Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye! 

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye  

Kabhi To Hansaaye Kabhi Yeh Rulaaye 

These are the lines of a famous song by Rajesh Khanna in the movie Anand and sung by Manna Dey. I am surprised that for different situations in our lives, we always have an appropriate song available from Hindi movies!  

The meaning of these two lines is  

Our life is a great puzzle. Sometimes it makes us laugh, and at other times it makes us cry! Out moods change with the situations we face in life.  

Today morning, I was in a great mood as we had crossed the figure of 200 friends and spouses participating in our COEP batch of 1971 Golden Jubilee celebrations. We are going to celebrate this grandly and are trying to get as many confirmations as possible. We are planning for a date one year hence, as many of our engineering batch mates live abroad. Some have confirmed, already. Besides this, many of our friends stay far away from Pune-Mumbai area. They also need time to plan. Some friends go and visit their children staying in foreign countries. We want to increase participation as much as possible. Now we are targeting 300 nos. I was delighted and by talking to others made more plans. I was happy! I was on cloud nine.

An hour after this, a childhood friend from my Bombay days called. I had a sore throat issue, so I sent him a message that I could not receive his call. He called me again after half an hour. So, I took the call. He said, “Pramod, you don’t speak. I understand your difficulty, but I want to share something with you.” Then he shared the plight of a common friend from childhood. We were a group of about ten to fifteen boys, and our fathers were police officers. Our families had typical middle-class ethos. The idea of living life in the early sixties of the last century was play like hell, whatever game we could play. Outdoor games were cricket and football. Indoor games were carrom, table-tennis and badminton. During exam times, all of us would study (our parents thought otherwise), and we did reasonably well in our education. Many became engineers, some doctors and a few became bankers. Now, this friend did his bachelor’s degree in science and joined Air India.  

With the usual twists in life, our friend was blessed with a child. The child was perennially sick. The child’s illness was a significant drain on his finances and his family life. He took early voluntary retirement (or was he coerced?) in the first decade of this century. Maybe he got a lump sum which he thought may be useful. (He forgot about improved longevity) He moved from Thane to rural area near Pune; probably he did not have enough money to live in a city. He would rarely come to Pune, which was natural. But my friend (who phoned) was in touch with him.  

Ten years back, his daughter passed away. It must have been a blessing on his finances, but emotionally the husband-wife must have been stretched to the maximum. My friend offered to help him with psychiatristhe also suggested that he move to an older people’s home. (My friend was willing to support there financially!) Things did not work out.

My friend got the news that our man had started waiting near ATM’s and had started asking for alms! ( He was falling short on his quota of cigarettes!) Even hearing this news brought numbness in me! It is the tears part of the Zindagi! How could person from such a background reach a nadir in his life?  

Humans always say that childhood is the best part of life! There are no responsibilities, and there are no plans. We meander in childhood, collecting joyous moments most of the time. The saddest part of childhood is when parents would not allow us to go out and play or it could be a tragic day was when we could not pinch that four ana coin to buy a cola! Life was straightforward during childhood. When we get into the humdrum of life, but we are not aware of it. We get many lessons during childhood that we ignore. Now when I retrospect, I realise that our friend was not sharp like most of the others in the groupDoes it mean that if we do not absorb the experiences at all the stages of life, it is going to hit us badly at some time?  

I had spoken to this friend a few months back after fifty years. (We had lost touch) He has three siblings, but they are not supporting him. It is, of course, one side of the story! But had the siblings helped him irrespective of friend’s response, matters would not have reached this stage. (Maybe!)  

Writing this piece has been stressful, but nowadays writing is a therapy that I have found which brings peace of mind back to me. Some people get it by going for a walk, and some go and climb hills. Luckily, most of my friends have remained away from alcohol in such situations. It is a drain on your pocket and your body.    

The filming of the song displayed above is done beautifully. The hero is down with cancer and is taking a stroll on a beach. The song starts with the hero playing with colourful balloons but never showing the churning going on in his mind. The churning is indicated by the waves which break on the shore. In the last part of the song, the lyricist says we have enjoyed the fun and frolic of life together. But in the end, we must go alone. That final part of the journey is always done alone!  

I am still not very sure how my friends’ life will move forward. At this stage of life, a shortage of funds, the stretched relations between husband and wife can create a tough situation. 

It looks like I am in a filmy mood today and the situation reminded of another Hindi song from the movie Guide. S D Burman sings it. I am giving below part of the lyrics. 

No one is there awaiting you 
No one is looking forward to your arrival nobody felt your pain, and no one shed a tear for you whom can you call your own? 
so where will you go, o traveller 

The video link of the song is below. 

I am awaiting my friend to give me the update, but honestly, I am not very hopeful. Once a person gives up hopes, it is difficult to bring him back.  

The latest update that I got is not very encouraging. Our man may require institutionalisation. Who would have thought that the situation will reach such a stage in life!

Regarding another blog of mine, a friend commented, “Pramod, we have crossed the threshold where we make can many changes to our life.” But maybe he is right or, maybe he is wrong too! One should keep on trying. Friend, some younger people also read my blogs so it may be useful to them to do the course correction.  

One thing for sure, this episode has churned my mind! The beauty is I consider myself a big optimist!  

Life is what you make it and how you make it! 

Quote 1 

When failure is expensive, plan carefully. 

When failure is cheap, act quickly. 

Quote 2 

The person who learns the most in any classroom is the teacher. 

If you want to learn a topic, then teach it.  

Write a book or teach a class. 

Build a product.  

Start a company. 

The act of making something will force you to learn more deeply than reading ever will. 

Quote 3 

Do not wait. If there is something you wish to do, do it. 

Death comes for busy people too. It will not pause and return at a more convenient time. 

I had read these quotes sometime back and thought that these were very basic but essential quotes. What does the first quote mean? It means that we should be adventurous but practical. If you let you let your life meander, then nothing worthwhile will happen in your life. Do you want to be a person who hopes that things will improve on their own? Do you like to leave everything to destiny? It could be destiny that you are made in such a way that you leave everything to fate. But you donknow your future when you dont know your future what the point in not trying is. There is another saying, “Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst!” Does this saying tell you not to make any attempt to improve yourself? No, it does not. You hope for the best only after you try!  

Consider a swimming pool. You are an outstanding swimmer. You see someone struggling to remain above water. You jump and help that person to come out of water. With your swimming expertise, there is minimum risk. Take it. But consider that you are on a beach. You have no experience of swimming in the sea. If you come across a similar situation, don’t jump and try to save the person. Quickly go and call the lifeguard. The lifeguard is the expert, and you are not. So don’t take the risk.  

Ages back, I completed my degree in engineering. Immediately after that, I completed my Master’s degree. After I got my first degree, I thought that I had become an engineer. But as studied for my Master’s degree and did my project work, I realised how much I did not know. In the last six months of Masters degree, I worked as a Lab assistant to help undergraduate students. During this adventure, I started understanding my shortcomings. I started studying like hell because I did not want to fall short of the expectations of the students. Some of them were my teammates in sports. I juggled my thesis work and the studies for lab work, simultaneously.  

I am talking about the second quote. It is what precisely happened to me. When I started teaching, I had to studyI needed to understand the topic well, and I also needed to anticipate questions from my students. Okay, I never wrote a book. But I worked much harder than I used to. It helped in my thesis work. I started going deeper into the subject. I would try and find additional references and journals to understand the matter thoroughly.  

For the first eight years of my career, I worked in a couple of non-ferrous foundries. In my first job, I was raw from the college and had bookish knowledge of the subject. After about a month or so, my boss had asked me for something. I tried to take the help of my chargehand, but he was a smart cookie and would tell me only half the things. He had earned his knowledge on the shop floor. I got stuck in my work, and ultimately decided to go back to my boss for the solution. The boss smiled and said, “If you cannot find your solution, and you need my help every time, then I don’t need you.” I gave a sheepish smile and went back to the shop floor. I learnt two things that day. Never ask for any solution from the boss and never ask anything to the chargehand. From that day onwards, I became self-sufficient. After a month, once the chargehand, who was elderly, and I was having tea. He said, “Sir, you are highly educated and smart. I purposely was not sharing details with you. I knew that you would pick up and start teaching me within one month!” That is what exactly happened from that day.  

Teaching, working with your own hands and maybe writing a book makes one thorough. I have not written any books, but since I started blogging regularly, I find that my thinking is clear. Once I start writing a blog, generally I know how it will end up. 

Similarly, in life, in work situation or business situation, the old saying always works. “Time and Tide wait for no one!” There many things we want to do in life. We wish to visit places. We want to call that old friend with whom you have not spoken due to a minor misunderstanding. You want to buy a camera and take those photos which you were hoping to take. But you are always so busy that you don’t find the time. 

But that you are busy is not understood by Death. It will come when it comes. So, don’t wait and do things when you want to do. Don’t wait for tomorrow or next month or a year. Do it now! In today’s language, it means asap- as soon as possible!  

Let me end with an exciting story. A man is sitting in his office, and suddenly sees “Death”! He is not prepared. He says to “Death”, “Why don’t you look at the latest products I have created.” Death gets busy in looking at the presentation and the product range. The guy is sharp. He takes the death warrants brought by Death. He shuffles them and puts his own warrant at the end of the stack. The Death God is impressed, and he says, “I am impressed with your products. So today I will change the order and start execution in reverse. Today, I will use the last warrant first!”  

Cheers friends! Get going and learn whatever you and do your things asap!  

 

 

 

 

Eh! Non! 

I remembered something. In a village in Turkey, people communicate with each other by whistling.

Languages, gestures are ways of communicating with each other. Humans and other species have been communicating with each other since old times. Now things have supposedly evolved, but there are some words and gestures which may have a long history or may have a history about which we do not know. How and when the terms get to mean what really means today, is sometimes difficult to understand.

Non is a word used in French, which means Not in English. It is said that the French appear to be negative in their approach to everything in life. For most of the discussions, if a query gets raised or a question comes up, the answer is most of the time Non. For some questions like a son asking his mother, “Can I start taking drugs?” The answer Non means a firm No! But in most other cases, Non is the first volley of opening-up of further discussion. Why does this happen? French as a language is not a clear language like English. English has absorbed hundreds of thousands of words from other languages, over a period. Jungle and Bazzar are common words that English has absorbed from Hindi. Has it diluted the language? Non! It has made English more vibrant. French has only seventy thousand words, whereas English has five hundred thousand words (5 Lacs). In French, since there are not many words, some sentences can become vague. The Fench cannot sometimes precisely explain what they want to say as there are words which have a double meaning.

The problem starts here. Suppose there is a situation which can be resolved by discussions, the French feel that it best to say Non with an intonation that can mean different things. One could be, I have not understood what you have said. Another could be, tell me more about what you are saying. Instead of Non if they say Oui, then the discussion is over, and you cannot change again as you have accepted something. Non is a starting point of further discussions, or an open-ended invitation to discuss further. At the end of many “Non” will come out a real “Oui”! Do you get what I am saying? Non? 🙂🙂

It is similar when Canadians use the word, Eh! What does Eh mean? As a word, it is just an exclamatory word! But it has a different meaning again with context and intonation! How did it become associated with Canada? In languages, there is what known as a tag. A tag, in linguistics, is a word or sound or short phrase added after a thought which changes that thought in some way. The most common tags are question tags, which transform a thought into a question. “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” would be one example. The tag “isn’t it” turns that statement of fact into something that could prompt a response; the speaker is asking for confirmation or rejection. “Eh” is known as an invariant tag—something added to the end of a sentence that’s the same every time it’s used.

But “isn’t it” is a variant tag. If used in the plural, it will become “aren’t they”. If you talk about something that was in the past, you will say, “wasn’t it”. But usage of Eh will never change with anything; hence it is called an invariant tag.

There are different ways a Canadian could use “eh.” The first is while stating an opinion: “It’s a nice day, eh?” Another would be as an exclamation tag, added to a sentence to indicate surprise: “What a game, eh?” Or you could use it for a request or command: “Put it over here, eh?” And then there’s the odd example of using it within a criticism: “You messed that one up, eh?”

The beauty of all this is that as a word, Eh does not mean anything. Is it like some spice that we use while cooking? We can make the food to taste differently by adding various spices! Like the simple word Eh, you add a dash of that spice in your food, to give different culinary experiences.

According to some linguists, these “Ehs” a word by itself. “All of these uses have one pragmatic purpose in common: they all show politeness,”. Using “eh” to end the statement is a way for the speaker to express solidarity with the listener. It’s not exactly asking for reassurance or confirmation, but it’s not far off: the speaker is saying, hey, we’re on the same page here, we agree on this. So instead of saying all this, he just says, “Eh” in the end!

These different ways of saying, Eh, bring out different meanings. We can compare it with various methods which are used to prepare a food item. In India, we have chutney as a side dish. It can be slightly hot to very hot, but always tasty. We make groundnut chutney by putting the mixture in a grinder. It makes finely grated chutney but is the least delicious. Then we make the same chutney in a manual device called Khalbatta.

Okay, I am not a culinary expert, but I know a few things. Chutney made in a mixer had groundnuts in finely flaked, chopped format.

Eh1

The chutney made in Khalbatta brings out some oil out of the nuts because of stomping action.  Those used for making chutney are much larger.

eh2

Pata-Warvanta brings out the most oil from the nuts. It is used for crushing the nuts multiple times. The taste and the aroma of the chutney are best when the oil from the nuts is brought out. In the mixer-grinder, only the chopping action takes place; hence no oil is brought out.

An unusual Indian way of saying yes, without uttering the word, Yes! When we mean yes, we always give our neck a lateral movement, from left to right and back. Internationally, it is an action to say NO! Many times I have seen non-Indians who are confused by our No-Yes!

The stereotype of Canadians saying “eh” is so strong that Canadians have ended up reclaiming the word for themselves, even those Canadians who don’t use it very often. Eh is now part of Canadian culture. Citi-bred Canadians don’t use Eh! A popular children’s book about Canadian culture is titled “From Eh? To Zed.” The first prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, is often referred to as “Sir John Eh.”

Probably this is the reason Harry and Meghan have chosen Canada to live in future. They got fed up of impolite tabloids in Britain and chose a polite Canada.

Friends do you know such interesting titbits from other languages from other culture or language?

Fundamental rights! 

Fundamental rights are those rights which are essential for the intellectual, moral and spiritual development of individuals. These rights are integral or indispensable for the existence and all-round development of individuals; hence, it’s called ‘Fundamental’ rights. These are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India.

Following rights are the fundamental human rights that every citizen of India has the liberty to enjoy; they form a vital aspect of the Indian constitution. They help in preserving human dignity and allow every citizen to live with selfrespect. They accentuate the fundamental accord of India by guaranteeing the same rights to everyone irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, place of birth, etc.

  • Right to Equality
  • Right to Freedom
  • Cultural and Educational rights
  • Right to Freedom of Religion
  • Right against Exploitation
  • Right Constitutional Remedies

These are enshrined in Part III (Articles 12 to 35) of the Constitution of India.

The above statements are heavyduty statements for an engineer like me. But these are the bread and butter things for Supreme Court lawyers who make their millions guarding fundamental rights of people. For the lawyers, things look pretty good. The fundamental rights are being challenged quite regularly these days; the lawyers profession is like that of a share trader. Share trader always earns his 0.5% irrespective of whether the buyer and seller make or lose money.

In the last week or so, a lot of fundamental things are being challenged in the Supreme Court. Are the Supreme Court’s comments indicative of the direction that we will see in India?

The first and foremost is a case of death of a fourmonth child of a couple, taking part in peaceful protests at Shaheen Baug. The incident was taken by the Supreme Court “Suo Moto.” (on their own) The child died as it was taken to the protests by its parents. The winter was harsh, and after the child was taken home, it died due to exposure. The Supreme Court has sent notices to both the Central and Delhi government to inquire how this happened. They are expected to report back within a specific time frame.

During the argument, two lady lawyers representing the child’s side made statements as to how CAA and NRC are wrong. They also argued that the poor child was called Pakistani/Terrorist. The Chief Justice Mr Bobde made a valid point. He told the ladies not to stray from the main case. He further said that the matters about CAA/NRC are already in the court, and the current case was not about these issues. Here the topic being discussed is the fundamental right of the child. Why was the child exposed to severe weather? As a minor, it had no control over where it was taken? Why it’s fundamental rights were not protected? Who gave the rights to the parents to expose it to the harsh weather?

People, in general, forget or do not bother about other people’s rights when they are not in the right frame of mind. They trample on the rights of the others. Their mind is so vitiated that they forget that others also have fundamental rights. When one forgets about the rights of their own child, they won’t bother about other people.

Another case is about the fundamental rights of people on the same subject. For a long time, people have blocked the road passing through Shaheen Baug. The Supreme Court said that the protesters have the fundamental right to protest. But many people and institutions have filed petitions in the Supreme Court on the same subject. The Court wondered why the protests are continuing when the matter is sub judice! The Court further said that they have the right to continue to protest. But what about the protesters blocking the road for others? What about the fundamental rights of local commuters who are required to face a long detour due to continued protests? In this event too, both the Central Government and Delhi Government have been asked to file their reply to the Court. The Court has told the protesters to talk to government agencies to give them a suitable place for protesting without disturbing the fundamental rights of others. The Supreme Court has also said that they will provide the final decision after hearing the protesters side!

Another compelling case is about SC/ST reservations. Here the Court has argued that the people in this category had to face discrimination over an extended part of history. The historical wrong needs to be corrected. But it does not mean that it becomes a fundamental right of this group of people. The government can take affirmative action in this case for giving them jobs, but the same rule cannot be applied later when the promotions are offered during the service. It is not a fundamental right of the human that needs to be corrected at every stage. Supreme Court gave a decision that since the matter does not involve fundamental rights, the group should go to the government for resolution. Supreme Court cannot provide a directive to the government.

Another tricky case that the Supreme Court is handling is the Sabrimala case. It applies to Muslim personal law also. For the Supreme Court that it is a significant case, hence they have formed a panel of nine judges to handle the case. The main argument here is whether religious bodies can give a diktat which overrides the fundamental right of women provided by the constitution! It is a classic case of the rights of institutions against the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. In a democracy, it is always said that the constitution is supreme.

The last one year has been important for India as the Supreme Court has resolved a significant dispute about the Ram Janmabhumi. Both sides have accepted the result gracefully. I feel that all parties should show the same grace, in future, regarding other notable cases that will prove to us and the world that India is not an anarchic democracy, but it is a working democracy.

The most challenging point is discussed and the disputed is the right to freedom. Everybody has the right to freedom; all the people in our society have this fundamental right. A person or group demands its right and gets it. But while doing this, the group tramples on someone else’s right. In the case referred above, the protesters blocked the road. The blockage caused inconveniences to thousands of people who used the way every day. Such situations create issues which need to be resolved.

One fundamental right you and I have been denied since independence. It is the control over who governs us. Legislators who stand for elections are selected on the socalled winnability of the candidate. The candidates educational background, experience, achievements and most importantly, criminal background are never discussed openly. There are weak rules about these aspects. Now the Supreme Court is hearing a case where election commission has recommended that all this information about the candidates selected be declared in vernacular newspapers, and on the party’s website within a stipulated time of 24 to 48 hours of selection. At that time, parties should also announce why the candidate is suitable for selection. In Delhi Vidhan sabha election, the % of those with criminal background has gone up from 24 % to 43 % from 2015 to 2020! It is our fundamental right to know how a person with murder and rape cases is suitable for election!

It appears the only institution that can bring back normalcy to the current turmoil in India is Court. Let us hope that the liberals and persons who don’t accept anything against their thought process allow the nation to function normally. I sincerely hope that they change their thinking from “My way or Highway”!

This is added late in the blog. Nothing to do with fundamental rights but shows how tough the Supreme Court is. This morning they blasted the government and Telcos for not paying a single rupee out of 92000 crore Rupees due. By evening the government has started issuing notices circle wise to Telcos! Telcos are given time upto 11.59 pm tonight!

Active and Passive! 

active2

In any language, there are two voices. Active and passive. A simple example of the voices is “Pramod cooks the food” and The food is cooked by Pramod.” The active voice is about what the subject does, and in the passive voice, the focus is on the action. It is the same in our lives. Active people take control of things, and passive people wait for something to happen.  

I will share typical examples of passive people. 

  • What could I do? It started raining; hence I got late. Why did you not budget for some event that could delay you? 
  • Its not my fault. I followed a tip given by a friend and lost the money! Why did you not check if the advice was correct or the friend was knowledgeable?  
  • It’s not my fault. The management never trained me for the new technology. Did the management prevent you from learning new things? It’s you who has lost the job. 

We tend to blame the rain for the failures. Those with an active attitude take the reins of the situation in their hands. Years back, Sachin Tendulkar was failing to score well, by his standards. He was getting out caught in the slips or behind the wickets. Sachin practised and practised. Finally, in Australia, he could put his training in the real game. He scored 240 runs, and during that innings, he did not play a single shot on the off side which was getting him out early. Australia did their best to feed him deliveries on which he was getting out, but he played them defensively.  

When the passive mindset takes over, you say, “Oh! I can’t.” Yes, you can, you’re just not willing to pay the price. You’re not ready to do the work or spend the time. You’re not willing to do something hard. You’re not willing to sacrifice what’s needed. That sacrifice could be time and sometimes money. But one should look at the sacrifice as an investment. You get returns on something, only when you invest.  

The passive mindset is defined by an attitude, an assumption that life happens to you, and you’re not responsible. People with this mindset also say things like, “Why does this always happen to me?” The worst question that we can ask ourselves is “Why me?” We humans think selectively. When good things happen to us in our life, we say that it is because I am good, and I deserve it. But during failure, you are the same person. Instead of asking the question, “Why me,” we should try and analyse. Last month I did something which I had never done before, but I succeeded. Now, what did I do wrong? How can I correct it? We need to think and take corrective actions actively. We may not reach the goal in a couple of attempts. But our perseverance is going to pay. There is no point in hoping that the stars and constellations will finally help us in our endeavour. When you change your passive state of mind to active, you move forward.  

active1

When the language you use about things going on in your life is passive, you slowly convince yourself that nothing is your responsibility.It makes you feel good because it absolves you from liability. It means you don’t have to look inside yourself and change anything.  It means you’re not in control. Life feels easy. Things will happen whenever they happen.

But you can be in control of how you respond to the ups and downs of life. You’re in control of how you talk to yourself. An active attitude means ownership. You own your failures. A proactive mindset means you are responsible for the things you control. 

Ages back, I was working as the quality control manager in a foundry. One day our main transformer blew off. Our production came to a standstill. I am a trained metallurgist and did not know much about transformers. My boss called me said, “Take this car. Go get one replacement transformer at the earliest.” My work started from getting the specifications of the transformer and understanding the detailed meaning of the same. I drove out. I checked at various places. Finally, I located one vendor, but his transformer was being returned the next day. Next day, early morning, I went to the location with the vendor person, about 30 km from Pune. I arranged to get a truck and ensured that the transformer was within our factory premises within 18 hours. But I was sure that I would be able to arrange for the transformer. The doubt never came in my mind!  

Okay, I understand that you have done everything from your side. The cost of the solution is too high, and there could be some collateral damage. There could be many adverse points. But in that case, don’t give up! Talk to someone. Everyone has a mentor hidden somewhere. Talk to that mentor. In today’s times, information is more accessible with search engines around. In olden times, it was difficult to get information and data. Don’t become passive; don’t allow your active attitude to change.  

Your goal may be small or big. But reaching it is essential. Sometimes not achieving that goal may not have serious consequences. But if one gets into the habit of getting into passive mind-set, it can have effects over a period. Don’t fall in the trap!  

Next time you are trying to access the site, excuses.com think twice or better thrice! The site gives hundreds of thousands of excuses. The active frame of mind does not let you take that route. If you have an eight am important presentation, make sure you reach at 7.30 am, rain or no rain. If you have that chunk of money to invest, ask your friend. But why not study what he has said. Anybody can lose money in investments but don’t blame it on friends. Take an informed decision. Your boss did not promote you, don’t blame the boss or the luck of the draw. If you don’t get promoted, blame yourself.  

Napoleon always checked while selecting the Generals if they were lucky! But at the same time, he also checked if they were fighters. There is a classic example of waiting in the slowest lane on a toll plaza. The “lucky” ones almost always join the fastest line. Luck does play a part, but the lucky ones always review quickly from a distance which lane is moving the fastest. Then they join it.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dictatorship or Democracy!

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Currently, there is a trend or fashion, whatever you want to call the world’s largest two democracies, India and the US, as dictatorships or moving towards the dictatorship. I asked a friend who was vehemently arguing why these are dictatorships. When people are highly excited about their ideas, I generally don’t counter-argue. It is because their mind is not open.

Modi won the election initially in 2014 and then again in 2019 with a higher majority. Trump won the elections in 2016. Their immediate predecessors were Manmohan Singh and Barak Obama. Chalk and the cheese are the accurate descriptions of their style of working in comparison with the incumbents. Though Modi’s victory was expected, Trump was a surprise winner for many.

By no means, I agree with all what Modi and Trump are propagating. It is liberals, seculars in both the countries who are troubled by this development. But in India, at least, these people are happy when minorities are appeased and are given benefits. Both Modi and Trump are right-wing leaders. In a democracy leftist, left of centre, right of centre thought processes are reasonable and acceptable. But the extreme right of centre becomes a dictatorship. Then what does extreme left become?

The latest trend that I see is that the veteran politicians of various thought processes are not used to the so-called right-wing thoughts. Anything that does not match with their thinking is not acceptable, or it is evil. It is a dictatorship. These liberals are okay even with Maoist/Naxalite thought. Some of them take out marches to support convicted terrorists. The latest march was in Mumbai to support Sharjeel who is arrested on sedition charges.

So how is the health of democracy in these two countries? I think it is good. People may not agree with me. How does democracy compare with other forms of Government? Compared to dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies and aristocracies, in which the people have little or no say in who is elected and how the government is run, a democracy is often said to be the most challenging form of government, as input from those representing citizens determines the direction of the country. The basic definition of democracy in its purest form comes from the Greek language: The term means “rule by the people.”

But when the “Opposition” wins, those in power don’t accept the result of the election gracefully. The ruling gentry is used to the benefits that they get when they are in power. Opposition for the sake of opposition is the name of the game. Many times it surprises me that others vehemently reject any action taken by the ruling party. How can two sides be never on the same page for any decision? Does it mean that either of the sides is antinational? When a budget is declared, it is natural to have different views on the same. The opposition should be giving a point by point reply. But since both sides are citizens of India, at least 20/30 per cent of budget points should be acceptable to both. But from the statements, it appears that their views are a 100 % mismatch. Is this the correct way of taking part in the governance of the country?

Democracy is a system where all and sundry are allowed to air their views on all the subjects in the world. Both in the US and India people can openly do this. There is an old joke about this. An American and a Russian are chatting over a drink. The American says, “In my country, I can easily say that our President is an idiot.” The Russian smiles and says, “ Oh! We also have that freedom. I can openly say in Moscow that the American President is an idiot!” Democracy gives freedom to pursue your right to live anywhere in the country. It means you can follow any religion, and you may dress the way you want. You may have political views which could be from far left to far right. The freedom that humans get has to be used within the guidelines or the framework of the law.

The last couple of months, we have continuous protests in various parts of the country. The legal system in the country ensures that protests are peaceful; at the same time, it makes sure that the police don’t go overboard when they act. But the unfortunate part is those parties which are discretely supporting these protests claim that the government is moving towards dictatorship. They write in newspapers, and they give interviews on TV channels. Is this not freedom? In the same breath, they keep on talking of dictatorship. Such acts indicate the thought process of “my way or the highway!” A couple of days back, the US opposition leader Pelosi, tore off the copy of the speech given by Trump in the house. It is absolute freedom that allows such an act. The tearing away of the address is seen in a video, but that is democracy.

Why does this happen? It is because of the myopic view that people take. In the US, people do not now that there is a large group of people in the Central part of America, who are called the rednecks. (These states are known as “Flyover” states, the word Flyover is a verb!) 🙂🙂 These are mostly white Americans from a poor background and were easily driven by Trump’s speech of “Americans First!” They get the feeling that new immigrants are taking away their jobs. They do not know that the US is mainly a high tech economy which needs high-end people to run the organisations. These experts move to the US from anywhere in the world. But rednecks voted Trump to victory because of the “feel” and not fact! A similar thing has been happening in the last few years in India where the middle class has got that “feel” which brought in the current government. Does it mean that there is a dictatorship? It only means that the prevailing ruling party could catch the nerve of the people and have a great marketing department. There are no Goebbels and Hitlers seen anywhere on the horizons. But how can the liberal and their ilk see dictatorship? Maybe, it is their marketing trick to create xenophobia to come back to power!

For democracy to sustain, nobody can enforce it the way dictatorship can be implemented. In vast countries like the US and India, in today’s times of social networking, dictators will find it exceedingly difficult to take over. There will be a mutiny in every other Facebook or Whatsapp group. Due to anonymity behind the screen, each and everybody is an expert on every subject. Democracy is a culture. We have the concept of local committees, panchayat raj, starting at the village level for a very long time. We had the concept of a joint family from time immemorial. Democracy is embedded in our blood. Indira Gandhi’s attempt failed miserably during the emergency.

The Chinese managed to accelerate their economy at a rapid rate. The thinking was that if people have money in hand, they will not bother about dictatorship. But the Hongkong protests are showing the world that money is essential, but freedom is far more important.

As I write this, I read a news item that Trump has been cleared of impeachment charges! It is the beauty of democracy. In a democracy, there is a process to try and remove the head of the government which can go either way!

I think that everywhere Heil Democracy will work better than Heil Hitler!

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Justice Delayed 

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The problem with the law is that it is blind. It is quite like the plight of a young blindfolded child trying to hit a piñata – there are always chances of collateral damage. The blindfolded statue of Justice which is supposed to portray Her objectivity and therefore Her greatest strength also becomes Her greatest weakness. 

Justice, as a concept is depicted by a statue of lady justice which is blindfolded, carries a balance and a sword in hand. What is the significance of this depiction?  

Lady Justice is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from one hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case’s support and opposition. 

Since the 16th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or any other status. But in some statues, the blindfold is removed. The explanation is that the maidenly form of the statue implies that she will be impartial.  

The sword in her hand indicates the power that she has as the final authority. It suggests that there is no argument on the decision taken by the authority of law.  

All these definitions and discussions are fine in. But does one always get justice in real life? What is the definition of justice? After all, the justice system in any state or for that matter in the world is based on rules and regulations decided by you and me or our representatives. So, the justice system is fluid and needs to change as per the situation. At the same time, it cannot change at the fall of your hat.  

The thoughts about the justice system started in my mind as I have been reading about the Nirbhaya case. (The brutal rape and murder of one lady in Delhi by a gang of six thugs including juveniles in the year 2012.) After a long and delayed case, finally, the verdict was given to hang all the culprits to death. But the convicts are taking advantage of the loopholes in the legal system.

Nowadays, when I read the judgements, a term regularly is used “rarest of the rare cases.” In many countries, the death penalty is not given. But the maximum sentence given is life imprisonment. It is difficult to say what is right and what is wrong. India still has the death penalty in its system. But sometimes the term “law is blind” seems to be appropriate. In the Nirbhaya case, the most brutal attacker was a juvenile! But what should be the definition of a minor? Simply because the person is below eighteen, he/she is defined as a juvenile. The brutality displayed by the young person in the Nirbhaya case was so severe that the person should have been hanged publicly; if possible, he should have been stoned to death. He got away with a stay of three years in a correction centre. I am sure that he is leading a healthy life now as an adult. I am not sure if it is possible to live normally when the person had behaved so brutally. Maybe he is a demon in human form.  

The sentence given to them is to hang by death. But it appears that the ruling was that all of them should be hanged together. Why is that so? The only logic a common man like me understands is that since they performed the act together, they should be hanged together. To me, it is the most illogical. All these guys are taking advantage of the system and are making appeals after appeals in cyclic manner. If an appeal delays the hanging of one person, all persons escape the hanging. Innocent till proven guilty is a sentence which one hearstypically. But once these guys are proven guilty beyond doubt, the current system allows them to delay the final act. It is making the mockery of the system. How long the cyclic appealing will continue, only the god knows. The system does not consider the family of the victim. They are looking for closure about what happened to their beloved daughter.  

One side story in this episode is equally awkward. A well-known Supreme Court lawyer, Indira Jaising, has suggested to the family of Nirbhaya that they should pardon the convicts. She has given the example of the pardon by Sonia Gandhi in Rajeev Gandhi assassination case. But no two families are the same. Who is Indira Jaising to tell this family about forgiveness? It only adds to the agony. Why has Indira Jaising not filed a PIL to ensure that the cyclic escape route for the convicts should be eliminated from the system 

A couple of days back, there was an attack in London during the daytime. A terrorist attacked a few people with a Matchette which was as long as someone’s arm. One person died, and a couple of people were injured. The attacker was caught by the anti-terrorist squad a few years back. He was sentenced to three years of prison. He had appealed, and during the hearing, it was found that as per the existing laws, the attacker could not be kept in jail. So, he was released after the stay in prison for one and a half year. He was released. But there are hundreds of such cases in Britain and these persons are required to be physically followed to ensure that they don’t attack people. But there is a limitation of how many such people can be observed. 

The terrorist was under the surveillance, but still, he managed to attack and kill. It was the system that released him. The British law or for that matter laws of any country were designed and defined when there was no terrorism as we have today. They were planned when there was hardly any migration. It is observed that the terrorists in most countries are migrants. These things take time to change. But real-life situations like terrorism and immigration don’t wait for the laws to change. These aspects of life are like time and tide! They don’t wait for anybody.  

What is the solution for this? I honestly do not know. But one thing for sure is that preachers like Indira Jaising should not interfere in somebody else’s life. Her daughter was not raped and murdered. When the event occurred in 2012, Indira Jaising must have surely burnt a few candles in the candlelight march. I hope she had not met Nirbhaya’s family at that time to suggest to be lenient to the perpetrators.