Your Old Age friend is PQ!

Positive Quotient Your Old Age Friend!

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In our literature we are always taught to handle old age gracefully and accept it as fait accompli! But thinking is changing now! 

In his New York Times bestseller Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine explains: “Your mind is your best friend, but it is also your worst enemy. मन चिंती ते वैरी न चिंती Your Positive Intelligence Quotient is the percentage of time your mind is serving you as opposed to sabotaging you. Your PQ indicates how much mastery you have over your own mind.”

Humans is the only race in our Universe that uses brain to think, discuss and change things on the fly on various subjects. Other species think only about the basics of life based on fight or flight syndrome. We really don’t know how much thinking other species do except maybe Monkeys. We humans have so many different thoughts, we over analyze and end up with apprehensions. Even about 100 years back life expectancy was very low. So humans when they died, or were about to die, their health was much better till they got their final calling! In today’s times since life expectancy has gone up, there can be a phase long years in our lives, when our health will not be in best of the condition and it will be on taper off mode for quite a period of time. This long period of deteriorating health, has its own issues and that need to be tackled.

Our literature has been talking of four stages of life ending with Vanaprasthashram. This last phase was more of a theoretical phase because majority population never lived that long! This phase was glorified almost into sainthood with people expected to perform saintly things, all the time. Even 50 to 60 years back there was nothing much to do in life, so people in this phase of life would be saints. Things have changed rapidly in last twenty years or so. Much larger retired population in India is alive and kicking, though a bit slowly, even after retirement. People of our parents’ generation passed within 3 to 5 years of retirement, if not before. Now sizable population is retired and mostly not doing anything specific, post retirement, this will keep on increasing. This is a classic recipe for different sets of problems which previously hardly existed. According to Sarah Alexander, “Our brains are hard wired for negativity; this goes back to our Stone Age ancestors, who needed to be cautious all the time from attack. Attack from dangerous animals, imminent bad weather or threats from other tribes”. When certain problems are recent for a human race, there is nothing right or wrong about any decision, it is trying out new things. In foreign countries there is concept of down-sizing in old age. Beyond a certain age people sell off their larger dwellings and move to manageable ones, preferably in a common community. Or they move to old people’s homes. We need to find our path.

Large population of retirees, children are migrating to different parts of the country and the world, families are becoming more nuclear and everybody including retirees are looking for their own space, has created a scenario which hardly existed in our parents’ generation. What we are looking at is a totally new set of issues which have never been handled before hence both our generation and our children’s generation are groping to understand the situation and hoping to resolve the issues.

What could be the issues for our generation?

  •   When we retired we hardly thought about the changes that were going to happen in next decade; we were euphoric that we are going to retire.
  •     Once some health issues started coming up apprehensions were round the corner; some have chronic issues, some are having serious issues and lucky ones passed away quickly!
  •      Once these issue crop up, the mind will start thinking of different scenarios
  •   Who will support us mentally in case of more serious health issues morally and in some case monetarily!
  •   Will the money saved last longer or we will last longer?
  •   What will happen to my assets after me?
  • What happens to me if my spouse goes before me? It is historically proven that women handle spouse’s death much better than men.
  •   Who do I talk with as I am feeling down or maybe depressed. Every time a doctor is not the solution and maybe not needed!
  •   Who do I take advice on family matters?
  •   What do I do the whole day? Facebook, TV and WhatsApp can’t be your partners all the time.
  •   I don’t like to read or write, what should I do?
  • There will be many more such points, issues, doubts and apprehensions will crop up. The beauty is we don’t know for how long we have to handle these issues.
  • Do I down size or move to old people’s homes?

How to handle such situations and issues?

First and foremost is to group the issues that we are likely to face.

1.       Physical and Mental Health       

2.       Financial matters

3.       Family matters

4.       Specific situational matters which can be combination of various things.

5.       Legal issues

6.       Travel and enjoyment related points.

There can be many many more points but these can always be grouped and sub grouped.

Here is what we could do.

·       Create small group of friends, 4 to 6 in numbers, if possible living close by. This group should be such that you can share with this group anything and everything. The reason for living close by is reaching them should be physically easy.

·       We all are part of different groups of friends these days helped by technology. FB and WhatsApp has made it easy to be in touch with different groups, alumni associations and so on. Out of the various groups, decide which group gives you the most comfort, it could be school group, college group, office group or colony group. This one group should be your parent group. One should look for homogeneity in the group because diverse group will have people with diverse requirements.

·       It is not necessary that for above mentioned issues, you have always to go to a professional e.g. for minor feeling down or depressed, just talking to friends may resolve issues.

·       In the group, there are always people who are smart in many areas and are practical too! Form a core group or groups of say three people with whom ALL group members can discuss their problems or issues and try to thrash them out. Once the system stabilizes keep total faith because group members have no commercial interests in any interactions and they are here to help you.

·       There should be group mail available for the group and core group will lead and guide friends during issues on a regular basis!

To conclude this basic thought process, form  groups, have core sub group of smart people who will guide to find and create resolutions. Keep this process going on daily basis, or at least weekly basis, if it is possible! Group should meet physically at least once in a month.

To conclude, it is most important to be very practical, be away from emotions which will drain you. In our literature we have enough sob stories of “Sham chi Aai” and Shravan Bal! ( These according to me are highly emotional sob stories! Jury is still out on that opinion) These will drain you daily and keep you miserable. This is not your individual situation but is happening universally! So stay away from Shravan Bal and negative thinking individuals to convert Vanaprsthashram into a stage which can be made enjoyable!

New .com bubble!

Startups, Venture funding and profitability go hand and hand else you have a failure on hand!

My friend Nandu Pradhan sent me a message if I have opened a blog tap! The fact of the matter is that I am on a bit of a sabbatical for a week or ten days. Thoughts keep on coming in the mind and somehow I am able to reach the end line pretty quickly.

I read an article about venture funding this morning. It said that venture fund taps seem to be shutting down, albeit slowly, at least in India. I don’t understand much about venture funding but I am told that this funding is given to start ups with brilliant ideas; then there is second and third round of funding as the idea tries to bloom into business. One term that goes hand in hand is “burn rate” while discussing startups. Burn rate is the money spent every month, without doing any business at least in the beginning.

Most of my life I have been running a small business and during this period, barring a few years, I never needed outside funds! Of course, those loans were in the form of bank facilities. I paid outrageous interest charges on the bank funds. At some stage, I decided that enough is enough and returned all the bank funds. Idea behind running my business was simple, it was my job, and it earned me a living! So idea was to keep on making money from whatever activities I was doing!

Don’t get me wrong but I honestly do not understand this concept of venture funding and startups. All can’t be Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Googles of this world. These are some of the names that come to mind when we talk of starting up in garage and so on! Don’t forget that people behind them were brilliant people. They may not have had the best of the ideas to start with. Apple took 20 plus years to really hit it. Microsoft initially had a tough time but the idea of MS-DOS is what really took off! These guys had different business models. Microsoft has been making software products and are now also in cloud computing, in a big way! Microsoft’s obituary has been written a few times but lately they have become extremely agile to customer requirements. I need not write about Apple; once the iPod became a hit, rest as they say is history. They have real world hardware that they are selling at very high margins. Google made a brilliant search engine and the advertisements on the engine are their bread and butter; they hardly have anything else that is earning money. Facebook was pioneer in social media and have taken up Google business model but this forms 80% of their income. They have about 20% of their income from other sources. What I am trying to imply is that they are all real profit making companies and balance sheets have been in black, most of the times. They all have hard cash.

Coming back to start ups. I am sure that there is a genius lurking behind all these startups that we keep on hearing. Mr. Mukesh Ambani recently made a statement that Jio is a startup! I think what he meant by that is Jio is thinking out of box, its agile, its is taking business behemoths in the same field head on but of course there is a business plan which will make it profitable sooner than later!

I am naming two large e commerce giants in India, Flipkart and Amazon.  Amazon is doing billions of dollars of turnover world over but I understand that even after 20 years their E commerce business is not in profit! So they keep on pumping money. Because of market capitalization Bezos of this world have become billionaires. So must be Flipkart honchos. What is their business model? To my understanding this is trading business as these two companies’ sale products themselves or through their partners; they do not manufacture a single product. How come their burn rate is much more than their income? I feel that it is because of the discount war they keep on playing to gain territory It is a good thing that they do not take loans from banks; otherwise list of bank NPA’s will grow longer! Loss figures March 2016 Amazon Rs.3572/ crore, Flipkart Rs.2850/ crores, Paytm total loss Rs.7971/ crores! Not bad! Profits can always wait! (Ref. Economic Times dated 24th Sept 2017)

If the organization is not making money then what is the point in doing business? With the taps of funds being slowly turned off, the startups are thinking, in terms of operating profits! Real profits are miles away! I am not sure about operating profits too! I am surprised about both sides. Those running business are not really bothered about profits and the funding guys are hoping that one of their clients will become a Microsoft or a Google and then they will get windfall! I am sure the funding guys are very very smart people and they are pumping only part of their billions as investment in startups! But what about startups which are very small or medium size? Or do the promoters also make their money, on the side, from the “burn”? If there is no profit then how do you sustain? What do you achieve by having a high “burn rate”? Is the business model right? Do these guys have enough maturity? They must be real smart technically but running a business is different ball game! An idea, a great presentation, business plan (which always look lovely on paper) get them funding. But how long can the operations sustain on funding? Should the business not be self-sustaining? Is it easy to convert a brilliant idea into a self-sustaining business? There are many so called brilliant ideas, on paper; they face different hurdles, when they come into business domain.

Coming back to my lack of knowledge, I feel that business is a business is a business! The aim should be to make it profitable, of course not at any cost! One has to follow business ethics. When you get funding you don’t have to pay interest on funding that you get though you actually borrow it!  Funding is a cool name for this borrowing! One is really lucky that this is interest free loan. That most startups fail, is to me, an indication that most ideas don’t get converted to profitable business.

I will give you an example of a “startup”. This was not a startup in the conventional way. This person’s business and products were not hi fi type but products made for farmers and used in farming. Of course it was not cool! He was mentored by my wife Jaya. Jaya happens to be on cool side of life i.e Computers, IT and all. What she found was that the person was brilliant and knew his subject and had good products. He was trying to make too many products on laboratory scale for different produce. After a few meetings Jaya asked him, “What is the USP of your products? Which is your best product?” He said, “My products will give immediate results with very high returns in Pomegranates!” Jaya told him to concentrate only on that. He did it and rest as they say is history. Now he is a reasonably successful businessman. He received recognition from United Nations and business wise he is doing pretty alright! Mind you, he took funding but only after his business had grown reasonably well and was very much in black! Writing this story probably has answered the questions which I raised in the beginning! So startups and venture funding is good provided you have good profitable products and a profit making business plan; otherwise you have to be Amazon or Flipkart or Paytm! To hell with losses! There are enough people who will fund you, if you are large enough!

Gauri Lankesh- an Enigma!

Gauri Lankesh was killed by assassin’s bullets outside her home in Bangalore. This happened on 5th of September 2017 in the evening around 7 pm. The shooters escaped on a two wheeler and are yet to be traced. Now information is coming that murder weapon used in Kalburgi case is same as used to kill Gauri. Possibly, except the identity of the murderers, everything is supposedly known to the authorities.

Murder in any form, any reason just cannot be glorified or justified, it has to be strongly condemned! But this murder has evoked such strong reactions, both for or against, that it has become a Tamasha on the social media. People are outright cursing Gauri to glorifying her! Karnataka govt even gave her Gun Salute at her burial! That too to an open supporter of Naxalite movement. There have been stories floating around that she was born Christian, (hence the Hindu basher)  later converted hence the burial. Simple explanation is she was a Lingayat and Lingayat’s bury their dead!

Why do such extreme reactions occur? Is it because of Gauri’ nature? Is it because of her passion? Was it because she called ilks of the type Shehla Rashid, Kanhaiya, Umar Khalid her adopted children? One thing was sure that she was extreme left of center in the political milieu. When there are extreme reactions truth is generally at the center but in case of Gauri we can say that truth was also left of center!

Is it possible that the persons like Gauri start with a cause in great zeal, then they become over passionate, or zealots? Over a period probably they lose contact with reality and are in their own world! I always have many questions about lives of such people. When they are so busy with causes, what do they do make ends meet? I have not read anywhere that Gauri was born in a super-rich family. She ran a regional Kannada paper Gauri Lankesh Patrike which was born after a bitter fight with her own brother about original regional paper Lankesh Patrike, ran by her father. I am sure their income must have been less than that supplements of major newspapers. Were the cases filed against her paper and Gauri for defamation, an income stream? I hope not.

On the other side, who wanted her dead? By killing her what was achieved? Was it a khap panchayat type of decision, where “Supremos” of some group, having totally different views than Gauri, just decided to eliminate her! What Gauri had achieved in her life was nothing path breaking or breath taking! May be she was born fire brand, had passion, was fearless but that’s about it. She did not topple any govt, she did not lead any mutiny, and had views which were against the views of many. Right or wrong? Nothing in life is absolutely right or wrong! But to kill a person for these reasons cannot be understood by a normal person like you and me.  

There have been different viewpoints in life all along. The advent of social media has taken these discussions to a different peak or a valley of hatred! Another thing is that, this venom spreads extremely fast! Snake bite may kill you in five minutes but social media venom can kill you 100 times in five minutes. I have read the reactions of people of both extremes. I am really ashamed to be part of such society.

Similar to strong reactions from extreme right wingers, why reactions from Gauri’s group of people equally venomous and strong! When nothing is ever proven why blame Hindu organizations directly? Nathuram Godse killed Gandhiji, that did not mean that RSS had directed him to do the killing. Another point I have never understood is why all right wingers are always Bhakts and all Left wingers are traitors? Why is fear expressed that Nazis are taking over? How come most of us don’t see these things? Maybe we are dumb? Maybe we are also Bhakts?

Is there any solution to such extreme thinking? Can so called debates on TV not be toned down? We cannot stop what is written on whatsapp and facebook. But TV debates are under controlled conditions! Contradictions are also easily visible. Probably some are immature people. In a protest march to condemn death of Gauri, Republic TV reporter was hooted out by Shehla Rashid. Freedom of speech is  for all, not only for extreme left wingers! Maturity?

Let me conclude with a small excerpt from tribute on Gauri’s death, written by Chidanand Rajghatta, a well-known columnist from Times of India, based out of Washington DC. He and Gauri were married for five years, long back!

“Gauri’s presence at the cards table became rare as she threw herself into the fight against right-wing bigots, zealots, and extremists. We argued about that too at the cards table because some friends thought she had gone the other extreme. There was no doubt she was left of center, even extreme left of center. But heart was in the right place, and there was no place in her world for violence. Only cowards took to violence.

One day, she called to announce that she’s coming with her son. “Who have you adopted now?” I asked. “Kanhaiya Kumar,” she chuckled. “You mean the JNU bloke?” “Yes, you’ll love meeting him.” Little later she called to say his flight was late and she can’t make it. That was the last time I heard her voice. Bubbly and bursting with energy and passion for causes big and small.”

Innocence or Naivety

Is it Social Media behavior issue? Or Naivety or …

In the last decade WhatsApp and Facebook changed the method of human communication in an unprecedented way! Especially, WhatsApp has changed things so much, that people are just not giving a thought before communicating through this medium. But last few months, at least the groups in which I am a member, are observing reducing volume of messages that are exchanged. Most of my groups have senior citizens but I have checked up with a few young folks and I am getting a similar feedback. Major % of messages are so called “forwards”. These come from internet, You Tube, movies and some are creations of individuals about various subjects. These are generally well written, I won’t say that these are well researched. People write articles in such a way that many people assume that they are absolutely genuine! Why people create such unsubstantiated stories is a matter separate discussion. The people who generally fall for such articles are Naïve or Innocent. 

My nephew Ashwin is an Air Force pilot, currently flying with Suryakiran Squadron. Suryakiran squadron has a set of expert pilots who fly the Airplanes in formations which are breath taking. Last December we saw their show during NDA passing out parade. Was it thrilling! We are all proud of Ashwin and his team members. When Ashwin was a child, once we were discussing something over dinner on an ambiguous   subject. He said, “Pramod Kaka this must be true because I have read it in newspaper.” I told him that tomorrow I will print in a newspaper that Ashwin is an idiot. Does it mean that it is true? Then he understood what I was saying. Of course his argument was due to innocence of age.

Advent of internet, WhatsApp and Facebook has created a situation where different types of so called forwards are being shared. I am in a couple of groups where all are engineers and supposedly logical thinking people. Forwards are on different subjects and some are about religious things. I can understand naivety displayed by people about religious forwards, as people react very differently to things involving religion. (Naivety means lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement or unsophistication) But there are some forwards which are about things that involve engineering, business, and technology.

The other day there was a forward about Bajaj Auto Quadricycle. It is a four wheeled vehicle but not a car as declared by the company. The person had shared some photos and said that it is going to be priced at Rs.60000/. I deal with Bajaj Auto very regularly; so I wrote to my friend that what you have written is untrue. The price will be in region of Rs. 2, 00,000/ and launching date is unknown as there is a court case going on in Supreme Court. Immediately he sent a YouTube video on the same subject. I asked him, “what was the point in repeating the same wrong information when I had said that the information shared by me was given to me by someone senior from Bajaj.” My friend said that such videos are there on You Tube and company should clarify their stand on such videos! I had no answer to this! Naivety or Innocence? Or ….

 WhatsApp Image 2017-08-23 at 07.07.08

This caricature is classic case which represents what happens on WhatsApp. Bewakoof is an Urdu word, it means “foolish/stupid/dolt/idiot” in English, while in Hindi it’s called as “moorkh/मूर्ख, ullu/उल्लू. The word Webqoof has been perfectly scripted out the word Bewakoof! This is how  some people, who can be normally called intelligent, behave on WhatsApp! It is the same what  Ashwin had said when he was a child!

Recently there was one forward. It started with a tag line, “This is created by XYZ from ABC Engineering College!” Then there were ¾ lines depicting pictures of  pencil batteries. The forward said, “Please forward this to at least three persons and you will see that your cell phone battery will be fully charged”! This was forwarded by a friend of  mine, Electrical Engineer by training. When I saw this forward, I wrote to him, “Come on friend an Electrical Engineer like you cannot forward such things!” He replied, “What is the harm in trying?” He was honest enough to inform that nothing happened when he forwarded to three guys. The beauty was he kept on arguing that he did it for fun instead of saying that he was stupid to try this!

This brings us back to the original question. Why do people behave in such a way? Does their logical mind go into cold storage? Do they have a brain freeze? Or they have nothing else to do, so to kill time they will try anything! But then what happens to life-long training of logical thinking? I am really at wits end to understand why people behave this way! 

Forward this blog to 100 people and see a magic! Your brain will starting work normally, the way you are supposed to think,  logically, based on common sense! Let me know! Oh, I got converted with the bandwagon!

 

 

 

 

100 Hundred शंभर सौ!

Thank You from bottom of my heart! Your encouragement is what really puts my blog writing in turbo charge mode!  Keep commenting, keep criticizing, keep liking too! 
धन्यवाद, आभार, Love you!

As I have reached  blog number 100, I am excited, apprehensive, and reflective. Many emotions come to mind, one definite one is surprise! I started writing in 2011, and expected that my stint as a person who can write, will be short lived as happens with most of things in our life. Now in 2017 I am reaching the milestone of 100 blogs.

100th-post-image

We start some activity with a great enthusiasm, we think that we are going to do this thing for ever and before you come to know, you have simply stopped doing it, not because you don’t want to do it but that is how life takes you around.  Since last three years my blog writing frequency has increased. All of us see something happening in our lives, a small episode in our day to day life, or a normal interaction with people. Afterwards, thoughts keep on meandering in mind about that event and inner thought process starts automatically. This chain of thoughts stops only when I write something.

It is said that humans age and wine matures!  But those close to me, say that I have aged but my writing has matured!  I feel that maturity in anything is a matter doing something regularly, or some event takes place which makes you more reflective in turn matures you. This is the difference in how I looked in 2011 and how I look now. I don’t know if by blogs written then and now look equally different! 

 

DSC_4298WhatsApp Image 2017-08-12 at 11.56.55

I had never planned to be a blogger but it appears that after my Cancer treatment in 2013/14 my frequency of writing increased and I became a reasonably regular writer (though my professional work comes in the way even today!) My thoughts are more about human interactions, human reactions, human thinking and human nature. The event that induces me to write a blog could be taking my grand-daughter for small walk to a Mandir when she was two years old, or watching a lady suddenly going in a trance, reading about new tech products like Electric car being suddenly pushed hard by all.  My thinking in most cases looks into human aspect of the situation. Very few of my blogs are like an “article” which I recently wrote about GST implementation in India. Another subject that has kicked in a lot of thought processes in my mind are electric cars and non-conventional energy generation systems.

Events that stimulate my blog writing are of two types, divergent or convergent. Now let me explain. Some ideas are such that, in the beginning they look big, they look promising; but as I start writing, a very narrow thought or a conclusion comes out of it. These are convergent ideas for me. In case of divergent ideas, process is exactly reverse; I start with something very small but end with some idea which is universal and/or very big! 

Writing on different subjects needs a lot of study and has become much easier because of Internet. There is no dearth of information if one is willing to dig. When I started writing, it never touched my mind if anyone will ever read what I write. I would share my blogs with family and a few friends. Then I started understanding the techniques of sharing with others. A reasonable number people not known to me are followers of my blogs now. Later on I realized, that I can publish the blogs simultaneously on Facebook, Linked in and so on. I am also a member of a few groups on WhatsApp. I share my blog on these groups too! Out of curiosity I check the statistics that are available on WordPress site and I come to know how my blog has been “found”! It is found from search engines (Tagging helps!) on FB and so on. I also get to know the geographical locations where the blogs are “seen”. The main areas are naturally English speaking ones like US, Canada, Australia besides India but sometimes these are accessed even from Scandinavia or Eastern Europe countries! English speaking people from these places are doing this. Another information that I want to share is that in the whole year of 2014, I published 28 blogs and these were viewed by about 1000 people; till my last blog I have published 28 blogs in 2017 but the viewership is 3500! This does not mean that my blogs have suddenly become popular but I have improved the distribution! I have also observed that a couple of my friends from Facebook, share my blog with others. People give their comments on the blog itself or they send separate email to send comments. There are friends who prefer to call and discuss. My blog writing, comments, discussions also show that I am doing what I have been preaching! I have been saying, all the time in different blogs, please do something that will keep you reasonably busy during the course of the day, other than exercising, watching TV and time on Facebook/WhatsApp! I am also lucky that I love what I am doing.

My main criteria for publishing is that I myself should find the blog “readable”. My definition of “readable” is a bit stringent. If a person starts reading my blog then he should finish reading the blog in one go! Many of you have told me that my blogs are readable!

What next? Well in cricketing terms, I am taking fresh guard, will adjust my pads and will check my bat!  Next hundred should be possible in two years time. Frequency of my writing improved from 2014 and it took me about 3 1/2 years to reach 100. 2011 to 2013 were real baby steps! I think my blog theme will always be human relations and relationships! But it appears that I will pepper you folks in between on Solar Energy and Electric cars too!

Till then .. so long ! Thank You from bottom of my heart! Your encouragement is what really puts my blog writing in turbo charge mode!  Keep commenting, keep criticizing, keep liking too! 

धन्यवाद, आभार, Love you! 

 

 

 

Low Aim is a Crime!

This is take on being satisfied with Money earned rather than going up the value chain!

India got its independence in 1947. India missed the industrialization bus by a century because British allowed only a few benefits of industrialization to percolate to India.  Before independence educated Indians were interested in working for British, whatever work they could get, mostly they got clerical jobs; those were the only real jobs available anyway! British chose the people for senior admin positions and made them brown sahebs. These proxy Britishers were more British than the Britishers themselves.

This scenario put India under the gloom of disease of getting satisfied on achieving small things and doing mundane things. This led to metastatic mentality of under achievers; those who were trying to do something different were looked down upon and discouraged from doing anything different. Some of us from our generation were able to improve on this thought process and later generation became even more active and started taking risks.

IT sector was the first sector where India did pretty well, financially. Y2K issue was the one that gave impetus to Indian IT sector; middle class started growing faster than ever and large Indian populace started having money, living in foreign countries for work and started buying their own homes in a big way. This of course combined with official opening of Indian economy in 90’s. Effect of higher salaries in IT sector was seen in other sectors like engineering, pharma, finance and so on. But this success hid one thing from general populace and even from IT sector that the “great” work that we were doing was actually mundane work done for others as a service. This model kept on working well till about a couple of years back. Then the signals started coming that the mundane work that was outsourced to India can be automated so….

Circa 2017! Large Indian IT companies are sitting on big pile of US Dollars. This indicates their past success, financially. But it appears that these large “successful” companies were run more by accountants than by entrepreneurs! So they have made big money, hundreds of thousands of millions, many of them in dollar terms. But since the scenario started changing a couple of years back, it is obvious that if you don’t move up the value chain, you are going to come down as fast as you have gone up! The fact that these companies are sitting on a big pile of dollars shows that our mentality of mundane “services” type of work has not changed. This pile of money should not have been there; it should have been invested in going up the value chain! But even today this money is being used to buy back shares! The big bosses have not thought in terms of creating own IPR’s or products in any field, IT or Engineering or Pharma! When “services” are generating money why bother.

To give an example of how things are changing, when you “talk” to say Amazon on chat about some issues, the “Ravindra” or “Asha” who is taking to you may be a “BOT”. What is a BOT? An Internet Bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone. The largest use of bots is in web spidering (web crawler), in which an automated script fetches, analyzes and files information from web servers at many times the speed of a human. More than half of all web traffic is made up of bots. (This is Wikipedia definition of BOT)

How this is typically done is very similar to self-check-out counters in big departmental stores. At these check-out stations, for a group of ten such stations there is one supervisor helping, if you need any help. So what this system does is, instead ten people manning ten checkout stations, one person is sufficient. These BOTS also do the same thing. Now do you understand how the nature of business is changing? If your business is dependent on someone else’s way of working, you are in trouble if automation comes into picture.

What is the way out? Going up the value chain; but if you are a company with 100 to 150 thousand employees with “service” level skills you have tough task on hand. Basically it’s a tough call for the senior management to change its own ways from accountant based running module to technologist based running module. Who runs highly successful companies? Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, you just list such companies and will see that these are technology driven companies. Yes, finances are very important but if the company is run by accountants they will never take risks! But when you don’t take risks and try and don’t keep abreast with new technologies or create new technologies, you will never know what hit you! How many of us know that Google and Apple are spending big money on Car technology, and they are creating newer technology in cars which was never even thought of. Nvidia is already a big auto system vendor to VW’s, Audis and Mercs of this world. They have invented technologies which are forcing these Auto giants to use new technologies to remain competitive in business. Elon Musk of Tesla had the audacity to start making Electric Cars and even start making space vehicles using venture capital.

Of course there is silver lining to each dark cloud! The surprise is that the silver lining is coming not from private sector but Government sector. ISRO, Metro projects implementation, Solar Energy project implementations, highways all over India are sign of we Indians have started getting hang of the situation. On IT side one of the success stories of product selling is Tally ERP. Yes it has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and is unquestionably India’s “Numero Uno” product on IT side! If Tally is doable why can’t others do it? India is the largest democracy and is the only country in the world where all elections use EVM’s- electronic voting machines! Paper ballots are Passe’ in India! The EVM’s were developed by C-DAC! Aadhar card is one such initiative that has become pride of the nation! All these projects indicate that we are slowly coming out of the Chalta Hai mentality! Chalta Hai is a phrase indicating Small achievement is good enough! We should have Sachin Tendulkar’s in each field then only we as a nation can start achieving things!

So friends we started with discussion about Indian mentality of being happy with whatever little is achieved! Will our giants survive the onslaught of market changes? They have the money but do they have the wherewithal other than money? Do they have the mind set? Do they have the technological willpower to go up the value chain? Going up value chain is real hard and smart work. I hope these giants do it, but we are still discussing US H1B visa rules, which is the backbone of current business model of sending people on site to provide services! I hope our current young generation and future generation are as audacious as Elon Musk!

 

So long dear friends, Al Vida!

Al Vida is a Hindi word meaning Goodbye! This year has been a bit rapid in the wrong sense! I lost three dear friends of mine to the almighty till today, 11th April 2017. I am not writing an obituary but I am writing random thoughts that come to mind when such deaths take place. I am now 67 and it’s not a big deal really to face that your friends or family are dying. I know the realities of life and know very well that one has to go at some stage. My first such experience was when I was in final year of school and I had lost a friend to destiny. I have written a blog on this event

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/he-is-gone/. That time it was a big shock!

In my grandparent’s time, he died at the age on 89, reaching that age was a miracle! Medical science and other allied sciences were not yet really developed and reaching the age of 50 was a great feat. Probably this threshold has already gone up to 55, then slowly to 60. My father and father in law both died at the age of 63. Celebrating 60th birthday was a great event then. People were considered to be at their prime around age of 40/45. Things have really changed now; almost 10 % of my batch mates from engineering college continue to work and are in reasonable health. Another maybe 50% are in good health though they have retired. People go for walks, treks, climb hills daily or hit the gym.

Now people are considered to be in prime around the age of 55/60 and I have known a few who have started new ventures after crossing 60. Definitions of old age are changing rapidly in India, the age bar for doing new things, new achievements has gone up! Besides improvement in medical sciences what has helped to raise the bar? New technology has brought people together. The isolation that older people had to suffer is now almost becoming history because we are in touch many people and many of the contemporaries are still around. This has definitely added to improved longevity.

I only feel sad that two of my friends who died, passed away almost instantaneously. Third friend was unwell for a few months. I don’t know the details about their health status for the period before they died. My other friend Suresh who was an Air Force pilot, flying MIG 27, had once told me. “Pramod, planes are as good as the way they are maintained. Except for one system, all hydraulics can be checked on the ground; only one system gets checked during flying. Similarly there is no sudden heart failure; there are signals which are ignored or sometimes due to diabetes the person does not feel the pain.” Had these two friends been a little more proactive in getting themselves checked who knows….

In this world time is the same for everybody. One minute for me is the same one minute to everybody. How we use this one minute is what matters. If we are day dreaming, thinking of future for ten minutes, we lose ten minutes from the current time which we could have spent better. Similarly if we had used those ten minutes to remember what we had done in the past, the net result would have been the same. It is the current time that is THE time!

Out of the three friends that I lost one of them was current time person. He would enjoy life to the fullest, whatever he was doing. He passed early morning. He had just come back from a party a couple of hours before he died. He had the real zest to enjoy the life. His son had shared the following on Facebook, sometime back. It is a perfect fit to my dear friend’s style!

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he neither lives in present nor the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies never really lived.”

My friend really lived life and it is not easy to be so zestful all through your life. Thank you dear for showing us the path how to live and in the how to go!  Goodbye, Al Vida, My angels!