Sunday, February 26, 2012

GREATNESS - A PRIMER


Every one aspires for 'greatness' for either oneself, or for something that is dear to the individual. I have witnessed this amongst individuals - whether for themselves, or for the country.......

What exactly is 'greatness'?

Greatness (in this context) - is the property possessed by something or someone of outstanding importance or eminence. (Thesaurus)

If it is aspired, then it is best to understand how it can be achieved - whether at an individual level, or in the collective level, as a country. Wise men have given directions to achieving greatness - the following quotes would help us understand what it takes.

There is no one great man. Only millions of men and women in possession of tiny pieces of greatness, which when put together, when assembled in the aggregate make the whole. I am a piece of a very large jigsaw puzzle. One of the corner pieces. The one you go for first - important for a time, different from most of the others. But then, in the end, in the big picture, just one of many...........................................Mark Dunn

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves...............................................Mahatma Gandhi

The first element of greatness is fundamental humbleness (this should not be confused with servility); the second is freedom from self; the third is intrepid courage, which, taken in its widest interpretation, generally goes with truth; and the fourth --the power to love --although I have put it last, is the rarest. ............................................................................................................................Margot Asquith

The true greatness of a nation is not measured by the vastness of its territory, or by the multitude of its people, or by the profusion of its exports and imports; but by the extent to which it has contributed to the life and thought and progress of the world. .................................................................. L. E. Blaze

A great nation is not one which, like Russia, has an enormous territory ; or, like China, has an enormous population. It is the nation which gives mankind new modes of thought, new ideals of life, new hopes, new aspirations; which lifts the world out of the rut, and sets it going on a cleaner and brighter road.
...............................................................................................................................L. E. Blaze 

America's greatness has been the greatness of a free people who shared certain moral commitments. Freedom without moral commitment is aimless and promptly self-destructive. ... John W. Gardner

America's greatness is not found in the size of its government. America's greatness resides in the hearts and the minds of the people.  ..................................................................................Rick Perry

By constant self-discipline and self-control you can develop greatness of character.... Greenville Kleiser

Greatness and goodness are not means, but ends............................................Samuel Taylor Coleridge
 
Integrity is the first step to true greatness. Men love to praise, but are slow to practice it. To maintain it in high places costs self-denial; in all places it is liable to opposition, but its end is glorious, and the universe will yet do it homage. ...................................................................................................Charles Simmons
 
Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness. ...... George Bernard Shaw

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children. ...................................................................Khalil Gibran
   
There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth. ............. Leo Tolstoy 

Greatness does not approach him who is forever looking down............................... Hitopadesa

No great man ever complains of want of opportunity......................................... Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ultimate is not to win, but to reach within the depths of your capabilities and to compete against yourself. ..............................................................................................................................Billy Mills 
 
If we are to be really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues. All that we can determine for ourselves is whether we shall meet them well or ill........................................................................................................................Theodore Roosevelt
 
Every great man is always being helped by everybody, for his gift is to get good out of all things and all persons............................................................................................................................John Ruskin
 
A desire for bigness has hurt many folks. Putting oneself in the limelight at the expense of others is a wrong idea of greatness. The secret of greatness rather than bigness is to acclimate oneself to one's place of service and be true to one's own convictions. A life of this kind of service will forever remain the measure of one's true greatness....................................................................................................... Richard W. Shelly, Jr.

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand............................................................... Woodrow Wilson 
 
No one who has come to true greatness has not felt in some degree that his life belongs to the people, and what God has given them he gives it for mankind. ......................................................Phillips Brooks
 
Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people....... Hyman Rickover  

I believe that the first test of a great man is his humility. I don't mean by humility, doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them. And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful. ...................... John Ruskin

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

AHMEDABAD - BEST CITY TO LIVE IN INDIA

We flew in to Ahmedabad on 31 May 2010, and have now lived here for over 1 year and 8 months. Having lived in various cities in India, it was pretty evident to us within 3 months of arriving here that we had arrived in the best city in India. This fact was only recently confirmed by a Times of India survey that ranked Ahmedabad as the best city in India. The reasons for this could be attributed to 'Uninterrupted and stable power supply' given to the city by a private service provider, "Torrent Power"; 'No shortage of water', thanks to the Narmada project; 'wide and maintained roads'; very 'friendly & traditional, yet progressive people'; a 'fairly (relatively) responsive municipal corporation'; 'good educational and health facilities'; plenty to do & see for people of all ages; the gujju love for food and music, etc.etc. Ahmedabad is a heritage city, with people still living in heritage buildings in the old city, and it also hosts some of the most modern schools like IIM and NID. Ahmedabad is a city where I have seen advertisements for new flats with an area of 3000 to 4000 sq. ft - joint families are still considered normal, and people still go to their 'native' place for festivals - which keep happening round the year - Navratri and Uttrayan (kite festival) are now famous. We have heritage walks and walks for charity and also the Sabarmati marathon. In short Ahmedabad is a city that is worth living in. However, the gujju love for 'adjust' can sometimes be exasperating, especially with regard to traffic sense - I have seen traffic jams with just one car coming from each direction at a cross road; I invariably find people demanding right-of-way by flicking on their headlights, even when driving on the wrong side of the divider, and then arguing about it with you; the railway crossings are a nightmare; encroachment onto roads, bad parking of vehicles is considered normal; traffic lights, zebra crossings, stop lines, and lanes don't mean a thing here - they are pieces of art, like the famous Ahmedabad ni gufa of the Doshi-M F Husain fame.

Well, in Ahmedabad's defence I can say, that every city has its own quirks.


 The famous Sidi Sayyad mosque jalli that is inspiration for the IIM-A logo
Our national bird is in abundance in this place..
 The chaotic traffic of Ahmedabad - in the old city (old city in this photo)
 Community garba celebrations during the Navratri
Ahmedabad ni gufa - Work of Doshi and M F Hussain

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ADALAJ NI VAV - REVISITED - IT'S A TREAT FROM 1498 A.D.









Wednesday, February 8, 2012

CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF AND HIS DATE OF BIRTH

A letter by Col Himmat Sidhu to the President



Dear Ms President, 

President of the Republic of India, Commanader-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, we serve at your pleasure!Are you displeased with the COAS of the day ?? Or is the MOD bureaucrat lobby too strong for you !

You are witness and a silent spectator to the damage that has been unleashed upon the ONLY institution that stands tall and can boast of integrity, total faith & commitment to our democracy. The ONLY institution where probity results in action against the guilty. This when the neighbourhood ( All of ethnically similar populations) from Pak, B'desh, Burma, now Maldives all are reeling for years under Mil rule. History will chronicle you as the Leader who failed to see the crumbling of an edifice. For this step of the bureaucracy to malign and belittle the Armed Forces, that you Command, must be seen as the sinister plot of the powers of corruption that are eating into every walk of life of this beautiful country that you are the President of. 

The Armed Forces are your final bastion, to save this Incredible country, India.
I quote, " Back in the East you can't do much without the right papers, but with the right papers you can do anything. They believe in papers. Papers are power" - Tom Stoppard (1937). Who has the 'right papers' here, MOD, MS, AG or the Attorney General ? Dear Ms President surely to discern the truth, for you can't be difficult, you have the entire Armed Forces at your disposal, you can find out. For if it is the bureaucratic advise you seek, then once again I quote, " It is an inevitable defect, that bureaucrats will care more for routine than for results."(- Walter Bagehot) and in the bureaucratic 'attempt' at the 'truth', the Nation will sit, like you, a mute spectator to the truth being sidelined by routine.


My dear Ms President, for if you shall fail me now, history will remember you, quoting Parkinson's Law, " The man who is denied the opportunity of taking decisions of importance begins to regard as important the decisions he takes". Come when else will you rise to the occasion, the moment and the issue beckon you to act.
-- Himmat n Billyy

CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF AND HIS DATE OF BIRTH

President and the ArmyMust Intervene And Save The Institution 
By MG Devasahayam (A retired IAS Officer)


........Published in the Statesman on 01 Feb 2012

THE President made a profound statement while addressing the nation on the eve of the 63rd Republic Day: “While bringing about reforms and improving institutions, we have to be cautious that while shaking the tree to remove the bad fruit, we do not bring down the tree itself.” But, under her nose an institution called the Indian Army is being rudely shaken and being brought down by the very government she is presiding over. Despite being the Supreme Commander of India’s armed forces she has not even lifted a small finger to stop that. 

Republic Day is an occasion of joy and celebration because on that day in 1950, “We, the People of India, gave ourselves a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic anchored on Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation”. 
Sixty-two years have passed and every year we go through the ritual of celebrations and parades with the armed forces in general and Army in particular in the vanguard. It is the members of these forces who have defended and protected our democracy through their valour, sacrifice and total sense of patriotism, bereft of any political ambitions as in our neighbouring countries. It is largely because of them that India stands tall as a sovereign Republic. 

Among the armed forces, the Army is the largest and the most visible face. The chief of that force has a special status in the nation’s affairs, irrespective of his place in the order of precedence. The present government at the Centre has lost the faith of a vast majority of the people because of colossal failures almost on all fronts, except mortgaging the nation’s assets and resources to MNCs. Now the Chief of the Army Staff himself has lost faith in this government and has knocked the doors of the Supreme Court seeking justice. 
Instead of resolving the matter amicably by rendering substantial justice to the General, worthies of the kleptocratic state have the cheek to display indulgence. They claim that even if the apex court order goes against the Army chief, the government will not summarily sack him. What morbid magnificence after treating General VK Singh in the shabbiest manner possible! 

The controversy is supposed to have arisen due to different sets of records maintained on the General’s Date of Birth (DoB) in the Adjutant General (AG) and Military Secretary (MS) branches of the Army headquarters. There are facts in the public domain suggesting availability of several records and documents in the AG Branch ~ school register, matriculation certificate, father’s record of service in the Rajput Regiment, form No. IAFZ-2041 filled up in IMA ~ establishing the General’s DoB as 10 May 1951.

The MS Branch is stated to have an application form for the written entrance exam to the National Defence Academy signed by a 14/15-year-old boy and some assorted papers mentioning Singh’s DoB as 10 May 1950. The two branches have not reconciled the documents for over four decades.

The Attorney General and the MoD are sticking to the MS Branch records in determining the General’s DoB as 10 May 1950 because it is this branch which is responsible for the promotion and posting of senior army officers. This is the spin that is going around. 
But a confidential communication dated 01 Jul 2011 (A/4501/01/GEN/MS(1)) from Lt.-Gen. GM Nair, Military Secretary to Defence Secretary, tells a totally different tale. On four occasions:
-No: 2 Selection Board, Sept 1996 ~ Fresh case 1970 batch for promotion to the acting rank of Brigadier;
-No: 1 Selection Board, 25 Oct 2001 ~ Fresh case 1970 batch for promotion to the acting rank of Maj. Gen;
-No: 1 Selection Board, 18/19 Sept 2003 ~ Special Review (Fresh) Case 1970 Batch for promotion to the acting rank of Maj. Gen; and
-Special Selection Board, 30 Sept 2005 ~ Fresh case 1970 Batch for promotion to the acting rank of Lt. Gen.
The date of birth of the General Officer (VK Singh) put up by the MS Branch and considered by the Selection Boards was 10 May 1951. 
This means that the MS Branch had accepted, adopted and documented 10 May 1951 as the DoB for empanelling Gen. Singh for promotion and posting as Brigadier, Maj.-Gen. and Lt.-Gen. in 1996, 2001, 2003 and 2005 respectively. Where then was the dispute and the occasion for the former Amy Chiefs to talk to VK Singh in 2008 and 2009 and make him ‘accept’ 10 May 1950 as his DoB? On what grounds was the ‘statutory complaint’ of the Army Chief rejected, reportedly without the knowledge of the Prime Minister, forcing the General to go to the Supreme Court? The government owes an explanation to the people.
Looking at the state of the Republic one tends to lament and despair in the manner of Marcellus in Hamlet, having just seen the ghost of Hamlet’s father, the late king of Denmark: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

Considering the way things are being handled even by an otherwise god-fearing man like AK Antony, there seem to be ghosts looming in New Delhi. One is the MNC lobby that is incensed with General Singh’s principled opposition to the deployment of the Army to decimate the tribal population of Dandakaranya forests to hand it over to mining interests. The General had said: “We cannot do this on our own people. Naxalism is not a secessionist movement.’’ 
Former Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat saw another, even mightier ghost, when he said: “Former Chief Justice of India JS Verma has said Singh had brought in probity and honesty. He is being moved out just when large arms deals are going to be signed. This means that the arms lobby and a few people who are going to be affected are behind this.”

To this could be added the ‘victims’ of the tough stand taken by General Singh on corruption, particularly former Generals involved in the Sukna land scam and Adarsh Housing Society scandal.
This is probably why a specious and non-existent theory of ‘line of succession’ was dug out and touted about for rejecting the army chief’s statutory complaint. The ‘line of succession’ is a concept which is anti-democratic and related to royalty and monarchy. Why then is the Attorney General repeating this ad nauseam? Obviously in support of the MoD’s sinister agenda.

VK Singh belongs to a family that boasts a martial tradition. He hails from Bapora village in Haryana’s Bhiwani district, a district that I had the privilege of raising and building up as its first Commissioner when it was established in December 1972. This village, hardly a couple of miles from Bhiwani, had a large number of serving soldiers and ex-servicemen. Being an ex-soldier myself, I had closely interacted with the simple folk of this village.
Men of General Singh’s ilk serve and die by the Army’s standards of integrity and honesty. When men like him and the Army he commands are impaled, it is the people who bleed. Pray, does not the President, who swears by institutions, have a duty to effectively intervene and save this institution from further damage? The nation awaits an answer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Concentration required for a perfect touch down!!

The finest video that I have seen depicting how the muscles, feathers, eyes, claws, etc .......... in short, every part of the Eagle owl work in unison to produce a perfect touchdown, every time. We humans try to ape this in our flying machines ........... we are not that good yet, and may never be!!!

Click on the link below, watch on full screen, and enjoy 0:59 seconds of pure bliss.

Precision - what it takes!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

WORDS OF WISDOM!

Stay away from Anger... 
It hurts ... You, most of all!!!

If you are right then there is no need to get angry, 
And if you are wrong then you don't have any right to get angry.

Patience with family is love,
Patience with others is respect,
Patience with self is confidence and
Patience with GOD is faith.

Never Think Hard about PAST, It brings Tears...
Don't Think more about FUTURE, It brings Fears...
Live this Moment with a Smile, It brings Cheers.!!!!

Every test in our life makes us bitter or better,
Every problem comes to make us or break us,
Choice is ours ...... whether we become victims or victorious !!!

Search for a beautiful heart, not a beautiful face.
Beautiful things are not always good, 
but good things are always beautiful.

Do you know, why God created gaps between fingers? So that someone who
is special to you, comes and fills those gaps by holding your hand forever. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A DAY TRIP TO THOL LAKE

Painted Stork with Spoon bill Stork
Black Drongo
Bee eater birds
Egret

Purple Heron

Ruddy Shelduck pair with other ducks

Common Kingfisher
White Ibis
Red Wattled Lapwings
Painted stork, Spoon billed Stork and White Ibis
Noisy departure at Sunrise!

Friday, January 6, 2012

CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF AND HIS DATE OF BIRTH


The date of birth of the present Army Chief has taken a political turn, and most news channels are having a field day on TV for the past couple of days. Every one is stumped as to what this controversy is all about. I received this forward which clarifies the issue. I do hope that the facts in the forward are correct. I believe them to be correct.  The forward is reproduced for you to draw your own conclusions.............

Date of birth row: ‘Line of succession trumps all logic.’

Lt-Gen Hatwant Singh (Retd)
               
Ministry of Defence has finally rejected the Army Chief’s statutory complaint. Attorney General, on whose opinion the Ministry took the decision, has contended that “changing” the date of birth would alter the army’s ‘line of succession.’ If ‘line of succession’ is the only legal thread by which the Attorney General’s opinion hangs, then he needs to do some more time in a law school!
           
Gen VK Singh was born on 10 May 1951 in military hospital, Pune and the same was entered in the service record of his father (14 Rajput). Date of birth in his school leaving certificate is 10 May, 1951. At the time of filling application forms for UPSC examination for entry into NDA  his teacher, wrongly entered 10 May 1950 in stead of 10 May 1951 as  date of birth. VK Singh was then 14 years old and without realizing this error, signed the application. He was eligible for entry into NDA in both the cases, (age 10 May 1950 and 10 May 1951).

Before his interview at the Services Selection Board, school leaving certificate,  letter from his father’s unit, indicating his date of birth as 10 May 10951 as well as police verification of age was sent to the UPSC. Based on this he was ‘provisionally’ allowed to join NDA: pending receipt of Board Examination Certificate. His NDA and IMA records reflected his date of birth as 10 May 1951.

 On commissioning, his unit sent Form No IAFZ-2041 to AG’s Branch  and the same was done by I M A. In both the cases date of birth was noted as 10 May 1951. His original Board Certificate was forwarded to AGs Branch at Army HQ in April 1971 (within 2 years of commissioning). Status concerning date of birth  was changed from ‘Provisional’ to ‘Permanent.’ However the Military Secretary’s branch did not correct its record.
 
MS branch continued with the old argument that ‘change of date of birth’ could be carried out only within two years of commissioning. It was pointed out that, firstly the AG’s branch had carried out the correction within the stipulated two years and secondly it was not  a case of ‘change of date of birth’ but one of ‘correction.’   

AGs branch had confirmed in writing to the officer that his date of birth in its records was 10 May 1951. In Dec 2007 Ministry  asked MS branch to give reasons for recording 10 May 1950 as the date of birth and to conduct an inquiry in the matter. MS  replied that date of birth was taken from the officers initial application to the UPSC, but conducted no inquiry. It quoted GoI office memorandums  of  23 June 1954 and of 21 April 1964 under which no change in date of birth could be made after 2 years of commissioning. Curiously enough it contended that verification of date of birth was not its responsibility but was on the charter of duties of AG’s Branch: where the date of birth had been amended as far back as 1971!
 
A ‘line of succession’ to the post of COAS appears to have been worked out. The then Army Chief pressurized the officer to accept, 'in the interest of service’  10 May 1950 and that he would later have it amended. Gen VK Singh keeping the ‘service interest’ in mind, good faith and assurance from his chief accepted this arrangement. Nothing was done to correct this anomaly in the MS branch records.   
 
Within two days of receipt of the complaint,  Minister of State for Defence, announced  that the Ministry had already taken a decision on the subject. Here then is a case where, due diligence and ‘application of mind’ apart, the case stood pre-judged and  decided.

Min of Law had opined that the officer’s date of birth has to be taken as 10 May 1951. Later the Attorney General reversed this decision. For the Attorney General, hospital record, service record of the officer’s father, police report, school record and Board Examination Certificate are not proof enough of date of birth, but it is the ‘line of a succession’ which determined the date of birth. For him, because of this issue of ‘line of succession,’ Gen VK Singh was born on 10 May, 1950 and not 10 May 1951!  He does manage to turn jurisprudence on its head.!

The case exposes the chasm that exits between the office of the Army chief and the Defence Minister. Dealing with the case in a cavalier manner and with disdain has shocked the defence services. This denigration of the institution of the COAS will have a long term debilitating impact on the military. In all likelihood the Gen may not wish to serve for a few more months, but the issue is of probity and honour.