How to instil confidence?

The human brain has a high capacity to overcome problems and find solutions. It thinks differently given a chance. It feels the need to see in an innovative way of moving forward. How does this happen? It happens if you allow the child to be curious, questioning every small thing. Sometimes a parent is so fed up that she ends up telling the child, “Every why has no reply because the Sky is very high!” It is easy to suppress curiosity because you are busy; you do not know the answer or the child has asked an awkward question, say about sex! It is not the child who is awkward, but it is you! In today’s time when Google is around, finding an answer to anything is a matter of a few minutes. But we avoid it or do not try it.

Effects of intellectual freedom and curiosity are there to see in this world. The other day, I was watching an interview on India Today TV by Rajdeep Sardesai, and he was interviewing BMC Commissioner Mr Chahal. The problem was the availability of Ambulances in Mumbai. Some organisations or individuals own ambulances. In today’s times, their availability has become essential due to the pandemic. Mr Chahal explained an attractive solution. He approached Uber, who anyway is not highly active currently. He got hold of all the ambulances, ensured that there is a driver available all the time. Uber agreed to allow BMC to use their software. Anybody needing an Ambulance must access Uber app and simply order it. It is a classic example of Government-Private partnership.

The way Mr Chahal was ready with data, actions proposed, and actions already taken instilled a lot of confidence in viewers like me. Same Mr Sardesai, who was upset with the Government, which transferred the previous commissioner Mr Pardeshi. I am sure now Mr Sardesai must be feeling quite confident about the capabilities of Mr Chahal. Honestly, I was not satisfied with Mr Pardeshi.

https://youtu.be/RmGROMFF3U0

Given below is a video about Naman Gupta and his organisation. Where ever we travel in the world, cities and places where we visitors go, are spic and span except for one thing. In each country and continent, one thing common is the cigarette butts thrown all over the place. Why it is so common is difficult to understand. But Naman Gupta decided that enough is enough. He decided that he needs to do something with this problem. He made a plan, formed an organisation and has been collecting and processing these butts- Code Efforts Private Limited. I will not go into the details of their operations. But Naman and his company are working with great zeal to correct the situation about cigarette butts. They have been doing this for the last four years- the company started in 2018. Their first problem was collecting these butts; they found an innovative solution. Friends, I leave it to you see the video and decide for yourself about the effort.

What Naman’s effort has done is to instil confidence in people like us that things are okay in this world. Somebody wants to do something and cares about our mother earth. That too, by doing something exciting like converting these butts into usable products. When we see apathy and disrespect about nature everywhere, these small beginnings give us confidence that things will improve in future.

Similar effort but on a much larger scale was started in Pune by Adar Poonawalla- CEO of Serum Institute in Pune. He pledged Rs.100/ crores to launch an initiative called http://adarpcleancity.com/

Adar Poonawalla founded the Clean city initiative in January 2015 with the sole purpose of improving the environment and waste management in the city of Pune his home base. He said “I am a proud Indian. My pride takes a hit when I look at our streets and roads compared to those of other more developed nations, and so instead of criticising any government, I decided to pledge 100 crores to pick up and manage our waste and garbage in the city of Pune. The waste and garbage not only is damaging our health and environment, but it is an embarrassment to foreigners and visitors who visit India. Today we have over 200 trucks/ machines and over 400 employees for managing this activity covering more than 600 km of roads in Pune (roughly 60% the city)”.

Such efforts take away our mind from the doomsday predictions about the world. There are people, and there will be more and more people who will come forward and make this earth a better place to live.

Historically, which personalities instilled confidence in us? It is said that during the second world war, Churchill had a high command on his oratory, and he instilled confidence in the British people. There is a joke on this subject. Churchill was taking a taxi to go to the studio to give his weekly speech to the nation. He waved to a cab. The driver stopped and said, “If you are going in the direction I live, I will take you. I have to listen to Churchill’s speech.” Churchill took out a One Pound note, a princely amount in those days. The driver said, “Hop in! If you are giving me a pound, to hell with Churchill!”

In every society, there is a goto group of people. In case of difficult times, calamities, disasters, this group of people simply starts working to help people. We are lucky to have two such groups in India. One is the Sikh Gurudwara Samiti, and the other is RSS. Both groups are a part of religions. Gurudwara Samiti is part of Sikhism, and RSS (Rashtriya Sahayak Sangh) is part of Hinduism. But surprisingly they are apolitical.

Gurudwaras have a tradition of Kar Seva. I have visited a few in Pune and the Golden Temple in Amritsar. While I neared the open space outside the temple, it was spic and span. There were volunteers around to pick up stuff thrown by you and me. They would discretely stand on the side and every fifteen minutes or so pick up stuff and clean the area. People told me that even if you throw something in front of them, they will never challenge you; they will simply clean the area. Their humility will change any nasty person who would behave indecently. Inside in an area, Prasad was offered to everybody in a Dron (a cup made of leaves). About fifty feet away, a person was standing with plastic bags to help people carry Dron. Mind you these are all volunteers who in real life could be industrialists, business owners or CEO’s of large companies. It is their way of giving back to society. Their Langars are famous for feeding every person who goes to Gurudwara irrespective of their caste, creed, sex and religion. During disasters, they run these Langars all over the world. I have read about the Langars run by them during the pandemic, in London and New York too!

See this interview by Barkha Dutt of RSS workers in Dharavi, Mumbai. These workers are helping the corporation of Mumbai to test the people for infection. There was a doctor, a physics professor, a chartered accountant, a businessman, a hawker in that group. All these people had taken a break from usual work to help the corporation, and thereby the nation. When asked by Dutt, “How come you are working here since your government is not here?” The simple answer was, “We do not help the governments, we help people.” RSS workers have rushed to areas in Kerala during the flood, to the eastern coast of India during the tsunami. They do not wait for someone’s instructions. Their organisation is such that volunteers simply gather together and travel to areas where help is needed.

Friends, with Gurudwara Samiti, RSS, Mr Chahal and Adar Poonawalla in our society rest assured that everything is going on well in this world. There will be blips, and there will be obstacles to surmount. Of course, there will Trumps of this world around. But goodness and keenness of these people will instil confidence in humanity. If all of us do some good work in our “personal” ecosystem, our mother earth will always look the way she has been! A great place to live!

 

Bollywood-the charge of the Outsiders!

It looks like my musings about Bollywood continue!

Like every other field, Bollywood has kept its tradition of launching the star kids. The Hindi movies became a more significant business in the 70s and 80s. Till then, the Kapoor and the Dutt family from the acting side and a few other families from the production or directorial team were prominent. They tried to launch their progeny some successfully and others not so successfully. When Shah Rukh was trying to find his footing in Bollywood, Rishi, Randhir and Pinchu Kapoor were already there, and so was Sanjay Dutt.

In the 50s and 60s, most were from Northern part of India or had come from Pakistan after partition. Everyone else joining the films in those days was an “outsider”! Amitabh was a sales executive in a Calcutta company. Rajesh Khanna and Jitendra came from a lower middle class area (there was no higher middle class in those days) of Girgaum, in Mumbai. Jitendra used to live in a building called Ramchandra building- the building still exists- next to Girgaum Portuguese Church!


Red Church and Building on the right is Ramchandra Building!

The “outsiders” came from various hues. Some financially okay but most had tough times in the maximum city, Bombay. Most managed to live off friends and relatives in the initial phase, but many slept on benches and footpath. The urge to join Bollywood was so strong that they would sleep with an empty stomach.

What is it that makes people take lots of risks in attempting to join Bollywood? Glamour? Fame? The simple, understandable urge to graduate from drama stage. Many of the “outsiders” have come from drama background. Rishi and other Kapoors were conventionally good looking, but there were those with unconventional looks like Amitabh, Shah Rukh. With their non-filmy and sometimes non-city backgrounds, they were initially awkward. Amitabh was from a well-known family, but Shah was a typical Dilli ka Chora. Kangana, though good-looking had an awkwardness of not being city-bred. But they all had a fire in their eyes and their belly.

Our own Pune also had its share of people whom Bollywood bug had bitten. The statistically surprising part is that Smita Patil and Rohini Hattangandi were from Jaya’s school; Rohini was Jaya’s classmate. Mohan Agashe is a friend ours from school and college days. Smita Patil was from a rich financial background, but Rohini and Mohan were from families like ours. Smita was considered experimental off-beat movie artist but ended up dancing with Amitabh in a typical Hindi movie rain dance song! It looks like that movie bug and cricket bug have been prevalent in India for a long time.

How many of these outsiders or even insiders make it to the top? I know that the success rate is minimal, but still, people keep on trying. Rajendra Kumar’s son, Dev Anand’s son, are the classic examples of people not making it to the top. Even from the famous Kapoor family, Pinchu went nowhere in his career though he got great opportunities because of Raj Kapoor.

Another route taken by these outsiders was modelling, and beauty pageants; and Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen are some of them. Many others remained on the fringe of stardom. Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen were the winners in the same year, but their careers took the path very similar to that of Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. Chopra now fits the idiom, “the world is her Oyster”! She has done so well, and by the time we realised she had become an international personality and swings between Bollywood and Hollywood. Just a small tidbit. She has produced one Marathi film called “Firebrand”!

Years back I was watching a Ranji trophy match on TV. I saw a young guy batting and called Jaya to watch him bat. She said, “Who is this guy?” I said, “He is a guy from Bangalore, called Rahul Dravid but is batting beautifully.” Rest as they say is history. Okay, I am not claiming that I “found” Rahul.


Shah Rukh in “Circus” in 1989

Similarly, I remember watching the DD series “Circus” in olden days. The series was good, but Jaya and I would watch it mainly for Shah Rukh though there were many other good actors in the series. He had some spark, and his boisterousness was seen even in those days.

Another interesting thing that one can see these days is that many of the aspirants have taken at least college-level education. In a few cases, like happened in the case of Sachin, it does not occur. Priyanka Chopra got so busy at an early stage that she could not go to college.

One more aspect we see these days is that all the successful and not so successful, I am talking commercially, actors have good financial consultants. They invest money wisely in most cases. One feels sad to read the story of the famous actor like Bhagwan of Sham Dhale fame living in poverty in the latter part of his life.

Like in normal life, Bollywood gang too has had its share of early deaths. Irfan Khan died at the age of 53. Smita Patil died at the age of 33; she also a child out of wedlock with Raj Babbar. Meena Kumari died at the age of 36 of liver cirrhosis and Madhubala of a heart ailment at a similar age. Amitabh had a near-death experience after an accident on the set of the Movie Coolie!

Some fascinating stuff is done by Bollywood gang currently. During the pandemic, Akshay Kumar, Sharukh, Sonu Sood, Salman and many others are donating tons of money to help the needy. It indicates their gratitude towards the society which has made them rich and famous.

Another outsider Marathi Mulagi who has reached the pinnacle is Madhuri Dixit. She is from a typical Maharashtrian family from Vile Parle, who made it to the top! I am mentioning this because in Maharashtrians going into Hindi movies is not the norm- actors graduate from Marathi movies and TV serials. But Madhuri straightaway started playing Test match cricket without even playing Ranji Trophy match.

One interesting thing that has nothing to do with insiders/outsiders is the risk taken by some of them. In olden times actors like Raj Kapoor would put in personal money to achieve their ambitions and follow their passion. They had kept the homes where they lived as collaterals. Amitabh tried to make films under the banner ABCL and had almost become bankrupt in the early 90s. What saved him was Kaun Banega Crorepati!

There are so many exciting and fascinating anecdotes in Bollywood. One thing is sure; you are as successful as your last film! Whether you are son/daughter of an insider or you are an outsider, it is you and me who decide their fate!

Bollywood-trip down the memory lane!

Movies are a part of life for all of us. You may find me jumping from one era to the other period while I am writing. A disclaimer- I am not an expert in movies. My comments would be more of a commoner. The period I am talking would be from the 1940s to 2020! Each era had its classics, its heroes, heroines and superheroes. From olden times, there rarely have been super heroines. Rare one in olden times was Nargis. Nargis was way ahead of the times. She carried western clothing in the 50s, elegantly, even better than the current crop of heroines. She was a terrific actor too!

Latest Superheroine Alia Bhat

One record that looks difficult to break is the longest-running film in the industry.

Dilwale Dulhniya Le Jayenge was released on 20th October 1995, DDLJ (as it is fondly known) is the longest-running film in the history of Indian Cinema. As of April 2016 (over two decades!), the National Award-winning film is still shown in Maratha Mandir, Mumbai. More than 1000 weeks, it is still running. It is a typical movie of modern times. (Definition of modern changes as the time passes- when we had just passed out of college Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bacchan battle was considered modern!)

I am not one of those armchair critics who like to blame any film which could be called Masala movie. Masala movies, by definition, are the ones favoured by the general public, the Hoi Polloi! If DDLJ is a masala movie, then I am Hoi Polloi!

I feel that the films reflect the times we live in! In the 50s and 60s, India had earned independence from the British. The movies reflected the life of freedom fighters; the songs reflected those times.

Kasme Wade Pyar was a similar song of those days.

Another favourite theme in those days was poverty! Poverty was powerful, and wealth was weak- it was the theme of those times. Poverty was glorified. Garibi Hatao was the political theme of films of those days.

The glorification slowly got converted into anger, personified by Amitabh Bacchan movies. Before the Bacchan phenomenon, the evergreen movies about love and the lost love were in vogue- yes, the Kaka or Rajesh Khanna! Many good entertaining films were produced in those days. But general quality used to be average- both in production quality, story line. Technology in those days, especially till the end of 60s, was moderate.

Many movies in olden days were known for their songs. Films in those times had outstanding songs, and each movie would have 10 to 12 songs. It was and is still called the golden era of Hindi Film music. It had singers like Rafi, Lata, Asha, Geeta Dutt, Manna Day, Talat Mahmood, Mahendra Kapoor, and of course Kishor Kumar in that period! Such music accompanied by the triumvirate of Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand added to the glory. Raj liked to create Chaplinesque characters- especially in movies that he produced himself. Dilip Kumar was the actor, and Dev Anand was the chocolate hero of those times. You do not forget Geeta Bali, Madhubala, Waheeda Rehman and Meena Kumaris of this world. I thank god for taking away Madhubala at an early age of 36! I cannot imagine her at the age of 85! But at the same time, we need to thank HIM for keeping Waheeda among us- what grace she has even at the age of around eighty.

The Eighties movies were routine with a few good ones peppered in between! But the nineties brought the Super, Superheroes and heroines. Shah Rukh, Amir, Salman suddenly were around, and so was Rishi Kapoor. Do not forget Madhuri Dixit! Later on followed by Priyanka Chopda, Kareena Kapoor. The era also had dancing heroes like Hrithik, Rishi Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor. Shah Rukh had is own dancing style- Salman the non-dancer was also famous for his “dancing”. These, along with Madhuri, took the art to a different level. In olden days, there was Vaijayanti Mala, Waheeda, Hema Malini and Asha Parekh. But none of the heroes was exceptional dancers. Some of them were outright awkward dancers.

Era defining song

Have you watched Raj Kapoor dancing? He was elegant and graceful; Rishi Kapoor probably picked up the basics from the father.

There is one film that has been produced in three different eras, Devdas.

The versions starred Prathamesh Barua, Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh khan. I understand that these eras had vastly different technologies, types of equipment, budgets. But if we compare these three productions, Shah Rukh’s Devdas was far superior to the previous two. (Friends you may not agree) Why are films produced? Why do we go and watch movies? The primary purpose is entertainment. It is incorrect to even to compare movies, athletes from different eras. But we should not say Dilip Kumar was better just to go on a nostalgia trip!

Singers, Music directors, lyricists are significant contributors to the success of movies. A. R. Rehman has become an institution like S.D. Burman in his heydays. Sonu Nigam has the range and voice similar to Rafi. Is Shreya Ghosal new Asha or Lata? Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu have earned their place in history. Friends I have missed out on many outstanding performers during the discussion. But that does not mean that they were not good enough to be discussed. It only indicates that there has been a big pool of talent all the time in all the eras.  Sahir, Javed Akhtar, Gulzar and Prasoon Joshi have created their own great songs.

Like DDLJ, there have been some iconic movies! Movie “Guide” was one of them. It was released in the year 1965, and Shri 420 was another such film. Every decade we had such films. Amitabh’s Janjeer started a different trend in the movies.

But in recent times heroines get prominent roles in movies. The heroines can carry the film on their delicate shoulders. Priyanka Chopda, Karina Kapoor and very recently Alia Bhat are doing a great job. Alia debuted in a forgettable movie called “Student of the Year!” But her recent two movies Udta Punjab and Raazi were top class movies. Her acting has been high quality in both films. In Udta Punjab she and Karina Kapoor both done well. Both of them are beautiful too! Another attractive female actor is Tapasee Pannu. She has done a great job in a movie called Thappad. Some of these films are commercially not so successful but are thought-provoking ones.

Is it a good change that is happening? Business-wise films must be commercially successful, and there is no doubt about this. But these films should be relevant, thought-provoking or entertaining too. The movie should be “good.” Filmmakers need not produce meaningless movies. They can display an affluent society or poverty as per the needs of the movie. There could be drug problems, they should not be afraid to discuss subjects which are taboo for discussions- like blind following of any faith and hatred created by the same.

Entertainment does not always need to have a happy ending- it should make us think, sometimes. When we chat with friends and family, we discuss everything threadbare, warts and all. Films should reflect real life.

Error 404, Page not found! 

canation1

We try to communicate with each other by different means. But the era of communication and thereby miscommunication can be divided into two different times, BI and AI. BI is before the internet, and AI is after the internet! “Error 404, Page not found” is the typical well-known error from AI times. All of us are familiar with this error. When we are looking for something on the computer, there is miscommunication in the systems. The buzzword for this is protocol issues. Whatever we were searching is not loaded; hence the device gives us the message!

Galgali

But it is enjoyable when we use old methods in modern times. A friend was celebrating his birthday yesterday. As I prefer, I called him to wish instead of sending a message like HBD on WhatsApp! All of us are happy when someone calls us to wish on a birthday or to celebrate an achievement. I was standing in the balcony of my condo while talking to him. He lives across my condo about four hundred meters on the opposite side of the road. I am on the seventh floor, and he is on the 9th floor. I jokingly said, “You have never come to my house, but if you were standing in the balcony, I would be able to see you. I am on my balcony.” He does not have a balcony, but he came in the large window of his house. The photo above shows the building where he lives. I have used a zoom lens for the photo- the building is not close as it looks! It was difficult to “see” at such a distance and height. So I told him, “ I will wave a red bandana to you!” I waved it, he saw me and so could I! We were both happy, like children. I simply used time tested method of waving something bright. There we were enjoying the chat and the thought that we could “see” each other in the lockdown times.

I have this seen in Hollywood movies. Two guys not known to each other want to meet. Then one of them would say, “I would wear Red Carnation on the Blue Lapels.” That is the way to send the signal to recognise others. I was wondering why this combination?

It is a common notion among men. The wearing of a flower in one’s lapel is the least used gestures of elegance seen in modern times. Much of this stems from the perception that flowers lie within the domain of the fairer sex. Sean Connery as James Bond would wear this combination.

Carnation

I sometimes wonder how we communicated at all during BI times. In the year 1980, Jaya was in the US for her MS, Sachin, and I lived in India. Jaya would write to me to fix the “meeting” time. We spoke every fifteen days. In her letter, she would confirm the time of her call. I did not have a telephone at home. So I would go to the designated place to receive the call. I know of someone who called his parents twice in about fifteen years from the US in those days. Both the times it was to inform the birth of his children.

Till my Inter-Science in 1967, I was in Mumbai for education. My father was transferred to Jalgaon, and I lived in hostels. After the examination, I decided to take up the engineering course in Pune. I don’t remember how I communicated with my parents. Maybe I shared the information by post!

There was a fancy instrument called telegram used by the post office. You had to go to the post office to send a telegram. Writing a telegram was also an art. The charges depended on the number of words use. There was regular and urgent telegram. In those days, getting a telegram was mostly connected with bad news. On some occasions, you got a telegram informing that you passed a particular competitive exam with flying colours. Also, ran like me were guaranteed never to receive such telegrams. The information in a telegram was communicated by using Morse code. For those who have forgotten about Morse code, here is the definition.

carnation2

Morse code is a character encoding scheme used in telecommunication that encodes text characters as standardised sequences of two different signal durations called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. Morse code is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph.

It reminds me of a couple of historical incidents.

Siddhi Johar led the Bijapuri force. Discovering Shivaji’s location, Johar laid siege to Panhala fort. Netaji Palkar made repeated attempts to break the Bijapuri siege from outside but failed.

Shivaji, Baji Prabhu Deshpande with a select band of troops, decided to attempt to break through the siege at night and make for  Vishalgad. To deceive the Bijapuri forces, who would give a chase once they found that Shivaji had broken the blockade, Shiva Nhavi, volunteered to dress like the king and let himself be captured.

On a stormy full moon’s night (Ashadh Purnima), a band of 600 selectmen, led by Baji Prabhu and Shivaji, broke through the siege. The Bijapuri force hotly pursued them. As planned, Shiva Nhavi allowed himself to be captured and taken back to the Bijapuri camp, fully comprehending that he would be put to death once the charade was discovered. This sacrifice, however, gave the fleeing Maratha force some breathing space. Shivaji escaped ahead, and Bajirao and his me kept fighting the suicide mission. The firing of three cannon volleys signalled Shivaji’s safe journey to Vishalgadh.

Narayanrao Peshwa was killed because of the forgery in communication in the communication given to his captors. The message was in Marathi – “नारायणरावांना धरा.” It was changed by his aunt Anandibai to मारा instead of धरा. The infamous treacherous act from Peshwa history is known as “ध चा मा”; the meaning of the message was changed from धरा meaning HOLD to मारा kill! A change in a single alphabet led to the killing of Narayanrao Peshwa.

I meandered from my waving of the red bandana to older methods of communications. But it is fun to delve into older techniques. Now, of course, communication methods have changed. But one issue scientists have not overcome. When the spaceships go to the backside of the Moon, called dark side, the communication stops!

Communication methods return the same as fashion, at least name wise. In the stone age, we used to write on walls; now we report on the Facebook wall! We used morse code but now use the technique of one missed call- “I am late”! Two missed calls- “I have come!” Three missed calls- I have cancelled!”

The human brain is innovative and keeps on finding new ways of communicating. Police still use a good old wireless walkie talkie. HAM radio usage is almost gone after the invention of the Satellite phone. But some people always keep on celebrating technology among the closed group. Probably it is for the old times’ sake.

Fantastic progress! Really?

Images and statistics are both deceptive. It is difficult to guess what something represents, and it is impossible to predict where a person ends up in his career. When sixteen-year-old Sachin Tendulkar walked on the grounds to play against Pakistan, people had heard about the prodigy. That he would have retired after playing for 24 years of international cricket, scoring around 35000 thousand runs. Shoaib Akhtar, the Pakistani great fast bowler, recently said that Sachin would have scored around One hundred thousand runs, had he been in today’s era.  Vinod Kambli also walked out at the same time with similar statistic and look where he ended up.

During the second half of the last century and in the twenty years that followed, the world has progressed rapidly. Millions of poor people were brought above the poverty line, the world over. It is an accurate description in countries like India and China with huge populations. It was predicted that India and China would be “developed” nations in a certain number of years. It was based on some predictions, based on financial activities of those periods and statistic. But that was not to be! Why is that so?

That the United States and Europe were developed and prosperous was beyond discussion. Surprisingly, I found that there could be some measures to compare the richness of different societies. PPP- purchase power parity is the word used! A root canal procedure costs Rs 2500/ in India, while it costs, on an average, Dollars 2500/ in various countries like the US, Canada, Australia.

Let me tell you that Dollars 2500/ is a lot of money in the respective countries compared to other living expenses. So is Rs 2500/ in India under Indian conditions. It is a procedure that anybody may require. These aspects were never discussed openly. There were wars to be fought, politics to be played and yachts to be built. Do not worry; statistics tell us that many people have become middle class. Do not worry, if you are not able to buy your Chivas or Dom Perignon, be patient. The shops will open!

The current pandemic has thrown that hidden statistic open! I am considering only the US and India for discussion. In the US, around 35/40 million people have registered for the monthly dole as they do not have money for their next month’s meal. When we travel to the US, we move around in planes, helicopters and BMW’s. We forget that there about 30 % of people whose life has been hit by a typhoon or a Patton tank. The statistic is that it is 30% of US working force that is badly hit. If we consider 30 % of people hit by the pandemic, the number is 35/40 million. In our language, it is from 3.5 to 4 crores. The numbers are much more than this because many people do not get counted in official figures.

One to two months of bad times, without wages, has brought these people on the road. The stark reality is that statistics can be easily twisted to suit any argument. In the US, 3 to 4 crore people are brought to their knees, then the statement that the US is the wealthiest society in the world is baseless. The so-called middle-class like you and me take education and get a reasonable job. We save, get ahead in life, then we keep on saving and try to go forward in life.

So, the theory that millions the world over have become middle-class is not valid! Or I should say that these people have not become middle class- they have come just above the poverty line. When everything is hunky-dory, life looks and feels rosy! Spanking Metros, sprawling airports are the signs of progress. Are they? A sustained and unprecedented event has brought in open what is hidden behind the “progress!”

Why is that so? In the shining glory of the life that we live, the reflection of the bright lifestyle blinds our sight. We accept whatever is said and declared by various governments and organisations! The shining armour of the progress was pierced by one pandemic. Societies are bleeding.

Are we going to learn any lessons out of the catastrophe the large population is facing? I am not sure. The massive construction projects will restart, with workers living in their huts near their projects. These people live from project to project at the mercy of their contractors. They have some money in hand when things are “normal”. They aspire like you, and I do. The moment they have some free money with them, they will buy a bike—nothing wrong in that. The public transports are shoddy, and having your bike makes sense. The officegoers in Mumbai will go back to their trains- packed like sardines! Homes near your offices cannot be taken even on rent, forget buying them.

To me, all these claims of a large group of people becoming middle class is a statistic. If one or two months of no work and mostly no income going to push this group below the poverty line, the definition poverty line needs to be changed. To me, if families could survive six months of “no income”, then they could be treated as middle class. If in the first month of “no income” 20 % of the US workforce comes on the dole, then there is something wrong with of these definitions.

In India, there are two types of people who have progressed from low income; the wise ones have saved money from their income. All the members of such families do some work. Whereas there are some who can not bring families to cities. Such people survive on meagre amounts in cities and send remaining money to the family. The arrangement does not allow them to save money at all.

To me, the middle class is those people who come above the poverty line, live comfortably and SAVE MONEY! If you cannot save money, one shock and you are back to square one.

In every country, people are working on minimum wage. They could be in Mom and Pop stores or the stores in Malls. They could be working in Amazon or Ikea stores. Under Indian conditions, these are people working as assistants to people running kiosks on the roadside. These could be housemaids or cleaning staff in unorganised sectors! They all survive from salary to salary. Their conditions are such that they are afraid to fall sick for two reasons. The first one is they cannot afford the treatment- hence sometimes they waste money on quacks when they are sick. The second reason is that if they cannot attend work after falling ill, they are not paid for that day. It is a double whammy!

What is the solution to such problems? There is only one solution. Let there be inflation, let things cost more but pay people much more than what they are paid today. It will cause big churning in society, especially for retired people. I am not a communist or a socialist.

I am a Capitalist with a big C; I am out and out for the survival of the fittest. I understand and agree with market forces etc. But something is drastically wrong with the current model in which the one month of “no income” can ruin families!

Hey folks! I am with you! You do not need dole! It is your birthright to earn decent money against work done, and you should be able to save every month. So, all the nations, all the societies must first change the definition of poverty line! If that cannot be done, make everyone RICH!

Blind Men and an Elephant! 

Blind-Man-and-the-Elephant

 

Indians are known as argumentative Indians. 1.3 billion population have 13 billion opinions on any subject. The WhatsApp university has created many experts in India; so, all people on the globe except Indians can retire for life. We will run all the governments in the world. We have solutions for everything.

The current situation created by the pandemic was an unforeseen one. No society or a nation could be prepared for such events. Even before the epidemic, India and the whole world was moving towards a significant cyclic recession. The lockdown appeared to be the only solution to delay the spread of the pandemic and gain time to create infrastructure. India has done well compared to many other nations. Now is the time for our nation to come out of dire straits in which we find ourselves.

Every nation has come out with policies. These are declared in terms of the % of the GDP. The size of the package for each nation would be proportional to the size of the GDP. Governments and families try to work within their means. We buy a car after we have saved money for rainy days. Governments are also expected to do the same. When we have an emergency in our home, we borrow money from friends, relatives irrespective of our savings. We take personal loans from banks and against credit cards. It brings severe restrictions on our spending in future as we have borrowed the “future” money. We make the funds available, somehow.

Nations are no different. The economic package is a necessity created by the emergency called pandemic! Countries borrow from various agencies for the future, as the families do. People, political parties have different views of how the money should be made available to different strata of the economy. There has been a lot of discussion going on about this issue. Now you will understand the title of the blog, Blind Men and the Elephant.

When a group of a few economists discuss the finances of a nation, there are different views. But they are experts with different views. Other people, like politicians and common persons,  express opinions as per their experience and knowledge. But ideas are discussed by people of all political hues; it becomes an exercise in mudslinging. But it is okay if they have some expertise. But usually, we find that most people fit the definition by blind men as far as this subject is concerned. They simply throw words based on their poor understanding of the issue. One of the panellists made a statement that the US government put Rs 26000/ in the pocket of each poor American. When the anchor said that there is something wrong in the panellists’ information, the panellist said, “I have read everything on the subject, so you, please do not teach me!” So much for the knowledge.

I have seen the interview of IMF India director Surjit Bhalla on Times Now.

https://www.timesnownews.com/videos/times-now/india/top-economist-surjit-bhalla-on-modi-bailout-package-india-revival-mission/61423

The interview thoroughly explains the subject. Since Bhalla is an Indian, he may have political inclinations. But these are inclinations, and these are very discrete. When asked about politicians, he said let them do their job!  He has said that on the IMF site all the economic packages of different nations are explained. In size, the Indian package comes within the first three nations. The packages of all the countries have about 5 % fiscal component, and the rest are monetary. He was asked why the Indian government is not putting money directly in the pockets of the poor. He said that during the 2008 recession, this was done and led to inflation up to 13% in India. No nation is giving direct money to people to avoid inflation. In India, people are getting grain and food instead, plus some cash. By making ration card portable, they have removed the main bottleneck from the system.

Manufacturing, trade, transport everything stopped. On top of that, a sizable number of migrant workers wanted to go “home”. At their “homes” too no work is available. The first step is to help migrants reach home safely. The government has an ominous task of restarting the whole nation. At the same time, boosting the morale of the populace is also essential.

The government must control the pandemic on one side, with a chance that there could be a second and third wave later. On the other side, it must start financial activities too! Manufacture and trade must begin. But poor people have the issue that they do not have money because they do not have savings. Their life is dependent on their day to day earnings. Now, this is the paradox.

Blind men and elephant appropriately describe the current situations. Most of the people understand only their part. Someone calls the elephant a rope and other person calls it a fan. It seems like a wall, and to others, it is like a pillar. Teeth feel like some tool! Majority discussing this problem explains as if they are know-alls. But all they know is only a part of the problem. Each know-all giving solution based on if it is a fan or a rope. Even financial experts are trying their best to get the hang of the situation.

There is another pandemic in this world! That is a pandemic called “decide your own fact- courtesy the internet!” On searching something, you get many different results. People declare different things as a fact as per their knowledge and “Whatever suits you!”

It is a typical chicken and egg situation, and there are two sides to any economy: the demand side and supply side. Demand-side is what you and I buy. Supply-side is what is manufactured and made available for sell.

Both sides are in trouble. On demand-side vast majority do not have money in hand, but the government is trying to give them some cash plus ration. Ration card can help people buy stuff wherever they are currently staying. The government needs to provide support to people until the supply-side engine starts. When supply-side starts, people will get jobs and salaries. Then the demand will get generated.

But supply-side is also short of funds. Government is trying to support them by various packages. They are changing specific laws which will make borrowing money for business easier. The government will allow banks to advance loans to businesses without collaterals and bank guarantee. The government will be its guarantors. The government calls them pre-sanctioned loans.

All these things are going to take 2/3 months. Then there is a question of some vendors being in the red zone. They cannot supply components to large manufacturers. The supply-side engine is also going to take some time to work in full swing. There are many sectors on the business side. Each one is going to ask for more and more support.

Though most are happy about the packages, there will be some who will remain unhappy, always. Some are saying give us money, not loans. These are the people who are going to keep on grumbling.

It is a tricky situation, and there will be divergent views. Looking for the path ahead is like driving a train through a heavy fog. The train must go slowly to avoid accidents.

In this unprecedented situation, both government and we are having a tough time. We need to work together and find a solution. Do not look at the problem from a myopic viewpoint! It is not going to be easy, and if the waves of the pandemic repeat, then there will be proverbial red signals on our way!

 

And the winner is!

Cannes1

People excel in many fields. Some excel over a long time. In recognition of their work, organisations declare prizes or medals. Great! We are always happy when others appreciate us. It could be for our looks or success in an examination. It may be for achievement in art, science or sports! The recognition helps us achieve more, to better ourselves.

Parents encourage their progeny when they are growing up. It is a joyful day in any household when a child puts independent steps without any support. The same is true when the same child cycles on its own. The child is further elated when it rides, shouting, “Ma, no hands!” It has bettered itself.

But there seem to be some organisations and people who make this simple process, complex and controversial. Recently a photographer from India, living in Kashmir, was awarded the Booker Prize. The prize seems to be awarded to Indians to create controversy. Another such person to get the Booker Prize was Arundhati Roy, first Indian to get it. In the first case, the person is not controversial,  nor is the photograph. It is the citation that created the controversy. After Pakistan, so-called, globalised the Kashmir issue, there have been attempts by some people and organisations to keep the issue burning, all the time. Instead of bypassing the regional controversy, they mention words like Indian Occupied Kashmir in the citation. But this is a non-Indian organisation, but there are Indian politicians from a national party who toe the line and blow their trumpet. They could have easily avoided this by congratulating the person for excellent photography and making a statement against the organisation for stoking regional controversies.

But no, they don’t do it. These people practically endorse it. The photograph mentioned above is excellent, but Roy’s book, The God of Small Things, was beyond the understanding of most ordinary people. I bought the book and tried to read it at different times, but to no avail. I have discussed with many friends, and they also had the same opinion. It appears that the persons of her ilk seem to get a license to rubbish the Indian state at all levels, every time. These people will say terrorism is terrible, after 26/11, but will try to link it to the persecution of the people post-partition. She tied 26/11 to Kashmir issue and kept on justifying. When they are asked for a solution, they will say it is for the government to find it; she is only going to criticise. It could be a Narmada dam project or Naxalite issue. She will always be on the side of the sufferers. There is no question that the rehabilitation of displaced people must be done. The reasons behind Naxalite issues are justified, but the means adopted by Naxalites can never be justified.

When the US attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, using force against terrorism was not the solution as per the lady. Probably there should have been a face to face meeting in Davos or St Moritz in some convention centre with the terrorists to resolve issues. When Naxalites have a problem, they attack and kill about a hundred policemen, using landmines. But when the government forces counter-attack, it cannot be justified. There are many such “liberals” who get the Prizes, but they are not staunch enough in their stand against India.

Then there are other organisations which are equally controversial but fortunately not so harmful; sometimes I feel that they are funny! Such organisations have become an industry formed because of the film industry, the world over. It could be Hollywood, Bollywood and film festivals. Films have a place in the modern world. The heroes and heroines become heartthrobs, and people follow every action by them outside the movies too. Hundreds of people wait outside their homes on their birthdays.

Surprisingly, we Indians have not overcome the awe we feel about anything foreign. India produces the maximum number of films in a year. We have our yearly ceremonies like Filmfare awards. In the US, it is Academy awards. The award ceremonies have become a business, and many organisations sponsor these ceremonies. There are popular categories and critics categories. In all these years, Critics and Popular awards have never been given to the same movies. Why is that so? It only indicates that the popular demand is quite different than those liked by critics. Last year there has been a big controversy that the winner of majority awards was favoured, slyly, over other good films.

Anyway, in any area where ranking is done, controversies are bound to be there. But these have reached a stage where a better actor like Amir Khan has stopped taking part in these ceremonies. The surprising aspect is that now he is not selected for these awards. He could be given awards in absentia. But that is not done.

Indians in general and Bollywood gang are enamoured by Hollywood. We get excited when someone from India gets an Academy award. Another thing observed is that Indian movies which show about India’s poverty are preferred movies for International awards. One should be happy and excited if the person receives a prize. It is the recognition of their work. It is a recognition of the work in a movie. But over some time, it is seen that people get a lifetime achievement award. The criteria it seems is to be alive on that day. Some of the persons who have received this award were never famous for their acting skills or versatility.

Then there are national awards given by a government body. In this category too, popular and critic views are in a total mismatch. I will not call these awards processes sham, but these indicate the realities of life. Sometimes favouritism takes place, but it is not the norm.

 

Now the last and the most exciting part of the filmy drama. There is something called Red-carpet walk. When the actors come to these ceremonies, they are decked for the show. They spend a vast amount of money on dresses. For the female actors at Academy awards or Cannes festival, the norm is to show off the biological assets. There is a competition going on to expose more and more. The gossip magazines and photographers are waiting for a moment which is famously called dress malfunction. In the dress malfunction, sometimes a breast pops out for a split second. Sometimes the innerwear of these ladies makes a fleeting display. Oh! Come on! Who is bothered? If you say this, then you are from a minority group! These photos are industry by themselves. If a videographer can catch this on a video, he has made it!

To me, the controversies in giving prizes, that create an issue about the sovereignty of a country, are a problem. If citizens of that nation are not bothered about these controversies, then there is more problem. But the dress malfunction is probably sometimes done on purpose! Your take, please!

I am okay with controversies because people have a different opinion. But when large nations like India have to suffer, I can not appreciate it.

Where is the reset button? 

Could you attend the PTA meeting? I have an important presentation. Hey dad, I will call you asap. I am a little stuck up. I have contacted the garage three times; they are not responding. You had promised me that we would meet for dinner for two consecutive months. Now let me check with my astrologer when is the D-day! We will pick up the new car at four p.m.; we will go in a cab. From there I must go to the airport directly. How many times have we heard such statements?

If hundreds of thousands of people are so busy in their work 365/24/7, then the many things are wrong. We do not know how to estimate the time required for an activity. Or it could be that the sales/planning team gives unrealistic promises to customers about the delivery, based on current capabilities and strengths. The whole team does not understand each other’s capabilities; hence everybody is busy round the clock. What could be the reasons?

Shishupala

There is a story in mythology. Lord Krishna promised his aunt, Shishupala’s Mother to spare her son for 100 crimes such that each will be worthy of a Death Penalty as per the rules of their World. When Shishupala crosses the limit, Lord Krishna struck off Shishupala’s head with Sudarshana chakra. Current situation of humans is like that of Shishupala. Our Lord Krishna is Mother Nature! We have behaved in such a way that we completed at least 50% of the hundred allowed crimes, against mother nature, in the last fifty to seventy years.

The current pandemic is Nature’s way of telling us that enough is enough. Nature, for us, is Mother Nature. Typically, she will condone some more crimes, as a mother.  You can say that she has communicated the strong message by way of a text or WhatsApp message, a tweet. She has written on our FB wall and the Instagram account. She has been moaning with pains due to what we have been doing. But we do not want to learn. She has sent a message in the current language, RESET!

We have been so busy doing other things that we do not even know where the Reset button is. In India, she had sent a couple of strong messages by way of Tsunami in the year 2004. Then the next year 2005, there were thirty inches of rains in a few hours in Mumbai. It stopped everything, and Mumbai limped back to normalcy over a period. Lessons learnt, zero! In 2005, typhoon Katrina flooded New Orleans in the US. It took months for them to come out of the disaster.

At least now let us try to find the Reset button! The button is in our hand all the time, but our brains do not send the signals to the fingers. I will explain what I mean in the global language, computer language.

If you are having problems with your PC, you can:

  1. Refresh your PC to reinstall Windows and keep your files and settings. Refresh also supports the apps that came with your PC and the apps you installed from the Microsoft Store.
  2. Reset your PC to reinstall Windows but delete your files, settings, and apps—except for the apps that came with your PC.
  3. Restore your PC to undo recent system changes you have made.

I feel that humans have passed step 1 mentioned above; we are in phase 2.

How do we achieve Reset? Well, there many smarter people than me in this World to tell this; unfortunately, some feel that they are smarter than Mother Nature. Resetting can be done if we want to do it. It is in our hands.

First, try to delete the term 365/24/7. We feel that all the time available to us must be devoted to work, work and work. We know that there are other things like holidays, family, children, parents, friends. The current situation has given a great shock to us. One of our family friends expired early morning today. Because of the pandemic, we could not bid her adieu! The same thing happened when another friend died last month. For these families, it is the most significant punishment when children living far away in different cities or countries could not come. A family had taken a similar decision to ask the child not to come when the father suddenly died! Reason US Visa issue! Mind you, and there was no pandemic going at that time! Oh, one has to be prudent! Do you understand what I mean? Visa status is more important, not the father’s death!

Now technology is commercially available for moving away from fossil fuel for the automobile industry, for the last ten years. We are progressing at the snail’s pace in that direction. To hell with the smog. We are still talking about improving emission in fossil fuel vehicles. We are okay with heavy pollution!

IMG_0267 (3)

But the current situation has shown us how the atmosphere looks without pollution. It is displayed in a photo of Sinhgad, above, that I have taken. It is 20 km from home. In Punjab, people can see the Himalayan range from 100 km distance. Do we want this change or not? Are we going to heed the signals sent by Mother Nature? If we ignore our body signals, we can die of a heart attack. Mother Nature has given us another chance; grab it. Honestly, I am not sure that we have it in us.

The good part is some of us seem to have located the Reset button. Far-flung families and friends are zoom calling every week. Husband-wife both working from home do not feel shy to inform that they will be off meetings for a couple of hours as their child is unwell. Neighbours talk to each other from their gardens or balconies. They sing songs together. They have formed orchestras with neighbours and enjoying it. It is a profound change; people did not have time to talk to each other in the family due to 365/24/7!

We have started appreciating cleaning crews and sweepers as we have realised that they are as important as doctors and nurses. We understand these people who have been working nonstop for a few weeks.

But countries like the USA are not able to find that Reset button. They still feel that Arctic snow melting is a temporary event. They are not worried about CO2 and CO emissions. Once the business activity starts, everything will be hunky-dory! Was there a pandemic! Oh, you are talking of the Spanish Flu, a hundred years back! Recently a million US citizens had a touch of Flu; 88000 thousand deaths were just collateral damage! Nobody died in my home!

Another good activity observed is that people and countries have started cooperating as a “Bubble.” Australia and New Zealand want to start working with each other. Some small Baltic countries have started working together. Cooperation is the name of the game; fighting with each other was never going to be beneficial to anyone. Rich countries like Singapore and Saudi Arabia have realised the folly in treating migrant workers shoddily.

The casual approach of the developed countries during the pandemic has hopefully taught them that they can also learn from not so developed countries like India.

Where are we friends? What is your estimate that we will press the Reset button at least in some areas? I will be thrilled even if 50% of us find it, mark my words “find it!” Out of these people who find it, even if 50% use the Reset button, it will be fantastic! I will join you for that dinner that we have been missing for many months. I will give you the treat, and do not forget it will be in my garden! I will cook! Oh, I have found the Reset button, and I am very much going to use it!

Neurologist or Psychiatrist! Or Stupidity!

A Pakistani poet wrote this about India: 

“Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle 

Ab tak kahan chhupe the bhai? 

Woh moorkhtawoh ghaamarpan 

Jis mein hum ne sadi ganwai 

Aakhir pahunchi dwaar tumhaarey 

Arre badhaibohot badhai!” 

India and Pakistan are bitter foes, but they agree on one thing a explained in the above.  

 

Stupid

The world is full of people who have a different way of thinking, but when ordinarily intelligent, smart professionals behave differently, one starts wondering why this happens? Then I start wondering whether these people need Neurologist or Psychiatrist! We also have “I care two hoots type” of people. Or they are plain stupid. Let me explain.  

A doctor used his son’s bike to go to a shop. After a few days, during morning tea, his son told the doctor, “Daddy, I received a ticket for my bike for Rs.200/. I paid it off!” The father said, “Where did you break the signal?” The son said, “You had taken my bike, and at one of the signals, you had stopped on the zebra crossing. Police have shared the photo.” He smiled and further said, “ You were the only one on the crossing; all others had stopped behind.” The doctor was upset and threw tantrums. His logic was what happens if I stand on a zebra crossing?  

The doctor is a well-known professional. What should have been his reaction? Oh, my God! How could I do that? No urgency could justify my actions. It is so embarrassing to see that I was the only one who broke the rule. That reaction would have been the expected behaviour. But, no! He seems to be riding a high horse, thinking that he is a famous personality. The rules are for ordinary citizens. Are ambulances not allowed to jump the red signal? Come on, doctor! Ambulances are permitted to break the rules when they are rushing a patient to a hospital for treatment.  

I had driven like an ambulance, years back when our family friend had a stroke. We lived nearby. We just put him the car and rushed to a hospital. I was morally unambiguous that I was trying to save a life.  

What happens to such people? Do they have a twisted brain or they have a psychiatric issue? Who should handle such “patients”, a Neurologist or a Psychiatrist? Is it about the way you grow up? It is said that the children look at the parents for guidance. Parents, you need not take care of how your kids behave, see how you behave while your kids are growing up! Most of the time, the kids blindly follow parents.  

Is it about the society in which you live? If a higher percentage of people break basic rules in public life, the chances are that we may also do the same, because we think that we can get away by doing anything!  

I remember once many moons back, Jaya and I were in Ottawa. We were going home after dinner at a friend’s house. It was around 11 pm. We reached a junction, and the signal became red. It took about two minutes for the signal to become green. In between, our friend just muttered, “This stupid signal.” But he did not move an inch. Those were days with no cameras anywhere on the road. It was about discipline and the thinking that the law is the same for all. He was a well-known scientist in Canada.  

India has a big divide as far as the public discipline is concerned. As we reach the south of Vindhya Parvat, people tend to be more disciplined. Recently, I was in Indore. The city has transformed into a clean city. It is rated number one for cleanliness in India. I found it clean, but that traffic discipline had hardly changedDoes it mean that in public life people do not bother about rules and regulations? These are meant for the betterment of society. Why the northern part of India lacks public discipline in general? Is it in their DNA? Humans world over are the same. There is small percentage of people breaking the rules, but we have it the other way round. What could be the reason for that?  

The financial systems of nations are designed for income tax compliance. The taxation is part of any democratic system. Taxes are used for the development of the infrastructures industry, roads, airports, railways and many things. The government uses the part of the same income to create a social network to have nots. But people break these laws with impunity. How much money is enough is a question like “how much land the does a man need?” Working sincerely and smartly are ways to achieve the goal of making money. But in India, people do a lot of business in cash to remain outside the gambit of tax laws. In most developed countries, people deal in cash, but it is done for illegal deals like drugs, prostitution etc. But in India, it is done on day to day basis. The same people also are at the forefront of groups blaming governments for lack of development in the nation. 

Are we as a society sick people? Do many of us need treatments from the Neurologist or Psychiatrist! Are these professionals following the fundamental laws of society? Do they have a moral authority to tell others to improve by following societal norms? Do professors who are involved in plagiarism have the moral right tell their student to write original research? Does a parent consuming alcohol, regularly, say to the child not to do so? Can a parent who misbehave with old parents have it in them to tell the child to behave?  

The other day a classmate called me, I thought to say hi! After the usual banter, he said, “Are you at home?” “Where else could I be in lockdown times?” I said. He said, “Good, I will drop in for a cup of coffee.” I was shocked but somehow recovered to say, “Please do not come; in our condo, the visitors are not allowed.” I was aghast at his suggestion. He is my classmate, so we are of the same age. The fellow wanted to socialise in these pandemic times. The person, of course, comes under the stupid category! He further said that he roams around everywhere without a mask and no helmet! Of course, he is Punekar, so he feels that wearing a helmet is crime! 

Pune and helmet have a personal equation. Even though there is a Supreme Court ruling that the helmet is mandatory while riding a twowheeler, many refuse to wear it. Oh, you feel so hot! It is so uncomfortable! I asked one chap if you slip and your head bangs on the road, would you feel hot or uncomfortable? He had a reply ready, “It is my head; how are you concerned?” 

Friends, you categories these people as per your choice!  

I thought I should also share the translation of the above poem. 

So it turned out you were just like us! 
Where were you hiding all this time, buddy? 

That stupidity, that ignorance 
we wallowed in for a century – 
Look, it arrived at your shores too! 
Many congratulations to you! 

Raising the flag of religion, 
I guess now you’ll be setting up Hindu Raj? 
You too will commence to muddle everything up
You, too, will ravage your beautiful garden. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pandemic endings are very, very messy!  

Pandemic is an epidemic of disease which has presently spread all over the world. The current pandemic has spread across the globe. The main difference in the recent pandemics and the previous ones is the communication methods of the 21st century. These communications include travel modes, personal and public communications. Sitting in your home, you can see the TV channels from the world over. You can be in touch with your near and dear ones 24/7 using voice or video methods. One can have “family meetings” using apps like zoom! 

With all the technology around, except for the Vaccine or the cure, the whole world knows everything about the current situation minute by minute. Sometimes it loses seriousness and looks like a commentary of sports events. The number of deaths is just a number like strike two in baseball, and the number of wickets fallen in cricket match. We are lucky that these commentators do not shout like in football, it is a goooooooal 

Why am saying that the ending is going to be very, very messy? None of the pandemics that occurred before ended medically except smallpox! The last patient for smallpox was seen in 1977. But all other pandemics have tapered off into a situation, where people started getting used to them. It means that the problem does not come under control medically but socially. People and governments learn the methods to contain them and to overcome the fearLockdown is a tested and proven method 

I will share with you with the information about the Bubonic plague. I am giving you the history so that we may understand how COVID will go away.  

Bubonic plague has struck several times in the past 2,000 years, killing millions of people and altering the course of history. Each epidemic amplified the fear that came with the next outbreak. 

The disease is caused by a strain of bacteria, Yersinia pestis, that lives on fleas that live on rats. But bubonic plague, which became known as the Black Death, also can be passed from infected person to infected person through respiratory droplets, so it cannot be eradicated simply by killing rats. 

The plague began in 1331 in China. The plague continued for some time, along with a civil war, that was raging at the time. It killed half the population of China. From there, the plague moved along trade routes to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In the years between 1347 and 1351, it killed at least a third of the European population. Half of the people of Siena, Italy, died. It seems, as far as diseases are concerned China and Italy seem to have a great partnership from olden days.  

That pandemic ended, but the plague recurred. One of the worst outbreaks began in China in 1855 and spread worldwide, killing more than 12 million in India alone. Health authorities in Bombay burned whole neighbourhoods trying to rid them of the plague.  

The 1918 flu is the example of the ravages of a pandemic and the value of quarantines and social distancing. Before it ended, the Flu killed 50 million to 100 million people worldwide.  

We have already seen that people are getting fed up of restrictions. Governments are worried about social revolts. The movement of migrant workers in India to their native places is a classic example of the same.  

Governments relax restrictions which give them a kick on the butt in some cases, e. g. Singapore. In India, the numbers during the last week are increasing fast. Chennai is leading “the charge”! Mumbai is already in trouble. But still, place like Delhi wants to relax restrictions. Why is that so?  

There is reason. I mentioned about influenza, which killed millions, a hundred years before. Now we are so used to it, that we have become friendly with it. We have now given it a pet name “Flu”! We are so used to it, that we even go to the office or wherever even when we have Flu! Why the change? We have got used to it. We sometimes do not go to the doctor to get treated and take selfmedication. It is unbelievable that the same Flu had killed millions. 

There is a reason. Diagnostics are better, our knowledge is better, and medicines are more potent. The same thing is going to happen in the case of COVID. Vaccine and treatment for the same is a distant dream. But in South Asian countriesthe pandemic is much weaker than in Europe and the Americas. Even in these places where the pandemic is smouldering, discussions about relaxation have started.  

Now why it is going to be messy? I will now talk of only India. With the help of technology, we have managed complete shutdowns. Shutting down is a more straightforward process because restarting is a complex process. We have Red, Orange, Green zones. All these zones are present in states, districts and large cities. Then there are containment zones. All our economic activities have become dependent on Pan India suppliers and transportation of goods. Maharashtra does not have Steel plants, so the Steel for construction has to come from somewhere; if that somewhere is in Red Zone, we are stuck. The same thing happens in the Automobile industry. Most of the car manufacturers have some vendors in Pune and around. Pune is the Red Zone! You get me! Migrant workers have gone home, and the economy is trying to restart. One may not get trained people. Do you understand why I am saying messy? 

No, you have not understood. The second wave may come back after a few months! But hopefully, as time passes, we will have the cure and the Vaccine! The old cars, when they sometimes did not start, a technique called Dhakka Start (Push and put it in gear and hope it starts). The start and stop can happen for the economy too, and the word Messy will be an operative word for some time. We will learn to live with another term, Collateral damage.  

Collateral damage is any death, injury, or other damage inflicted that is an unintended result of military operations. But the term can be applied to the current situation when we are trying to restart life after Reset! There could be some deaths when the pandemic returns. There could be business loss due to some sudden sever surge.  We should be prepared for this collateral damage.

The travel and leisure industry has a large clientele like us senior citizens. But as far as Jaya and I are concerned, 2020 is out! At most, we will travel to Mahabaleshwar in our car. Many businesses will limp back to normalcyMany things we have assumed to be safest, like air travel, will be hotbeds where the virus can get spread easily.  

Life is going to be Messy soonWe are already getting conflicting requirements from the Chief Ministers of different states. Some want to open everything, and others want to play it safe till May end, at least. Each city, each district, each nation is going to have conflicting requirements. Some say let the train and bus services start; others say not yet!  But we are dependent on each other for almost everything. Messy? Very, very Messy!  Now I hope you get me what I mean by Messy!