May 27, 2008

A Leader is ...

One who feels for the common man?
One who bolsters the economy?
One who strengthens the military to make us a powerful nation?
One who ensures equal opportunity to underprivileged minorities?
One who revives/reinforces faith and morality within the country?
One who quells civil unrest and maintains peace within the country?
One who funds research and academia to make ours a technologically advanced nation?

These are some of the questions an informed voter would ask himself before he casts his precious vote, and so I did, and I got some interesting but puzzling answers. As a result I changed my tactics and instead of asking those pertinent questions, I focused upon some world leaders who have made their mark and tried to figure out what was it that made/makes them tick. While doing this, I made an interesting discovery that sometimes there were two world leaders even three, sometimes from the same country, that shared various leadership traits, and so I bracketed them together:

John F. Kennedy( USA)/ Rajive Gandhi (India) (youthful appeal)
Idi Amin (Uganda)/ Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan) (might under duress)
Dmitry Medvedev(Russia)/ Anwar Sadat (Egypt) (groomed politicians)
Gamal Abdel Nasser (Egypt)/ Mikhail Gorbachov (USSR) (visionaries)
Ernesto Zedillo/Vincent Fox (Mexico) (supporters of a globalized economy)
Yasser Arafat/Mahmoud Abbas (Palestine) (empathetic leaders)
Che Guevara /Fidel Castro (Cuba) (revolutionary freedom fighters)
Ayatollah Khomeini/ Mahmoud Ahmadenijad (Iran) (moral/religious reformist)
Evo Morales (Bolivia)/ Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) (aggressive economic policies)
Nicolas Sarkozy (France)/Bill Clinton (USA) (charismatic)

These groupings and the cited characteristics are all purely subjective and may carry little weight. However, what is interesting is that these leaders, disparate as they may be, are still recognized as having made a distinct impact on the people they lead. We have a Nasser and a Sadat, both lead Egypt, yet how differently; a Clinton and a J. F. Kennedy, both picked by an American electorate, but stand worlds apart in what they brought to the plate as heads of state. The above mentioned are all illustrious individuals who rose to the occasion and delivered, yet each delivered a different package! What was relevant then may not apply now; the need of the hour then may not even be recognized as a need any more. Our world exists within a time continuum that produces some dynamic socio economic equations which need real time solutions in order for humanity to prosper and evolve. In the light of this realization it is not the leader who is important, but it is the specific need of the hour which is and thus needs to be profiled and then disseminated to make for an informed electorate which can then vote for a candidate who has the ability to provide the country with a solution to its specific socio economic equation. Does that imply that people will always find a leader who will deliver? Certainly not, and we have innumerable examples in history and in our recent past of leaders who unfortunately delivered a nation to disaster and despair. In the same breath we have had the Mandelas and the Gandhis who brought out the best in the millions they lead!

The finding of an apt leader will depend on how informed and free an electorate is to be able to determine its need of the hour! In fact it's not the ability of the leader that defines a period in history but the awareness levels of the people who he leads during his reign. In the light of that finding, my plans for a leader profile are aborted/abandoned!

Teachers of the world unite, we all have an electorate to inform, awaken, and empower to ensure the existence of peaceful and productive nations.

May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

"While the words might change from country to country and are sometimes taken for granted, human rights represent one of the universally agreed upon ideas — that all people are born with basic rights and freedoms that include life, liberty, and justice. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations.

Bloggers Unite For Human Rights challenges bloggers everywhere to help elevate human rights by drawing attention to the challenges and successes of human rights issues on May 15. What those topics may include — the wrongful imprisonment of journalists covering assemblies, governments that ignore the plight of citizens, and censorship of the Internet. What is important is that on one day, thousands of bloggers unite and share their unified support of human rights everywhere."

...recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world

—Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 194


there is Censorship in China

Beijing Faults on Tibet

genocide is funded in Darfur

China's all-seeing eye
(courtesy Eccentric Optimism)

May 14, 2008

Writing a novel...

How is a novel born? What makes one decide to write such a lengthy composition? Why do writers write a work of fiction?

A colleague and friend of mine has recently written a novel, and I had the privilege of being the first one to read the final draft. That is when a barrage of questions started flooding my mind; questions that I had always carried within but never articulated thus far. Not being able to contain myself I asked my friend turned novelist some rather pointed questions about her new vocation. Her witty and wholesome answers but only whetted my curiosity about novel writers. Why do they write?

Does a writer start off knowing she is going to write a 500 page novel or does the novel simply grow out of what started as a short story? Do the pages of a novel grow to a plan or are they at the mercy of a character that breaks loose and takes the story hostage?

After pondering over these questions for the longest time and finding no palpable answers I turned to the big-wigs of Literature to see what they had to say about novelists and the writing of a novel... I'm not so sure that helped!

Toni Morrison put it this way: “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Saul Bellow feels
" A novel is balanced between a few true impressions and the multitude of false ones"

Faulkner says
"every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can't and then tries the short story...failing that...takes up novel writing."

Camus defines the novel
"a philosophy put into images."

Chesterton says a "a good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."

Hemingway believes a novel "should create living people; people not characters."

Henry James says "The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life."