Mind Without Fear – A Book Review

I finished listening to Mr. Rajat Gupta’s [photo credit: Wikipedia] memoir ‘Mind without Fear’ in just two sessions. It is a compelling story of the Mind and the Times of an exceptionally accomplished person. He had the good luck to be the right person in the right place to become first non (white) American managing director of McKinsey & Co, when the firm was ripe to go global. He was the wrong guy at the wrong time when he entered the financial markets with the wrong guy, and got the wrong overzealous prosecutor thus getting jailed for two years. He draws inspiration from his father who was an Indian Civil Services officer during the British rule but resigned Mahatma Gandhi’s call for freedom and was jailed and beaten mercilessly with permanent damage. He also draws inspiration from the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose beautiful poetry threads the book and gives it the title of Mind without Fear. He also draws solace from his strong family and the many friends who stood with him and believed his story. He however deeply regrets not taking the stand and testifying in his own trial, as he received overwhelming advice from his lawyers and his loving family that allowing the prosecutor to question him directly will be too risky. At the end of it all, he comes out of the ordeal with his head held high, without much bitterness for those who deserted him including the McKinsey firm who dismissed him summarily and took his name off their alumni list.

I believe Rajat Gupta’s story, as I have done over the years. He is a fellow IIT-Delhi alumnus ten years my senior. I met him at Pan-IIT meets in 2007 and 2009. He looked handsome and seemed very honest and a good listener. I do remember some of the stories of the next few years as the attorney Preet Bharara with political ambitions set his sights on a fellow successful Indian. There was a story in the Indian press about Preet Bharara and Dr Sanjay Gupta, whose moms knew each other from India, about whose son is doing better in the US. I recall a feeling of a certain revulsion at that approach to achieving success by beating down an iconic fellow Indian. Some of my well-meaning friends however felt at that time that greed and power had gotten the better of Rajat Gupta.

Rajat Gupta has done much good work including seting up Indian School of Business and starting the Public Health Foundation of India. He also started the Global Fund against three major diseases. These inspirational stories are laid out in great detail in the book. That alone makes the book worthy of attention. What the book does not tell is that none other than Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys, compared Rajat Gupta with the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru for having started two world class organizations in India. I also salute Rajat Gupta for his great work. May God grant him strength to continue his good work. He wants to work on the American penal system which he observed from the inside and found deeply lacking. He should also write a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, the book that he read during his incarceration and which helped him come out stronger, with malice towards none and with his head held high!

Why Tulsi Gabbard is the best candidate in this 2020 Presidential race

Aloha! I believe that Ms. Tulsi Gabbard is the best candidate in this 2020 presidential race.

First, Tulsi holds the bigger picture in mind. She focuses on World Peace. She focuses on the global environment. Her message is about humanity as a whole, even though she focuses first and foremost on the health and welfare of the American people.

Second, she is against wasteful unending regime-change wars that serve mostly commercial interests of the military-industrial complex. She volunteered for two tours of active military duty. She is fearless and can meet just as calmly with foes as with friends. Those foes include the vested interests inside the country. She wants a government truly of, by, and for the people.

Third, she is determined and takes initiative with a fierce sense of urgency. She does not take anything for granted. Coming from the island state of Hawaii reminds her of the constant dangers of nuclear wars, environmental disasters, and the devastation of the local people and cultures. She introduced a comprehensive bill against use of fossil fuels, which can become a cornerstone of the Green New Deal!

Fourth, she is an excellent communicator. She is an active listener and, surprisingly and refreshingly, answers the questions that are asked of her. She speaks truth to power. She is a good debater and brings out the truth in the most accessible way while cutting through other people’s circumambulations.

Finally, as a person, she is remarkably talented and attractive. Tulsi Gabbard has the temperament of a centered and experienced leader, and the warmth and innocence of a girl next door. She is a friendly and compassionate person who hugs easily and warmly. She speaks of service with love. Her voice is measured, and her speech is to the point.

Truth will win, ultimately! Truth and Non-violence go together and win, as Mahatma Gandhi showed! Tulsi is committed to truth-telling and to promoting World Peace. No other candidate comes even close! That is why Tulsi IS the best candidate in this race.

One last thing …. she is very young and has a lot of time ahead of her. So, irrespective of what happens in 2020, she has a tremendous opportunity to make impact on this country and the world. Like the other young Hawaiian-born candidate before her, she is destined for the White House!!

 

 

Aloha! President Tulsi Gabbard!

Aloha! President Tulsi Gabbard!

I support the young beautiful Hindu liberal veteran Congresswoman from Hawaii for President of the United States of America in 2020 and beyond.

  • She has the inclusive compassionate leadership style to guarantee basic rights of health and education for all people, and to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
  • She has a veteran’s courage to call out the futility and indeed the mistake of costly regime-change wars that produce no benefit for America or the people of those countries.
  • She is guided by the authentic perennial Vedic values of Bhakti (love) and Karma (service).
  • She commands presence and answers the audience’s questions calmly, directly and succinctly.
  • She has the youthfulness to be playful and engage the attention of young generation itching to take charge of the destiny of the planet and the country.
  • And … she has the right amount of national political experience to understand the game and come out victorious!

Maheshwari family with Tulsi

I met her on campaign trail a few times in different towns of Iowa recently. She is the new Obama. I feel that she is the right one to usher in world peace and joy for all in this country and beyond! I plan to volunteer for and contribute to her campaign like I did for Obama in 2008.

 

Increasing self-awareness

Do I know the context around me, the neighborhood and the neighbors, the friends and family, now and over the many decades of my life? The answer is that I hardly know things and people around me. I barely know my own full reactions to most of the situations I found myself in. I have a few pet theories of who I am, and who were responsible for guiding me. These are super simplifications that do not help come up with productive and promising ideas for the future. I think it is important now to know all or more around me.

What does it mean to know a person? How does one define a person? By their accomplishments or their goals, by their friends, or by how they carry themselves? We can seek out and learn about their interests. And accept whatever they are, positive or negative. It can take a long time to know people.

What does it mean to know a neighborhood or a situation? The neighborhood is about its support for life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Safety. Limited regulations. Liveliness of activity. Plenty of wealth around. The situation would depend upon its difficulty and its impact on oneself, and how much one can do about it.

I think it is important to retain a sense of personal agency about oneself and the situations one finds oneself in. It is helpful to stop obsessing about one’s own interests and goals and accomplishments. The world is deeply interconnected and there is hardly anything one can accomplish without support from and alignment with the context around oneself.

 

Carving out the Middle Ground

President Abraham Lincoln did a masterful job of defining an ambiguous situation. By the time he took office, seven southern states had passed resolutions of secession. The outgoing President Buchanan famously noted that under the constitution, the states had no right to secede, but he had no power to force them to stay. Lincoln never called them secessionist states, just my unhappy fellow countrymen. He never threatened aggression, just use of force in self-defence. He eventually won the Civil War!

I completed listening to a delightful 24-lecture course on Lincoln’s speeches. Here are some highlights on how he won and led.

Gain attention: Lincoln followed Douglas around the state of Illinois to rebut him till Douglas, the incumbent senator, would agree to formally debate him during the 1858 senate election. They agreed on seven 3-hour debates around the state, with each one opening the debate in an alternate manner.

Define the opportunity: Lincoln started on the defensive but at the end of the debates came out ahead. Lincoln actively answered Douglas’ questions while Douglas focused on Lincoln’s House Divided speech and kept mostly repeating the same tried and tested stuff. Douglas tried to paint Lincoln as a dangerous radical who would abolish slavery. Lincoln meanwhile began to own the middle ground. He plucked out from Douglas’ speech a ‘I don’t care whether slavery lives or dies’ statement and skewered him mercilessly. Using the Dred Scott decision, he now identified a clear logical slippery slope and said that it is only a matter of time that a second Dred Scott decision will make slavery permanent, and unoverturnable by Congress. Lincoln lost the Senate race because of vote distributions, even though in the aggregate Lincoln’s side won more adherents and votes.

Do the hard work: Lincoln went on to give a speech at Cooper Union in New York City in January 1860. He later said that that speech made him President. He had to do a masterful twin task of skewering the pro-slavery Douglas (the leading presidential hopeful for the opposite side) and differentiating himself from William Seward, the leading candidate from Lincoln’s own party, when his party itself had almost taken the strong position of abolition of slavery. Lincoln took the middle ground by saying that let’s listen to what the founding fathers wanted about slavery. In an astoundingly well-researched speech for the era, Lincoln spelled out that 24 of the 39 founders of the country had left written records on the issue and 21 of them said or implied that slavery was only to be tolerated while it lasted. That speech made him look reasonable and electable. He was nominated and won the election.

Anyways… the war had to come. And so on. Just thought I would share how Lincoln carved out the middle ground and won public support which too was critical for a military victory.

#MeToo for a Blissful, Peaceful World

The #MeToo movement is going global. It is creating new conversations that are somewhat discomforting, but which can be opportunities for discussing the undiscussable and raising the collective consciousness of the world. Recently a classmate of mine who is a professor in a university in the US found the courage to share in a public group, during an ongoing charged conversation on sexual insensitivity and harassment, that she had been a victim of sexual abuse/assault. This revelation could have polarized the group, but the group decided to pursue it to its logical end. But very soon the intensity of the topic died down. The topic is still the phantom 800 lb gorilla in our WhatsApp group and is impacting the language being used in the conversations. It is also making some men in the group uncomfortable as they are having to watch their every word. What is the point of the conversation, they ask. They just want to be themselves. However, they will necessarily have to change their tonality moving forward because status quo is not acceptable any more, and having friendly conversations with longtime classmate buddies is just too pleasurable to give up.

Sexual abuse and assault and harassment are just one of the categories of buried injustices in the world. Racial profiling and injustice in the US, and caste-based exploitation and injustice in India, are a couple of other prominent examples. This buried injustice and anger is finding its way out through social media. These eruptions threaten to rip apart all societies and their cherished models of control, just like it brought about Arab Spring. In some ways, just getting heard is highly cathartic for the individual and the society. Free from this heavy emotional baggage, hitherto disadvantaged people can have the opportunity to purify their perceptions. They will find bliss within. They will become the peace they want to see in the world. And the world will be blissful and peaceful!

Experiencing the Vedic City

We today completed 3 months living in our new Vastu house in Vedic City. Here is one anecdotal report on the benefit.

A friend of my daughter’s visited us in Vedic City, Iowa, to join in the celebration of my daughter’s graduation from college last weekend. She spent two days and nights here. We discussed about how this place is special. When she returned back to her home in Dallas, she sent a message that she was ready to learn Transcendental Meditation.

  1. She said that she observed that during her visit, people communicated very differently than in her home town. They hugged differently, and shook hands differently. The experience made her feel that the niceness must be because of the environment, i.e. because all the people here are meditators.
  2. I had also had a brief conversation in which I impressed upon her the knowledge of Consciousness, that beneath all our differences, at the transcendental level we are all one. That we have infinite power of creativity and invincibility within us. And how that is the way to survive and thrive creatively in a world of robots and drones.
  3. This friend had stayed with us in our Vastu house, so my daughter feels that also must have made a difference in shifting her consciousness. This same friend had earlier felt that TM will be incompatible with her faith, and that they were overselling the practice.

Our university offers a free ‘visitors weekend‘ program to help people experience this place for themselves. Once one has experienced the total peace of the environment here, one wants to be associated with it. Of course, this place is not for everyone, its effect depends upon one’s own desires and predisposition.