Get Well Soon, Ramdev Baba!


You have jaundice, your eyes look yellow! You go to your allopathic doctor. Your bilirubin is checked, and it predictably high. You go to your chemist, he says, “Liv 52! Jaundice!” Period, discussion over. In India, when you have jaundice doctors generally prescribe Liv 52. There is no other medicine. Other drugs would only be supplementary things. There could be some cure in Homeopathy, but Liv 52 specified in Ayurved is THE drug! It cures jaundice. There are no medicines for jaundice in Allopathy!

In the year 2017, Jaya and I had decided to take a holiday in Europe. Ten days before the journey date, Jaya had a pain in the right foot. The orthopaedic doctor advised her to stop using heels and gave her some pain killers. He said that only a long rest could help her. We went to our homoeopathic doctor. He was very confident that he would be able to cure Jaya. The only advice he gave was to take a wheelchair at Frankfurt airport as it is vast and you need to walk a lot. We were to also take a train from Frankfurt to Munich, which added to the distance. But later we could climb up and down the mountains in cold weather. Thanks to our doctor! By the time we were back, Jaya had almost forgotten the problem.

Allopathy cured me of Cancer in the year 2013. Otherwise too, we have taken different allopathic treatments for various ailments. Now the usual disclaimer: I am a firm believer that each pathy has its pluses and minuses. None of them has a cure for each illness. My statements are based on my personal experience and experiences of near and dear ones. I have no prejudice against any pathy.

COVID 19 has brought the whole world, including the researchers, scientists to their knees. They are not able to find the cure, nor are they able to find the vaccine. All the governments, the world over are trying to contain the pandemic and try to minimise the spread. Some have succeeded, and others have failed; the death rates are high as well as the infections. Our country has managed to delay the spread and control the death rate reasonably well.

Recently, our yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his company Patanjali declared that they had found the cure for COVID 19! A big show and drama were made during the announcement. Obviously, the rumour mill started running at high speed on social media. Expert social media writers went into a frenzy. When I read last, Ramdev was about to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his excellent work in the field of Medicine.

Let us see the whole sequence of events. Patanjali’s manufacturing unit had asked the Uttara Khand government for a license to produce a drug for immunity booster.

The Uttarakhand government has claimed on Wednesday, that the license issued to the Ayurveda products manufacturing company on June 12, pertained to the development of immunity boosters and not a medicinal cure for coronavirus.

A First Information Report (FIR) has been filed in Rajasthan government against yoga guru Baba Ramdev, his aide and chief executive officer of Patanjali Ayurved Limited, Acharya Balkrishna. Three others made misleading claims that the company has found a cure for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) called Coronil.

Ramdev said the medicines were developed by Patanjali Research Center, Haridwar in association with privately-owned National Institute of Medical Science (NIMS), Jaipur.

The AYUSH Ministry is yet to examine the claims made by Patanjali. The ministry has asked the company to provide details of the Medicine, such as name and composition, research study details, Institutional Ethics Committee clearance, CTRI registration and result data. The government has asked Patanjali to refrain from advertising the medicine kit until the claims are duly examined.

There is a ban on advertising of this Medicine, to be sold as Corona cure, till everything is checked by different authorities and formal clearance is given.

What has Patanjali attempted? They have tried to jump the bandwagon to offer a cure to humanity, nothing wrong in that. But the fact is that the whole world, including renowned research institutes, pharma companies are struggling to find the elusive golden wand. These organisations have a backing of millions of dollars the world over, and they are still struggling. It is a fact of life that research done in non-allopathic sciences is negligible, if at all!

On social media, the usual gang of “India is the greatest” has become active. They give various references from Vedic times to prove that we had nuclear weapons, aeroplanes and so on during those times. Great story reading for those times, but that is about it. The cures offered by Indian medicines have been around for thousands of years, but unfortunately, most remained in families and in the private domain. Sometimes remedies were passed on, and at other times they were lost to time with the demise of the expert. Till twenty to thirty years, few new cures in Ayurved or Homeopathy, have been attempted by Corporates in the public domain which had funds. So there is a chance that non-allopathic drugs may come up with some great results over a period, but not yet.

But our Bharat gang is churning out stories. There is a purported theory going around. Patanjali has not followed the guidelines to get the clearance for a drug for the supposed use, in its official statement. So those saying anything against Patanjali are enemies and are being paid by other pharma companies to act against Patanjali! How can ayurvedic research be wrong? But friends, on probing, even Patanjali is saying that it is an anti immunity drug and not the cure for COVID! If Patanjali has really discovered the treatment, then they should not have trouble in defending the probe. But we should not raise the bogey of the greatest civilisation on the earth…

It is plain and simple. Patanjali is five thousand crores plus business. As a business entity, it must ensure that the company makes good profits. Their strategy went wrong, and they were quickly caught on the wrong foot! No harm! If they have come with a right immunity booster drug, it will sell. It will be even better if the results are provable. You take Medicine for fifteen days, and your immunity is up because we say so. Such statements will not boost the immunity though it might enhance their sales. But because of timely action by authorities, at least people’s hopes will not go up, wrongly, about Corona cure.

Will “India is the most celebrated civilisation” brigade accept that this is a million-dollar question! Should the companies not follow the guidelines specified and submit documentary proof? Is curing 280 patients a breakthrough? I do not think so.

Firstly, such a trial should be started after following guidelines. The whole process must be documented. Patients should be of different severity, age, sex, comorbidity and other such variables. Once the systematic trials are done, results shared with authorities, then mass production of the drug would make sense. Let the horses not run faster than the chariot!

 


Car? No, I would instead take the horse carriage! 

You must be wondering what I am talking about. I am saying that cars will go out of fashion soon, and will be replaced by horse carriages. Technological changes are developed over a period, but once they reach the tipping point, technology spread can be breathtaking. Okay, I was joking!  What I want to say is that IC Engine cars will be replaced by Electric Vehicles!

The photos below were taken 13 years apart. It’s 5th avenue in New York. The first picture was taken in the year 1900, and the second one was taken in the year 1913. Production of the Ford T model started in 1908, and by the year 1930, the equestrian age was over for all practical purpose. Such is the power of disruptive technology.

We can replace these years by the current relevance of electric vehicles; replace the year 1900 by 2010, 1913 by 2023 and 1908 by 2018 the trend looks very similar. IC engine vehicles will be replaced by 2040 if we replace the year 1930 by the same logic. Are you surprised? At least I am not surprised. In the first 30 years of the last century, there were many battery-operated vehicles, but somehow the research in battery technology lagged far behind other developments. IC engine cars took over.

The year 2019 has seen dramatic sales drop in Indian Automotive sector. Sales are down by about 10 % in two-wheelers, by average 25% in cars and 35 to 40% in the commercial sector. Is the point of inflexion in the automotive sector reached? Nobody can explain why this is happening. The only sector where sales are doing well is high-end cars. In this range, people buy cars when they want, recession or no recession!

According to me, there could be many reasons. For the first time in the car segment, the number of second-hand cars sold was more than the new cars sold. Millennials would rather buy a second-hand Corolla instead of buying a new I 10. Or they may not buy cars at all and use Olas and Ubers.  According to me, two-wheeler production has reached a saturation point.  Add to the woes of automotive sector, Metros are getting operational in many large cities; their introduction is also a game changer.

In the commercial sector, many things have happened in the last five years. Roads all over India have become much better. The stoppages of these vehicles at various hurdles has reduced to one hurdle, the toll plazas. Most other checkpoints have gone away because of system changes. Because of this change, the turnaround time of these vehicles has improved drastically. Computerisation, GPS and other such systems have helped to keep track of the vehicles easily. Now toll collection all over India will also become automated in the next few months due to mandatory implementation of RFID technology. It will further reduce the time wasted at the toll plaza! The overall efficiency improvement has resulted in a reduction of the commercial vehicles required by the industry.

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On top of this scenario, Electric Vehicles are slowly being introduced. What direction it will take is difficult to predict. But it appears that many Metro cities are trying to introduce Electric buses.

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In Nagpur, Ola has introduced 200 Mahindra Electric cars. Raipur has introduced 200 Mahindra autos. It appears that established companies are coming into the market strongly. Bajaj Auto has declared introduction of Chetak Electric scooters.

Tata Motors is talking about introducing Electric cars for individual customers. MG Motors and Hyundai have introduced high-end Electric SUV’s, with good range per charge, in the Indian market.

So, the similarity between horse carriages/cars and IC Engine cars/EV’s is not far-fetched! Another strong variable getting into the market is driverless cars. Looking at traffic in India, we feel that it will be impossible to introduce such cars in India. But in the developed countries this technology has been developed, and it is said that driverless vehicles will come on the roads by the 2021/2022. How will this development affect the car segment? Consider a journey which costs Rs 100/ today. If Ubers and Olas of this world introduce driverless cars, the cost of the journey will reduce by say, Rs.30/. Further, they introduce Electric driverless vehicles.  Assume that the running goes down by Rs.20/. The same trip will cost you Rs.50/. When the costs go down so much, will you buy a car? At least I will not buy one. There will be lots of Ubers and Olas on the road at any time.

As the battery costs go down, and as the production is scaled up, the running costs of cars will go down. Even at today’s running costs of EV per km  is less than that of IC Engine cars.

About Electric cars, we forget one thing. The batteries are going to replace petroleum products. Currently, petroleum products are delivered finally through petrol pumps. But there is a huge ecosystem which has come up over a period of one hundred years to reach the fuel to petrol pumps.

Similarly, “the new petroleum products” also need a delivery system. The delivery system is the charging station like the petrol pump. For charging we need Electricity- “the new petroleum”. Increasing electricity production is also equally important; it is equivalent to oil wells. Non-conventional methods like Solar, Windmills and Nuclear power stations are the way forward. In the time frame that I have mentioned above, the required infrastructure will be in place.

What about the scaling of battery production? It is already happening. Tesla is in the process of setting up a Giga factory. Part of this factory is leased to Panasonic. Panasonic brings their raw material and processes it, and produces battery cells. These cells are  handed over to Tesla on the same premises, and Tesla do the final assembly.

Similarly, Volkswagen is also in the process of setting up its own Giga factory for battery production. I am sure other serious players will follow suit. In India, Toyota and Suzuki have joined hands with Toshiba to manufacture batteries in a plant in Sanand. Suzuki will make Electric cars for both themselves and Toyota in India, using Toyota technology. Toyota has joined hands with Mazda in the US!

Unless you make your own batteries, the cost of electric vehicles will not come down. Costs will further come down on scaling. But smaller players will have a disadvantage with the cost of batteries.

I am not an expert in this field, but I have been in the automotive components field all my career. So, my comments are based on my gut feeling. Electric vehicles will spread faster in small developed countries like Norway, Sweden. In large countries, they will spread into the market in regions. For example, in the US, it can happen quickly in the bay area or areas around New York on the East Coast. The introduction will be faster in areas where average daily commute distance is smaller; people anyway will have home chargers.It can happen around London, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt and so on. China anyway is way ahead of others in EV production. 50% of EV’s in world are currently made in China.

In India, I feel that it will happen faster in buses, taxis, rickshaws and high-end vehicles. In high-end vehicles if per charge distance covered is decent, price hardly matters. Total moving parts in IC Engine cars are 2000, and the same in Electric Vehicles are 20. Hence commercial vehicle maintenance cost will be reduced drastically. Once “new petroleum” infrastructure is in place, the numbers will go up exponentially in cities for local transport like buses, rickshaws. Small cars will be initially costly because of battery prices; hence, their spread will be slower.

Car? No, I would instead take the horse carriage!

Oh, my title was wrong!  I would instead take a Driverless Electric Vehicle!  

New RTO regime and Indian psyche!

From 1st September 2019 Government of India started applying modified rules and regulations to people breaking laws on Indian roadsRTO is road transport organisationIndians as a society have remained fixated to oldtime India when bullock-carts or walking was the primary mode of going from place A to place B. There have been laws and rules even before 1st September 2019, but the fines and punishment had not been modified with changing times. To give you a better perspective of the penalties, I will share some information. I paid Rs 110/ as my term fee for engineering course. A new car would cost 8 to 10 thousand rupees. The year was in early ’70 s of the last centuryNow I am told that the fees are rupees one hundred and fifty thousand and the new car costs in the region of Rs five hundred thousand. But the fines for breaking laws remained Rs one hundred to Rs five hundred. 

I am writing this blog with real anguish and frustration about our brethren’s views about these changes. Not one person has openly said that he entirely agrees with what the Government has done. We always talk about our fivethousand-year-old culture, of which we are rightly proud. But any system needs to change with time. It needs to be modified as we move forward. We talk about having fantastic places from snowclad mountains, to beaches, to forests in India! Why many small countries still attract more tourists than India? Reasons are simple and obvious. No area in India looks neat, organised and modern. By these words I do no talk of shining new skyscrapers, I am not talking of gleaming Metros or buses. I mean that we do not have a disciplined society, people and systems! Our cities look archaic and chaotic. 

cyclestand2

It was always said that the government has been too weak; there is too much corruption at the lower level. How can we ever change? We had the same attitude about the Kashmir issue. When the British left India in 1947, they created a big mess which continued till 5th August 2019. The similar mess could continue till 31st August on our roads. With low fines, poor implementation of laws, Indian road traffic has been chaotic to talk generously. But the government took decisive and bold steps. 

With new laws, there will be fear in the mind of people. Even if the police continue to take bribes, because of the high level of fines“settlement” will be expensive! Many educated people have suddenly started feeling about poor people who will have to pay the hefty fines, which may also include confiscation of vehicles. When I argued with people why worry about hefty fines, people should not break the rules! People have no answers or have lame replies.  

Kashmir situation and Indian road situations are very similar. A similar situation was present in the building/construction industry too! The sector was breaking the rules at every stage, cheating customers with impunity. They were getting away with murder, figuratively. With the introduction of RERAit ensured that the industry follows laws or else! In Delhi NCR area before RERA introduction, 2/3 large construction companies cheated almost hundred thousand people; they took advance money and never gave them homesThe directors and promoters of these companies are now in jail.  

Indian roads and automotive users are breaking basic laws without any fear. Entering from the wrong direction in one-way streets, parking vehicle below the No Parking boards, driving Motorcycles on footpaths is common sight. I have seen young gentlemen throwing five hundred rupees note at the policeman who caught them.  

Pune is a unique city where socalled intellectuals are born with an extraordinary brain. It is the only city in India where people are formally demanding to cancel the helmet usage rule for two-wheelers. The demand is led by a trained engineer who has lived in the US for about 15 years. Statistically, it is proven that when the helmet is worn, in 90 % cases death is avoided, if an accident takes placeBut the counterargument is, it is our life! (Extraordinary brain!)  

Now the fines are so hefty that once the stories of penalties and punishment start trickling down, people will think ten times before casually breaking the law. Some people on our WhatsApp group are arguing differently. It is group of engineering college batchmates who have seen the world and done well in life. The government which cannot give potholefree roads, good traffic signals has no moral rights to punish people for breaking the rules. Are you entering the wrong direction on oneway entry road because of pot-holesIs it due to bad traffic signals? Are you driving your motorcycle on foot-path for these same reasons? Are you going helmetless on two-wheelers for these reasons? 

These two are independent subjects and need to be discussed separately. By all means, agitate against these issues. Make sure your non-performing representative loses the next electionBut here again, there is a problem. Who has time to go for voting every five years? Is it not easy to simply break the traffic rules 

Friends, we have no justification for our acts whatever you may argue. Some years backour flight from Frankfurt to Mumbai was announced with a request to allow passengers using wheelchair to board first. It took ten minutes for the airport staff to literally push away people who were not allowing wheel-chair bound passengers to board first. 95% of the passengers were Indians. What were we protesting against at Frankfurt airport 

Since last two days, there is road repair work on the street where my daughter lives in MontrealBoards are saying, “No parking from 7 am to 7 pm.” Never saw a single car parked there during this period.  I am not saying people don’t break the rules in other countries, but the percentage of such people is minimal.  

On one side in India, we have the Lutyens gang, the liberals who protest against anything done by the government. When courts gave death punishment to a terrorist, many years back, there were protests about human rights. When Kashmiri youth were pelting stones at the soldiers, there were protests when pellet guns were used. There were no protests against stone-pelting. Pakistan based terrorists made attacks in Kashmir; objections were raised if terrorists were killed but not when soldiers were killed. Kashmir used to be under lock-down for to 3 months at a time due to strikes made by people against some actions taken by the government. Now after 5th August, there is a government lock-down and liberals are protesting.  

Some of the mainstream leaders have made statements against the government act about article 370India is a democracy; we have rights to protest. But these people could have protested against the method used, the procedure followed during this act. But when Pakistan was following the doctrine of 1000 cuts against India, nobody complained much, in fact, they challenged the retaliations made by the Indian government.  

To me, all such people are hollow people; these are vain people. When the government does not act, blame them correctly. But finally, when the government acts, they are now saying, old things were better. Rules from the times of bullock cart days were the best. In Pune, I have observed that the traffic jams are mainly due to indisciplined driving habits of the people.  

One day, I was taking a right turn at a signal at Nal Stop Chowk in Pune. Suddenly, about 20 two-wheeler riders decided that they were too much in a hurry and simply drove through the red signal; the policeman was standing near the signal naturally could not react! Is it not a classic case to reduce fines back to 50 and hundred rupees?  

You naysayers, please look at your face in the mirror first and then show the mirror to someone else. How many of us can say, by putting a  hand on our heart, that I have never broken any basic traffic rule?  

This is a random photo, taken today,  of the street which is being repaired in Montreal in front of my daughter’s home!

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I have only one item on my bucket list. To see people in India follow basic rules in public in general and traffic in particular! Jaihind 

Home Sweet home!

HomeSweetHome1

When do we really start missing home? What is home? Home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. In today’s world, we travel for work, holiday or to go and stay with your family, who have moved to different places from home, temporarily or permanently. We may go to see the seven wonders of the world, or we may go to travel to live in a small town or a village. We may go to a culturally advanced place, or we may go to a drab place. But after some time, we eagerly look forward to coming back home. Why does this happen?

 The thought process about home started when Deepti wrote,   after about 45 days in the US for work and holiday, that she was missing home!

Of all the places in the world, our home is the safest place in the world for us. We can do anything at home without the fear of repercussions. Our homes are our sanctuaries. We are kings and queens of our homes. We are undisputed leaders; nobody can touch us within the precincts of our homes.

We love everything about our homes; it may be a palace, or it could be a small condo. It could be a bungalow, or it could be a shanty. But this description is for others; for us, it is our kingdom.  But we should not forget one thing. The place where we live is home. Later on, with increasing prosperity, we may buy more properties, but those are not our homes. It is at this juncture things sometimes go wrong. We purchase properties for investment purpose, but we start treating them like home.

In our busy schedule during working days, we do not get time to go and visit these properties even once in a year. If the property is in another town, then it becomes even more challenging to manage. Beyond a time, as these properties become older, their valuation also does not increase the way we want it to rise, sometimes it diminishes.

But many people fall in love with such properties. I know of someone who had a property in a different town than where he lived. The property was a 40-year-old independent bungalow and had become too costly to manage because of taxes and low rent the property fetched. Someone suggested to him to dispose off the same. He had never lived there. His reply was, “Over my dead body!” It took some convincing by friends and relatives that helped him to make that decision. I asked him once about the same. His reply was, “It was my first property; it’s like the first child. How can one dispose off the same?” I did not tell that children also become old and move in life!

We should not forget that the concept of the home also changes. As we switch from studentship to professional work, we become independent of parents. We make our own home at some stage. I had written a blog on a similar subject sometime back.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/16th-august-1995-to-23rd-september-2018/

In this blog, I had written about concentric circles of our lives! When we have our family and children at some stage, we have our own home! The place which you called home in your younger days becomes your parent’s home. The same concept is going to be repeated when your children grow up, settle down and have their family. That is where the concept of ancestral home comes into the picture. In previous generations, people rarely travelled out of town for work; only girls moved to their husband’s home after marriage. The same property was home for many generations. But with today’s modern technology and way of living, the concept of ancestral home will be forgotten after a few generations. The reason for this is you had an ancestral home but moved to Bombay for work. Your children moved to London, New York or Timbuktu for their career. Some come back to India, but most don’t. The ancestral homes hence stop existing as a concept.

With increased mobility, days of ancestral homes concept is waning. But the home remains home for the nuclear families that get created in different generations. Probably we could say that longevity of the idea of home is reducing and ends with the parents who “created” the home.

Every home has its memories, its stories, the happy moments and the sad moments. I remember my first “home” which was at Dhobi talao in Bombay. What memories I have! Catching an early morning bus to go to school; it was G3 at 6.15 am and meeting Pradeep! Coming home by lunch-time; memories of listening to cricket test-match commentary of tied match between Australia and West Indies are still fresh in my mind. There was a rule at home not go to the Cross Maidan to play before 4.30 pm. But we used to sneak out under the garb of completing home-work at some friend’s place. Half the time my mother had to send someone to bring me back home from the ground though we had a rule that we should be back home when it started getting dark.

Our first home in Pune after marriage was the most fun part. Jaya and I were the first ones to get married in our group. Every day, some friends would barge in for a chat, food and whatever till they were thrown out. Some friends would come prepared to cook chicken; some would urge Jaya to plan on the previous day so that they could have Sabudana (Sago) Khichadi the next day.

Home is something which is a great leveller, makes everyone a family person. That person could be a famous Surgeon or a Scientist. She could be CEO of an organisation or a Minister in a Government. But at home, these same luminaries are converted into a different person. Their personality changes and they become mothers, fathers, uncles. They may also become sisters or brothers or aunts. My friends, this is the power of “Home”! Each home has its own Ramayana and Mahabharata which others rarely see or visualise.

We have all seen how people’s personalities are very different when they come from broken homes. They have no shoulder to cry on; they have nobody to share their sorrows. The home gives shade to the family like a banyan tree against the harshness, that is life; but when that tree itself falls, people seem to get exposed to the vagaries of nature. Home is an umbrella that prevents you from sudden rains. For us, home is only next to God. When a human is in turmoil, a person goes to a church or a mandir. It gives them mental peace and solace. You had a bad day office; you lost a big opportunity in business. You accidentally bumped your car into the one ahead of you! After reaching home and sitting in your favourite window or on a pet chair, your agitation tapers off.

Home is a powerful institution created by us, let us try to preserve it and not flog it! It can absorb many shocks but remember that this shock absorber cannot be just bought from a shop and replaced when damaged!

Deepti, you must be back home already; our flight just had taken off from Frankfurt today, when yours landed there on the way back to Pune. Take care and enjoy our dear Pune again!

Time simply flies!

All of us are blessed with twenty-four hours a day. Some of us use the time efficiently, and others don’t, but some people say that time flies in their life and for some time just does not pass by. Why does it happen this way? I will share an example with you. The other day we went to a lunch party about twenty km from our home. We had never been to that hotel before, and maybe we took about thirty-five minutes to reach the place. While coming back, it took us thirty minutes. It was hardly five minutes less. But we felt as if we came back pretty quickly. It was because while going there we were looking for landmarks and junctions. We put on the GPS at the last moment when the crunch point came up for taking the final turn. We felt as if we needed much longer to reach the same distance. We were absorbing things; we were looking at new surroundings.

Our life is very similar. When we start feeling that there is nothing new in our lives, there is nothing to be absorbed; the time appears to fly. The phenomenon occurs to people when they get old and have nothing to look forward. Old age is one angle, but even when one is young, we look at life differently. I have always said in my different blogs that we should absorb what we are doing. We go for a walk in the morning and have earbuds with music flowing into our ears. Are you listening to music or are you enjoying the beauty of the early morning atmosphere? Today I went for a walk, and the weather was typical Pune summer beauty. Cool breeze, the fragrance of flowers and chirping of birds. I love music, but I give the music its own slot. I saw many Gulmohars and Bahawas in full bloom. In between, I thought of talking to Nikhil, my son in law who lives in Montreal. But the atmosphere sucked me in, and I forgot to talk to him. I spoke with him after reaching home.

When we were kids, probably we remember long summer holidays, when we would play different games. We had our trips by buses and trains to visit uncles and aunts. We felt in those days as if the time had stopped. Children’s world is so small that everything they see on the way to a new place, the journey itself, the place where you stay, is new. They take time to absorb all the things which they have never seen before.

The same thing happens to us. In the early eighties of the last century, I had travelled to Germany for the first time. It was winter and cold. I took a train at three pm from Frankfurt and fell asleep right away as I was tired after my international flight. I woke up suddenly and looked outside the window. All I could see was pure white ground. Though I knew that Germany has snowfall in winter, I had never seen one. I was fascinated by it and just kept on watching and watching. I felt as if I had spent a few hours watching the snow. Then I came back to reality. I was supposed to get down at a station at 6 pm. But all announcements were made in German which I did not know. Luckily there was a British army officer in the train who guided me to get down. But I had lost the sense of timing. Time moves at a slow pace when the surroundings keep us interested.

The same thing happens to us when we eat or drink something which we have never done before. If we gulp it, then we will never enjoy the different taste the stuff may have. Nursing a drink is the word which accurately explains the way we should be taking a drink. If you gulp a glass or two of wine, you will never enjoy it. If you are with your friends for a couple of hours nursing the food and drink, those two hours may seem to you like four hours.

There are so many examples in real life where we miss the point. When we take a shower why not enjoy the feel of the water falling on your body? Depending on what we like, biting cold shower will give a push to our mind and body to wake up. Steaming hot shower could release the stress, and the tiredness one may have. But most of the time, we go under the shower thinking about what want to do in that important meeting with customer or presentation you must give to your boss. You neither give justice to your thought process nor do you enjoy the physical pleasure of taking a bath.

Our sense of timing drastically changes, when we are under a traumatic situation or a psychedelic drug. The athletes use a term called going into the zone. When some athletes are performing at their peak, they operate as if they are in a different zone. Our time appears to slow down in these circumstances.

The same thing can happen when you attend a short course or a seminar on a new subject. The subject is new; the place is unique; the speaker and participants are all unknown to you. You are trying to understand the topic; you are getting to know the people; you have never visited that city before and are looking forward to it. Time moves very slowly in such circumstances.

As usual, I also want to see how this theory is applied to oldies like me and our ilk. When you are near seventy years of age, you are at a stage where the term “been there and done that” fits appropriately. Whatever we do, we get the feeling that we have done it before. Time passes fast because nothing new is happening. In comparison with the total time we have spent on the earth, any event takes only a small time. How to slow it down? You can never slow the time, but you can make us feel as if it has slowed down. Try to learn something new. Try and meet people you have not met. Attend your alumni meetings. Last Sunday, eighteen of us met for breakfast and spent an hour and a half together. All of us felt as if we had spent a few hours together. The whole gang went on a nostalgic trip. Friends were sharing stories and remembering the old anecdotes.

How was this achieved? It was done by living through our senses and our experience rather than through our minds. It’s a different approach to avoiding familiarity—and happens not by seeking new experiences, but by changing our attitude to our experiences. In our mind, we would say, “what is the big deal in meeting old friends?” But it is not the meeting but the atmosphere of camaraderie that is created that slows down the time.

Our journey by train or by bus is the same as our life. You ignore the things that you see through the window, the rivers, the mountains, the fields and the villages at your own peril. If you ignore these things, then there is nothing to see, nothing to look forward. The same thing happens in our life’s journey, and you may find it boring.

Here is a quick example of lengthening your time. On our balcony Mogra, 36 flowers bloomed today. In ten seconds, I could have seen the bloom and would have been done with it. But I took a photograph, I took a small video of the bush and the flowers swaying in the breeze. Jaya and I discussed the beauty and the fragrance of the flowers. We discussed whom should the flower Mala be given to! I counted the numbers, plucked the delicate flowers. Jaya created the Mala and wore it herself. I shared the photos and videos with a few and had a discussion on the subject. Ten seconds were lengthened to more than half an hour as we delved into the beauty provided by nature.

Start enjoying chores like keeping your garden clean and neat. And you’ll also discover that this open and alert attitude to your experiences has a time-expanding effect since mindfulness increases the amount of information we process. It spreads the same one hour into a more extended period. We should not treat time as an enemy in old age. Look at it as a gift which you never had before. Go into your zone like athletes and enjoy it. It is very easy to gulp your tea like you did in your younger age when you were short of time. Extend that time the way you want it and enjoy.

Bappa’s Constitution!

Yesterday when we were going out, in the car Rhea asked a question to my daughter Priya.  She said, “Is it our flags birthday today?” It was not a simple question. Priya said, “No, it is our constitution’ s birthday!” For a five-year-old, the next inevitable question was what the constitution is? Priya said, “It is a rule book for all of us.” Rhea then asked, “Did Bappa write the rule book?” Bappa is the Marathi word for God.

In childhood, everything is very straightforward, that includes life. Good things in life happen because of God, and the bad things occur because of the demons. They define everything as  0 & 1; things are either black or white. There are no shades of grey. Childhood naivety is responsible for a comfortable life. For kids, there are no complexities. When life is good, they laugh when it is sad, they cry.

But adult life is tricky and where everything is in shades of grey. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a book representing today’s times. For the benefit of those who are not aware of this book here is the link.

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

This book is about sex, control, wealth and combination thereof. Wealth is about ownership. The concept of ownership started ten thousand years back when humans started organised farming.  With farming, the nomadic tribes began to settle into areas near the water, rivers or lakes. Many settlements also started near the sea, but the drinking water was a problem initially.

With the ownership started the issues of controls. In other species like monkeys, rules were mainly about leadership and females. There were no other assets; hence things were and still are simple. But today humans need to control the area, then the city, state and nation. Further people want to control other countries. Controls are taken to get natural assets.

I was just trying to imagine a naïve world, as seen through the child’s eyes. Life would be simple. Children can play, chat with each other. There are no language barriers; they don’t have territory issues. We should use Google Earth, metaphorically. When we open  Google Earth and see our home,  we can get to know the house distinctly when we zoom in. Start zooming out.  First, we see our colony, then the area, then the city.

Further zooming shows us the state where we live, then the nation. As we zoom further, we see our continent — finally, the whole earth. What is the meaning of this change? These images take us away from the barriers we have created, the barriers crash. We go away from our small abode and are taken far away from the language spoken. Finally from the geography of our nation and the continent. We need to rewrite the Bappa’s Rules, as seen from Google earth as there are unnecessary barriers. We need to think out of the box. We should become naïve like small kids.

If you think that Pramod is trying to visualise utopia because I am trying to say something impossible; no sir! It has already happened to some extent in our world. What is the European Union (EU) after all? EU was born in 1993. Most of the European nations joined the EU or agreed to be part of the EU and share the same rules, currency, visa and so on. They have managed to remove the artificial barriers. A couple of years back when we took an Alpine tour, we started in Germany, went to Austria, then to Italy.

Further, we travelled to Switzerland, again to Italy and back to Switzerland. Finally, we took our flight back home from Frankfurt in Germany. No border checks, no customs inspection, we could use the same currency Euro in most of the places.

When a big continent like Europe can survive using naïve rules where they tried to remove many artificial barriers, I am sure other nations can also work to remove the obstacles. There are problems in the EU, but questions had been worse when there were more barriers. Imagine a world free of passports, visas, x-ray machines and so on! There are problems galore like terrorism, refugees who made it necessary to create such complex systems.

When she was younger, Rhea had asked me one question in a Mandir. “How does the Bappa know when I ask him to make me wise, in Marathi? Does he understand all languages?” Bappa or God is our creation. He does not bother about barriers; he understands every language in the world. We know him as God, Jesus, Mohamad. The different species look different; some fly, some are underwater. Some are two-legged, most are four-legged. Except for humans, all other species follow nature’s rules. They die when they die. Nobody takes them to hospitals. Birth and death are natural processes and should be accepted as they come. I am sure some of the species must be feeling sad when one of them dies.

In many cases, when their time has come to go, they only go away from the clan and die.

Which constitution or the rules are the correct rules or better rules? Bappa’s Constitution or the nations’ constitution? A good idea will be to have a mix of the two the way EU manages their affairs. The nation should follow local rules for running the nation and God’s laws for international relations. Writing these two lines is quite simple, and bringing them into practice will be tough.

Coming to the naivety of 50 years back, what has changed in the social fabric? In India, there used to regular riots between people of different religions, the number of riots have come down. But the social atmosphere, these days, is always either tense or very tense! In the United States, African Americans were not allowed to take part in beauty pageants. There used to be open discrimination till late ’60 s of the last centuries. Discrimination has reduced somewhat, but I feel that people have become subtle, they have not changed. The coarseness in the Americas is on the rise for the last few years. The stressed social fabric of current times is due to jingoistic social media and political atmosphere both in India and the USA.

Galloping technology is supposed to bring ease of living, but it also brings in a significant gap in rich and poor! Besides the usual reasons for a socially tense atmosphere, this divide of haves and have nots is going to add to the stress — all the more reason why Bappa’s Constitution will make more sense.

Let us all pray to him in any language (he will understand) to bring naivety back to our society. Pray to Him to teach us to improve ourselves so we can remove disparity, hate and barriers!

Rhea, to me, Bappa’s rules are always right!

All Is Well!

InternetGenie

Pramod somehow managed to make Internet Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Is really everything well with this world?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual Genie kept on talking. Pramod, world over, we have ISIS, Terrorist of different ilk doing atrocious things!  Today, the muslim nations have come together and have decided to fight all the terrorists upfront.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/saudi-crown-prince-condemns-egypt-attack-at-meeting-of-islamic-military-coalition/story-LEupTN0M10pcub8j7OuWzN.html

Genie said that this is one the best news he has read in years! This news gave you a feel that “All is Well” in this world. Concept of “All is Well” in global context is different as such events happen occasionally. But “All is Well” can happen in our day to day life regularly. The combined events of these individuals or organizations give the feel that “All is really Well” in this world. These small and big contributions of individuals daily, make us think positively about our life.

Pramod, “All is Well” is a term coined based on song from a movie by the name “Three Idiots”. In this movie three college students are passing through their college hassles with happy face against many adversities, singing “All is Well”! Below is the video of the song.

Pramod yesterday, you reached home after dinner, with friends. In your parking slot, in the condo, you are required to reverse the car. A young kid, delivery guy for food items, was waiting for the lift (Elevator). As soon as you started reversing, the kid jumped and went behind the car! You wondered what he was doing! He started guiding you to reverse the car, as the area did not have good lighting. Pramod, you could have managed without his help as there  were proximity sensors in the car. But the kid was keen to help you, and you took his guidance to park the car! You, of course, thanked him for his help! Such small actions by unknown people really help you believe that “All is Well”.

Pramod while you were travelling from Zurich to Frankfurt, your train could not take a direct route as there was some issue with the tracks. You were required to take three breaks to change trains, to reach Frankfurt. At a very small station during this detour you found that it did not have escalators to change the platforms. In fact, after changing the platform, you were required to travel by bus for about 20 km. Pramod, you had two heavy bags and two bag packs and were worried how to reach the bus, going down and up the steps. Suddenly, a guy materialized from somewhere. He was wearing a uniform. Most probably he was a porter. He picked both the heavy bags and spoke something in German. You thought that he will charge you money for his services. Pramod, you were relieved that he was helping you, and you wanted to pay him. After crossing the platform and putting the bags on the bus, you asked him the charges. He knew a bit of English, and said, “No charges, Gratis!” This was a most unexpected response and the incident again proved that “All is Well!” Benefits of being  senior citizens?

Pramod, one sees many good Samaritans in this world, so you tend to think that there is  “All is Well” kind of situation in the world. But there are some bad elements. Yesterday a case was reported in Pune where a professional was recording the intimate scenes of his neighbour, a husband and wife,  using selfie stick. Outwardly that person was well behaved, passionate in his work, very helpful in nature! But he had some very bad streak within him! Currently he is missing. On the other side you see so many good citizens that your faith goes on the upswing! Some time back Mumbai had a flood like situation due to very heavy rains, there were good Samaritans on road who offered food, tea and some cases shelter for stranded people to spend the night at their home too!

Pramod, the ultimate act was by Policeman Ombale during 26/11 in Mumbai; his sacrifice helped the police to catch one of the terrorist alive though Ombale died. This shows that there are more good people in this world than bad people. Ombale’s act really shows that “All is well”

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, ” Genie, I am quite gung ho about our world where All is always well, though there are some major or minor negative events happening all the time. “All is Well” ledger is always in the black!”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. ” Pramod, I am feeling ashamed of my 2 G speed when people are already talking of 5 G and 6 G, so I might be away for some time, ciao!”

 

Naysayers or anti dev!

Naysayer is one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is skeptical or cynical about something!

There is an abundance of everything in this world including the naysayers! I don’t think we are born naysayers, it is the characteristic that we develop over a period. Like all other things, this human trait gets developed over a period due to circumstances in which we grow, people we have come across, maybe ones education. But when I think about naysayers that we see sometimes, it is really difficult to judge why one becomes a naysayer. One may be opposed to an idea, or thought process but one cannot be opposed anything new, it can be a new thought or a new technology!

These thoughts came my mind while I was reading about Bullet Train project. Why does India need a bullet train? What is wrong with today’s trains? They take you from place to place, sometimes on time with some comfort. Why change the status quo? To me bullet train is not a train, it’s a concept! I am advisor to a Japanese conglomerate in India. One customer of ours wanted to visit the plants in Japan. He wrote an e mail asking what is buffer time he should keep to catch a flight from place B. He was to travel from place A to B by bullet train. He got a reply from Japan, “What buffer time are you asking about?” Our friend was not sure if the train would reach in time for the flight. When he mentioned this, reply from Japan was, “No buffer time needed! Shinkansen never gets late! Only if there is major earthquake it can get late!”  When we have bullet train in India, I am quite sure part of a system in India will reach international level! Between Mumbai and Ahmedabad it is going to stop at 7/8 stations and will improve systems in those areas! 

Shinkansen

We have all seen this, look at Metros all over India. Very rarely we see Metro trains getting late, platforms being dirty and so on. This is observed all over India. Who uses Metros? Everybody! Why this has happened? It is said that a place is modern when rich use the public transport! We as a society are open to these changes, but our naysayers don’t want them. Sometimes I feel that naysayers are worse than the politicians. They do not want any modernity or a change. Kolakata metro is more than 20 years old but still remains spik and span!  

KolMetro

It is not about modern technology, it is about modern thought process. Modern methods that new technology can usher. When Mumbai Pune expressway was being planned the naysayers were of course dead against it! What happens after 20 years! We cannot imagine life without the expressway. Modern Facilities, infrastructures not only involve technology but a new way of thinking. In many countries train and bus systems are so well connected that they have a single ticket which can be used across the systems. New way of thinking comes up with new solutions. Indian railways is in the process of establishing a diesel engine plant in Bihar which is expected to go live in a year or so. But world over, the thought process is shifting from Diesel to Electric! In today’s papers, there is a news item that discussion is going on with the Partners GE about trying to find out ways of discontinuing this project. Govt maybe forced to pay more than US $ 2/ billions but in the long run it is nothing but benefits! Seeds of this discussion are already sown! Naysayers will of course say, “Oh, we are wasting money!”  Govt has recently scrapped 11 power projects based on coal and have decided to go ahead with Nuclear plants! This is again having the same reason as that of diesel engine plant! These two are examples of how serious now India is about environment! 

Recently we travelled from Zurich to Frankfurt by train. Tickets were bought a couple of months in advance. When we went to Zurich and checked, I was a given a route paper saying that some track work required emergency repairs hence instead of direct journey there was a change in route. After one hour we changed the train, then we reached a very small station by another train, where there were no escalators etc. We were worried as our bags were heavy. But they had made arrangements for senior citizens; our bags were carried free of charge by porters to the other side of the station and put on a bus. The bus took us to another station about 15 kms away. At that station, we were put on a train to Frankfurt! Had there been naysayers in the railway system, they would have told us, Sorry! This is your refund! Have a great trip! What I could have done if I was given refund! Nothing and scramble for a way to go to Frankfurt! But it is positive thought process, because of which, we reached Frankfurt, only about ½ hour late!

How naysayers were against Maruti? They wanted people to continue using Ambassador and Fiat! Rajeev Gandhi introduced the idea of computerization, Manmohan Singh opened the economy in 1992! How much resistance was there! Our naysayers wanted to keep on following socialistic model where everyone remains poor! Even after their Citadel Soviet Russia had failed!

Maruti800

What is the profile of a naysayer; they are generally good speakers, are against any sort of development, have lawyers in the group, an engineer is thrown in between for technical arguments, and are generally know all. What is their agenda? NGO’s preferably foreign funded, are in their gambit, with foreign trips thrown in for lucky few! Their favorite subject also include housing encroachment on hills and tree felling! If half the hills are encroached by illegal shanties it is fine but someone tries to build something legal! Heavens will fall. Good old SFO is a city on hills and there many such cities world over.

SFO

In the city of Pune where I live in India, the usual traffic issues are there. For last 15/20 years government is hoping to build a road on the hills which may take care of bottle necks! Court cases started and it was ruled that, against each tree brought down, ten new trees should be planted. Government agreed to plant 50 in place of ten. Effect, one more court case against with another issue! What is the solution for this?

In democracy these things keep on happening. Patience is what is needed! I am not arguing that there should be no opposition; in fact different views always bring out the best possible solutions, most of the times. But opposition for the sake opposition is not the way forward. Years ago, India’s well known industrial doyen Shantanurao Kirloskar had said, ” Are trees for us or are we there for trees?” Hope our society will carry forward his wisdom and make this world and especially our city Pune, a better and modern place to live! 

 

 

 

 

Developed or Developing?

Whenever there is a discussion about different countries, on any forum, countries are either referred as developed or developing. I have never been sure how such definitions evolved. India became independent in 1947 and became a sovereign country. We were under British rule for a very long time. We evolved as a nation slowly from socialistic thoughts of 50’s where we wanted everybody to be equal. 60’s evolved differently with humiliating defeat by China in 1962 war and stalemate war with Pakistan of 1965. 70’s made us a proud nation with victory in war against Pakistan but emergency and Indira Gandhi’s ego pulled us back leading to various things like bank nationalization. With Amitabh Bacchan the angry young man and Sunil Gavaskars subtle arrogance on the field with his bat, started evolving a nation which was less afraid to deal internationally. 80’s were experiments with democracy and beginning of Khalistan movement. During all these phases our economy grew at the rate of 2.5% which came to be known as Hindu rate of growth. 90’s brought forced liberalization due to severe economic setbacks but things started moving in a positive direction with emergence of IT industry and yes, Sachin Tendulkar! These two started making India more confident and rest as they is history!

In 2016 when rest of the world is struggling to grow, our economy is growing around 7% and that too for quite a few years. We see a lot of technical improvements, modernization, highways and vehicles and so on. With these changes India should be changing into a developed nation. But are we? Does the country become a developed nation with strong sustained economic growth? I don’t think so. Technology and modernity do not make a nation developed. According to me a society becomes developed when it evolves as a good matured society. A person can be a professional but person also needs to be a good human being. Otherwise that professional can be compared with India of today. Developed and backward at the same time.

I feel that the parameters that generally define a developed country is one where majority of people follow the rules and minority breaks them. Fear of law, good implementation, training from childhood, consideration about others are some of the reasons. The road discipline decides the developed status of a country. In a developed nation, there will be an odd motorist or two driving like crazy. But in our case it is totally reverse. A couple of weeks back I drove down to Mumbai. I was driving at the allowed speed limit within plus/minus variation caused by not having cruise control. In both my journeys not a single car stayed with me. All were above speed limit, between 25 to 50 km/hr. Mind you not a single car including Altos & Maruti 800’s of this world. Of course about 20% were zig zagging the lanes.

Queue anywhere in the world, is the standard method of waiting for your turn. We were at Frankfurt airport last year to board a flight to Mumbai with 95% desi crowd. As the flight was announced there was so much rush by passengers that five passengers who needed wheel chair support could not come forward to board. Staff had to literally push other people back to allow wheel chair passengers to go in first! Why? Why? Simple, as a society we are not developed. People knew that the plane is NOT going leave without them.

Pehle Aap, “you go first please” is supposed to be Lucknow nawabi culture. But try entering a train at Lucknow station. Is this due to fear psychosis of shortages that our society developed post-independence? We as a society feel that it is better to grab things before they are finished.

Wait at a signal anywhere on roads and you will find that Auto wallahs and taxi wallahs will use the stop to spit! Everybody knows that spitting in public places can spread disease.

In the year 2016, we have advertisements on our radios encouraging people to use toilets instead of defecating in open. In certain parts of our country it is considered “manly” to defecate in open rather than in toilets! How humbling and embarrassing it must be for ladies to use fields for nature’s calls! On one side we call women Goddess of the house and on other side we do not bother about life’s basic necessities. Sign of developed society? Poverty is one aspect but people just do not want to change.

In international flying, Indians are known to be notorious passengers. If free alcohol is served they will just keep consuming. They will keep on asking for some service or the other from staff. All these years, after so many flights, I needed additional service only once when I spilled a soft drink on my blanket. Otherwise I have never required any special service other than the standard ones offered.

Another way of judging developed status is by looking at the use of currency notes for transactions. In developed countries senior citizens still use currency instead of using cards, net banking etc for a simple reason that they find very difficult to switch over. Young generation almost never uses currency notes. My son may have a couple of dollars in his pocket at the most, at any time. I personally was required to use currency to pay for usage of a trolley at an automated machine at airports. In India, we pay in cash for SUV’s costing Rs.20/ lacs in cash. This indicates the corrupt practices used on a day to day basis. In developed nations corruption is of course there but it is usually in restricted areas; their money remains above board in tax heavens. Nobody buys a BMW paying $ 50000/ in cash!

We as a society should be proud of technical achievements, management achievements, and agricultural achievements and so on. We may have scored from B+ to A+ in these area. ISRO is a classic case of A+ on any scale and in comparison with the best in the world. But on social side we are from B- to F! Why is that so? I feel that it is simply because we don’t have empathy for others in our DNA. Add to that the sudden rise in income levels in the society. Handling sudden increase in income is more difficult than actually handling the money. Rich kids will throw notes at the policeman if they have broken some traffic rules. The policeman instead of charging him for both traffic rule breakage and trying to bribe the policeman, will just pocket the money.

We don’t want to change with times on social side. When population was small and there were no large cities and motorized vehicles, there were certain rules. We continue using the same thought processes in cities even today. We will just occupy space on road or a footpath and start hawking our goods. If encroachment team comes and takes away your stuff, we will do the same thing immediately or the next day, if we have money to procure goods again. Such encroachment is our birth right. Cars will stop in no parking zone with their drivers. I asked a policeman why these cars are allowed to be parked; he said it is ok to park as long as there is a driver in the car! Rules be damned. Buses will not stop close to bus stops because people come and stand on roads. Because buses don’t stop properly people stand on road. How to resolve such things?

Government’s current demonetization drive has caused hardship to people to exchange currency notes. The way people have handled the situation indicates that under certain circumstances we behave like developed countries. I am told that in Metro Railways in different cities people do behave in a much matured way and gives a feel as if you are in a developed nation. I can say that in pockets, we as a society have started behaving as if we are a developed nation.

Friends this argument can go on and on! But if we want to become a developed nation we have to change socially and in a big way! Here is something all of us can do. Don’t go out and preach. But we can help people in our own eco system to improve. For example tell your driver never to park in no parking area. Tell your servants about cleanliness. Tell your colleagues about empathy. While passing through a door, it should not be courtesy only to ladies but to all! Teach your children or grandchildren to say thank you and most important teach them to say sorry, when required. Do the same with your colleagues too and lead by example. There are many things which we can do but we need to start today!