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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

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Private Truths, Public Lies



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----------------------------------------------------------------------
Arindam Roy wrote:

My other journalist friends would agree with me that a similar insecurity,
fear and frustration lurk in the minds of these politicians. How many times
such people air their honest inner feelings in private!

This is precisely what Professor Timur Kuran (our new Advisor) has
explored at length in his book, "Private Truths, Public Lies."

This is what our life in this world has become. A fake world. A world
where to preserve the rank and "social stature" of someone, or of a
concept called "government" we speak in whispers in our kitchens. There
are more than 10 serving or retired/resigned IAS officers on this list.
They whisper in the shadows. There are many more who are afraid. We are
all afraid. Of what? Of ourselves? Our shadows?

As they say, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Let the truth be
broadcast on rooftops, from the radio, from the TV, from the internet.

[sorry; i'm actually killing my hands; must stop]


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No Good People Joining Politics...?: AR's Reply



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Hi Umesh,

Beautifully explained! I agree with you.

Regards,

Arindam Roy

-----Original Message-----
From: Umesh Tiwari
To: debate@indiapolicy.org
Date: Thursday, January 28, 1999 9:21 PM
Subject: Re: No Good People Joining Politics...?

Hi Arindam,

It is certainly okay for IPI or any such organization to bring people of
common interest together, all of whom should be considered good people
without any discrimination until someone has proven to be otherwise by
his/her own actions.

In fact it is rather dangerous to create some definition of good people,
or leaders. Natural leaders are the leaders you naturally know when you
find them around. One, although very very limited example of it would
be, say ,when you watch a group discussion organized for the purpose of
selecting a natural leader (for the limited purpose for a job
recruitment) among equally qualified, and knowledgeable people sitting
around a table. The recruitment managers just know within a matter of
less then an hour as to who can naturally command a leadership position
while everyone else would be willing to accept the position of following
the leader.

But in my arguments, I did not mean to limit leadership with this kind
of definition. A leader, in my mind, would be someone, who tries to do
the right things, lives life within his society in such a way that
his/her own example becomes inspiration for others, and he/she also
sincerely believes in molding public opinions about the things that
ought to be changed in the society, he/she does not hesitate to take
firm stand on what is right and wrong while staying calm and civilized.
That he/she gives a real sense of hope to others around, no matter what
happens. The list goes on. I have my wish list, you have yours, a leader
would be the one who can take both you and I along to follow him/her.
That is tough, but nobody said it was an easy task.

Television and media may create celebrities, it may help people form
opinions about someone, good or bad, but the natural leaders create
their leadership position themselves by investing their unique way of
life in it. A natural leader doesn't have to be the prime minister, or
the president, but wherever he/she is, he/she inspires a lot of people
around to follow him or his example to do the things his way, or
interpret facts about life his/her way. That's how I think we have
traveled thus far in our journey of civilization.

Thank You.

Umesh


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Problems do have solutions : Reply



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Hi Sanjeev,

I agree with you. Problems do have solutions. But many a times, we accept
alternatives as the possible solutions. In India, we have done this for the
past fifty years. The good, bad and ugly is for all of us to see!

Your suggestion on 'reasoned consensus...on social policy' is most welcome.
May be, we need to discuss and debate this as well (sans the 'noise').

I look forward to reading the Draft Manifesto. Suggestions, if any, shall
also be made.

Rgds,
Arindam Roy,


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PUBLIC: costs of elections



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----------------------------------------------------------------------
You might like to know that the "most comprehensive database on the
Administration and Cost of Elections" has just been jointly-published
on CD-ROM by International IDEA (Inst for Democracy & Electoral
Assistance)
Stomborg
S-103 34 Stockholm
Sweden

Tel: sw=00-46-8-6983.700
Fax: 00468202422
email: info@int-idea.se

However, you may first wish to check out: www.aceproject.org

Orders for the CD-ROM to: International Foundation for Electoral
Systems, USA (202-452.0804) or UN Dept ECOSOC (212-963.2916) or of
course from International IDEA. Name of contact: Therese Laanela.

Please feel free to use my name in contacting them, if you wish.

Professor Prabhu Guptara
Director, Executive and Organisational Development
Wolfsberg Executive Development Centre
(a subsidiary of UBS AG)
CH-8272 Ermatingen
Switzerland
Tel: +41.71.663.5605
Fax: +41.71.663.5594
e-mail: prabhu.guptara@ubs.com
INTERNET: http://www.wolfsberg.com/



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Rao plus Roy: Charu: AR



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Hi Charu,

Very interesting!

You have rightly exposed the motives of the rich countries. This economic
(thereby social, cultural and political) violence is what we should be
cautious of. Has the West become more ferocious, red in tooth and claw ?

I feel we should discuss this issue in greater detail and suggest
corrective measures.

Regards,

Arindam Roy

----Original Message-----
From: Charu datt

"Prof. R. Jagadiswara Rao" wrote:

As I have no interest to make any "vigourous and precise critical
discussion of the working of the international institutions and their
relationships with India and other developing countries", such a
discussion is "sorely lacking" in my article. If that is so "vitally
necessary", why not Dr. Roy attempt it?

In continuation of my earlier posting on the motivation and workings of
international lending institutions, the following excerpt from a1992
interview with Noam Chomsky provides some useful material. The complete
interview is at
>http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/rab/rab-1.html



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Re: 1 out of 150: AR's Reply



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Hi Arindam,

I agree 100% with you!
Thank You.

Umesh

Arindam Roy wrote:

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Hello Umesh,

I agree with you. Many a times, people up there, on the pedestal are more
ordinary (or silly) than the most ordinary amongst us. We journalists see it
happen almost everyday. This is as far as your experience with Seshan is
concerned.

Yes, though we broadly agree on various issues, our individual perceptions
and sensibilities differ. Just as Sanjeev has suggested a para titled,
'Citizen Bureaucrats wanted' for inclusion, a similar para may be suggested
for the politicians, basis your point. Their freedom of expression (thought
& speech) may be independent of the party line.

My other journalist friends would agree with me that a similar insecurity,
fear and frustration lurk in the minds of these politicians. How many times
such people air their honest inner feelings in private! They too should be
free to uphold their honest views thru the media, if the party bosses ignore
their personal political aspirations, in the garb of partyline, party whip, etc.

After all, they should be allowed to feel that they are responsible to the
electorate first, the people who voted them to the Assembly or Parliament.
Their accountability should be obligatory, statutory and mandatory. And
the party should not interfere with this fundamental political freedom of
theirs.

Do you agree with me? This is for your kind approval.

Regards,
Arindam Roy


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Re: 1 out of 150: AR's Reply



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Hi Umesh,

You were phonetically more correct to spell my name 'Arindom'. Well,
that's how my name is pronounced in Bengali.

You are right to point out that we are nostalgic about the past. We tend
to remember the good things. Well, that's the selective perception of all
Good people. Perhaps Providence and Nature has its own laws !

By '...our father's generation', I did not mean just the generation(s) of
the past alone. I also said that our value commitments (not value
loadings) are eroding very fast. May be this was not very clear. My fault.

I agree with you. Lets take the honest people now. A friend of mine had
once said that the passive honest are more dangerous than the corrupt. A
dishonest man atleast does the work ( for a price), but the passive honest
neither take bribe nor do any work. They are anti-work, anti-progress,who
help in slowing down the prosperity of the nation. No, this is no argument
in favour of the corrupt and the dishonest. He said that we need the
dynamic honest.

A dynamic honest person is one who is prepared to take risks and still
remain honest. In today's India it is becoming increasingly difficult to
remain dynamic and honest. The shameful killing of a Christian missionary
and his two minor sons are a case in point.

Other than communal, religious and political issues, the anger of the mob
was directed at their dynamism as well. Conversion was just a convenient
cause to incite the mob. This is a dangerous trend. Yes, the dynamism of
good people is being resented by the perversely corrupt.

No Umesh, I have not given up hope. Not as yet.

I, as a journalist, am perceiving a dark India in the twilight of
millennium. Some IAS officers,in private discussions, accepted that the
media's harshest criticism was for their own good, a guideline of sorts.
But when it came to action (corrective or obligatory), there was little
that they could do. Too many pressures (insecurity included). They are
frustrated. Individually they are amongst the best brains of the country.
They are trained to tackle crises. Yet they feel that solutions are
slipping away like quicksand. They say it was not so five years back. May
be the past is always more rosy, but these frustrations and insecurities
are real as well.

One of them told me, off the record (about two months back) that he will
remember the grim Nineties all his life. (" En netao ki tanasahi sari
zindagi nahin bhoolonga", to quote his exact words.)

All sane people are pained. Sorry for the cliche, but there seems to be
absolute corruption though no single party has absolute majority.

How can I sing a happy song when there are tears all around me ?

Regards,

Arindam Roy



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Re: 1 out of 150: Reply



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Hi Arindom,

First of all,I find it very interesting to debate and argue the way we
are doing here, especially because no one, neither me nor you are trying

to prove a point here, we have our considered opinions, our own
perspective about this matter, and finally our goal is same, approach a
step closer to what finally we both would consider a better solution to
the problem we are attempting to define and debate upon.

Now to your point. I guess it is common human tendency to get nostalgic
about what we have left behind. For example, everyday when I sit here
several thousands of miles away from India, I guess it is the nostalgia
that somehow filters the bad experiences and allows me to live in a
wonderland, and I begin to see only the beautiful, lovely, rather ideal
part of what is my homeland, India. This, I know has changed very
quickly when I have tried to live there again myself, and every time
when I go on my annual pilgrimage to the homeland, I get a good dose of
reality that is somewhat contrary to what I think of it when I am away.

I wish to draw a parallel with our recent history and remind you of our
common nostalgia of history, where we tend to generalize that everything

that was part of the past generation was better then now, or everything
that happened in the previous generation was morally, ethically better,
or it was less corrupt.

I don't want to generally dispute your position that you find a lot of
"Corrupt" people around, and this needs to change somehow, but the
premise that when we were not around, or when we were too little to
understand all this, or when the media was not as free to report, or
when the definitions were rather different, the world was necessarily a
better place.

I sincerely want to believe that, I try to face the people of previous
generations who are alive and active and in positions of power, or
otherwise, try any means possible to get as close to the truth of the
"more moral" generation, and so far I have found it to be a mixed bag.
You rather get to pick and choose depending upon what inferences you
want to draw. So, I guess, my point is, even though our world is
difficult, but generalization of a generation to be better ignores the
wrongs that are in it, while it does not help in anyway to the hard at
work people of the present generation who want to hope against hope, and

want to change their world for better. They deserve some words of
encouragement.

On your point :
"... An example.The honest few amongst government officials, who still
do not take bribe, in cash or kind, do not mind a little 'Nashta-pani'
(tea &snacks). Our fathers' generation would have despised such
behavior..."

I disagree. Even if you start just with your own example as someone who
tries very hard everyday not give in to temptations like you described
above, then you have proven the above mentioned assumption wrong. I
don't want to blame the older generation for the problems we face,
although they certainly have a lot to do with it, but I do not hesitate
to claim that I am not corrupt, and I do not take "Nashta-Pani" and that

I believe in leading by example, and that I do take pride in the fact
that there are a few people in India, who wouldn't mind taking some
inspiration from what I personally stand for and do everyday. That gives

me a reason to hope. (I know you did not mean to say that everyone is
corrupt, but I am trying to show you the full side of the glass, which
is certainly half empty too!)

You can popularize something in a real, and meaningful way first by
leading by example, then believing that the world needs such people to
be effective advocates of good deeds, and someone needs to tell
effectively that it is still possible to stay honest and succeed in
life, and that doing some short-cut via corrupt channels to achieve
material goals means doing it at the expense of other human beings, and
that it is important for even a small segment of the society to do the
right thing even if others are not doing it, and that it is okay to
choose failure if the only other choice is corruption.

More later.

Umesh





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Re: Hope and Trust



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Hello Arindam,

You raise very interesting points. Before I respond, I would like to
quote a great statesman of this century, President John F. Kenedy of the
United States. He once said, "Ask not what the country can do for you,
but what you can do for the country!"

I have wrestled with these questions like "good people joining
politics...","mindset of the electorate..." etc. for a long time,
because, since childhood I sincerely wanted to be not an engineer or
doctor as traditionally my parents would have me dream about. I just
wanted to grow up to be a good man, and then do public service, perhaps
become a politician. I know how our society doesn't like brilliant kids
to grow up to become politicians unless they are total failures in
everything else and they have connections to be successful in the power
game. Well, my story is not important here, because people like me do
not have the basic fundamental right to participate in the political
process as my home constituency allows only people of specific "castes"
to become politicians.

Anyway, on the subject of "Good people" and "electorate awareness". I
would like to suggest you something that I have come to conclude. I
consider myself to be one of good people, and I am sure you do too.
However, it is perfectly alright for someone else to question our such
claim and demand to know us more if we claim to become candidates for
public office(s). So should be true for anyone else too. By this
definition, it is possible that there are lot of good people already in
public life who are not appreciated enough for their personal integrity
and dedication for (mostly thankless) public life.

I do not want to underestimate the gravity of the sheer fact that we all
know Indian political system could use lot of good people it is so
acutely short of. However, the solution has to come from inner call from
within the good people like you and I who should not demand the country
to be prepared for good people like us, or give "good people" some
opportunity. I would rather argue that without asking for some kind of
"job" or "success" guarantees, lot of good people just have to dedicate
themselves. I do not doubt our ability to succeed if we are ready to pay
a little price for the same. Lot of will fail, but that is not too big a
price to pay!

As for as "electorate awareness" is concerned. One does not have to
worry about electorate awareness in the short term when good people set
out to do their work in their neighborhood, in their villages, cities. I
believe real leaders have the natural ability to leave their mark in
people's hearts, and winning in the first instance should not be the
aim, because it is the process that is going to last after we are all
gone.

One other thing on electoral awareness. I think it needs to start from
our basic education system. At some level, some basic things about life,
liberty,freedom, our fundamental rights and public service needs to be
taught at our schools. Our social leaders, religious leaders need to be
involved in preaching to the faithful public that as citizens of a free
society, they not only have rights, but responsibilities to ensure they
are properly represented in their governments.

More later.

Umesh



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Re: Hope and Trust



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----------------------------------------------------------------------
1. The Communist Party of India (CPI or CPM) funds party workers at
various levels for their time and effort spent in the party. the
compensation may be paltry but ensures a decent middle class living for
these workers. Why can't all parties adopt this system to ensure decent
people can dedicate their lives to the party which guarantees economic
comfort?. This would mean proper party organisation which is publicly
funded and audited by its workers, something whichis sadly lacking inthe
party system in this country.

2. Follow up on this, why should party accounts be beyond scrutiny in
this country?

3. To me the lament that "good" people cannot enter politics today is an
excuse for the English speaking higher middle class. Fact is, a large
number of persons who are engaged in the business of politics are good.
I meet a fair number of them in my work. Democracy means representation
and these people who elect represent the people who elect them. Our
assembly/parliament structures and our tradition of public debate being
so poor , it is possible that these people who get elected do not
continue to represent the people's aspirations. They need training,
which I find is sadly lacking ( Incidentally, Chandrababu naidu spends
lot of time in this training process, and atleast 2 of my MLA clients
compalin that they dont understand what he is talking about). Train
them, teach them what is expected of them, tell them what they are
capable of the elected representatives can do wonders. Most of them do
not even know what their powers and responsibilities are. We have to
develop institutional processes for this.

3. Good people also need good leaders. People joined public life during
the national movement insired by the leaders and the personal example
set by them in various incidents. Leadership of an inspirational nature
is lacking today because maybe the challenges are not there, as yet. I
believe when the situation becomes "bad" enough, society will throw up
such a leader. After all , this all about Hope and trust , right?

Vikram


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Re: No Good People Joining Politics...?



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----------------------------------------------------------------------
Umesh Tiwari wrote:
Hi Arindam,

It is certainly okay for IPI or any such organization to bring people of
common interest together, all of whom should be considered good people
without any discrimination until someone has proven to be otherwise by
his/her own actions.

In fact it is rather dangerous to create some definition of good people,

Dear Umesh & Arindam,

An effort of this kind has been started at the National level by
Foundation for Humanization. The first national meeting of this effort,
in which more than 60 organizations and other individuals are
participating is in progress right now at Bombay [ 27 to 29 Jan ]. More
meetings are scheduled for other parts of India - involving hundreds of
organizations. A meeting will take place in Delhi on the 13th &
27February.

More details are at http://differentindia.org/

It is very important that like minded people come together and start
working for a different India.

Peace, Force & Joy!
===========================================================
Sudhir Gandotra - "mailto:sudhir@netshooter.com"
COMMUNICATORS : Tele-Fax : 91-11-5535770 / 5613990
ICQ : 16733832 Internet : http://www.netshooter.com/
===========================================================
!!! Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You !!!
"India can be different, if We are not Indifferent"
Humanist Movement : http://differentindia.org/
===========================================================


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Re: Private Truths, Public Lies



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Very true Sanjeev.

There is one other problem with this private truth and public lies,
which is so commonplace in our land, that is, everything that is in
public, is seen with not just skepticism, but rather a sense of judgment
that everything that appears to be good must have some bad motive hidden
behind it.

Those who have been airing their "truth" in private have not helped our
society in any way, rather, they have helped reaffirm people's mistrust
in public officials. Those few, who dare to speak out, often lose their
sense of perspective, stop identifying themselves with common, ordinary
people, start believing that they are special, go to extremes and defeat
the very purpose they originally set out to achieve.

What is needed is not the zingoistic, and disparate moves to run some
kind of revolution or brand every public official as a liar, but rather
development of the basic social character where it is not okay to lie in
public or private, also it is not okay to speak against someone behind
his/her back, at the same time, anyone who dares to speak the truth
doesn't do so simply to expose someone or prove a point, but rather
because it is the right thing for everyone to do.

One more thing, I take issue with the traditional "Indian" thinking
characterized in your following statement :

"There are more than 10 serving or retired/resigned IAS officers on this
list They whisper in the shadows."

Big deal! I don't mean any disrespect to the IAS cadre, but it is high
time "The IAS" came out of their box and became ordinary citizens, or
rather, should I say, it is the other people who should stop identifying
"The IAS" as some kind of superior caste. Given that having cleared the
IAS examinations itself is a proof of great success, but that is
certainly not the ultimate test of superiority, and there are those who
never get a chance to even participate in the process, moreover, being
good, and successful doesn't have to mean they claim superiority over
others (remember,there is something called modesty, which has not yet
been characterized as a bad thing!).

Another, rather moral issue I have with this "IAS" cadre, and that is,
if the Indian Civil service requires only a certain number of people in
the Civil Service, then does that mean every other smart person beyond
this fixed number of selected people is not as smart?

Moreover, the issue of "...they whisper in shadows!"

There are two things wrong with it. First, the "Whispering in show" is
accepted in our society, and those who listen to the whispers continue
to believe in these whispers, and don't dare to question the very
motives of such whispers and rather start taking their sides to crucify
the one such "whispers" claim to blame for anything.

We have some kind of "Caste System" virus, which has contaminated our
DNA's and that makes us create classes of people such as "The IAS", "The
IntellectualS","The English Speaking" "The Yadavs"...even those who
claim not to believe in the caste system in the traditional sense,
believe that anyone passing a UPSC examination is guaranteed to have
intellectual superiority over every other human being, or people who
speak English, or wear good western style cloths or have modern means of
commute, communication etc., essentially, rich enough to have all these
things, are somehow superior.

I am sorry to appear to be taking rather extreme position, I didn't know
a better and softer way to say it. I have been there, lived poverty, a
rural life, in non-English upbringing, all of which was/is considered
sin in our society. There is very little incentive for the ordinary
people to do the right things, we ought to concentrate on the problem
rather then fixing the symptoms.

Thank You.

Umesh



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Something for journalists to do



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On Wed, 13 Jan 1999, Arindam Roy wrote:

Agreed. Just say when you are ready with the research findings. Whatever I
can do for you.

Rgds,
Arindam Roy,

Thanks, Arindam.

I have a request for journalists on this list (I had requested such a
thing earlier but no one could get the aswer that time)

Is it possible for you and other journalists on this list (Ash, Jal,
Ajay) to get the permission of their boss/es to carry out a simple data
collection project (not big research; only about 4-5 days work) on the
following lines:

A) Visit the MPs/ MLAs in the state/ central capital, randomly, through
appointment (you all have the press passes)

* ask them how much it cost them to run for their
elections

* how much it costs them to feed the visitors who
come to their residences

* what did they declare regarding electoral expenses
to the election commission

* opportunity cost: what is the MP/MLA forfeiting
by not doing his/ her regular profession.

B) Visit the dalals who organize campaigns for parties.

* ask how much it will cost Mr. X to campaign in
a constituencey of average size

(include - vehicle hire/ purchase
petrol, etc.
payments to drivers
cost of posters
cost of big cut-outs
cost of mike and other
equipment
cost of wining and dining
people before
the elections

* cost of purchasing electoral rolls

* cost of printing manifestos/ brochures

* cost of printing party flags

C) To countercheck the info, ask poster painters and others about
the cost of making large cutouts and big banners,
etc. Also check out the licence fee for putting these
up.

D) Political party offices. Get statements regarding funds received,
funds spent in day-to-day purposes, funds spent in elections,
etc. Particularly ask the big parties how the aeroplane trips
and helicopters are funded for the big leaders. Also find out
how the funds are generated for 'party retainers' at the village
level, i.e., those folk whose job is to carry petitions from
villages to the MLAs/ Ministers.

E) Election commission or its rep at the state level.

Ask for a copy of the detailed statements of account of the
political parties and the statements of campaign expenses
made by the candidates. Also complete copy of electoral laws
relating to the survival of a party as well as the procedure
to spend funds in a campaign.

Once the data is available, we can improve our analysis and find out if
it is indeed possible for any honest person to contest elections in
India. In fact, Times of India should already have data on these issues.
Please check out with the experts on elections in your newspaper/
organization and see if we can make a sound study of this critical
issue.

In fact, such research could also be carried out by the institutes with
us, such as the Liberty Institute. We need excellent analysis of this
issue before we make the firm claim that honest people cannot enter
Indian governance.

Thanks,

Sanjeev






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2 comments:

  1. Dear Arindam

    I chanced by your blog. Good to see our old discussions resurface. My hands - indeed entire upper body was affected - are much better now (still under constant treatment: http://www.rsicure.sabhlokcity.com/

    I've recently published a book - details are at:
    http://www.sanjeev.sabhlokcity.com/breakingfree.html

    and have started a Freedom Team: http://freedomteam.in/

    IPI is also being revived. I've started moderating the list at:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IndiaPolicy/ and am looking for researchers/writers who can write a magazine for IPI.

    If you are interested, pl. consider joining the Freedom Team/ supporting in some other way.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Sanjeev,

    What a pleasant surprise to hear from you after such a long time!

    I managed to post your comment as Anonymous.

    Nice to hear that you have conquered another grim battle and authored a book despite all the pain and agony.

    Your absence from IPI made it lose much of its charm, at least for me.

    I will certainly linkup with you.

    It's a small world on the Internet.

    More later, take care,

    Cheers!

    Arindam

    ReplyDelete