While there is a lot to dislike about Late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, the one thing I liked about her was her firm and strong opinions on matters of State. She pushed through the abolition of the Privy Purse in the Indian Parliament in 1971, which abolished the significant payout of monies to the Princely States of India which had acceded to the Indian Union by 1947 (some states required coercion and joined only by 1949). These states wer ruled by rich kings (no capital “K”) or princes, who had enough assets to pay for themselves and their families’ maintenance. However, under an arrangement worked out around the time of Indian Independence, Privy Purses were established, ensuring annual payments were made by the Government of India from its budget.
However, India became a Republic in 1950. It was the classic state with rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. Kings, princes and emperors and their accompaniments were of no value after 1950, though there were many Indians who were subservient to these folks (the same tendency which brought India down against the British). After the 1971 abolition of privy purses, the kings and princes and princesses officially became “poor” and common citizens. There are not many countries in the world apart from France, of course, which disbanded royalty which had ruled them for hundreds of years, and let them go away. There was no bloodshed in India against the kings and princes – there are many stories of how the erstwhile royalty survived in conditions worse than that of the common man of India, even living on railway station platform for instance.
All told, royalty is extinct in India. Nobody even mentions the titles of kings (some of whose lineage still exist, like in Rajasthan State and Mysore, a part of Karnataka State).
How about England? How about Australia, which is still shy of talking about becoming a republic? How about many other nations which were under British rule, and still are subservient to the Crown of England?
Absolute stupidity and nonsense, I would say.
Gone are the days of royalty and obeisance to them. Now they spend taxpayers’ money. In the U.K., the Queen of England has a huge budget allocation as the equivalent of the privy purse. Her palaces require expensive maintenance. The weddings of the royal family are huge affairs with huge costs picked up by the British taxpayer (one is coming up pretty soon if you are following the news).
I wrote about the “anachronism of royalty” in a 2011 blog post – you can read it here The anachronism of royalty.
Why does the common man still believe that the royalty are superior to him, and so deserve a better treatment? Do they have genes which distinguish them as royalty? Are they descendants of God himself? Do they deserve what they are getting for free, without doing any work of substance in return for the state?
The subservience of the common man to people with authority can only be allowed if it is out of respect for a democratic title – like the president or prime minister. The role is critical for the performance of duties in a democracy, and so we respect the role. Not necessary, of course. In a democracy, every person is equal to another person – there cannot be a distinction. This fundamental principle is violated in the current treatment of royalty.
France abolished royalty in 1789. Russia did that in 1917. India did that in 1971.
It is time for England and other princely states (there are many of them still around) to abolish monarchy in a democratic manner, like what India did. There will be protests, of course, but the fundamental principle of human equality and democratic application of the same cannot be contested either on legality or parliamentary procedures. One day or the other, it has to happen. Then you will have kings and princes walking on the street and drinking the same coffee that we do.
I am sure there are many poeple amongst us who still revere any royalty, and this concept of abolition of their privileges is going to be a big anathema to them. However, they have to just think of the sufferings of the common man. Things have not improved for the common man in many countries of the world. Why bother about the rich royalty who in any case, have huge assets and are incredibly wealthy?
The Indian way has proven to be the best – peaceful, no protests, even-handed. Legal battles went on, but finally the Supreme Court of India ruled against the reinstatement of the privy purse and other benefits in 1993. Speaking for the bench, the Chief Justice, L M Sharma, said: ‘The distinction between the erstwhile rulers and the citizenry of India has to be ended so as to have a common brotherhood.’ He added: ‘In a country like ours, with so many disruptive forces of regionalism and communalism, it is necessary to emphasise that the unity and integrity of India can be preserved only by a spirit of brotherhood.’
Yes, the Chief Justice captured the essence of democracy in that statement.
Think about it. England invented the concept of democracy and rule by elected representatives to the parliament. They invented parliamentary democracy, which has been adopted by scores of countries including India. But, the English system of governance still remains as constitutional monarchy.
Time for a rethink, I guess?
2nd December 2017
I was fortunate to attend the F1 pre-qualifying races yesterday in the Singapore Grand Prix, which is in its 9th year of operation. It is the only night F1 race performed on city streets, unlike the very expensive race tracks built in other countries.
I read in the local newspapers that the Singapore economy benefits to an extent of SGD 150M in terms of travel, transportation, food, accommodation, shopping, etc., for the three days (Friday to Sunday) during which the F1 event is held in Singapore. Hence it is economically an important event for Singapore as well, apart from its sports value and the innovation of being the only night time F1.
The atmosphere was electric. The only thing I did not like was the long walk from the Ritz Carlton to the Paddock and back in the night (the walk back in the night was longer, almost close to 2 KMs or so). Otherwise, it was a great thing which I have not experienced before in my life.
I also had the chance to photograph myself with Max Verstappen, one of the racers. He also signed my entry ticket. I did the garage tour of Red Bull Racing, and also the long pit walk around the grandstand. I was hosted in a nice club by one of our corporate sponsors, so food and drinks were not a problem. There was special treatment for the Paddock Club attendees (and am sure, for the other VIP attendees), we could walk around and get food, coffee, pastries and drinks in famous outlets. There were more crowds in these outlets than were sitting on the grandstand, except when the final race began at 9:00 PM.
I saw the Red Bull cars getting tuned and prepared, and the IT/Networking systems connecting the sensors from Singapore back to the U.K. where the Red Bull factory is located. These sports cars attain a speed of 300 KMPH (around 200 MPH), and so appear in your camera for just a fleeting second. I tried hard to capture the cars on my iPhone Video, and did manage to do so eventually.
Any position on the Grandstand or the Paddock Club only affords a narrow view of the race due to the manner in which the race tracks is designed. Further, the race uses the normal streets without any modification. Hence, to get a full view of what is happening on the entire race circuit, the best way was to view the TV feed. I was told that there were many cameras along the race circuit, and further there was camera shots/video taken from the overflying helicopters. This is a disadvantage in the Singapore F1 as the tracks are rather narrow and short in length before the view disappears via a turn, etc., In any case, the roaring thunder of the cars, their slightly reducing speeds when they are negotiating the curves, and the fire sparks emanating from their tyres from their receding views were thrilling to say the least. I was not able to figure out who is in which car, unless I saw the large TV displays.
It was a wonderful experience overall, notwithstanding the steep cost to attend. I saw that generally people were enjoying themselves in the midst of all the noise. They were eating and drinking for most part, however they looked happy. For many of them, it could have been their first experience of attending the F1 race.
It all finished around 10 PM, and I was told that there was a party afterwards. But I chose to skip that one, and return home. The funny thing was that public taxis from Ritz Carlton to any part of Singapore were priced at SGD 55 at around 10:30 PM Saturday evening, which I thought was atrocious. I decided to walk to the Pan Pacific hotel and to my surprise, there were many taxis waiting and absolutely no passengers! It was normal fare (adjusted for late evening excess), so it was good.
Overall, an amazing and captivating experience. I will see the F1 Finals today (Sunday) on the TV ! Hopefully Red Bull wins the No. 1 spot or at least the second spot and gets to the Podium !
18th September 2016
“Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.”
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite”
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front.”
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
“I could never reach the standard of morality, simplicity and love for the poor set by the Mahatma…While Gandhi was a human without weaknesses, I am a man of many weaknesses.”
“It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact upon the way people live or die.”
“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
“We hold it as an inviolable principle that racism must be opposed by all the means that humanity has at its disposal. Wherever it occurs it has the potential to result in a systematic and comprehensive denial of human rights to those who are discriminated against. This is because all racism is inherently a challenge to human rights, because it denies the view that every human being is a person of equal worth with any other, because it treats entire peoples as subhuman.”
7th December 2013
Could justice be dependent on a person’s position in society ? Or, could justice rendered be tweaked to ensure that a person of importance in society is spared from punishment ? Should justice be overturned by the executive arm of the government, irrespective of the nature or severity of the crime ?
What is the position of a democratic form of government on such critical matters ?
The general population could argue in a particular manner, either for or against the person who has committed a crime in the past. The supporters and family members of the accused/convicted person would obviously support that person, irrespective of the nature and severity of the crime, because they do not believe that the person committed the crime in the first place.
But, what about the executive arm of the government ? What about people with influence in society ? What about ex Office bearers and ex judges ?
Does their “opinion” count ?
What about the good deeds purportedly committed by the convicted person ? Do these deeds count towards a reduction in the sentence meted out ? Do these deeds warrant a special attention by the executive ?
What about the importance of the convicted person’s family ? If that family is powerful enough, could they manage to defer the sentence ? Could they influence the government ?
On what basis the government of the day would pardon a convicted person ? What explanation can it give to the other thousands of people (ordinary folks) who are awaiting sentencing, or have already been sentenced ? Where does the pardoning exercise stop ? Is it going to be always influenced by power and position in society ?
Important questions for democracy and the judicial system to answer.
It is critical to analyze the pros and cons and arrive at a decision which could then be extrapolated to the rest of the society – that is the only way to go about it. The usual excuse of a “case-by-case” situation analysis would not be applicable in all but the most trivial of crimes.
It is very important for the judiciary and the government to make the right decisions – India is a huge country with nearly 1.2B people. Justice should not only be done, but also perceived to be done in a fair and equitable manner.
Let us think about this key topic more seriously and come to a conclusion ourselves.
23rd March 2013
Courtesy: Srinivas, my IIM-B Classmate
NOTE: Rajnikanth is one of the most famous movie stars of South India and is revered almost like a god for his amazing magical powers of defeating villains in his movies (he acts only as a “hero” of course).
Some interesting stuff on “All new series of Rajnikanth”:
Rajnikanth was shot today… Tomorrow is the bullet`s funeral!
Rajnikanth killed a terrorist in Pakistan ‘via Bluetooth’!
When Rajni was a student, teachers used to bunk classes!
Rajnikanth can draw a straight line with a compass!
Rajnikanth knows who let the dogs out!!
Rajnikanth`s pulse is measured in Richter scale!
The new Rupee symbol is actually Rajnikanth`s signature!!!
When God watched Robot, he said, “Oh my Rajnikanth!”
Rajnikanth has a statue of Madame Tussauds at his house!!
Rajnikanth is the secret of Boost`s energy; and Complan is a Rajnikanth boy!
[NOTE: Boost and Complan are health drinks in India]
Rajnikanth participated in 100m race, obviously he came first, but Einstein died watching that since Light came second!!
Intel’s new ad: “Rajnikanth Inside”
Rajnikant can produce fire by rubbing 2 ice cubes……
Rajnikant runs until the treadmill gets tired..
In the back cover of “WORLD RECORD BOOKS” its written…..all records are held by Rajnikant…….listed names are second in place..
Rajnikant added Facebook as his friend =))
Courtesy: Srinivas, my IIM-B Classmate
20th October 2012
Courtesy: Nithyanand, my IIM-B Classmate
Ask a history teacher 2 explain this—– if he can?!
Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.
Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.
Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.
Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.
Both Presidents were shot in the head.
Now it gets really weird.
Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s Secretary was named Lincoln.
Both were assassinated by Southerners.
Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.
Both assassins were known by their three names.
Both names are composed of fifteen letters.
Now hang on to your seat.
Lincoln was shot at the theater named ‘Ford.’
Kennedy was shot in a car called ‘Lincoln’ made by ‘Ford.’
Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theater.
Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.
And here’s the kicker…
A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was shot, he was with Marilyn Monroe.
Courtesy: Nithyanand, my IIM-B Classmate
5th August 2012
There was a huge amount of fuss, government action and media coverage these past few days on something which can happen only in India.
You may wonder – what cannot probably happen in India ?!!!
You are beyond surprises when it comes to India, right ? Anything that can potentially happen, has happened in India, and may be for the first time ever, right ?
Right. You are right.
This case is no different. This involves a famous Indian Bollywood actor who landed in the U.S. last week and got delayed in getting interrogated by the U.S. Border & Customs officials.
What is so new, you might ask ? Such a thing happens to many folks who land in the U.S. airports, anyway. Nothing new here.
Well, the thing that is new here is that the famous actor is none other than the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, called as SRK for short. And, this stuff of airport immigration delay happened to him for the second time.
Again nothing new really, you might ask. SRK has the same name as an internationally wanted terrorist, and so it is no wonder that the name match on immigration computers should spark an alarm and a detailed interrogation.
The wonder here is the swift reaction from the Indian Government, which moved the high and mighty to ensure that the King of Bollywood was not harassed unduly and released forthwith. The pressure came from none other than the Foreign Minister of India, Mr SM Krishna. The Indian foreign affairs ministry and its officials were pressed into immediate action to apply pressure on the U.S. Government.
The U.S. officials must be wondering – why all this fuss ? They have to anyway verify the credentials of anyone entering the U.S. Rules cannot be twisted unlike in India.
But they did accelerate the questioning of SRK and released him in 75 minutes – some sources say 90 minutes. It is very rare for the Indian Government to act in the manner it did in SRK’s case which was not even a detention – just a delayed release from immigration.
The interesting question which begs an answer is this: will the Indian Government move this swiftly in the case of an ordinary Indian citizen who is unduly held up for no fault of his ? There is serious doubt that India will act in all such cases – it will surely act when the case involves its famous sons and daughters though.
I do not think that SRK, being an intelligent and articulate man himself, would have bothered much, though he must have been annoyed about the delay as he was supposed to appear in an event at Yale University and receive a Fellowship. He kept the audience waiting for a few hours and he must have felt bad.
The diplomatic pressure exerted in the case of a non-diplomatic Indian citizen actually did not save much time. It was an embarrassment however for India, as the personality involved was very famous and he could have raised a stink in the public media. I am not sure if he did that, but he joked about his immigration problems at his speech at Yale University.
There were many apologies from various officials of the U.S. Government – both in Washington and New Delhi, about this incident.
But, surely “What a Fuss” ? It was not necessary.
15th April 2012