Apprehensions? What is that?

Throw away apprehensions, your inhibitions and embrace the goodness of life! Help the world to drive away dark clouds in life, every bit adds! 
 

The other day instead of going for a walk, I took my camera with a new wide angle lens for tryouts. Left home around 5.30 and went to the bridge on the river, near my home. This trip was under guidance from my friend Vijay Ghate. I take his help on anything related to photography and he suggested that it will be a good idea to go out and take 40/50 photos, trying out variations. Slowly I got the feel of things and decided to come home.

On the way back home I saw three gentlemen, all retired much more than a decade earlier. They were chatting away. They were standing outside an old people’s home by the name Matoshri Vrudhhashram. I saw one more person coming out, he spoke a sentence with them and went inside again. So I assumed that all these friends lived in the home. As I was nearing them and saw that they were observing me, a guy with white hair wearing a T shirt, track pant and a Chappal. I was in photography mode and not in morning walk mode. I had Camera hanging round the neck! 

As I came near them, I asked them in Marathi, “How are you?” The initial apprehensions on their face gave way to a smile. I have generally observed that people speak to me initially in Hindi as they assume that I am a non-Maharashtrian. One of them asked me “Are you from that school?”  I jokingly said, “Now I do not think anyone will take me in any school at this age!” Then I realized they thought that I was from film institute. Then I briefly explained to them my reason for the sojourn with camera. One thing led to another.

We ended up chatting with each other for about 15 minutes. One thing I realized was their keenness to talk to me. I realized that they wanted to share their stories with me, an unknown stranger. One of them had worked in Bombay Suburban Electric office at Parel, Mumbai; another had worked as electrician in a factory. Third person had his career in Govt job. I had common things with first two of them and we could take the conversation further, very easily. Words were just pouring out of them. They wanted company, they were together but maybe they were lonely, away from “home”, the real home.  Was this how you become when you live in an old people’s home? I could see keenness in their eyes but also some sadness. If I had not smiled at them, I don’t think they would not have spoken to me. It is this apprehension that comes in the way in interaction between people. I did not do anything out of the way but I felt nice to see smile on their faces. One of them had worked at Cummins on maintenance side. He took a few names during his time whom I knew. When I told him that I am a Metallurgist by training, he was thrilled to share his experiences about heat treatment furnaces! Was he happy! Mumbai person wanted to know where I lived in Mumbai. They wanted to know where I did my engineering. We could have chatted on and on but I had somethings lined up at home; I wished them a good day and moved on. The story does not end here!

While I started walking ahead I felt that a gentleman, again not known to me, out for his morning walk, was walking parallel to me. I gave him a smile and said good morning. Then I told him that I was just chatting with these folks as I thought humoring them in the morning was a good idea. We walked about fifty steps together and when my lane came, we stopped, I introduced me to him, and we kept exchanging pleasantries and bit of information with each other. He was a registrar in a large education institute. We were talking about the institute. I saw one more gentleman, unknown to both of us, was slowing down. I said good morning to him; and lo he also joined our tid bits. He worked in a consulting company. We all chatted. He was also curious about what I was chatting with the retirees! Without mentioning any details we chatted for another ten minutes and parted ways.

Friends, what I described just now will appear to be a very small event and in life’s cycle it will not even be a blip. But I felt that there is deep meaning involved in those 20/30 minutes. A few people not known to each other, just came together to chat, exchange pleasantries. This to me is most important thing in the world. In our day to day lives, we live next to each other but because of apprehensions we don’t know each other at all! Ok every day you may not get time, you may be busy. But whenever you get a bit of time, why not spend the same in spreading the camaraderie, spreading pleasantness. We know we cannot change lives in that short span of time but we can always create a silver lining to the dark clouds! I hope I did that, to those three gentlemen living in Matoshri! There is nothing more precious in life than a smile on someone’s face! So throw away apprehensions, your inhibitions and embrace the goodness of life! Help the world to drive away dark clouds in life, every bit adds! 

 

100 Hundred शंभर सौ!

Thank You from bottom of my heart! Your encouragement is what really puts my blog writing in turbo charge mode!  Keep commenting, keep criticizing, keep liking too! 
धन्यवाद, आभार, Love you!

As I have reached  blog number 100, I am excited, apprehensive, and reflective. Many emotions come to mind, one definite one is surprise! I started writing in 2011, and expected that my stint as a person who can write, will be short lived as happens with most of things in our life. Now in 2017 I am reaching the milestone of 100 blogs.

100th-post-image

We start some activity with a great enthusiasm, we think that we are going to do this thing for ever and before you come to know, you have simply stopped doing it, not because you don’t want to do it but that is how life takes you around.  Since last three years my blog writing frequency has increased. All of us see something happening in our lives, a small episode in our day to day life, or a normal interaction with people. Afterwards, thoughts keep on meandering in mind about that event and inner thought process starts automatically. This chain of thoughts stops only when I write something.

It is said that humans age and wine matures!  But those close to me, say that I have aged but my writing has matured!  I feel that maturity in anything is a matter doing something regularly, or some event takes place which makes you more reflective in turn matures you. This is the difference in how I looked in 2011 and how I look now. I don’t know if by blogs written then and now look equally different! 

 

DSC_4298WhatsApp Image 2017-08-12 at 11.56.55

I had never planned to be a blogger but it appears that after my Cancer treatment in 2013/14 my frequency of writing increased and I became a reasonably regular writer (though my professional work comes in the way even today!) My thoughts are more about human interactions, human reactions, human thinking and human nature. The event that induces me to write a blog could be taking my grand-daughter for small walk to a Mandir when she was two years old, or watching a lady suddenly going in a trance, reading about new tech products like Electric car being suddenly pushed hard by all.  My thinking in most cases looks into human aspect of the situation. Very few of my blogs are like an “article” which I recently wrote about GST implementation in India. Another subject that has kicked in a lot of thought processes in my mind are electric cars and non-conventional energy generation systems.

Events that stimulate my blog writing are of two types, divergent or convergent. Now let me explain. Some ideas are such that, in the beginning they look big, they look promising; but as I start writing, a very narrow thought or a conclusion comes out of it. These are convergent ideas for me. In case of divergent ideas, process is exactly reverse; I start with something very small but end with some idea which is universal and/or very big! 

Writing on different subjects needs a lot of study and has become much easier because of Internet. There is no dearth of information if one is willing to dig. When I started writing, it never touched my mind if anyone will ever read what I write. I would share my blogs with family and a few friends. Then I started understanding the techniques of sharing with others. A reasonable number people not known to me are followers of my blogs now. Later on I realized, that I can publish the blogs simultaneously on Facebook, Linked in and so on. I am also a member of a few groups on WhatsApp. I share my blog on these groups too! Out of curiosity I check the statistics that are available on WordPress site and I come to know how my blog has been “found”! It is found from search engines (Tagging helps!) on FB and so on. I also get to know the geographical locations where the blogs are “seen”. The main areas are naturally English speaking ones like US, Canada, Australia besides India but sometimes these are accessed even from Scandinavia or Eastern Europe countries! English speaking people from these places are doing this. Another information that I want to share is that in the whole year of 2014, I published 28 blogs and these were viewed by about 1000 people; till my last blog I have published 28 blogs in 2017 but the viewership is 3500! This does not mean that my blogs have suddenly become popular but I have improved the distribution! I have also observed that a couple of my friends from Facebook, share my blog with others. People give their comments on the blog itself or they send separate email to send comments. There are friends who prefer to call and discuss. My blog writing, comments, discussions also show that I am doing what I have been preaching! I have been saying, all the time in different blogs, please do something that will keep you reasonably busy during the course of the day, other than exercising, watching TV and time on Facebook/WhatsApp! I am also lucky that I love what I am doing.

My main criteria for publishing is that I myself should find the blog “readable”. My definition of “readable” is a bit stringent. If a person starts reading my blog then he should finish reading the blog in one go! Many of you have told me that my blogs are readable!

What next? Well in cricketing terms, I am taking fresh guard, will adjust my pads and will check my bat!  Next hundred should be possible in two years time. Frequency of my writing improved from 2014 and it took me about 3 1/2 years to reach 100. 2011 to 2013 were real baby steps! I think my blog theme will always be human relations and relationships! But it appears that I will pepper you folks in between on Solar Energy and Electric cars too!

Till then .. so long ! Thank You from bottom of my heart! Your encouragement is what really puts my blog writing in turbo charge mode!  Keep commenting, keep criticizing, keep liking too! 

धन्यवाद, आभार, Love you! 

 

 

 

Plan Senior Citizenship

Golden phase in our life of senior citizenship, is phase to enjoy, to be in peace with everything, to give back to society any which way possible.

Our group of friends from Engineering College meets for breakfast, every first Sunday of the month. The camaraderie and the joy during the meet is seen to be believed. Why do we meet? How did we start meeting? I presume this urge of meeting school and college friends must have been there all the time. But till a generation before ours, there were hardly any means to locate long lost friends. Internet, WhatsApp and FB are the vehicles that have made this possible.

As a group of friends in the age group of late sixties, we try to discuss different topics during these meets. Topics range from “How to manage major Illnesses” to Yoga, Vipashchana and what have you. There was once a discussion on cashless society last December when we had demonetization exercise going on. This time it was about us, the Senior Citizens! The other option was GST but everybody opted for the first one. My friend Prem has a way with words. He said let us not call ourselves old, we are senior citizens! This tweaking of the word had so much positivity,  that it set the ball rolling in the right direction. It culminated in my writing this blog, for which I wanted the title “Plan Old Age” but I changed it  to “Plan Senior Citizenship”!

The caricature below is the attitude we should have, especially at this age. In younger age people,  tendency is to think that they are infallible. They think that nothing is ever going to happen to them.

 Snoopy

The quality of life in the our Golden Period will be dependent of how we handle different things in life. There will be many scenarios in current situation, as they are in any other situation. Health of an individual can be broadly explained as

·       Those who may need physical assistance

·       Those who may need support due to brain related illnesses like Alzheimer, Dementia and so on

·       Those who are senior but do no need regular assistance or support 

The personal situations also will have a lot of variation e. g. 

·       Those who are living with the spouse    

·       Those who may have lost the spouse

·       Those whose children are nearby

·       Those whose children are far away 

With so many combinations, it is natural that each person’s status will be different and will need specific solution. We can however make a general attempt regarding what could be done to make life easier, relatively manageable and happy. I am not writing about bucket list! The key is to keep our health and wealth,  in good condition, in case of health both physical and mental, and in case of wealth it means management of funds that we have at the time of retirement. In spite of our best efforts things may not work out the way we want.

Speak Up

This is a very important aspect that humans usually avoid. Our body keeps on sending signals all the time. We assume that if something goes wrong in any system, it will auto correct, we should not rush things. Wait for a few days. At our age please don’t do it; if you find any variation, get it checked from the doctor! Don’t become paranoid but be careful. Acidity can be acidity but it can be preamble to heart attack too! With age, body’s chances of fighting out and  recovery are diminished, so not speaking  up may result in something irreversible.

It is necessary to speak up about things other than health too! This will enable us to resolve things rather than bottling them up.

Act early

Act early is next to Speak up. If you speak up about whatever issue you may have and act quickly, there are obvious advantages. We have been taking action on everything all our life but in older age we may think in terms of delaying action, sometimes because of not understanding the gravity of the situation! Maybe our reaction time has increased!

Make new friends and keep the old

This should be true all your life but during your working phase of life, you do not get time to increase your friends circle. But in old age there is definitely  a lot time available. So use it fruitfully and make new friends. Keeping links with old friends is an obvious thing but sometimes we forget importance of this. With old friends we can share anything and everything. Try to become an extrovert if you are not. When you go out, it could be a good idea to talk briefly with new people. When you go to a restaurant or get into planes, trains, buses say hi to person sitting next to you. Believe me you, in most cases people open out!

Make a rule to talk to at least one new person whenever you go out. You may have apprehensions, you may sometimes be rebuffed by someone who is a strong introvert. But don’t lose heart, people generally want to talk. Talk a bit to your grocer or the chemist. But make sure you don’t get popular as a big bore!

Be wise financially

When you retire, what you are left with, is all that is you are left with. Try and get advice on financial matters and tell your advisor that you want to be conservative. Don’t take actions based on sudden events that are out of control. Your actions should be well thought of.

Don’t be emotional about finances. Your assets are going to go to your children but make sure that they are in your name till you and your spouse, both are on the terra firma! Occasionally a child may need some funds from your kitty. Take a very measured decision considering your long term requirement and if you feel that you may be hand to mouth, be a little unemotional and deny the loan. Look at this as Catch 22 situation (meaning of Catch 22 situation is a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions). If you give the loan, your child may be happy but you may not be!

There will be some couples who do not have children. They need to discuss the matters in more details because their path for disposition of assets, after them, could be different. Nominate someone much younger than you, to execute your will! 

Don’t get tricked into card frauds attempted by tricksters asking for card details. Don’t get seduced by someone offering high interest rates way above bank rates! 

 Think out of box

Reverse mortgage is an avenue not much used in India. It is reverse of taking a housing loan from a bank. You mortgage your house to a bank (many nationalized banks are doing it) and against this you can get monthly, quarterly money from bank same as EMI’s you pay to the bank. By doing this you are opening up the value of your home  during your life time and you get to stay in the same home till you both die. I will not go into tenure and closure details but they are very fairly handled by banks. Only persons who may not be happy in this arrangement is your kids!  One very important point, since what you are getting is loan from the bank it is tax free!

Important threshold for doing reverse mortgage is the age, at which reverse mortgage should be done. Since we do not know our last day on the earth, one could think of 15 year period but when to start this is going to be a very tricky decision. 68 or 70,  what age is the right age we don’t know! 

Appoint a Proxy

This is a very natural thing to do and will make life smoother for you, in case of your falling sick and not being in a position to handle paper work, deciding line of treatment etc.

Make a Will

WILL is the most powerful document that can be used to pass on your assets to your next generation and it over rides everything else. Again, ensure that the “WILL”, will pass on assets “after both of you pass”! Keep emotions in check! Making WILL, will give you comfort that you have organized things well so that next generation does not have avoidable headaches!

Consider moving

Consider moving from a bungalow to an Apartment. Managing things in independent homes beyond a certain age is not easy. So downsize to a home where many services will be handled by common facility providers.

Live Well

This need not be said but our abilities to eat and drink get compromised with age. Limitations on physical activities also crop up. Hence we should not keep on eating things, we were eating in our younger age. Eat healthy food.

Same is true for exercise. By not doing appropriate exercise suitable to our age, we may damage muscles, bones or whatever.

Keep Connect with younger generation

This connect is absolutely essential to remain young mentally. You may also have a disconnect with technology! You may have disconnect with new thinking! All these things will make you feel lost.

And  last but not the least, never utter the sentence, “In our times ….”! 

Golden phase in our life as a senior citizen, is phase to enjoy, to be in peace with everything, to give back to society any which way possible. Make new friends, learn new things and rest assured that these are the things which you can do at any speed you want, the age is not going to come in the way! 

 

 

GST pluses and minuses

This is not a blog  in the usual sense! But I thought GST is very important  subject in India and it touches our life everyday. In my software business, we have handled GST related changes for our customers hence I know a bit about the subject. So I thought why not write about GST in simplest possible language without using accounting buzzwords.

This is not a blog  in the usual sense! But I thought GST is very important  subject in India and it touches our life everyday. In my software business, we have handled GST related changes for our customers hence I know a bit about the subject. So I thought why not write about GST in simplest possible language without using accounting buzzwords.

It’s more than a month after introduction of GST in India. There has always been a question why GST? Modern world has switched over to Goods & Services Tax (GST) over a period of last 15 years or so. I felt that there is a need to explain GST in the format that will make it easy to understand the simplicity as well as complexity of the system.

Why GST?

Before GST there was a plethora of taxes by different names, different authorities, different rates, different procedures, and different forms, making things extremely complex. What GST has done is that it has helped the system to go away from all these taxes. All these various taxes have been merged into two taxes one is under Central Govt (CGST) and other by State Govt (SGST). Central Govt portion takes care of previous excise tax and State Govt portion takes care VAT and Service tax.

Definition of GST

It is very simple. GST is a tax which is based on Supply and it is destination based. This means that whatever you supply Products or Services, there will be only one type of tax, GST! The beauty of this system is that there is same tax percentage for a supply all over India.

CGST/SGST & IGST

When a supply is a made within the state there are two elements of tax, CGST and SGST. If supply is made outside state then there is only one tax element, IGST. If tax percentage is defined at 18% for an item, then IGST is 18% for interstate transaction and intra state tax is 50% of 18%, each for two elements i.e. 9% CGST and 9% SGST.

Why so many tax percentages in GST?

India is a very complex heterogeneous country. Diversity of Income is quite extreme in India. Hence to take care of such issues tax % have been defined from 0% to 28%. This is a compromise that was needed to achieve the social goals as well as fiscal goals of the Govt. World over, taxes have been from 6% to 20 plus % depending on the particular countries requirements. But majority of the countries in the world are as big only as some of our states are or even smaller than them, with reasonably homogeneous population. If we take 28% GST, which is supposed to be on luxury items, in case of cars the prices of most cars did come down post GST. There are some cases where post GST, prices went up and they came down in others.

Input tax credit

At every stage, the seller can take Input Tax Credit of tax charged to him at the buying stage thereby taking care of double taxation. This means that seller charges the tax based on his profit margin and not on the complete price.

Immediate benefit of GST to Govt

Govt is all the time looking to increase the tax base in the country. With GST implementation, a large number of new entities have opted to register under GST, thereby helping in reduction of transactions in parallel economy or so called Black economy. There is an interesting rule. An entity buys something from another entity, which is not registered under GST and does not charge GST for the transaction. The onus of paying GST in this case is on the buyer. The buyer has to raise a self-Invoice for the amount equal to purchase value and charge GST as % defined in the system. He then pays that tax to the Govt. System of “Purchi” will have tough time in future.

Ease of use

For traders who make a large number of sell transactions every day, there is a system that allows them to be under Composition Scheme. They are required to pay GST to Govt every quarter, at a fixed % based on their turnover.

Why people Love to Hate GST?

First and foremost, the reason is ignorance! Second most important aspect is the transactions will come above board requiring the entity to pay correct amount of Income Tax! Hiding Income can become tough over a period because the transactions, and returns of different entities are now going to be entangled with each other.

GST Returns filing

This is another reason for hating the GST. Except for those who have opted for composition scheme, returns need to be filed on a monthly basis. In previous tax system returns were allowed on a quarterly basis. In GST returns, more information is required to be shared with Govt, every month. For example, when returns for July are filed, one has to fill up gross turnover value of that entity between 1st April and 31st July and so on. This will put the limitations of “playing around with figures” at the end of the year! You hate GST, of course many will hate GST!

Entanglement with each other

By a certain date of every month, sales details are to be shared with Govt and these are more detailed than was previously done. This includes names and GSTIN number of customers! This is to be uploaded to Govt site. In next couple of days after this is done, your customers will have visibility of these Invoices and are required to “approve” your Invoice, online. There is dispute resolution mechanism; in case of dispute, two months are allowed to resolve the dispute. There is one more entanglement. To claim set off the customer must “approve” your Invoice. Your customer will finally avail Input Tax Credit during payment of GST, only when you have shared the proof of actual payment of your liability of GST amount on the site! Now, now you hate GST more, you will hate Govt more. But what Govt is trying to do is to bring more discipline in the society and more compliance. The effect of this is even trickier. Everybody’s compliance rating, adhering to discipline will be made available in public domain. This will lead to getting lower business in case compliance rating is down! This is because the lack of compliance indicates indiscipline and financial burden to your customer. You cannot avail tax credit if your vendor has not paid taxes. What do you do in such cases, go to a better compliant vendor! Simple?

I have tried to explain the gist of GST in non-technical way and have tried not to use accounting jargon! Its early days for GST and we will see improvements over a period. This GST system will probably create world’s largest data under one roof and will be a challenge to data analysis experts too! Happy GSTing!

 

 

Auto Industry 2040?

Auto Industry Circa 2040. where will it be?

WOW! MMG! DISCO! These could be names of some of the leading auto component industries in the year 2040! Why have I selected the year 2040? Simply because everyone is talking of this year for introduction of electric cars in a big way; from this year onwards, the real downward trend in manufacture and use of IC engines in the cars, as we know them today, will begin. I am simply assuming that the cars will be available, similar to the cars of today. Masses of cars will be driven by humans, they will have a steering wheel and a power plant/train to give them. They will have some form of braking, electrical system handling various functions, wheels and body with fuel storage area, air conditioning and so on! Things inside could be fancier with more and more entertainment, superior navigation abilities, drivers may become more stress free as cars systems will be able to understand many things and may take over some functions from humans. Internet of things (IOT) will allow things that are not even thought of today.

This is part of evolution of human race but this could be culmination of major change that is taking place currently. The “new” car industry is putting its toddler’s steps today. Evolution is nature as everything in this world is always evolving! Basic driver for these changes is computers and computer chips. The car industry will be using different chips and will capture lots of data data generated by various systems. This data will be in endless loop and will allow cars to function more and more efficiently.

What will be the difference in the cars of today and those in 2040? Today’s power plant, the Engine & Drive train will be replaced by Batteries and Motors. Today’s drive train, gear boxes etc will be just be not there. The exhaust system as is known today will be simply not be needed because there will be no IC engine, both Petrol and Diesel. Gear box and the whole system is really not needed because their function can easily be handled by Electric Motors. Even today, in electric cars, there is a single gear which reduces the RPM to what is needed to drive the car at allowed speeds!

There are many companies that are manufacturing the components that are discussed above. These components may become redundant over a period of time due to introduction of electric cars. Bosch, Denso, Continental, Valeo, Aisin Seiki are some of the major players that manufacture the cluster of these components. These companies together manufacture products worth US $200/ billions every year.  These products may comprise of 40% to 70% of their current turnover. The giants must be already studying the questions that have come to my mind. How are they handling these questions? I am sure it’s a tough call to all of them though they have the where withal and deep pockets to handle difficult situations. Some have started making navigation products, some are making parking assist, camera -related systems. But suddenly new names are being heard in these discussions as vendors. CISCO, NVIDIA are some of them. Some are direct vendors to car makers and some are vendors to components manufacturers.  Where is the real scope for new development and business? Battery packs, battery charging technology to increase per charge distance that the cars can travel today! All other developments that are computer related can also happen in IC engine cars too! TESLA is already building a giga factory for their Battery Packs! So will the “new” component business be taken over by Car Manufacturers? Suzuki, Toyota and Toshiba are coming together in India for big battery plant! What happens to smaller manufacturers of these components? Will they survive the major change? Will “WOW! MMG! DISCO!” replace them? Only time can tell.

In car making, after a long time, new name TESLA, started coming into prominence. TESLA came mainly for the new product offering. It appears that technology like fashion goes round! Till first two decades of last century, IC engine based transportation was not very popular. Trains used steam, cars used electric power plants; but battery technology could not catch with the then needs. Hence IC engine cars and trains became popular. From the existing car manufacturers, some are already manufacturing electric cars more than what TESLA is producing. On top of that they have a running profitable business producing IC engine cars. But one thing is for sure they have the humility and know where they lack. Look at what Volkswagen Brand CEO Deiss has to say about TESLA! 

VOLKSWAGEN brand CEO Diess has said that VW which manufactured 5,987,800 cars last year has to catch up with Tesla which produced 83922 cars last year. “Tesla belongs among the competitors which has abilities that we currently do not have,” Diess said in the interview with “Inside”, a publication for VW employees. Around half of Tesla’s engineers are software experts, while at VW’s core brand it is a much lower proportion, Diess said. Tesla has good electric motors, a fast charging network, autonomous driving technology, internet connectivity, and a new approach toward vehicle distribution. “This shows that we need to significantly improve. We can do this. We measure ourselves against Tesla quite deliberately. Our goal: Using our abilities not just to catch up, but even to overtake,” Diess drives an electric VW Golf.

 Current giants have ready infrastructure and eco system to make and sell millions of cars. They of course lack Electric car eco system as mentioned by Diess above. Their main struggle will be recharging stations for electric cars; but TESLA is also going face the same problem! The question arises if TESLA, a loss making company, a start-up, survive? Let’s look at the startups from the Silicon Valley and the west coast, who really made it big in computer industry sunrise era. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple they all became very big with the products/services that never existed before. TESLA is pitted against the giants for making existing products where the main “driver” is only a different technology! That’s a huge disadvantage. Fighting against giants, who have woken up a bit late, like Mercedes, Honda BMW, Toyota, GM, Ford, Fiat, Hyundai is going to be very very tough for TESLA! Some of these giants are also going to suffer or may merge! My take,Continental TESLA may cease to exist  by 2040 or even earlier as it is known today! Takeover? Maybe! 

 

Longevity bane or boon?

Wish to live as long as possible is natural but achieving the same to enjoy life in Golden Period needs efforts!

Vilas, my friend, wrote an e mail on our college group about human longevity and role of pharmaceutical companies in the same. This brings us to the good old discussion, longevity, is it bane or boon? In recent past, we all have seen products, treatments and methods to delay aging. Hoping to be around for longer time is a natural instinct! Both men and women, are using different products, trying to look young, dying their hair black and so on. There is plethora of creams, lotions, treatments, massages, health routines, health drinks available to us. The commercial organizations make such things available to us but to buy or not to buy is our choice! Such products were not available even 50 years back.

Vilas had made a comment that these pharmaceuticals companies keep people alive to make money. I replied to his mail saying that I don’t agree; in that e mail exchange, Sudhakar and another friend Pramod prodded me that this is a subject on which I should write a blog! Something kicked in from within and thoughts started flowing in my mind. What is longevity, what is old age? These definitions change as the years pass by, and/or we go to different countries. In Japan one of my colleagues’ father is 92 years old, 2 or 3 times a week he travels by Metro to get stuff for home! Old age? What is that? Last year we had taken Alaska cruise and there was one grand old American lady, all of 99 years of age, traveling alone on the cruise! You may say that these are exceptions but I don’t think they are! In a country like Japan population of 80 plus people is quite large and average age at death is between 85 & 90.

 Just a generation before ours, in India, our parents generation, old age started with crossing the age of fifty and at the time of retirement at 58 or 60 the Vanprasthashrama started. The currently available medicines, diagnostics tools and treatments were simply not available then. So if you had a heart attack, you simply died in most cases. Before the responsibilities of people ended, their health and wealth both were on the wane. Today’s Golden period never really dawned on that generation. There were two reasons, deterioration of health and wealth. Post British Raj, we were a poor country hence there never were savings to write home about. Even if ones health remained good, there was no money around to enjoy. But most important plus, for that generation, was there was always something to look forward to! Children, grandchildren were mostly around. Families always had something going. But for our generation with nuclear families, children migrating, we have to create our own things to look forward to! 

 In our generation, in general health has improved both bodily and financially. Slowly, in front of our eyes, we have seen that in today’s age 50 is like 40 of olden days and so on. Today’s 70 is like 60 of last generation. The overall improvement in situation is changing the definition of old age. Discussion on death was taboo in older generation. Now people at least in my group talk openly about health and death. With this change in thinking people are trying to take things in hand and are discussing about “medical will”! For example people are discussing openly, that in case of defined major health issues, they would not like to be put on ventilator or would not like to undergo major surgery. By taking such parameters under control people really want to enjoy their golden period and say quits when it is not worth it!

 There are ways to keep reasonably healthy. The most important is discipline. Whatever we do, only discipline is going to help. Some might feel that your behavior is regimental but to achieve your goal you need to be very rigid about discipline. I will tell you my story; I was detected with severe diabetes, HB1C value of 11.5, five years back! I love sweets and this change had occurred between two yearly tests. What I did and still follow is discipline, discipline and discipline! I stopped eating sweets from the next day, I exercise regularly anyway. Started medication and switched to low carb stuff. In the third year my HB1C was found to be 6.0! In between I went through cancer treatment for about three months! My doctor was very confident that I will bring things under control because he was aware of my discipline. Why I shared my story with you is because we are probably the first generation in India, that may be able to enjoy the golden period of life! Add to discipline, positive thinking; that is one more thing that will keep you healthy.

 Is longevity bane? No I don’t think so! There are many different ways of keeping healthier and fitter at my age (I am 68). Healthiness is equally important for both body and mind. For body, exercise and yoga are the key but for mind there are many different things. You can learn something new, things that you always wanted to learn but never got time. A friend of mine today told me that post retirement he has joined a music school to learn to play Piano! Great going. Maybe you wanted to try your hand at photography, travel, painting or reading. Do it! Doing things you love to do, is my definition of Golden Period! Golden Period definition changes with person to person. Somebody may want to join bhajan singing group, some may like discussion group on modern technology. Thirty years back my mother was in such a group but it was very rare in those days. That group had retired general managers, high court judges, house wives, teachers and what have you. They would invite people to give 15 to 30 minute talks on subject ranging from puarans, health care, or to get to know about latest aero planes. Their only requirement was that the speaker should explain in such a way that they could understand the subject. Groups formed 30 years back were the beginning of many such groups mushrooming now in the form of Alumni groups, Office colleagues groups and so on.  

 Staying connected with family and friends is another great way of remaining healthy. After taking care to remain healthy, things can go wrong but this should not happen for want of trying. Another secret of remaining healthy is to keep updated with new things like gadgets, technologies and happenings all around! So much information is available easily on the net these days, it is crime to not know things. My grandmother died at the age of 85; was she keen on what is happening in the world! Whenever I went to her house she would ask me information on different things in the world. She died in 1985 but she used to read the newspapers really in details. My brother in law is 81 years old (he was professor of commerce) and is having many health issues. A couple of weeks back when we traveled only to meet him, we found that though the flesh was not willing, his intellect was as sharp as ever. Currently he is mentoring one of his students on a project for making solar drier which can be used by plethora of people! He wanted my advice and thoughts on marketing the product! Last week I had a discussion on WhatsApp technicalities with my Grand-nephew! Another way of keeping young!  

 Vilas mentioned in his mail a figure of 75 years of age, beyond which he felt it may not be very pleasant to be around. Yes possible, on current data available. But I am sure this data will change a lot in next 25 years and maybe 80/85 would be that age! Jury is still out on definitions of Golden Period, threshold age. But I am quite sure that this will be a moving target all the time! And finally, YES! The old age is a boon!

Electric cars, are they round the corner?

Definition of inflection point: a point on a curve that separates an arc concave upward from one concave downward and vice versa. The term inflection point was first used by Andy Grove in his book “Only the Paranoids Survive”. Inflection point can be there in anybody’s life on in business cycle of industry. It indicates the total change in scenario or make and break situation. The diagram showing point of inflexion.

 Inflexion point

I visualize a major point of inflexion in automobile industry in near future. There are different views floating regarding when the Electric Cars will be mass produced. The year mentioned fairly regularly is 2030! That’s not really far! Why this is going to happen and whether it will happen at all will be based on many factors. Currently volume of Electric cars manufactured world over is not significant. But Nissan, BMW, Ford, GM, Mahindra in a small way and of course Tesla are already making electric cars. I have heard that Toyota plans to come up with a full electric car by 2019.

 2016electric cars predictiongraph

This is the forecast sale of electric cars as percentage of total car sales, for the year 2016 but I could not get the real figures. Japan at 9.7% is highest in the number of total cars produced and China at 0.9% is the lowest %. France, Great Britain, Germany, USA, South Korea, Spain are there in between.

 What will give the boost? What factors are going to push this production? When will the momentum gather for switch to mass production? When will the point of inflexion be reached? Main factors considered in usage of automobiles are its price, fuel cost, car driving  range, parts cost and main is the cost of ownership. Besides this battery charging infrastructure is going to be the most important aspect that will make or break this change.

 Price factor for electric cars appears to be in reasonable control even without mass production. In the cost of electric cars “Engine & drive train” needs be brought down; all other things remain same. When Tesla started producing cars, people looked at it as Elon Musk’s fancy! Tesla is working like a start-up but it is somehow managing to survive financially. Now they are also coming up with an affordable sedan. Slowly big giants like BMW, GM and others have woken up. Initial experiment started with Toyota’s Prius hybrid. Thinking was to just increase the fuel efficiency of existing car system and Prius hybrid was the first successful attempt. But it was definitely a minor change in thinking and not the game changer like fully Electric car. As per current thinking even  in India, Government has increased the Tax on hybrids. When asked, the minister said, “When Electric cars is the future why bother about hybrids!” Electric cars will of course need Government support by way of lower taxes to make them attractive for buyers. Government support will also be needed for battery charging infrastructure.

 Second factor is the cost of fuel. With many shocks offered by Petroleum politics, world has been looking to go away from fossil fuels. Plus the world has woken up to climate change and is aggressively looking to control pollution. Cars are known to be major pollutants. Stringent control is being sought on exhausts from cars. But this will happen only in newer cars, old polluting cars cannot be wished away. Volvo has made a statement that the cost of manufacturing car systems to match pollution norms in 2022/23 will be so high that they will stop making diesel engines. To overcome pollution issue, Germany has declared that by 2030 only electric cars will be manufactured in Germany. To achieve this target they will really have to work hard but German car makers have the technology, financial clout, will and wherewithal  to achieve this target; they are working very aggressively. Best non-polluting fuel obviously is electricity. But cost of producing electricity was a major factor hindering its usage in cars using battery banks and of course the cost of batteries. Solar and wind energy seem to be galloping ahead of other sources to make electricity cheap. Classic example is Germany. On a day in 2016, 85% of electricity produced in Germany, was from non-conventional methods.

https://energytransition.org/2016/05/germany-nearly-reached-100-percent-renewable-power-on-sunday/

With abundance of cheap electricity, on that day the rates of electricity went in negative in tendering process! Recently, California produced 67% of electricity, on a particular day,  by non-conventional methods causing serious disruption in electricity pricing mechanism! World over including India, Solar and other non-conventional methods are very aggressively pursued. By 2030 it looks like world will easily achieve the goal of cheap fuel in the form of electricity!

Currently when we travel by car, we do not think how much distance we are going to travel. This is because fuel infrastructure is fully established world over. Whenever needed, we just refuel and move ahead. This is not going to be so easy, at least today, in electric cars. There are two major points. First is charging stations and second is charging time. Both need to be vastly improved. Charging time is evolution of technology, in cell phones rapid charging technology is already available so maybe it’s a matter of time when we get this in car battery charging. Charging infra of course has to come up but when number of electric cars increase, the infra will come up. The range per charge is also the matter of technology so hopefully it will rapidly increase. Similar to what we do today, while driving long distance, we should be able to stop for coffee and wash room break and get batteries recharged. Lo we are on the way! 2030 very much possible. But my take is that this will happen faster in Europe, Japan & Korea because such things are national policies and are easier to implement  in these areas because of the smaller size of the nations plus most of European nations are developed nations.  In geographically large countries like US, Canada and China plus India, this change may happen region wise or state wise starting with highways. City limits will adopt faster as people can charge their cars in their own homes. 

 Replacement parts and cost of ownership are combination factors. In the electric cars, drive train, exhaust systems as we know them today, will simply be not there being replaced by battery packs, motors & drives. Less number of mechanical parts is going to definitely reduce the repairs and servicing cost. This factor has nothing to do with 2030. As the cost of ownership comes down, more people will be interested in driving electric cars.

 Another major change is going to be the nature automotive components industry. When major systems like drive trains & exhaust system are not needed, current manufacturers will find in a drastic reduction in parts needed by industry; over a period these will be only needed in old cars. With a mandate to supply parts for ten years, 2040 will be the last straw on the back of the Camel for this industry assuming by 2030 electric cars will be used in large numbers. How will current component manufacturers of these components handle change? Will they start making parts needed for electric cars? Do they have the technology? Only time can tell? How will Bosch’s, Conti’s, Denso’s and Valeo’s of this world handle the situation only time can tell. I am sharing one important information about change that has already happened. Nvidia Graphics, www.nvidia.com  producing chips and cards with their GPU technology are already vendors for Toyota, Mercedes, Audi, Honda, BMW, Volvo. This is because of rapid increase in usage of onboard computers to perform various functions including self-driving cars. Five years back, I am not sure if Nvidia name was much known in automotive world! Point of inflection? Yes my friends this is the point of inflection and in this business jungle, snipers in the form of technology are hiding! You never know when you will get your bullet! Yes, my conclusion,” ELECTRIC CARS ARE COMING IN A BIG WAY BY 2030”!