Old is Gold or YOLD!  

My friend Vijay shared with me an article about the concept YOLD, the Young OLD! It reminded me of a conversation I had with another friend and classmate Dhananjay. Once while chatting, Dhananjay said, “In my home, the situation has become tricky. People in the outside world consider me as a senior citizen; but since both my parents live with me, my father sometimes does not realise that I am reaching the age of seventy. So, I am a junior-senior citizen in my home!” That was a terrific observation. We forget these things quite quickly. There is a saying, “When your son can wear your shoes, start treating him as a friend!” Okay, ladies, sorry! “When your daughter starts using your lipstick, start treating her as your friend!” 

In India, people of my generation rarely had parents who worked professionally. Working ladies as a concept was quite rare in that generationWhen and if they reached the age of 70 like me, they were treated with reverenceThey had faced a tough life and had many experiences to share. Financially, how the joint families of those days survived, is challenging to understand. Money available for survival was less and hence the requirements were lesser. The joint family meant that people did not need “space” as people need or expect today! People lived in “Wadas” in those days; reduced “space” included toilets too! There was one toilet for about 30 people!  

As per the article I have mentioned above, YOLD are the people who are now between 65 and 75! They were born just after world war!!! Those who are in professional fields many times don’t retire at all. Retirement in olden days was 58 or 60, and people used to retire. Many things happened during the lifespan of YOLDS! Improvement in cleanliness, better medical facilities and diagnostics facilities are some of them. Better job and business opportunities helped them to work beyond “retirement”. Combination of various factors improved the health and careers of YOLDS. The result was a notable increase in the number of YOLDS around, and they have decent money, time, space. They also show a willingness to try new things, travel around the globe. The number of YOLDS will grow in future to a sizable population with time and money in the pocket. Combine these traits of the community with decent health, and now you will know why they are called YOLD-young old!  

The YOLDS are the marketing person’s dream. The tourism industry is bound to grow in leaps and bounds. Whenever I chat with any friend or acquaintance from this age group, they are either travelling or have just come back from travel. Maybe they are going to travel next week.  

A German study found that people who remain at work after the normal retirement age manage to slow the cognitive decline associated with old age and have a cognitive capacity of someone a year and a half younger. What Jaya and I do is keep our brain sufficiently busy, which holds many health issues at bay. Chances of brain-related problems, like Dementia, can get delayedWhen money and time are not the issues, one can be in perpetual travel mode or try something new. Jaya and I have already firmed up travel plans for the next three months. Another friend Sham and his wife are in this mode since he sold off his business a couple of years back.  

In short, YOLD are not just any group of older adults. They are challenging the traditional expectations of the retired people who wear slippers and look after their grandchildren. The growth in YOLD population will disrupt consumer, service and financial markets. 

Higher numbers of healthy YOLD people will require drastic changes in health spending. Most diseases of ageing are best met with prevention and lifestyle changes. Now the gyms are offering “Golden Hours” for YOLDS. The timings are between 11 am to 6 pm, and I use this timing to go to the gym. I already see some other people from my age-group utilising the facility. My physician has told me to do some trade mill exercises, followed by weight training. Weight training is to reduce the rate of reduction in muscle strength. My physician told me, “This is to ensure that you can stow your cabin baggage on the flights when you travel! 🙂🙂 

YOLDS will help health industry business in the prevention field because many of us want it. We take vitamin tablets, and we buy food supplement which will be gluten-free. To pursue our lifestyle with vigour, we get ourselves checked regularly to ensure that our body functions are in good shape. I was treated for cancer in 2013/14. Every year I get a CAT scan done to ensure that there is no recurrence. These labs will wish that I am around for a long time! 🙂🙂 

The over-60s are one of the fastest-growing groups of customers of the airline business. The YOLDs are vital to the tourism industry because they spend much more on taking a foreign holiday than younger adults. They are also changing education. YOLDs are going to help the education business too! Last year, I did an online course in creative writing from Oxford. Why did I do it? Why not is the simple answer! Another friend told me that he had started work on his second PhD. He completed his first PhD at the age of 69! He loved painting when he was a child; he has started it again. He has now completed about 20 portraits.

WhatsApp Image 2020-01-03 at 07.30.14

Another friend Sudhakar takes a keen interest in his painting and is as good or better than many professional painters. He runs his business on the side, sometimes. Sample of one of his paintings is displayed above.

Warli

Jaya has firmed up her plans to restart Warli paintings which she had started a few years back but could not continue because of family commitments. Some of her samples are shown above.

Another area where the business is going up is finance. YOLDS have money and are going to be around for some time. For companies, they did not exist once they passed a certain age as they were not going to buy any Life Insurance. But now YOLDS want to invest some money in annuity returns and sometimes in mutual funds. They are not interested in long term gains for apparent reasons. That reminds me of a joke, and it is not cynical but practical. An 85 year goes to buy bananas. The seller says, “You buy these bananas, but they will ripe after ¾ days.” The old man smiles and says, “These days I plan for ¾ hours, forget ¾ days. Give me bananas which I can eat right away!  

But there will be societal hurdles because society may not understand the importance of YOLDS, especially the productive ones. The YOLD will demand that companies become more age-friendly and, in the process, help change attitudes towards ageing itself. 

Government policies will have to change, too. The retirement age in many rich countries is still below the age to which many people want to work. The effective retirement age (the age at which people leave the workforce) is usually even lower. Public policy makes retirement a precipice where you fall instead of offering a better exits where YOLDS can smoothly go out of the workforce depending on their capabilities.  

The society should realise that the theme song of the YOLDS is the great poem by Robert Frost. The lines below are the last four lines of the poem. Friends if you need the full poem, try the following link. 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep. 

 

Freedom, Democracy and Equality! 

26th January 2020 is the day India completes 70 years as a republic. After the initial euphoria in 1950, the government settled down over a period but faced many challenges, later. Emergency in 1975 was the biggest challenge that we met. But people rose to the occasion and overcame that issue. During those tough times, the courts did not come out with flying colours.

What do we see in the 70th year? How have situations changed in the last five to seven years? The main change was the technology. WA, FB, Instagram have made connectivity easy among people. Any news, any event spreads all over the place like wildfire. It spreads like the Coronavirus may spread. I am not sure how many people understand the information they receive. As usual, there are pros and cons to the subject of technology. Watching the feed on these apps, you will be surprised to see how much venom is there in the minds of the people.

In this context, Freedom, Democracy and Equality are big words and have great importance in any democratic country. The words are being thrown around easily in recent times in India. The recent events and protests have thrown Indian society in turmoil. Humans until they complete their education are dependent on parents and teachers for guidance, support and push. But the recent events show that this bond has become weak or it is broken. Both teachers and parents are out of sync with their children.

The protests started in JNU about the increase in fees. Tuition and other fees were increased. The students wanted a rollback. The hostel fees from mighty Rs 10/ month were raised and now rolled back to Rs.10/ pm. It is an open secret that hundreds of “parasites” live in these hostels where there is almost no fee. When the agitation started, why there was no dialogue between the teachers and students? Is the bond broken? Or is it because of the atmosphere that is vitiated due to political elements in the unions? Don’t the parents of these students read newspapers or watch TV? Are they not aware that these students are not going to classes for months together?

I have been reading about these students and listening to them. Frequently, I hear the words Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Equality. How does the government handle a situation where law and order problems are created? When protestors start throwing stones, burning buses, damaging properties are police expected to be silent spectators? The police are in a very tricky situation. If they act, they are blamed, and they are also blamed for inaction. Now it is a month since the roads are blocked in the area called Shaheen Baug in Delhi. The blockage is causing inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of people travelling to Faridabad and Noida. Court has directed the police to check the possibility of breaking the deadlock. Why is this direction given? The reason for this is the attack by masked persons on JNU. There are claims and counterclaims and both sides are blaming each other. The courts want to play it safe!

During that incident, the University authorities called the police to be available near the gate in case their help was needed. Police were asked to enter the premises at 7.45 pm. It was almost two and a half hours after the fight broke out. The people involved in the attack had sticks and hockey sticks with them. Police used lathi-charge to break the fight. The assault led to more protests against the police; hence the court has given them the directive to act peacefully to break any demonstrations. The atmosphere in these institutes is such that teachers can not have any dialogue with students due to the strongly politicised atmosphere.

Protests are freedom of expression. But what about the rights of other citizens to reach their destination smoothly and on time? Now the examination season is starting. What can a student do if he or she does not reach the hall on time? Both students and others have equal rights. A demonstration can happen for one day, one week, but now it is more than one month. How to break this tangle? The initial protest started about fees, and now it is converted into CAA/NRC protest. Students are doing a few demonstrations in different cities, but the Shaheen Baug is taken over by housewives and old ladies along with their grandchildren. I never bother about religion etc. but the majority of the people seen at Shaheen Baug are Muslims. The same is the case with Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad. It indicates that the people from the Muslim community have not understood the principle behind these laws.

Where are the leaders of the Muslim community missing? Why are politicians from different parties not explaining to these people about the new law? It means that political parties are very keen to politicise the issue. Even after the discussion takes place, everyone doesn’t have to support the legislation. There is a freedom to oppose anything and everything in this country. Around 150 litigations have been filed in the Supreme Court. In the initial hearing, the Court has disagreed to stay the law. The Court has asked the government to give their reply within four weeks. Once the matter has gone into the court of law, what is the point in continuing the protests and demonstrations? You don’t want to accept the new law. You don’t wish to heed by the court ruling. What is that people exactly want?

On one side, the authorities have started a campaign to explain what CAA is all about. The second aspect is that court proceedings have started. If the protestors still want to continue protest, how to resolve this? Or we are back to my way or Highway?

The way forward is that both sides go two steps back. Or we can say take two steps forward. In life, except for birth and death, nothing is absolute. The dividing line that is currently seen is not a line drawn on a stone. Treat it as a line in the sand; let the waves wash away the lines. There is always a middle ground if we want. There is a possibility that the Supreme Court may change a few things. Supreme Court ruling has to be accepted by both the sides anyway. So why not start the discussions now. We are all from the same country. It hardly makes any difference if you are a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian. We belong to the same country.  So take those few steps, friends!

And don’t forget the great song!

 

Brexit, Megxit or Exit!  

 

United Kingdom could exit (brexit)  European unionWhere is the British empire heading? The empire where once the sun never set seems to be imploding. Brexit and Megxit appear to be the symptoms of this implosion. If you look at the history of Britain, they ruled the world for a couple of hundred years. Their first setback was in what came to be known as the United States of America. Boston Tea Party, in the year 1773,  in US history marked the end of the stranglehold of the British Empire. In India, the so-called Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was the beginning of the process of the countdown of the British dominance in India. It culminated in India getting independence in 1947.

In the year 1973, Britain joined the European Union- then known as the European Economic Community. The European countries realised that countries other than Germany, Britain and France were too small to grow strongly. The coming together created the European Union in the year 1993. It is coming together of the countries and creating a competing and robust face of the Union in the fast-changing world. It created a common currency Euro and made a border-free movement of goods and people. For the practical purpose, the EU is like a country, and the different nations are the states within that country.

The EU formation created a small movement in Britain. The movement supported by people who wanted Britain to come out of the EU. It was a group of older people who remembered the Empire and had never come out of the thought that the British were driven out of most of the colonies, world over. These people were probably blind to the changes that had taken place in the world. They failed to visualise that the world economic balance was now in equal proportions between the US and the Asian countries like Japan, China and India. Europe’s only chance to compete was being together, and hence EU was a relevant development. But the narcissist Britishers voted in the referendum in 2016 to come out of the EU. The poll led to the start of the British exit- Brexit from the EU. People forgot that it was easier said than done. The past glories don’t help in future; one has to work hard to succeed. Brexit has led to significant turmoil in Britain, cutting short the career of one Prime Minister and called for an early election in the year 2019.

brexit2

The second event that is currently creating waves is Megxit. It is a request by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, to allow them to withdraw from Senior membership from the Royal family. The withdrawal, they feel, would let them spend half their time in North America. They also thought that it would give them financial freedom. The reason for this is the hounding of Meghan, who is half African American, by the tabloid industry in Britain. The most influential and respected family in the world, the British Royal family, could not prevent these racial attacks on Meghan, who was a model and an actress before her marriage to Duke of Sussex, Harry. Is this the beginning of the end of the British monarchy as we know it? Are things imploding in Britain at a speed that may be impossible to slow down?

The thoughts behind Brexit and Megxit are quite similar. It is about thinking that they are the best. It is a thought process of Caucasian, white people who believe that the bloody Indians need to be ruled. Yes, there are internal rivalries between the French and the Germans and the British. But oh, those Poles or those Czechs! They are meant to work on construction sites or something equivalent. As the colour of the skin starts becoming darker, thinking changes. A coloured Joffra Archer is excellent, as long as he takes wickets. The moment his form dips…

Royalty with Afro American background! How is that possible? Given below is the passage from Washington post about Meghan.

Ever since she began dating Harry in 2016, Meghan has been the target of coverage that can’t even be called forensic scrutiny, as that would imply a degree of accuracy. British tabloids were funhouse mirrors when writing about her, committed not to news but the distortion of her image. She has been routinely picked apart and reassembled as a vicious caricature, the list of her alleged faults and faux pas endless. Her crimes are amorphous, ever-changing and at times opposed; she was cast as a bleeding-heart liberal or a money-grabbing social climber depending on the audience. Many hoped the arrival of her son, Archie, would help the media show a kinder side, but that was not the case. 

No tabloid said any such thing about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge; the Wife of Williams, Harry’s elder brother.  The nearest they came to harassing her was trying to take her photos with a telephoto lens when she was on a private beach taking a skinny dip. But everything was perfect about Kate because she was a white Caucasian female who fits the template.

Britain has already started discrete and sometimes not so discrete way of showing the displeasure about Pakis. Pakis is a term generally used for Indians, Bangla Deshi’s and Pakistani people. They would send all of them back to wherever they came from if it were possible; many of them are doing exceedingly well in Britain. I will give you an example of their thought process. A Rear Admiral, retired, from Indian Navy got down at Heathrow. His post preceded his name on the passport.  A lady at the immigration counter asked him, ” Sir, do you speak English?” He smiled and said in propah British accent, “Oh, Lady! It’s Tuesday today, isn’t it? I speak English on Tuesdays, French on Wednesdays, German on Thursdays!”

Brexit is also the result of such thoughts. Free movement of goods and people is excellent as long as those Poles and Czechs do not come and take away low skilled jobs. Britishers forget that they are a part of Europe. Albanians are gangsters and Hungarians are a necessary evil; that is how the people who voted for Brexit think. These are the same people who think that royalty cannot be from a mixed-race! If someone marrying into the Royalty is Caucasian from Europe, that is fine. But they can’t be mixed blood from anywhere else; be it China or Japan or India. Mixed African-blood? Oh, my God! It is not acceptable at all.

But nothing is new in this thought process. In Hindu mythology, Gods have always been described with fair coloured skin; and demons are all the time having big moustaches and dark colour. In our society, if we meet someone who is good looking, our opinion about him/her is always fair, initially, pun intended. Similarly, if that person is fair-skinned, it is even better. We use derogatory terms describing people with a dark complexion.

The most surprising aspect in Meghan affair is that Royalty also faced significant issues at the hands of the press; the reason being the mixed-race of the Her Royal Highness Princess Meghan! Oh, sorry! I cannot say this, now she is only Princess Meghan. They have given up the title HRH now as an arrangement within the royal family as even the Royalty could not prevent hounding by the Hounds of the cousins of the Fleet Street!

A smallish nation like Britain cannot behave like this for practical reasons. Now they have almost a non-existent manufacturing base. North Sea oil will be important until petroleum products remain essential for the world economy. It is possible that after the exit from the EU, London may not remain the Financial Centre of the world.

Effects of Brexit can be challenging to predict, but there will be tough times. If the press can hound the Royalty, it can always create issues for the significant population of non-Caucasians living in Britain. Albanians. Czechs, Poles anyway will go away due to Brexit.

So, what next? Brexit-Megxit and finally Exit from the global scene? It is difficult to exist in this “bad, bad” world without collaborating with others. God save the Queen and Britain.

Out of curiosity, I saw the site www.royalsussex.com. You may also want to view it. I came to know many new things from the website about British Royalty.

Leaders of Indian Democracy- a tough journey!  

I prefer not to write blogs about politics, but so many things have happened in the last six months, that I am compelled to write one more time. The blog is not about comparing leader A with leader B. It is about the leaders who took decisions and moved forward as against those who preferred the status quo. It is about accidental leaders; it is about “leaders” who were led by remote control. The discussion is also about the changes in society and its thinking. Hindsight is always 20:20. So it is easier to comment on things that happened sometime back. We need to understand that today’s times and decisions will only be understood better 50 years hence. History is an easier science than prediction.

We also need to consider separate periods as “Before the Internet” and “After the Internet”! Nehru led the post-independence era. The society loved the handsome, cigarette smoking prince. One hundred and fifty years of British Raj ensured that society became naïve.

Anything that the authorities did was considered good, and people rarely challenged them. The nation glorified poverty, but Nehru’s fashionable lifestyle was never challenged.

The first significant unrest was in the late fifties as Maharashtra was being split into Gujarat and Maharashtra. During this agitation, people from Maharashtra wanted Marathi speaking area around Belgaum to merge in Maharashtra. In this agitation, 106 people died in Police firing. It led to the conversion of Flora Fountain in Bombay into Hutatma (Martyr) Chowk. The leader at that time was Moraraji Desai. Then there was Goa agitation. Indians wanted Portuguese to leave Goa. But this happened after a lot of unrest and a small armed forces confrontation. Then occurred the 1962 China war, where Indians were unprepared. Luckily, China stopped the fight unilaterally. It was the first kick that made us understand what the real world is all about. Nehru’s downfall started from this incident, and he died, a sad man, in 1963! India continued to be led by the old guard as they never wanted to retire. China war did not need history to prove how India was ill-prepared to face the world both politically and otherwise.

Shastriji’s quiet leadership during the 1965 war made India a little more confident!

In the case of decision-taking leadership, history decides whether their decision was right or wrong. In came Indira Gandhi. She had to remove the old guard, which she managed with aplomb. Indira Gandhi took two significant decisions. She helped Bangla Desh to become independent, thus splitting Pakistan. The act indicated that India had some spine! You don’t need only to be tough, but you also need to show that you are tough. She nationalised all the banks leading to the start of the socialistic era in India. In hindsight, it proved to be not a very right decision. For joining the global economy, it was a retro step. Her next brave decision was to send the Army into the Golden temple in 1984! Had she not taken that decision; Khalistan movement would have created another Kashmir due to indecision. Operation Blue Star resulted in her assassination, but it was necessary to have Blue Star! Here the terrorists were Sikhs! They were trying to take advantage, hoping that the government will be soft and will not enter the Golden temple!

Rajeev Gandhi took some excellent decisions about computers with advice from Sam Pitroda! But his miscalculation cost India dear in Sri Lanka; LTTE took their revenge by assassinating him in Sri Perambuddur!

By the time Narsimha Rao’s term was over, the system got used to status quo. He is said to have opened Indian Economy to the world. But this was done under duress in 1992 as India’s financial condition was critical. India had to borrow money against “family” gold. Coalition governments, Bajpayee Government and later Manmohan government were in status quo mode. Good, soft people sometimes are not enough to run a vast country like India. India is a complex country and has diversity. Different people think differently and want their solutions to suit themselves. These may contradict with the requirements of other states!

The effectiveness of government actions, people’s reactions and court interventions collectively define the society’s acceptance or rejection of any event. Two events show how unfortunate events were allowed to happen. After Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the silent support by the then government allowed hundreds of Sikhs to be murdered. The Gujarat government was a mute spectator and silent supporter of riots after the Godhra incident. But during the last ten years, “Post the Internet” news and rumours have started spreading fast with the advent of social media.  The significant aspect of the Internet is that Government cannot hide any news from people. But at the same time rumour mongering is rampant. The courts intervene whenever they can at a reasonable speed. During the recent CAA event, there were 99 litigations entered with the Supreme Court. The court quickly acted upon these by clubbing them together. They told the litigants that CAA could not be stayed legally, at the same time they informed the Government to have all India campaign to share with people the detailed information about the law. The court told the political litigants to stop the riots first before the litigations would be heard.

Now let us talk about the government from 2014. The government took actions on many issues and went away from the status quo norm. It has been acting fast and is seen to be implementing many schemes. Aadhar Card, GST was the action started by the previous government but was implemented by the Modi government. When massive all India changes of this nature are being implemented, problems do crop up. The opposition must question the government for errors but should give support in the process. Article 370 was a similarly swift decision by the government. Ayodhya Ram Mandir decision was handled with finesse by the government!

Similarly, NRC has been in discussion for more than a decade. The Supreme Court had intervened in 2015 and had given the directives to the government. But one thing is sure; the current government is taking fast actions and not maintaining the status quo! At the same time, people have changed. During the emergency in 1975, the people of my parent’s generation were not brave enough to show dissent, openly. “Post the Internet” information flow has speeded up. It is a good thing that people of my generation express disagreement openly, now. The young people of today have been trying to push the government effectively. After all, these are young people, so they behave like young people. In their enthusiasm, they go overboard and make significant mistakes. They are, after all, young folks are with hot blood. It is the responsibility of opposition parties to ensure that harmful elements of the society don’t take advantage and create an unhealthy atmosphere by rioting and arson. It is the responsibility of every adult irrespective of their political allegiance to help make these demonstrations peaceful! Demonstrating against something which we don’t approve is our right given by the democracy.

Governments usually act when their backs are to the wall, or there are elections around. Current governments tenure is till 2024! So these actions were not crucial for them to act.

In a diverse country like India, it is difficult for any government to take action which will please everybody. Now with BJP losing elections in many states, there will be strong opposition at the state level, which is essential. But state governments must remember which laws are in the Central Government list and which ones are under state government list. They should not take an unreasonable stand like eight or ten states have said that they will not allow CAA in their states! The position is legally not tenable because it is under Central Government list. By taking such a stance, these states are starting unavoidable fights.

What is my preference; a government taking actions or status quo governments? Status quo is a big no, no! Any entity that acts is likely to make mistakes, like Indira Gandhi’s emergency. Such acts are known immediately to be vicious. But the effects of other actions would be known after twenty or thirty years.

But one thing is for sure that all governments should be benevolent and be soft on people, especially the young ones. They should ensure that society does not get divided. It should not be us versus them under any circumstances. Words like revenge are not acceptable. The UP government recently used this term. But at the same time, the UP government is the first state government in India which has shown the guts to use the Supreme Court ruling. The ruling allows the authorities to fine rioters to reimburse the property damaged. Today it is easy to prove the participation in riots because of video recordings.

Action, softness with people and non-divisive methods will lead to vibrant and better India! There will be some unhappy people whatever you do! But one thing is sure. There will be tough decisions, there will be fights but my country will never be divided! There will be Prime Ministers who take actions, but there won’t be dictators!

India’s tallest flag at Guwahati!

IndianFlagatguwahati

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.

Mumbai saga!  

Recent political saga brings questions to my mind! Is this typical human nature? Is everybody so powerhungry? Where do voters like you and me remain relevant? Many voters had voted for the alliance between BJP and Shivsena, but they fought about the chief ministers post and split. Shivasena joined the opponents, and it has formed a government in alliance with the “secular” former opponents the Congress party. Shivasena is strong proponent of Hindutva principle, and Congress has always been a “secular” party. Secular is defined as not connected with religious or spiritual matters. 

In between, Ajit Pawar of NCP “joined” with BJPFadnavis and Ajit Pawar took oath as Chief Minister and Dy Chief Minister. That was another episode from the saga. The government formed lasted only for a couple of days, thanks to the Supreme Court. 

Saga1 

All these happenings appear to be a stolen script from the Epic of Mahabharata. We have two Epics, Ramayana and MahabharataRamayana is the epic which follows utopian text and Mahabharata has the reallife script. The last three days story of Fadnavis taking the oath was a shame on the democracy. One felt like shutting the eyes or not putting the TV ON. One felt like not even reading the newspapers. It was a shameless behaviour. It can be compared with the disrobing of Draupadi in public by DushasanaHer modesty was saved by Lord Krishna by supplying an endless supply of sarees! Similarly, the Supreme court’s order to prove the required strength of MLA’s within 24 hours saved disrobing of democracy in Maharashtra.  

saga3

Ajit Pawar openly went against his leader Sharad Pawar and tried to break the Chakravyuha set up by his uncle Sharad PawarAjit Pawar like Abhimanyu thought he had the knowledge to break through the vyuha. Like Abhimanyu had learnt half knowledge about breaking of chakravyuha while he was in his mother’s wombAjit dada thought that he had learnt all the tricks from his guru and uncle, Sharad Pawar. But he did not know that he had only half the required knowledge.  

In Ramayana, when Lord Rama went for 14 years of vanvas, his brother did not take a quick jump on the throne. Bharat’s mother Kaikeyi had played her cards well to send Rama to vanvas. But Bharat was loyal to his brother, and for all these 14 years he kept Rama’s paduka’s (footwear) on the throne as a gesture to show his respect to Rama. He looked after the administration under the tutelage of Rama’s paduka’s and was representing Rama. BJP and Shivsena fought the election under the leadership of BJP. Once the results were out, they took the role exactly reverse of Bharata. By breaking the partnership with BJP, Shivasena has sent BJP on five-year-long vanvas! While doing so, they have accepted the terms of their “opposition” of not making Thackrey’s son the Chief Minister! If they had shown the same maturity in discussions with BJP, they would not have broken their pre-poll alliance!   

In all this saga, where does the common man like you and me stand? People voted to the BJP-Shivsena pre-poll alliancePeople voted the candidate in their area irrespective of his party. The vote was for the alliance. They had faith in the coalition and not on individual party. They now feel cheated 

The show was the politics at it’s best or the worst! One crucial point comes to mind. These parties run on donations given to them by their cadre and some other organisations. The money is given to run the affairs of the party. But they have shown so much faith in their MLA’s that these guys were put “under house arrest, in fivestar hotels. These were about 150 people. They were in hotels for about ten days. If we consider an average room rate of Rs. ten thousandthey spent Rs. 1.5/ crores minimum. The first thing is why fivestar hotels are needed to keep these people “under arrest”? The second thing is why these MLA’s are required to be kept under “arrest”If this is the faith the parties have in their MLA’show will they ensure that in future MLA’s will not rebel? Once the government is formed, there will be dissatisfied soulsBJP sitting on opposition benches is not going to keep quiet. There are 26 independent MLA’s, so they probably need additional 15/20 MLA’s. In Karnataka, BJP showed patience and got a chance to form government after a couple of years! Poaching of MLA’s is nothing new, but now there are good laws like anti-defection laws in place! Maharashtra saga may show the way for creating some good laws against breaking alliance after elections have been won with pre-poll agreement 

Politics world over is the same. It is the methods of handling the situations that vary. Brexit is a classic case of the political mess in Britain. Young people, who are affected the most by Brexit did not take part seriously in the referendum. When the results were out, Britain had opted for going out of the EU (European Union). There was enough time for Britain to exit smoothly, but the successive governments handled things poorly. The result was that a Prime Minister had to resign. Second Prime Minister who thought that he could sail through has been stalled at every stage. He was finally left with no option but to call for an early election. What the election results will do, is anybody’s guess. I am sure there must have been many internal offers to switch votes for the MP’s. But in Britain, they don’t “arrest” their MP’s against the fear of revolt. But the result has been the same, confusion.  

Both democracy and dictatorship have their pros and cons. But democracy has more pros than cons. People prefer to live in political uncertainty rather than living under the fear of tyranny. Look at what is happening in Hongkong. China is trying very hard to push her ways and take control of Hongkong, but the people of Hongkong are fighting tooth and nail against the changes China is pushing!  

Besides election troubles and chaos, governments world over are experts in creating a mess. Currently, there is big story going on in the Parliament in Ireland. A huge printer worth 1.3 million pounds was ordered. When the printer arrived in the parliament house, they realised that it could not be taken inside the building because of the size. The printer was moved to a storage godown at the cost of two thousand pounds a month for almost one year. The location was corrected to accommodate the printer that cost another twenty thousand pounds. Finally, the printer was installed and got ready to print about two months back. Not a single paper has been printed, yet!  

Saga2

All activities in a society reflect on some other action. We have difference of opinion at home, in the place of work. We bicker with friends and relatives.  So why bicker about what happened in Mumbai. It has been happening since the days of Mahabharata! We rarely see things happening in the Ramayana way. Yudhisthir had to give that famous reply “अश्वत्थामा हतो नरो वा कुञ्जरो वा” to deceive Dronacharaya. When Dronacharya was told that Ashwathama died, he asked Yudhisthir as Yudhisthir always spoke the truth. But अश्वत्थामा हतो नरो वा कुञ्जरो वा meant that he was not sure if it was the human or the elephant of the same name! In short, he also discretely lied! But we have only one in a million  Yudhisthirs, so what more can we expect from our society and from our politicians?