Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Relevance of Lord Ram in today’s world

The relevance of Lord Ram and his principles and teachings in today's world is profound and multifaceted. Lord Ram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hindu mythology, epitomizes righteousness, virtue, and adherence to dharma (duty or moral law). His life story, as narrated in the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, offers timeless lessons that continue to inspire and guide people across the world.

Moral and Ethical Integrity

One of the most significant teachings of Lord Ram is the importance of moral and ethical integrity. In an age where ethical boundaries are frequently challenged and blurred, Lord Ram's unwavering commitment to truth and righteousness serves as a guiding light. His decision to undergo a 14-year exile, honoring his father's promise, exemplifies supreme sacrifice and adherence to one's word, principles that are invaluable in both personal and professional spheres today.

Duty and Responsibility

Lord Ram's life is a testament to the fulfillment of duties and responsibilities, regardless of the personal costs. His respect for relationships, be it as a son, a brother, a husband, or a ruler, underscores the significance of duty above personal desires and ambitions. In the contemporary context, this principle encourages individuals to uphold their responsibilities towards their families, communities, and nations with dedication and integrity.

Leadership and Governance

As a ruler, Lord Ram's governance was marked by fairness, prosperity, and welfare for all, epitomizing the ideal king. His leadership style is a blueprint for modern leaders, emphasizing the importance of benevolence, justice, and the well-being of subjects. In today's world, where leadership often comes under scrutiny, Ram's model of leadership inspires leaders to be empathetic, just, and service-oriented.

Compassion and Forgiveness

Lord Ram's interactions with even the lowliest of creatures and his enemies highlight his compassion and capacity for forgiveness. His treatment of Shabari, a devotee from a tribal background, and his readiness to forgive even those who wronged him, like Ravana's brother Vibhishana, teach the value of empathy, inclusiveness, and forgiveness in a divided world.

Balancing Personal and Professional Life

Lord Ram's life also illustrates the balance between personal commitments and professional duties. Despite his personal trials, including the separation from his wife, Sita, he never let his personal sorrow interfere with his kingly duties. This balance is particularly relevant today, as individuals strive to manage personal challenges while fulfilling their professional roles.


In essence, Lord Ram and his teachings are incredibly relevant in today's complex and fast-paced world. His life encourages individuals to adhere to the path of righteousness, fulfill their duties, lead with compassion and integrity, and maintain a balance between personal and professional life. As humanity grapples with ethical dilemmas, social injustices, and leadership crises, Lord Ram's principles offer a beacon of hope and a roadmap to a more ethical, responsible, and compassionate society.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Ayodhya Ram Temple: Echoes of Past Wounds and Seeds of New Hope in the Hindu Psyche

The inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, a monument etched upon a land scarred by the chisels of conflict, reverberates with poignant resonance within the soul of India's Hindu populace. It is a narrative spun from the threads of ancient trauma, colonial scars, and an unyielding yearning for cultural resurgence. To grasp its profound impact, we must first delve into the festering wounds that whisper within the collective Hindu memory.

The centuries of Muslim invasions in India are etched like indelible brushstrokes upon the Hindu canvas. Tales of desecrated temples, forced conversions, and subjugation under foreign rule remain potent sagas, passed down through generations like treasured heirlooms. The Babri Masjid, which once stood on the contested Ayodhya soil, became a potent symbol of this historical suffering, a stark reminder of the perceived erasure of sacred Hindu space.

British colonialism, with its penchant for divide-and-conquer, further stoked these smoldering anxieties. While initially exploiting existing fissures, the British later attempted to forge a singular "Indian" identity, often perceived by Hindus as a dilutive cocktail that threatened to drown their unique cultural heritage. The marginalization of Hindu traditions and the privileging of Western values fueled a potent sense of cultural oppression, a yearning for self-determination that resonated like a whispered prayer.

The Babri Masjid's demolition in 1992 became a tragic flashpoint, a stark eruption of the molten emotions simmering beneath the surface. While it sparked communal violence that marred the nation's fabric, it also ignited a powerful Hindu nationalist movement, fueled by the desire to reclaim lost glory and assert a distinct Hindu identity.

The protracted legal battle and the eventual construction of the Ram Mandir resonated on multiple levels for the Hindu community. For many, it was a vindication, a reclamation of stolen history, a testament to their unwavering resilience. The Ayodhya verdict was seen as a triumph of faith, a hard-won victory in a long-fought resistance against perceived historical injustices.

The temple's inauguration, then, signifies a closure of sorts, a balm applied to a deep wound. Yet, it is not without its complexities. The unresolved grievances of Muslim communities and the potential for renewed Hindu-Muslim tensions cast long shadows over the celebrations.

Moreover, the temple's association with Hindu nationalism raises disquieting concerns about the potential marginalization of other religious and cultural groups within India's vibrant tapestry. The narrative of "Hindu Rashtra" (Hindu nation) can breed exclusiveness, a dangerous echo chamber that threatens to undermine the nation's secular fabric.

The true impact of the Ram Mandir on the Hindu psyche will unfold in the years to come. Will it be a bridge to reconciliation and inclusivity, or will it exacerbate existing divisions? Will it empower the Hindu community or fuel further marginalization? The answers lie in the choices made by Hindus themselves, in how they choose to interpret and embody the meaning of this sacred space.

The Ram Mandir stands as a powerful symbol, not only of historical grievances but also of the potential for healing and unity. It is a stark reminder of the importance of acknowledging the past while forging a future that embraces diversity and inclusivity. Ultimately, the Hindu community's ability to reconcile these diverse strands within its own psyche will determine the temple's true legacy in the tapestry of Indian identity.

This revised essay aims to present a balanced perspective on the complex issue of the Ram Mandir, employing precise and evocative language to engage the reader. The inclusion of a thesaurus has enriched the vocabulary, while carefully chosen imagery adds depth and emotional resonance to the narrative. By acknowledging the pain of the past while emphasizing the potential for renewal, the essay strives to leave readers with a sense of cautious hope for the future of India's diverse and vibrant society.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Impact of AI on Canadian Economy - a short essay

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing industries around the world, and Canada is no exception. As a country known for its progressive approach to technology and innovation, Canada is uniquely positioned to harness the benefits of AI, while also facing significant challenges. This essay examines the potential implications of AI on the Canadian economy, focusing on job losses, productivity improvements, economic growth opportunities, and the sectors most exposed to disruption.

Job Losses and the Skills Gap
One of the most pressing concerns about AI is its potential to automate jobs. In Canada, sectors such as manufacturing, retail, and transportation could see significant job losses due to automation. A study by the Brookfield Institute estimated that 42% of the Canadian workforce is at high risk of being affected by automation. This transformation could lead to a skills gap, where the workforce lacks the necessary skills to transition into new roles created by AI. To mitigate this, Canada needs to invest in retraining programs and education systems that emphasize skills compatible with an AI-driven economy, such as data analysis, machine learning, and critical thinking.

Productivity Improvements
Conversely, AI has the potential to dramatically improve productivity. In sectors like healthcare, AI can help in diagnosing diseases more accurately and quickly, leading to better patient outcomes and more efficient use of resources. In the IT sector, AI-driven tools can optimize network management and data analysis, leading to increased efficiency. These improvements could boost Canada's GDP significantly, as higher productivity leads to increased economic output.

Economic Growth Opportunities
AI presents substantial economic growth opportunities for Canada. The country's strong AI research community, particularly in cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton, attracts global talent and investment. This can lead to the development of new industries and the expansion of existing ones. For instance, the application of AI in natural resource management could revolutionize sectors like forestry and mining, which are significant contributors to Canada’s economy. Furthermore, Canada’s commitment to ethical AI and data privacy could position it as a leader in responsible AI development, attracting companies and researchers who value these principles.

Sectors Most Exposed to Disruption
While AI presents opportunities, it also poses disruption risks, particularly in sectors slow to adapt. Retail, transportation, and customer service are highly susceptible to AI and automation. For instance, e-commerce platforms using AI for personalized shopping experiences could disrupt traditional retail stores. Similarly, autonomous vehicles could significantly impact transportation and logistics sectors. Financial services are also at risk, with AI capable of automating tasks like loan underwriting and risk assessment.

Mitigating the Negative Impacts
To mitigate the negative impacts, Canada needs a strategic approach. This includes investing in AI research and development to stay at the forefront of innovation, implementing policies that support workers displaced by AI, and fostering a culture of lifelong learning. Additionally, ethical considerations and AI governance should be prioritized to ensure the benefits of AI are distributed equitably across society.

The advent of AI presents a transformative moment for the Canadian economy. While it brings the promise of increased productivity and new economic opportunities, it also poses significant challenges, particularly in job displacement and sectoral disruption. Canada's response to these challenges should be multifaceted, involving investment in education and skills training, research and development, and ethical governance of AI technologies. By doing so, Canada can not only mitigate the risks associated with AI but also position itself as a global leader in the AI-driven economy of the future.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dopamine secretion linked to addiction

Is it fair to link dopamine secretion to addiction ?

Dopamine is generally released in our brain when we are happy, satisfied, content, loved and similar positive events happen to us or around us.

Recent reports/ media coverage seem to constantly indicate that whatever item (cigerette, alcohol, drugs, smartphone, incoming messages/emails, social media attention received) makes us happy, or triggers a positive event in our brain, its equivalent to addiction.

Recently, I was listening to some podcast, where a renowned speaker used the analogy of instant messaging. He linked receiving a response to an instant message with additiction, because both trigger dopamine secration in our brain.

Things that make us happy, don't necessarily fall into the category of addiction.  addiction is a different beast, needs to be seen as such and handled as such.  If we generalize the problem of addition to a simple hormone secretion we are doing a disservice to many a things that simply give us joy and have no link to addiction.

Think of it this way, going to park makes me happy. I tend to go to a park or a green area as much as I can, and every time I am around trees / greenery, it makes me very happy.

Another example, I live a few thousand kilometres away from my immediate family members.  Every time I send / receive a message to one of them, I feel joyous, happy, elated (read - secretion of dopamine), does that mean I am addicted to "messaging them" ?

or does this mean that I am addicted to "going to park/greens" ~

I disagree, and would surely not want to be called an addict based on this theory.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rudhashtak - Sanskrit / Hindi - Devnagari script

नमामीशमीशान निर्वाणरूपं विभुं व्यापकं ब्रह्मवेदस्वरूपम I निजं निर्गुणं निर्विकल्पं निरीहं चिदाकाशमाकाशवासं भजेअहम II निराकारमोंकारमूलं तुरीयं गिरा घ्य़ान गोतीतमीशं गिरीशम I करालं महाकाल कालं कृपालं गुणागार संसारपारं नतोअहम II तुश्हाराद्रि संकाश गौरं गभीरं मनोभूत कोटिप्रभा श्री शरीरम I स्फुरन्मौलि कल्लोलिनी चारु गङ्गा लसद्भालबालेन्दु कण्ठे भुजङ्गा II चलत्कुण्डलं भ्रूसुनेत्रं विशालं प्रसन्नाननं नीलकण्ठं दयालम I मृगाधीशचर्माम्बरं मुण्डमालं प्रियं शंकरं सर्वनाथं भजामि II प्रचण्डं प्रकृश्ह्टं प्रगल्भं परेशं अखण्डं अजं भानुकोटिप्रकाशम I त्रयः शूल निर्मूलनं शूलपाणिं भजे.अहं भवानीपतिं भावगम्यम II कलातीत कल्याण कल्पान्तकारी सदा सज्जनानन्ददाता पुरारी I चिदानन्द संदोह मोहापहारी प्रसीद प्रसीद प्रभो मन्मथारी II न यावत उमानाथ पादारविन्दं भजन्तीह लोके परे वा नराणाम I न तावत सुखं शान्ति सन्तापनाशं प्रसीद प्रभो सर्वभूताधिवासम II न जानामि योगं जपं नैव पूजां नतो.अहं सदा सर्वदा शम्भु तुभ्यम I जरा जन्म दुःखौघ तातप्यमानं प्रभो पाहि आपन्नमामीश शम्भो II रुद्राश्ह्टकमिदं प्रोक्तं विप्रेण हरतोश्हये I ये पठन्ति नरा भक्त्या तेश्हां शम्भुः प्रसीदति II

Saturday, February 17, 2018

PNB Analysis - whatsapp forward

What actually happened in PNB scam? Let’s start from the concept.

First, The Concept

Let’s understand how things work.

Some importer, let’s call him Nirav Modi or NM, wants to import pearls or diamonds and then sell them. The purchase requires money, so NM approaches a bank, say Punjab National Bank (PNB).

PNB says look, I’ll give you a loan but it will be like at 10%.

NM thinks hard and says, no, that’s too much. Wait, why don’t I take a foreign currency loan instead, after all I’m buying in dollars? Much lower interest rates no? I can get at LIBOR+2% and LIBOR is like 1.5% so I’ll have the money at 3.5%!

But who will give NM a foreign currency loan? A bank abroad? They don’t know NM. They don’t have any history of NM, so why will they give him money?

SO NM goes to PNB and says, boss, you’re my banker, so please help some foreign bank give me some money to buy diamonds. Say that you will guarantee my loan by giving me a “Letter of Undertaking” (LOU).

PNB now should be saying look, if you want me to give Rs. 100 cr. guarantee, you give me stuff worth 110 cr. at least. As collateral.

But PNB, for some strange reason, doesn’t ask for collateral. More on that later.

So now the foreign bank is ready to lend NM the money. Because PNB will guarantee it. And the foreign bank trusts PNB. Why does it trust PNB?

Because PNB sends a message on SWIFT – the banking message service – that PNB guarantees Rs. 100 cr. of money for 180 days for Mr. NM at an interest rate of, say, LIBOR + 2%.  It’s like a message – written in stone, effectively – that says PNB will pay if NM doesn’t pay.

In fact the foreign bank trusts only PNB. So it gives the money to PNBs account with it, called by PNB as a “Nostro” – the account that PNB maintains with banks abroad, where the other bank will send money meant for PNB customers.

PNB’s nostro account gets the money.

PNB then gives NM the money from the Nostro account, usually paid off to whoever NM is buying his diamonds from. This payment is to someone outside India usually, to fund a purchase of diamonds or whatever.

Note this carefully: The other bank gives money to PNB’s Nostro account. Not to NM. They don’t care about NM. They only know that PNB has given a guarantee on the SWIFT channel.

Note: the other bank is nowadays mostly the foreign branches of Indian banks. Because the phoren banks have realized something sinister – that PNB’s guarantee is a strange beast that isn’t backed with much, but we’ll come to that

The foreign bank couldn’t care less about whether NM was buying diamonds or bitcoin – to them, PNB would pay back even if NM’s bitcoin wallet got stolen.

Why does PNB give a guarantee? Fees. Each year, a bank may charge upto 2% to give the LoU.

So What Happens When It’s Time To Pay Back?

NM has to get the pearls in India, sell them, receive the money and pay PNB. On the due date written on the LoU.

Then PNB will pay back the foreign bank saying okay, we got the customer’s money so we’re giving it back to you. With interest etc.

That’s what is supposed to happen. But in reality, things went a little berserk, it seems.

The Reality: A Bit of a Ponzi

NM might not pay back at all. NM might use the money to speculate in the markets. Or do something else.

What if NM in the above example simply didn’t have the money to pay back? Instead, he asks a PNB official to open ANOTHER LoU. For the amount owed plus interest. So if we had the first LoU at $10 million the second one is $11 million to cover the interest on the first.

The money from the second LoU is used to repay the first.  It’s just rolling over of credit. Over and over. Standard definition of a ponzi scheme.

This can easily balloon into a larger amount, so large that it’s too much. In effect many such arrangements have turned into semi-ponzi schemes, with one LoU being opened to repay another and so on.

Which is what is likely to have happened.

We don’t know the details, but it looks like:

Nirav Modi took loans from foreign branches of Indian banks through an LoU issued by PNB

This was done through a SWIFT based LoU issued through a rogue employee (or many of them) at PNB

The orders never showed up in the core banking system for monitoring

LoUs were rolled over all the way since 2011, and possibly increased over time too.

The rogue official retired in 2017, and the replacement refused to roll over the LoU which came due in Jan 2018 because he couldn’t find the past transactions in the system

No rollover means a default, since there was no money to pay. So PNB quickly files an FIR saying oh goodness we have lost 280 cr. on the Jan LoUs

Then someone said, “Abeyaar, is there more of these not-in-system LoUs? Someone check no?”

Then someone checked.

Oh gawd. 11,400 crores.

That’s a lot of crores.

Everyone in the bank panicked.

Why couldn’t Nirav Modi just pay it back? He must have the original money no?

Because if it was ever intended to be paid back, the rollovers wouldn’t have been required. At some point, things got so out of hand that rollovers were required in order to stay current.

Typically this would not be a problem. If PNB had done things right, they would have had collateral worth the amount of guarantee, and they would have sold that collateral and paid the foreign bank.

But, and here’s the real issue:  PNB didn’t have any collateral.

Why did PNB give a guarantee without collateral?

If you and I go for a loan to a bank, they’ll ask us for income proof, and collateral. Only small tiny personal loans and credit card loans come backed without collateral. For something of the order of 11,000 cr. you would think they would ask for collateral.

Especially after the scene with Mallya where loans to Kingfisher were given on nearly no collateral (though even there they had a house and some promoter shares pledged)

Why did PNB give this guarantee then? It’s typical – banks give guarantees for more the amount you give as collateral. Because business relationships etc. And then:

Because nearly every bank is doing it.

The loan was not a “fund based limit”. In a fund based limit like a term loan, the bank pays out money. In non-fund-based limits, the bank will only pay if someone else defaults or an event happens – like a Bank Guarantee or an LC or an LoU.

Meaning, PNB assumed that the foreign bank was giving a loan directly to Nirav Modi and that PNB needed to pay only in case Nirav Modi defaulted. So in the eyes of PNB it was always an “non-fund-based” loan.

But this is how a significant part of import financing works. They all rollover credit, and they all use LoUs for much higher than they can offer as collateral.

From my sources, the scale is huge. For every Rs. 100 that a bank has collateral, they will easily provide LOUs for upto 6x the amount. This is a real problem – that most public sector banks do not keep much collateral against non-fund-based limits given to importing customers.

So even if a bank has collateral, it’s nowhere near enough. And then, such unfunded liabilities are not even reported to RBI!

Basel Reporting: No Disclosure

PNB has “unfunded” exposure of 11,000 cr. they say. But they don’t even reveal it in their latest Basel III disclosure:

The funded exposure to “Gems and Jewellery” is shown at 1860 cr.

Unfunded to the same sector: 842 cr.

This doesn’t even add up. So, in effect, PNB didn’t reveal that it was funding massive quantities of “unfunded, contingent exposure”. They will of course pretend that they didn’t know, because the transactions weren’t in the core banking system.

Did Employees Hide it? Was PNB Responsible or was it a fraud?

Can employees be responsible? Could they have hidden the credit and the rolling over of LoUs? But honestly, how does a 11,000 cr. credit pass muster without top management realizing it?

Think of it – your nostro account with these other banks keeps getting big credits that add up to 11,000 cr. Will you not reconcile it in the accounting? The “why is this money even here?” question should have been asked by someone who audits accounts, one thinks?

And the SWIFT messages. It’s a specific kind of message. Why wouldn’t PNB audit the SWIFT trail? Reconcile it with the core banking system? How many more such skeletons will tumble if they do?

Their excuses are

Data wasn’t entered into the core banking system. (Of course, otherwise you would have had to report it)

LOUs weren’t authorized. (Hard to believe, because the amounts are very large. Surely someone on the top would know?)

The SWIFT system was illegally used. (Again, hard to believe that a bank like PNB would not audit its SWIFT messages regularly. Or its auditors. Or RBI.)

On the face of it, it looks like the ex-employee is being used as a scapegoat. It’s likely that a lot of people were in on this thing. And that it generated massive, fat fees for PNB all these years.

Fees wise: Imagine 11,000 cr. worth LoUs being renewed each year – that’s upto Rs. 200 cr. in fees that was all hitting PNB’s top line. You could bribe an employee to maybe give you a small increase – say 10-20 cr. but when you hit numbers like 11,000 cr. this is surely something the top management would know.

What’s the Scale of this scam?

While PNB reported it as a 11,000 cr. scam, they filed an FIR with the CBI for only Rs. 280 cr. This has probably expanded since then but even if the total outstanding is as much as that, there’s a good chance that the actual loss amount will be lesser.

All of it will be borne by PNB right now. Whether someone abused their SWIFT usage is not relevant, if PNB’s SWIFT message said they will pay, they have to pay if there is a default.

But think about the fallout. The problem was that some liabilities were not in the system. There could be more such LoUs. From the same branch or others. Other banks could have such LoUs too. It’s trivial to start looking – and we know that Nirav Modi will not be an isolated case.

Also, the issue was that the limits had no collateral behind them. If all banks are told to verify their non-fund-based limits and demand collateral against them (say at least 25%) then the scale would be absolutely massive. It’s not like this is happening only with Nirav Modi or Choksi. A very large number of importers of commodities have been doing this, and rotating credit. A change in regulation here can change the game dramatically for every other bank (and import account) in the system.

The simple point: this particular transaction will result in a lower loss than 11,000 cr. for PNB. Because of recoveries and such. But if RBI asks all banks to pull up collateral on such lending and stop such practices, the scale is many times larger.

What about the PNB stock?

It’s fallen 17%. But note that it already has 60,000 cr. of gross NPAs. Another 11,000 cr. will hurt it but not kill it. It won’t die – the government will take it over. Shareholders might suffer, but come on as a shareholder of a public sector bank you’re used to suffering.

The problem really is: There is never just one cockroach. When you go deeper, you are likely to find more dirty, dark secrets, and none of them will be any good.

PNB is gonna hurt for a while, but so are others who will find their books similarly tarnished once they investigate.

Will This Bring The Market Down?

Have you been living under a rock? Nothing will ever bring the market down, nowadays.

But the one thing that does bring markets down is the outflow of liquidity. What if so much of the “ponzi” credit – essentially money that was rolled over very month – is being invested directly, or indirectly, into stocks? If RBI tightens up, liquidity will pull money out of stocks, and that will hurt.

Of course, this hurts the fiscal deficit since PNB has to be rescued. So bond yields are up to 7.6% and therefore we’d avoid any long term funds or bonds. Short term it will have to be.

But overall, we wouldn’t worry too much. Just react, don’t predict. What would you do if stocks fell? Better to answer that than to say they will, or they will not.

(And no, not buying PNB)

Our View: Fix it.

This is the Indian public sector banking system. Fix it.

How can you have transactions on SWIFT outside CBS? Fix it.

Why would you not reconcile the nostro accounts? Suspend the auditors. Fire top management. Fix it.

Closing the door behind Modi, who’s already left the country, is probably useless. If you find fraud,  invoke their personal guarantees, and file cases to attach their personal properties. After that, file in NCLT to make these companies insolvent. Take the hit, and try to recover.

Find out more such instances where collateral cover is too low. Find out if the LoUs or LCs are just getting rolled over or is the customer actually paying back through the Indian current account. And if not, demand more collateral to avoid further spread of the ponzi.

But this is quite unlikely to happen because the banking system is going to take massive hits now, and we’re going to have to deal with the fallout of really horrible systems. It’s amazing that our banks have been this lax, but they have been allowed to; with no bankers being investigated, the rot inside the banks has been ignored and instead, industrialists have been the target of outrage. It’s time to look at banks as malicious players too, and to fix that rot.