Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A talk by author John Burgess on his book "Temple in the Clouds", about the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia over a Buddhist temple on their border, Preah Vihear.

Its a privilege to have access to these kind of talks that very quickly inform you about a topic that you didn't even know existed ('didn't know that you didn't know') and in addition fill out some detail on the larger  South East Asian story. This talk was particularly romantic and poignant.

Preah Vihear -  would this have come from "Priya Vihara" ?

I'm taking a course this semester from Drs. Asit Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada  on Water Governance and Policy. 

Robert Wasson of the Institute for Water Policy spoke on the 2013 Uttarakhand disaster; there's a research paper forthcoming. 

Kishore Mahbubani talked to us today on "Why Mr. Lee Kuan Yew Succeeded?".  According to him it was "Meritocracy", "Pragmatism", "Honesty". And a strong dose of 'cunning' ; LKY was the most astute politician he had ever seen. Many more interesting vignettes: how the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing made a $100 Million donation to the School, and that 80% of the bottom 20% economic strata of Singapore own their own home - a signal achievement. How one of the key elements of pragmatism for Singapore has been copying the best of other countries. He claimed that Deng Xiaoping learnt something from Singapore and some Chinese classmates were not amused :-) . 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Comparing cultures

My sister asked me today if I preferred Singapore to the US and I didn't have an answer but it set me thinking. Singapore is like a busy buzzing place, people running around making good things, running countless retail shops, good quality, good design, pleasant, keeping the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) going etc. The US brings to mind individualism and a self-destructive streak ,great creativity and achievement, all the attitude and ego and drug addition. One surmises that Lee Kuan Yew really could not handle the nihilism of the drug culture that he saw in the West and hence the draconian anti-drug laws in Singapore. It scared him at some deep level.
And what to say about India in comparison to the above ?

In the profusion of cuisines that is Singapore, one particular dish stood out for me (in my limited exploration). This was the Japanese  counter at the food court in the Lee Kuan Yew School. They serve a noodle soup with slices of pork that is so clean and refined, and other little details about the experience work too. I will maybe write a post and put up a photo of that later, but the reason I bring it up here, is that Japan is another distinct cultural stream. I would love to go there and experience it,

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the LKYY explained Singapore's small size this way: "On the island of Sumatra there is a mountain. In the middle of the mountain there is a mountain lake. The mountain lake has an island in it. And that island is bigger than Singapore".

This weekend is Singapore's 50th Anniversary as an independent country. They call it an anniversary, rather than "Independence Day" like India. Singapore didn't fight for Independence like we did, there is a curious history of it being asked to leave Malaysia of which it was a part. Something to understand more of, later.
All is not perfect in the island nation, and there are challenges ahead of it and hopefully I'll learn enough about that to write about it later, but this weekend is a time to celebrate, as they say, Singapore's transition from a third world country to a first world country in 50 years. A group of us from the school went to a waterfront restaurant for dinner to catch the fireworks, which are a prelude to the real deal which will come on Sunday.

Majulah Singapura is the anthem : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fdb_O91d92M

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Beginnings

This past year was a lost year for Andhra Pradesh’s development, as many things came to a standstill due to the bifurcation issue. It is likely that we have passed the point of no return in terms of 2- state formation. The debate is still heated however, on the pros and cons. Positions are strong and people are emotional.  Media reports are fanning the flames.  All this is exacerbated now with a high stakes election. It is therefore likely that the bifurcation will take place in an atmosphere of mistrust and argument. Do we want to start a new phase in the history of the Telugu people in this way?

1.     A role for expatriate Telugus?

 In this scenario, there is a possibility that out-of-state Telugus can play a role in having a better outcome for both the new states in the process. We expatriates are patriotic about our homeland. At the same time, living outside, we may have less self-interested or emotional views than those who live in the state. I emphasise “may”! Many of us are well-to-do and have reached positions of prominence and respect and therefore our voice may be listened to and our views given serious consideration.  We may be seen as a dispassionate group without an agenda, and therefore trusted by people from both states.  It is possible therefore that the expatriate Telugu community can contribute towards the historic bifurcation happening in a harmonious way, to the betterment of all Telugus.
As one step to realizing this, I propose a workshop that we have in Bangalore open to all Telugu people from Bangalore and surrounding areas. I am proposing this as an individual and not with an organizational affiliation, and my idea is that this can be done by interested people in the Telugu community in Bengaluru coming together.  


2.     Objective of the meeting

-         Inform ourselves about the issues
-         Reduce the wide spread in positions amongst ourselves by participating in exercises to see the others’ points of view
-         See if there are avenues for us to contribute in the days to come for a trust-based, peaceful and orderly transition to a 2 state arrangement and set up some structures for making this happen
The above objectives and the agenda for the meeting are not finalized at this point and are to be co-created by those participating in this project. However the fundamental tenets on which this project is conceived is to create unity and harmony among Telugus even if we are to be separated by administrative boundaries.
The intention is to hold the meeting on May 11 2014 in Bangalore.

3.     The purpose of this note

This note is to solicit interest to form a group that will organize this workshop.
Opportunities for you in participating in this project:
-         Get connected to fellow Telugus in Bangalore. Broaden your network
-         Take action on a matter close to your heart and on which you feel strongly about
-         Develop your capacity in the to-do areas below
The time commitment for this need not be high. You could join the communication group for this and see what tasks you could take up within your constraints. Many tasks will be doable without needing to travel.
Don’t hesitate to join on grounds that you don’t know enough about the issue. That is not at all a criterion. Few of us are likely to be very well-informed. Your participation is an opportunity to learn!

·        Come up with a nice name in Telugu for this project and the meeting.
·        Set up a communication system for the organizing group
·        Find a venue and book it. (Is there a space that we can get free or at minimal cost?)
·        Decide the agenda
·        Invite some prominent people whose commitment to greater good of all Andhraites is widely accepted, to attend and to provide an in-depth and informed view from different perspectives.
·        Raise funds at whatever level is needed to carry out the workshop. Manage finances properly and transparently
·        Create a flyer about the event and disseminate widely
·        Create media interest and coverage
·        Organise the logistics for the event
·        Document the event properly
·        Do follow ups post event

Would you like to join the organizing group or find out more? Contact whoever forwarded you this mail or Vijay Krishna at despoki.1971@gmail.com , 98801 37097.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Painting session

Trees and sunflower by me and Vibhat. Which one is by me and which are by Vibhat ?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I was at the Natural Ice Cream shop ("Ice Cream of Juhu Scheme") at 12th Main in Indiranagar yesterday and it triggered this blog post. Natural is a popular chain in Mumbai and now expanding. www.naturalicecreams.in . They specializes in fruit-based ice-cream and minimize artificial ingredients. The founder R.S.Kamath is kinda obsessed with ice cream and spends all his time trying new creations especially rooted in the Indian experience (prasadam ice-cream anyone? Sounds gross to me frankly, you can overdo the experimentation). Nevertheless he sounds like a nice guy with all that is good in the entrepreneurial spirit.
The point of this post though is that before Natural there was a Baskin Robbins at that location which shut down. Natural started off in the same place and seems to be doing well. I like the symbolism in that. With globalization we shouldn't have to settle for what Baskin Robbins represents - clean, consistent, ubiquitous, with the strength of global capital behind it. We want the best of that along with the innovativeness, energy, fun and local-ness of a Naturals. Amen to that.

Natural is active on Twitter @naturalicecream if you want to follow them

PS: I like the tropical fruit flavours - jackfruit, sapota, sitaphal. But then, I just like those fruit anyway