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We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it
- November 27, 2018
- Posted by: Shivam
- Category: NEWS Worth To Read
We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it
India’s days of glory are in the past and the only way the country can reclaim its preeminence in the global order is by going back to its ways of living in the old times, goes the common refrain of India’s conservative class and Hindu nationalists. Dangerously for our country, this view has been widely supported and endorsed by leaders and members of the ruling party. As a consequence, policy making in recent years in sectors as varied as economy, education and healthcare among others has frequently harked back to ancient Indian knowledge and traditions.
In 2014, the central government elevated the department of AYUSH to a ministry dedicated to promoting the controversial medical sciences of ayurveda, homoeopathy and unani. Last year, it moved a bill that would allow AYUSH doctors to take a six-months bridge course to qualify for a formal MBBS degree, before sanity and a parliamentary standing committee prevailed and the provision was removed. Neither ayurveda nor homoeopathy have any scientific evidence of their efficacy to date; with the latter having been debunked widely around the world.
Propagation of Sanskrit, a language spoken by all of 25,000 Indians as per Census 2011, has been another area of focus. Back in 2014, over 70,000 students across 500 Kendriya Vidyalayas were asked to switch from German to Sanskrit as their third language of study. In 2016, the Union HRD ministry asked all IITs and IIMs to offer elective language courses in Sanskrit. Recent reports suggested the HRD ministry has prepared a plan to train five lakh Sanskrit teachers in the next four years.
At another level, our politicians and scholars have blatantly propagated myths, or what may be charitably called unverifiable statements, about the achievements of ancient Indians. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has publicly gone on record that genetic science and cosmetic surgery existed in ancient India. In 2015, Indian Science Congress hosted a lecture that examined ancient aviation technology as mentioned in the Vedas and claimed that ancient India had interplanetary planes.
Taking refuge in the glory of our ancestors offers the necessary succour to those eager to escape the grim realities of India’s current status as a poor third world country. Sure, we may have among the world’s largest poor populations, dilapidated education, healthcare and justice systems among dozens of other ills, but look we flew planes and invented complex surgeries thousands of years ago!
Simultaneously, this juxtaposition of ancient India’s riches with modern India’s poverty justifies the chip carried on our nationalists’ shoulder and presents ready scapegoats to pass the blame: we are where we are today because of foreign invaders who unscrupulously robbed and stole from us.
To be fair, the British Raj did impoverish India. The only credible estimates available, from economist and historian Angus Maddison, show that India’s share of world GDP shrunk from 24.6% to 3.8% between 1700 and 1952. However, Maddison also notes that in terms of per capita GDP, India has consistently lagged behind several European nations even 2,000 years ago. By 1700, per capita income of countries like the Netherlands and Britain was double or thereabouts that of India.
The larger point that is missed by those mesmerised with India’s lost glory is that our ancient knowledge and practices were ahead of the world at that time. That other nations and regions have since caught up and actually raced past us even as India stagnated is perhaps a deceptively simple explanation for why India stands today where it does, but it might actually hold up to scrutiny.
An equally moot question is what India has to gain by going back to its past. Sure, all Indians want their nation to prosper. In the absence of a clear path to progress forward, a journey backward is still a journey nonetheless; a clear and obvious departure from the status quo. BJP thus must be credited with at least showing a road to prosperity to ordinary Indians, no matter how delusional it is. The rival Congress, perhaps in an act of concession to its competitor, has refused to show any vision at all – either forward or backward.
Coming back to the point of finding a scapegoat for India’s current state, conservatives demonstrate a dogged refusal to accept why the foreign invaders were successful in throwing out Indian rulers in first place. There are enough history books to note that India’s invaders were often more advanced than their local counterparts in warfare and administration.
Ancient India had its time in the sun, but that is over. The modern world, led by China, is playing a completely different ballgame. Other countries have shown remarkable vision to protect their economic interests in a fast changing global order. The UAE launched in 2009 an ambitious 10-year plan to teach English to locals to prepare them for a future without oil, attracting English teachers from all around the world to come and teach local children. Meanwhile, the English-speaking population of the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka has already taken over India’s burgeoning BPO industry, and here we are still spending scarce resources in setting up central universities to promote an ancient language with questionable application in the modern world.
The simple question to proud nationalists and conservatives is this: How exactly are we to move forward and attain prosperity, leave alone regional or global supremacy, if we cannot take our eyes off the rear view mirror? ‘We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it,’ wrote American author Rick Warren. Isn’t it time for India to let go, to move on?
The writer runs a PR and marketing firm
Are your investments well strategised?
Like in a war, your financial plan to achieve your goals also needs to be a well thought out yet a flexible one
PARTHA SINHA TNN
The Art of War is an ancient book on military strategy by Sun Tzu, a military strategist who is estimated to have lived on the other side of the Himalayas between 2,500 and 2,700 years ago. Over the years, its strategies have been used not only for military operations, but also to plan business, legal and other tactical policies. It has also been an inspiration for several top military campaigners as well as for political and business leaders from around the world. Here, we make an attempt to draw from Sun Tzu’s book for putting in place a long term investment strategy.
1 ASSESSMENT & PLANNING: As an investor, you need to look at your current situation, set goals, timelines and plan your investment path accordingly.
2 THE CHALLENGES: Your income, expenses, budgets, time left to achieve each financial goal etc. could turn out to be the stumbling blocks in implementing the financial and investment plans.
3 PLANNING THE ATTACK: Given those barriers, you need to plan your investments so that each of the goals is achieved within the pre-set timelines.
4 POSITIONING AND DIRECTING THE FORCES: You could use liquid funds for meeting sudden unforeseen financial needs, while debt funds could be used for achieving short term goals and equity funds for meeting the long term wealth creations needs. Given the nature of the goal, you could use systematic investment plan (SIP) route in every type of fund.
5 STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES: Given your income, expenses, deadline to achieve your goals, you may have some advantages and some disadvantages. Use the advantages to your fullest capacity so that the disadvantages do not affect your long term financial journey in any major way.
6 EXECUTING THE PLAN: You could start one or more SIPs in equity funds with step up investment options to match the rise in your income over the years. This way even if you are unable to invest large sums initially (a minor disadvantage), but being invested for several years, you could use the power of compounding to your advantage. Have health and (if required) life insurances, and investments in debt funds also as per your risk profile.
7 ATTACKING WITH FULL FORCE: Once the plan has been set, you should also write down all the intermediate milestones as well and execute the plan with strict discipline. Remember, SIP is one of those approaches which bring discipline to the investing process.
8 CHANGES TO TACTICS IF NEEDED: You need to, periodically, review your investments and map the same with your future goals. In case there are wide variations between the trajectory of your portfolio and the pre-decided long term plan, you should make changes to your investments to bring the path of execution more in line with the plan.
9 INTELLIGENCE AND INFORMATION: In the current age marked by surfeit of information, try to filter out useful sounds from noises around you, and try and use the useful information to your advantage.
(Source : Times Of India)