Friday, September 23, 2005

From Aussies to Ashes....................
23rd September 2005

Some days back I was relaxing in the train on my way to Dadar, I heard a couple of boys talking about the fall of Australia in the cricketing world.
Personally I felt a smile growing inside me as I heard the naïve banter. But later I gave it a slight thought. That was maybe because I have lots of free time nowadays. On a serious note I just wanted to analyze what went wrong with the champions.
I have a bad habit of using analogies when I want to understand most things. I did draw out an analogy; I compared the world dominance of US with the Australian dominance of the cricketing world.
But my own conclusions surprised me; In search of an analogy, I found a pattern of total dissimilarities.
Firstly, there is an invasion of Asian power in both the cases,
China-the biggest threat to US world dominance
India/Pakistan/Sri-Lanka –The biggest threats to Australian cricketing dominance
But there are some significant discrepancies in the 2 patterns. Let me try and highlight those.
Unlike the world scenario where China has been sucking the US throat on the economic front, the battle is not so intense on the cricketing field.
The aversion of the Chinese field to devalue the Yuan has strangled the US economy for too long now.
But the Australian team has won tournaments and series the world over far too easily without any serious competition for a long time now.
Also a very significant event like the World War II was primarily responsible for the US dominance;
But in case of the cricketing field, Australia has built up its dominance by playing great cricket and only that.
At the same time when US was holding back other countries from coming to the Economic forefront by various arm twisting techniques, the cricketing world saw no such efforts on part of Australia to dominate cricket or cricketing politics.

So far so good!

But last week saw Australia fall to ‘Ashes’ after its historic defeat to England but believe me; I have never seen a team fall to Ashes so gracefully.
The team has not exactly been humble over the years nor have been their players but never ever have we seen them reverting to unfair politics or unfair practices to gain the slightest advantage over their opponents and peers.
We would have to concur that it was just the case where we saw some exceptional cricket being played by the England cricketers especially the heap of exceptional cricket led by deadly Freddie.
A magnanimous bowling line up, coupled with some confident looking batsmen was all it took to humble the mighty Kangas.
I don’t know for how much longer, but the Aussies have definitely been worthwhile champions, while the US has and always will struggle to be complete world leaders.
Maybe they can try their hands at Cricket …………

Dhimant Negandhi
24 August 2005

Hanging in between the economic utopia of the dragon and Uncle Sam is the spirit of the devoted Indian, to be precise, that of a Mumbaikar.

The vociferous city labeled as the economic capital of India has made a mock of itself lately. And when I say the city, I include me, you and every anthropoid who has gained a slightest bit from the ‘City Of Dreams’ or shall I now say A Nightmare
Momentarily we are forced by the incumbents to dream of the Shanghais and the Tokyos, moments exist when every Mumbaikar’s eye reflects the Yens,Yuans and plump Dollars. And yet in a flash these reflections seem like a hallucination ,and the eyes now reflect slums, a deluge that washed away homes, an epidemic that washed away the residents of those homes and above all a reflection of text that will stay forever “We are not safe………….”

But in recent years I have grown up a lot in terms of optimism, so the adage by the SWAMI echoes in my ears “Be not afraid of growing slowly, but fear standing still”
As Swami Vivekananda says we need to move slowly but surely towards a better future as conditions around us change. Also there is a song by the Scorpions that plays in my mind. It is like a repartee to the problems faced by Mumbai lately. Titled “Winds of Change”, two important lines in the lyrics say

‘Don’t you dare give up,
Listen to the Winds of Change’

The matter of fact is that every one of us is listening and is aware of what is going on but what we are unaware of is what to do next? The question to be answered now remains Can we do something to save the spirit of Mumba Devi ? And if yes who is dominantly going to be this ‘us’?
The truth is that in the great deluge that occurred, every weakling of this city was exposed at the same time.” Truth is Naked” as Shakespeare rightly quotes. We the people blamed the government, the government blamed the Civic authorities, so did the Media and then comes to the forefront the sorry state of affairs that the BMC is crippled with. The ecologists talked about this being a consequence of playing with natural resources, protests for better electricity supply and water supply were raised, protests about the poor condition of the roads were raised. Concerns were shown by one and all for the people without food and water supplies.
There is no doubt in my mind that these were issues of concern and I am as concerned for all of them as any average altruistic citizen of Mumbai but can we just neglect the fact of prime importance?
If and only if and I repeat, If and only if, Bombay..oops.. Mumbai had a better drainage system that is if it could drain the excess of water at a rate twice that of what it does currently, all the other concerns would become either tertiary or extinct.
The solution sounds so simple,does not it? But what we fail to realize is that the failure to implement the solution is due to the rigid bureaucratic setup of our government offices. And this bureaucracy comes as an accompaniment with America’s gift to this world and that is Democracy.

Someday I would like to stand up and question the integrity and the greatness of democracy as I on a personal note do not believe that democracy is the ultimate system for a nation’s well being. And I have profound belief in Human Creativity to come up with a better solution at least a better version of the current democratic process.
But for now I am fine with democracy. My plea to the government both at the state and at the centre, Get the money from the government treasury or from the World Bank or whatever…and Forgive me if I sound apathetic but build up a drainage system for my city ,our city and give Bombay…oopss… Mumbai its share of the Economic pie it deserves.
And if in the future if you would kindly settle down to primogeniture issues rather than suffering from the neurosis of changing names of cities, airports and Railway Terminals,
So that every Mumbaikar can say fearlessly to the Rain Gods,

Thursday, September 22, 2005

From Economics to Freakanomics

Imagine on a fine Monday morning, you wake up to find that when you walk towards the kitchen, it not only has an entry but an exit too; Curious like most humans naturally are, you walk out of the exit to find anew room and you are even more surprised to find a n exit again. You continue your journey until you find out that you are in a room that has an exit and you don’t remember how many rooms you have crossed. Gosh! That’s so difficult even to imagine that you start questioning your senses or whether you are still dreaming. And if it is true, you may just need to do something about it!!!!!!!

That’s what is precisely required because the rules of the game have changed. I am talking about the nations that have not only have doors to the outside world but which broken down their walls and borders all together. We now live in a borderless world!
But to save ourselves from total chaos, we may just have to redefine our laws, our ways of reasoning and our outlook.

Economy is a relatively new science, because although Economics has long existed, the laws have been relatively set later than most other sciences. No wonder Economics was lately (1960’s to be precise) introduced as a Nobel Prize category too.
But is it a science? Because a science must be always answerable and accountable to Ecology. But sadly Economics is not. And I am surprised why it is not?

Capitalism is no doubt a boon for our modern society, but are not we bringing the same to the threshold of a curse? Why are we letting the lapse of accountability lead to a crisis?
And it is the same borderless world that I was talking about which is accelerating the rate of this crisis. We all know about how setting up enormous factories has led to pollution and depletion of the ozone layer. So I will save this article from that discussion. But there are a couple of things I am more worried about and they are not transparent enough to be seen easily. So I thought I will scrape some of the surface for you people.

Einstein quotes “I don’t know what the third world war would be fought with, but the 4th one would be definitely fought with sticks and stones.”
It may require a German genius to coin this quote, but does it require more than a common citizen to understand and decode these 25 words of caution??
Bringing out a clearer picture, the so called Nuclear energy which is deemed to be the future of the world energy needs is more than a hazard. Today the mention of a nuclear hazard may remind you of Chernobyl or say Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but how many of us know that the nuclear weapons that countries like US possess are a 1000 times more destructive than the former one! Leave alone the arms race, the same amounts of energy are also stored in the energy powerhouses, or so called Nuclear reactors.
Although the US may convince the world of the security and the safety of these reactors but the fact remains that the chances and risk of a disaster can never be eliminated as long as the human factor is involved. And it is no secret that the H factor will never and can never be eliminated.
And in absence of a disaster too, these reactors are leaving back huge remains of Plutonium waste that will haunt the Human race forever.
The arms race, the reactors and enormous wastes have not threatened not only us but the generations to come. The question I want to ask is “WHAT RIGHT DO WE HAVE TO PUNISH THEM, CHASTISE THEM IN SUCH A MANNER THAT THEY MAY NEVER RECOVER?” The extinction of the dinosaurs reminds us that life and ecology has to co-exist. We don’t want other species to dig out human fossils a 1000 years from now!!!! Or do we??

But there is one more opaque factor and a bigger disaster and that is related to Agriculture.
Technology in agriculture has always been shown as a boon in developed countries, but how many of us are aware, that it is the economics game at play again. The oil companies and the fertilizer companies have found out who their biggest customers are from their base. They have done the world good by educating them about the benefits of this revolution, but what about the other side of the coin? I will try and do the needful.

The year round different crops were grown before the green revolution and as pests generally affect only a particular variety of crop, growing different crops led to the elimination of these pests. Also soil fixation was naturally done by the earthworms. But this natural rhythm has been disturbed completely and today the farmers are producing a single crop throughout the year with the help of great fertilizers and chemicals and fertilizers are used for the purpose of fixation too. But this is only making the pests immune to these pesticides slowly but surely. And more importantly we are leaving behind traces of and huge traces of deadly chemicals in the Bio-cycle that will ultimately lead to disaster.

And coming back to Economics, if you doubt any of these facts, go back and look back at the various US oil companies that have started to foray into fertilizer and chemical business and Vic versa.
Now that’s what I call Freakanomics!!!!!!!!!!

Dhimant Negandhi