DAXSLY – Small things in History -Siraj Ud-Daula forgets to bring a tarpaulin sheet to the battle of Plassey. Gives British the gateway to establish their empire.

2. Siraj Ud-Daula forgets to bring a tarpaulin sheet to the battle of Plassey. Gives British the gateway to establish their empire.

The 1700’s was an interesting time for India, for that was the time Europeans started realizing the riches that our country had to offer. So, Europeans from all countries, rich or poor, started settlements in the Indian sub-continent to make a quick buck. The Dutch, The French and even the friggin Danes found their way to India. And then the English arrived.

The East India Company, set up shop in India in 1612 claiming to be a trading company, trying to make a bit of cash. They did try to exceed their brief in 1682, when Job Charnock (Better known as the guy who established Kolkata) tried to capture Mughal fortifications on the Hooghlee river.

Mughals, specifically their Emperor, Aurangazeb, did not like it.

In retaliation, Aurganzeb gave them such a pounding that within a month, all of Job Charnock’s forces were wiped out (Child’s war). And for some more fun, Mughals captured the port of Bombay. Scared s***less by the aggressive Mughals, British ambassadors begged pleaded and even prostrated in front of Aurangazeb to get Bombay back. They finally had to pay an indemnity of 600,000 17th century pounds for Aurangazeb’s benevolence. Also, they promised to keep their tails firmly between their red backsides.

So when Aurangazeb died in 1706, what did the British do? They broke their promise.

Playing one Indian Nawab against another, the British started expanding. Aiding them in this endaevour was the outbreak of the seven years war in Europe. The European Franco-English contest soon spread to India, in the form of the Carnatic Wars. Indian Nawabs now had to take sides. Inevitably the war spread to one of India’s largest states at that time, Bengal.

Bengal was then ruled by a guy called Aliwardy Khan. British got the first toehold in Bengal, when the Khan solicited their help to keep out the rampaging Marathas. In return, Brits got the permission to trade in Bengal. Aliwardy however, was shrewd enough to keep the British at an arms length, lest they involve him in their war against the French.

That common sense disappeared when Aliwardy Khan died in 1756. He was succeeded by his stupid, short tempered nineteen year old grandson, Siraj Ud Daulah. The succession happened around the time British started fortifying their trading center in Calcutta. Siraj did not like it and asked the them to stop immediately. And when the Brits showed no signs of listening, he did what any nineteen year old with a real army and cannons would do.

He attacked Calcutta.

Defeating the small British Army stationed there he took 146 British prisoners, including civilians. Siraj was happy, I mean how many nineteen year old’s in history, can boast of capturing Calcutta and defeating the British in a real war?

Then, in one of the biggest dick moves in Indian history, Siraj Ud Daula stuffed the 146 Englishmen, into a dungeon meant to house six people. When the dungeon was opened, Siraj came face to face with 127 dead and nineteen delirious Englishmen in what is known as the black hole of Calcutta.

Understandably, the Brits were pissed.

To teach the nineteen year old a lesson, 500 whites, 2500 native sepoys and Robert Clive marched into Bengal from Madras. First they recaptured Calcutta, and then for some action, sacked the nearby French settlement of Chadranagar. As the French were now Siraj’s allies, He, once again, attacked the British. On the 23rd of June, 1757, the two armies came face to face at the village of Palashi, 140 kms north of Kolkata.

Siraj came to Palashi with 35,000 infantry, 7000 cavalry and 53 cannons, 8 of them Made in France. Facing up to his mass, were 750 Europeans, 2100 native Indians, 8 cannons and one Robert Clive. If this was a wrestling bout, it would have looked something like this.

The British though had one ace up their sleeve. Those who paid attention in History class, at this point will say, Mir Jafar. In reality though, the ace was not even a human being. It was far more mundane. It was a

A canvas tarpaulin sheet

British, being meticulous and all, had bought along tarpaulin sheets from Madras, to cover themselves. Siraj, in his hurry, forgot to bring one. And the night before the battle, it rained.

British covered their Gunpowder with their tarpaulin sheet. Siraj just abused the Gods, because

Basic science suggests that when water mixes with gunpowder, the result is the equivalent of

Siraj now had plenty of it. Which ensured, the only way his cannons could do same damage, was by physically falling on the British.

While the British, gunpowder covered with aforementioned tarpaulin sheet, had cannons that were

When, Siraj charged at the British with his numerically, for the want of a better word, superior army, British uncovered their cannons. When, Siraj tried to retaliate, all he had was a gooey mess that was his gunpowder, which could not fire a miniature pistol, let alone a friggin cannon. Siraj’s main army was torn to shreds and his most important general of the day, Mir Madan Khan was killed. Center lost, Siraj turned to his flanks, where his other General, Mir Jafar was waiting with 10,000 men.

At this point, Jafar showed the 1757 equivalent of the middle finger to Siraj and walked over to the British.

Siraj lost the day and was chased away from Bengal. Mir Jafar was made the Nawab, who gratefully gave the British the right to collect taxes in the province of Calcutta. Using this windfall, in 1764, they engaged and defeated the then Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam, in the battle of Buxar. As spoils of war, they gained the administrative and economic control of Bengal, Bihar and Orrisa. Now a recognized power with a lot of cash, they turned on other Indian kings and the rest is history.

What if Siraj had covered his gunpowder?

We would today be participating in the Jeux de la Francophonie. In other words, we would have been ruled by the freaking French. And so would have been the whole of Europe. The French would have been kings.

A french man

If you did not realize, the French supported Siraj. That is why those 8 Made-in-France cannons. If Siraj had won, it would have been the French who would have got the control of Calcutta and all its riches. The now rich French’s first priority would have been to eliminate their main adversary on the sub-continent, The British. And British would not have had a chance, as their army would have been annihilated at Plassey. Driven out of India, French would have had a free hand. So in everything that happened in India after Plassey, just replace the British with the French.

Also, why do you think the British became the Kings of the world? Because they could wage war with impunity. And why were they able to that? Because the constant inflow of the booty from India gave them the economic power to do it. Transfer all that wealth to the France, and imagine a new Europe. In this Europe, French would have been emperors.

If only Siraj remembered to bring a tarpaulin sheet.

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DAXSLY : Hindu: The Most Misinterpreted Term

Hindu: The Most Misinterpreted Term

Sudipto Das

Sudipto Das, an IIT alumnus, is an author, musician and columnist. His debut novel The Ekkos Clan published in 2013. Trained in western classical music, he is the founding member of a music band Kohal. During the day, he works as the VP Engineering in a semiconductor firm in Bangalore.

9 Mar, 201515Cultureculture / HInduism /identity / witzel

Here I stand, a Hindu, with a constant dichotomy within me as to what it really means—my nationality or my religion.

It’s not a very fortunate thing that even the names by which a major religion, or for that matter, the native people who are believed to be its followers and its country of origin are generally designated, both by the natives and foreigners, have been all so much a subject of misinterpretation and politicization. The names, all related though, in consideration, are Hindu and its variants.

“Hindu” has been officially accepted, since quite some time, both as the name of the religion followed by a vast majority of Indians and also the people themselves who are believed to be its followers. So I’m a Hindu and so is my religion, as per the census, though thankfully I don’t have to write my religion in any official identification document like passport, PAN card or AADHAR card.

India is a secular country. So it’s not acceptable to call her a Hindu nation. But, very interestingly, India is still referred to as, though not officially, Hindustan, the land of the Hindus. She is also referred to as Hind—Jai Hind, Victory to Hind, has been the clarion call to arouse a feeling of nationhood and nationalism since long. The people of Hind would be logically called Hindi, like the people of Bangal are called Bangali.

So we’ve India, Hindustan and Hind as various names for India, and also Bharata or Bharatavarsha, which we can keep aside for the time being.

Etymologically India and Hindu are cognates, meaning both have descended from the same source, which in this case is Sindhu, the name of the river which flows through the north western India and Pakistan. The earliest usage of the term Hindu may be in the expression Hapta Hendu, found in the later Avestan Zoroastrian text of Vendidad, dated not later than the 8th century BC, where it refers to the land of the Sapta Sindhu, Seven Sindhus, as one of the sixteen best, vahistem, places created by the prophet Ahura Mazda. The land of the Sapta Sindhu is undoubtedly an epithet for the present day Punjab and the seven sindhus are the seven rivers – Sindhu or Indus, its five tributaries and the mythical river Saraswati.

How and when exactly the land of the Sapta Sindhu or Hapta Hindu came to be known as simply the land of the Hindu is not known. Eventually the geographical area which was initially referred to as the land of the Hindu was expanded by the Persians to include the whole of the Indian subcontinent, or at least the entire northern India which, from time to time, was consolidated under one empire over the past two thousand years under various emperors starting from Ashoka till the Mughals.

Designating a group of people or their native land by the name of a river is not a unique thing. The ancient Greek name of Volga is Rha, a cognate of Indo-Iranian rasa or raha and Latin ros, meaning moisture. There’s a mythical river Rasa in the Rig Veda. The name Volga comes from the Slavic words vlaga and vologa meaning wetness and humidity. Even now a small group of people who speak the Mordvinic languages in the Volga basin refer to Volga as Rav, surely a cognate of rasa. The name Russia may still bear vestiges of Rasa, the ancient name of the Volga.

It may be interesting to note that even during the time of the Rig Veda, not later than 1500 BC, some seven centuries before the first usage of the term Hindu to refer to the people of the Indus valley, the native people were not a homogeneous group. Professor Michael Witzel, an eminent historian of the Harvard University, mentions in his various papers that during the early Rig Vedic age, around 1700 BC, the present day Punjab might have been peopled mainly by the Indo-Aryans speaking Sanskrit. The language of the upper Indus valley might have been para-Munda and that of south Indus Meluhan and proto-Dravidian. Ethnically all these people were different. The diversity increased in the next three millennium. Still the single term Hindu to designate all of them and also the other people of the entire subcontinent remained in vogue.

The reason for designating a diverse group of people speaking different languages and following different rituals and practices by a single name might have been the geographical isolation of the Indian subcontinent from the Central Asia. So even at the very beginning, the term Hindu was the designation of a diverse group of people united perhaps by only one factor—the geographical isolation of their native land. (Here I consider that the Indo-Aryan peoples, the carriers of the Sanskrit language, had already become as good as native by the time the term Hindu was coined).

That the term Hindu was never a designation of a particular religion or its followers is very evident from the fact that even a fanatic Muslim emperor like Aurangzeb was absolutely fine with the term Hindustan, by which the Indian subcontinent, especially the north Indian empires, would be mostly designated. Hindu has been always the single identity of the people of the Indian subcontinent. Hindu and its cognates were the names by which the people of the entire Indian subcontinent were always called by the rest of the world, much before it was actually unified as a single country recently during the British era.

So when did the term Hindu get a ‘communal’ tag? Let us investigate that now.

If Hindu was never the name of any religion then what was the name of the religion followed by the vast majority of the Indians?

To understand that, let us see what has been the Indian word for religion. Dharma, the Indian word nearest to what is meant by religion, etymologically doesn’t mean “religion”. As per the Monier Williams’ Sanskrit dictionary, the meaning which comes close to religion is perhaps “customary observance or prescribed conduct”. The religion which is now designated by the generic term Hindu was never a single dharma. The various schools of religion or “prescribed conduct”, which evolved directly or indirectly from the Vedas, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism included, are sometimes so different and divergent, that clubbing all of them under one religion would be absurd. And that was exactly the reason why all these schools never had any single designation.

In his Argumentative Indian, Amartya Sen writes about Charvaka, “the crestgem of the atheistic school” in which, “in addition to the denial of God, there is also a rejection of the soul, and an assertion of the material basis of the mind”. This particular school of religion, very much within the scope of what is now referred to as Hinduism, is perhaps more alien to, say, the Vaishnava school, than is Islam or Christianity.

The Ishopanishad has the famous saying, “tena tyaktena bhunjita”, you should accept only that is set aside for you. It’s the seed concept of “enjoyment in renunciation”, an integral part of most of the religious schools of India. Exactly opposite, as said by Rabindranath Tagore, “bairagyo sadhone mukti, she amar noi”, deliverance is not for me in renunciation, is also an accepted school. The school of Nirakarvadi, who worship the Supreme God as a formless entity, very much like Islam, is totally against the Sakarvadi, who worship idols.

A Vaishnavite and a Shaivite would be as antagonistic to each other as may be a Muslim to a Jew. Worship of Manasa, the snake goddess in West Bengal, surely an indigenous pagan tradition, is as opposed to the worship of Shiva, as would be, say, an Indian to a Pakistani.

These are just few examples of the orthogonally different aspects of the various schools of Indian religion, all of which have been attempted to be clubbed under a single designation of Hinduism. That’s illogical and that was never the case too in the remote or recent past. This also explains why there was never a single name for all these contradicting schools of religion, all of which flourished side by side for millennia. But still, the designation of all the people practicing conflicting “religions” by a single name Hindu has been always in vogue. This only strengthens the reasoning that the term Hindu was never a communal designation. Rather, it has always been the unifying identity of the diverse peoples of India.

The term Hindu, as seen, is of Persian origin and very expectedly it never appeared in any Indian text for a very long time. The Indians, till recently, didn’t have any indigenous single term for its diverse population, though from outside they were always seen as Hindus.

When did then the term appear in Indian text? There’s no concrete answer for this. The 3rd edition of the 93rd volume of the Journal of the American Oriental Society published in 1973 had an interesting article titled “The word ‘Hindu’ in Gaudiya Vaishnava texts”, where it’s said that the Vaishnava texts written in Bengali between 16th and 18th centuries might be among the first Indian texts to have the word Hindu. In the eighty thousand Bengali couplets considered, there are only forty eight occurrences of the word Hindu.

It’s important to note that the Muslim rule had already started in Bengal. It was the first time the native people were being ruled by foreigners. So very expectedly the Muslim people, mainly the ruling class, are mostly referred to as yavana, meaning averting, foreigners, and mlechcha, meaning despised people. The communal term Musalman is rarely used. The Bengali renderings of the ethnic terms like Pathans and Turks are also used sometimes to refer to the Muslim rulers. And the term Hindu is almost always used as the designation of the native people, opposed to the foreigners. It can’t be said that the term Hindu applies only to the Vaishnavites, whose religious texts are under consideration. It’s very likely that the term applies to non Vaishnavites too, to all natives. It’s not clear though whether the term Hindu also includes the converted Muslims and the tribal population. Nevertheless, it’s quite clear that the term has been necessitated just to create a nationalistic identity of the natives against the foreigners. Interestingly the Greeks were also referred to as yavanas in the past. So here too, the term Hindu denotes a unified national identity to a motley mix of people divided in their practices and ethnicities.

It’s important to note the Bengali expression “Hindur dharma”, the religion of the Hindus, or “Hindur achar”, the practices of the Hindus, in these texts. Would you ever refer to Christianity as “Christian’s Religion” or Islam as “Muslim’s Religion”? But you could say “Religion of the Romans” or “Religion of the Turks”.

Another notable observation in these texts is that the term Hindu is mostly used as a designation for the natives in the speech of the people from the Muslim or foreigner ruling class. Only in few instances the term is used in the speech of the natives. So this also implies that this unifying nationalistic identity of the natives was more of a term used by the foreigners, the Muslim ruling class in this case, to designate the natives and that the term as such was still not popular among the natives as their self-designation.

David N. Lorenzen in his paper “Who Invented Hinduism” has pointed out that the Maithili poet Vidyapati in his early fifteenth century historical romance called Kirtilata refers to the term Hindu:

The Hindus and the Turks live close together.
Each makes fun of the other’s religion…

Here too, it should be noted, that Muslims are referred to as the Turks, by their ethnic designation rather than religious. So the reference of the term Hindu in the same line has to be an ethnic designation.

So, Lorenzen’s query, who invented Hinduism, is still not answered. He mentioned in his paper that one of the earliest usage of the term Hindooism in the sense of a religion is perhaps in 1829 by W. C. Smith. He also points out that he noticed the mention of Hindooism in English texts by Ram Mohan Roy published in 1816 and 1817. Though this predates W. C. Smith’s reference to Hindoosim, it’s likely that the usage of the term, referring to a religion, was perhaps already in vogue by the nineteenth century. It’s possible that the colonial British people would have, either mistakenly or with some intention, grossly brought the vast majority of the non-Christian and non-Muslim natives under one umbrella – the Hindus – thus, converting a national unifying enthno-geographic identity of the Indians to a communal one.

It may be argued why this should be an issue now. Secularists may say that whatever might be the reason, once the term Hindu has been associated to a particular community, why rake the history and “polarize” public opinion? It’s not about polarization or politicizing. It’s about totally ignoring an identity of more than two millennium and trying to create a new one, that too for no reason.

Identities are created over a long time and they are foundations of cultures, of nations and of civilizations. Roman culture and history without the term “Roman” is absurd even though most of it is associated with a particular religion. The Hindu civilization or culture, on the contrary, has never been a homogeneous one. Rather, it has been always a series of conflicting cultures, as shown earlier, peacefully coexisting for thousands of years. Compared to that, the modern concept of the Indian nation and culture doesn’t have such a glorious record of secularism or peaceful coexistence.

The very fact that the term Hindustan is still in vogue, and that the terms like India and Hindi are fine, but Hindu is not, seems to be hypocritical – India, Hindi, Hindu are all akin terms. It may be argued that etymology alone hardly captures a word’s full range of connotations in a given time in a given sociocultural context.

Everything may be linguistically correct, but the signifier “Hindustan” or “Hindu” include emotive contents — ranging from pride to paranoia, fairness to fear — that are derived from the lived history of those constructs. “Hindu” as a religious characterization is essentially meaningless but nonetheless it is an extremely powerful marker of Identity to those who believe themselves to be “Hindu” and to those who believe themselves not to be. That demarcation of identity is real, and the word becomes a symbol that represents that demarcation.

So there I stand, a Hindu, with a constant dichotomy within me as to what it really means – my nationality or my religion.

(With inputs from a friend)

  • Prashant
    When RSS talks of Hinduism it doesn’t refer to what North Indians do to pray God or what South Indians do or how different sects within Hinduism pray to God or whether Hindus pray to God or not.

    When RSS talks of Hinduism it talks of all the features and varieties of Hinduism. Nothing can be as diverse as this. Yet ignorants accuse RSS of homogenizing India. Yet ignorants bring fear to Indians saying RSS’s agenda is to finish the diversity and secularism. This is absurd and idiotic statement coming from ‘intellectuals’ of India.

    How can RSS impose Hinduism when there is endless ways in which one can be Hindus? What RSS wants is secure, prosperous and self-confident people in India known as Hindus. Beyond that what sect is followed by who or not following anything is not the area of interest to them.

    Author can get the clue from RSS : Hinduism represents set of people who do not have one ideology or one philosophy but a set of different ideologies and philosophies and who live within the boundary of India. It is another matter that some 20 centuries ago the region under India was as big as that of Russia and over the time we kept losing our region to invaders/separatist.

    When I say Hindu or when any of friends I know say hindu then it’s not necessary for them to also say what Sect of Hindu religion they follow. There is commonality in all those sects and it really doesn’t matter who follows what sect as long as they acknowledge their identity as Hindu.

    In modern term Hinduism represents one of the most secular and diverse set of people. And if RSS wants to protect or give strength to Hinduism and Hindus then it automatically means RSS wants very secular and diverse society that is confident and that is strong enough to protect this diversity. So that we don’t see another invasion happening or another part of India being separated from it.

    Jai Hind.

    • for once
      you notice that those who accuse rss are a very homogenous lot

      india’s mind boggling diversity rattles them

      • for once
        india has four layers
        spiritual, religious, social, political

        1500 years of political upheaval has not been able to dent even the social fabric much … and then there is religious fabric and then spritual core

        • Prashant
          It does rattle them but it is job of intellectuals to promote and explain the system of Hinduism so that ignorants can understand the great thing called Hinduism.

          I also find that those who oppose RSS for trying to give more push and energy to this system either have anti-Hindu agenda or they are taught in a system where facts are distorted. Their ignorance is getting harmful day by day and it is this fact that Missionaries use it for their use.

          We must remove these ignorants from any key post or policy making post. They can not be given task of nation building. They are snakes who are biting the hand that feeds them. I hope BJP knows all these and does all necessary steps.

    • Dhruv Chopra
      RSS is a cultural organisation and not religious, people fail to understand that. Even BJP stands for cultural nationalism, that is, one nation one culture. Even atheists are hindus by RSS’ definition. Vir Savarkar was an atheist.
      They define Hindu as one who considers the land between Sindhu nadi (River Indus) and Sindhu sagar (Indian Ocean) as his pitrabhoomi (father land) and punya bhoomi (sacred land). That’s why even an atheist hindu is also a desh bhakt. “Rashtra devo Bhava”, nation is equivalent to God. That’s why patriotism for motherland comes naturally to Hindus.

      • Prashant
        I agree….modern term ‘religion’ can’t be applied to Hinduism. What gives me pleasure and happiness is that Hinduism provides a platform where you can experiment, follow or create your own sect. When Rajiv Malhotra says it is open architecture he is 100% correct.

        RSS is there to protect this identity. And it’s common sense that unless there is sense of security, freedom and confidence among the people of Hinduism it can not be ‘protected’ and will always be vulnerable to those system who follow rigid set of rules and laws.

        Let us be proud of this open architecture and let us do all we can do to preserve this because under this system only you can have countless/endless varieties and features and humanity can flourish and do experiment. It is only this system that can accommodate modern groups of ‘liberals’ ‘idealists’ ‘atheist’ ‘seculars’.

        Let us praise RSS for doing the great work and for their oath of keeping this feature of Hinduism alive and secure.

        Jai Hind.

  • Pappu Italvi
    In Indonesia which too have a ancient Hindu heritage , many of its non-Hindu people still carry Hindu names and they proudly display that even though they practice Islam.

    Last time I was there, one of the most popular TV series there was Mahabrata (Mahabharata)

    • Prashant
      I know. People who don’t live in India and yet have the connection with it know the values of our culture and philosophies. It’s only us ‘secular’ people who are taught to hate our own great things.

      We are constantly living under the atmosphere where we are step by step taught to hate the parts of Hinduism and replace it with those of Western.

      Education system is gone. They are also writing how pathetic and weird the Indian Family System is. Our cultures are misrepresented and shown to be “NOT MODERN” and “NOT PROGRESSIVE”.

      Western = Modern is one of the most evil concept that our people are taught. And these days more and more Indians are helping this concept. Sad state of country like India.

  • Vis
    I think that this is a very good topic to research and debate. I believe one line where you write “So we’ve India, Hindustan and Hind as various names for India, and also Bharata or Bharatavarsha, which we can keep aside for the time being.” — is the most important line.

    • for once
      dharm – putra dharm, patni dharm and like this
      for dharm you need ‘vivek’

      those not possessing ‘vivek’ , for them wise people set some rules
      following those rules … is religion

      if you can use your ‘vivek’ then you will not be given any dictates to follow

      western religion start with surrendering of ‘vivek’ … just follow rules

      in bharat, you are supposed to follow some rules till your ‘vivek’ is developed
      and if you go on following rules without developing your own ‘vivek’
      we call them ‘lakir ke fakir’ and its not something good

      that’s the difference and it makes all the difference

  • Shatajit Basu
    Please do not quote Witzel who has repeatedly exposed for his biased attitude towards Vedic History and for propagating the false aryan invasion theory ! Nice article otherwise.
  • Dhruv Chopra
    The word hindu is of persian origin which means people living on the east of the river sindhu, as the article says.
    Following is some information that I’ve gathered about the word hindu/hinduism:
    In Shekhar Bandhopadhyay’s plassey to partition, it is mentioned that ‘Hindu’ officially came to be associated with the ‘native’, non-muslim non-christian populations during the 1871 census by the British imperial government, when for the sake of framing the 1892 indian council act the british wanted to know the relative strength of the native population in order to make reforms. Most natives answered their caste as their religion indentifying as kayasthas, Khatris, even jains used caste apparently. So in order to homogenise this mind-boggling diversity they called them hindus and muhammadans as muslims, sowing the seeds of ‘communalising’ the word ‘hindu’. It had a huge impact on Indian politics as it led to rise of religious consciousness amongs the ‘hindus’ and they came to know about their relative numerical superiority vis-a-viś muslims. This was the major reason for Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s inferiority complex and insecurity of ‘his’ people. It also led to rise of demand for using Hindi instead of persian as official language in UP and Awadh.
    The word hindu further got exclusively identified with “Astiks” (that is, those who hold superiority of Vedas; as opposed to “Nastiks” who reject the authority of vedas) during 1920’s when Sikhs formed Shiromani Akali Dal and it led to maintaining their seperate identity.
    In Jan 2014, congress further shrunk the definition of Hindus from official texts by granting jains minority status and so now Hindus are exclusively associated with those who uphold vedas as sacred texts.
    Hope this helps, and please keep up the good work!
  • Aravind Ganesh V
    Rather than going by the term ‘Hindu”Hindustan’ I would advise you to stick to the term ‘Bharatham’ esp when you want to outsmart a commie/ libtard/ sickular/Missionary (or their stooges) trying to promote Dravidian myth. Those folks with an intent to deconstruct the idea of ‘nationalism’ will usually rant that there was no nation called India and the Indian nation itself is an artificial construct.

    Long back I happened to come across one such dumbo who argued that India is just an artificial nation created by uniting various princely states. In reply to that my 1st point of defense was a text from Bhagavath Gita in which the term “Bharatham” has been described with appropriate references to the land mass. Next was from Sangam literature in which there were references about King’s clans (Most of the kings of Bharatha khandam had common clans). Final references were from Columbus’ handwritten notes in which he refers natives of his newly discovered landmass as ‘Indios’ (Indians in Spanish).

  • JVG
    There is a fundamental difference between Religion and Dharma. Our failure to be conscious of this difference has resulted in the creation of several crucial problems that we, as humans, have faced in this century and continue to face even today.

    In modern day language, dharma is equated, quite unfairly with religion. Organized religion demands adherence of the followers to the Book and the Prophet. Anything outside the boundaries of a faith is considered irreligious, if not downright sinful. It is believed that salvation lies only through the body of the Prophet or His words. History of mankind is often a gory testament of destruction wrought by the zealots in pursuit of faith. It is a testament of dividing people and converting them, of persecution, intolerance and subjugation, or of burning at the stakes: of the contest between the ecclesiastical and the temporal, the doctrine of two swords and of intrigues. Religion has been one of the most potent divisive forces in all history.

    Dharma, however is different. It is different because it unites. There can never be divisions in dharma. Every interpretation is valid and welcome. No authority is too great to be questioned, too sacred to be touched. Unlimited interpretative freedom through free will is the quintessence of Dharma, for Dharma is as limitless as truth itself. No one can ever be its sole mouthpiece.

    The Western cultural traditions, on the other hand, are built around religions. The emergence of the nation-state in the 16th and 17th centuries was the product of religious conflicts of the secular State with the Church. Much of what we call modern political vocabulary emerged and acquired meaning during those turbulent periods. Much of this vocabulary was directed at defining spheres – of the individual, of the State, of the Church, as well as their inter-se relationship. The concepts of identity, ethnicity and autonomy are the products of this separation between the Church and the State. The emergence of science as a discipline made the issue of identity vis-a-vis religion more acute.

    Due to the dominance of much of the world by the Western countries, modernity and modernism came to be associated with these divisive concepts that originated in the West. The Western education system forced us to think in Western ways. But more than that Western influence resulted in our resenting our own moorings which were described by the West as backward. We got into the habit of using words and concepts without giving thought to their relevance for the Indian ethos. We attempted to fit ourselves into the strait-jacket of Western ideas and concepts. This resulted in conflicts, chaos and divisions in Indian society.

    Our principal error, which we continue to make to this day was in not making the distinction between dharma and organized religion. How can that which is cosmic, and thus, limitless ever be compartmentalized and limited in boundaries? How can something which evolved through interpretation by free-will of millions of people ever be handed down in the form of a limited doctrine ideology or value system? dharma shunned all attempts at strait-jacketing. Western culture, on the other hand, was a universe of many strait-jackets.

    The English word “religion” is derived from the Middle English “religioun” which came from the Old French “religion.” It may have been originally derived from the Latin word “religo” which means “good faith,” “ritual,” and other similar meanings. Or it may have come from the Latin “religãre” which means “to tie fast.”

    Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary says that religion is one of the systems of faith that are based on the belief in the existence of a particular god or gods. The New Collins Dictionary gives the meaning of religion as any formal or institutionalized expression of the belief in a supernatural power(s) considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny.

    Even though the word “religion” has its roots in the ancient Latin, its meaning and comprehension has changed entirely in recent centuries. Thus, today this word is based on a Christian concept and rooted in a Christian background of affiliation which came into use in the nineteenth century. Contrary to this definition, many spiritual traditions especially the Hindu and most Eastern traditions do not share the same concept of religion and its affiliation. It suffers from a general malady – that of using Western terms, categories, and worldviews to understand an Eastern tradition. Adopting the Western worldviews and nomenclature to interpret the Hindu tradition has distorted the reality, to the extent that the true meaning and concepts of Sanatana Dharma (categorically termed ‘Hinduism’ in the narrow sense ‘religion’) is not understood correctly or often regarded as complicated — not because its teaching and concepts are complex, but due to the incorrect means of understanding.

    There is a need to appreciate that there is a difference in which religion is looked at in the Hindu and Christian viewpoint. For a Hindu, religion is not a mere ritual, but a philosophy of life. We know that Hinduism does not have a book, a prophet, or a centralized hierarchy. The correct description of Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma. While sanatan has an English equivalent, meaning “timeless”, translating dharma as religion is not proper. Dharma encompasses religion. Confusion prevails when dharma is equated with religion.

    When we begin to understand what dharma is and that it has been a very different concept than religion, it follows then that the concept of a “Hindu” religious identity, if understood in the image of Abrahamic religions is not really an original dharmic concept. Neither is “Hinduism” a religion in the same sense that Christianity is a religion. So how did the term “Hindu” become a religious designation? It was in the encounter with the adherents of two major proselytizing Abrahamic religions — first Islam and then Christianity that the idea of “Hinduism” successively took shape in the form of an Abrahamic religion.

    Hindus had never known they were “Hindus,” yet they had to be happy with this new designation; They had never called their view of the world a “religion” (a word with no equivalent in Sanskrit), but it had to become one, promptly labeled “Hinduism.” Nor was one label sufficient. ~ Vedic Knowledge Online

  • http://about.me/inceptor Inceptor
    “…. and the mythical river Saraswati.” “Mythical”, Boss if don’t know something then stick to what you know. Mahanadi Saraswati is NOT ‘Mythical’. She was the 7th river of Sapta Sindhava, if one comes into Hind

    from Persia. The modern day Remote Sensing Satellite images and the great work done by scholars like Michel Danino & Others have given more evidence in this regard. Remember at the turn of 19/20 century even ‘Troy’ was thought to be ‘Mythical’. But then archaeological evidence proved otherwise. The same is true with the ‘Raam Setu’

    The fact is after independence ‘Establishment Historians’ did not allow proper excavation to take place and evidences documented systematically for their own filthy political reason. But that shouldn’t stop us from going ahead an explore and bring the Truth to the Nation at-least now. Please Investigate/Research and update yourselves so that such cliched Lies don’t go unchallenged in this age of S & T.

With Regards
N D Senthil Ram
You’re not the One You’re, You’re One,

You’re the One and Only very Unique

Maxis – Toyota is giving away its fuel cell patents

An interesting news from Patent World….

Following in Tesla’s footsteps, Toyota offers to share its fuel cell patents

Toyota said Monday 5th Jan 2015, that it will share thousands of fuel cell patents with competitors, a move designed to kick-start the commercial production of hydrogen-powered cars.

In an effort to get other automakers building fuel cell-powered cars and help fuel suppliers open new hydrogen-fueling stations, Toyota announced today it would make 5,680 of its patents available for use on a royalty-free basis.

This announcement follows the release of the Toyota Mirai fuel cell car at the 2014 Los Angeles auto show. Fuel cells capture electricity released from the combination of oxygen and hydrogen molecules. That electricity can then power the drive motor in an electric car.

Although fuel cell cars can gather oxygen from the air, they need to carry highly pressurized hydrogen tanks. There is currently very little infrastructure to support filling hydrogen tanks around the country. Toyota’s patent release could spur more automakers to build fuel cell cars, creating a demand for more hydrogen stations.

Toyota’s press release notes that 1,970 of the patents have to do with the actual fuel cell stack, 3,350 cover fuel cell power control software and 290 relate to hydrogen storage tanks. An additional 70 patents cover hydrogen production technologies. These patents will only be offered to automakers and companies involved in hydrogen production and supply. Further, Toyota puts a stop year of 2020 on royalty-free use of the patents for automakers. Companies interested in using the patents will need to sign a contract with Toyota.

Toyota has become very bullish on hydrogen fuel cell technology in the past year, opting for it over pure electric car technology. Most production electric cars are costly and limited to about 100 miles range due to battery technology. The Mirai gets an estimated range of 300 miles from its onboard hydrogen tanks. Likewise, where battery charging times for electric cars are generally measured in hours, hydrogen tanks can be refilled in about five minutes, giving drivers an experience more similar to gasoline-fueled cars.

The patent release announcement is similar to an offer made by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk in June of last year. Musk vowed not to sue other companies for "good faith" use of any of Tesla’s electric car patents. Similar to Musk’s announcement, Toyota expects other companies using its patents to share their fuel cell technology.

Courtesy: Patent World

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Fermanda – IT Services Fiasco in TCS

The Inflexion Point for the IT Service Industry (Long)

This is a long post. It’s meant as weekend reading, and I would love to hear your thoughts: deepakshenoy at capitalmind.in or comment on this page. I’ve written too much, but I’m sure I’ve not written enough.

Indian traditional IT sector jobs are going through a massive inflexion point. I’ve said this many times, even on a TV interview with ET Now, that IT service companies are in a soup: they are darlings of inefficiencies rather than efficiencies.

Whoa. Explain.

The IT business has traditionally consisted of billing for headcount. That means you put X people on the project and you get revenues that are a multiple of X. That multiple can be $25 per hour, $100 per hour or even as low as $7 per hour, depending on the kind of work needed. Typically, the idea is to get work done by “freshers” or people with low levels of experience, with oversight by someone who’s experienced (a “project lead”).

Most work is process oriented – you have a checklist to set up and maintain servers, or manage infrastructure requests. Or you take IT infrastructure of a large company which has thousands of computers, servers, backup jobs etc. and do it remotely for way cheaper. (read this TCS Case Study) Or, and maybe what might survive, build software solutions for customers. And then, implement solutions like SAP or Siebel or Oracle or such solutions for customers.

For a long time, US and European companies were happy to send this work to India, because people locally were too expensive to do this kind of work. India was cheaper, even if it put more people on the job than absolutely required. There was no need for efficiency for the likes of TCS and Infy. Even at $20 an hour and Rs. 36 to a dollar (in 1996) the income potential was Rs. 115,200 a month for a 160 hour employee on a project. This is when I started off in IT services, getting paid the grand sum of Rs. 6,500 per month. Even at Rs. 10,000 per month, the company was ludicrously profitable – for every person on a project it could have five on the bench and still make 50% gross margins. (Also, remember, there was no income tax for software exports then).

This skewed the dynamics. The higher margins allowed IT Service exporters to offer higher relative wages (to other sectors), way lower costs to customers (whose equivalent costs were $50 per hour plus insurance plus holidays plus what not) but still maintain great profitability. Guess what? Everyone and his uncle joined the IT service business. In my batch in KREC/NIT Surathkal, in 1996, more than 200 out of a batch of 360 joined the likes of IBM Services, TCS, Infy and the like. It didn’t matter what branch you studied in. (And I made some pocket money by teaching my fellow students COBOL for a test they had to pass to land the job)


Over time, the rupee weakened to 45 in the wake of the dotcom bust, and these companies continued their hiring; they might have lost some business, but as the global economy recovered, what it was for the other countries was a jobless recovery in many ways; the jobs then lost were outsourced to India because it was just cheaper. This was the 2003 to 2008 period when the IT Business absolutely thrived.

Within the IT companies, the path to glory was common:

  • Go through training program which was essentially what-else-to-do-when-on-bench
  • Be assigned to a project. You’re “sold” to a client saying you know X and Y, when you probably don’t
  • Piggyback on project lead to learn stuff that’s important for the project
  • Code, document, test, learn to write proper emails
  • Get promoted to project lead, when you’ll be helping others do the above steps
  • In three years, make project manager. Now you don’t “code”. Yuck.
  • Your tools of choice are word, excel, powerpoint and outlook.
  • Scale up the management tree of the organization, with your power being how many people report to you

This was a given. You work in a company for three years and still code? You must have no skills whatsoever. The idea was that people would mature this way, and many did, and scaled up all the way to even CEOs. As the business grew, the “workers” – the freshers hired at low salaries – were extremely cheap, and hired in the thousands. The guys moving up the ladder made for the middle tier, and so on. Natural attrition into other IT companies kept the middle layer lean (you could double your salary moving to a different job), and the bottom layer saw enough attrition and massive hiring to keep growing. A “pyramid”.

The Paradigm Just Shifted

While this was happening, the carpet was getting yanked out from under the IT companies’ legs, in slow motion. Infra management was changing rapidly, and moving to the cloud. Companies with 3,000 servers could move them to an Amazon or Rackspace or private cloud, which was remotely managed by a handful of very talented engineers and massive layers of automation. Siebel and SAP offered customers cloud based solutions where the whole thing was already setup – all you needed to do was configure your company’s details in, which was complex, but needed 5 people rather than the 50 person teams that would have been needed.

A project manager, a client manager and what not who were usually assigned to customers were no longer efficient; they would now need to manage more projects made of smaller teams.

Alongside, the massive hiring and natural scaling up of the hires in the 2003-2008 period meant in 2014 that you had a large number of people in the middle management as project managers and senior consultants and so on.

The natural “pyramid” had gone out of shape. There were just too many in middle management.

Salaries, with high inflation, had also gone up substantially. The mid-managers were drawing upwards of Rs. 15 lakh per year, and many were quite happy to see the regular increases year after year.

And then came the assault of the product companies and funded startups. Companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon were hiring for their stuff and they weren’t doing projects for others – they were using the teams to build their own products. The likes of Flipkart and Ola and Zomato also were hiring the best people from colleges and so on. The middle managers couldn’t work here; they had no serious programming skills left, and product management was a different beast altogether. No employee handbooks, no ISO 9000 and no real comfort zone of saying you wanted to be allocated to a different project. So the IT folks, by and large, didn’t join the startup revolution, and distanced themselves from the newer technologies that involved doing great things with smaller teams. And that has been a fatal mistake.

Other IT companies emerged that made themselves niche. A Mu Sigma, for instance, could charge a huge premium, at hundreds of dollars per hour, because they have massive analytics investments that helps their teams deliver solutions to customers faster. Druva, a software company started in Pune, offers automated transparent backup products for computers, mobile devices and servers, on the cloud, at the fraction of the cost it would take to hire a large IT service company.

Worse, the rupee at 63 would also be no help. The Rupee has actually appreciated against the Euro, the Yen and the British Pound. The Ruble just devalued from 30 to 60 in a year, and they have great programmers. Against other Asian and Latin American currencies, the Rupee has appreciated substantially.

The EndGame Begins: The Stalled Salary Hikes and IT Firing

As the inefficiencies became apparent, companies tried different ways to do things. Infy, for instance, stopped all salary raises with many quarters of tepid growth. This gave them “natural attrition” as the mid managers found jobs in other IT companies. Some smartly shifted to the more efficient startups.

Companies in western markets have started to shift away to other countries who now have a cost advantage. Faster and smaller projects are in vogue, with the cloud being a huge factor in adoption of customizable products like Salesforce, and has even prompted the SAPs and and Siebels to move to the cloud.

The IT companies had very few product investments. They became nobodies in the space that grew the fastest – search, online advertising, social media and anything to do with cloud/open-source technologies. This would have cannibalized their existing customer base – imagine going to a customer and saying that instead of having a large team of 20, let’s just use this software that’ll do the same work with 5. Eventually the customers saw the cost advantages and reduced sizes anyway.

The fat middle layer, and customer moves to more efficient software solutions meant things had to change and fast. While Infy lost much of its middle layer naturally, the other IT giants were still saddled with them. Then Wipro announced that they wanted a lean middle, moving from a pyramid to “an hour-glass kind of structure“, and would cut workforce by about 33%. Recently TCS is in the limelight for actually firing underperformers (the horror!) which will cut their workforce by over 25,000 people, if numbers are to be believed.

This is just the natural endgame and TCS is likely to be leading the pack.

Where Do People Go?

Roubini talks about this: Where Will All The Workers Go? This was a question they asked in the US when manufacturing jobs left for China, and then service jobs left for India (BPO, IT Services and so on). This is insane. Technology will displace people from jobs, and has done so forever. We IT people took away the jobs of some manual process worker somewhere. Cars took away the jobs of horse drawn buggies. Mobiles destroyed the whole “Public Call Office (PCO)” ecosystem. Online e-commerce will hurt retail. Uber and Ola will hurt the autorickshaw.

The outrage of the IT worker is largely misplaced. The technology we build is designed to cannibalize everything. Tomorrow people will get programs that write themselves without the need for complex programming too.

But the question should be human. Where do these people go? 15 to 20 years of experience and they will get that pink slip.


There is a point to saying people need to be let go better – giving them a month (or six!) of severance rather than having them resign, helping them find other jobs, and in general, accept that you’re not just hurting one person but their families and kids and so on. And it’s incredulous to fire people when you’re hugely profitable, so it’s all the more reason to give people a few more months of money as severance.

What Really Needs To Change

But there’s more to this than a few months of severance. Middle managers – and I know I am in that exact age bracket – need to reinvent themselves. This could be one or more of:

  • learn a new skill – either back to code and processes in newer technologies, or in a completely different domain. This could take months or years, but it’s necessary.
  • invest and create alternate sources of income
  • keep debt manageable so a job loss will leave you with at least a year’s expenses in the bank
  • stay humble: the people who reported to you could be your next boss.

To stick with this might be a better approach than going out on the streets and demanding that TCS hire them back while not hiring freshers instead. Because that is simply not going to happen; if you force it, the IT industry will shut down even faster. Unions and government intervention are the wrong answers.

The broader impact is on real estate and discretionary spends (like cars) and local economies (like Bangalore). But that will need a different post altogether.

I just wanted to highlight the inflexion point in the industry and how it came to be. It was not something you can just blame on higher management. They didn’t see this coming, because to have acted proactively meant loss of revenue and that would have gotten you fired then, not now.

At one level this is a bubble that is now going bust; the great Indian IT service bubble. It was fuelled by the relatively low tax rates by the government – such companies didn’t have to pay taxes till nearly 2010. This maintained that all the juiciest jobs were in IT services. Not in products – you couldn’t get the tax benefits if you built software for India. That created extremely skewed dynamics for everyone that graduated from an engineering college between 1996 and 2008. We could blame the government, but that wouldn’t do us any good either.

It’s time to reinvent ourselves.

Courtesy: capitalmind.in

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DAXSLY – Aging

Posted by Kiran on November 30, 2014 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
As yet another year hurtles past us, yet another year where I blogged very little (the wife’s asking very logical questions like ‘do you really need a domain for not writing’?’ or statements like ‘you are building a wonderful personal brand by not writing on a domain you bought to write on’ and so forth – I’ve heard wives are encouraging like that), I have also come to a realization that I am aging.
Of course, Age is just a number. It’s all in the mind. And all that crap. But there are things around me that I see, that make me realize that yep, time is indeed passing by.

  1. The easy one first. My facebook timeline is filled with photographs of all my friends with their new born babies or their kids going to pre-school or some even going to a school. And, is there some new trend/fad that I missed where everybody is having twins? What is going on?
  2. I can literally see and feel my parents age. This, by far, is the biggest reality check of my aging. You always imagine your parents to be strong, healthy, egging you on, ready for any impromptu long trips. And then in your 30s, just like I am in now, you see them aging. They are not as fast. They are not as strong. And they definitely cannot get ready for any impromptu trip. They need your support – if not physically and financially, but emotionally. They rely on you. That indeed is a tectonic shift in responsibility. The positive side of their aging is, they let go after years of responsibility, are less hung-up on things like earlier and in general, more fun to be with.
  3. Career becomes more confusing. Existential questions of ‘Am I in the right organization?’, ‘Am I doing the right job?’, ‘Should I take a pay cut and join a start-up?’, ‘Should I just quit corporate and go lone in fund management?’, ‘Should I just go onshore and lead a comfortable life?’ and the mother of existential questions ‘am I using my full potential’?’ etc. keep cropping up from time to time. Very few people do something about it. Many people drift through the stage. Yet the majority don’t want real answers to these questions as there is an EMI and School Fee coming up shortly. ‘Do what you love’ fails in the face of EMIs and exorbitant school fees. I am not saying that I have all these questions running through my mind. I just have more questions than these.
  4. You become cynical of all this teenage puppy love that is widely prevalent these days (at least in metro cities). I see kids, maybe not even 15 or 16, hold their hands at clubs and coffee shops professing undying love for each other. It might be love. It might be lust. It might be the hormones. Or, most probably, it might just be stupidity. Who am I to judge? Just that I think the world has gone nuts. It does not look like a generation gap to me. It definitely looks like a light year gap to me.
  5. There are certain insights and understanding that only age can give. In the raging 20s, you are all enthusiastic, go-getter, all optimistic to conquer the world. As the world teaches you lessons in successes and failures, love and breakups, power and politics, probability and certainty, it makes you realize how naive you were in the 20s. It also brings home a point of what your grandpa used to say when you were young. My grandpa always used to talk about ‘having a vision’, ‘having a plan – good or bad’, ‘discipline’..you know the drill. You listen once. You listen twice. Third time to nth time, you just nod with a blank stare. But as you age, you realize the import of wisdom in those words. You realize how important they are for leading a fulfilling life. Alas, as someone definitely said it right, the youth is wasted on the young.

They say that 30s is the trickiest part of life. Your parents are aging, your kids are growing up, your career is taking shape and (hopefully) on an upward trajectory, your core friends base is set and yet they drift apart. There are all these forces pulling you in one direction or another at every point in time.
It’s tricky. It’s fun. It’s a game after all and you play the cards you have been dealt with(my grandpa’s line).

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Yentily – Interesting Thriller

The manhunt for Yasin Bhatkal was India’s most meticulously planned undercover operation. An Open Exclusive chronicles India’s most sensational stakeout
Tagged Under | IB | Yasin Bhatkal | SOG | Indian Mujahideen
Cover Story

An Indian tourist leaned thoughtfully on the metal balustrade outside a bar in Nepal’s scenic town of Pokhra. Clad in Bermuda shorts and a bright bush-shirt, the man could have been any of the thousands of Indian tourists who throng this town. The watering hole overlooked a lake, bordered by verdant hills. Hired speedboats driven by tourists sped past him. It wasn’t the foothills of the Himalayas and the salubrious weather that had brought him here. Inside the bar, two of his colleagues waited, trying to appear casual but with urgent matters on their mind. Two others of the group were in a different part of town, sipping Coke while awaiting that vital signal for action.
This was an undercover stakeout for India’s most wanted terrorist Yasin Bhatkal. It was the denouement of a six- month long operation to capture the elusive man known as the ‘Ghost Who Bombs’.
The man outside the bar was anxious. As head of the Special Operations Group (SOG) unit charged with the task, he knew there was no room for error. It was, after all, a foreign country. To solicit the cooperation of the Nepal police and intelligence services, it was important to be certain of the target’s identity. Failure was not an option.
IT was on 13 August 2013 that the undercover tourist expedition began, launched in Patna by the Bihar unit of the SOG. The go-ahead was given by the Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), stationed in Bihar’s capital, at a meeting held with his deputies. The meeting took place in the backdrop of an alleged witchhunt of IB officials who were part of the operation that busted the terror module of which Ishrat Jehan was a part. The Joint Director wanted to ensure that the low morale of his forces did not come in the way of their work.
The leader of the team that led the Nepal operation was among those present at the meeting. In the thick of the meeting, he received a phone call on his mobile. Recognising the caller, one of his key ‘human assets’ in Nepal, he rushed out into the corridor to take the call. The informer had received news from one of his men that a man resembling the ‘suspect’ in a photograph given by the IB had been seen in Pokhra. However, the suspect was clean-shaven and had close cropped hair, unlike the man in the picture. But the eyes matched. According to the informer, the suspect had referred to his wife, a teacher in Delhi (his wife did live in Delhi and was being shadowed by Intelligence sleuths), his parents in Dubai (they had been in Dubai, running a laundry, but had returned since to Bhatkal in Karnataka), and was posing as a Unani doctor.
Posing as a Unani doctor was one of Bhatkal’s favourite disguises. In Dharbanga, Bihar, where he had set up a sleeper Indian Mujahideen (IM) cell, he had assumed the same identity. In Nepal, he was Dr Yusuf.
By now, the officer was certain they had their man. He rushed back in to inform the Joint Director. An Operations man, the Joint Director was convinced. He asked for time to call his superiors in Delhi’s IB establishment. But the IB bosses were not convinced. The Joint Director reconvened the meeting in Patna to tell the officers of the disappointing response from the national capital. But the officer who had got the lead from Nepal was not one to give up easily, and took it up with the Joint Director again after the meeting. “Sir, my source is sure, the information looks authentic, most of the details match. We have to take this chance, to pass it up would be suicidal,” he told him. “We have to go to Nepal, even if we are jailed [for it].” After a pause, the Joint Director replied: “You’re right. But you have to pose as tourists.” The Joint Director knew he was sticking his neck out, as were his men.
He had sought permission for an official trip to Nepal, but his IB bosses had been curt. “There will be fifty pieces of information. Will you send out fifty teams?” The Joint Director had another thought in his head: the Bihar unit had been keen on nabbing Mohammed Ahmed Zarar Siddibapa, alias Yasin Bhatkal, particularly after the Bodh Gaya blasts, which bore the imprint of the IM but had not been confirmed thus far. “We have to take this as a challenge,” he concurred.
There were many precautions to be taken, especially since this would not be an official expedition. The Joint Director cautioned his men: “Don’t take any ID cards with you that will reveal your identity. Deposit [them] at the border. Remember, if you are caught, you will be jailed. If you fail at the task, things will be very bad. You’ll have to cool your heels in some jail in Nepal. And I will be repatriated to my parent cadre for my role in this expedition.”
Things began to move at lightning speed after that tacit approval. A special unit of five men was put together. “May we take East Champaran SP Vinay Kumar into confidence about the operation?” asked the team leader. Kumar, a well-connected police officer, often held coordination meetings with his Nepali counterpart and would be of help if things went askew. Things were finally falling into place.
Nepal had always attracted thousands of international tourists, including Indians, every year. Since the 90s, though, it had become a safe haven for criminals and terrorists fleeing the Indian police. The SOG, which was set up in 1999 under the IB at the Centre by its then chief Ajit Doval, had since the mid-2000s turned its focus to Naxal leaders; by 2011, it had nabbed Kobad Gandhi, a Doon School alumnus whose association with the Maoist cause blew the lid off the myth that extremists were mainly recruited from among the underprivileged. The SOG in Bihar, however, was directed by the government to focus on fundamentalist Muslim organisations whose operatives had begun to use Nepal—which shares a porous border with Bihar at Raxaul—for rest and recuperation. The SOG’s anti-terror squad was entrusted with the task of tracking and ferretting out the terrorists wanted for a variety of bomb blasts and killings over the years across India. Accordingly, it had cultivated a network of informers in Nepal, especially in towns with high Muslim populations.
It was clear that any assignment by the squad had to have a fair amount of secrecy, involving as it did cross- border terrorist activities and a friendly neighbour such as Nepal. There was also a strategic imperative to keep the operation under cover from police forces in India for security reasons. At Raxaul, for instance, the border post and town police were notorious for their complicity in the smuggling of a variety of goods across the border, including subsidised foodgrains and fertilisers (including urea, used in the making of explosives). Information leaks would be hard to contain.
The leader of the team was chosen on account of his ability to think on his feet. Bhatkal, according to an IB officer, was “as slippery as Houdini” because he had perfected the art of avoiding detection. He constantly changed his sartorial style and appearance (clean shaven, wispy bearded, full bearded, moustached). He would also change his mobile phone often and use it only for a few seconds at a time to avoid being tracked and his location identified by intelligence agencies. The IM may have used the internet to spread its message and contact media organisations after successful operations, but the dreaded head of the outfit avoided email. Bhatkal also changed addresses frequently, often moving into nondescript rooms hired in sparsely populated areas and colonies that were less likely to be under surveillance.
In 2013, the Indian Government announced a Rs 3.5 crore reward for details of Bhatkal’s location or for his capture. At 30, he was considered responsible for more than 220 deaths countrywide. He figured on the ‘Most Wanted’ list of 12 states, including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. For the five-member SOG team, it was a hunt for a very high-value target.
The informer had told the SOG commando that a man who could be Bhatkal was sighted at Routahat in Bara district, 40 km from Raxaul, where the ‘suspect’ had the shelter of one Maulana Moinuddin Ansari at a madrassa near Gaur. According to the informer, the ‘suspect’ spoke with a “South Indian accent” and had moved to Pokhra.
The SOG team leader got in touch with the IB head quarters at New Delhi, but got a dressing down. Delhi’s officialdom was convinced that Bhatkal was in Pakistan, and had no takers for the hot lead from Nepal. “This is so demoralising for field officers who put their heart and soul into their work,” a police official tells Open.
The demoralisation had mostly stemmed from the Ishrat Jehan encounter case, for which the IB was hauled up along with the Gujarat Police, some of whose top officers were believed to have planned and executed the entire operation. The team leader and his field officers faced a specific problem in the case of Yasin Bhatkal. Wanted for his alleged role in virtually every terror attack since 2007, he was known to have not only masterminded several of the bomb blasts in various parts of the country in that period, but also planted some explosives himself.
The ‘Ghost Who Bombs’ had given the slip to Intelligence units in so many Indian states that few believed he could be nabbed. There had been a few close brushes. In December 2009, Bhatkal, who was wanted for bombings in Delhi and Hyderabad, was picked by the Kolkata Police in connection with a theft case. But he managed to convince his captors that he was a local resident called Bulla Mallik, and walked out of the Shakespeare Sarani police station. His next bomb blast came soon after.
In 2008, Bhatkal and some of his colleagues in the IM— which was declared a terrorist outfit in June 2010 by India and in 2011 by the US—were located through a tip-off in Chikmaglur in Karnataka. But the police delayed the raid and Bhatkal got away again. In 2010, the CCTV camera footage of the German Bakery blast case identified him in Pune.
In 2010, in a big goof-up, the Karnataka Police had nabbed Yasin Bhatkal’s younger brother, Samad, at Mangalore Airport and the UPA Government prematurely announced the capture of the country’s ‘most wanted’ man. However, then Home Minister P Chidambaram had to admit that it was a case of mistaken identity and released Bhatkal’s brother. These developments were enough to make the IB’s higher authorities in New Delhi balk at any claim that Bhatkal had been traced.
It was the third week of August 2013. The myths around Bhatkal did not dampen the team’s confidence. The plan was in place. The five of them would leave for Nepal in a Mahindra Bolero posing as tourists. There was only one constraint: money. As a junior official, the team leader earned only a modest salary. “Almost 30 per cent of our salaries is spent on operations. We don’t get paid enough. We have meagre savings. If we still persist with enthusiasm in our assignments, it is primarily because many of us are passionate about our work. We move out of our comfort zone often in the line of duty,” in the words of an SOG officer.
The team leader obtained a Rs 40,000 loan from a friend to buy Nepali SIM cards and cover the other expenses of the team. By 2 pm on 20 August, they reached Motihari and sought out SP Vinay Kumar. They filled him in with the broad plan without mentioning specifics, and found him keen to join their mission. This suited the unit perfectly well. The SP arranged two more vehicles for the men to use. Later that day, the group left for Pokhra—a 280 km journey—from Birganj, just a few kilometres across the border from Raxaul.
Among the first things the SOG team did was call the Nepali informer and ask him to meet them at Birganj to work out details of the plan. This was a risky move which could have backfired, and the decision was taken only after weighing the pros and cons. The team leader had never met the informer before, only spoken to him over the phone. It could have been a trap set for the SOG. But it was a call that they had to make.
At no point was it let slip that Vinay Kumar was also travelling with the team. Things went smoothly at the meeting and the informer left Birganj for Pokhra soon after, reaching early the next morning to await the arrival of the team. The SOG team, along with the senior police official, reached Pokhra the next evening and checked into Mount View Hotel. All the necessary logistical support was arranged by Vinay Kumar, who had by then been told about the target. The Nepali informer came to Mount View on 21 August to discuss details. After breakfast that morning, the men, in Bermuda shorts and shades, hired two motorcycles and set out for watchpoints they had chalked out. The stakeout to nab the nation’s most dreaded terrorist was about to begin, and there was no saying how long it would take.
It was also on 21 August that the team received information that Bal Bahadur Thapa aka Abdullah, a former Indian Army soldier who lived in Burhi Bazaar, a few kilometrer from Pokhra, knew the location of Yasin Batkal’s main hideout. A convert to Islam, Thapa— who, incidentally, was detained by the Nepal Police during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit— was known to ‘look after’ Bhatkal. The team asked the informer to meet up with Abdullah at 1.30 pm, just before the afternoon Muslim call to prayer. The informer, it was decided, would request Abdullah to take him to a place where he could offer namaaz.
For the men of the SOG team, time stood still while they waited. Finally, the phone rang. It was the informer, confirming that Abdullah had agreed to take him to a place where he could offer namaaz. On two bikes, the men followed the informer, who was in a car. At Burhi Bazaar, they deliberately slackened but kept tailing the car at a discreet distance. They saw the informer draw close to a man, presumably Abdullah, and hold a conversation for about 10 minutes. They then left together, leaving the two SOG team members scrambling to tail the car.
The convoy of vehicles ground to a halt some two kilometres ahead. They had reached Oregaon Chowk, and before them stood a small house. Located by the highway, this house gave its occupants a vantage point from which to watch out for anyone approaching, and seemed like a good location for a man in hiding. The team stayed put on the highway to assess the situation. While they lay in wait, they heard a motorbike approach. The pillion rider seemed somewhat familiar. Could he be their quarry?
The pictures of Bhatkal they had downloaded off the net did not completely match. The motorcycle drove right in through an entrance at the back. This was Bhatkal’s residence, they were convinced. Still, they had to get conclusive proof that this was indeed the case.
The exhilaration of locating what could be Bhatkal’s hideout threatened to fizzle out the very next day. Abdullah was avoiding the informer. The SOG men called the informer in for a debriefing session. According to the new plan, he was to pretend he had a medical problem and wanted to be treated by a Unani doctor. He would go with Abdullah to the doctor’s chamber, collect a voice sample, observe the surroundings, note the number of people around, and, if possible, check whether they slept on floor kalims or beds.
The ruse worked. Hours after his appointment, the informer called SOG members to say that the Unani doctor appeared to be Bhatkal. “He is fair and his Hindi is good, but he appears to be a Kashmiri, not a South Indian.” That didn’t sound quite right. This input triggered another net search for identifiers—such as birthmarks and scars—that are difficult to disguise. They zeroed in on three specific details: Bhatkal had an obstinate tuft of hair on his forehead, a few strands of unruly hair that curled backwards. Two, Bhatkal had a prominent scar on his forehead. Three, he had a pronouncedly protruding upper set of teeth. Whether the man in question was a Kashmiri or South Indian could be ascertained from the voice sample that the informer would capture, which could be put to phonetic analysis for inflexions and diphthongs in his speech. The informer was given an additional behavioural tick to check for: Bhatkal was known to remove his headscarf only for the ritual ablutions before offering namaaz.
None of this could be checked in a hurry. The informer had to be handled carefully so that he did not blow the operation prematurely.
Surveillance, meanwhile, continued.
It was soon discovered that Bhatkal had created a network of 20 to 25 young men who were regular visitors to his residence. Oregaon Chowk was sparsely populated and tea shops were hard to come by, but there were quite a few bars. These served as watchpoints for the SOG members. The exercise would demand patience, they knew, but by 24 August, they had a breakthrough: the informer, posing as a patient, had used his mobile’s ‘record’ mode to obtain a clear voice sample of the Unani doctor. The team set about examining each inflexion and vowel sound. At the end of the exercise, they were sure it was Bhatkal’s voice. The speech in Hindi had a southwest Maharashtrian overhang. The team was convinced.
That night, the team met at the hotel for a stock taking session. The team leader called his Joint Director in Patna at 8 pm to give him the good news. “Are you sure? Shall I talk to the DIB?” the Joint director asked. “Sir, 200 per cent,” he replied.
The men, however, told the Joint Director that there could be difficulty in getting the ‘target’ across the border to India , given the checkpoints en route. “Sir, if Delhi rejects our proposal to nab Bhatkal, we are ready to lift him [anyway],” the team leader told the Joint Director. In police speak, ‘lift’ could involve a range of methods: from drugging and gagging the suspect to rendering him unconscious for transportation, or just plain threatening him into accompanying them.
To be on the safe side, however, they decided to take an Additional Director of the IB in Delhi, another operations man, into confidence on the details of their operation. “I hope you are certain. If we are wrong, we will be crucified,” he cautioned, before he picked up the hotline and informed his higher-ups that the Bihar SOG team was ready to act. “If the suspect proves not to be our man, we will set him free,” he assured the IB top brass.
The Centre got in touch with the Nepal government, a coordinated effort to arrest ‘a wanted criminal’ was immediately agreed upon, a call was placed to an official attached to the Indian Embassy in Nepal, and an Indian Police officer posted there swung into action.
On the morning of 25 August, a four-member Nepali police team arrived to coordinate efforts with the SOG and hand it a set of conditions:
1.Don’t pick up the suspect from a crowded place such as a bazaar or a bus station.
2.Don’t accompany the Nepali cops during the operation
3.The Indian team will not be anywhere near the building once the house is identified.
If the ‘target’ turned out to be a Nepali citizen, the SOG members were cautioned, the repercussions on India- Nepal ties could be severe, given the anti-India sentiment prevalent in the country at the time.
To retain secrecy, the Indian team did not divulge any details on Bhatkal to the Nepali police. Only the house was pointed out for the latter to go ahead and make the arrest.
The SOG men would wait at a distance. From their surveillance point, they spotted another person in the house: a handsome man who they quickly identified as Asadullah Akhtar, also known as ‘Haddi’, an al Qaeda operative. ‘Haddi’ was the main suspect in the Varanasi, Pune, Zaveri Bazaar (Mumbai) and Ahmedabad blasts. Bhatkal’s senior in the IM hierarchy, he was a hardened operative trained in Afghanistan, and the Indian Government had a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head.
‘Haddi’ was also reputed to be highly intelligent. Sensing something amiss, he ventured out of the house to look around Oregaon Chowk, and, at one point, noticing an SOG man, even began trailing him. To shake the al Qaeda man off, the SOG man had to duck into a hair salon closeby—he emerged clean-shaven, his beard gone, but all the safer for it.
There were disappointments in store. The Nepali police officers, after some sniffing around, gave up and left Oregaon Chowk. Meanwhile, Vinay Kumar had to rush back to Bihar; communal clashes had broken out in Motihari on the eve of Krishna Janmashtami. The SP took one of the Scorpios with him, leaving only one vehicle for the SOG men. A sense of gloom settled in.
The silver lining appeared on 27 August. All the while, officials of the Indian Government had been talks with their Nepali counterparts to convince them of the need to catch the suspect. The nod finally came, but with a rider: the operation could only be conducted at night.
The next day, nature seemed to be conspiring against the SOG members. At around 4 pm, it started raining heavily. Later that evening, they had to return their hired motorcycles. With only one vehicle, there was no question of accompanying the Nepali police.
But time was running out, so the SOG team asked the Nepal police to conduct the raid on that very day. They watched from a distance as the local police finally entered the house on the highway off Oregaon Chowk at 8.30 pm. At 10 pm, the SOG team got a call from the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. The IPS man on the line was furious. “You are picking up an innocent man,” he yelled, “The man you staked out is a turbine engineer.”
The operation was at threat of being jeopardised. One of the men in the team replied: “If you are an IPS man, you should smell a rat when a turbine engineer practices Unani medicine and calls himself a doctor. Isn’t this man’s name Dr Yusuf? Please ask the Nepali police to bring him out. We will identify him.”
A little calmer by now, the embassy official agreed to convey the request to the Nepali police. “Our men had a strong suspicion by now that the delay in nabbing Dr Yusuf was a deliberate ploy,” an Intelligence official familiar with the details of the Bhatkal operation maintains.
At 10.10 pm, the two suspects in the house were finally brought out. An SOG team officer yanked Dr Yusuf’s beard and swung him around, ignoring the man’s loud protests.
It did not take long for the doctor to admit who he was. He was Yasin Bhatkal and ‘Dr Yusuf’ was just the latest of the dozen different identities he had taken on.
Top authorities in Delhi were informed of the developments in Pokhra. The SOG men were anxious to get hold of Bhatkal’s possessions, including his laptop, before anything could be erased or deleted.
Again, the Nepali police ordered the men to keep a good distance from their vehicle in view of the many security checks at the border. They would ferry the two nabbed terrorist masterminds to the border, where the SOG men could take them into custody.
The SOG men rushed back to their hotel to grab their bags and rush to the border. It was already close to midnight and impossible to find a cab. But the hotel’s management helped them reach Narayangarh, where they were joined by Vinay Kumar, who had forked out close to Rs 80,000 of his own money to fund the operation.
The SOG team reached the Indian border territory at around 6 am on 29 August, and took Bhatkal and ‘Haddi’ to a forest guesthouse in Bettiah, Bihar, for a thorough interrogation. For this, it would be best if the arrests were kept under wraps. In New Delhi, however, the Home Ministry andNational Investigation Agency (NIA), which had no role in the operation, were in a scramble to take credit for catching India’s most wanted terrorist. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde made a short statement on the country’s biggest terrorist catch of recent times, setting off a media frenzy.
Bhatkal and ‘Haddi’ were later moved to the East Champaran district headquarters of Motihari for further questioning. Bihar’s Additional Director General of Police Rajesh Chandra rushed from Patna to join the exercise. Curiously, shortly afterwards, he was called back to Patna by the Nitish Kumar government.
Each member of the SOG team had put his career at risk for the operation, but it was clearly worth every bit of effort. Bhatkal was wanted for 17 bomb blast cases, including those of the German Bakery in Pune, Zaveri Bazaar in Mumbai, the High Court and Jama Masjid in Delhi, and others in Jaipur, Varanasi and Faizabad.
By nabbing the two terrorists, the team had managed to neutralise both IM factions: one, Pakistan controlled, headed by Bhatkal, and the other, SIMI-controlled, headed by ‘Haddi’. And they did it almost entirely through the dint of their own effort, without needing to fire a single bullet. But to their dismay, New Delhi and Patna had little to offer them in acknowledgement.

– Bhatkal is currently lodged in prison No 2 of Tihar Jail.
– The SOG team leader got a letter of commendation and a cash reward Rs 1 lakh, but was not considered for a gallantry award. The then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde issued a notification offering him a reward of Rs 3.5 lakh, but the Ministry issued a corrigendum shortly withdrawing it, saying that it was his duty.
– Joint Director, IB, Patna, got a commendation certificate from Director, IB.
– Vinay Kumar is now the Superintendent of Police of Saran, Bihar.

DAXSLY – Startups

Finally the SMS arrived:
“Tomorrow morning 5am, flight number AZ610 from Rome to NewYork.”
An SMS hitting my BlackBerry on Sunday evenings used to decide my destination and client for the coming week.
I was working for one of the top three global strategy consulting firms.
A life packed in a suitcase. A consulting life where you miss out on everything and everyone in life, except Excel spreadsheets. A fancy business life we are taught to be ideal slaves of, at top business schools whose degrees we are proud to hold.
After few hours of sleep, the private driver was taking me to the Rome Fiumicino airport so I could take my fancy business-class flight to NYC. Upon arrival, I was checking in to a fancy five-star hotel and heading to my client’s office afterwards.
The salary? It was fancy, too. The company was proud to be among the top payers of the industry.
There was something wrong with this consulting life, though. I couldn’t stand this bullsh*t any longer and one day I called my parents:
“Dad, mom, I just quit my job. I want to start my own startup.”
My mom almost had a heart attack. It wasn’t the first thing a perfectionist mother wanted to hear after encouraging me to graduate from the world’s top business schools with top grades.
I tried to ease her distress. No chance.
“Mom, I hate it. All these consultants are pretending to be happy and they are taking happiness pills. I get to sleep only 3–4 hours a day. All those benefits the company promised don’t exist. Remember the fancy five-star hotel? I am working almost 20 hours a day and I don’t even enjoy it. Fancy breakfast? We never have time to have that. Fancy lunch, dinner? It’s just a sandwich in front of our Excel spreadsheets.

Oh, by the way, instead of enjoying a champagne, I stare at spreadsheets during my entire business class flights, too. The fancy salary? I never have time to spend a single penny of it.
I hate my life, Mom, it’s such a loser life. I don’t even see my girlfriend. I can’t fake it anymore. I want to start my own business.”
My parents had retired after years of a 9–5 working routine at their secure and boring government jobs.
I knew that coming from a family with no entrepreneurial background, it would be difficult to explain my situation to them, but I didn’t expect the call next morning.
It was my mom on the phone:
“Sooooooooo, how is your business doing?! Is it growing?!”
No matter what I said, I couldn’t explain to her that a business needs more than one day to grow.
Girlfriend, Friends & Social Circle
Having had the most supportive girlfriend ever, it was now time I shared the news with my friends who were busy climbing the fancy career steps in the fancy corporate world.
I told everyone that I just quit my job to follow my startup dream. Some of my friends gradually stopped seeing me, probably because they thought there was something wrong with me since it was the second “fancy” job I had quit in a short period of time.
While the rest of my friends were supportive, there was, however, still something wrong with my relationship with them:
I soon realized I was starting to pull myself away from social gatherings.

Every time I met with those friends, I didn’t have many updates to give them in response to their repeated questions, such as, “So, how is your startup going? You are going to be the next Zuckerberg, right?” “Oh man, we are so proud of you and we are so sure you will soon receive a huge round of investment.”
Doing a startup was a long journey and I was putting myself under so much pressure by giving such a f*ck about what other people think.
Day by day, I was getting lonelier and more depressive as I avoided social occasions. My startup progress was not as fast as my social circle imagined it to be and I was fed up with telling people it took years for startups like Facebook and Twitter to arrive at where they are now.
The only comfortable place was next to my few entrepreneur friends. It was true, only an entrepreneur could understand an entrepreneur.
Cash, cash, cash.
As if the social pressure and loneliness were not enough, I was meeting the mother of all stresses: running out of cash much faster than I had imagined.
This was killing my productivity and ability to make proper decisions. I was panicking and rushing to be successful and to make money.
One day, I even found myself asking my girlfriend for a few cents because I had no money to buy bottled water. I didn’t know it was just the beginning of such a difficult life full of ups and downs…

Enough with the drama: more than two years have passed since those days. I am now writing this blog post in a beautiful resort in Phuket, Thailand, while enjoying my mojito.

Wait, I am not selling a dream. No, I haven’t become a millionaire startup founder.
However, my business has a constant stream of cash that allows me to travel the world and to work from wherever there is WiFi.
There are, however, five things I wish I had asked myself before starting this painful journey. Five questions I believe every future entrepreneur should ask himself before taking the first step to entrepreneurship:
1. Are you ready for the social pressure?

If you have friends and family who are not entrepreneurs, they won’t truly understand what you are trying to achieve and the public pressure will be even higher.
I cared so much about what other people think of me– so much that it ruined my life.
I was so hard on myself and punished myself with even more work so I could announce my success as soon as possible. That is, until the day I realized no one gave a f*ck about me, so why would I?
You are no more than a few seconds of attention other people give to a Facebook status. In 2014, no one has time to care about others in such a crowded, noisy world.
If you care so much about what others think, you will waste your time trying to prove that you are successful instead of focusing on your startup.
Get a life. I got mine quite late.
2. Are you single or do you have an extremely supportive partner?
As we grow up, we share more of our life with our partners than with our friends or family. While I was lucky to have such an amazing girl, it was so sad to see many of my entrepreneur friends breaking up with their girlfriends along the way.
Doing your own business is tough – way tougher than I could have ever imagined. Your mind is constantly f*cked up with a million things going on inside and no other person, including your girlfriend, has a single clue what is going on in there.
If you are not single, make sure your partner understands it’s sometimes normal not to have a mindset even for a simple kiss.
Yes, for a simple proper French kiss.
3. Do you have enough cash to last at least a year?
Good, then multiply that amount at least by three because you will be running out of your savings way faster than you ever imagined. Along the way, there will be so many hidden costs, accountant fees, lawyer needs, broken iPhones or PCs, etc.
Get ready for a smaller apartment, smaller food portions, or counting your cents, which you never cared about in your life previously.
The last few months before you totally run out of your cash will be especially difficult and the pressure will grow so exponentially that you won’t be able to sleep properly.
Success will come slowly, and cash will burn fast. Be smart – plan from day one.
4. Are you ready to sleep only few hours a day?
Having escaped from the corporate consulting world, I was thinking I was finally going to live the dream by working whenever I wanted to work – until I read Lori Greiner’s following quote:
“Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.”

It all started by little wake-ups in the middle of the night. At the beginning, it was because I was too excited about my ideas and I had so many of them. I simply couldn’t wait for the morning to arrive so that I could start working again.
Then came the exaggeration phase. I was working too much because I never had enough of working for my idea and I wanted to do more. However, the more I worked and the later I went to bed, the more difficult it was to fall asleep and the lower the quality of my sleep became.
As a result, at least two or three days of every week I was having days with almost no productivity.
Don’t be fooled by my fancy Instagram picture above. Don’t be fooled by over-hyped funding news about startup founders becoming millionaires.
The stories behind the scenes have so many painful days, sleepless nights, and continuous rejections and failures.
The journey to success is long. Very long. Very often, too long.
5. How do you define success?

Each of us has a different priority list in life. For most people, money is the number one priority on the list, while work-life balance ranks higher for others. Consequently, people define success differently.
Depending on your definition of success, the difficulty of your entrepreneurial journey will differ, too. If money and public success are what matters to you the most, you are likely to have a hard time along your journey.
Remember Hemingway’s wise words:
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
Successful entrepreneurs are not necessarily those who raise millions of investment rounds. Don’t forget, they are one in a million.
There are, however, thousands of dreamers out there who manage to bootstrap their startups or live so well off on their own, but even they do not make it to the top of tech news.
No matter how much your journey f*cks up your life or how difficult it will be, enjoy the ride and keep following your passion. As Tony Gaskin puts it perfectly:
“If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to help build theirs.”

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Written by

Ali Mese
Founder @piqers, Growth Hacker, Startup Marketer, Foodie & Globetrotter. All about me → http://alimese.com,