February 1, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to another round of random reflections!

  1. Today is Saraswati Puja; the Goddess of Learning, Saraswati, is worshipped today. As a token of respect to her, and to worship our books, we used to place them with some flowers, when we were kids. We did not read books on this day, just worshipped them. Since younger generation today depends on mobiles and tablets for knowledge (and certainly not books), I wonder if they would leave those instruments with flowers today, and not use them? In northern India, today also marks the onset of Basant (spring) season, popularly known as Basant Panchami.
  2. This is also the season of Chinese New Year, which began on the new moon day January 28. This is the year of the Rooster. The Chinese give great respect to Rooster as it can be both very helpful and distracting. To realise the positive gains in the year of the Rooster, it is advised that we take ‘step-by-step’ detailed planning seriously. If we plan well, Rooster blesses us. Most of our organisations could use this cardinal advice—plan well, step-by-step!
  3. The election season is here again in India; in fact, election season never leaves India. As campaigning is in full swing for five states (Punjab & UP being two of them), leaders of all parties are running around campaigning. The ‘supreme’ leader of AAP party, Arvind Kejriwal, has been campaigning in Punjab and Goa continuously for several weeks. Since he is the Chief Minister of Delhi, it is a full-time paid job. He and his cabinet colleagues are employees of Delhi government, paid huge salaries by the people of Delhi (by one estimate, INR 250,000 per month). Has he (and his various colleagues employed by Delhi government) taken unpaid leave to campaign in other states, with written approval from his supervisor, LG of Delhi?
  4. How many people came to my rally? All politicians, religious and social movement leaders ask this question as they mobilise people to their various events. Typically, claims of numbers of people made by organisers, security agencies and media vary considerably. Most recently, such disputes arose on the day President Trump was sworn in Washington (January 20), and the women’s march held in the same location day after. ‘Who is bigger of them all’? Now, there are specialised agencies which certify numbers of crowds in any location; satellite photos of crowds are used, with an algorithm, ofcourse, to determine, with ‘reasonable’ accuracy, numbers of people who participated in any event in open spaces. Soon, there will be competing estimates from such agencies as well?
  5. It appears that various actions of President Trump over the past ten days have caused huge disruptions to lives of people and institutions, not just in the United States but around the world also. Several commentators have been lamenting that such positions and actions by a President of America is unprecedented in the past decades. Several thousand people have been demonstrating against such actions in different parts of America. But, come to think of it, President Trump is doing exactly what he promised to do during his campaign for presidency. The speed and manner of his actions as the President makes eminent sense, because you have most political capital, and power, soon after winning!

All the very best


Rajesh Tandon