I am a Hypocrite

 

Rakesh has tagged me. This was the opportunity that I was waiting for!

The Tag: Requires me to post six things that are eccentric attributes of mine.

I choose to describe only one eccentric attribute (trait?) of mine – Hypocrisy. But I would give six instances to showcase it though!

When the match fixing scandal was exposed in Cricket, I thought that it was some kind of a conspiracy to undermine the popularity of the game. Because, even after the exposure, I tend to watch the game with the same passion I had earlier, in any of its forms. What is important for me is the fun I have in cheering for my team and the ‘feeling’ I get after we win a match or a tournament. Even if some people are skeptical about the rival captain’s decision to bowl part time bowlers at a crucial point of a match, I would choose to ignore all that. I am ecstatic because of the fact that we won that match. And that is what matters to me. I don’t really bother when in football, the United States is a a quarter finalist in a world cup hosted by the United states or when Japan and Korea both reach the semi finals of the world cup jointly hosted by them or when Italy wins the world cup just after a huge match fixing scandal breaks out there. What I am more bothered about is that I was not able to watch some of the matches! You could also read a Poem that I wrote on the topic ‘Match Fixing’ some time back!

When I see a bottle in the middle of the road, I curse the person who put it there and would get around it hoping that every one else also would be able to do the same. The idea of stopping my vehicle and removing the bottle from there never crosses my mind. Even if it does after some time (And distance), I would like to think that some one would have removed it by now! When a fellow commuter breaks the traffic signal to attend to some ‘Urgent’ work that he always seems to have, I would abuse him. Or ignore him. Worse, I would even take him as an example and start breaking signals myself, as I think that he was daring, smart and even saved a lot of time by breaking signals!

When Miss My Country wins the Miss Universe or Miss World pageant after giving such a complex and a brilliantly well constructed reply to the question posed by the judges in the final round, I would rejoice even though the sentence seems to be hopelessly memorized (Albeit for a short time, after which that ‘good’ feeling takes over again)!

I sincerely believe that all those film awards are being given to the deserving ‘artistes’ and I fail to understand or even probe why Amir Khan is not present to collect the award for any of his movies. I am happy as long as I am entertained with so many glamorous people all under one roof, and I think why they don’t screen these award functions at the multiplexes!

I believe that education is the key to success in life. So much, that I don’t care to notice how students are admitted into these ‘technical’ institutes, what they are taught there, whether they are able to understand and are able to apply the theoretical concepts to practical applications, how they very often memorize whole pages to just pass the examinations, or even to get university ranks. I just don’t bother about all these trivial things as long as I get admitted in one, manage to pass out with a decent GPA and get a high paying job in a big company. I don’t bother to see if the kind of work I am doing is helping me to achieve quality results and is able to help me take further strides in my career to understand good business practices and acquire skill sets that would reward my company and myself.  All I would be bothered about after joining one would be about the appraisals (Perhaps the lack of it?) and the onsite ‘opportunities’. Of course, I would also be bothered about how much more is my college mate or ex-colleague is earning in his/her big company!

And last but not the least, I really think that Open and Free market strategies and practices are really open and free for everyone and they are the best bet to solve all our economic woes!

I am a hypocrite and a proud one at that. Because, if I was not proud of it, I would have at least attempted to change myself! I guess I share a lot with my fellow citizens 🙂 

 

Destination Infinity

PS: I am supposed to tag some people. So, consider yourself to be tagged if you wanna add some more salt….

Otto Von Bismarck

1815 – 1898

Germany, unlike England and France was not a united nation, for quite a long time. Bismarck’s most important legacy is the unification of Germany. Germany had existed as a collection of a lot of separate principalities, and free cities, since the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. Bismarck was the first leader to unite a major portion of what is referred to as Germany, today.

Otto Von Bismarck was not the prince of Prussia – which was by far the largest constituent of the divided Germany. In 1848, Prussia faced a revolution, which resulted in the creation of the constitution and legislature (Landtag). Bismarck was even elected to this Landtag but later was made an envoy (Of Prussia) to Frankfurt, Russia and France.

In 1862, the King of Prussia – Wilhem appointed Bismarck as the Minister-President and Foreign Minister of Prussia. Bismarck used both diplomacy and the Prussian military to achieve unification of a multitude of principalities loosely bound together as members of the German Confederation. Prussia became the most powerful and dominant member of this new Germany, and Austria was excluded. The new German empire was a federation. Each of constituent states retained some autonomy. Bismarck was appointed the imperial chancellor of the German empire.

During most of his nearly 30 years long tenure, Bismarck held undisputed control over the Government policy. He was well supported by his friend Albrecht Von Roon, the War Minister and the leader of the Prussian Army – Helmuth Von Moltke. Bismarck mostly devoted himself to keeping peace in Europe so that the strength of the German empire would not be threatened.

Bismarck’s astute, cautious, and pragmatic foreign policies allowed Germany to retain peacefully the powerful position into which he had brought it. He maintained amiable diplomacy with almost all the European nations, except maybe France.

Some of Otto Von Bismarck’s famous quotations:

“Only self interest makes a war worthy cause for a major state. At the end of the conflict we would scarcely know why we had fought”

“Man cannot create the current of events. He can only float with them and steer”

“What we learn from History is that no one learns from History”

“The most significant event of the 20th Century will be that the North Americans speak English”

“Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied”

“When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn’t the slightest intention of putting it into practice”

“When you want to fool the world, tell the truth”

Destination Infinity

 You could visit the People Places and Culture section of this blog for similar articles.

Where do we play?

Sundar was in his early sixties. He had been working in a good position in a leading Government firm and had retired recently. He was always active during his working days and hence even after retirement he chose to be active by becoming the General Secretary of the apartment where he and his son’s family lived – in separate apartments. One of the proposal that he was instrumental in taking forward was the expansion of the apartments. The Government had left some good space in front of the four blocks as a part of its planned apartment construction (When the apartments were originally constructed before some years) as per its procedures. The Government then sold off the apartments to individual tenants. Recently a lot of such Government built apartments were expanding in the open spaces available with them, across the city. Not to be left behind, Sundar too managed to get the permission to expand his apartments. Dharma, was his grand son. He was studying in the eighth standard.

 

“Today is one of the most important dates for this apartment Dharma. We have managed to get the permission to expand the apartments. We will no longer be a 2BHK apartment owners. We will be the proud owners of Three Bedroom, Two Hall and Kitchen apartments. You should be very happy as we are doing all this for you. Aren’t you exited to have a bigger house?”

 

“But Grandpa, all the owners have to pay for the expansion, right?”

 

“Yes. But we managed to get almost everybody’s approval except a couple of the owners. The turning point was the deal that we struck with this construction company. They have offered to do the construction, free of cost for us. We need to pay only for the materials. All they wanted in exchange was to construct one more floor – The Third floor and sell it at the prevailing market rates today. So, the owners were very happy. And so was the construction company as the existing real estate prices in this area has sky-rocketed recently”

 

“But what is the advantage to us?”

 

“We would be the proud owners of such a big apartment house, that too in a prime location in the city. That’s why I insisted that your father buy an apartment here itself”

 

“But Grandpa, you and Grandma live in a separate apartment. My parents and myself too live in our own apartment. Why do we need four halls and six rooms for the five of us?”

 

“You are too young to understand the real estate market. It is something like this – If we ever decide to sell an apartment after expansion, the returns would be very high”

 

“But would we ever sell, Grandpa?”

 

“That, I am not sure. Maybe not in the near future. But we can feel secure as we have such a high value property with us. Investing in property is always the best investment, dear”

 

“But we have already taken a loan to buy the house. Now we need to take another one for the expansion”

 

“Yes, that is there. But think about this – If we stayed in rental houses, we would be paying a considerable amount as rental every month and after a long time we would have paid a lot of money but we would not own any property. This is better than that, isn’t it?”

 

“But the rental amount would be considerably lesser, Grandpa. We would also be able to use the differential amount for having a better standard of living. Imagine if there is a misfortune and we are not able to pay the Bank installments”

 

“That is exactly what I was talking about. If ever such a misfortune arises, we could sell one of the apartments, settle the bank loan and still have a handsome amount to spend in our hands. All of us could always live in a single apartment after that”

 

“You are talking about the advantage that we could get, in the event of a misfortune, Grandpa. I was talking about the advantages we could have, without that misfortune. And on the top of that we require a misfortune to stay together!”

 

“Nothing like that. This is also like living together. You could always come here anytime you want, right?”

 

“Yes. But everything is separate, right? We have two kitchens, two separate furniture sets, double maintenance charges, when we could have easily avoided all that”

 

“But this was the best option available to me when your parents wanted to live separately. You are young. You cannot understand certain things in life. It will take some time before you grasp all these things”

 

“I too guess so. But Grandpa, where do we play Cricket after the expansion?”

 

Destination Infinity

PS: This post was inspired by This Blogpost by An Alien Earthling. Wondering if there is any connection between that post and this one? There is.

Two Great Tennis Players

His childhood was a huge tragedy. Even before he was born, three of his older siblings died. When he was barely 18, his mother died. Three years later, his father and brother died. At the young age of 22, he was the only survivor of a once big family.

He was encouraged to play Tennis by a relative, who considered it to be a form of therapy for his grief.

Five years later, he became the first American player to win a tournament at Wimbledon, in England. In the 1920’s he dominated the sport of Tennis like no one else. He won seven US Championships, three Wimbledon titles. In fact, his form was so good during his peak that he won 57 games in a row.

He was Bill Tilden, one of the greatest Tennis players of all time.

 

When he was barely 6 years, his mother passed away. To avoid his loneliness, he started playing Tennis. It did not take a long time for him to come to the main stage. In 1969, he won both US Open and the Davis Cup for his country. Yet, in that year, he was denied entrance to a South African tournament because he was black. He then started using his star status to help African American people to achieve equality. He also won the Wimbledon on a come back effort.

In 1980, he had a heart stroke; in the hospital during surgery, he was given HIV infected blood. He contacted AIDS. Still, for 13 years, he fought to bring awareness about AIDS worldwide.

One of his fans wrote a letter asking him that while there were five hundred billion people on the planet, why God chose him for the deadly disease? To which, he replied – “Every year fifty million people start playing Tennis, 50000 people come to the circuit, 5000 reach the Grand slams, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to the semi-finals, 2 to the finals and only one player among all wins the title. When I was holding the Cup (After winning the Wimbledon), I never asked God “Why me?”. And today in pain too, I should not be asking God, “Why me?”  

He was Arthur Ashe, another renowned Tennis player of his time.

It is from these great people that we must take inspiration. Not the hero’s and heroine’s of Bollywood.

 

Destination Infinity

Success

There is one more quotation which I would like to share with you all… This is the definition of Success by Ralph Wandoo (Waldo?) Emerson. This is by far the best definition that I have been able to find on the topic – Success.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better – whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life breathed easier because you lived – That is to have succeeded in life” 

 

Seems convincing for me; have you guys anything to add?

 

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Thought provoking Quotes

There are certain quotations which do not advice. They do not preach. They are not judgmental.  They don’t claim that they are the Truth. But still you would have to think about each of them at least twice. The wisdom ingrained in them is sometimes not visible openly. That’s why I have categorized them as thought provoking. I have been getting the following quotes from a friend through email (The subject is Good Morning, though and with a neat picture). Some of them have indeed made my day, not just the morning. Have a look at a few selected ones that I have liked over the years.

“The true mystery of the world is the visible; not the invisible”

“Money is a very excellent servant; but a terrible master”

“An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason”

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten but they may start a winning game”

“Anger is a condition in which the tongue works faster than the mind”

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”

“It’s not what you are called, but what you answer to”

“Putting off an easy thing makes it hard”

“Having enemies’ means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life”

“Failure is not falling down; but staying down”

“By learning to obey, you will know how to command”

“To be content with a little is hard; to be content with much is impossible”

“If you wish to travel far and fast, try traveling light, taking off all your burdens”

“LUCK….. stands for Laboring Under Correct Knowledge”

“Intellectuals solve problems. Geniuses prevent them”

“The future will be exactly like the past; only far more expensive”

“Hard-work has a future pay-off; Laziness pays-off now”

And how about this one to close: “Cheer up, the worst is yet to come” !!

Destination Infinity

PS: I’ll try to post more such quotes, but at irregular intervals. But the worst is yet to come – so cheer up people 🙂

Related Reading: Thought Provoking Quotes – II

Top Ten Songs Every Month

Bhutan – Learning’s from a Little Country

This is an update to my earlier post on Bhutan:

http://destinationinfinity.wordpress.com/2008/01/13/bhutan-gross-national-happiness-democracy-and/

Somehow, I seem to be fascinated by the Bhutanese.  In these times, when the elected ‘representatives’ are more concerned about retaining their power by any means, there is a King in Bhutan who has introduced Democracy and given the right to the Parliament to remove him by a majority vote of no-confidence, which never existed before – in this mountainous kingdom. And no, people did not force this through a revolution. They were happy to have their King, and now they are happy to embrace Democracy. Their happiness comes through a concept introduced by the Bhutanese King – “Gross National Happiness”, which he uses to measure the progress of his state. This doesn’t take only the wealth created (Like Gross National Product measurements) to judge the progress of the nation. They are more concerned about the happiness and well being of their people and nature. If you have around fifteen minutes to spare, please take a look at the below video and also go through the link given at the beginning of this post.

You can see this YouTube Video on Bhutan Here

 

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The Unique School

That was the first democratic school in the whole world. Everything about it was done in a democratic way. The students would choose which teacher they wanted for which subject. Through voting <Closed Ballot Box> and the most popular teacher who would garner the support of most of the students and fellow teachers would become the principal.

The ‘elections’ were conducted once in every four months when the students could choose if they wanted to retain the particular teacher for a particular subject. They could practically vote them out, if they wished to.

The teachers were allowed to canvass for one week during the end of every four month term. If a teacher wants a plum post like ‘Science teacher’, then he/she had to secure so many votes more than the next teacher who wanted the same post in the same class. The teachers decide where all to contest, but it is the students who decide who would teach what and where. Most of the time, it didn’t matter if the specialization of a particular teacher was Science but still she ended up teaching Crafts. Even vice versa was pretty much ok with the students, as long as they could exercise their right to vote.

The Second standard election was contested fiercely by two teachers. Both of them wanted to teach mathematics. And the mathematics teacher was also generally the class teacher. There was a major burning issue in that class – The students had for long been demanding that they be given two chocolate bars every day. Which ever teacher would come up with an agenda to tackle this issue better, was expected to win the election.

The first teacher told the students that the chocolates were not good for health and especially teeth if eaten very frequently. She told them how the chocolate manufacturers formed a consortium and were getting involved in having a uniformly “Unfair” and high prices. She told them how the “mithai wala” shop outside the school was secretly negotiating with the manufacturers for the bulk deals as he was confident that he would sell the maximum number of chocolates with his ‘deep’ connections with the student leaders of many primary classes. She also told them about how the school funds, which were obtained by the fees paid by the students, would be unnecessarily diverted for purchasing the chocolates which could otherwise be utilized for purchasing some educational aids which would not only make learning fun, but also help them with their academic performance. She pointed out how hard their parents worked to earn the money they paid as fees and the fact that they would definitely not allow the kids to have two big chocolates per day at home, primarily for the health reasons. She ended her speech with a touching personal note – “When I was a kid, I yearned to eat chocolates daily. But my parents were very strict and allowed one per week only. Even though I was angry on them back then, I am glad now as I have been able to retain good health and most importantly healthy teeth”.

Even though the kids were only studying second standard, they were moved by the speech. They started to think. Sensing that the speech was a catalyst to thought, the second teacher, who was about to grant the student’s wish for two chocolates per day, suddenly increased her offer to four free chocolates per day. The big ones – bar chocolates.

Guess who won! Thank God at least our schools don’t run this way!

Destination Infinity

Liquified Pursuit of Happiness

Sridhar was devastated. A divorce within two years of marriage was something that he could not come to terms with.

He and Nidhi were never made for each other. He, a small town, shy boy and she, a cosmopolitan, city dwelling, bubbly girl. He had a very limited outlook towards life – Good education, Software job and settled life. He was not outgoing and did not have many friends. She was his exact opposite – Adventurous, had a lot of friends and was very talkative.

No wonder, whatever she did, it was ‘wrong’ in his eyes. She thought a lot of her freedom was taken away after marriage by him and his family. There was visible friction.

He became so paranoid in her eyes that she stopped looking into his eyes. She was so carefree in his eyes that he found lesser and lesser words to communicate with her.

It needed only a spark to set the explosion. ‘How could she do that?’ he thought. Everything was over one day. Both of them agreed to get divorced by mutual consent.

He was filled with so much grief for the failed marriage that alcohol became his ever loving companion from that day. He had heard that alcohol would make you forget your worries and give happiness. He had no idea of what he was doing as he let the alcohol take complete control over his happiness and life.

“All women are like that” was his judgment. And consolation. “All women are like that”

Sneha was supposed to celebrate her tenth birthday on that day. Even though they were not economically well off, her mother managed to save some money without the knowledge of her father and bought her new dress and gold ear rings. She had never worn gold before.

Her father had been addicted to alcohol for a couple of years. Sometimes he used to come home totally drunk. When ever her mother objected, he used to assault her. Sometimes verbally, sometimes physically.

All this used to happen in front of Sneha. She had grown more and more terrified of her father, with every passing day. He came home drunk on this day too. Seeing the ear rings, he started harassing her mother. Sneha never remembered how she got the courage to say,

“Please don’t hit mother, pa”

Slap.

This time she got it. That was the last time she saw her home. Her mother admitted her in an orphanage hoping that at least her daughter could continue her studies beyond the primary school. It was obvious that her father wasn’t going to allow it. Forget sponsoring it.

Sneha developed an opinion rather early in life that, “All men are like that”. All men.

Sridhar’s parents were bent on getting him married once again. He was in no mood for it. “I don’t want a life partner” he said. “It’s not for you, we want to see our Grand children” they reasoned. They reminded him daily, but he, however decided to adopt a child. That way, he thought he could at least help bring in some happiness to a child, who would otherwise be deprived of the same – early in life. And his parents would get their grand child.

“I don’t want to go from here” screamed Sneha.  It was about six months since she joined in the orphanage.  “See, this person is ready to help you continue your education. That’s what your mother wanted, right? We can’t give you a good education. So, don’t behave like a little kid. He is like your father – you’ll have to go with him”.  “I don’t want a father” she said. She was too terrified to forget the last few years. But nevertheless she was sent.

She was very quiet for the first couple of weeks. Sridhar wanted to break the silence and hence the distance.

“Why are you so quiet? Shall I get you some chocolates?”

“No”

“Ice cream?”

“No”

“Barbie dolls?”

”What? “Err.. I mean toys”

“No”

“Don’t feel shy. Ask anything you want, I am like your father”

“I don’t want a father”

That was unexpected. But still he wanted to understand.

“You didn’t like your father?”

”No”

“Why?”

“He used to drink and beat my mother often”

“So that’s why….. But I think your father was a good person”

“All men think alike, I guess”

He had to smile. “Not like that. Tell me this – was he beating your mother always or only when he was drunk?”

”Only when he was drunk”

“See. I proved what I said. Your father is not bad, the liquor is bad. It makes your father go crazy”

“Then he could have stopped drinking, right?”

”Yeah, he could have but once you are addicted to it, it doesn’t leave you easily”

“Do you drink?”

”I used to…..”

“Now?”

“I stopped before three months”

“Why did you drink?” ”I drank because I was sad…. I had divorced my wife recently”

“Why?”

“She came home drunk one day”

“Did she beat you?”

”No……!”

“You are luckier. My mother was not”

“Yeah, I think I was relatively luckier”

“So, your wife was also a nice person?”

”She…….”

”Yes. She was not bad. The liquor was… right?”

”Yeah…. I guess so…. So, you’ll stay with me?”

“If you promise not to drink again”

“I don’t have to. My pursuit was happiness. I didn’t find it in that liquid. It is elsewhere. I promise that I won’t drink from now on”


Destination Infinity

Inheritance Tax

“It’s a common saying in Japan that Inheritance taxes are so high that family wealth does not last beyond three generations” – Akio Morita, Co-Founder Sony

 

Inheritance taxes (In Japan or Estate Taxes in United States) refer to the tax levied on the inheritor or beneficiary of the property/land/estates etc. after the original owner dies. This mostly applies to properties above a certain minimum bracket. Generally millionaires and above.

 

The arguments in developed nations supporting such an inheritance tax are as follows:

 

  • People are forced to sell their assets (which they have not earned) and hence more property (including land) comes to the market hence reducing the real estate values and making available the property which would never have been sold.
  • As lot of people work to earn money for necessities, the unearned money kills the incentive to work and increases the urge for early retirement.
  • Easy access to unearned wealth destroys the incentive for hard work and experimentation.
  • Pouring money on children (some times grown up adults) can spoil the children as they do not know the value of earned money.
  • It reduces competitiveness and make people think about ways of preserving the assets instead of creating new ones. Some times, generations sit and eat because of the family wealth without doing any type of work.

 

You can read an interesting article about the advantages of Inheritance Taxes Here.

 

Also an article wanting the Inheritance Taxes back  (Abolished decades ago)  in Australia Here.

 

But there are dis-advantages too. The high percentage of Inheritance Taxes in Japan, for example, makes it difficult to run family business. An article on that can be read Here. Also people aren’t convinced about taxing money that has already been taxed. Some see it as a dis-incentive to make more wealth. It has also led to devising innumerable ways to avoid the inheritance taxes and consulting is booming on the topic.

 

Here is the take of Economic Times on the ‘immunity’ of such taxes in India. India along with China and host of other developing countries does not levy any inheritance taxes. Do you think India should have one?

 

 

Destination Infinity