Krishval Musings

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Fathers of Democratic Nation.
Indian Leaders Failed to Take Cue from George Washington.  

                                           George Washington  
George Washington, the gallant and victorious liberator of America, sprang a surprise when he declined to stand in the third election for the President’s post in 1796 despite winning 100% of the electoral votes in the 1792 election.  
Historians think that he wanted to reveal to the world no one is indispensible under a republican set up. He also wanted to assert that the cause of liberty was larger than any single individual. 

Legacy of George Washington (GW)

Maximum two terms of Presidency was continued for 150 years with the only exception of Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II. This tradition became a law in 1951.  The legacy prevented the possibilities of any attempt to bring in monarchy or oligarchy.   However, the tenure restriction is not applicable to congress members; a few senators are holding their office for 30 long years.    

As commander-in-chief of the l Army, Washington respected the authority of the Congress, and affirmed that the purpose of the army was to carry out the will of the civil government.  The USA had 26 elected Presidents out of 44who were ex army retirees including Generals like Ulysses Grant, Andrew Jackson and Dewitt D Eisenhower. None of the military dictators from Julius Cesar to Saddham Hussein relinquished their power and authority until their death or dethrone.  GW was the only exception. 

He hated political parties, however, welcomed criticism from the press.  He did not have higher education but had higher vision to shape a strong democratic nation. He stood as an example for liberal and republican ideas and gave them effect through the Revolution, the Constitution, his successful Presidency and his departure from office.

As an astute statesman he was aware that his presidency would set a precedent for all that would follow. He was vigilant not to permit the European style of monarchy sneaking into the system. His followers banned all the European style nobility titles like Sir, Earl and Duke etc. 

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s achievement is far greater than that of Washington in terms of area, population, regional/ethnic/linguistic/diversities, religious/political/social complexities and brutal oppression by the armed colonizers. Inspiring and organizing400 million people with diversities were probably the greatest human achievement in the world history.  Mahatma Gandhi did not seek a violent approach to achieve independence. He spearheaded his non violent forces without arms against iron fists with arms.  It was a longer fight of over 30 years as against 8 years of American war of independence.  He maintained his undisputed leadership till his end.   Gandhi’s tenacity and determination was admired by the entire world and they also stimulated freedom fights in many parts of Asia and Africa.

 Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi refused to take the reins after independence and handed it over to the Westernised  Jawaharlal Nehru. Was it a right choice?   Gandhi wanted a less aggressive and peace promoting person to be his successor.   
Nehru’s disdain for Indian culture and heritage is well known.   He openly remarked that he will be the last Britisher to rule India.  He just followed the language and habits of the West but never had the pragmatism and vision of   GW to set an example of a true leader. Nehru, contrary to GW and Gandhi, did not have the broad mind to build a nation through delegation of authority and grooming a successor, despite having capable persons like Morarji Desai.  Thirteen Vice Presidents of USA were groomed and they subsequently became Presidents.   He was surrounded by sycophants and his own family members.  Consciously or unconsciously   he dug a quick sand in the Indian polity in which the democracy is slowly sinking due to the un checked development of oligarchy plunging the nation into the old dark days of feudalism.
Political party  leaders follow Nehru by not developing a successor because of fear of rebellion. They drag until their family members become old enough to take control of the party and its huge, mostly, ill gotten wealth. There is hardly any democracy inside political parties.   Nehru’s promotion of fiefdom in Indian politics is the stumbling block to the holistic development. The Congress party known for its highly educated and dedicated veterans is now reduced to a despotic family party managed by his descendents.

A proposal, during the preparation of the constitution, to limit the tenure of the Prime Minister like the President of India to two terms was cleverly scuttled.  Time is ripe to introduce tenure limitation for PMs as well as CMs in order to improve the quality and commitment of their office.
Political experts introspect that Gandhi should have made a better choice for spearheading a young democratic nation.


The approach to the war of independence of the two nations makes all the difference.  GW followed the armed struggle and took the responsibility to lead after the achievement.  He was very successful in giving a good start which was vital for the future progress. GW was a light house to the USA and its beam is still alive and bright even after two centuries.  The internal and external challenges were all put down successfully due to the fire of independence and nation building spirit lit by him. The USA when started had only 13 states in the Eastern coast expanded upto the Pacific coast with 50 states under its flag.

India was less fortunate to start with a soft and idealistic leader.  But for the acumen of Sardar  Vallabhbhai  Patel, Nehru’s faux optimism would have adversely affected the size and shape of the present Indian map. The spirit of independence was very high in India immediately after 1947.  However, when the external and internal challenges erupted the poor show and weakness of the leadership became visible to the world.

Development of feudalism was cut in the bud by GW whereas Nehru nurtured it making the Indian republic less meaningful.  

Dr. Krishnan Arunachalam


(Published in Mylapore club magazine Dec/14 by the author under the caption
India's Political Leadership )


Monday, 15 December 2014

Knowledge Is NOT Power
Discipline, the Name of the Game

Francis Bacon, the British philosopher (1561-1626) popularised the saying “Knowledge is power”.   It is glowing brighter in the recent years as knowledge workers have taken the front seat of the society.   According to him a person with knowledge has the ability to produce more and perform better which will add up to his/her existing strength.  However, it may not be a right formula for the dynamics of a nation state.

A survey of the world history will affirm that nations ruled by discipline and served by knowledge emerged strong and powerful.  The Akanda  Bharath was the fountainhead of knowledge for the entire oriental side of the Universe.  The remarks of Will Durant that “In Asia all roads lead from India” was historically proved.  Alexander the Great was astonished by the knowledge power and was very respectful to India despite conquering the north western parts of India.  A scrutiny of Indian history will, however, reveal that the abundant supply of knowledge power did not help her to be a successful nation.  The reason for her inability to become a powerful nation was mainly due to the  lack of the vital ingredient “discipline”.   The disciplined Moguls were able to rule over India for six centuries in spite of their lesser knowledge strength. The European rulers came in the 16th century and were able to impress with the combination of both superior knowledge and discipline.  India, after independence, continued the British legacy which brought her a general reputation in the world, however, her progress record is very dismal compared to nations like Japan, Korea, China and Singapore.   A rough (by the author) ratio analysis between knowledge and discipline will reveal the secret of success.
Country                    Discipline (%)       Knowledge  (%)          
Singapore                       80                          20
China                             70                          30
Japan                             60                          40
Korea                             50                          50
India                              10                          90
The success depends upon the higher ratio of discipline.  The West followed the military culture for centuries and has evolved a well balanced formula giving due importance for both by which they complement each other.  Knowledge can develop, design, discover, invent, promote and enhance the value of various products and services but it is discipline that can implement them to give end benefits to the people. Knowledge will inform and discipline will perform.  A study of the effectiveness of knowledge power in India will reveal a few surprises.  

The IQ of an average CBSE 12th standard student is definitely higher than his/her counterpart in the USA, Japan and Europe.  Yet, he/she wants to pursue their higher education in the West, Why?There is no continuation of the CBSE standard in college education.  In most colleges the indiscriminate mixing of high and low standards dilutes the general standard which frustrates the studious.  Secondly, bright students are skeptical with the niggardly acknowledgement they receive for their hard work.  The result, the cream of the educated gets exported.   

If we undertake a research we will be surprised to find that there may be at least 10 Bill Gates (William Gates of Microsoft) inside India.  But the Bill gates in USA will be the successful because he is a citizen of USA well known for its discipline and strong system.      

What is discipline?
The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.” (Oxford Dictionary)
“Without self-discipline, a person with every blessing of background, education and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity.”- (Brian Tracy, Human development trainer and author)  

“The one quality which sets one man apart from another- the key which lifts to every aspiration while others are caught up in the mire of mediocrity-is not talent, formal education, nor intellectual brightness- it is self discipline.  With self-discipline all things are possible. Without it, even the simplest goal can seem like the impossible dream”   (Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the USA)

Developed nations give more weight to discipline than knowledge. Discipline is action oriented. It cultivates great qualities required for success like   courage, self control, self esteem, patience, mutual respect, empathy and many more.  

h Dr. Ivan Misner


Due to lack of discipline, India’s vast knowledge has been cleverly exploited by the disciplined foreigners.  History repeats itself.   
We have been copying the West in everything but not their discipline?  Why   we are unable to link our knowledge power with discipline? A billion dollar question.
Is it due to the inherent lethargy, individualism and reluctance to work under rules and regulations?  Even highly educated people are generally not law abiding.    Discipline is considered an unnecessary burden on freedom of action and also a hard way to achieve goal. Discipline is pain but it pays back.

Innumerable talks, discussions, and writings are going on regularly in India for the last 10 years on how to match China.  Talks are more about the statistics of their GDP and foreign reserves not about their methodology and will power that enabled them to scale new heights. 

Take this example:  The Metro rail system (subway) of Shangai in China started in 1994 has now 330 stations, total length of 532 KM and 14 lines, a clear demonstration of a well planed and  organised work. The Kolkata Metro started in 1984 has now 24 stations, total length of 28 KM and 4 lines.   Bengalis are definitely more knowledgeable than the Chinese. What is the use?
Success is about the “doing,” not just the “knowing.” (Dr. Ivan Misner)
India’s anarchic democracy   also adds to the general inertia. Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, said ‘India could be China in terms of development if it was “less democratic” (Hindustan Times), a snide remark on the lack of discipline. 

There are several countries with literacy rate over 90% but only those having good governance and control become the rich and powerful.
India, by opening thousands of colleges all over the country for accumulating knowledge with little focus on discipline, will be only chasing a mirage.  

Dr. Krishnan Arunachalam

Ref: Authors’ speech in Kohinoor Toastmasters club, 1997 (Jan/6/2011)
        www.wikipedia .com  (2/12/2011)
\(Published in Mylapore Club magazine Oct/14 by the author)