Random Thoughts

Change of Name, American Malaise

Change of Name
American Malaise
Breaking Ice
We aren’t Alone
Our Prince Charles
World’s Largest
Beijing Advice

Change of Name

People may change names - for example from Ram Sharan Sharma to Ram S. Sharma to keep up with Jones - uncommon indeed is the change of name in case of countries. That’s what I thought till I checked up facts on a friend’s persuasion. Ceylon became a republic in 1972 and changed its name to Sri Lanka, which means “resplendent island,” which indeed it is.

Ethiopia, you may remember, was formerly known as Abyssinia. Mexico was known as New Spain before getting its modern name. Jordan was formerly known as Transjordan. Myanmar, before 1989, you’ll recall, was known as Burma. Mesopotamia, the much-coveted fertile plain between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, is now Iraq.

Zaire, the name of one of the largest countries in Africa, was changed in 1997 to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The most subtle name change - you’ll be surprised to hear - was by the United States. I bet you cannot guess how. Before the Lincoln administration it was the “United States.” After his administration, it was the “United States.” Of course, you can’t discern the difference, because it was not a change in wording or spelling. The change was very, very subtle for Americans. Really it was just grammatical.

Before Lincoln, people said, “The United States are…” After Lincoln, people said, “The United States is…” The idea was to draw us away from that original idea of independent states forming a voluntary union, and to the idea that this was one nation of provinces, called “states.”

Now, no one sees America’s name as plural, even though it is still spelled as a plural. Everyone treats it as singular. God bless America and also all its protégés at any given time.

American Malaise

Bigot is a person who is intolerant of people with different opinions or innate characteristics than their own. Given this basic definition, what is the most pervasive form of bigotry in the United States today?

I am not asking you to identify the most nefarious or egregious or atrocious form of bigotry. I’m simply asking, what is the most subtly pervasive form of bigotry today.

Racism? Sexism? Homophobia? Anti-Semitism? Islamophobia? Ageism? Class conflict?

While all of these are certainly present in America in an insidious way, they don’t seem to be the most widespread forms of bigotry. Whenever there’s a stressful situation, one form or the other surfaces. Howsoever mute, racism is inherent in the American social system and surfaces periodically when the social stresses cannot be easily resolved. Americans, however, would unfailingly deny that. But unless they are prepared to face the unpalatable truth they won’t ever be able to eradicate this stressor.

If you don’t agree, go back to read An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, the 1944 study of race relations authored by the Swedish Nobel-laureate economist Gunnar Myrdal.

Breaking Ice

I run into a stranger. How should I talk to him when I have really nothing to say? However, good manners demand my accosting the fellow and saying something? Thoroughbred introverts like me run into such situations every now and then.

Here’s a simple formula someone gave me. And you can memorize it easily.

Just remember FORD. It’s an acronym for: Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams.

When you meet someone for the first time, ask about their family; people love to talk about that - how well-settled his children are how he keeps himself busy. If you come to a dead end with regard to family, ask what they do for work and where? Then, ask what their favorite pastime is. If you get through this, always ask about the future, and what they hope to do with their lives.

It’s a simple formula that keeps the conversation about the other person. Showing an interest (and I hope it’s a genuine interest) in the other person’s life will make you eminently acceptable.

The one message I wish I could tell everyone is: DO NOT take the initiative and prattle on endlessly about your health issues - perceived health issues or otherwise. I don’t want to hear about your diet/health regimens, and if I would only listen to you, and eat like you do, my life would be transformed. It’s really offensive.

Bottom line: show an interest in other people. And above all remember Stephen Covey’s eminently sane counsel. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

We Aren’t Alone

Indians alone don’t have a sweet tooth. Japanese are their first cousins so for as this lovable trait goes.

Japanese traditional sweets, known as wagashi - the counterpart of our mishit - have long been associated with good fortune and gift giving. Their Traditional Sweets Day - the counterpart of our Diwali - has been observed for more than a thousand years. Today, wagashi are still an important part of the Japanese tea ceremony, and the hundreds of varieties of confections are also a popular treat.

For example, dorayaki, a sort of pancake filled with sweet red bean paste, is still very much a popular snack.

Our Prince Charles

Technically, Rahul should have been named Congress president after passage of CWC resolution but since Sonia, the incumbent party chief, was not present the resolution couldn’t come into effect until she gave her assent for her son to succeed her. The matter has been pending with Sonia ever since.

Since then, three things have changed:

First and foremost, Rahul has begun reading the Bhagwad Gita and Upanishads. Although he is reading 3,000-year-old ancient Indian scriptures to take on the mighty political challenge of the RSS and BJP, the fact remains that these scriptures stress on karma of ruler or the leader, who may or may not be a warrior.

After Rahul finishes reading the scriptures - it can take months or years unless he reads the Americanized made-easy versions - he might be convinced that he should honor the sentiments of his party leaders. Then he takes up his rightful place at the head of the party, which is his by birth.

Congress leaders and workers have, fortunately, now internalized defeat as natural and victory as the exception. Rahul’s track record of leading the party to successive defeats in parliamentary, Assembly, municipal and panchayat elections don’t disturb them anymore. Last year, Congress lost power in Assam and Kerala, and fared poorly in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. This year, the party suffered humiliating defeats in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, and inexplicably allowed the BJP to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Goa and Manipur.

For Rahul Gandhi, it seems nothing succeeds like lack of success. With each Congress defeat, the demand for Rahul’s elevation has gained momentum.

Senior party leader PL Punia, a Dalit from Uttar Pradesh who is considered close to Rahul, told media in Patna that organizational elections would be completed soon and would culminate in electing Rahul as party president. “We are preparing for internal elections. Party workers want to see Rahul in a bigger role. Once organizational elections are held in the states, Rahul will be elected president of the party. It all will happen by the end of the year.” Wait and watch dear readers. Haven’t you heard of the wise old Hindi adage - sahej pake so meetha hoay.

Sonia is not in best of health. In fact, she has curtailed all her public appearances. She did not go to Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, all of which went to the polls three months ago. She did not hold even a single public rally or a workers meet in any of these states. She did not go to Chennai to attend aging DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s birthday celebrations, which was attended by most Opposition leaders. Rahul represented Congress in her stead.

Though Sonia recently had some one-on-one meetings with Opposition leaders and even held a luncheon for them at the Parliament House library to give a boost to Opposition unity and field a common opposition candidate to take on ruling BJP-led NDA candidate - a venture that misfired.

Mother Sonia may soon hand over the baton to son Rahul towards the end of the year. But there’s a catch - Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will go to the polls by end of the year - in all likelihood, Congress is all set to lose those elections.

Would Rahul like to elevate himself to the top post when the party mood is one of all around dejection? No one knows the answer.

But Rahul is reading the Gita. Maybe he’ll find an answer there.

World’s Largest

The largest company owned by one person in the world is Dyson. Dyson Ltd is a British technology company that designs and manufactures vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, bladeless fans, heaters and hair dryers. It sells machines in over 70 countries and employs more than 7,000 people worldwide.

Sir James Dyson owns 100% of Dyson.

In 2017, its revenue is $3.12b a year; however its profit is more than $900m. Dyson has 7,000 + employees. A company’s size, market cap or value is not about much revenue it makes, the most important is, first, how much profit is makes and secondly, what assets is owns and what they are worth, (land, factories, intellectual property, cash, etc.)

By every measure, revenue, profit, asset value, Dyson is the largest 100% owned private company.


Just to refresh your memory about a geographical indication? The basic concept underlying GIs - geographical indications - is simple, and familiar to any shopper who chooses Roquefort over “blue” cheese or Darjeeling over “black” tea. “Cognac”, “Scotch”, “Porto”, “Havana”, “Tequila” and, of course, “Darjeeling” are some well-known examples of names associated throughout the world with products of a certain nature and quality, known for their geographical origin and for having characteristics linked to that origin.

In trade and commerce geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.

Beijing Advice

“India shouldn’t see Nepal’s economy as a strategic battlefield against China” reads the banner headline in one of the recent issues of Global Times. the official organ of the Communist Party of China. It doesn’t, however, say how it should see unless the assumption is blind-folded.


More by :  Sakshi

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