Archive for December, 2009

A Convocation Address – Wil Durant …

Posted on December 27, 2009. Filed under: American Thinkers, Great Writing, Searching for Success |

Wil Durant was philosopher and historian best known for his co-authorship with his wife Ariel Durant of  ‘The Story of Civilization’. This is his address to Young ‘Uns Going Out into the World.

I address you, not as one white with wisdom or practiced in the ways of the world but as a fellow student handicapped with senility. You must season my platitudes with a grain of doubt, that youth must always make for age.

First. Be Healthy. It is mostly within your will. In most cases sickness is a crime. You have done something physiologically foolish and nature is being hard put to  repair your mistake. The pain is the tuition you pay for your instruction in living.

Our bodies are what we eat; plus what our ancestors ate. Don’t let restaurants tempt you. They are the vampires of the stomach. They will burden your flesh in proportion as they lighten your purse. Let us keep our inners clean. The hospitals are littered with people who have put too great a strain on their digestive organs and have allowed an excess of imports over exports.

Second. Do some physical work everyday. Nature intended thought to be a guide to action – not a substitute for it. Thought unbalanced by action is a disease. Cut the lawn, clean the car, paint the house – rather than the town! Help with the dishes, help in the housework. Husband and wife should be helpmates. Marriage disintegrates when it is only a partnership in sex, play and conspicuous expense.

Third. After hunger, sex is our strongest instinct and greatest problem. Nature dolls up the woman with beauty and the man with money to lure them into propagation. And so it gives to the males much sensitivity to the charms of women and they go quite mad in their pursuit.

Sex becomes a flame in the blood and burns up the whole personality – which should be a hierarchy and harmony of desires. We have blown sex up with a thousand forms of incitation – advertisements, emphasis and display – and have armed it with the doctrine that inhibition is a mistake. Where as inhibition, which is control of the impulse, is the first principle of civilization.

By submitting to marriage we take our minds off sex and become adult. Marry as soon as you can keep the wolf from the door. You will be too young to choose wisely. But you won”t be much wiser at 40! There is no fool like an old fool. The difficulties of marriage are far less than the rewards. One touch of a woman’s hand can be paradise. Napoleon said that the only happiness he had ever known was in loving his children.

Four. Character comes on par with health. Intellect may come third. The greatest task assumed by education is to transform egos into gentlemen and ladies. A gentleman or lady is a person who is continually considerate.

Kind words cost so little and are worth so much! Speak no evil of anyone. Every unkind word will, sooner or later, fly back into your face and make you stumble in the race of life.

To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves. Let us be above such transparent egotism. If you cannot say good and encouraging things, say nothing. Nothing is often a good thing to do; and always a clever thing to say.

Five. Religion has been, along with the family and the teacher, a tutor of character. Probably man’s native character, as it is today, was formed in his early hunting life. He had to be greedy because the food supply was precarious and irregular. He had to be pugnacious to fight for food and mates.

What are now, through excesses, our major vices, were then virtues – qualities making for survival of the individual or the group. When agriculture developed and social organization became the chief tool for survival, these powerful impulses had to be restrained. They were restrained through a moral code transmitted through belief that the code came from an all seeing God, who would reward every virtue and punish every vice.

Those who specialize in science will find it hard to understand religion, unless you feel as Newton and Voltaire did, that the harmony of the spheres reveals a cosmic mind. Or unless you realize, as Pascal and Rousseau did, that man does not live by intellect alone.

We are such microscopic particles in a vast universe that none of us is in a position to understand, much less dogmatize. Pascal trembled at the thought of man’s bewildering minuteness between the two infinities; the immensity of the whole and the complexity of each part. “ These infinite spaces”, he said, “frighten me!!” Let us be careful how we pit our pitiful generalizations against the infinite scope, variety and subtlety of the world.

Six. Money builds an economic basis under your life but do not get caught in the rattrap of money making as a profession. That too, like sex, can be a consuming fever, which brings only fitful pleasures and no healthy happiness.Your wife will have the responsibility of stimulating you to develop all your creative capabilities. But I hope she will not insist on keeping up with all the Joneses in the town.

If you become an employer, your relation with your employees will count for more in your happiness than adding a zero to your wealth. Give every employee the full equivalent of his share in the product. Don’t live in boastful and selfish luxury based on taking more from the world than you give.

Seven. Don’t take politics too seriously. Expect to reform the government only after you have reformed human nature. Corruption is natural in government because it is natural in man. Don’t be frightened by the international situation; it is normal. Man is a competitive animal, individually and in groups.

Peace is war by other means. I believe that intelligent fear will keep us from international suicide. Evils usually beget their cure through their excess. So now the balance of terror is making for peace.  How good it is that the military competition is changing to economic competition. Let the better system win.

Eight. I take intellect for granted. Indeed our schools have put too much stress on intellect; too little on character. We have sharpened our wits even while weakening our restraints. In our youth we used to talk about the bondage of tradition and now as befits old age, we distrust the fetishism of novelty.

We exaggerate the value of newness in ideas and things. It is so much easier to be original and foolish than to be original and wise. For every truth there are a thousand possible errors. Let us not try to exhaust the possibilities.

After college, the sharpened competition among individuals and nations will force you into intellectual specialties. The stress on science today is so strong that college, will only give you a passing acquaintance with literature, history, philosophy, music and art. But don’t let yourselves be fragmented.

When your formal education is complete, give at least two hours a week to rounding yourselves with these flowers of civilization. Make friends with the great poets. Acquaint yourselves with the world’s supreme art –Egyptian, Indian, Greek; Roman architecture and sculpture; Arabic mosques and decoration; the Gothic cathedrals and Renaissance paintings.

Study the great statesmen from Hammurabi and Moses to Churchill, Roosevelt and Zhou. Sit for a while at the feet of the great thinkers – Confucious, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Spicurus, Marcus Aurelius, Francis Bacon, Spinoza, Newton, Kant, Schopenhauer, Darwin, Nietzsche and Einstien. Enjoy great prose writers – Isaiah, Jeremiah, the authors of the proverbs and the psalms; Demosthenes and Cicero. Rabelais and Montaigne, Milton and Swift, Voltaire and Rousseau, Hugo and Balzac, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Emerson and Anatole France.

Follow man’s odyssey with the great historians – Herodotus, Thucydides, Tacitus, Gibbon, Froude and Paine. Walk humbly with the great saints – Buddha, Jesus, Augustine, Francis of Assissi, Gandhi. I shall not hold you educated unless you make many of these geniuses your friends. Cultivate them and you will be molded by the company you keep.

Good health to you, good work, good fortune, good character, good children, good grand children.

Drink the brimming cup of life to the full and to the end thank God and thank nature for its bracing trials and challenges, its educative punishments and rewards, its priceless gifts and inexhaustible treasures of beauty, wisdom, labor and love.

Thank you.

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Diaphragm, Deportment, a Lot Else …

Posted on December 23, 2009. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personal Magnetism |

You have a Choice. Choose ‘how’ you would like to be seen by others. Should you want to ooze self confidence, vibrancy, power, then take care of your posture; sit, stand, walk and do most anything with your diaphragm held lowered and  your head and torso straight and upright. Remember – age, decreptitude, weakness are bent; youth, power, vitality are straight.

The way you hold your chest and diaphragm is vital. The chest encloses the vital organs, all of which are located above the diaphragm. These vital organs and the diaphragm should be held lowered like when you breathe in. To do this hold the shoulders low, raise the chest but lower the diaphragm and expand it – right, left, forward and back.  

In deference to its importance, the ancients called the diaphragm ‘the Seat of the Soul’.

The diaphragm  is a solid muscle which rises and falls as you breathe out and breathe in. To identify this muscle, exhale and inhale and you will note that it  goes up and down in sync with your deep breathing. When raised the diaphragm contracts and when lowered it expands.

The diaphragm must always be held low and in the expanded mode.

There is a vast difference between a rising and falling diaphragm in a raised condition and a rising and falling diaphragm in a lowered condition.

Not only must the diaphragm and indeed the lower chest be held lowered but also expanded by spreading it around, right, left, forward and back. The diaphragm must consciously be kept lowered and expanded.

A raised diaphragm depresses life, weakens health and destroys power. It is raised in hypnosis, rapt attention, hysterics, hiccups, giggling, simpering and suppressed levity; also when a person is holding any kind of control over you. It is so in fainting, illness and death. Indeed in any condition of the mind that fixes full attention on something – as in gambling this muscle is raised as in death.

Maintain this engine of vitality Lowered and Expanded. You will find yourself a much changed person with new courage, new confidence and new power. This habit gives vitality, grace, freedom from awkwardness and beauty of form and action. It destroys all that is weak and misshapen.

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Choice … Choice … Your Choice, Always, Everytime, All the time …

Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personal Magnetism |

As regards your life, You and Only You are in the Drivers Seat! How? Because You Always have at least Two Choices.  One need not be Hamlet to choose in his classic Q,  ‘To be or not to be …”          

Your two Choices are more mundane. Something has happened to make you angry; your choice is to be angry or not to be angry. You awake; your choice is to be cheery or grumpy.

Nothing ever should be automatic ie done without thought behind it. Because you and you alone always have a Choice, over yourself. Yet most of us refuse to exercise this choice because we have become mere auto morons.

Some one, I forget who, has rightly observed that the shortest way to becoming Successful in life itself, is to become an Optimist. Because then one is Positive and there is always Cheer, Power, Vitality and Positivity emanating from such a one.

There was this guy who was the negative, grumpy, pessimistic type. Yet the one compliment he treasured most was when his Boss observed, ‘The guy raises morale in adverse situations.’ Perhaps the guy exercised a Choice in such situatiions and decided to swim against the current.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who is Great in her own right (and not remembered merely as the wife of FDR, the only Four Time President), goes onto observe, “The only person who can make you feel inferior is yourself”.

So, it is your choice to do such a thing or not to do such a thing; and to do it this way or that way. Your choice to live life or go thru life. Your choice to stand erect or stand slouched. Your choice to smile or scowl. Your choice to be sweet or sour. Always and always there is Choice – Your Choice.

Your whole life depends on the Choices you make. You are the product of the Choices you yourself have made. And yuu will be the end result of the Choices you are yet to make.

Point is You do what ever you want to do. But you will be the result of the Choice you make. The  tragic part is that we ever so often do not even consider that we have a choice, but just do something as a reflex action. And we become that which we never wanted to be, all because we did not bother to exercise our Choice.

There is the famous story of Douglas Bader, the legless guy who was an ace fighter pilot in the RAF during the war. When he was in an IC Ward in a hospital hovering between life and death, in his semi conscious state he heard a nurse calling for Quiet because there was a man (him) dying. He made a choice to get hold himself and, in his own words, he was damned if he was going to die. He lived to be eighty.

Everything in life is Secondary to the Choices you yourself make 24/7 – indeed, every minute every hour. Even the Old Testament  says, “He hath placed fire and water before you. Stretch out your hand for which ever you wish”.

Like every thing the state of your ‘Personal Magnetism’ is the result of the Choices you make every second, every day.

Remember. Always Remember – You have at least two choices. Choose which ever You want. And become whatever You want.

Getafix7

 

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Hardev Kler … the Best Field Commander Ever??? …

Posted on December 11, 2009. Filed under: From a Services Career |

Hardev Kler was, rather strangely, a Signals officer – mind you,  not from the Armourd Corps, Artillery or Infantry – who came from an Army family. He was doing Brigade Major in the Tangdhar Brigade way back in ’61 when I first came across him.

A handsome polished Sardar, he was rather neat and particular re his turn out and rakish bearing. And he had style!  He was sharp and quick and did not take kindly to the dull variety. There was always an impish sneer on his face, which bonded well with the cruelish twist of his lips.

On his table was his name plate and when one went to his office to ask some favour or the other, he would seem to play with it and seemingly inadvertently, turn it around and this side had the question, “What have you done for me lately?”

My CO, Karam Kang and he did not think much of one another. He was, however,for some reason disposed kindly towards me – though, subconsciously, I was wary of him. I remember that on one occasion when I went missing for a wee, he told the CO not to flap and that I was OK and capable of taking care of myself. I noticed that he had an extremely loyal set of staff officers and he in turn was loyal,  devoted and fair to them all.

Funnily when we moved to Trehgam in ’63 and became a Sector HQ, old Hardev had finished whatever he had to do and was now GSOI of the Division.  And his G-2 was no other than VN Sharma, brother of India’s first PVC, Somnath Sharma, and the guy who himself made Chief in the late ’80s. I was the SO of the Sector and had it easy as I could be a pain and not get my dues because both VN  Sharma and Harish Handa, the G3,  were Rimcollians. Of course the relations between the CO and Hardev did not help.

The GOC, Rawind Grewal was the Paratrooper whose career had been destroyed by General Kulwant, who incidentally is rated the finest brain and staff officer produced by the Indian Army. He was General Thimaya’s superior in the ’48 War. General Kulwant’s ire had been aroused by Rawind when he was a half colonel and CO of a unit while Rawind was SO to the British ‘GOC, just after the end of the Second War.

Kulwant had requested Rawind for a meeting with the GOC. Rawind had told him to go climb a tree. That evening when the GOC was having tea, and Rawind happened to be present, who should want to see the GOC but Kulwant.  Incidentally Rawind had put the GOC in the loop re Kulwants request and his response. The orderly comes and tells the GOC that Kulwant is outside.

When Kulwant is ushered in, he is stunned to see Rawind present, but never the less tells the GOC that he needed to see him. The GOC replies, “Didnt Rawind tell you I was busy?” Kulwant goes out and quite naturally harbours the greatest animosity towards Rawind, and when he goes to Army HQ, he hounds Rawind and even gets him transferred from Paras to the Ordnance  Corps. This story I overheard when Rawind narrated to Karam Kang over a night fire in the middle of nowhere, while advising him to be a tolerant type. We had got stuck in the snow on the way to Keran and were forced to spend a night in deserted huts.

Rawind had eventually, very very slowly, clawed his way back into the rat race when he got command of a brigade just before the Chinese struck in ’62.  His performance and leadership had got him this Division. He was one of those ala Sam Manekshaw, who were rehabilitated courtesy the Chinese thrashing. Rawind was to die tragically in Feb ’64 in an air crash near Banihal. The bodies were only located in the summer, once the snow had melted.

To return. Hardev again caught Karam on the wrong foot courtesy yours truly. On the very day Nehru died, I locked up some Punjab Armed Police personnel for threatening mutiny –  but did not inform Karam, for fear of disturbing him. However these jokers made a beeline for Hardev, who called up Karam, who was naturally at sea. I escaped my comeuppance just because af Nehru’s passing away.

I lost track of Hardev but knew that he had managed a Staff Course Instructors stint. However he really surfaced in the Bangladesh War when he made waves by his flamboyant, thoroughly true blue outstandingly professional  command of  an independent air borne  Brigade Gp.

He was the first Indian Soldier to enter Dacca; much to the chagrin of his boss, Gen Sagat, who himself was the most outstanding Corps Commander of the campaign. To avoid Genaral Sagat’s control, Hardev frequently chose to say ‘Nothing Heard’ as he maintained he was out of radio contact. Hardev led his brigade with daring, imagination and aplomb – right from up front.

The erudite General KM Bhimaya who headed the History Cell for a while, says loud and clear that Hardev is arguably the Best field commander produced by the Indian Army ever. End of Story.

The mid 70s saw Hardev commanding 10 Division near Chamb, the perennial Achilles Heel of the Indian Army. And being Hardev, he went about doing stuff with style and oomph; and maybe ‘misused’ some stores in the process of making a splashy Guest House overlooking the Tawi and made life comfortable for one and all who were there and who were to come there in future decades. However the person who took over from him was perhaps a small man. The fact that the constipated and petty KVK Rao, who had been a ‘has been’  Divisional commander in the same war, was the Corps Commander, did not help at all.

Lest this seem overly harsh on the likes of Krishna Rao,  here is the unanimous opinion of the COs of that period when admiring the three most famous and reputed Corps Commanders of the time.  It would be said and unanimously agreed that as regards the Big Picture and macro operations, no one could touch Eric Vaas of the Nineth Gurkhas.  As regards the Infantry Platoon Leading and Section Tactics, Rao of the Mahar Regiment was supreme. However when it came to leading men into battle, Zoru Bakshi, of the Fifth Gurkhas,  was unequalled.

The long and short of it all was the sad and ugly story  that dear Hardev, along with some of his devoted staff, was Court Martialed and sent home in a most disgraceful manner. A Very Great Tragedy specially when one sees the rampant and universal corruption at each and every level. The greedy and corrupt who are uniformly smooth make their crores. laugh and make a mockery of a soldiers honor. But that is life.

Three Cheers for the likes of Hardev. …. Long Live Their Tribe!!!

The Army needs the likes of such men and the likes of the Sam Manekshaws and the Inder Gills to separate the Great from the Has Beens..

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‘Failure’ … and Michael Jordan …

Posted on December 7, 2009. Filed under: Personalities, Quotes, Sports |

Michael Jordan’s biography on the National Basketball Association website states, “By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.” And there is this poster of him with this quote by another all time Basket Ball Great, ” There, by the grace of God, goes God disguised as Michael Jordan.”  Here he is as he sees himself.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty Six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

 

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