Cheating, a prerogative!

A few

 

Exam

Climbing Walls to help students cheat!

A few days back, I had a written a blog about Atmanirbharata

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2020/06/27/atmanirbharata-self-reliance/

Though the blog referred to Mr Modi’s appeal about self-reliance by our nation, I had said that for a society or a nation to be Atmanirbhar, each individual must try to become Atmanirbhar in his/her own life. The process starts from birth, and it continues throughout our lives. But basic training continues till we continue our formal education. At that stage, we finish our initial training for self-reliance.

I have taken education until my Master’s degree in Engineering. I have appeared for various examinations. But the thought of copying during the exams never even came to my mind. Very rarely, we would see or hear someone copying. It used to be a scandal when we read the news about someone being caught copying during exams. I had the shock of my life, I think, during the third-year engineering exam. I was writing away with full concentration and had completed writing on the main answer book. I was writing on a “supplement” as the additional book was called. The invigilator went out for a few minutes, and my classmate sitting in front of me simply pinched the main answer book. He started copying answers from that. I started sweating. At the same moment, the invigilator came inside. People rarely copied during those days, so she was casually moving around the class.

Ten minutes later, she went out again. I was at my desperate and vicious best. I just caught my friend’s hair and pulled them hard. At the same moment, I bent forward and took my answer book. Phew! That was my only experience with copying during the exams.

Why do we have exams?

Exams help us learn and digest information more easily. Because students are under pressure to get good grades, they strive to do their best. They work hard, making sure that they are well-prepared. Without exams, students would be able to put off their revision and find it hard to keep up in class.

Exams are crucial. Many students are studying because of exams. Through the exams, students can know the level of their knowledge. It evaluates the student’s skills and enables them to overcome their nerves. It is an efficient way to measure knowledge. And also helps to estimate how much they have learned. Actually, it promotes competition among students. It helps in developing one’s personality and confidence. And exams have a significant role in providing necessary qualities in life such as hard work, patience, creativeness and leadership. This makes students able to overcome their weakness and become successful in life. Therefore exams should be compulsory. It judges us about the understanding of the subject and our capabilities to apply the knowledge. It also helps to improve the memory power of a person. It allows the students to explain their understanding of a subject. It not only helps to polish the writing skills but also helps one to improve their analytical skills and expand the outlook they have about the world. Hence an exam should be a tool for enhancing one’s career. It helps us to think for ourselves.

But is it human nature to find a shortcut, always? I do not know. If I make a generalised statement, then I will be saying something unfair to those who study hard and do well in the exams. But then which is the group of people that cheats? What could be the percentage of such people?

All these thoughts came to mind after reading the news given in the link below.

Out of 860 pilots from Pakistan Airline, 262 pilots did not even appear for the examination that leads them to get a license to fly. With ¼ th of pilots coming under doubt, the system needs an overhaul.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1565352/262-pilots-under-investigation-for-dubious-credentials-to-be-grounded-says-aviation-minister

If this could happen in Pakistan, it could happen in Bharat Desh too! After all, we are long lost brothers by birth! Aviation pilot training is a critical training. When Pilots fly passenger flights, the life of many passengers is in their hands. Though air travel is supposed to be the safest travel mode if it gets into the hands of people who cheated in their exams, risk factor increases. The Pakistani minister has said that the person who was supposed to take training did not appear for the exam, but someone else did. I am sure that for these exams, not many appear at a time, and all the centres for the exams would be city-based. How the cheating took place is a mystery. If one or two cases were found, then it could be explained as an aberration. But 262 pilots are involved in this fraud. I am sure that there is a big conspiracy to cheat the system and making money. To hell with passenger safety! Are the aeroplanes built to be so much fraud-proof? Those who have “passed” the exams have been flying these planes. (Today’s news said that  the US has asked Pakistan to stop flying to the US)

That reminds me of a story told by my son. He lives in the USA since the last twenty-five years. They used to hire people from India based on telephonic interviews. Those were the days of no video calls, and the candidates were asked questions on the phone. Candidates were a little slow in understanding and responding in English. The candidates were from Telangana. Most of them were very good technically, and got selected. When the first batch reached the US, they were found to be wanting in knowledge. The mystery was solved when my son pushed one of them for the real story.

Here is how it was done. The candidates would take the call in an institute on speakerphone. The candidates would appear to be slow! The reason was that the candidates were helped by experts with answers displayed on a screen by quick searching. The telephonic interviews were stopped.

Above two examples involved higher stakes. But in India, copying in the exams has reached a different level. It is an art. The proliferation of copying in exams is done nonchalantly. These exams are tenth or twelfth-grade exams. It is very embarrassing to even see the video and photographs. Hundreds of parents and relatives climbed the school walls and the compound walls to help children to copy.

If these children’s foundation was cheating, what else do you expect from them when they grow up. Why the madness? I heard that when they pass these exams, there is a chance of getting a government job as a peon. Does poverty lead to such acts? Is job availability so reduced? What knowledge would these kids have if they get tested and many times pass without acquiring any knowledge? I have gone through the exam papers of some students. In Hindi answer sheet of an 8th grader in Pune, there were 42 spelling mistakes. These were duly marked by the teacher. But the student was given 49 marks out of 50. Why? To encourage? Or the child was from a wealthy family or from a political family? God knows! But what was the point? Amen!

The teacher and The Guru!

A couple of days back, we celebrated Guru Pournima. (Full moon night to revere the Guru) It was celebrated with enthusiasm, the latest version. Every sadness, joy, reverence, fear is displayed by us, these days in the only way we can. Forward a label or a sticker and throw in a couple of emojis. We are not supposed to or are allowed to write anything in our own words. We are afraid that we will be stigmatised if we do not find an appropriate thing to forward or publish. Some poor souls can not find the “original” forward; hence they push a forwarded forward. Come on, Pramod! When I was in school six decades back, my teachers had taught me to push forwards. They had such foresight; they knew that social media would take over the world.

Coming back to the title, a Guru means an influential teacher or a popular expert. A teacher means a person who teaches, especially in a school. On Jaya’s school WhatsApp group, there was a bit of a discussion which was confused about who is a teacher and a guru.


My school was Ram Mohan English School, Girgaum, in Bombay. My education was in Marathi till 11th grade, after which I went to Elphinstone College and then Engineering at COEP, Pune. The photo above was shared by my classmate Ashok, and it made my day. I have seen enough things in the world now, but I can proudly say that these teachers were as good as any. They are from left Joshi sir (Sanskrit), Naik sir (He was the head-teacher and taught us Marathi), Sabnis Teacher (Science- we used to call lady teachers “Teacher”), Kundaikar Sir (Maths), Mayekar Sir (English). They were outstanding by any standard, but importantly they were great human beings too! They would accommodate over-energetic students like me, though I ranked first in punishments.

I could write pages and pages about these dedicated people, but I will write only a couple of incidents. Mayekar sir was a Professor of French at Wilson College, but due to some health reasons, he moved to our school. He was simply terrific in his language, both written and spoken. His handwriting was out of this world. When I was in the 11th grade, he once called me to his home on a Sunday. I went there with apprehension. When I reached there, he said, “Panvalkar, I will guide for a few Sundays because I feel that you are good at English.” He simply wanted to help and guide me. He had foresight about me. I had never dreamt during those times that I would become a blogger writing stuff in English. Whatever hints he gave in those days, I was too busy noticing them, are surely helping me. Though Marathi is my mother tongue, the language in which I communicate normally, I think, and write in English, as if English is my first language.

Other teachers who guided me in life were Wadke teacher- I used to interact with her during extra-curricular activities like sports. Somehow she took a liking for me and was like my mother to me. She was the epitome of softness. Her daughter Mangal was my classmate. Dr Satynarayna, my HOD in the Metallurgy Department at COEP, my guide for M E, taught me how to make decisions fearlessly. He ensured that I completed my M E in two years and joined the industry.

Unfortunately, we remember all these souls only on Guru Pournima day. We also make an error in understanding the difference between a teacher and a Guru. We interact with teachers for a small duration. But Guru is one person who is in your life and is around all the time. The Gurus are of different varieties, the Osho variety of 92 Rolls Royce fame. He was also famous for his commune with a “free” life. You and I may not agree with his thinking, but hundreds of thousands of disciples tell a different story. The Gurus have been controversial, they have lived in five-star hotels during their travels. In my view, nothing is wrong with that. It is how they improved the lives of their followers. Pandurang Shastri Athawale was one such Guru of fishermen living in northern Maharashtra and Southern Gujarat coast. We find that the language used by him in sermons is primary. But it was meant for the fishermen who were having a troubled life as they were caught in binge drinking. Osho used to give a high level of sermons because people involved were from different categories. Many Gurus like Satya Saibaba who have done wonders for the society with the help of his followers. His “Gora” followers from many countries come to stay in his ashram and would offer their expertise free e. g. surgeons would go and perform free operations. There are, of course, frauds who have cheated people of their property, and we hear many cases of sexual exploitation of women. The cross-section of Gurus is very similar to our society. There are greats, some are good, and others are bad to horrible. But one thing is common in them. They are continuously in touch with their disciples.

I was lucky to have one such Guru in my life, Mahesh Kothari. He was CMD of Exedy India Ltd. We met in 1981 and were regularly in touch with each other until his death in January 2017. I was his business associate and advisor. When we became close and family, it is difficult to say. He never told me, what I should do in life.

I have traveled with him from Pune to Aurangabad many times, and he used to love driving. He would always share the driving time with me. We have had many chat sessions with only two of us, at the guest house. He would never tell me to do something in any specific way. He would share his experiences, he would explain many things, and for me, they were more of training sessions of life. He would care a lot about his family, and he was 100%, family man. I would absorb his way of thinking all the time. He loved his drink, but I was an occasional drinker. He taught me how to enjoy a paan at Tara Paan House in Aurangabad.

Aurangabad was his second home. He was so much involved in work that if he needed to visit a vendor quickly, he would hop behind on some one’s bike, if required, and rush to resolve some technical issue. All the people at the Aurangabad plant were his family. When someone from the factory was travelling abroad for the first time for work, he would personally make sure that the person had the clothing, suit, and vegetarian food if required. He wanted to ensure that nobody ran into unnecessary trouble in a foreign country.

He was an epitome of a Guru by guiding me through his deeds. He taught me to manage work-life balance. He taught me how to be reliable but gentle at the same time. He taught me how to keep on working all the time, at the same time, enjoying the fleeting moments in life. He was also very open to asking me for suggestions on work-related matters.

Friends, teachers teach you a subject or a skill. Gurus share their experiences; it is up to the disciple to pick up excellent points. Disciples are associated with the Guru for a long time. They see all traits of human aspects in the Guru; do not forget that gurus are humans. But teachers are associated with only the teaching aspect; in rare cases, one gets an opportunity like that offered by Mayekar sir or Satyanarayan sir! In rare cases, the teacher becomes a Guru like in the case of Acharekar sir and Sachin Tendulkar. But here, the disciple was an exceptional human being and continued to play cricket all through his life!

 

Bucket List!

MarchApril2019-Bucket-List-1140x1475

A bucket list is a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying. Your first question would be why the hell Pramod is talking about death. But the usage of this term has been quite recent. Hitting the bucket is the colloquial term for dying. It is not about death. But do not forget that bucket list need not be life long. You can make short term bucket lists a few times a year. Items could be “I will buy a pair Rayban goggles this month”, or “I am going to meet my long lost friend Deepak in next two months”. Do not forget that these shortlists are also going to give us great joy! My item was keeping a ponytail. If I had done it otherwise, people would have said, “Pramod has gone senile”! I used Corona situation to fulfil my wish!

WhatsApp Image 2020-06-09 at 08.47.50

Typical lists have different items on each individuals’ list. From visiting the standard places like Tajmahal, Niagara falls, Eiffel towers and so on, the list will be endless. See the Wall of China, Visit Machu Pichhu, Meet Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe are some other favourite items (Ladies let me know your preferences). Watch a cricket match at MCG in Melbourne with the capacity crowd was on my list- I did it in March 2015.

But the first half of the year 2020 has made a drastic change in the thinking of people. In my case, it is a dramatic change. I feel as if I have achieved Nirvana of sorts! Thanks to Coronavirus. It appears that this situation will continue for three to six months more. Have I been a person who prefers to be home-bound? Marathi term for this is घरकोंबडा! Not really. We always used to go out, meet friends, see movies when possible, travel. Going to restaurants, inviting friends at home was our regular routine. Post 22nd March, everything has stopped.

I live in an eleven-story condo tower and live on the 7th floor. All my windows and the balcony face the west. In summer times, the harsh sun is so bright that we were forced to put sunscreens which blocked the light a hundred per cent. With this change, the weather inside is controlled, we do not need an AC. It is so dark within the room, we need to put on the light if we have to do some chore. But this is only a small irritant. The benefits of west-facing home, on the 7th floor with an unblocked view, for miles together, has its advantages. The lockdown brought out the benefits to the fore. What have I been missing?

Even before this lockdown, we sometimes had our cuppa early morning with a beautiful breeze, fresh directly from the hills. It is invigorating, to say the least! Yes, the fog or smog sometimes made the view hazy. I have been enjoying the misty Pune rains of the monsoon sitting there. But never had I even thought of that I would be looking forward to being in the balcony every day! I am there, every day in the evening for at least 30 to 40 minutes. Watching the movies created by nature. With the monsoon in the air, there are clouds. Clouds, in many shades of grey- from light grey to ominous grey in different formations, are seen every day. Even at this age, the real dark ones bring a tinge of fear in mind! But since Pune does not get high rainfall, these clouds hit the hills in around water bodies around Pune to quell their fury! The fascinating canvas that gets unrolled every day, with the sun playing hide and seek, is to be seen to be believed. The holi of colours is played every day! From bright gold to enchanting red, from dark grey to emerald blue the combinations will beat the colour shades offered by computers, hollow.

                                             (Oneplus 6T cell phone Camera)

A couple of weeks into lockdown, we started hearing chanting and cooing of birds loud and clear! Unfortunately, as I am on the 7th floor, even the tall trees are well below my line of sight. So I am not able to see any of the birds unless they are flying. I do see some parrots and pigeons resting on the terraces of the buildings nearby with a few squirrels thrown in. I am sure they were infrequently seen even before lockdown, but I never made it a point to watch them. Honestly, in my lifestyle before and after lockdown, there is only 10 to 15 per cent change. Post “almost retired” status we went out much less compared to working days. But it is the mindset change that has made the difference.

IMG_0267 (3)

                                                     Cannon 1100 D Camera 70X300

I take advantage of my being at the vantage point to see nature regularly. I cursorily looked at Sinhgad, a Shivaji time fort, about twenty km from home. The pollution, the smog was simply missing, and I could clearly see the fort. I started taking photographs of Sinhgad as many times as possible. The clarity is stunning! On one day Sinhgad was looking hazy, and the lockdown was just easing out. I got worried and shared with Jaya that the beautiful site will now be eaten up by the pollution. But the next day, things were “normal”! I could take photographs of Sinhgad. I had forgotten that fog is a normal phenomenon of nature; I had simply concluded that it was lost to pollution!

My favourite example of such adversities is based on how to take advantage of the difficulty. Sachin Tendulkar in a match versus Pakistan in South Africa was facing Shoib Akhtar at his best. He was fast and furious on that day and bowled a nasty bouncer to Sachin. He simply raised his bat at the last moment and slashed hard as the ball was moving at high speed and an awkward bounce. Next moment the ball was in the stands travelling ten rows over the spectators.

The lockdown has been thrown at us by the destiny, hit it for a six. Do not get into “I am bored”, “I do not know what to do mode!” You have not suddenly become older by ten years. Our generation has been lucky that many diversions onscreen in different formats are available to us at our fingertips. The important thing is there is no one to limit our screen time. In fact, our family and friends are worried if you are not able to use technology to your benefit! Play that computer game, see the old Hitchcock movie Psycho! See the brand new Swara Bhasker serial Rasbhari! You will be able to watch free webinars ad nauseam. See those old dramas or one-act plays which you missed in your busy schedule and chat with friends. Look for your seventy-year-old ex-flame and see what she is up to. In fact, you will not get time to say “I am bored”, “I do not know what to do mode!”

 

                                                     Entrance Beach, Australia

                                                Cannon 1100 D Camera 70X300

With reset of mind due to lockdown, my thinking about bucket list has changed. I would rather be with nature. Trees, clouds, mountains, birds and the beasts would enchant me more, and I would rather be with rivers and ocean! The idea has been in mind since I visited the Entrance beach in Australia. It was a majestic, serene and enchanting beach on the Pacific ocean. Over a period, many of our travels included nature rather than large cities. Lockdown has converted me. I am getting to tick mark some portions of the bucket list sitting at home!

Do not worry about me! I am not balcony bound. I am also into video calling and doing different things. With my engineering college groups, I have started to interview friends who have achieved many things in life. These interviews keep me busy in logistics, coordination and other stuff. Plus of course, family video calls are there. Life is home-bound but busy! It is about resetting your mindset as per the situation. One of the significant change could be to modify your bucket list! Taking photographs regularly was one of them!

Atmanirbharata-Self Reliance!


Tejas Fighter

Atmanirbharata is a word that came into circulation, recently. The term means Self-reliance! When our PM talked about Atmanirbharata, all the “experts” and the political opponents decided that India was being taken back to the stone age. They declared that India is going back to the permit Raj. On the other side, China baiters started screaming “Ban the Chinese products” and some such slogans. Self-reliance means the reliance on one’s own powers and resources instead of those of others.

How can a society, state or a nation become Atmanirbhar? For any change to happen in humanity, it is the smallest part of the vast populace must become Atmanirbhar first.

Self-Reliance” is an 1841 essay written by American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. It contains the most thorough statement of one of Emerson’s recurrent themes: the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency and follow his own instincts and ideas. Emerson emphasises the importance of individualism and its effect on an individual’s satisfaction in life. He stresses that anyone can achieve happiness and become Atmanirbhar, simply if they change their mindset.

The philosophical thinking about Atmanirbharata has been prevalent in the world for a long time. Since most have not analysed the term, the usual expert comments are thrown using strong expressions against the thought process. Atmanirbharata has to start from childhood. We teach our kids to crawl, walk, run and ride a cycle. How do we do it? We do it by encouraging them. We explain to them that we can fall, and get hurt, but unless these things happen, children do not become independent. These actions are the fundamental actions that we need to know about life’s journey. We all know that kids love them, they want to be Atmanirbhar in their life. I am talking about physical acts. So, what should we do about our mental facilities? Should we not become Atmanirbhar in our thinking too? Do we like to be pushed by someone- do it this way, do it that way! Do not use your brain, do as I tell you!

The physical part is eating, drinking, toilet training and so on! As children grow, formal education begins. All these are things designed by and for life’s university. If done well, the child grows up into a self-reliant human. The family, school, the society, the town, and the nation become self-reliant if everyone becomes self-sufficient.

When our PM talked about Atmanirbharata, what did he mean? He did not say bring draconian rules of license raj. Do not stop imports of things that make the nation dependent on the other countries even for basic things. No nation in the world can become 100% self-reliant because of various reasons. There are hundreds of reasons for this, but that is not what we are discussing.

Assuming that we are a nation of self-reliant people. They take up jobs, they become businesspeople. They become officers and pilots. Within their sphere, they have to act to get the things to the best of their ability. I will share an example of an individual who is a buyer for an organisation. The management decides to cut expenses to improve profitability. The buyer’s job is to find the correct supplier of quality goods at the right price. The buyer looks around, locates the supplier in China, and starts buying from him everything. That my friend is not Atmanirbharata. He should have checked why the cost is so low. Is it sustainable over a period? What happens in situations, like COVID? The buyer did not spread his risks- then he failed in making his company self-reliant! Deciding your policy in such a way that in all situation his organisation should remain self-reliant. Atmanirbhar anyone?

I had shared an example of the Indian Motorcycle industry, becoming world-class in a short period. The sector still buys components from China, but the Chinese companies are more dependent on our Motorcycle companies. That is Atmanirbharata.

During the spread of COVID, in India, there was a shortage of everything needed by health professionals like doctors, nurses, ward boys and ambulance drivers. Within three months, we started making a massive number of PPE’s, Masks and what have you. Now we can probably export these items. We ramped up our facilities and capacities to make ventilators in large numbers, so we do not need to depend on other countries. Mind you, not every component required for ventilators may be available in India. But by importing these components, we are well on the way to become in the manufacture of ventilators. We did the same thing in COVID test kits- this was achieved by a small company in Pune.

The first big Atmanirbharata decision taken by the government is opening up the Coal sector to the private sector. In future, India can export a lot of coal!

Let us now consider the year to year problems faced by our farmer brethren. Though we have made significant progress in irrigation, our topography, and financial constraints (and not to forget corruption!) make farmers dependent on rains for water. Regularly, the rainfall is short or too much. Many times, we do not get rains when most needed. So what is the solution? I had written a blog about Jalyayukt Shivar, a drive, by the Maharashtra government to make farmers self-reliant for their water requirement by digging water reservoirs in every village. The rainwater is stored in these reservoirs and could be used when needed. Friends, it is Atmanirbharata at its best. You do not need Chinese or American components for this project; you need the will-power and smart thinking to make such projects a reality. When I wrote this blog, we did not even know the word COVID 19. There was no China hate in the air!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/jalyukt-shivar-a-new-drive-in-water-management/

My friend Ram sent me an article about Ulhas Paranjpe, Ram’s batchmate in engineering. Ulhas has developed a technology by which villagers can build water tanks by using Ferrocement in construction; this method more than halves the cost of building the tanks.


I have taken the liberty to share his cell phone number here. He is just one phone call away and gives telephonic advice on how to build such tanks: Ulhas’s Cell plus WhatsApp number +91 98207 88061. The web site: http://www.jalvardhini.org/

Are we taking India back to the dark age? Is this going to be the permit Raj again? Many of these experts have probably never seen a village and give expert advice on the TV channels and spread their (lack of) knowledge. Or maybe they have an agenda against the government!

Atmanirbharata does not mean that you do not use products made in other countries. Any product or services where our nation does not have expertise can be brought in, but the locally available products must be procured locally.

What is the point in getting Ganapati Idols, Decorative items, Manja used in kite flying? These items are IndJalvardhiniian, and the traders started importing them from China because they were getting more margins. End-user did not even know that these items were made in China. This is negative Atmanirbharata.

Very few countries in the world make aeroplanes. India had no choice but to import them. But over a period, we have developed a fighter plane, Tejas, for the Indian Air Force. That my friend is Atmanirbharata. Not all parts made are in India for our fighter plane.

Jaya, in her career, had made great strides in Atmanirbharata. She took training in Canada for some systems, in 1981, which cost eight hundred thousand dollars in those days. One system was imported, and Jaya got fourteen such systems made in Pune, at Rs eight hundred thousand each!

Friends, Atmanirbharata is no China-bashing, it is not going back to license Raj. It is being prudent in what we buy and what we produce in our country. Go ahead and import a few things from China or where ever you want. But do not outsource Chole Bhature from Philippines and Rasgulla from Bangla Desh!


Whose Fault is it, anyway?

Taapsee Pannu

Why am I writing about Taapsee Pannu? I am not writing about her as an actor but as a poet, who has written from her heart!

While thinking about film personalities, terms that we use are handsome, beautiful, sexy and so on? Somehow we never think of them as intellectuals or caring persons, sensitive persons. Why is that so? Probably in the initial phase, people of a different kind joined the industry, but now actors joining are more educated, more sophisticated. They have their feet on the ground and openly express their feelings.

The recent parallel pandemic of human migration was an event which nobody in the country expected. When I say nobody, it means persons like you and me. We are financially settled. If we do not have some income for a particular duration, that is ok. We can manage, we can survive. None of us had ever imagined the plight of migrant workers when the lockdown started.

They were told to hang around where ever they were; we would help you, feed you and give you some money till this “small” problem goes away. But the first lockdown got converted into the second, the third and so on. Besides having no income, all these people went into a psychological problem. The common utterance was, as we do not have money and food we might die. Now if we have to die, at least let us go to our native place to be with family. At least in our last phase, our near and dear ones will be around us. With this thinking, people simply ignored the government directives and started going towards their homes. Some on bikes, some walking, trucks or whatever vehicle they got!

Taapsee Pannu has penned and rendered a poem. It directly touches your heart. Taapsee has not blamed anyone as such but has expressed the feelings of the migrants. She has not used flowery language; she is not trying to be a poet. She has written down whatever came to her mind. The link below gives the video rendering of her poem. It is heartfelt, touching and moistens one’s eyes. Taapsee way to go! I have written down the poem in words so that we can slowly understand the depth of what she has said. The lyrics are plain daily words, but when the meaning starts to seep into our mind, we are woken up with a shudder!Friends see the video before reading poem.

Friends see the video before reading the poem.

The link for the poem!

https://www.indiatoday.in/movies/video/exclusive-taapsee-pannu-migrants-poem-bollywood-covid-crisis-1688753-2020-06-13

हम तो बस प्रवासी है।क्या इस देशके वासी है।

अगर हम नही है इन्सान तो मौत दो अभी दे दो फ़र्मान ।

खाने को तो कुछ न मिल पाया, भूख लगी तो ड़ंड़ा खाया।

फासले तय किये हजारो मीलके कुछ पैर नंगे ।

मरे क ई भूखसे और क ई धूपसे।

पर हिम्मत ना टूटी बडोके झूठसे।

बससे भेजकर रेलसे भेजकर।

जान ख़ो बैठे रास्ते भूल कर ।

यहाँ प्रतिमाओंकी बडी अस्ती पर जान इन्सानोंकी सस्ती।

बडे सपने अच्छे दिन बतलाये पर भूख किसीकी मिटा ना पाये ।

चाहिये ना भीख़ ना दा पर ना छीनो आत्म सम्मान।

हम तो बस प्रवासी है।क्या इस देशके वासी है।

I am not going to translate the poem, but it needs to be explained in English for those who are not comfortable with Hindi along with my interpretation.

We are only travellers, but are we the citizens of this nation? If you do not consider us humans then give orders to kill us at least. Look at the frustration; maybe the migrants felt that they do not have the fundamental rights of the citizens of this country. While travelling and under lockdown, we did not get anything to eat. But when we were hungry, police hit us with a cane!

We travelled hundreds of miles, and sometimes we walked barefoot! We have seen the pictures of people walking with all their belongings with a couple of children in tow! One simply can not imagine that these people travelled hungry, barefoot with the heavy load. Did they at least get water to drink? Their will to reach home was so strong that despite the problems faced, they never gave up though they were denied their promised rightful things.

Further, the statues of the leaders get a lot of importance, but on the other side, the lives of humans are immaterial for the movers and shakers! Nobody cares about them and their life.

“The powers that be” have shown the migrants many dreams and promised the moon; they were told that their life would improve and there will be happy days for all! Forget all these things, but even their hunger pangs were never reduced.

We were then sent by buses and trains, but we lost our way to get killed during the journey!

The poem ends on a strong note. The migrants say that we do not want alms, but at least others should honour their self-respect.

Taapsee has written the poem with great anguish. She has contained her rage but has been forthright in opening her mind on the subject.

But my question is why such a situation has come up in our nation? All the governments and the authorities have ignored even the basic needs of the city dwellers. The migration to cities has happened because there is work for everybody in large cities. But why nobody has bothered about the squalid conditions in the zopad patties- slums! How has my beloved India reached such a nadir?

Initial days after independence were euphoric. Everybody had high hopes, and we had a charismatic leader in Nehru and his abilities. But it appears that his leadership failed to put on the bright path of recovery of the loot by the British. Instead of concentrating on the nation, he was more interested in having a name for himself internationally. There were some significant initiatives like the building of dams, starting public sector factories and trying to improve the plight of farmers and the downtrodden. But in his time, our national pride took a beating.

Indira Gandhi brought that pride back, but she got embroiled in too much of politics which set us a couple of steps back- e.g. emergency! Rajeev Gandhi brought a notable change in going towards technology like computers. But in all the critical aspect of the common man was forgotten. One more thing happened all through was the population control. For some reason or the other, this vital aspect was totally ignored. Each government would make feel-good statements like “Our population is our strength.” It would be valid only we had the means to support and nurture the talent.

Though we have done reasonably ok, financially in the past couple of decades, we have mentally brushed aside the plight of this large group of people, who are now called “migrants” in our own country. As long as our roads, buildings, bridges were getting built, nobody even discussed the situation of these people. With their city jobs and schemes like MNREGA, they just survived. It was the unprecedented pandemic that brought out the grim reality from the closed minds of national psyche!

Friends, Taapsee has clearly and forcefully written about the “migrants” in their own nation. The following line appropriately sums up the situation in India.

हम तो बस प्रवासी है।क्या इस देशके वासी है।

We are only the travellers but are we the citizens of this nation? Jaihind!

No one Killed Jessica!


Jessica Lal

Manu Sharma Killed Jessica Lal in public, point-blank because she refused to serve him a drink as the bar she was attending as a bartender was closed! I have written in details about the case. The subject came in my mind because Manu Sharma was recently released after serving a sentence. It seems that in India if you are rich enough, you can avoid, delay or get a reduced punishment. You can literally get away with murder, pun intended!

There is a saying. Justice delayed is justice denied! In any society, crimes happen most of the times which are done on purpose, but sometimes accidents also occur. These accidents even end up in deaths, loss of property, and loss of opportunities. In every democratic society, they are supposed to follow the legal procedures to handle crime. The average human tendency is to escape the punishment altogether or at least try to get the least possible punishment. The police and the legal system are such that they look as if these have been designed for delays.

I read about Manu Sharma; he shot dead Jessica Lall more than twenty years back, in Delhi area. The date was 29th April 1999. I will not bother about exact dates because these are not important but the general time frame is important.

The incident occurred at two am. Mehrauli police station had registered an FIR at 4 am, after recording Shayan Munshi’s statement. Shayan was moonlighting with Jessica as a bartender and hardly knew the local language, Hindi. The police seized two empty cartridges and found that a black Tata Safari was missing from the party. The Tata Safari was taken from UP police on 2nd May. Three days later, the police arrested Amardeep Singh aka Tony Gill and Alok Khanna. Following their statements, police reached out to Sharma’s lawyer; on 6th June, Sharma surrendered. The police arrested ten others including a UP politician’s son, Vikas Yadav.

The charge sheet was filed on 3rd August. On 23rd November, the additional sessions judge framed charges against Sharma under IPC sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of the offence, or giving false information to screen offender) and 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), and Arms Act section 27.

So far, so good!

The trial began in May 2001, against nine accused, fast by our standard. The prosecution examined 101 witnesses and two court witnesses.

During the trial, Sharma was released on bail on several occasions until 11th November 2003, when the Delhi High Court dismissed his bail application, following which the Supreme Court too dismissed his special leave petition. The trial court was merrily offering him bail. I am Manu Sharma! He was telling the society, “Nothing is going to happen to me! What did that broad think of herself!”

In the background, different wheels had started turning. It began with the eye witness Shayan Munshi. He was either bought or threatened or both. For two bullets found at sight, the police created a new story that two different persons shot from two different revolvers. Manu’s shot had hit the ceiling. Shayan Mushi signed his statement, written in Hindi- the language he did not understand, or maybe he was coerced into signing.

On 21st February 2006, Sharma and the other accused were acquitted by the trial court. The trial court concluded that links in the chain of evidence were either missing or broken. The court held that the prosecution had miserably failed to bring home the guilt of the accused. The court accepted different theories and stories from the defence. The wheels were rotating fast to “misinterpret” things suitably so that all would be acquitted. It was supposedly a case where there was an eye witness.

The acquittal led to widespread public outrage, following which police submitted a status report to the Delhi High Court, which accepted it and took up as a fast-track case. Sharma was represented by Ram Jethmalani (now deceased) in the Delhi High Court and later in the Supreme Court.

On 18th December 2006, the High Court convicted Sharma observing that the trial court judgment was “an immature assessment of material on record which is self-contradictory, based on a misreading of material and conclusions were unsustainable”. The court sentenced Sharma to life, awarded lesser sentences to Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Gill, and acquitted six others.

Sharma appealed twice to the Supreme Court. In April 2010, the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and life term.

The case displayed the influence of media coverage on the case. It was highlighted by the Delhi High Court as well as the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court observed that various articles in the print media gave rise to unnecessary controversy and “apparently, had an effect of interfering with the administration of criminal justice”. The Supreme Court held “presumption of innocence is a legal presumption, and should not be destroyed at the very threshold through the process of media trial and that too when the investigation is pending”.

The society reflected its reaction when there was a movie made with the title “No One Killed Jessica!” The film shows frustration with the system. The world over there is corruption, is a known fact. But we get utterly disgusted when it is done blatantly. I have a slightly different take on the entire scenario. The High Court and the Supreme Court made stinging remarks about the interpretation made by the lower court. Is there any system by which the judge involved can be hauled to the court for moral corruption? If money has changed hands, it can not be small money. Or maybe the judge was also threatened to make an interpretation suitable to the perpetrator. I am assuming that it was a case of the judge being threatened. I am sure the High Court and Supreme Court can provide adequate protection to these judges. Instead of just passing the remarks if this route is followed, such blatant law-breaking will not happen.

Some good things have started to come out. Following the conviction by the High Court, a different Bench directed the government to create a witness-protection policy. I do not know how rigorously the suggestion has been followed. It also brings out the subject of temporary jobs. What were Jessica Lal and Shayan Munshi doing, working as temporary bartenders? I have nothing against bartenders. But people usually try and take up jobs suitable to their education and family background. From what I have read, there was no “need” for these two to take up this job. Or was it is the glamour of getting an opportunity of mingling with movers and shakers?

Jessica Lal’s sister was advised by many not to pursue the case as high and mighty were involved. Has the society come to such stage that killing of a human being can be just one of the incidents? It also throws light on the so-called “High Society”! The party was supposed to be a private party in the honour of Bina Ramani, the Club owner’s husband. But it was said that anybody who paid a certain amount could barge in! So much for a private party!

The recent proliferation of social media has done one thing. Such cases and blatant behaviours can not get hidden. They get exposed rapidly. On the other extreme, we have now what is called “Trial by Media”! That is the other extreme of hiding facts.

Will justice or resolution of court cases be decided by the size of your bank balance? I hope not. Let us try to create a just world where everyone will be equal in the court of law! Amen- this seems to be the right word to end the blog!

 

Suicide-that unfortunate act!


Sushant Singh Rajput died today due to the alleged suicide at home. He was 34 years. He came from a small town in Bihar, and his family was well to do! He had the looks, acting talent, zeal to succeed in life. The thought processes behind his smart and attractive face were not understood by anyone. The thinking of the people who unfortunately succeed in suicide is never known to anyone. In that sense, family and friends never have closure. The cross has to be borne by all others till the end.

Sushant Singh Rajput had scored an All India Rank of 7 in Delhi College of Engineering Entrance Examination in 2003. He then pursued Mechanical Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University) but dropped out in the third year of college to pursue acting. He was also a National Olympiad Winner in Physics. He cleared as many as eleven engineering entrance exams, including that for the ISM Dhanbad.

Good looking, decent family background, enthusiastic, successful career what more do you want. “joie de vivre” was the term used by an interviewer about him. What more do you ask from life? Life is never a bed of roses. There was a painful breakup with his fiancé. He had given up his engineering degree halfway to pursue his first love, acting. Or was it? Is it that he secretly wanted to become a software engineer? Was the loss of his mother, when he was 16 and appearing for his 12th board exam, an event that had a lasting effect on him? None of these questions will even be answered, and as I said, there will be no closure for near and dear ones. What an unfortunate way to go! After such an event, the question always remains WHY?

The human mind is impossible to predict and fathom. What happens behind that “happy happy” façade, none, even the spouses or close friends or parents are many times not able to judge. It appears as if everything is hunky-dory, and then suddenly, the downward spiral starts. It seems that he was facing depression since last six months. So there is no point in blaming the lockdown for the act. But friends, the lockdown is an unprecedented situation which can cause anxiety and depression amongst people. Close ones need to handle this aspect delicately but firmly too if required. There is a stigma attached to psychiatric treatment in our society. In the US they are a little more open about it, and people talk about their “Shrink”. It is an accepted norm that when we are physically unwell, we go and see the doctor. We perform the testing suggested and keep on taking regular treatment. But this does not happen so openly in case of mental illness- in fact, we do not want to use the term.


What should society do? Three things that everybody must try and follow. Be kind, show empathy and do not be judgemental while being a good listener. How should we handle if we find that someone’s behaviour has changed? There are telltale signs that we ignore. I will share a couple of incidents that I have handled. One was when I was under thirty and the other two when I had (hopefully) matured into a fifty-year-old.

I have changed the names in the incidents that I am sharing with you. I used to work in a factory in the late 70s of the last century. Ibrahim Bhai was our transport contractor, and had a couple of tempos and was a good businessman. He was very reliable. Ibrahim would chat with everybody in a friendly manner, and we had a good working relationship. Over a period, we observed that his demeanour had changed; he always appeared hyperactive. I felt that something was going wrong with him, as our relations were formal, I could not act beyond a limit. He started chatting only with me, as others were making fun.

I sent a message to his family that he needs some treatment, through another colleague, who knew his family. Next day his wife called and said, “My husband always talks about you at home, and I got your message. Whatever you suggest, we will do.” I told her that Ibrahim Bhai needed psychiatric treatment. To the credit of the lady, she immediately accepted it. I made an arrangement for an appointment with my psychiatrist friend. Over a period, Ibrahim started returning to normal. He once came to my office and thanked me profusely. He promised that he would continue the treatment as long as it is needed. Later I changed my job and lost touch with Ibrahim. I met him twenty years later. He looked older and tired but appeared to be mentally under control.

In my software business, we had hired an engineer, Dilip. Dilip was raw but willing to work; he appeared to be an introvert. I realised that he could not handle even the slightest work pressure. He would start stammering, brooding and sometimes crying. I suggested that he call his parents to my office. They both confirmed his behavioural pattern and were worried too! Again the help of the same doctor friend was taken. The engineer was not even 25 years of age. He improved over six months and slowly started taking responsibility. The first time I sent him alone to a customer, the customer’s team had to hospitalise him as he began to shiver and sweat profusely. He was released the next day. But slowly, he started managing work independently. When I closed my office a couple of years back, he was an ok performer and could take responsibility. But all through my senior colleague and I had to continue hand-holding. I hope he manages his life in future, but he just managed to improve about 40% of what he should have. I am glad that I was able to support him all through his tenure. But I always had my three-pronged strategy to help him.

Another example I had shared in a blog was about a brilliant friend, Ashok. Ashok had an anxiety attack and once came home to discuss it. Honestly, we were friends but not very close. He had felt like committing suicide during that attack. He and his wife felt that somehow I was the person who could help. After a long chat on the bank of a lake for about three hours, he was visibly relieved. He acted as per what we had discussed, and then his career simply took off, so did his life. My contribution was to be around, to listen to what he had to say; and hand-hold for a couple of months to help for course correction.

I had shared some thoughts in a blog below.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/our-personal-atm/

All of us have that Personal ATM in our life. We should look for that person and try to find the PATM. We go to an ATM when we need some cash. But the money we can withdraw is limited by bank rules and the balance in your account. Friends, do not forget that Personal ATM has an unlimited balance, and you have an active card ready to withdraw. Look around, and you will find yours.

WhatsApp Image 2020-06-16 at 19.12.54

I have written about the three things that ALL of us should follow. Be kind, show empathy and do not be judgemental while being a good listener. While living life, you find a troubled soul, do not go by outside façade, imagine yourself in his shoes, then you will be less judgemental. Empathy and being judgemental are inversely proportional. Show more empathy, you will be automatically less judgemental. Let us all try and prevent somebody becoming a Sushant Singh, the unfortunate, smiling and rising star!

Game Changer II!


GameChanger is an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something. I need not explain the title- the first game-changer was COVID 19 and the second is the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the US. Two game-changers in six months is something unprecedented. The world would have been happy if the first event, the COVID 19 pandemic, had not happened, or it was just a bad dream. But the second event was long overdue, but it took the death of a person to start the chain reactions.

George Perry Floyd Jr. (October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020) was an African-American man who was killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Protests in response to both Floyd’s death, and more broadly to police violence against black people, quickly spread across the United States and internationally.


On May 25, 2020, Floyd was arrested on a charge of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store in the Powderhorn Park neighbourhood of Minneapolis. According to the store clerk, the note was an obvious fake and Floyd had refused to return the purchased cigarettes when challenged.

He died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds during the arrest. Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street, while two other officers further restrained Floyd and a fourth prevented onlookers from intervening. For the last three of those minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse, but officers made no attempt to revive him. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him.

The blog would not be complete without the comprehensive video about the event. It is a nine-minute long video and contains violent, disturbing scenes. I had to watch it to understand the facts. The nonchalant way in which the white Police Officer acts is to be seen to be believed. From the information that came out, Floyd never resisted the arrest. So, why was he thrown on the ground? White superiority complex? After Floyd was cuffed, Chauvin the officer, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. It resulted in to choking and finally the death. Floyd all the time was saying, “I am facing breathing difficulty.” But Chauvin simply ignored him

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vksEJR9EPQ8&has_verified=1&bpctr=1592085699

The video was taken by a 17-year-old girl, a passerby. She never knew that she was filming a game-changer event! The trauma she must be going through is unimaginable. I hope she can overcome the shock over a period.

Southern States in the US had been the strong proponents of using African Americans as slaves for more than 100 years. In fact, the American civil war took place as the Northern States in the US were against slavery.

What does all this really mean, and why does this event look a game-changer? What is the background?

Discrimination due to caste, creed and colour is not new to this world. It has been happening all through the history of mankind. In our mythological stories, God- the good always has a fair colour, and the demons are still dark in any depiction. The Indian language word for this fair colour is GORA!

Disclaimer- I am going to mention a few things from human history, a subject in which my knowledge is minimal. I am using this knowledge to understand the basics of how the dark colour was looked in a bad light.

The society from olden times is depicted below in terms of four Varnas- they were Savarnas. Those who did not conform to these four Varnas were Avarna.

  • Shudras: labourers and service providers.
  • Vaishyas: agriculturalists and merchants.
  • Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators.
  • Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers.

Then there was the concept of purity and impurity. The society changed the meaning of the idea of purity and impurity to suit its acts. The thought process initially discussed moral issues. Those who followed the then correct ethical issues were pure, and others were impure. But over a period, those with fair skins were described as pure and superior; people with dark skins were considered impure and inferior.

The colour of our skin is dependent on melanin produced by skin cells when we are exposed to the Sun. The more the sun exposure, the more melanin is produced. It is a clear scientific explanation, but humans chose to ignore this information.

It is too simplistic an explanation to explain why Goras are considered a superior race. But this happens all over the world.

In Hinduism Lord Ram and Lord Krishna are shown in blue colour along with Lord Shiva. How do you explain this? The blue colour indicates HIS all-pervasive nature, blue being the colour of the infinite sky as well as the endless ocean on which he resides. The colour blue, therefore, symbolises the infinite and Vishnu is represented as an immense force. It is also symbolising his vastness as deep as the heavens.

If we consider human history, the explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, Columbus stumbled upon the Americas. He and his team were European Goras. The Europeans were excellent seafarers and were not afraid to take risks. Since they were always involved in wars, they had better weapons than others. After they reached the Americas, the sequence was simple. They overcame the physical resistance by better weapons. Natives of the lands where they reached would always think that they were Gods, due to their skin colour. The Europeans developed the lighter skin colour due to cold weather which restricted their outdoor activity in the Sun. The exposure to the Sun was less due to geography. These European were “Gods” all the dark natives were treated as demons. For centuries, the thought process was embedded in the human mind. The dark-skinned people, who were conquered, were used as manual bonded labour. Goras were treated as owners of the dark labour force.

But mind you, very similar thought process had developed in India too, and the concept of land-owners or Zamindars has been prevalent for a long time.

Is Floyd event going to try and reverse the history for last thousand years? There is no question that the dark-skinned humans have been treated shabbily all through the past. But a trend to take down statues of various people including that of Columbus in Boston and many other cities looks a bit far fetched. Was Columbus famous for capturing of bonded labour or he was the person who discovered the Americas? A statue of a person in Bristol was also dumped in the sea. The person was a slave trader, more than one thousand years back. He used to bring slaves from Africa. The statue from day one was controversial. The person was directly involved in the slave trade.

Those persons like Columbus who “found” the new landmasses (they existed, but we did not know about them.) People like him and then the Britishers, Dutch became colonisers. There was Chengis Khan who wanted to expand his empire! These people “overcame” the “natives”! The act was about expanding the horizons of the realms. They conquered the land. Even if the people in those wars had been Goras, they would have expanded; so it was not about the colour of the skin. (Second world war- Germany vs France and Britain was not about slaves.)

I feel that we should be looking after the interest of people, the freedom for people and respect for people should be given irrespective of the skin colour. When the dark people are smart, they overcome these hurdles easily. But when one “Gora” and the other dark-skinned average persons are pitted against each other, people go into a stereotyping mode. The Gora is assumed to be smarter, but that is not the case. Unless such thinking changes, the clashes of civilisation will continue!

 

Reincarnation!


Dictionary meaning of reincarnation is a new version of something from the past. Atheist Pramod has changed his colour like a Chameleon. After all, he has to survive in this world; many people believe in reincarnation and rebirth. It is better to conform to the majority opinion. What about the previous blogs where the expression was always against such thoughts.

Okay, do not worry; there is no change of heart, but the good old atheist Pramod is still around. I am using the word incarnation, which correctly means what I want to say. I am talking about today’s global situation caused by the pandemic. The change that happened in this world is unprecedented. There are some good and new things to be learned and if possible old ones to be deleted as described in computer language. According to Satya Nadella, Microsoft boss, the proliferation of video conferencing apps has happened so fast that, according to his estimate, the growth that took place in two months would have taken two years in the ordinary course.

Each country had its ways of understanding the situation. Based on their understanding (or misunderstanding), they applied the lockdown. In some cases, it was rigid, and in others, it was flexible. The end results have been varied. These figures below are dated today.


These are the figures I have taken from a tracker today morning. All the countries except India have high death percentage. Why is it so? I will never claim that India has the most disciplined people. India has the worst medical infrastructure that may be in par with Brazil on the list. But most countries have started “opening up,” the same as India. India of low death rates is opening up along with high death rate countries. It is because of the fear that economically no country can now afford to take any further shocks. These countries forgot that India had started the Lockdown early or on time!

I am using the word reincarnation for this change. Since I do not believe in reincarnation, I do not know what should be the difference between the first and the second avatar. But I feel that the change should be a game-changer. New Zealand and Australia have managed to control the pandemic war the best. New Zealand has become the first Corona free country. But what I read about the first day in New Zealand, the Corona free day, is a bit scary. Every restaurant, mall and public area is full of crowds. Social distancing norms are not required to be followed as per government directive. But is it the right thing to do? Where is the reincarnation? The society has been declared Corona free, does it really mean that there are no asymptomatic cases? When such cases can create problems, should we be totally going back to normal? One thing is for sure that indeed, a second wave could come and then we could be caught on the wrong foot. What happens if you do not go to a restaurant or a mall or a stadium? Heavens are not going to fall!

Every society or the nation has to make its decisions based on their knowledge and expertise. England with a large number of cases, even today, has decided to go ahead with cricket series with the West Indies. Okay, WI did not have much of an issue with COVID. But England still has the problem. The measures mentioned as SOP are very tight; at every stage, there will be COVID testing. I do not have the details, but I am sure that at least the matches would be played in an empty stadium. The act of holding a series while infection levels are high could be either wise or stupid! It could be at the best bravado. Why the England board take this decision? Why the British government gave them the go-ahead? Is playing matches to the empty stadiums an incarnation? I think every sporting event is performed to provide joy to the people. People’s involvement is the key to any sporting event. I had travelled to Melbourne, Australia in, 2015 to see the Cricket World cup final! Did we enjoy the game? There were 92 thousand plus people present for the match. But today’s situation may force reincarnation on us.


We, humans, are social animals. We need to see each other and talk to each other. When we meet, we shake hands, give a hug or say Namaste, the Indian style. Some prefer Adab too! In the reincarnation, the preferred method should be Namaste and Adab. Some may prefer an elbow bump or a leg bump, but this could be more amongst friends.


Why are we in a hurry to go back to the olden days instead of doing something which will be more correct to avoid future health issues? But it all depends on the social fabric. Only Japan has been disciplined in health matters. Whenever a Japanese person catches a cold, he/she will move around with a mask. It is the discipline taught at home, or school or in the society in general. When the football world cup was played in Brazil, a significant contingent of Japanese had travelled to see the matches. Japanese had a section of every stadium dedicated to them. Brazilians were shocked when they observed that the Japanese spectators cleaned their portion of the stadium spic and span, after each match. So if the society has good habits like the Japanese, go back to what you have been doing otherwise..


Some governments currently follow the advice of the experts, and others do not comply. When we do not follow the expert opinion, the country ends up in numbers like the US, rapidly. To achieve personal freedom, many states in the US are opening up due to pressure from the population. The result is there for us to see. On top of that, the Floyd killing issue has created another pandemic, that of public unrest. For protesting against the police, the people are coming out in large numbers where the social distancing norms are tossed out of the window.

In the high-density cities like Mumbai and Delhi, social distancing is just on paper. The Indian government and the local governments need to go into reincarnation mode and see how this is avoided in future. Maybe they have to build a large number of low-cost homes for people. In today’s times, people are helpless. They stay in such tricky conditions just to earn their living. Nobody likes to live in the circumstances that we see in Dharavi’s of this world.

So, friends, reincarnation is not mandatory as long as it goes with the need of the hour. We must have habits which will be useful in case of future pandemics as and when they hit us like a Tsunami. Learn to take things seriously like many so-called “poor” countries did, as against the casual approach of the “rich” countries.

https://summit.news/2020/03/12/mayor-of-florence-encouraged-italians-to-hug-a-chinese-before-coronavirus-pandemic-hit/

Read the above link. The Mayor of Florence in Italy started a stunt asking the citizens to go to the airport and “Hug the Chinese”! It was this cavalier attitude of the Mayor that led to a wildfire spread of COVID in Italy. Learn to take things seriously. One act by the Mayor spread the pandemic!

 

Too Busy to Enjoy!


A friend shared her experience, which made me think. They lived in Worli, Mumbai on the 19th floor bang opposite their windows was the Arabian sea. A couple of her friends had come to stay with them for a few days. Just before leaving for the train station, the guest said, “Oh! There is the sea out there. You have a nice view.” For the duration of their stay, they never observed the sea. Come on; you cannot miss the sea. The guests lived in a city which was far away from the sea.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is the idiom that comes to mind. In dictionaries, the usage of the word beauty is explained as

  • the qualities in a person or thing that as whole give pleasure to the senses
  • the beauty of the landscape along the coast was enough to take your breath away

Some enjoy the beauty in the smallest things, and others miss the ocean in front of the eyes. Why is that so? It could be that some of us are too engrossed in trying to find out the next meal! It could be that some of us are too busy arranging the meal for the seventh generation, down the lane- engrossed in making money! Some of us need to have alcoholic support to enjoy tête-à-tête with a friend. For a person like me, meeting a friend gives me a high! But experiencing something beautiful comes naturally. The most beautiful thing is the smile of a child who starts recognising its mother. Nothing can beat the innocent smile. Would there be people in this world who do not enjoy this smile? Yes, there would be! What are such people made up of is difficult to judge! My favourite Q! Is it in their DNA? Are they born with this defect? If that is so, then they are most unfortunate.


We see many people with lines on their forehead! Their brows are always indicating that they have to carry the load of the universe. People forget that they can do serious work, meaningful work, but for that, they need not take themselves seriously. You may be discussing the theory of nuclear energy or talking about military strategy, but during lunch or tea break, you can always share a joke or two. You might see some birds in the vicinity; and you may get a lovely drizzle, enjoy it.

There is a story that shows the thinking of people. We had a family friend living close by, in Pune. He was a nice person, but he had a different way of thinking. In Pune, we generally have beautiful temperate weather. For a week in monsoon, a couple of weeks in summer weather is not comfortable. Whenever I spoke to him, I would ask him how he was. Depending on the time of the year, he would reply, “Oh, it is so hot!” “Oh, it is so Cold!” “Oh, there is so much rain!” Surprisingly, these statements were made about Pune weather.

I will share with you a few things I have enjoyed in life. In our younger days, we always had a cat at home. One of them was smart. She had a few deliveries in our home. The cats change places where they keep the babies, till the kittens start moving on their own. The smarty would shift only one of the babies, and she expected us to move the other babies. We thought that we were smarter than her and shifted the kittens to a new place; it was a pre-emptive move on our part. Smarty did not like this. She moved one of the kittens to the first place and followed us in the house. We were wondering why she was following us. Then we saw what she had done. Then we moved all remaining kittens to the first place. She stopped following us and went to sleep with the kittens. It was a sight to see the cat teaching her kittens to catch small mice in our garden.

You do not need to go to Tajmahal, Niagara Falls or St Moritz to enjoy the beauty. These are of course beautiful, but in smaller things also you can enjoy. You must enjoy the paintings of Picasso, Rembrandt and Hussain but do not forget that HE is the most celebrated painter on the earth, he offers art show every day if you have an eye for it. It is free. We enjoy that show from our balcony every day! Who can paint better than HIM?

Now there is a trend to take holidays, and we travel with tour organisers. They spin you around for seven to thirteen days. When we take this option, we try to see that the coordinators do not have a hectic schedule. Also, we check in advance that they allow us to spend a day or two on our own. We want to enjoy at our pace, at the same time we want to soak into the beauty in our way.

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In St Moritz, Switzerland, they had suggested that we go and enjoy the beauty of four peaks in a day which included Matterhorn. We did only two. We spent a lot of time at Matterhorn. We believe in soaking into the beauty at our pace!

We have a home where we lived for about seven years. It is a row house. There we have a garden, and there was greenery. We used to have an adda of friends quite regularly, having tea-coffee and Gappa. We had garden chairs and a table under the shade of trees. When the chairs were full, there was a platform to sit on. I remember sessions after sessions of Gappa even in monsoon during a drizzle. It is the atmosphere, it is the ambience, and it is most important how you want to seek the beauty with which you are surrounded. In Madikeri resort jungle, I would enjoy early morning tweets by birds. I was hoping to find in vain the sequence in which different birds tweet- I never succeeded. I thought that they chirped at random- it only showed that my knowledge of the subject was poor!

Our life is full of ups and downs but we need to handle it in such a way that we find good stuff from what is around you. Do not shut eyes when at home; to enjoy the beauty of the world we do not necessarily have to travel. When you can find good things from the world around you, you improve your life’s balance sheet by making entries to the credit side!