Happiness Mantra!

Keep on smiling infectiously to remain happy!

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The world is full of good things and bad things. Happy things and sad things. To me happiness and sadness are the two sides of the same coin, our life. If there were only one status in life, we would not have known the difference. Change of status is what shifts our mood from sadness to happiness. Sad or Happy status is a state of mind. There are some absolute things when anybody can be sad or some events make everybody happy. Death in family makes you sad and birth in a family makes you happy. Just change the lens through which you look at the world and you will find this state changes. World over, we have terrorist situation. But terrorist for you is a martyr to someone else. One group will be elated due to death of a terrorist and the other will be saddened due to death of a martyr. Two sides of the coin?

To me easiest way to remain happy is to switch mentally to the age group in which you are surrounded. Be a child around children, be a young man when with young people, understand tough life of hot shot busy executives who lead a hectic life. At my age we have been there and done that! We are enjoying our golden period of life. But that does not mean that we meet people our age all the time. When with younger people try to understand their way of life; probably in our times life was not that hectic, it was not so much connected. Enjoy  the different ways these people do things today. 

Young kids have their own way of understanding and imagining things. When I am with my granddaughter, I am transformed mentally to her age. She likes to listen to a new story every time. It can be about a ceiling fan, it can be about her imaginary younger sister, it can be about my childhood. I twist the stories in any which way, there can be pink snake or demon with blue T shirt, that’s me. The other day, I had some meeting in Tata Motors and I was getting ready to go. For the first time, she had seen me wearing a suit and a Tie. She was continuously asking me about the same and whatever I told her, she was not happy. Just as I was about to leave she said, “Grandpa, I know why you are wearing these clothes! You are taking part in a fancy dress competition!” When she was told that someone’s dog had to be treated for illness she asked,” Was the doctor also a doggy?” You get what I mean? Behave like kids when you are with them, you will be really happy. Enjoy their imagination, have fun with their thought process. That’s a path to happiness.  

If you go are in the group of young adults, their discussions and thoughts will be about new devices, selfies, RAM and what not. (Yes, they talk about girls too!) Try to be update with these things. Then you can have fun in this group too! Take some selfies with them! Maybe make crooked faces like these guys do! Be part of them! You may not like it initially but let me assure you, once you get to know their ways, there can only be fun. Once they are comfortable with you, they will ask you about old stuff. There are many things they don’t know anything about! Share with them. Be young at heart, be happy!  

You may have memories, you may have future plans which are known fashionably as bucket list! They will give you some happiness. But why bother about these things when you have so many things in front of you, in the PRESENT! Forget the past, don’t bother about future, enjoy the present. You are sitting with your friends, you are enjoying a book, you are enjoying a movie, your all-time favorite, Guide! Guide will bring your heart throb of college days, Waheeda in front of you. Enjoy it. There are trees, there are rivers, there is a lecture series going on, attend it. There is a rose show, don’t miss it. Once in a while go out and binge on your favorite Gulab Jamun, though you are not supposed to eat them due to diabetes! Become a child, cheat on food once in a while!  

There are many things which you must do or learn to ignore. Simply don’t bother about who thinks what about you. Happy people don’t let negativity of other people affect them. Oh, come on! Always be friendly and grateful, remove that frown! Keeping a smile on your face does not cost you money and say thank you to everyone who helps you a bit! Don’t take people for granted and thank people genuinely from the bottom of your heart! You let the infectious disease of smile to spread where ever you can, people will love you for that! Smile is something that can achieved in a group of people as our moods depend on people around us, with whom we spend most of our time. Be a part of smiling gang.

Every situation has two sides! Be blind to negative aspect of it! Stay positive in every situation. If there are more negatives, don’t lose heart! God has created that negative experience for you to remain a student, all through your life! Learn from it. Don’t become compulsive or obsessive personality. In life nothing is perfect. Even the beautiful Moon has its dark spots! You will find happiness easily when you learn to let go! Happy people know how to control their yearning for perfection. They are proud of what they have achieved. Not all can be Sachin Tendular, you can be a Dravid or a Ganguly too! For that matter you can be Amol Muzumdar or Paddy Shivalkar too! One of the very high ranking players who never played a test match for India!

Contribute to the world, at least to your surroundings. Try and help some needy people. Smile at some strangers. If a car stops to let you go, make thumbs up signal and smile! Keep on learning things, learn to use new gadgets! I know of an eighty-year lady, who learnt to use online banking! Taking interest in new things gives you energy and more meaning in life! 

Do social work, share your life’s experiences and knowledge with needy people! I have only written about trying to be happy with your own behavior, your approach to life! I am not even discussing many things you can do, for which you never got time while working! Don’t ever feel that you have become old. I learnt this in last few years. When we went for the Alaska cruise sometime back, there was a 99-year-old lady who was traveling alone! Then last year during our tour round the Alps, there was an 85-year-old person, traveling alone. There was a person who needed to carry his oxygen generation system with him all the time, was also on the cruise. He took local excursions too. Disability, age are a state of mind! These people made it look like their physical limitations did not exist.  

Friends be happy, be cheerful, keep smiling. It is easy to crib, it is easy rue lost opportunities. To be happy in life, needs to have positivity in you. I have seen people with financial difficulties, all their life, selling through, happily. Money helps but it’s not the only thing.  Happiness is infectious, spread it; the happiness disease always starts in a small way, but it can become bigger and bigger, if you allow it to spread. Start small but never stop being happy!  

Technology Onslaught! Reskill or Perish!

Technology forces humans to retrain!

Some lawyers in Pune have declared that they will go on fast until death, against the decision of Charity commissioner. It is now decided that that all registrations with charity commissioner will be done online! Thereby eliminating the need to employ lawyers to handle this work. Lawyers have gone by the only route known to them. They are cribbing, crying and fasting. Welcome to the brave new world of technology.

Technology is a part of revolution that mankind has seen from stone age. Only difference is that today’s technology can take away work from highly educated and successful people! When the wheel was invented, the strong people in that era must have gone on strike because with invention of wheel, people with brute force, for doing various manual things, became irrelevant. This sort of thing is not only technology related but it is about out of box thinking too!

Western part of China has many industries that produce goods for the world! Shipping of these good to Europe was a real long haul; taking the goods to east coast of China and from there goods would sail to Europe, in big ships. Total time taken would be between 40 to 45 days. Someone had a great idea. China had talks with Russia and rail system in western China was realigned to connect to Russian rail system. Trains full of these goods now reach Europe in 15 to 20 days! Ship owners have not gone on strike!

Human nature is such that we want status quo, all the time. While going is good, humans don’t try to find efficient methods of doing things better. Lawyers probably never understood that drastic changes that were coming up. Nobody designed something specific to make lawyers’ work irrelevant. Technology does not target anybody, it just looks to improve things or to do things in a different way. Somebody in government took a step forward to make the system more efficient and transparent. This is already happening in many areas in the private as well as government domain.

Blockchain is a classic example of technology can change things drastcially! I will briefly explain about Blockchain. A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions inexpensively. This technology is already being used in cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Technology is proven and slowly becoming popular. This technology has a potential to eliminate ALL the agents that are currently there in the system. These agents are Chartered Accountants, Bank Agents, LIC Agents, and so on. Over a period, Bitcoin Technology is expected to eliminate even the Banks and Currency! This shows two things; currency as a tool can vanish and Blockchain can push many educated people out of work, in big numbers. What is the solution? Retrain, get new skill sets! Don’t crib!

The other day, I was having coffee with my friend Sharad. He told me a story about some government agency people who wanted to do ground survey, near his factory, for a new expressway being planned. The people living in that area have been opposing the project. As a protest, they blackened the faces of the surveyors. Surveyors were cool guys. When Sharad asked them how much time the survey will take? They said 15 minutes. They moved around, put some paint marks on the rocks around and were ready to go. Sharad asked them, ” What happened to your survey?” They said, ” We are done! Now Google will take over and do the necessary survey; we just had to paint some markers.” Technology? How are local protesters going to stop Google Satellite?

Do you remember Tonga, the horse carriages being replaced by Auto Rikshas? Now a days, we rarely see young people driving Rikshas, so it could be on it’s way out! Heard of Uber and Ola? For long distance travel, the replacement was trains. Then came airplanes, local purchase is being slowly replaced by Web based selling. Amazons, Flipkarts are taking over business from local grocers! Typewriting institutes? What is that? Where are the typewriters? Where are the typists? Are we now hearing stories about Electric Vehicles? Another 20 years maybe! There may not be big repair workshops!

Most of the times, new technologies start with some mundane task or something which is not relevant at that time. It takes people thinking out of box that makes rapid and sometimes dramatic changes. Something similar is happening in another area of our lives.

When Jaya did her engineering in early 70’s, ladies in this field was a novelty! Lady engineers making a full-time career after degree was even more rare! This has been changing for some time. Early part of current century has seen major jump of ladies coming into different professions, in large numbers. They got themselves adapted and trained to handle many aspects of life which they were not supposed to know or do! How has this changed things in the society! It’s the women who have been retraining themselves, realigning themselves to out of box thinking. Some have gone into supplying home cooked food for people, some have gone into running creches! They have retrained themselves as per the need of the hour. Are men doing necessary changes in their thought process? Have enough number of men done this? Have they retrained themselves? Have they re-skilled themselves? Have they learnt cooking? Have they learnt to change diapers? Have they learnt to go to office after spending hours with the child who was unwell at night?

No, they have not! The majority have not done it! What comes in the way? It’s the so called traditional way of thinking that men are supposed to perform so and so things in life and women are supposed bear kids and manage homes. What will happen if men don’t change? They may not become irrelevant like lawyers, but whether they like it or not they will have to face ground realities. Whatever traditions or old way of thinking may say, there is one skill set which only women have! Bearing and producing a child! Yes, men are needed for this but technology has proven that you don’t need men but their sperm to produce a child! Remember, Kunti had given Karna birth by using this method! Mankind knows and is very much aware of this method, for a long time, as mentioned in mythology! But the point of inflexion for this to happen regularly, is still too far away!

What is the easier and more prudent way for men? To retrain themselves, to acquire skills to run the family jointly with women. This does not need technology change; this needs the change in mind set. Change in old way of thinking! Accept that people who don’t adapt to new technology or thinking can become irrelevant over a period of time!

Lawyers, find your selves a new area where your skills are needed. Try and re-skill yourselves for doing something different! Become a great chef, become an online teacher, become a producer for online serials! Instead of striking you may strike Gold in your new profession!

Bonsai of Relationship ..

Create a beautiful Bonsai of friendship in life!

Bonsai

How is the relationship between humans formed? What does it depend on? There are legal relations which are by birth or by marriage. There are other relationships which just happen. Closest relationship is between mother and child. Then comes husband and wife and so on! I am not talking of relatives but I am talking of relations. One may be a close relative but we may not have much relation with that person. I am taking a look at relation between two persons as friends, whether  they are  relatives or not, even if there is  age difference between them and maybe they are of different sex.   

Years back we visited Canada. It was our first visit outside India and our knowledge about personal inter actions was limited. We had gone on a holiday for a couple of days with our Canadian friend Ed and his wife Dorothy! We were in early thirties and they were in fifties. On the way back to Ottawa, Ed asked me whether it was ok if he took a small detour. I said, “Ed, we have absolutely no issues.” Ed said, ” My mother lives in an old people’s home, I would like to meet her for half an hour!” While we were reaching the old people’s home, Jaya and I were trying to judge if we should also offer to meet his mother! Our problem was solved by Dorothy when we reached  the parking lot. Dorothy said, “Ed, you go and see your mother, we will sit in the car!” After, so many years of marriage, for Dorothy “It was Ed’s mother”! We were surprised that she did not feel like meeting the old lady! We were surprised with the relationship between the two ladies!  

We have been lucky that most of our close relatives are more of friends, than relatives. It is said that father and son must become friends once their shoe size matches. Similar thing can happen with grandfathers, uncles and other similar relationships, but for this to happen, the onus is on the senior partner. The age difference can come in the way. The relationships is a thing that cannot be explained. They simply happen. Two people simply hit it off on day one. In Bollywood lingo, it is called chemistry between two people. Chemistry just occurs. Sometimes two persons are poles opposite in their backgrounds, their thought process. Still they can be close friends.

During my engineering college days Sharad, Nayan and I were room partners. Only common thing between us was our mother tongue. But even today after more than 50 years we are very close to each other. The main reason I feel is that there never were any expectations from each other. We were very much aware of milestones reached, progress made or difficulties faced. In fact, we shared with each other everything, all the time. But discreetly, we had made efforts to nurture the relationship. In case of Nayan, we were lucky that out relationship went even one step further. Nayan’s parents continued to live India after Nayan moved to the US. After that, we suddenly realized that we had third set of parents, Opa and Omi! We had such lovely times with them whenever we could meet. This simply happened as Nayan moved abroad, and we could spend time with Opa and Omi! Now whenever Nayan and I meet, we share memories of Opa and Omi!  

Deepti and Raju have become family for us. Again, as destiny would have it, Deepti joined my business at the tender age of 26 and we have been together through the thick and thin of the business since last 25 years. When they became family, is not very easy to say. There is an age difference between us but it just happened. When Deepti’s mother became our Aai, we do not know. The funny part is Aai calls me, “Sir” and Jaya “Madam” but she is Aai for us.

I will share how these relations get matured and cultivated. A few years back, I was to go for my check up with Dr. Sant, for my sore throat. My granddaughter was one months old at that time. Priya had high fever and hence Jaya was managing Rhea. She called and told me the situation; I told her not to bother as I could easily go alone. This conversation happened while I was in the office. Five minutes later, Deepti simply told me, ” Sir, don’t worry. I have called Raju. He will go with you to the doctor, you don’t go alone.” Again, the destiny was such that I was detected with cancer during that visit and Raju was there to support me. Raju had simply come out of whatever he was doing, to go with me!  

On the other side,I have a friend, who is a very pleasant person, always smiling, always enthusiastic, always keen. But he has a tendency to keep relationships on/off. In initial phase, he lived outside Pune. He would pass through Pune very often but would communicate very rarely. Like all of us do, he also went through ups and downs in life. Some of these were very serious up and downs. But as expected he came out of these tough times, with flying colours and became a great professional. We were always on the periphery except when he needed close support. As friends, we kept on giving it. But later we realized that we were his friends only when he needed support! To me friends are simply there when needed, especially if you live in the same city. They are like shadows and they simply take up what is needed to be done. But alas in this case it is not to be so!  

Another case is of a college mate, whom I met recently, after 45 years of gap. He was a pleasant person in college days but soon after college he moved to foreign shores. He used to come to Pune, like all migratory birds always do but he never met me during this period. He has an added qualification of “NRI” which he displays proudly.  Our friend has need for small help these days as he has acquired some property in Pune. His experience with his “friends” was not so good. I was a little upset when he informed me about his experience but in the same note his rant about change in Pune culture, change in friends not keen to support etc made me think a little more. When I came to know the other side, looks like our “NRI” friend has different set of friends for fun and getting work done! Looks like our friend is riding a big white horse! With shining armour! So, his “friends’ simply ignored his requests. Apparently, he forgot that any relationship needs nurturing. Nothing is constant in this world including relationships, unless cultivated. Our NRI friend forgot that relationship is like a balloon, you need to pump the gas very slowly and check, pump and check. One must get the feel of knowing when the balloon will burst.  

Give and take in a relationship is not like an accounting ledger. You don’t need to create a credit entry, immediately after a debit entry is created. But at some stage ledger needs to be balanced. At the same time, you cannot simply create a major debit entry too! Nurture, coax, help each other to become closer and closer. There is nothing in life like a lovely relationship.

I could go on and on! While writing this, I have become nostalgic but friends don’t forget that the beauty of this world is enhanced by great relationships. But you need to nurture them, cultivate them like a Bonsai. The purposes of bonsai is primarily contemplation for the viewer, and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity for the grower. We can compare relationship with Bonsai.

Bonsai is a Japanese  art form using cultivation technique to produce small trees. Bonsai is not intended for production of food or for medicine. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container. Similarly, relationship between two individuals is cultivated for pure relationship, friendship. There are no expectations. Create a Bonsai of friendship, between two individuals, these are grown with care in a container made up of love! Like Bonsai plants relationship can go on and on, living in their own meandering path.  

 

 

Don’t Break the Flyovers!

Take decisions in life from long term view! It’s your life after all!

Our personal life and the life around us has many things in common. In both cases, issues crop up, they are studied, they are discussed and decisions arrived at. In retrospect, we realize that better decisions could have been made, finer solutions could have been found. As the saying goes, the hind sight vision is always 20/20! Had we been able to take decisions closer to 20/20, things could have been better! Mistakes happen in both public and personal life. The end result is complications and stress. This thought gave me an idea of comparing these two aspects together.  

COEPFlyover

In Pune’s newspaper, I saw a photograph of the perpetual traffic jam on the flyover system near the engineering college. The city planners built an elaborate system of flyovers to overcome the traffic snarls in that area. I have read somewhere that by building fly overs, planners tend to push the traffic snarls in to the next traffic junction where we have traffic signals. But in this case, something else happened; just after the fly overs, there are traffic signals and the traffic gets choked there itself, even after flyovers were commissioned, not much has really changed. At the next junction, which is signal free, there are no traffic snarls. 

Life is always in WIP (work in progress) mode. It means that at every stage we keep on processing information that reaches our brain. We of course know that our brain is the world’s most advanced and fastest Super Computer. All new data is processed, churning takes place, information is sent back and forth to the stored database/ information in the brain. The result is arrived at, on the basis this churning and processing. This happens so many times during the course of the day, that we tend to take decisions but we process results based on priorities. Sometimes our priorities clash, sometimes end results clash.  Humans tend to push certain issues under the rug or come up with a temporary solution. These solutions are reached, based on the analysis of the available data, to solve the issues based on current situation. Most of the times, humans don’t take long term view into consideration and this action sometimes creates problems, later.  

Did you any similarity in the above two paragraphs? Indeed, there is similarity and we tend to put issues on back burner, we sometimes ignore problems. City related issues are handled by the humans,  in a very similar way. This affects large number of people in the society. But in our individual cases incorrect resolutions affect individual lives directly. What needs to be done such cases? For any issue or a problem, overall solution needs to be considered and not a short-term solution.  

 MumbaiPuneHway

I have displayed a google map of the area in Pune, where there are traffic snarls, after new flyover system came up!  The Red circle indicates the snarl area. If we consider the traffic arriving from 4 to 1, we will know the real problem. The new flyover system helps people to cross the railway line in problem area. In fact, all four points do the same thing. But point 1 has been closed for this crossing long time back. Point 3 has been closed recently. Point 2 and 4 help in crossing the railway line, but these crossings pass through narrow or congested roads. In last few years, besides traffic from 4 to 1 coming in red circle, traffic has been pouring in through the new road, from airport, parallel to the river. All this indicates that problem definition and solution did not go hand in hand. Huge traffic volume comes to the red circle area. The solution should have been to not bring traffic to snarl area and divert it via different routes. But the studies were not proper and hence solutions were incorrect. What is the solution? I don’t know. In Mumbai some such issue about a flyover was resolved by breaking a particular flyover to be replaced by another one, which resolved the issue. We have similar problem in Pune University circle area. In University circle area, one could see from the beginning, that solution was not correct. On top of the wrong decisions, judgement about future traffic density were also grossly under estimated. End result, the same. In peak hours, a group of policemen is required to manually handle the traffic chaos!  

In our lives, we also misjudge many things. Sometimes, we make wrong investments. Sometimes we misjudge our future requirements at home as well as finances. Sometimes, we do not take decisions and let the problems linger. I have seen this happening in people about their health. They try to ignore issues or postpone the checkups. A friend I met after many years, told me that he is afraid to get himself regularly checked up by doctors. I asked him the reason. He said, ” I am afraid that some health issue may get detected”. I said, that is the reason for getting yourself checked.  

In public domain if we make a wrong decision, we can find different solutions, including from above example, break the flyover and build a new one. This creates inconvenience and costs a lot of money. No individual is directly troubled with this solution. But in our own case, we and family are the direct sufferers. Wrong career moves, wrong investment decisions, involvement with wrong type of people, are described as errors or wrong decisions, in retrospection.  But they take their toll!

Friends, try and learn the art of visualizing things about future, while taking life’s decisions. We have enough information stored in our brain, learn to utilize it correctly  while we decide something. When we have to take major decisions in life, sleep over it before taking the final decision, ask friends and mentors. Don’t feel shy to take advise. Ultimately, it’s your life!  

Strange Political Bedfellows!

We need strong Bharat and not political dramas!

My resolve of not writing about political things is broken again. The happenings in Bangalore are such that many thoughts come to mind and I see that the same things get repeated again and again and again! This is irrespective of parties involved. Why people take decisions like the one taken by BJP is simply beyond my understanding. It is said that you see strange bed fellows in politics and it gets proven again.  

Years back, Quattrocchi an Italian Businessman was being haunted by Indian officials for his misdeeds in India. They went to Malaysia to arrest him. The then Indian Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s government had vigorously taken action against this Italian national. The Prime Minister had formed the government in Delhi, with support of Indian Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi! She was against this action but government rightly pursued the case (How can you arrest an Italian Friend?). Quattrocchi simply told our officials that there is no extradition treaty between India and Malaysia; our officials came back empty handed. Within a few days Sonia Gandhi, the then Goddess, “punished” Deve Gowda by withdrawing support for his government and Deve Gowda had no option but to resign. After so many years, Deve Gowda and his son are sleeping with congress again. That is politics! Everything is forgotten if there is benefit.  

Besides the political aspects of the matter, I want to take a look at human aspect too. I hardly know much about Yeddyurappa, the deposed Chief Minister. We forget that all the persons involved in the drama are human beings. What must be his condition now? He simply was a pawn in the power game that is known as politics. I would not like to be in his place. He appears like a sacrificial lamb on the altar of political games. How much time he will take to come out of this? It is very difficult to judge. The stress that he must be personally going through, various things people talk about him, various analysis that people will make, he will be declared as a dark demon. People forget that he is one of many dark demons.  

I remember an incident from my college days. I was selected for a lecturer’s post, while completing my Masters in Engineering. There was another candidate who came last in interviews. He was from reservations class. Somehow, he could never fit anywhere in the process of selection. I took the post and later left the college to join the industry, after completing my education. But the atmosphere created in the selection process, left such a bad test in my mind that it took a few years for this bitter test to go away. In spite of my selection being rightful in all respects, a bit of turmoil happened. Even while writing about this event, which happened 50 years back, I am very uncomfortable. 

Well, we say that all politicians have thick skins so they can absorb any shocks, any events good, bad or ugly. I don’t think so. A human being is a human being and any so called thick skinned person can take up only so much of muck, so much of ugly pressures, and after effects of events beyond control. I hope that, Yeddy will manage to over ride this menacing wave of events, on which he never had any control! 

Now to the event. I have seen and heard many a times that law is blind or law is an Ass. I am not an expert in law so my comments will be like a common man, you and me. Why was BJP allowed to attempt to form a government? During the day, today, we will get more clarity of the position of law in this matter. Why did BJP create the absolutely un called for event? Had they not done so, Deve Gowda and Congress could have formed a government. Obviously, the first six month to one year would have been honeymoon period for their government. Then the political subterfuge would have started. Amit Shah and company are experts in that. They could have managed the numbers to change their skin colour to saffron as per political mathematics. How the heavens would have fallen if this was done later, post honeymoon period of Deve Gowda government, I do not know.

Maybe it boils down to 2019 elections. BJP wanted to complete their boast of Congress Mukt Bharat! It is a brilliant political slogan created by someone. But it seems that BJP has become obsessed with the slogan. They want to make sure that this happens by hook or by crook. Looks like a bit arrogance has crept in somewhere. It appears that BJP has started thinking that they are the destiny, they are the Gods. To remain at top of the game, anywhere, needs a very mature and stable state of mind. It looks like people are generally accepting the measures taken by BJP, for improvement of India as a nation. But BJP should not forget that the same people who put you on pedestal one day, will simply drop you. This may not happen by way of BJP losing the elections that take place from today to the big day in 2019! But they will simply keep on giving fractured mandate. This will ensure that nobody has real the Trump card in hand, pun intended!  

About Congress less said the better. It appears that they are going from bad to worse. They simply don’t want to understand that days of dynastic politics are over. Mr. Gandhi is no Indira Gandhi! He does not have charisma and the backing she had. She rose from the ashes of Emergency like a Phoenix and ruled India till she was assassinated. Rahul’s father and Indira’s son Rajeev, was a good person but was a misfit in the cauldron that is politics. Rahul appears to be a similar person and does not have towering personality like his grand-mother. BJP should allow him to taper off on his own. Karnataka episode has given Rahul’s career a bit of an oxygen!  

Is this going to continue in future? Yes, it will. Daru, Women and Power are the elixirs of the game called politics, and life in general. Modi’s and Shah’s of this world are street smart guys who know how to handle such situations. There are local variants in Bengal, UP. There are satraps like Mayawati, though currently not in power, who can control the mandate in the large state of UP. This can have effect on government formation in Delhi. What India needs on long term basis, is a stable government in Delhi, strong leader like Modi. Currently none of this appears to be seen on the horizon of any political party, other than BJP.  

But hopefully, the BJP think tank will wake up after Karnataka drubbing and take politics in the right direction! I am bothered only about my country, India; I want this to progress and governed strongly but not brutally. The world never respects weaklings. So, I hope that the better sense will prevail and such episodes will not be repeated! I also sincerely hope that system does not forget that it is formed by parts which are called humans like you and me! Please be a little soft on them!  

   

 

Smart Cities or People!

It is the people who are going to make cities Smart!

Indian government has started a mission to create large number of smart cities in India. It’s a great initiative and a forward-looking idea. Unless we plan something like this, with a strong initiative from governments, things will never work out. I look forward to see how these things work. I am writing this from the angle of devils’ advocate. Will such initiatives really work in India?

What are the major initiatives planned for smart cities? Water management, waste management, environment, planning of cities, buildings, IT and communications, Security and Safety, Smart power grids, clean energy.  This shows that none of these things were planned in a systematic manner before. Yes, there has been a terrific improvement all over India in all above mentioned areas but hopefully now it will be more systematic.

If we look at the meaning of Smart, it is defined in different ways. If it is about a person – clean, tidy, and well dressed. Or having or showing a quick-witted intelligence. SMART is a best practice framework for setting goals. A SMART goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time-bound. To me this last definition  fits the “Smart Cities Project” perfectly. The aims and goals have been set appropriately by using this definition. But to me a city is made up by its physical assets both new and historical, its water bodies, trees and environment. These to me are tangible things. Its culture, its people. Government agencies can plan for everything else but not for people, their way of thinking, their way of public behaviour, their way of self-discipline when in public or otherwise. These are the intangible assets of a city.

As I live in Pune, I will share whatever little I know about implementation of Smart City project in Pune. I think Pune is doing good in terms transport infrastructure. Newer, better roads and flyovers are planned to reduce congestion. A new ring road is also planned. New international airport is planned at Purandar near Pune. Pune Metro project is expected to be completed in next 3 to 4 years. Experience from all over India says that Metro projects are reasonably successful in every city in India. These projects have successfully made the change in the mindset of people who use them. People behave in disciplined manner while using Metro. Cleanliness is maintained, people don’t cross rail tracks! Why this is happening is for psychoanalysts to find. Why people’s behavior changes by just entering a different transportation system, at least I do not know.

Corporation is still struggling to implement BRTS system, it has serious deficiencies in execution though concept is good. Even after several years and a few trips to foreign jaunts by politicians to “understand” BRTS, best practices are not being implemented or thought of. What about people? The BRTS system has dedicated road lanes reserved for the buses. But Smart people, on their bikes and in their cars,  just barge into those lanes without fear. People are getting killed due to this.

Pune is lucky to have water bodies all around. Unless rains are very deficient, we never have water shortages. Are we smart enough using water correctly, the answer is no. We wash our cars using running water, when we wash clothes by hand, we keep water taps running, under the name of fresh water, we throw away drinking water stored in homes, everyday in the morning. When we water our plants in our balcony’s, we pour excess water that overflows, which in turn is dumped on cars parked under the balconies. My friend Vijay said that we are a dumb society, I slightly disagree. We are a “we care two hoots society”! We can be smart selectively. Corporation has drives, to remove illegal encroachments by hawkers. Even in the days when there were no cell phones, the corporation officers bribed by hawkers, would inform hawkers in advance of the drive and very few hawkers would be caught or evicted. They would be back at the same place next day. Aren’t we smart?

Smart power grids, clean energy, smart planning is possible because there will not be much people interaction. Smart signals can help smoothen the traffic, provided we follow the signals. We are smart people, if we have a blocked road ahead of us, then two- wheeler users go on foot paths and rush ahead! Really smart! This morning I  saw an interesting thing. A lady was being trained on a car owned by a Motor Training School. The instructor was sitting next to her. They reached a traffic signal and the signal was Red, the lady was slowing down but the instructor told her to drive through. So much for the training schools! These schools supposedly teach people to drive the car. It was 7.30 in the morning; I waited to see how many people follow signals. 95% jumped the signals. This is smartness, why waste time in the morning when there is no traffic?

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Some good results are already seen, there are smart bill boards everywhere informing public that we are a smart city. Is it? But nobody has told me. There is a cycle sharing application where authorities have made cycles available to people. These have electronic locks. These can be used and money is paid by using an app on cell phone. Payment is done by using PayTm. In last three months, Pune has shown that 3,00,000 trips have been taken by people. The idea behind this is to encourage last mile usage of fuel less systems, like cycles. It is definitely encouraging.

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Compared to cities in India, most cities in developed world are “smart cities”. Why is this so? It is because people are sensible, they need not be smart. People are trained to follow rules and discipline right from childhood. In my previous blog, I had written about “I don’t care” attitude we have, when it comes to public behavior. We do not take cleanliness and discipline seriously. In cleanliness, Pune is much ahead of many cities in India. When we talk of clean city, it is not about roads being cleaned every day.  Dumping garbage on roads and then sweeping and putting in dumpsters is what we do today. Instead, people should put their garbage in dumpsters, directly. That is smart!

Friends, government is doing its job by creating great infrastructure by planning and proposing systematic things for smart cities, to me this is the tangible side of any city; but unless we contribute by being proactive, self-disciplined and smart, unless we ride the crest of these intangibles, our cities will never become “Smart Cities”! It is the intangibles, that are going to make Cities Smart!

I don’t care!

Inculcate discipline from childhood by your own example!

A news item in Pune’s newspaper said that a 14-year-old kid was stopped by the police as he was driving a two-wheeler on public roads. Obviously, he had no license and on top of it, when the police asked for the vehicle documents, he and his family did not have them. The number plate on the scooter was bogus. Questions arose if the vehicle was stolen? How did the family allow the kid to take the scooter on public roads? When asked, they did not have answers; the police arrested two people, the father and the uncle of the kid. The uncle supposedly owned the scooter. Was this family in some kind of funny business about stealing of vehicles?  

The sheer arrogance, impunity with which people allow kids to use motorized vehicles cannot be believed. ” My kid drives beautifully though he is only 13″, kind of stuff! This reflects poorly on the society and irrespective of income levels, family backgrounds, such incidents keep on happening. The result of such actions is that kids at an early age learn to do illegal things. They have no fear of law as they are falsely protected by the parents. Similar “training” is given to kids when their mothers take them on scooters and jump the red signal. At the young age, for kids, mother is everything. If she jumps red signal then it is their green signal! Another thing, is that it leads to is accidents. There is always a reason when society makes rules. Age allowed to drive motorized vehicles, age for getting married, age for consuming alcoholic drinks, these are all decided after observing human behavior vis a vis their age, over a period of time. Maturity required for performing these activities is lacking at younger age. This lack of maturity gives false sense of confidence to kids! In India, certain low powered scooters are allowed to be driven legally, when the child becomes 16! At the same age, in the US, they allow cars to be driven by kids but an adult with license needs to be sitting next to the kid in the car. We forget or we don’t care that these rules are made for the safety of individuals and in general safety of the people in society.  

Today morning, I was going out for a walk. In our building parking area, a kid 12 or 13-year-old, came on a scooter with his older brother, sitting behind him. I stopped them, gave them a bit of sermon. The older brother was a sensible guy. When I threatened that, I will report this to the police, he immediately agreed that he will never allow the kid to drive the scooter again, illegally. His argument, “Oh I just allowed him to drive in the society premises”! Same thing happened years back when I lived in a large society with good roads. The kid was similar age and he was driving a car. His father was sitting next to him. I stopped the car and asked the kid to get down. His father started an argument, I removed the car key and kept it in my pocket. His father’s argument; “Oh he drives beautifully blah, blah, blah”! When I asked the father about the risks and legality he had no answer.    

Now in India, a law has been promulgated to prevent such use of vehicles. The parents of such defaulting kids cannot hide behind the argument that their kid took the vehicle without their knowledge. But let me assure you that this has been happening from the time cars came into existence. I had a friend Ashok, when we were in engineering college. We used to “steal” his father’s car late at night when everyone was asleep. We would push it to a certain distance, away from home, without starting it, for obvious reasons. Not only Ashok, but all of us had driving licenses.  

We at younger age feel that we are infallible, immortal. Today a major fatal accident happened in Pune. A 20-year-old man had a different idea in his mind. At 4 am in the morning, he took his uncles car and went for a drive on an empty carriageway. He had a brilliant idea that he should send a live video feed to Instagram. He did the set-up on his cell phone, informed his friends and started driving at a very high speed. Can you imagine where his camera was focused? It was focused on the speedometer. The only way he could have done this was by holding the camera in one hand while driving. Great recipe! Empty road, high speed, one hand away from steering wheel! Add to this the exhilaration of sending live feed on Instagram. The inevitable happened, the car crashed against a barrier, the guy died instantaneously. The car was total loss; when I saw the picture in the newspaper, even without reading the news item, I knew that there would be no survivors! 

When such inevitable is known why some elements in the society, do not follow basic discipline? We sing paeans about western society, their discipline, their cleanliness, their organized way of life. But what do we do from our side to ensure that we will follow the same in India? In every phase of life, we break rules, we break laws, we are afraid to confront our kids who want to try something illegal; we never tell our kids that this is the law of land, you are just not allowed to drive a vehicle at this age. Kids just follow what their parents do at home or in the society. I remember an incident that I had seen years back. Two families were having dinner at a restaurant, enjoying their liquor too! No harm! But one of the mothers, drank way beyond her capacity! Her husband told their ten-year-old son, “Beta, take your Mumma to the wash room!” The Mumma could not take two steps in a straight line! 15 years later the same boy who must have turned into a dashing man, must have said when totally drunk, “Mumma was always right”!  

Disciplined, clean, advanced society? Start at home, confront your kids when required, follow the same path again and again. But looks like we definitely have something in our DNA. Leading actor Priyanka Chopda, was asked in an interview recently, what she misses from India as she is in the US most of the time! Prompt came her reply, ” Oh, reaching on time on film sets in the US is a big bore, in India I could reach as late as I wanted”! It might be her sense of humour but it is a bit weird!