To give a complete picture of the Emergency, a movie about it must show all these different developments. But this is impossible if you tell the story of just one character – because it is impossible for one person to experience all these different developments. The solution is to have several different characters, with each character experiencing one of these different developments, and to tell the story of each of those characters. And together, those several different stories would make up the movie.

Madhur Bhandarkar is a good director who has made good movies like Chandni Bar and Page 3. He has missed a golden opportunity to make a powerful movie about the darkest chapter in post-1947 India's history . . .

29 July 2017

Hindus and Hinduism

India was born on the banks of the river Indus. The Sanskrit name of Indus is 'Sindhu'. Sanskrit was the language of knowledge in ancient India. The language of the common people was Prakrit. It used simplified Sanskrit words (just like today's regional languages Hindi, Kannada, etc). One such simplification/modification was that the 'S' sound in Sanskrit changed to the 'H' sound in Prakrit. So 'Sindhu' became 'Hindu' in Prakrit. It meant the river Sindhu. It also meant something else: the people whose civilisation was born on the banks of the river Sindhu.

'Sindhu' became 'Indus' in Greek. From 'Indus' came the English words 'India' (the land beyond the Indus) and 'Indians' (the people of that land). Thus the words 'Hindu' and 'Indian' are synonyms. The Hindus developed a Dharma or way of life (system of beliefs and practices). It was called 'Hindu Dharma' (or 'Sanatana Dharma' - 'the ancient way of life'). When the British came to India, they coined the English word 'Hinduism' for Hindu Dharma.

This is the real meaning of the word 'Hindu'. It is nothing but the synonym of the word 'Indian' (actually 'Indian' is the synonym of 'Hindu' - since the latter word came first). It is the name of a people (which comes from a river). Over time, the Hindus/Indians developed many religions (way/system of worshipping God) - like Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Thus 'Hindu' refers to a people/nationality. It has nothing to do with religion whatsoever. Also, the people are not called 'Hindus' because they have a way of life called 'Hinduism'. It is the other way around. The way of life is called 'Hinduism' because it is the way of life of the Hindus.

22 July 2017

'Dunkirk': Review

Review of 'Dunkirk':

Q: What is war?
A) Heroism, bravery, courage, nobility, sacrifice
B) Violence, chaos, madness, insanity, meaninglessness

So there are 2 types of war movies:
1. Movies that say A
Example: Saving Private Ryan, Enemy At The Gates, Letters From Iwo Jima, etc
2. Movies that say B
Example: Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, etc

The answer to question Q depends on the war. If the war is good/just/righteous (like World War 2) then the answer is A. If the war is bad/unjust/unrighteous (like Vietnam War) then the answer is B. It is not a coincidence that most World War 2 movies are type-A movies and most Vietnam War movies are type-B movies.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, Thin Red Line is a type-B movie about World War 2 and We Were Soldiers is a type-A movie about Vietnam War. Even more fundamentally, there are exceptions to this crude classification itself. Black Hawk Down (Somalian War) is a type-AB movie that brilliantly combines both answers A and B. Hurt Locker (Iraq War) is a type-O movie that says neither A nor B, but simply shows war in a clinical, documentary-like style.

All this brings us to Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. Which type of movie is it? It is a World War 2 movie – so we would expect it to be a type-A movie. But Nolan made the Dark Knight trilogy – so it could be a type-B movie. However, Nolan never plays by the rules of the game. He plays by his own rules. So to the question Q, he gives another answer:
C) Death, fear, pain, desperation, hopelessness

In 1940 the German Army rolled through Europe, crushing all the European countries one by one. By May, the British Army was trapped on the coast of France. 4 lakh soldiers were pinned between the sea and the German Army in a town called Dunkirk, facing certain annihilation. Then the British Navy – with the help of civilians – carried out a massive rescue operation. Over 10 days, around 1000 boats and ships took 3.5 lakh soldiers to Britain and safety.

Nolan tells the story with his trademark clockwork precision. Like a chess player arranging pieces on a chessboard, he shows us all the 3 scenes of the war: land, sea and air. His script combines seamlessly with Hoyte van Hoytema's camerawork and Hans Zimmer's background music. Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and the other actors play their roles competently.

Dunkirk is not a conventional war movie. Firstly, (as explained above) it is neither a type-A nor type-B movie – but a type-C movie. Secondly, it is not a 'battle movie'. It is a 'retreat movie'. So there are no 'battle scenes' as such. Anyway, critics have gone gaga over it: "Nolan's greatest movie", "greatest war movie", etc. Don't listen to them. Just watch Dunkirk with an open mind – and form your own opinion about it.

PS: 2000 Indian soldiers were involved in Dunkirk. 1500 of them were rescued. The remaining 500 were captured by the Germans and died in the POW camps.

07 July 2017

Ten Greatest Economists

Ten greatest economists:

1. Adam Smith
* Wealth of Nations (1776)

2. David Ricardo
* Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817)

3. John Stuart Mill
* Principles of Political Economy (1848)

4. Karl Marx
* The Capital (1867)

5. Carl Menger
* Principles of Economics (1871)

6. Leon Walras
* Elements of Pure Economics (1874)

7. William Jevons
* Theory of Political Economy (1871)

8. Alfred Marshall
* Principles of Economics (1890)

9. John Maynard Keynes
* General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936)

10. Paul Samuelson
* Economics (1948)

19 June 2017

Why Government Must Not Fix/Control Prices

Why government must not fix/control prices:

What is a free-market system? It is an economic system in which prices are decided by market forces – ie, demand and supply. In this system, a product's price is decided by the demand for that product and the supply of it. If the demand is high or/and the supply is low, then the price will be high. If the demand is low or/and the supply is high, then the price will be low.

The free-market system thus fixes the prices of all the products. It also does something else. It ensures that people get the things they want – in sufficient quantity. Example: Consider some product X which people want very much – but is not being produced in sufficient quantity. That is – its demand is high and supply is low. Then what will happen? In the free-market system, its price will be high. High price means high profits. Then other producers will start making this product to make those high profits. Then production will increase – and people will get more of this product that they want badly. Also, due to the increased supply – under the free-market system – its price will go down. Thus not only will people get more of the product that they want, but they will also get it at a lower price. So the free-market system is a double-advantage system.

So prices in a free-market system perform two functions:
1. They give information about the demand/supply for all the products.
2. They give incentives to producers to make the products that people want the most.

Now the prices of some products are very high. This means that it is difficult and expensive to make those products. Sometimes we feel the price is much higher than the difficulty and expense of making that product. If we are right, then it means the profit is very high. Then other producers must start making that product to make that high profit. And that should increase the supply – and decrease the price. If the price is still high, that means this is not happening. Which means one of two things:
a) We are wrong. Our estimate of the difficulty and expense of making that product is wrong. The product is much more difficult and expensive to make than we think. So the high price is justified.
b) Other producers are not able to make that product. That is, there is a lack of free competition and easy entry of new producers.

Some people want the government to fix the prices for expensive products. What happens when the government does this? Then the whole system described above will collapse. If the price is fixed by the government – instead of by demand and supply – then it will no longer perform its two functions. That is, it will no longer give information and incentives to producers to make that product. Then the price will be low – but the quantity produced will also be low. Then everybody who wants that product will not get it. Only some people will get it. Other people will not get it – even though they have the money to buy it. This is socialism. It is a very inefficient system. The greatest example of the socialist economic system was the Soviet Union – in which the government fixed the prices of ALL products: from grains and vegetables to shirts and trousers to televisions and refrigerators to cars and computers. The result was it finally collapsed in 1991 even though it was a superpower. It is impossible to create a more spectacular demonstration of the inefficiency of any economic system (in this case – socialism).

The solution for high prices is not the government fixing the price. High price is not the problem. It is only the symptom of the problem. The real problem is low production. And low production is due to lack of free competition and easy entry of new producers. So the real solution is to allow free competition and easy entry of new producers. Then production will increase and prices will decrease. Instead if government fixes the prices, it will be a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

13 June 2017

Loan Waivers and Farmers/Agriculture

The financial system is the circulatory system of the economy – supplying money to whoever needs it. It may be a farmer who wants to buy a tractor. It may be a factory owner who wants to buy a machine. And this financial system stands on a critical foundation – which is the obligation of the borrower to repay his loan. As long as borrowers repay their loans, lenders will lend – and the financial system will work smoothly and the economy will also work smoothly.

Now what happens when loans are waived? Then borrowers no longer have to repay their loans. And if borrowers stop repaying, then lenders will stop lending. That is, the financial system will grind to a halt. People who need money for economic activities will no longer get it. The farmer can no longer buy his tractor. The factory owner can no longer buy his machine. That is, the whole economy itself will grind to a halt.

The 'economy' doesn't mean CEOs sitting in the top-floor of a skyscraper or stockbrokers shouting on the floor of the stock exchange. It means farmers growing grains and vegetables on their farms (agriculture). It means you and me working in offices and factories (industry and services) for a salary – and using that money to buy those grains and vegetables in the market. This system is essential for our survival. But we take it for granted. We think it will run properly all the time without any problems – no matter what we do. Nothing is further from the truth. This economic system stands on some invisible foundations. And one of those foundations is the sacred obligation of a borrower to repay his loan. Loan waivers directly strike at this foundation – and puts the whole economic system at risk.

Farmers are in trouble and they need help. But loan waiver is the worst way of doing it. Because loan waivers damage the economic system and farmers – who are the most vulnerable people in the economy – will be the worst sufferers. If we care so much about farmers, we must simply give money to ALL farmers – regardless of whether they have repayed their loan or not, or (even further) regardless of whether they have taken a loan or not. This will help farmers without destroying the financial system and the economic system.

22 May 2017

'Hindi Medium': Review

A review of 'Hindi Medium':

Some people think a movie must not merely entertain but must also have a 'social message'. But movie is a fictional art and fictional art's primary purpose is to entertain. If it directly tries to give a 'social message', it will deviate from its basic purpose. It will become boring and preachy – and it will fail. But if it tries to do it indirectly – without deviating from its basic purpose of entertaining (by emotionally connecting with the audience) – then it can work. Now imagine an entertaining movie about big issues like society, development and poverty. Impossible? Well, writer-director Saket Chaudhary has achieved the impossible with his Hindi Medium.

A Chandni Chowk businessman's (Irfan Khan) wife (Pakistani actress Saba Qamar) wants to put their daughter into a prestigious Delhi school. So begins their Great Indian Circus: the School Admission – an endless merry-go-round of applications, consultants, interviews and lists. Hindi Medium starts off as a hilarious comedy about our education system. But it doesn't stop there. Saket Chaudhary has something much bigger in mind. He gradually widens the lens to look at no less a subject than Indian society itself.

Hindi Medium examines all the 3 sections of our society: rich, middle class and poor. The rich think modernisation means Westernisation and de-Indianisation. The middle class are desperate to become like them. And the poor struggle for the basic needs of life. Hindi Medium ruthlessly exposes our hypocrisies and double standards on every major issue – be it language, education or culture. It looks at Indian society better than any sociology textbook. It looks at development better than any economics textbook. And all this while being a heart-warming entertainer throughout.

70 years after getting freedom, most of our people still don't have a decent life. Hindi Medium brutally looks at this harsh reality – but never becomes even remotely depressing at any point. When you walk out of the theatre, you have a smile on your face. Why? Two reasons. First reason: though we still face grave challenges, we know that things are slowly improving. And second reason? It is right in front of your eyes – a movie like Hindi Medium has been made, and people are watching it (and liking it). Why does this matter? It does matter. Because if we can look at ourselves mercilessly – through the eyes of an honest and courageous artist (like Saket Chaudhary), then something must be right with us.

Hindi Medium is ambitious, brilliant and powerful. Watch it. Tell your friends to watch it. Tell them to tell their friends . . . (OK, you get the idea)

13 May 2017

'Sarkar 3': Review

Why did Ram Gopal Varma make Sarkar 3? (A review)

A. DRDO made him do it.
Sarkar 3 is a series of completely illogical scenes with absolutely no connection with one another whatsoever. I desperately tried to somehow connect them all together into a remotely logical story – but failed miserably. Further, the level of absurdity went on increasing at an exponential rate. So my head exploded into a hundred pieces. If you walk out of the theatre with your head intact, that means your skull is the hardest substance on earth. Then DRDO will harvest it and use it to develop a next-generation cutting-edge super-weapon – one that China and America can never hope to match. Of course, the easiest solution for all this is to simply kidnap people and directly test the hardness of their skulls. But that is technically illegal under Indian laws. So Sarkar 3 is nothing but a part of DRDO's top-secret weapons program.

B. A drug cartel made him do it.
Cocaine, heroin and meth can move over. They are now just for kids. Because a drug cartel has synthesised a new chemical that makes all these drugs look like chocolate. And they have been injecting it into their test specimen – Ram Gopal Varma – for the last one year. Then to market their new product, they told him to make Sarkar 3. Because after watching this mind-numbing sense-destroying brain-killer, people will know the power of the new drug. So Sarkar 3 is nothing but a 2-hour long ad for the drug cartel's new drug. The only question is which drug cartel. Sinaloa? Tijuana? Juarez? Which one?

C. Amit Shah made him do it.
In Karnataka, BJP is in such a great shape that Congress will easily win the state election next year. So Amit Shah had to make a master plan. He got his chance when Chief Minister Sidramayya announced he will reduce movie ticket prices to Rs 200. Then Amit Shah immediately told Ram Gopal Varma to make Sarkar 3 and release it on the Friday when the ticket prices were reduced. Due to the reduced ticket prices, the people of Karnataka will flock to the theatres and see whichever movie is released that Friday – ie, Sarkar 3. And after watching this ridiculous piece of shit, they will be totally outraged. They will be totally mad with Sidramayya. And they will overwhelmingly vote against Congress in next year's election – thereby giving BJP a landslide victory. So Sarkar 3 is nothing but Amit Shah's master plan to win the Karnataka election next year.

D. Nirbhaya's rapist-murderers (NRM) made him do it.
NRMs are desperate to delay their hanging. So they told Ram Gopal Varma to make Sarkar 3. Because after watching this atrocious piece of crap, the people of India will be so furious that they will demand the hanging of each and every single person who is involved in any way whatsoever in the making of Sarkar 3 – starting from the producer and going all the way up to the sweeper. This also includes all those critics who gave this monstrosity a score of anything above minus infinity. And that will be quite a few people to hang. So it will automatically delay the hanging of the NRMs. Thus Sarkar 3 is nothing but the NRMs' desperate plan to somehow delay their own hanging.

E. Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra made him do it.
Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra have made Bollywood's biggest blockbusters. But in spite of this, intelligent movie fans don't respect them. So they told Ram Gopal Varma to make Sarkar 3. Because after watching this worthless piece of garbage, even intelligent movie fans will agree that K-Jo and A-Cho are the apex of cinematic brilliance – second only to the great Satyajit Ray. So Sarkar 3 is nothing but K-Jo and A-Cho's amazing plan to somehow earn some respectability.

F. Ram Gopal Varma did it himself.
RGV is depressed that his Satya is just one of Bollywood's all-time greatest movies (along with Sholay, Deewar and Maqbool) – and not the all-time greatest movie. He wants a superlative completely for himself, one that will not be shared with anyone else. Hence he decided to make Bollywood's most pathetic movie ever, one whose record will never be broken. So he made Sarkar 3 – and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams (and our wildest nightmares) . . .

30 April 2017

'Baahubali' - Raja Dharma

A lot has been said and written about Baahubali – and will continue to be said and written. But the central theme of Baahubali is Raja Dharma. What is Raja Dharma? It means that the duty of a king is to work for the good of the people. It means that the king is not the master of the people – he is the servant of the people.

This simple but profound concept of Raja Dharma is at the core of the Indian civilisation. It was first laid down in the Vedas and later the Dharma Shastras. It was beautifully expressed in the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata (in the form of Rama and Yudhishthira). It was scientifically analysed by Chanakya in his Artha Shastra. It was the foundation of the ancient Indian political system.

After independence, we were fortunate to have great leaders like Sardar Patel and Lal Bahadur Shastri who were living embodiments of Raja Dharma. But soon in the name of secularism, we got rid of all Dharma – including Raja Dharma. The result is today we have MPs who beat airline managers with their chappals because they don't get a business-class seat . . .

29 April 2017

'Baahubali - 2': Review

Review of 'Baahubali-2':

Remember when we were kids? We used to make up stories of brave kings, princes and warriors. We used to turn our simple toys into vast armies of soldiers, horses, chariots and elephants. And we used those armies to fight big bloody battles. Then we grew up. We became mature. And we forgot those stories. But one kid called Srisaila Sri Rajamouli refused to grow up. He remained a kid. He kept those stories with him. And now he has told it to us with a ₹ 200 crore special effects budget. Watch Baahubali-2 - and feel like a kid again . . . :-)

There have been a few negative reviews criticising Baahubali-2 for its lack of subtlety, restraint and understatement. Such criticism only reveals the reviewers' complete ignorance of Indian society, culture and art. Because the same criticism can also be made about any village drama version of Ramayana or Mahabharata. But it misses a much larger point.

For 5000 years, India has been held together by Dharma. But Dharma is an abstract philosophy. And only 1% of people are interested in philosophy. So how do you teach Dharma to the remaining 99% people? The genius of our ancestors lies in successfully dealing with this challenge. They wrote two great epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata - that taught the abstract principles of Dharma to ordinary people by using entertaining stories and characters. Thus our ancestors taught Dharma to every man, woman and child in every village - and nourished this civilisation for 5000 years.

True, Baahubali is no Ramayana or Mahabharata. And Rajamouli is no Valmiki or Veda Vyasa. They don't have to be. They are what they are. And that is good enough for 21st century India . . .

PS: My review of Baahubali-1

Basava Jayanti

India is the world's oldest civilisation – 5000 years old. How is this possible? How can a civilisation survive for 5000 years – especially when it was subject to invasions and conquests for half its history (2500 years)? Two reasons:
1. The foundation of the Indian civilisation is a way of life (Hinduism) that is built on universal and eternal moral laws (Dharma).
2. From time to time, great thinkers came and interpreted this way of life and its moral laws for their time, and taught them to the people - like Buddha, Mahavira, Shankara, Guru Nanak, etc.

One such reformer was born in the 12th century. His name was Basava. He taught the fundamental truths of Hinduism to ordinary people in their own language. More important, he practised what he preached. One of the truths he taught was 'ಕಾಯಕವೇ ಕೈಲಾಸ' (Work is worship). If all of us follow just this one teaching of his, we can make India a superpower very soon. Bharat Mata ki jai . . .

PS: Today is Basava Jayanti.

09 April 2017

The Economics Of Government

The economics of government:

* Govt has no money of its own. Its money is nothing but the people's (tax-payers) money. When govt spends on something, the money doesn't come from politicians - it comes from the people.

* The govt/people's money is finite, not infinite. When it is spent on something, there will be less of it to spend on other things.

* Leftists have succeeded in making 'efficiency' a bad word - by painting it as 'elitist' and 'anti-poor'. The truth is the opposite: there is nothing more pro-poor than efficiency and nothing more anti-poor than inefficiency. Why? Because the poor depend the most on the govt. So they are the ones who lose the most when the govt is inefficient. We must restore efficiency to its rightful place.

* "Giving a man a fish feeds him for a day, but teaching him how to fish feeds him for a lifetime". Poverty can't be removed by simply throwing money at the poor. That will only keep them poor. We must give them the ability to work and earn - ie, we must give them education, healthcare and infrastructure. That is, govt's money must go into investment and not expenditure.

* Debt is bad. When you borrow, you have to pay back the amount you borrowed and also the interest on that amount. So your spending must not be more than your income. This is a basic principle of economic management - every family knows it. But strangely, we don't apply it to our govt.

* A system's efficiency is directly proportional to its simplicity. And nowhere is this more true than for the tax system. Tax exemptions make the tax system complex and therefore inefficient. So all tax exemptions must be removed. As a compensation, tax rates can be reduced.

* Govt's job is to make rules and enforce them. It is not to make products - which can be done much more efficiently by private sector. So all govt-owned industries must be privatised.

* The price of any product/service is decided by the demand for and the supply of that product/service. If prices are decided in this way (the 'free-market system'), then a society's resources will be allocated in the most efficient way. Any deviation from this leads to inefficiency. The two biggest deviations are:
a) Govt directly fixing the price of any product/service
b) Govt paying a part of a product/service's price (this payment is called 'subsidy')
Subsidies reduce the price of a product/service for its buyers. This distortion in the price leads to inefficient allocation of resources in the society. So subsidies are bad.

20 March 2017

Yogi Adityanath

Liberals have gone bonkers over Yogi Adityanath becoming the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. In all this noise, some fundamental points have been forgotten:

* In an election, people choose two things:
1) A person to represent them in making laws for the state
2) A party to run the state government
* Accordingly, the people of Uttar Pradesh chose:
1) Their respective MLAs for the first job
2) BJP for the second job
* After this, the largest group (party) of MLAs must choose their leader
* That leader becomes the Chief Minister of the state.

This is what has happened in Uttar Pradesh. The 325 BJP MLAs chose Yogi Adityanath as their leader – so he became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Now BJP in Uttar Pradesh must deliver results to the people of the state – under the leadership of their CM Yogi Adityanath. If they fail in this, then the people of Uttar Pradesh will kick them out in 2022. (Also, they will kick out BJP from the centre in 2019 itself)

This is the simple situation. The people of Uttar Pradesh know it. And BJP knows it. But our liberals don't know it. Questions like "How dare BJP appoint Yogi Adityanath as CM?" are meaningless and irrelevant. They show a lack of basic understanding of the democratic political system.

19 March 2017

English-Language Media (ELM)

English-Language Media (ELM)

Wanted:
* Bureau chief for Lucknow
* Reporters for Uttar Pradesh

Requirements:
* BA/MA from JNU/St Stephens
* Must be solidly secular and liberal
* Must leave the comfortable environs of Delhi
* Must slog in the heat and dust of UP's cities, towns and villages

Job Description:
Must dig out stories on...
* Communal riots
* Construction of Ram Mandir
* Persecution/oppression/discrimination of minorities
* Persecution/oppression/discrimination of Dalits
* Persecution/oppression/discrimination of lower castes
* Crime/corruption by upper-caste ministers
* Crime/corruption by lower-caste ministers
* Crime/corruption by upper-caste MLAs
* Crime/corruption by lower-caste MLAs
* Any other matter of secular/liberal interest
(in that order)

Rewards:
* Bonus points for stories from Gorakhpur (Yogi Adityanath's constituency) and Varanasi (you-know-who's constituency)
* High performers will be made prime-time anchors (yes, in the air-conditioned studio in Delhi)
* Extra-high performers will get Rajya Sabha tickets from Congress Party (if it exists till then)

24 February 2017

'Ghazi Attack' - Review

On 3 December 1971, Pakistan attacked India and started the 3rd India-Pakistan War (which it proceeded to lose in 2 weeks). The next day, its most powerful submarine - PNS Ghazi - sank near Visakhapatnam. Pakistan said it was due to an 'accident'. India said the destroyer INS Rajput had done it. But INS Rajput was in the harbour on that day. Naval warfare experts said a submarine had sunk Ghazi. The Indian Navy refused to comment.

Ghazi Attack - by first-time director Sankalp Reddy - tells the story of what may have happened. We will never know the name of that submarine - or her men. In this movie, the submarine INS S-21 plays a deadly cat-and-mouse game with Ghazi in the waters of the Bay of Bengal, before finally sinking it.

Making a realistic movie on submarine warfare is technically demanding. And making it entertaining is artistically demanding. Sankalp Reddy and team succeed brilliantly on both the fronts. Through a series of twists and turns, Ghazi Attack gradually builds up the tension before reaching its climax.

War itself is a game of death. And when you are inside a metal tube 500 meters underwater, it is even more so. At that depth, the water pressure is so enormous it can crush a submarine like an eggshell. So even if the enemy doesn't kill you, the water surely will. Ghazi Attack superbly portrays the fear and danger of underwater warfare.

Kay Kay Menon and Atul Kulkarni - two of Bollywood's finest actors - play the submarine's captain and second-in-command, respectively. Rana Daggubatti plays the executive officer like an action star. The great Om Puri - in his last movie - plays Admiral S M Nanda. Ghazi Attack is an excellent tribute to our brave men in white.

PS: It was a special treat to watch the Indian Navy's Rudra-Tandava on this sacred day of Maha Shivaratri . . . :-)

19 February 2017

Martin Scorsese's 'Silence' - Review

Japan is a unique country. An island off the coast of East Asia, it is literally on the edge of the world. Westerners reached it only in the 1500s. And almost immediately, Christian missionaries started going there - to convert them to Christianity. But around 1600, the Japanese cracked down. They banned Christianity and outlawed missionaries. Today only 1% of Japanese are Christians.

In 1966, Japanese-Christian writer Shusaku Endo wrote a novel called Chinmoku ('Silence') about this chapter in Japan's history. In 1971, it was made into a Japanese movie. And now Martin Scorsese has made its Hollywood version.

The story is set in the 1600s. A Portuguese missionary called Ferreira (Liam Neeson) goes to Japan and disappears after some time. Then his two disciples - Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Garrpe (Adam Driver) go to Japan to search for him. They reach Japan and find some villagers who are secretly practising Christianity. They stay with the villagers for some time, but are eventually caught. Garrpe is executed and Rodrigues is taken to Nagasaki. There he meets senior Japanese officials - and also Ferreira. He is shocked to find out that Ferreira has renounced Christianity, embraced Buddhism and now works for the Japanese government - writing anti-Christianity books. Finally Rodrigues also becomes like Ferreira.

The first 2 hours is a typical story about Christianity told by a Christian. It glorifies the truth and greatness of the Christian religion. But in the last 30 minutes, the story does a complete U-turn. Here Christianity is brought face-to-face with Buddhism - when Rodrigues debates with the Japanese officials and also with his ex-guru Ferreira. And here, Christianity comes off as irrational and intolerant - as against Buddhism's rationality and tolerance. Of course, this is a debate not just between Buddhism and Christianity - but also more broadly between Aryan religions and Semitic religions.

What was Shusaku Endo thinking when he wrote that last part? Was he just trying to be an honest writer/artist and give space to an alternate viewpoint? Or was it his Japanese side triumphing over his Christian side? And what does Martin Scorsese think about that last part? Does he realise the power of those arguments against Christianity?

Silence is an honest and intelligent movie about Christianity - and religion in general. Not surprisingly, it has flopped in America. And the Oscars have given it only one nomination (for camerawork). Artists say the purpose of art is not to give answers but to ask questions. If that is true, then Shusaku Endo's Chinmoku and Martin Scorsese's Silence are very good works of art.

14 February 2017

A Fool And An Angel

A FOOL AND AN ANGEL

When he first saw her
She looked an angel
In both mind and heart
So he asked her
Will you be my angel?
She said yes I will
So he took out his heart
And he gave it to her
She took it in her hand.

And what did she do with his heart?
She grew claws on her hands
And sank her claws into his heart
She grew fangs in her mouth
And plunged her fangs into his heart
She grew horns on her head
And pierced her horns into his heart
She devoured the flesh from his heart
She drank the blood from his heart
Every day, every hour, every minute
Piece by piece, drop by drop
Then she held his heart over a blazing fire
And slowly reduced his heart to ashes
Finally she threw his heart away
Laughing at him all the while
Her eyes, horns, fangs, claws
All dripping with his heart's blood.

And after all this was done
What was he thinking?
He had only one thought
God, make her happy
If there is any pain in her life
Please give it to me
If there is any joy in my life
Please give it to her
I have never asked You anything
But now I ask You this
So You have to give it
Make her happy always
Keep her smiling always
This is all I ask of You
So please give it
And I know You will.

15 January 2017

May They Fill Me

MAY THEY FILL ME

This Sacred Land has
For five thousand years
Given birth to warriors
Who lived and fought
For this land
For this people
For this culture.

Every grain of soil
Every blade of grass
Every drop of water
Has been sanctified
By the blood of martyrs.

From Chandra Gupta Maurya
To Subhash Chandra Bose
From Kittur Rani Channamma
To Jhansi Rani Lakshmibai
From Sangolli Rayanna
To Guru Govind Singh
And countless nameless heroes.

Blessed am I
To be born in
This Holy Land.

Every thought they had
Every word they said
Every deed they did
May all these fill me.

Every struggle they waged
Every sacrifice they made
Every battle they fought
May all these fill me.

Every victory they won
Every defeat they suffered
Every wound they received
Every pain they felt
May all these fill me.

Every sword they wielded
Every arrow they fired
Every spear they threw
Every shield they held
May all these fill me.

Their love, their passion
Their strength, their courage
Their happiness, their sorrow
Their laughter, their tears
May all these fill me.

May they fill my body
May they fill my mind
May they fill my heart
May they fill my soul.

May I be the seed
May they be the soil
May they be the rain
May they be the breeze
May they be the sunlight.

With such blessings
Can I become a flower
That is worthy of You
My Beloved Motherland?