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!

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!

 

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!

 

Angry and Frustrated- your tears won’t be wasted!  

tears1

When I talk to friends, the words worried, scared don’t come in the discussion. Careful is the word that is generally discussed in my age group. But lately, anger and frustration are some of the words that are now used often. Yesterday, a friend, Raju, said that he felt that people like us who are sitting in lockdown under the comfort of homes and cushion of money have become desensitised! Another friend Suya, alias Suhas was even more frustrated. He heard the news of 16 migrant workers who got crushed under a freight train. He discussed this with his family. His son in law, a young businessman, was frustrated and was very angry. He let his anger out and wrote down his feelings. I am sharing this note with you.

Suya

I have given the gist in English below.

The death of these migrant workers has shaken the young man to the core. What was their fault? These were daily wage earners who got stuck in a place thousands of km away from their native places. Is it a crime to feel like going home? Poor fellows were walking back home, along the railway track, as there was no conveyance available. Here he does not want to blame any system of governance or the government. Migrants felt that they have even lost the right to go home. One of the ladies gave birth to a child near Jalgaon on her way back home. How sad is the situation? There are rules and regulations, which is fine, only if people survive.  

The note written below is by my friend Suhas. It is in Marathi, so as usual, I have written the gist of what he has said, in Blue.

Suya1

Trying to keep democratic traditions, most of us behave like invalids- maybe we are mentally invalid. No government has understood the difference between giving support to the fallen, and to remove the felled dead bodies. The war against Corona cannot be fought by this invalidated society by taking away the poor migrants, or those who are breaking social distancing while purchasing the vegetables. These could as well be those standing in the queue for alcohol as if there is no tomorrow. To take these people away is not the way to fight this war. If we can not find the right way, then we should be prepared to remove the dead!  

 

He is a healthy person and runs his business. All of us may be giving help to deserving people. But these numbers are so large, and he feels helpless. Friends at least give these poor your real tears!

It is a real heart-breaking banter from the young man. Let me tell you he is a modern man. He and his wife had trekked to the Everest base camp. He has completed Iron Man!

How has the world reached this situation? Which direction will this take, and when will this be over? Many questions come to mind, and we realise that there are no answers.

Have things changed suddenly? No, they have not. The world always had a disproportionate distribution of haves and have nots. In the day to day grind of living, we all have no time to look at these things. We do discuss these things, sitting or on our terrace with light music in the background. There is, of course, a barbeque counter keeping great food going. In between our Dom Perignon’s and Teachers or Chivas Regal, we need to get the conversation going. So, we discussed the plight of daily wage earners. We sometimes discussed the slums and boasted how aggressively Dharavi, of one million people a square Km, is fast developing into an entrepreneurial hub. Bollywood comes up with movies like “Gully Boy”, showing that a Dharavi boy can become a rap hero of Mumbai. We go to the cinemas and pay a thousand rupees per head to see such movies.  These things do not change Dharavi.

I am using Dharavi as a metaphor, but these types of zopad pattis have existed since independence. Their number has been going up, the number of people living in each Basti is up all the time. I do not think that any human being likes to live in the squalid conditions that exist in these colonies.

We need to to understand the reactions of the young man above and that of my friend Raju. Our day to day grind has desensitised us to the difficulties faced by these people. We have learnt to let this happen in the background, continuing to live our life. Our “earbuds” are always in place, avoiding the din generated by the plight of these unfortunate people.

Briefly, we will see why this has happened. Let me assure you these issues are there the world over. In China, “old china” is always well hidden behind the great Chinese Wall of each megapolis. The most advanced and developed country the USA has 3.3 crores (33 million) people who have till date registered for the Government dole of US $1000/ pm as the current situation hits them. The US has a population of 330 million, and 10% of them have registered. Children and the elderly are not in the workforce, so the real number of force is 15 crores. So, 22% of the American workforce are daily wage earners who have no income currently. I am surprised that in one-month, finances of so many people are shattered. It means that poor people are poor whether you are in India or anywhere in the world, including the US!

India’s reasons for poverty are well known. The main reason being the plundering of wealth by the British. In the first forty years of independence, Indian experiments with Socialism/Communism made things worse. On top of that appeasement policies sent the population control policies to a toss. We have been boasting of “our large force” of people. At 33 crores, the US cannot reduce poverty, how could a country of 130 crores, with low per capita income levels could do it?

The pandemic brought all these issues out. Well-endowed people have some time in hand. I am happy that some of us have started thinking about the poor. The young man must be sensitive at heart and is not afraid to display his frustrations and anger. He gave path for his tears to flow like a river. I am sure that in future he will do something great for the society and will make us proud. His nervous energy will not let him be a silent spectator to the conditions of the poor! All the best young man!

India needs experts in various fields, but we need more people like this man to alleviate the situation of the poor in our nation. Somewhere, somebody will hopefully start this silent revolution of making the poor as the inclusive elements of our society. I pray to God that this reaction will become a chain reaction as we have in the atomic fission. I also hope that it will spread all over India and the globe.

I want to share some good news with you. Another friend, Anil’s sons, run a large construction business in Pune. Projects had come to a total halt, like everything else. While speaking to him the other day, he said that since their projects are in the rural zone, they have received permission to resume the work. I asked him, “From where you would get people?” He said, “Pramod, we had decided to retain all eight hundred people during the lockdown. We helped them with money and food, stay, and whatever was needed. Only twenty odd people went home. It is a routine yearly holiday when migrants go home. But these people have said that as soon as the transport starts, they will be back.” Great job Anil by you and your family. 👏👏👏

Young man, please do not lose heart. There are good people around. Many of them do not blow a trumpet that they have done something for society! I am sure that people are taking advantage of today’s situation for introspection. Raju you have a lot of social contacts, utilise them. Forget the politics, do it for society.

 Suhas, you and me, the retirees, can help the poor at least in our ecosystem. If each of us can support 2 to 5 people, in our COEP group, we would be helping 700 people regularly. It is doable!

Be the solution! 

As we meander in our life, we follow specific ways. These ways are based on traditions. The meaning of tradition is handing over of customs/ beliefs or even thought process to the next generation. Many times, we continue to do things in a certain way without attempting to find if what we are doing could be done differently. Norms are fixed in our mind such that we are surprised if we find something is said or done differently.  

In Australia years back there was an incident in a Kinder Garten school. The teacher was teaching the children to sing the song “Rain, Rain Go away”. It appeared that the children did not enjoy it, or they could not understand the meaning of the song. During the lunch break, she shared her experience with other teachers. She was surprised to know that children in that area had never seen the rain before. For the previous five years, that region had received no rains. The children had never seen the rain!  

We eat ice cream in summer, and for the children, the ice cream is the treat for which they eagerly wait. We had gone to someone’s home and saw their child enjoying the ice cream in a bowl. I asked the child, “How is the ice cream?” He said, “Yummy and warm!” I was surprised, but his mother said that the child had food allergies so he could not eat regular ice cream. In the US where they lived, they had started getting the ice cream made of rice, for allergic childrenHis father had brought the ice cream on the way back from the office for the first time. The child had a cough and cold. Since the child was going to eat the ice cream for the first time, his mother decided to warm the ice cream. Hence the ice cream was “Yummy and warm!” 

Both of these stories show us that we go away from the norms occasionally. We are surprised when there is variation in the behaviour. But in the current situation, when it gets over, is it going to change the norms? If not, at least here is my wish of things that should happen.  

To begin with, let us go to Leo Tolstoy’s short story “How much land does a man need”? At the end of the story, he has concluded that everybody needs 6’*3’ of land to bury. All the rest is craving, and it is superficial. In Hinduism and many sects, even this is superficial. We only need a crematorium. Let us not go into the usual discussion of our culture is superior to their culture. It is possible that in the culture where cremation was done, it was easy to create, maintain and control fire. Period! But now in many burying cultures, they are switching over to burning of bodies due to pandemic. In some western countries, the casket, land for burial and the overall cost of funeral service are going out hands; cremation would be a better option. 

How much of clothing, footwear and such accessories do we need? If you do your washing regularly, three sets are more than enough. Friends, go and check your cupboards. How many suits and ties, wedding dresses and sarees do you have? Principally, I have nothing against this, when people who have excess money buy these it is okay. But what about those with a shortage of funds also emulate rich peopleI had a colleague who used to manage my office work. He bought more sets of shirts than I did in a year; his shirts were costlier than mine. One I asked him about it. He said, “There was sell going on, buy two get one free. Hence I bought the shirts.” He had spent a big chunk of his salary that day; he has been working with me for twenty years. I gave him an option. I said, “If you stop spending foolishly on clothing, I will take full responsibility for your two daughters education till their college degree, including coaching classes.” He did change somewhat, but I am not sure. I have not gone back on my commitment. 

It is the same about inviting people to various functions. From the naming ceremony to marriages, to 60th birthday’s we welcome many people. For funerals, too many people come on their own (they are not “invited”). Is it essential? A friend died recently during the lockdown. Only four members from his family went to the crematorium. Others could not attend does not mean they did not love him. A few days after his death, I spoke to his son for about half an hour sharing memories with him. Can we not change our “culture” of inviting hundreds of people for joyous occasions like marriages and birthdays? I have been guilty of this. Again, the logic is the same. Those who can barely afford expenses for the marriage ceremony, end up inviting hundreds of people. Finally, the loan sharks are after them leading to some suicides.  

These days I hear that the pathology testing labs have suddenly stopped getting patients. The hospitals have stopped their OPD’s (outpatient’s departments). Many doctors have switched over to telemedicine. Does it mean that people do not fall sick? How can they manage without getting treated? But I understand that in large hospitals, with one patient, four or five people are accompanying. Is it essential? I am sure that those who “need” to see the doctor get themselves treated anyway. But does it mean that people did not need the treatment but still crowded the clinics? I am not sure about this phenomenon! But where possible, patients/doctors should switch over to telemedicine. 

My wish is don’t go overboard in anything. (Definition of overboard? – I have been to a marriage where about eight thousand guests were invited!) Those who are financially comfortable will be left with a significant corpus which can be used for things other food during marriages. But is it essential to invite so many? Those lesser endowed people try to emulate the rich and run into issues.

I am by no means a socialist or a communist. Enterprise is a must to make this a better world. But the accompanying wealth generation can be better utilised for many things in this world. There will be some families whose needs may be different- like perpetually sick children or their children are not doing well in life. But when such an issue is not present, what is the point in “wasting money” on optional things- Jaya and I are sometimes amazed when we introspect and see how we have spent (wasted?) moneyFor example, we have three gadgets or four/five; I don’t know why we need so many devices to listen to music!  

Pandemic is an excellent opportunity to improve our social behaviour. Standing in queues is essential for discipline as well as health. Will we continue to do so, post-pandemic? Have we understood the meaning of migrant workers and their requirements? Now we know that their only requirement is to survive on the day-to-day earnings. Once they think that they cannot fulfil this requirement wherever they are, they will walk out and go to their native place.  

Do we really need to socialise the way we do? Is alcohol a must in our lives? Do we need to go to restaurants so many times?  

The pandemic has shown us that we are addicted to many things. Does it matter if there is no coriander in your favourite dish? We should enjoy life, but nothing is a must! Have we finally understood the importance of maids in our lives? Those who are financially better off, hopefully, will keep on paying the support staff even though we do not use their services. Could we continue doing this even after the pandemic is over?   

As usual, I could go on and on! But when we start doing everything on our own, we know how much wastage is done by support staff. How much water do they waste? How much fuel do they waste by misuse? It is not about money, but it is about efficiency and resource wastage! If all families become more efficient in these small things, we will have more water and electricity available.  

Use these times to meditate and think in solitude. It is a once in a lifetime chance to rethink about life, the ways of life and the way we look at life. Following lines may be appropriate at what I am trying to say! 

I don’t want to run away from the world – I want to rediscover myself within it. I want to know what happens if we again take doses of solitude from inside our crowded days, along our crowded streets. 

 

 

 

What can we do in five minutes? 

Namaste2It is more of a rhetorical question. Our life has been moving on an expressway for some time. For those born after ’70 s of last century, the life journey has been on the highway all the time. Now suddenly, that highway traffic is stuck up in a traffic jam with no signs of emergency vehicles with blaring sirens in the vicinity. It appears as if the police and the fire brigade phone numbers are perennially busy. People don’t know when the jam will be cleared.

Okay, the above scenario could be a horror dream that would be quickly converted into a great novel, which will be finally picturised into a successful movie. But friends, the bad dream is a reality. Currently, half the world is caught in this conundrum with no immediate solution in the view.

Humans are great adaptors to all situations. After all, we have developed from the stage of wearing the fig leaf to wearing fancy clothes, suitable winter clothing to live in harsh weather. We survive in the wettest of the jungles to the most stringent of the deserts. We have adapted mentally to all situations, but no one had ever imagined the current lockdown!

The home lockdown was one situation nobody had ever imagined. As usual, humans have started adapting. With no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, there is hardly any other option. Husbands and wives are struggling to handle work, conference calls, Skype meetings with a three-year-old kid suddenly barging in between; it was a scenario which was never imagined even four wees back. People have worked from home before this too, sitting in their den with rooms locked.

But work is a significant part of one’s day, and there are other things to be achieved too. We need to be physically and mentally fit. Now people have started understanding the meaning of getting locked at home at minus thirty degrees in Montreal. What can we do in five minutes is a metaphorical statement!

Each person has her way of staying sane and calm in the eventuality of the times that are suddenly forced on you. If this happens because of an illness or an accident, it is a different issue. Your time is physically and mentally taken up by the recovery process. But in today’s situation, you need to find activities to keep you sane.

In those proverbial five minutes, you can do push-ups, you can do your sprinting in front of the mirror. In those five minutes, you can write half a page of the secret book you are writing or the blog you want to write. You read a few pages of the novel you have been reading. Of course, your yoga and deep breathing also could be achieved in those five minutes. It is about adapting.

Those five minutes could be utilised to help your kid completing craft! Those five minutes could be used to cut veggies and salads to help your better half. Remember the better half sometimes does not get even two minutes in today’s scenario. So, five minutes is the time slot you have in hand that you need to utilise properly. There is no magic wand solution. For once, everybody is really on his own. Those who have tried this five-minute concept must have realised what I am saying. What I am saying is that give focused attention to what you are doing. Focused attention will allow you to accomplish a lot. While you are confined to your home boundaries, there are a lot of things that you could do.

The situation for each individual and each family is going to be different. Similarly, it is going to different for each age group of people. The example I gave about three-year-old child above is generally about young families with young kids. These families are the ones that will find it difficult to have those five minutes. The whole family is energetic. Kids can’t go out, and parents can’t party! The home is going to be stressed up all the time. They need to find their ways of bringing temperatures down.

On the other side, for families like ours have different issues. We already have enough time on hand. We utilised our time in doing nothing per se! Not exactly nothing. We had our alumni meets, we travelled and went out leisurely for our purchases in the evening. During the evening stroll, we would have tea or a Wada at our favourite kiosk. But all this has stopped. At the same time, our maids have also stopped coming for work. Home cleaning, dish washing, cooking is keeping us busy; at the same time, these jobs tire us out a bit more than usual. But still, we have more time on hand because one can watch only so much TV and read.

We can use those five minutes to meditate and introspect. Do we get time for those five minutes for such essential aspects of life? A most crucial point of all this is we should continue to find “five minutes” when things are back to normal. Now there is a question, what is normal? If what we have been doing all these years is normal, then God Bless us! In future, there will be a new normal. An appropriate word for human life on the earth after current issue will be New Avatar! In computer jargon, let us reset the whole system and come with a new version of how we live life, how we look at life! What should be the aim of our new operating system? Let us try and list. I found this list somewhere on the net.

  1. Eliminate our discontent
  2. Reclaim our time
    1. Natural?
  3. Live in the present moment
    1. We are always rushing to ensure that our future is secured
  4. Pursue our passions
    1. Crucial in life
  5. Discover our missions
  6. Create more, consume less
    1. Be environment friendly
  7. Focus on our health
  8. Contribute beyond ourselves
  9. Rid ourselves of excess stuff
    1. It could include reducing your social circle
  10. Discover purpose in our lives

Friends, you can add and delete from this list. You should also change the sequence to suit your priorities in life. I have added sub-points to some of the points. Points without subpoints can be achieved by successfully handling subpoints.

Namaste3

Today’s unprecedented situation has forced Microsoft to delay the significant patch release of their Windows 10 OS. Like them let us also get ourselves ready for our new avatar after the current crisis. The change the whole society is going to select will guide the world for the next step of the journey! Whether we decide to do it together or keep on arguing, as the society will determine the new OS!

Namaste is one gesture on which we all have agreed, and it has become the universal way of saying hello when we meet! That my friend is a good starting point. Let Namaste be our beacon when we take any decision. Any decision that achieves 70% of what Namaste has achieved, should be a good decision for our future!

Right or wrong! Or is it Quid Pro Quo!  

Quid1

Quid Pro quo is a favour or advantage granted in return for something. Given above is a funny representation of the term.

My father retired from the police department as DCP. His last posting was in Bombay, and he moved to Pune to live his retired life. One day he told me that his boss, the senior-most person in Bombay police, joined a large private company as the security chief, post-retirement. But my father did not join that organisation because he felt that they would not give the same respect as was given to him as a DCP.

He had a valid point. I am sure money must have been good, but in my father’s case money was the last thing on his mind. I see this type of dilemma faced by many people. What is right and wrong? Does it depend on individual circumstances, or are there any set rules? I feel that there cannot be any rules, but there could be precedents.

State Bank of India had a revenue of 2.8 trillion Indian Rupees for the year 2019. Arundhati Bhattacharya was Chairperson of SBI when she retired a couple of years back. Yesterday, I read in the newspapers that she has joined Salesforce.com as their CEO for India operations. Salesforce.com’s global revenue for 2019 was US $ 19/ billion. Their India operations to my knowledge are quite small. What would the lady who ran a colossal empire contribute to her new job? I am sure the money must be good for luring her to join. But I don’t think there is anything morally wrong in taking this step. But workwise, after SBI it would not be as challenging. I am sure that she is a great professional; she also must be in good health. She will value add to her new organisation. But I felt that the change is like running a global airline and then joining a chain which had shops on different international airports. But nobody can blame her of Quid Pro Quo!

Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was yesterday made an honorary member of Rajya Sabha (the upper house of our parliament). He took the oath today among the boos! There have been editorials, Facebook comments and a lot of discussion in general that he did not do the right thing. I was also in a dilemma initially, and I did not think that it was the right thing to do, initially. But on rethinking, I am neither sure this way or that way. The Supreme Court Chief Justice is the most influential foundation of one of the pillars of democracy.

Justice1

One of my contemporaries became Bombay high court judge. Once when I met him, he said that there were many rules about their social engagements. They could not socially mix with hoi polloi like you and me. They could say hello to senior government servants if they bumped into each other in a club (Only specific clubs please). They could sit in a club with their family and not others. What did one do if the judge’s family was an influential political and business family? What is honest opinion? No two human beings have the same opinion on each subject. So if your decision is not to my liking then you are not honest, you are sold! How does one know if the judge has given an honest opinion on a subject? In some judgements, three judges from a bench give a view and other two give opposite view. Then are three honest or two?

To my knowledge, there is a complicated procedure to select high court and supreme court judges. I am sure committees do the vetting of chosen people. But these judges come from our society. They all had childhood friends, and they could have their ex’s. Judges are expected to be impartial and follow the rule of law “blindly” with justice. That is why they are called judges. When the judges find that in a case which they are handling, they were in touch in life with some persons, judges recuse themselves to remain and show that they are impartial. But as normal human beings, they have a tremendous pressure on them to be just, all the time!

The Rajya Sabha nomination in the current scenario is an honorary selection based on that person’s achievements in life in different fields. Sachin Tendulkar and Rekha were two recent examples of such nominations. I get a feeling that Ranjan Gogoi will be able to make more value addition compared to these two people. Many legal matters come up for discussions in the parliament. There are many ancient laws which the Government is trying to remove as they are irrelevant to today’s times. Indian Telegraph Act used today came into force in 1885. The telephony has changed so much that even Graham Bell will have difficulty in understanding what is happening today. I felt that Ranjan Gogoi would be a great asset to the parliament on legal matters. Why should his expertise not be used? What is the significance of not having judges in the parliament? Were the Government and the Chief Justice in Quid Pro Quo arrangement as alleged? What is Government? It is you and me. It is run by representatives elected by society. Was there any personal gain to the Government because of decisions supported by Gogoi? I don’t think so. Just because there is no precedent, the matter cannot be morally challenged. We have top police officers and armed forces officers joining politics after retirement, and they have become MP’s and ministers. Nobody talked of any Quid Pro Quo arrangement in these cases.

But I have seen some arrangements in Government and industry. I will share one example from the industry. Many years back, an organisation was legitimately trying to become a vendor to a large company. I will not go into details. But after the organisation got the entry, the real action took place. A few officers from the large company were on the verge of retirement. They had helped the entry of the vendor. These people could otherwise have quickly joined this company as they were competent professionals. But the sequence of events was such that it smelt of Quid Pro Quo arrangements. Is it morally correct? As professionals, they had many options. But their joining the vendor does not show the right attitude.

There could be a specific cooling-off period. When Jaya took voluntary retirement as additional director from a Government research organisation, she took two years of cooling-off teaching job before she joined the industry. I could understand this because her last project was with a nuclear power plant. Similarly, for other organisations or posts, the cooling-off period makes sense. But is it the right thing to not allow experts to use their knowledge? In the case of the Chief Justice, the money involved is not in crores as a member of parliament. When people say that he should not be made MP, they imply that he has breached the trust by the quid pro quo arrangement. What is the trust that he has breached? All senior officials are expected to be neutral and faithful to their organisations and jobs. If all others can do various things after retirement, why stop the Supreme Court Chief Justice?

I felt that Gogoi story is more of politics; suddenly people start riding a high horse! Polticians may get their browny points and Liberals will get a subject for discussion for next few months, over a glass of Chivas Regal. Government is already allowing lateral entry of professionals from various fields in government. So what is so special about Gogoi case? The jury is still out, pun, of course, is intended!

 

The great equalisers! Our Habits!

There are many equalisers in this world. The top of the list is death. In death, there is no difference if someone is old or young. All are equal, whether super-rich or super poor! But India is a unique country with a diverse population, caste and creed, many religions and five-thousand-year-old civilisation. We rightly boast of our history. In fact, sometimes we boast of these things ad-nauseum. We are proud of many things, but we forget that along with some fantastically great things, we have carried forward some horrible ways of behaviour.

Paan3

People have a great habit of drinking water while driving vehicles. It is a typical habit of driver community, those who drive taxis or buses. Imagine cruising at a speed of 100 km on a highway. You are in a sizeable Volvo bus or an Innova. Suddenly, the driver bends to side, picks up his water bottle. He starts drinking the water from the bottle at that speed, holding the steering with one hand. Oh, and religion does not play any role here. He could be from any religion. He is a human being and gets thirsty. I am good with that, but what is the issue in stopping the vehicle and drinking water? We usually stop on the highways, after a couple of hours. Can’t these folks wait for a small duration to drink their water quota? They are not going to die in half an hour if they remain thirsty.

Man being splashed by cold water under Drive Thru sign that says 'Quick Refresher'.

These same folks perform another action. Before drinking water, they gargle a bit and spit a mouth full of water. Where? Wherever they are! I remember one more queer action by people on highways. After each toll booth, there are urinals. Our friends will drive a few kilometers from the toll booth, stop and pass urine-open air! Oh! The pleasure!

Now auto-rickshaw drivers in cities have picked up another similar habit. Now they use earbuds while driving, to listen to music.

Why such behaviour takes place? One, I care two hoots attitude! Who is bothered about public hygiene? Another reason for this is the weather. People don’t understand that we are blessed with beautiful, warm weather almost round the year. Try open-air urination at minus 15 deg C! Another aspect is women folk don’t indulge in this act because of modesty! But we don’t see the women drinking water at 100 km speed. Neither do we see them spitting gargled water! They are more sensible than men!

Another trait that we observe in India is spitting in public spaces. Are these issues due to the historical culture of chewing betel leaf (Paan) and tobacco? The vices developed in the five thousand years of chewing paan with tobacco or only tobacco have messed our cleanliness culture. Sometimes, I feel that there is no difference in the dogs and these people. You must have seen that the dogs do their natural thing where ever they are and whenever they feel like it. Dogs have been human pets for a long time. But now a new trend of adopting dogs has also come up. After marriage, some couples don’t want kids; neither do they want to choose humans. They adopt dogs. But in foreign countries, humans take the responsibility of clearing the dog poop! We don’t bother about such stupid stuff in India.

But in India, the more intelligent race, the humans, spit anywhere and any number of times. Once I was waiting for the red signal to become green. An auto-rickshaw guy was waiting next to me. In the one minute that I was waiting at the traffic signal, our friend spat his tobacco juices at least five times. I was so frustrated, and I stopped looking at him.

What has happened to our mature culture? Are we mentally still trapped in the olden times when everybody lived in villages? There were no tar or concrete roads and buildings in olden times. So, the spit at least merged with the dust. Not that spitting was the correct thing to do. Now the favourite places for spitting the betel juice seem to be the corners in the staircases, especially of public buildings. In many buildings, I have seen tiles with Ganapati photo are fitted in the corners. But the human urge of spitting is more than the respect for God! They spit on such tiles too! It looks like we are very efficient in passing on such culture to the next generation. Add to this our unique attitude of not bothering about others. But people forget that germs can and do get spread by spitting. What about cleanliness? Oh! What is that?

Another gem from our culture is the Tatti culture! In olden days, when there were no modern toilets, people would go for their morning ablutions to the fields. Modern washrooms have been available for some time now. Since last five years, the Indian Government has started cleanliness drive under the Swatch Bharat Abhiyan. Government is offering money to people in villages and sometimes in cities to build washrooms. Oh, but they don’t pay the people to use them. Government has also made a law that people who do not have a modern toilet at home, cannot stand for elections. So, people take the money, build the toilets and use the fields for the morning things. Why? Oh, it feels so manly! Manly culture is still prevalent in the Northern part of India. “Tatti Karni hai to kheto mein!” (I would rather S**t in the fields!)

Many times, people from western countries say that they believe in God after visiting India. They know that it exists after they observe our behaviour. They are surprised that there are no continuous epidemics in India, looking at the cleanliness culture that we follow in public places. Go to any public site, and the toilets indicate the culture. The other day, I went for work in a large organisation in Pune. While waiting at the security area, I went and used the urinal. If large private establishments cannot maintain the cleanliness levels, who will do it? I felt ashamed that day.

We have developed another dangerous trait in the last 50 years. I was visiting an organisation, the road there was at least 30 meters wide. I slowed down, waited for the traffic from the opposite direction to pass. My headlights were ON; my right indicator was ON! I thought that I had a smooth opportunity to take a right turn and enter the gates. I was ten feet from the gate, and a bike swerved and passed between the entrance and my car. I sighed in relief, and suddenly another bike came and passed through the small gap between the access and my vehicle, this time distance was five feet. Imagine, I was moving albeit slowly as I was taking a turn. I braked hard and simply gave up!

Friends, we are a lovely country with a great diversity of nature, people, religion and traits. But there are traits which discussed are common irrespective of diversity. Why is this so? Is it in our DNA? Is it that we don’t want to go away from what we have been doing for thousands of years? Governments can do only up to so much. It is for us to ultimately improve and change society. Due to Coronavirus many mandirs, Jatras are closed. Will God punish us for doing such unheard-of things? But is there God? That friends is the basic question. It is said the cleanliness is the same as godliness. Why not take that path?

Control, Alt, Delete! 

CAD1

Original IBM PC 5150 keyboard  

It is impossible to press Ctrl+Alt+Del with one hand only.  David Bradley initially designed the soft reboot function via the keyboard. It is the classic design case when it is not easy to fire a function with one hand because the actions reset or reboot the system. To avoid errors, he made sure that both the hands were required to reset!  In olden days, when you rebooted, everything was reset! Of course, it was meant to reset the browser, but bringing back the browser to the original status of the display was a job by itself. You had to go to “History” and search which tabs in the browser were open and so on! Now there is good antidote found. When you open the browser after sudden or forced reset, you see a button for restore. You push it, and you are back to your original status with the browser.  

Don’t you think these two things, reset and restore, are similar in our lives? The answer, as usual, is Yes and No! We have many things going in our lives. We have family, friends, colleagues, and many relationships, which cannot be explained.  Today, I am in a mood to use computer parallels for our situations in life. We have too many tabs in the browser open, and too many tabs open in our lives. Why does this happen? It could be laziness, but mostly it is because, for specific tabs on our life’s browser, we are afraid to act. What will happen if I close the chapter?  

Take the case of a dear friend of ours. He is a great friend but has picked up a habit of vanishing from our lives. We have accepted him as he is. He has quirks like all of us have. In these fifty years, we have realised that we are not his fair-weather friends. We tried to break the vanishing act cycle, but it never worked. Last week he called and said, let us meet. I said, “Come over, right away!” But he said, “Let me call you up tomorrow and fix up the day.” The next day he called promptly, “Pramod, I am a little busy, so maybe some other time.” I knew that he needed a long rope to vanish, which I promptly offered him and offered him some solace with a statement, “How I miss you, man?” I have performed many resets, reboots for this friend, but somehow, our true friendship (at least from my side) has gone missing somewhere. But I am sure that I will end up in his life with the next storm or a tsunami!   

I think in each of the relationships, we carry too much baggage. We look at it from the original perspective, but that is what makes a big difference. In life, too much baggage changes the view of life as our capacity to carry baggage is limited. With many many tabs open, we are already overloaded. We cannot give justice to most relationships and situations.  

I read a poem that aptly fits our flow of life. It is about love, but it could be about relationships too. I have modified a few words to suit my thoughts. The poem talks about restoring the broken link. It suggests that we repair and restore our relationship and leave the trash in the past.  

I’m a stubborn person; I may always think I’m right.
I don’t want to hear the truth because we may end up in a fight.
You’re supposed to be near me and be my light in a dark place.
What happened to our feelings we used to look in each other?
And dream about us dreaming about the water rushing tides.
Whatever happened to those days?
I guess they’ve blown far away with the wind next to it, saying I can do no more for them.
Let’s restore our friendship and leave the trash in the past.
I don’t want to fuss and fight.
Let’s make this new life last. 

Can we do this? But it starts with do we want to do this? If we want to press Ctrl+Alt+Del, we must first understand why we are required to use this function. We take this action on our computers when it hangs, and it slows down. The function closes unnecessary threads that are active in our lives, which slow us down. It creates obstacles in our path. It consumes too much time to perform simple things.  

While using your computer, you use the famous Ctrl+Alt+Delete function as a last resort. So, when you feel that there is no other option in life, there are ways equivalent to stopping unnecessary threads and keeping the right ones active. What could those be? 

When our stress and negativity consume us, it is challenging to step outside of our circle to care about others’ plights. That means we need to take better care of our mental health and stay open to what’s going on around us. One way to do that is to practice mindfulness meditation, which is tied to stress reduction, increased attention, and the willingness to help others. Mindfulness practices allow us to be fully present now and open our capacity to be open to moral elevation stimuli. 

Our resetting of life brings back faith in humanity, and the world looks, feels better. You don’t think that everything is hopeless. How can we achieve it?  

Instead of checking your emails or the news headlines first thing in the morning, take 20 minutes or so to seek experiences of moral uplift. Just like going to the gym or meditating, a habit of moral elevation will have better results than an occasional elevation experience. If you do not keep time aside for such essential activities, you will never achieve the real meaning of life. You should seek daily moral elevation yourselves, and spread it around to others, too. Moral elevation promotes altruism, and it is very contagious. By following this path, you will realise what humans can achieve.

Friends, keep your mind, eyes and ears open. Computer command of Copy and Paste also has a great meaning. There many small things in this world which have hidden meanings. Try and explore them and you will have a great meaningful life ahead of you!