Archive for September, 2012

The Un-Book Shelf

September 26, 2012

Five of the worst books ever written that are displayed prominently in Indian bookstores:

5. Arindam Chaudhuri‘s “Count your chickens before they hatch.” In a crowded field of snake oil salesmen, AC has a prominent position. Really prominent, as in full page ads in major newspapers.

4. Dale Carnegie‘s “How to win friends and influence people.”

3. Any number of “X for Y” books where X is a prominent religious text, Y is a way of being a snake oil salesman. For example: “Bhagavad Gita for Marketing.” Or, “Business according to the Bible.”

2. Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Fortunately, we are one of the few countries in the world where his ideas haven’t gained political power ever, but people are still trying.

1. Kahlil Gibran‘s “The Prophet.” The worst book ever written. What makes me sad is that Tagore’s own translation of Geetanjali reads like the prophet on occasion. My Bengali friends assure me that the great man doesn’t read like KG in the original Bangla.

See the pattern?

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The Un-Book Shelf

September 26, 2012

Five of the worst books ever written that are displayed prominently in Indian bookstores:
5. Arindam Chaudhuri‘s “Count your chickens before they hatch.” In a crowded field of snake oil salesmen, AC has a prominent position. Really prominent, as in full page ads in major newspapers.

4. Dale Carnegie‘s “How to win friends and influence people.”

3. Any number of “X for Y” books where X is a prominent religious text, Y is a way of being a snake oil salesman. For example: “Bhagavad Gita for Marketing.” Or, “Business according to the Bible.”

2. Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Fortunately, we are one of the few countries in the world where his ideas haven’t gained political power ever, but people are still trying.

1. Kahlil Gibran‘s “The Prophet.” The worst book ever written. What makes me sad is that Tagore’s own translation of Geetanjali reads like the prophet on occasion. My Bengali friends assure me that the great man doesn’t read like KG in the original Bangla.

See the pattern?

The National Commons

September 11, 2012

The sedition charges against Aseem Trivedi show how desperate our political system has become. The fact of the matter is that politicians and bureaucrats have reached a new low of legitimacy – they simply cannot command respect, they can only intimidate and coerce. That loss of moral legitimacy was the end of the Raj, which was a good thing.

But now that we have our own nation, the violation of the moral commons is a matter of deep concern. If the erosion of legitimacy was only about the reputation of netas and babus it would be  perfectly fine, but it is eroding the nation itself. We are one of the great civilizations of the world that emerged from a long shadow sixty five years ago. Sedition charges, encounter deaths, wholesale corruption, utter destruction of the environment, each one of these removes its share of bricks from the national edifice. How did we fall so far so fast?

The only thing to which I can take recourse is

yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham