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  • K 11:23 PM on March 20, 2014 Permalink
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    Swaraj by Arvind Kejriwal – A Review 

    SwarajSwaraj by Arvind Kejriwal

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Ended up reading a Hindi book after many years, ‘कथेतर’ (non-fiction, new word learnt!) on that.

    Little Background

    I haven’t followed Kejriwal’s or Anna’s movement from the beginning. I first gave serious attention when AAP managed to win a substantial number of seats in Delhi last December. Since then, I have come to admire Kejriwal’s clarity of thought, his ideas and his mission, all of which can be ascertained in any of his recent interviews or QA’s with audience where neither the interviewer nor the public leave any stone unturned to grill him.

    In a couple of months since then, I realized, he and his team have managed to gather a good amount of support at least among the young educated middle class. But I could not imagine how his ideas appeal to the larger population of the country. I decided to find out by diving further.


    This book lets one understand what Kejriwal means when he uses words like Swaraj or when he says if we let the current status quo maintain, “ये देश नहीं बचेगा” (the country won’t survive).

    Most of us reading this review can’t claim to fathom the problems faced by people at the lowest level of social hierarchy. The author describes those problems, how they came to be in the present system and how things can radically change. Both the problems and their suggested solutions are backed by facts, examples (from other democracies) and experiments demonstrating years of research.

    We have all heard that definition of democracy by Abraham Lincoln – “government of the people, by the people, for the people” – but probably never gave a thought about how that could work out in reality. By real life examples, author manages to convince how participatory democracy at the grass root level could be a solution to many of the country’s basic problems, how empowered people are responsible people.

    You read the book with a critical eye and tend to raise doubts or find flaws in the presented ideas but don’t get too surprised when you get all your answers before you reach the last chapter. Just to cite one (spoilers ahead), I was skeptic when most of the book talked about gram sabhas and not how the idea of Swaraj would play in big cities. Come the last but one chapter, and I learn why – our constitution recognizes gram sabhas but doesn’t talk about any such general meetings at city level, but experiments done at Delhi in the form of muhalla sabhas illustrate how effective these meetings could be.

    Go, read the book to understand the positive ideas behind all the ‘negativity’ spread by Kejriwal. If not for that, then just for a small, thoroughly enjoyable and hard to come by non-fiction.

    View all my reviews


    • Deepak 12:15 AM on March 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      but what about the criticism that the book is overly repetitive?

      • Kartik 7:41 AM on March 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I didn’t think so. Why don’t you read and find out? The book does back reference itself once or twice, I don’t see how that’s wrong, rather that’s a way to not repeat the points mentioned earlier.

  • K 9:18 PM on November 13, 2013 Permalink
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    You literally ought to be asking yourself all of the time – what’s the most important thing I could be working on in the world right now; and if you are not working on that, why aren’t you?

    Aaron Swartz, as quoted by @TarenSK in the upcoming documentary on Swartz (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3izOJ7zX5I0)
  • K 3:31 PM on October 17, 2013 Permalink
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    Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

    Steve Jobs in his Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005 (Source: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html)
  • K 6:02 AM on May 14, 2013 Permalink
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    Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

    Calvin Coolidge (Discovered this as my MITian friend Ankur’s gmail chat status)
  • K 12:29 AM on February 27, 2013 Permalink
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    The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future. You’re going to look like you have magic powers compared to everybody else.

    Gabe Newell, Founder and President, Valve (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU1xS07N-FA courtesy of code.org)
  • K 12:58 PM on February 11, 2013 Permalink
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    Musing over The Challenge 

    It’s been 10 days since I started this challenge. Up to now, I seem to be failing in living up to the daily requirement in the Fibonacci order (0, 1, 1, 2 – the day gaps); of course, I don’t want the sequence to continue.

    In retrospect, I can see what stopped me in the days I missed – once it was just a tiring day, someday it was work/extended meeting, some day just plain lack of creativity. And then, there is the fear of mediocrity – uncertainty over the quality of content that I can generate on a daily basis (Do read up  on Oatmeal’s view on this).

    It takes a lot less time and most people won't notice the difference until it's too late


    I have come to believe that perhaps the writing challenge I have undertaken is not so important as the quality of content I post. Sharing a quote, or a few photographs do not seem enough to just live up to the daily task. A fairly decent write-up takes anywhere between an hour to three hours to produce (and sometimes days if you count the breaks in between), an amount of time I can’t devote on a daily basis right now. Does it sound like giving up on the challenge? Yes and no. Yes, because in literal terms it won’t go to completion; no, because perhaps I failed to consider the practicality of such a challenge but will continue to post more often this month than ever before.

    I will now focus on writing about things that I had in mind since long, some of which are lying incomplete in my drafts folder. Stay tuned.


    • ganeshsonawane 8:10 AM on February 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I have a read a few of your posts, reminds me of a few funny resolutions which i used to make and still. Doesnt matter what happens living upto them, but as one keep acheieving tasks it definitely boosts self confidence. But remember, “Failure is not the worst outcome, Mediocrity is! “

  • K 12:08 AM on February 5, 2013 Permalink
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    I spent my years from age 11 to 19 thinking about software. And if I have something that I really know, it’s software. I’m a hobbyist in biotech, but I could never go and make a world-class contribution in another field.

    Bill Gates. Source: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2002-11-18/news/27331168_1_bill-gates-kumar-mangalam-birla-aditya-vikram-birla-group/2 (This was a great inspiration when choosing CS as a discipline after school; I seem to have forgotten how big an ideal Gates was for me then.)
  • K 4:09 PM on December 28, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: CSEA, , , juniors, , , quote   

    Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live. Code for readability.

    John F Woods. Source: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/comp.lang.c++/rYCO5yn4lXw/oITtSkZOtoUJ (With special attribution to two juniors who posted this on homepage of CSEA’s upcoming website.)
  • K 9:58 PM on August 23, 2012 Permalink
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    Having good teachers is important. This can make or kill your interests. Even Kalam attributes being what he is today to him having great teachers. Unfortunately, this is something which is not under one’s control.

    me (on a twitter conversation with Delbin about electives, teachers and interest in subjects)
  • K 1:59 PM on July 18, 2012 Permalink
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    It is necessary to work, if not from inclination, at least from despair. Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself.

    Charles Baudelaire (discovered this in Vinod Pathari Sir’s email signature and found it particularly interesting)
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