Friday, May 20, 2011


There are so many lessons to be learnt from nature, from life around us. We need to realise life and nature are vast interconnected systems - our actions, what we do can have a deep and profound impacts, the magnitude of which could be unimaginable today. I came across this interesting story of a Nebraskan farmer that shows the interconnectedness that we so often ignore. Read on!
There was a Nebraska farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon... One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it.
The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. "How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.
"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."
He is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves. So it is in other dimensions.
Those who choose to be at peace must help their neighbors to be at peace.
Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches.
And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.
The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Enchanting Pacific!

These days the idyllic Pacific islands seem to be having quite a lot of action ever since the late 1990s or so.

But being in India has its disadvantages, all news is West-centric. Besides the usual neighbourhood focus, we love to know what's happening in the United States and the United Kingdom. The Pacific seems like a galaxy a couple of light years away from India!

The only time the India media focused attention on the Pacific was Fiji has political unrest - the numerous coups and political battles between the indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians.

But little does one know that the Pacific has several interesting things going. Living on scarce natural and economic resources can be interesting. For instance, the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu has licensed its internet domain ".tv" to a VeriSign affiliate, dotTV, which further sells domains to .tv to television and media sites. Now Tuvalu gets 20% of dotTV's earnings as royalty - that's estimated to gross USD 50 million! Now how many of us would have realised that .tv belongs to a tiny Pacific realm called Tuvalu? How many of us would have even heard of Tuvalu, in the first place?

Now things get even more interesting. There is a small island nation in the Pacific called the Samoa. Governed by the Germans before the World War I, the island state came under indirect British control through a League of Nations trusteeship awarded to New Zealand. But unlike other Commonwealth nations, Samoa drove on the right. Much recently, in 2009, Samoa took a decision to switch sides on the road and like us, in India, Samoans now drive on the right. Samoa had the distinction of being the first nation since the 1970s to switchover. A two day holiday was announced to ease traffic woes! The economic rationale for this was sound - Samoa imports most of its vehicles from Australia and New Zealand - being right hand drives, these cheap imports were unsuitable for use on Samoan roads!

Samoa is even more interesting. It became the only nation in modern nation to schedule a "time travel" to December 29, 2011! Yes, to move the calender ahead by a day. The Samoan islands, that lie just eastward off the International Date Line, are a day behind their closest neig

hbour, Tonga. So if it is Monday in Tonga (or even its largest trading partners - Australia and New Zealand, Samoa enjoys its Sunday fun. This was cited as an economic dampner. And hence the decision to shift to the westward from the International Date Line.

Samoa's eastern neighbour Tonga has a dubious distinction, shared with another Pacific isle, Nauru, of having a significant obese population - 70% plus of their population. It isn't funny that the late King of Tonga, Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, was the heaviest monarch in the world, weighing in at over 200 kg at one point of time! I wonder if these mind boggling statistics can be attributed to genetics? That would be good for medical scientists to study!

Besides obesity, Nauru also has a dubious record of stripping natural resources without developing the economy. Rich in phosphates, Nauru mined its resources at a feverish pace for exports without building economic infrastructure. Today when the phosphates have run out, the economy is in shambles and unemployment is high at 90%. The country was forced to become a tax haven to survive!

The island nation of Palau, east of the Philippines, served host to terror suspects, in anticipation of closure of Guantanamo Bay by the Obama administration. Isn't that taking terror to the idyllic Pacific?

The Pacific nations enter the big bad world of global diplomacy when they smartly play off China against Taiwan in the game of diplomatic recognition in return for aid! Tonga, Kiribati and a whole host of Pacific nations have done that to their benefit.

Despite its natural beauty, the Pacific remains a fragile ecosystem, that faces a serious threat of decimation from rising sea levels and global warming. Nations like Tuvalu would be wiped off the globe if climate change is not arrested, its not funny if you are a Tuvaluan. Already, the Pacific waters are turning acidic and sea life is getting scarcer by the day.

Natural beauty aside, the Pacific is a vexillilogist's delight. The joy of seeing flags of Kiribati or Vanuatu is matchless. Fiji is also unique in the sense that despite not being a Commonwealth Realm, it flies Union Jack ensign!

But the images in my mind are crystal clear. As kid browsing through National Geographic magazine's articles on the Pacific, I was enchanted by the beauty and remoteness of the Pacific! To me, the Pacific is an ideal combination of being with oneself and being with nature. And someday, I would love to go there, to the Pacific, its emerald isles, to the atolls and azure lagoons and soak in nature, before it is lost forever.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Enjoy your Cup of Coffee

Another enchanting story from the Net forced me to wonder if the grind was worth it. Think about it. Here goes.

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university lecturer. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the lecturer went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, some plain-looking and some expensive and exquisite, telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the lecturer said: "If you noticed, all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the better cups and are eyeing each other's cups."

"Now, if Life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of Life doesn't change." "Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it."

So folks, don't let the cups drive you...enjoy the coffee instead"

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Did Geronimo Have a Cadillac?

The other day, the world's most wanted man, Osama bin Laden was smoked out from his "rat hole" and hunted down by the US Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in an operation called "Operation Neptune's Spear", "Jackpot" being Osama's code while "Geronimo" was Osama's code in death!
Now that rang a bell - yes, there was a Modern Talking song called Geronimo's Cadillac - a popular song that reminded me of the heady 1980's! But the Geronimo of today's world is not about innocence of the 1980's, not about Cadillacs in any case!
While there is little doubt that the very thought of Osama bin Laden had terrorised the world for a little over than a decade now and he ought to have been brought to justice, Operation Neptune's Spear leads us to ask a number of unanswered questions.

Did the Operation Neptune's Spear really take place or was it another "wagging the dog" incident? That was the first thought that came to my mind when I read about the operation.
Questions on the complicity and competence of the Pakistani Army and the ISI were raised following the incident. I believe this was a grand show put up by both the United States and Pakistan. It is plausible that while the United States had been on the trail of Osama, Pakistan ensured that the "strategic asset" lived on safely, despite his kidney condition, in an army garrison town, with above-par medical facilities, and also ensured the "strategic asset" was fattened and kept ready for the slaughter.
The timing of the operation itself was a big give-away - the United States government barely averted a shutdown as the Grand Old Party and the Democrats clashed over the Budget and Obama's popularity waning.
With elections coming up in 2012, Obama needed to show some action, he needed to prove he was at least as muscular as Dubya Bush.
So, as Obama announced he is to run for the 2012 election, the Seals took off from Jalalabad, the Pakistanis turned off their radars, the Pakistani soldiers in the garrison went off into a deep slumber (or, were they "drugged"?) while the bombing was happening. And finally the Seals flashed the message - Geronimo EKIA.
It suits Pakistanis to feign ignorance now and put up a rant against the United States, while Obama walks with the "dubious claim" of eliminating terror!
Osama was terror, but terror is not Osama alone. So the myth that the world is a safer place now may soon be shattered as al-Qaeda is still not eliminated, it may live on despite Obama's feat, and would threaten the world again to prove that they are a potent force. That does not augur well for the world.
We cannot harbour unrealistic expectations today, rather have to be pragmatic today. India has tried to ride this wave and has demanded action that others on the wanted list be handed over. Pakistan will never mend its ways - you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. There is no incentive for the United States to fight for India. We cannot attack a nuclear adversary, so we go covert - fund and arm the Baluchis and Sindhis, get them to eliminate the Pakistanis on our most wanted list and also to break Pakistan from within.
Now coming back to the Geronimo story - Geronimo was a native Indian leader in the 1800s who opposed American expansionism into Apache lands, got taken as a prisoner of war, his terms of surrender were not honoured and died in 1909. It is ironic that the United States which grew on the back of expansionism and elimination of natives today preaches the world on terror.
Obama (or Geronimo) has gone, but did he have Cadillac? He sure did have a SUV fleet in Abbottabad!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!!!!!!

I saw this small piece on the internet and I had to share it on Rajeev's World. It is true that love is very powerful and propels us to great heights.

A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beard sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them.

She said "I don't think I know you, but you must be hungry.
Please come in and have something to eat."

"Is the man of the house home?", they asked.

"No", she replied.

"He's out."

"Then we cannot come in", they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened.

"Go tell them I am home and invite them in!"

The woman went out and invited the men in.

"We do not go into a House together," they replied.

"Why is that?" she asked.

One of the old men explained: "His name is Wealth," he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, "He is Success, and I am Love." Then he added, "Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home."

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. "How nice!", he said. "Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!"

His wife disagreed. "My dear, why don't we invite Success?"

Their daughter was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: "Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!"

"Let us heed our daughter's advice," said the husband to his wife. "Go out and invite Love to be our guest."

The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, "Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest."

Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: "I only invited Love, why are you coming in?"

The old men replied together: "If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would've stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever he goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!!!!!!"
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