Auto Industry 2040?

Auto Industry Circa 2040. where will it be?


WOW! MMG! DISCO! These could be names of some of the leading auto component industries in the year 2040! Why have I selected the year 2040? Simply because everyone is talking of this year for introduction of electric cars in a big way; from this year onwards, the real downward trend in manufacture and use of IC engines in the cars, as we know them today, will begin. I am simply assuming that the cars will be available, similar to the cars of today. Masses of cars will be driven by humans, they will have a steering wheel and a power plant/train to give them. They will have some form of braking, electrical system handling various functions, wheels and body with fuel storage area, air conditioning and so on! Things inside could be fancier with more and more entertainment, superior navigation abilities, drivers may become more stress free as cars systems will be able to understand many things and may take over some functions from humans. Internet of things (IOT) will allow things that are not even thought of today.

This is part of evolution of human race but this could be culmination of major change that is taking place currently. The “new” car industry is putting its toddler’s steps today. Evolution is nature as everything in this world is always evolving! Basic driver for these changes is computers and computer chips. The car industry will be using different chips and will capture lots of data data generated by various systems. This data will be in endless loop and will allow cars to function more and more efficiently.

What will be the difference in the cars of today and those in 2040? Today’s power plant, the Engine & Drive train will be replaced by Batteries and Motors. Today’s drive train, gear boxes etc will be just be not there. The exhaust system as is known today will be simply not be needed because there will be no IC engine, both Petrol and Diesel. Gear box and the whole system is really not needed because their function can easily be handled by Electric Motors. Even today, in electric cars, there is a single gear which reduces the RPM to what is needed to drive the car at allowed speeds!

There are many companies that are manufacturing the components that are discussed above. These components may become redundant over a period of time due to introduction of electric cars. Bosch, Denso, Continental, Valeo, Aisin Seiki are some of the major players that manufacture the cluster of these components. These companies together manufacture products worth US $200/ billions every year.  These products may comprise of 40% to 70% of their current turnover. The giants must be already studying the questions that have come to my mind. How are they handling these questions? I am sure it’s a tough call to all of them though they have the where withal and deep pockets to handle difficult situations. Some have started making navigation products, some are making parking assist, camera -related systems. But suddenly new names are being heard in these discussions as vendors. CISCO, NVIDIA are some of them. Some are direct vendors to car makers and some are vendors to components manufacturers.  Where is the real scope for new development and business? Battery packs, battery charging technology to increase per charge distance that the cars can travel today! All other developments that are computer related can also happen in IC engine cars too! TESLA is already building a giga factory for their Battery Packs! So will the “new” component business be taken over by Car Manufacturers? Suzuki, Toyota and Toshiba are coming together in India for big battery plant! What happens to smaller manufacturers of these components? Will they survive the major change? Will “WOW! MMG! DISCO!” replace them? Only time can tell.

In car making, after a long time, new name TESLA, started coming into prominence. TESLA came mainly for the new product offering. It appears that technology like fashion goes round! Till first two decades of last century, IC engine based transportation was not very popular. Trains used steam, cars used electric power plants; but battery technology could not catch with the then needs. Hence IC engine cars and trains became popular. From the existing car manufacturers, some are already manufacturing electric cars more than what TESLA is producing. On top of that they have a running profitable business producing IC engine cars. But one thing is for sure they have the humility and know where they lack. Look at what Volkswagen Brand CEO Deiss has to say about TESLA! 

VOLKSWAGEN brand CEO Diess has said that VW which manufactured 5,987,800 cars last year has to catch up with Tesla which produced 83922 cars last year. “Tesla belongs among the competitors which has abilities that we currently do not have,” Diess said in the interview with “Inside”, a publication for VW employees. Around half of Tesla’s engineers are software experts, while at VW’s core brand it is a much lower proportion, Diess said. Tesla has good electric motors, a fast charging network, autonomous driving technology, internet connectivity, and a new approach toward vehicle distribution. “This shows that we need to significantly improve. We can do this. We measure ourselves against Tesla quite deliberately. Our goal: Using our abilities not just to catch up, but even to overtake,” Diess drives an electric VW Golf.

 Current giants have ready infrastructure and eco system to make and sell millions of cars. They of course lack Electric car eco system as mentioned by Diess above. Their main struggle will be recharging stations for electric cars; but TESLA is also going face the same problem! The question arises if TESLA, a loss making company, a start-up, survive? Let’s look at the startups from the Silicon Valley and the west coast, who really made it big in computer industry sunrise era. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple they all became very big with the products/services that never existed before. TESLA is pitted against the giants for making existing products where the main “driver” is only a different technology! That’s a huge disadvantage. Fighting against giants, who have woken up a bit late, like Mercedes, Honda BMW, Toyota, GM, Ford, Fiat, Hyundai is going to be very very tough for TESLA! Some of these giants are also going to suffer or may merge! My take,Continental TESLA may cease to exist  by 2040 or even earlier as it is known today! Takeover? Maybe! 


Longevity bane or boon?

Wish to live as long as possible is natural but achieving the same to enjoy life in Golden Period needs efforts!

Vilas, my friend, wrote an e mail on our college group about human longevity and role of pharmaceutical companies in the same. This brings us to the good old discussion, longevity, is it bane or boon? In recent past, we all have seen products, treatments and methods to delay aging. Hoping to be around for longer time is a natural instinct! Both men and women, are using different products, trying to look young, dying their hair black and so on. There is plethora of creams, lotions, treatments, massages, health routines, health drinks available to us. The commercial organizations make such things available to us but to buy or not to buy is our choice! Such products were not available even 50 years back.

Vilas had made a comment that these pharmaceuticals companies keep people alive to make money. I replied to his mail saying that I don’t agree; in that e mail exchange, Sudhakar and another friend Pramod prodded me that this is a subject on which I should write a blog! Something kicked in from within and thoughts started flowing in my mind. What is longevity, what is old age? These definitions change as the years pass by, and/or we go to different countries. In Japan one of my colleagues’ father is 92 years old, 2 or 3 times a week he travels by Metro to get stuff for home! Old age? What is that? Last year we had taken Alaska cruise and there was one grand old American lady, all of 99 years of age, traveling alone on the cruise! You may say that these are exceptions but I don’t think they are! In a country like Japan population of 80 plus people is quite large and average age at death is between 85 & 90.

 Just a generation before ours, in India, our parents generation, old age started with crossing the age of fifty and at the time of retirement at 58 or 60 the Vanprasthashrama started. The currently available medicines, diagnostics tools and treatments were simply not available then. So if you had a heart attack, you simply died in most cases. Before the responsibilities of people ended, their health and wealth both were on the wane. Today’s Golden period never really dawned on that generation. There were two reasons, deterioration of health and wealth. Post British Raj, we were a poor country hence there never were savings to write home about. Even if ones health remained good, there was no money around to enjoy. But most important plus, for that generation, was there was always something to look forward to! Children, grandchildren were mostly around. Families always had something going. But for our generation with nuclear families, children migrating, we have to create our own things to look forward to! 

 In our generation, in general health has improved both bodily and financially. Slowly, in front of our eyes, we have seen that in today’s age 50 is like 40 of olden days and so on. Today’s 70 is like 60 of last generation. The overall improvement in situation is changing the definition of old age. Discussion on death was taboo in older generation. Now people at least in my group talk openly about health and death. With this change in thinking people are trying to take things in hand and are discussing about “medical will”! For example people are discussing openly, that in case of defined major health issues, they would not like to be put on ventilator or would not like to undergo major surgery. By taking such parameters under control people really want to enjoy their golden period and say quits when it is not worth it!

 There are ways to keep reasonably healthy. The most important is discipline. Whatever we do, only discipline is going to help. Some might feel that your behavior is regimental but to achieve your goal you need to be very rigid about discipline. I will tell you my story; I was detected with severe diabetes, HB1C value of 11.5, five years back! I love sweets and this change had occurred between two yearly tests. What I did and still follow is discipline, discipline and discipline! I stopped eating sweets from the next day, I exercise regularly anyway. Started medication and switched to low carb stuff. In the third year my HB1C was found to be 6.0! In between I went through cancer treatment for about three months! My doctor was very confident that I will bring things under control because he was aware of my discipline. Why I shared my story with you is because we are probably the first generation in India, that may be able to enjoy the golden period of life! Add to discipline, positive thinking; that is one more thing that will keep you healthy.

 Is longevity bane? No I don’t think so! There are many different ways of keeping healthier and fitter at my age (I am 68). Healthiness is equally important for both body and mind. For body, exercise and yoga are the key but for mind there are many different things. You can learn something new, things that you always wanted to learn but never got time. A friend of mine today told me that post retirement he has joined a music school to learn to play Piano! Great going. Maybe you wanted to try your hand at photography, travel, painting or reading. Do it! Doing things you love to do, is my definition of Golden Period! Golden Period definition changes with person to person. Somebody may want to join bhajan singing group, some may like discussion group on modern technology. Thirty years back my mother was in such a group but it was very rare in those days. That group had retired general managers, high court judges, house wives, teachers and what have you. They would invite people to give 15 to 30 minute talks on subject ranging from puarans, health care, or to get to know about latest aero planes. Their only requirement was that the speaker should explain in such a way that they could understand the subject. Groups formed 30 years back were the beginning of many such groups mushrooming now in the form of Alumni groups, Office colleagues groups and so on.  

 Staying connected with family and friends is another great way of remaining healthy. After taking care to remain healthy, things can go wrong but this should not happen for want of trying. Another secret of remaining healthy is to keep updated with new things like gadgets, technologies and happenings all around! So much information is available easily on the net these days, it is crime to not know things. My grandmother died at the age of 85; was she keen on what is happening in the world! Whenever I went to her house she would ask me information on different things in the world. She died in 1985 but she used to read the newspapers really in details. My brother in law is 81 years old (he was professor of commerce) and is having many health issues. A couple of weeks back when we traveled only to meet him, we found that though the flesh was not willing, his intellect was as sharp as ever. Currently he is mentoring one of his students on a project for making solar drier which can be used by plethora of people! He wanted my advice and thoughts on marketing the product! Last week I had a discussion on WhatsApp technicalities with my Grand-nephew! Another way of keeping young!  

 Vilas mentioned in his mail a figure of 75 years of age, beyond which he felt it may not be very pleasant to be around. Yes possible, on current data available. But I am sure this data will change a lot in next 25 years and maybe 80/85 would be that age! Jury is still out on definitions of Golden Period, threshold age. But I am quite sure that this will be a moving target all the time! And finally, YES! The old age is a boon!

Electric cars, are they round the corner?

Definition of inflection point: a point on a curve that separates an arc concave upward from one concave downward and vice versa. The term inflection point was first used by Andy Grove in his book “Only the Paranoids Survive”. Inflection point can be there in anybody’s life on in business cycle of industry. It indicates the total change in scenario or make and break situation. The diagram showing point of inflexion.

 Inflexion point

I visualize a major point of inflexion in automobile industry in near future. There are different views floating regarding when the Electric Cars will be mass produced. The year mentioned fairly regularly is 2030! That’s not really far! Why this is going to happen and whether it will happen at all will be based on many factors. Currently volume of Electric cars manufactured world over is not significant. But Nissan, BMW, Ford, GM, Mahindra in a small way and of course Tesla are already making electric cars. I have heard that Toyota plans to come up with a full electric car by 2019.

 2016electric cars predictiongraph

This is the forecast sale of electric cars as percentage of total car sales, for the year 2016 but I could not get the real figures. Japan at 9.7% is highest in the number of total cars produced and China at 0.9% is the lowest %. France, Great Britain, Germany, USA, South Korea, Spain are there in between.

 What will give the boost? What factors are going to push this production? When will the momentum gather for switch to mass production? When will the point of inflexion be reached? Main factors considered in usage of automobiles are its price, fuel cost, car driving  range, parts cost and main is the cost of ownership. Besides this battery charging infrastructure is going to be the most important aspect that will make or break this change.

 Price factor for electric cars appears to be in reasonable control even without mass production. In the cost of electric cars “Engine & drive train” needs be brought down; all other things remain same. When Tesla started producing cars, people looked at it as Elon Musk’s fancy! Tesla is working like a start-up but it is somehow managing to survive financially. Now they are also coming up with an affordable sedan. Slowly big giants like BMW, GM and others have woken up. Initial experiment started with Toyota’s Prius hybrid. Thinking was to just increase the fuel efficiency of existing car system and Prius hybrid was the first successful attempt. But it was definitely a minor change in thinking and not the game changer like fully Electric car. As per current thinking even  in India, Government has increased the Tax on hybrids. When asked, the minister said, “When Electric cars is the future why bother about hybrids!” Electric cars will of course need Government support by way of lower taxes to make them attractive for buyers. Government support will also be needed for battery charging infrastructure.

 Second factor is the cost of fuel. With many shocks offered by Petroleum politics, world has been looking to go away from fossil fuels. Plus the world has woken up to climate change and is aggressively looking to control pollution. Cars are known to be major pollutants. Stringent control is being sought on exhausts from cars. But this will happen only in newer cars, old polluting cars cannot be wished away. Volvo has made a statement that the cost of manufacturing car systems to match pollution norms in 2022/23 will be so high that they will stop making diesel engines. To overcome pollution issue, Germany has declared that by 2030 only electric cars will be manufactured in Germany. To achieve this target they will really have to work hard but German car makers have the technology, financial clout, will and wherewithal  to achieve this target; they are working very aggressively. Best non-polluting fuel obviously is electricity. But cost of producing electricity was a major factor hindering its usage in cars using battery banks and of course the cost of batteries. Solar and wind energy seem to be galloping ahead of other sources to make electricity cheap. Classic example is Germany. On a day in 2016, 85% of electricity produced in Germany, was from non-conventional methods.

With abundance of cheap electricity, on that day the rates of electricity went in negative in tendering process! Recently, California produced 67% of electricity, on a particular day,  by non-conventional methods causing serious disruption in electricity pricing mechanism! World over including India, Solar and other non-conventional methods are very aggressively pursued. By 2030 it looks like world will easily achieve the goal of cheap fuel in the form of electricity!

Currently when we travel by car, we do not think how much distance we are going to travel. This is because fuel infrastructure is fully established world over. Whenever needed, we just refuel and move ahead. This is not going to be so easy, at least today, in electric cars. There are two major points. First is charging stations and second is charging time. Both need to be vastly improved. Charging time is evolution of technology, in cell phones rapid charging technology is already available so maybe it’s a matter of time when we get this in car battery charging. Charging infra of course has to come up but when number of electric cars increase, the infra will come up. The range per charge is also the matter of technology so hopefully it will rapidly increase. Similar to what we do today, while driving long distance, we should be able to stop for coffee and wash room break and get batteries recharged. Lo we are on the way! 2030 very much possible. But my take is that this will happen faster in Europe, Japan & Korea because such things are national policies and are easier to implement  in these areas because of the smaller size of the nations plus most of European nations are developed nations.  In geographically large countries like US, Canada and China plus India, this change may happen region wise or state wise starting with highways. City limits will adopt faster as people can charge their cars in their own homes. 

 Replacement parts and cost of ownership are combination factors. In the electric cars, drive train, exhaust systems as we know them today, will simply be not there being replaced by battery packs, motors & drives. Less number of mechanical parts is going to definitely reduce the repairs and servicing cost. This factor has nothing to do with 2030. As the cost of ownership comes down, more people will be interested in driving electric cars.

 Another major change is going to be the nature automotive components industry. When major systems like drive trains & exhaust system are not needed, current manufacturers will find in a drastic reduction in parts needed by industry; over a period these will be only needed in old cars. With a mandate to supply parts for ten years, 2040 will be the last straw on the back of the Camel for this industry assuming by 2030 electric cars will be used in large numbers. How will current component manufacturers of these components handle change? Will they start making parts needed for electric cars? Do they have the technology? Only time can tell? How will Bosch’s, Conti’s, Denso’s and Valeo’s of this world handle the situation only time can tell. I am sharing one important information about change that has already happened. Nvidia Graphics,  producing chips and cards with their GPU technology are already vendors for Toyota, Mercedes, Audi, Honda, BMW, Volvo. This is because of rapid increase in usage of onboard computers to perform various functions including self-driving cars. Five years back, I am not sure if Nvidia name was much known in automotive world! Point of inflection? Yes my friends this is the point of inflection and in this business jungle, snipers in the form of technology are hiding! You never know when you will get your bullet! Yes, my conclusion,” ELECTRIC CARS ARE COMING IN A BIG WAY BY 2030”!




Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana”..

This is my take on Paranormal behavior or “Angat Yene” which is combination of suppression of mind and psychological aberration

I attended one religious function recently at someone’s home. It was a Pooja, a prayer to invoke a Goddess with request to ensure that the family remains blessed. It was the last ritual in a series of functions in that family. This was a 50 minute ceremony. Suddenly 2/3rd of the way, a 45 year old lady attending the Pooja, from middle class background and  educated family, started behaving what can be called in Marathi as “Angat Yene”. She suddenly went into a trance and it appeared that she was possessed by the religious chanting that was being sung in rhythm, accompanied by instruments. I had never seen such paranormal behavior in close quarters and definitely not in a known person. She started swaying to the musical rhythm and later she started sweating. Other ladies present stood surrounding her so that others could not observe her fully. Later, when the music and singing stopped the lady slowly came back to normal. By normal, I mean that she came out of swaying and out of trance. She was sweating profusely and looked very tired.

I was quite uneasy in mind and started surfing the net to look for articles explaining such events; naturally there was not much scientific material and probably not much scientific research has been done on the subject. Research may be there but it is more about traditions or “Pratha” and not the science behind it. In one or two places I read something which indicated that people do not want to challenge the old traditions for the fear of backlash. One thing I realized that, this may have been “business” till last century and even today in the rural areas. It is assumed that during “Angat Yene” or “Devi Ana” the Devi or Goddess’s spirit enters the body of that human being. It starts with assumption that the Goddess physically exists! I came across one thorough article by Dr. Prakash Pangu written about four years back. It is in Marathi so all may not be able to read it.

After reading this article I started getting some insight. I have used some references from this article but most of the take on this subject is mine. First let us look at the facts. This phenomena occurs in ladies and never in Men. The ladies who are affected by this can be generalized in the age group of those who have active menstruating cycle. This never occurs in young girls or old ladies. It was claimed that these ladies sometimes chant hymns and talk in language other than their mother tongue, during this spell.  Some are supposed to climb coconut trees effortlessly. Dr Pangu says that he has never heard of ladies from Maharashtra speak Italian in this spell. Those who did not know swimming are not known to suddenly start swimming under the spell of the Goddess! Probably they speak a language which may be known to them but is not spoken by them regularly! Maybe some of the ladies were already conversant with the skill of climbing coconut trees.  I want to share one experience with you. My cousin had a nose surgery years back. While he was coming out of Anaesthesia, he started talking a bit irrelevantly. To our surprise he spoke in English all the time! He knows English quite well but prefers to talk with family and friends in Marathi. It appears that effect of Anaesthesia made him speak in English. Anaesthesia and “Angat yene” appear to have same effect on humans! 

All of us get very happy and excited when we see certain events like a concert, a cricket match, or a football match. Sometimes we get overly excited and exuberant. I am sure that there is a switch in our brains which operates when our exuberance level goes beyond a certain limit. It trips or works like a fuse, at the right moment and brings us back to reality. Similarly we react in certain ways in the event of sad things or when we are in grief! I am sure the switch is common for both happy and sad events and it all depends on how the brain gives signal to this switch. In a Hindi movie Munnabhai, the hero says that there is chemical “locha” taking place in his brain. Meaning of “locha” is turmoil! This turmoil causes the human beings to react in abnormal or Paranormal ways.

With this back ground I am trying understand what decides the intensity of the different behavior? Why the intensity goes above normal tripping point? One of the reasons could be that the ladies mentioned probably are suppressed in their day to day life. Though they are educated, they are forced to suppress their natural thought process and they live under some kind of pressure which does not allow them to express their thoughts openly. Combination of this suppression and the brain switch not tripping correctly, probably causes this problem of Para normal behavior.

Lack of knowledge and blind faith is a deadly combination. In olden days when the “Para Normal” behavior started, people must have been surprised initially with this event. But later on some smart people decided to take advantage of this scenario and got control over people! They started telling people that the Devi herself had entered the body of the lady! They glorified the event and started taking advantage of the situation. It was Win-Win situation where the ladies could come out of their suppression, cunning people around got control over surrounding people and created fear psychosis. Maybe the people started giving offerings or alms to the “Goddess” within the lady!

This phenomena was never analyzed scientifically but slowly this may change. Probably some German or American scholar, who has no Hindutva baggage to carry, will be able analyze the event correctly. Another explanation of this type of event is that like psychosomatic illnesses, where people actually get the symptoms, the paranormal behavior does make bodily changes like change in blood pressure or profuse sweating and so on. So what we see is actually happening but the reasons for this event are psychological. Post this event, the person is physically as well as emotionally drained. Hence the tendency of the general population is to believe what is happening is normal and true. It is true but not normal, it is para normal. There is weakness of mind within these ladies which affects them to such an extent that the “Angat Yene” process is kicked off!

Friends, I have tried to understand the so called religious tradition. My take is that the even today nobody is seriously trying to understand or analyze. Such so called traditions are not good for the society and need to be abolished. This is a very serious matter and suppressed women folk should be helped to overcome their inhibitions and their problems. Is it not some sort of exploitation that society doing? Your take please.



Heart or Brain?

Many a times, humans take decisions in a way that it becomes difficult for others to fathom. Sometimes the brain is required to take precedence over heart and other times heart is supposed to take precedence over brain. In love, about family and friends, heart should take precedence over brain; emotions do overcome brain in these cases but in other cases it should be the reverse. But this sometimes does not happen.

Recently a term has been coined “Post Truth”

Post-truth relies solely on personal beliefs and ignores any facts that may conflict with those personal beliefs.

Initially, humans lived in small groups, with evolution many things changed. This included communication, travel, language and many other things. When small groups were not connected, most of the decisions taken were based on personal beliefs because knowledge acquired by other groups could hardly be known as inter group communications were either non-existent or were very poor and not wide spread. Human race has evolved over a period especially about communications.

In modern world, the knowledge and information gets spread so fast that we can know many things, if we want to. This gave the opportunity to know how people behave in different ways for same situations. Also many facts and figures became easily available. With this change, migration also increased. Initially people looked at migration as globalization; effect of globalization was assimilation of global population with different skills, to manufacture stuff/provide services from anywhere in the world at the lowest possible cost. Globalization did spread with the advent of knowledge and information and better communication. It had its great effects, initially. Second “industrial revolution” was even faster and more wide spread. This “industrial revolution” was digitalization and computerization of our world. Its effect has been to democratize the global economy to some extent.

But in recent couple of years, a different effect of this revolution was felt by the local population e.g. losing jobs to “outsiders”. Now the thought process has started changing from global to local. This has led to the creation of term “Post Truth”. So called “Global Thinking” people have started thinking “locally” to get their jobs back. The effect is for all of us to see e.g. Trump becoming President, Brexit and so on. Apparently Post Truth is more prevalent in Public Domain but sometimes it’s prevalent in personal domain too! We cannot say that US population is not aware of “could be effects” of  Trump presidency. Britishers are very much aware that coming out of large single market is not good for Britain. But in spite this knowledge, decisions have been most unexpected. 

EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) episode, challenging the Election commission by political parties was a typical Post Truth case. EVM voting sanctity was well proven over a period but Political parties did not look at the facts and just challenged the Authorities. In 1971 India Pakistan war, Pakistan had two very distant fronts to fight on, Mukti Bahini was strongly fighting the guerilla war, Indian Forces were far superior but Pakistanis had a notion that one Pakistani soldier is good enough for 10 Indian soldiers! Rest as you know is history. Alienating Qatar by other Gulf Countries is another Post Truth decision. Qatar is a small nation but is also the richest. All concerned countries on both sides openly support terrorist organizations. So most of these countries have same issues so how alienating Qatar is going to solve that areas problems is difficult to understand.  

Why the Post Truth? Under what circumstances does emotion take over the brain? At what stage “globalization” becomes less important than “localization”? One important aspect that has come forward is that very large part of population gives in to “Post Truth” phenomena. Is it because of fear psychosis? In many cases, the “Post Truth” thinking actually becomes believable. In case of Trump phenomena, it was real justified fear of the so called “White Trash” in America or “Rednecks” and Right supremacists. In case of Brexit it is probably the fear of Muslim refugees landing in Europe. In England already there is a large population of Asians which has come legally and has been causing stress to the white population and “Post Truth” thought process must have been simmering beneath the surface. In both cases the large population has ignored the facts and taken decision solely on personal beliefs; this phenomena is difficult to explain.

In case of personal relationships, life and decision making is too simple and emotional. When Jaya and I decided to get married, we were both students. Both had rudimentary information about each other’s families. Both of us were below 20 years of age, it was simple and “to hell with the consequences” was the attitude. But who any way knew what is marriage? That things turned out to be okay over a period was a different matter. Folks, what do you consider yourselves about things in public domain or even somethings in personal domain which needs brain over heart? Or are you a heart over brain person?

Are you smart or dumb?

MAD is one of my favourite magazines from childhood. I remember one caricature from the magazine. A very thin guy is lying on the ground. Another guy is shooting him with a revolver. A passerby stops and asks the shooter, “What are you doing?” He replies, “This guy is under weight, so I am pumping lead in him to help him gain weight!” Such caricatures came under category “Smart or funny answers to dumb questions” or some such thing. In our life we come across such people. If you are lucky you don’t meet many such people!

What is smart or dumb? How does a human being become smart or dumb? His family, education, DNA, environment what is it? What attributes finally get converted to a smart or dumb person? It is rather difficult to decide. I think it starts from childhood but later on the human being acquires & improves many abilities through experience. But this only appears theoretical, real life things are different.

As usual I take the reference of my grand-daughter Rhea. She is all of 3 ½ years old, the way she asks questions, adapts to things, understands explanations it will be real surprise if she ever asks a dumb question. She watches videos while having her food. One day the video was taking time to load. To deceive her we used to tell her previously that now internet Baba is angry that is why we can’t see the video.  I told her the same story. She pointed her finger to the electrical switch for the Modem and told me “Aba put that switch on/off, then internet Baba will not be angry.” Now I am sure she has heard this discussion when we talk amongst ourselves when the Net is slow or not behaving! I am not able to understand how she could correlate this discussion with the problem on hand! Do I find this clarity in grown-ups? In fact I observe that some of the grown-ups can’t correlate things in their own subject. They are graduates and reasonably well educated. Is it because when there is a minor deviation, they cannot think out of the box? Or have they acquired this trait to think dumb!

We live on the 7th floor and while going down in the elevator, I pressed zero! Rhea asked me why I pressed zero. I said because we want to go there. She then asked me how does the elevator know it has reached zero? Well, well that definitely was a smart question for her age. I had shared a couple of photos, news item and a small write up in our group about the achievement by a friend. I got a message from another friend, Pramod could you explain what these photos are? He had read everything and it was all self-explanatory, so why did he ask this question? I have no explanation. I again sent him the explanation.

Recently I was told a story by my niece who is a gynecologists. There was a couple, husband was IIT trained, wife Post Graduate in nutrition science. They had difficulty in conceiving and were taking my niece’s treatment. Finally the wife became pregnant. They came to see my niece in the fifth month of pregnancy. It was winter time and weather was very cold. The husband asked my niece, “Doctor, can my wife use a blanket now?” She was surprised. She said it was very cold so you must use the blanket and why has your wife been not using one. Believe me, he said the dumbest possible thing, you may say that Pramod is cooking up some story for the heck of it. They said now that fetus has crossed fifth month it will be ok to use it. My niece still did not understand. The husband said if my wife had used blanket before the fetus would have been smothered, that is why they decided not to use blanket even though it was very cold! Had this statement come from a villager ….

Now read the next one. They asked my niece, “Can the lady now eat Jambhul or Indian Black Berry?” It’s a lovey and healthy fruit and pregnant ladies many a times have the urge to eat the same during pregnancy. Again our doctor was flummoxed. She said of course you can eat but why were you not eating? The answer was “Oh the baby’s skin could have become dark!”

I know that these two stories can also be told under the heading “Believe it or not”. But how does this educated couple ask such questions? It comes down to definition of “educated”. These two had gone to their respective education institute to get their degrees but were definitely NOT “educated”. The information they asked was not rocket science and you did not have to be doctor to understand these things. If the blanket could suffocate the fetus then the lady’s clothing also must have suffocated the baby! Did they avoid blackish colored soft drinks like colas or kala khatta during this period?

I asked my niece if this couple was exceptionally dumb.  She said, “No kaka, they were a reasonable representation of our society irrespective of education levels”.  I can understand people getting confused with highly technical or analytical issues. So now I am back to the question what makes people smart or dumb? I am watching my grand-daughter asking very smart questions at her age and I see the so called ‘educated’ asking dumb questions. Honestly I am dumb founded! Are you?

Globalization effect on human thought process!

What is the effect of globalization on human thought process? We always read effects of globalization on economy, migration, wealth creation and so on. These are of course plus points for those who migrate from lesser economies to matured economies. Life style of people generally improves when people migrate to richer countries. How we define improvement? Material wise there is definite improvement, work satisfaction wise also there is definite improvement in some cases.

How does this process affect human mind or thought process? Since I have lived in India and that too mostly in Pune Mumbai area, I may not be the right person to comment, based on personal experience. I am attempting to analyze this phenomena from what I read, what I hear and sometimes what I experience. Attempt is definitely not to pass judgement but to try and understand the situation.

Migration to other countries from India started in 60’s; but in last 15/20 years this process is on overdrive. Number of people migrating permanently or for long duration has increased. With second generation and sometimes third generation of kids born outside India, picture becomes even more complex. In 60’s and 70’s, communication was not good; main mode of communication used to be snail mail. Proliferation of telephone systems in India was poor. So contact with people back home was pretty difficult and frequency also used to be low, in many cases once a year! Visits used to be once in 4/5 years. With this scenario, relationship with close ones including parents, would become fragmented. Ultimately, human beings who are in touch with each other regularly become close to each other. The distance and time can create a crevice in any relationship. If this situation continues crevice can become a valley!

The migratory birds do visit the nest, in some cases frequently but in many cases these visits are infrequent. A classmate of mine has touched the home base only once in 45 years. I asked him if he were so busy! He only gave me vague replies. On checking further I found that his one or two siblings are still around in Pune! What could be the reason for this? Honestly I do not know. What changes could have happened in his mind that did not prompt him not to come “home” oftener! Oh again definition of home is being challenged here. What is home? Where is home? I feel that many changes happen because definitions change. Definition of relationship itself changes. Parents are those who have given birth to you is probably the most appropriate definition in todays’ globalized world. Beyond that even this closest possible relation does not carry much meaning. The meaning of parent child relationship has evolved to suit the globalization.

 Why? What could be the reasons for these changes? Globalization has made everything very competitive. So everybody is left with very small amount of free time. Though communication has improved beyond imagination but other aspects are negating this improvement. If you take leave and your absence is not much felt by your organization work wise, then you can become redundant. Then there is additional important aspect. Out of the small free time available with you, you have to support your children’s activities, you have to take your yearly vacation with spouse and children. So you don’t travel “home” in one year, then maybe next year. With this your mind’s requirement to go “home” also reduces. Two years’ gap can become three/four years! Increase in this gap can further diminish the need to travel “home”! It’s tricky but justified from the point of view of migratory birds.

In some cases relationships don’t change in the initial phase. This is probably need based status quo. When children are growing you need back up system; that is where the parents can come into picture. But what happens when children grow and this need is not there? What happens when parents become older, have health and maybe sometimes have visa issue? It is not practical & pragmatic to handle medical expenses in foreign countries.  Then the definition of relationship changes to suit the practicalities of life. It may take any form and can be as unpredictable as our life. 

Years back Jaya and I were travelling with a Canadian friend of ours. We were on our way back to place where we were staying. Our friend said, “Pramod, is it ok if I take a detour?” I said “ok”! Then we reached a hospice where his mother lived. He parked the car. His wife then told him “You go and see YOUR mother”, we will wait in the car. That time we were shocked to hear this statement. Now I understand the meaning. His mother was not her mother so it was ok to wait in the hospital parking lot! Globalization and technology are putting a lot pressure on people and it looks like people are forced to retrain themselves just to keep their job. Similarly human beings also need to retrain themselves to keep their “job” of beings human beings. If they don’t do it they will be “jobless”. I recently heard a very appropriate story which opens a new avenue in human thought process. A gentleman expired and both his children, a son and a daughter, were in the USA. It was a sudden death and children were informed. The son had some Visa related issue. Family took a decision that the son need not come back “home”. His visa and future was more important as the father was already dead. His father would in any case not know that the son did not attend the funeral! Folks retrain yourselves to keep your “job” of being a human. Retrain yourself to become practical and pragmatic. Globalization has made family a corporate entity, emotions have no place in them!