Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chidambaram on inflation

Chidambaram has ridiculed Narendra Modi for "giving his first lesson in economy (sic)".

Chidambaram has quoted Modi as saying, "I am not as educated as him... but I know inflation is not because of buying gold but due to corruption".

The Finance Minister adds, "I recall having said on many occasions that buying gold, which is almost entirely imported, worsens current account deficit. I don't recall saying that buying gold causes inflation".

PC is delinking CAD from inflation. Aggravation in CAD leads to lower external value for a currency. Therefore imports become costlier in rupee terms. This leads to price rise within the country. This is explained as "imported inflation".

There is no necessity, political or otherwise, for Chidambaram to deny an economic truth simply because Modi had falsely attributed the truth to him (Chidambaram).

It is noteworthy that PC has confined his response to CAD and has forgotten / omitted to comment on the link between corruption and inflation. Oftentimes what is left unsaid conveys more than what is said.

Crime and punishment

Our criminal system is funny. If a person defaces the name-plate of a residence, he will be questioned by the police for six hours and may also be arrested. If a person commits a more serious offence like rape and thus dehumanises another, he will be free to keep the police on tenterhooks by initiating the judicial process.

If a person has money-power, he is well protected. If he is also politically connected, he is doubly protected and his illegal activities will be ignored or at worst dismissed as drunken bantering.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Jayanti Natarajan's shocker

Tarun Tejpal's heinous behaviour in an elevator in a Goan hotel has unhinged many otherwise sedate persons. How else can we justify Jayanti Natarajan's obnoxious remark on the event and its fallout?

"Hundreds of foreign tourists are raped in Goa. Is the chief minister taking personal interest in those cases?" As a responsible minister it is also Jayanti Natarajan's duty to prevent the hundreds of rapes that are allegedly happening in Goa. The prime minister should wake up to this remark made by his minister and safeguard India's prestige. If the allegation is false, the minister should be advised that she has no right to debase Goa and thus India only to score political brownie points.

The minister added, "Why should the hearing take place in Goa and not in Mumbai?" So, if there is a charge of rape of say a Canadian lady in Goa, the case should be heard in Canada! Politics makes even decent people to stoop low.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Regard for Science

India is a country that delights in contradictions. This is welcome. But what is irksome is our lack of sense of proportions at times.

For example, our Mars Orbiter Mission costs USD 75mn. This has been described by many 'activists' as a gargantuan sum which a poor country like ours cannot afford. Harsh Mander, an activist and a former bureaucrat, who is normally known for sensible ideas says, "The Mars mission is a remarkable indifference to the dignity of the poor".

Such arguments are based on ignorance about scientific pursuits. Investment on science cannot be pitted against priority for poverty eradication. One is not at the cost of the other.

Protests against spending USD 340mn (yes, I am not exaggerating the figure) for erection of the tallest statue in the world for Sardar Patel are justified. Surprisingly, this does not attract the attention of activists.

There is a worrisome tendency to criticise Narendra Modi for wrong reasons and to keep quiet when criticism is justified.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen - 10th game

Both players played well in the 10th game. Carlsen could have settled for a draw much earlier in the game. That he preferred not to do so shows his confidence. Throughout the match, Anand was not his usual self. Carlsen has won the championship with two games to spare and without suffering a defeat. A remarkable feat.

After the match was over, Anand made a thoughtful statement. "Throughout the game, I did not understand Carlsen. Perhaps I did not understand myself also." Another way of looking at the result is to regard Carlsen's seconds as better than Anand's.

Is Anand past his prime? There cannot be an unequivocal answer now. We may get to know from his performance in ensuing tournaments.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen - 9th game

Anand has lost the 9th game through a blunder unexpected at his level but expected in his present plight. The score is now 3 - 6. Carlsen needs only a draw from the remaining three games. In other words, Anand has to win all the remaining games to retain the championship. Anand's chances are next to nil.

Anand was doing well in the ninth game. It is a pity that he lost it. He was stoic in the press conference held after the game. India may not produce a phenomenon like Anand in the near future.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Judiciary's reputation at stake

Among various institutions in India, judiciary has been by far the least tarnished. Even after discounting the opacity that surrounds the happenings in various courts, the judicial system has not yet become a festering disgrace.

But alas! things are fast achanging. An intern has reported sexual harassment by a recently retired judge of the Supreme Court. One hopes this will be honestly investigated and the nation taken into confidence. But so far, the preliminary moves are not promising.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen - 8th game

So the Carlsen juggernaut moves on merrily. The eighth game also is drawn. The challenger chose e4 opening. No opening is strange from this versatile player. The score is now 5-3.

Anand cannot wait any longer. He has to torpedo Carlsen somehow. Can he do it?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen - 7th game

Draw in the seventh game was a relief for Anand and a non-issue for the challenger. Carlsen is maintaining his two point lead. Five games remain of which Carlsen has three as white, a slight advantage.

Anand though plays equally well with either colour. Games to follow may produce high quality chess, but not a trend reversal.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen - 6th game

The inevitable has happened. Carlsen has extended his lead to 4-2. It is all but certain that Magnus Carlsen is the new World Champion.

Anand himself has admitted that he committed multiple mistakes in the sixth game. Carlsen's chess acumen is such that just a single mistake by the opponent is enough for him to have a vice-like grip on the game. He does not provide the luxury of relaxing even for a single moment to his opponent.

The usually articulate Anand was laconic in the post-game 6 press conference. Obviously he would not reveal his strategy for the ensuing games. The only option available for him is to play wild and try to distract Carlsen. Carlsen is not that easily side-tracked.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen - 5th game

The Mozart has won the fifth game. He certainly outplayed Anand comprehensively. Though Anand has the advantage of white in the next two games, it will be difficult to get back into the match.

Carlsen's tenacity is unmatchable. He has a liking for long and tortuous games. Another distinct advantage for him which surprisingly is not discussed anywhere is the fact that Anand has played many more games because of age difference. Hence, Carlsen can read Anand better than vice versa.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen- 4th game

In chess, if one plays four games consecutively without losing any, one becomes confident. Similarly four games without a win makes one diffident. So the confidence levels of the two players Anand and Carlsen are anybody's guess.

The fourth game played yesterday, 13th Nov., was long and tense. One interpretation is that Anand extricated himself from the jaws of defeat. The Ruy Lopez, a favourite of Anand, was defended with a lot of creative dexterity by the Mozart of Chess.

Some fans of Carlsen were predicting that he would win the match with a few games to spare. That is becoming more remote with every passing game. Even if Carlsen wins every game from now on, we will witness another five games making it nine out of maximum twelve. Interesting games are ahead.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen - 3rd Game

The third game also ends in a draw, but not a tame draw. Anand had better chances almost throughout the game. It is not clear why Anand was so defensive in this 51-move game. Is he averse to taking any risk at this stage of the championship?

If Carlsen starts taking chances and gets a lead, Anand's position will become desperate. No risk, no gain applies as much to chess as to life.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen - 2nd game

In case you believe in zodiac signs, both Carlsen and Anand are Sagittarius. The 'Archers' are supposed to be highly optimistic, confident and intellectual. They keep shooting arrows hoping that every time they will hit the bulls' eye.

The second game also was drawn. It was a relief for Anand. He did admit that he was not fully prepared for Carlsen's Caro-Kann defense.  A blunt and unexpected admission in a game that is as much psychological as it is skill-based.

Carlsen let us have a peep into his world-view. Answering a question, he said that future games do not depend on what has happened in the first two games. In other words, was he saying that Life is a Markov process?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Anand vs Carlsen

World Chess Championship has started in Chennai and chess is on everyone's mind and lips. Media is saturated with nuances of chess. A lot has been said and written about dissimilarities between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen. The former is almost twice as old as the latter.

There are many similarities too. Both became prominent grandmasters at a fairly young age. Both are connoisseurs of digital chess. Aggression and intuition are second nature to both.

It is therefore not surprising that the first game has ended in a draw. What was strange was the shortness of the game. Was neither prepared to probe beyond feeling the waters? Let us see what happens in the second game scheduled for tomorrow (10th November).

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Political truth

Sonia Gandhi, addressing a meeting in Chattisgarh, said, "Congress has a history of sacrifice." Absolutely. Congress has sacrificed nation's interests time and again.

Jairam Ramesh: "Narendra Modi is characterised by political autocracy, social divisiveness and economic liberalism." The Congress party had imposed emergency, plays minority appeasement card and Manmohan Singh is a silent witness to looting of nation's resources by corrupt elements. One expects more sense from Jairam Ramesh.

It is well known that ministers like Jairam Ramesh have pledged their lifelong loyalty to Sonia Gandhi. But how many of us know that they have pledged their common sense also?

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Edward Snowden's appeal

Snowden who is now under temporary asylum in Russia has issued an appeal to American authorities not to view dissent as a crime. The appeal a copy of which is published in the New York Times is available in the following link:

Friday, November 01, 2013

Supreme Court on oral orders

In a petition filed by many concerned citizens including retired civil servants, the Supreme Court of India has ruled that civil servants are not expected to be guided by oral orders of superior officials and political authorities.

Our governance is at such an abysmally low level that a court has to intervene and advise what the civil servants are supposed to be governed by. Will this ruling make any difference  to our administrative culture? Probably no.

It is feared that even some judicial orders are based on oral instructions from the powers-that-be. If that be the case, where is the solution? Integrity and fairness continue to be a mirage in our culture of self-interest and subservience.