Latest Orwell!

You may think that Pramod is thinking like George Orwell! This is where the comparison ends. Orwell was a great British thinker whereas I am just a blogger!  But from what I have been reading and what I observe things, are going to get quite complex. Similar to Orwell’s theory of big brother watching, a group of companies are jointly becoming this New Big Brother (NBB). No, they are not coming together or forming a cartel or a caucus, nothing of that sort is happening. But Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook jointly have a large amount of information about us, stored on their servers.   

Orwell

The adjective “Orwellian” connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth and manipulation of the past. In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell described a totalitarian government that controlled thought by controlling language, making certain ideas literally unthinkable. Several words and phrases from Nineteen Eighty-Four have entered the popular language. “Newspeak” is a simplified and confusing language designed to make independent thought impossible. “Doublethink” means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously. The “Thought Police” are those who suppress all dissenting opinion. “Prolefeed” is homogenised, manufactured superficial literature, film and music used to control and indoctrinate the populace through docility. “Big Brother” is a supreme dictator who watches everyone.   

All the liberals and radicals in India had raised a hue and cry about Aadhar data going to Government. Firstly, we have been sharing a lot of information about us through Income tax department, when we get our PAN card or Election card made. Aadhar additionally took biometric data. Apple, Microsoft has been encouraging biometric recognition using thumbprint and face recognition, we have not even thought for a second whether to share these details with them or not. This is going to create a more secure environment, we were told. We shared this info with no questions asked!  

The New Big Brother (NBB) is very powerful. They not only have our data but also have the wherewithal to use analytical tools and understand everything about us. Let me give a very intimate example, then you will know what I mean. Suppose a lady buys her sanitary requirements for her monthly period on Amazon. Amazon has her age and buying history, so don’t be surprised if she gets a reminder from them, “Hey, you seem to have forgotten to buy your Tampons!” Whether Amazon is using the data for such purpose, I don’t know, yet.   

You have been always taught since childhood not to accept chocolates or biscuits from strangers or never to talk with them. Here you become friends with hundreds of near strangers and share your very intimate details with the whole world. People share their cell number on FB wall! Is it not risky in the cyber world? Fraudsters can cheat you, with your money; some people use this for stalking!  There was a big scandal regarding data sharing and breach by a company called Cambridge Analytica! They were given data of US citizens by Facebook. This data was used to create a campaign against Hillary Clinton in her election campaign against Trump. Later on, it was found out that this company used data about sexual scandals to help a group of politicians in Sri Lanka! It seems the cyber tentacles have spread in all directions!   

How can the NBB be stopped from taking policy decisions which can be against the right to secrecy? The option is for workers, many having entered tech company with idealistic rather than financial motives, to help regulate and restrict their own employers. Many have already begun to express regret over the effectiveness of their innovations, a phenomenon perhaps best exemplified by the Center for Humane Technology, led by the former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris. But the problem in this method is that the employees who are protesting or are whistleblowers are ultimately products of the same system that created the issue in the first place.  

Less clear to most people, however, is the extent to which the companies that make the technology, apps, and browsers that we use are not just tracking but shaping our behaviour. Thanks to the border-breaking nature of these technologies, and particularly the smartphone, the success of the NBB companies has put an unfathomable amount of wealth, power, and direct influence on the consumer in the hands of just a few individuals – individuals who can affect billions of lives with a tweak in the code of their products.  

Self-driving and electric vehicles are expected to come in a big way. These vehicles will use a lot of onboard computers. Any issue reported in the vehicle will be instantaneously captured on servers. Experts will analyze and create a software solution. The correction software patch will be released simultaneously to hundreds of thousands of vehicles. Great, no more visits to the workshop; next time you start the car the patch will be auto-downloaded. Does this bother you? No. But it bothers me. In the same way, the patch is released, a malicious person can send a malicious program and release it in the computers of thousands of cars. You just put imagination glasses on and wonder how damaging this can be!   

NBB may be shaping our behaviour! This is where the fundamental democracy deficit comes from: you have this incredibly concentrated private power with zero transparency or accountability, and then they have this unprecedented wealth of data about their users to work with. We have allowed these private companies to take over a lot of functions that we have historically thought of as public functions or social goods, like letting Google be the world’s library. Microsoft runs our life by controlling the operating systems on computers. Android and IOS control our cell phone operating systems. Android has a remarkable share of 80% plus. Democracy and the very concept of social goods – that tradition is so eroded globally that people are ready to let these private companies assume control.   

Democratic governments can be changed through elections but how can you change ways NBB works, with lack of transparency? But at the same time for NBB, everything is not a walk in the park. They are multinationals, incidentally all having headquarters in the USA. But they are answerable to all governments in the world.  Zuckerberg faced the music in the US after Cambridge Analytica fiasco. He was called by the British Government but somehow managed to skip the “invite”! Sundar Pichai is being grilled by US Government about suppressing conservative views on Google search engine. European Union has been really pushing Google about their search engine monopoly. In China Google had to withdraw in 2010 because of censorship and other issues, thereby losing big business. The Indian government is pressurizing Microsoft/Amazon that cloud servers for Government data must be on Indian soil! They will have to relent, looking at the size of business that India operations can generate. Indian Government has been after WhatsApp and Apple about certain issues.  

NBB is forced to use freedom available to multinationals with care and responsibility because they are being forced to become transparent in their dealings by combined efforts of whistleblowers and governments. These checks and balances will fall in place over a period of time.   

Orwell’s theory of Totalitarianism gets challenged, every time we see somebody trying to control freedom. Indira Gandhi was forced to cancel emergency, Russian communism collapsed in the late 80’s/ early ’90s of the last century. Berlin Wall fell in 1989. How China and NBB fight with each other is a test case for the world. Both are trying to keep each other’s monopoly in check. Its early days of this battle but as computers become more and more powerful, as software becomes all compassing there can be spectacular battles. But as an optimist, I am sure the good will win in the end! By the way, I don’t believe in Orwellian thoughts!

GoodALwaysWins

  

  

  

  

  

   

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Pseudos!

Pseudo is a term to define non genuineness. Years back I remember, Indian Industry doyen S L Kirloskar had made a very valid statement. One of the main roads in Pune was being widened; some trees were required to be uprooted. Environmentalists, anti-everything gang made a hue and cry that trees are a must and trees need to be protected. Of course, it was true up to an extent. But SLK said, “Are trees for us or humans are for trees?” Development of the planet, some call it raping the planet, is bound to occur. It is now happening at a faster pace. This puts pressure on cities and their infrastructure. We need wider roads, more houses. This needs to be done, keeping in mind the environmental aspects. Opposing everything is incorrect, illogical, and to me stupid. The pseudos want all this to happen at the Stone Age Ecology levels!

We humans sometimes behave arrogantly, try to bulldoze, try to push things to extremes. It’s good to have checks and balances. But opposing everything, for the sake of opposition is equally arrogant, pushy and so is bulldozing everything. It is essential to keep a check, on checks and balances, to me these groups are Pseudos in most cases.

Take the example of a road that my city Pune, is trying to build across a hill. This is going on for a couple of decades. Groups have gone to court. The opposition is against trees that will be damaged. City authorities have given an affidavit to the courts, saying that they will plant 10 times the number of trees that will get damaged. But somehow the case is dragging. Come on, entire cities like San Fransisco are built on the hills! Still, the city is so green!  All said and done, even after so much progress (?), Pune is still a green city!

Why do people and groups oppose everything? Who are these people? They are environmentalists, they are the people who feel that saving this planet from others is the responsibility bestowed on them by Him! Most importantly, they feel that they are experts in every field! They know that roads should not be built on the hills. I thought that there is a concept called a hill station! What are they? How do you move around on hill station without a road? How do you reach the hill station? We know what the roads do. Roads bring cars and trucks, roads bring pollution. But roads also connect places and people. Roads bring prosperity, roads improve connectivity. An idea should be to reach the goals with the least possible pollution.

In this decade Electric Vehicles technology is coming to the fore! The inflexion point for EV’s could be as early as 15 years from today. Various groups should come together and find out what new problems will come up. One thing is sure that emission issues will go down drastically and particle pollution from IC engines will start reducing. But our pseudo-friends instead of working with the vehicle manufacturers, have started discussions about how batteries will create pollution.

Another area where these groups are very active is animals. Saving species from extinction is the responsibility of each government and individual. It is the responsibility of humanity. The natural diversity that we have on the earth should be maintained. In India Maneka Gandhi, Minister of women and child development is at the forefront of this movement. It is a great thing that the Indian government is backing these efforts. But to what extent this should be done is a matter of discussion.

We had a recent incident in the state of Maharashtra. A Tigress, which had become man-eater over the last two years had become a major problem. She has attacked and killed 13 people in her area of dominance. The government of Maharashtra decided finally to take services of a sharpshooter. Even in such situations, an attempt is made always to use darts to anaesthetize the animal by using darts.

The “Shikari” used the darts, still, the Tigress advanced forward in their direction so he shot her dead. Congratulatory messages started flowing and immediately a controversy was created. “Murder” was the headline in newspapers followed by a very strong worded statement by Ms Gandhi. When the minister from Maharashtra Government sent a congratulations message to the hunter, Ms Gandhi demanded that the minister should resign for authorizing a “Murder”! Tigress must be saved at any cost people’s lives be damned! What are 13 people from a population of 1.4 billion people? These people can always be spared.

Then there is the big story of stray dogs. In India, touching a stray dog is extremely tricky. There are rulings which are very much on the side of the dogs, which to me is the right thing.  As per the laws of nature, humans have gone far ahead of other species in everything. They keep dogs as pets, lately, some people adopt dogs instead of giving birth to children or adopting human babies. These lucky pets and adopted dogs have a good life as we humans have. But there is a big population of stray dogs, some of them sick and others rabid. According to laws government agencies can only catch them and can’t kill the rabid dogs. Read this an old article from BBC which says that in India rabid dogs kill more people than the terrorists!

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36035456

But to what extent the leash should be loosened, pun intended, is a matter of conjecture. The subject of saving the dogs has gone a bit too far for my liking. I also have the same question as what SLK had. Are dogs for us or are we for the dogs? I like dogs and I am Ok with folks who have dogs as pets. I know of a couple who live in the USA. They have adopted dogs and when they travel round the globe, they Video Chat with their children. Good for them!

But to me on any of these subjects, humans must come first and and dogs, trees, tigresses, and environment comes second. Not a very distant second but still a second! What is your opinion, my friends?

Misogyny!

Misogyny

 

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny is manifest in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. Misogyny can be found within sacred texts of religions, mythologies. Why this thought process exists is very simple to judge. Nature has created humans as males and females; females have been given a very important job of giving birth to children. The science of childbearing and giving birth has made the male and female bodies differently, with women’s bodies between certain age are made ready to conceive. In the initial phase of history, the marriages took place even before the girl’s body was ready to conceive and both husband wife hardly knew anything about the birds and the bees.

Over a period, the so-called legal age for marriage went on increasing and now it is theoretically minimum 18 years for girls. The monthly cycles of women, created different thought process in the initial phase of history, but it seems not much has changed even today. The women are supposed to be impure in that phase of their monthly cycle. Many women have difficulty handling menstruation both physically and mentally. Handling this aspect on a practical basis was also very difficult, even 70 years back,  due to lack of knowledge and lack of proven clean methods to handle periods. This led to calling women impure, weak and what have you! Also, during pregnancy and childbirth, women needed to take it easy or sometimes rest, completely! This led to calling and looking at women as weak and inferior individuals. Probably if a male is made to give birth to a child, then he would know who is weak!

I read a news item in today’s Pune newspaper that in a crowded public place, a guy tried to misbehave with a woman. When he was caught and taken to the police station, he said, “Oh, I thought she was a whore!” This is purely a misogynist statement. This is our society’s behaviour with women! Reading the M J Akbar and Sabarimala stories, this is the type of reaction we are getting from men and some women too! These are so-called strong women who think women should have retaliated there and then instead of being crybabies and complaining years after the MeToo event took place.

Many are surprised with the way people from the advanced, highly educated  Kerala are behaving against the Supreme Court Verdict on Sabarimala, not allowing all ladies (including those of menstruating age between 10&50) to visit Ayyappa Mandir. Kerala is the most literate state in India with the literacy rate of 110% (it is jokingly said that 10% are monkeys from Kerala which are also literate!). Many including women have stopped the ladies from entering the Mandir. I am sure most of you are not aware of Kerala’s poor history in sticking to so-called traditions.

The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt, also called Maru Marakkal Samaram, refers to the fight from 1813 to 1859 of Nadar climber women in Travancore kingdom for the right to wear upper-body clothes to cover their breasts. I will not go into too many details but it was a tradition in those days of baring of the chest and shoulders in front of people of higher status and was considered a sign of respect, by both males and females. Only Nair community ladies were allowed to wear blouses but Nadar community, from so-called lower caste, were not allowed to wear them. Uneasy with social status, many Nadars embraced Christianity and started wearing long clothes. Nadar women later started wearing blouses, similar to Nair community. This led to Channar revolt which went on for 40 plus years though British rulers and Royalty from Travancore tried to force this issue.

We are all aware that the humans started with wearing loin cloth made from tree leaves. But the concepts of civil behaviour started evolving too. Wearing clothes was part of this evolution. The Kerala region has been way ahead of other parts of India in literacy and education, from the beginning. But religion and castes superseded the normal thought process in the brain of Keralites too, and the result was Channar Revolt! It was logical that Nadar women should have been allowed to wear blouses.

With this type of thought process, it is not surprising that in the whole of India Misogyny has been the common trait. The basic difference in Me Too and Sabarimala is that at the heart of the matter, is the question of the body. In Sabarimala Case, the celibate body of the lord counterpointed against the “impure” body of the menstruating woman. In Me Too, the sexually entitled body of the male (any male) over the sexually vulnerable and dis-empowered body of the female (any female).

Underlying both conditions is a deep-rooted misogyny, casual in Me Too and customary on the part of Sabarimala. Yet both are two sides of the same patriarchal coin, and both betray such a profound contempt for — or fear of — the female body that they have to either punish it by casting it out or control it by subjugating it.

What these two phenomena have done? Sabarimala has openly said, let us continue with a different kind of untouchability, to hell with the constitution. What MeToo has done is that it has brought out in open, what has been happening for a very long time and one of the dirtiest open secret; some people are already saying that it is an elitist movement but in India the elite and the maid servants are so close on a day to day basis, that this movement will also spread in non-elite strata, thanks to the elite ladies who are leading this revolution.

What MeToo in M J Akbar and other’s case, and the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala have done is to unshackle the troublesome business of female sexuality from patriarchal control. MeToo has called male sexual predators to account not simply by naming and shaming, but by refusing to succumb. By not ceding control over their bodies. By rejecting them and registering their revulsion. The Supreme Court verdict, similarly, has called out a discriminatory practice based on a sexual taboo — an unspoken endorsement of different untouchability — and simultaneously challenged male primacy in the matter of worship.

Friends, this sudden loss of power at the hands of women in one instance, and via a judgment on the other, has hit patriarchal privilege bandwagon in an unexpected — and unwelcome — ways. What causes resentment is that it is female sexuality, under patriarchal control all these years, that has upset the apple-cart. The fact that it cannot be used to justify discrimination/untouchability under a different garb, even in a place of worship. In future, it cannot be abused at will and with impunity. The fact that women will no longer fall in line, and or remain silent.

Misogynists of the world, be careful and warned in the future! The ladies brigade and the Indian constitution are now slowly waking up! As far as Kerala is concerned, Sabarimala is only one month and it is early days, compared 40 year plus war of Channar Lahala!

Motherland or Fatherland?

Mesut Özil  is a German professional footballer who plays for English club Arsenal. He retired from international football, very recently, due to discrimination he felt when Germany lost in this year’s world cup football at the league level itself. He came into limelight in 2010 world cup at the age of 22 and had lion’s share in Germany’s victory in 2014. For sportsmen, life is a big grind and with age their game becomes more mature, age does slow them down too. After Germany lost in league stage this year, murmurs had started about Özil’s poor performance but people forget that the whole German team had played poorly including in the practice games. In certain circles, there started a whisper campaign where it was said that Özil was not true to his adopted country. He has Turkish origins.

This campaign upset him so much that he said, “When Germany won in 2014, I was a German; now that Germany has lost I am a Turkish immigrant living in Germany.” In disgust he simply retired. This brings out the old questions about immigration. Since last century, immigration has reached epidemic proportions. Similar statement was made by Albert Einstein in 1922. He had said, “If my relativity theory is proven right then Germany will claim that I am German and France will say that I am a global citizen; but if this theory is not successful then France will say that I am German and Germany will say that I am a Jew!” This statement perfectly explains how the thought process in the world has hardly changed in such matters.

Özil is the son of Turkish immigrants and was born in Germany. The laws about citizenship in all countries are different; in the US a child born on US soil, irrespective of Visa status of the mother, becomes Citizen of US. Özil is born and brought up in Germany but as often happens he and his family have kept close links with his roots in Turkey. With sons of diaspora doings so well internationally in football for Germany, the Turkish President Erdogan used Özil for photo session opportunity! This started a bit of whisper campaign in Germany. Had Germany done better than what they did, there would have been no murmurs or whispers. France had about ten players with African origin in their world cup winning team. Comedian Noah of South African origin had commented in a show, “Africa has won the world cup!” French Ambassador to US, Araud, rebuked Noah and wrote to him a twitter message, that Noah had misunderstood France’s cultural model. France had won the World Cup which helped the Ambassador take this view. Official French statements differ when France is attacked by French citizens of African origin.

Where should the loyalty of immigrants be? Where is the loyalty of immigrants? It’s a tough call and there are different ways of looking at this. The loyalty issue will be faced by first generation immigrants. Generations after first, will not face such issues, as next generations will be born and brought up in the adopted country! Proliferation of technology, especially internet, has changed things drastically. In 60’s and 70’s of last century, people who migrated to different countries traveled back home infrequently. There was no WhatsApp, no Facebook and no Skype. So, communication was difficult and expensive. In early 80’s when Jaya was in the US for her MS, we did not have phone at home. Jaya would write to me to fix up telephone call timing at someone else’s home. I would then go to their home and hoped that we got connected.

With fantastic changes in communications, democratization of people’s finances, due to greats strides in IT industry things are pretty different in this century. People are fully connected, people travel back home regularly, parents and aunts and uncles also travel to different countries where diaspora has moved. The diaspora keeps local traditions, recipes and clothing styles alive even in foreign countries.

With these changes, probably it is difficult for first generation immigrants to shift loyalties to land where they live! In Indian context, will they sing God Save the Queen, Star Spangled Banner or Jana Gana Mana more forcefully, more from the bottom of heart? It is difficult to say. Recently, English cricket captain made a telling comment. He said, “These days when we play against India, whether in India or back home, advantage is always with India because for them both places are “home” due to great support they get in England too! Large population advantages?

30 years back, I remember a discussion when someone said in England that the real test for immigrants should be whether they clap for or against England. But now things have changed so much that such discussions are never even attempted.

Back to immigration. Which is your land the Fatherland where you have now immigrated or Motherland where you were born and brought up? Where are your loyalties? I have observed especially about Indian diaspora that they make handsome  contributions to the Fatherland but they don’t forget their Motherland too! It is as if they have duel citizenship, mentally. Some modern “financial fugitives” actually have citizenship of many countries and move their assets and body to escape the law of land which gives them trouble. Country like India have started many new schemes to tap the potential of diaspora by providing them with cards like Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) cards to make life easier for them when and if the want travel to back home, invest money in India, maybe take part in elections. Mother countries are bound to wood their prodigal sons. Many a time it is seen that people shine better in their Fatherland due to various factors. Their country is bound to take advantage of their roots back home.

Many a times I wonder what will be the mental status of fourth generation diaspora? What will a Aniruddh Kulkarni, fourth generation immigrant, who may go by informal name of Andy CoolKar, feel about Motherland? Will he really feel the same love about then too distant a motherland, mentally? I get a feeling that the Caucasian immigrants may find it a little easier to merge in countries which are predominantly Caucasian. But now these things are also changing fast. Caucasians (is by today’s definition West European?) consider themselves different than the Hispanics, people with Spanish/Portuguese background but normally living in South America. Will countries become melting pots like New York city is? Or will there will be street signs in Spanish and Chinese and maybe even in Telugu or Hindi in some towns in foreign countries? Which will then be the Fatherland and the Motherland? Tough call? 強硬電話, Llamada difícil, कठिन कॉल!

Özil’s of the world, then do not be so emotional and retire! The whole world is your playing ground buddy!

Democracy, Mobocracy, Lynching?

India urf Bharat is the world’s largest functioning democracy which has been holding reasonably fair elections since more than 60 years. People have punished the Leaders who had done wrong things e.g. Indira Gandhi after emergency, Congress after major corruption scandals in 2014 to bring Modi in! It is also driven by emotion and brought in Rajeev Gandhi with a very large margin after Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Our democracy is always in the self correction mode. But does this mean that we are really functioning democracy in the right spirit? I have my doubts. Let us not forget that India’s worst lynching was the 1984 killings of people from Sardar community in Delhi and surroundings.

Recently, we have been reading  about public lynching. These are not one of events but it appears that there is an epidemic of lynching all over India. I don’t care and bother about the political angle but I am worried about the human angle. Whatever the instigation, how can people kill any person when there has been no personal enmity, no personal interaction? In Most cases the lynching has taken place based on rumours. Unfortunately, spreading rumours is just a finger-tip away, thanks to Whats App! In India, Whats App is being used extensively. India has largest number of groups and the sending “forwards” has become national past time and hobby! Two major rumours that spread were, “There are people kidnapping children” and the second one was “flesh of so called “Holy” animal is being transported by persons of certain community.” The holy animal concept is like freedom fighters and terrorists. The holy animal for a community provides flesh which is delicacy for other communities. Assuming that some persons did break a law, why not inform the authorities and let them handle it? Who has given people the authority to kill people? Have public courts now become official?

History of humans has been brutal. Largest brutality was the world war second! Millions of people were killed in this war! All this started with pogroms against the Jews. (A pogrom is an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jews in Russia or eastern Europe.)

World over, Jews is the community that is either loved or hated, but mostly hated. They have excellent skill sets in business, music, literature to name a few areas of their expertise. But they are always determined to succeed in whatever they do. They are a determined community which has been succeeding against all odds. Some of them are extremely orthodox and very ruthless in their business dealings. Worlds sharpest minds are from this community. But when the “Aryan” Germans decided to punish the Jews for their perceived treacheries, Jews had no chance and hundreds and thousands of Jews were killed, in cold blood by sending them to concentration camps under the garb of research. This ultimately culminated into war. This war was one of the most fierce and brutal war in history of mankind. Worst brutality was the Atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki! 

Do we humans ever learn any lessons from the events that have taken place in not too distant a memory? Some do but many don’t. My friend Vijay told me a story about his discussion with a blue-blooded German, during one of his visits to Germany. Subject of Bhagwad Geeta came up during discussions. Vijay explained to his friend how Lord Krishna convinced Arjuna to take up the war to fulfill his duties. The German friend told Vijay, “I don’t care if the Lord told Arjuna, I would not follow this advice. You folks do not know the gravity of what we in Germany have gone through during the second world war. I would never follow such advice even if Lord Krishna gives it”! To me this is one incident that throws focused light on what really happened during the world war two.  

But the lynching incidents that have been taking place, have given me shudders and these incidents give me a feeling the there is no difference between humans and the beasts! Humans are supposed to have a refined brain which allows the human race to behave like, yes, the humans do! The people taking part in the lynching are beasts as far as I am concerned. Beasts generally fight among each other for food, power and females, they have their community laws. A beast will generally not attack its prey, if it is not hungry. But now humans have started killing people in cold blood, just based on rumours; the so-called incidents had no relation with the people, taking part in lynching. They have killed simply based on here say! Simply based on Whats App messages.  

The recent lynching that took place in Karnataka had a victim who was working for Google. He and a few friends while taking a spin on a weekend, stopped at a road side kiosk for a cup of tea. One of their friends from a foreign country, was with them. The friend saw some children playing there and offered them chocolates. Some altercation took place and a few locals asked, “Why are you giving chocolates to these kids?” To avoid any further complications, the group simply said sorry and drove away. Instantly, Whats App messages started circulating, claiming that these people were from a child kidnapping gang. Their photos got circulated and road blocks started coming up in the direction where the car had taken off. They finally were stopped as their car turned turtle. One of them was killed in beatings. Others got seriously hurt. They did not get an opportunity to explain anything. Were the killer’s humans or beasts?  

What leads people to such a brutal act? Are there no laws in this country? To my knowledge there are enough laws that can act as deterrents to such barbaric acts. After all these barbaric acts were no case of sudden anger, no case of love triangle. The people killed had not done anything, they were simply rumoured to have done something. It’s the application of existing laws, and fast track courts that can take these cases to their natural end, quickly. Though these thugs are insane, they cannot hide behind temporary insanity plea. The victims were not known to the murderers, the victims had not done anything illegal. In fact, the victims were visitors from far off places and were on a very temporary visit.  

Government is pushing Whats App, the company, to eliminate methods of quick circulation of such rumours. They have already started acting technologically, but it will take some time. It should not so happen that failure of Whats App to prevent such rumours being spread, leading to censorship or closing of their India operations! Because that is killing the messenger, pun absolutely intended. Why these acts have started?  Why these Vigilantes have become active?  (vigilante is a civilian or organization that undertakes law enforcement (or actions in the pursuit of self-perceived justice) that is without legal authority.) 

Vigilantes become active when they feel that government is not able to handle misdeeds of some people. But this is not true! These so-called Vigilantes themselves feel that they can do anything, with impunity. Let us all not become Vigilantes and attack these brutes but let us wake up the law enforcing authorities to act and act quickly. Form special fast track courts to reach the just conclusion. I sure am hoping that these cases will be treated under the Indian penal code of “Cold Blooded Murder”. They deserve the maximum punishment under the law.  

 

Work is Worship!

                                          श्रावण मासी हर्ष मानसी हिरवळ दाटे चोहिकडे, 
                                          क्षणात येते सर सर शिरवे क्षणात फिरुनि ऊन पडे 

These are the first two lines of the famous poem श्रावण मासी हर्ष मानसी by celebrated Marathi poet बालकवी ठोंबरे, Balkavi Thombare! The poem is the celebration of the month Shravan from the Hindu Calendar. Every child who had taken education in Marathi in our times knows at  a least a few lines, even today. It has become part of Marathi folklore.

We were going out somewhere, while entering the car a drizzle started. Today we went out a couple of times and both times it was same. In one moment there was rain, the next moment a heavy shower followed by a peek a boo by the Sun! I said to Jaya, “This is typical weather for the Hindu calendar month of Shravan.” I hummed the above lines; but then I remembered that currently the Hindu month going on is Ashadh! This is due to Adhik Mass in Hindu calendar. This calendar is based on Lunar month which is 29 ½ days of our normal calendar. To compensate for this loss of days, every two and half years we have Adhik Mass.

I am good with this but there is a major issue. All Hindu festivals and everything related to the God is celebrated as per Hindu calendar. The palkhi, (https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/palkhi-the-great-tradition/ ) the Palaquin procession terminates on Ashadhi Ekadashi i.e. 11th day of the month of Ashadh. This is where the issue starts. Large number of farmers take part in the procession and the total time taken by Palkhi to reach Pandharpur is 21 days. It is expected that they complete their work in the farms and take some time off for Palkhi. For a couple of years Palkhi starts in 3rd week of June and if there is Adhik Mass then it starts later in July as per Gregorian Calendar. Our seasons are discussed based on Gregorian calendar. So, rain gods follow the Gregorian calendar. Now, how can farmers be away from work, in major part of July, when they need to be on the farms?

Palkhi, bhakti, pooja all these things are fine but if the appropriate things are not done at the right time on the farms, the produce can get damaged, quality can go down! In fact, all the crop could go bust! How to do the right things? Has this ever been discussed in farming community? The farming depends on vagaries of weather, market conditions, disease and many such variables! So, if they remain away from the farms at the wrong time, then I shudder to even think what can happen. 21 days is not a small time to be away.

This brings us to other subject on the topic of farming. The subject that is being discussed much is the excess production in certain areas of farming. In many areas production is quite high and ever-increasing population also is not able to consume it. Let us look at Sugar. Since sugarcane is a cash crop, everybody wants to grow sugarcane. Our annual requirement of sugar is 25 million tons and we have produced 30 million tons. What to do with this sugar? International market is also weak hence the price that one gets is also not remunerative. Strikes? Government support? Government cannot support everything.

Same thing is happening in animal husbandry. Once people realized that milk production is a good business, a large number of people went into that business. They got themselves imported Jersey animals which produce a lot of milk compared to local animals. They took loans and when the going was good everything was fine. Large number of cooperative organizations have come up which collect the milk, process it and bring it to market. Excess milk is converted into milk powder. Milk collection has become quite organized but India has fully market driven system. Government may give some support but ultimately it is buyer and seller system. Excess production and supply will put the rates under pressure and which currently has happened. Solution? People are being misguided by the so-called leaders. They have asked the people to throw away the  milk every day and not give it to collection centers. With this, endless loop is formed where farmers lose more money.

Is it the way to do it? In many European countries milk business is under stress, most of the time. A few farmers do commit suicides but there is no suicide epidemic. They protest in a different way. They take their cows in large numbers to the departmental stores as a protest. They create traffic jams by bringing the tractors in the cities with the purpose of creating jam. In a factory in Japan there was some labour dispute going on for a long time. With no solution in site, the workers resorted to a novel method of protest. They kept on manufacturing shoes only for the left foot. After one week of this protest, a solution was reached. There was only temporary loss in sell but production did not suffer.

In the initial phase of independent India, there was shortage of everything. Food, Milk, Grams, Grain, you name it, we had shortage. We were forced to accept low quality grains, generally fed to animals in the US, as we had no choice. In last 40 years we have made a lot of progress. Go to any market, go to any shop. We see abundance of everything. The way we survived shortages, we have to learn the art and science of handling excesses also. It is the right balance of keeping manufacturing expenses under control, at the same time we should manage to keep final selling price under control, to keep inflation under control.

This needs a lot working together and the system must try and become independent of government support. After all government is you and me. If one hand is paid in excess then the other hand will also need money to buy costly stuff. It is all fine to say that it is middlemen or agents who are the culprits. But the major markets for everything are towns and cities. Reaching produce to the right market at the right time, needs planning, logistics, storage which many a time has to be cold storage. Even with great storage and logistics, Europe is supposedly sitting on big mountain of butter. Similarly, India is sitting on a mountain of milk powder.

It is easier said than done. Farmers have no time and money to do the marketing of their crop. This also needs money.  As far as Maharashtra is concerned, we don’t see problems in farmers from Konkan and Western Maharashtra. The milk problem appears to be problem of more developed society same as in Europe. But in eastern and north eastern areas of Vidarbha and Marathwada these problems and suicides are in large numbers. Experts need to study the reasons for this and find out the real problem behind this. It could be something social, it could be something to do with aspirations. It may be related to way the people think.

In the society, these upheavals keep on happening but the so called advanced communities keep on advancing socially in each generation. They don’t depend on government support and dole all the time. Till the time, societies don’t follow the basic ethics of “Work is Worship”, there will be problems galore. We see that in the  large cities like Mumbai and Pune, any person who wants to work has work. The fighters among them move up fast in the society, not those who want support, all the time, generation after  generation! Don’t make looking for support from someone your habit. Find your own solution, your own path. Take part in Palkhi if it is in June as hundreds of years seems to have proven that during this period basic work for the farms is done and end June and beginning July is a lull time! By all means, during your farming schedules, follow Hindu rituals but not Hindu calendar!

Righteous Violence!

अहिंसा परमो धर्मा is a Sanskrit phrase popularized by Mahatma Gandhi and is repeated many times across the world to emphasize non-violent ways of Indians. It means “Non-Violence is the ultimate Dharma”! In Sanatan Dharma this line is applicable to the renunciates and ascetics! Even if one is attacked he should not defend himself even if there is danger to life because in Sanatan Dharma you identify with Atman and not the body. 

I feel that in real life the second line of this phrase is purposely hidden by so called peace loving people. The full phrase is 

अहिंसा परमो धर्मा 

धर्म हिंसा तथैव च  

Non – Violence is the greatest Dharma, So too is all righteous violence 

When these two lines are taken together, what we can understand is that non-violence is relative! It is the moral responsibility of the person to use violence if it is used to stop greater violence or evil.  

The first line of the phrase was made popular by Gandhi. But Nathuram Godse apparently believed more in second line; he felt that Gandhi had done great harm to India and he took a violent decision to kill Gandhi! It is well proven, post-independence, that violent means are part of ruling a country. In olden days also, the kings resorted to violence and if required they killed people. Same is happening in today’s times. The Naxalite movement is causing a big headache to the Indian state. Initially, appeasement was tried but a stage was reached when this movement started becoming stronger and more violent. Government had no option but to take aggressive stance. This resulted in guerilla warfare where government forces are systematically destroying the violent groups but at the same time they are allowing some of them to surrender and change their ways. Only the strong state can talk of peace, because the other side is aware that otherwise they will get brutally crushed. Kashmir issue is for a completely separate discussion.

A society has an Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.), Spiritual Quotient (S.Q.) and a Knowledge Quotient (K.Q.). But it also has Fear Quotient which, which is based on Valour Quotient. But post-independence, due to over dependence on non-violence, India as a  country had become famous for peace and non-violent ways, especially in international dealings. This led to our society having abnormally high Fear Quotient and abnormally reducing our Valour Quotient. 

The result of such thought process was what happened in China war. At the time of China war, our defense minister Krishna Menon was telling everybody that our ordinance factories were busy manufacturing Lanterns! Such weak Leadership of Menon under guidance of Nehru resulted in India having a bloody nose in International diplomacy. China for some reason wanted to teach India a lesson, under very smart slogan Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai (Chinese and Indians are brothers!) Luckily for India, China stopped the war unilaterally otherwise we could have lost many North Eastern States! Nehru wanted to gain personal popularity on the world stage and was gunning, pun not intended, for Nobel Prize of peace! What did he gain? A bloody nose, shame and ultimately died a sad man!  

Subsequent Governments took time to come out of this “Peace Movement”! Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, realized the meaning of being strong and aggressive. Soldiers of the Indian army had fought under the British rule in second world war and had battalions of Sikh, Gurkhas, Rajputs, Marathas and Mahars with great tradition of Valour! What they needed was the support from the government by way of policy.  

Indira Gandhi took the decision following the second line of the phrase, धर्म हिंसा तथैव च! Result was 1971 war against Pakistan! In ten years, India had changed from 1962 debacle to 1971 Victory, which resulted in defeating aggressive Pakistan. At the beginning of this war, Pakistanis were so confident about winning, that they had made statements like, “One Pakistani soldier is good enough to Kill 10 Indian soldiers!” They made such statements because of our post-independence history and conciliatory stand on the global platform. India was always talking of peace, and non-aggression pacts. We never bothered about having weapons, ammunition. Indian polity was changing internally and end result was creation of Atomic Bomb, against all odds. 

Indian thought process had changed so much during 1971 war that India were threatened by USA during this war. They said that they were sending their seventh fleet in Bay of Bengal to help Pakistan! India kept on negotiating with US and on the side, before the fleet could arrive, they made Pakistan surrender! Currently when US is again threatening India about non-supply of missiles, India has joined hands with Russia for these missiles. 

In Bhagwad Geeta, Lord Krishna tells the same thing to the great Warrior Arjuna! On the battle field, Kauravas had opted for Yadav army and Pandavas had opted for advice of Lord Krishna. Ajuna tells Krishna that he can not fight a war with his cousins Kauravas, his Guru Dronacharya  and his Grandfather Bhishma! He almost puts his weapons down and says, “I cannot fight this war which can lead to total destruction of the people I love and respect.” Lord Krishna tells him, “O son of Kunti (Arjuna), either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly planets, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up and fight with determination.” 

Friends, the history of mankind has been brutal. But the wise and smart know one thing that this brutality should not be used for the sake of brutality! But if required, this should be used forcefully and effectively for just cause!  

Whatever people may say about Gandhi’s “Quit India” movements contribution to push British out of India. People claim that this made British go away! I don’t believe it for one minute! It is the Tilak’s, Savarkars, Netaji Boses, Bhagat Singhs and Rajguru’s of this world who pushed British to the brink! Ultimately, the proverbial last straw was the Mutiny of the Naval sailors in 1946, that led to their final decision to quit!