Friday, the 13th

The dark clouds arrived—Boris returned as PM, winning a big majority, winning a mandate for more lies and bluster for all future elections.

The silver lining faded—Corbyn refused to step down, instead asking for a period of ‘introspection’, and only promising a vague ‘will not lead the party in next election.’ Labour lost 61 seats across the country, and managed to win just one from another party. Labour has now lost two elections in a row under him; elections that any other decent leader would have won comfortably. Still, the ditherer-in-chief says he wants to introspect for a few months to figure out what went wrong!

Then the interesting stuff began.

I published my second Android app: Accelereader for Instapaper. It was in beta for a few weeks, but went into public release earlier this week. It’s always scary publishing publicly, however small the audience may be.

Then I did something even scarier—I decided on the Hanson method for training for the Paris marathon. Even the beginner program has 6 days of running most weeks; I struggle to run 5 days consistently. The beginner program also has almost two months of running 80-90 km per week. My weekly cadence has only rarely been above 50 km. It involves multiple faster-than-race-pace 10-mile tempo runs, and interval sessions that go on longer than my current long weekend runs. I’ll come out of this training season at the top of my running fitness, or broken—mentally and physically.

Not everything is scary. I made progress with the pull-ups. Today I did two full ones. Twice. Last week I was celebrating almost completing one. A few weeks ago I couldn’t even do a quarter. I also do 4-6 chin-ups a couple of times a day, up from just 1-2 a few weeks ago. (Yes, chin-ups and pull-ups are different)

I’ve also made progress with weight loss (despite the muscle gain from pull-ups and running). Yesterday, I weighed-in at 76.2Kg, a nearly 5-year low, and within hitting distance of the goal weight.

And finally, the best bit: I’ve started meditating again. I’m on a 15-day streak, sometimes twice a day, and finally getting back to being able to focus for a few minutes unbroken. If nothing else survives from this period post (I really hope the current government and opposition leadership don’t), I hope at least this will.

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Polarising

Some British acquaintances were asking about Indian politics and Narendra Modi. I told them my opinion of him is strongly biased (I abhor him), but I struggled to come up with the correct, unbiased term to describe him.

It’s not controversial, extremist, illiberal or nationalist. Divisive is close, but that’s not it either.

The correct term to describe him, in my opinion, is polarising.

People who know anything about him may not agree on any of those previous terms. However, most people who know anything about him – supporters or opponents** – will agree on this one term: he is polarising.

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No to ‘A’, is not a Yes for ‘B’

It’s just a demand for something better than A.

In a political tussle between issues A & B, the defeat of A doesn’t mean the public supports B. It just means they don’t support A.

Couple of examples…

Communism vs Capitalism

The people’s revolutions just said they didn’t want Communism anymore. Not that they wanted Capitalism.

Despite what every politician in the West may tell you, the people in Eastern Europe & Russia didn’t choose Capitalism. They chose to be free of Communist dictatorships. And to try another politico-economic order. It’d be a stretch to say they chose Capitalism, given a majority of them hadn’t experienced it for multiple generations

Globalisation vs Isolationism

People are saying no to rampant Globalisation, not yes to Isolationism.

Whether it’s Brexit, rise of Trump & Sanders, or the anti-trade, anti-bigCo, and anti-globalisation trends in polls, the voice is clear – a large portion of Western populations have grown vary and sceptical of Globalisation. In free trade, free movement of people, and even in free movement of ideas.

What it doesn’t indicate is that the people want to be isolated from everyone else in the world. What it may indicate is that the people want a control on the mingling – to not be completely overrun, without recourse, in their own backyard.


In most cases, people know exactly what they don’t want. And that’s why they voted as they did.

They’re not as clear on what they do want. They just want something better.

This, however, doesn’t imply that they want the only presented alternative. In most cases, they may want another, not-yet-visible solution. One that isn’t currently offered to them. One that even they may not be able to clearly describe/explain, at the moment.

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Institutions

Been finding it interesting (more so intriguing) to note that after encountering efficient, non corrupt processes in countries like UK, the solutions for India from Indians here are still mostly on lines of:

  • ‘Shoot all the leaders’,
  • ‘Congress is corrupt, BJP will bring ram rajya’,
  • ‘Anna Hazare is the saviour’,
  • ‘we need a dictatorship’ (which, both the above options might easily deliver), my etc.

No one, not even the most intelligent, insightful IIT/IIM educated folk I’ve met or read, suggest what I find to be the obvious: ‘strong, independent government institutions’.

The strength of western democracies isn’t derived from non-corrupt leaders (they are corrupt here too, just not in such an open manner), or from being led by a god anointed party or leader (highly religious states in EU seem to have higher corruption), or from a great leader(!) who has lead them into a shining future.

The strength of western democracy, IMO, is derived from its strong institutions which deliver what they are responsible for, irrespective of – government of the day, mood of the populace and mood of the boss. More importantly, institutions which, while consistently delivering their responsibilities, rarely over reach.

About time that we stopped thinking in terms of individuals and personalities, and started thinking in terms of institutions, organisations, structures and processes. Yes, it’s boring, it doesn’t let you (or anyone) be a hero. But, it delivers. Time, after time.

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