Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Leadership in short supply - Let the wind of Change blow East!

Thursday's events have thrown up a humongous demand for LEADERSHIP. Not only in political space, but in the media as well - while all channels relayed events as is, many of them did not refrain from one-upmanship brownie points with claims like "our reporter was the first...", "these are exclusive pictures..", "we are bringing these to you live...".
Several bigwigs had their bytes prominently relayed by starved reporters. A few channels left their ad space and time intact - the viewer is a consumer after all!
Media gave themselves a free hand, and have assumed that they are beyond regulation.
The watchdog is actually a giant rat greedy for a large piece of the cheese.
(The exception seems to be a series of meaningful discussions moderated by Omkar Goswami in a business channel )
We need leaders who can inspire and innovate, and we need change!
Since November 4, I've been trying to compile a list of 'IDEAL 552', and find myself very far from completing the list. Each person herein has one or more of the following attributes:
1. Seen as clean / has integrity / believes in ethics
2. feel for the masses
3. can certainly make a change.
4. whatever the call, (s)he is a professional.
5. does not appear to have vested interests
APJ Abdul Kalam
Medha Patkar
Narayana Murthy
P Sainath
TN Seshan
Prakash Karat
Brinda Karat
MS Swaminathan
Amartya Sen
Sunita Narain
Ramachandra Guha
Mallika Sarabhai
Cho Ramaswamy
Binayak Sen
Naresh Chandra
Tarun Das
Omkar Goswami
MP Anil Kumar
S Gurumurthy
Sheela Rani Chungath
J Radhakrishnan
Shashi Tharoor
Woefully, my list stops here. Doubtless, you can think of others? (non-celebrities, thank you)
And Googling ethical Indians / clean Indians is of no help. You'll find several Influential Indians though!
PS - On seeing any of these names, if you wish to pigeonhole this blogger's 'ism' - try creativism :)
Adding to the list:
Kiran Bedi
Somnath Chatterjee
Ratan Tata
Vallabh Bhansali
Prakash Amte & Mandakini Amte
Dr V Shanta
Dr V Kurien
For more suggestions, please see comments below.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Stop the bail-out - Let them wake up!

Magsaysay award winner P Sainath writes that "The New York Times notes ruefully in a lead editorial: “Just weeks after the Treasury Department gave nine of the nation’s top banks $125 billion in taxpayer dollars to save them from unprecedented calamity, bank executives are salting money away in billionaire bonus pools to reward themselves for their performance.” Other bailout bandits have held meetings at resorts costing hundreds of thousands of dollars." Read The Jurassic Auto and Idea Park

Auto giants, related sectors, and other oversized Inc. have, over decades, "destroyed both existing and potential public transport. The ‘American Dream’ so far as the automobile went was an imposed nightmare. In Detroit itself, you can see the skeletons of a once alive transport system. All across the country, for decades from the 1920s, they bought up public transport systems and shut them down. Trains were shifted from electric to diesel engines. Sometimes, they were simply done away with and replaced by buses and then cars. Together with Big Oil, Big Auto converted electric transit systems to fuel-based bus systems. In one estimate: In 1935, electric train engines outnumbered diesel train engines 7 to 1. "By 1970, diesel train engines outnumbered electric ones 100 to 1. And GM made 60 per cent of the diesel locomotives." The electric rail system in and around Los Angeles was almost erased."

But it appears that not enough people are asking questions - 99% of the media empathise with the elite and the 'have-all-want-more'. Gelatine-back-boned legislators outnumber the sane few, not only in the land of patented dreams, but also elsewhere.

If Big Auto wants Government doles citing the millions of jobs, let them remodel their assembly lines to make buses and locomotives - public transport will revive, jobs will be safe.

As to possible brand names for the buses and coaches, here are a few suggestions - SORRY / BAILOUT / Autumn2008 / WE-WOKE-UP.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

HAPPY CHILDREN'S DAY - to the child in you

If today is Happy Children's Day, I wish you 365 days of happy children, and childhood!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Headphones for deaf Ears"- buying what you don't need!

An illustration of how many people end up buying what they don't need (can't use?!)
You may have received this forward, attributed to 'an old man with old thoughts'. (If you have, please skip to bottom of post).
"LATELY, I have been thinking a lot about the Lehman crisis. Spending money that they didn't have and going beyond their means is one of the main reasons for their situation today. In fact that is the cause for the current economic crisis in the US.
When I see all this happening, I can only remember the good old days. Then, karz was bad. People looked down upon those who took loans. Parents would not give their daughter's hand in marriage to a man with loans.

But of course, the times have changed now. Everyone I know has a loan. The buzz word is EMI (equated monthly installment). Today, you can buy everything on EMI - a house, a television, an i-Pod. In fact I know of someone who just bought a fancy BMW 3 series on EMI, instead of buying a cheaper car outright with cash. I mostly prefer to take public transport, but then I am an old man with old thoughts!

Anyway, coming back to what caused the crisis. Imagine having Rs 2 lakh in your bank account, no regular income, yet buying a house worth Rs 65 lakh, in the hope of selling it for a higher price. Even if the price of the house fell by just 5 per cent (that is Rs 3 lakh), you will go bankrupt.

This is what Lehman Brothers did; with around USD 20 billion they went and bought assets worth over USD 600 billion. Isn't it suicidal and simply foolish?
I am sure things would have been different, had I been the head of Lehman brothers. But who wants an old conservative man like me to head a complex financial institution.

But there are a few lessons that we can learn:
1. Live a balanced life and avoid overspending.
2. Don’t buy things we don't need.
3. Don't buy Branded good's.
4. Don’t buy excess Food, Cloths, Cosmetics, Footwear, electronics and
Fashion accessories just think before you buy.
Tip: World still has a lot of growth ahead and the future holds immense opportunities for us. Let us make the most of it and save and invest it wisely instead of wasting our precious little on things we don't need.
5. Try to balance life with work (No one is happy to work in their (profession's).
6. Don't stress out your self, after work try to do some extra activities like swimming, yoga, walking, running where you can divert your mind from stress.
A thumb rule: Health is more important than money.
7. Try to understand each other (Wife and Husband) in financial matters and help each other.
Tip: As soon as you get your monthly salary, set aside a fixed amount, usually 35 per cent, for insurance, savings and investments. You can then spend the rest.
8. Not all loans are bad. Loans that are 'need based' (home loans, education loans) can always find a place in your finances against those that are largely 'want based' (Credit cards, personal loans, car loans).
9. Borrow only if repayment is financially comfortable.
A thumb rule: Keep EMIs within 35 to 45 per cent of your monthly income

In that respect, there is one American who I really respect – WARREN BUFFET. He has lived in the same ordinary house for over three decades, drives his own medium sized car and leads an extremely regular 'middle class' life. If that's all it takes for the richest person on earth to be happy, why do all of us need to take extra stress just so that we can get things which aren't even essential?

Read on -
The above message was dutifully forwarded to a cousin - an epitome of ante-1,2,3,4,5,6,7 above
(He's too busy to read blog posts, I'm sure)
He confessed - "Superb article….you should have sent it a couple of days back….I would have saved 800 Rs which I spent on a panasonic headphone….:( "

No marks for guessing who wrote this: "Of course when the same advice came from the wife before that unnecessary headphone was billed - it fell on deaf ears!! Headphone for deaf ears - what an absolute waste."

So I supplement old gentleman's message with 'QED'!
Pic courtesy - by kind permission of Webradio

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

November Medley - Bharat Ratna, National River, Half-White House

A decade from now, this is how I wish to remember November 5 of a certain year.
"1. The Government announced the award of Bharat Ratna to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. The newspapers gave him a 1/2 inch space. No channel resounded with his music. A kid's voice could be heard - Who is he, mom?
(Image from India Today site)
Salutations to the Maestro.

The Ganga has been declared as National River.
Best wishes to the Ganga River Basin Authority - may they work with sincerity of purpose to stop pollution and degradation. The newspaper allowed Ganga to take up a little more space.
Perhaps one can feel much happier when listening to Bhupen Hazarika's Ganga behti ho kyon

3. (The thought occured that)  the White House in a certain Nation could be renamed a Half-White House. The newspapers and the channels went disproportionately overboard."
Image from infoplease.com

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