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Archive for November, 2012

MIA, Haridwar, a great book and a thought…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 25, 2012

If there is one word that describes November for me, it is WORK. I haven’t been able to develop a work life balance but am determined to do so in the coming days. I so miss reading your wonderful posts and yearn for the intellectual fodder I derive from your thoughts and views.

Having accepted a new consulting assignment, I have moved to Haridwar, one of the holiest cities in India. It is here that the river Ganga says goodbye to the Himalayas and begins its journey down the great plains of Northern India. The place is steeped in religious fervor and spirituality. People say that coming to Haridwar is a calling, and I agree. I do feel that this calling could not have come at a more apt point in my life, a transitional phase that is churning materialistic and spiritual thoughts in my mind and molding a new me. This process could not have culminated in a better place than by the banks of the holy river Ganga. There is indeed a reason behind everything.

And while I’ve been spending a lot of time at work, I have also been reading a wonderful book. “Almost Perfect” by John Childress is one of the best books I have read. John’s writing is a beautiful combination of fiction, factual history and profound philosophy. It is a page turner and I highly recommend it.

And in conclusion, I’d like to leave you with this thought. The truth about Life is simple. Really. And the best way to recognize something simple is to adopt simplicity.

As always, comments welcomed.

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Posted in Philosophy, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 14 Comments »

A Glimpse of Diwali

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 14, 2012

Yesterday was my favorite festival, Diwali. A festival that sees a mass migration across India. It is a time when one returns home to be with relatives. Diwali has shaped one of the most important decisions in my life, the decision to return to India. I loved being abroad. Enjoyed Finland a lot and had a ball in New York. But the fact of being away from my loved ones hit me the most on Diwali. I remember the first Diwali outside India. Everything was eerily silent and somewhere deep in my subconscious mind I decided that I would return to India. So every Diwali now, I look up at the heavens and thank God for letting me be with my family and my loved ones. I left opportunities on Wall Street in exchange for the millions I made in the form of moments I spend with my family. Not every person is as lucky, some out of choice and others out of circumstances.

Here are a few images from last evening. Gone are the days when I used to burst loud and dangerous firecrackers. Nowadays, its more subdued. But the magic still remains. Happy Diwali everyone 🙂

Posted in Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

Its not about “IF”….its about “WHEN”

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 12, 2012

Proposition 1: Our Life is a sum of Inflows and Outflows.

The more I delve into questions relating to Astrology, God, Fate, and study people around me, a belief is reinforcing itself in me. It is the belief that God fills our lives with equal number of opportunities. Lets categorize these opportunities as “inflows” and “outflows”. Inflows are windows of opportunities that allow entry into our lives. These could be material goods entering our lives, special relationships entering our lives or anything else that gives us positive energy. Outflows are times when we witness a going away of what we feel are important to us and our happiness. The attachment to these things or people being taken away from us is illusory and the pleasure we receive from these things or people is nothing but a product of our senses and/or ego. Our Life is made up of these inflows and outflows.

Proposition 2: Law of Natural Equilibrium

Number of Inflows=Number of Outflows=Universal Constant

We tend to forget that our life is not over till it actually is. Genesis as well as Vedic astrology considers a human’s life to be 120 years long. Thanks to lifestyle changes we have reduced it to around 75 years. So, by natural laws we still have 75 years to live. We should not judge God or His kindness on us by taking into consideration only 30 or 40 years of our lives.

In the long run, the number of inflows that God blesses us with are always equal to the number of outflows. And this number is the same for every individual. This is the universal constant.

Proposition 3: Karma determines the timing of the Inflows and Outflows

While as stated above, the number of Inflows and Outflows is the same, God rewards and punishes human beings for their past life karmas by changing the timing of occurence of these inflows and outflows in a person’s life. If He wishes to reward you during your youth, He will bless you with a phase where a number of inflows will come into your life one after another. Similarly, He might punish you during your middle age by filling your life with consecutive outflows. This, God fixes by judging your past life Karmas and then aligning your astrological planets to reward or punish you accordingly.

Proposition 4: Change is around the corner

Following the above stated propositions, it is evident that one of the keys to Happiness is knowing that nothing is forever. At times when inflows are prevalent in your life, be aware that a time of outflow is around the corner. Save for that time. Recall how Joseph (son of Jacob) saved Egypt by storing grain during the seven years of abundance to provide for the years of famine that followed.

Similarily, during phases in your life when outflows are weighing heavily on your mind, creating anxiety, fear and suspicion, know that God has not abandoned you. Good times are around the corner. Just hold on.

Proposition 5: Happiness is a state of mind and not meant to be connected to inflows and outflows. The one who has achieved this separation of Happiness from Inflows and Outflows, achieves eternal bliss and enlightenment.

It is not a question of “If”, but “When” does God want you to get the things you desire. And your past life karmas have a lot to do with that.

Comments welcomed.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

I don’t get this…..

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 11, 2012

This is me right now

David H Petraeus, CIA Director is forced to resign due to the uncovering of an extra marital affair.

Stop. Wait a second. The CIA Director could not cover up his own special ops??? How in the world did he qualify to become the Director of the CIA??? Are you f***ing kidding me!!! Or am I the only one who is stunned. I have no problems with the man and his misdeeds, but how could he not keep it a secret???

So how did he become the head of a Secret Service? Who in the world nominated Petraeus?

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Ans.

That’s it. I’m Done!

Posted in Political Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

My Week so far…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 10, 2012

Couldn’t find a better way to describe my state this week. I am sure you will now understand my irregular presence on WP this week. Its been a Tuesday all along. And while I daydream of a massage packed vacation to Thailand (an illusory motivation), hope you all had a Saturday every day 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 16 Comments »

Part 2: (Dis)United States of I-N-D-I-A

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 9, 2012

Shannon, on one of her comments shared, “The happiest and most successful countries seem to be the smaller ones. Their populations are more homogonous, which allows them to have a national identity while still respecting other cultures who are different. Because they are smaller, policies are more efficient and better able to help rather than hinder.”

I couldn’t agree more with her. Small entities are managed better than larger ones and there is no doubt in my mind that small governments are the best governments. If we gift the government even a bit of our freedom, it will enslave us for the rest of our lives. India is a great example of completely diverses states glued together to form a nation. Truly Diverse! Its a big state with a big government, and I see problems with both. Our founding fathers were aware of this drawback and hence incorporated a system of governance that empowered small administrative groups called Panchayats. The aim was to give governance in the hands of small bodies at village levels. However, vested interests in the State and Federal Governments stripped the small bodies of their powers and relevance. Today we are back to becoming a nation of big states being governed by big governments.

So why not treat India like a Private Company and consider a demerger of the enterprise? Why not look at realigning our borders and boundaries? Why not divide it and yet maintain common interests like the EU? A lot of people argue that being united gives us the economic strentgh that we now enjoy in the world. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. Real economic strength is borne out of innovation, intellect and moral excellence. What India enjoys right now is the result of overpopulation translating into cheap labor. This prosperity is not sustainable and it is only a matter of time before China, East Europe and Phillippines overtake us in the services sector we so brag about. Here’s a post I had published highlighting how being a collection of so many varied states is limiting our social and intellectual growth.

Non-kashmiris cannot buy land in Kashmir.There is 90% probability that you and I will have troubles acquiring 100% ownership of land in many districts of Himachal Pradesh. To visit Mizoram, non residents need to apply a permit from the Mizoram House. A permit of 15 days is given to visit the state. Same is the case for Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Infact until 5 years back, a permit was required to visit any of the North-Eastern states. On the flip side, the residents of these states have no restrictions whatsoever when it comes to mobility and ownership in the rest of I-n-d-i-a.

Where are all the ”intellectuals” who ridiculed Raj Thackeray when he proposed a permit like system to be implemented for Mumbai?Either it was a case of sheer unawareness or convenient ignorance for their utter disregard for this suggestion. The argument that cordoning off Mumbai is against the constitutional ethos falls flat because it exists in several parts of India.

Lets imagine a scenario where all the states of I-n-d-i-a develop a non porous border. Which means that a person from state of Orissa will need a permit to enter the state of Maharashtra and vice versa. In order to do so, he will have to prove what value addition he brings to Maharashtra.

The consequence of such a scenario is pretty evident. The system will ensure,that very few residents of sick states of I-n-d-i-a will have an option to leave their state.This will force the local populace to fore go the escapist attitude that they presently harbor. In doing so, they will be compelled to work on their own soil and hold their local government accountable for the poor condition of their state. Bad governance of the local representatives will no longer be forgiven since the populace will be left with no outlet that they currently enjoy in the form of developing states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu etc.

A system as corrupt, infested and hollow as the one in most I-n-d-i-a-n states can be cured by nothing less than a revolution.To instigate a revolution, generation of profound resentment and anger in the people is a must. Putting a cap on the immigration outlet that people have access to, will build a pressure cooker like situation that, with time will explode into a revolution and bring about the change these states need.

In absence of such controls, we will only end up with suffocating and ailing metros/cosmos that will be fed on by parasites because an immunity system was not built in time.

Walled states could hence result in turning India into a collection of individually rich states. A united I-n-d-i-a is a classic example of an organization where de-merger of its 28 departments(states) could yield a better enterprise value than that of a merged entity slowed down by its size and weight.

Disunited States of I-n-d-i-a may not be a bad idea after all.

Posted in Philosophy, Political Marketing | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

On this day of election results…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 7, 2012

….lets observe a minute of silence for my Republican friends

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…..and now lets raise a toast to my Democrat friends

Salud!

Kippis!

Prost!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

Twelve Years of Fasting….Story of a Paradise Lost.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 5, 2012

Irom Sharmila personifies greatness. This social activist has been on a fast for the last 12 years, demanding withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from her state of Manipur. She is being fed through nasogastric intubation to keep her alive.

When the nation of India was formed, it was a collection of extremely diverse provinces and states. Attached to India were the seven states of North East that could not be more different from the rest of India; Culturally, Religiously and Ethnically. Naturally the locals resented and out of this opposition arose several militant movements that fought the state demanding freedom from the Union of India. While most of these movements were quelled, either by bribing the rebels into submission or pumping alcohol and drugs into the veins of their residents, one state remains “disturbed” in the records of the Indian Government. This state is the beautiful land of Manipur.

North East India is “Heaven on Earth”. And Manipur is the capital of that Paradise. The most pristine landscapes, the most breathtaking views, a place hand made by Gods as their resting place. But Gods seem to have abandoned the state since the 1950s. Warring factions, militant rebels, vendetta driven Army have colored the land red. Thousands of lives have been lost, several atrocities committed. Yet, more than 60 years later, there is no peace. Or maybe, that is what groups with vested interests would like us to think. Hence, Manipur is still labeled “disturbed” by the government and this categorization is used to justify the implementation of the dark law that is AFSPA.

The colonial law used by the British in 1942 was adopted by the Indian Union and further tweaked to make it even more draconian. The law gives the Army and supporting operations groups unlimited powers. They can apprehend anyone without a warrant, not even an excuse. It gives Army officers legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under that law. Nor is the government’s judgment on why an area is found to be disturbed subject to judicial review. Needless to say, the law has been misused more than a few times.

While it sounds despicable, the law is required. However, it was always intended to be used for a very short time, for three to six months which would let the Armed Forces clean up the disturbed areas. But when the law is applied for a period beyond that, it takes on an evil character. In Manipur, the law has been in force for decades!

So this post is dedicated to the people of North East, who are my fellow Indians and I feel sad that they are being treated as unequal Indians by our government. Worse, no one seems to be giving two hoots about what is going on in land that we Indians should be grateful for possessing. Its a blot on our democracy.

I salute Irom Sharmila. She is the modern day Gandhi! I do wish she ends her fast and uses her energy to bring together like minded people and create a strong democratic forum to fight the system.Her fast is losing its bite. Because, like one analyst said, people have just gotten used to her fast.

But who cares. India’s GDP is growing at 8%. Some Indians are counting their riches while the rest are being bribed by alcohol, drugs and bullets.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

This one takes the cake!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 4, 2012

One of the several features I enjoy about WP is the “Search Engine Terms” section on the Stats page. This list sometimes pops up the funniest and wierdest search terms one can imagine. And just when I thought I had seen them all, this morning I notice one that takes the cake!

“DISE RONAK PAKISTAN SEX”

How in the name of God can something like that lead someone to my blog! So I decide to search it myself; lo and behold, Google pops up one of my posts as the very first search result. Holy Macaroni! Damn those Web Crawlers!

So next I decide to Image Search and this is what it revealed:

That’s NOT me! I wonder what the person had in mind when he or she was looking for “Dise Ronak Pakistan Sex”. Any ideas? Those who know me well are aware of my deep love for Pakistan (sarcasm intended). I would rather not come up on search results which have anything to do with Pakistan. I have been the random extra check on several American Airport queues and I do not intend to be tagged for life by the TSA!

I didn’t repeat the action with “Safe Search Off”, scared of what unknown dark secret it may reveal. You guys are free to do that 🙂 Happy Sunday!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 15 Comments »

The 2012 Undecided Voter’s Guide

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 4, 2012

One of the best posts I have read this season! To all the analytical pundits out there, this is how it should be done. J.Palmer simplifies it all! do take it with a pinch of salt 🙂

Politic Discourse

If you are among the twelve undecided voters left in America, it is not too late to make an educated selection at the ballot box on November 6th. While the eenie-meenie-minie-mo strategy would likely prove to be just as effective 50% of the time, making your choice for President based on any one of the six following criteria will allow you to logically explain to your uninterested friends and family why you chose the lesser evil that you did.

#1. If you are rich, vote Romney. If you are poor, vote Obama.

View original post 952 more words

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

[Repost] Why I Don’t Want To Believe in Rebirth

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 3, 2012

Five years ago I was walking down a road in Helsinki with a German friend of mine. It was a fine summer day and we had just stepped out of the Library. And right then a beautiful Audi whizzed past us. “Wow! I wish I could get my hands on that beauty”, exclaimed my friend. “Relax, what’s the hurry?” I replied. He smiled and said, “Raunak, you are a Hindu. You will be re-born and can have another life to get a car like that. I am a Christian.I have only one life to get one.”

And what he said is etched in my mind for eternity. He had in a simple sentence explained the psyche of the Indian people in general and one that could be responsible for all the ills that pervade our society. e.g. India will never see a Revolution. A Revolution requires people to rise against the injustice meted out by those in authority. But most Indians when faced with a problem blame their past life sins (bad karmas) for their poor condition now. A beggar will blame his own wrong actions for his destitute existence in this life. He will never blame the corrupt and evil authorities in power for his pitiful life. A man who falls into a puddle of water on the road will blame his stars for the fall, not the inept contractor who made that low quality crap from our tax money. And by suffering the pains of this life we believe we will be reborn into a better life.

And this is why I do not agree with the concepts of rebirth and karma. These tenets have been used for centuries to carry out social oppression and the perpetrators have gotten away with it. It breeds self-infliction of pain and a cowardly attitude that many misinterpret as forgiveness. The belief in rebirth also belittles human life. No wonder the value of human life in India is abysmally low.  Also, is this complacency the reason that since days of Alexander, India has always been the conquered land.

If only everyone believed that they have ONLY ONE LIFE, they would go all out to make it better. And in doing so, get rid of the real culprits of their miseries. We all need to live in the present with the realization that this moment is never going to come back nor is my soul ever going to come back to this world. We need to ACT to change our present and not give into apathy towards our sufferings for hope of a better next life. This is the only life that we have and it is time for a Revolution.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

A Lesson from China

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 3, 2012

“ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country”

I have been fortunate enough to do business on four continents and see how great this world is. The more I travel and meet with people, the more I recognize that America is the greatest country on earth.

The majority of my international work the past few years has been in China and I had an experience there that knocked me flat. The conversation was with a young entrepreneur who was at the head of a fast growing business.

We were eating dinner at the time of the debate between the Republicans and Democrats where the topic of our healthcare in the United States was discussed (later called Obamacare). He asked me to clarify for him what the debate was about.

In as neutral of a tone and description as possible, I stated, “There are many in the United States that believes that the government is responsible and should pay for each individual’s healthcare…

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Indian Cultural Diary: Karva Chauth

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 2, 2012

Today, millions of women across North India are observing a day long (sunrise to moonrise) for long life of their husbands. My wife has remained without food and water for ove 14 hours and it will be another hour or so before we see the moon. She has become fidgety and is giving me the “I can’t believe I’m doing this for you” look 🙂  But she’s taking it well and I’m glad to see her sense of humor coming to the forefront in this time of distress!

This age old tradition has never failed to impress me. The day is filled with beautiful rituals which are conducted by women dressed in some of the most gorgeous Indian outfits and adorned with sparkling jewels and radiating henna designs on their hands. The communal prayers are a sight to behold and nothing is more exciting than the manner in which women break their fast at moonrise. The wife performs her prayers while looking at the moon. She then looks at the moon through a sieve and then turns and looks at her husband through the same sieve. The process is better described here,

The fera ceremony concluded, the women await the rising of the moon. Once the moon is visible, depending on the region and community, it is customary for a fasting woman, with her husband nearby, to view its reflection in a vessel filled with water, through a sieve, or through the cloth of a dupatta. Water is offered (arka) to the moon (som or chandra, the lunar deity) to secure its blessings. She then turns to her husband and views his face indirectly in the same manner. In some regions, the woman says a brief prayer asking for her husband’s life. It is believed that at this stage, spiritually strengthened by her fast, the fasting woman can successfully confront and defeat death (personified by Yama).

Hats off to all wives who go through such a tough ritual for their husbands. I wish there was a similar way for us husbands to show our affection. Too bad the scriptures didn’t address this 🙂

You can read more about this wonderful festival and its mythological origins here.

Posted in Philosophy, Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 20 Comments »

I Still belong to the Centre Right

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on November 1, 2012

In one of my earlier posts I presented my views on what the role and responsibilities of a government should be. Then, I really looked forward to following the Presidential Election Campaigns and see if and how my views would change. Today, ninety days after scripting that post, Istill belong to the centre right. A lot of this can be attributed to the utter lack of intellect and logic in these elections. They have left me completely disappointed which is reflected in the absence of political post on my blog in recent times.

However, seeing that we are so close to elections, I publish a final political post to explain my position. Who would I vote for if I were an American citizen?

The federal response in the wake of Sandy has justified Government’s involvement in domains that ensure the safety of it citizens, both from foreign and nature’s aggressions.

A welfare state seems utopic but it might help to remember that whenever the government gives us an impression that it is giving more, rest assured it is taking more from us in good times. This strip illustrates the same. Imagine the father being the government and the son the citizens.

Entrepreneurship is the key to building a progressive state. I live in a country where the opportunities of becoming one were next to zero in the Socialist era. The country suffered and is dealing with the effects of that era even today. We are creating jobs based on funding from foreign companies looking for cheap labor. However we are not creating enough entrepreneurs. Budding entrepreneurs need ease of business and low taxation. Entrepreneurs create jobs. Government does not create jobs. It creates dependence.

In my country, the government doles out huge subsidies to the “poor”. At the time of independence, Indians were in dire need of this support. The entire system seemed like Utopia. But it was like that only for a short time. The system has been in force for over 60 years and we still have record poverty. Clearly, big government supporting those in need has not solved the problem. It has resulted in more people becoming dependent upon government’s gifts. A heterogeneous society with a sizable population might find a welfare state attractive, especially in current times. But over the long run, such economic positioning introduces lethargy into the public at large. While the short term results seem just, fair and idyllic, the fact is that slowly but surely the competitive and ambitious spirit that has ensured evolutionand survival of the human race begins to wane.

During these times of economic distress, I believe that the Government needs to support the country by increasing spending. I support the policies Obama has employed so far. In these times we need higher government spending and balancing of deficit by taxing the higher earning citizens. These are times that call for sacrifice. Obama is doing the right thing. But that is the only good news I have for my Democrat friends. I would not vote for him again.

Re-election will send the signal that people accept his leftist agenda and this will embolden him to make institutional changes that may change the character of  US forever. These institutional changes will put US on the path of Socialism that is bound to result in an undesirable outcome.

I would vote Republican. I am sure that Mitt Romney upon being elected will continue heavy government spending. In spite of his Rightist talk, he will have no choice but to continue government support for the people. He will not be able to reduce spending nor reduce taxes. However, he will not create institutions and regulations that will steer the US towards the Left. He will keep the US in the Centre and that will be a great position for the country to catapult from into economic supremacy once again. US will have a chance to bounce back. With Obama, this chance will be lost.

On social issues, I cannot agree with the conservatives. However, I feel that Romney will reveal his moderate self once he gets elected. He will have to if he wants to get reelected.

I may be way off the mark here. As always, comments welcomed. I have my armor on 🙂

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | 26 Comments »

 
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