Yuval Noah Harari – Trilogy


Okay, it’s done. I’ve read all three books of Yuval Noah Harari, a self imposed challenge BTW I highly recommend that you read them, these books are gems of the books.. 

Unfortunately, my views and ratings seem to be in line with many critics on the Internet, have nothing more to add, it will be redundant. Also, I am quite late in the game, and hence mine is probably the millionth post on this topic.

Anyways, I have listed them in the order of my likings :

  1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
  2. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
  3. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Summary : 

  1. Highly recommended, you are missing out if you have not read them yet.
  2. You do not need to be an avid reader to pick those yet has profound Thought-provoking concepts. If you want your kid or loved ones to pick up the reading habit, then these are the right ones.
  3. Slightly leftist, but generally liberal.
  4. Straightforward read, and definitely not not laborious reading such as works of Christopher Hitchens 

If you want to turn a few pages before you decide to buy them, here you go :

India’s love affair with poverty


We can list down a thousand reasons why India cannot lift millions of her citizens out of poverty even to this age. Corruption, the inefficiency of her pillars, the socialistic past, the siphoned off wealth by colonizers, so on and on. Among all undeniably valid excuses, one of the critical factors is probably a psychological one. Various studies and theories on India’s poverty map indicate that the mentality and the torchbearers of Gareebi Hatao could be at blame. Apparently, out revered and romanticized feeling towards poverty is one of the most significant constraints.

Believe it or not, India loves her poor and would like to cherish it. In other words, we subconsciously feel it’s a sin to dream big. While West celebrates Scrooge McDuck and Jordan Belfort showering themselves on dollar bills, India celebrates poor Sudhama, a poverty-stricken childhood buddy of Lord Krishna. Western media, entertainment and literature industries talk about getting rich quickly; their Indian counterparts say it’s absolutely OK to be the poor. Western movies depict insanely lucky at Las Vegas bounties, Vin Diesel robbing bank lockers, and million-dollar lottery wins. Indian, however, its quite the opposite. One of the three idiot’s mothers do not have enough money for roti, and another does not have the cash to buy a camera. Of course, these get a background score of violins playing for gut-wrenching music.

Only Striving for excellence, the will to make a change, and showing impatience towards mediocrity can lift us from poverty, not an endless list of excuses.

Anyways, this is one of the reasons I hate the movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Even though it’s a well-made film, I’m not too fond of it. It has won many, many academy awards. I dislike it, not just despite of, but because of.

Compare this against the OTT series, Scam 1992. It shows two brothers constantly and impatiently looking out for a way to get out of the pigeonhole they lived in.

Singlehandedly, Slumdog millionaire has managed to cause irreversible damage to slum dwellers of Mumbai and pan India. In fact, It has created an entirely undesirable new industry – slum tourism. Despite the quick buck it brings in, it builds a psychological effect on the residents. Its a thought of “it might as well be OK to stay there forever”. I believe you are already aware by now; apparently, there is an entire ecosystem that has evolved just to cater to the slum tourist needs. Tour guides who can help you navigate the slum with the best possible experience. These guides will come packed with water, cookies, sunscreen lotion, identify the best photo opportunity for Instagram, hold you an umbrella and wipe your seats.

Don’t get me wrong, its not an India image I am worried about. Who are we kidding? A slum is a slum. But lets not celebrate it, lets acknowledge it as a staging area of migrant workers abandoned their farming role, and came there in search of better life. And for heavens sake, lets get them out of there.

BTW, The West’s fascination with the underdog is another topic altogether. They simply want to put the underdog on a frame or a cage, exhibit it, and maybe even take a poke at it. I cannot explain this fully, but I believe it is related to the hunger for existential superiority of culture, ideology, and even religion. They love slums, and if it’s legal, they might even make a zoo. Please be informed, I am NOT making this up. This has happened before. History provides a myriad of examples. Let me pick the first one that comes to my mind. Please follow this link for more on same category

An Indian family and their elephant on display at Berlin Zoo through Rare Historical Photos

Saree, Kachra and Rathore


This is a more of research paper for a blog post. I literally had to reside below a bodhi tree for a month to gain this knowledge. You better read it and like it. 🙂

If you recall a post I had Previously written, I had adequately addressed a few of my north Indian friends’ quintessential questions. It was “Why does Karnataka has a flag of its own, while other states don’t“. This is the second one in that series “Why do South-Indians add a letter h to ‘t‘ sound, such as Jayalalitha as against a proper Jayalalita“. Okay, let us get to it.

South-Indians consider four ‘t’ sounds a set of mutually exclusive and distinctive representations in their native languages. For this very reason, when written in a foreign script, such as English, they will get four different spellings.

  1. t for voiceless retroflex,
  2. tt for voiced retroflex,
  3. th for voiceless dental,
  4. and finally, tth or tthh for voiced dental.

North Indians, however, chose to manage it with two even though Devanagari still has the same combinations.

  1. t for both voiceless retroflex and dental
  2. th for both voiced retroflex and dental.

For example, the English spelling of an Atal and Atul for a north Indian will change to Atal and Athul for a south Indian.

Now, who is correct? The answer is neither, nor maybe both.

Please be aware that this cannot be a spelling bee. Indian native languages are exceptionally and perfectly capable of representing all their native sounds in their preferred scripts. The trouble comes only when one needs to write them in a foreign language such as English. In English, however, we simply do not have a one-to-one mapping for all the sounds of Indian origin. Why should they? Understandably this is by design.

If it is of any consolation, the vice versa is true as well. For instance, we can never write the word ‘acid’ in any Indian languages, convincingly. It can be either ‘A-sid’ or ‘aasid’, and that is the best you can get. Hence the verdict is, the argument itself is wrong. Unless we are talking about Unicode or international phonetic symbols as foreign languages of consideration, both representations should and are correct. Stop arguing now.

Now that we have settled that debate let me pose a counter-question on a related topic. Why do all North Indians write few words such as Saree, Rathore and Kachra with two different representations or even pronounce differently? You must be familiar with Saadi, Rathod and Kachda.

Most of the time, it is pronounced as a Sadi and written Saree? This is very annoying for a non-native.

Disclosure. I am not a native Hindi speaker; I did not even have proper formal education on Hindi. I studied Hindi as my fourth language, but my Hindi teacher was in a great hurry and skipped a topic or few, such as alphabet! Obviously, she could not answer may of such questions we had. Why such a level of imperfections

  1. Why does Hindi omit (or swallow) the final vowel, e.g., Kannad for Kannada?
  2. Why does turtle have strange spelling ending with a vowel KachuAA instead of Kachuva?
  3. Why does translation for Yesterday and Tomorrow has the same word leaving it to its verb to decide the fate?
  4. And the most crucial question is, why on earth Hindi does not end a word with a consonant and must be a vowel? I mean, Hindi’s mother Sanskrit does the proper ending of each word. E.g., In Hindi Jal and Jala written the same. At the same time, Sanskrit differentiates even with the same script of Devanagari.

What surprised me the most is my friends with proper education on Hindi could not explain this deviation of Hindi from her mother, (Samskrutam) Sanskrit.

In my quest for knowledge, I had asked many many of my friends on these discrepancies. I quizzed them precisely on the r spelling for d sound. Most of them dint have a clue but a few attempted explaining it to me. Apparently, the language Hindi has a sound/letter that falls somewhere between an ‘r‘ and a ‘d‘. Unfortunately, this consonant does not sit in a scientifically classified and tabulated alphabet of Indian languages. So, it has to be foreign.

It’s called Nuqta. Let me quote Manisha Kulshreshtha, and Ramkumar Mathur on what they wrote in Dialect Accent Features for Establishing Speaker Identity. A few sounds, borrowed from the other languages like Persian and Arabic, are written with a dot (Bindu or nuktā). Many people who speak Hindi as a second language, especially those who come from rural backgrounds and do not speak conventional Hindi (also called Khariboli), or speak in one of its dialects, pronounce these sounds as their nearest equivalents.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of a dot (period). You can bring this confusing sound by merely putting a period, below or on the side, wherever you find some space. It should be done for one and the only purpose – to represent a foreign sound, especially with loan words. By definition, anything and everything can be covered here, including click sound of African languages. Nuqta was introduced in Devanagari to accommodate pronunciation India’s invaders bought in.

This is brilliant stuff; I have full clarity now. Absolutely useless! But still brilliant!

This raises more questions than answers. Why on earth would you consider sadi/saree is a foreign loaned word? Have you seen anyone in central Asia or the middle east wearing it? The Saree, its style, its etymology – they all have origins in India. It existed even before Hindi was even born, let’s not even talk about loans.

Photo by Nivedita Singh on Pexels.com

The answer is very straightforward. This is the side effect of a hangover by Turkik and Persian speaking empires ruling us. We could not even decide if a piece of clothing we wore for a millennium, was foreign or Indian. Finally, we settled, and we decided its foreign. Well done there.

Let me know your thoughts, do write your opinion on the comments section.

Reviving a thousand year old song


I could not help but share this fantastic rendition of one of the oldest songs in the Kannada language. The ‘old’ part is an understatement. It’s written somewhere around 900 C.E in an older version of Kannada. Credits of this poem go to Pampa, who generally, is referred to as Adikavi – an honorary title (Translation: first poet).

What is heartwarming is the attempt to revive a song written more than a millennium ago. 

Okay, Here you go. 

Lyrics, 

ಚಾಗದ ಭೋಗದಕ್ಕರದ ಗೇಯದ ಗೊಟ್ಟಿಯಲಂಪಿ ನಿಂಪುಗ ಳ್ಗಾರವಾದ ಮಾನಿಸರೆ ಮಾನಿಸರಂತವರಾಗಿ ಪುಟ್ಟಲೇ |
ನಾಗಿಯುಮೇನೊ ತೀರ್ದಪುದೇ ತೀರದೊಡಂ ಮರಿದುಂಬಿಯಾಗಿ ಮೇಣ್‌ ಕೋಗಿಲೆಯಾಗಿ ಪುಟ್ಟುವುದು ನಂದನದೊಳ್‌ ಬನವಾಸಿ ದೇಶದೊಳ್‌ ||

Chagada bhogadakkarada geyada gottiyalam pinimppuga Lgagaramada manasare manasarantavaragi puttale | Nagiyumeno tirdapude tiradodam maridumbiyagi men Kogileyagi puttuvudu nandanadol Vanavasi deshadol ||

Although the language used in this song is Kannada, not many can comprehend it because it is an old Kannada version. The language has moved on from here and evolved into a different version by gathering influences from various languages of neighbors, traders and invaders.

Anyways, while you are here, and if you are interested, please take some time to read through a fantastic post on same topic.

The great fall of American Liberalism


American liberalism is now officially dead. It was not euthanization, there was no resistance; in fact, it was mauled to a dogs’ death. The more unfortunate news is that the so-called torchbearers and custodians of modern liberalism did not even put up a decent fight, instead chose to sleepwalk into whatever replaced it. While we rest it in peace, we should remember all the good stuff it achieved. It lifted billions of humans from dire poverty, gave voices to the downtrodden and conclusively defeated the theocracies and socialism. Also, let’s take a minute to remember three great wars it won in the previous century. WW1 against imperialism, WW2 against fascist/racist forces and the cold war against communist socialism.

To be honest, we all saw this coming. There were signs written all over the walls – the stories of the decline of true liberalism. For instance, do you remember once-popular bumper sticker we all flaunted? “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it ” – (attributed to Voltaire). We, the liberals, used to sing this hymn in the shower, in the gym and even in birthday parties. Now, try to recall this, when was the last time read it? It’s been a while, isn’t it? That’s because we no longer believe in it. Now, we are, kind of, okay to suppress freedom of expression as long as it is now ours. Voltaire must be turning in his grave.

I am a supermassive fan of few of the greatest humanist, atheistic and liberals of our generation. We should not forget, they all found their voices in the USA. George Carlin, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and so on. For a good part of the last two decades, I had spent hours reading their books, watching their shows and evangelizing their prophecy. I passionately agreed with everything they said, including burps. Then ‘time’ happened, it got to everyone. Carlin and Kitchens are longer serving liberal America. And today, Sam throws a white towel!

Look at his one of his recent tweets! What a degradation of liberal values! Sam is cheering for an action that fundamentally stands against core principles of liberal democracy – the liberty.

Let me provide a little background to those who chose not to follow what is happening in the USA. A Few tech giants such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, who rose to power selling the freedom of expression, chose to close the accounts of sitting precedent the USA – the leader of a sovereign nation. In other words, America and civilized world, still trust this gentleman with nuclear codes of a stockpile which can evaporate the earth tomorrow. Yet, he cannot be trusted with typing a few tweets? It’s immaterial what happened during past week or year; freedom of expression is a bare minimum prerequisite of a functional democracy. If you have doubts with that, just scroll up and see what Voltaire said, again.

We should remember Social media is ala carte meal. You subscribe only with your free will. If you no longer agree with a view of someone, you are free to unsubscribe, unfollow, you mute. You can even block an account. Now, Sam could have appealed his followers to do that. Even the bosses of Tech Giants, Mark and Jack, could have done the same in their personal capacity. Instead, they chose to deprive the freedom of expression of a section of users and their leader. This happens, even when many of the supremacist bigots worldwide can still freely express their dangerous views such as calling for harm to a section of our society.

Anyways, I wish good luck for Jack, Mark, Sam and other ex-liberals with their new membership in moral accountability council, which apparently going to take over our thought process. They will be our custodians to have the right thoughts and rights of expression and protect us from wrong ideas.