No one Killed Jessica!


Jessica Lal

Manu Sharma Killed Jessica Lal in public, point-blank because she refused to serve him a drink as the bar she was attending as a bartender was closed! I have written in details about the case. The subject came in my mind because Manu Sharma was recently released after serving a sentence. It seems that in India if you are rich enough, you can avoid, delay or get a reduced punishment. You can literally get away with murder, pun intended!

There is a saying. Justice delayed is justice denied! In any society, crimes happen most of the times which are done on purpose, but sometimes accidents also occur. These accidents even end up in deaths, loss of property, and loss of opportunities. In every democratic society, they are supposed to follow the legal procedures to handle crime. The average human tendency is to escape the punishment altogether or at least try to get the least possible punishment. The police and the legal system are such that they look as if these have been designed for delays.

I read about Manu Sharma; he shot dead Jessica Lall more than twenty years back, in Delhi area. The date was 29th April 1999. I will not bother about exact dates because these are not important but the general time frame is important.

The incident occurred at two am. Mehrauli police station had registered an FIR at 4 am, after recording Shayan Munshi’s statement. Shayan was moonlighting with Jessica as a bartender and hardly knew the local language, Hindi. The police seized two empty cartridges and found that a black Tata Safari was missing from the party. The Tata Safari was taken from UP police on 2nd May. Three days later, the police arrested Amardeep Singh aka Tony Gill and Alok Khanna. Following their statements, police reached out to Sharma’s lawyer; on 6th June, Sharma surrendered. The police arrested ten others including a UP politician’s son, Vikas Yadav.

The charge sheet was filed on 3rd August. On 23rd November, the additional sessions judge framed charges against Sharma under IPC sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of the offence, or giving false information to screen offender) and 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), and Arms Act section 27.

So far, so good!

The trial began in May 2001, against nine accused, fast by our standard. The prosecution examined 101 witnesses and two court witnesses.

During the trial, Sharma was released on bail on several occasions until 11th November 2003, when the Delhi High Court dismissed his bail application, following which the Supreme Court too dismissed his special leave petition. The trial court was merrily offering him bail. I am Manu Sharma! He was telling the society, “Nothing is going to happen to me! What did that broad think of herself!”

In the background, different wheels had started turning. It began with the eye witness Shayan Munshi. He was either bought or threatened or both. For two bullets found at sight, the police created a new story that two different persons shot from two different revolvers. Manu’s shot had hit the ceiling. Shayan Mushi signed his statement, written in Hindi- the language he did not understand, or maybe he was coerced into signing.

On 21st February 2006, Sharma and the other accused were acquitted by the trial court. The trial court concluded that links in the chain of evidence were either missing or broken. The court held that the prosecution had miserably failed to bring home the guilt of the accused. The court accepted different theories and stories from the defence. The wheels were rotating fast to “misinterpret” things suitably so that all would be acquitted. It was supposedly a case where there was an eye witness.

The acquittal led to widespread public outrage, following which police submitted a status report to the Delhi High Court, which accepted it and took up as a fast-track case. Sharma was represented by Ram Jethmalani (now deceased) in the Delhi High Court and later in the Supreme Court.

On 18th December 2006, the High Court convicted Sharma observing that the trial court judgment was “an immature assessment of material on record which is self-contradictory, based on a misreading of material and conclusions were unsustainable”. The court sentenced Sharma to life, awarded lesser sentences to Vikas Yadav and Amardeep Gill, and acquitted six others.

Sharma appealed twice to the Supreme Court. In April 2010, the Supreme Court upheld his conviction and life term.

The case displayed the influence of media coverage on the case. It was highlighted by the Delhi High Court as well as the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court observed that various articles in the print media gave rise to unnecessary controversy and “apparently, had an effect of interfering with the administration of criminal justice”. The Supreme Court held “presumption of innocence is a legal presumption, and should not be destroyed at the very threshold through the process of media trial and that too when the investigation is pending”.

The society reflected its reaction when there was a movie made with the title “No One Killed Jessica!” The film shows frustration with the system. The world over there is corruption, is a known fact. But we get utterly disgusted when it is done blatantly. I have a slightly different take on the entire scenario. The High Court and the Supreme Court made stinging remarks about the interpretation made by the lower court. Is there any system by which the judge involved can be hauled to the court for moral corruption? If money has changed hands, it can not be small money. Or maybe the judge was also threatened to make an interpretation suitable to the perpetrator. I am assuming that it was a case of the judge being threatened. I am sure the High Court and Supreme Court can provide adequate protection to these judges. Instead of just passing the remarks if this route is followed, such blatant law-breaking will not happen.

Some good things have started to come out. Following the conviction by the High Court, a different Bench directed the government to create a witness-protection policy. I do not know how rigorously the suggestion has been followed. It also brings out the subject of temporary jobs. What were Jessica Lal and Shayan Munshi doing, working as temporary bartenders? I have nothing against bartenders. But people usually try and take up jobs suitable to their education and family background. From what I have read, there was no “need” for these two to take up this job. Or was it is the glamour of getting an opportunity of mingling with movers and shakers?

Jessica Lal’s sister was advised by many not to pursue the case as high and mighty were involved. Has the society come to such stage that killing of a human being can be just one of the incidents? It also throws light on the so-called “High Society”! The party was supposed to be a private party in the honour of Bina Ramani, the Club owner’s husband. But it was said that anybody who paid a certain amount could barge in! So much for a private party!

The recent proliferation of social media has done one thing. Such cases and blatant behaviours can not get hidden. They get exposed rapidly. On the other extreme, we have now what is called “Trial by Media”! That is the other extreme of hiding facts.

Will justice or resolution of court cases be decided by the size of your bank balance? I hope not. Let us try to create a just world where everyone will be equal in the court of law! Amen- this seems to be the right word to end the blog!

 

Reincarnation!


Dictionary meaning of reincarnation is a new version of something from the past. Atheist Pramod has changed his colour like a Chameleon. After all, he has to survive in this world; many people believe in reincarnation and rebirth. It is better to conform to the majority opinion. What about the previous blogs where the expression was always against such thoughts.

Okay, do not worry; there is no change of heart, but the good old atheist Pramod is still around. I am using the word incarnation, which correctly means what I want to say. I am talking about today’s global situation caused by the pandemic. The change that happened in this world is unprecedented. There are some good and new things to be learned and if possible old ones to be deleted as described in computer language. According to Satya Nadella, Microsoft boss, the proliferation of video conferencing apps has happened so fast that, according to his estimate, the growth that took place in two months would have taken two years in the ordinary course.

Each country had its ways of understanding the situation. Based on their understanding (or misunderstanding), they applied the lockdown. In some cases, it was rigid, and in others, it was flexible. The end results have been varied. These figures below are dated today.


These are the figures I have taken from a tracker today morning. All the countries except India have high death percentage. Why is it so? I will never claim that India has the most disciplined people. India has the worst medical infrastructure that may be in par with Brazil on the list. But most countries have started “opening up,” the same as India. India of low death rates is opening up along with high death rate countries. It is because of the fear that economically no country can now afford to take any further shocks. These countries forgot that India had started the Lockdown early or on time!

I am using the word reincarnation for this change. Since I do not believe in reincarnation, I do not know what should be the difference between the first and the second avatar. But I feel that the change should be a game-changer. New Zealand and Australia have managed to control the pandemic war the best. New Zealand has become the first Corona free country. But what I read about the first day in New Zealand, the Corona free day, is a bit scary. Every restaurant, mall and public area is full of crowds. Social distancing norms are not required to be followed as per government directive. But is it the right thing to do? Where is the reincarnation? The society has been declared Corona free, does it really mean that there are no asymptomatic cases? When such cases can create problems, should we be totally going back to normal? One thing is for sure that indeed, a second wave could come and then we could be caught on the wrong foot. What happens if you do not go to a restaurant or a mall or a stadium? Heavens are not going to fall!

Every society or the nation has to make its decisions based on their knowledge and expertise. England with a large number of cases, even today, has decided to go ahead with cricket series with the West Indies. Okay, WI did not have much of an issue with COVID. But England still has the problem. The measures mentioned as SOP are very tight; at every stage, there will be COVID testing. I do not have the details, but I am sure that at least the matches would be played in an empty stadium. The act of holding a series while infection levels are high could be either wise or stupid! It could be at the best bravado. Why the England board take this decision? Why the British government gave them the go-ahead? Is playing matches to the empty stadiums an incarnation? I think every sporting event is performed to provide joy to the people. People’s involvement is the key to any sporting event. I had travelled to Melbourne, Australia in, 2015 to see the Cricket World cup final! Did we enjoy the game? There were 92 thousand plus people present for the match. But today’s situation may force reincarnation on us.


We, humans, are social animals. We need to see each other and talk to each other. When we meet, we shake hands, give a hug or say Namaste, the Indian style. Some prefer Adab too! In the reincarnation, the preferred method should be Namaste and Adab. Some may prefer an elbow bump or a leg bump, but this could be more amongst friends.


Why are we in a hurry to go back to the olden days instead of doing something which will be more correct to avoid future health issues? But it all depends on the social fabric. Only Japan has been disciplined in health matters. Whenever a Japanese person catches a cold, he/she will move around with a mask. It is the discipline taught at home, or school or in the society in general. When the football world cup was played in Brazil, a significant contingent of Japanese had travelled to see the matches. Japanese had a section of every stadium dedicated to them. Brazilians were shocked when they observed that the Japanese spectators cleaned their portion of the stadium spic and span, after each match. So if the society has good habits like the Japanese, go back to what you have been doing otherwise..


Some governments currently follow the advice of the experts, and others do not comply. When we do not follow the expert opinion, the country ends up in numbers like the US, rapidly. To achieve personal freedom, many states in the US are opening up due to pressure from the population. The result is there for us to see. On top of that, the Floyd killing issue has created another pandemic, that of public unrest. For protesting against the police, the people are coming out in large numbers where the social distancing norms are tossed out of the window.

In the high-density cities like Mumbai and Delhi, social distancing is just on paper. The Indian government and the local governments need to go into reincarnation mode and see how this is avoided in future. Maybe they have to build a large number of low-cost homes for people. In today’s times, people are helpless. They stay in such tricky conditions just to earn their living. Nobody likes to live in the circumstances that we see in Dharavi’s of this world.

So, friends, reincarnation is not mandatory as long as it goes with the need of the hour. We must have habits which will be useful in case of future pandemics as and when they hit us like a Tsunami. Learn to take things seriously like many so-called “poor” countries did, as against the casual approach of the “rich” countries.

https://summit.news/2020/03/12/mayor-of-florence-encouraged-italians-to-hug-a-chinese-before-coronavirus-pandemic-hit/

Read the above link. The Mayor of Florence in Italy started a stunt asking the citizens to go to the airport and “Hug the Chinese”! It was this cavalier attitude of the Mayor that led to a wildfire spread of COVID in Italy. Learn to take things seriously. One act by the Mayor spread the pandemic!

 

For whom do I write blogs? 

A couple of friends had asked me recently, which is my target audience for the blogs I write? First and foremost, I write for myself and my pleasure! Okay, Okay! I am kidding! But, yes, I don’t write for kids below 15 years. Nowadays, kids mature much earlier than we did. I am sure they will be able to understand what I write. But one thing is for sure, and I don’t write to preach to anyone I just write about my views, my feelings, my opinions and share information that I have.

Subjects of blogs are varied. Some are technologyrelated, but I make sure that they are written without using heavy technology stuff. I share my opinions about life, about traditions. I go into musings and share experiences where I have travelled. It could be Madikeri or Mahabaleshwar, had written a series of blogs called Montreal Musings. I was staying with my daughter in Montreal at that time. I wrote about different things that I observe in life there.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/09/23/montreal-musings-day-to-day-life-ii/

Sometimes I share travel experiences or titbits! Recently, I wrote a blog about someone who lives in London. The young man is a dentist, and he was down with Covid 19. The idea behind the blog was to share his experience with his illness and recovery. The blog is for every age group. 

I write about souls who depart but have impressed me during life. Some are public figures, and others are those whom I knew personally. These journeys take me through my life; some were my Gurus and Mentors. They taught me a lot in life. When they passed, the blog simply poured out of me. At that time, I realised how much we were connected in life. Manash Sen taught me how to work in the professional life. He had a knack of getting impossible done, from his colleagues. Some were afraid of him, and others were encouraged by him to jump the threshold to succeed.  

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/07/06/mahesh-bhai/

When Maheshbhai turned into an elder brother is challenging to say. He and I had many many sessions at the Aurangabad. He would share about work, personal, technical and the world in general. He used to get upset quickly, sometimes. But he would call a spade a spade. He was the Chairman of the company. But had he erroneously scolded someone, which was rare, he would get that person and magnanimously say Sorry! I still remember that last onehour session at his Mumbai home. He was, what else, Maheshbhai, though struggling with healthWe never wanted the session to get over, but then every good thing has an end! 

I had seen Shashi Kapoor in person twice; I had never met him. Once in early ’70 s in Mahabaleshwar, where he was shooting. Before that in Pune, he was the chief guest of an inter-collegiate singing competition. Since then, I somehow used to have a feeling that I know him personally. He always looked quiet, unassuming type; the internet also gives similar information about him. He was, to me at least, a misfit in the movie industry. His dancing and singing were efficient but unnatural, as fas as I am concerned. His passing also touched my soul. 

Friends, blog writing, takes me into my own world. I won’t claim that it happened from day one. It is my wine or champagne! Of course, I enjoy it in the early mornings and not after a wok day. In fact, now, it has become a part of my daily routine. I have rarely missed my frequency of publishing, even if I am travelling internationally. I get to observe surprising things during these travels too!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/titbits-from-an-inter-continental-dash/

On a flight from Seattle-Toronto-Delhi in the first leg I saw the map displaying reverse direction of travel- this led to a blog Titbits from the Intercontinental dash! There are so many things to see, absorb and share in this world that I never get the typical “writer’s block”! 

It is like going on spin on our own. Way back in late ’80 s, our roads all over India used to be deserted for an hour, when the famous serial Ramayan and Mahabharat were telecast- they were more deserted than they are in today’s pandemic situation. I used to take advantage of the situation to take out my daughter Priya for a spin. A couple of times, we went to purchase a few things. Purchase and the long spin were completed during that hour. With regular traffic, I could have barely managed the purchase. Then a couple of times I had taken Priya for double-decker bus rides- these buses were a recent phenomenon then. The bus was “chartered” by us as there was no one else on the bus!  

For whom do I write? The question comes in mind, again. I started casual blogging in 2011 and a little more seriously since 2014. A lot of water had flown down the bridge during this period. I went through cancer treatment; my outlook towards life became even more liberal. At the same time, without hurting anyone, I express my strong views sometimes. The speed of life had become a little slower. By mid-2018, I almost retired, and I started writing more. During this period, the fifteen-year-olds had become adults so, and the audience kept on adding.  

That reminds me of a joke. Two twenty-year-old young men are chattingOne of them says, “Five years back, my father did not know much about life; he has picked up a lot in these five years!” Similarly, some friends reading my blogs went into the next decade of their life cycles. They became wiser and mature. Some of the blogs which they may not have appreciated then are what they want to read nowSince everybody has fluid thought process, including yours truly, my views and the way I express them changed. (Do I mean to say matured?)  

Many times, in our life, we do not find answers. Our views, our reactions sometimes change like Yo-Yo! Like I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday. He has been running a manufacturing unit for 45 years. He openly shared with me that he is now bored of going through the same thing day after day! It can happen when you are doing something as your lively hood. But when you do something as a hobby, the chance of getting bored is much less. A friend’s son, in the early 30 s, has been reading my blogs for some time. He enjoys it. He corresponds with me occasionally, and we exchange views. He says that he likes some of my blogs which suggest ways of becoming more efficient in work. He also tries to find out ways of finding work-life balance!  

Finding topics for blogs is getting more uncomplicated and more comfortable, what with the current pandemic. So many new things which were never even discussed by humans are happening in front of our eyes. The world we knew on the new year day of 2020, simply does not exist. On resetting, we will get a new avatar of our planet– if in 2019 it was version 2.0, post-pandemic we might be in version 4.0. Who knows 

I only share information and knowledge with others. Let me sign off with an interesting one. The latest trend is to work from home. It is very tiring, and you hardly get any time to relax. In Microsoft, they have been working from home in the US from 1st March; they set up fun meeting sometimes to destress themselves. Their senior officers also take part in such online meetings. One day they kept this program; all those taking part were expected to dress funnily. They also kept their favourite song blaring in the background. Using cell phone lights, they created a strobe effect and had great fun. People miss that light banter they have during coffee breaks or powder room breaks!  

Justice Delayed 

Justice1

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.  

 

 

 

 

Freedom, Democracy and Equality! 

26th January 2020 is the day India completes 70 years as a republic. After the initial euphoria in 1950, the government settled down over a period but faced many challenges, later. Emergency in 1975 was the biggest challenge that we met. But people rose to the occasion and overcame that issue. During those tough times, the courts did not come out with flying colours.

What do we see in the 70th year? How have situations changed in the last five to seven years? The main change was the technology. WA, FB, Instagram have made connectivity easy among people. Any news, any event spreads all over the place like wildfire. It spreads like the Coronavirus may spread. I am not sure how many people understand the information they receive. As usual, there are pros and cons to the subject of technology. Watching the feed on these apps, you will be surprised to see how much venom is there in the minds of the people.

In this context, Freedom, Democracy and Equality are big words and have great importance in any democratic country. The words are being thrown around easily in recent times in India. The recent events and protests have thrown Indian society in turmoil. Humans until they complete their education are dependent on parents and teachers for guidance, support and push. But the recent events show that this bond has become weak or it is broken. Both teachers and parents are out of sync with their children.

The protests started in JNU about the increase in fees. Tuition and other fees were increased. The students wanted a rollback. The hostel fees from mighty Rs 10/ month were raised and now rolled back to Rs.10/ pm. It is an open secret that hundreds of “parasites” live in these hostels where there is almost no fee. When the agitation started, why there was no dialogue between the teachers and students? Is the bond broken? Or is it because of the atmosphere that is vitiated due to political elements in the unions? Don’t the parents of these students read newspapers or watch TV? Are they not aware that these students are not going to classes for months together?

I have been reading about these students and listening to them. Frequently, I hear the words Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Equality. How does the government handle a situation where law and order problems are created? When protestors start throwing stones, burning buses, damaging properties are police expected to be silent spectators? The police are in a very tricky situation. If they act, they are blamed, and they are also blamed for inaction. Now it is a month since the roads are blocked in the area called Shaheen Baug in Delhi. The blockage is causing inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of people travelling to Faridabad and Noida. Court has directed the police to check the possibility of breaking the deadlock. Why is this direction given? The reason for this is the attack by masked persons on JNU. There are claims and counterclaims and both sides are blaming each other. The courts want to play it safe!

During that incident, the University authorities called the police to be available near the gate in case their help was needed. Police were asked to enter the premises at 7.45 pm. It was almost two and a half hours after the fight broke out. The people involved in the attack had sticks and hockey sticks with them. Police used lathi-charge to break the fight. The assault led to more protests against the police; hence the court has given them the directive to act peacefully to break any demonstrations. The atmosphere in these institutes is such that teachers can not have any dialogue with students due to the strongly politicised atmosphere.

Protests are freedom of expression. But what about the rights of other citizens to reach their destination smoothly and on time? Now the examination season is starting. What can a student do if he or she does not reach the hall on time? Both students and others have equal rights. A demonstration can happen for one day, one week, but now it is more than one month. How to break this tangle? The initial protest started about fees, and now it is converted into CAA/NRC protest. Students are doing a few demonstrations in different cities, but the Shaheen Baug is taken over by housewives and old ladies along with their grandchildren. I never bother about religion etc. but the majority of the people seen at Shaheen Baug are Muslims. The same is the case with Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad. It indicates that the people from the Muslim community have not understood the principle behind these laws.

Where are the leaders of the Muslim community missing? Why are politicians from different parties not explaining to these people about the new law? It means that political parties are very keen to politicise the issue. Even after the discussion takes place, everyone doesn’t have to support the legislation. There is a freedom to oppose anything and everything in this country. Around 150 litigations have been filed in the Supreme Court. In the initial hearing, the Court has disagreed to stay the law. The Court has asked the government to give their reply within four weeks. Once the matter has gone into the court of law, what is the point in continuing the protests and demonstrations? You don’t want to accept the new law. You don’t wish to heed by the court ruling. What is that people exactly want?

On one side, the authorities have started a campaign to explain what CAA is all about. The second aspect is that court proceedings have started. If the protestors still want to continue protest, how to resolve this? Or we are back to my way or Highway?

The way forward is that both sides go two steps back. Or we can say take two steps forward. In life, except for birth and death, nothing is absolute. The dividing line that is currently seen is not a line drawn on a stone. Treat it as a line in the sand; let the waves wash away the lines. There is always a middle ground if we want. There is a possibility that the Supreme Court may change a few things. Supreme Court ruling has to be accepted by both the sides anyway. So why not start the discussions now. We are all from the same country. It hardly makes any difference if you are a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian. We belong to the same country.  So take those few steps, friends!

And don’t forget the great song!

 

CAB, now called CAA! 

CAB-CAA today has a different meaning than the conventional definition. CAB means Citizenship Amendment Bill and CAA is Citizenship Amendment Act. Here is a disclaimer. I am neither a constitutional expert nor am I a Supreme Court lawyer. I am an ordinary citizen of India like crores of others. I have tried to write in a manner without writing about complexities (there are too many) because I am not an expert. I am also not an intellectual. People like Doctors, Engineers, Architects are not intellectuals. You have to be born intellectual and be educated at JNU, Oxford, Harvard in political science, finance, or at least history! Sometimes Geography is also okay!

CAB was passed in Rajya Sabha on the 11th December after Lok Sabha passed it on the previous day and became CAA the next day; it became law as the President signed the necessary documents. Citizenship, migration is the phenomena of the 20th Century. Before that period,  travel was tough, and a comparatively small number of adventurous people migrated and settled in different countries. The journey from one part of the country to another part was tough. Hence the laws and rules of migration and citizenship have been comparatively recent phenomena.

India was never a single country as we see it today. There were Rajas of various small and big states. I am not sure how people travelled in those days from place A to place B. Hyderabad was a big state under the Nizam. The procedure and documentation involved in going into Hyderabad from outside are not known to me. Was the visa required before independence? After the independence “India” was split into two nations. Bharat and Pakistan (West and East) were created based on religious majority. India had a Hindu majority, and Pakistan had a Muslim majority. Creation of Bangla Desh in 1971 created a significant flux in Eastern India. Many people from erstwhile East Pakistan moved to India and moved to West Bengal/Assam. These people were both Hindus and Muslims.

The partition in 1947 created the first sizeable Hindu nation of the world. The first principle of citizenship is if you are born in a country where your parents and grandparents were born, you automatically become a citizen of that country. The US is a nation formed by migrants. So even today, there is a law in the US that if a child is born on US soil, the child automatically gets US citizenship. They do not bother about the citizenship status of the mother. She can be alien too!

India applies a similar law of citizenship, and those who lived in India at the time of partition automatically became citizens of India. Those like me who were born just after partition also became a citizen of India by birth. This law applies to all the people of irrespective of their religion. India used the same law before and after the CAB bill came into existence. My point is that there is a significant discussion going on, that this bill is against the Muslims, is not correct. The bill has nothing to do with Muslims who are already citizens of India, like me. Such propaganda and discussion are incorrect. I have one question for the intellectuals. Do they know that Muslims in India are far better off than Dalits, Tribals in India? So why not talk about these people?

So why are different groups protesting the CAB bill? Political parties feel that it is an excellent vehicle to create confusion in the minds of the people and get some mileage to push the government politically. People forget that politics is a trapeze act in a circus. Accidents can happen easily if both sides do not follow the basic rules of the coalition. A classic example is Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Savarkar. Shive Sena has immediately retaliated on what he said. I am sure that it will lead to blood pressure and temperature rise in Maharashtra politics.

I have read many articles, treaties, and seen a couple of videos by experts. I have tried to explain the critical issue of CAA in plain English! Now at least I am clear what stakes are involved in CAA. I hope you also will get a fair idea of the same.

CAB1

Why there is a strong protest in Assam? Assamese feel that many Hindus who have “migrated” after the 1971 Bangla Desh war in Assam will become citizens of India. The act will reduce their opportunities in their state by making a large number of migrants Indian citizens. The map above shows the states for which CAA is not applicable. The blue states do not come under the purview of CAA, but it applies to Meghalaya, Assam, and Tripura. These states have a common border with Bangla Desh.

It is important to know what is ILP. ILP is an Inner Line Permit. This permit is required by tourists,s including all Indian citizens. At a time, it is given for seven days; later on, it can be extended if required. For those Indians seeking jobs in these states, it is given for one year at a time; it is also extendable like the tourist permit. The permit is used for keeping intact the special social and cultural fabric of these states. Now Meghalaya has also requested ILP. It will be decided in a meeting after Christmas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inner_Line_Permit

Why there is a strong protest in West Bengal? Mamta Banerji is a strong supporter of Muslims. She assuages the Muslim community at the cost of the Hindus. She has a fear that her vast vote bank of Muslims from Bangla Desh will not get citizenship under the CAA. They can be sent back to Bangla Desh.

Don’t miss this horror story of what Jyoti Basu’s West Bengal Government did with low caste migrants who came to India in large numbers before and after Bangala Desh War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marichjhapi_incident

The concerned people have managed to keep it hidden as much as possible.

Why are protests continuing in Jamia Millia and other such institutes in Delhi? The main reason is that they do not understand the meaning of the act. Secondly, these institutions have been anti-government all the time. The moment they get an opportunity, they start protesting.

There are collateral damages when acts like CAA or action like Article 370 is taken. The first discussion on citizenship had begun in 1971, and it took some form in 1985. Somehow the governments after 1985 kept the status quo instead of acting on the same. The collateral damage of CAA will be the relationship with Bangla Desh. But in the first place, we must note than Bangla Desh never made any attempt to stop the illegal migration of Hindus and Muslims to India. Once India starts acting on this bill, India will send back many Muslims who had illegally entered. The reverse migration can be problematic for Bangla Desh. But is that India’s fault? Pakistan did not like Article 370 action. If they had lived peacefully, India might have maintained a status quo. But continuous terrorist attacks forced India to act in Kashmir. A strong nation needs to act even if others don’t like it. Recently the US sent back about 500 Indian people who were trying to enter the US illegally via Mexico. Did India protest? They were Indian citizens trying to perform illegal acts.

Opposition leaders and intellectuals are raising a question. They are asking why the government has chosen only three countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangla Desh. I feel that it is a matter of policy. Persecuted people are usually in the minority. These countries have Muslims in the majority. The Indian government is trying to help people in the minority. Muslims from these countries have a different route of seeking Indian citizenship. Adnan Sami, Taslima Nasreen, Dalai Lama are the prominent people who have been given Indian citizenship. Ruskin Bond has been living in India for 50 years. If Imran Khan decides on one fine day that he wants Citizenship of India, he can always apply. He will have to follow a standard procedure, and at the end of scrutiny, if he fits the bill, he will get Indian citizenship.

Opposition parties and intellectuals are raising a question of why Sri Lanka (Tamils), China (Uyghur), Myanmar (Rohingyas) and more are not included in the list. India is already giving shelter to Tamils. Rohingyas are coming via Bangla Desh since we don’t have a common border with them. So they have to go back. CAA is a relaxation in rules of giving citizenship and not against taking away citizenship. The government has made CAA to help minorities from these three countries (these countries have a majority Muslim population) who are persecuted. The persecuted majority from these countries can apply if they feel like taking Indian citizenship. The government will consider them under routine migration process.

By no means, this subject is over. Major genuine discontent is for Assamese people. I am sure that the Central Government will sit and talk with Assamese people and their leaders. They will come to an amicable solution with CAA as the guiding principle. Some tweaking may be needed. I am sure both the sides will show flexibility and reach a reasonable conclusion.

Was somebody raped? 

The title is similar to the title of a movie, “Nobody killed Jessica!” The movie was the real-life story of Jessica Lal who was murdered in a public place. But initially, the culprits were released because “there was no evidence”! All the witnesses had become hostile because the culprit was rich and powerful!

I was reading twitter exchange on the subject of Unnao and Hyderabad rape cases. People have become cynical about rape events and the ecosystem surrounding us, which includes various authorities and society in general. One person said in his tweet, “It is straightforward. If the victim is from financially lower strata and perpetrators are rich, kill the victim. If the alleged perpetrators are poor, kill them.” The whole of India was shocked when Nirbhaya was raped and murdered in Delhi in 2012. It was not about murder or rape. It was the way the event took place. The rapists were cold-blooded in the act and selected the victim randomly. Another shocking part of the story was that one of the culprits was a sixteen-year-old boy. Others got the ultimate penalty, the death penalty, the boy was a juvenile so, he was remanded to a juvenile institution for three years and is leading a normal life.

The boy had the gumption to insert a steel rod in the lady’s organs; he should have got the death penalty whatever his age was. But then that is the law of the country. Another institution that we talk about is fast-track courts. Today seven years after the event, the culprits are still to be hanged.

In the Hyderabad case, a different scenario came up. The police took the alleged culprits to the site where they burnt the body of the victim. Police claim that the culprits attacked them, and took their guns. They started firing. Police started firing in retaliation, and all four died in the exchange of fire. A couple of police officers had minor injuries which seems to be a very convenient story. But the reaction to this story was a celebration all over India. Even in the parliament in India, the MP’s congratulated the action taken by the police.

In the rape case in Unnao, the lady who was on her way to the court for the court hearing, and was caught and burnt to death.

We read about rapes all over the world, but the cold-bloodedness by the culprits appears to be unique in India. Any rape is a horrible event. The statistics show that relatives of the victims or people known to the victims are involved in more than 75% rapes. It is a horrible mental sickness that has spread all over the world. In most cases of rapes or indecent behaviour, the victims do not report the event, as they feel ashamed, though it is not their fault. The victim is treated as if it is her fault.

I feel both numb and angry at the same time. There are so many angles to such events that you feel frustrated. Let me assure you many of the arguments are right also. Supreme Court Chief Justice Bobde made a very valid point that justice can not be instant. When the event takes place, there is a need to lodge FIR. There is a facility to lodge Zero FIR as per law in case of events like rape. Zero FIR means any police station can register the FIR, and then that police station should transfer this Zero FIR to the appropriate jurisdiction. Such an action can save time in critical cases like the one in Hyderabad where time was of the essence to at least to stop the murder. But I am doubtful how many police people know this procedure. People are made to waste a lot of time locating the correct jurisdiction.

The second thing is social. In large cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune there is large migrated population. Such migration gives anonymity, and this anonymity allows people to act in whatever manner they think is right. No person will behave funnily in his or her village or town or city. It is because they fear that someone from the family or relatives or friends of the family might see you doing the wrong things. But due to anonymity, they don’t have that fear. They feel that they can get away with anything. The situation is common for both men and women.

In a housing society, where I was the Chairman, three young women used to get drunk every Saturday night. When they would come back in an auto, their condition was always very embarrassing to even security people. Security people complained to me. Once I gave instructions to stop them at the gate, took their photos. It was at midnight. I ten minutes, the father of one of the girls called me from Delhi and started throwing weight and told me that I would face the consequences. Once he finished talking, I asked if I could send him the photographs of the girls in their current condition. He realised what I was saying. Next day he called to apologise to me and requested me to give them a month to move elsewhere.

I am all okay with personal freedom etc., but the freedom comes with a responsibility. If one does not behave decently, anything can happen. We should not forget that in the patriarchal society, men treat the women in their homes and the community, poorly. The women do not get the respect they deserve. Parents should teach the girls to behave decently, but it is more important to teach the boys to behave. The boys are given undue freedom during their growth phase while girls are under unnecessary restrictions during the growth. These boys who have grown up in such households cannot handle when they see women doing work independently and confidently. The boys probably grow up, thinking they can get away misbehaving since they have gotten away to some extent in childhood. Such growing up ends in Nirbhaya 1 and Nirbhaya 2 and I don’t know how many more Nirbhaya cases.

The Unnao case is a classic case. First, there was an error by the court. The court released the perpetrators on bail with a warning that they should not harass the victim. The victim was from a low-income family. These people doused the girl with petrol while she was going to court and burnt her. They were so confident that they did not even run away; they were found at home when police came to search. They had expected police not to act as they were from affluent families. How do we handle such errors? Should the judge be punished for a severe lapse? But will this punishment bring the girl back to life?

I have already said above that I feel both numb and angry at the same time. How will this vicious cycle stop? How does society learn to respect their daughters? What needs to be done by all to improve the situation? There are comments made that girls wear revealing clothing, but how do you explain when someone rapes four or six-year-old girl? The child does not even understand the meaning of sex.

There is a cynical joke. Two families go on a picnic, and their children are a 4-year-old boy and a girl. They play in the lake water while changing the clothes they see each other in nude. The girl next day tells her friend in school, “Yesterday, I came to know the difference between Protestants and Catholics!”

The more I think, the more I am getting confused and worried. How is this going to stop? Why are people becoming cruel? In one case I read today, a girl was held hostage by a boy and his friends. They regularly raped her. They demanded ransom from her parents. The girl’s family did not have the means to organise the money. The boy decided to kill and burn the girl. The mother of that boy helped to organise the killing and burning.

I am now more numb, more angry and cynical! Friends, how to change this trend? How to make this mass change in society? Police, Courts come later. How to ensure the rapes will not happen? We refer to rapists sometimes as beasts. Sorry! I disagree there. Beasts never rape; they mate only during their mating season. They do not wait at the toll plaza looking for a victim. They don’t travel on the buses at night, and create a Nirbhaya! Fast-tracking of the cases is after the event has happened. Nobody seems to have the solution to prevent the events!

Let us all pray and hope that things will start changing slowly in future!

The change of mindset! 

It is commonly said that change is the only constant in life. I generally believe in this statement, but some things do not change, they remain constant. Why do some things not follow the universal law of change? These constants are mainly about human behaviour. In these constants, methods might change, but basic things don’t change. Some changes happen stealthily, and others happen fast. 

You must be aware that technological changes appear to be happening fast, but they have their development cycles from 10, 20 to 50 years. People are working in the background; many trial and errors take placeThese inventions bring out changes. But this is about the technological and other changes. Social and human behaviour change takes much longer time to change, and some of the things don’t change at all. Attacks on women and rapes continue to happen 

You must be wondering why I am writing about rape and cashless transactions, together, in this blog. Cash transactions in India are our habits and, we don’t want to go away from them. There are reasons. In business, cash transactions are done to cheat on tax. But the small transactions which I am going to discuss can easily be changed by providing technology and making it mandatory.  These changes will change the mindset of people once the benefits are understood.

RFID tags are mandatory to pay toll on highways, from 15th December. There will be only one lane available for those vehicles without tag, and they will be charged double the amount. Tags will change large number of cash transactions happening daily to cashless. But how to change the mindset in cases of rape? It has to start from home, and the boys should be taught by their mothers and sisters to respect the ladies in society. In a patriarchal society, males think that they can get away with anything. But during growing age, the boys must be taught that it is only human species that rape the ladies. All other species do consensual mating and that too during mating seasons. The law of the jungle does not apply to the sex life of other species. 

Take the case of Nirbhaya 2 that has happened in HyderabadThe news has shaken India because people of India had hoped that events like Nirbhaya would not happen again. I am not saying that there will be no rapes, but the actions after that, killing the victim, burning her body are horrible. I was hoping that this kind of brutality will not happen again after the Delhi event in 2012. But it has happened! I am not sure if such incidents happened while we were an undeveloped society say, 2000 years back. Now there are laws in place. It is known that culprits of such events get the death penalty. Still, how do such ruthless attacks take place 

Mind you; I am not talking about the rape but the methodology. Rape is one social behaviour that is going to be a constant in human lives. Majority of rape cases happen to involve known people or relatives. That is even more dangerous. Some people argue that women wear provocative dresses. In these two Nirbhaya cases, the ladies were wearing day to day clothes. The common factor in both these cases is that the rapists were all from the transport industry, uneducated, and young (One in Delhi case was a 16-year-old boy)About provocative dresses, the definition of each individual is different. Some (in)humans rape even babies! It is more to do about mindset. Writing on this subject makes me very uncomfortable and sad.  

We will now look at one change that is happening in IndiaWe Indians love to do commercial transactions in cash. Any attempt to change the mindset is resisted, and people try to find loopholes. What I am writing about is not a significant technological change, but it is the application of the existing technology which will reduce cash transactions in a big way. I am talking of RFID tags to be made mandatory for vehicles to pay the toll on Indian highways. The technology has been in existence for a long time, and I have seen this used in the US 15 years back. Every day people travel on highways in large numbers. If we check the collective wastage of fuel, time of people while waiting in line to pay the toll, it is colossal wastage. When you have a tag pasted on your vehicle, the vehicle needs to reduce speed to approximately 15 Km at the toll plaza. The system will do the work. Hundreds of Crores of rupees of cash transactions will get converted to “cashless’’. If we calculate fuel and time saving on all India basis, the numbers will justify the mandate.

What we need to do is to provide changes which will save time and energy and cover large number of people. When Metro starts to run in a big way in Mumbai or Pune in next ¾ years, there should be system of providing common pass to Metro, “current local trains” and BEST (in Mumbai) and PMPML (in Pune). It is a common system world over. In a “small” Metropolis like Montreal with a population of 1.5 million, the scanning cards for monthly, weekly duration are provided. Metro in Montreal carries 1.3 million passengers a day, very smoothly. These scanning systems work efficiently. When I went to see World Cup final at Melbourne in 2015, the scanning system for tickets easily handled entry of 93000 plus spectators in a short time. There were hardly any queues. The change I have suggested will eliminate vast number of cash transactions in these two cities; it will make life easy for people. PMPML is currently facing an issue of disposing off coins (2.5 million) which are lying with them because banks have refused to accept such a huge number of coins. It is the change in mindset that it is crucial. Mindset change should be in people as well as officials who run these organisations. 

We need to change the mindset in every field. The societies which are open to accept the change improve, or else they remain uncivilised. In India, you look at any area; we don’t want to use the “queue” system. We quickly break traffic rules; motorbikes are driven on footpaths when there is a traffic jam. We drive vehicles on the wrong side, nonchalantly. It is our mindset that needs to change. Leave your home 10/15 earlier instead of breaking the rules.  

What do we need to do, to change the mindsets? To me, social studies should be a mandatory subject in every field like engineering, medicine, economics. It should be compulsory for all courses. Parents should be the role models to the children. If mothers break traffic rules while going with their children, it is guaranteed that the child will break the rules when he/she grows up! Mom is always right! Large organisations are helping in some way by making it mandatory for their employees to wear a helmet while coming to the office! But some employees put on their helmet only two minutes before they reach the office. It is my head, who the hell is my office to make it mandatory? Such an attitude is a result of not wanting to change the mindset.  

My definition of developed country is a country where a small minority breaks public rules! You get different feeling on the roads in such countries. Why we Indians do not want to change? We take pride in not following the basic rules in a society. Is this because of British rules we had? In the last 50 years of British rule, we started doing everything against the government to make their life miserable. We seem to have forgotten that now we have our own government for the last 70 years. So we should stop the non-cooperation movement, change our mindset! To me, this is the biggest challenge in India!  

Ever the optimist, I discussed with an Uber driver, about the fast tag. He said, “Modi is going to make our life miserable. Fast tag, camera-based traffic violation fines! But sir, we deserve this! We will probably take five years to see the dramatic effects of these things. We need this. In the last six months, I can see the effects on traffic violations!”

Montreal musings, day to day life IV!

I had expected that day to day musings III would be my last of the musings in the series. But so many new things came up, and many of them were unexpected to me. Hence I am going ahead with this blog.  

I met one family yesterday evening in the garden where Rhea practices with her cycle and the couples son also practices. So Nikhil and Priya know the parents. We were introduced yesterday with them, and we chatted for some time. He asked me a question. He said, “Which is that small country between India and Iran, not Pakistan.” I said, “ I don’t know such a country.” Then he suddenly said, “Oh! It’s Kashmir!” I explained to him the whole situation briefly then he realised the issue. Incidentally, he is a Jewish person, and we know their views about certain people. He and his wife are both educated, but their knowledge about our part of the world is imperfect. They know about India’s progress in general as they meet a lot of smart Indians these days in Canada!  

I came to know one more information. Thanksgiving day is celebrated in the US and Canada on different days. In Canada, it will be celebrated this year on 14th October, and in the US it will be celebrated on 28th November. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in Canada, the United StatesIt began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.  The concept is the same as we have in India, where we celebrate Onam, Lohri, Makar Sankranti, and so on. While checking on the net why these are celebrated on different days, there was a cryptic description on one Canadian site, “We don’t have to follow the US in everything.” 

Similarly, now shops are full of items for Halloween festival. 

Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of Hallows’ Even or Hallows’ Evening), is also known aAllhalloween. All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in several countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day.  

It begins the three-day observance of  Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.  

Halloween is celebrated by attending Halloween costume parties, trick or treating by children. The children go to every home in the neighbourhood and ask the question trick or treat? They are given chocolates, cookies and such treats. 

Carving pumpkins into the jack-o’-lanterns, lighting the bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, as well as watching horror films are some of the other activities. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.  

We have similar time in Hindus what we call Pitru Paksha when we remember the dead. But in our country, it is not a celebration but is considered inauspicious. No new investments are made during those two weeks. 

We get surprising experiences once in a while. Today Jaya and I went to a famous French Bakery in the central area of Montreal. While making payments, I was told that they do not accept credit cards; they take only debit cards and cash! Luckily we had some Canadian Dollars in my wallet at that moment. It was reasonably large establishment. While on the subject of payment retired people here too, like in the US, prefer to pay by cash and not by cards. Weather conditions change a lot during a week, but Jaya and I always find it cold. The main reason being, on sunny day, temperature could be around 10 Deg C, but in the shade, we feel cold because most of the times it is windy.  

Last week Jaya and I went out for lunch in an Iranian joint. We always try different foods. While trying to explain the dishes, the owner asked me, “Where are you from?” I said, “We are from India.” He straight away shifted to Hindi. He said that he had lived around Delhi for ten years. After that, he said, “Don’t worry, I will serve you excellent food which you will like.” Food was good. Then he also served us sweet Iranian Kolache!. It looked like biscuit but was stuffed with Dates and some other dry fruits. Some Iranian sweets look like Maharashtrian Diwali sweet Anarase. 

Another surprise was the restaurant was an Iranian addaBy the time we finished our food, about 15 Iranians had formed a group and were chatting and eating and having tea! In the background, TV was running an Iranian channelMy friend Veerendra told me that Canada has a large number of people from different nations, spread all over Canada, living peacefully.  

One pleasant surprise is the quality of vegetables. Priya was saying that these are generally produced in QuebecWater content in all this produce is on the higher side than what we get back in Pune. But Cauli Flower, Cabbage, Capsicum and all such vegetables are very tasty much better even than what we get in and around Delhi! Tastes of most of this stuff are much tastier than what I have generally tasted in the US! Of course, varieties are available in the US are amazing. The fad of organic food has not caught up in Canada; it seems. 

Because we are in Quebec, European culture is more prevalent. So are social norms! In our lane, neighbours are quite friendly with each other, and life, in general, appears to be less hectic! Since winters are harsh for longtime people, try to continue outside activities until the snowfall begins.   

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-10 at 19.37.18

One unique facility we saw which can be there only in rich countries. There is an area in the garden where people bring their dogs, and they can release the leash; dogs are allowed to do whatever they want except of course, poo poo! (It has to be cleaned by the owner!)

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-12 at 16.11.59

One strange thing. I thought Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Starbucks are known by the same never all over the world. Their menus may change to suit the local pallet. But the above photo is of KFC whose Quebec name is PFK (Poulet Frit Kentucky). Even in France, it is known by the name KFC! Strange are the ways of this world!  Similarly, I am told that road signs in France say, “STOP” but in Quebec, they are written as “Arrêt”!

I could not resist displaying these two beauties!

Au revoir et faites attention jusqu'à notre prochaine réunion! 
Probably they say bye and take care till we meet again in France ! 

 

 

The grass is greener on the other side!

Yesterday we met one of Priya’s neighbour, while we were going out. Nikhil said, “Long time, no see!” The neighbour said that he had been very busy with work and has a busy time until it starts snowing. He has one of his businesses of cleaning sprinkling systems. I wondered what that business is. He said, “Before it starts snowing, we go to our clients. Empty the sprinkler system, then blow compressed air through the system. By doing this, all the water in the sprinkler is thrown out of the system. Cleaning is done to avoid ice formation inside the system when the system is not used in winter.” In summer, the user can start using the system again.

It put my mind working and I thought how much unaware we are of many things done in the world. Nikhil later told me that even the regular water system also needs to be checked sometimes if the flow is irregular around autumn time. The system is bled during this period to remove airlocks if any! This checking cannot be obviously done once the winter sets in.

There could be many such preventive maintenance requirements which we don’t know. Or we know, but we don’t do it. In our homes, washbasins sometimes tend to get choked after usage. There is one small device readily available in the market. How many of us keep it at home?

The next image shows a filter in the system. How many of us get it regularly cleaned? By doing self-help stuff, we can avoid emergencies.

We are unaware of so many basic things that we run into unnecessary arguments sometimes. In many cities in India, we face water shortage due to deficient rains the previous year. Water supply to homes is available for a specific period during the day. In a society where I have a condo, there was a big fight going on WhatsApp about irresponsible behaviour of people. It was said that some people just don’t care and don’t bother about checking if all taps are closed before they leave for office. When the water supply is restarted in the evening, the water is wasted as it runs; people come home late from office. I explained to them that when the water system goes fully dry, the washers and springs in flush tanks tend to get stuck or damaged. When the water is restarted, the water can continue to flow without being used unless we act on it. Then the management team understood the problem and kept water supply on round the clock, but during certain times it was kept at low pressure.

I have noticed in Montreal, the sincerity of workers. There is work going on on our road. Just now (7 am) the temperature is 2 deg C, but all of the team started work at 7 am sharp. I have not seen this happen in many of our factories also, the so-called organised sector.

Some factors affecting lives in different countries don’t even come to our mind. I know of a friend who removed the snow from his car and was about to leave. But he received a work-related call and was talking on the phone almost for an hour. He came out the second time (it was snowing all the time), removed the snow again and drove away for work. People need to keep their car running for 20 to 30 minutes in winter before moving out, especially if parked in the uncovered area.

We see and enjoy the lovely photographs from Christmas time from many places with white snow in the background. It looks beautiful in the photos, but the snow cleaning in your territory is your job. I saw some homes having staircases from outside to reach home. During the winter, the snow gathered on the stairs is your responsibility; every day you are required to clean the snow accumulated on the stairs. If someone slips because of lack of cleaning, you can be sued!

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I used to live in Model Colony in Pune, during my younger days;  when it rained heavily, a lot of water used to flow down from the hills to our area and flood it. When the rain intensity would reduce, I would go out with my son Sachin, who was 5 or 6 years old then. We would simply clean the leaves that blocked the meshes on the drainage system, and flood would be gone in five minutes. I did it a couple of years back near my office building too with the same results. Honestly, it is no big deal. But the subject came to mind due to water logging issues in Pune recently. Nowadays the drain meshes are blocked by tree leaves as well as by plastic bags. Why can’t some volunteers do this in each area once the rain intensity reduces? I am not talking about the water deluge event that occurred due to cloud burst!

I understand that because of strict traffic rules, hefty fines and their implementation, traffic is generally well-disciplined in western countries. But I have not heard of such laws for pedestrians. But why are pedestrians equally disciplined in these countries? I rarely see them breaking the rules. My granddaughter Rhea (she will be six years old soon) asked me once why don’t we follow these rules in Pune? I had no answer!

Another issue we are not aware of about winter in these areas is clothing. We know that the layers help, thermals are essential. But I was not aware that the snow jackets are designed for different temperatures. In Montreal, temperatures can go down to -35 deg C! So, jackets also have their ranges. In most cases, those designed for – 15 to – 20 deg C are enough. But when the temperature falls further, you need to wear even better ones designed for the temperature of -40 deg C!

I have understood somethings about heating systems at home here. Some are gas-based, some use water heating, and others make use of Electricity for heating. I am, of course, not aware of more details of these systems. I am not likely to understand practical difficulties in these systems as I will not be here in winter.

Each zone, each region, even in one country like India, has very different weather. So, requirements, handling of the systems will be very different from area to area. Cold countries handle temperatures from 35/40 deg C to -35 deg C. Still they manage their systems well. I will tell you about the road repairs in Montreal. It can be handled only for six to seven months in any year before the snow! But this needs a lot of planning, preparation and readiness to handle work when the slot becomes available for repairs. (Potholes in Pune and Mumbai, Delhi?)

I will share one crucial knowledge I acquired. When any area is dug for repairs of utilities like electrical cables, water lines, gas pipes the agencies have the maps ready. They dig the area using normal excavator up to a safe depth. After that, Vacuum excavators are used. They loosen the soil in that area and suck it! So, the chances of damaging any of the pipes or cables become minimal. I do not see Vacuum Excavators being used in India. Maybe they are being used, but I have not seen them!

Friends life in any part of the world has its own issues. In India, we are lucky that for most of the year we have sunlight! Weather for the most times cannot be described as harsh. But what we lack is design, planning, execution and WILL!