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Guys, we have migrated to http://www.bhejakhol.com

January 18, 2010

Hi,

We are grateful to each one of you who has visited this blog. You are special to us in your own way.
To take our association to the next level, we have now created a full fledged online platform — http://www.bhejakhol.com , where you can unleash the power of your minds and truly celebrate the freedom of your intellect.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Thanks and Regards,
Bhejakhol Team.

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The Ascent of Money – Niall Ferguson

July 12, 2009

Money, we all can agree, is an important part of modern life. More than just a medium of trade, money has been used through time immemorial to gain and wield power and influence. Many people and societies, of the past and in the present, have been motivated by the quest of this elusive “resource”.
Strangely enough, our history books are filled with facts and figures but rarely find mention of the significant role that money and finance have played since the stone age. “The Ascent of Money” by Harvard historian Niall Ferguson is an attempt to present a financial history of the world. The author traces the origin of money and the impact of the increasingly complex and sophisticated financial structures on society and human progress, both positive and negative.

This book comes at a timely juncture as we witness, first-hand, the unraveling of the global financial system and its impact on society and politics in countries ranging from the United States, India to Eastern Europe. It offers a unique perspective on important periods in human history and the role played by money, be it wars in medieval Europe, the World Wars, the Great Depression, or even the increasingly complex relationship between
China and the United States.

One of the very interesting things to take away from this book is an exploration of the much reviled “moneylender” community throughout history. The book makes a convincing assertion that much of the anti-Semitism in the world is tightly linked to the role played by Jews as moneylenders in large swathes of Europe for centuries, as a result of the fact that other religions such as Christianity frowned upon the practice of charging interest, leaving the world of banking to the tiny Jewish populations. These communities, which first became targets of scorn and disapproval for engaging in this ‘unholy’ practice, later, when the inevitable bad debts rolled in, found themselves targets of resentment and hate, further ghettoising the community and exacerbating the situation. In fact, the author asserts that the true reason behind the Crusades may have been the quest for gaining control over crucial channels of trade and commerce, while religion was a convenient excuse and perhaps a secondary reason.

Another interesting relationship explored in the book is that between influential bankers, financiers and the political leadership of the day. The book explores the rise of icons such as the Rothschild family in Europe and, more recently, JP Morgan in the US. The Rothschild family, which got its first opportunities when financing war expenditure, soon found itself to have a stronghold on the monarchies of the time, often being perceived as more important and influential than the actual political leadership itself. In fact, the Rothschilds, the Medici family of Italy and JP Morgan in the US played crucial roles in providing large scale monetary relief to the flailing nation-states of their times. This is a very interesting backdrop to the current financial crisis when major financial corporations are being bailed out by national governments.

In sum, this book explores how access to money and resources, and the quest for financial resources has spurred the rise of many a society and nations. However, the author does acknowledge that the trajectory of human progress has been irregular and jagged at times, which perhaps indicates periods characterized by the loss of fiscal sobriety and balance in society. Whether or not one agrees with the author’s hypothesis, this book is an essential read for us all as we make our way through a time of economic upheaval and try to make sense of it all. This book provides much food for thought and can provide important scenarios from history which should be understood properly in order to understand how we got here and how we may proceed onwards.

To Sir, with love – E.R.Braithwaite

July 12, 2009

I first heard about this novel in my 7th grade when we were told to read it as part of our holiday homework (which I never bothered to do). The name somehow never left my memory and that was the reason I bought a copy for myself about a week back on my last visit to the nearby book store.
As I relaxed on my couch to begin what was going to be an enlightening journey, I had no idea that this would be the first book I was going to read at a stretch.
(I am not in a habit of reading books at one stretch because I tend to fall asleep midway when the author becomes obsessed with describing a particular character or a place in great detail.)
I sat enthralled for the next 4 hours during which I was transported into the world of Sir E.R.BRAITHWAITE and his classroom.

Set in the East end of London in the 1940’s, it traces the journey of a black man named Mr.Edward Ricardo Braithwaite from being another socially unacceptable negro to becoming the most popular school teacher of a British school. The story begins with the hardships he has to endure while looking for a job as an electronics engineer, an occupation he rightly deserves but is invariably denied to pursue owing to the colour of his skin. He succinctly describes the absurdities of prejudice in the line: “I realized I was British, but evidently not a Briton and that fine differentiation was now very important to be kept in mind.” When he is eventually offered a job as a school teacher in Greenslade School, he feels it is the beginning of a new life. What awaits him however is a classroom of uncouth students whom any teacher could promptly call as a blot on human civilization.
But as they say,”When the going gets tough, the tough get going”
Will E.R.Braithwaite be able to reform a gang of thieves and a bunch of prostitutes ?
How will he even manage to capture the attention of a lot which the book eloquently describes as “ callous, hostile, and firmly resistant towards anything that the school attempted to teach” ?
Will his courage and intelligence be enough to enlighten the ill-mannered students?

Read the book to find answers to each of the above questions and to learn many invaluable lessons about life that the book attempts to teach.

The language will be slightly tough to follow given that Braithwaite used words like Cockney, which is a British dialect of East End Londoners, glibness, and cheek by jowl but you’ll gradually get the hang of it. I discovered that glibness was used to describe the shallowness of Gillian’s parents, and cheek by jowl is an expression, meaning tightly packed.

IN SUM, ‘TO SIR WITH LOVE’ IS A BOOK YOU ARE LIKELY TO ALWAYS PRESERVE IN YOUR BOOKSHELF.

Welcome to BHEJAKHOL

June 20, 2009

Hi.
Let us quickly get over with the introduction formality which we find rather cliched but unavoidable.

We are a team of two enthusiastic readers who like every other 22 year old guy, think they have what it takes to change the world and change the mindset of its people.
History will be witness, if and when we manage to achieve that objective !!
For now we would like to be known here simply by our names –
ANKUR KAKKAR and SIDDHARTH GAUBA.

The content of this blog will primarily focus on books and everything about books because we believe that
A MAN IS THE SUM OF WHAT HE HAS READ IN HIS LIFETIME

in the words of famous blogger – leo babauta
“Reading is a joy. It is a time of peace, of adventure, of exploration, of just enjoying a good story. If you learn to love reading, as I do and as many others do, it’s not really a habit you have to develop — it’s something you look forward to doing each day.
Is reading a book better than playing outside? Better than a good conversation? Better than exploring websites on a topic that excites you? Better than exploring nature? Better than playing sports? Better than drawing or painting or playing music or dancing?
I don’t think so. I think each activity has its own benefits and pleasures.
Reading might be better than many activities if your main concern is educating yourself and improving your chances of succeeding in various careers. However … reading is more than a means to an end … reading is an end in and of itself. It’s a joy, and that’s how you should approach it.
If you gain a side benefit of becoming better prepared for school and life, well … so much the better! ”

Hence, it is no wonder that the man who invented the printing press –Johannes Gutenberg is hailed as the most influential man in history because that single invention in 1439 was going to change the way humans learned and educated themselves.

Our first newsletter is out and it is available in bookstores in new delhi.
If you wish to subscribe to the newsletter through email, you may reach us at bhejakhol@gmail.com

If you want us to read and review any book, please let us know in any of the following ways :-

Drop in your comments here on bhejakhol.wordpress.com

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We look forward to your cooperation in creating a culture of reading in india and everywhere in the world.

Thank you for your precious time,

warm regards,

THE BHEJAKHOL TEAM.