Diamonds are forever, but not Queen Elizabeth II!

We all thought Diamonds are forever. The Kohinoor she wore, yes; Queen Elizabeth II, no. Not even Her  Majesty’s 007 could save the Queen, even though he could sing God Save the Queen in his sleep. It’s not clear if that other British icon, 007 will wake up again from his sleep too.

The Queen is dead, long live the King! That is to say, the British Queen and British King! Earlier it used to be The King is dead, Long live the King – for continuity! But I guess the Brits are tired of monarchs that reign for so long, that the rain dries up (there is drought this year!) and may like to rein them in. It might be repeated soon, though King Charles III wouldn’t like it said of him, after what is said of him now – Long Live the King! Ironically, it was first said in French, Le roi est mort, Vive le roi! about the accession to the French throne of Charles VII after the death of his father Charles VI in 1422. It was Charles then and it’s Charles again! Next in line is William, I Tell you! He is Apple of the Eye! Not sure if he wears one though, watch, not the fruit. Watch the funeral to find out!

The Queen died soon after anointing Liz Truss as the new British Prime Minister. She was the 15th British PM she did that to! And accepted the resignation on one pretext or another of 14. She did that too! The next one will be anointed, presumably by King Charles III, and no one can say whether it will be sooner rather than later, given the UK’s drought, winter and rising gas prices coming together as one for the ages! Maybe the pressure of the rising cost of living on her household – huge houses, lots of gas required, lots of water too for the lawns, and the fawns – was a factor in her deteriorating health? but then, she had seen worse during her reign!

While she has seen PMs come and go in her own country, she didn’t leave the other countries, especially her commonwealth behind! If you are wondering where that name came from, it is from the wealth of the countries that Great Britain Colonized until the early 1950s: today it’s called merger and acquisition. Then it was Acquisition and Purger! It was also, for brevity’s sake, called Colonization, and not for nothing. Every acquisition followed the principle of the colon – in its function, its aptitude, and its attitude. Britain considered all the wealth it surveyed, as belonging to the House of Commons! primarily because their in-house wealth was not so common, and some wished to live as Lords!

They went around the world in their ships, berthed here and there, gave birth too, and proclaimed the greatness of their Country, which itself became great because of Acquisitions and Purgers! It is not clear why, when they lived in such a great country, they needed to explore other countries and proclaim that greatness there! That conundrum is prevalent in our country today! But that is another debate set for another day.

They called it Great Britain, and the Kings and peoples to whom they told this secret, were either enamoured or enslaved. You couldn’t escape. They gave them their all to make themselves and them Greater. Their wealth became common to a few. But do recall that nursery rhyme we learnt because of McCaulay? ‘Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.’ Well, it happened. And the commons wealth that they took but did not return, returned in the form of people from the Commonwealth, seeking in it the very greatness they had earlier advertised! Couldn’t turn them back! That would be small-minded for such a great Nation. And indeed, if greatness were to be found, they would find it. For they knew how. Like many Indians have done around the world in Corporates and public service. And the rest? they are finding it, slowly but surely.

Diamonds do last forever, and the Kohinoor certainly will now that 007 has gone to ground. For the moment it lives on in the Crown, which with age, is slowly turning a darker shade of pale! The surface polish is gone, and not to Poland! Just have a look at the latest British Cabinet, its cricket and football teams!

We are part of their Commonwealth true, and a lot of our common’s wealth (besides the Kohinoor) resides in Great Britain, by hook or by crook for a variety of reasons, some known, some unknown. Maybe it’s time to peep through the Johari Window. But we must feel relieved that we need not say Long Live their King because we have our own after we became a Republic. To him, we owe that courtesy!

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,  “a Republic is a form of government in which representatives of the citizen body rule a state. Modern Republics are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with the people, though who is included and excluded from the category of the people has varied across history.” And that’s a reading from the Encylopedia Britannica mind you!

In post-modern republics, however, the elected representatives ensure that the sovereignty remains with themselves, denigrating, crushing, or consigning to the wayside all those that disagree with this idea.   They focus on all kinds of duties – do your duty, pay your duty, put your duty before self-etc. They focus on rights too. Your right to do your duty; but to whom? the nation or the Government in power? The line between the two is so blurred today that a cataract operation won’t help with clarity! But you’re right to do your duty. That clarity is available.

Now that the Queen is dead, a lot of countries in the Commonwealth will feel the lack of a common thread, that sewed them together, and the seams may come apart. India Brexited much earlier when it became a Republic, but it was not until recently that it started shaming and naming all that the British initiated, nurtured or cherished except Scotch Whisky! Maybe that too. Its single malts are gradually replacing the Scottish ones! It’s called shedding the colonial mindset. And do recall the definition of colon!

Lots of such moves have eased the colon. From self – attestation of documents (you no longer need to wait for a gazetted officer to attest your documents), to renaming the Rajpath (named after independence from the British era Kingsway to mark the transfer of power!) to Karthavya Path (co-incidentally on the day the Queen Died!) where Kings will hold sway provided you do your duty, the unfurling of the new Navy ensign which eliminated the St. Georges Cross, replacement of the Abide with me Hymn with Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo at the Beating Retreat ceremony of the Armed forces and the renaming of Towns and Cities and even Islands in the Andaman and Nicobar islands with names that are more meaningful to those who use them often or are more reflective of our heritage than someone else’s.

Around 1500 laws from that era have been repealed, save those that serve a purpose – like the Indian Police Act 1861, Indian Evidence Act 1872 and the Indian Penal Code 1860, which have been modified to some extent, but their overall design and purpose remain unaltered. And still, there is Sedition in the current edition! And the Khaki colour! And the White towel on the headrest of Bureaucrat seats of power, the District Administration and overall administrative institutions haven’t changed much, though lateral entries from professionals are now being encouraged and of course the Left- hand drive on Left-leaning roads. There are colons between every sentence, so there is still scope; for the Proctoscope. And Hope!

75 years since we stopped singing God save the Queen, we have surpassed Britain in the World Economic Rankings. We are now 5th, they are 6th. And we dominate the ICC and the MCC! But their per capita income is three times ours. And so, while the stats look good in terms of charts for a game of darts, it’s still quite the grind for those who can’t play the game. It’s all part of the Games People Play! Read the Book by Eric Berne to know more! This is what you can do until next week when I’ll be back again to test your patience and attention span!


This Article is written in a lighter vein with tongue-in-cheek. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connection with any real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental or just a mirage!

Zeroing on who invented Zero and When

PMJDY accounts hit 462.5 mn in eight years, deposits reach Rs. 1.73 trillion – This is according to a mail broadcast from the India Brand Equity foundation on 29 August 2022.

According to the mail, the total accounts opened under the PM Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) have reached 462.5 million (4625 followed by five Zeros) in the eight years after the initiative’s inception. The initiative opened to a great positive reception! Similar to the Loan Mela of 1985! the total deposits in these accounts are Rs. 1.73 trillion (For those who believe in Zeros, it is 1,73 followed by ten Zeros!) as of August 10, 2022. Given these figures, we are already a trillion-dollar economy!

If you average it out, it is an impressive Rs: 3740.54 per account. You may notice that there is just one Zero in that figure compared to the ones in the previous paragraph! And it may throw you off balance. However, the average balance is not important. What is important perhaps is how you balance your life with that average!

It’s also not important that you maintain the balance. In this case, the Zero can either precede or follow an integer. It’s permitted. The Highs of the account are serviced by DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) and the lows by DEBIT! (Direct Elimination of Benefit Transfer!). A flat line may be symbolic of heart failure, like in an ECG.

This brings me back to the Zero. Like Do Re Mi! Such an important figure in all our financial, political, social, and economic endeavours. Remember the number of Zeros tagged on to the 2G Scam? And what became of it? It started with Zeros, a number of them, and ended with a Zero! That’s how important the digit is.

Without a Zero preceding us or following us, how do we become heroes? That’s a question, not from a math textbook, but from a social sciences textbook. To be a hero, you need to be hero-worshipped. And how does one hero worship another? Well-nigh impossible. So, it must be a Zero that does the worshipping right? That’s logical and mathematical because Zero adds value. Just think about it! But how many Zeros following to make a hero is relative? Not yours. Just relative. Einstein realized this only after he propounded the theory of relativity.

On the other hand, if the Zeros precede the hero, it is comparative. A hero compares himself to all the Zeros (According to Merriam-Webster an insignificant person or thing: NONENTITY!) before and propounds his theory of herovity! That is where the Zero to Hero Concept, the stuff of so many Bollywood hit movies came into being. You start with Zero and change the alphabet that’s at the beginning, at the end. Once you get to the Hero stage, all you have to do is pile on the Zeros! Complicated? Yes. Just like the process! Give it a thought with an open mind – viz. Starting out with emptiness – Zero, (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of Zero is that the arithmetical symbol 0 or 0̸  denotes the absence of all magnitude or quantity) and you will get there!

Interestingly, like Darkness, Zero does not exist. Darkness is the absence of light. Zero is the absence of something, which causes that feeling of emptiness. We need a prop to recognize it! One cup exists. Zero Cups exist only because one cup exists at some point in time.

In maths, Zeros are placeholders! In life too, they are props for all the rest of the item numbers that we enjoy sharing our lives with. Importantly when you subtract a Zero from a number, its value remains unchanged, you remove a Zero preceding a number, the number’s value remains unchanged, you remove a Zero from after a number, its value decreases, and you add a Zero before, nothing changes, you add one after, it increases, but when you multiply a number by a Zero, its value transforms to Zero. It is from this mathematical fact, comes the saying you will be known by the company you keep! And it’s best you keep company men who have a lot of Zeros following them, economically and all lies!

Zeroing on who invented Zero and When

According to “Who invented Zero” (Mathematically that is; existentially it was always known by someone missing something that they had seen or experienced before) “the concept of Zero is relatively new; it fully developed in India around the fifth century A.D., perhaps a couple of centuries earlier. Before then, mathematicians struggled to perform the simplest arithmetic calculations. Today, Zero — both as a symbol (or numeral) and a concept meaning the absence of any quantity — allows us to perform calculus, do complicated equations, and have invented computers.

According to the book “The Crest of the Peacock; Non-European Roots of Mathematics,” by Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph, the concept of Zero first appeared in India around A.D. 458. Joseph suggests that the Sanskrit word for Zero, śūnya, which meant “void” or “empty” and derived from the word for growth, combined with the early definition found in the Rig-veda of “lack” or “deficiency.” The derivative of the two definitions is Śūnyata, a Buddhist doctrine of “emptiness,” or emptying one’s mind from impressions and thoughts. “From this philosophy, we think that a numeral to use in mathematical equations developed,” said van der Hoek. “We are looking for the bridge between Indian philosophy and mathematics.”

If philosophical and cultural factors found in India were important to the development of Zero as a mathematical concept, it would explain why other civilizations did not develop Zero as a mathematical concept, said van der Hoek.”

Now we are clear – we started with nothing, and now are on the way to having everything – name, fame, and a winning game on the world stage. We invented the concept! We also invented the word commission. It has two Zeros in it if you notice. You have to start somewhere to come up in life!

How do you know there is nothing to it?

Andreas Neider, a cognitive scientist from Germany, suggests that there are four psychological steps to understanding Zero, and they progressively get complicated. The first three steps are easy for all animals including humans, but the last one is only for the human animal according to Neider. You will have to start from Zero though.

  1. A simple sensory ability to notice a light flickering on and off. Or a noise turning on and off. You must have your senses about you though!
  2. Recognizing stimulus and reacting to it – A rumbling stomach means Zero food. Then you go search for it. Simple enough!
  3. Finding an empty container in comparison to one that has something in it. Monkeys can do it, and so can you. (it does make the most sound you will notice, and maybe it’s the best way to drive away the Coronavirus!)
  4. Recognising it as a symbol that solves problems, by creating a computer with it!

You are aware I am sure that the computer is made up of the binary of Zeros and Ones? It is the Zero, that allows one to be One! “Zero is in the mind, but not in the sensory world,” Robert Kaplan, a Harvard math professor and an author of a book on Zero, says. The Adult mind is however focused on significant things and not on emptiness. We prefer a full bladder for the sonogram!

Elizabeth Branon, a neuroscientist at Duke University, believes that kids see one as the smallest number until explained otherwise with slips of paper that have none, one and two dots on them! But as you grow into adulthood, Zero becomes the biggest number in your mind, provides it follows, not precedes an integer! And there perhaps lies the heart of our emotional and physical conflict in the real world.

What if we had not invented a use for the Zero? Would things be different? Today an Indian is the third richest in the world, the richest in Asia and will soon overtake the top two. All because we invented the Zero.

I’m not sure if he started from Zero and became the hero that he is; maybe he did. If so it’s a clear demonstrator of the power of zero, but you could start from Zero and think it through until next week!


This Article is written in a lighter vein with tongue-in-cheek. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental or just a mirage!

Image by Gerd Altmann 

Freedom well depicted, even if reasonably restricted, and @75 we are addicted!

I took a break from Writing over the last two weeks and enjoyed the freedom from imposition – a self-imposition –  and I wondered how much of a drag on freedom, an external imposition can be. Reminded me of school! and the opposite effects of a Laxative and Constipation! It taught me so much about the meaning of freedom. I had the freedom to contemplate freedom (free of domination!) and so I did.

The first thought that came to me, is that when we are born, we are born free – no clothes, no name, no religion, no language, no culture (other than that of  a baby), no nationality. We have an identity. Human being. Then we cry or they make us cry. Just to see if we are normal. The message? You’ve got to cry to be normal. Through your life. Not laugh. That’s why comedians are liked only by a few perhaps, and certainly not governments.

Then everyone’s favourite “reasonable restrictions” are imposed on our freedom. And accepted without murmur. That’s just the beginning! You are given a name, a religion, a culture, a language, a nationality, a framework by which to grow up and survive, or thrive, depending upon your karma. Each one of them is a restriction, albeit a reasonable restriction, one which grows upon you even as you grow into it. Does it not?

What if we had the freedom we had when we were babies? What if, because we were born free, are allowed to stay free? identified only as Human Being? Like Tarzan. Would the world have been a better safer quieter more peaceful place? The identity would have been uniform, but for the shape size and gender!

Too much to imagine? Blame the reasonable restrictions which crowd your mind, your activities, and your growth. Today they are called norms, conventions, traditions, and laws that govern your freedom. Scholars who have read a lot, leaders who talk a lot, Adjudicators who judge a lot say it helps us stay free. It’s the only way they say to maintain order – and sustain their orders! In a nutshell, we need an identity to be free, we need to ignore or subjugate another identity to remain free, and we need laws for both eventualities’ to convince ourselves that we are free!

So much for contemplation. No more because my freedom ends when the deadline approaches for this column. Reasonable Restriction I agree.

Also the countdown to the celebration of our nation’s 75th year of Independence is fast approaching, and it’s time to host the Thiranga – the top band  of Saffron colour, indicating the strength and courage of the country; the white middle band indicating peace and truth with the Dharma Chakra; and the last band green to show the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of our land – at home, at office anywhere where you are with respect.

But there is a fourth colour; Navy Blue – the colour of the Dharma Chakrain the middle of the white band which signifies the “wheel of law” made by the third century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. Let me quote the Wikipedia on this; “The Sanskrit noun dharma ( धर्म ) is a derivation from the root dhṛ ‘to hold, maintain, keep’, and means ‘what is established or firm’ and hence ‘law’. It is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman- with the meaning “bearer, supporter” in the historical Vedic religion conceived of as an aspect of Ṛta.” This is significant in the context of all that is written above! It’s the law  and our adherence to it that keeps us free!

Your contemplative faculties must now be on edge! Well, I gave you the freedom to think, if not to express, but all reasonable restrictions took over! And 75 years down the line, they have only gotten more reasonable. I mean you have no reason to believe that they are not reasonable, have you? We remain an august people in August primarily because we are reasonable about the reasonable restrictions imposed upon us. It’s a time to be nationalistic, to be patriotic and very important to not know the difference. There is a difference? I don’t know.

Maybe contemplation will help me figure it out. But I have a deadline, a reasonable one – every Tuesday, so I have no freedom to contemplate further! And that’s a conundrum if there was one!

Research tells me that one is loud, arrogant, inconsistent, and insincere in its commitment, but has social media in its powerful grip, to amplify its sound and fury and downplay its downsides. The other is soft spoken, quiet, humble, firm, and sincere in its commitment and social media just does not appreciate it. That happens to humans too!

They are like the two eyes on our face, which don’t see eye to eye, unless there is a medical defect or a medical (narcotic) effect! When they intermingle, they are heady, like a double black! Literally. For some there is overlapping, because it’s easy not to think, for some its easy, because it’s easy to be deliberate rather than deliberate. And doing either is a red label, to those who prefer the black label! Gotta be careful though. Gotabhayya!

Nationalism presumes that the Nation is one, and its nationals are also one! That is why the quest for uniformity. Uniforms, one election, one language, one pass time, one political party etc dominates discourse and action. Patriotism also presumes that the Nation is one, but its nationals are many and varied in the pursuit of their oneness with each other and for a common cause – a strong vibrant nation.

Can you be both, at once, at various times, in different circumstances? Certainly. When you feel threatened; when you are told that you must feel threatened and so you feel threatened; and when you are actually threatened! From without especially, but to begin with, from within! With is the key word!

Nationalism all about Loyalty and Royalty and Loyalty to Royalty. It trumpets the country’s and their own virtues and denies its deficiencies and is contemptuous of the virtues of others – other individuals and other nations. Remember Mohammed Ali’s comment? “I am greatest. I said that even before I knew I was” Nationalism is an ideology based on the premise that an individual’s loyalty and devotion to one’s country should come above the interests and opinions of other citizens or the interests of a certain group of citizens.

Then there is Patriotism. It represents your attachment to your homeland. the love for where an individual is born, brought up, and the nation that place belongs to. These attachments can be related to ethnic, cultural, political, or historical. Patriotism is also being proud of a country’s virtues but with an eagerness and readiness to correct its deficiencies to be better. Patriotism acknowledges the patriotism of citizens of other countries and respects their virtues.

Apples, oranges, Bananas, Mangoes, Passion Fruit, Tomatoes, Lemons. Each different, but unified in giving us nutrition in diverse ways, killing our hunger, not us. Patriotic in their approach to human and animal and in fact their own kind as they regenerate for generations. What if they were just one? Would you even like to imagine? Black Label would have you do just that! Fruits unite, else you will soon become fruit cake!

So, there is a difference? What is the difference then? The difference between patriotism and nationalism is simple – a patriot loves his country and is proud of it for what it does whereas a nationalist loves his country and is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.” – Sydney J. Harris

George Orwell put it like this: “By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

On August 15, 1947 did we attain independence or was there simply a transfer of power is another contemplative question for which we don’t have time or the freedom to contemplate. Independence is often interchangeably referred to as the transfer of power in various texts.

In his own words, as quoted in Freedom at Midnight, Mountbatten claimed, “The date I chose came out of the blue. I chose it in reply to a question. I was determined to show I was the master of the whole event. When they asked if we had set a date, I knew it had to be soon. I hadn’t worked it out exactly then — I thought it had to be about August or September, and I then went out to August 15. Why? Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender”.

And indeed, it is. Many of the old laws remain and the way they are applied is still the same. The objectives are the same – to ensure we stay independent! Royalty remains, though it may change with loyalty, and through it all the citizen-govt equation remains.

I’ve transferred the power to you to think independently. Whether you can express what you think? Well, that would be a reasonable expectation if you are outside the box of reasonable restrictions!

We are born Free, but can we stay free? Gee! that would be nice! But would it be chaos? If so, Tom Peters theory ‘Management by Chaos’ may help!

Contemplate my friends but don’t be intemperate!