Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What if he fails for once ?

"...I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep" . All of us have studied this at school. Made immortal by Robert Frost , probably the last of the great English poets , these lines carry a deeper meaning - that of responsibilities and attachement. So a week ago, as I was reading an article on higher education , I couldnt help but relate it to this line from "Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening".

The article was about the main purposes of education and university - "of creating thinking minds rather than serving bodies". In a candid writing , a professor at Yale describes the mind sets of people from the top universities and compares them with the "rest". For most of us while university education in the form of an MBA , or a higher degree in one's field of interest, is a gateway to a better career, life and money, there is no question that we are running a rat race. In a burst for a "Success" defined by the society under the framework of intense peer pressure and competition , the true essence of education is missing. No I am not complaining about going for an MBA or any higher degree. It is quite important that one gets a specialization as it imparts him different knowledge and helps him excel. The question is Is this what I really want to do ?. Eight years ago, when Information System or IT was certainly witnessing an upward trajectory I just followed my parents' and seniors' advice to opt for it as my undergrad major. Not that I regret that decision, it certainly has it's advantages but in retrospect , I would have certainly opted for a degree that teaches me more about the world of business coz I realize that is what I want to do - learn more on how to operate businesses.

Under this context , I started thinking about the verse from the poem; Did he make those promises because he wanted to make them or were they forced upon him by the society?. Were they so important as to not even let him take a break to enjoy a view which even he agreed was glorious. His horse realized that it is not a regular stop so was his heart aching for a change?. So through this poem was Frost upholding the values of society , commitments, family and bondings above an individual ?. Certainly the central character is that of a person in his old age, so wasn't he justified in thinking once for himself. What if he didn't keep a promise ?. What if he fails for once?. He would have certainly been happier that he atleast followed his heart.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An afternoon of thought .....

As Gurucharan Das says in India unbound , the baniyas (merchants) were always looked down by us Indians. Pt. Nehru famously said to JRD Tata that "Profit is an ugly word". Things started changing with the reforms of the '90s. Another equally illustrious leader taught India the need of growth , profit and all the things associated with capitalism. I started appreciating the growth of Indian industry, felt that making profit wasnt really such a bad idea and looked up to the Mahindras, Ambanis and other Indian industrialists for inspiration. However , over the last few days I was made to think by two different sources - a blog and a news article.

Sobha De , one of the wellknown Indian media personalities posted an article on Ms.Nita Ambani , more famous for her last name and these days for her appearences in the Mumbai Indians dug out. The article was typical of a celebrity interview glorifying minor details about Ms.Nita. In her favour, Nita Ambani does run a school and heads charity organizations that do their bit of work. So if everything looks well where is the contention ?. Here it goes, her son prefers only organic veggies for his pets and the bill comes to a whooping 35K per month (my god that is close to my monthly income!!! ). Then there is the 1bn$ home she is overseeing the construction off along with the private jets, her famous diamond collection, the life style and various other things that come with being a celebrity. Am I really getting jealous here ?. No absolutely not. I finished reading the article nonchalantly but then some comments caught my attention. I was surprised with the amount of criticism there. Surprisingly a Nitin settled in some alien country (US probably) had some advise for "Indians" on how to get out of poverty. (point taken sir !!) . It is just surprising how people still hate the rich.

So the second article on rediff was a conversation with Azizul Haque, former comrade of Kanu Sanyal , the founder of the naxalbari movement. A skim through this article showed me how deeply affected people are at the lower sections of the society, giving me an idea on what motivates them to revolt. After a recap of his association and the background of their struggle , Mr. Azizul finally concluded that Kanu Sanyal's suicide shows that Chariman Mao's ideologies have no place in this world.

These two articles while appear entirely disconnected are attached by a slight strand that keeps two differnt sections of India together - The poor and the rich. (while people like me oscillate somewhere in the middle). So I started questioning again - Is socialism the answer to India's problems ? Is making money , building companies and enjoying the comforts that comes with it so bad that half of the country despises you ?. Is democracy so problematic that people turn against their own government ?. Are chinese happy with their form of government?. I dont think so.

First of all you can never own any land in China . You are allowed to use the land in the government's control but nothing belongs to you. Additionally ,you cant speak against the government , you dont have a free access to media, news is given to you and as we are witnessing now, if the communists think a company is out it is out Period. They simply rule ruthlessly (isnt that the way china has been ruled since eternity ? ). Can I live in such an environment ?. May be I can if I were born and brought up there. After enjoying the freedom democracy provides I would resent such a control. So while I am seriously concerned about the problems we have in India and highly sympathetic towars the deprived sections of the society I feel captialism , democracy and freedom form a back bone on which we need to take India forward.