Anurag Behar (for Info only, not official)

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Anurag Behar

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    ...My daughter can get me to do anything. She made me watch the movie The Hunger Games. That movie dredged out an imaginary world from the depths of my memory. Imagine a world where everyone’s livelihood depends on success in some sport. Everyone can learn and train till they are 18. Then they have to choose to play some sport. But 99% do not get to play the sport they choose, they play a sport that is willing to accept them. The sports range from cricket to sumo wrestling, and beyond. An individual plays the sport for a few years and then has to start playing another one. New sports can be invented by the masters of this universe at any time. You will have to play them when asked. Here is the all-important question: What will you train for in those first 18 years? To state the obvious: you have no clue what you will play, for how long, and what after that. And this is about your livelihood, the highest possible stakes. It was a detailed fantasy. I thought about the training. ...

    Live Mint on Dec. 6, 2017, 11:31 p.m.

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    ...It is a 5-hour drive from Bengaluru. A friend bought land there to build a house. A getaway for long weekends, and perhaps their retirement home. A year after he started building, he wanted advise on solar panels. We talked a bit before I realized that the house was far from complete. The foundation was still being worked upon. One part of the land they had run into soggy soil and another part into large boulders—a couple of meters deep. He said he was using this time to plan other things for the house. About a year later he introduced me to a building management system (BMS) start-up. They were using his house as a show-site for a mini-BMS, and he was very impressed by their approach. When I met these people, I realized that they had spent a considerable amount of time with him planning the BMS. Since it was to be a show-site, they were ready to install free-of-charge, as soon as the house was ready. This seemed some time away, since the foundation was being worked upon. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 22, 2017, 11:26 p.m.

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    ...That led to a conversation about what makes good institutions with one of the leaders of the institutions that I had written about. It was obvious many things are required for the sustained success of institutions. We didn’t even talk about most of these factors, for example: clarity of purpose, sustained financial support, a strong functional culture. What we talked about was—ownership. Ownership is visceral. It is about owning the institution in its entirety. Its purpose, its culture and its people. It is owning the past and owning the making of the future. It is about responsibility and belongingness. It is the intense and sustained feeling that “this is my place. I will make it work. No matter what”. The most successful of institutions have such ownership developed in many people. But it is most important that this visceral sense of ownership be there in the leadership of the organization. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 8, 2017, 11:50 p.m.

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    ...Talking to two string theorists—immersed in this lyrical beauty—was apt. String theorists make music, though of a different sort. They work on the extreme edge of scientific knowledge, trying to understand the deepest and most fundamental questions of nature. They explore the nature of black holes, early universe cosmology, nuclear physics, intricacies of condensed matter, and more. Spenta Wadia and Rajesh Gopakumar, the two string theorists, were anything but the prototypical, lost theoretical physicists. They regaled us for 3 hours like dastangoi performers, with the tale of the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS). The sunset and the discussion was reflective of the deep interconnectedness of nature and science, and of its beauty and struggles. Over the last 35 years, India has seen very few good science research institutions like ICTS emerging. ...

    Live Mint on Oct. 26, 2017, 12:15 a.m.

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    ...We sat across a large table made of wooden planks. It was a sparse room with some steel cupboards. Drenched in sweat, my shirt was clinging to me. That the sun blazes with such intensity in end-September was unknown to me. The sand dunes around were smouldering. The air had 83% humidity. He looked cool and comfortable. I will not name him, because I want to protect his identity. He told me that he was a child of the desert, born somewhere beyond those dunes. His family had enough means to be called middle class. He went to school in his village and then the government college in the nearby town. At 22, he got selected in the state police and became a constable. After his training he was posted to a nearby kasba. It was a matter of great prestige in the local community. The power that a policeman wields is experienced every day by the average citizen. ...

    Live Mint on Oct. 11, 2017, 11:22 p.m.

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    ...From the Jataka and Arabian Nights to the grey leCarrein world of spies. The gotcha moment is often when the man is startled, sometimes in his sleep, to reflexively exclaim in his native tongue. This is a dramatic exposition of the deep truth that language is an integral part of identity. While language is at the core of individual identity, it is even more so the life blood of collective identity. I have often wondered what language I will exclaim in, in my gotcha moment. Will it be Chhattisgarhi that I grew up speaking at home or Hindustani, which we spoke in Bhopal, or will it be English, which for a large part of my adult life has become my first language? But if you ask me, when I am awake, what is your “mother tongue”, I will unhesitatingly say Chhattisgarhi. Because it is. So I was very disappointed, though not surprised, when Chhattisgarh became a state in 2001, and chose Hindi as the medium of instruction (MoI) in its schools. ...

    Live Mint on Sept. 27, 2017, 11:31 p.m.

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    ...A distinguished scholar of comparative religion and philosophy, he wrote prodigiously and taught in many institutions, including the Universities of Mysore, Calcutta and Oxford. It is only late in his career that he got involved seriously in public life beyond academia. In 1952 he became the first vice-president of India and, in 1962, the second president of India. He performed his many roles with distinction, while remaining at his core a philosopher, attempting to clarify Hinduism, to its followers and its critics. When he became the president, his students and friends wanted to celebrate his birthday. He suggested: “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teachers’ Day.” Radhakrishnan, the clear-headed and proud champion of Hinduism and Indian cultural traditions, won’t have been surprised to see Teachers’ Day get eviscerated of meaning, being replaced with empty ritualism. ...

    Live Mint on Sept. 13, 2017, 11:40 p.m.

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    ...A good track record on BSP has got parties re-elected in states. But in the third decade of the 21st century, BSP is table-stakes in the electoral game. If you are (with) the ruling party, you are unlikely to win only on BSP. And if you are (in) the opposition, you have no chance of winning on a promise of BSP, especially if the ruling party has done even a half-decent job on it. You need an energizing new mantra. It must also cut through the fluff, really mattering to everyone in the kasba, basti (town, settlement) and farm. Let me propose this new mantra for you: SSS, which is shiksha-swasthya-suraksha (education-health-safety). Safety will get women voters for you, even more than prohibition. Good health services will provide deliverance from human misery and unbearable economic burden, for every household. ...

    Live Mint on Aug. 31, 2017, 4:35 a.m.