Category Archives: World

The 3 Fs of Happiness

Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist at Happiest Minds Technologies, Bangalore, writes about the 3 Fs of Happiness. These are simple rules which all of us but forget to apply in our daily lives.

formula-to-happiness

Happiness ranges from the simple, APPRECIATION to the more complex, FORGIVENESS.

But by exploring these different facets we increase our capacity for happiness.

While facing challenging times too, happiness becomes a conscious choice.

How do we keep happy?

HAVE FUN

Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game. — Michael Jordan

If we love our jobs, then we never need to do a day’s work in our life.

Fun brings out the child in each of us and returns us to who we are….alive and aligned.

In this fast-paced, challenge-fazed world, we need to remember to have fun.

STAY FOCUSED

We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life, or you can focus on what’s right. — Marianne Williamson

Focus is powerful…it influences our happiness & it directs our lives.

Focus on kindness.

Focus on being mindful.

Focus on your strengths.

Focus on opportunities.

Focus on the newness each day brings.

Focus on your uniqueness.

Focus on what makes you happy.

SHOW FORGIVENESS

When you forgive, you in no way change the past, but you sure do change the future. – Bernard Meltzer

Our reactive, natural response to getting hurt is to get even.

How do we let them off the hook? How can we let them go? Where is justice in all this?

To forgive someone is tricky and very difficult.

But when we make that choice…to forgive, we are not holding on to resentment and are releasing ourselves from wallowing in bitterness. Forgiveness actually is for our benefit. The Buddha says: “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: you are the one who gets burned.”

Forgiveness is not accepting unkindness; it is about our healing and freedom.

Have fun.

Stay focused.

Show forgiveness.

(Adapted from The Project Happiness Handbook by Randy Taran and Maria Lineger)

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Are You a Good Boss or a Bad One?

Gurulakshmi Iyer- Hait strongly believes that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave their managers! To this end, she delves a little into the quality that makes a person a good boss or a bad one. 

Conflict

If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.
Bill Gates

bill-gates“Boss Calling” flashes on our cells and we jump out of our seats to answer the call. None of us are leading an absolutely free life – either we manage others or we are being managed by others. Simply put, either we boss around or are being bossed by someone else. Since subordinates mimic every move of their bosses, it is very important for managers to keep this in mind. Their work profile includes not only to projection of power but also setting a particular path for their subordinates to follow.

Do Bosses and Their Behavior Matter?

According to a study, the average boss adds about 1.75 times as much output as the average worker. The culture of any organization percolates from its top management. The style of leadership followed in an organization starts from the CEO’s office. The ripple effect of the leader’s style either helps in bolstering or undermining the cultures and performance levels.

A few years back, I had attended a Culture Building Programme. One of the exercises in the Programme involved collecting feedback of co-workers. Surprisingly, 65% of the feedback offered was for managers! It’s then that I realized the Halo effect. Employees give prominence to certain trait in their bosses and the whole evaluation in the employees’ mind happen on the basis of that. Every move, every decision of a boss is mimicked and scrutinized on such trait and yes, bosses really do matter.

leadership-skillsThe best bosses work relentlessly and use their power to their advantage. They control the organizational performance by tuning in to the people. Bosses who fail to do so not only make their lives hell but also ruin the peace and happiness of their subordinates. Almost 90% of attrition is directly or indirectly because of lousy bosses. People adjust to any moods and moves, but not to impossible bosses.

James Meindl’s research on “the romance of leadership” shows that the leaders get far more credit and blame than they deserve. If you are a leader in your organization, this is a part and parcel of your life.

If as a boss, you aren’t able to present negative feedback as constructive criticism, you are bound to spoil the morale of your subordinates and ruin their desire to work with you. At the end of the day, it’s your work that will suffer!

“Know how to project power, since those you lead need to believe you”.

Bob Sutton,Stanford Management Professor

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Globalisation and the Role of the Urban -2

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In the second part of Globalisation and the Role of the Urban, Malathy Madathilezham will dwell on Saskia Sassen’s concept of the change in the role of the nation state and the growing importance of cities in the era of globalisation.

Saskia Sassen is a Dutch-American sociologist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration. She currently is Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and Centennial visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. Sassen coined the term global city(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saskia_Sassen) .

Till very recently, in the system of cross border economic flows, the nation state was the key arbitrator in all exchanges.With the advent of neoliberal practices and globalisation, there has been a ‘rescaling’ of the territories that represent this system. Sassen sees globalisation as a differentiated phenomenon which is not quite ‘placeless’ as is claimed to be.

She talks about three different scales at which these flows can be seen to exist;

Subnational Regions: These are regions that have come up as intended outcome of policies. This can be seen in the manner cities are gaining ascendancy and considered to be pioneers in globalisation. The focus on decentralisation has greatly contributed to this.

Cross Border Regions: These are regions of enhanced flows under the shadow of policy and many exchanges here take place an unintended consequence and in stealth.

Supra National Regions: Here the importance of the nation state is subsumed and free exchange of capital is facilitated. For example free trade zones, SEZs etc. Here we can reflect also on what is the incentive that the nation state has to invest in the supra national region. In the kind of flow of capital taking place across the world, nations are in a competition to attract capital in the form of investments and supranational regions create conditions to attract the same. For developing countries like India there would also be added benefits of creation of these regions like bilateral trade, improved infrastructure and increased employment opportunities.

In this system of flows, the nation state is not the sole actor in the system which has now firms and markets involved in these processes which are enabled by new policies and international standards of the nation states themselves.

One of the main indicators of these are the growing number of cross border mergers, acquisitions and financial centres. Therefore, it can be seen that while there is huge potential for global dispersal and mobility, this system also brings about territorial concentration of resources that are required to manage the dispersal. As a result, Sassen like Brenner says that the growing number of cities are playing an important role in connecting the national economies with the global ‘circuits’. Thus with the growth of global transactions these links become stronger and pronounced in which particular cities are bound in linkages.

Thus in contrast to the earlier era when the cities were considered more as part of a nation state or region, the cities now while still part of the nation become also nodes of the flow of globalisation and address the ambitions of the nation where the nation would also be an investor. Within cities would be embedded different kinds of flows which in turn undergoes pressures due to rescaling at city level.

As cities become nodes for globalisation, there is also a creation of a hierarchy where the cities of the ‘North Atlantic System’ occupy the higher and bulk of the flows. These are regions where the headquarters of multinational organisations are situated. Thus even with the increased use of new telecommunication technologies, there is a tendency of territorial concentration of top level management functions which seem to still benefit from agglomeration economics. Sassen explains this by saying that business networks as opposed to technical networks thrive on economies of agglomeration.

Thus one of the key elements in the current global system is the simultaneous geographic dispersal and concentration of a firm’s operations. In addition, a major component of the global economy is the rise of global financial markets which have gained importance because they enable instantaneous transaction of money and information around the globe through electronic systems. It is interesting to note here that here too there is a disproportionate concentration of location of these markets in the cities of the global North.

Sassen explores the reason behind this form of territorial concentration. According to her the forms of globalization have created a specific organisational requirements like expansion of command function and increase in demand for specialized services (also referred to as corporate services complex) for the firms. The specialised functions are often outsourced to specialized firms rather than produced inhouse. It is seen that these agglomeration of specialized firms are more available in highly developed countries and particularly in ‘global’ cities. So these the availability of these strategic corporate and command function are more in the network of major global and financial markets.

Furthermore, infrastructure requirements of leading firms in information industries are also high with good facilities and capacity for global communication. These factors actually aid in territorial concentration and formation of hierarchy of cities and global cities.It is also pertinent to note about the relationship between nation, state and city in this context. According to Sassen,there is recalibration of these scales and they become embedded within the the city. For example, in the case of Mumbai, the State government of Maharashtra considers it as a source of revenue while the national government looks at Mumbai as an international financial hub and a major node of globalisation.

Sassen discusses how globalisation has got tendencies for concentration and centralising rather than dispersal and decentralisation as can be seen through empirical evidence. Her focus is on how there is the allocation of resources, development and capital are uneven globally and even within cities. She explores the reasons which are conducive or which promote such aspects in the process of globalisation. Both Sassen and Brenner are of the view that cities have become central and important in the context of globalisation.

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On a Goan Forest Trail

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Goa’s often known just for the beaches has tracts of equally wonderful forest lands which are unknown to most. Kartik Kannan, explores one such tract, the extremes of Harmal Village, where he got a free facepack, and an unexpected encounter with a greedy ‘baba’ who requested a laptop as Dakshina. Read on to know what happened next. 

7 am, is a time most people don’t see in Goa, and I was one of the few who got up early for a swim by one of the lakes overlooking the sea, next to our beach shack. As I wandered for a swim, I realized that the little lake meanders its way into the forest, alongside a trail that the locals use.

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It was wonderful observing the foliage unravel itself from deep green to the golden color that the sun’s rays change it to.It’s an interesting forest trek that begins by the eastern end of the lake.

The path diverges beyond a point. Just like, all roads lead to Rome, both these paths lead to the Big Banyan tree, that gets your attention at one point, a few minutes into the trek.

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The path has a few messages for you, if you are ‘beer-bottle’ and ‘plastics’ in hand and if you intend to dump it somewhere in the forest.

5 minutes into the trek, you are greeted by a small portion of the lake, that flows by the ‘Multani Mitti’ rock deposits. Multani mitti, better known as the Fuller’s earth is a clay substance that is hugely popular for its healing property against acne and blemishes.  It is very rich in magnesium chloride which helps to reduce acne. Originally used as an absorbent in the wool industry this ingredient is now greatly used in many skin care products. You can use it as a cleanser, toner and most importantly as multani mitti facial packs, which are very popular. It’s very pocket friendly and has no side effects either. Go natural this time to have a glowing skin. It is sweat resistant and can also be used to improve your hair condition.

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The locals use this place for bathing, before some of the tourists come over later in the day.  The feeling of wetting your legs, and relaxing in the waters early in the morning, makes you refreshed with a beautiful setting, which selectively allows the sun, thereby keeping the environment pleasant. I also tried the wet clay of the Multani mitti, and turned into a yellowish-Green monster that camouflaged with the surroundings. I waited for the paste to dry on my body and then went over for a dunk in the lake, to wash myself off the clay. I believed I was glowing, but I guess that must have just been the light of enlightenment, that comes from patting myself for wandering upon such a beautiful place.

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Further trekking, along the path, leads you to the Big Banyan tree, where you turn right and walk straight up to reach this little cove of serenity, where people come to meditate and observe peace. The place has a few regulars who just sit by the tree, and engage in conversations. They live life by depending on the forest for food and water, and have a community of travelers who fund their daily living. Finding this little calm paradise was one of the highlights of a morning trek that was abandoned after paradise was found.

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I found a man in a loin cloth, who was smoking cannabis, to concentrate more on his prayers to Lord Shiva, and he was questioning me on my profession. Since I was clicking pictures, he said I should pay Guru Dakshina. I contributed a 100 rupee note, but the smoking yogi, would want more. He asked me for a minimum of 500 Rs or a mini laptop to communicate with his followers. I had to say NO to both, but I did say that I found his company interesting, and told him that I needed to leave. But for the Baba, I found this to be a beautiful place, un ruffled by the commercial demands of tourists and well hid from the traveler circuit.

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Getting to Baba-land and Multani Mitti- Take your bike and park it at Arambol Beach’s parking centre near 21 Coconuts Inn. Ask for Baba in the mountains, the locals will point you on the path beside the lake, that takes you by the Multani Mitti point right to the Banyan tree. Let me know how much peace costs there, if the baba is still around J.

Related articles

Globalization And The Role Of The Urban- 1

dharavi_2 globalisation

Malathy Madathilezham in two parts would be discussing two authors while trying to elaborate on how the urban or the city is playing a role in the process of globalisation and aided by the neoliberal process. In the first part she discussed Brenner’s approach to this urban question.

Neil Brenner’s writing and teaching focus on the theoretical, conceptual and methodological dimensions of urban questions. His work builds upon, and seeks to extend, the fields of critical urban and regional studies, comparative geopolitical economy and radical sociospatial theory. Major research foci include processes of urban and regional restructuring and uneven spatial development; the generalization of capitalist urbanization; and processes of state spatial restructuring, with particular reference to the remaking of urban, metropolitan and regional governance configurations under contemporary neoliberalizing capitalism (http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/#/people/neil-brenner.html).

Brenner looks at globalisation with a critical perspective on neoliberalism as it is practiced in the context of globalisation and the inherent contradiction that are reflected in cities by exploring the ongoing ‘urban restructuring’ processes. His focus lies mostly on old industrialized world, the practice of neoliberalism in the urban space and the process of creative destruction. He explores the localization of this practice in urban space and how it has resulted in an urbanization of neoliberalism itself.

According to Brenner, the global imposition of the neoliberal ideology has been uneven and the forms and socio-political consequences have also varied across spatial scales and in different ‘supraregional’ zones of the world. Neoliberal ideology became the dominant political and ideological form of capital globalization by mid 80s through international organisations and institutions like World Trade Organisation, World Bank etc who had become agents of transnational neoliberalism. These organisations institutionalised and extended market forces and commodification into the so called Third world nations through a process of structural adjustment programs.

The main tenets of the neoliberal ideology are ‘minimal state intervention’, market regulation, free trade, economic redistribution, individual liberty, etc. This neoliberal doctrine is used to justify deregulation of state in major industries, reduction in taxes, privatization of public services, liberalization etc. In actual practice however, on one hand it has given rise to intensively coercive state intervention to impose the ‘rule’ of market on all aspects of social life. This can be reflected in the way property taxes laws are being revised in India where they are now dependant on property prices rather than the date of construction. Thus the state occupies a very important role in the neoliberal practice as the enabler of capital by providing subsidies and acting as an arbitrator between capital and labour. In addition, the application of corporate practice to the functioning of the state has also lead to the state becoming entrepreneurial in nature.

For example the move from housing as a welfare function to an activity which would generate revenue for the state as can be seen from a perusal of the national and state housing policies. On the other hand, instead of optimal allocation of investments and resources through self regulating markets, the political practice of neoliberalism has generated market failures, newer forms of social polarization and a greater range of uneven development across different spatial scales The removal of barriers of exit and entry of capital leads to creation of a hierarchy of places in the world where certain places are preferred for investment and exchange. These places then form a network which are generated and maintained consciously. Thus the practice of neoliberalism is rampant with contradictions to the ideology that it claims to support.

Brenner also talks about creative destruction in the practices of neoliberalism which is basically the partial or complete destruction of existing institutional arrangements and political compromises and creation of new infrastructure for market oriented economic growth, commodification and rule of capital. Cities have become strategically crucial and central to the unfolding of creative destruction in recent years. The contradictions of the practices of neoliberalism are embedded with the frame of the urban.

The interplay of capital and state activities heighten and enhance the importance of the city. The creation of new cities, inter urban areas gaining importance have been observed as part of this change. The accumulation of capital, markets and fragmentation of production brings more and more changes both in within (intra) and between (inter) cities. As a result while the scale of production goes down, the scale of consumption increases at a rapid rate which makes cities the sites of consumption. It can also be seen that accumulation of capital at both intercity and intracity levels happens in an uneven manner; with centre of accumulation or concentration of capital created due to the attractiveness to invest in certain spaces than others.

Thus according to Brenner, cities on the one hand are in a highly uncertain economic geography which is characterised by financial disorder, movement of capital in highly speculative manner, high interlocal competitiveness. On the other hand, neoliberal programs have been embedded in urban policy regimes through deregulation, privatization, etc. Here he essays how during different eras of neoliberal practice have impressed upon major cities and city regions. In the post-war growth regime and initial phase of ‘proto neoliberalism’, cities were sites of economic dislocations, social and political struggles. Thus while economic initiatives were taken in old industrial cities so as to bring economic growth, the established social, political and redistributive arrangements were maintained. Cities in the era of roll-back neoliberalism of the 80s’ were subjected to cost cutting policies of the municipal governments like privatization of infrastructure, reduction in public services to lower cost of state administration along with promotion of administrative efficiency, direct and indirect state subsidies to corporates and privatization of social reproduction functions as ‘best practices’. This not only led to increased polarisation in segments of populations but declining effectiveness with respect to economic rejuvenation.

This was followed by roll-out neoliberalism which according to Brenner can be viewed as an evolutionary reconstitution of the neoliberal practices due to its own contradictions and crisis tendencies. Thus, on one hand the dominant political project for municipalities globally was about the city space as an arena for capital growth, commodification and market discipline. On the other hand, the conditions for promotion and maintenance of economic competitiveness were reconceptualized to include diverse administrative, political and economic criteria. Brenner does not see these practices resulting in a linear transition from a model of the ‘welfare city’ towards a new model of ‘neoliberal city’.

He looks at them as contested, trial and error processes of change including neoliberal strategies that are mobilized as a response to problems afflicting advanced capitalist cities. But even these strategies sometimes aggravate problems such as economic stagnation, unemployment, etc.

Brenner argues that cities have become central to the reproduction, mutation, and continual reconstitution of neoliberalism itself during the last two decades and the urbanization of neoliberalism has been occurring during this period. The cities have become strategic targets for broad range of neoliberal experiments, institutional innovations and political and ideological projects through which the global dominance of neoliberalism is maintained.

Global and Urban

The Stoning of Soraya M: A Potent Tale

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By Kushal Sakunia

Based on an incredible true story of horrific injustice, The Stoning of Soraya M. is the powerful tale of an entire village’s persecution of an innocent woman. Originally described in 1990 in a book by a French-Iranian journalist named Freidoune Sahejam, the film tells the story of Soraya Manutchehri, a 35-year-old woman, who was stoned to death in rural Iran in 1986.

James Caviezel plays Freidoune, an Iranian expatriate visiting Iran on assignment when he meets Soraya’s aunt, Zahra (played with strong intensity by famous Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo), who convinces him to visit her to listen to her story.

Soraya (Shohreh Aghdashloo) has two boys and two younger girls and is financially trapped in a marriage to her prison guard husband Ali (Navid Negahban). Ali wants a divorce so he can marry a 14 tempting pre-teen girl, but does not want to commit to the financial support of Soraya and their daughters.

Fearing disgrace and unable to support her daughters, Soraya refuses to divorce Ali. So he devises an alternate plan: accuse Soraya of adultery. He blackmails the local Ayatollah (a former hatchet-man for the Shah) into helping him. Soraya’s uneducated employer Hashem is easily threatened into testifying that she had “slept in his bed,” and the fair but weak mayor of the village goes along with the accusations and convicts Soraya of adultery.  Given the title of the film, we all know exactly what is going to happen and my heart was in my throat anticipating that ending.  The film’s strategy is to slowly draw out the horrifying details: the gathering of the stones; her burial standing and of course the chilling bloodlust of the mob.

As a condemnation of violence against women, The Stoning of Soraya M. is quite effective. The message of the film is extremely clear throughout: that abuse of any kind should not be tolerated, and that even the most kindly disposed person can be swayed by mob mentality. The film will certainly bring tears especially when you see the terror of stoning in Soraya’s eyes and the scene where Ali forces Soraya’s two sons to abjure her and throw stones.

Stoning is a terrible, unjust practice, and it is often used against women even when the women in question have done nothing deserving of punishment. The film is definitely not an easy to watch with its uncomfortable scenes of stoning, but it tells a story that needs to be told, and tells it well.  

stoning of soraya review

Marwari is Who Gets Wet, Globalisation/Privatisation/Modernisation or Otherwise

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Rohit Sakunia takes upon a Tehelka article which with poor subtlety bashes a community. Here’s a rebut bit by bit. 

Let me in the beginning itself tell the viewers that this article was written in 2010. I am sure the author must have by now gained for some sane hood and would not be having the same opinions. Nonetheless the rebuttal was necessary.

So she starts the article by pointing to the fact that she is a Marwari and knows the community. I beg to differ. She says three words define the world of a Marwari man: Taboo, Society and Marriage. Did she just forget sophistication, business acumen, economic sense, modernity? The she writes the Marwari’s as “India’s most repressed community”. Really? Has she even been to 50 Marwari families before writing this line? Research is one weapon that every journalist should possess in her armoury, unfortunately not in case of this author.

She continues to write unnecessarily that “pleasure is the tribe’s best kept secret — for generations, ‘good values’ have elevated them above base desire. Except when no one is at home — the remote is duly programmed to the cleavage show on Fashion TV”. Little does she know that this is the characteristic of all tribe? All kids grow up watching FTV without their parents consent. I would like to know whether our dear author saw it with her parents, especially the midnight show.

Then she comes down to haunting the ladies of the community writing that “She can now indulge in a career (mostly a hobby or a fashion designing boutique run from home) as long as she’s present when the men return, tired from a day of gold-digging”. Let me rebut this very clearly. I work in one of the world’s biggest companies and 3 out of 5 in my team are married and Marwari women. My wife is a Marwari and is a financial researcher in a leading company. My sister is a Marwari, married to a Marwari and is a doctor. If you thought I belong to an outlier family, check the story of 50% of the educated Marwari families and you will know for better.

The author then comes down further saying “Any display of dazzling cleavage, however, is strictly taboo”. Can it get more ridiculous than this? Do women have to show cleavage to show modernity these days? I am sure even western would not accept this as a standard for being modern. Goes on to show what all writers can do to sell copies.

She does not stop here and comes to the men. She writes “The diktat for men is more production oriented — “Get married, have a business with 1,000 slaves under you and procreate, procreate, procreate, until you have a male child.” I know of a Marwari businessmen from the dotcom domain. I won’t take his name but would say that he comes from a very traditional business family. He not only build a business around new media but the point that is more important in the context is that this gentlemen has two daughters and is pretty proud of them. The basic point is, let’s not get to the point of ridiculous.

Then she goes on to what is probably the most refutable point in the entire copy. She writes “Munna Babu, Munna Halwai, Munnaji, the Marwari man has remained the eternal infant, always Mummy’s Suitable Boy”. Now which child grows to be a man for her mother? My mom (and am on the wrong side of the 20’s) still catches hold of my ears when I make a mistake, still loves me as she used to when I was an infant, still gets angry and still gets tears if I get hurt and am sure women of all communities feel the same for their children, irrespective of their gender.

The author actually baffles me when she writes this “If political inner life is an essential ingredient of an intellectual man, the Marwari draws a blank. (Proximity to the office of the Finance Minister does not count.) At his core, the Marwari man is a staid, almost docile, apolitical creature. Independent thinking has never been a good value. Asking questions is taboo”. I would ask her to go do a research study on this. Yes, its 100% correct that a Marwari has great domain knowledge in his/her business area but he is equally politically aware. In fact the growing number of Marwari’s in the political circle is just an example.

Yes, I agree to the author’s point that the usual markers of identity are generally absent. The reason being a Marwari goes in and settles anywhere where he finds he can do a business in. He mixes with local group their very easily and adapts to his surrounding faster than any community. He tries to be one and same with majority wherever he goes and to me this is a great accomplishment in a country like India which divides itself on caste, language lines.

When the author talks of dowry, she forgets that the modern Marwari girl stands tall against any form of dowry and is pretty well aware of her rights.

She closes by saying that “In many ways, the new Marwari man is synthetic, almost plastic; you miss scruffy edges, raw soul, eccentric passion.” How blank a statement that is. The new Marwari man is not one but two step ahead of his predecessors. He feels a working, educated wife is much better than a housewife for reasons like support and advice. He has the world open to him through the internet and is looking for options way beyond traditional businesses.

Overall an article that clearly looks like written in haste and like a rant, without any due diligence. The author could have done better than just scribbling what came to mind. Marwari’s were never what she made them look like, not the least is a better expression. It would help if she does some talking to a few Marwari’s around.

PS: Just because you are a journalist and have not ended up making enough money, does not mean you bash any and every Marwari who knows what he is doing, is not confused and is still aware. 

Yours Lovingly Marwari

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