Author Archives: Aakashpydi

A Brief Note on John Adams (The HBO TV Miniseries)

The HBO miniseries John Adams (2008) was one of the two TV shows that I binge-watched in the Fall 2014 semester. The show’s evident unadulterated creative process, engaging story telling and commitment to historical accuracy kept me hooked to the computer screen right through it’s seven episodes.

The series, which was directed by Tom Hooper (who went on to direct The King’s Speech and Les Miserables), rightfully received critical acclaim (winning four golden globes and thirteen Emmy awards). I have been trying to understand the events and ideas of the American Revolution for sometime now, and through this show, I was able to develop a basic understanding for the life of one of the centrally important founding fathers of the United States. There were many interesting ideas and events that I made a note to follow-up on as I watched the show (the Boston Massacre, John and Abigail Adams’ amazing relationship, Thomas Jefferson’s emphasis on small Government, Alexander Hamilton setting up the First Bank of the United States etc etc). I have included a small fraction of those notes in this post.

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The Contradictions and Contemporary Relevance of Orientalism

British Raj

Every application of knowledge and especially such as is obtained in social communication with people, over whom we exercise dominion, founded on the right of conquest, is useful to the state … It attracts and conciliates distant affections, it lessens the weight of the chain by which the natives are held in subjection and it imprints on the hearts of our countrymen the sense of obligation and benevolence… Every instance which brings their real character will impress us with more generous sense of feeling for their natural rights, and teach us to estimate them by the measure of our own… But such instances can only be gained in their writings; and these will survive when British domination in India shall have long ceased to exist, and when the sources which once yielded of wealth and power are lost to remembrance (Warren Hastings, The first Governor-General of Bengal)

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Designing a Business Model to Transform the Indian Education System

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July, 2014. Rural Education Center (REC) Rishi Valley School, Madanapalle, India.

This article is an effort to describe a profitable business model for a private schooling firm in India that looks to maximize the quality and accessibility of its educational services.

The intention is to design a business model for a firm that will initiate a systemic push towards an education system designed with the veil of ignorance that was described by John Rawls (ie ensuring equality of opportunity for children of all social and economic backgrounds).

I will first discuss a series of ideas that form the foundation of this model and then finally weave those ideas together in order to describe it.

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Addressing India’s Immense Healthcare Challenges

healthcare

An article I recently read in the Wall Street Journal titled, “The Ailing Health of a Growing Nation” describes how the public healthcare system in India is in an abysmal state. According to the article, a senior official in the Indian health ministry said that the country has too many competing social priorities (like education and infrastructure) which cause an extremely inadequate investment in public healthcare by the Indian Government (1 – 1.4 % of GDP). Upon reading the article and conducting some cursory research about the state of public healthcare in India, it was evident that the egregious healthcare problems/crises that India faces will simply not be tackled through Government programs and healthcare alone.

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India’s Elite Undergraduate Institutions are Hurting It (Published on Youth Ki Awaaz)

another brick in the wallIndia’s elite undergraduate institutions are hurting it by having admission processes which cause a systemic suppression of innovation, leadership and thoughtfulness in a majority of the high schools in the country. One of the first things you read in any introductory economics text book is         that people respond to incentives. The curriculum of a bulk of the high schools in           Another Brick in the Wall – Pink Floyd             any country is typically designed to help                                                                                         students secure admission to the most       sought undergraduate institutions in the country.

(This article was published on Youth Ki Awaaz. Link: How India’s Elite Undergraduate Institutions Are Suppressing Innovation and Leadership)

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Letter to the Members of the Student Think Tank for India (July 8th, 2014)

the conference image

Hello everyone.

I hope you have been having a fun and productive summer.

I wanted to update all the core STTI members about the recent developments in our organization. There are three main components to this update: (1) Analysis of our Organization’s Strategy Last Semester, (2) New Officer and Organizational Structure, (3) STTI Chapters in India. I hope you go through this letter as it will bring you up to speed with what’s been going on.

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Barbarians at the Gate: Leveraged Buyouts

Barbarians at the gate

I watched the movie Barbarians at the Gate (1993) yesterday and was interested in understanding one of its central themes, the concept of leverage buyouts (LBOs).

The movie is based on a book written by the investigative journalists Bryan Burrough and John Helyar about the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco, a company that primarily sold tobacco and food products. The book in turn was essentially a compilation of a series of articles that the authors wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

The leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco in 1988 was carried out in an environment that was critical of corporate and    executive excesses. There was a bidding war for the buyout of the company.

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Kierkegaard’s Skepticism of Hegelian Philosophy

hegel statue

 

In one of the first sections of “Fear and Trembling”, Kierkegaard (as his pseudonymous self, Johannes de Silentio) notes,

“ I for my part have devoted a good deal of time to the understanding of the Hegelian philosophy, I believe also that I understand it tolerably well, but when in spite of the trouble I have taken there are certain passages I cannot understand, I am foolhardy enough to think that he himself has not been quite clear.”

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel                                                                                                            (1770 – 1831)

Observe that he sets the tone for opposing Hegelian philosophy over the course of his discussion very early in this work. So it is imperative for one to understand the main themes in Hegelian philosophy in order to fully appreciate Kierkegaard’s discussion about “the second inwardness” in the later sections of “Fear and Trembling”.

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Jean Paul Sartre: The Concept of Bad Faith and its Role in Ethical Analysis

bad_faithBad faith (mauvais foi) is essentially inauthenticity for Jean Paul Sartre. He thinks of bad faith as an attempt to evade the responsibility of discovering and understanding one’s authentic self. Bad faith is thereby an attempt to escape the freedom that Sartre believes is an inherent feature of our lives.  When Sartre says, “Consciousness is what it is not and is not what it is,” he means that consciousness is something that is a constantly integrated combination of facticity and transcendence which                                                                        can be taken to mean the past and future                                                                                      respectively.

In the section discussing the patterns of bad faith in Being and Nothing, Sartre notes that, “The basic concept which is thus engendered, utilizes the double property of the human being, who is at once a facticity and a transcendence, These two aspects of human reality are and ought to be capable of a valid coordination. But bad faith does not wish either to coordinate them nor to surmount them in a synthesis.” It is thereby imperative to understand these two dimensions of human consciousness to understand bad faith.

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