Heart or Brain?

Many a times, humans take decisions in a way that it becomes difficult for others to fathom. Sometimes the brain is required to take precedence over heart and other times heart is supposed to take precedence over brain. In love, about family and friends, heart should take precedence over brain; emotions do overcome brain in these cases but in other cases it should be the reverse. But this sometimes does not happen.

Recently a term has been coined “Post Truth”

Post-truth relies solely on personal beliefs and ignores any facts that may conflict with those personal beliefs.

Initially, humans lived in small groups, with evolution many things changed. This included communication, travel, language and many other things. When small groups were not connected, most of the decisions taken were based on personal beliefs because knowledge acquired by other groups could hardly be known as inter group communications were either non-existent or were very poor and not wide spread. Human race has evolved over a period especially about communications.

In modern world, the knowledge and information gets spread so fast that we can know many things, if we want to. This gave the opportunity to know how people behave in different ways for same situations. Also many facts and figures became easily available. With this change, migration also increased. Initially people looked at migration as globalization; effect of globalization was assimilation of global population with different skills, to manufacture stuff/provide services from anywhere in the world at the lowest possible cost. Globalization did spread with the advent of knowledge and information and better communication. It had its great effects, initially. Second “industrial revolution” was even faster and more wide spread. This “industrial revolution” was digitalization and computerization of our world. Its effect has been to democratize the global economy to some extent.

But in recent couple of years, a different effect of this revolution was felt by the local population e.g. losing jobs to “outsiders”. Now the thought process has started changing from global to local. This has led to the creation of term “Post Truth”. So called “Global Thinking” people have started thinking “locally” to get their jobs back. The effect is for all of us to see e.g. Trump becoming President, Brexit and so on. Apparently Post Truth is more prevalent in Public Domain but sometimes it’s prevalent in personal domain too! We cannot say that US population is not aware of “could be effects” of  Trump presidency. Britishers are very much aware that coming out of large single market is not good for Britain. But in spite this knowledge, decisions have been most unexpected. 

EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) episode, challenging the Election commission by political parties was a typical Post Truth case. EVM voting sanctity was well proven over a period but Political parties did not look at the facts and just challenged the Authorities. In 1971 India Pakistan war, Pakistan had two very distant fronts to fight on, Mukti Bahini was strongly fighting the guerilla war, Indian Forces were far superior but Pakistanis had a notion that one Pakistani soldier is good enough for 10 Indian soldiers! Rest as you know is history. Alienating Qatar by other Gulf Countries is another Post Truth decision. Qatar is a small nation but is also the richest. All concerned countries on both sides openly support terrorist organizations. So most of these countries have same issues so how alienating Qatar is going to solve that areas problems is difficult to understand.  

Why the Post Truth? Under what circumstances does emotion take over the brain? At what stage “globalization” becomes less important than “localization”? One important aspect that has come forward is that very large part of population gives in to “Post Truth” phenomena. Is it because of fear psychosis? In many cases, the “Post Truth” thinking actually becomes believable. In case of Trump phenomena, it was real justified fear of the so called “White Trash” in America or “Rednecks” and Right supremacists. In case of Brexit it is probably the fear of Muslim refugees landing in Europe. In England already there is a large population of Asians which has come legally and has been causing stress to the white population and “Post Truth” thought process must have been simmering beneath the surface. In both cases the large population has ignored the facts and taken decision solely on personal beliefs; this phenomena is difficult to explain.

In case of personal relationships, life and decision making is too simple and emotional. When Jaya and I decided to get married, we were both students. Both had rudimentary information about each other’s families. Both of us were below 20 years of age, it was simple and “to hell with the consequences” was the attitude. But who any way knew what is marriage? That things turned out to be okay over a period was a different matter. Folks, what do you consider yourselves about things in public domain or even somethings in personal domain which needs brain over heart? Or are you a heart over brain person?

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Are you smart or dumb?

MAD is one of my favourite magazines from childhood. I remember one caricature from the magazine. A very thin guy is lying on the ground. Another guy is shooting him with a revolver. A passerby stops and asks the shooter, “What are you doing?” He replies, “This guy is under weight, so I am pumping lead in him to help him gain weight!” Such caricatures came under category “Smart or funny answers to dumb questions” or some such thing. In our life we come across such people. If you are lucky you don’t meet many such people!

What is smart or dumb? How does a human being become smart or dumb? His family, education, DNA, environment what is it? What attributes finally get converted to a smart or dumb person? It is rather difficult to decide. I think it starts from childhood but later on the human being acquires & improves many abilities through experience. But this only appears theoretical, real life things are different.

As usual I take the reference of my grand-daughter Rhea. She is all of 3 ½ years old, the way she asks questions, adapts to things, understands explanations it will be real surprise if she ever asks a dumb question. She watches videos while having her food. One day the video was taking time to load. To deceive her we used to tell her previously that now internet Baba is angry that is why we can’t see the video.  I told her the same story. She pointed her finger to the electrical switch for the Modem and told me “Aba put that switch on/off, then internet Baba will not be angry.” Now I am sure she has heard this discussion when we talk amongst ourselves when the Net is slow or not behaving! I am not able to understand how she could correlate this discussion with the problem on hand! Do I find this clarity in grown-ups? In fact I observe that some of the grown-ups can’t correlate things in their own subject. They are graduates and reasonably well educated. Is it because when there is a minor deviation, they cannot think out of the box? Or have they acquired this trait to think dumb!

We live on the 7th floor and while going down in the elevator, I pressed zero! Rhea asked me why I pressed zero. I said because we want to go there. She then asked me how does the elevator know it has reached zero? Well, well that definitely was a smart question for her age. I had shared a couple of photos, news item and a small write up in our group about the achievement by a friend. I got a message from another friend, Pramod could you explain what these photos are? He had read everything and it was all self-explanatory, so why did he ask this question? I have no explanation. I again sent him the explanation.

Recently I was told a story by my niece who is a gynecologists. There was a couple, husband was IIT trained, wife Post Graduate in nutrition science. They had difficulty in conceiving and were taking my niece’s treatment. Finally the wife became pregnant. They came to see my niece in the fifth month of pregnancy. It was winter time and weather was very cold. The husband asked my niece, “Doctor, can my wife use a blanket now?” She was surprised. She said it was very cold so you must use the blanket and why has your wife been not using one. Believe me, he said the dumbest possible thing, you may say that Pramod is cooking up some story for the heck of it. They said now that fetus has crossed fifth month it will be ok to use it. My niece still did not understand. The husband said if my wife had used blanket before the fetus would have been smothered, that is why they decided not to use blanket even though it was very cold! Had this statement come from a villager ….

Now read the next one. They asked my niece, “Can the lady now eat Jambhul or Indian Black Berry?” It’s a lovey and healthy fruit and pregnant ladies many a times have the urge to eat the same during pregnancy. Again our doctor was flummoxed. She said of course you can eat but why were you not eating? The answer was “Oh the baby’s skin could have become dark!”

I know that these two stories can also be told under the heading “Believe it or not”. But how does this educated couple ask such questions? It comes down to definition of “educated”. These two had gone to their respective education institute to get their degrees but were definitely NOT “educated”. The information they asked was not rocket science and you did not have to be doctor to understand these things. If the blanket could suffocate the fetus then the lady’s clothing also must have suffocated the baby! Did they avoid blackish colored soft drinks like colas or kala khatta during this period?

I asked my niece if this couple was exceptionally dumb.  She said, “No kaka, they were a reasonable representation of our society irrespective of education levels”.  I can understand people getting confused with highly technical or analytical issues. So now I am back to the question what makes people smart or dumb? I am watching my grand-daughter asking very smart questions at her age and I see the so called ‘educated’ asking dumb questions. Honestly I am dumb founded! Are you?

Globalization effect on human thought process!

What is the effect of globalization on human thought process? We always read effects of globalization on economy, migration, wealth creation and so on. These are of course plus points for those who migrate from lesser economies to matured economies. Life style of people generally improves when people migrate to richer countries. How we define improvement? Material wise there is definite improvement, work satisfaction wise also there is definite improvement in some cases.

How does this process affect human mind or thought process? Since I have lived in India and that too mostly in Pune Mumbai area, I may not be the right person to comment, based on personal experience. I am attempting to analyze this phenomena from what I read, what I hear and sometimes what I experience. Attempt is definitely not to pass judgement but to try and understand the situation.

Migration to other countries from India started in 60’s; but in last 15/20 years this process is on overdrive. Number of people migrating permanently or for long duration has increased. With second generation and sometimes third generation of kids born outside India, picture becomes even more complex. In 60’s and 70’s, communication was not good; main mode of communication used to be snail mail. Proliferation of telephone systems in India was poor. So contact with people back home was pretty difficult and frequency also used to be low, in many cases once a year! Visits used to be once in 4/5 years. With this scenario, relationship with close ones including parents, would become fragmented. Ultimately, human beings who are in touch with each other regularly become close to each other. The distance and time can create a crevice in any relationship. If this situation continues crevice can become a valley!

The migratory birds do visit the nest, in some cases frequently but in many cases these visits are infrequent. A classmate of mine has touched the home base only once in 45 years. I asked him if he were so busy! He only gave me vague replies. On checking further I found that his one or two siblings are still around in Pune! What could be the reason for this? Honestly I do not know. What changes could have happened in his mind that did not prompt him not to come “home” oftener! Oh again definition of home is being challenged here. What is home? Where is home? I feel that many changes happen because definitions change. Definition of relationship itself changes. Parents are those who have given birth to you is probably the most appropriate definition in todays’ globalized world. Beyond that even this closest possible relation does not carry much meaning. The meaning of parent child relationship has evolved to suit the globalization.

 Why? What could be the reasons for these changes? Globalization has made everything very competitive. So everybody is left with very small amount of free time. Though communication has improved beyond imagination but other aspects are negating this improvement. If you take leave and your absence is not much felt by your organization work wise, then you can become redundant. Then there is additional important aspect. Out of the small free time available with you, you have to support your children’s activities, you have to take your yearly vacation with spouse and children. So you don’t travel “home” in one year, then maybe next year. With this your mind’s requirement to go “home” also reduces. Two years’ gap can become three/four years! Increase in this gap can further diminish the need to travel “home”! It’s tricky but justified from the point of view of migratory birds.

In some cases relationships don’t change in the initial phase. This is probably need based status quo. When children are growing you need back up system; that is where the parents can come into picture. But what happens when children grow and this need is not there? What happens when parents become older, have health and maybe sometimes have visa issue? It is not practical & pragmatic to handle medical expenses in foreign countries.  Then the definition of relationship changes to suit the practicalities of life. It may take any form and can be as unpredictable as our life. 

Years back Jaya and I were travelling with a Canadian friend of ours. We were on our way back to place where we were staying. Our friend said, “Pramod, is it ok if I take a detour?” I said “ok”! Then we reached a hospice where his mother lived. He parked the car. His wife then told him “You go and see YOUR mother”, we will wait in the car. That time we were shocked to hear this statement. Now I understand the meaning. His mother was not her mother so it was ok to wait in the hospital parking lot! Globalization and technology are putting a lot pressure on people and it looks like people are forced to retrain themselves just to keep their job. Similarly human beings also need to retrain themselves to keep their “job” of beings human beings. If they don’t do it they will be “jobless”. I recently heard a very appropriate story which opens a new avenue in human thought process. A gentleman expired and both his children, a son and a daughter, were in the USA. It was a sudden death and children were informed. The son had some Visa related issue. Family took a decision that the son need not come back “home”. His visa and future was more important as the father was already dead. His father would in any case not know that the son did not attend the funeral! Folks retrain yourselves to keep your “job” of being a human. Retrain yourself to become practical and pragmatic. Globalization has made family a corporate entity, emotions have no place in them!

Low Aim is a Crime!

This is take on being satisfied with Money earned rather than going up the value chain!

India got its independence in 1947. India missed the industrialization bus by a century because British allowed only a few benefits of industrialization to percolate to India.  Before independence educated Indians were interested in working for British, whatever work they could get, mostly they got clerical jobs; those were the only real jobs available anyway! British chose the people for senior admin positions and made them brown sahebs. These proxy Britishers were more British than the Britishers themselves.

This scenario put India under the gloom of disease of getting satisfied on achieving small things and doing mundane things. This led to metastatic mentality of under achievers; those who were trying to do something different were looked down upon and discouraged from doing anything different. Some of us from our generation were able to improve on this thought process and later generation became even more active and started taking risks.

IT sector was the first sector where India did pretty well, financially. Y2K issue was the one that gave impetus to Indian IT sector; middle class started growing faster than ever and large Indian populace started having money, living in foreign countries for work and started buying their own homes in a big way. This of course combined with official opening of Indian economy in 90’s. Effect of higher salaries in IT sector was seen in other sectors like engineering, pharma, finance and so on. But this success hid one thing from general populace and even from IT sector that the “great” work that we were doing was actually mundane work done for others as a service. This model kept on working well till about a couple of years back. Then the signals started coming that the mundane work that was outsourced to India can be automated so….

Circa 2017! Large Indian IT companies are sitting on big pile of US Dollars. This indicates their past success, financially. But it appears that these large “successful” companies were run more by accountants than by entrepreneurs! So they have made big money, hundreds of thousands of millions, many of them in dollar terms. But since the scenario started changing a couple of years back, it is obvious that if you don’t move up the value chain, you are going to come down as fast as you have gone up! The fact that these companies are sitting on a big pile of dollars shows that our mentality of mundane “services” type of work has not changed. This pile of money should not have been there; it should have been invested in going up the value chain! But even today this money is being used to buy back shares! The big bosses have not thought in terms of creating own IPR’s or products in any field, IT or Engineering or Pharma! When “services” are generating money why bother.

To give an example of how things are changing, when you “talk” to say Amazon on chat about some issues, the “Ravindra” or “Asha” who is taking to you may be a “BOT”. What is a BOT? An Internet Bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone. The largest use of bots is in web spidering (web crawler), in which an automated script fetches, analyzes and files information from web servers at many times the speed of a human. More than half of all web traffic is made up of bots. (This is Wikipedia definition of BOT)

How this is typically done is very similar to self-check-out counters in big departmental stores. At these check-out stations, for a group of ten such stations there is one supervisor helping, if you need any help. So what this system does is, instead ten people manning ten checkout stations, one person is sufficient. These BOTS also do the same thing. Now do you understand how the nature of business is changing? If your business is dependent on someone else’s way of working, you are in trouble if automation comes into picture.

What is the way out? Going up the value chain; but if you are a company with 100 to 150 thousand employees with “service” level skills you have tough task on hand. Basically it’s a tough call for the senior management to change its own ways from accountant based running module to technologist based running module. Who runs highly successful companies? Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, you just list such companies and will see that these are technology driven companies. Yes, finances are very important but if the company is run by accountants they will never take risks! But when you don’t take risks and try and don’t keep abreast with new technologies or create new technologies, you will never know what hit you! How many of us know that Google and Apple are spending big money on Car technology, and they are creating newer technology in cars which was never even thought of. Nvidia is already a big auto system vendor to VW’s, Audis and Mercs of this world. They have invented technologies which are forcing these Auto giants to use new technologies to remain competitive in business. Elon Musk of Tesla had the audacity to start making Electric Cars and even start making space vehicles using venture capital.

Of course there is silver lining to each dark cloud! The surprise is that the silver lining is coming not from private sector but Government sector. ISRO, Metro projects implementation, Solar Energy project implementations, highways all over India are sign of we Indians have started getting hang of the situation. On IT side one of the success stories of product selling is Tally ERP. Yes it has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is unquestionably India’s “Numero Uno” product on IT side! If Tally is doable why can’t others do it? India is the largest democracy and is the only country in the world where all elections use EVM’s- electronic voting machines! Paper ballots are Passe’ in India! The EVM’s were developed by C-DAC! Aadhar card is one such initiative that has become pride of the nation! All these projects indicate that we are slowly coming out of the Chalta Hai mentality! Chalta Hai is a phrase indicating Small achievement is good enough! We should have Sachin Tendulkar’s in each field then only we as a nation can start achieving things!

So friends we started with discussion about Indian mentality of being happy with whatever little is achieved! Will our giants survive the onslaught of market changes? They have the money but do they have the wherewithal other than money? Do they have the mind set? Do they have the technological willpower to go up the value chain? Going up value chain is real hard and smart work. I hope these giants do it, but we are still discussing US H1B visa rules, which is the backbone of current business model of sending people on site to provide services! I hope our current young generation and future generation are as audacious as Elon Musk!