Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Sep 23, 2010

Singing the glory of the tiny mouse: Both Ganesh Ji's mouse & others

In the glory of the tiny mouse! 
Or Why I love Ganesh ji’s mouse and hate the “scientists”

Yesterday, we concluded the 10-days long celebrations and worship of Lord Ganesh for and immersed the idol in sacred river waters. In Mumbai alone, they were around 2,50,000 and all have been beckoned to come again next year with good haste.
The Hindu gods are mysterious in many ways – be it their shapes, size, form, preferences, food preferences, powers, likes & dislikes, their origins and not to forget their vehicles which transport them.
Vehicles could be an eagle, a bull, tiger, lion, swan, peacock an owl and even a tiny mouse.
Apart from the traditional mousetraps, cats and such methods, now there are chemical repellents in good demand to kill the mice or scare them away. New means of shooing the mice away are constantly invented. Whether  Ganesh ji or no Ganesh ji, the war against rodents is a daily affair.
The mouse carries one of the most pot-bellied of all Hindu Gods, Ganesh, the younger son of Lord Shiva ( who incidentally rides a bull and his elder son rides a peacock).

Some says that Ganesh ji’s  mouse denotes ‘desires’ or tamo guna and the need to control them. Some said it symbolizes stealing of food grains and also  timidity, hypocrisy, destructiveness which all are nothing but impediments or Vighna. All these only Ganesh ji can remove , as Vighna Harta ‘ who rides on the mouse, exercising His full command.
With this type of mind conditioning, Indians are compassionate towards the mice, simply because of its association with Ganesh ji. It gets worshipped along with him, willingly or unwillingly. ( Hindus are most often fed up with the troubles that this rodent creates in their homes and fields, eating away grain, cutting clothes and books and any thing  biteable  to reduce it to tatters. They cut electrical and computer systems cables and bite sleeping children in small huts on farmlands. 
The deadly and scary disease of plague has more or less vanished but , across the globe ,the mice have been the much-cursed carriers for the deadly plague. At least Ahmedabad Municipality, three years ago, started releasing dozens of cats which it thought would solve the mice problem! Some states in India had so much of mice problem that authorities paid two rupees for every rat caught by the residents. There is a community in the District of Gaya in Bihar which derives its name – Musahar – from Musa= Rat & ahar=food, ie. Rat-eaters!
In 2007,  Mizoram state had so much of rodent problem that it accepted a suggestion from one wise man of 90 years age, named Rokhuma. It was a simple proposal: pay a reward of Rs.2 for depositing with Agriculture Deptt one tail of a rat killed. As many as 400,000 rats were killed under this project. Not to be left behind, a professor of Mizoram Uni had come out with the theory that bamboo flowering ( which boosts up rodent reproduction) takes place at roughly 48 years’ intervals and the last one was in 1958. He therefore was able to almost accurately predict the rodent population boom in 2007.  
These are the stories of interest to the grown up people. As children, our memories of rats go back to bed time story of a rat with seven tails. He would be teased by other rats for having seven tails and would complaint to his mother each day he returned home. She would cut one tail and next day, he would be teased once again for his six  tails. This way he lost all the tails and yet the teasing never stopped. The moral of the story was that do not be guided so much by what others speak about you.
      Then came Tom & Jerry (one of the most violence-oriented comic show, yet my all-time favourite) , Mickey Mouse, Mouse man and such playful characters and made us giggle, no matter the fact that we were growing. There was a little rhyme with the wisdom in cat & mouse story also! For example: In a Cat & Mouse Chase, Mouse mostly wins because Cat runs for its food and Mouse for its Life. Moral of the story is that the ‘Fear of Loss is always better motivation than the Desire of Gain”

Personal Computers brought about a mouse now on our tables, one of the most inanimate rodent, always obliging and obeying the clicks and commands.
Soon we were in the college and those in medical and biology streams encountered dissections.
When rising on the corporate ladder, Spencer Johnson’s run-away hit- “Who Moved My Cheese” became our bible for quite some time.
Yet, we all, by and large retained our sensitivity, compassion and could often feel some of the pain, if any, that the dissected object was to feel.
Mainly because in our culture, there is a space for all living things,; plants, animals, birds, insects, natural elements and what not. The doctrine of peaceful coexistence is not just for political neighbours but the universe at large.
For example, see this mantras from Vedic literature in Sanskrit, dating back to thousands of years:
The first one is an age-old mantra for personal, mental, spiritual & global peace and harmony.i.e. Shanti Mantra (Chanting for Peace)
Om Dyoh Shantirantariksham Shanti :
Prithvi Shantiraapah : Shantiroshhadhayah Shanti : l
Vanaspataye Shantirvishve Devaah : Shantirbrahm Shanti :
Sarvam Shanti : Shantirev Shanti : Sa Ma Shantiredhi ll
Om Shanti : Shanti : Shanti : l
It says:
May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere.
May peace reign all over this earth, in water and in all herbs, trees and creepers.
May peace flow over the whole universe.
May peace be in the Supreme Being Brahman.
And may everything always exist in peace and peace alone.
Om peace, peace, peace

The other mantra is equally benevolent;
Sarveshaam poornam bhavatu
Sarveshaam mangalam bhavatu
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niraamayaah
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu
Maakaschit duhkha bhaag bhavet
Auspiciousness be unto all; peace  be unto all;
fullness  be unto all; prosperity  be unto all.
May all be happy! May all be free from disabilities!
May all look to the good of others!
May none suffer from sorrow!

In Bhagwad Geeta, Lord Krishna assures the poorest of the poor that “I accept a leaf, flower, fruit or water Or whatever is offered with devotion”

This is not very unique only to Hindus ( and it also shouldn’t be so ). Rural communities of Madagascar have similar customs They believe that all plants belong to God and it is, therefore, necessary to ask God's permission to use plants by means of prayers. Healers place salt at the base of the first plant before they proceed with the rest the plants.

But when it comes to modern science and so called scientists experimenting in laboratories new drugs and cosmetics and such other things- sometimes worth while yet often useless. They ill treat the animals they use, not showing any sensitivity or compassion towards them. 

I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence. ~said Mahatma Gandhi"

Now see the other, ghastly side of these poor creatures through two stories ; one reported in 2004 and another just last month:

1. About six years ago, on 8-12-2004,  the US news source The Onion carried this horrifying report from Geneva titled World's Scientists Admit They Just Don't Like Mice”  ( source : http:// )

“Nearly 700 scientists representing 27 countries convened at the University of Zurich to formally announce that their experimentation on mice has been motivated not by a desire to advance human knowledge, but out of sheer distaste for the furry little rodents.

"As a man of science, I deal with facts, and the fact is that mice are gross," said Dr. Douglas White, chair of the Oxford biogenetics department and lifelong mouse-hater. "They're squirmy, scurrying little vermin, and they make my skin crawl. I speak for all of my assembled colleagues when I say that the horrible little things deserve the worst we can dish out." 

According to a 500-word statement, scientists hate mice for "their beady little eyes," "their repulsive tails," and "the annoying little squeaking sounds they make." At the press conference, several scientists detailed their involvement in the centuries-long ruse of "conducting experiments" and "curing diseases."

"For years, I've used lab mice to research cell breakdown in living tissue—and I've been lucky enough to make some pretty important medical advancements along the way," said researcher Ellen Gresham of the Harvard Institute for Advanced Studies. "But even if there were no scientific benefit to the work I do, I'd still experiment on mice, just to watch them suffer." 

According to Gresham, scientists have enjoyed dissolving mice in acid, spinning them in centrifuges, blowing them up in vacuum chambers, and forcing them to navigate exit-free mazes for years—all the while towering above them, laughing. 

This news item hardly needs any comment because it is filthily eloquent, as some scientists are. 

See the recent story next, which is even more shocking:( source )


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is the largest animal rights organization in the world & focuses its attention on animals that suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time in various labs, businesses, etc.

 PETA recently released the results of its shocking undercover investigation of North Carolina-based contract animal testing facility Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc.  and filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture As a result, PLRS is surrendering nearly 200 dogs and dozens of cats and shutting its doors for good. It is  first time that a laboratory has been forced to surrender animals and close under pressure , while facing a formal USDA investigation.
For nine months, a PETA investigator worked undercover inside the filthy, deafeningly loud kennels of Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc. (PLRS).  PLRS takes money from huge pharmaceutical companies to test insecticides and other chemicals used in companion animal products. Bayer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Schering-Plough (now Merck), Sergeant's, Wellmark, etc  are some of the corporations that have paid PLRS to force-feed experimental compounds to dogs and cats and smear chemicals onto the animals' skin.
PETA's investigator found that toxicity tests were just part of what the animals endured. Laboratory workers appeared to despise the animals in their care—they yelled and cursed at cowering dogs and cats, calling them all possible four-letter, five-letter and many-lettered words; used pressure hoses to spray water—as well as bleach and other harsh chemicals—on them; and dragged dogs through the facility who were too frightened to walk.
Video evidence shows that terrified cats were pulled from cages by the scruff of the neck while workers screamed in their faces and that a cat was viciously slammed into the metal door of a cage. One worker grabbed a cat and pushed him against a chain-link fence. When the cat fearfully clutched at the fencing with his claws, the worker jerked him off the fencing, saying she hoped that the cat's nails had been ripped out.

Dogs at PLRS may spend years in cages, either to be used repeatedly in tests or to be kept infested with worms for some future study. They are just like the dogs we share our homes with, but they live day in, day out without exercise or enrichment, companionship, a scratch behind the ears, or even a kind word from the only people they ever see.

Many dogs had raw, oozing sores from being forced to live constantly on wet concrete, often in pools of their own urine and waste. Workers didn't even move the dogs when they pressure-sprayed the runs, frightening the animals; soaking them with water, bleach, and soap; and exposing already painful sores to harsh, irritating chemicals.
PLRS didn't bother to keep a veterinarian on staff. Instead, it chose to bring its primary veterinarian in for only one hour most weeks. Animals endured bloody feces, worm infestations, oozing sores, abscessed teeth, and pus- and blood-filled infections without receiving adequate veterinary examinations and treatment. Sometimes, the conditions were ineffectively handled by workers who had no credentials or veterinary training.
After a supervisor gave one dog an anesthetic that was past its expiration date (and likely administered too little of it), the supervisor pulled out one of the animal's teeth with a pair of pliers. The dog trembled and twitched in apparent pain, and the supervisor continued with the procedure despite the dog's obvious reaction.

Dogs were intentionally subjected to worm infestations for tests, but conditions were so sloppy that dogs who weren't supposed to be part of the study also became infested and were then left untreated.
In one test commissioned by a corporation whose products are sold in grocery and drug stores nationwide, a chemical was applied to the necks of 57 cats. The cats immediately suffered seizures, foamed at the mouth, lost vision, and bled from their noses. Despite this, the substance was put on the cats a second time the very same day.

To cut costs, PLRS killed nearly 100 cats, rabbits, and dogs. The company had decided that some of these animals' six daily cups of food were too expensive.
Federal oversight of horrendous facilities such as PLRS is virtually nonexistent. .... The inspector's 2010 visit to PLRS, which housed approximately 400 animals at the time, lasted two hours and 15 minutes.
PETA has filed complaints with federal and state agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and local law-enforcement authorities. 

Let us also  feel something 
( and speak out)  
for these dogs, cats, rats and rabbits .

Sensex is soaring again. What about your investments?

Two days ago, on Tuesday, 21st Sept the Sensex closed over the physiologically important 20,000 mark, i.e. just about 1,200 points away from its all-time high of January, 2008.

On this occasion, here is some distilled wisdom from the investment wizard and USA’s second wealthiest person Warren Buffet & his compatriots.

It is in 3 parts:
PART-I : Winning Investment Habits
Warren Buffett and George Sores have been among the renowned investors of the past few decades (Buffett for a longer period than Soros). In "The Winning Investment Habits of Warren Buffett and George Sores," its author- Mark Tier - outlines their 23 "winning" investment habits gleaned from the duo's approach to investing.

A master investor:
 1. Believes the first priority is preservation of capital.
 2. As a result, is risk-averse.
 3. Has developed his own investment philosophy, which is an expression of his personality. As a result, no two highly successful investors have the same approach.
 4. Has developed his own personal system for selecting, buying and selling investments.
 5. Believes diversification is for the birds.
 6. Hates to pay taxes, and arranges his affairs to legally minimize his tax bill.
 7. Only invests in what he understands.
 8. Refuses to make investments that do not meet his criteria . Can effortlessly say 'no',
 9. Is continually searching for new investment opportunities that meet his criteria and actively engages in his own research.
 10. Has the patience to wait until he finds the right investment.
 11.  Acts instantly when he has made a decision.
 12.  Holds a winning investment until a pre-determined reason to exit arrives.
 13. Follows his own system religiously.
 14. Is  aware of his own fallibility. Corrects mistakes the moment they arise.
 15. Always treats mistakes as learning experiences.
 16. As his experience increases, so do his returns.
 17. Almost never talks to anyone about what he's doing. Not interested in what others think of his investment decisions.
 18. Has successfully delegated most, if not all, of his responsibilities to others.  
19. Lives far below his means.
 20. Does what he does for stimulation and self-fulfillment - not for money.
 21. Is emotionally involved with the process of investing; but can walk away from any individual investment.
 22. Lives and breathes investing, 24 hours a day.  
23. Puts his money where his mouth is.

PART-II : Munger's 10 Rules for Investment Success

Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway is a legend in the world of investment in his own right. In his book, Poor Charlie's Almanac, he outlines 10 Rules of Investment Success. He is the lesser known (in relative terms) of the two men who have been behind the investment juggernaut with a stellar track record for more than four decades - Berkshire Hathaway. This is perfectly logical if the 'other person is Warren Buffett. ..

1.Measure risk: All investment evaluations should begin by measuring risk, especially reputational,
 2. Be independent: Only in fairy tales are emperors told they're naked.
 3. Prepare ahead: The only way to win is to work, work, work, and hope to have a few insights.
 4. Have intellectual humility: Acknowledging what you don't know is the dawning of wisdom.
 5. Analyze rigorously: Use effective checklists to minimize errors and omissions.
 6. Allocate assets wisely: Proper allocation of capital is an investor's No. I job.
 7. Have patience: Resist the natural human bias to act.
 8. Be decisive. When proper circumstances present themselves, act with decisiveness and conviction.
 9. Be ready for change: Accept unremovable complexity.  
10. Stay focused: Keep it simple and remember what you set, out to do.

A few more Mungerisms:

·   Understanding how to be a good investor makes you a better business manager and vice versa.
·   Forgetting your mistakes is a terrible error if you are trying to improve your cognition.
·   We both (He and Warren Buffett) insist on a lot of time being available almost every day to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. We read and think. So Warren and I do more reading and thinking and less doing than most people in business. We do that because we like that kind of a life.

PART-III : Buffett's Owners’ Business Principles for his company , viz . Berkshire Hathaway

1. Although our form is corporate, our attitude is partnership. Charlie Munger and I think of our shareholders as owner partners, and of ourselves as managing partners
 2. In line with Berkshire's owner-orientation, most of our directors have a major portion of their net worth invested in the company. We eat our own cooking.
 3. Our long-term economic goal is to maximize Berkshire's average annual rate of gain in intrinsic business value on a per share basis
 4. Our preference would be to reach our goal by directly owning a diversified group of businesses that generate cash and consistently earn above-average returns on capital.
5. To state things simply, we try to give you in the annual report the numbers and other information that really matter,
 6. Accounting consequences do not influence our operating or capital-allocation decisions.
7. We use debt sparingly and, when we do borrow, we attempt to structure our loans on a long-term fixed-rate basis. We will reject interesting opportunities rather than over-leverage our balance sheet.
 8. A managerial "wish list" will not be filled at shareholder expense. We will only do with your money what we  would do with our own.
 9. We feel noble ‘Intentions’ should be checked periodically against results.
 10. We will issue common stock only when we receive as much in business value as we give.
 11. You should be fully aware of one attitude Charlie and I share that hurts our financial performance: Regardless of price, we have no interest at all in selling any good businesses that Berkshire owns.
 12. Our guideline is to tell you the business facts that we would want to know if our positions were reversed. We owe you no less. 
 13. Despite our policy of candour, we will discuss our activities in marketable securities only to the extent legally required. Good investment ideas are rare, valuable and subject to competitive appropriation just as good product or business acquisition ideas are. Therefore we normally will not talk about our investment ideas.