Confused us!  

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Why the world appears to be confused? The problem with humanity is that we have Paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.

The Paleolithic (or Palæolithic) Era, is the name historians have given to the period between 2.6 million years ago, and approximately 12,000 years ago. Historians categorise the Paleolithic Era as prehistory because there was no written language to record events, names, dates, or places. Why have I made this statement, to begin with?

We expect that the world will improve with technology and will become a better place. A simple example of an automobile will tell you what I am trying to say! Just imagine a car moving forward or, in our case, an auto-rickshaw as it has three wheels. The front wheel is stuck in a pothole, the left wheel is running at 10 km speed, and the right wheel is running at 360 km speed. What do you expect to happen? The vehicle is going to tumble!

Such a combination of three wheels travelling at different speeds can create funny as well as dangerous situations. Let me go into the details. When I say that the front wheel is stuck in a pothole, its speed is zero. Its speed is zero but in what we are discussing, its velocity is negative. We are still in the thought processes which are as old as the stone age. Many rituals from olden days have continued, and I am mainly writing about India. When I was in school, in my grandmother’s home, we would see ladies of the house would “sit separately”! Now I realise that it was due to the thought process that a menstruating lady is impure. The thought process may have changed in modern homes, but many households still follow the old rituals. Today the ladies are pilots, the armed forces officers, prime ministers and CEO of large organisations. When the ladies are on the moon, metaphorically, what are we trying to do?

Our religious institutions and the compulsions that they force on people pull society back. Death is an event that is heart-wrenching, sad and a significant loss to the family, friends and sometimes to society. But we forget that it is a natural step in human life. The community follows old methods that need people to be away from work for 10 to 13 days after death in the family. Imagine persons away from work for such a prolonged duration. The loss of productivity is too high to continue with old methods. Years back, when my father expired, I was away from work for one day; the next day after that was weekly off. I joined my duties back on the third day! Everyone has the same love and respect for the departed soul. But 13 days were spent in olden days on rituals as there was nothing much to do anyway!

Even in modern times, we follow rituals and methods that were established over a period! The scientific knowledge of olden days was limited. Stars and Constellations were the guiding lights in the absence of knowledge. There was no way to check if these thoughts were scientifically correct. But in today’s times, is it right to continue following the same age-old techniques?

When humans were nomadic, the concept of a home did not exist. The idea came into being when we learned agriculture. Agriculture made us think of settling down. Over a period, different views on homes were established. Based on the knowledge of that time, humans established specific rules, which we justified as some deity’s blessings. In modern times, with so much scientific experience, we understand and can create “perfect” homes. But we still use the old methods which we call Vastushastra! I will go a bit into detail here. In the very beginning, there were few homes. We made designs to retain heat in cold regions and avoid trapping of heat in the hot regions. In the tropical areas, we had westerly facing homes to get a pleasant breeze. Now we have modern technology for design which makes the best use of available conditions. In an apartment complex, how can all condos be westerly facing? Southern facing homes are supposedly inauspicious. How can we avoid them in a condo? How can each house in an apartment be west-facing? With stone-age thinking, and medieval institutions of Vastu experts, can we take advantage of today’s modern technology, which is million years ahead of stone-age technology? We don’t do certain things because God will be angry. Such thoughts make our drive like a drive in the auto-rickshaw.

I don’t agree by any means with all the new things. There have been good things which an old thought process suggested. The non-nuclear family was a good idea, but the concept of “my space” has changed the thought process on its head. Newer technologies like free video and audio calls is a boon. It helps nuclear families to be in touch with each other.

Even in today’s time, we believe in supernatural things and ghosts. Nobody has been able to prove their existence. But we waste a lot of time correcting the ill effects of non-existent entities. One example is that of the banking system. Luckily, it has kept pace with technology. But we don’t want to change our thinking. There could be fraud, and somebody will steal my money, is what we are worried about. But these things happened even when modern technology was not used in banking. I know a friend who was a banker. He does not use advanced technology for banking.

In India, there is a large population of people who think in the olden ways. But the technology is changing with lightning speed. In between come the institutions. Some of the institutions may be able to change with the pace of technology change, but these changes are dependent on government and society. How to synchronise these three things?

Take the case EVM’s, electronic voting machines. Electronic voting has reduced the paperwork, waste of paper and waste of time in counting votes. A group of politicians wholeheartedly believes in this technology. But another group does not. Probably it is political. The second group does not challenge the process when the results are their favour. When the results are not in their favour, they start questioning the system again.

People world over are confused due to this behaviour. For personal and faith matters, they go strongly with old methods. On the tenth day after death, there is a ceremony on a suitable waterfront. At the end of the Puja, some cooked rice is kept in a bowl. There is a thinking that if all the wishes of the departed soul are fulfilled, a crow will come and eat rice. When this does not happen, people are sad and give promises to the departed soul of what they will do make the soul happy! People wait for hours sometimes. Come on! Crows have eaten enough rice on that day; they may not be hungry. Nowadays, a practical solution is found. There is a toy crow. The toy crow’s beak is dipped in the rice bowl; the departed soul is now happy! Everybody is happy! Oh, my god! I almost missed an important meeting.

Find the “crow solutions” on different issues, friends. Let us not remain confused! I don’t know if I should have published this blog. While coming home, a black cat crossed my path!

Twenty years hence! 

I was just wondering how the world will look twenty years hence. There is a major change going on in the world called industry 4.0! What jobs will be available, and what businesses could lose out? It is difficult to tell, at the same time, it is not so difficult. Robotics, AI are two game changers which are already on the horizon for ordinary people, but for techies, these are already around for some time. Will there be any bloggers after twenty years? Yes, they will be there, but there is good chance that I will not be around.  

So here we go! 

  1. Call Centre operators 
    1. We have already seen the BOTS (Web Robot) operating 
    2. Many times when we talk to toll-free numbers with Amazon, Flipkart et al. we are talking to BOTS. They are trained to answer standard questions based on our identity and our discussion history. Their “brain” gets updated as we call more. In case we ask some information which they cannot answer, AI trains them to say “Could you hold on for a minute? I will transfer the call to my supervisor.” The supervisor could be a human being, giving support to 20/30 such BOTS. 
  2. Automobile drivers 
    1. Companies are going very strong in creating technology for driverless cars. Such vehicles are already plying in certain areas in the US. Amazon is already using driverless trucks to transport their goods. Google’s Waymo and GM are two companies that are way ahead of their competitors. Over a period, there is a good possibility that the requirement for drivers will go down drastically. 
  3. Accountants 
    1. AI and Blockchain technologies together are creating business solutions that do the work of charter accountants. The data entry and the checking are rule-based. The rules don’t change every day, but even if they change, there are methods which will take care of these changes. It could be one profession that could get replaced fast.
  4. Bank Tellers 
    1. All of us are observing this phenomenon for some time. ATM card proliferation is taking place exponentially. People can withdraw money from any ATM. But in future, it can so happen that you may not need to withdraw money. My son Sachin who lives in the US rarely has any cash with him. Most places he pays by credit card. On the petrol pumps, I have seen him paying by using the RFID device for more than ten years. In India, recently, RFID tags are introduced to pay the toll on highways.  
  5. Travel agents 
    1. Travel agents? What is that? I have been buying all my travel requirements on various websites. I don’t remember when I last purchased travel tickets from an agent. It includes bus journeys too!  
  6. Newspaper delivery guys 
    1. Internationally, people have reduced buying the newspapers drastically. The print volume has gone down so much that it is no more viable to print the newspaper. Small newspapers are slowly shutting shop, and the large ones will also follow suit. In India, we are still lucky that readership is still manageable. But the trend of people getting their news on TV and the Internet is already set in!  
  7. Journalists 
    1. When there are no newspapers, what is the need for conventional journalists? Everybody will be reporter in future. The news organisations will need to check the authenticity of the news items. But with vastly improved cell phone cameras, video proofs are available.  
  8. Telemarketers 
    1. Robots will replace the telemarketers, the same as in the case of call centre operators, with one human managing large number of robots.  
  9. Referees 
    1. What will the referees do in sports events? The vast number of cameras capture each action, including fouls, no-balls in cricket, shuttle falling outside court in badminton. These technologies are already there. The role of umpires and referees will be significantly reduced. 
  10.  Assembly line workers 
    1. We have observed this happening for quite some time. The robots have been doing a lot of things. The advantage of robots is they usually don’t make mistakes, and they have no mood changes. They are never on holiday or don’t take sick leave, suddenly. 

This list can go on and on. But I am also going to write about businesses closing down.  

  1. Petroleum Business
    1. Currently, this is one of the biggest businesses in the world. With the advent of electric vehicles, the requirement of these products will drastically reduce. Trials are already being done on electric aeroplanes and boats. These developments will reduce the petroleum product requirement further. The demand for EV’s also will be forced by the need for better environmental pollution control.  
  2. Coal 
    1. Coal business is going to go down over a period for the same reason, pollution. Non-conventional energy-producing methods like solar, wind and nuclear power are set to push aside coalbased energy production. Over a period, the coalbased power plants will have to shut down, along with that the coal mines. 
  3. Law business 
    1. It is already seen that AI can give law advice easily. IBM’s Watson has proven this. Law decisions are based on the laws and rules; it also is dependent on the previous interpretation of the law. AI can easily combine these twto advise customers.  
  4. Automobile servicing and repair business 
    1. As the electric vehicles are used in large numbers, the requirement for shops giving these services will come down in a big way. The IC engine cars have more than 2000 parts in the drive train. Whereas in the EV, the drive train has about 18 items. Only the electric motors have the moving parts. Hence, the repairs and maintenance work will be as good as zero in the drive train. 
    2. The IC engine drive train has parts that are manufactured by forging, casting, rolling and heat treatment processes. These processes form a large percentage of the primary engineering industry. These industries employ a vast number of people. As the requirement goes down, there will be no growth. There will be a big slump. There will be slump in the industry, making machines and machinery required for these core engineering businesses.  
  5. Cigarette  
    1. Now people have realised that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. It is not just a government slogan. Younger people have reduced smoking of tobacco products as well as their E equivalents. It is one industry that will go down, but it is good for the human race. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption does not show sign of reducing.   

What is the reason for writing the blog? Well, the writing is on the wall, but we fail to see it, many times. People who are in the process of joining the workforce should think before joining any industry. Seniors should advise young people based on the information shared.

The list is not exhaustive, and many more jobs and industries could end up on this list. It is a good idea to keep track of such information to avoid obsolescenceTake care! Keep your eyes and ears open!  

 

Active and Passive! 

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In any language, there are two voices. Active and passive. A simple example of the voices is “Pramod cooks the food” and The food is cooked by Pramod.” The active voice is about what the subject does, and in the passive voice, the focus is on the action. It is the same in our lives. Active people take control of things, and passive people wait for something to happen.  

I will share typical examples of passive people. 

  • What could I do? It started raining; hence I got late. Why did you not budget for some event that could delay you? 
  • Its not my fault. I followed a tip given by a friend and lost the money! Why did you not check if the advice was correct or the friend was knowledgeable?  
  • It’s not my fault. The management never trained me for the new technology. Did the management prevent you from learning new things? It’s you who has lost the job. 

We tend to blame the rain for the failures. Those with an active attitude take the reins of the situation in their hands. Years back, Sachin Tendulkar was failing to score well, by his standards. He was getting out caught in the slips or behind the wickets. Sachin practised and practised. Finally, in Australia, he could put his training in the real game. He scored 240 runs, and during that innings, he did not play a single shot on the off side which was getting him out early. Australia did their best to feed him deliveries on which he was getting out, but he played them defensively.  

When the passive mindset takes over, you say, “Oh! I can’t.” Yes, you can, you’re just not willing to pay the price. You’re not ready to do the work or spend the time. You’re not willing to do something hard. You’re not willing to sacrifice what’s needed. That sacrifice could be time and sometimes money. But one should look at the sacrifice as an investment. You get returns on something, only when you invest.  

The passive mindset is defined by an attitude, an assumption that life happens to you, and you’re not responsible. People with this mindset also say things like, “Why does this always happen to me?” The worst question that we can ask ourselves is “Why me?” We humans think selectively. When good things happen to us in our life, we say that it is because I am good, and I deserve it. But during failure, you are the same person. Instead of asking the question, “Why me,” we should try and analyse. Last month I did something which I had never done before, but I succeeded. Now, what did I do wrong? How can I correct it? We need to think and take corrective actions actively. We may not reach the goal in a couple of attempts. But our perseverance is going to pay. There is no point in hoping that the stars and constellations will finally help us in our endeavour. When you change your passive state of mind to active, you move forward.  

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When the language you use about things going on in your life is passive, you slowly convince yourself that nothing is your responsibility.It makes you feel good because it absolves you from liability. It means you don’t have to look inside yourself and change anything.  It means you’re not in control. Life feels easy. Things will happen whenever they happen.

But you can be in control of how you respond to the ups and downs of life. You’re in control of how you talk to yourself. An active attitude means ownership. You own your failures. A proactive mindset means you are responsible for the things you control. 

Ages back, I was working as the quality control manager in a foundry. One day our main transformer blew off. Our production came to a standstill. I am a trained metallurgist and did not know much about transformers. My boss called me said, “Take this car. Go get one replacement transformer at the earliest.” My work started from getting the specifications of the transformer and understanding the detailed meaning of the same. I drove out. I checked at various places. Finally, I located one vendor, but his transformer was being returned the next day. Next day, early morning, I went to the location with the vendor person, about 30 km from Pune. I arranged to get a truck and ensured that the transformer was within our factory premises within 18 hours. But I was sure that I would be able to arrange for the transformer. The doubt never came in my mind!  

Okay, I understand that you have done everything from your side. The cost of the solution is too high, and there could be some collateral damage. There could be many adverse points. But in that case, don’t give up! Talk to someone. Everyone has a mentor hidden somewhere. Talk to that mentor. In today’s times, information is more accessible with search engines around. In olden times, it was difficult to get information and data. Don’t become passive; don’t allow your active attitude to change.  

Your goal may be small or big. But reaching it is essential. Sometimes not achieving that goal may not have serious consequences. But if one gets into the habit of getting into passive mind-set, it can have effects over a period. Don’t fall in the trap!  

Next time you are trying to access the site, excuses.com think twice or better thrice! The site gives hundreds of thousands of excuses. The active frame of mind does not let you take that route. If you have an eight am important presentation, make sure you reach at 7.30 am, rain or no rain. If you have that chunk of money to invest, ask your friend. But why not study what he has said. Anybody can lose money in investments but don’t blame it on friends. Take an informed decision. Your boss did not promote you, don’t blame the boss or the luck of the draw. If you don’t get promoted, blame yourself.  

Napoleon always checked while selecting the Generals if they were lucky! But at the same time, he also checked if they were fighters. There is a classic example of waiting in the slowest lane on a toll plaza. The “lucky” ones almost always join the fastest line. Luck does play a part, but the lucky ones always review quickly from a distance which lane is moving the fastest. Then they join it.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Justice Delayed 

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The problem with the law is that it is blind. It is quite like the plight of a young blindfolded child trying to hit a piñata – there are always chances of collateral damage. The blindfolded statue of Justice which is supposed to portray Her objectivity and therefore Her greatest strength also becomes Her greatest weakness. 

Justice, as a concept is depicted by a statue of lady justice which is blindfolded, carries a balance and a sword in hand. What is the significance of this depiction?  

Lady Justice is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from one hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case’s support and opposition. 

Since the 16th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or any other status. But in some statues, the blindfold is removed. The explanation is that the maidenly form of the statue implies that she will be impartial.  

The sword in her hand indicates the power that she has as the final authority. It suggests that there is no argument on the decision taken by the authority of law.  

All these definitions and discussions are fine in. But does one always get justice in real life? What is the definition of justice? After all, the justice system in any state or for that matter in the world is based on rules and regulations decided by you and me or our representatives. So, the justice system is fluid and needs to change as per the situation. At the same time, it cannot change at the fall of your hat.  

The thoughts about the justice system started in my mind as I have been reading about the Nirbhaya case. (The brutal rape and murder of one lady in Delhi by a gang of six thugs including juveniles in the year 2012.) After a long and delayed case, finally, the verdict was given to hang all the culprits to death. But the convicts are taking advantage of the loopholes in the legal system.

Nowadays, when I read the judgements, a term regularly is used “rarest of the rare cases.” In many countries, the death penalty is not given. But the maximum sentence given is life imprisonment. It is difficult to say what is right and what is wrong. India still has the death penalty in its system. But sometimes the term “law is blind” seems to be appropriate. In the Nirbhaya case, the most brutal attacker was a juvenile! But what should be the definition of a minor? Simply because the person is below eighteen, he/she is defined as a juvenile. The brutality displayed by the young person in the Nirbhaya case was so severe that the person should have been hanged publicly; if possible, he should have been stoned to death. He got away with a stay of three years in a correction centre. I am sure that he is leading a healthy life now as an adult. I am not sure if it is possible to live normally when the person had behaved so brutally. Maybe he is a demon in human form.  

The sentence given to them is to hang by death. But it appears that the ruling was that all of them should be hanged together. Why is that so? The only logic a common man like me understands is that since they performed the act together, they should be hanged together. To me, it is the most illogical. All these guys are taking advantage of the system and are making appeals after appeals in cyclic manner. If an appeal delays the hanging of one person, all persons escape the hanging. Innocent till proven guilty is a sentence which one hearstypically. But once these guys are proven guilty beyond doubt, the current system allows them to delay the final act. It is making the mockery of the system. How long the cyclic appealing will continue, only the god knows. The system does not consider the family of the victim. They are looking for closure about what happened to their beloved daughter.  

One side story in this episode is equally awkward. A well-known Supreme Court lawyer, Indira Jaising, has suggested to the family of Nirbhaya that they should pardon the convicts. She has given the example of the pardon by Sonia Gandhi in Rajeev Gandhi assassination case. But no two families are the same. Who is Indira Jaising to tell this family about forgiveness? It only adds to the agony. Why has Indira Jaising not filed a PIL to ensure that the cyclic escape route for the convicts should be eliminated from the system 

A couple of days back, there was an attack in London during the daytime. A terrorist attacked a few people with a Matchette which was as long as someone’s arm. One person died, and a couple of people were injured. The attacker was caught by the anti-terrorist squad a few years back. He was sentenced to three years of prison. He had appealed, and during the hearing, it was found that as per the existing laws, the attacker could not be kept in jail. So, he was released after the stay in prison for one and a half year. He was released. But there are hundreds of such cases in Britain and these persons are required to be physically followed to ensure that they don’t attack people. But there is a limitation of how many such people can be observed. 

The terrorist was under the surveillance, but still, he managed to attack and kill. It was the system that released him. The British law or for that matter laws of any country were designed and defined when there was no terrorism as we have today. They were planned when there was hardly any migration. It is observed that the terrorists in most countries are migrants. These things take time to change. But real-life situations like terrorism and immigration don’t wait for the laws to change. These aspects of life are like time and tide! They don’t wait for anybody.  

What is the solution for this? I honestly do not know. But one thing for sure is that preachers like Indira Jaising should not interfere in somebody else’s life. Her daughter was not raped and murdered. When the event occurred in 2012, Indira Jaising must have surely burnt a few candles in the candlelight march. I hope she had not met Nirbhaya’s family at that time to suggest to be lenient to the perpetrators.  

 

 

 

 

Q’s? 

Qs1

When Quand– कधी. Who Qui कोण. Where- – कुठेWhat– Quel– काय 

These words are Q words– the Question words! 

I was talking to my daughter Priya, who now lives in Montréal, CanadaFrench is the first language in the state oQuébec. As a doctor, she must learn French to take her license to practice. Her daughter Rhea goes to a French medium school. Her Husband, Nikhil, works in an IT firm; he is not mandated to learn French, but he knows that it will be useful to know the language. So he is also learning the language. That is how the French language came into the discussion. 

I have considered four commonly used words in three languages English, French, and Marathi, our mother tongue. The surprising part is all these words start with the common letter in each language. Priya told me about the similarity. I liked the coincidence.  

Many times, we face all these questions in life, and I am beginning with “When”. When do we mature in life? When are we able to absorb pressures and changes in life? Probably, never. When we are young, it is straightforward to shout, howl, or cry when you are not able to handle the pressure. Can’t see the momma around shout, cry! She comes running, leaving everything aside. You have enough of whatever you are doing, walk out, consequences are for others to face. 

Our tempers cool down, and we learn to absorb a few pressures that are a part of life even if you don’t like it, but we are never fully prepared for all the events. As you leave home, things start becoming complex as you enter the bad, bad world. You find your way through the maze called life. Next stage is when am I going to settle down, marry, and so on. 

We get marriedraise a family, then we go through the same cycle that we have gone through. At every stage in our life, we face a question when are things going to stabilise? When will I get peace in life? The only time you are at peace is when your life ends!  

Who is the next question that we always have in our life! Who am I? Who is going to support me? Who are you to advise me? Such doubts keep on coming in our mind. When we meet someone new, we introduce ourselves as, “Hi, I am Pramod! People call me Pramod because my parents called me Pramod. But my official name is Shrikrishna. Now that is getting complex. Why a persons official name is something, and the name by which he/she is known is different? It can lead to some funny incidents as I had gone to a meeting in a large organisation. I go there quite often. But they had changed their gate entry rules. When I reached the window, I gave my business cardBut the lady asked me for a driving license as the identity proof. I gave my driving license. The name on the license is Shrikrishna. She refused me entry. I had to talk to the concerned person and change the get entry mentioning my name as ShrikrishnaNow it became even more complicatedThe lady finally went to her boss and showed him my business card and the license. He came out and smiled at me. As he knew me, he smiled and said, “Ok, sir! You may go inside now!” Finally, the mystery is still unresolved. Pramod or Shirkrishna! Who am I?  

From the list above, the word Where has always put me in difficulty, since childhood. In school days, we would go out to play in the evening. Sometimes we would play cricket, football. At other times we would play Table tennis and Badminton. Reaching home on time was a difficult task. My mother would always ask me, “Where were you?” It meant, “Why are you late?” But I would follow the literal meaning of the word and give different stories every time. In the end, I would go to my mother. I would say, “I am sorry! From tomorrow, I will come on time.” I would go try to embrace her, but she would smile and push me and say, “Go wash. You are smelling of sweat.” Most of the QA sessions would end smoothly. But once in a couple of weeks, these sessions ended in my Father taking over from my mother and then…. 

I tried a similar stunt of coming late a couple of times after I got married. But nobody had told me the consequences of coming late when one is married. Starting within four weeks of marriage, I am at home five minutes before the expected time! 🙂🙂 

The next complex word in life is “Where”Where is my English notebook? Where are my trousers? These and such questions were raised regularly by me in younger days. Not that I have changed much, but now I have learned to locate the missing stuff discretely. In younger days, the question was meant to prod my mother to help me. But after marriage, one does not get generous help as mothers give. 🙂🙂  

The question “Where” is sometimes ignored. Other times the response is, “When are you going to be neat? Why don’t you keep your stuff in the right place?” In the end, the better half will still be generous and keep the missing stuff on the table again discretely.  

In olden days while looking for addresses and locations, Where was the question that was asked many times before we finally located the place. But now the communication between people has reduced, and Google baba is adding to itBut let me tell you, sometimes Google baba is not as smart as we think!  

“What” is the last word from the list. By now, you must have already thought “What the hell is Pramod writing about?” “When” is he going to stop writing?  

By now you folks must have understood that the meaning of words, question words changes with context. For me, this was more of a fun blog. The mere coincidence that three languages have the same first letter for four different question words in the respective language encouraged me to write the blog. would now like to study the science of etymology, the science of words. In the future, you will read more on this subject. Cheers!  

 

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.