December 6, 2014
A concerned Australian has written to me to comment on these criminal yogis about whom allegations are now emerging in the Australian newspapers. These criminals are (or, rather, were, since both criminals are now dead) part of the global range of Satyananda Saraswati ashrams. I'm informed that: "apparently there is another Indian spiritual group to come before the Royal Commission that will eclipse the Satyananda hearing".
I assured him that India is FLOODED with criminal "yogis" and "godmen" who cheat the whole country all the time. This is not news. I EXPECT a good proportion of all "swamis" to be mega-criminals or cheats.
Deepak Chopra is more sophisticated, so he only operates on your pocket (extracts your money). Others are much worse.
I have come across only three "yogis" in my lifetime:
a) Satya Sai Baba, whom I once saw as part of a public group (when I was around 20 years old) in Whitefield near Bangalore. He was an absolute crook who plied his customers with cheap magic tricks to bilk them. I've written extensively about him on this blog. There are many believable allegations about sexual abuse by him. But since he managed to fool "eminent" Indians he was quite safe from prosecution.
b) "Swami" Shuddhananda, whom I came across a few years ago in Melbourne. I even attended 4 of his lectures, and invited him to my home. This man, very soon, turned out to be a scoundrel, involved in sexual misdemeanor.
c) "Swami" Ramdev, whom I came across in late 2012 and interacted till mid-2013. I've now heard very strong and, I would argue, confirmed reports from very reliable sources (who have known him for many years) about rampant sexual abuse in his ashram. But his support for black money is now more clear than ever. I'm further investigating.
I've, of course, come across many yoga teachers (including at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration). I believe yoga teachers are (generally) quite good, and have nothing to say against them.
But there are too many criminal "swamis" in India. A recent case involved severe sexual abuse by one "Swami" Asaram Bapu. He is now in jail. Then, there was the more recent "Sant" Rampal in Haryana, who was involved in murder and has been recently arrested by the police, at great cost of life and money (many people died in the process).
There are strongly documented stories about sex abuse by Indian "gurus". I'd strongly warn people to stay away from these crooks.
By all means attend a yoga class or two, but DO NOT STAY AT THESE PLACES. AND DON'T GET DEEPLY INVOLVED IN SWAMIS/ YOGIS OR THEIR 'LECTURES'. AND AT ALL TIMES KEEP YOUR CHILDREN AWAY FROM ANY "SWAMI".
See its website.
Child abuse royal commission: Woman admits having sex with boy, 14, at Satyananda Yoga Ashram
I should not fail to mention Swami Om Poorna Swatantra, about whom I've written elsewhere. Swami Swatantra is not really a swami in the sense commonly understood. He does not run an ashram, but lives like a farmer. He doesn't teach any yoga nor (unless I'm mistaken) much spiritual stuff. He is more like Thoreau, living a quiet life by himself, but engaging with nearby farmers. He is an outstanding man, and I would therefore like to add that there may be SOME outstanding gurus or swamis, and people ought to take responsibility for their own choices and decisions.
There are plenty of other such cases. Some examples here.
Another one: Swami Nithyananda
A commentator reminded me of Sri Sri. He writes:
Sri sri's followers strongly believe that his photograph can charge their mobile phones, their vehicles can run without petrol, their guru can appear in different places at the same time, his sudarshan kriya is a cure for all diseases including cancer and sudarshan kriya is a definite ticket to Moksha, he can bring back alive the dead and their followers can get rail/air tickets even last minute and so on so forth. Our IITians, IIMs and Harvards are his followers and they all believe in all these so called miracles without any iota of doubt.
I agree. Sri Sri is a small time magician (not much magic, though). I've written about him. However, I've never heard any perverted thing about him, so he is otherwise OK.
December 2, 2014
A few months ago I made some notes regarding Singapore's authoritarian economic liberalism. This model has attracted a lot of attention recently (including in The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge).
A recent article in Foreign Affairs touted the Tamasek model. The authors of the article are publishing a book on this topic, soon: The Public Wealth of Nations.
However, more interesting than the article were some of the comments, which set off a bit of a search for the truth about Temasek.
Let me highlight key sections of the main article, first.
On average, governments are mismanaging their public assets. Many economists see these inefficiencies as arguments in favor of privatization. But privatization comes with its own risks: crony capitalism, corruption, and dysfunctional regulation. Luckily, there is a third way: governments can assign the task of professionally managing their assets to National Wealth Funds.
National Wealth Funds are the perfect compromise: they keep public assets under government ownership while simultaneously preventing undue government interference. The state appoints the auditors and the board responsible for the portfolio, and decides which assets should be sold when sufficiently developed, but it cannot influence how the fund itself is managed. This strict separation guarantees that politics will not get in the way of good asset management. When governments control public commercial assets, opportunities for better management are ignored or fall prey to political meddling, clientelism, and corruption.
National Wealth Funds also enable governments to consolidate their commercial assets, which allows professional managers to create an integrated inventory and business plan for the assets as a whole. The world’s leading National Wealth Fund, Singapore’s Temasek, established in 1974, boasts an average annual return of 17 percent, a track record that would be impressive even in the private sector.
Now for the comments which interested me quite a bit.
If you are going to hold up Temasek as a model you must mention that the CEO for the last 12 years has been the Prime Ministers wife. She gives no interviews and has never written the letter in their annual report. Hardly a model of accountability. Further the 17% annual IRR since 1974 is largely due to their historical practice to government transfer of assets at very low valuations which Temasek then takes public and public market value. If transferred at market value the returns would be much lower as they have been since 2002. While the disclosures are selective and self serving at least there are some.
Absolutely right. Temasek never gives meaningful IRR figures. Despite its glossy annual reports, it is effectively impossible for any outsider to assess how it is performing from year to year. What you can do is look at the many large investments it has made over the last 10 years that have gone badly wrong. If you look at its record in banking alone, it has lost billions on Barclays, BoA and is now suffering the headlong fall in StanChart's share price. This poor record is replicated in other sectors. There is no accountability and, of all the experienced candidates who could have been appointed to run it, the most qualified was, by an extraordinary co-incidence, the Prime Minister's wife. Having stepped down once for presiding over a disastrous series of investments, she was reinstated and remains in office. Lucky Singapore. This is a very superficial article which appears to show no understanding of the subject.
Question is whether the IRR figures are audited.
The Temasek financial disclosure is completely irrelevant because they only show the Temasek Group accounts which purposefully muddle up the Temasek Holdings accounts with those of all their portfolio companies thus rendering the entire set of accounts useless. And how about those footnotes? Not.
They use the concept of beating their cost of capital or Wealth Added as their primary metric for performance. However for the last 12 years in total that number is negative so they have destroyed capital while they have increased head court dramatically. This is in spite of taking dubious actions to lower their cost of capital by adjusting down their Market Risk Premium which no be else does. They now are so embarrassed by their performance they hardly even mention WA and bury it in the back pages excluding it from the Chairmans letter and all the full page ads they take out.
Also they tout the principal of no WA, no bonus yet the people there are still getting paid a bomb and the Temasek parking lot is full of very expensive, shiny new cars. Where is the oversight.
I've explored further and this is what I find:
Why sovereign funds are a bad idea: Should India Set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund? It’s a Bad Idea
Some mess-ups by Temasek.
Research paper: A Brief Research Note on Temasek Holdings and Singapore: Mr. Madoff Goes to Singapore.
The summary of this paper is provided here. In brief, the idea that Tamasek has achieved 17 per cent return over 35 years is refuted vigorously.
Singapore is a secretive place. One cannot rely on public reports of the way its national fund is managed. There is need for significant caution while considering this model/option. It has significant benefits but these seem to come at a high cost.
December 2, 2014
It was brought to my notice (here) that RSS's official map accepts that vast chunks of Kashmir have been ceded to Pakistan and China.
See the map here.
This is beyond shameful – for an organisation that claims to be "nationalist".
I always knew RSS is pro-British and anti-national. But this takes the cake.
Here is a section of the RSS map:
December 1, 2014
Today, Ramdev has put out the following picture on his facebook page.
The fact that he lied to me – quite brazenly – at each step, has long since become clear. That he directly supports black money is also long since clear. But that he was a DIRECT SUPPORTER/MEMBER of RSS is something I didn't know.
The picture below is disgraceful. Ramdev is now a direct abettor of the crimes and misdemeanours of the anti-national Taliban known as RSS (details about RSS here).
December 1, 2014
I was surprised to find on FB a video about protests against Modi during his Australia visit. Upon exploration, I found other protests against him across USA and Australia which the media never reported. To set the record straight, I'm posting a few links. Do send me any more that you come across.
Slogans on placards, banners and posters read ‘Modi India’s Prime Murderer’, ‘Ban RSS’, “Modi Shame Shame”
Some media reporting:
New Yorkers against Modi (FB page)
December 1, 2014
I had discussed the blasphemy issue in Islam here, earlier. There is no evidence that Islam, per se, permits any prosecution/ punishment for "blasphemy".
I'm publishing here both my record and to ensure that Hindutva fanatics and Muslim fanatics take heed. Note that I don't defend any organised religion (for religions are often more political than spiritual and often do more evil than good), so this is not a defence of Islam as a religion. But I believe in strongly supporting the underlying elements of liberalism in all religions.
There is no rule anywhere sanjeev that prohibits freedom of speech in islam. Blasphemy laws of pakistan is a disgrace. Let pakistan bring out a proof from quran as a proof. They will find it tough to find an answer to the most basic tenet in islam – There is no compulsion in religion.
The culture of pakistan need not to me – and in most cases it is not – implementation of islam / Quran. When people themselves are far away from Quran – how can they claim to be implementing Quran. Just ponder over following points:
1. Quran says that biggest abuse against GOD is to say that GOD has begotten a Son (Quran 19:88-91), but not for once Quran says that such people should be punished. There is absolutely freedom for belief.
2. A believer should not abuse Non-gods (things that are not god) – Quran 6:108. Though non-gods are not god yet one should not speak ill-will against them.
3. Though Quran disagrees with 3 gods concept, god having son, worship of non-gods but nowhere it prescribes any wordy punishment for such beliefs.
4. Only case when capital punishment is prescribed in islam is when
A> someone KILLS someone innocent
B> Someone DISTURBS peace of the land (Refer 5:32)
There is no 3 rd scenario for capital punishment.