R S Prasanna

Spam that tries to be literature.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What Can I Do ?

There was a time when I was a teenager when there were simple answers to very complex questions. Like why do terrorists exist? Why is the government not doing anything?

As naivete dies within, taking along with it the spirit of youth - one sees that there is more than meets the eye and thus one becomes wiser, more informed... and old.

So what will replace the brilliant answers I had as a teenager, sitting as I was on the throne of the future world?

An admission that I do not know too much.

Ignorance, they say, is the beginning of wisdom.

Notice how I have even begun listening to 'them'. Something again I would never do as a teenager.

I am an angry old man now, all of 24 years.

So here's my two cents.

If there is some leader today who has a solution and wants to recruit able young men to join his clean up team; he has a solution to all this - the systemic failure world over; I would certainly join him.

The solution has to stem from an understanding of economics, world orders, population and environmental studies, political structures, gang warfare behavior, an understanding of money and even human psychology. Suffice to say, its a highly skilled task that is best left to experts and definitely not politic ans and some some vague cliche-espousing reformer.

An organic slow change, no overnight coup. No drama.

I am not a teenager anymore, you see.

The change has to be in the form of progressing towards a healthy society, a prosperous nation that is not crowded.

At this juncture, I draw from what Matsushita (the Chairman of National) said during the rebuilding of Japan after being torn apart in the war.

"PHP: peace and happiness through prosperity"

Education should spread through the nation and educated middle class should become a major part of the vote bank. As of now the majority of India is poor, uneducated - and for some of them a haul in jail could actually be luxury and not deterrent, given their poverty.

So when we are the minority in this country, how can we expect politicians to speak to us, to be accountable to us?

They will obviously want to preserve that vote bank. Keep them poor, keep them uneducated.

Education makes one question. Gives one an opportunity to earn wealth, and be exposed to the best ideas from all across the world. Makes you understand your role in the country, the world and the universe.

So how does this vote bank turn educated and prosperous overnight?

And what do I mean by prosperity? I mean wealth created by work. Not money given to them as charity or money that is tainted.

And how long will all this take?

I am in no hurry. For I know this might take as long as a hundred years. I hope I am proved wrong. I hope it happens much sooner. But a nation will surely take time to reach this inevitable progress. I see my maid striving hard to get her kid educated and that gives me hope. Every person wants his kid to be wiser, more prosperous than him/her. That's reassuring.

Can I do something to aid this progress?

On my part, as soon as I can afford it, I will ensure that at least one kid gets education (high quality education) at my cost. It could be my maid's kid who I sponsor - and monitor and ensure he sticks to schooling, and help him out like a parent would.

Not as charity. No, not at all.

It is the least I can do to preserve humankind. It is something I am doing to preserve my own health and well being. It is for my only house.

And being a dreamer, I hasten to wonder: How would it be if each earning member who can afford it starts adopting one kid and sponsoring his/her education? Or one family adds one more unit to its education budget, apart from its own two kids?

I invite thoughts from all netizens on this. And other solutions that we can throw open for discussion.


For one moment now...

I feel like a teenager once again!

Eager to hear your views.


Blogger slumberjax said...

I am glad we are thinking, finally.

I must admit ive never pondered too much about politics, nation building, development or progress; mainly because i never cared. and those some times i did care, i believed i couldnt make a difference. Now, ive changed in just 50 odd hours of tv watching and net surfing. I completely agree with your views, especially the urgent need to educate the expanse of india.

here are my two cents:

everyone in this world must be able to form an opinion of various issues for themselves. they must be able to gather information, comprehend it and communicate what they make out of it. The problem ( mainly in our country) is the fact that ppl belive in a good orator without being skeptical of wat is being told. This weakness is put to complete use by our political class. Education, is the only way out. education can equip a person to gather news, make an understanding for him/herself, and give them the confidence and communication skills to voice their mind. And i firmly believe thats what we must achieve. Free thinking minds and then there will be no pied pipers.

and btw, wat i mean by education isnt the schooling that we do in india. Our educational systems are only made to churn out prototypes at large. Im talking more in terms of equipping ppl to use THEIR minds to live THEIR lives. I believe this group is doing something of the sort of education im talking abt - http://www.idiscoveri.com/about_us.htm (im not endorsing them, infact ive just managed to visit their site now)

1:23 AM  
Blogger R S Prasanna said...

Teaching a man to fish, rather than give him one. We are lucky enough to have been taught to fish. Lets spread that luck to other people.

1:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. I would like to support u and a little more by stretching my abilities. May the country have more people yearning for; asking for and working for that PHP.


3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great ideas from two young minds. PHP and NO PIED PIPERS. We can and we should contribute to making such a society around us.

3:52 AM  
Blogger Anand Ramachandran's Evil Twin said...


There's plently we can do - but, in the Dalai Lama's very sensible words - the only way to attain peace in society is by reaching out to individuals. So any small thing - a gesture, a kind word - to remove hate and fear goes some way towards making a difference.

4:05 AM  
Blogger Premal said...

While everyone's at it, let me throw in my 2 cents.

Unfortunately (or not)I am not as optimistic as others. And I would disagree with most of what you have been talking about (prasanna and krishnan).

First, lets talk about education and politics. I do not feel education would make much of a difference in the way people run this country. Primarily because educated people do not want to or cannot if they want to run this country. You might point at those IIT guys during the last election but how long did they last before tearing down their own party due to internal bickering. Its a positive move but a far shot.

Another example is the number of well educated people in US voting republicans. If 46 % of the world's most developed country can vote their beliefs instead of facts, it causes me concern. Yes, I am seeing the glass half-empty but then I have reasons to do so.

But these are minor issues. The main problem is an absence of goal. When people talk about prosperity, they imagine an utopia like world where everyone has a decent living, a steady job and a happy lifestyle. My question is, is that an achievable goal ever, even theoretically speaking? Sadly, the answer is no. The utopia would have been possible if we lived in a non-zero sum game world. But we don't. One person's gain is other person's loss and rich getting richer is the way nature works. The power-law distribution in wealth is here to remain forever. Its the way things are - its like gravity. The point is that everyone is trying to be a part of the tail of the distribution - the richer part.

So here's what I think about the world which is contrary to what most people perceive it as. IT IS PERFECT. Its beautiful as it is. With all of its drama, its ups and downs, the olympics and terror attacks. Its the negatives that make the positives look worth looking forward to. What a bore would be a world where everyone was nice to each other and everyone was happy. I would rather be in a rat race than in the utopia most people envision.


9:14 AM  
Blogger Premal said...

In my earlier rant, I might have sounded a bell of hopelessness. But all is not lost.

I do not agree with the idea of sponsoring someone's education. Here is why.

1.) Sponsoring education is charity. A charity is a bad investment as there are no expected returns. If returns are expected in terms of he/she paying off debt later, its still an investment of mediocre proportions. There is no multiplier effect in terms of wealth creation.

2.) Here is what I would do. Find a person in his/her late teens - young, energetic and talented. Give him (will use male pronouns for ease of writing) the money to start a business and expect a cut from the profit. In short become a sponsor of entrepreneurs. Here's why this is better than education scenario. Quicker returns on investment and a higher multiplier effect. A business usually creates more jobs and hence greater wealth and its distribution. A cut in the profit means you will still be left with money (hopefully even more) to sponsor more people.

There is an element of risk but I would argue no more than there is in the first one. There is no guarantee that after getting a decent education, the person whom you sponsored might end up as a bum with no job (look at the statistics of educated jobless).

If you want to help, help in creating jobs - sponsor entrepreneurs.

On an aside, I remember one such person giving a talk and saying that they expect 40% percent of their investments to fail. But the remaining 60% more than make it up for their loss. Food for thought.


9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thought... Yes why not identify, develop entreprueners? As said by Premal?

But educating is certainly NOT charity, especially when done with full responsibility - as done by a parent.

We need both. Short term and Long term. Business in short term and education in long term. On an ongoing basis. Don't u think so?

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And while at it, what can be done quickly, now to insist on a punishment that befits a crime? And that punishment be of such nature in speed and execution that deters for ever, any new crime?

10:54 PM  
Blogger jere said...

Slumberjax couldn’t be more right.

What we need today is an education that enables us to make informed decisions; to form intelligent opinions. We need an education that teaches all of us to have a political ideology that is based on common good rather than on the foundations of religion and class. We need an education that gives us the power to say no; that teaches us to know when we have been wronged, led blindly. We need and education that fills one with an optimism and the urge to go out there and make a difference.

And it is not just the illiterate that need this education. ALL of us do. And with centuries of very very dark twisted history behind us, it is going to be easier said than done and a hundred years may not suffice.

We also need to make politics more attractive to the educated common man. Until politics continues to remain in the hands of illiterate politicians who indulge in cheap number games, how much can education alone achieve? We will continue to remain divided by our very own leaders who only care about saving a seat for their bottoms in the house of power. At the end of the day, like it or not, it is the powers that be that have the final say. How many of us here would really be interested in actively joining politics? Sadly, I have no second thoughts when I say, not me.

To me, this seems like a vicious circle. The truly educated common man won't join politics because he thinks there is no place for him out there. But unless he does, politics won't change to make space for the likes of him. What do we do then?


I don’t think the world is perfect for those people who lost their kith and kin in the last few days. Neither is it to people who have so far been untouched but who now constantly fear that the solitary packet lying unattended on a bench could be a bomb or fear saying their names out because it would give away their religion and get them killed. I’d rather live in a boring happy world that is safe than in a world that is “exciting” but ridden with constant fear, guilt, helplessness and sorrow.

Also, unfortunately creation of wealth is not a lasting solution to removing all our prejudices and biases that have accumulated in our veins over the generations and brought us to where we are today. Education cannot be done away with. It has to be imparted and imparted effectively. It has to also be imparted without tainting it with politics. Anon is right – education is the only answer in the long term.

@A.R’s Evil Twin

Very true. But I can see that we are destroying each other faster than we are able to spread that love and hope. Sadly, people with vengeance and blinded faith are more motivated to kill by the hundreds than those of us who want to spread the love and cheer one person at a time . :(

10:42 AM  
Blogger Premal said...

Alright here are a few clarifications.

I am NOT against education. Heck, I teach and plan to become a professor someday. If I felt education wasn't important I wouldn't be in this field. That said here are a few thoughts:

Somehow taking care of someone's education RESPONSIBLY, does not make it charity is confusing. Charity is charity responsibly or not. Why parents do it is a different story which I do not want to go into here but it is different from taking care of someone else.

Education does not give you the power to say no. You have the power, it only helps you in making that decision but you have the power to decide education or not. Also it does not fill one with optimism and an urge to change. If that were the case then you would have no educated person unemployed and distressed.

About how to make politics more appealable, I guess I haven't thought about it enough to suggest anything.

About death, somehow to think immortality would lead to happiness is naive. To quote Patch Adams (not verbatim), "why are we so afraid of death? ... Why not treat it with dignity and respect and god forbid some humor?"

Loving life doesn't mean fearing death. They are mutually exclusive. I love life a lot and would be sad to lose a dear one. But sadness is an emotion that is as beautiful if not more, as happiness.

About the perfect world, it was more abstract that I presented it to be. What I meant was in a perfect world you would have both rich and poor, happy and sad, healthy and sick and importantly mighty and weak.

I guess my main difference with Prasanna is that I agree in the PHP principle but my way of achieving prosperity is different from his. Also, I do not put much faith in education with its current state. Hence the alternative.

2:05 PM  
Blogger R S Prasanna said...

Politicians are resigning, i read in the paper. Who is going to replace them? more politicians.

The vote bank has to become educated in India. Comparing it to the educated in America may not be the best thing to do.

Because the problems in America is decadence, the problems in india is we are just starting the climb.

Those guys have made it. Remained winners for long. And now are suffering from the inevitable slump phase of product (or civilization) life cycle.

In India, we have not even started.

Thats why I am talking about education.

Because yes, education doesnt guarantee a job or wisdom.

But something is better than nothing.

Also, I am completely for sponsoring entrepreneurs. But thats for teenage plus, right? What about the kids?

I also see the business-political nexus as the solution to the problem.

If big business has the politicians hands greased, will they remain silent if they are attacked?

Maybe Taj and oberoi being attacked will cause a more powerful reverberation in the upper houses of indian filth (read, politicians) than say a bomb blast happening at CST and public places.

Tata has the power to influence governmemt, far more than the families of dead at railway stations, or the millions like you and me who stand by them - for, we could have been the ones dead.

Now the Big Business will want results. After all they have been paying the politicains.

I am reminded of the movie 'Gangs of New York'

And wondering at the irony.

That movie was a period frilm for the USA,

It was a contemporary film for me, sitting in india.

Because the gang wars shown there are happening here, in my city, right now.

We are at the beginiing phase of evolution, in the big boiling soup of creation (or whatever we read in Bio class; premal will be able to tell me).

America is an other case.

Does that make sense?

Thats why we cant take their statistics of today to apply to India of Today.

Lets see how they grew out of 'gangs of newy york' first.,

and see if there is something there for us to learn.

After that we have enough time to analyse how they slipped from being at the top of the world.

But as of now, thats like a struggling firts-time movie maker drawing parallels between his troubles with grasping the medium, with that of say, kamal Haasan, struggling to preserve some of his original genius in his 250th film!!!

10:47 PM  
Blogger Lancelot said...


here are my 2 cents,



This is what we need to do now...

11:02 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home