Archive for December, 2017

Taxes n Black Money …

Posted on December 29, 2017. Filed under: Searching for Success |

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A Banker Stood Tall …

Posted on December 28, 2017. Filed under: Personalities |

R.K. Talwar was a highly respected banker who was the Chairman of State Bank of India from 1959 to 1974. He was removed from his office for his principled stand against an unjust and unethical interference by the Government in the functioning of the Bank.

The Government had to amend the Law in Parliament in order to get rid of Talwar, which became well known in banking circles as the “Talwar Amendment.”

What did Talwar do to merit this extreme measure? The problem in one sense was relatively simple and possibly an everyday occurrence in a banker’s life.

One of the borrowers of the Bank, a cement company, became sick with mounting losses and approached the Bank for restructuring assistance.

What made the problem difficult was the strong assessment by the Bank that much of the difficulties of the company were brought about due to gross mismanagement and given this assessment, the Bank insisted that as a condition precedent to implementing the restructuring package, the Chairman of the Company who was also the CEO should step down from the management and a professional management should take over the Company’s management.

In this specific case the promoter strongly resisted any attempt to dislodge him from the management position but the Bank held its ground.

However the person was a friend of Sanjay Gandhi, son of then Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and decided to take his case directly to him. SanjAY called the Finance Minister and asked him to direct the Bank to waive this requirement.

The Finance Minister telephoned Talwar and asked him not to insist on a change in management as a condition precedent to restructuring. Talwar informed the Finance Minister that it would be difficult for the Bank to waive the requirement.

For a period of little more than a year since the Emergency was declared, Sanjay had never met anybody who disagreed or refused to carry out his orders.

He decided to send for Talwar and was shocked to hear that Talwar refused to come and see him on the ground that he held no constitutional authority and he was accountable only to the Finance Minister. Sanjay Gandhi told the Finance Minister to sack Talwar.

The Finance Minister knew that during the seven years Talwar was the Chairman of the Bank, he had achieved a high personal reputation but
this was the period of Emergency. However the Legal Department pointed out the specific provision in the State Bank of India Act which guaranteed the Chairman the special protection against removal without sufficient cause.

The Finance Minister, therefore, felt that a better course of action would be to offer Talwar a different assignment or seek his resignation.
He sent for Talwar again and told him that the Government was planning to set up a Banking Commission to make recommendations with regard to the restructuring of the functioning of the banking system and whether he would be willing to accept the Chairmanship of the Commission.

Without batting an eyelid, Talwar told the Finance Minister that he would indeed be happy to head the Commission and he could carry out this job simultaneous with his existing assignment as Chairman of State Bank of India
When the Finance Minister looked uncomfortable with this suggestion, Talwar very calmly looked the Finance Minister in his eyes and told him “Mr. Minister you seem to be very particular that I should not continue as the Chairman of the State Bank of India, is that correct?”

The Finance Minister replied. “Yes Mr. Talwar, you know what the problem is. We all have the highest regard for your abilities but unfortunately you do not seem to be very flexible on this one issue which is of great importance to the highest authority in the country. If you do not want to accept any other position, I may have no option but to seek your resignation or in the alternative, to dismiss you from service. This would be extremely painful to me but I would be left with no other option.”

Talwar replied, “Mr. Minister I have no intention of resigning from my position. It is entirely up to you to decide whether you want to dismiss me. In any case, I have just about a little more than a year left in my second term and I see no reason why you should not allow me to complete it.”

The Finance Minister reported the matter to Sanjay Gandhi who asked the CBI to investigate Talwar to find out grounds on which he could be dismissed. Talwar’s personal reputation for honesty and integrity was well known. But had two chinks in his armour.

One was his almost monthly visits to Pondicherry. His attachment to the Mother and the Aurobindo Ashram was well known and he had made it clear to the Government that he needed these visits for what he called “recharging his batteries,” and that if as a condition of his employment he were to stop these visits, he would as well step down from the Bank.

In any case, this could not be construed as a sufficient cause for his dismissal in terms of the Act. The second one was a little more serious.

Talwar had sent appeals on behalf of the Ashram to a large number of industrialists, many of whom were clients of the Bank, seeking donations for the Auroville project. Those who were close to him, feared that the Central Investigative Agency could focus on this issue and charge him with abuse of authority..

While Talwar himself was completely unperturbed by the reported investigation, it became known that the Agency was meeting several industrialists who had given donation to the project with a view to taking from them a statement that they were coerced into giving this donation at the instance of Talwar.

However two things became very clear to the Agency. One was that not a single industrialist was willing to say that Talwar either spoke to them or in any way tried to persuade them to make the donation.

The second was what all Talwar did was to forward to these clients an appeal signed by Prime Minister, Ms. Gandhi and the Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant commending the Auroville project for support.
The Agency found that under these circumstances, there was no way in which they could charge Talwar with abuse of his position.

Sanjay Gandhi lost his patience. He directed the Finance Minister to amend the State Bank of India Act to provide for a summary dismissal of the Chairman.

The Legislation amending the State Bank of India Act was passed in record time and received the assent of the President without delay. Armed with the new provision in the Act, the Finance Minister summoned Talwar once again and told him that if he did not resign from service, there was no alternative but to remove him in terms of the new provision.

Talwar remained defiant. He told the Finance Minister that he had no intention of resigning and the Finance Minister could take whatever action he deemed appropriate.
On the evening of the 4th of August 1976 Talwar received a fax message from the Finance Minister sanctioning him 13 months leave and asking him to hand over charge to the Managing Director.

This was the respect he commanded in the industry.

Talwar left the Bank promptly ‪at 5.30 p.m. which was his usual time of departure. There was hardly anybody to see him off.

The residence of the Chairman of the State Bank was just across the road and as soon as I received intimation that he had reached his home, I walked across to meet him. I found him smiling and cheerful. Extending his hand to greet me on my birthday (which by a curious coincidence happened to be 4th August) he said, “Vaghul, look at the Divine Will. What a pleasure it is to be gifted with His Blessings.”

He looked me at my eyes and said “As far as I am concerned, I am only an instrument of the Divine and His Will is the only thing that is important to me. We cannot sit in judgment over the Divine will. You have to learn to enjoy all the time the Divine play.
The work in the Bank is over. What the Divine has in store for me I do not know. Whatever it is, I will serve the Divine with devotion and always enjoy being His instrument.”

Narayanan Vaghul – The Author is the Former Chairman of ICICI Bank Limited. He is widely recognized in India for his role in pioneering the concept of the Universal Banking Model that laid the foundation for a new era in Indian Banking.

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In 2017 – the Rich got Richer …

Posted on December 27, 2017. Filed under: Business |

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Winter Solstice – Dec 21 …

Posted on December 21, 2017. Filed under: Guide Posts |

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Exercises for the Lazy …

Posted on December 15, 2017. Filed under: Guide Posts |

You can easily do some exercises while sitting at the desk. Here are some that you can include-

1. Just stand up and sit down

– If you stand up and sit down (over and over) without using your hands – it can be helpful.

2. Stretch your back with a hug

– Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder.
– Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.

3. Ditch email and talk directly

– Instead of emailing a colleague, just walk over instead. The exercise is effortless and will keep you in shape if habitual.

You can also include a healthy diet while in office –

1. Fruits

Fruits are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that will keep you full and refreshed through the day.

2. Nuts

Nuts are protein boosters, so you can take them to office and munch on them whenever you feel hungry.

3. Sprouts

Sprouts are rich in fiber and protein. Super low in calories, this healthy snack will keep you full for a longer period.

4. Puffed Rice or Murmura

This humble snack is light and has lesser calories. So go ahead and add them as one of your snack options while at work.

chocolate is good for your heart.

1. Protects the heart cells and blood vessels: According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, dark chocolate is rich in bioactive flavonols and theobromine that have a positive effect on the cells of the heart and the blood vessels.

2. Boosts blood circulation: A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that dark chocolate is rich in active compounds known as polyphenols that help in improving the circulation of blood.

3. Regulates blood pressure: Studies have also shown that eating dark chocolate may help in controlling high blood pressure.

4. Reduces risk of stroke: According to a Finnish study published in the Journal Neurology, including dark chocolate in your diet is linked to the reduced risk of stroke.

5. Lowers cholesterol: Another study published in the Journal Hypertension indicates that eating about 100 grams of dark chocolate every day may help in lowering the bad cholesterol and also increase the levels of good cholesterol.

While dark chocolate may have many health benefits, you must always remember that anything consumed in excess can have negative repercussions. So, enjoy dark chocolate in moderation to reap its heart-healthy benefits.

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Man on the Moon …

Posted on December 14, 2017. Filed under: Personalities |

On July 20th, 1969, as commander of the Apollo 11 lunar module, Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the moon.

His first words after stepping on the moon, “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” were heard by millions of people around the world.

But just before he re-entered the lander, he made the enigmatic remark: “Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky.”

Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs.

Over the years many people questioned Armstrong as to what the “good luck, Mr. Gorsky” statement meant, but he just brushed them off by smiling.

On July 5th, 1995, in Tampa Bay, Florida, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26-year-old question. That time, he finally responded. Mr. Gorsky had died, so Neil Armstrong felt he could answer the question.

In 1938, when he was a kid in a small Midwestern town, he was playing baseball with a friend in the backyard. His friend hit the ball, which landed in his neighbor’s yard by the bedroom windows.

His neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, the young Armstrong heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky.

“Sex? You want sex?! You’ll get sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!”

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Ho Chi Minh Trail …

Posted on December 13, 2017. Filed under: Books, Guide Posts |

Bicycling the Blood Road By Rebecca Rusch

The Ho Chi Minh Trail was called the Blood Road because so many people lost their lives there. My father, Stephen Rusch, was one of them. He was the weapons system officer in an F-4 Phantom fighter jet. On March 7, 1972, he was flying a strike mission over Laos to bomb trucks spotted along the trail. His plane was struck by ground fire and crashed to the jungle floor. He didn’t make it home.

In 2015, I set out on the most important bike ride of my life. I went to ride the entire length of the trail and to search for the place where Dad’s plane went down. I had no idea what I would find, if I could even get there or what the riding would be like. I started the expedition with so many questions, but now I can look back and see that my choices have always been preparing me for and leading me to this ride. My path as a professional endurance athlete has always been unpredictable, but something was always calling me to the remote jungles of Southeast Asia: a magnetic pull toward the map coordinates in an Air Force crash report.
The complicated network of paths that form the Ho Chi Minh Trail runs from the former North Vietnam, through the jungles of Laos and Cambodia, then re-enters Vietnam near Ho Chi Minh City. The trail, parts of which are still maintained today, was the main supply route for soldiers, supplies and ammunition as the North Vietnamese moved to take over the South during the Vietnam War. By shielding the route under thick jungle canopy, often pushing bicycles loaded with supplies, the North Vietnamese were able to evade American air strikes.

Forty-five years later, the bike is still the most efficient way to travel over there. Being on two wheels allowed me to cover distance and also be nimble enough to thread through the dense forest, dodge muddy trenches and cross rivers where bridges had washed away. In the most remote areas, locals had never seen a tourist or a carbon bicycle, and certainly never an American woman.

We stared at each other with wide-eyed wonder, greeting each other with a smile and palms pressed together, head bowed. Sitting in wooden huts, harvesting rice, raising children: This is the peaceful life they live now. But the scars of the devastation are everywhere. Bomb craters still mark the landscape like Swiss cheese, scrap metal from planes and bomb casings are repurposed as planters, buckets and roofs. There are even unexploded bombs that still threaten their daily lives.

My history is intertwined with theirs through shared loss and bloodshed. Even though my father was one of the pilots raining bombs on them, they opened their homes and hearts to me. Without words, they understood my journey.

After many demanding days on the trail, I finally arrived in Ta Oy, Laos, a small village near my father’s crash site. I felt as if the villagers there had been expecting me for a long time. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of his home, Mr. Airh, the village chief, told me the story of how his father had buried mine. Despite the fact that my Dad was dropping bombs on their village, Mr. Airh’s father respectfully laid the bodies of the two American airmen under a beautiful, ancient tree.

The tree was still there waiting for me. When I saw it in a small clearing in the jungle, I could feel my Dad’s presence. Though investigators had found just two of his teeth and a bone fragment at the site, finding plane debris reassured me that this was really the place. For the first time in my life as a professional athlete I was able to stop, pause and not think about what was next. I had finally reached a finish line I never knew I was striving toward.

I was three years old when Dad disappeared, and I don’t remember him. But under that tree, I finally had a chance to talk to him. “Hi Dad, I’m here.” I also spoke to Mr. Airh in the only Lao words I knew: “Khàwp jai lãi lãi” (Thank you.) He held my hands and we cried together as he whispered “Baw pen nyãng” (It’s OK.) He also told me that if his father had died that way, he would have come searching too. As foreign as we may seem to each other, in that moment we discovered a deep kinship.

My athletic career has spanned more than two decades. I’ve racked up countless wins and world championship medals. I’ve also learned that some medals are not worn around your neck, but instead are imprinted on your soul. As I neared the finish line of this 1,200-mile ride down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, I felt a sense of contentment and clarity that I had never experienced before. This ride wasn’t about death, destruction and closure, but instead it was about healing, forgiveness and discovery. To me, Blood Road no longer represents a trail stained red, but instead a path toward finding our family and shared connection in the most unexpected places.

Rebecca Rusch is a professional cyclist. “Blood Road,” a documentary about her trip along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, is airing for free on Red Bull TV. Click here to watch it.

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Rama and Ayodhya’ and ‘The Battle for Rama’, by Meenakshi Jain …

Posted on December 13, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought |

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Basis of White Dominance – Humble Potato? …

Posted on December 10, 2017. Filed under: Guide Posts |

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Nazi Concentration Camps …

Posted on December 10, 2017. Filed under: Guide Posts, Personalities |

When US troops came across ghastly evidence of massive fratricide of Jews at concentration camps like Dachau and Auschwitz, Eisenhower ordered immediate and comprehensive documentation of the devastation saying ”

I want full proof of this brutality, because tomorrow some bastard is going to say it never happened!”

General Eisenhower wrote in his memoir Crusade in Europe the following passage regarding his reaction to the concentration camps and the action he felt he needed to take:

The same day I saw my first horror camp. It was near the town of Gotha. I have never felt able to describe my emotional reactions when I first came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency.

Up to that time I had known about it only generally or through secondary sources. I am certain, however that I have never at any other time experienced an equal sense of shock.

I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that `the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda.’ Some members of the visiting party were unable to go through the ordeal.

I not only did so but as soon as I returned to Patton’s headquarters that evening I sent communications to both Washington and London, urging the two governments to send instantly to Germany a random group of newspaper editors and representative groups from the national legislatures.

I felt that the evidence should be immediately placed before the American and British publics in a fashion that would leave no room for cynical doubt.

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