doakonsult

Consulting.Philosophy.Travel

  • There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

A few stupid questions…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on June 30, 2014

A lot of media coverage lately has been focused on Iraq and the birth of a a Sunni militia that call themselves the ISIS. Hours of prime time television are being spent on how this menace developed and how it should be tackled. I have also seen a lot of analysts fret about the danger posed by home grown jihadists, Western citizens fighting the jihad in the middle east. This is one time I am happy that Indians cannot travel to Turkey(or most western countries) without a travel visa. If we could, there would be millions of Indian Jihadis battling it out in Syria and Iraq. Returning to the analysis of the current situation in Iraq, almost everything has been discussed as a solution to the threat posed by ISIS. Almost everything.

I find it extremely puzzling that no one seems to explore the option of cutting off the supply of arms and ammunition to ISIS. An army that big surely needs a lot of arsenal to fight such a long battle. Obviously, someone is supplying it to them. And this someone has to be rich because bullets are more expensive than human lives these days. So should I dare ask why the focus is on fighting ISIS on the streets of Iraq when the US and its allies (Saudis and Israel are you listening?) can easily block the supply of ammunition to ISIS. The Intelligence services know where the weapons come from and what route they take (Turks are you listening?). They also know the sources of funding for such lethal acquisitions. Wouldn’t it be easier to just target these and let the militia run out of ammunition?

Israel’s silence during this entire episode makes me uncomfortable. So does the indifference with which the Saudis are treating the matter. Turkey seems surprisingly quiet and relaxed for someone who’s neighborhood is being run over by militants considered worse than Al Qaeda. Arms dealers around the world are enjoying a booming market.

Conflicts continue because someone wants them to, not because we can’t stop them.

Am I just asking stupid questions?

Posted in News | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Pakistan bashing week?…..nah!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 28, 2013

After publishing my last post, I thought of dedicating this week to bashing my neighbors. With the recent beheading of Indian soldiers on our western border, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been an all out military confrontation. In fact I’m surprised that we haven’t attacked them in more than a decade. While my heart goes out to the families of the martyrs, Im glad that our government has exhibited a lot of wisdom by showing restraint.

And in line with my government’s position, I too shall be kind to my ill-guided neighbors. Why waste my thoughts on a country that had no logical reason for being created? Why bother about a country that is an economic disaster? Why wage war with a bunch of provinces adamant on self-destruction? Why engage with an entity that can boast Afghanistan and Iran as its neighbors? Why write anything about a country, when even my laptop crashes when I am writing this post about it?

Not worth it. A patriot has spoken.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

A Perfect Constitution for Imperfect People

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 26, 2013

indian_flag

On this day in 1950, India formally adopted its Constitution and became a Republic. The unthinkable was achieved and an unknown future awaited 350 million people. A population that had been oppressed for over thousand years by hundreds of invading armies, was free. Indians finally had a country to themselves and for the first time in history, the right to vote. We became a democratic republic. Were we prepared for it? I doubt it.

My belief in the righteousness of the Indian Constitution is total and unwavering. A country as diverse as ours has been a stable democracy for over 60 years. We have faced no military coups or major religious conflicts. If that was not miraculous enough, we have grown into a significant economic entity and are headed in the right direction. Slowly, yes, but surely.  Everytime I look at the demographic spread of India, my respect for the founding fathers and their foresight only grows. The fact that we are still a united country is a testament to the greatness of our Constitution.

But what explains the ills that pervade the Indian society today? Why are we ranked so low in almost all human development indices? Why are women still not safe in India and why is there so much poverty and destitution in the country?  Any panelled discussion on the above topics inevitably ends up pointing fingers at our politicians and their corrupt ways. While I do not agree with the attitude of blaming our politicians for all the mess, I am particularly disturbed when the “civil society” raises doubts about our constitutional institutions. And this questioning of our Constitution and our system has become a fashionable trend lately. To all these people my answer is clear, “Ours is a perfect constitution”. We are “Imperfect People”.

In a democracy, the government and politicians are a reflection of the people. In India, I have absolutely no doubt about the verity of this. We have corrupt politicians and bureaucracy because we are corrupt. Women do not feel safe on our cities’ road because we in our houses do not respect our women. The devils that commit heinous crimes like rapes are no strangers to our land. They have come from among us. We do not have good infrastructure, because we refuse to pay our taxes. We have such economic inequality because our caste system has tuned us into accepting an unequal society. We have a population explosion problem because we “f#@ked up”, literally! I could go on and on.

The devil lies within us. Lets not blame the politicians or the constitutional institutions for our own failures. Lets be thankful that our great constitution gives us a chance to become the greatest nation in the history of the world. We can do this. Lets become the greatest human beings in the world, and leave the rest to the constitution.

Thats it. I’m done.

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

The might of human nature

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 7, 2013

The world “is the result of forces inherent in human nature.” And, human nature , as Thucydides pointed out, is motivated by fear (phobos), self-interest (kerdos), and honor (doxa). “To improve the world,” writes Morgenthau,”one must work with these forces, not against them.”…..After all, good intentions have little to do with positive outcomes.

Robert D Kaplan, The Revenge of Geography

I find this thought of realism very interesting indeed. Good intentions have little to do with positive outcomes. Several times I have felt frustrated when my attempts at helping another person out of depression failed. I am sure a lot of us have experienced instances when our good intentions have served no purpose other than turning us into villains in the eyes of others.

And how powerful are fear, self-interest and honor! They truly define human nature and I believe that change in anyone and everyone can be brought about by employing these three forces in varying and manipulative ways. A great learning indeed.

Needlesss to say, the book is brilliant.

As always, comments welcomed.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , | 17 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 »

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 »

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 »

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…

View original post 140 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 2 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 »

Alternate View: The Great Game behind India’s Partition

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 27, 2012

Partition of India, the biggest migration witnessed by the world, one of the worst ethnic manslaughters on the face of the earth has unfortunately not received the emphasis it deserves in the annals of historic literature. Somewhere between the trauma of the Second World War, the Jewish genocide and the Atomic Bomb, the world forgot the millions who lost their lives thanks to agreements reached by England educated politicians in their cozy rooms.Indians then were not important enough to be noticed. Unlike now, we did not control the software industry then.My father was part of this utterly uncalled for dislocation. While on his way from Pakistan to India, he witnessed uncountable hate crimes and even saw his uncle burnt alive by a mob from the other side.

In classrooms, debate panels and cocktail get-togethers in many a Indian households, ill informed people share their “accurate” views that are as unbiased as Fox News itself! While religion is considered the primary force that drove this division, people also lay a lot of the blame on leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah. Some even believe that Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be created so that he could fulfil his ambition of becoming a Prime Minister. Others blame Nehru for not letting Jinnah become the Prime Minister of United India. One aspect that is rarely cited or discussed or even known is the British role in the partition. Did Britain have anything to gain from it? Lets take it a step further. Did the U.S have a role to play in the partition? Maybe.

The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition is a wonderful book written by Narendra Singh Sarila, who at the time of the partition, served as ADC to Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India. He was also the Maharaja of Sarila, a small kingdom in the heart of India. I was fortunate to have been presented this book by his wife, the Queen of Sarila herself. Narendra Singh bases his reasearch on East India Company communication that in recent years has been declassified by the British government. It is interesting to find evidence that points towards British and American collusion in effecting the partition of India.

To strengthen British and US domination in Asia, the English asked Indian leaders if after independence they would allow the British and the Americans to establish military bases in India. Indian leaders including Mahatma Gandhi flatly refused this proposal. They would not compromise India’s sovereignty and also wanted to set an example of Non Alignment in the world. This snub did not go down too well with the British. They then look toward Jinnah and asked him that if they facilitated the partition of India, would Jinnah allow UK and US to use the newly created Pakistan to position strategic military bases there. Jinnah was only too keen to accept. Not only would this help him gain a new country to rule, but American an British presence would safeguard Pakistan’s interests against India. The British and the Americans couldn’t be happier. The location of the proposed land for the Muslims was strategically perfect to influence the politics of Central Asia and most importantly tackle the new enemy, the USSR. Hence, despite opposition from supporters of United India, the English hastily got the two parties to agree to a partition.

The result: displacement of millions of people, ethnic genocide at a scale unimaginable, creation of two mortal enemy states, one blood, two countries. Not that it mattered to the English or the Americans. They had just won over a new ally in Pakistan and had established an invaluably strategic presence in Asia.

I am a great admirer of English and American political thought and wit. Their well thought out, selfishly motivated execution of the Partition does not seem too implausible to me. Does it to you?

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Part 2: Corporate Acquisition 101: Inspired by Niccolo Machiavelli

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 24, 2012

“When states are acquired in a country differing in language, customs, or laws, there are difficulties, and good fortune and great energy are needed to hold them, and one of the greatest and most real helps would be that he who has acquired them should go and reside there.”

Niccolo Machiveli, The Prince

I was reading one of my earliest posts and wondered how it would be if Machiavelli’s golden words could be applied in present day and age. Would it help if President Barack Obama sets up residence in Baghdad and spends three months in a year there? What if the probable next President Mitt Romney builds a million dollar mansion in Kabul and runs the American Empire from there? (no comments allowed on the use of “next president 🙂

I think they should. If the strategy worked in medieval times, I see no reason why it cannot now. Superpowers are capitalist empires driven by economic motives. American presence in Afghanistan and Iraq are examples of territorial conquests, and seeing how much tax payer money has been spent in these wars, it would only make sense to continue in these new acquisitions and get a worthy Return on Investment. I would not expect anything less from such a risky venture.

Below is an excerpt from my previous post. Replace “Corporate Acquisition” with “Territorial Acquisition”, “CEO” with “President” and “employees” with citizens and the message is clear.

Now here lies a lesson for all those consulting or undertaking Corporate Acquisition, especially one where entities from different countries or cultures are involved. Just replace “states” with “companies” in the above quote and the message is clear: The CEO or Chairman or Decision Maker of the company that makes an acquisition overseas, must move his office to the acquired company and run his business from there until Integration of the two entities is truly complete.

Further he wrote, “Because, if one is on the spot, disorders are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy them; but if one is not at hand, they are heard of only when they are great, and then one can no longer remedy them. Besides this, the country is not pillaged by your officials; the subjects are satisfied by prompt recourse to the prince; thus, wishing to be good, they have more cause to love him, and wishing to be otherwise, to fear him.”

Proximity to employees of the acquired company will go a long way in allaying their fears and insecurities. Needless to say, this is of utmost importance when you wish to leverage the resources of the acquired firm to the fullest.

As always, comments welcomed.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Political campaigns and the inane mainstream news media

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 23, 2012

One of my several roles in life is that of a political campaign consultant. I took on this field because it is one of the very few domains out there that combine logical thinking, statistical studies, psychology, emotional manipulation, power, adrenalin rush,money and greed. Having experienced campaigning in the dirtiest and meanest places, I have gained an understanding that I thought I could never ever attain. And with this, my respect for politicians fighting it out for people’s votes has grown tremendously. It is not easy to be a politician. Especially not when you are fighting elections. The process drains you physically, emotionally, monetarily and forces you to shed every pound of ego from your mind. And the worst, there is no second position in politics. Winner takes it all!

There is one institution that has disappointed me to no end. Media. I hold it solely responsible for ruining the political campaigning process and stripping it of any sense, logic and relevance. The TRP driven, sensationalism espousing news broadcasters have absolutely no interest in the interests of the electorate. At the cost of relevant concerns, only those issues are highlighted that tend to generate “noise”. Self proclaimed political gurus and analysts ask questions that are as dumb as their minds. Honestly, these analysts could not be farther away from ground reality. Yet they dominate discussions and do their bit to increasing the “noise”.

Also, the media loses no chance to pounce upon an error by a candidate and turn it overnight into a scandal. Give me a break! Candidates are human too. While the harm caused by this may not be apparent to the electorate, but it is one of the most injurious acts that weaken our democracy and in fact make  irrelevant. Under constant media glare, which is not necessarily public glare, the candidates become actors. The most honest individuals are forced to become choreographed dummies driven by campaign strategists such as myself. I too transform into a puppet who’s strings are being pulled by an illusory world created by the media.

Why is it that the media (and not the people) refuses to believe that a candidate can change his belief or stand? Why is it that a candidate is held responsible for what he may have said thirty years back and a change of heart is considered a sin? I don’t mind if a candidate has transgressed in his past,we all have. Why can we not elect a representative who is more like us, more human.

Yes we can. But the media does not let us. It fills our minds with attributes that we would never use naturally to elect our representatives. And why does the media do this? Because it, like all of us, needs to survive and prosper. Nothing wrong with that, only that prosperity in media has been replaced by greed and zealousness.

We need to recognize the difference between expert opinion and truth. Many times the latter is what emanates from our heart. Trust that opinion over any broadcasting attempt to sabotage your thinking. In Democracy, we are the experts. Realize this truth and cast your vote.

But I cannot wrap this post without expressing my utter dismay at the end of today’s presidential debate. It was the first debate that I saw live at 5:30 am local time. Under normal circumstances, I would have never woken up that early to waste an hour of my life, but this morning at 5:00 am I got a call from my logistics company saying that my car had arrived outside my house. What!Who in this world delivers a shipment at 5 am! Nevertheless, I dragged myself out of bed and once the car was safely parked in the garage, it hit me that it was debate time. So I watched. I cringed. And then these lines by DMX ran in my mind in response to what the leaders were saying:

Y’all gon’ make me lose my mind up in HERE, up in here 
Y’all gon’ make me go all out up in here, up in here 
Y’all gon’ make me act a FOOL up in HERE, up in here 
Y’all gon’ make me lose my cool up in here, up in here

That’s it.I’m done.

Posted in Political Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

[Repost] Utopian Government: Plato…of Desire, Emotion and Knowledge.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 20, 2012

” Like man, like state…governments vary as the characters of men vary…states are made out of the human natures which are in them.”- Plato

One of my favorite ideas of Plato is the one where he puts forward the drivers of human behavior. Plato categorizes these drivers as desire, emotion and knowledge and sorts the populace of a state based on varying degrees of each driver in an individual. Clearly for Plato not all men are alike and these drivers are the scales for measuring their suitability for the role they would play in the state.

Desire(appetite, instinct, impulse) is associated with the loins and is heavily influenced by sexual needs. Emotion rests in the heart while Knowledge rules the head. These drivers and qualities are present in all men but to varying degrees.

Men that are ruled by Desire are bestowed with ambition and a lust for luxuries.Such men must comprise the industry of the state. Those that are passion personified due to high levels of emotional drives that instil courage in them must make up the armies and navies. The remaining that seek delight in knowledge and understanding must guide the nation.

“Ruin comes when the trader, whose heart is lifted up by wealth, becomes ruler.” Wouldn’t be wrong to call Plato one of the earliest Communists.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Joke of the Day: Of Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 14, 2012

In 2009 I thought that the Nobel Committee was on the verge of insanity when it awarded Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. I was not a member of the blogging world then, hence I have no recorded remnants of my reasoning at that time. Now I am, and with no hesitation do I say that the Nobel Committee has completely and absolutely lost it!

Which brings me to the joke of the day.

“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the EU.”

Justification:

European Commission President Manuel Barroso said on Friday it is a “tremendous honour” for the European Union to be awarded with the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. It is the “strongest possible recognition of the deep political motives behind our union: the unique effort by ever more European States to overcome war and divisions and to jointly shape a continent of peace and prosperity,” he said in a statement in Brussels.

My Response:

Are they nuts! Did they really think that nuclear powered countries like France and Germany would go to battle again! Please kill me, if they truly believe that the EU was formed only to avoid military conflicts and give peace a chance. So the selfish economic motives of Germany and France had nothing to do with forming a bloc that would allow free trade, expand the market for German and French manufactured goods, create an illusory sense of prosperity for the smaller countries, pump money into Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy so that they could buy German and French goods and services and in turn, pile on a heavy debt!

What did the EU countries do when right in their neighborhood, the Balkans were burning? Ask the common Greeks how much love they have for their EU counterparts. Remove all the weapons from the EU and open the borders allowing a free for all, hand to hand brawl. Then lets see how much peace remains between the EU citizens.

The Euro zone too was a result of France feeling jittery over the German Mark’s rising influence. The only way to counter it was to push for a common currency. Its funny how the German constitution did not require a referendum to shun the Deutsche Mark and adopt the Euro. Soon enough, we had a zone that had a common monetary policy, but no common economic and fiscal policy. This was a disaster and yet no one did anything about it. Why? Because it was in France and Germany’s interest to keep it like this. It allowed them to exploit the smaller countries in the EU to fill their own coffers. Had they formulated a strict fiscal policy, countries like Greece, Italy and Spain would not have been able to borrow as heavily as they did. This would have reduced their ability to buy German and French products and in turn reduce the latter’s revenues. While Greece is being blamed for its fiscal indiscipline, the truth is that Germany and France wanted it to be like that.

People of Europe have always been for peace with each other. All wars and conflicts have been results of political and economic greed and opportunism. Similarly, peace too is slave to political and economic opportunism. The minute peace ceases to be politically or economically beneficial, EU leaders will show no hesitation in resorting to violence. If the Nobel Peace Prize is deserved by the citizens of the EU, then every citizen of the world has an equal claim to it.

As always, comments welcomed.

Posted in News, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Good Grief, Vice President Biden

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 14, 2012

One of the most accurate reviews of the now famous verbal duel between Biden and Ryan. I can relate to Daniel’s thoughts and he’s presented them incredibly well.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Can Iran be Won?

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 1, 2012

No.

About a month back I published a post presenting an argument for the outcomes of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In it I applied Machiavelli’s thoughts to these countries. Let’s see if we can predict the outcome of an attack on Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, erstwhile Persia, is for all practical purposes, ruled by the Supreme Leader and a Guardian Council that consists of twelve members nominated by the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. The official religion is Shia branch of Islam and 90-95% of the population belong to this religion.

After the Supreme Leader, the Constitution defines the President of Iran as the highest state authority.The President is elected for a term of four years. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Guardian Council prior to running in order to ensure their allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic revolution.

So why do I think Iranian authority cannot be overturned?

Firstly, Iran is one of the few Arab countries where the ruling authority belongs to the same religion as the majority of people. Iranians hold the Supreme Leader in very high regards, almost divine. His authority is absolute and justified by God. The members of the Guardian Council do not hold sway over any territory or any clan of people. So, the Supreme Leader’s authority is unquestionable and does not depend heavily on his ministers. To defeat such a system is difficult.

Secondly, people of Iran are religiously connected with the Supreme Leader. An attempt to overthrow the Iranian authority will be perceived as an attempt to overthrow the Supreme Leader. This is completely unacceptable to a big majority. The religious string that is used by the Supreme Leader to rule Iran is stronger than the heavy handedness Saddam used to rule Iraq. An attack on Iran will be perceived as an attack on Shia Islam. The Iranians will not revolt against the Supreme Leader. I repeat, the Arab Spring type revolt will not happen.

And lastly, the provision to have a democratically elected President is a “clever” ploy in the Constitution. All ills of the society including a poor economy can be blamed on the President. This ensures that people never raise their fingers towards the Supreme Leader and his Guardian Council. A lot of the Iranian anger is diverted towards the President and abated by giving Iranians and illusory hope that they possess a democratic right to change the President in the next elections.

Hence, I do not think that Iranian authority can be overturned by force.

Comments welcomed.

 

 

 

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He Will,He Wont…He Will,He Wont…He Will,He Wont…He W…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 28, 2012

Factors that will affect his decision to attack Iran.

He Will, if these are the thoughts that run in his brain:

1) Iranians are as extreme and fundamentalist as they come. They believe in the coming of the last Imam who will rule the world. To enable that return, they must wipe out the Zionist from the face of the Earth.

2) Once Iran has the nuclear deterrent, Israel will lose its influence in the region. Its Arab neighbors, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq will be emboldened to dictate their terms. They might even form an alliance to attack Israel from all fronts.

3) Iran may give a few Nuclear warheads to Hezbollah to launch at Israel from Syria or Lebanon. This way Iran is not held accountable and saves its arse in the global circus, namely the U.N.

4) The Saudis will covertly support Israel. If there is one country that makes the Saudi king shit himself, its Iran.

5) I will let Iran drop a bomb on Saudi Arabia. To save Saudi interests, the US will jump into the war.

6) Once Israel attacks, the Iranian people will revolt against their own regime.

7) Iran’s most technologically advanced weapon system is the “Suicide Bomber”!

8) Old and unused artillery is rusting and it is time Israel uses it.

9) This is a Crusade and I am Richard the Lionheart!

10) Iranians do not bathe regularly, are a stinking lot and I just hate them.

He Won’t, if his brain is still running.

Your thoughts?

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Dear Americans, Please take your jobs back!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 8, 2012

Free Market is a wonderful thing. If its “free” it has to be! But when the boundaries of the market disappear, the concept of freedom becomes a curse for many. A specter is haunting the world, the specter of globalization.

Profit maximization drives ambition which is a core ingredient of enterprise. But enterprise can only prosper when it is facilitated by  a free market. The gains resulting from a capitalist economy, however, display a cyclic progression. When labor is in shortage in a particular industry, the salaries increase. Soon, attracted by higher salaries, more people  equip themselves with necessary abilities to be part of that sector. Eventually, the supply-demand ratio rationalize the salary growth. In most case, salaries begin to see a reverse movement.

On the consumer end, since there is a limit to what consumers would pay for a product or service, the revenues a capitalist earns are bound to stabilize with time. The only way left to maximize profits is improving the bottom line and that inevitably leads to lower salaries.

Good Salaries….Bad Salaries….Good Salaries….Bad Salaries….and the cycle goes on. And this cycle does not hurt people, because in the utopian world of capitalism, the phase of bad salaries will be accompanied with lower prices. So everything looks normal.

So what ruins this system? Why are people complaining?

Answer: Globalization!

Pure capitalism within a pre-defined limited border works, because even though salaries decrease, people still have their jobs! Working people are happier people!

Globalization gives the capitalist the opportunity to move his capital beyond the shores of his land, to places he can find cheap labor to replace the one in his own country. With jobs lost, there is less money in people’s hand and hence you would expect prices to fall too. But no, that would not go down too well with the capitalists who want to steal a high price from you for things they now make in third world countries for a pittance. So what do they do? Get the government to put more money in your hands. Get the banks to lend you more, so you can spend more. All the while trapping you in a web of debt that you cannot come out of.

So why do I want an end to globalization when my third world country is “benefiting” from it?

1) Because I want to see Americans happy. Because when you are not happy, your government goes around invading other countries and messing them up. Please take your jobs back, be happy and let the world be at peace.

2) India removed its trade barriers in 1990 and espoused globalization. Here is what a typical rural family looked and lived like before and how it lives like now:

Before 1990: Two parents raised 2 sons and 2 daughters. When the children grew up, one brother would head to the cities to find work or join the military. The other brother would stay back in the village to take care of their parents and also continue  farming their land. The two sisters would be married to men from neighboring villages. Every festival, and there are many in India, the family would get together and celebrate the occasions. The brother who worked in the city would send his love at most festivals and would make it to the village at least twice a year to celebrate the main festivals with the extended family. He would also share his savings with the parents for them to sustain a good life in the village.

After 1990: Two parents raise 2 sons and 2 daughters. When the children grow up, both brothers head to the cities to find work, leaving their old parents behind.  The price of their arable village land is so high that the four children decide to sell it and share the spoils. It is a miracle if the division of the wealth takes place amicably. Odds are that one of the four is going to feel bitter and betrayed and gradually cut all ties with the family. The remaining three, who have never had so much money in their hands naturally do not know how to manage it. Soon, all the money is lost in unintelligent investments and the resultant tensions split the family forever.

The sudden injection of wealth into a culture that always espoused minimal living led to a collapse of our moral fabric. This collapse works well for Capitalists because it is the only way that Indian labor can be exploited for hours on end. Make the people fall in love with money and thus enslave them.

3) Spirit of Innovation has been done away with in India. The IT boom in India brought in work that involved bug fixing, maintenance and support. None of this required anything more than a 6-month crash course in computing language. The IT revolution and the US dollars it brought resulted in millions of young Indians blindly seeking admissions into Engineering colleges. Not once did they think whether they enjoyed doing what they did. They didn’t have to. The money was too good to be true.

It was easy. Learn a few coding languages, a few scripting languages, master a couple of the databases and you are ready to tackle any mundane back-end stuff that the U.S companies expect you to do. This approach didn’t encourage the students to delve into the vast possibilities of the computing world they were studying. The innovative mind had been killed by the glow of money!

4) Millions of Indians are suffering from lifestyle disabilities from working as your “Customer Service” or “IT Helpdesk”. The Call Center business employs over a million young Indians, 75% of who work the graveyard shift so that they can attend to your calls when you wake up. Needless to say, working night shifts has had a major physiological impact on their lives and some of the damage in irreparable.

5) Call Centers have created a generation of college drop-outs. When the call center business took off in India, the demand for call operators was so high that the only eligibility to work in these companies was completion of 12th grade. Young students saw the opportunity to earn good money without having to go to college and were quick to join the bandwagon. This created an entire lot of young Indians who either dropped out of college or decided not to go to one.

6) I am fine with Asians having an English name when they travel abroad. Asian names can get very difficult to pronounce and it is understandable that they have pseudo names. But isn’t it blatant cheating that call center operators in India have to use pseudo names when talking to an American caller? And I just find it demeaning that we Indians have to use a pseudo name in an attempt to veil our identity.Its plain stupid and hurts national pride!

7) Since we have become your back end employees, everything in India is about cost cutting. Every plant that you visit, every company that you study, the emphasis is only and only on cost cutting. Every new idea is suppressed because we are not allowed by our Global masters to spend anything. We are a raw material and we should only focus on making ourselves cheaper and cheaper. Leave the innovation to the developed world.

So please, take your jobs back. Someday, people will wake up and realize that it is not we who need you, but it is the greed of your capitalists that needs us. And don’t worry about our economy collapsing if you leave. My guess is, we’ll do just fine.

 

 

 

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What She Said. What I Thought.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 5, 2012

“Over the past few years as first lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country. And everywhere I have gone and the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.”

Oh no! Another fairytale recital. Please, please don’t lead me to where I think you are going!

“I’ve seen it in teachers in a near bankrupt school district to vowed to keep teaching without pay.  I — I have seen it in people become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others, flying across the country to put out a fire, diving for hours to bail out a town. And, I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families. In — in wounded warriors who tell me they are not just going to walk again, they are going to run and they are going to run marathons. In the young men blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said simply, “I’d give my eyes and 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done, and what I can still do.”

Really! So now the government is praising people for fighting difficult situations. Aren’t they in that situation because of the government? You can’t finance the school district, so you appease the teachers by praising their will power. You hail the spirit of the young soldiers, and so easily forget the fact that you had promised to get them out of there before they were blinded. Empathizing with people is a good way to escape one’s own guilt in contributing to their sorry state. But its a temporary escape.

“Every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.”

There are more than a few billion people in this world that will contest that claim. Stop trying to hypnotize people into believing they live in paradise.

” I loved Barack just the way he was.  You see, even back then, when Barack was a Senator and presidential candidate, to me, he was still the guy who picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by in a hole in the passenger side door. He was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster.”

Another attempt at celebrating struggles and minimal living. I support minimal living but only when it is out of choice. I do not like this strategy of trying to make people feel wonderful about their struggles by recounting your own. The truth is that while you have left your struggles way behind, the common man has been living far too long with them. Do not try to allay their frustrations and anger by pretending to be one of them. You are not!

“And for years, men no more qualified than she was, men she actually trained, were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continue to scrap by. But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus, arriving at work before anyone else, giving her best without complaint or regret.  And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well Bar, that is all that really matters.”

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock….I have still not heard anything that makes Barack electable. By this very example, every Tom Dick and Harry in my neighborhood is electable.Please First Lady, tell me something that is relevant. How will he create jobs, reduce debt, bring soldiers back etc. etc. Please!

“We learned about dignity and decency.  That how hard you work matters more than how much you make.  That helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.”

That does it. I’m feeling sick now. Another attempt to belittle wealth. Do not celebrate poverty. Beware!This statement reeks of extreme socialism. Did they write this speech in a Seance session with Marx’s ghost?

“That’s how he brought our economy and the brink of collapse to creating jobs again.  Jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs. Right here in the United States of America.”

Of course, in socialist lingo “good jobs” do not mean “decently paying” jobs. And since she has already set the scene for minimal living, a pittance of a salary seems mighty good now, doesn’t it?

“Because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make.  It is about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

Again! I thought only spiritual gurus talked like this. So obviously, Americans have to get used to lower and continuously decreasing  salaries.

“the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.  That is what has made my story and Barack’s story and — and so many American stories possible. And let me tell you something, I say all of this tonight, not just as a first lady, no, not just as a wife.  You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still mom-in-chief.”

Another blatant attempt to play with Herd Mentality. Hope!Hope! Hope! But how long can one keep the public hypnotized under the pretext of Hope!

Conclusion: Everybody get ready to come face to face with cyclic nature of global business. Economic balance has shifted to the East. Jobs have gone and it will take some time for them to come back. What most politicians can do is only condition your minds into accepting struggles, lower salaries and minimal living. Once U.S labor is cheaper than Chinese and Indian labor,companies will bring manufacturing and service jobs back to U.S. The next time someone from India calls IT Helpdesk, it will be Richard answering the phone and saying, “Hello my name is Raj. How can I help you today?”

Disclaimer: I am a student of philosophy and politics. My analysis is only an attempt to share my thoughts and soliciting both conforming and opposing views from readers.

 

 

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