Thursday, December 16, 2010


Draft cinematograph bill of 2010 in a very tacit way brings out an emerging tendency of growing state control on freedom of expressions in the art medium. Regulation of expressions in cinema has been done through censorship in India and this censorship has followed the guidelines of “Cinematograph Act” of 1952.
Before any Indian movie starts we see a certification titled Central Board of Film Certificate. Any film is released to public after it has been certified by the regulatory body giving CBFC certification. Central Board of Film Censorship became Central Board of Film Certificate in 1982 following an amendment in the Cinematograph Act of 1952.
The important question is who governs the CBFC and who controls the medium of expression through art form in India. As of now the industry participation in this board deciding film certification is less and often there is a political lineage that governs dictum, decision making of CBFC.
Political lineage indirectly allows a larger state domination in the board. The logic which is given for a state control is that, film is an important medium of expression and can influence the society. So any content in such a powerful medium should have a social responsibility and must contribute to the welfare of the society. Thus state has an obligation to control the expression form in cinema.
But often a large state participation can reduce and create claustrophobic environment for a creator in this powerful expression of art i.e. cinema. Too much state intervention in the decision making board can act as a hindering factor towards new forms of experimentation in cinema. The question is - what should be the regulatory structure of this board that governs the state of the forms of expressions in Indian cinema.
We need to ask questions on how and on what principles decision making is done in the board. Also what should be the structure of the governance mechanisms of the board so that it balances the needs of the movie maker, state and the Indian society. Many times the interests can be conflictual.
So one needs to determine how the fine balancing thread line could be created which balances all the needs. An independent nature of the governance board is essential to create thriving ground for innovative experimentation in Indian cinema. Institutional structures, their nature of functioning also has a key role to play in determining what kind of new art forms are created. Participation by all actors of the sector in the decision making of the board is key towards achieving it.
Decision making and regulation of art through certification needs to have a clear cut vision and logical basis. For instance the draft Cinematograph Bill 2010 mentions of U,12+,15+. There is a need to debate what are the age limits (and on what basis they are done) one needs to define for certain forms of expressions in a cinema. Such decisions are also influenced by the state of our society and how we all and our younger generation are evolving as human beings over time. It is also influenced by how Indian society is at its roots. At the same time the cinema also gives back its impulses back towards the formation of a particular type of a society.
It is very important to have a regulatory board, institutional structure that takes account of all these finer nuances of the interaction between cinema and society and vice versa in making their decisions. At the same time it should also take care of the agents who play a key role in producing the art form by giving them the breathing space. It is a very sensitive decision making that cannot be left only to the realms of state and certain political lineages. Such decision making has to be supported by Advisory Bodies and Steering Committee guiding the decision making body. The advisory body and steering committee should comprise of sociologist, anthropologist, all experts from film industry thereby bringing a transdisciplinarity in the decision making.
In today’s highly connected digital world, censorship often gets nullified by spread of the censored expressions through other digital medium. The decision making body also has to take account of that. Thus it appears that film censorship and its nature is an intricate subject that needs inputs from various experts. The draft cinematograph bill 2010 has atleast been able to trigger these thoughts in our minds.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


As a student of social science, we in our bachelor days learnt about money supply theory. The lectures, book chapters on macroeconomics dealing with money supply theory use to shout and tell us that money has three basic values – a) Use , b) Precautionary and c) Speculative. In the bachelor days to understand all this we had to compute equations, draw graphs, vacate pages after pages solving series of equations. But as a student I had failed at that point of time to understand what does these con cepts mean in terms of practice. The time, I am referring to was from 1999 – 2002 and may be even beyond 2002. But the realization of how these three values mentioned in money supply intrigues into our daily reading habits, bread and butter arrived only few days back in 2010.
It took 11 long years to realize this. In these 11 years the theory on money supply defining these three values have not changed. Money if we see otherwise is just a printed raw material which generates a value when it helps us to consume certain things (goods, services), or is being stored, saved to act as an insurance for our uncertain discounted future (precautionary value) or is being invested in illiquid assets (bonds, papers, debentures or any other investment assets) to earn more monetary return (which is the value generated from speculation being done with this paper raw material) in future. In our daily life, we all are playing around and using money by tinkering around with these three values and roles of money as a raw material to generate these set of three values.

But these three roles and values are also there in our daily reading which provides us bread, butter, living. We are actually also tinkering around with the three values that are generated from our reading habits.

Lets now get into a little bit detailing of how these three values viz. use, precautionary, speculative are generated from reading.

If we see reading as an exercise that provides us with set of information, then we as readers try to use those information through application in various areas and try to consume our living by earning money from use of information. So use value of reading habits is the money or value of goods, services that are generated, consumed by using the information that comes from our reading habits. Money, goods, service consumption is an outcome of our reading habits and generates an use value.

Precautionary value of reading is the extra reading that we do and keep on searching, exploring all around as a precaution to generate new ideas which brings recognition, money and helps us to consume goods, service and goodwill of reputation. Thus the extra reading that we do as a precaution since we are uncertain of the shelf life of any new idea generates a precautionary value. But the set of information gathered from a precautionary reading might not always be used or be invested.

When a part of this precautionary reading is invested in developing some new thoughts, ideas, applications, knowledge it generates a speculative value. This is because there is an element of speculation in this part of the precautionary reading as a reader. As researchers, we might like to invest in some of the precautionary readings which we think can generate some values for us in future. So in terms of reading habits, precautionary value of reading generates speculative value. So as a portfolio manager if we get series of information from reading habits, we intend to divide and manage those set of information into different compartments that can subsequently raise three types of value for us – viz. Use, Precautionary, Speculative.

There are so many things to explore in money supply theory that can have wide range of applications across sectors where various issues could be seen through the logical lenses of money supply theory.

For me, as a student of social science after reading the subject of economics for 11 years, things are becoming a little clear in terms of the wide range potential of transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary applications of various economic theories that we have read during our bachelor days.

I think we have not yet learnt it as we have many time not practiced unlearning it. May be because of that many areas are still blur and not clear. But the search has just begun after 11 years and I am sure we all together will join together in this searching journey. Till then, I look forward to comments, insights from all friends, wellwishers, colleagues to get more clarity in my thoughts in this journey.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Practising Intellectualism: "Ism that emerged from household works"

Last one month, it has been a very different experience for me. I have never stayed out of office environment owing to sick leave. Although the leave has not been able to put me out of work in terms of reading, writing. But as people say, every phase of life presents a magic. In bits and pieces many times I have realised that magic - The magic of emergence of intellectualities from household work.

For understanding that it is actually not necessary to always read selected readings of Immanuel Kant which mentions the notion of synthesis of information to produce knowledge. And that knowledge can come through practice only. Kant says that but I realised it through various household works of boiling milk, eggs, cooking vegetables, khichuri, egg curry. In many of these attempts sometimes I have failed but overall this last one month practice of fulfilling household duties of cooking, cleaning and arranging household materials have taught me how much intellect is ingrained in every day to day work. In our households across the Indian society, so many people mostly women are doing all these with such a precision. Every moment when I have messed up the gasoven surface with spillovers from pressure cooker while cooking khichuri have felt that how brilliant practising intellectuals are spread across in the Indian society who are dedicatedly exhibiting their practising intellect. Whenever this thought has come up on mind I have found a similarity of the same in another personality - "Sachin Tendulkar" an epitome of simplicity and a practising intellectual who through 21 years by his childish aspiration exhibiting to all of us the intellect by incessant practising.

This brings me to the question - "Who is an intellectual" - I never understood the real meaning of the word and also cant trust often the dictionary meaning of this word. This last one month has told me that in every house around us there are more than one practising intellectuals whose services and intellectual contribution are not valued or undervalued. For instance isnt a housewife who can tell that before cooking one should check whether there is moisture in the lid and one should clear it through blowing air is equally an intellectual like any other scientist?

I guess so and more importantly when they are able to do that so consistently it really demands much more sense of appreciation. I was actually feeling to write a counter point while reading the synthesis of knowledge sections of Kant from his selected readings. Parallely, was also thinking in today's context what if Kantian discourse is put forward by all the practising intellectuals who are all around us in every household.

It is not far when some day a book will be published like - "Selected Readings of Kantian Discourse - by practising intellectuals of households". I look forward to read that book and learn more about the magical aspects of practising intellectualism.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Few weeks back a sensitive peace appeal in a popular newspaper for maintaining harmony across communities following the Ayodhya verdict caught the eye while doing a rough glance through the newspaper. The appeal covered more than half of the newspage and at the same time it was inspiring to see our government taking a proactive step to apply the form of media to maintain harmony. As a nation we are not in a situation to repeat the mistakes that we made during Babri Masjid , Godhra Incident specifically when our strength lies in our diversity and the dynamism inflicted on all of us through that diversity. Also today our priorities are to ensure a developmental pathway that balances the needs of the marginal groups, deprived sections of the Indian society. This has to be done with a minimal impact and footprint on the gifts and resources of nature and our people, culture. However this article will be taking a different pathway from this stage onwards.

The Ayodhya verdict was out yesterday on 30th September, 2010 and news channels were full with discussions, debates, expectation on the probable results of the verdict. There was inquisitiveness and sensitivity all around regarding the verdict. I had to go to a doctor’s clinic for a weekly visit and check ups. All through out, the auto driver was asking me about whether any incident happened or not. Just to understand the person who was driving the vehicle, I asked him what is his view point about what should be the verdict (as it was still thirty minutes before the verdict would be out) and I got an interesting answer.

The person told me that for him the results of the verdict are not so important, as for him a larger priority is driving and that helps him to live together with many other friends in the same profession from different communities.

As soon as he said this, I found out Immanuel Kant in him. Yes, the person in the auto yesterday reminded me of the works of Kant in his “Critique of Judgement” where Kant was trying to deal with the gulf between the application of reason and its practical application in the moral faith in God. This person bridged it so easily. He showed me how religion which is a way of living life can be attained by following the working principles, objectivities of working for a noble cause of an economic activity – viz. servicing passengers and earning from that followed by a tolerant, all encompassing way of living along with other communities. Similar achievement can also be made by so many of us by following our working principles, objectivities of creating new disciplines, outputs bridging the gaps between our sense of reasoning, tolerance, sense of creating harmony and practical application of our belief structures regarding faith in any religion. In order to do that we need to introspect and whenever, wherever required revise the fundamental tenets of the belief structures, reasoning sense to create larger social harmony. Kant had aimed to do this revision through his writings in the “Critique of Judgement” by questioning himself and was also open to listen to relatively more radical (in comparison to Kant) followers like Hegel, Fichte.
On similar lines, we as a nation in 2010 need to revise the fundamental tenets of the belief structures that led to the sufferings following Babri Masjid, Godhra Incident.
This could be one of the ways to help in attaining in enlightenment. On the note of enlightenment, Immanuel Kant also guides us through his works on “What is Enlightenment”?. Kantian enlightenment principles teaches us that all individuals have the responsibility to think freely about religious matters going much beyond the claustrophobia created by religious orthodoxies. In doing that reasoning should be applied that can create goodwill across communities and allow harmony to prevail.
But while following that pathway of freedom, we as human beings are often in a state of competitive conflict between our emotions, passions, instincts and the rationality that tells us to give equal dignity to all human beings. We as human beings have to live with this dualistic, contradictory, conflictual limitations of us and can only get an enlightenment by focusing more on the second dimension of rationality (guiding exchange of human dignities, respect) but at the same time recognizing the conflictual nature. Freedom to think this way and identify the aspects of our emotions and rationality has to be directed to create a channel for human actions that are harmonious and tolerant. Kant tried to do it through his innumerable writings. But in today’s context we also see it happening. For me, a researcher, scientist does it when they come up with innovative work through partnerships with people belonging to other communities, nations that help the society and human beings. Artists achieve it when they struck a harmonious chord together on a stage show in cross country projects. Sports does it when we see 11 footballers from various communities, nations playing together in football clubs and performing their tasks together for the welfare of a football club. Isnt it that all these cited examples are examples of “Enlightenment”. I think, we all can see enlightened souls who are moving all around us in day to day life. We need to have that eye to see through the enlightened part of a human soul.
Kant tried his best to attain that through his writings from 1740 – 1804 and continuous questioning of the systems that guide our reasoning, belief structures. On 30th September, 2010, I learnt about all those works again with the help of a person during the visit to a clinic in an auto drive.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I have been travelling to Addis Ababa since 2008 owing to work related assignments. In 2008, the number of visits were one which increased to 2 in 2009 and subsequently to 3 in 2010. With the passage of each year the duration of stay in Addis has also increased. Each time, I have observed certain things that have accumulated in the store house of my inventory. With this time’s visit, I felt that the inventory is now upto its brim and so it is waiting to splurge on in these pages. Hence forth this write up was born. This write up is a summary of various observations that I gathered seeing things all around addis. Those observations have been categorized under certain fields and domains which are as follows -

My work on behalf of South South Cooperation Initiatives of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi) has allowed me to liaison with United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Such an exposure has been very helpful for me in learning how policy relevant research is streamlined into decision making process of Africa Union through United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). This assignment has given the opportunity to learn more about the work which is being done on Climate Policy and other pertinent areas of sustainable development. Discussions with ECA colleagues has been very fruitful in terms of its intellectual content. And the best part of those discussions has been that they never got bounded by the terms of reference of our official work. So the discussions started from a particular topic and then went all around and travelled to sociopolitical, economic and other issues that are extremely relevant in today’s context of Africa. Specifically one of the discussions, which I cherish was in Dr. Wane's house during a dinner invitation. I was fortunate enough to be invited in that dinner which had the presence of some important policy decision makers at the AU level. In the course of the dinner discussion, I was being asked by all people over there about TERI. It was a nice feeling to talk about TERI in front of the people in that dinner invitation and finally the most comprehending part was when all of them appreciated and praised what TERI is doing in the area of sustainable development. All eminent people in that dinner invitation passed on their regards and support for our Director General and institute Directors and asked me to convey their regards to them. I felt extremely proud at that instance. It was in this dinner meeting we got into a discussion regarding the politics in Africa and also on dynamics of the political relations in South Asia, especially between India and Pakistan. Most of the people in the dinner had wide knowledge on art and culture and so I shared the grief that how culturally India and Pakistan are so bounded but still politically we have not been able to be united. Then the discussion went onto facts based historical discourse between India and Pakistan relations. It is at this point, one eminent individual from African Union (who was present in the dinner) brought in the issue of conflicts in Africa. It was an hour long discussion with him and learnt a lot on the AU process, its dynamics from him. Dr. Cheik, who is a well known agroeconomist and my friend brought in his view points on what he has seen during his travels in conflict ridden Sudan. Their eyes were sparkling while discussing these issues as was mine while discussing about India Pakistan relations.

For the sake of the limited space of this article, I wont ponder more on the work aspect but rather would go into some other sets of observations.

The best thing about Addis has been the warmth, affection that I have received from most of the people there apart from one instance about which I will talk later. Before going to Addis, I had made a plan that which are the circles where I need to go and interact with people to know more about the place and its people. As a follow up action point of that, I have visited churches, Islamic preying ocassions, stadiums, gyms, dance sessions, music sessions, live music sessions, shopping complexes, coffee shops, movie halls, seminars etc. From all these places I have tried to observe the people and learn more about them by observing them. Also in the UN complex, have met people from various countries during lunch and learnt extensively on different work areas that different divisions of UN is engaged in. Some of the people who became the support framework during the stay are – Tamaret, Jeremy, Joachim, Esthera, Bruke, Dr. Mikru, Dr. Hamid, Khatija, Hailu, Behailu, Dr. Wane, Dr. Medhat el Helaphi, Dr. Chiek, Malaku. Dr. Hamid had already left for Oman. In addition to this there are many other people who I have met in various institutes, university, Indian Cultural Association, Government of Ethiopia – Harar Region. Various people have helped in each step from getting a house to opening bank account. Also have met many Indian professors in Addis Ababa University working extensively on several domains pertaining to sustainable development.

Now I would move on from the micro aspect of people to a larger macro domain of the economy of the country -

The economy of Ethiopia relies on a large extent to coffee, sesame and soyabean exports. The transition from agriculture to industry has not yet taken place to that extent. Although many Chinese engineering farms have been coming into Ethiopia. But they have not yet started a full scale production of industrial goods. So the economy is still very much dependent on agricultural goods export although over the years the country has become a net food importing country. Service sector doesnot contribute to a large part of the economy. Many Chinese and Indian companies are working in this country and have employed people from this country as well as their own nation to contribute to service sector of this country.
So major part of the earning for the country is through its exports. Local beer production also contributes to growth of this country. Bioethanol production from sugarcane has started lately. Earning of any country dependent on agricultural products would depend on the climatic and geographical conditions of the country. So understanding of the economy could be done through learning the existing geographical conditions of the country. The only way to do that is through understanding the geography of the country. Thus to understand the geography of the country, I started travelling across various directions from Addis with the help of Bruke. Bruke took me around every Sunday in various directions from Addis Ababa . The next segment highlights the observations during those radial travels from Addis.

Radial travels included going towards south, east, north, north-west of Addis and each time the experience was very different. Even before highlighting the findings of radial travels outside Addis, I would like to detail out some of the findings that I had through roaming around in Addis. A summary statistics of the housing pattern by roaming around in Addis revealed that mostly 40% of the housing arrangements are slums, 30% belonged to houses which could be taken by middle class people, 20% for elite people and 10% for people living in condemoniums belonging to people in transition from middle class to the upper segments. This analysis can be misleading as it is only based on the assumption that the kind of housing in which the people live is an indicator of their class status which might not be true in certain cases. But still this distribution statistics is an indicator of the existing class structure within the city of Addis. People from various regions of Ethiopia also migrate to Addis and they are of very different nature. For many of them who are migrating from north west side to Addis Ababa it becomes very difficult owing to the roads. The roads in the north west are “Kaccha” and it takes almost 3 days for people to travel from north west of Ethiopia to Addis on bus, car to travel more than 200 kms. I got a hint of that while travelling with Bruke towards north west of Addis. We started from Addis but could proceed only for a few kms owing to the worse conditions of the road. But this was starkly different in east, north of Addis where the roads were good. Roads on the east have been built by firms from China whereas the one on the north were constructed by some European firms. I liked the road towards north, which was a zig zag one through some mountains and then the road glides down to a plain land with long stretches of green highlands all around the road reminding of Switzerland. The same green highlands and mountains could be seen while travelling to Sebeta mountains which had the source of the mineral water. Mineral water from these mountains are packed and sold as “Yes” mineral water in Addis. Bruke showed me the mineral water processing plant in Sebeta mountains also.

Richness in music, art and culture of this continent has been felt by me every time in these last few months. And they were felt in the amazing Jazz concerts, lively music related discussions with musicians, choreographers, colleagues. A brush painting through the canvas of art, music, culture traversed from the fusion music of West Africa with jazz, blues to rich folk music of Fulani, Sahelian tribes. Also it touched the sculpture art of Osamanu Saw of Senegal to many artists of Ethiopia. It also saw the music evolution of TEDDY AFRO, Makossa form of music, experimentations of Richard Bona, Baubacore Triore, Diabete, Baba Gal. Such richness was enhanced by the skills displayed in the live performances of musicians from Ethio Color, Nubic Arc, Habesha Beatz. Also to understand the future generation of the country, I visited the graduation ceremony in Addis where saw the positive energies of youth. Those ceremonies were marked by rich Salsa music in which I also participated. My friend, choreographer, music teacher Behailu had invited me in that ceremony to see and understand the pulse of the feelings of future generation. Energy from Salsa was spread all around that ceremony and actually it violated the law of conservation of energy. As it was not constant or conserved, rather it was constantly created and dissipated. So there was a continuous construction, deconstruction of energy. Sometimes the positive energy were getting dissipated and then it was giving birth to a new one. It is quite true that every positive energy when born inside has a negative source as its origin or creates its own termination for future streams of positive energies. One such form of dissipative source of energy vibration I got while taking an evening walk. It came from three young guys who were hardly 23 – 24 and seemed to be from a well off family. The next segment skims through that experience -

These three guys who were from a very well off family passed on a nasty comment being smitten by the cool consumerism and after getting drunk that state of mind increased which instigated them to pass on a comment on all people walking along the road which included me on that particular day. But after listening to their comments and chuckles for quite sometime had to get back to them and told them to say sorry for their behavior. I would not have done that if these people were not blessed with all the wealth, resources that many people donot have. But when I have met those people on roads who donot have so much, they are so sweet, sensitive and generate a compassionate feeling. What I realized was that “The Cool Consumerism” of the world in some ways is making sensitivity a dilapidated state of mind. If this hits the future generation of this continent then it cannot be good for human civilization. It is the sensitivity of the future generation, their compassion for people who are not blessed with the resources and benefits in this part of the world can bring wellfaristic change. So stood there and kept on persevering with the three guys requesting them to say atleast sorry for their behavior to the people of their own country. All the people around supported me and finally two of them said sorry. But this incident taught me that this growing trend of “Cool Consumerism” that has hit many countries including India has the virus of making the young generation cushioned, ignorant to the sensitivities and sufferings of their neighbourhood. And that could be a cause for larger internal strife which the world cannot afford at this instance. So there is a need to strike the right balance to have the exposure to the clean breeze of all cultures without loosing the sensitivity about country people and the positivities of traditionalities. The future to strike peace, cooperation in this world lies in getting a balance between the traditionalities, exposures to cross fertilization of cultures which is very essential. But at what degree it should happen to strike an optimality would be only expressed by the coming generation and time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

MEANING OF INDEPENDENCE: On the eve of 15th August, 2010

The idea to write this piece came last week when there was a “meaning of independence” contest within our institute to celebrate independence day of India. All colleagues were requested to send a short write up on “meaning of independence” to them on and “what would they do to promote that” within 100 words. The restriction on the number of words muddled up my thoughts which were not getting restricted in that word limit. Realised, how difficult it is to shorten and put forward thoughts in single sentences. After lot of struggle, what I penned down on mind is something like this -

“Independence achieved through sovereignty and democracy is the inculcating motivation to identify sensitivities of human beings across nations through the lense of humanity. As Indians we would try to celebrate this spirit by bridging relations across various nationalities the essence of which have emerged from sovereign, democratic nationalism spirit of our country.

So being an Indian I would identify and relate with sensitivities, emotional freedom of human beings through music, sports, art and culture. To maintain this value of independence, would sing Sufi songs with Mouluds *, Bauls**, Dervishes*** at the same time. This spirituality of getting emersed in the greater humanitarian citizenship emerges only from the legacy of India's rich democratic spirit.

Footnotes - *the Sufi musicians of Islamic belts of Ethiopia, **West Bengal in India, ***in Pakistan, North Africa, Middle East”

After completion of the write up and sending to our colleagues Sreeja Nair and Kunal Nagpal, realized even after series of attempts to restrict the write up it has still come down only to 108 words. Then thought why not to extend this a little bit more. But for that extension needed some content. Surprisingly, the content came after two days which was a Saturday.
Saturday evening I was invited on an African – Latino music, dance performance session in Addis Ababa in a place called “Alize” in Bole Road where different bands perform. It was a students graduation ceremony. The performance started with dancers putting forward group, solo acts of Salsa (a kind of Latin American dance that has the influence of Jazz), Merengue (a kind of ball room dance which is said to be typically of Caribbean origin where there is a frequent dragging of feet), Rumba (a kind of Cuban ball room dance with an emphasis on movements of hip), Cha Cha (a type of ball dance that goes with fast rythm), Zouk (a type of dance of disco steps with a Caribbean origin that goes with fast rhythm ).
It was a kind of treat to see all African people, some Indians, some Europeans performing these forms of dance being led by my choreographer friend – Bhailu. While observing all of them dancing, I realized that I was seeing a laterally inverted image of the thought that had sent for the Independence Day write up to Sreeja, Kunal the other day. What I thought in terms of singing with people of Sufi cult was reflected even in the dance form which was coming live in front of my eyes.
I realized, that how Africa after a big bang explosion of culture, art, rhythm, sound, music has given rise to all these dance forms that spread all across the world. So even though the dance forms as mentioned in this write up are being said to be belonging to different parts of the world, there is an African confluence that has happened in all of these forms. It is a different feeling to read about this and at the same time experience the cultural confluence and big bang explosion in front of the eyes. I became a part of that cultural confluence and explosion when one of the African friend requested me to dance with them.
Bhailu only knew that I can dance a little bit of basic “solo and couple” salsa steps. So joined them in the basic “solo 6 Matra” (if I put it analogically in terms of Hindustani Classical Rhythm Language) salsa form of dance. What I wanted to do by singing with Sufi musicians was partially being realized through being a part of our cultural big bang explosion. The culture, art, humanities were getting expanded through dance forms and large number of people joining us. The sense of independence was coming before 15th August as it was an evening of 14th August.
As an Indian, was feeling proud to be a part of this exercise as the sense of getting mixed with the practice of cultural confluences is something that lies in its fullest form in India’s sovereign democracy.
The entire session was a kind of a roller coaster ride for me travelling from the origin, birth of a culture to its terminal points where it has spread. But this journey did not end there.
The next day, Sunday which was 15th August (independence day of India) got an invitation from my friend Cheik (who is a leading agronomist by profession and has travelled extensively in Africa, Latin America) to attend a jazz concert where his percussionist friend was playing in one of the jazz bands. Cheik is a good soccer player and has represented the National Soccer Team of Mauratania and has an enriching collection of Colombian, Cuban Salsa and Jazz. Both Cheik and I attended the Jazz concert and all throughout the concert with different jazz rhythm, progression structures, Cheik was explaining which part of the performance has a largely Sahelian origin and West African influence. He also explained how in the Colombian jazz – salsa combined playing the trumpet and saxophone starts playing a dominant role which doesnot exist in case of Cuban one.
The journey which started with the writing of a “Independence Day” write up was ending through all forms of practical sessions on music, culture. Yes, this 15th August (2010), understood how free, independent culture, art is and how it will always stay independent and create confluence patterns in its own way as human civilization will progress.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


The recent debate on women reservation bill raises some behavioral anecdotal thoughts which are the subject matter of this piece. The first question to ask is – why there is a need for women reservation bill? Does women reservation really create welfare and gender equity across the various segments of the society.
Some skeptics might say if men and women are treated equally in a society, then there is no need to create a reservation. The concept of reservation could itself be a signal of discrimination amongst men and women in an idealistic, equal society. But given the way we as human beings behave it is not always driven by this idealistic situation. Men as human beings could possess ego, insecurities, chauvinism of various types that could create drive towards creating discrimination. And this can exist across castes, segments of the society including the elitist ones. Such underline emotions and behavioural traits could create a drive towards discrimination against women assuming that the state of society is not idealistic, considering the behavioural traits of a human society. If one tosses the coin upside down, then it is also true that ego, chauvinism, insecurities also exists amongst women. Then can it be the case that a reservation of women would lead to a shift of power, positional authorities to a woman who over the years in most of the transient societies of countries like India has faced discrimination. Will such reservation would really be wellfaristic or will it be a shift of power that might lead to perverse results. If one assumes that historically position, intellect, sensitivities of a woman has been neglected in our society then the bill could be a signal for infusing woman empowerment. But the fundamental question is does a reservation bill create an empowerment.

If one asks the question, what is the behavior that is expected after women gets empowered or what are the traits that a human being should develop after being empowered. If seen from that lense, one needs to see whether a reservation bill creates an equality in terms of facilities available for men, women. Does equal facility mean equally empowered? Empowerment is a much broader societal question. Equal opportunities and access might not mean empowerment. But if one analyses from a comparative point of view, the bill could reserve the right to access to basic facilities for women who might not be receiving them without a bill. But this could be only assured if the institutions that guides the operational aspect of the reservation bill works in an efficient way and creates opportunities for women who really deserve them and comes up in the social ladder from bottom. Behavioral aspects of institution, the nature of the human beings would actually determine who will bear the fruits of a woman reservation bill and whether that would actually empower women who are really in need of empowerment.
So if one summarises three questions – a) Why there is a need for woman empowerment?, b) How that empowerment is done through women reservation bill and c) What is the outcome of a reservation bill on empowerment, then clearly a behavioural dimension emerges. For instance the answer to the first question is to create an equal idealistic outcome for women in the society. But whether that will be done would depend on the behavior of institutions and agents who are human beings. So how the nitty gritties of a reservation bill is implemented by institutions and human beings in a society is a behavioural question and that would guide the outcome of the reservation bill on the degree and extent of woman reservation bill in India.
In this context, one can explore one of the options for better targeting and identification to enhance the efficiency of the implementation aspects of woman reservation bill in India. The option which is being discussed is the use of Unique Identification (UID) Card as an instrument for better targeting leading to efficiency in the implementation of the women reservation bill.


The women reservation bill aims to ensure that the down trodden segment of the women population gets an access to the important facilities of education, health and job opportunities. This could help in ensuring gender empowerment. But the fact is if the real needies of the woman populace in the country doesnot get an access to these facilities, the welfare aspect of the bill could be falsified.
So it is essential to identify the people who needs to be empowered. The question to answer is how that identification of the people could be done. One way to do that is to use the present UID system to target the BPL population and women belonging to that segment of the society. This would help in saving some resources as no new additional identification system would not have to be created. UID scheme could help in targeting the women and would help in proper targeting of the subsidies that could be allocated to reserve the places of women. This would reduce in some ways the distortion that could be created if the reservation process doesnot create a real space to the women populace who need it. An essential step to move in this direction could be to bring in some additional features of the income levels, societal backgrounds in the ID scheme. Public private partnerships could be thought of to bring in efficiency in the targeting and final identification of the people who need reservation for their women empowerment.

As a part of that mechanism, forms could be designed by the government and distributed by the local governance units of the government at the panchayat level. Identification of the targeted population could be done through data collection by private independent agencies employed by the government. Once data collection is done those data could be used by private agencies in preparing an UID with the respective traits of the women population.

The question is whether a separate ID system should be created for this or whether the existing UID project should be merged and be used for this identification of the targeted woman population who could reap the benefits of woman reservation bill. Once efficiency is brought at the grass root in the identification of the population and the distribution of the ID cards to the targeted population, much of the distortions could be cured.
Learning lessons could be drawn from the experiences of Estonia, Pakistan in designing ID cards. In Estonia public private partnerships are also being promoted in the launching of ID schemes and in their subsequent distribution to the beneficiaries who needs to be empowered. Mobile check vans for registration, auditing and monitoring can also be thought for bringing in supervision in the system of identification. This has been successfully implemented in countries like Estonia, Pakistan. The cost and benefit implications of this processes have to be seen in our country owing to the large state specific variations. The state governments have to play a key role in the implementation of these processes and have to continuously inform the central government. Decentralization in the implementation process with a centralized regulatory supervision is required for effective operationalisation of the ID schemes that can go a long way in rightful identification of the woman population who could reap the benefits of reservation bill.

Acknowledgement – The international country literature on UID referred in this piece has been provided by my friend and colleague - Ms. Shailly Kedia.

Millenium Hall and World Cup: a new world in the next millenium through hall and cup

Last Sunday, I went to the Millenium Hall in Addis Ababa to watch the world cup finals along with the people of this nation. The hall had a huge capacity and it was evident in the huge volume of crowd which had gathered. It was an ambie...nce of happy faces with lot of positive energies vibrating and flowing all around. Before the match started, there was a musical extravaganza which had the best of African rythm mixed with the flavour of rock music. The two hour music concert, in which everybody was dancing in the crowd showed how each human being was getting intersparsed and blended in a homogenous mixture of happiness that prevailed all around. To put in words of chemistry, the solutes (which were individual happiness of people) were getting blended and stirred through the passion of music finally leading to a formation of a homogenous mixture. Even, my happiness was a distinct solute in that mixture which was different from the unknown middle aged guy who was dancing beside me for almost 2 hours in his own way.But at the end of 2 hour concert we realised that we are not individual solutes any more.We all have become part of a homogenous mixture of happiness which had an enormous uniformity across the crowds. Boundaries between human beings were broken to create that uniformity. Vuvuzelas, music, dance,african rythm all had played a critical role in that transformation. Such a music extravaganza had a perfect termination when the telecast started in big screens within the hall. The glitter, sparkle in eyes of people all around can be easily felt when a film on ups and downs of the world cup was shown in the big screen. So a weeping brazilian fan on the screen became vivid in the tears of people around me. At the end of the film, when the promo and adertisement on Africa United was shown there was a huge uproar and rise of cheering voices. It seemed a high tide or tsunami has struck in the ocean. The shaking up for tsunami has happened and voices of people were increasing like a rising tide of tsunami. Lines and the script of "Africa United" promo was buzzing in my ears. And why it was buzzing - because Sunday I saw an united new world for next millenium through the hall (millenium) and cup (World).

Monday, June 21, 2010

World cup and Vuvuzela debate : a chain of music, soccer, society, culture, happiness and identity

The soccer fever of World Cup has spread all across the world. I could feel it in the charming faces and jovial interactions with my African friends and colleagues here in Addis Ababa. At this backdrop, after coming from the UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa) office at the end of the day, thought to write this blog piece. A random google click on World Cup is displaying lot of news items on the vuvuzela debate these days. This traditional instrument that Africans play during football match can create a buzzing sound of bee if not played properly. Complaints are coming that such a sound can be disturbing for footballers and other spectators who are not from Africa and not used to the sound of this instrument. A telegraph news item also states that somebody has discovered a solution to tackle the disturbance created by the sound pattern of Vuvuzela. I came to know about the news item from the facebook through my friends – Sambuddha Mitra Mustafi and Amitabha Nandi.

Having read the news item, and series of articles through googling, stream of thoughts started ushering on the mind where I was tying strings of music, soccer, society, culture, happiness and identity. The first linking question that I asked to myself was why do people play vuvuzela on the football ground. The answer I got was this is a cultural tradition of the African nations and this makes them happy. Music, rhythm, sound pattern and festive atmosphere of a football ground can make human beings happy. As human beings they have the right to be happy by getting engaged in this sound generation activity even if it is clashing with the happiness demands of other spectators, footballers for whom the same sound is not generating happiness by creating disturbance in their mind.
Some paper digging work that I did further on this question, gave me some direction on the behavioural pattern of World Cup spectators and fans during earlier world cup 2006 that was held in Germany. A paper by Roy Hay (Sports and Editorial Services Australia), Tony Joel (Deakin University) titled “Football's World Cup and its Fans - Reflections on National Styles: A Photo Essay on Germany 2006” published in Soccer and Society (Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2007,pgs 1- 32) researched on how football fans participate in and get involved in introspective (with self awareness) strategies to achieve the best beneficial outcomes for themselves from watching football matches during World Cup. The paper looks onto various experiences, behavioural pattern of football fans of countries viz. Scotland, Germany, Australia during World Cup 2006. It does this to understand the dynamics of relationship between - the fans who are interested in soccer and have come to see World Cup with the - fans who are attracted to soccer temporarily because of a short term interest in the World Cup event (in colloquial Bengali who could be called the Hujuge guys). It also analyses the relationship between these set of football fans and promoters of the major event World Cup.
This paper concludes that the fans of World Cup 2006 for the countries (which were analysed) came to World Cup with a large band of wishlists, expectations to World Cup 2006 and their behavior were directed in a way to maximize benefit for making them happy through individual and collective form of match watching experience. I guess, the same kind of explanation can also be applied in studying the rift between different fan followings (from various parts of the world) and African soccer fans with respect to playing of Vuvuzela during the World Cup matches. Playing Vuvuzela can give a collective, individual happiness to the soccer fans and can help in matching their expectations from this World Cup. Whereas the same activity of playing Vuvuzela might not be matching the expectation of another fan (say from another country in Europe or Asia or Latin America) who has also travelled and come to see World Cup with lot of expectations of getting individual, collective happiness from the event. So a difference of opinion, views is coming in between the two. Promoters, organisers of the event can continue to support Vuvuzela playing if it matches their expectation, benefit and happiness that they get by organizing this World Cup. This could be one of the explanatory dimensions of the difference in view points that is happening regarding difference of opinion arising with respect to playing Vuvuzela during the soccer matches.
While analyzing the opinions through behavioural lense, one also must not forget that soccer as a sport is also an expression medium of cultural and national identities. Vuvuzela is an example of that. It is closely networked with cultural identity of an African soccer fan. So playing Vuvuzela during soccer matches is a kind of creation of a specific cultural space of soccer in the world of various cultural identities. This reminds me of a paper titled – “Sport Space and National Identity: Soccer and Skiing as Formative Forces: On the Austrian Example”, by Roman Horak and Georg Spitaler American Behavioral Scientist.2003; 46: 1506-1518”.
The authors in this paper argue that the development and growth of an Austrian Identity is very much being helped by two sports – viz. Urban Soccer (that developed mostly around Vienna) and Alpine SKIING (that developed and got linked with rural alpine Austria). So sports viz. soccer is a great subject of research in terms of its contribution to cultural space and various identities (could be national, local etc). Events like World Cup 2010 would therefore can be remembered as another instance of sports bringing to forefront the point of overlapping areas of sports and cultural, national identities of today’s world.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Impact of Maoist Movement on Traffic Load Shifts - Fuzzy Neuron Unwinding of a Sunday

The recent violent upsurge in Maoist movement was reflected in the train blast (in West Bengal) that claimed so many innocent lives. It was announced that train traffic from and towards West Bengal through Maoist dominated belts would be stopped for security purposes. Then will this imply a shift in some passengers from train towards air flight route (travelling between West Bengal and other places of India) during the night to avoid the security threats. The answer is not clear. But definitely, these security threats might have an effect on traffic shifts from one form to the other. Shifts in traffic loads and form owing to shocks like the one mentioned here can be analyzed using some of the modelling techniques. One such technique, could be using the fuzzy neuron system design technniques.

Till last year, the word fuzzy neuron technique itself was a very fuzzy word to me. It was only one day, while discussing with my colleague Manish in TERI (who has a vast knowledge on science policy theoretical domain), on issues of innovation and potential of commercialisation of technologies from lab to market, the idea of fuzzy designing came up. Following that, read some initial literature and the more I read about this application tool, it became clear how so many incidents around us could be explored through this application technique which has been largely used by students of engineering. The importance of applying this tool in studying various hazy areas of social science became crystal clear. Once I got convinced about that fact, the journey didnot stop there. The journey of learning about this technique got a new meaning on one of the Sunday afternoons of last month.

This was the day when I went to have a mock, training and discussion session with my elder brother's (Dabhai) multifaceted, talented (extremely good portrait artist, a person who has worked on fuzzy system applications in analysing various engineering problems in the domain of civil engineering) close friend Debargha. The discussion initiated with a specific problem of how he had applied fuzzy neuron designing techniques in analysing road pavement behaviour. The complex mathematics that went behind in analysing the pavement behaviour was explained through simple illustrations, graphs, equations, intuitions over cups of tea and four hour long discussion. Mystery behind the fuzzy designing was gradually unwoven by a discussion format that was very much transdisciplinary as well as multidisciplinary. Once the session got over, I realised there are so many areas in social science applications to policy making where this tool can be used.

Immediately after few weeks, the Maoist attack on the train took place. I could clearly see how a research problem analysing the shifts in train traffic behaviour could be demystified through fuzzy neuron system designing. If we apply fuzzy systems in this case then, the attack could be seen as fuzzy shocks in the model with different transitional probabilities of going from one state to the other. The value of such probabilities would depend on what kind of distribution we run in such a model. Fuzzy systems analysing switchover of passengers to air traffic from train due to shocks like Maoist attack would also need to incorporate series of other variables like air, train tariffs and innumerable complex set of socio economic variables. The tariff variables would be again a complex outcome of several demand and supply side factors all of which might not be captured by this system of designing. In this context, one word of caution is that no model is sacrosanct by itself and often fails to reflect the criticality of different socio economic variables, factors of the society. This has been time and again proved, the latest of which lies in the failure of the modelling applications that could not visualise the financial meltdown in developed countries.

However the point, I am trying to make is - models have limitations, but they are still used to give an estimated directional linkage towards policy making viz. social science applications in policy making. It is in this context, the world today needs more of multi and transdisciplinary research where minds from various streams and schools of thought need to analyse, see through a problem using different philosophical bents of mind. In our generation and in the days to come, with growing complexities of a society (which is being observed in fragmentation in all forms and segments of the society), it is very important that we learn from each others applied mindsets and try to seek solution of complex societal problems like the one with which I started this blog.

Once we are able to that with the help of a very different form of educational, institutional structures in our country, we can really help in some ways the policy makers to find some direction in addressing certain key issues of our and future generation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mangalore Air Crash and Compensation Structures -

The disturbing incident of "Mangalore Air Crash" was followed by declaration of compensation for the families of crash victims. A compensation amount was declared by the aviation minister. According to experts, this compensation is based on standard compensation guidelines as prescribed by a protocol that deals with aircrashes when an airline taking off from one country crashes in another country while landing.

Insurance experts would suggest that the compensation should be based on income levels, level of damages caused by the accident. But is it the right approach of valuation basis for compensation measures of accident. The larger ethical question is that loss of human life should always be compensated in a similar way in a developed, progressive society irrespective of family and income background of victims. Loss of human life of a villager from Kosi flood is equally important as loss of middle income class citizen from a plane crash. Do we have valuation mechanisms in place in the country that designs compensation structures from natural disaster or accidents in a standardised way with a larger focus on the quality of human life dimension? This brings us to the question of estimating the value of a human life in a country like India. That value would definitely differ across the various segments of our Indian society. Its high time somebody undertakes an exercise of estimating value of human life in India across different societal strata. Once that exercise is being undertaken, the information could be centralised through electronic platform. Such data could be used by policy makers, number crunchers to design compensation structures that doesnot merely emphasize on income, damages but focuses largely on the valuation of a human life and its existence. So what is right now missing in the compensation structures of natural disasters, accidents is an ethical human rights based approach. Its high time that we move towards such rights based compensation structures as a step to move towards an egalatarian society where human existence from any part of the society is given an equal preference.

Once such an approach is introduced into the compensation structures it could create new dimensions for its applications even in the domain of adaptation measures required for addressing effects of human induced climate change on the society of developing and less developed countries. This becomes more crucial as many of these countries could be victims of human induced climate change in future if GHG emissions are not tackled and checked properly.

Mangalore air crash really sparked up a rights based thought process in compensation structures that could hold a key towards bringing fairer recognition of human life in comparison to what exists today.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Entropy and the Maoist Problem - Applying the lense of Georgescu Roegen

In the entire training span of learning streams of economics from 1999 till 2010 (month of May), I had left out an important stream of thought process. This realisation surfaced within me when I was introduced to a very enriching philosophical discourse of "Georgescu Roegen" by my colleague Shailly. Shailly gave me three very interesting papers by Georgescu Roegen dealing with - a) applications of entropy law in analysing economic production systems questioning neoclassical production theories, b)inconvenient philosophical questions regarding the applications of mathematical tools in "economic science", c) debate and contradictions between neoclassical economists and contributions of Georgescu Roegen.

After reading three papers, I immediately found out similarities between an entropic system and the Maoist problem. Georgescu Roegen applies entropic system and highlights how resources should be taken as part of production systems. In such a relationship, the inputs are not substitutable but follow a complementary relationship. So according to Roegen, resources are transformed from one form to another with the inputs playing a more transformative agent role. It is with the transformation process in natural science, entropy law mentions about irreversibility of process in matter transformation. Such irreversibility is also applied in case of heat exchange processes. With respect to tranformation of matter, if it has to be made reversible, energy has to be released or absorbed into the system.

The Maoist problem at the grass roots are originating owing to fractured mandates between state and local people. Local economic systems could be seen as a seperate social system not aligned to the other society beyond the domain of the rural economic systems. There is a social pressure within these local economic systems to seperate away and move far from the state control. With larger state oppression such a pressure would increase and there will be a force on the local social systems (where Maoist problem is arising) to move and get isolated for forming a seperate identity in an irreversible way. To create reversibility and bring back the local social systems unified with the state systems different forms of energy has to be absorbed. This cant be in the form of violent military operations. It has to be more in the form of negotiation, local level trust development with a state, centre coordination. In the absence of such, the irreversibile nature of the Maoist problem (or the force of moving away from state and getting isolated as a seperate social system, entity) would enhance and the entropy would increase.


Social systems also follow laws of fundamental natural science. I have a strong feeling that this will be validated in the long run in India.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Poetry of flying

Last month while coming back from France to New Delhi the poetry of flying struck its notes. The rythm of those notes had a homogeneity like the homogenous identity of clouds and space that exists way above 40,000 feet from the ground. The turbulence in the air that gave a lateral movement to the plane often brought a break in the continuous rythmic notes. But then again the turbulence itself became a part of the rythmic notes that was flowing through the mind and was creating its own music. The larger space outside which was no more than a black identity from the window of the seat also contributed in the poetry writing. The flash of moon brought some interesting interludes in between the verses which was making its own song. Revolving the notes, I was trying to interlink my own subconcious domain with the wide horizon of the atmospheric field through which I was flying. Like a rythmic pattern this continued over a long time. While the poetry, verses and the song was reaching its end, I heard the announcement of landing. The poetic journey above 40,000 feet from France to Delhi was coming to an end. I was coming down from the homogenous universal space to a heterogenous space below marked by several identities. Like the knob of a radio, was trying to switch the mind to the tunes of the heterogenous identities. Initially some frequency overlaps happened, but as the plane landed and the moon was well above the sky now, I found out a matching frequency. It came through the inbox of my cell phone which was finally switched on after landing in Indira Gandhi International Airport. The poetry of flying ended with a new matching frequency.


Friday, March 19, 2010

'Class Conciousness, Foreign Universities and Achalayatan'

While reading the - 'Interview, Eric Hobsbawm, World Distempers, New Left Review, 61, Jan - Feb 2010', the interlinkages between class conciousness and opening of foreign universities in India rose up in the upper layers of the mind. Eric Hobsbawm mentions in the article how schools, universities in the modern education system can create a class conciousness by creating a wealth divide between the people of the society having an access to the higher level of degrees (like Ph.d) and those who dont get that. Immediately, what I felt that - will with the opening of foreign universities in India (as being planned) the society in India would face a similar kind of class divide and class concious elitism seperated by a wealth divide. Will it happen - that the universities will come with a profit motive and it would allow and lead to an access to higher education for certain students from a particular segment of the society. Will it enhance the large inequity that exists in our country in today's context. While all these thoughts were coming on one side of the brain and going to the other side like a ping pong game, I decided to put a pause in the ping pong going inside my mind.

Immediately thought from the perspective of a fresh ping pong game. The thought process for the new ping pong game was driven by a behavioural agenda. I was thinking how much of this class inequity, conciousness feeling is driven by xenophobia. Or the other way round, how much of the decision of opening universities in India is driven by the feeling of being confident about dealing with pros and cons of globalisation. Is it driven by colonial hangover and politics of the philosophy of colonisation being unculcated through the new system of post modern education.

While thinking about all these, i sensed there is a sense of claustrophobia that germinates whenever i try to think that the interlinkage between class conciousness, opening of new universities could be seen through the lense of politics of the philosophy of modern education system. This is because since adoloscence, when i acted in two plays - 'Achalayatan' and 'Tasher Desh', a thought got deeply ingrained in adoloscent mind that we as a nation should always feel proud and confident to interact, mix and learn from different cultures all across the globe. When it comes to learning for humanity, the stale aspects of cultural conformist bias should not hinder us from learning.

The question in this cross road is whether the opening of new foreign universities would have such a human face and would help us to grow as a nation and society. Or will it be again creating a divide and class conciousness, elitism from profit seeking motives.

As a dreamer (often day dreamer also when i am lost in blank, stoic, lost world during the day) and optimist, I would like to feel that we as a nation would not move towards the brink of a new 'Achalayatan' but would move forward as a nation.

But really speaking time would tell and may be the great philosopher - 'Rabindranath Tagore' would have been able to enlighten us today if he would have been alive.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When Vishal Bhardwaj traverses time and space through his compositions in Ishqiya?

Since CD of the film 'Ishqiya' was being brought by my elder brother, I have been listening to two compositions of the film repeatedly. The two compositions are - a) 'Dil to Baacha' and b) 'Ibn Batuta'. The two songs have made me feel that Vishal Bhardwaj has traversed the entire landscape of time and geography through these two compositions. He has aptly created a brand from the time dimension of bollywood music. For instance, if one listens to the composition - 'Dil to Baacha', any body would get a feeling that bollywood music of sixties (with interesting leads of acordian) has come off the age and has arrived in 2010. The excellence of Vishal lies in the fact that he creates a melody from 'Dil to Baacha' that appeals to today's audience whose lifestyles are marked by fast paced life. But the album also doesnot leave any segment of the fast paced audience. That becomes evident when in track 5, ' Dil to Bacha' is remixed and well packaged for a techno centric cosmopolitan audience. The melody of 60s gets packaged in a new form and gets internalised in today's audience. Vishal traverses a long time span through this composition. Even in the packaged form of music he doesnot sacrifice the base melodies and intersparses them with some interesting guitar leads and base drums to capture the trendy audience. In both versions of the composition, the rustic Sufi singer 'Rahat Ali Khan' lends his voice who also excels in travelling the time dimension of bollywood music through Vishal.

In an effort to capture the space, Vishal uses the punch of folklore of 'Ibn Batuta' to capture the grass root audience. He truly traverses the space of India through this composition. Here also a trendy package to the composition is given to capture cosmopolitan audience through the packaged rustic feel of Indian folkmusic. So this composition also doesnot miss any segment of the market. It targets the grassroot as well as the urban segment through the trendy version of the folk music.

In short, Vishal through these two compositions ( 1. 'Dil To Bacha', 2. 'Ibn Batuta') capture the time and space dimension of the market of Bollywood music.

At the end of it he also succeeds well in doing that.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Is fulfillment of personal responsibility a way towards attainment of freedom? - Questions that arose during campus life in JNU

Through out the four semesters of the masters programme, the amazing flamboyance of an unorganised content of JNU campus life raised a fundamental question - "Does freedom mean lack of responsibility?" or "Can fulfillment of personal responsibility be a way towards attainment of freedom?". The wonderful days of hostel life in JNU and an ingrained cosmopolitan nature of the campus allowed everybody to pursue their own lifestyles without any interjection from anybody. Simultaneously there was also presence of strong micro community culture with various state specific representations and cross cultural intersparsed groups through out the campus .

Such micro community cultures if managed and maintained properly can always generate huge amount of social capital. Personally, I benefitted a lot being part of some of such micro communities one of which was based in our hostel room no - Jhelum 2. We in Jhelum 2 always shared our joys, sorrows, pains and often frustrations, anguishes together and the room was a witness to most of these human shades. The generosity of JNU campus life always gave us the freedom to have a relaxed time may be often shrugging some of our responsibilities of studying hard to pay back the loyalty towards tax payers money that is being used to fund our masters training in the premier institution.

Every time I introspected and realised that I have not been able to give the full effort to learn a credit course (often may be by attending too many hostel nights and watching too many Friday PVR night show releases at PVR priya complex), the question that emerged was whether this freedom is the real freedom. Because somewhere in the path of attainment of this freedom there was an opportunity cost of not giving the full effort of fulfilling personal responsibility. The two basic questions that emerged were - a) What is freedom to me in a campus life and what are the boundaries of that freedom? and b) What is the boundary of personal responsibility to me?

To be honest, the answer to the second question (in the first semester of the masters programme) was that as long as I am able to fulfill my personal responsibility in terms of managing my own studying, living expenses and finishing credit courses for getting financial independence in the form of a job, I was fulfilling personal responsibility. So by prioritising and balancing that first I was choosing a definition of freedom for myself. As said earlier, these two definitions of freedom and responsibility was very specific to me in the first two semesters. Gradually I realised, the vision was myopic and responsibility doesnot stop over there and in a campus like JNU which is the mirror of India in someways, responsibility has a social affiliation also. It means taking a little more commitment towards the subject, towards the system of learning a subject and finding out a path of emancipation through this system of learning which gives a huge sense of freedom through gathering knowledge (which doesnot end only in the exam sheets of the mid sem and end sem) by observing things around us in the campus. Once that path could be attained there is a huge sense of happiness that develops inside and one gets a sense of freedom. Knowledge gathering and its application towards social issues in the community domains of a campus life could really be one of the ways of fulfilling personal responsibility paving the way for attainment of freedom and happiness. Such freedom and happiness can generate leaders in the subject of social science and it might not always have to be through the orientation of a political affiliation and institution. The leadership quality can come by being more committed to the process of learning the science of a subject and applying them in day to day life during a masters programme with a positive attitude and sense of transparency, openness and accountability.

I was myopic in my learning process in the first two semesters, but today after almost more than 6 years of out of campus life, I dream strongly of the days when our future generation would come out as visionary leaders of social science by practising attainment of freedom through knowledge gathering and its application in campus life.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Security Sirens and Restlessness

The date was probably sometime in May, 2004. I was coming out of the India Habitat Centre, when for the first time felt a connection between 'Security Siren' and 'Sudden Burst of Hidden Restlessness'. A security convoy passed with the alarming sirens ensuring the safety and security of the delegates of the convoy. If we put aside the security aspect of using sirens, then the fundamental question that arises is how far loud sirens serve the purpose. Are loud sirens required even in a road with no heavy traffic. A heavy traffic loaded road enhances the need for using loud sirens to set aside people and others so that they dont act as a hindrance to the convoy - mobility and also guarantees convoy safety. But what is the logic behind using a loud siren even in an empty, clear road on an afternoon of a Saturday (the day of the month of May, 2004 that I mentioned was probably a Saturday) if we assume that there is no security threat alert. Even if there is a threat alert using the siren is then giving signal to the attackers and raising the chance of attack.

But if we dont consider this dimension, does giving loud siren comes from a patriarchal behaviour of showcasing and exhibiting a hierarchy between the people who have power over the people who are being governed by the agents having power. Ideally, the first set of people should take care of the fact that in any situation the manifestations of the status of a segment of the society (proxied by the indicator - loud siren of convoy people) doesnot be a cause of restlessness for others. Generally a convoy movement in our country always create a sense of urgency, hurry. But there are some exceptions also. May be someday, we could dream of a society where there would be no loud sirens as hierarchial indicators of status quo and all connections between - 'Security Sirens and Restlessness' would be blurred that day.

Waiting for another blurring saturday to arrive!


Monday, March 1, 2010

Does reality show enhance the quality of supply of singers in the country?

Currently TV channels are booming with reality shows of singing, dancing and many more. Every time through a cursory glance, I have seen the reality shows dealing with singing, an array of thoughts have sprang up in mind. To reveal some of those series of thoughts dealing with singing reality shows, i thought to select this blog space as a platform for expression. The singing reality shows are a kind of market space flushed with money which is being spent on certain agents (who are the participant singers) based on whose output the business return from the production process is being determined. So every reality show is a kind of production process of an entity (owning the process) where there are financial capital, physical capital and labour inputs that finally produces an output which is the musical product (could be a series of songs, or a song). The quality of the product determines the return from the production process. So better the quality of the output, the larger the TRP rating and more is the business for the people who are investing money in this production process. The entire running operation of a singing reality show could be just viewed as an operation business of an entity that owns the process. There is a demand side catering to the output that comes out of the production process. The demand side is being determined by the people of the country who watches the reality show and raises the TRP rating of the show. Also money could be pumped in to create a brand of a reality show so that people are forced to watch a show. So demand side of a market could be created to run the production process of music reality show in a sustained way.

But does this production process generate better quality inputs (here better musicians, singer for the country) for the country as an outcome. Not necessarily, as high value reality show doesnot mean that it would necessarily improve the quality of the participants. The skills of the participants are often being groomed, developed by the mentors in these reality shows. Often the pressure of running the show (once in a week or some other hectic schedules in terms of show timings) might not give a mentor the time to develop the skill of a participant. Or it might help in building the skill of a participant in a particular genre. Skill development of a participant from a music reality show is very much participant and mentor specific and also depends on the interactive process between them. Ideally skill development of a participant should happen before they join the reality show. Many times, given the background of the participants it doesnot happen. But in the short term the participant could be used as a quality labour input in the production of an output that generates business in the short term. Reality shows therefore at the baseline can have a myopic vision of developing skills for the short term which might not be beneficial for the quality aspects of a singer in the longer term. In the long term therefore these shows might not build up quality singers if the primary focus of a reality show is not to build up long term singing skills and is more towards introducing them to the huge market of reality show singers in India. Even in that introduction mechanism, there is a product differentiation angle that should be kept in mind. This would become more clearer with one illustrative example.

Sometime back in NDTV imagine channel, a show called 'Dhoom Macha De' used to come in which there were three group of teams representating three genres of singing skills of music - Folk, Filmi and Sufi music. 'Sufi Ke Sultan’ team was led by Ustad Rahet Fateh Ali Khan. The team of Folk singers, ‘Maati Ke Lal’ was headed by Ila Arun and the group of Filmi music ‘Bollywood Ke Baadshah’ was led by music director Anand Raj Anand. To me, this show was a production process that was creating different products and assessing what kind of product is being demanded by the market. For assessing that voting lines were opened by which people were asked to vote for particular genre of music, singers.

In some ways using technology, this production process was creating product differentiation and was introducing different genres of output from the production process in the market. The objective of that introduction had a short term business vision. I might be wrong in that assessment, but there is a need to find out how far this process of product differentiated singer introduction in the market of reality show singers is leading to a long term skill building of singers and contributing in the overall cumulative skill building of these singers of reality show market.

Waiting to get some answers in these lines. May be some research on this would open up new answers in these lines of thoughts in future.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

BT Brinjal: Could we have a microscope studying the behaviour of farmers?

Recent BT brinjal debate has brought forward issues related to science of brinjal production, regulatory aspects of impact of brinjal production on human health and food security, probability of development of super insect. But for the time being if we just put these lenses aside and consider - "Why will a farmer adopt a BT brinjal", then the answer to that question could be seen through certain behavioural lenses.

Contextualising the debate through that lense, in this blog, I would just focus on certain behavioural dimensions of a farmer that finally determines the procurment or non procurement decision of BT brinjal by a farmer. New technologies like BT brinjal has a risk dimension associated with it. Risk arises from uncertainties regarding the effect of use of BT brinjal on food security, health safety and uncertainties due to other negative externalities (like gene transfer, transfer of genes to other varieties grown in the same soil) arising from use of BT brinjal. On the other hand a farmer could get the benefit of using this kind of technology from an enhancement of productivity, yield and income generation as has been observed in many instances in Gujarat in case of BT cotton.

Then what guides a farmer decision of buying a BT variety of brinjal? Any farmer who is a human being is guided by fear of uncertainties that a technology poses and also by how much the risk management aspects of the technological uncertainties are in the farmer's domain of control. Larger the chance of not being able to manage such uncertainties, greater would be the probability that the farmer would be risk averse to adopt such a new technology. Parallely it also depends how visa vis the uncertainties the farmer perceives the benefits in the short, medium and long term. Before taking a decision of adopting a new technological product a farmer actually would use something called "discount factor" in his/her own jugadu way and would come up with the discounted benefits and costs during the time of adoption of the technological product. Once the benefits are higher than the costs the farmer would adopt the product.

While doing that discounting, a farmer would also consider what is the chance and time frame in which such a technology could become obsolete and the farmer would use his/her own expectation hypothesis to come up with a time frame in which a new technological product could come in. However while doing that discounting, a farmer needs to be fully aware of all kinds of information about the technology. Any assymmetry in information regarding the technology could lead to an incorrect discounting by the farmer that could thereby lead to a wrong decision of a farmer. The public authorities are therefore highly responsible to pass on that information to the farmer so that a farmer could take a sound decision at any point of time regarding adoption of a technological product like BT Brinjal. All information should be passed on to the farmer and then the farmer should be given the freedom to make a decision. In this regard, each farmer could have different set of discount factors and based on each farmer's discount factor the farmer could turn out to be risk averse, neutral or lover.

Adoption of a technological product like BT brinjal by a farmer is an outcome of a whole set of simulation process that goes in the mind of a farmer. Such a process simulates set of information regarding the risks, benefits, costs and probabilities of risk management associated with adoption of a technological good. The agents of society has to provide the authenticated scientific information to farmer so that he/she could simulate well and could apply his/her own set of expectation hypothesis regarding the costs and benefits of a technology. Discounting by the farmers also need to be done on the possible chances of a technology revision over a certain time frame.

The BT brinjal debate has really thrown forward a new stream of research vision that could be explored using the lense of behavioural tools in analysing technology adoption decisions of a farmer.

A recent paper by Judith Chevalier and Austan Goolsbee in quarterly journal of economics about the nature of forward looking behaviour of consumers could throw light in studying the nature of forward looking behaviour of farmers although the mentioned paper uses a very different set of consumers for analysing the forward looking behavioural pattern.

The point which is important is that there is a need to use a lense of behavioural tools of economics in studying the farmer behaviour pattern with regard to new technological product adoption decisions. The philosophical discourse of such a transdisciplinary lense could come from various other streams of research (even from tools of research dealing with pscychological aspects of a farmer that determines the nature of discounting) where various behavioural tools are applied to analyse new technological product adoption decisions. The days of more cross disciplinary thinking for studying new technological product adoption has arrived. Its high time we start it soon for the benefit of our farmers at the grass root and for the society at large.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

ET 604 to South South Cooperation:

ET 604 to South South Cooperation:

ET – 604, a flight of Ethiopian airlines from New Delhi to Addis Ababa criss crosses the Simien mountain mass (which is a broad kind of plateau) while landing in the Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The southern part of the mountain mass has simien escarpments that looks like the grand canyon of U.S.A. Immediately from the plane itself, I felt that the long cherished dreams that I used to have while reading the fiction story ‘Chander Pahad” by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay got partially fulfilled. Reaching in addis, felt to do some research at the end of the day’s meetings on the wildlife of Ethiopia as an action point of fulfilling the cherished dreams of school days. Certain facts came up from a travel guide book which revealed that the awash national park of Ethiopia is one of the most treasured wild life reserve of Ethiopia which is 225 km east of addis ababa. The forest reserve is bordered by awash river. The wild life also comprises of 1800 m Fantalle volcano. The bale mountain national park is also one of the important forest reserve of Ethiopia.

But to push the realization of the dream of learning about local issues, I got only one Sunday (7th February) in Addis the day when there was no meeting or any presentation that had to be given. On Sunday, I went to Mount Tato, a highland area on the outskirts of Addis. From the top of mount tato one could see the entire Addis Ababa city. The car which was driven by Bruke, an orthodox Christian stopped at downhills of Mount Tato from where we (Bruke and I) started trekking. On our way towards the top highland of Mount Tato, Bruke and I got involved in a very interesting discussion about cultural practices of an orthodox Christian. Bruke informed me that Sunday was his last day of meat eating and for the next two months he would eat vegeteranian food and would always pray about well being of people around him to practice orthodox Christianity. On our way towards the Mount Tato we got engaged in a discussion about spirituality, religion, challenges and opportunities in Africa and India. On our way towards the highland area of Mount Tato, the discussion between Bruke and myself got a halt as my attention went towards a series of chopped of trees on the road side. After a discussion with local people and bruke, I came to know these trees are being cut off and the wood of the trees are used in the booming construction activities of addis. The villagers cut off these woods and then sell each bundle of woods at 20 birr which is the only source of income for the villagers. Alternate income generation activities for these people in small scale plantation work and vegetation restoration activities in the hills could be helpful for sustainable development of the villagers of this area. This area is also facing soil erosion problem and plantation of soil binding species could help in checking soil erosion. As we walked up towards the plain land area of the Mt. Tato, Bruke showed me some trees called “Bawarzef” (as they are called in Amharic). We went to the steep slopes and plucked some leaves from the tree. Bruke suggested to squeeze and smash the leaf and then inhale the smell of the leaf. I followed Bruke’s suggestion and did that and felt that somebody has sprinkled vicks vapour in my nose. Bruke said that the local people use these leaves to cure influenza, fever, cough and cold. The gift of indigenous species of nature was felt by me immediately and realized the beauty of mother earth. The local people also taught me how from the difference in the colour patterns of the leaves one could say which leaf is a better vicks vapour, cetzene, paracetamol in comparison to the other. Finally both of us reached the top of highland zone of Mount. Tato and Bruke told me that he would like me to get into the St. Mary church that was located in the stopping point of our short trekking route. Bruke and I entered the church and he taught me the ways of praying to mother Mary and Jesus in an orthodox way. I prayed with him and felt that South South Cooperation is all about this. Bruke’s eyes were full of tears when he saw me (a Hindu by birth and Indian by nationality) worshipping with him in the church. As we came out of the church we saw a local music store with a poster of Hritick Roshan and Priyanka Chopra starring in the movie Krissh. Bruke was spontaneous to look at me and said immediately that he follows Bollywood since 80s and is a fan of Bollywood music. As a gift from an Indian, I sang two Hindi songs for him immediately and could see the appearance of goosebumps near Bruke’s neck. He was happy and emotional at the same time and was shedding tears in happiness. The South South Cooperation vision germinated immediately and while coming down from the hills, in the long range I could see the construction activities of Addis below and with me on Mount Tato there were the local people, bruke and the realities of Mount Tato. I realized the journey for South South Cooperation has just begun and there is a long way to go.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

'Joint Families and IIM Institutes - What do they have common?'

What does 'Joint Families' and 'IIM Institutes' have in common? 'IIM Institutes' are expected to produce country's best managers to tackle business problems and foster, promote business decisions, growth. A good manager understands the traits of all the people who are critical for business and comes up with the best possible inputs from the people leading to the optimal business decisions at a given time.

In this context, joint families contribute a lot as they also help us in learning the various possible shades and underpinnings of human relationships, traits and teaches an individual how to manage the inputs of family members with the primary objective of maintaining the unit of family enhancing the social capital and wellfare at a given point of time. Possibly in practical terms, such trainings in a joint family could be more successful than the semester trained HR courses. Although joint families would not give the degree that IIM institutes give to have a social standing in terms of CTCs, financial and capital assets (which could be philosophically questioned and that is not again the subject matter of this blog). But in terms of managerial training, joint families really contribute in developing selflessness, leadership qualities, sense of understanding each other to become good manager that might not necessarily develop in management programmes.

In today's cut throat competitive corporate world, such selfless leadership could really go a long way in developing good managers that build goodwill of a company. Specially, in a corporate world of India fraught by fraudulent practices (post Satyam scam) it is really essential to produce managers with strong sense of integrity, honesty.

Having spent the first 18 - 19 years of life in a joint family of 30 people in Kolkata, everyday was a learning exercise. During those years, I had learnt from my mom (analogous to the CEO manager of the family/corporate unit) and her colleagues (counterpart of divisional managers of the large family/corporate unit) how selflessness, actions for building trust, security, integrity, dignity, respect within and between family members should be practised in minutest things and aspects to manage the family. Joint family could in the long run give directions towards building such managerial and leadership qualities.

A management institute could produce good managers for corporate sector. Similarly, the same managerial qualities could be produced by a grooming up in a joint family that builds in the essence and importance of valuing social capital that is an essential, integral component of today's efficient corporate manager.

The importance of such values in corporate managers would increase only in future at the backdrop of the growing advent of global movement of financial capital.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How real estate brokers help in brain gain?

Real estate brokers and brain gain! Isn't this a tenous connection? Before elaborating on that let me reflect a little on some flash back facts of the year 1999. This was a year when I gave the higher secondary examination and after securing a low rank in West Bengal Joint Entrance examination decided to shift towards studying a new subject. One of the aspirations during that time was to pursue and love a subject so that one day could land up in United States (may be driven very marginally by a colonial hangover and illusion also, that gradually cleared and started changing during 2004 - 2006 while working) for higher learning credentials and also could earn some dollars. The motivation to dream in that way for some time was also to save hard currency like dollars (at least definitely during that time) to buy house back in India so that our family could have a feeling of living in our own house. So I used to think that would go to U.S to earn money, degree and come back to the country and stay in our own (non rented) house for the first time. I am sure this is the story of many Indians who go to U.S, earn dollars and invest back in the country in real estates as they want to come back to the country and settle here living in their own house after buying real estate properties. Assurance of a property back at home after investments can act as one of the levers towards helping our people to come back to their own nation.

Real Estate regime therefore has a role to play in this brain gain. But the role of the real estate brokers also holds a key in this brain gain. Recent data shows that most of the Indians who have gone abroad to earn their living, have become NRIs and planning to return to India invests in real estate properties in India through brokers. Many times the broker is found to be corrupt and money of the NRIs are lost. Transparent information dissemination to the NRIs by the agents also often doesnot happen that starts acting as a hindering factor towards return of the NRIs back in the country that could impinge on the brain gain. The performance and nature of the brokers is very important in ensuring that the money of the NRIs are used properly in genuine real estate properties. An agency is always better than a broker because the risk of fraudulent practices could be higher in case of an individual as the uncertainty regarding the behaviour of an unknown individual is higher than the agency. Also the people planning to come back to the country should be cautious of the asset in which the broker is putting the money. Ideally NRIs should check whether their money is put in real estates developed by renowned developers or in real estate projects towards completion. True information disclosure by the real estate agent to the NRI and its subsequent monitoring can fasten the building of trust between the agent and the NRI. Class of real estate asset also holds key regarding how fast the NRI could realise the dream of actually living in a new home in his/her home country after the money has been invested in that asset class.

Also, property grabbing often acts as a barrier for the NRIs who are planning to come back to their country. Efficient laws, speedy recoveries of property, punishment of all agents involved in such property grabbing could work and help in brain gain. Punjab has already amended the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act of 1949 to sort out the cases of property grabbing of NRIs.

This kind of legal reforms along with laws regulating unaccountable practices of brokers could go a long way in bringing back the people (who want to come back to the country and settle in their own homes in India by buying properties in India in a post financial crisis regime) and that could lead to a brain gain for the nation.

Even we could set an example for our neighbouring nation like China where significant brain gain has been happening but in a very different way. Definitely we have to work towards this brain gain through our own "Jugaadu", innovative way. That's why our nation is so interesting as a place to stay and as a subject of research, policy making and implementation.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Does any one know of movement of Iranian directors facilitated by Film Festivals"

"Movement of Iranian directors facilitated by Film Festivals"! It might give a feeling that how could film festivals facilitate movement of Iranian directors. But before stating some explanations to how this could happen one needs to know from where the idea and title of blog came. The idea of this blog and its title came after knowing about an Iranian film called "No One Knows About Persian Cats" directed by Bahman Ghobadi. What is unique about this film? This film has been banned in Iran and uses lot of underground music, lyrics to show the domestic oppression in the political regime of Iran. The film won a special jury prize in Cannes Film Festival. A view point came out that Iranian filmmakers are using the international film festivals as a platform to put their voice against the political regime in Iran that came to power after the presidential election.

This has not happened only with the above stated film. Similar instances have happened with many other politically sensitive Iranian films that have been shown in film festivals of London, Berlin, Montreal. A recent trend shows various Iranian film makers are increasingly going out to international film festivals with their projects and has been raising their voice against the political regime in Iran through their films by using the platforms of international film festivals in various European and other countries of West. The ruling government in Iran has also taken initiatives to curtail such movie makings in Iran. Often, ruling government has been curtailing politically sensitive movie making in Iranian film industry with the defense of putting a logic of cushioning Islamic identities from western influence. Clash of conflictual identities between the state and the directors of Iranian films has become prominent. The push factor emanating from this clash within Iran has contributed towards movement of Iranians to various film festivals organized across various countries of West.

The clash between state and Iranian film directors has not been limited only to politically sensitive films. It has happened in case of a film called "The Circle" directed by Jafar Panahi that highlighted the position of women in Iranian society. The director of the film was arrested, but later he went with his movie to Montreal Film Festival. Clash of identities and lack of space of different values within Iran could have been one of the reason towards this movement. It could also be due to lack of intellectual freedom of directors, different value systems of the directors that differs from the cultural homogenisation process of the ruling Iranian state that has been happening in Iran. Sense of insecurity of state from the directors and capability of influencing the society by the directors towards a different cultural regime could have also forced the state to create pressure on the directors that further acted as push factors. So, within Iran itself, clash of cultures, values and identities between two entities viz. state and an intellectual class (individualistic identity) might have helped in creating such push factors. Additionally, the film festivals in the European countries have acted as incentives for these film makers to put their voice to get a recognition of their work. The film festival platforms also helped them in sensitization of the world about the clash of cultures, values and entities, identities in Iran. The question is to see how far these film festivals have acted as a significant pull factor in creating a movement of the Iranian film makers towards these festivals in comparison to the push factors. Statistical significance testing of the relationship between the "movement of the Iranian directors to the film festivals" and "push factors" (within Iran) and "pull factors" (from outside Iran) {with film festival platforms as proxy variable of pull factors} along with other relevant variable indicators could be a way forward to come out with some empirical conclusions in this domain of research.

Till I find enough evidence and data to carry out such a testing let the above question stay outside the statistical software for now.