Atanu Dey On India's Development

Beware the Ides of March

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Julius Caesar was warned by a soothsayer to “beware the ides of March.” The ides of March is today, the 15th of March. Good ol’ Julius disregarded the warning and on this fateful day in 44 BCE he fell dead, assassinated by his friend Marcus Brutus. As Shakespeare wrote, it was the most unkindest cut of all. (“most unkindest”? Bill, Bill, when will you learn how to write English!)

Oh what a fall there was my countrymen.
Then you and I and all of us fell down,
whilst bloody treason flourished over us

as Mark Antony later orated. (I had memorized that speech for a school elocution competition and I can still recite it in its entirety.)

On March 14, 1879, a day before the ides of March, Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, Germany. The man who transformed most radically our view of the universe. A man who sets the gold standard for genius and humanity. Did you know he did miserably in school? Imagine a guy who was poor in maths and goes on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on General Relativity?

Just kidding. Einstein was one heck of a sharp cookie and was brilliant in school, and he did not win the Nobel for the theory of relativity but for his discovery of the photo-electric effect. (See: Einstein’s Failed School.)

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Caesar ignored the soothsayer’s warning and was attacked and assassinated. Cassius was among the attackers. Caesar knew that there was something suspicious about Cassius. He had remarked to Antony:

Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

Be very wary of people with lean and hungry looks who think too much.

[Here's Act 1, Scene 2 of The Life and Death of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.]

All sorts of bad things happen on the ides of March. In 1876 on the ides of March, test cricket was born with a match between England and Australia.

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Confession time. This is a lazy post. It is a consolidation of posts from 2007 and 2008.

  • sumitreddy711

    how are you embroiling in such thoughts when horrible things are happening in japan.

  • Rajarshi Roy

    Dear Atanu,

    I have been reading your blog since past few years but commenting for the first time. Although I personally don’t endorse many of your viewpoints but I generally like your perspectives, insights and analysis, which are often fresh and radical, on many subjects. Now, why I don’t endorse certain views of yours is a debate for another day and the reasons may not be new to you.

    However, I feel that the tone of your blogposts is increasingly getting personal with people when criticizing them. This is especially true for Dr. Manmohan Singh. He may be the most spineless PM we had till date who actively or passively let corruption brew but calling him “turbaned clerk” (from one of your old posts) or allowing comments like “MMS is a fucking dickhead” on your posts, is in my opinion taking things too far. Let us attack the policies, the behaviour but not the person. What we need is intelligent debates to shape ideas and not personal attacks.

    To be honest, I expect better standards from people who claim (or attempt to claim) to have the blueprint of and roadmap to India of our dreams.

    With Best Regards,
    Rajarshi

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