Archive for August 7th, 2017

Beware of the Useful Idiots..

August 7, 2017

A hard hitting piece by Amit Varma:

Almost a century ago, Vladimir Lenin is said to have coined the term ‘Useful Idiots.’ The term referred to those intellectuals or eminent people who gave a movement respectability by association, but weren’t actually respected within the movement itself. RationalWiki defines a Useful Idiot as “someone who supports one side of an ideological debate, but who is manipulated and held in contempt by the leaders of their faction or is unaware of the ultimate agenda driving the ideology to which they subscribe.”

If this sounds familiar, it should. Useful Idiots abounded in Lenin and Stalin’s time – many were sent to the Gulag once their utility diminished – and authoritarian despots since, from Hitler to Mao to Chavez – have had their own set. And of course, if you live in India in 2017, there are Useful Idiots here as well.

I want to make it clear that I am not referring to any of the people I mention in this essay as idiots. I will use the term ‘Useful Idiot’ only in the sense outlined above. Some of the Useful Idiots that will come to mind are accomplished individuals, even giants of their field, and their behaviour is as much poignant as it is deplorable. Some of them are people I admired or liked, and as I look at them, it strikes me that in a parallel universe, I could be in their shoes. We are all frail.


Konkani vs Marathi: Language battles in golden Goa…

August 7, 2017

Superb piece by Karthik Venkatesh.

The late 80s Hindi movie Goonj, shot mostly in Goa and starring Kumar Gaurav and Juhi Chawla opens rather dramatically—with a Fiat blowing up even as the person who rigged it up as a car bomb is scurrying for cover. At first sight, it appears to be a run-of-the-mill crime caper. But five minutes into the movie, one realizes it is anything but that. The movie is centred around a very serious issue that gripped the Goan landscape in the mid-eighties—the language battle between Konkani-speakers and Marathi protagonists. 

Not many know that between 1985 and 1987, Goa witnessed a protracted confrontation on the issue of Konkani or Marathi as protagonists on both sides came to blows over the official language issue in Goa. This had been a long-festering problem that had regularly come into the limelight since the Goan liberation of 1961. Between 1985 and 1987, the final chapter of this battle was fought. 


History lesson: What IndiGo and SpiceJet learnt from Iceland and hippies

August 7, 2017

Aritryi Das of moneycontrol has a nice piece. It is about how an Icelandic airline company called Loftleioir (pronounced Loftlader) pioneered low cost travel in the world.

One always thought it was South West/Ryain Air etc which started low cost air travel. But it started in Iceland catering to hippies :


Forgotten history of Banking in Kerala’s Thrissur

August 7, 2017

My new piece in Sunday’s Mint. The byline sums it well:

Not many are aware of Thrissur’s immense contribution to India’s banking history…

Thanks to the paper for agreeing to carry such pieces. I don’t see any other mainstream paper having any interest in financial history matters..

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