Twenty years hence! 

I was just wondering how the world will look twenty years hence. There is a major change going on in the world called industry 4.0! What jobs will be available, and what businesses could lose out? It is difficult to tell, at the same time, it is not so difficult. Robotics, AI are two game changers which are already on the horizon for ordinary people, but for techies, these are already around for some time. Will there be any bloggers after twenty years? Yes, they will be there, but there is good chance that I will not be around.  

So here we go! 

  1. Call Centre operators 
    1. We have already seen the BOTS (Web Robot) operating 
    2. Many times when we talk to toll-free numbers with Amazon, Flipkart et al. we are talking to BOTS. They are trained to answer standard questions based on our identity and our discussion history. Their “brain” gets updated as we call more. In case we ask some information which they cannot answer, AI trains them to say “Could you hold on for a minute? I will transfer the call to my supervisor.” The supervisor could be a human being, giving support to 20/30 such BOTS. 
  2. Automobile drivers 
    1. Companies are going very strong in creating technology for driverless cars. Such vehicles are already plying in certain areas in the US. Amazon is already using driverless trucks to transport their goods. Google’s Waymo and GM are two companies that are way ahead of their competitors. Over a period, there is a good possibility that the requirement for drivers will go down drastically. 
  3. Accountants 
    1. AI and Blockchain technologies together are creating business solutions that do the work of charter accountants. The data entry and the checking are rule-based. The rules don’t change every day, but even if they change, there are methods which will take care of these changes. It could be one profession that could get replaced fast.
  4. Bank Tellers 
    1. All of us are observing this phenomenon for some time. ATM card proliferation is taking place exponentially. People can withdraw money from any ATM. But in future, it can so happen that you may not need to withdraw money. My son Sachin who lives in the US rarely has any cash with him. Most places he pays by credit card. On the petrol pumps, I have seen him paying by using the RFID device for more than ten years. In India, recently, RFID tags are introduced to pay the toll on highways.  
  5. Travel agents 
    1. Travel agents? What is that? I have been buying all my travel requirements on various websites. I don’t remember when I last purchased travel tickets from an agent. It includes bus journeys too!  
  6. Newspaper delivery guys 
    1. Internationally, people have reduced buying the newspapers drastically. The print volume has gone down so much that it is no more viable to print the newspaper. Small newspapers are slowly shutting shop, and the large ones will also follow suit. In India, we are still lucky that readership is still manageable. But the trend of people getting their news on TV and the Internet is already set in!  
  7. Journalists 
    1. When there are no newspapers, what is the need for conventional journalists? Everybody will be reporter in future. The news organisations will need to check the authenticity of the news items. But with vastly improved cell phone cameras, video proofs are available.  
  8. Telemarketers 
    1. Robots will replace the telemarketers, the same as in the case of call centre operators, with one human managing large number of robots.  
  9. Referees 
    1. What will the referees do in sports events? The vast number of cameras capture each action, including fouls, no-balls in cricket, shuttle falling outside court in badminton. These technologies are already there. The role of umpires and referees will be significantly reduced. 
  10.  Assembly line workers 
    1. We have observed this happening for quite some time. The robots have been doing a lot of things. The advantage of robots is they usually don’t make mistakes, and they have no mood changes. They are never on holiday or don’t take sick leave, suddenly. 

This list can go on and on. But I am also going to write about businesses closing down.  

  1. Petroleum Business
    1. Currently, this is one of the biggest businesses in the world. With the advent of electric vehicles, the requirement of these products will drastically reduce. Trials are already being done on electric aeroplanes and boats. These developments will reduce the petroleum product requirement further. The demand for EV’s also will be forced by the need for better environmental pollution control.  
  2. Coal 
    1. Coal business is going to go down over a period for the same reason, pollution. Non-conventional energy-producing methods like solar, wind and nuclear power are set to push aside coalbased energy production. Over a period, the coalbased power plants will have to shut down, along with that the coal mines. 
  3. Law business 
    1. It is already seen that AI can give law advice easily. IBM’s Watson has proven this. Law decisions are based on the laws and rules; it also is dependent on the previous interpretation of the law. AI can easily combine these twto advise customers.  
  4. Automobile servicing and repair business 
    1. As the electric vehicles are used in large numbers, the requirement for shops giving these services will come down in a big way. The IC engine cars have more than 2000 parts in the drive train. Whereas in the EV, the drive train has about 18 items. Only the electric motors have the moving parts. Hence, the repairs and maintenance work will be as good as zero in the drive train. 
    2. The IC engine drive train has parts that are manufactured by forging, casting, rolling and heat treatment processes. These processes form a large percentage of the primary engineering industry. These industries employ a vast number of people. As the requirement goes down, there will be no growth. There will be a big slump. There will be slump in the industry, making machines and machinery required for these core engineering businesses.  
  5. Cigarette  
    1. Now people have realised that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. It is not just a government slogan. Younger people have reduced smoking of tobacco products as well as their E equivalents. It is one industry that will go down, but it is good for the human race. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption does not show sign of reducing.   

What is the reason for writing the blog? Well, the writing is on the wall, but we fail to see it, many times. People who are in the process of joining the workforce should think before joining any industry. Seniors should advise young people based on the information shared.

The list is not exhaustive, and many more jobs and industries could end up on this list. It is a good idea to keep track of such information to avoid obsolescenceTake care! Keep your eyes and ears open!  

 

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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Slowdown! Recession and the cycle! 

Economic cycleThe science of economy is something which I don’t understand, seriously! Noble laureates give their theories, experts write essays, but an engineer like me understands only physics. Whatever goes up must come down! It is the theory of gravity. Sometimes it goes up slowly and comes down fast with a thud. Sometimes both speeds are similar. Economic growth goes up swiftly and comes down slowly sometimes. India has been lucky that it came out of the 2008 recession reasonably unscathed and bounced back for the last eight years to a decent growth rate of 6 to 8%.

Many factors lead to growth. Similarly, different factors slow down the economy. These factors are market sentiment, buying power, and so on; the Indian economy since independence did not show correct growth due to a parallel economy. The parallel economy, in the local language, is called Black Money. What is black money, and how does it get generated? Many businesses like construction, land dealings, trade pay each other by cash. Cash payment is made to avoid Income Tax. A part of business activity is never shown on paper. When there is “no business” there is no profit hence no Income Tax. The parallel economy also grew because of unprecedented corruption activity. Nobody takes bribe by cheque, so spending is also done in cash.

In some cases, corruption is in kind by gifting condos, high-end cars, or items which can be bought in cash. Such gifting is done in the name of non-earning spouse or a relative. In Many cases, such assets are “Benami” assets in the name of one’s sweepers, peons and drivers. In a recent interview, Mahindra & Mahindra Chairman Anand Mahindra said that the economy has been going through a process of ‘detoxification’. Since the negative impact of disruptions is now over, the economy is expected to see an upside in FY21, Bloomberg TV reported Chairman Mahindra as saying at an event in Davos, Switzerland. “The prime minister has been quite obsessed with the kind of growth he wants, and that is transparent, free of corruption” Mahindra also said. He also felt that the upcoming budget is expected to be watched closely by different quarters of the economy amid the slowdown.

The Indian economy is seeing a slowdown for some time now on account of a fall in consumption and demand. The government announced a slew of measures in the past few months to revive growth ranging from bank recapitalisation and boost in liquidity.

The perception right now is that government actions caused the slowdown. But on the other hand, if you are going to detox yourself, you always have a process of cleansing before you start recovering and running again. Demonetisation and GST were the part of disruptions that have now ended, and the economy is already seeing signs of life. From the next fiscal, India will surprise the world on the upside is the general market sentiment.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently slashed the growth estimates for both the Indian and the global economy. The global growth is expected to reach 3.3 per cent in 2020, compared to 2.9 per cent in 2019, the slowest pace since the financial crisis a decade ago. The Washington-based international crisis lender revised downward India’s GDP growth projection to 4.8 per cent for FY20 and 5.8 per cent for FY21. “India’s domestic demand has slowed more sharply than expected amid stress in the non-bank financial sector and a decline in credit growth,” the IMF report said.

Detoxification had to be done. It has not eliminated black money. But the reports say that it is reduced to some degree. The government is relentlessly after the businesses and businessmen who have cheated their customers and banks. People like Modi and Mallya are in jail in Britain. Other business people like Sahara Subrata Roy, D S Kulkarni, Wadhawan are in prison. Unitech projects have been taken over by the government to give homes to 21000 people like you and me. The authorities did not have the guts to detoxify the banking system in olden days. The detoxification process has started bringing out huge NPA’s (non-performing assets) of many banks. These NPA’s were created with the help of bank employees sometimes. But many times, the businessmen cheated the banks. Under the garb of hidden NPA’s our economy was “doing well”. When the cleansing act began a few years back, the loan sanctioning processes became a little tougher. The result of more scrutiny was that credit availability came down. When the available credit comes down, business activity slows down. It is a spiral that any economy dreads. But system correction was a must.

recession1recession2

Growth any any country cannot be perpetually high. As the base increases rate of growth is bound to come down.

On one side, the automotive industry has slowed down, but there are reasons like availability of Ola’s and Uber’s of this world. But there is a surprise that the SUV introduced by KIA is selling like hotcakes. There is going to be one more hurdle here; the government is pushing for Electric Cars or initially more efficient IC Engine Hybrid cars. These cars will be more expensive than current IC Engine cars; the young generation is now changing their thought process. They don’t buy cars, but prefer Uber and Ola; they rent homes instead of buying homes. India has now become number two in the world behind China for the Smart Phone market. Spending ways are changing.

I am happy about this downturn for another reason. Gita Gopinath from IMF explained that the Indian recession has caused a 0.1 % reduction in the growth rate in the world economy. It indicates that India is not a small cog in the world economic wheel. At the same time, she has also said that the worst for the Indian economy is over, and it will start the upward movement in growth rate from this year 2020! The statement will disturb some people because they hoped that bad times would continue. Each group has his/her agenda! Some for political reasons and others for TRP reasons! The lousy news is THE news!

Indian economic experts had made similar predictions and statements! But we believe in someone who sits in cool climes; even if the person is desi, it is okay! Old habits die hard!

I have observed an interesting thing in international diplomacy. Turkey and Malaysia had no business to poke their nose in the internal affairs of India. They made some statements which were not necessary. When India protested, they continued in the same vein expecting the docile Indian response of yester years. But they must have got a shock of their life. India kicked them where it really hurts. India had ordered one ship worth US $2.2/ billions, on Turkey; it was put on hold. For Malaysia, India was the most significant customer of refined palm oil. A few hints here and there, the purchase pattern changed within a few months. Indian traders switched over to Indonesian palm oil. Malaysia was shocked, and they have no option but to accept it. Their prime minister accepted that Malaysia is too small to retaliate. They are trying to offer some sweet deals to India. But India is ignoring them.

Friends, in the economy of any country and for that matter world, there are always cycles of growth and downturn. A downturn can be because of market sentiments, inflation and sometimes the combination of two, stagflation. The experts of every country find ways that suit their economy. Japan for years is not doing great because of their efficient methods of working. The Japanese markets are too small for some of their giants like Toyota, Honda, Docomo. They have no option but to export and open plants in different countries. The German case is also like Japan because its economy is entirely dependent on the exports of superb engineering products. The economies of different countries are now changing from a global open market to the one which is suitable for own requirements. The US has become a leader of such self centered thoughts.

It is going to be a game of diplomacy where each country will look for ways which will be to their benefit only. Brexit is a latest classic example of this thought process. In each country, the opposition plays the political games of troubling the incumbent governments. Whichever is the government in any country, they can make mistakes, but they all put the interest of the country ahead of everything else.

For commoners like you and me, it is necessary to be remember that economic activity is a cyclic process. It goes down and then it bounces back; we need not worry about these issues.

 

 

 

 

Instant Heroes! 

Darwin must be smiling in his grave! His theory is proving right.  

Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (born in the 19th century) and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.  

Lately, it seems that humans can achieve things much faster and at a very early age. I remember Nadia Comaneci attain great heights in gymnastics at the age of 14 by scoring ten on ten in an event in the Montreal Olympics. Sachin Tendulkar started to play top-level cricket at the age of 16 and went on breaking all the records in the world by playing till he was forty.  

But these examples show the physical evolution of humans. But lately, it seems that intellectual growth is also happening very fast. Or is it really happening? Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg have suddenly become the intellectual instant heroes of today’s time. At the ripe old fourteen and sixteen, these two girls appear to have become prime experts about girls’ education and environmental issues. Malala has reached the top as she was awarded Nobel prize at the ripe age of 17 along with India’s Kailash Satyarthi! I call them social media heroes. Kailashji has done his work for water conservation for more than 45 years.  

Malala started writing some blogs about girls education. According to me, it was an essay, at the age of eleven or twelve. She wrote it anonymously. I am sure it was a good essay commensurate with her age. She wrote it on BBC Urdu. The subject of the piece was her life under the Taliban Occupation of Swat in Pakistan. The following summer a New Yorkbased journalist made a documentary on her. She lost her anonymity. Sometime later, while going to school on a bus, Taliban shooters attacked her. A bullet hit her in the head. Pakistani authorities airlifted her to a hospital in Rawalpindi. She was stabilised there and was further taken to Birmingham, England. By god’s grace, she survived. My question is there are so many such attacks by the Taliban in Pakistan, why only Malala was airlifted to Rawalpindi. I am happy for her that she survived. Then a German newspaper took fancy for her story. In Pakistan, many such Malala’s and Yousuf’s get hit by terrorist bullets; some survive, and many of them die. But why did people took up fancy for the media and social media stories! Is it because we lack good news in today’s times?  

I have no issue whatsoever that she got the best of the treatment and survived. Many more such actions should be taken to save lives. The German newspaper called her the most well-known teenager in the world. Somehow she got permission to continue living in the UK. Some NGO took her cause and created Malala fund for Right to Education with the help of the organisationAt the age of sixteen, she coauthored a book, I am Malala. Well, we know the meaning of coauthoring. The NGO and the author use Malala’s name to make her famous and “intellectual”She was awarded Nobel prize in 2014. She was in the list of most influential people of the list of Time magazine for 2013/2014/2015. The Canadian government gave her honorary citizenship. Now living in the safe climate of the UK, she provides “advice” or gives her expert opinion on how things should be done in Pakistan. How is India wrong in applying changes in article 370 on Kashmir. It is good that the Indian government ignored her comments. Who is Malala to tell India what to do? Is Malala a real genius? Do you get the world view on serious matters because the Nobel prize committee thinks that you are a genius?  

Now take the case of Greta Thunberg from Sweden. She was born in the year 2003 and first understood about environmental issues in the year 2011. Well, well! At the age of 8 if you know such a complex problem as environmental issues, then you have to be a genius. Darwin is proven right again. For two years, she challenged her parents about the environmental footprint. A book recounting this story of this family was published in the year 2018. 

In late 2018, Thunberg began the school climate strikes and public speeches for which she has become an internationally recognised climate activist. Her father does not like her missing school but said, “We respect that she wants to make a stand. She can either sit at home and be unhappy, or protest, and be happy”. Thunberg says her teachers are divided in their views about her missing class to make her point. She says: “As people, they think what I am doing is good, but as teachers, they say I should stop.” In July 2019, Time magazine reported Thunberg was taking a “sabbatical year” from school, intending to travel in the Americas while meeting people from the climate movement.  

It looks as if no one else is doing any work on this subject. Thunberg gets an invitation to speak at a UN conference! She gets to lead an environmental protest march in Montreal, Canada where 50000 people took part in the march. Greta gets awards from Sweden, France, Germany. She is amongst the 100 most influential people in the world. December 2019, she is on Time magazine cover.  

I am all okay with this. Is the world looking for instant heroes? I am surprised that she is not yet been awarded the Nobel prize. Some organisations and individuals are doing a lot of work in this area. But awards are suddenly being given to a sixteen-year-olds! Darwin is again proven correct! Is it?  

She understands the subject, and she is an excellent speaker. But does that mean that she has contributed so much that the whole world is giving her awards! She is a sixteen-year-old with a lot of enthusiasm and good oratory! All the other people working in this area for a long time have not contributed anything, it seems.  

Very similar things are happening about CAA/NRC in India. How many people know about what is happening? Suddenly students from some universities have started protesting against the same. I am happy about protests, but I am not pleased about protesters who do not know the subject. They go by Facebook messages and WhatsApp messages. These social media messages travel fast. I am very confident that 95% of the students do not understand the subject. They start protesting with half-baked knowledge. It took me a few days of detailed study to understand these subjects. The students go by the herd mentality.  

Social media makes instant heroes out of the student’s protests these days. But I am of the firm opinion that Nadia, Sachin is rarity any field You may add Boris Baker to this list.

But Malala and Greta are creations of the media and social media. NGO’s and some author has used Malala’s name for their benefit! The same thing appears to be happening in the case of Greta! Darwin or no Darwin, I don’t think that children start to understand complex things from the age of eight, ten or eleven!

Please share your views on this subject with me!  

NRC – National Register of Citizens

NRC is the National Register of Citizens. The idea behind writing the blog was to make people aware of the overall scenario. During the year after independence, different situations have been existing. We started as a developing nation. In Nehru’s times, dams and Public sector companies came up. In Indira Gandhi’s time, we showed the courage to break Pakistan in two. But this act created its problems.  Rajiv Gandhi brought in computerisation. Narasimha Rao made the Indian economy open to the world.

A significant influx of refugees and people persecuted by the Pakistan army had started in early 1971. The movement of people began during the times leading to the 1971 Bangla Desh war. These people included both Muslims and Hindus. Majority of these were from lower financial strata and low social status. During such movement during the partition, the concept of India was just at the formation stage. There was no stable government, nor was the big army to handle a war-like situation. Hundreds of thousands of people, both Hindu and Muslims, were killed in the riots. There were huge refugee camps in northern India. Some of the refugees travelled down to Mumbai and Pune.  

It took years for these people to come to normalcy. But when a similar thing happened before and after the 1971 war, reactions have been different. People of the North-Eastern states had not merged with Indian culture even after 20 years of independence. They had their grievances, especially the people from Assam. They felt overwhelmed by the influx of both Hindus and Muslims from Bangla Desh and West Bengal. Assamese felt that their culture would be submerged in the Bengali culture. The exodus was the starting point of the discontent in North-Eastern states.  

I am not going to into various acts that have been promulgated, modified and remodified. It suffices to say that the problems of “outsiders” coming to India and going into North-Eastern states have started from 1950. Even today, people in other parts of India consider the Indians from these areas as “Chinese” because of their Mongolian features. Assimilation is not complete even today. It is because of the different cultures and physical attributes. There have been agitations and accords galore, especially in Assam. Assamese do not want anybody from “India” to go to those areas. They are afraid that “outsiders” will grab their opportunities, and grab the land and business.  

The agitations have been continuous, resulting in significant unrest in the year 1979. This agitation continued for six years.  

Given this continuing influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam, suddenly a group of student leaders in 1979 came out in fierce protest demanding detention, disenfranchisement and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam. The events quickly developed into a mass movement which came to be known as Assam Agitation or Assam Movement led by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) and lasted six years. It was considered by various intellectuals and media forums as one of the most challenging mass movement in the history of the world led by students’ union, this six-year-long agitation left behind thousands of bleeding hearts, and bloodstained fields. The movement culminated in the signing of a landmark Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) – the Assam Accord, between the agitating parties & the Union of India on 15 August 1985, at the behest of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi. 

The accord ended the agitation, but illegal immigration continued. There have been discussions about different cut-off points. They kept on changing due to various modifications in the acts. The actions of locating illegal immigrants kept on happening sporadically.  

The process of detecting and expelling immigrants suffered from teething problems for a considerable amount of time. The first attempt to systematically identifying foreigners by updating the National Register in Assam was through a Pilot Project which was started in two circles. 

The first attempt started in Kamrup district. The second one in  Barpeta district in the year 2010, which had to be aborted within four weeks amidst a massive law and order problem involving a mob attack on the Office of the IAS Commissioner, Barpeta that resulted in police firing killing four persons. For a long time, since the bitter experience in the pilot project, NRC update was considered almost an impossible task by the government agencies. 

It is here that the Supreme Court of India stepped in, the year was 2013, in regards to two writ petitions. Supreme Court has taken it forcefully and made sure that the work was taken up earnestly. But when the government of Assam started the job, they understood the enormity and complexity of the task. The staff went to each family with forms; six persons per family was the norm for the form. If the family was bigger, more forms were required. Supreme Court said that the speed of collecting the data was too slow. I will not go into details of how and what computer system was developed. It was a modern system which could be used both online and offline. It was essential as the Internet was a big problem. Many people were required to upload old documents as proof. Cell phone OTP’s were for people in India and for those who were outside India on travel, could connect using email. Writing about the creation of this system can itself be a subject for one blog.  

Finally, when NRC created the list, 20 lacs people did not have correct documents hence were declared illegal.  In the list majority were Hindus. The finding created significant unrest. The current government had already announced that India should be the land for Hindus of the world on similar lines like Israel is the land for Jews. 

CAA would facilitate Hindus from the list to become citizens from a particular cut off date. But Assamese don’t want this change. They are looking for much earlier cut-off time because they don’t wish to have so many outsiders to become legal citizens.  

Supreme court had given direction to make a list without considering the religion of the individual. Government has now passed a law based on faith.  

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/cab-now-called-caa/ 

My previous blog about CAB/CAA and this blog about NRC hopefully has cleared many doubts in the minds of the people. There is one more complexity that the government wants to apply NRC all over India. North-Eastern states don’t want permanent outsiders in their states. Now Meghalaya has requested the Central Government to shield them with ILP- Inner Line Permit. ILP is needed by even you and me if we want to visit these states as tourists.  

As I have understood, the situation is too complicated for the general public to understand. Students and political parties are opposing it and have come on the roads rioting. I don’t know how many understand the real situation. 

 

 

 

 

CAB, now called CAA! 

CAB-CAA today has a different meaning than the conventional definition. CAB means Citizenship Amendment Bill and CAA is Citizenship Amendment Act. Here is a disclaimer. I am neither a constitutional expert nor am I a Supreme Court lawyer. I am an ordinary citizen of India like crores of others. I have tried to write in a manner without writing about complexities (there are too many) because I am not an expert. I am also not an intellectual. People like Doctors, Engineers, Architects are not intellectuals. You have to be born intellectual and be educated at JNU, Oxford, Harvard in political science, finance, or at least history! Sometimes Geography is also okay!

CAB was passed in Rajya Sabha on the 11th December after Lok Sabha passed it on the previous day and became CAA the next day; it became law as the President signed the necessary documents. Citizenship, migration is the phenomena of the 20th Century. Before that period,  travel was tough, and a comparatively small number of adventurous people migrated and settled in different countries. The journey from one part of the country to another part was tough. Hence the laws and rules of migration and citizenship have been comparatively recent phenomena.

India was never a single country as we see it today. There were Rajas of various small and big states. I am not sure how people travelled in those days from place A to place B. Hyderabad was a big state under the Nizam. The procedure and documentation involved in going into Hyderabad from outside are not known to me. Was the visa required before independence? After the independence “India” was split into two nations. Bharat and Pakistan (West and East) were created based on religious majority. India had a Hindu majority, and Pakistan had a Muslim majority. Creation of Bangla Desh in 1971 created a significant flux in Eastern India. Many people from erstwhile East Pakistan moved to India and moved to West Bengal/Assam. These people were both Hindus and Muslims.

The partition in 1947 created the first sizeable Hindu nation of the world. The first principle of citizenship is if you are born in a country where your parents and grandparents were born, you automatically become a citizen of that country. The US is a nation formed by migrants. So even today, there is a law in the US that if a child is born on US soil, the child automatically gets US citizenship. They do not bother about the citizenship status of the mother. She can be alien too!

India applies a similar law of citizenship, and those who lived in India at the time of partition automatically became citizens of India. Those like me who were born just after partition also became a citizen of India by birth. This law applies to all the people of irrespective of their religion. India used the same law before and after the CAB bill came into existence. My point is that there is a significant discussion going on, that this bill is against the Muslims, is not correct. The bill has nothing to do with Muslims who are already citizens of India, like me. Such propaganda and discussion are incorrect. I have one question for the intellectuals. Do they know that Muslims in India are far better off than Dalits, Tribals in India? So why not talk about these people?

So why are different groups protesting the CAB bill? Political parties feel that it is an excellent vehicle to create confusion in the minds of the people and get some mileage to push the government politically. People forget that politics is a trapeze act in a circus. Accidents can happen easily if both sides do not follow the basic rules of the coalition. A classic example is Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Savarkar. Shive Sena has immediately retaliated on what he said. I am sure that it will lead to blood pressure and temperature rise in Maharashtra politics.

I have read many articles, treaties, and seen a couple of videos by experts. I have tried to explain the critical issue of CAA in plain English! Now at least I am clear what stakes are involved in CAA. I hope you also will get a fair idea of the same.

CAB1

Why there is a strong protest in Assam? Assamese feel that many Hindus who have “migrated” after the 1971 Bangla Desh war in Assam will become citizens of India. The act will reduce their opportunities in their state by making a large number of migrants Indian citizens. The map above shows the states for which CAA is not applicable. The blue states do not come under the purview of CAA, but it applies to Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura. These states have a common border with Bangla Desh.

It is important to know what is ILP. ILP is an Inner Line Permit. This permit is required by tourists,s including all Indian citizens. At a time, it is given for seven days; later on, it can be extended if required. For those Indians seeking jobs in these states, it is given for one year at a time; it is also extendable like the tourist permit. The permit is used for keeping intact the special social and cultural fabric of these states. Now Meghalaya has also requested ILP. It will be decided in a meeting after Christmas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Line_Permit

Why there is a strong protest in West Bengal? Mamta Banerji is a strong supporter of Muslims. She assuages the Muslim community at the cost of the Hindus. She has a fear that her vast vote bank of Muslims from Bangla Desh will not get citizenship under the CAA. They can be sent back to Bangla Desh.

Don’t miss this horror story of what Jyoti Basu’s West Bengal Government did with low caste migrants who came to India in large numbers before and after Bangala Desh War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marichjhapi_incident

The concerned people have managed to keep it hidden as much as possible.

Why are protests continuing in Jamia Millia and other such institutes in Delhi? The main reason is that they do not understand the meaning of the act. Secondly, these institutions have been anti-government all the time. The moment they get an opportunity, they start protesting.

There are collateral damages when acts like CAA or action like Article 370 is taken. The first discussion on citizenship had begun in 1971, and it took some form in 1985. Somehow the governments after 1985 kept the status quo instead of acting on the same. The collateral damage of CAA will be the relationship with Bangla Desh. But in the first place, we must note than Bangla Desh never made any attempt to stop the illegal migration of Hindus and Muslims to India. Once India starts acting on this bill, India will send back many Muslims who had illegally entered. The reverse migration can be problematic for Bangla Desh. But is that India’s fault? Pakistan did not like Article 370 action. If they had lived peacefully, India might have maintained a status quo. But continuous terrorist attacks forced India to act in Kashmir. A strong nation needs to act even if others don’t like it. Recently the US sent back about 500 Indian people who were trying to enter the US illegally via Mexico. Did India protest? They were Indian citizens trying to perform illegal acts.

Opposition leaders and intellectuals are raising a question. They are asking why the government has chosen only three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangla Desh. I feel that it is a matter of policy. Persecuted people are usually in the minority. These countries have Muslims in the majority. The Indian government is trying to help people in the minority. Muslims from these countries have a different route of seeking Indian citizenship. Adnan Sami, Taslima Nasreen, Dalai Lama are the prominent people who have been given Indian citizenship. Ruskin Bond has been living in India for 50 years. If Imran Khan decides on one fine day that he wants Citizenship of India, he can always apply. He will have to follow a standard procedure, and at the end of scrutiny, if he fits the bill, he will get Indian citizenship.

Opposition parties and intellectuals are raising a question of why Sri Lanka (Tamils), China (Uyghur), Myanmar (Rohingyas) and more are not included in the list. India is already giving shelter to Tamils. Rohingyas are coming via Bangla Desh since we don’t have a common border with them. So they have to go back. CAA is a relaxation in rules of giving citizenship and not against taking away citizenship. The government has made CAA to help minorities from these three countries (these countries have a majority Muslim population) who are persecuted. The persecuted majority from these countries can apply if they feel like taking Indian citizenship. The government will consider them under routine migration process.

By no means, this subject is over. Major genuine discontent is for Assamese people. I am sure that the Central Government will sit and talk with Assamese people and their leaders. They will come to an amicable solution with CAA as the guiding principle. Some tweaking may be needed. I am sure both the sides will show flexibility and reach a reasonable conclusion.

Car? No, I would instead take the horse carriage! 

You must be wondering what I am talking about. I am saying that cars will go out of fashion soon, and will be replaced by horse carriages. Technological changes are developed over a period, but once they reach the tipping point, technology spread can be breathtaking. Okay, I was joking!  What I want to say is that IC Engine cars will be replaced by Electric Vehicles!

The photos below were taken 13 years apart. It’s 5th avenue in New York. The first picture was taken in the year 1900, and the second one was taken in the year 1913. Production of the Ford T model started in 1908, and by the year 1930, the equestrian age was over for all practical purpose. Such is the power of disruptive technology.

We can replace these years by the current relevance of electric vehicles; replace the year 1900 by 2010, 1913 by 2023 and 1908 by 2018 the trend looks very similar. IC engine vehicles will be replaced by 2040 if we replace the year 1930 by the same logic. Are you surprised? At least I am not surprised. In the first 30 years of the last century, there were many battery-operated vehicles, but somehow the research in battery technology lagged far behind other developments. IC engine cars took over.

The year 2019 has seen dramatic sales drop in Indian Automotive sector. Sales are down by about 10 % in two-wheelers, by average 25% in cars and 35 to 40% in the commercial sector. Is the point of inflexion in the automotive sector reached? Nobody can explain why this is happening. The only sector where sales are doing well is high-end cars. In this range, people buy cars when they want, recession or no recession!

According to me, there could be many reasons. For the first time in the car segment, the number of second-hand cars sold was more than the new cars sold. Millennials would rather buy a second-hand Corolla instead of buying a new I 10. Or they may not buy cars at all and use Olas and Ubers.  According to me, two-wheeler production has reached a saturation point.  Add to the woes of automotive sector, Metros are getting operational in many large cities; their introduction is also a game changer.

In the commercial sector, many things have happened in the last five years. Roads all over India have become much better. The stoppages of these vehicles at various hurdles has reduced to one hurdle, the toll plazas. Most other checkpoints have gone away because of system changes. Because of this change, the turnaround time of these vehicles has improved drastically. Computerisation, GPS and other such systems have helped to keep track of the vehicles easily. Now toll collection all over India will also become automated in the next few months due to mandatory implementation of RFID technology. It will further reduce the time wasted at the toll plaza! The overall efficiency improvement has resulted in a reduction of the commercial vehicles required by the industry.

Carriage3

On top of this scenario, Electric Vehicles are slowly being introduced. What direction it will take is difficult to predict. But it appears that many Metro cities are trying to introduce Electric buses.

carriage4

In Nagpur, Ola has introduced 200 Mahindra Electric cars. Raipur has introduced 200 Mahindra autos. It appears that established companies are coming into the market strongly. Bajaj Auto has declared introduction of Chetak Electric scooters.

Tata Motors is talking about introducing Electric cars for individual customers. MG Motors and Hyundai have introduced high-end Electric SUV’s, with good range per charge, in the Indian market.

So, the similarity between horse carriages/cars and IC Engine cars/EV’s is not far-fetched! Another strong variable getting into the market is driverless cars. Looking at traffic in India, we feel that it will be impossible to introduce such cars in India. But in the developed countries this technology has been developed, and it is said that driverless vehicles will come on the roads by the 2021/2022. How will this development affect the car segment? Consider a journey which costs Rs 100/ today. If Ubers and Olas of this world introduce driverless cars, the cost of the journey will reduce by say, Rs.30/. Further, they introduce Electric driverless vehicles.  Assume that the running goes down by Rs.20/. The same trip will cost you Rs.50/. When the costs go down so much, will you buy a car? At least I will not buy one. There will be lots of Ubers and Olas on the road at any time.

As the battery costs go down, and as the production is scaled up, the running costs of cars will go down. Even at today’s running costs of EV per km  is less than that of IC Engine cars.

About Electric cars, we forget one thing. The batteries are going to replace petroleum products. Currently, petroleum products are delivered finally through petrol pumps. But there is a huge ecosystem which has come up over a period of one hundred years to reach the fuel to petrol pumps.

Similarly, “the new petroleum products” also need a delivery system. The delivery system is the charging station like the petrol pump. For charging we need Electricity- “the new petroleum”. Increasing electricity production is also equally important; it is equivalent to oil wells. Non-conventional methods like Solar, Windmills and Nuclear power stations are the way forward. In the time frame that I have mentioned above, the required infrastructure will be in place.

What about the scaling of battery production? It is already happening. Tesla is in the process of setting up a Giga factory. Part of this factory is leased to Panasonic. Panasonic brings their raw material and processes it, and produces battery cells. These cells are  handed over to Tesla on the same premises, and Tesla do the final assembly.

Similarly, Volkswagen is also in the process of setting up its own Giga factory for battery production. I am sure other serious players will follow suit. In India, Toyota and Suzuki have joined hands with Toshiba to manufacture batteries in a plant in Sanand. Suzuki will make Electric cars for both themselves and Toyota in India, using Toyota technology. Toyota has joined hands with Mazda in the US!

Unless you make your own batteries, the cost of electric vehicles will not come down. Costs will further come down on scaling. But smaller players will have a disadvantage with the cost of batteries.

I am not an expert in this field, but I have been in the automotive components field all my career. So, my comments are based on my gut feeling. Electric vehicles will spread faster in small developed countries like Norway, Sweden. In large countries, they will spread into the market in regions. For example, in the US, it can happen quickly in the bay area or areas around New York on the East Coast. The introduction will be faster in areas where average daily commute distance is smaller; people anyway will have home chargers.It can happen around London, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt and so on. China anyway is way ahead of others in EV production. 50% of EV’s in world are currently made in China.

In India, I feel that it will happen faster in buses, taxis, rickshaws and high-end vehicles. In high-end vehicles if per charge distance covered is decent, price hardly matters. Total moving parts in IC Engine cars are 2000, and the same in Electric Vehicles are 20. Hence commercial vehicle maintenance cost will be reduced drastically. Once “new petroleum” infrastructure is in place, the numbers will go up exponentially in cities for local transport like buses, rickshaws. Small cars will be initially costly because of battery prices; hence, their spread will be slower.

Car? No, I would instead take the horse carriage!

Oh, my title was wrong!  I would instead take a Driverless Electric Vehicle!