An Open Letter to United States

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There was a time, not long ago when I used to think that people in United States are super affluent who can buy anything their heart wishes for. Be it bungalows or luxury cars or fashion accessories, that there is absolutely nothing which can dodge your purchasing power. And despite all the spending you still have money left to wage wars and to donate charity organizations. Somewhere in the middle, I read the novel “The Street lawyer” by John Grisham and understood that like every country there are people extremely poor who can’t even afford a house even in US. But, even that I imagined to be as something of past rather than present. As I grew and had become more accessible to Internet, I understood that the country is deeply divided between the advantages which I had always imagined it to uphold and the problems which even India as a developing country doesn’t face. I intend to break this post into three paragraphs which I also believe are the current burning issues faced by your country.

Your Expenditures:

When I know that I have just the sufficient money either to buy a play station CD or to buy groceries for the upcoming month I would choose the latter. As a matter of fact any rational person would do that. But as a country why do you choose to spend money on the sustenance of 7000 odd nuclear war heads when the cold war has ended instead of subsidizing the tuition fee for graduates who struggle big time to clear back their loans. Why do you choose to operate 800 military bases around the world with tens of thousands of troops not in countries like Iraq or Afghanistan but in countries like Japan, South Korea and Western Europe instead of bringing down the market prices of medicines which are way too expensive than any other developed nation on the planet. How can we be strong from outside when we are crumbling from inside. How are we proving that capitalism and democracy are the efficient and ultimate ideals for the governance of any nation state ?

Your Foreign Policy:

Picture me as a person who owns dozens of advanced rifles. Now, imagine me bullying someone who wants to buy a shot gun arguing over him that he is damaging peace in the society. That is exactly how you appear to be like when you argue over Iran that it shouldn’t possess nuclear weapons. Now, that doesn’t mean I want Iran to hold nuclear weapons but I want every country on this planet to dismantle their arsenal (including my birth country India which hasn’t signed the non-proliferation treaty) so that no other country in this world would feel insecure (like Iran right now which is completely normal when the country which has overthrown their government is nuclear enabled) or find the necessity to build a bomb. You are the only country who can begin that change and it is not confined to this particular aspect. Countries will follow if you make a move towards energy efficiency and renewable energy or towards Internet freedom or any other progressive idea. Such vital is your leadership.

Your Political Attitude:

To the 50% of the people who do not vote in the elections: Politics is not like a luxury item in a mall where you get to choose either to pick it or not. Instead, it is a basic need like the food you eat or the clothes you wear daily. Your involvement could define the future history. To the 30% of the people who are either democratic or republican leaning: A political party is not a football club where you say Forever Blue or Forever Red. You may naturally have a predilection towards a party’s ideals. But how can you support the Democrats when national debt is mounting and smaller businesses are struggling to survive or the Republicans when the environment is degrading and gun violence has become rampant. Your ultimate decision should depend on the candidate and his leadership capability rather than his/her party affiliation. To the remaining 20% swing voters: The country is in your hands and it needs you more than ever !!

Conclusion:

You may be a country of 17 trillion dollar economy but you will have a scar on your prestige when you don’t address basic issues like maternity leaves which BTW is what I was referring to as a problem which even India doesn’t face in the introduction. Now to the big question, why am I even bothered about all this ? Because, when 2008 recession happened it is not just you who suffered but it is also us who lost jobs, incentives and privileges. India’s problems are India’s. Pakistan’s problems are Pakistan’s. But your problems are literally everyone’s. And the fact that your Debt-to-GDP ratio is at a dangerous 104% worries me that history might repeat itself. Made my point, I guess.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment !

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The two sides of Karl Marx

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I wanted to write this post following a conversation I had with my parents. Today, education is a central part of an Indian middle class family. But the primary reason why parents want their children to study is not that they are going to do something productive with that knowledge but use it is a means of livelihood and earn thick salaries and thereby increase their status in the society. This is where Marx comes into picture with whom I completely agree on a few principles.

Marx talks about alienation of work by which he means that the connection between the work which we do and how that work is being used in real world is lost. When we do farming, we know that it will help us to survive. When we are sewing a cloth, we know that it will help us against the extreme weather. But, in modern days when we are analysing the market risks being a hedge fund manager or writing software for a surveillance company, we are unable to plainly see how that end result is interpreting our hard work and time. We are doing it because modern work has become increasingly specialized. The work which we do is to provide comforts and luxuries to the society but not the needs. As machines are replacing the jobs done by humans in every cycle of innovation, we really don’t have any other option.

Marx also talks about enjoying sufficient leisure time to which not only me but all of you reading this post would agree!! Frankly, I never wanted to confine myself to just one sphere of knowledge. I always try to experience new things, learn new domains of skills and build an opinion to myself on every burning issue in this world. But, it is really tough if not impossible to find time to do something like that considering the leisure time which we get. Imagine that we were born in the 19th century prior to industrial revolution. We would have time to farm in the morning, hunt and fish in the afternoon, paint and dance in the evenings or play music some other day, travel new places when the harvesting season ends, meet new people, learn new languages and the list simply goes on and on. But today if we find someone who works little and takes a lot of leisure or someone who doesn’t perform well in a specialized area, we discard them as lazy and unfit. Thus, chances are slim to lead a pre-industrial life in a digitized world.

But how much ever I try to admire Marx, the second side of his ideologies does not allow me to do so. Without privatization there is no competition and without competition there is no innovation. Hence, following Marxism the world would have been much passive than it is now. Perhaps this very blog which allows me to share and gather insights from a wider audience would not have been possible. But, it again comes down to the basic question: “What is our priority? ”  or more broadly “What is more important to us? “. Is it the connection which we find with our work we do and the leisure time which we spend or Is it the quality of life and the technology which makes us more comfortable. Balancing both of them in today’s world would be slightly less than a miracle. One thing is certain, the debate around this question is not going to stop, at least not in the near future and Marxism would continue being a complicated concept with neither complete support nor complete denial.

Today, when parents are forcing their children into specialized education they have to realize that jobs in 21st century are not the same they used to be. Work should be fun and has to be done with a sense of purpose rather than as an obligation for survival as it has become today which is a sad circumstance. Marx would have agreed with me !!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment !!

CODE TO ZERO

Author      :  Ken Follet

My Rating :  3.4 / 5

220px-CodeToZeroCold war and particularly space race are often one of most discussed topics in the subject of History. Based on this theme, the way how CIA and KGB operate discreetly trying to steal information from each other through double agents is focused in this novel. Ken creates an air of tangible tension throughout the book which is obvious to the genre and storyline he has selected. Usually I mention the highlights of the book in my reviews but this time I would like to mention the things which I learned or felt during my reading.

1. Capitalism vs Communism:

                   “It is something which happens in your childhood, otherwise never”

Well, I should say that I disagree with Ken in this issue. As a kid I was inclined towards Russia and communist ideologies but as I grew I felt that true equality between people in a society can never be achieved even under the control of totalitarian government. Nevertheless, the idea of US born citizens getting influenced by the communist ideology and preparing themselves to deceive their country-land was marvellously narrated by the author. It almost seemed like the author was expressing his idea that sometimes basic instincts and notions dominate personal life and patriotism. I should admit that though I didn’t feel that his idea was practical – the dialogues between the characters were convincing enough.

2. Coup d’etat:

Though I personally believe that capitalism is a better ideology, I shall also note that this is exactly where US loses its points. I knew about the Taliban uprising and Iraqi regime change (partially before reading this book) but when the country of Guatemala was mentioned I came to know that Iraq and Afghanistan were just two of the many coup d’etat missions conducted by America for the benefit of its economic interests. Apparently it was evident how a large section of the society would raise their voice against government actions. But still, how come banana be the reason for a regime change ?!?!?!

3. Swinging relations:

As the story progresses, the hero of the story finds that the man whom he considered as a best friend tries to murder him and the woman who was his college love deceives him in marriage. Also, he comes to know that the man who he chooses to distrust and the woman who he has ignored turn out to help him at the right time. Well sometimes those misunderstandings happen in our lives too, don’t they ?? However, the lead of the story has lived with it for over a decade, too large time to avoid shock – common in espionage activities I guess.

Who can buy this book ?

If you are a person who love spying activities, secret missions, double agents and counter-fights, you will love this book. However you shouldn’t be expecting someone breaching into a foreign country and bringing down a criminal or an organization, rather you should settle with far less than that. Still, the book with its engrossing narration is worth a read if you are a lover of this genre. For others, go for it if you are too bored.