The classic Indian mantra of

Raghuram Rajan – Some People ARE Indispensable!

Ever since the controversy over Raghuram Rajan – the governor of the RBI, I’ve been hearing a lot of statements like this:

“No one is indispensable”
“India has lots of talent. Replacing Rajan is easy”
“The RBI will survive anyone’s exit”
“No need to make such a fuss over a single individual”
etc, etc

Now I’m no economist, so I will simply go with the popular consensus amongst his fellow economists that Raghuram Rajan was an outstanding governor of the the RBI. Like the debate on global warming, in the absence of high expertise and years of study, I’ll just defer to the experts in the field. So that’s the premise. That Rajan was a great match for the job.

However, this mentality of “No one is indispensable” reveals a lack of respect for an individual’s contribution and treats them like Lego blocks that you can pull out and replace without affecting the integrity of the structure. It’s a very “Indian” way of thinking, and I’ve heard it often. Management is encouraged to treat employees like uniform units, not to bend over to any individual’s whims and fancies, and everyone is taught to be a good worker bee. Uniform. Non confrontational. Boring.

Except, that talent – true talent – is always going to be eccentric. There’s a Latin saying “Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementia fuit”, meaning “There is no great genius without an element of madness”. And if companies and organizations want to hire – and retain – the best talent, they will simply have to put up with those eccentricities and fight to retain them.

Because people matter. Great talent is rare. And even rarer, is great talent with the courage to do what is necessary in the face of criticism and personal risk.

Recently I was reading about the demise of Yahoo!, and how its great failing was the reluctance to hire the very best programmers in the industry. Yahoo became a company of “suits”, treating all programmers like interchangeable parts, going with the philosophy that “no one is indispensable”. On the other hand, companies like Google and Facebook actively court and struggle to retain top talent. They fight amongst themselves. Good programmers are courted, indulged, given leeway, and paid tremendous salaries. They know the value of good people. And their organizations benefit as a result.

It’s a characteristic of Asian countries (and perhaps even Europe), to treat the individual as less important than the organization or country they belong to. The hive mind. The blending in. The “be modest and keep your head down” mentality is glorified. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. “Don’t stick your neck out”, “Don’t draw too much attention to yourself”. “Don’t brag”. Organizations in India don’t strive for the best talent. They don’t glorify it. But the very best companies know its true value. Companies like Tesla, Amazon, and Twitter lay out the red carpet for talented individuals.

Can the RBI survive without Rajan? Of course! The RBI building will still stand. The organization will continue to exist. But will it be as effective? Do we just want “ok ok” performance, or do we want the very best? If we want quick turn arounds, and great performance, then we have to be willing to give up the “no one is indispensable” mindset. Not just the RBI, but all our government institutions will need to scour the length and breadth of the land to attract better people. Do whatever it takes to bring them in. Indulge them, pay them through the roof. And reap the benefits.

But if you treat people like replaceable Lego blocks, then you will have mediocre organizations. Because great people are hard to find.

The biggest difference between Americans and Europeans, is that the Americans strive for convenience, and are not willing to simply accept life's difficulties. To my mind, that is praiseworthy. <br><br>Image Credit:

Why I Admire Convenience Loving Americans

The differences between Europeans and Americans hit me hard during my time in France and Iceland. By far, the biggest one is that Americans chase after convenience more than any  other country in the world. While a typical European traveler will … [Continue reading]

Fluency in a language requires immersion. You can't learn Sanskrit sitting in classroom if no one around you speaks it. You need constant exposure and hundreds upon hundreds of hours of listening time. Sanskrit is a dead language for a reason. You cannot just revive it for over a billion people out of thin air, no matter how badly you want to wax nostalgic over some imaginary glorious past.

Smriti Irani – Classroom Sanskrit is Useless

Does Smriti Imrani really think that you can become fluent in a language by formally studying it in a classroom without real world exposure? If only it was so simple! Millions of us have studied languages in school - Sanskrit, French, Tamil, German, … [Continue reading]

When someone challenges your ideas, don't just brush them off. Decades of dismissing the right wing, calling them imbeciles, idiots, racists, and bigots is what has led to this sudden outburst of

You HAVE to Engage the Right – Not Dismiss Them

The world watches in bewilderment, the sudden outburst of rabid patriotism in India. At the Trump phenomenon in the US. At the threats to Turkey's traditional secularism. But you know what? We're the ones who are responsible. Who is "we"? "We", … [Continue reading]


Spoof! This is What Fake Patriotism Looks like :D

This video was used a year ago to make fun of the Apple MacBook 2015. Here it is re-purposed for the "Nationalism" debate! Subtitles should be enabled by default. If not, click the "CC" button to show … [Continue reading]

No Comments
If you are truly patriotic, you will never use violence against mere words. The TRUE

Only Anti-Nationals Proudly Use Violence

I don't care whether Kashmir is part of India or not. For me, the only value is military. If it makes India less secure to have Pakistan or China control that area, then keep it. Otherwise I could give a damn whether it stays with us or not. Same for … [Continue reading]

This is what my fridge looks like now. After 33 years of struggling to cook, clean, and eat, I've finally found the solution to the inconvenience of hunger! Now when I go out to eat, it's because I WANT to enjoy a social experience. It's not because my stomach is making demands of me.

How I Escaped the Tyranny of Food with Soylent

Food has always been an inconvenience to me. Yes, I love the taste and I love eating - but it's always been outweighed by the drudgery of cooking, and washing up. For years now, I've essentially lived off various frozen foods. But even those take … [Continue reading]


Billu and the National Anthem

If you try and interfere with someone who is peacefully sitting and eating their popcorn while the National Anthem is playing, YOU are the criminal. You can condemn them verbally on social media - that is your freedom of expression. But you have no … [Continue reading]

In the scene in Pulp Fiction where Marsellus gets raped, I would have felt a lot worse if it was a woman. When it comes to male rape, for me the physical pain and loss of control is a lot more important than the sexual aspect. When a woman is raped however, the feeling is totally different. There, the sexual aspect is the most important. Why do I have these double standards?

Male Rape Affects Me less than Female Rape – Why?

I just finished watching "Pulp Fiction" - great movie! Funny in a surreal sort of way, where you're never quite sure what's going to happen. But there was one scene that got me thinking. In it, a gangster boss called Marsellus is raped by a couple of … [Continue reading]

Searching for readymade or out-of-the-box breakfast ideas isn't easy. People simply don't understand these words anymore. Instead when I search the web, I get complicated recipes involving heating, chopping, dishes, multiple ingredients. Aaagh! Does no one just pick and eat stuff??

No one Understands What “Readymade” Means :(

I've been searching for breakfast options other than cereal. I'd like to get a bunch of protein in the mornings, and there are lots of options and articles on the Internet. But I have one requirement: I don't want to prepare anything. I don't … [Continue reading]