Only Paranoid Survive- Andy Grove

Born András István Gróf on (1936-09-02) September 2, 1936 in Budapest Hungary, Andy Grove was an enigma. He died on 21st March 2016. For records purpose Andy retired as Chairman of Intel in 2002. His book Only Paranoids Survive is a land mark book. I have read the book sometime back and I am sure going to read it again.

AndyGrove_edited

I have always thought that when He creates people, you and I are created in assembly line process but Groves of this world are created in a designer studio meant for special people. I am writing this piece to understand Grove’s thinking and how it can be applied to life in general.

Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore founded Intel in 1968 and Grove was the first employee to join though he was not a founder. Till 1985 Intel was a DRAM (Dynamic Memory Chips) manufacturer. But since late 70’s Japanese started winning the business from all and dumping their products at a very low price in US market. This was a big problem for Intel.

There are many quotes attributed to Grove and some are real Gems; quotes tell us the thought process in creating Silicon Valley and its unique culture. It is said that “Probably no person has had greater influence in shaping Intel, Silicon Valley and all we think about today in technology world than Andy Grove.” Some of Andy’s quotes can also be applied to our personal lives.

He first used the term Point of Inflection to describe how industries change. Inflection Point is defined mathematically as “a point of a curve at which a change in the direction of curvature occurs.” In business “it is a time of significant change in situation or turning point”.  The smooth bend in curve is the inflection point.

PointOfInflection

Intel the DRAM manufacturer was ahead of the pack in technology terms in 70’s. But Japanese competitors were good at manufacturing processes and efficiencies and this is where Intel was lacking. Advantages of new technology are available for a small period but what sustains business is manufacturing. In this race Japanese started catching up with Intel and a stage reached where Intel was pushed to the corner. Intel market share had gone down from 80% to 10 % in a few years. This was the point of inflection. At this stage Andy Grove guided Intel to shift from DRAMS to Microprocessors. They not only shifted but just stopped making DRAMs. Rest as they say is history!

This was the point of inflection which Andy caught perfectly. He visualized the change in direction where business was moving. He managed to minimize all the errors that Intel had made in DRAM business. From open technology he moved towards patented technology. He made sure that Intel had top class manufacturing facilities and efficiencies. This helped Intel in keeping competitors at bay! He also made sure that Intel had a long term contracts with first IBM and then Compaq for supplying Intel Microprocessors to manufacture PC’s. There was so called error in Pentium chip. This was deftly handled by Intel and they replaced all the chips whoever wanted them to be replaced, no questions asked! This so called error would not have affected regular users of PC. This business savyyness helped Intel. Then the famous partnership of Windows and Intel called Wintel happened in the market. But Intel were open to Linux, when it was required later.

Many of us have this inflection point in our lives. Sometimes it is opportunity to go into business, moving to a different country, changing your line all together. On personal front it can be meeting the right spouse, making new friends, opportunity to go for great education, and meeting a great mentor! How many of really know that an inflection point is looming around? I think not many of us have the vision to know what is happening around us. If we knew there would been large number of success stories. Inflection Points can make you or break you!

In Indian context, a commercial vehicle manufacturer took a decision to get into car business. Was it the inflection point for this company? This decision is dragging the company over a period and now with all international players around, the drag is going to be heavier and heavier! Almost at the same time another Indian company manufacturing two wheelers took a decision to stay out of car market! (Though they were attempting to enter) Second company probably understood the inflection point better and stayed its course. But this company also missed inflection point! They thought that scooter market in India is declining fast hence they withdrew from scooter market. But there was big market demand for fancy scooters with no gears. Currently half a million scooters are made every month!

Then there is Nokia. They missed the inflection point indicated by Smart Phones! From number one to number no one was a very fast downward journey for them.

Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by fear and anxiety. Andy’s book Only Paranoids Survive is a thought process created due to his experience during Intel’s DRAM manufacturing phase. It is possible that the anxiety and fear of getting wiped out of business by the competition created Paranoia in Andy. He was probably always thinking what he should do next, so that he could  remain ahead of others. This thought and correct application of technology took Intel, to today’s pinnacle position.

But we must understand that we cannot apply the same thought process of paranoia in our personal lives. Personal life is not about profits, competition and money. It is much more. I am sure Andy was not paranoid in his personal life. His simple and frugal life style indicated that he was a normal human. He had no fascination for big houses, big cars and all such so called success indicators. How many real successful persons can stay away from this the glamour of success?

“In technology whatever can be done will be done” is another of his famous quotes. Many things which we probably imagined in childhood are actually available today. 50 years back the world as we know was “biiiiiiig”, with technology it has become a village. Support services and functions are handled by persons sitting in any part of the world, thanks to technology. As late as early 80’s getting telephone line in India was a big deal. Now there are 800 million subscribers of phone companies in India, again thanks to technology. To purchase things one had to go to shops or super markets, now we can do these things sitting at home.

I am sure till his death Andy had “Intel Inside” him. But I am sure that “Person Inside” was far different than the thought process of “Intel Inside”! There is an incident that shows the real Andy. During 1995 launch of an Intel product, the launch opened with Intel bunny people; at the end of the dance people expected Andy to come on stage and start the proceedings. To every body’s surprise, one of the bunnies removed the face mask and behind the mask was Andy! Who would have thought that the CEO of the largest company in the world would swing hips with Broadway dancers? That probably was real Andy!

Andy this is my salute to you! I am sure you are planning next tech revolution along with Steve Jobs over there!

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God! Where are you?

I am definitely not an atheist but I am also not “an old man in Vanaprastha”. Meaning of Vanaprastha is part of the Vedic ashram system, which starts when a person hands over household responsibilities to the next generation, takes an advisory role, and gradually withdraws from the world.This stage typically follows Grihastha (householder), but a man or woman may choose to skip householder stage, and enter Vanaprastha directly after Brahmacharya (student) stage, as a prelude to Sanyasa (ascetic) and spiritual pursuits.

During Vanaprastha the theory says that you withdraw from this world and try and pursue spiritual Nirvana. Everybody’s ideas of Nirvana are different. But in this pursuit some become staunch, overly focused on achieving their Nirvana, others be damned.

I am 66 years young and by various definitions fall in the category of Vanaprastha group! I am a professional still running my consulting and software business. I am explaining this background a little more in details than I like but with a reason. I only want say that I am writing this piece in a balanced manner.

My favourite time of the day is evening when I and my wife take our Grand Daughter Rhea to Mandir or a Garden. In the Mandir I observe various groups of Vanaprasthaites! Some pursue their goals by being with the deities, bow to them, and sing their hymns. After that some sit in the Mandir and meet other co pursuers. Others rush back to where ever they want to rush. Most youngsters are in a hurry to do everything anyway! Some meet in a group and discuss their daily tidbits and have a little enjoyment and take the life forward.

Some meet in groups and sing some hymns, sometimes in loud voices. Sometimes Bhagwad Geeta Pathan takes places. Sometimes reading of things of religious writings happens. Now the issue starts. This is a public Mandir and all of us have freedom to do what we want to do within the normal social norms! Generally we tolerate each other but this group has a peculiar thinking. We were enjoying our granddaughter doing whatever two year plus kids do when they get space and place. She was just running around in gay abandon! After some time, couple of more kids joined and the fun started. They were all enjoying chasing each other and within 5/10 minutes their shouting decibels started going up. I told my wife that I see God every day when these kids are having innocent fun!

When the decibel levels went above the decibels levels created by the senior group reading or singing of whatever they were doing, one of the pursuers of Nirvana shouted at my God and told the kids to be silent! My God is laughing and shouting group of children. Nirvana pursuers were so engrossed in “meeting” HIM through their own methods, that they were blind to the “running God”! The innocent children just stopped laughing and rushed back to their families with a small face. I wanted to confront the Nirvana group but I was hoping that what had happened was an aberration.

After ten minutes we started getting ready to go home. For my granddaughter, every event is fun event and there are always negotiations going on! Therre is so much fun when she comes with different arguments every time. During this discussion about wearing shoes, more than 20 meters away from where Nirvana group was sitting, one young old man like me joined our “serious” discussion about whether right shoe should be worn first or the left one! My granddaughter made some funny statement which made all of us laugh.

Now the issue really started. The Nirvana group shouted at us “keep silence please!” Oh, I am sorry we did not know that they were almost on the verge of achieving Nirvana. I simply asked them one question, “Do you have Monopoly in this Mandir?” For which they had no answer. Questions started coming to mind how we become blind when we single mindedly try and pursue something imaginary, when you have the free replacement, in the form kids having fun, in front of you? Sometimes this Nirvana groups’ decibel levels go up so high that it is impossible to sit in the Mandir. I don’t go and tell them so because I know that they are blind to everything else in their pursuit of Nirvana. I don’t want same courtesy from them to me but when it comes to shouting at kids who are enjoying……

Well I leave it you friends!

Helmet Oh No!!!

There have been many jokes going around about Pune city and its people. When Pune was selected in “Smart City” list, there was a joke going around! Pune is degraded, Puneites are born over smart, now they are being downgraded to Smart! Lokmanya Tilak had said “स्वराज्य हा माझा जन्म सिध्ह हक्क आहे आणि तो मी मिळविणार!” “Swarajya is my Birthright and I shall achieve it.” He is the one who started this non-cooperation movement, against the Government, in not so silent a way like, Gandhiji. This movement started an un foreseen reaction. Since that time, all the Puneites were getting a blood transfusion of these freedom fighters’ blood! It’s still boiling in their bodies and their minds are still following the resistance to Government agencies route! I don’t blame them, it is their DNA.

Many idiot Indians are following a rule of using Helmet while driving two wheelers but not in Pune. There have been laws, rulings by high courts, supreme courts but the law makers hardly understand the human body. Here is an advantage of not using a helmet.

                                    ThisCantBePune

                                            This can’t be Pune!

When you do not use Helmet there is a very quick opportunity for you to meet your Maker, the God! You wear a helmet and fall from a two wheeler, this happens easily. This stupid helmet can come in the way of you and Him! It is well proven that by not wearing a helmet statistical probability of meeting Him vastly increases. Show me the law which says that I cannot meet Him early! Show me the Supreme Court ruling! I am on my own trip, family be damned!

Latest one is when you wear Helmet, you get bald! Wow, this scientific discovery by Puneites deserves Nobel Prize. At last the first Nobel Laureate is found in Pune city, many have been born before but they were never discovered. When you wear a helmet, in summer and sometimes otherwise also, you sweat. Sweat causes germ growth and pulls the hair away from your scalp. Of course in winter, when it is cold, you may wear cap covering your scalp, which also has the same effect as that of a helmet, on your hair. But cap is no helmet! Puneites have allergy to helmets. Young men are worried that if they go bald who will marry them? You cannot argue with this logic. There is one small hitch. You need to be on the terra firma to get married.

When you wear a helmet there are many disadvantages. Your view gets blocked. Looking at a beauty waiting next to you at the signal becomes well-nigh impossible. You cannot see the Policeman who may be around to catch you when you jump signals. Your hearing is impeded and you cannot hear the sounds on the road, including those of other vehicles. Of course there are some advantages also. Buds in your ear remain protected from the nature. You can listen to music while riding the two wheeler. This helps you in overcoming the boredom of driving through heavy traffic. Do these buds hamper your hearing? Please say it again, I could not hear what you said!!

Our modern day freedom fighters (of freedom fighter’s blood transfusion fame) are so sure about themselves that they make their own rules. Red signals are for the meek, green signals are your right. Going in the wrong

                              Funeral

                                        POLITICAL SUPPORT

direction on a one Way Street is the correct way, better utilization of resources. Parking in no parking zone, again same logic better utilization of resources.

When such a dangerous atrocity is forced by the Government can the politicians be behind! All political parties have jumped the band wagon. Some have claimed that Puneites are known for wearing Pagadis, old style head gear. How can Government force Puneites to change such traditional wear. That this tradition had a break for last 70/80 years is immaterial. They have taken out marches, protest meetings but they don’t grieve for those who die because helmet was not worn. I am not really sure of the statistics but I think that out of 100 two wheeler accidental deaths, at least 95% could have been avoided by helmets! January 2015 news said that at least 400 die in two wheeler road accidents, every year, in Pune & Pimpri Chinchwad. All the politicians fighting against helmet use should be called to give speech during funerals of such deaths and suggest that helmets should not be made compulsory. See the reactions of the relatives of the dead!

         Motorcycle AccidentPagdi

  Accidents always happen to someone else!   Puneri Pagdi

On a serious note, this can be handled in a pretty simple way. Don’t allow Petrol Pumps to sell petrol to those NOT wearing helmets. Large organizations including Government offices can force their staff to wear helmets. In Pune cantonment area army has forced people to wear helmets if they want to travel on armed forces roads. Run a big campaign and sustain for years together. Seat belt campaign has succeeded pretty well. Overcoming non adherence to helmet usage is also doable. Like charity start this campaign at home and in your society. 400 nos of death per year is just not acceptable. Don’t wait for such an event to happen in your own home! For records I used to travel for work on two wheeler in late 70’s and early 80’s; I always wore a helmet! So please please….

EQ IQ or Both!!

I read a story about a person having a meal in a restaurant. He saw two poor kids hanging around outside the restaurant. He called them inside and requested them to sit with him for some food. They had their food and then the person asked for his bill. He received the bill. He was shocked to see the bill amount Zero! On the bill it was written that our billing system is not equipped to create a bill for humanity! The owner of the restaurant had seen the event and this was his reaction!

Wow! What a gesture! Not from one person but from two persons. The guest wanted to pay for the food eaten by the two kids also but the owner went one step further. How did this happen? Why did this happen? This brings me back to my favourite subject, human nature. How does a human react to a situation? Why different people react differently to same situation? How does our mind or nature mold since our birth? There are various factors that surround you when you grow. We have no control over which family we are born into. Family DNA helps to mold but we see enough examples of siblings who are totally opposite. How much is family DNA important?

Is it the circumstances through which we make our journey? Is it some special incident in your life that makes you the way you are? It could be series of events and incidents that can mold you. I know of siblings with very similar paths in their career. They ended up working as Directors with large organizations. Enough international travel and stay, sufficient exposure to foreign culture, high education, probably equally high IQ’s! But the difference in two siblings in certain aspects of life is unbelievable. Does EQ (Emotional quotient) come into play? Possibly a person’s behaviour Q= (IQ+EQ)/2! But is the equation correct? Is it really divided by two? What is important IQ or EQ? What is more important and by how much? My experience tells me that weightage of IQ to EQ is 3 to 7!

In the passage of our lives, we see so many different things. There can be difference in opinion about what is good and what is bad or what is correct. But according to me the story of two kids, I narrated above, can be only be classified as good, there are no two opinions about it. When I compare two siblings, I am talking about such “absolute” good things and not the disputable ones. In such absolute incidents their behavior can be diametrically opposite. All of us see various things in life but how much open are we to absorb the events that we see or observe. Are we the real sponge material? Spongy persons absorb as many things as possible from life experiences and their “computer system” retrieves right things at the right time. Non spongy persons are not open minded and though everybody sees the same things, these people absorb only the things that they want. Spongy people will store the data about things that are opposite to their thought process too. They just keep on absorbing irrespective of the fact that they may not agree on some issues. So when a situation arises, where they need to change their thinking, they can do it. The data is already stored with them. Their mind will analyze situation, applying two diametrically opposite thoughts and may be change 100% or 70% or 30% in their thinking, depending on requirement of the situation. But non spongy persons will never change their mind as they have not stored data for opposite thought process. Can these people said to be adamant? आडमुठा in Marathi. Some may claim that they “stick” to their principles but life is all about being adaptable.

Coming to IQ/EQ discussion, consider Sachin Tendulkar& Vinod Kambli. They started their cricketing careers at the same time. Their initial milestones were also reached at the same time. In fact in the beginning Vinod was supposed to be a bit ahead of Sachin! After 4/ 5 years of international career things started changing. I am sure both of them had very similar cricketing IQ but end results say that their EQ was vastly different. Vinod was nowhere near Sachin in EQ. Vinod found it very difficult to handle career hiccups. Sachin also had some hiccups but with his superior EQ he managed to overcome the difficulties and rest as they say is history! Why Sachin’s EQ was better than Vinod’s? Is it family background? Is the overall atmosphere in his life? What was it that made Sachin reach the pinnacle of cricketing history? There are many things that formulate a persona, ultimate result of life can be measured in terms of IQ & EQ. So the IQ+EQ theory holds good!

Take another case of brilliant scientists Edison and Tesla. Both had very similar IQ but were so much different in their EQ! Edison had a bad streak in him that caused him to make many attempts to destroy Tesla’s career. But what was the end result, Edison became a moneyed man whereas Tesla did not make much progress on this front. Both had many inventions in their names, but Tesla gained the popularity as a better person. What is the definition of a successful person? Is it the one who makes lot of money? Or is it the one who gets better name.

In case of Sachin and Edison, one with very good EQ and the other with not so good EQ both had commercial success. In case of Sachin he earned a great name too! People respect him for his humility. Edison did not earn a name as a good person. But if we go back to siblings discussed above, their case is similar to Sachin and Edison! That brings me back to same question has DNA no effect on final outcome! Friends decide your take!

Friends, Texting……

Today I have 380 “friends” on Facebook. Who are my friends? What is a friend? Are these 380 my friends; except 15/20 “friends”, 30 others interact with me on yearly basis, maybe. Do we interact with our first family on Facebook, especially when we stay in the same house? Some do! I know of husband/wife wishing happy birthday on Facebook! This is a social networking site but it is turning out to be an antisocial technology. What has FB achieved? It has “connected” people virtually but in real life it has disconnected people. For an event, in “friends” life, we feel that it is good enough to wish on FB and be done with it. We have forgotten the art of talking to friends on phone. That too because we don’t have time to talk on phone; where is the time left after FBing, WhatsApping and surfing in general!!  New technology, “bane or boon discussions” have started long back. With proliferation of “smart” phones, which carry FB and WhatsApp, population of dumb people is increasing!

I am old enough to say “In our days things were different”. And yes they really were different. When friends called you to play it was cricket, football, I spy, lagori, gili danda and so on. Now it is X box or Nintendo. We is used to get hurt because we fell down, playing. Now I am told the kids are hurt because their parents haven’t bought the latest game.

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The above caricature is a representative of current thinking. In olden days we used to stop and talk to people to ask directions or an address. Now you have your GPS on and it guides you to the exact address, in most cases. Goal of reaching the destination is achieved but so is disrupt with people. Advantages of talking to someone are many. Just tell me how you feel when you “talk” to a wall called call center? We might as well send them, sms or an email. Some have met their future spouses as they asked them the direction while locating an address!! Can this happen in today’s cutting edge technology era! People’s interactions in general have reduced to a large extent. Probably this is leading many couples preferring to get a dog as a pet instead of having children. Is having children passé?

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This caricature implies the same thought. It’s a great pun on the word “friend”. Does family talk to each other like it happened in olden days? Do kids know their parents and vice versa? I doubt, at least in some cases, because all are busy with their “friends”. You see caricatures of husband telling wife to pass on the salt, through WhatsApp message! Kids don’t become “friends” with their parents. I know of one family who track their child’s FB activity through a family friend, who is their child’s “friend”. What is so secret about an activity which is open to the whole world but is “shut” for the parents? What can be the logic behind this?

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This caricature indicates the undue importance given to the cell phone. The person is just blind to the nature’s beauty. What causes this addiction? I can understand this happening in the initial phase of cell phone ownership but why the addiction level goes up, up & up? Why do people need to take cell phone to bed? All I need to know when I am in bed, is time, when I wake up in between. So I started keeping devices other than cell phone on my side table. My current device is a Kindle! The world does not stop if you do not see an e mail, WhatsApp updated after you go to sleep!!

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Another addiction area that I see is talking on cell phone & texting while driving. The caricature above perfectly shows about this addiction. Are we in such a great hurry that we keep on talking and texting while driving? How did we handle our life pre cell phone era? Do we become over confident that we can multi task easily? Is our brain designed to drive a car at say 60 km and text on cell phone, simultaneously? I don’t think so. What can happen even if a minor emergency arises? How will our brain react? Aero plane accidents have occurred due to wrong pilot reaction in emergencies, though pilot was fully busy in flying the plane (hopefully not texting). Here people try multitasking while driving.

This is a lovely caricature taking a humorous snide at texting while driving!

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Coming back to basic thought of pros & cons of FB’s, WhatsApp, texting. Why are people so addicted about these activities when people know that there can be a real danger to lives. Some time back there was an accident on a ring road. A lady was busy talking on her cell phone while crossing the road. A heavily laden dumper truck swerved to save the lady, lost control and six people died. Truck fell down from a bridge 10 meters high. We read of people, listening to music with ear buds in the ears, have been crushed by trains! Two people fell down while taking a Selfie and drowned in the sea. We also read of people trying to take Selfies on mountains standing very close to the edge of valleys. I recently read about a woman who sent whatsapp messages on New Year Day for six consecutive hours. Then she had to be taken to a doctor to take care of her swollen hand and fingers! Or is it swollen brain!

What is it really that makes people do such stupid things. If you tell someone doing such activity, he/she will not want to listen to what you are saying, if at all they listen to you, they ignore you. Stupidity or over confidence? Are these people trying to impress someone?

Volkswagen has come up with a brilliant film on “Effect of Texting while driving”. Such real life campaigns hopefully will make people realize dangers of what is being done under the guise New Technology usage.

Disclaimer: The caricatures & video are used only for better explanation, there is no commerce involved in writing this.

Dance of Civilization!

We humans are creatures of habits. Especially small kids. Every day when I come back from office my grand-daughter  Rhea (all of two years old) is waiting for me to take her out. I live in a modern 11 story tower. This building is in the midst of bustling locality. We normally go to a Vitthal Mandir complex, which is nearby, for evening outing.

When we go, Rhea is all decked up with a small empty purse on her shoulder and cell phone in her hand! She wants to imitate her mom. The Mandir complex is not more than 150 meters from our house. But during this to and fro movement to the Mandir, the activity that I observe is amazing. During these 45 minutes that we spend daily, I see many nuances of human activity. When we are in a rush, we observe only chaos but when we look at things leisurely, each person that we see is busy in doing something in a peculiar way. Hence I felt the title Dance of Civilization!

Our observations start with the watchmen at the gate. Different watchmen have their own pattern, some not bothering to see who is passing through, some are busy talking on cell phone. Some are very attentive and doing their job sincerely. Some are friendly with kids and chat with Rhea.

From the society gate our first stop is a next door Bank and sometimes a shop selling various tea leaves including the imported ones! The bank is a modern bank with internet banking and ATM’s and what not. One sees so many people rushing to the ATM and running away. The Tea shop is in basement; so our favourite pass time is climbing up & down the steps of the bank and the tea shop. While we are busy with this, we see every day, a set of pensioners whiling away their times, a set of young friends chatting. Dogs sleeping, an old beggar just idling and not begging!

We move further! There are grocery shops, a tea vendor, and an electrical repair shop. Almost the similar set of people is seen; some are chatting with owners, some are chatting over a cuppa while some are waiting, doing nothing. (Is it that many people have nothing to do or pursue in the evening?) Further ten steps ahead is a cobbler sitting in a corner. In last 30 years I have never used the services of a cobbler or a मोची in local language. I had thought that cobblers do not exist these days! I have always done my shoe polish myself and my footwear never needed any mending! But every day when we pass through, there is a set of different people getting their footwear mended and it appears that there is good natured gossiping going on while footwear is mended!  In Marathi, there is an appropriate word for this kind of gossip “चांभार चौकशी”! Rhea has become friends with the cobbler and we spend a minute or two watching what he is doing and then say bye to him!

The Mandir complex is about 2 minutes walking distance from our society but we meander watching, observing, questions all the time what is this and what is that? We take almost ten minutes to reach our destination. Amidst the human activity there is traffic. The road is small and there are mostly, no foot paths. Most drivers think that by honking, the person in front will get blown away; unfortunately for him that does not happen. So more honking! Then there is Slalom plus Obstacle race combined for the two wheeler riders. These blokes will easily win any such race world over! I saw one motorcycle rider missing the foot path by a couple of inches in Slalom mode! I am going to write to the Sports Minister to encourage such sports in our country! Coming back to honking, I think since the horns do not work as expected, many will shift to Helicopters! (Do Helicopters have horns?)

Finally we reach the Mandir after watching some part of “Dance of Civilization”! If you really want to watch the spectacle you must spend sufficient time in a Mandir. Why do people come to a Mandir? Well there are various reasons but top of the list is to pay obeisance to Him or Her! Every individual has different degrees of beliefs in Him, for some He is the ultimate, for some they come daily, some come only when they are in trouble, some visit when something good has happened in their lives, some come to see him just before getting married (You need it!) all decked in their traditional silks followed of course by a videographer. Some groups come to Mandir on specific days for their Bhajans, some groups come every day for Bhajans! The level of activity that we see is unbelievable.  The process of visit to the mandir starts from removal of footwear! Different people follow various methods of removing shoes, some keep them very near the steps, some keep far from the steps. Some request even a strangers to look after their footwear so that it is not stolen!  Getting inside a Mandir is again an art, I thought one just walks inside! Some just solemnly wait for a few moments, hands doing namaskar, some follow similar method like Christians do it! Some touch each step by hand before walking up the next step. In extreme cases, some people crawl on all four, up the steps! It is said to be done as a penance. (Penance for what?) Rhea’s favourite is to watch meshes on the gutters inside the Mandir complex and ask me questions on the same!

Once people enter the Mandir there are again different ways each pays his/her obeisance to Him. Some perform a standing namaskar, some perform namaskar fully lying down on the ground. Some enter the Sanctum Sanctorum, some don’t. Some perform their Pradakshina, (Circumambulation) but all do it clockwise. Some do it once, some twice, some many time! Some do it slowly, some do it fast. Some are in hurry to go out and some sit in the mandir for some time. Some sing a hymn during all this process. My understanding tells me that when you come to pay obeisance, you should spare some time for Him. He does not invite you to visit the Mandir. We visit for our own sake. If we do not spend some time, we may not be able to feel the tranquility of the Mandir. If you visit the mandir just as another daily chore, then one might as well not visit! Rushing through is against the basic concept of visiting the mandir. A child has concepts clear about such things. Rhea does what she wants to do. On some days she will say I don’t want do namaskar; she can do this because she is not afraid of Him! She is not worried about His reaction to her actions. He never reacts, anyway! It’s all in our mind.

Another 30 meters ahead is a Mandi. We stroll in that direction at our speed. There are vegetable, fruit & flower vendors, hawking their goods. Then there are small roadside food vendors who sell their stuff. For Rhea it’s a great treat every day to see and touch see so many different vegetables, fruits and flowers. We repeat the same process of naming them and discussing their colours. She touches each one and gets the feel and expresses how she feels about it. Some vendors interact with her, some offer her a fruit, and some just ignore us. One vendor is more curious than others; he started telling her the names of vegetables in English, so I told him that English names are taught in school hence I am teaching her Marathi names. Then he started asking me about school education in my times, whether I had my education in English or Marathi and so on. Same set of people but different curiosities and interactions!

Then suddenly I see a bit of commotion in the area. I find that Municipal Corporation  Van from anti encroachment drive has reached the Mandi. Some unauthorized vendors picked up their goods and put them in the zone of authorized vendor’s area! So they are safe now. Some food vendors had no place to hide so they lost their stuff to the van. Other equally unauthorized vendors continued their business as if nothing has happened! They had “settled” their issues before hand. Then there is one Ice Cream vendor. He occupies almost 15 sq met area including blocking of footpath with his ware and chairs, bang in front of the mandir gate! Encroachment van makes sure that they do not even go near him. For them that vendor does not exist! He is a well-connected politician. This unsavory activity goes on right at the gate of the Mandir but they know that God is in your mind, He does not really exist! Jaihind! Amen!

Pollution! Nobody’s Baby!

Recently all of us have heard of pollution issues that are literally choking Delhi and probably this is only the beginning. As usual we go about the issues as if it is Government problem and has nothing to do with us. There are a couple of things that need to be considered. Nobody could have predicted that India will manufacture 3 million four wheelers per year and one million plus two wheelers per month by 2015. Increased car ownership can be considered as effect of liberalization. This improved the economy  at a rapid pace, at the same time growth of IT sector started. Combined effect of these two factors led increase in aspirations of fast growing middle class. But growth of two wheelers is purely because of poor infrastructure of roads and public transport in our cities. A society is considered developed if middle class and upper middle class people in that society travel by public transport.

Consider any city in India. Except for Mumbai, where does public transport carry large number of people daily. What is their other option? People have to move like Sardines packed in the “Local” trains. Ask any Mumbaikar about Metro and he will agree that ALL trains in Mumbai should be like Metros! Why Rs.90000/ crores planned for Shinkansen cannot be used to Mumbai “local” train quality improvement? (I am aware that its a special deal) Millions of Mumbaikars will bless the Government if this is done. What are our governments priorities? What are our society’s priorities? What do we want to achieve? Do we want to become a four/two wheeler dependent society? Do we have the discipline to become individually owned vehicle based society? Are we at all striving to become an advanced nation?

What is really adding to pollution? I am comparing data in general and not for any specific category. During discussions on pollution, we talk only of vehicles like cars, trucks, buses et al but there are other factors too. I am discussing Delhi issues because it has become first city in India to have really suffered. Factors contributing to pollution in Delhi are

  1. Winter/Weather
    1. Winter causes stagnation of cold weather near the earth’s surface  ie inversion due to cool air. This is not new to Delhi and has been an old phenomena
    2. Air flow patterns from Afghanistan and Pakistan, pick up from Haryana and Punjab, smoke created by farmers burning the straw in the fields.
    3. Delhi generates 10000 tons municipal solid waste per day. This is burnt every day.
    4. Pre monsoon dust storm also add to this issue
  2. Industry
    1. Delhi has massive construction projects going on; these add to pollution
    2. There are many industries in Delhi
  3. Power generation plants
    1. Badarpur power plants are 30 to 40 year old. Plants use very poor coal quality and have very old design equipments with almost zero automation. This cause high pollution as well as cost.
  4. Vehicles all types
    • Delhi has 7.5 million vehicles on its roads. Many of them older than 15 years.
    • By sheer volume, we miss out that two wheelers also have equal share in pollution because they are 70% of total vehicle population.
    • Government policies have kept diesel cheaper than CNG for most of the period thereby discouraging the use of CNG
    • Diesel buses which carry 50/60 passengers are taxed more than diesel cars.
    • Large number of trucks going to other destinations  just pass through Delhi though they have no business to be in Delhi.
  5. Dust cleaning from roads
    1. In India road cleaning is done every day using “Zaru”, a broom. With this method maybe 50% of the dust that should have been collected goes into air adding to pollution.
    2. It is seasonal but Diwali fire crackers add to pollution
  6. Delhi has a typical mix of Government authority where Delhi is a state Government but has a very large number Central Government establishments. This causes the clash of authorities so taking decision can be tricky for both!
  7. It is Supreme Court that has been pushing the Government. Supreme Court has now taken actions which best can be described as knee jerk. What is going to happen by not allowing to register say 15000 large diesel SUV/C class vehicles?
  8. Delhi citizens almost pay no money for parking their vehicles on public roads. This leads to indiscriminate buying of vehicles. In cities like New York 30 years back people had pay US$ 300/ per month to park their cars in apartment complexes.
  9. Besides this Governments policies play a major role in vehicle pollution issues. Following two tables show the Indian standards and European Standards for pollution norms.
  10. EuroNorms
  11. BharatNorms
  12. When the policies were declared by European Union, which were then followed by Indian Government, the EU wanted to reach Euro VI standard by September 2014. Whereas Indian goal was equivalent of Euro V by 2017! This is where the real issues start. Pre liberalization there used be Hindu Growth rate of 2.5% per year in India. Probably as we believe in Karma, we are in no hurry to change things. When this rate grew to between 6 & 8%, pollution also started galloping. We just forgot to change our targets  for pollution control which probably would have been ok for Hindu Growth rate! .
    1. Even on decided targets there is a major failure in implementation.
    2. Currently for fuel supplies, Northern India and large cities in other parts of India get BS IV for petrol & diesel. Rest of the country is expected to be BS IV in Jan 2016, BS by Jan 2020 and BS VI by 2023!!  Unconfirmed report says that industry will struggle to meet even BS IV norms by 2017.
    3. Vehicle industry says it will struggle to make BS V by 2020 and  BS VI by 2024!
    4. This proves one thing we are very adept at selecting appropriate names. EURO norms name is converted to BS. I need not elaborate the meaning of “BS”.
  13. Large Industries have money to open new factories but they do not have money to improve their Vehicles for better norms. Our Government owned fuel companies have thousands of crores to spend on marketing and opening new pumps. But they do not have money to improve refineries to make improved quality fuels.
  14. Why Government cannot give stringent targets to Automobile manufacturers and Fuel companies for going straight to Euro VI or Bharat VI norms? All these groups make noise but if they are forced they will do it. It is about putting correct priorities! Is it about the lack of political will? Is it about the clout of these big companies? Is it plain bribery? Why can’t Government push Public sector companies?
  15. Governments work on these issues only when the Supreme Court pushes them, otherwise everything is seems to be hunky dory.
  16. In olden days also I remember very foggy weather in Delhi in winters. Practice of cleaning roads with “Zaru” is an age old practice. Supreme court has already forced Smog caused by burning of straws in fields in Haryana and Punjab is also a very old practice. The factors mentioned were causing problems even in those days but word pollution was not in fashion.
  17. When nations proceeded rapidly towards industrialization they adopt new technologies, new ways of doing things. I am sure people must have been defecating in open in most countries in olden days. But this changed drastically. But in India in spite of Government trying very hard by making laws like “having toilets in home” as a pre-qualification for standing for local elections, people build the toilets but still defecate outside! Oh, we like it that way!! You will hardly see anyone spitting in developed countries. Mind you tobacco chewing was rampant in these countries too!
  18. Unless Governments, Industries, Fuel Companies, People all make concentrated efforts jointly and simultaneously problems of pollution will just remain that, Problems of Pollution, irrespective of whether we have authorities like National Green Tribunal (NGT)

In conclusion, we can say that following factors are causing pollution in Delhi.

  • Large number of vehicles and incorrect policy on diesel
  • Government apathy on regulations
  • Atmospheric conditions in winter
  • Auto makers & Oil industry taking advantage (gain what?) of lack of political will of Governments
  • Age old practices not being changed, road cleaning by “Zaru” & straw burning in farms
  • General apathy of public in not forcing  Government to pass strong laws. Yesterday’s example of passing of “Juvenile Justice Bill”. Public pressure forced law makers to pass this bill in the parliament.