Titbits from real life 25022020!

Our life is full of interesting and annoying things. Some events create anguish in our minds, but life is good, in general. When you watch the video below, it will confirm that all is well with this world.

The incident took place in Pune. In Pune, the corporation is trying to do its best to make better footpaths, to start with, and in certain areas, the roads are getting converted into a walking plaza. For example, Fergusson road and J M road, main arteries in central Pune. Both are unidirectional roads, and the footpaths on both these roads are being widened. In India, we must have wide pathways because there are a considerable number of people walking. Before this widening, people would walk on roads because the footpaths were narrow and hawkers occupied a part of it. Since the traffic is unidirectional on these roads, the action taken will allow people to walk on the footpaths, comfortably.  Pictures of J M Road and Fergusson Road are given below.

But Pune has a unique road culture. Supreme Court has mandated that two-wheeler riders must wear a helmet. But wise people of Pune think otherwise. They don’t like to wear helmets, so they don’t. In between, there are drives to catch these rule-breakers. But even wiser politicians of Pune intervened and made the government stop such drives. Ultimately, it is my head! Who the hell is Supreme Court to tell me to wear a helmet?

The video above shows Mrs Gokhale from Pune. She did not take law in her hand. The wise riders in Pune treat the footpath as a unique way of riding bikes. Pedestrians don’t exist in Pune. Anyway to hell with them! Gokhale madam, one day decided to stand on a footpath and ensured that the bike riders got down from their High Horse position of riding on footpaths. There is a simple rule in life. If you need thirty minutes to reach somewhere, give at least ten minutes buffer. If you plan your schedule correctly, you don’t need to do stupid things like riding on footpaths. Yes, once in a while there could be an accident which would delay not only you but everybody. It should be treated as Force Majeure in business terms. Force Majeure is unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract and it is a legal term. But no events give you the freedom to break the fundamental laws with impunity. I have seen individuals helping traffic coordination in the absence of police. Mrs Gokhale and these good samaritans give you a good feeling about life. Way to go folks!

Then there was an exciting event about Usain Bolt of India. There was a news item in papers.

Srinivas Gowda, 28, broke the record in Kambala, a sport where people sprint 142m through paddy fields with buffalo. He is said to have finished in 13.42 seconds, while Bolt holds the world 100m record of 9.58 seconds.

People extrapolated the timing for a hundred meters, and it comes to 9.55 seconds. Wow! Incidentally, Gowda looks very fit in pictures. But we all start believing that this is true. Of course, it is printed in the newspapers. Immediately the government agencies woke up and sent him a train ticket to travel to Sports Authority of India office in Bangalore for trials- he did not go. Central Minister Rijju took notice and instructed experts to check.

Somehow in all this hallagulla, we forgot one thing. Gowda is 28 years of age, the age at which or before, the sprinters retire. Nobody gave a thought, how the timings were measured. Was the “start” tracked? No, it was not. Only the end was tracked,  of all the things, by a laser system. We have gone high-tech in buffalo racing!

Athletes like Bolt, practice with equipment, shoes and artificial track. They have special diets, coaches and a whole team of people supporting them and they practice, practice and practice. Their life revolves around athletics. Once these athletes show results, many of them get sponsorships.

Gowda has been running this buffalo race in a sport called Kambala. In the race, the buffaloes run, and persons like Gowda run behind them. They are definitely not pushing the animals, but animals are pulling them. He cannot be running in tandem with the animals. When he gets pulled, is it running? In athletics, the athletes use their toes while running while in Kambala the runner uses the heels for running. The Kambala is a sport where running is done in paddy fields full of water and mud!

Comparing Gowda and Bolt is like comparing Apples and Oranges! But how people fall for such traps? Why is such news even printed? Why a minister sends him an invite?

For records purpose, Anil Kumar Prakash (born 28 August 1978) is a retired Indian sprinter. He holds the current 100 metres national record of 10.30 s set at the National Circuit Athletic Meet held in New Delhi in 2005.

Can it be compared with the rumour of Ganesh Idol drinking milk? Why don’t we see through such items? It should start with news reporters. Poor Gowda may not have even heard of Usain Bolt.

Another surprising thing that we see in India is about the egos of people. For the formal banquet, in honour of President Trump, the opposition leader was invited. The opposition leader decided that because their “Interim” party president was not invited, he would not attend the banquet. Why the party president did not become the leader of the opposition is for that party to decide. Ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also chose not to join because of the same reason. Was he invited because he belonged to a party? No, he was not. He was invited because he was the Ex-Prime Minister. Party affiliation has nothing to do with the invite. It is because of sycophancy in Indian politics, such decisions are taken. Does it matter to President Trump? He will not even notice, either way. During the Namaste Trump event in Ahemdabad, Modi introduced Amit Shah to Trump. From his expression, Trump looked confused. He was asking Modi, ” Who is this guy?”

Another hilarious thing I read was a news item from Kolkata. Communist Party of India (Marxists) took out a procession shouting, “ Trump, Go Home!” What a joke! Who cares for them? People don’t even bother about them in West Bengal? Will their sloganeering matter globally? What is this group of people trying to do? What are they trying to show? Communism does not exist in Russia and China today!

We have all sorts of jokers in our public life so no point keeping the count of these people. They give us relaxation in our daily grind.

Eh! Non! 

I remembered something. In a village in Turkey, people communicate with each other by whistling.

Languages, gestures are ways of communicating with each other. Humans and other species have been communicating with each other since old times. Now things have supposedly evolved, but there are some words and gestures which may have a long history or may have a history about which we do not know. How and when the terms get to mean what really means today, is sometimes difficult to understand.

Non is a word used in French, which means Not in English. It is said that the French appear to be negative in their approach to everything in life. For most of the discussions, if a query gets raised or a question comes up, the answer is most of the time Non. For some questions like a son asking his mother, “Can I start taking drugs?” The answer Non means a firm No! But in most other cases, Non is the first volley of opening-up of further discussion. Why does this happen? French as a language is not a clear language like English. English has absorbed hundreds of thousands of words from other languages, over a period. Jungle and Bazzar are common words that English has absorbed from Hindi. Has it diluted the language? Non! It has made English more vibrant. French has only seventy thousand words, whereas English has five hundred thousand words (5 Lacs). In French, since there are not many words, some sentences can become vague. The Fench cannot sometimes precisely explain what they want to say as there are words which have a double meaning.

The problem starts here. Suppose there is a situation which can be resolved by discussions, the French feel that it best to say Non with an intonation that can mean different things. One could be, I have not understood what you have said. Another could be, tell me more about what you are saying. Instead of Non if they say Oui, then the discussion is over, and you cannot change again as you have accepted something. Non is a starting point of further discussions, or an open-ended invitation to discuss further. At the end of many “Non” will come out a real “Oui”! Do you get what I am saying? Non? 🙂🙂

It is similar when Canadians use the word, Eh! What does Eh mean? As a word, it is just an exclamatory word! But it has a different meaning again with context and intonation! How did it become associated with Canada? In languages, there is what known as a tag. A tag, in linguistics, is a word or sound or short phrase added after a thought which changes that thought in some way. The most common tags are question tags, which transform a thought into a question. “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” would be one example. The tag “isn’t it” turns that statement of fact into something that could prompt a response; the speaker is asking for confirmation or rejection. “Eh” is known as an invariant tag—something added to the end of a sentence that’s the same every time it’s used.

But “isn’t it” is a variant tag. If used in the plural, it will become “aren’t they”. If you talk about something that was in the past, you will say, “wasn’t it”. But usage of Eh will never change with anything; hence it is called an invariant tag.

There are different ways a Canadian could use “eh.” The first is while stating an opinion: “It’s a nice day, eh?” Another would be as an exclamation tag, added to a sentence to indicate surprise: “What a game, eh?” Or you could use it for a request or command: “Put it over here, eh?” And then there’s the odd example of using it within a criticism: “You messed that one up, eh?”

The beauty of all this is that as a word, Eh does not mean anything. Is it like some spice that we use while cooking? We can make the food to taste differently by adding various spices! Like the simple word Eh, you add a dash of that spice in your food, to give different culinary experiences.

According to some linguists, these “Ehs” a word by itself. “All of these uses have one pragmatic purpose in common: they all show politeness,”. Using “eh” to end the statement is a way for the speaker to express solidarity with the listener. It’s not exactly asking for reassurance or confirmation, but it’s not far off: the speaker is saying, hey, we’re on the same page here, we agree on this. So instead of saying all this, he just says, “Eh” in the end!

These different ways of saying, Eh, bring out different meanings. We can compare it with various methods which are used to prepare a food item. In India, we have chutney as a side dish. It can be slightly hot to very hot, but always tasty. We make groundnut chutney by putting the mixture in a grinder. It makes finely grated chutney but is the least delicious. Then we make the same chutney in a manual device called Khalbatta.

Okay, I am not a culinary expert, but I know a few things. Chutney made in a mixer had groundnuts in finely flaked, chopped format.

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The chutney made in Khalbatta brings out some oil out of the nuts because of stomping action.  Those used for making chutney are much larger.

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Pata-Warvanta brings out the most oil from the nuts. It is used for crushing the nuts multiple times. The taste and the aroma of the chutney are best when the oil from the nuts is brought out. In the mixer-grinder, only the chopping action takes place; hence no oil is brought out.

An unusual Indian way of saying yes, without uttering the word, Yes! When we mean yes, we always give our neck a lateral movement, from left to right and back. Internationally, it is an action to say NO! Many times I have seen non-Indians who are confused by our No-Yes!

The stereotype of Canadians saying “eh” is so strong that Canadians have ended up reclaiming the word for themselves, even those Canadians who don’t use it very often. Eh is now part of Canadian culture. Citi-bred Canadians don’t use Eh! A popular children’s book about Canadian culture is titled “From Eh? To Zed.” The first prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, is often referred to as “Sir John Eh.”

Probably this is the reason Harry and Meghan have chosen Canada to live in future. They got fed up of impolite tabloids in Britain and chose a polite Canada.

Friends do you know such interesting titbits from other languages from other culture or language?

Fundamental rights! 

Fundamental rights are those rights which are essential for the intellectual, moral and spiritual development of individuals. These rights are integral or indispensable for the existence and all-round development of individuals; hence, it’s called ‘Fundamental’ rights. These are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India.

Following rights are the fundamental human rights that every citizen of India has the liberty to enjoy; they form a vital aspect of the Indian constitution. They help in preserving human dignity and allow every citizen to live with selfrespect. They accentuate the fundamental accord of India by guaranteeing the same rights to everyone irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, place of birth, etc.

  • Right to Equality
  • Right to Freedom
  • Cultural and Educational rights
  • Right to Freedom of Religion
  • Right against Exploitation
  • Right Constitutional Remedies

These are enshrined in Part III (Articles 12 to 35) of the Constitution of India.

The above statements are heavyduty statements for an engineer like me. But these are the bread and butter things for Supreme Court lawyers who make their millions guarding fundamental rights of people. For the lawyers, things look pretty good. The fundamental rights are being challenged quite regularly these days; the lawyers profession is like that of a share trader. Share trader always earns his 0.5% irrespective of whether the buyer and seller make or lose money.

In the last week or so, a lot of fundamental things are being challenged in the Supreme Court. Are the Supreme Court’s comments indicative of the direction that we will see in India?

The first and foremost is a case of death of a fourmonth child of a couple, taking part in peaceful protests at Shaheen Baug. The incident was taken by the Supreme Court “Suo Moto.” (on their own) The child died as it was taken to the protests by its parents. The winter was harsh, and after the child was taken home, it died due to exposure. The Supreme Court has sent notices to both the Central and Delhi government to inquire how this happened. They are expected to report back within a specific time frame.

During the argument, two lady lawyers representing the child’s side made statements as to how CAA and NRC are wrong. They also argued that the poor child was called Pakistani/Terrorist. The Chief Justice Mr Bobde made a valid point. He told the ladies not to stray from the main case. He further said that the matters about CAA/NRC are already in the court, and the current case was not about these issues. Here the topic being discussed is the fundamental right of the child. Why was the child exposed to severe weather? As a minor, it had no control over where it was taken? Why it’s fundamental rights were not protected? Who gave the rights to the parents to expose it to the harsh weather?

People, in general, forget or do not bother about other people’s rights when they are not in the right frame of mind. They trample on the rights of the others. Their mind is so vitiated that they forget that others also have fundamental rights. When one forgets about the rights of their own child, they won’t bother about other people.

Another case is about the fundamental rights of people on the same subject. For a long time, people have blocked the road passing through Shaheen Baug. The Supreme Court said that the protesters have the fundamental right to protest. But many people and institutions have filed petitions in the Supreme Court on the same subject. The Court wondered why the protests are continuing when the matter is sub judice! The Court further said that they have the right to continue to protest. But what about the protesters blocking the road for others? What about the fundamental rights of local commuters who are required to face a long detour due to continued protests? In this event too, both the Central Government and Delhi Government have been asked to file their reply to the Court. The Court has told the protesters to talk to government agencies to give them a suitable place for protesting without disturbing the fundamental rights of others. The Supreme Court has also said that they will provide the final decision after hearing the protesters side!

Another compelling case is about SC/ST reservations. Here the Court has argued that the people in this category had to face discrimination over an extended part of history. The historical wrong needs to be corrected. But it does not mean that it becomes a fundamental right of this group of people. The government can take affirmative action in this case for giving them jobs, but the same rule cannot be applied later when the promotions are offered during the service. It is not a fundamental right of the human that needs to be corrected at every stage. Supreme Court gave a decision that since the matter does not involve fundamental rights, the group should go to the government for resolution. Supreme Court cannot provide a directive to the government.

Another tricky case that the Supreme Court is handling is the Sabrimala case. It applies to Muslim personal law also. For the Supreme Court that it is a significant case, hence they have formed a panel of nine judges to handle the case. The main argument here is whether religious bodies can give a diktat which overrides the fundamental right of women provided by the constitution! It is a classic case of the rights of institutions against the rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. In a democracy, it is always said that the constitution is supreme.

The last one year has been important for India as the Supreme Court has resolved a significant dispute about the Ram Janmabhumi. Both sides have accepted the result gracefully. I feel that all parties should show the same grace, in future, regarding other notable cases that will prove to us and the world that India is not an anarchic democracy, but it is a working democracy.

The most challenging point is discussed and the disputed is the right to freedom. Everybody has the right to freedom; all the people in our society have this fundamental right. A person or group demands its right and gets it. But while doing this, the group tramples on someone else’s right. In the case referred above, the protesters blocked the road. The blockage caused inconveniences to thousands of people who used the way every day. Such situations create issues which need to be resolved.

One fundamental right you and I have been denied since independence. It is the control over who governs us. Legislators who stand for elections are selected on the socalled winnability of the candidate. The candidates educational background, experience, achievements and most importantly, criminal background are never discussed openly. There are weak rules about these aspects. Now the Supreme Court is hearing a case where election commission has recommended that all this information about the candidates selected be declared in vernacular newspapers, and on the party’s website within a stipulated time of 24 to 48 hours of selection. At that time, parties should also announce why the candidate is suitable for selection. In Delhi Vidhan sabha election, the % of those with criminal background has gone up from 24 % to 43 % from 2015 to 2020! It is our fundamental right to know how a person with murder and rape cases is suitable for election!

It appears the only institution that can bring back normalcy to the current turmoil in India is Court. Let us hope that the liberals and persons who don’t accept anything against their thought process allow the nation to function normally. I sincerely hope that they change their thinking from “My way or Highway”!

This is added late in the blog. Nothing to do with fundamental rights but shows how tough the Supreme Court is. This morning they blasted the government and Telcos for not paying a single rupee out of 92000 crore Rupees due. By evening the government has started issuing notices circle wise to Telcos! Telcos are given time upto 11.59 pm tonight!

Dictatorship or Democracy!

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Currently, there is a trend or fashion, whatever you want to call the world’s largest two democracies, India and the US, as dictatorships or moving towards the dictatorship. I asked a friend who was vehemently arguing why these are dictatorships. When people are highly excited about their ideas, I generally don’t counter-argue. It is because their mind is not open.

Modi won the election initially in 2014 and then again in 2019 with a higher majority. Trump won the elections in 2016. Their immediate predecessors were Manmohan Singh and Barak Obama. Chalk and the cheese are the accurate descriptions of their style of working in comparison with the incumbents. Though Modi’s victory was expected, Trump was a surprise winner for many.

By no means, I agree with all what Modi and Trump are propagating. It is liberals, seculars in both the countries who are troubled by this development. But in India, at least, these people are happy when minorities are appeased and are given benefits. Both Modi and Trump are right-wing leaders. In a democracy leftist, left of centre, right of centre thought processes are reasonable and acceptable. But the extreme right of centre becomes a dictatorship. Then what does extreme left become?

The latest trend that I see is that the veteran politicians of various thought processes are not used to the so-called right-wing thoughts. Anything that does not match with their thinking is not acceptable, or it is evil. It is a dictatorship. These liberals are okay even with Maoist/Naxalite thought. Some of them take out marches to support convicted terrorists. The latest march was in Mumbai to support Sharjeel who is arrested on sedition charges.

So how is the health of democracy in these two countries? I think it is good. People may not agree with me. How does democracy compare with other forms of Government? Compared to dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies and aristocracies, in which the people have little or no say in who is elected and how the government is run, a democracy is often said to be the most challenging form of government, as input from those representing citizens determines the direction of the country. The basic definition of democracy in its purest form comes from the Greek language: The term means “rule by the people.”

But when the “Opposition” wins, those in power don’t accept the result of the election gracefully. The ruling gentry is used to the benefits that they get when they are in power. Opposition for the sake of opposition is the name of the game. Many times it surprises me that others vehemently reject any action taken by the ruling party. How can two sides be never on the same page for any decision? Does it mean that either of the sides is antinational? When a budget is declared, it is natural to have different views on the same. The opposition should be giving a point by point reply. But since both sides are citizens of India, at least 20/30 per cent of budget points should be acceptable to both. But from the statements, it appears that their views are a 100 % mismatch. Is this the correct way of taking part in the governance of the country?

Democracy is a system where all and sundry are allowed to air their views on all the subjects in the world. Both in the US and India people can openly do this. There is an old joke about this. An American and a Russian are chatting over a drink. The American says, “In my country, I can easily say that our President is an idiot.” The Russian smiles and says, “ Oh! We also have that freedom. I can openly say in Moscow that the American President is an idiot!” Democracy gives freedom to pursue your right to live anywhere in the country. It means you can follow any religion, and you may dress the way you want. You may have political views which could be from far left to far right. The freedom that humans get has to be used within the guidelines or the framework of the law.

The last couple of months, we have continuous protests in various parts of the country. The legal system in the country ensures that protests are peaceful; at the same time, it makes sure that the police don’t go overboard when they act. But the unfortunate part is those parties which are discretely supporting these protests claim that the government is moving towards dictatorship. They write in newspapers, and they give interviews on TV channels. Is this not freedom? In the same breath, they keep on talking of dictatorship. Such acts indicate the thought process of “my way or the highway!” A couple of days back, the US opposition leader Pelosi, tore off the copy of the speech given by Trump in the house. It is absolute freedom that allows such an act. The tearing away of the address is seen in a video, but that is democracy.

Why does this happen? It is because of the myopic view that people take. In the US, people do not now that there is a large group of people in the Central part of America, who are called the rednecks. (These states are known as “Flyover” states, the word Flyover is a verb!) 🙂🙂 These are mostly white Americans from a poor background and were easily driven by Trump’s speech of “Americans First!” They get the feeling that new immigrants are taking away their jobs. They do not know that the US is mainly a high tech economy which needs high-end people to run the organisations. These experts move to the US from anywhere in the world. But rednecks voted Trump to victory because of the “feel” and not fact! A similar thing has been happening in the last few years in India where the middle class has got that “feel” which brought in the current government. Does it mean that there is a dictatorship? It only means that the prevailing ruling party could catch the nerve of the people and have a great marketing department. There are no Goebbels and Hitlers seen anywhere on the horizons. But how can the liberal and their ilk see dictatorship? Maybe, it is their marketing trick to create xenophobia to come back to power!

For democracy to sustain, nobody can enforce it the way dictatorship can be implemented. In vast countries like the US and India, in today’s times of social networking, dictators will find it exceedingly difficult to take over. There will be a mutiny in every other Facebook or Whatsapp group. Due to anonymity behind the screen, each and everybody is an expert on every subject. Democracy is a culture. We have the concept of local committees, panchayat raj, starting at the village level for a very long time. We had the concept of a joint family from time immemorial. Democracy is embedded in our blood. Indira Gandhi’s attempt failed miserably during the emergency.

The Chinese managed to accelerate their economy at a rapid rate. The thinking was that if people have money in hand, they will not bother about dictatorship. But the Hongkong protests are showing the world that money is essential, but freedom is far more important.

As I write this, I read a news item that Trump has been cleared of impeachment charges! It is the beauty of democracy. In a democracy, there is a process to try and remove the head of the government which can go either way!

I think that everywhere Heil Democracy will work better than Heil Hitler!

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Is old really Gold? 

My previous blog “Old is Gold or YOLD” was appreciated by many. But it also brought a thought in my mind. (YOLD is Young Olds) 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2020/01/29/old-is-gold-or-yold/ 

How myopic our thinking is sometimes? We tend to think, discuss and write about whatever is prevailing in our environment, and our “Shall I call it a bubble?” Daily we interact with people who live a similar life as we do, but we also deal with many different people who live experience that is quite different from ours 

People make different achievements which we deem is as a successful life. It leads to the question, what is success in life? Was Einstein successful in life? Were Churchill’s achievements of very high calibre? I don’t know. Once the war was over, people did not want him to be the Prime Minister of Britain in peacetime.  

What is a success is a question which has bugged me for some time. I have written about how YOLDS are happy after leading a good life and kept themselves busy in the Golden phase of life. But one incident which reached me yesterday has started different thoughts in my mind. 

We live in a high-rise condo with “successful” people. There are old, middle-aged, young and children in the mix. Outwardly it looks like a happy gathering of people. One lady, older than us, from such a family, has been meeting Jaya occasionally socialising. A couple of days back she took Jaya aside and said, “I am confident about you. I know that you will not share this with anybody except your husband. I am in a dire strait. We own two condos, and one of them is out on rent. My son has lost his job, and daughter in law earns a decent salary as a senior officer. In this situation, I do not have a single rupee with me for some time, even to buy some very personal things like a comb or clips. Could you please give me two hundred rupees? My daughter in law has ensured that I will not have any money on me.” Well, Jaya gave her the money. 

The event brought the thoughts in my mind. What is the percentage of YOLDS in my age group? What are the prerequisites to be included in YOLDS? From the event explained, financial freedom seems to be the primary need. The lady mentioned above, and their family own two condos because her husband owned a condo in the previous apartment building, which got redeveloped. After her husband, it is she who has the moral right to the ownership of condos. But it seems that money changes people and change some of them drastically. In such scenarios parents are moved to older people’s homes. That brings up an old thought. How do the people who stay in older people’s home feel? Have they arrived on their own? Or have they been forced by circumstances or the family? Will a daughter, behave with her mother in the same way as the daughter-in-law has behaved? Do the words “In-Law” make so much difference? Do these two words invoke a diametrically opposite behaviour in a person?  

It appears that money plays a significant role in the behaviour of people. Since the husband is without a job currently, he probably has no say on the matters at home! But does it mean that the mother in law should be treated maliciously? There are examples galore of such behaviour. A friend of mine had travelled to Japan to be with his son and his family. I bumped into him the day he landed in Pune. I asked him, “Where is your wife?” I thought the son’s family needed support for more time. He said, “She is coming tomorrow. My son buys our tickets. There were two good deals for tickets on these days hence we are travelling separately.”  I am not making any comments. You are free to draw your conclusions.  

Years back, Jaya was in Boston in the dead of winter for the birth of our grandson. The neighbours were also from Pune. Neighbours mother was there on the same mission. One day Jaya asked the old lady to go with her to buy some groceries. The lady said, “My son has told me not to go out anywhere because I might have a fall in the snow and could get injured. 

Another thing she said was that he had not bought any medical insurance for her, to save money. Jaya was shocked. Later, the lady would cheat and tell her family that she was going to meet Jaya and then coolly she would slip out with Jaya for a walk! Again, I have no comments.  

These examples only indicated that the children did not treat their parents with respect. Money is essential in life, but is it so important? Buying health insurance, husband and wife travelling together are no unique things. These are expected to be done automatically. 

It brings me again to the thought process about human relations. The behaviour should be decent with each other. All the cases I have mentioned involve parents whose funds are limited. What happens to the parent’s selfrespect? These are the families I am talking about where the family has a decent amount of funds with them. What could be the situation in families who are short of funds?  

A family is  group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit. The group of people lives in one home at least until the children grow up and become independent. The parents spend their funds for the family in the best possible way. It is not about funds, but it is about the feelings behind the actions that are important. When children are young, they don’t have any income, but parents treat all their children in the best possible way and make available study material, games, clothing etc. to the best of their ability. The situation should reverse when the parents retire, and children start earning.  

It is all about love, respect and cohesiveness in the family. Challenging behaviour can become difficult for parents to handle. On one side, their health could be down as they are reaching the age of YOLDS. The mental pressure and agonies created in the families lead to stress. I have not even mentioned the situation where the parents are moved to older people’s homes. There could be many reasons, and some justified like not having enough place at home as the family grows. But when the elderly move out, how are they treated? Does their dignity remain intact? Are they given the respect they deserve? A few years back, I was taking photographs on a bridge near my home. On the way back, I saw ¾ senior citizens. They lived in the senior citizens home nearby. I said hello to them, and I found that they were hungry to talk to someone. I chatted with them for almost an hour. My observation was that they were missing the warmth of a chatDid they look happy? I am not sure, but they looked forlorn. Was their family meeting them regularly? I do not know.  

Next week, I have decided to go and meet older people home’s management. I am going to make friends with these people. I will try to meet them a couple of times a month. Let me see if I can make some small difference in their lives. I will keep you updated and share my experience with you!  

It is request for people who have parents at home. Treat parents with dignity and give them love, respect and support. If the parents are not in the YOLDS category, it is the least or probably the only thing they expect. 

 

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!