The smart Indian gene…

Link to my new blog on Times of India


85 Responses to “The smart Indian gene…”

  1. On her 82nd birthday, wishing Lata Mangeshkar a very happy and long life. She is the complete Indian (not smart), as complete as it is possible to be today.

    Its Navratri time, nine days to Vijayadashmi. Here is a lovely combination of a Gujarati rhythm of Navratri in a Marathi Song, with some very rare photgraphs from Lata’s childhood after the first minute.

    Aaj gokulaat rang khelto hari, raadhike zara zapun jaa tujhya ghari,

    … Krishna is playing in the garden, Radha go home carefully

  2. Gems of Lata Mangeshkar: (Nive collection of photographs.

  3. The voice that charmed a million hearts:

  4. Love mixed with anxiety…

  5. Love mixed with passion…

  6. Love mixed with pain…

  7. Love – the horrifying kind…

  8. Devotional Lata:

  9. Patriotic Lata – The song that broke the hearts of nationalists –

    • A credit to the lyricist. The last two couplets of the song are brutally honest:

      Kya loag tthe woh deewaane, kya loag tthe woh abhimaani
      Joh shaheed hue hain unki, zara yaad karo kurbaani

      … … … What crazy men were they, how proud they were
      … … … Please remember them who sacrificed their lives

      Tum bhool na jao unko, isliye kahi yeh kahaani
      Joh shaheed hue hain unki, zara yaad karo kurbaani

      … … … This story is told so you do not forget them ever
      … … … Please remember them who sacrificed their lives

  10. Some voices are forever. Lata is one of them. Her journey of 82 years is an immortal episode of musical melodies.

    Another is Mohammad Rafi. It’s more than 25 years since his demise. His songs are still the most popular ones among all lists on YouTube.

  11. Sharmila,

    India has four times the population of the US, so it should surprise no one if it has four times as many smart people.

    Cultural environment is important to nurture and bring out innate intelligence. I think it would be much more reasonable to conduct the debate on that level than making unsubstantiated claims about hypothetical genes.

    Racism is obsolete.

    • Correction: I meant to say “she” for India. Still translating from German in my head, even after all those years…..

    • Its a pity you have lost your ability to laugh Renate. Thats all I can say. if you thought I was looking at the genetic strain in the microscopic sense, you would need to look elsewhere.

    • I’m sorry, Sharmila, racism in any appearance is not a laughing matter to me.

      If you did not mean “gene” in the established sense, you could have used or coined another term. I am sure I am not the only one who took you at your word.

      WERE we supposed to laugh at your post? Why?

  12. Good Evening. Continuing the different shades of Lata Mangeshkar’s voice:

    Love mixed with sacrifice

  13. Love mixed with malice

  14. Love mixed with nothing… just Love

  15. Love mixed with caring…

  16. Love in parting (Daughter)

  17. Loving life, as it is…

  18. Love in separation… (After marriage and before kids) πŸ™‚

  19. Love in separation.. (After marriage, after kids)

  20. Love… mid-life blues…

  21. Love… mid-life blues… double or quits…

  22. Love.. if it clicks…

  23. Love.. if it doesn’t click.. back to basics…

  24. Love.. when just left to Karma…

  25. Love mixed with sharing…

  26. Ending the day on a high note, a Rafi-Lata-Sahir Ludhianvi classic:

    Good Night…

  27. Damn! The last one didn’t play here. I hate Shemaroo.

    No problem, there are hundreds of other Rafi-Lata-Sahir Ludhianvi classics. They can’t have them all…

    Here goes… Good Night..

  28. Good Morning. Closing out my theme for Lata’s birthday yesterday with one last one:

    Love.. the ultimate trade of loyalty, allegience, fidelity and belonging..

    • Happy Birthday, Lataji.

    • I am bit late today. Was out all evening doing some barter with the barber and Navrathan head massage (thanda thanda cool cool)…. Still cooking my dinner. Spring Onions with gram flour; maharashtrian daal wit Mysore sambar, punjabi basmati, self-made chapatis and a some ginger pickle on the side. Rushing to and fro…

      • This song is composed by Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya, the renowned flutist. Its in Pahaadi. (As are all the songs in this movie)

      • Heres another one in the same raaga:

        The voice of the singer (AB) is not very musical… but good for the occasion… the lullaby tune, rhythm and base vocals can put even an owl like me to sleep… Good Night

      • I am a week late on the blog…but it wasn’t a massage that kept me away…!

        Hope your dinner was as lipsmacking yummy as it sounds…

        Good Night…

  29. Sharmila, Renate,

    I am sorry I didn’t read your warm exchanges yesterday.

    I have not read Sharmila’s latest blog post on TOI. I get all my news headlines and stories from newspapers by email or RSS feed, and most happening events on the TV. I don’t open their websites.

    I’ll go by your comment string for this.

    I doubt Sharmila can write in support of racism. To the best of my knowledge she has not applied to the Ku Klux Klan for an apprenticeship. Correct me if I am wrong.

    She has used two mystic words in the title of the blog post. One is ‘Smart’, the other is ‘Gene’.

    The word ‘Smart’ in colloquial usage among Hinglish speakers is equivalent to the subtle demeaning usage of ‘clever’ in London.

    While, SMART for enterpreneurs is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

    I am sure Sharmila couldn’t mean ‘smart’ in either way.

    Indians thrive on a very high emotional quotient, which is not only not-smart, it is plain stupid when you are dealing with Brits and Italians.

    Gene is a word used by genetic engineers in the west to describe the boundaries of their knowledge. I have always believed that genetic Engineers are like geomechanicists – people with the Midas Touch. Anything they touch turns golden, and lifeless. The gene is one such product of their research.

    On the other hand, Indians believe in genies like Amitabh Bachchan; Just as Arabs believe in djinns like George W. Bush.

    I’ll comment on the content of Sharmila’s post if it shows up here. If not, nothing known is nothing missed. πŸ™‚

    • Reader – That is right. I have not yet applied for apprenticeship for the Ku Klux Klan. πŸ™‚ I think I have more important issues to deal with and spend time over than turning into a new breed skinhead.

      • Sharmila,

        Where is Aish?

        Either she is absent due to some technical snag, as they say on TV, “Lagta hai humaari awaaz un tak nahin pahunch rahi.”

        Or, we are not saying anything that deserves a comment from her.


        Don’t ask me. I can’t find emails and I had to abandon my previous handset including the old number after the accident. The SIM got irreversibly locked and went into ‘Emergency Calls Only’ mode.

        I got myself a new android which I am not sharing.

      • Reader,

        MY number hasn’t changed… *hint hint*

        What’s the name of your Android – Adios? No, na? Then call!
        Or may be not…it’s too costly…

        Lovely tribute to Lataji.



      • Its Ideos… how did you know?… Are you working with Dr. Swami?

      • πŸ™‚

    • I have no idea where Aish is. Usually she is responsive to these lovely songs..

      • Sharmila,

        I remember an instance in Moscow when our professor called the Russian PGs over to show them my case files and asked them to write like I do. (My notes were in Russian btw – handwritten!)

        Thriving in adverse situations and putting in that extra effort to prove our mettle and give our best comes more easily to Indians, I feel. It may be because we have to jostle from the time of birth (!) – for space, for food, for admissions, for getting noticed, to make it through competitions, for jobs, and at every juncture. Even if situations cease to be that way, we continue in seize-mode. For many of us, life is a regular Master Chef episode, day after day!

        I don’t feel Indians in general are as racist as other nationalities – not after my Bolt-like sprint at the St. Petersburg metro to escape a group of armed skinheads. They missed me by a whisker or I wouldn’t have been here to write this!

        Indians are intelligent, industrious, ingenious, and innovative. Vinod Dham would agree. If not, we always have the Marans to vouch for our ‘smartness’… πŸ™‚

        I like the line ‘responsive to songs’…like stimuli…

        It worked…



      • Welcome back Aish. The music does the trick then. Yes, agree with your views, we are ‘smart’,’adept’, we can face the worst and rise to the top. Going by the number of people I have met in Australia, their perseverance is to be admired, juggling between working at 7/11, driving cabs, going to uni, they still manage to top. The ‘smartness’ is inbuilt. No racism here, for those who think this is a racist post, they can take a walk in the nearest park. Wherever it may be.

      • Must check out your handwriting one day..

      • Thats a great idea. How about we send hand written letters to one another?

        I still prefer the old mode. The paper and pen style. In fact, I am one of the few in the office, apart from my acounts officer and the CEO, who use old parker fountain pens with nibs and ink and all that.

        The CEO has no choice. He is promoting the brand in his home town in The Netherlands.

        I use it because it slows me down and lets me dwell on what I am writing.

        For instance, I sent the last copy of my book to AB during my last vacation in India in August, almost 6 months after its release. I was not carrying the pen with me.

        At the courier counter, I used the tiny ball-point sliding scribbler. And the result was as expected:

        I wrote the message on the dedication page, and it came out as:


        Mr. Amitaabh Baccchan, S/oo Poet and Laureate Harivanshrai Bacchan, from Sudhir.

        Now, since it was the last copy I was holding (my own actually), I let it go with the bloopers.

        The only consolation is, it reached Prateeksha in 24 hours and was received well.

        PS: I do not take any credit for the posting. It was sent because Aish insisted.

      • I am happy to hear that AB received it very well.

      • I prefer the good old mode too. I use a roller-ball though…
        No…my choice of pen has nothing to do with my appearance… πŸ˜•

        My ‘short’ mail can be anywhere from 10 to 16 pages, slightly more matter than…’’… πŸ™‚

        From what I understand, prying the iPad 2 away from Sharmila long enough to exchange a snail mail ain’t gonna be easy… πŸ™‚

        This post throws up a lot of seemingly controversial thoughts on factors affecting intellect, differences in ‘survival skills’, and the envy that one senses towards an Indian ‘Sampath’ abroad. Receiving brickbats and roses on TOI. Interesting.

      • The average length of letters I wrote to my parents, brothers, sister and Ashwini were at least 10 A4 sized fullscapes on both sides!

        The letter would be written over several days with dates on the top of each new day. It was like a running diary of sorts. I’d close it and post it at any point.

        The letter pad was one of the things I carried with me everywhere. It was usually full of colorful backgrounds.

        I’d pull it out in restaurants, in lounges while waiting or even in the office if I had to appear busy.

        Another quirky habit was/is, I have photocopies of all my letters! An entire suitcase full of letters. I have even laminated some to preserve them.

        I have destroyed some of my old diaries a few months ago. But the letters are still intact. Its fun to re-visit my own foolishness once in a while.

      • My mom maintains a diary, written mostly in short sentences, very short… One said, “Went to keep a crown.”

        I was confused. A crown as in a tiara? Wow, mum!
        Not so romantic… She was talking about her tooth.
        Ah well…

        My daughter writes too. It reads like, “Right now, I am sitting in my very own house of cushions. I can see everyone, but I bet no one knows where I AM!”

        Yeah, right! There are no cushions on any of the sofas!


        Do you keep a diary now?

      • I do write a diary. These days it is more conceptual in content and manner, and reads more like a colection of musings than a diary of events.

        The funny thing about a diary is that it is not a communication, yet it is an expression of thought.

      • My first blog that became a book later was a collection of musings. I remember one of them was done over a phone call with you – the one about what is a thought; I kept brain-storming that one till I reached a landing!

      • Yes…that was fun…

  30. I am all at sea. What is the post about?

    Are we calling the Indian culture ‘smart’? That doesn’t sound too good. Indian culture, so far as what the world has discovered today, is the oldest know civilisation that invented the mother of all languages ‘Sanskrit’. If that kind of thing is smart, then Einstein was just ‘clever’ not a genius.

    Pray, tell me what this is about.

    No. I am not going to TOI for this.

  31. Politics:

    Happened Yesterday:

    Pranab Brokerjee read out a statement to the media that the 2G note written by his under-secretary are not his views. He forgot to say that the note he read out was also not written by him. In short, whatever Pranab reads or writes should not be mistaken for his intelligence.


    Happening Now:

    IPS officer, Bhatt, who spoke out against Modi had applied for police protection fearing a threat to his life. His application was accepted today. An arrest warrant was issued by the government and he is sent to safe custody.


    Hoping this happens soon:

    Chidambaram resigns from the cabinet before the winter session of the parliament. He is posted as Ambassador to Afghanistan.

    New state of Telangana creates more seats to the parliament. BJP likely to benefit unless TDP and TRS break even.


    Hope this does not happen:

    PM expresses his gratitude to the Chinese premier. China supplies food and fuel to Manipur and Arunachal as all roads to the two states from India are blocked by separatists.

    Chinese traders in Darjeeling, Leh and Ladakh accept Indian currency in exchange of Chinese Juan. PM declares uniform enforcement along all borders. Pakistani Rupayya accepted in Punjab and Kashmir, Sri Lankan Rupee in Tamil Nadu, Bangladesh Takka in West Bengal and Nepal Rupee in Bihar. Italian Lira or Euro is allowed in lieu of local currency across the country by the Reserve Bank of India.

  32. here is a letter written by Dr. Swami, which he has confirmed that it was forwarded to PC by MMS.

    Dr.Manmohan Singh,
    Prime Minister
    South Block,
    New Delhi.

    Dear Prime Minister:

    I am happy that you finally acted and went over the head of your Home Minister P. Chidambaram (who malafide vacillated), to order the arrest of Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry Mr. Ravi Inder Singh IAS for betraying the country.

    It is now high time for you to consider all my earlier letters regarding Mr. Chidambaram, regarding his being guilty of conduct unbecoming of a Minister. I had written to you earlier about his visiting massage parlours in a seedy Government hotel where Uzbeki girls frequent, driving off in jeans and dark glasses without a driver or anyone else to Greaterξ€€Kailash in New Delhi– without informing anyone, and beating up a Times of India photographer for taking pictures of him late night in a Bangalore discotheque and thereby fracturing his own toe in the scuffle.

    You may also be aware of what I wrote to you about a lady IAS officer in Finance Ministry whose husband (also IAS) had requested her transfer of posting because she was being harassed.

    I have been recently informed by my friends in London that the British Intelligence MI-6 had video photographed Mr. Chidambaram while he in the company of an escort service European girl provided by an Indian company with which he has had a formal fiduciary relation, as a paid Director. You also must know that his 2009 elections to Lok Sabha is a complete fraud. His certificate of election from the Returning Officer was extracted under duress by the DMK CM, Mr.Karunanidhi despite Mr. Chidambaram losing the election by 7000 votes to the AIADMK candidate.

    But now, it is disturbing to learn that your Government has through Mr. Chidambaram conveyed approval to J&K CM Omar Abdullah to allow return from PoK of all those who had left the troubled State since 1989.

    This is a dangerous step that seems to have been decided by a back channel person who has been hell bent on India parting with J&K by hook or crook. It seriously undermines and jeopardizes the national security of the nation. It will help the ISI of Pakistan to better co-ordinate subversive and terrorist activities in India. The agencies of Pakistan have been meeting Omar Abdullah in Dubai and London. I never thought this promising youngster will go to seed like this. Who has been the baneful influence on him? In any case, I urge you overturn this decision.

    Most of all, as a safeguard, I urge you to obtain the resignation of Mr. Chidambaram because has de-facto become a national security risk. He has consistently failed to concentrate on the work of theξ€€Ministry.

    Yours sincerely,

    (Subramanian Swamy)


    • When did he start blogging?

      First Sharmila says, now Anna says. If everyone says who is going to do the work?

      I am not an Anna fan at all. I’ll hear what Sharmila says rather than Anna.

      He is a guy who shoots with an empty gun. The Indian version of Don Quixote.

      • BTW Anna Hazare is a soldier, so he should know an empty gun when he is firing.

      • Lol.. lots of people are saying many things..but, Anna is doing and not just saying ..

      • First a dsclaimer:

        I am not supporting Anna does not mean I am supporting Sonio and Co. I am not even supporting Swamy because of other reasons.

        But every one in their own way are contributing to changes in governance. Some actions are good, some are bad and some are disastrous.

        Its a virtual halloween.

        Anna is disguised as a reformer who is only introducing penal codes into the system.

        Swamy has always been a CIA and MI-6 mouth-piece since the days of Indira Gandhi when she was relying on Russian intelligence agencies. R. K. Karanjia, editor of Blitz, was the KGB’s mouth-piece then.

        Sonio and her coterie are presently playing the musical chairs of power. But all these scams have turned the game into a Russian roullette at Monte Carlo.

        The World Bank and IMF are still ghost writing the economic models for the people.

        If you factor inflation and an additional populaton of 200 millions, nothing has changed since 1975!

      • For me, to support is to actively participate at ground zero. Blogging or commenting is not part of it given the territorial size and the sheer strength of the population.

      • And I do not support the structure and causes of any of the current political movements.

        I’d support an anti-constitutional movement with all my resources – a movement that aims at throwing away the present constitution and writing a new one.

        Its happening in Nepal right now. The constitution of Nepal is still in the draft stage. The PM, Baburam Bhattarrai, (Unfortunately for Nepal he is a Maoist), has promised to deliver a new constitution in the next 2 months.

        Hope to see a revolution like that in India.

        Even if not, I know how to deal for myself with the present situation. I am not committed to people’s welfare. I am not a reformer and I am not a politician.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        I have voted only once. Someone needed a favor. Just come and vote for two leaves, they said.
        I said, “Two leaves? Okay…whatever…”

        For many citizens, being committed to the nation’s progress is uninteresting… What is a citizen anyway? We only think ‘Indian’ during passport renewals.

        So…Anna says.

      • I don’t know how a nation becomes an entity while measuring progress.

        For me, the society begins and ends outside my house. I don’t allow them to decide my belief systems.

        It is an attitude extended from personal relationships.

        Being a man, I have always considered personal relationships with women to be socio-political in nature and content. That includes mothers, daughters and sisters along with legal and quasi-legal relationships with a wife or escort – Socio-political here meaning they have a legal angle that is decided by the society.

        To translate the attitude from personal belief, the society of any person who is not me begins outside my house.

        In other words, I am a citizen of the society only outside my house.

        Inside, I am the diety in my own temple.

      • Correction: Last line – spellcheck – Deity…

      • Aishwarya Says:

        In the same way that we speak about Gujarat’s and Maharashtra’s progress…


        The physical absence of society in our houses does not ensure its complete absence…as long as what the deity does includes switching lights on, running taps, watching TV, reading the news, answering phone calls, replying to mails, paying bills….

        Keeping the ‘I’ out of society is tricky.

    • You have picked three different but important issues:

      The statistical measure used for territorial progress is not an indicator of anything that makes a difference to us.

      A striking example is the recent declaration by the Chariman of the Planning Commission, Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia. (I have seen him in the ambassador’s function here when he was indirectly campaigning for the Congress before the last parliamentary elections – as deceptive character as you can ever find in the PMO. He was returning from the Davos Economic Forum.).

      He has now announced that, according to his statistical data, only those who earn less than INR32 are poor. The INR 32 per day includes cost of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, transportation etc complete. That is how a nations progress is currently measured.


      Two: The presence of technology inside the house. Technology is not a gift from the society. It is earned through equivalent barter of knowledge and effort in another field. No society has the strength to stop that.


      Three: The ‘I’.

      The individuality of the person is his right to life. It is not a grant, a sanction or an outcome of a relationship with parents, wife or the society. Anyone who applies the spin of guilt, obligation, sacrifice or favors to a person’s identity suffers irreconcilable internal damage.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        1. They wanted to do away with poverty – on paper.

        2. I was talking about the connect with the society that continues inside our houses. Not technology per se.

        3. If the person’s individuality is his right to life, then he should not worry about what Montek says.

        If only life was as simple as that…

      • Trust me, nobody in the world is worried about what Montek says. Not even Montek himself.

        Connection with the society inside the house or anywhere is an individual choice. I have even driven my family members out of my life.

        There is practicaly no difference in the nature of the aspects between relating to wild animals and ordinary human societies except that wild animals can be given space in jungles or locked in cages and humans societies need a constitution, economics and judicial system.

        There are better and perfectly advanced human societies in the world like Sweden for instance, but nowhere in India today as we know.

      • Aishwarya Says:

        Beautifully said. I agree.


        Also…may be the next blog to start will be Montek says.


      • Montek says… Kalmadi Sings… Sonio dictates… Manmohan repeats… Chidambaran fakes… πŸ™‚

      • And Reader states… the way it should. πŸ™‚

      • Aishwarya Says:

        πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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