Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Continuing with Amazon India's service masterclass...

And guess what ?

Amazon India asked me for a review, yes review of a book I had ordered but was never delivered by them.

And they claim that it was delivered and refuse to divulge more information about the delivery.

I had documented their fantastic customer service here earlier.

This was the review I sent them which predictably they refused to put it online :)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Amazon (India) customer service masterclass !!

First, let me thank all the people who supported me on this issue in the last 3-4 weeks. Thank you so much !!

Second, there are few people, two to be precise, who came back asking me if I think I have been a bit harsh on Amazon India, using words. I did clarify that I was overcome with emotions, I did start of as anyone would. asking them where my order was and then I was lead to the garden path by their customer care executives where I lost it and did say a few words. 

For the interest of someone (new) reading this, what are those words ? Cheated, Forged, Fraud. As days went by without any action being taken or anything being communicated to me, I did use a liberal sprinkling of these 3 words in my communications to them and on the social media.

Third, one of those two people mentioned above did think that I shouldn’t have used those words. He tells me that may be they have not responded to your query because you used words !! 

Now, in this post I am going to spell out what actually happened with some of the evidence I have in my hand and I will let you, the reader to make your own opinion about what is right and what is not & also who is and who is not. 

That notwithstanding, let me start with an apology nevertheless…


Now some of you might wonder, some might even abuse me in your minds, some might think I’ve lost my marbles by apologizing to someone who is deemed to have committed a mistake. It’s okay, like they say, “It takes a heart to apologize”. I don’t think I will lose anything doing that.

Now to the core issue.

What happened ? Why did I blow my top ?

On July 03, 2016 I ordered a book with Amazon India (AI). The AI order screen confirmed that the book was shipped to the address I had provided on July 18, 2016.

Late July 28, 2016, when I was checked for the status of this book I found that the AI website had a new status. That the book was delivered on that day, it also said that the book was handed directly to my wife and that she signed for the delivery. But no one from my family had received the book, it was not delivered as the status on AI said...

I subsequently called the AI customer call center and asked them when the book was delivered and to whom. The person who spoke to me very clearly said that the book was damaged in transit and therefore Amazon Transportation Services (ATS) didn’t deliver the book. That they have returned the book back because it was damaged and that he would help me claim my money back.

At this juncture I did ask the person why the status shows that my wife signed for delivery. Isn’t it not misleading (I used one of those 3 words mentioned above) to show that the delivery was signed for ? And also wouldn’t it amount to a wrong (another word among the 3 listed was used here) if someone else signed for the person intended for ?

The customer care person apologized and promised that he would arrange for the refund quickly. At this juncture I also asked for an apology from AI for this misleading status.

Now this is where things go wary, the customer care executive who spoke to me doesn’t take this issue with ATS who actually spoiled / damaged the book. But he took it up with the Book Seller (BS) asking him to refund the money because the book was not yet shipped. This any any seller would refuse because the status on AI itself every clearly shows that the book has been delivered to the customer and it was signed for by Roopa. The problem as mentioned before lies with ATS which AI needs to sort internally. 

The BS on July 29, 2016 sends a message that the book has already been shipped via ATS and hence they cannot cancel the order.

This puts me off because it was AI’s problem and they had to sort it for me but instead they had passed the buck on to the BS who promptly refused refund.

So I took this issue up with the AI customer care again on August 02, 2016. So this lady who I chat with says that she will help me raise a “A-Z claim” against the BS. I stopped her at this point and went on to explain (with a liberal sprinkling of those 3 words) that the problem was due to ATS and hence the problem was AI’s and therefore they cannot expect the BS to return the money. I also urged that she listens to the initial call I had with one of their executives where he clearly mentions that the problem is due to ATS.

At this juncture not satisfied with the direction the chat was taking, I  asked the lady to produce the delivery receipt which my wife is supposed to have signed. And I tell them that we can close this issue the moment they produce proof that my wife indeed signed for delivery.

This is the point I lost it, and I lost it because of the SCRIPTED few words of consolation that the call center executives were repeating. Like I know how you feel, I would feel the same if I were you, we are looking into it, I have escalated it, the teams would come back to you, sorry for the inconvenience etc.

And I took to social media (SM), the first contact with the AI twitter team was illuminating. The person tried educating me about the dangers of putting out personal information on SM. And what was there ? The AI order number. And after much deliberation he asked me to fill a form with the same details they had. What order, what happened etc. After much protests I helplessly filled the form again. And was promised that the case would be looked into soon.

The SM team too blurted out the same SCRIPTED homilies and said their teams are looking into my problem.

As the same pingpong continued, the “A-Z claim” was rejected by the BS on August 07, 2016. I again lost it and took it up with the SM team who send me a very nice, “We cannot provide additional insights” message.

I then took the case to the customer care team and explained why the claim shouldn’t be sent to the BS but addressed by the ATS & AI teams. This time the lady wanted me to appeal the claim and an appeal was filed. I had in my appeal clearly mentioned the backstory. It was something like the following…

The Amazon customer care personnel I first spoke to confirmed that the book was never delivered because it was damaged, possibly by the people of Amazon logistics (you should have the call records).
 I am not sure how you reflect in your status that the book was received and signed for by Roopa Krishnamurthy. It surely wasn't, if you insist that it was then I will be happy to have the delivery receipt with her signature.

After much deliberations and heartburn the claim was duly rejected without assigning any reason or provision of any documents on August 17, 2016

I have repeatedly tried to reach out to the AI customer care and they have refused to talk to me, blocked me and have not answered any of my legitimate questions.

I have been trying to reason out and appeal the rejection again for the last 7 days without any proper response.

My questions to AI are the following

  1. You claim that the book was delivered and was signed for by Roopa Krishnamurthy, provide me the proof if it indeed is available with you as you claim in your status
  2. If you don’t have proof (meaning you have NOT delivered the book), acknowledge your fault, apologize
  3. Refund my money, the Rs. 1307/- I paid for the book
  4. If you are going to reject my claim after all this, I want AI to properly explain the reason why the claim is being rejected and what proof they have to do so

That’s it.

PS: It is another interesting story that one of the AI executives even offered me a short apology and a gift card of Rs 150 as a token of apology. And I thought the issue was close to being solved. This was August 02, 2016 but it was let to escalate by the good guys of AI 

PPS: I finally received a mail from AI some 7 minutes ago that they are looking into the issue. Nothing new, but let's be hopeful !! 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The case against Sri Jayendra Saraswati & the breaking India forces

Before we get started, let me give a bit of a background as to how we arrived at this old Twitter conversation (from January 2016).

Last weekend, my sister-in-law whatsapp-ed a speech by Seeman, one of the many CM aspirants from
Tamil Nadu about Lord Ganesha. Although it was outright derogatory, I didn't find anything original in what he said (let's keep that for another post), I responded saying that and adding that it is the standard fare of the "Breaking India" forces to do such stuff. 

This got us talking about the "Breaking India" forces. At this point a cousin asked me if this ("Breaking India" forces) has any correlation with the arrest & subsequent harassment of the present Acharya of Kanchi, Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swami.

At this point I remembered this 1981 interview of the Kanchi Paramacharya, where he had spoken clearly about the menace of appeasement and pandering to minorities.  Paramacharya was known for his clarity of thought and also to speak his mind. So this interview in my view is something that accentuated the sustained hate campaign by the "Breaking India" forces against the Kanchi Kamakoti Peeta.   

This interview was posted on twitter by a very respected, learned man, a Senior Professor (whom I am not naming at this point in time as I haven't asked his permission to put our private conversation out in public). 

I retweeted the interview posted adding my comments. 

The Professor was curious to know why I said that, which I explained in a set of 11 private messages (on Twitter) to him.

These 11 points explain why I think Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swami was targeted, harassed and hounded.  
  1. The Dravidian project and their animus against Hindus in general & Brahmins in particular is well known
  2. There were many other things that were propped up by this movement with the help of the missionary / Indology research money
  3. Among the major beneficiaries of this funding are the people masquerading under the cover of Dalit movements and other anti-Hindu / Brahmin forces (there is a thesis that even some bigger players are beneficiaries but that is to be substantiated yet, so let us not talk about it for now)
  4. One of the things they did was to equate the Dalits of India to the African-Amercians and this resulted in the starting of something we all know as the Afro-Dalit Project
  5. This Afro-Dalit Project (ADP) has a much stronger connection with TN thanks to the Dravidian theory (mainly thanks to Bishop Caldwell) and this farce of the continent of Lemuria. This thesis says that Africa and India were connected and possibly the Africans & Dravidians share the same race / gene structure (which is a farce that has been disproved)
  6. I am sure you know of someone called Dr Deivanayagam & his daughter Dr Devakala, they are among the rabid missionary characters who talk about 3 things (major part of their discourse is this)... (1) Sanskrit is an oppressive Aryan language (2) The Aryans subjugated the poor Dravidians by deceit and destroyed their glorious civilization (3) Thankfully St Thomas landed in Madras and brought god to the heathens and civilized them (and eventually got killed by scheming Brahmins)
  7. One of the major works of Deivanayagam talks about how Thirukkural is a Christian work and how Thiruvalluvar is a disciple of St Thomas (let us park this part in the side for now and return to our main discussion)
  8. So essentially the major focus of these Breaking India forces is to convert as much as Dravidians possible and for them, the Dalits are easy pickings
  9. Now comes Swami Jayendra Saraswati in 2002 when he strikes right at the heart of their scheme. It all started with the Veera Kaliamman Kovil in Melur when the Acharya started this wonderful thing of putting the Dalits at ease with Sanatana Dharma 
  10. This was seen as a major major threat for the Dravidian moment & the missionary work that was being carried out and that is when the outright scheming against Sri Jayandra Saraswati in particular and the Matha in general started gaining pace
  11. This was accentuated by the thought that Sri Jayendra was instrumental for bringing the Anti-conversion law that was enacted by the TN government and also the bill against Animal Sacrifice. So they panicked and that is when they started doing what they did to silence
    Sri Jayendra & the Matha
It is high time we realized how the "Breaking India" forces operate and start countering it as ONE community !!

Thanks due to my cousin, Karthik who forced me to put together this little article !! 

Monday, April 04, 2016

Siya ke Ram: Why one shouldn’t watch it ?

Among the many things the Western world does to civilize us heathens is their effort to tamper with our Sanskriti. One of the important parts of our Sanskriti are the Puranas. As the name would suggest, Purana means something that happened at an earlier time.

That clearly means that it isn’t a work of fiction or imagination. While I wouldn’t get much into why and how here. There are many resources available on net about dating Ramayana that debunk the lies put out by Max Muller and co[1].

These thinkers consider Ramayana as a story written not by one (person) Valmiki but many, many people over a period of very many years.  They say Ramayana originated as the story of a King called Ram in the Jataka Tales of the Buddhists. The Brahmins then copied it from them and started using Ramayana as a tool for social oppression with the blessings of the Kings[2].  

The characters in Ramayana don’t have the power to think on their own, they are controlled and manipulated by powerful characters. For example, Rama is asked to go to the forest by Dasharata and without batting an eyelid he goes. He doesn’t reason it out with Dasharata which means that Rama is controlled by him and Rama can’t think on his own[3].

The other important thing they put forward is that Ramayana is the story about suppressing the “other”. The “Good” Rama kills the “Demonic”, “Other” Ravana. This is based on a Western thought called “othering” where you demonize the other person whom you don't like or want to fight against. According to these scholars, Ramayana and the cult of Rama didn’t exist in India (like today) before the Islamic invasion happened. So worshiping and celebrating Rama started only after the Islamic invasion as a tool to fan hatred against the “other” invader and encourage people to fight them the same way Rama fought Ravana. They project this theory on to the Rama Janmabhoomi dispute to show how the Hindu fundamentalists “other” the minorities[4].

There are other issues in Ramayana according to them, like oppression of the backward classes, women etc. Encouraging the fact that the ruler is god, he should be worshiped and he shouldn’t be questioned[5].

This sort of distortion of truth to infuse our literature with Western concepts and rewrite them in a "secular" or "sanitized" way is not just limited to Ramayana. This is done on all works Indian and all things Sanatana Dharma. The Western scholars call this secularizing Indian literature.

They want to remove all the oppressive elements from our literature, clean it and then give us back a sanitized, secular version for public consumption. So, Siya Ke Ram is one of the secularized versions of Ramayana which is being fed to us.

If you notice, there is a subtle women’s right, tribal oppression, regressive rituals, diabolic thinking of ancient Indians that is highlighted in the serial.

For example, to show Sita as the champion example of a free thinking, independent woman there is this promo I saw recently which shows her capturing a Asvamedha horse from Ayodhya and being shown as THE example of a progressive woman, a rebel.

If you know even a bit of Valmiki Ramayana, you will know that Dasharata performed ONE Asvamedha before Rama was born, Sita wasn’t born before Rama. And therefore Sita couldn’t have captured the Asva (horse) from that Yajna ? Logic, right ? The story has been distorted to show Sita as a rebel and an independent woman.

The next one is about the story of Shanta (Dasharata & Kaushalya’s eldest daughter who was adopted by the King of Anga, Dasharata's very close friend and his wife, Kaushalya's elder sister). Siya Ke Ram shows that Dasharata abandons his daughter in quest for a “Male” child.  And he makes Shanta sacrifice her youth and beauty (I have put it very mildly here. I’m sure those who watched the serial know how they show it) to go to the forest with Rishyasringa. All this in exchange for getting Rishyasringa to do a Puthrakameshti Yajya to beget a “Male” child. So you give away a "Female" child and pray for a "Male" child, a prime example for gender bias and oppression of women.

There are other things highlighted by many like showing the demon “Other” as a tribal. This is to create tensions among the people of India to get brother hate brother[6].

In essence Siya Ke Ram is nothing but an attempt by the Hinduphobic to discredit our Sanskriti. So that our kids (and even us) who watch this serial think that our Puranas are nothing but oppressive stories and start hating our own past and move to the more secular options that the Western world will provide.   

That is the reason why I say, Siya Ke Ram is pure poison that is best avoided. If you really want to know more about Ramayana, indulge in the Ramanand Sagar version that we saw as kids when we were growing up. That is a far superior version that doesn’t contain the many distortions that the current version has.

[2] Read The Battle for Sanskrit (2016, Harper Collins India) by Sri Rajiv Malhotra to know much more
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid

Explaining Seethaiyin Raman to a 6 year old

Saw a message from my cousin that his 6 year old daughter is confused between the Ramayana she was told by elders at home and what she watched on TV as Seethaiyin Raman (Siya Ke Ram in Hindi). My little niece wanted to understand the difference and also the reason behind it. The parent, my cousin wasn't very clear as to how he should explain the difference and he wasn't sure why there were differences in the first place.

So I embarked on a two step journey

  1. To explain the differences to my little niece the way she would understand. Something that would (close to) convince her young inquisitive mind and also be truthful. I also didn't want to go the US & THEM route that the usual Western interpretation of Indian history goes on as, so I wanted to very subtly highlight the difference and then let the kid take a call
  2. To explain why Seethaiyin Raman (Siya Ke Ram) is poisonous for anyone in the long run
In this post we will look at the first part where I explain Seethaiyin Raman to my 6 year old niece. The idea here is to get the parents, my cousin or his wife read this out for my niece so that she understands things better (so that the parents explain the difficult words for a 6 year old) like "Ancestors" etc..

BTW, you will come across two characters (which you might not be aware of... I mean, non Ramayana characters), they are 
  1. Karthik: My cousin who lives in Canada
  2. Amrita: My little niece, Karthik's 6 year old daughter
----The post for Amrita----

Ramayana is a Purana (Puranam in Tamil).

Puranam means old, a Purana means something that describes what happened in olden days, long long ago in a form you will understand, said like a story that even a little girl like you will love and understand.

How will you understand it better ?

If I write 200 pages and give it to you asking you to read it OR if it is told like a nice story ? Like a Hare & a Tortoise !!

Now, if something has happened long ago, like Ramayana how would you want to tell the story ?

Would you want to tell it as it was told by our ancestors (grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather and so on…)


Would you add your own story and tell it ?

For example, would it be good if you say…

Rama & Sita were getting ready to leave, to go to the forest. The whole of Ayodhya was sad, they were crying because their beloved Rama & Sita were going to go to the forest. Appa was watching Cricket on TV when Rama & Sita said goodbye and I was playing with my whiteboard, drawing pictures. And Rama & Sita were gone.

If I tell you that this is the correct Ramayana and put it on TV.

Would you believe it ?

Would it be nice to see a Ramayana with Karthik & Amrita as two characters there ?

So, you need to ask yourself a question.

Is Ramayana a story ?

If you ask me, I will tell you it is NOT.

It is something that happened long long ago.

In an age called Treta Yuga.

Heard about Ice Age (nice movie, right ?).

Like the Ice age they show in the movie, the age of the earth can be divided into 4 Yugas (this is for real !!). By the way, we live in the 4th part. This is called Kali Yuga.

The second part of the age of earth was Treta Yuga and that is when Rama lived.

Did you know ? The Treta Yuga part was more than a million years !!

Ramayana tells you what happened to Rama, how he lived and all that.

So Ramayana is actually like me reading a scrapbook you made during your summer vacation to understand how you enjoyed your vacation.  Cool, right ?

Now that you understand a bit of what Ramayana is. Let us see what Seethaiyin Raman is…

Seethaiyin Raman is like putting Appa, Amma, Amrita & everyone in Ramayana and making it a nice story that everyone would watch on TV.

You do many changes to the original Ramayana and make it a STORY, like the Hare & a Tortoise.
Not good, right ?

Ask Appa to show you the Ramayana they did in Hindi & showed in a TV channel called Doordarshan in India. This was shown when Appa was a small kid like you, may be smaller than you !!

That, Amrita will get you understand Ramayana a little better. And yes, it shows Ramayana without adding any extra stories.

God Bless !!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An exchange with a Scholar...

Dear Sir,

Further to our short discussion about Sri Ganesh and his critique on The Battle For Sanskrit (TBFS) by Sri Rajiv Malhotra (RM), I read and reread his long critique. RM himself has mentioned in the book and also many times during his tour, he wants the discussion going and he also wants a substantive debate that focusses more on the subject and not a person. So Sri Ganesh’s joining the debate is a very welcome move. That said, I have observed certain things in his critique that make me think that all is not fair and Sri Ganesh might have some axe to grind against RM.

That said, I completely agree with you when you say that we need to set aside our differences and unite for the sake of the larger cause.  

“கல்லாதது கடல் அளவு”
What is to be learnt measures an ocean

Before I go further let me clarify that I am not THE expert on Sanatana Dharma or Sanskrit, I am just a student. But the beauty of our culture is that one doesn’t have to be THE expert to join a discussion, he can if he understands (just) what he is talking and more importantly if he is willing to learn.

What I have must be less than a teaspoon, leave alone a handful. So please pardon my enthusiasm and feel free to correct me. Now over to Sri Ganesh’s critique and my observations.

Further, he is also confused with some of the basic terms like sastra, kavya and veda. The irony is that Malhotra himself doesn’t know as much formal Sanskrit as the Indologists he is out to battle.

Here, Sri Ganesh implies that RM relies on second hand information when it comes to all things Sanskrit. From my lay perspective I don’t see a problem with RM and I will not get into justifications just yet. But let me point out that Sri Ganesh himself is found doing what he says RM is doing in this critique. He uses the book (TBFS) as a substitute (the source) for Prof Pollock’s writings and proceeds to criticize RM. 

Malhotra claims to merely perform purvapaksa, but in places where he unwittingly tries his hand at siddhanta, he falls short. In other places where the siddhanta is well-reasoned, it is entirely borrowed (from scholars like K S Kannan, Arvind Sharma, T S Satyanath, etc.) Perhaps bringing them on board as co-authors might have salvaged this work in terms of the quality of siddhanta (and also the diagnosis of the problem). However, Malhotra deserves credit for attempting a purvapaksa. And this is why The Battle for Sanskrit is a valuable work.

In the start of the book itself RM is clear that he is doing just the Purvapaksha and he would require a home team of EXPERTS in the language & tradition to take the subject to the next step. I am sure
Sri Ganesh is aware about the project to take the Purvapaksha of Prof Pollock’s work further, initiated by Dr K S Kannan (information about which I had mailed you 2 weeks ago). Having read the book, I don’t see RM prescribing anything. He repeats time and again that he is just raising the red flag for a more qualified home team to study them and take things forward and that his study is ONLY descriptive.

Sri Ganesh doesn’t stop there, he even prescribes what could have “salvaged” the quality of TBFS and also questions RM’s understanding of the problem. In the next line he contradicts himself to praise RM for attempting a Purvapaksha and calls TBFS a “valuable work”. He has probably taken the principle of carrot & stick a bit too seriously and demonstrated its use in a single paragraph.

Western scholars are familiar with dissent but they often lack a framework to reconcile with the differences and transcend them. While Malhotra respects this spirit, he is unable, unfortunately, to express it clearly in his book.

I thought is comes out clearly in the book, RM explains how the outsider seeks to find differences, amplify them, demonize and then try to secularize our texts using western theories. Among the many things discussed in TBFS, Prof Pollock’s litererization, Ramayana as a text of “othering” and his use of Walter Benjamin & his aesthetics of power, political & liberation philology stand out as things
Prof Pollock has done to run Sanskrit and Sanskriti down. And the advantage is that RM has explained it so simply that even I could understand.

That said, Malhotra’s analysis of European Orientalism and its latter variant, what he terms ‘American Orientalism’ is reasonably accurate.

What good is an analysis without explaining what European Orientalism & American Orientalism stand for ? If RM’s analysis is “reasonably accurate” then he surely has expressed something clearly in the book ? Because one can’t describe a portrait without taking into consideration the subject / object it deals with.

This viewing of India through the Western lens has given rise to several erroneous conclusions and Malhotra makes this point numerous times in his book (to the extent that he could have saved many pages had he chosen not to repeat himself).

Sri Ganesh seems to be more worried about saving paper than seeing the matter in it. A layman in me can see the different contexts that RM is addressing by repeating the issue of looking India through a western lens. For example the theories of aesthetization of power and liberation philology are two different lenses although the expected end result of using them might be the same, running down Sanskrit & Sanskriti. So you have lenses of multiple focal lengths that end doing the same damage that would sit in the big bag of western lenses. That is the reason why RM refers to the big bag when you describe a specific focal length.  

While his comparison of the two kinds of Orientalism is notable, he begins to falter when he compares the ‘Sanskrit Traditionalists’ and ‘American Orientalists.

I guess Sri Ganesh has got it wrong here, what RM refers to in his book is about two kinds of people, (1) Insider & (2) Outsider. I don’t think he terms the insider as a “Sanskrit traditionalist”, if RM describes so then the first person to fall out of this categorization would be he himself. In simple terms (paraphrasing RM in my own words) insider is anyone who understands & respects the Paramarthika & Vyavaharika realms of Sanskrit, in other words he acknowledges the Sanskriti. The outsider is one who secularizes the language by acknowledging only Vyavaharika and attributes motivesto it & calls Paramarthika as some mumbo-jumbo used for suppressing the lesser privileged.

Further, he seems to be ignorant of the voluminous writings of D D Kosambi, Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, R S Sharma, and Rahul Sankrityayan, who opposed Sanskrit and/or Sanskriti long before this supposed American collusion (and even when he mentions Kosambi and Sharma, it is in passing).

This sounds more like, because the author didn’t quote A or B or C enough times I expected, I call him ignorant. Sri Ganesh seems to be missing the point here, all those authors he has mentioned would fit into the “Outsider” category RM describes although they are Insiders from a geographical sense. For instance Marxism as far as we all know is a western concept. So a different focal length but the same western lens.

…but this cannot, sadly, absolve Malhotra of his blatant disregard to the past masters (in spite of his ostentatious dedication line to “our purva-paksha and uttara-paksha debating tradition…”) Not stopping at ignoring the remarkable scholars of the past and present, in several places in his book, Malhotra directly accuses Indian scholars of either being unwillingly complicit with the enemies (p. 68), or being irresponsible (p. 15), or being uninterested (p. 44), or being unaware of Western scholarship (p. 1). He lacks empathy for the numerous scholars who are deeply involved in their own research – be it a specific aspect of Sanskrit grammar, or the accurate dating of an ancient scholar, or preparing a critical edition of a traditional text. And to top it all, Malhotra writes in several places that he is the first person to undertake such a task (see pp. 27, 44, or 379, for example), which as we know is false.

There are many things Sri Ganesh accuses RM of starting with a blatant disregard for the past masters which for me is a bit frivolous and very similar to what I have said before. The reader / reviewer giving a long list of illustrious Indian scholars and saying that the author by not naming each one of them in A BOOK of his is a grave mistake, to an extent that it discredits his work completely. Most of the people mentioned in the list have been mentioned by RM in some work of his or the other.

The other important thing is a generalization that he does to tar RM, that he accuses all Indian scholars. On this I remember I video of the book launch in the Karnataka Sanskrit University (if my memory serves right), he asks the audience, a group of scholars and students of Sanskrit as to how many of them have done some Purvapaksha of any western work. Two people raise their hands reluctantly and the fact that RM found that they too hadn’t done substantive Purvapaksha is another matter. So RM is not saying nobody has done anything, but is clearly saying that one review here and an unpublished work there don’t qualify as a Purvapaksha. Unless they jump into the Kurukshetra and take the bull by its horn, it would be a drop of water in the western Indological ocean.  That said, is RM the FIRST is a question left to RM to answer.

For me the question is not about first or second, to quote my favorite Rajinikant dialogue…

“லேட்டா வந்தாலும் லேட்டஸ்டா வருவேன்”

In an important discourse it doesnt matter who came first or last, what matters is the contribution. For me that is exactly what RM has done.
While it is the saving grace of the book, it is also an indicator of Malhotra’s obsession with Western academia, to the extent that the reader gets the impression that Hinduism will not survive unless Western academia views it in a better light.

Another point Sri Ganesh completely misunderstands about RM.

Yesterday (26.03) on twitter, I read this passionate RM supporter who was trying to talk about the contribution of India to grammar, science etc. A famous troll (I don’t want to name and give credit) tells him that he cannot do that in a peer reviewed academic paper without citing Prof Pollock as one of his sources. That is what we are faced up with. The west will tell you that India henceforth will be called South Asia, and define our religion based on their thinking, our guys will go get educated there, come back and crow what they were taught by their western masters and their theories. There are ample examples of these sepoys if we look around (who hold forte on all things Hindu in MSM).

And finally in his concluding remarks, Sri Ganesh says this…

The battle for Sanskrit and Sanskriti is not a new one. San?tana dharma has survived years of onslaught from many quarters in many guises. But this doesn’t mean that we should ignore the current threats. Malhotra has given a new shape to the debate and because of his influence, this message has spread widely. As he himself writes, it is hoped that more Indian scholars will get on board and provide fitting responses to Malhotra’s red flagging of problematic areas in Pollock’s discourse.

While acknowledging RM’s contribution through TBFS grudgingly, he also gives out another very important thing about the purpose of the book, to  get more Indian scholars to get into the home team and provide fitting responses based on the red flags RM has raised.

If someone got this, then he is cognizant of the red flags and of course the merit of RM raising them.
If that is acknowledged then what is the point ? Let us all join RM, Dr KS Kannan’s Purvapaksha project and work towards a common goal instead of trying to prove whose ego is bigger.

There is one more thing I wish to mention from Sri Ganesh’s critique before I close.

Sanskrit words are non-translatable (pp. 22, 32, 101)

Never in the book or beyond RM has said that Sanskrit words are non-translatable. He has clearly mentioned a few of those words that have a deeper meaning & sound and can’t be translated in “one word”. So it is not Sanskrit that can’t be translated it is certain words that can’t be. That too, is limited to “one word” translations. What RM implies here is that those words should be EXPLAINED to get the actual meaning out and hence while using them it is better to use the Sanskrit original as a transliteration rather than translating them and explaining them separately. An example that RM  frequently quotes is “Aatma” which is commonly translated as “Soul” which actually is wrong.

From what I understand from Sri Rajiv Malhotra (through this e-group interactions) is that he has always been open to working with Sri Ganesh and there is always a road block on the other side. As you will agree we need two hands to clap and just one to slap. Sri Rajiv has been extending that hand waiting for the other to join him in clapping, let us all hope Sri Ganesh joins in soon.


PS: I hope there is a nice intellectual discourse between the two scholars to iron all differences out and we get to see them coming together soon. And yes, these personal attack from both sides should stop immediately. Sri Rajiv Malhotra has repeated it time and again in his group and I am sure people will heed to this request of his.

PPS: Has this critique been stitched up  by many people who probably read one chapter each and then copy edited by one person ?

PPPS: When I finished reading The Battle For Sanskrit last week little did I expected that I would write this as a rejoinder to someone who should actually be part of the home team. All I thought about at that point in time was a small 2 page review of the book.

Friday, February 05, 2016

The aftermath of my Ambrose post...

After my post yesterday, the friend came up with two interesting points to illustrate why my approach might be wrong. While his points are very interesting and might sound as logical as my earlier post on paper, I had to respectfully disagree and I just did that.

So this post gives you an account of the points he raised and my response to him. At this point I really want to thank the two people for making this interesting engagement possible, my friend and his friend whom I guess I can call "my friend" henceforth. Thanks to them, I have my second post in 24 hours after a break of almost an year.

 I love the allure of statistics, ratios and averages. End of the day. its about wickets and runs. I mean Kohli has an average of 40 and 50 in tests and ODIs and so does Dhoni. it does not make MSD as good a batsman is VK? Or maybe he is.

Cricket as a game is loaded against the bowlers. Everything favours the batsmen, the bowler is only remembered for his worst performance (unless and until he’s part of the list we discussed in the previous post). Case in point is Chetan Sharma who is still remembered for that last ball he bowled to Miandad. Nobody even bothers to talk about his world cup hattrick against the Kiwi’s in 1987.

Now, coming to your comparing batting averages against the numbers I put up in my previous post…

They are chalk & cheese. You can’t compare the bowling strike rate with the batting average. Why strike rate, you can’t even compare the bowling average with the batting average.

Batting average is a straight division of the RUNS MADE by INNINGS TAKEN leaving out the innings one was UNBEATEN (Not Out). Note: There is a Not Out consideration

Bowling average is about the runs conceded per wicket

Bowling strike rate is about the balls bowled before a wicket was taken

You don’t have a measure to directly compare the two averages.

If I made one up, it would be something like this..

Ambrose played 179 innings for his 405 wickets. The average would be 405/179 = 2.26. Meaning he took something like 2 wickets per innings (Murali will have 3.5 with his 800 wickets in 230 innings). 

But this is still not comparable, because there isn’t anything that would come close to a Not Out in bowling. And they are two completely different trades although in the same game, Bowling and Batting.

There is a Batting Strike Rate which measures the number of runs scored per 100 balls.

Let us look at Ambrose again, he faced 3080 balls for his 1439 runs. So his strike rate is 1439/3080 (*100) = 46.72

VVS Laxman faced 17,785 balls for his 8781 runs with a strike rate of 49.37.

So can we say Laxman = Ambrose ? You will call me names J

Because for a batsman you need to look at the average in the long haul. You can compare a Kohli & Dhoni with the averages. That would be a Quantitative take, purely based on runs scored and innings taken. If you compare their batsmanship on technique and flair, that would be a Qualitative take.

And yes, for a Quantitative take you need to define your minimum requirement. For example you cannot compare a player A who has only played 15 innings with a player B who had played 125 innings. That is why in many cases cricket statisticians define a min comparison requirement in terms of the number matches played.

Now getting back to our topic, bowling. The analysis I provided only gives you a prediction, a forecast had Ambrose played a bit more, bowled a bit more. According to the stats, I concluded that he might have taken more wickets and broken into the top 3 wicket takers had he played more, bowled more. But we all know he didn’t.

So in this case, what I wrote as my concluding para (two paras) is what matters (BTW, I struck down the uncomfortable truth in the game of cricket).

For the time he has spent on the field, he has done extraordinarily well. Just that we are trained / conditioned to look at the wrong piece of stat to decide who / what a best bowler is

Hence Ambrose is surely among the best of bowlers Cricket world has seen, irrespective of 400 or 800.

So is it in soccer, it is about goals. hence Messi + Ronaldo will always be the highest rated. of course this year, Lewandowski might have a chance at it. 
In Tennis, you have no choice but to see tournament wins. 
In Athletics; Gold medals, not even Silver. How cruel. Who cares if Usain Bolt is last of the blocks. Or if he pulls up before the tape. 
My boss would want to know if i made plan. Nothing to do with productivity, averages etc etc etc.

Every game has its different way of looking at player performance. I would say the soccer stats are very cruel too. They are only forward / midfield friendly. What happens to a defender or a non goal scorer ? How do you evaluate him ?

Again, you cannot bring athletics or any individual sport / single player game in here. Because in those cases performance evaluation is simple, like you say about Usain Bolt. It is black or white. So you don't need the crutch of a piece of stat to measure effectiveness.

For me, the three (all round) stat friendly team games (from a player performance evaluation perspective) are basketball (NBA), Baseball (MLB) and Ice-hockey (NHL).

So in summary, two very interesting points raised by this friend

Comparing the bowling statistics to batting: My answer is simple, we cannot directly compare a piece of bowling stat with that of batting. Plus what I did in my previous post is not to prove that Ambrose would definitely have taken 800 wickets or more.

It was an attempt to see if he might have had be played more. Given what his performance is, the stats say that he might have. We know he didn't.

But the main point is that the fact that he didn't doesn't in anyway eclipse the fact that he is a top class bowler.

And two,

You cannot compare individual sports with individual sports. Or for that matter compare a game A to B in terms of the stats you churn out, for certain indicators might not be in vogue or even available for the sport in question. 

Stats: Thanks to Cricinfo

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Could Curtly Ambrose have ended up with 800 test wickets ?

After hibernating for long, I decided I should do a post on this one.

To give a background, a good friend posts a video of Curtly Ambrose running through the Australians 23 years ago. A friend of that friend posts a nice piece of stat showing the top wicket takers in the world and bemoans the fact as to why Ambrose is not among the highest wicket takers in the world. In the post below, I try to reason why his anguish might be a little misplaced.

To get things going, that is the link for the video and see below for the nice piece of stat this friend of my friend had posted.

And now, what do I think about Ambrose the bowler ?

Top bowler in cricket is a warped term. We see top from the perspective of the number of wickets taken.

If you go by that, yes Ambrose ended up with 405 wickets.

Let me show you how he compares with Muralidaran

Number of Matches: Ambrose (A) = 98 Murali (M) = 133

Number of innings: A = 179 M = 230

Wickets taken: A = 405 M = 800

Strike rate (balls taken per wicket): A = 54.5 M = 55

Number of balls bowled: A = 22,103 M = 44,039

What can we see from there ?
  1. Murali has played 35 more matches than Ambrose (51 innings more)
  2. Murali has taken twice the number of wickets (almost)
  3. The two bowlers have taken more or less the same number of balls per wicket
  4. Murali has bowled almost twice the number of balls Ambrose bowled

Keeping in mind the fact that their strike rate is almost the same, we should note the following
  • Ambrose played less number of matches / innings compared to Murali
  • But the clincher, Murali had twice the opportunity Ambrose had to get his 800

Now, there could be other counter arguments like
  • Murali took 5 wickets an innings 3 times more than Ambrose (A = 22 M = 67)
  •  Murali took 10 wickets per match 7 times more than Ambrose (A = 3 M = 22)

According to me there are three (actually two) types of bowlers (and their ways of getting test wickets)
  1. An assiduous one who keeps working for his wickets
  2. A gifted one who strikes at will (Dale Steyn for example)
  3. A combination of both

Most of the bowlers belong to the first category, where if you wanted to use a cricket cliché, they hunted in pairs. Murali was a combination, may be mainly because he didn’t have anyone to combine with for most part of his career.

The problem while hunting in pairs is that you are sharing the workload and hence the fruit too. If you compare for example Walsh with Ambrose (and discount the fact that Walsh played more tests compared to Ambrose) you will see that both have produced very similar results. The important fact there is that Ambrose has a better strike rate or wicket taking ability among the two. But he has still ended up with lesser wickets compared to Walsh (519) thanks to the fact that he played lesser games than him (Walsh = 132, Innings = 242).

The fact that most of the bowlers in the list  of top wicket takers are fast bowlers again plays a huge role in the workload per match / innings (in other words the number of overs they bowled).

So considering the fact that Ambrose was a genuine fast bowler let us discount the comparison on the number of overs bowled vis-à-vis Murali. He couldn’t have bowled that many overs.

Then we can conclude that had Ambrose played a bit more (even to the extent Walsh did), he would have surely broken into the Top 5 if not the 3.

For the time he has spent on the field, he has done extraordinarily well. Just that we are trained / conditioned to look at the wrong piece of stat to decide who / what a best bowler is

Hence Ambrose is surely among the best of bowlers Cricket world has seen, irrespective of 400 or 800.

Stats: Courtesy Cricinfo