Friday, December 12, 2008


I recently came across this beautiful speech delivered by one Subroto Bagchi to the graduating batch of IIM Bangalore in 2006.

I have been thinking these last few day about just such speeches. Say, it so happens that one day society takes note of you. Takes note because your work has made a tangible difference to the lives of those people who might not even be known to you. And so you find yourself in front of a graduating batch of bright, excited students, raring to enter the real world. You narrate experiences that shaped the course of your life. In all likelihood, they will be full of insights you gained during your childhood and college years, not in an advanced class on micro-economics or nano-photonics at whatever post graduate college you went to. Some might remember your speech. Some might not. Some may forward it to their friends. One person's insights become another's anecdotes. Till one day, somebody has an epiphany of their own; that their insights have similar roots as the ones narrated in the many "Interesting fwds" that came their way!

Just what is it, that transforms words of inspiration into inspiring words?

Monday, December 01, 2008


After unarguably the most dramatic terrorist event in India's history, people in India, Pakistan and the world over are trying to make sense of what just happened. I mention these three geographical entities separately, because each has their own official stance on the matter, that not surprisingly, differs from each other's. In the initial shock of the event, all three voices speak in near unity; horror, sorrow and solidarity. No sooner has the shock subsided does each one return to their official stance, which has more to do with posing for the gallery than building peace, at the same time furiously working out mechanisms to deal with such terror if and when an encore presents itself. Harder questions that deal with trying to understand the root causes of extremism are brushed under the carpet. In such times, fear, both real and manufactured, make people more willing to give up a part of their individual liberties. It is a trap that the Indian people can very easily fall into when faced with the new found bravado that the government is displaying. Yes, it is a display. The Indian and Pakistani governments are talking to each other through the media, which makes it into a collection of monologues, rather than a dialogue. In rhetoric of this nature, the first casualty is hope. The hope for stable and lasting peace. The Indian establishment is posturing with an excessive use of quotation marks. India will take up strongly with our "neighbours" that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated and that there would be a "cost" if "suitable" measures are not taken by them. The media, ever ready to ponce on sensational material, is not to be left behind. Any "evidence" the government presents is lapped up all to willingly and judgements implicating the same "neighbour" are passed instantaneously. With a chilling soundtrack softly playing in the background, I might add. Fear, manufactured. The official Pakistani government line so far has been fairly restrained and should be appreciated. Its media, leaves much to be desired, however. From what I have seen so far, people floating conspiracy theories about the attack being conducted by Indian authorities themselves are given liberal airtime. Of course, I must admit that in the last few days, I've followed the Indian media in a lot more detail than Pakistan's. I do not know the extent of the Pakistani connection in this whole episode. I only "know" what the media puts in front of me, but I'm not willing to suspend my critical faculty on account of the enormity of the tragedy. But one thing I do realise is that if the two governments are serious about trying to remove extremism from their societies, trials and monologues through the media must come to an end.

And no, the US need not play baby sitter. Or big brother.