Sunday, November 23, 2014

मेरी प्रिय हिन्दी कविताएं

जबसे Books 10+10  लिखा है, तबसे मन में साहित्य से जुड़ी सूचियाँ घूम  रही हैं. और फिर Poetic Geniuses लिखे भी बड़े दिन हुए. तो सोचा कि क्यों न एक सूची बनाई जाए अपनी प्रिय हिन्दी कविताओं की. काम मुश्किल है - कविताएं पढ़े कई दिन हुए, पढ़ा भी नहीं कभी इतना अधिक कि कोई विशेष ज्ञान का दावा हो. लेकिन जो भी थोड़ा बहुत पढ़ा है और याद रहा, उसमें से कुछ यहाँ उद्धृत कर रहे हैं.

बस कुछेक नियम रखे हैं सरलीकरण के लिए - हिन्दी को आधुनिक खड़ी बोली तक ही सीमित रखा है, मतलब अवधी, ब्रज, मैथिली, और हिन्दुस्तानी इत्यादि को इस सूची के लिए नहीं सोचा है. किसी भी कवि की एक से अधिक रचना नहीं ली है और इसके कारण बहुत कुछ अन्यथा भी छूटा. और चूंकि कहीं न कहीं रुकना था सो सबसे महत्त्वपूर्ण पन्द्रह पर रुक गए अन्यथा 'हरि अनंत, हरि कथा अनंता'. जिन कविताओं का सम्पर्क मिल सका, वो साझा किया है, बाकी दो कविताएं ऎसी हैं जिनका कोई भी सम्पर्क नहीं मिला अंतरताने पर. और हाँ - इस सूची में कोई श्रेणी नहीं बना सकते - सभी प्रिय हैं.

१. क्योंकि सपना है अभी भी - धर्मवीर भारती
यह कविता उस समय पढ़ी थी जब सारे सपने टूटने की कगार पर थे और ऐसे समय में इस कविता का एक-एक उद्गार मन में छाप छोड़ गया.

२. मुझे कदम - कदम पर - गजानन माधव मुक्तिबोध 
कुछ पंक्तियाँ हैं इस कविता में, जैसे हर छाती में आत्मा अधीरा और खुद ही को दिए दिए फिरना... ऐसे भाव जो निकले किसी भी कलम से हों, परिभाषित करते हैं मेरे ही अन्तर्मन को.

३. हिन्दू तन मन हिन्दू जीवन - अटल बिहारी बाजपेयी 
अटल जी की कई छोटी-बड़ी रचनाओं और भावों में यह कविता सबसे अलग इसलिए है क्योंकि यह हिन्दू दर्शन और इतिहास को बहुत ही  सूक्ष्मता और सादगी से बाँध देती है. वैसे "शव का अर्चन, शिव का वर्जन" और "चीर निशा का वक्ष पुनः चमकेगा दिनकर" जैसी पंक्तियों और "कदम मिलकर चलना होगा" जैसी कविताओं को छोड़कर इस कविता को चुनना आसान था क्योंकि अटल जी की अन्य कविताओं से यह मीलों आगे है.

४. पढ़िए गीता - रघुवीर सहाय 
रघुवीर सहाय के स्त्री-विमर्श की अप्रतिम बात यह है कि वो एक क्रूर और सच्चे कवि हैं - विमर्श के बहाने सहारा, सहानुभूति, या दया की जगह उपालम्भ से काम लेते हुए क्रान्ति की सुगबुगाहट से भरे हुए.

५. एक आशीर्वाद - दुष्यन्त कुमार 
बहुत कठिन था दुष्यन्त कुमार की लेखनी के अन्य भावों को दरकिनार कर पाना लेकिन इस कविता में जो गहराई और सम्पूर्णता है, वो अन्यत्र मिलना सम्भावना से परे है. एक ही बात जो अपने मित्र को, बेटी को, और प्रेमिका को सब कुछ कह सके, यह वैसी कविता है.

६. नीड़ का निर्माण - हरिवंश राय बच्चन 
यह चयन शायद सर्वाधिक कठिन था मेरे लिए. बच्चन की सतरंगिणी और निशा-निमन्त्रण की एक-एक पंक्ति जहां प्रिय हो और बात केवल इन दो पुस्तकों पर ही ना रुकती हो तो जो छोड़ना पड़ा, वो कमतर नहीं ठहरता. लेकिन यह वो कविता है, जिसको पढ़कर कितनी ही "रात का उत्पात भय" से निकल कर "आशा का विहंगम" ढूँढा है.

७. यशोधरा - मैथिली शरण गुप्त 
"सखि वे मुझसे कहकर जाते" - एक पंक्ति और गागर में सागर. गुप्त जी की "नर हो न निराश करो मन को" और उर्मिला तथा कैकेयी से आगे बढ़ कर यशोधरा का भावातिरेक सबसे प्रिय रहा है सदैव.

८. मैंने आहुति  बनकर देखा - सच्चिदानंद हीरानंद वात्स्यायन अज्ञेय 
अज्ञेय सच में अज्ञेय हैं. प्रयोगवाद के "ऊगा तारा" के बाद एक शुद्ध अलंकृत कविता, उसमें भी भाव, युद्ध, प्रेम, वियोग, दर्शन, और पता नहीं क्या-क्या कुछ सन्निहित.

९. चाँद और कवि - रामधारी सिंह दिनकर 
"रश्मिरथी" और "कुरुक्षेत्र" को, दिनकर के मूल-स्वरूप वीर रस की अवहेलना कर प्रिय ठहरी शुद्ध कवित्व दार्शनिकता से भरी कविता। लेकिन इसमें भी दिनकर का शौर्य और ओज के प्रति झुकाव साफ़ दिखता है.

१०. घर की याद - भवानी प्रसाद मिश्र 
"सतपुड़ा के घने जंगल" को नकारना थोड़ा मुश्किल था लेकिन जब "तुम बरस लो, वे न बरसें / पांचवें को वे न तरसें" पढ़ा, तो हर सावन में इस कविता का पाठ किया है पिछले दस साल से.

११. कहाँ पे आ गए हैं हम - ओमप्रकाश चतुर्वेदी पराग 
बहुत प्रसिद्ध न तो यह कविता है और न  कवि पर जितनी बार कवि कहता है "ये कौन सा पड़ाव है", यह कविता हम सबकी कहानी बन जाती है.

१२. दान - सूर्यकान्त त्रिपाठी 'निराला' 
"कुकुरमुत्ता" के ऊपर "दान" को चुनने का निर्णय थोड़ा मुश्किल था. सो निर्धारण हुआ इस तर्क के साथ कि एक तो कुकुरमुत्ता में निराला जी वामपंथी बकवाद को बढ़ावा देते हैं (जो कि उस दौर की सामान्य मतान्धता थी) और दूसरे कि दान की पृष्ठभूमि लखनऊ का लाल पुल है, जहाँ प्रात: भ्रमण के समय निराला जी ने यह कविता लिखी थी. वैसे "तोड़ती पत्थर" और "राम की शक्ति-पूजा" ने भी उलझाया निर्णय करने में.

१३. सावधान - बालकृष्ण राव
यह कविता चेतावनी है हर जननायक को. युधिष्ठिर के बहाने गांधी से लेकर मोदी तक को कि भक्त कहीं चरणस्पर्श करते करते चरणों को और आत्मा को भी पत्थर न कर दें.

१४. नन्हा सा यह मन रख लेना - शान्तिस्वरूप 'कुसुम'
यह ऐसी अभ्यर्थना है कि सुनते ही कोई भी मन विगलित हो उठेगा. और जब यह किशोरवय: में मन पर छाप दी जाये, तब तो और भी अधिक। "चंचल यौवन की लहरों में, तुम मेरा बचपन रख लेना / नन्हा सा यह मन रख लेना". ऐसी कई कवितायों के उपरान्त भी यह एक आश्चर्य ही है कि 'कुसुम' को श्रृंगार रस के मुख्य नामों में नहीं गिना जाता.

१५. तुम्हीं न समझे जब मेरी कविता की कीमत - अज्ञात
किशोरावस्था में, जब बालहंस पढ़ना छूटा नहीं था, तभी बालहंस में यह कविता देखी थी. उस समय ज़्यादा समझ नहीं थी लेकिन कुछ तो अद्भुत लगा था, सो इसको डायरी में लिख कर रख लिया था. कई वर्षों बाद जब सारे निहितार्थ समझ में आये तो गलती समझ में आयी कि कवि का नाम तो उतारना भूल ही गए थे. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Best Teacher Award 2014

रोएँ न अभी अहल-ए-नज़र हाल पे मेरे
होना है अभी मुझको खराब और ज़्यादा

आवारा औ' मजनूँ ही पे मौकूफ नहीं कुछ
मिलने हैं अभी मुझको खिताब और ज़्यादा

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Books 10+10

As the Facebook fads go, mostly useless social bandwagon type, I really have little respect for the fads or the faddists. But there is one, which, I felt, is worthwhile (and a little beyond) for obvious reasons - it talks about the books! So three of my Facebook friends (Bishakha Majumdar, Saroj Pani, and Amit Virmani) asked me to list 10 books that have stayed with me in some way. Now, since Vivek Kaul, another friend, had listed 10 poor books he had been through, I thought why not make two lists of 10 + 10, the good ones that stayed with me and the bad ones too that stayed with me.

And whence I made the lists, I wanted to enlist the reasons also, which made the Facebook post so longish (and also, I'd lose it soon in the myriad pile of posts), so I decided to post it on my blog. And also, I was a bit afraid because people think I am well-read and despite liking their perception, I don't agree with that. Anyhow, here it goes:

The 10 good books that have stayed with me in some ways:

  1. Shrimad Bhagvat Geeta - I read it in the worst phase of my life and the depth expressed with such simplicity gave me a new kind of philosophical insight towards calmness.
  2. The Outsider - Albert Camus (Original French: L'Étranger) Another one that I read in the same phase and the deep commitment of Meursault affected me deeply, besides attracting to many more works of Camus.
  3. Preeti Katha - Narendra Kohli A casual short-novel for the uninitiated, a book of philosophy for the seekers. Two long-lost classmates meet after 20 or so years, spend a day together, and part ways. The novel is their conversations, quirky discussions, and nostalgia.
  4. Godan - Prem Chand I had read almost all of Prem Chand's stories in Mansarovar collections and was mighty impressed. However, reading Godan in high school days was a shock to my urban sensibilities. In a sense, Godan was my first window to the rural India and differences in concerns.
  5. Smokes and Mirrors - Pallavi Aiyar An Indian in China, teaching English and reporting for two premier newspapers, observing and comparing the two nations on so many facets in so many academic, non-academic ways! This was the book that initiated my interest in China.
  6. The Ascent of Money - Niall Ferguson A Harvard Professor tracing the evolution of money and monetary systems across the western world. Initiated my interest in economic history. I'd have loved it more if India, China, and West Asia were given due thought.
  7. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams If sarcastic, absurd, and improbable can be so binding and beautiful!
  8. Ujaale Apni Yaadon Ke - Bashir Badr The first book of ghazal, from which I learnt the ghazals and the discipline of Urdu poetry.
  9. Diwan-e-Ghalib - Ali Sardar Jafri (ed.) The poetry of Ghalib, with contextual explanations and meaning by Ali Sardar Jafri, the great flag-bearer of Urdu research in indpendent India. This was where I got initiated in Urdu.
  10. Sharat Samagr - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay The collected volumes of Sharat Chandra's work, translated from Bangla to Hindi. I've read them and re-read them so many times - Devdas, Grihdaah, Charitr_heen, Majhli DIdi, Baikuntha Ka Daanpatr, Shrikaant, and so on. If I understand human psyche a bit and respect women, a major share of that credit goes to Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay. 

There are many more, by Prem Chand, Shivani, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Shivaji Sawant, Rahi Masoom Raza, Acharya Chatursen, Asrar-ul-Haque Majaz, Gulzar, Ernest Hemingway, Bill Watterson, Bill Bryson, Anupam Sinha, Gopal Godse, Michel Danino, and so on...!

The 10 poor books that have stayed with me in some ways:

  1. The Alchemist - Paulo Cohelo A story that has been repeated umpteen number of times from Panchtantr to Chandamama, devoid of any moral or intelligence value, runs a story of 6 pages to 180 pages, and repeats every useless word about 18 times over in different ways. The only good thing is it was full of quotable quotes, which is again pointless due to sheer pain the process inflicts.
  2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki Started reading, read some 60 pages, realised that it is repetitive with promise of a life-changing idea at the end, closed the book, never to pick up again. The essence of the book is this - invest in a portfolio with robust profile. Why do you require 400 pages for that - because nobody will pay for expressing in 10 pages what first textbook of finance explains.
  3. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari - Robin Sharma Read 80 pages in a single shot, never picked up again, regretted reading even that much. It may be a good book for Americans, born in the middle of brazen consumerism and materialism, trying to find some solace in simplicity. Poor choice for Indians, at least till my generation. 
  4. Lajja - Tasleema Nasrin Finished the whole book to understand reasons of banning and burning. The book is unnecessarily dense and dark. It could have been a lot better, if one can delete some 100 pages out of 150 or so. 
  5. Kufr - Tahmeena Durrani Nauseating, full of gore, unsettling, and most of all, exaggerated for that effect.
  6. Awara Maseeha - Vishnu Prabhakar A biography of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, a landmark book in Hindi literature, and yet, so apologetic and justifying on behalf of Sharat Chandra. Trying to force a messiah image on the author, who never claimed it for himself. 
  7. My Experiments with Truth - Mohandas Gandhi A poor and weak account of author's mistakes, justifications, and explanations. The book just reveals the frailty of his character and intolerance to criticism, so much so that he has to issue a detailed account of justifications. 
  8. India After Gandhi - Ramchandra Guha Collect newspaper snippets, put them in order, insert your biases, and call that history. Such a poor, biased, and apologetic record of post-independence India, where brazen biases of the author ooze out.
  9. Connect The Dots - Rashmi Bansal How long can you keep stealing Steve Jobs phrases and juxtapose them with weak stories and poor language!
  10. The Seventh Secret - Irving Wallace Hitler survived the WWII and spent his days in peace in Latin America, had children, and even conspired over generations. Excellent construction of a pathetic idea.
There are a few more, mainly by so-called historians, best-selling authors, and self-proclaimed philosophers but well, let that be!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

जीवन देता निशा निमंत्रण

हरिवंश राय बच्चन भले ही मधुशाला के लिए प्रसिद्ध हों, मेरे अंतर तक जो पहुंची है, वो है सतरंगिनी या फिर निशा निमंत्रण. और कुछ दिन ऐसे होते हैं कि जब निशा निमंत्रण पढ़ने के अलावा कुछ और नहीं किया जा सकता. कुछ पंक्तियाँ हैं जो गाहे-बगाहे अच्छे बुरे समय याद आ जाती हैं:


हँस रहा संसार खग पर,
कह रहा जो आह भर भर--
’लुट गए मेरे सलोने नीड़ के तॄण पात।’ साथी!
प्रबल झंझावात, साथी!
****
गंध-भरा यह मंद पवन था,
लहराता इससे मधुवन था,
सहसा इसका टूट गया जो स्‍वप्‍न महान, समझ पाओगे?
तुम तूफ़ान समझ पाओगे?
****
जानता यह भी नहीं मन--
कौन मेरी थाम गर्दन,
है विवश करता कि कह दूँ, व्यर्थ जीवन भी, मरण भी!
स्वप्न भी छल, जागरण भी!
****
आज मुझसे बोल, बादल!
तम भरा तू, तम भरा मैं,
गम भरा तू, गम भरा मैं,
आज तू अपने हृदय से हृदय मेरा तोल, बादल!
आज मुझसे बोल, बादल!
****
सत्य मिटा, सपना भी टूटा,
संगिन छूटी, संगी छूटा,
कौन शेष रह गई आपदा जो तू मुझ पर लानेवाली?
रो, अशकुन बतलाने वाली!
****
जीवन का क्या भेद बताऊँ,
जगती का क्या मर्म जताऊँ,
किसी तरह रो-गाकर मैंने अपने मन को बहलाया है!
मैंने दुर्दिन में गाया है!
****
प्यार पूजा थी उसीकी,
है उपेक्षा भी उसी की,
क्या कठिन सहना घृणा का, भार पूजा का सहा था!
देवता उसने कहा था!
****
जब नयनों में सूनापन था,
जर्जर तन था, जर्जर मन था,
तब तुम ही अवलम्ब हुए थे मेरे एकाकी जीवन के!
जाओ कल्पित साथी मन के!
****
बात पिछली भूल जाओ,
दूसरी नगरी बसाओ’—
प्रेमियों के प्रति रही है, हाय, कितनी क्रूर दुनिया!
आज मुझसे दूर दुनिया!
****
दुख सब जीवन के विस्मृत कर,
तेरे वक्षस्थल पर सिर धर,
तेरी गोदी में चिड़िया के बच्चे-सा छिपकर सोया था!
मैं कल रात नहीं रोया था!
****
इसे कहूँ कर्तव्य-सुघरता
या विरक्ति, या केवल जड़ता,
भिन्न सुखों से, भिन्न दुखों से, होता है जीवन का रुख भी!
साथी साथ ना देगा दु:ख भी!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

इतना सब कुछ जिया है अब तक, कितना जीना बाकी है

Few days back, I got an invitation to be a quizmaster in an event. Despite my utmost willingness and deep craving for taking up the job, I was so hard-pressed for time that I had to refuse. And despite my refusal, I kept on making rounds and questions and cryptic clues in my head for next two days. Anyhow, that chapter is closed now and I am not very sad about it, for I have already played the role of quizmaster at many occasions to my satisfaction.

But that set the ball of thoughts rolling - what are those roles and tasks and works and things and activities still desired and unfulfilled? The list of "done" and "never-wish-to-do" are rather longish. The "done" list would seem like boasting and the "never-wish-to-do" would seem like escaping. So here is a small list of "yet-to-be-done kind" ~

I want to perform on stage - something small. I know I do not have the stage talent but hey, lack of talent never stopped me from the stages of poetry and singing so why to hold back now! I wish to study a lots and lots of maths, physics, economics, history, psychology, and sociology. I wish to join politics and make policies for the nation some day - bring a positive change to the world. Also, there are few particular places that I wish to visit and hoping to cover some of those this winters. And there is one place I wish not to visit! It is difficult not to visit that place but well, hopefully, I'll do that too!

Monday, June 16, 2014

To Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

As we observe a full month since it became clear that the destiny of a nation and a billion plus people will go the way Mr. Modi would sway it, I want to warn you Mr. Modi.

Beware... your biggest enemy is not in those hordes, who come with open daggers, dirty criticism, and make-belief horror stories. Your real enemy is your own success, your own grandeur, and your own followers. Please do not fall prey to the blindness of followers and start believing what they believe in seeing!

You are the last hope for the great nation that is trying to rise from the ashes of dilapidation and destruction, depression and diffidence, doubts and deceit.

Here is a reminder to you - May the Gods bestow upon you the courage and capability to carry the burden of expectations of the India of ages to come!

सावधान जन-नायक, सावधान!
यह स्तुति का साँप
तुम्हें डस न ले
बचो इन बढ़ी हुई बाहों से
धृतराष्ट्र - मोहपाश
कहीं तुम्हें
कस न ले.

सुनते हैं कभी
किसी युग में
पाते ही राम का चरण-स्पर्श
शीला प्राणवती हुई
देखतो हो किन्तु आज
अपने उपास्य के चरणों को
छू-छु कर भक्त
उन्हें पत्थर की मूर्ति बना देते हैं.

सावधान!
भक्तों की टोली आ रही हैं
पूजा-द्रव्य लिए
बचो अर्चना से
फूलमाला से
अंधी अनुशंसा
की हाला से.

बचो वंदना की वंचना से
आत्म-रति से
बचो आत्म-पोषण से
आत्मा की क्षति से.
सावधान जन-नायक, सावधान!

बालकृष्ण राव 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some economic discussions - 3

So Anand and myself had another round of discussion on the Gujarat Growth a few days after the previous discussion. That one is as follows:

***
Anand Mishra shared a link:
It would be facile to dismiss Surjeet Bhalla as merely a BJP sympathizer. I understand that social indicators from Gujarat may not present a consistent story, and detractors ( like me) of Modi argue "all that growth is fine, but .........." , however, on the growth inclusiveness subject, Surjeet claims :
" Does this extra growth benefit all sections of society rather than just the privileged few? To answer this question, household-level NSS data on wages and unemployment for the large sample years 1983 to 2011/12 are used. Wage and unemployment data are presented for the disadvantaged group (comprising of Muslims, SC & ST) and the rest (not disadvantaged group). In the Modi period, wages of the “rich” (non-disadvantaged) group increased at an annual rate of 2.2% per annum compared to a higher 3.5% per annum rate for the poor. In the comparator states, the difference was only 0.4 percentage points higher for the poor."
Can anyone point to studies that refute this claim? Perhaps, within the disadvantaged group, Muslims' wages did not grow as much as that of others. If not, then I have to accept it.

Siddhartha Rastogi: Comment 1
Well, again, my response would be based on memory but this is possible to substantiate from references. Also, please keep my previous reply on steps to growth in perspective. This comment is about general growth, next one for social side of it.

1. Before I begin, a caution - Surjeet Bhalla in economics is almost equal to Subramanian Swamy in politics - both are loose canons and can go to any extent to prove a point, where none exists. However, Bhalla is sensible in his assertions herein. 

2. Gujarat growth and development is a sensitive matter - conclusions are drawn before the facts are gathered and therefore, indicators are chosen accordingly. Obviously, all the sides come out to be equally convincing. 

3. So what I do is to not look at the conclusions but at the indicator, the data points, and the rates chosen. Let's see in the following (perhaps incoherent) points. 

4. Remember what I said earlier - privileged classes are more equipped to participate in the economic process and eventually, under-privileged groups would be enabled to join in the growth process. In India, it has not happened for two reasons. One, such groups have not been empowered by the state through quality education and primary healthcare. Two, most such groups have accepted their misery as fate and cocooned away from the process of growth. 

5. Gujarat has broken this trend with emphasis on few basic ideas. I'll describe the ones, where Gujarat shall get the credit in the coming points. Where there is not much credit to Modi govt is industrial growth. Industry runs on direct proportion to its own capability and inversely to the length of red tape. Except cutting the red tape, there is no big deal. In fact, service sector has not taken off in Gujarat and IT companies have preferred Indore over Vadodara. 

6. In agriculture, govt focused on less competition intensive cash crops. Their wheat and coarse grains are stagnated to a trend growth but spices, horticulture, floriculture are high on performance. The end result is richer villages. 

7. Electricity is not that scarce in India except nobody wants to pay for it. T & D looses and non-payment were cured through jyoti-gram scheme - basically a parallel line for limited hours agricultural supply. After that major loss center is eliminated, commercial and industrial is always profitable and domestic was easy to control. 

8. Road network was never too bad in Gujarat. However, last select state highways were broadened (and for the first time, considering the futuristic capacity requirement). Also, rural roads of some quality were laid down. This has helped in two ways - increased penetration of vehicles (and sales) and lesser spoilage of agri produce (one of my profs at IIMA worked on tomato spoilage and road network problem). 

9. These all steps have been accompanied with a lot of innovative and small steps. For example, ONGC buys a lots of guar gum - nobody had identified this trend but Gujarat agri dept by involving the existing network of agricultural universities, which was never done before. Gujarat is exporting a lot of kesar mango, which is really poor as compared to dasseri but UP govt doesn't give a damn. Similarly, data collection is so good in Gujarat that govt depts gave us soft copies of all the data at district levels (and in some crops, farm levels). They didn't do anything new - just engaged the network of universities, institutes, and co-operatives (including amul) for data collection and putting that out for analysis.


Siddhartha Rastogi: Comment 2
Now, coming to the point that you have raised (and a lot of fringe discussion from my side)

1. It is true that middle class always benefits the most from such growth. The poorest sections - SC , ST, and Muslims - also have benefited from this growth. However, the analysis by Bhalla has two problems. 

One, the achievement (based on my memory), OBC are now as good as unreserved general classes, SC have benefited a lot, and ST have benefited a lot less, whereas Muslims stand between SC and ST. 

Two, the growth rate of income is often misleading in these cases due to small base problem. The income of an SC increases from 100 to 120 and shows 20% growth. The income of Tata grows by a million and shows an increase of 1%. 

So Bhalla is not wrong but not totally honest either. 

2. Gujarat has drawn a lot of flak for poor HDI indicators also. Some points to ponder regarding those follow - nutrition, child and maternal health indicators (IMR, FMR, TFR), and educational achievement. 

3. It is easy to augment income and financial indicators. Whereas, the development indicators take generations to improve. For example, if my growth is stunted due to poor nutrition, I may become rich but would still remain stunted for life. So is the case with maternal health also. A typical generational shift takes place in 30 years. So asking questions on that aspect is wrong and they should be asked to the CM of 20-25 years ago.

4. Partially, the eating habits of Gujaratis are also to be blamed. If you remember, the richer they are, the finer and more processed cereals and grains they would consume. This results in low nutrition food as the norm and anemic girls are common. How to change this is not possible for me to answer but may be some sociologists - anthropologists would make more sense. 

5. Educational achievement has had problems at two levels. At primary level, poor quality is the norm. At higher levels, drop out is common. Gujarat has started efforts on these two counts for the past 2-3 years only after investing a lot of energy in universal enrollment and quality improvement of teachers. I think we should hold our guns and criticize them on this about 3-4 years from now.


Siddhartha Rastogi: Comment 3
Final thing - I do not mean to say that every thing is awesome in Gujarat but as compared to most other Indian states, they have maintained more sanity and sanctity from a long term perspective. Also, muslims are slowly and progressively shedding their paranoia of him. Perhaps, it would be too good for Gujarat if Modi loses the battle to center.

Siddhartha Rastogi: Comment 4
Ok, Now finally final - I don't agree to many parts of this article but this part does make sense:

"Be that as it may, the key takeaway from the Gujarat growth debate is that both Modi’s achievements (on growth) and failures (on all-round development) are perhaps exaggerated because of legacy effects."

The great Gujarat growth debate - Livemint
www.livemint.com
The debate on Gujarat’s ‘growth model’ now seems to be drawing an ever-widening circle of academics

Anand Mishra:
http://www.thehindu.com/.../the.../article5896998.ece

The Gujarat muddle
www.thehindu.com
Why does Gujarat have indifferent social indicators, in spite of having enjoyed runaway economic growth and relatively high standards of governance?

Siddhartha Rastogi:
I have chosen to discard Jean Dreze, Amartya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwati, Arvind Panagariya, Surjeet Bhalla, all JNU cadres, for their apparent bias in all their analysis. Their ideology precedes their scholarship, specially these days. I still find Bibek Debroy a much more honest academic and objective scholar than all these politically loaded scholars. BTW, you introduced me to Bibek Debroy in our ICC days 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Some economic discussions - 2

If there is any person whom I personally know for so long and still respect, that must be him. He was instrumental in my survival through a very difficult phase of my life and even before and after that, I've held him in high regard. Our political, social, and economic understanding often finds grounds of clash or resonance. And whether we agree or not, I love discussing things with him - for there are few people with whom I always end up on the learning side. 

Since the whole nation is mired in electoral and political discussions these days, we also had a little chat on Facebook. Copying that here for those interested and for my own long-term reference. I've edited out others' comments and fringe content to maintain the focus.


Anand Mishra wrote:

For the most part, ‘Congress or BJP ‘ is a false choice, at least on the economic front. Both parties are leading us to a middle-income- country trap. “Hindu rate of growth” is not the only kind of trap we have to worry about. Let’s consider Mexico and India together.

Like India, Mexico was a largely socialist country and most industries were state monopolies till 1970s, protected from foreign competition by high tariffs. Later, these businesses were sold off to the private sector, which in practice often meant few wealthy families with access to capital, who wound up buying the businesses at prices well below their book value. The state monopolies became private monopolies. This leaves Mexico with a growing concentration of wealth in the hands of few. Today, the top-ten Mexican families account for more than a third of its total stock market value, one of the highest concentrations among emerging markets. The number of billionaires from India has been on the rise, and the churn within that list of billionaires is very little. In 1990s and early 2000s, it seemed to me that India finally was going through the much needed churn in business when some of the new IT and pharma companies broke onto the scene. Since then, Ambanis, Adanis, Jindals etc have clawed back.


A few strong companies and booming stock markets should, but do not necessarily, make for strong economies, so let’s not confuse the two. Just for the perspective, the GDP per capita (nominal) for India and Mexico are around 1500 and 10,000 $ respectively. So tell me why would you not think that neither BJP nor Congress will address the fundamental risk our economy is exposed to?


Siddhartha Rastogi wrote - Comment 1

Government monitored and regulated capitalism is good... crony capitalism is too bad. Holding this true and picking from where you have left - the new wave of entrepreneurs and the old business houses, we need to see who (between Congress and BJP) promotes more entrepreneurship and competition in the markets. 
I do not have the data but the anecdotal evidence suggests NDA did far better in this domain.

Comment 2

 And also, some very brief step-by-step income impact of liberalization - globalization - privatization:

1. It increases GDP and GDP per capita 


2. Income increase is more for those who already have capacity to participate in the economic process 


3. Poor income groups benefit far lesser than richer ones


4. The income gap increases


5. The thing to see here is not that every one must be getting equally better off. Rather, nobody should be getting worse off. 


6. Now enters the government in the scene - if some one is getting worse off (due to this process and not due to their own laziness), government would intervene and protect the property rights by forcing the beneficiary to pay for the losses.


7. Also, over time, even poor would develop the capacity to participate in the economic system


8. That is when the government spends on education, health, and security (and not on doles) 


9. So the income inequality ought to be a short term (not more than 20-30 years) phenomena. After that, the inequality should fall again.


10. China is a bad example to quote in many ways but Chinese poor are far more enabled to seek opportunities. 


11. To close with Deng Xiaoping's remark, when he was asked about increasing inequality in China as a result of economic reforms: "Let some people get rich first".


Anand Mishra wrote:

The argument that let's have growth now, we will worry about atavistic impulses within the country later, is fallacious.Tad too much reliance on identities in a society, you have an upper limit to growth. We have to find a balance between the human need to have identities and necessity of keeping those identities in private domain. 

Mexico's per capita GDP is at least 6 times higher than ours, and the country has not been able to solve its basic issues of education, health, crime, corruption etc. 


Baaki tumhari doosare comment pe hum baad me baat karnege,mil ke kabhee, many terms like liberalization, globalization are loaded, and I don't know if you and I have similar understanding of those terms. And, beyond a point, I believe, economics also becomes a subject of faith. But I see what you are saying.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Recommendations on Movies and TV Series

Recently, I got to discuss with my students some ideas that help in developing critical thinking. They asked for some recommendations and I ended up making a longish list. Here are a few things that I recommended. The list is obviously incomplete and limited by my own knowledge and memory, both. Watch these with critical mind and at your own risk.

Good Luck :)


TV Series

Hindi: Chankya, Flop Show
English: Sopranos; Mad Men; Lie to Me; Dexter; Mentalist; Game of Thrones; Big Bang Theory; FRIENDS; Sherlock (BBC); Frasier; Wonder Years; Seinfeld; Suits
Animation: South Park; Family Guy; Simpsons; Futurama

Movies

Animation Movies: Toy Story (1&2) ; Mulan ; Wall-E, Grave of the Fireflies ; Brother Bear ; Despicable Me ; The Prince of Egypt ; Mosnter Inc. ; Monster House ; Delhi Safari (Hindi) ; 

Hindi Movies: Shanghai ; Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi ; Drohkaal ; Saaraansh ; Haasil ; Darmyaan ; Daayra ; Thoda sa rumani ho jayein ; Namkeen ; Mandi ; Manorama 6 feet Under ; Mere Apne ; Anand ; Masoom ; Swades ; Dor ; Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro ; Damini ; Water ; Karz ; Corporate ; Mother India ; Peepli Live ; Raincoat ; Chittagong ;  Iqbal ; Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander ; Katha ; Maqbool ; Bol ; Bhindi Bazaar ; Angoor ; Dharm ; Love Sex Aur Dhokha ; Garm Hawa ; Khuda Ke Liye ; Koshish ; Firaaq ; Raat Gayi Baat Gayi ; Parzania ; Pushpak ; The Stoneman Murders ; Tahaan ; Road to Sangam ; Stanley Ka Dabba ; Hey Ram ; Gaman ; Satyakaam ; Waisa Bhi Hota Hai - Part 2 ; Godmother ; Maachis ; Pyasa (Guru Datt); Kaaghaz ke Phool ; Kitaab ; Socha na tha ; Lahore ; 

Other Languages: Children of Heaven (Persian) ; Bicycle Thief (Italian); City of God (Portuguese) ; Shwaas (Marathi) ; 22 June 1897 (Marathi) ; Emile (French) ; Titli (Bengali) 

English (avoiding latest / major hits) : Blood Diamond ; A Beautiful Life ; It's a Wonderful Life ; Schindler's List ; Shawshank Redemption ; Bucket List ; As Good As It Gets ; Guns of Navarone ; Last King of Scotland ; The Terminal ; Big ; Waitress ; 2 Brothers ; The Majestic ; The Gods Must Be Crazy 1 & 2 ; If Only ; The Majestic ; The Truman Show ; Forrest Gump ; Leon ; Psycho ; Clockwork Orange ; Lord of War ; Million Dollar Baby ; Munich ; Interview with the Vampire - The Vampire Chronicles ; October Sky ; The Illusionist ; Play it again Sam ; I am Sam ; Green Mile ; Cube Zero ; Crash ; The King's Speech ; In Pursuit of Happiness ; Invictus ; 127 hours ; Dances with Wolves ; Due Date ; Fight Club ; ConAir ; When Nietzsche Wept; Water for Elephants ; Man from Earth ; Hot Shots ; The Pianist ; The Blind Side...


P.S. - Let me know if you wish for a book / literature recommendation list too. Will try to prepare one! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some economic discussions - 1

I've had little time lately to strike the right mood and have the right time to write at the same time. However, had quite a few good and / or interesting discussions on mails, chats, and Facebook. So I thought, it would be a good idea to preserve and share those (perhaps not so well) articulated ideas for future reference. So, would share these as and when possible.

***

Some months ago (between Sep 2013 to Dec 2013), had a small conversation in bits and pieces with a post-graduate participant (PGP, hereafter). Since I found that full of interesting snippets of observations related to economic thought and philosophy, sharing an edited version here. It is edited for neither grammatical nor spelling mistakes but only to create a consistent flow of communication.

***
PGP: Hello sir. In CD classes there was a discussion that a govt stimulus on infrastructure etc. is better than QE. But I was reading this article:
http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/keynesians-sleepy-down-a-red-bull#axzz2gNjPQLgS
{Link leads to an article titled “Keynesians: Sleepy? Down a Red Bull: The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education”}
So does it mean that govt intervention in any form (QE or stimulus) is unwarranted and that markets should be left to their own devices in case of a recession? Would the economy emerge stronger in such a case?

Sid: Ok... first of all, never believe any thing or any policy prescription in macroeco.
The thing is that in Micro, all the major issues are settled with a single conclusion. However, in macro, it is hugely political and ideological.
so none of the arguments can be taken at the face value or without contextual considerations
This article is written from a typical Friedman_ian angle.
meaning pushing the envelope of monetary policy as being the only effective tool.
Although I agree that fiscal stimulus in the manner it has been adopted by the US is not going to solve anything but further balloon-up the economy...
there would have been two alternative ways....
one is given by this article itself - monetary measures of cheap money, inducing business to invest, and break the vicious circle of low-production
whereas the other fiscal side argument is conveniently ignored (perhaps due to apparent ideological bias)
that is - to simplify the medicare system, simplify and reduce the government expenditure
and spend that money + some small fresh borrowing on
infrastructure rejuvenation, defense spending, and on the industries where USA has a greater competitive advantage
In my understanding, both the measures would be effective
but given the situation in USA, the fiscal austerity + infra measure would be more suitable.
PGP: but sir again, the problem is about certain industries/companies being favored for receiving the stimulus money. For example, the too big to fail concept.
Why should banks that made bad investments be bailed out? Why not let them die and allow the financial system to detoxify?
Would that have been better in the long run?

Sid: Indeed. In fact, saving the inefficient companies was the second mistake. The first one was to let them balloon up so much by actively ignoring their fudged-up performance parameters...
and the US has been doing that due to their misplaced belief of the principle of laissez-faire, which means the least interference
The US has been a corporate-lobby driven system for long now.... they have maligned and abused the system of free markets by succumbing to the corporate tyranny. for example, watch Thank you for smoking and Bowling for columbine

PGP: but corporatism isn't free market right ? I guess that is one thing that brings bad name to capitalism these days. People think what happens in US is a true free market economy.

Sid: exactly! The problem is that misunderstanding on one hand...
and on the other, the active leftist propaganda that makes the two look the same...

PGP: yeah .. I remember Arundhati Roy's essays that very nicely mix up these two concepts

Sid: If you really want to see such propaganda, you should see authors like her... or even Ashutosh varshney. anyways.... I've stopped wasting time on these guys...
the problem is that they have decided (even without understanding first) that capital, capitalism, free-markets are all evil
***

PGP: Thought you might like to see this: A rap battle between Keynes and Hayak mirroring their divergent opinions on economics. It’s nicely done. Do see the second part of the rap given in the sidebar suggestions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk
To me, Hayek's arguments appeared to make more sense. Of course, this is very perfunctory ... and the video is probably made by an Austrian, but still

Sid: Among the influential economic philosophies of 20th centuries, typically Keynes gets the most attention - that is primarily because he is wrongly appropriated by Leftists to proclaim that government control is good.
Keynes' essentially was a crisis-time measure and even when he suggests government intervention, it is not to scuttle the private activity. I personally like Milton Friedman the most - for his clarity of thought and vocal opposition of leftist propaganda. However, I would agree the most to Hayek's philosophy.
A recent claim to everything is laid by Paul Krugman but I think he lacks originality and is mostly a phony political ideologue.
BTW, Thanks for this rap video

PGP: I recently read an article by Krugman where he said that the American government was not spending enough to get the economy out of recession and that there was no need to worry about deficits at this time. "More spending is what the doctor ordered" ... his words. Probably soft-pedaling Democrat's socialist agenda


Sid: exactly... and that is why Krugman seems like a quack (or a commie agent) to me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The cities and the Loves

The cities I have been to... so many of them... perhaps more than 30 in India and few outside as well. And everywhere I went, I found a similar feeling - that this city is very different. Each city had its own character, its own smell, and its own story. Whenever I think of the cities I have been to, I get a whiz of fresh air, a breeze, a goose-flesh, a pain, a joy, a sadness, a memory... and a smile!

Sharing some of those smiles (or the lack of it) of Indian cities. Ought to omit Lucknow and foreign cities for the time being... Writing about foreign cities will be some other day, when I am in a more formal mood unlike emotional mood today. And writing about Lucknow is not possible for me. That is my city. That is where I belong. So that will take longer than a life to write. Well, so, here it goes:

Jaipur - You must be luckiest city of life so far! I mean, every time we met, you welcomed me with poetry, literature, pleasant experiences, amazing food, nice friends, hugs from Gulzar, blessings from Nizam Sahab, love from Aadil Bhai, and what not! I never had a reason or plan to meet you and yet, you have been a great buddy. You are like that first crush of school days, where all days are happy days and nothing can go wrong.

Calcutta - I visited you for the first time in 2004. I almost hated you, except some small patches of joy. You were sweaty, grumpy, tiring, dirty, and scary. Then, I got to meet you again in 2008 and then, almost every year since 2011. I am sorry that I hated you for so long. The Ganges is majestic, the monuments are magnificent, and there is a whiff of erudition in the air. Although that whiff is mostly hollow blabber, the air is thick with pollution, and smoking is as common as worst kind of poverty-ridden human existence; I don't know why everybody is so happy. Perhaps, when they labelled you as the City of Joy, they were right! You are like that love of graduation days, where there is no money and no hand-holding but something made us fly above clouds.

Varanasi - I have met you twice. You amused, mesmerized, and confused me each time. There was an aura of sanctity mixed with insanity, roots mixed with rots, and glamour mixed with garbage. Your mannerism was questionable yet quintessential. Your hospitality was puzzling yet pure. Your people were abhorrent yet admirable. You are like that class-topper, simple, beautiful, suave girl, whom we all observed and obsessed, liked and leered, tried talking and talking but everything was always from a sacrosanct distance.

Delhi - We have met so many times. Initially, you were a stranger, and a rude one at that. But we kept meeting anyways, more out of compulsion than choice. Sometimes I passed through your airports, sometimes I stayed for a day or two to hop-off to somewhere else. Sometimes, I tried exploring you as well - your museums and monuments, your people and parks, your surroundings and systems. You became more and more welcoming. You opened up to me. You served me with utmost hospitality. But there is something missing. I do not feel anything for you. You are like that girl of the college days, who had a crush on me but her affection remained unrequited.

Kanpur - I have met you a few times. Every time, you were filthy, unfruitful, and unfriendly. And despite this, you were always cocky about something useless. I don't know why we ever had to meet. You are like that neighborhood girl, who can scare the witches but behaves as the ultimate demoiselle.

Mumbai - You were my first city outside Lucknow. And you always scared me. Rather, even today, you scare me. Why are you so big and so busy and so bustling with something or the other all the time?! Well, I have met you so many times that despite this scare, there is a comfort and a coziness in your lap. Once I got the hang of the people, the places, the sea, and the trains, you have showered me with a very safe and nice feeling. I still can't live with you but I love meeting you every time. You are like that mature love that grew out of friendship and even if it didn't culminate into anything material, it is always a treasure.

Bangalore - I am familiar with you. I have met you so many times, in so many ways, with so many relations, explored almost every corner of you, with almost every mode of transport, seen your trees, your birds, your people, your CCDs, your jams, your markets, your societies, your hotels, your malls... and despite seeing so much, I feel a distance from you. The warmth is missing between us. No excitement in coming, no butterflies in stomach in staying, no sinking feeling in going back. You are like that marriage sans love, which we both live through.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Convocation Message

Few weeks back, the Media Committee of IIMI wrote to me asking for a message to the convocating batch... Although I had written something immediately, it took me almost half a day in pondering whether I should click that send button or not! I decided eventually to send the mail rather than discarding it. The message was straight-forward, caustic, abrasive, and harsh. More importantly, it was a heart-felt truth that emanated out of genuine and emotional concern.

I do not know if it was finally included in the yearbooks or not... since I haven't got any reactions, I presume it wasn't. As I think more, I realise that this message is not limited to the convocating batch but to a much larger population... to the present generation perhaps. A lot can be said, explained, and argued... anyhow, the message was as follows:


Well, this is a message you may not like.... it is not a very pleasant one but I could write only this in all my honesty!

Dear Batch of 2012-14,

You were a perfectly not - normal batch... meaning a batch not depicting a perfect normal curve. Rather, you were a batch with a thinner upper-tail and a fatter lower-tail than normal.

There have been some really nice people, who were a sheer pleasure to work and interact with... very nice and responsible people... receptive and responsive people.,... not necessarily the book-worms, teachers' pet, or "maggu" types. I know they will set milestones in the years to come and will make the institute and the nation proud.

Then, there were more from the lower-tail - selfish, cribbers, irresponsible, rebel without a cause, restless without a clue, seeking rights without responsibility, making demands without behaving, reckless, unkind, impolite, and so on... again, not necessarily the top or bottom of the grading curves!

And then, there were most of you - the middle of the curve people... ideally distributed across the normal curve but actually, swayed more by the fat lower-tail than the thin upper-tail. People without a character of their own, without a thought in their head, people who just wanted to be accepted by the crowd. I hope you develop a spine and a head some day soon instead of surviving in a post-metamorphosis Kafkan room.

Overall, I wish you best of luck (many would need it) and lot more sensibility (many more would need much more of it) to be a good person!!

With Best wishes, 

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