De-Lurking on the Net

January 21, 2012

Reforming Capitalism and protest by Groups

Should  occupy Wallstreet and London Stock Exchange by Groups continue? Can some good come out from these type of movements ?  I wonder how long they can hold on protesting from one site to the next. This protest started with  good tempo and appeared well meant but then it could not connect with the general public or even with the socialist sympathisers within the general public. This fringe movement has already petered out but could it have become more relevant which it once appeared at the start. Usually, a leaderless movement is bound to fade pretty soon when the goals are obscure and the connection with the public is not firmly set. So, here it can not be compared with leaderless movements of Arab Spring. These protesters should have just focussed on core objective to smoothen the capitalism’s  rough edges  rather than inviting supporters from all anti-govt movements from climate control, homelessness to globalisation.  A reform in capital structure could have been one of the objective of the protest group. Majority shareholders (institutions as pension, investment and unit trust funds) in most companies do not participate actively and scrutinize the pay structure and rewards like bonus  of the board . Thus the board and CEO like Fred Goodwin (ex RBS) get away with their risk taking behaviour without  sharing any information even with its own shareholders.   The other week, the John Lewis department stores was lauded by Nick Clegg, Deputy PM in UK for the model shareholding where all employees are shareholders and called partners. But the model also caused concern for the investment flow into that type of companies where rewards do not come into play straight away and it takes a long time for invested capital to work. It means some companies will still continue to need private investment funds or venture capital . It leads to conclude that there are two issues – one having passive investors unwilling to intervene and participate and one where capitalism by its share structure only builds a few rich capitalists in public.  Imagine, if  all the employees were shareholders in most companies. There will be less inequality in public as all those who work will be owners of something somewhere which may mean less room for socialism to grow. The risk taking by institutions as banks will continue due to passive shareholding and little regulation – local or global. The protestor groups do not want globalisation because they think it harms the underdeveloped economies. However, global regulation of world organisations as banks is needed when multinational companies such as banks and big corporate companies  operate in so many counties.  So the counter need of setting up global watchdogs is there and not any  less need as the protests against global meets such as G20, IMF and World Bank often breaks out to eliminate globalisation. London can not bring new regulation to control perks and bonuses as it fears  the trade from London will move elsewhere to New York, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Singapore etc. Gordon Brown had once proposed global regulation around late 2008 when Lehmann Bros disappeared from stock market. IMF and World Bank’s mandate does not cover this need of regulation. So, how to make capitalism more acceptable and answerable. Timothy Geithner  from US also called for global regulation in 2009  at G20 Meeting in London. Should such a thing not take place  which can force less risk taking on the part of banks and other financial institutions. This along with shareholding reforms are needed.  A  new classes of shares – active and passive shares could be created to help keep a check on the behaviour of the boards. Pension Funds etc who invest in major companies could choose to become passive shareholders with the same shareholding rewards and losses as for any shareholder but having no right to vote in AGMs if they elected to become passive shareholder when they invested into the company. This way only few will be active shareholders and those will definitely have their voices not drowned by the passive but absent shareholders like funds. Also, a reform is needed to issue more percentage of share capital to employees so that the type of behaviour by the employees as of John Lewis can also be emulated in most companies. So, the Wallstreet movement would have connected more with public if they had focussed merely on smoothening out the rough edges of capitalism like shareholding reform and global regulation as the capitalism is not going to disappear anytime soon.


January 6, 2012

Is your mother tongue different to English?

Do you speak Hindi or love your native language but do not not ever write it ?

Last week, in my chat with my colleague, when I said all languages are dying barring English. He said that eventually either English will reign supreme or some variant of it. It sounded very true but I had a feeling that all other languages are the feeders to the main river English, so if English needs to meet the needs of all humanity, it needs all the other languages as well. That means if arctic people wants to call snow in so many words – English should accept those words from their native tongue. But if native tongue is dying and there is no substitute in English, then humanity will be returning to the days when there were no languages.

Earlier this week, I was reading the history of Russian Culture which included coverage of Russian language. The poems, stories of Pushkin are the earliest greatest work in Russian. he is considered founder of  modern Russian literature . Russian did not have any words to describe  manners, emotions etc the time Pushkin was writing and the most literate people in Russia used French around 1800. Pushkin invented Russian words and he introduced their French meaning in brackets for those Russian words. Thus enriching and creating the language much like Bengali was enriched by words  of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (Author:Vande Matram), the first major writer and Ravindra Nath Tagore (Author: Jan Man Gana), the most influential and translated  Indian writer and poet.

I thought Hindi is older than both Bengali and Russian as the first Hindi poet, Chand Bardai, in the court of Prithviraj Chauhan (1168-1192 CE) composed a eulogy to him, titled Prithviraj Raso, But other than Kirtan &  Bhajan (the religious poems) and  other poems about daily life for a very-2 long time,  Hindi had hardly any literature. English first poet Geoffrey Chaucer happened to be in the late 14th century. So, English came from nowhere and won the acceptance everywhere. Two things could be thought, the technology like the printing press and now internet has been helpful for the language. The British empire particularly in Victorian era established it everywhere, so it has become entrenched across the world. Lately, the US being the most dominant country in terms of trade and power to make it the foremost international language .

I feel particularly appalled that Hindi speakers who grow up fully immersed in Hindi embrace English so much in India and abroad that whatever they write and leave behind for next generations is fully in English. As all modern languages has literature only few hundred years deep, should we not be trying to put Hindi back where it belongs. I saw this comment recently on a Hindi website –

u see we have lots of college students who fancy themselves in Hindi poem writing… they don’t publish it bcoz of lack of opportunity or just bcoz they feel it is just timepass. as they grow up and join jobs the creativity is stifled by the rigors of life.”

Though translations can be done from Hindi to English but English is already very rich to Hindi. Of course, there is a much bigger market in English which is hard to ignore by anyone who wants to be a professional writer or a poet. Nobody suggests to shun that market but I believe that those who grew up in Hindi environment and have job security should not shun Hindi fully. To enrich Hindi, one can always comeback to it by writing down any thoughts  they have in Hindi or a conversation they have with someone or the stories behind the thoughts or conversations. The description of journeys or recalling all the memories they had if putdown on the pages in Hindi will leave Hindi very richer. The translations from English and other languages to your native language like Hindi is must for those who have time and love their native tongue. Just to remind all that the Hindi  language is spoken by 490 million speakers (Data source: Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th ed. (2005)) Hindi is at no2 (NATIVE: 370 million) and is ahead of English which is at no 5 (NATIVE: 340 million) (see the top 30 languages of the world ). However English beats Hindi comfortably just by the sheer number of publications it has every year. So, can Hindi be resurrected by its native speakers? If the native speakers do not contribute or leave behind anything to enrich their language who will. I feel surprised when the census is done and most people claim that their mother tongue is different to English but never ever contribute to their mother tongue?

Celebrate this year Hindi World Day on 10th January (हिन्दी विश्व दिवस जो 10 जनवरी ko hai) by reading or writing something in Hindi.

January 1, 2012

Euro ‘s Survival V Extinction

Filed under: Europe — Geekay @ 11:38 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

It was mild 31st Dec though a steady drizzle was  falling down when we moved into London from M4 to celebrate new year with another family. But once ensconced into the family’s home sofa, I could think of nothing but indulge in non-stop debate about Anna Hazare, Euro, Pakistan, Space Research and plenty of other subjects. What came to fore was to debate on Euro and my meek surrender in the end that neither the politicians nor the so called economic experts as well as me do not have any clue which way the Euro will end up. Will the euro break or survive, that was taking whole of the evening away from following the shining fireworks on TV. I was insisting that it will survive and the chap opposite was saying – No, it won’t. If you are living in UK, it is hard for anyone to be optimistic about euro survival by following the majority of media publications and debate on radio/TVs.

The issue of Euro, I thought will be decided after a few elections take place  in next 2 years in Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece etc. My view was that the number of govts will change and the new left wing governments will come to centre stage and the real consolidation of Europe will begin as Mrs Merkel is dithering at best at present. The breakup will also involve loss of the export market for Germany and sudden growth of unemployment as their new currency will become expensive. The banks in both Germany and France will need a big bailouts as they have lent too much to these countries in trouble, so it’s in Germany ‘s interest to make Euroland more cohesive. The country who opposed everything was UK as it will stay outside the main club, so the new Euro centre (ECB) will begin levying the new taxes and raise the debt and lend it to every country. But it all obviously depends on the sagacity that will come to the new leaders after the pressure of  few more market crises . I thought the market integration in Europe is too deep rooted now to even contemplate of a breakup. I also thought that all these indebted nations will either defer the interest payment (default) or will have their extra debt written off – the so called haircuts as was done recently by Germany and French banks. So, excessive indebtedness of  PIGS will not make these PIGS economies unsustainable after the hair cut. Also, I thought, US will start rising again by the end of next year(2013). The chap arguing with me thought there is no hope because these countries can not carry on spending  more than their earning which they have been doing until now and the media is highlighting this in UK.  So, the debate remained inconclusive as I could not convince this other person that the new found ability of these countries (PIGS) by meeting the debt repayment cost  due to new heavy hair cut will prove decisive enough as I thought it will extinguish the debate of euro extinction for a very long time. But the euro survival  hinges on taking some decisive actions by EU leaders at right time. Having a club of 26 countries means everyone wants to defer taking actions until they are forced. So, the saga will roll on for at least 2/3 years.

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