Game Changer II!


GameChanger is an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something. I need not explain the title- the first game-changer was COVID 19 and the second is the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the US. Two game-changers in six months is something unprecedented. The world would have been happy if the first event, the COVID 19 pandemic, had not happened, or it was just a bad dream. But the second event was long overdue, but it took the death of a person to start the chain reactions.

George Perry Floyd Jr. (October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020) was an African-American man who was killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Protests in response to both Floyd’s death, and more broadly to police violence against black people, quickly spread across the United States and internationally.


On May 25, 2020, Floyd was arrested on a charge of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store in the Powderhorn Park neighbourhood of Minneapolis. According to the store clerk, the note was an obvious fake and Floyd had refused to return the purchased cigarettes when challenged.

He died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds during the arrest. Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street, while two other officers further restrained Floyd and a fourth prevented onlookers from intervening. For the last three of those minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse, but officers made no attempt to revive him. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him.

The blog would not be complete without the comprehensive video about the event. It is a nine-minute long video and contains violent, disturbing scenes. I had to watch it to understand the facts. The nonchalant way in which the white Police Officer acts is to be seen to be believed. From the information that came out, Floyd never resisted the arrest. So, why was he thrown on the ground? White superiority complex? After Floyd was cuffed, Chauvin the officer, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. It resulted in to choking and finally the death. Floyd all the time was saying, “I am facing breathing difficulty.” But Chauvin simply ignored him

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vksEJR9EPQ8&has_verified=1&bpctr=1592085699

The video was taken by a 17-year-old girl, a passerby. She never knew that she was filming a game-changer event! The trauma she must be going through is unimaginable. I hope she can overcome the shock over a period.

Southern States in the US had been the strong proponents of using African Americans as slaves for more than 100 years. In fact, the American civil war took place as the Northern States in the US were against slavery.

What does all this really mean, and why does this event look a game-changer? What is the background?

Discrimination due to caste, creed and colour is not new to this world. It has been happening all through the history of mankind. In our mythological stories, God- the good always has a fair colour, and the demons are still dark in any depiction. The Indian language word for this fair colour is GORA!

Disclaimer- I am going to mention a few things from human history, a subject in which my knowledge is minimal. I am using this knowledge to understand the basics of how the dark colour was looked in a bad light.

The society from olden times is depicted below in terms of four Varnas- they were Savarnas. Those who did not conform to these four Varnas were Avarna.

  • Shudras: labourers and service providers.
  • Vaishyas: agriculturalists and merchants.
  • Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators.
  • Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers.

Then there was the concept of purity and impurity. The society changed the meaning of the idea of purity and impurity to suit its acts. The thought process initially discussed moral issues. Those who followed the then correct ethical issues were pure, and others were impure. But over a period, those with fair skins were described as pure and superior; people with dark skins were considered impure and inferior.

The colour of our skin is dependent on melanin produced by skin cells when we are exposed to the Sun. The more the sun exposure, the more melanin is produced. It is a clear scientific explanation, but humans chose to ignore this information.

It is too simplistic an explanation to explain why Goras are considered a superior race. But this happens all over the world.

In Hinduism Lord Ram and Lord Krishna are shown in blue colour along with Lord Shiva. How do you explain this? The blue colour indicates HIS all-pervasive nature, blue being the colour of the infinite sky as well as the endless ocean on which he resides. The colour blue, therefore, symbolises the infinite and Vishnu is represented as an immense force. It is also symbolising his vastness as deep as the heavens.

If we consider human history, the explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, Columbus stumbled upon the Americas. He and his team were European Goras. The Europeans were excellent seafarers and were not afraid to take risks. Since they were always involved in wars, they had better weapons than others. After they reached the Americas, the sequence was simple. They overcame the physical resistance by better weapons. Natives of the lands where they reached would always think that they were Gods, due to their skin colour. The Europeans developed the lighter skin colour due to cold weather which restricted their outdoor activity in the Sun. The exposure to the Sun was less due to geography. These European were “Gods” all the dark natives were treated as demons. For centuries, the thought process was embedded in the human mind. The dark-skinned people, who were conquered, were used as manual bonded labour. Goras were treated as owners of the dark labour force.

But mind you, very similar thought process had developed in India too, and the concept of land-owners or Zamindars has been prevalent for a long time.

Is Floyd event going to try and reverse the history for last thousand years? There is no question that the dark-skinned humans have been treated shabbily all through the past. But a trend to take down statues of various people including that of Columbus in Boston and many other cities looks a bit far fetched. Was Columbus famous for capturing of bonded labour or he was the person who discovered the Americas? A statue of a person in Bristol was also dumped in the sea. The person was a slave trader, more than one thousand years back. He used to bring slaves from Africa. The statue from day one was controversial. The person was directly involved in the slave trade.

Those persons like Columbus who “found” the new landmasses (they existed, but we did not know about them.) People like him and then the Britishers, Dutch became colonisers. There was Chengis Khan who wanted to expand his empire! These people “overcame” the “natives”! The act was about expanding the horizons of the realms. They conquered the land. Even if the people in those wars had been Goras, they would have expanded; so it was not about the colour of the skin. (Second world war- Germany vs France and Britain was not about slaves.)

I feel that we should be looking after the interest of people, the freedom for people and respect for people should be given irrespective of the skin colour. When the dark people are smart, they overcome these hurdles easily. But when one “Gora” and the other dark-skinned average persons are pitted against each other, people go into a stereotyping mode. The Gora is assumed to be smarter, but that is not the case. Unless such thinking changes, the clashes of civilisation will continue!

 

In the Blink of an Eye! 

The idiom “In the blink of an Eye” means so quickly to seem almost invisible! (in the space of time it takes a person to blink!) Why do our eyes blink? There are a few reasons why the eyes blink. They blink every few seconds to keep the eyes moist and healthy. If the air is arid, as it is in wintertime or when it is frigid, they blink more frequently. But I am not going to talk about the science of blinking.

Many times, in life, we keep on taking small and big decisions or form opinions. We take these on after studying the subject in detail, over a period. But sometimes we make decisions in split seconds. What we do is that we create a slice from the chunk of information. We coagulate the crux of the matter or the critical points into a slice. All this is hypothetical, but this slice is good enough for us to decide. If this got complicated, let me explain. For taking major decision sometimes it is not necessary to know the whole picture. Our gut feeling is good enough! It is on the assumption that you know the subject.

There are many such examples I came across recently. In California, someone presented an artefact to a Museum for their collection. It was purportedly more than two thousand years old. The Museum spent a lot of money and time on getting the authenticity checked. They took the opinion from various experts and finally bought it for US dollars ten million. After this purchase, the Museum invited some more experts to seek their advice and confirmation. A couple of experts who visited at different times gave an adverse opinion. One of the renowned experts said, “It is a fake.” “Why do you think so?” said the Museum director. He showed him all the research the Museum had done, and the supporting documents available with them. The expert said, “My first impression when I saw this was that somehow the artefact has too much of a “Fresh” look for something which is two thousand years old and obviously must have been buried for an extended period. On this first impression, my case stands.” On investigation, they found it accurate and took the supplier to court for cheating.

Humans have some fixed thinking and notions about gender and race; such biases are used many times with the wrong result. There is a standard story about a person waiting for a lawyer at her office. A lady comes after five minutes. He tells her, “Could you get a cup of coffee, honey?” She brings him coffee and says, “That is dollars 105/. Five dollars for the coffee and a hundred dollars are my fees. I am the lawyer.” We many times process information in a stereotyped manner. The lawyer must be a man, is one of them.

Years back, Munich Philharmonic orchestra, were looking for a musician for an instrument which is supposed to be “Manly”. But one of the candidates was a son of one of the directors of the music company. To take a fair trial, they decided to hold the trial behind the screen. There were about fifty candidates. When the seventeenth candidate started playing, within one minute, the chief conductor said, “Stop. Enough!” The candidate went to the green room and started packing, assuming the failure. The principal conductor told his colleagues, “This is the musician we want. The music I heard is out of this world! Tell others to go home. Call the musician, and we will finalise the appointment.” The candidate turned out to be a Frau and not a Herr! The chief conductor was shocked. In those days’ ladies used to be an odd violinist in the orchestra. But the story is that the few tunes that he heard told the chief conductor that they had found their musician. The science says if behind the screen test had not been performed, the lady would have been rejected outright with prejudice against women. Another aspect was that she was petite. Males would have dismissed her on the assumption that she would not be able to handle the “Manly” instrument. Later that lady had to face more discrimination for ten years, but she was a tough lady and took the orchestra to court every time and won each battle.

I am not saying that all decisions should be taken on a gut feeling. If the decision-maker is unaware of the subject in details, a lot of studies are essential. But on known topics, the first impression or gut feeling can help to reach the correct decision many times.

 

The reverse is also true, sometimes. Many times we decide some things depending on the personality, smartness of the human beings we are observing. The first impression of the physicist Stephen Hawking is not great. But once you interacted with him and realised his achievements, you were simply blown away. Take the case of two cricketers Muralidharan and Chandrapaul. Their stance and actions are very awkward, to say the least. In such cases, the gut reaction could have gone wrong. Murali has become the highest wicket-taker, ever. Chandrapaul was the “Rahul Dravid” of the West Indian team and played for West Indies for twenty-one years with high batting average all through his career. They performed over a period and took away the inhibitions of the bosses. Another such Cricketer is Attapatu of Sri Lanka. The selectors backed him, but in his first six international innings, he scored a zero! But the selectors went by their gut feeling and persisted with him. He became a very successful batsman for Sri Lanka in his career.

In real life, we go by specific first impressions that surprise us. If you meet an armed force general, you will be surprised if you see hundreds of books in his library. You will be even more surprised if you later find out that he is a bridge player of international repute. We go by our thoughts that the general would be a fighter who wins wars for the nation. Such impressions or thoughts are sometimes correct and incorrect at other times. You assume that a lady working for an airline on flights would be a service provider. But you are surprised when you find that she the commander of Boeing 777!

There are two ways of looking at such things. First is the so-called traditional way where ladies were assumed to be giving supporting roles and were never in charge. It happens the world over—the other one is about the race. In the famous movie “Guess who is coming for Dinner,” the director gracefully handles a situation when the daughter of the house brings a black man for dinner! It was a 1967 movie. In those days and even today, people discreetly and sometimes openly show racial discrimination.

Finally, it is essential to understand the situations in which detailing is vital, but also remember that gut feeling is too equally important. Learn that art what is called gut feeling. If you can select the right option a situation, you have made it.

Slowdown! Recession and the cycle! 

Economic cycleThe science of economy is something which I don’t understand, seriously! Noble laureates give their theories, experts write essays, but an engineer like me understands only physics. Whatever goes up must come down! It is the theory of gravity. Sometimes it goes up slowly and comes down fast with a thud. Sometimes both speeds are similar. Economic growth goes up swiftly and comes down slowly sometimes. India has been lucky that it came out of the 2008 recession reasonably unscathed and bounced back for the last eight years to a decent growth rate of 6 to 8%.

Many factors lead to growth. Similarly, different factors slow down the economy. These factors are market sentiment, buying power, and so on; the Indian economy since independence did not show correct growth due to a parallel economy. The parallel economy, in the local language, is called Black Money. What is black money, and how does it get generated? Many businesses like construction, land dealings, trade pay each other by cash. Cash payment is made to avoid Income Tax. A part of business activity is never shown on paper. When there is “no business” there is no profit hence no Income Tax. The parallel economy also grew because of unprecedented corruption activity. Nobody takes bribe by cheque, so spending is also done in cash.

In some cases, corruption is in kind by gifting condos, high-end cars, or items which can be bought in cash. Such gifting is done in the name of non-earning spouse or a relative. In Many cases, such assets are “Benami” assets in the name of one’s sweepers, peons and drivers. In a recent interview, Mahindra & Mahindra Chairman Anand Mahindra said that the economy has been going through a process of ‘detoxification’. Since the negative impact of disruptions is now over, the economy is expected to see an upside in FY21, Bloomberg TV reported Chairman Mahindra as saying at an event in Davos, Switzerland. “The prime minister has been quite obsessed with the kind of growth he wants, and that is transparent, free of corruption” Mahindra also said. He also felt that the upcoming budget is expected to be watched closely by different quarters of the economy amid the slowdown.

The Indian economy is seeing a slowdown for some time now on account of a fall in consumption and demand. The government announced a slew of measures in the past few months to revive growth ranging from bank recapitalisation and boost in liquidity.

The perception right now is that government actions caused the slowdown. But on the other hand, if you are going to detox yourself, you always have a process of cleansing before you start recovering and running again. Demonetisation and GST were the part of disruptions that have now ended, and the economy is already seeing signs of life. From the next fiscal, India will surprise the world on the upside is the general market sentiment.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently slashed the growth estimates for both the Indian and the global economy. The global growth is expected to reach 3.3 per cent in 2020, compared to 2.9 per cent in 2019, the slowest pace since the financial crisis a decade ago. The Washington-based international crisis lender revised downward India’s GDP growth projection to 4.8 per cent for FY20 and 5.8 per cent for FY21. “India’s domestic demand has slowed more sharply than expected amid stress in the non-bank financial sector and a decline in credit growth,” the IMF report said.

Detoxification had to be done. It has not eliminated black money. But the reports say that it is reduced to some degree. The government is relentlessly after the businesses and businessmen who have cheated their customers and banks. People like Modi and Mallya are in jail in Britain. Other business people like Sahara Subrata Roy, D S Kulkarni, Wadhawan are in prison. Unitech projects have been taken over by the government to give homes to 21000 people like you and me. The authorities did not have the guts to detoxify the banking system in olden days. The detoxification process has started bringing out huge NPA’s (non-performing assets) of many banks. These NPA’s were created with the help of bank employees sometimes. But many times, the businessmen cheated the banks. Under the garb of hidden NPA’s our economy was “doing well”. When the cleansing act began a few years back, the loan sanctioning processes became a little tougher. The result of more scrutiny was that credit availability came down. When the available credit comes down, business activity slows down. It is a spiral that any economy dreads. But system correction was a must.

recession1recession2

Growth any any country cannot be perpetually high. As the base increases rate of growth is bound to come down.

On one side, the automotive industry has slowed down, but there are reasons like availability of Ola’s and Uber’s of this world. But there is a surprise that the SUV introduced by KIA is selling like hotcakes. There is going to be one more hurdle here; the government is pushing for Electric Cars or initially more efficient IC Engine Hybrid cars. These cars will be more expensive than current IC Engine cars; the young generation is now changing their thought process. They don’t buy cars, but prefer Uber and Ola; they rent homes instead of buying homes. India has now become number two in the world behind China for the Smart Phone market. Spending ways are changing.

I am happy about this downturn for another reason. Gita Gopinath from IMF explained that the Indian recession has caused a 0.1 % reduction in the growth rate in the world economy. It indicates that India is not a small cog in the world economic wheel. At the same time, she has also said that the worst for the Indian economy is over, and it will start the upward movement in growth rate from this year 2020! The statement will disturb some people because they hoped that bad times would continue. Each group has his/her agenda! Some for political reasons and others for TRP reasons! The lousy news is THE news!

Indian economic experts had made similar predictions and statements! But we believe in someone who sits in cool climes; even if the person is desi, it is okay! Old habits die hard!

I have observed an interesting thing in international diplomacy. Turkey and Malaysia had no business to poke their nose in the internal affairs of India. They made some statements which were not necessary. When India protested, they continued in the same vein expecting the docile Indian response of yester years. But they must have got a shock of their life. India kicked them where it really hurts. India had ordered one ship worth US $2.2/ billions, on Turkey; it was put on hold. For Malaysia, India was the most significant customer of refined palm oil. A few hints here and there, the purchase pattern changed within a few months. Indian traders switched over to Indonesian palm oil. Malaysia was shocked, and they have no option but to accept it. Their prime minister accepted that Malaysia is too small to retaliate. They are trying to offer some sweet deals to India. But India is ignoring them.

Friends, in the economy of any country and for that matter world, there are always cycles of growth and downturn. A downturn can be because of market sentiments, inflation and sometimes the combination of two, stagflation. The experts of every country find ways that suit their economy. Japan for years is not doing great because of their efficient methods of working. The Japanese markets are too small for some of their giants like Toyota, Honda, Docomo. They have no option but to export and open plants in different countries. The German case is also like Japan because its economy is entirely dependent on the exports of superb engineering products. The economies of different countries are now changing from a global open market to the one which is suitable for own requirements. The US has become a leader of such self centered thoughts.

It is going to be a game of diplomacy where each country will look for ways which will be to their benefit only. Brexit is a latest classic example of this thought process. In each country, the opposition plays the political games of troubling the incumbent governments. Whichever is the government in any country, they can make mistakes, but they all put the interest of the country ahead of everything else.

For commoners like you and me, it is necessary to be remember that economic activity is a cyclic process. It goes down and then it bounces back; we need not worry about these issues.

 

 

 

 

Brexit, Megxit or Exit!  

 

United Kingdom could exit (brexit)  European unionWhere is the British empire heading? The empire where once the sun never set seems to be imploding. Brexit and Megxit appear to be the symptoms of this implosion. If you look at the history of Britain, they ruled the world for a couple of hundred years. Their first setback was in what came to be known as the United States of America. Boston Tea Party, in the year 1773,  in US history marked the end of the stranglehold of the British Empire. In India, the so-called Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was the beginning of the process of the countdown of the British dominance in India. It culminated in India getting independence in 1947.

In the year 1973, Britain joined the European Union- then known as the European Economic Community. The European countries realised that countries other than Germany, Britain and France were too small to grow strongly. The coming together created the European Union in the year 1993. It is coming together of the countries and creating a competing and robust face of the Union in the fast-changing world. It created a common currency Euro and made a border-free movement of goods and people. For the practical purpose, the EU is like a country, and the different nations are the states within that country.

The EU formation created a small movement in Britain. The movement supported by people who wanted Britain to come out of the EU. It was a group of older people who remembered the Empire and had never come out of the thought that the British were driven out of most of the colonies, world over. These people were probably blind to the changes that had taken place in the world. They failed to visualise that the world economic balance was now in equal proportions between the US and the Asian countries like Japan, China and India. Europe’s only chance to compete was being together, and hence EU was a relevant development. But the narcissist Britishers voted in the referendum in 2016 to come out of the EU. The poll led to the start of the British exit- Brexit from the EU. People forgot that it was easier said than done. The past glories don’t help in future; one has to work hard to succeed. Brexit has led to significant turmoil in Britain, cutting short the career of one Prime Minister and called for an early election in the year 2019.

brexit2

The second event that is currently creating waves is Megxit. It is a request by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, to allow them to withdraw from Senior membership from the Royal family. The withdrawal, they feel, would let them spend half their time in North America. They also thought that it would give them financial freedom. The reason for this is the hounding of Meghan, who is half African American, by the tabloid industry in Britain. The most influential and respected family in the world, the British Royal family, could not prevent these racial attacks on Meghan, who was a model and an actress before her marriage to Duke of Sussex, Harry. Is this the beginning of the end of the British monarchy as we know it? Are things imploding in Britain at a speed that may be impossible to slow down?

The thoughts behind Brexit and Megxit are quite similar. It is about thinking that they are the best. It is a thought process of Caucasian, white people who believe that the bloody Indians need to be ruled. Yes, there are internal rivalries between the French and the Germans and the British. But oh, those Poles or those Czechs! They are meant to work on construction sites or something equivalent. As the colour of the skin starts becoming darker, thinking changes. A coloured Joffra Archer is excellent, as long as he takes wickets. The moment his form dips…

Royalty with Afro American background! How is that possible? Given below is the passage from Washington post about Meghan.

Ever since she began dating Harry in 2016, Meghan has been the target of coverage that can’t even be called forensic scrutiny, as that would imply a degree of accuracy. British tabloids were funhouse mirrors when writing about her, committed not to news but the distortion of her image. She has been routinely picked apart and reassembled as a vicious caricature, the list of her alleged faults and faux pas endless. Her crimes are amorphous, ever-changing and at times opposed; she was cast as a bleeding-heart liberal or a money-grabbing social climber depending on the audience. Many hoped the arrival of her son, Archie, would help the media show a kinder side, but that was not the case. 

No tabloid said any such thing about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge; the Wife of Williams, Harry’s elder brother.  The nearest they came to harassing her was trying to take her photos with a telephoto lens when she was on a private beach taking a skinny dip. But everything was perfect about Kate because she was a white Caucasian female who fits the template.

Britain has already started discrete and sometimes not so discrete way of showing the displeasure about Pakis. Pakis is a term generally used for Indians, Bangla Deshi’s and Pakistani people. They would send all of them back to wherever they came from if it were possible; many of them are doing exceedingly well in Britain. I will give you an example of their thought process. A Rear Admiral, retired, from Indian Navy got down at Heathrow. His post preceded his name on the passport.  A lady at the immigration counter asked him, ” Sir, do you speak English?” He smiled and said in propah British accent, “Oh, Lady! It’s Tuesday today, isn’t it? I speak English on Tuesdays, French on Wednesdays, German on Thursdays!”

Brexit is also the result of such thoughts. Free movement of goods and people is excellent as long as those Poles and Czechs do not come and take away low skilled jobs. Britishers forget that they are a part of Europe. Albanians are gangsters and Hungarians are a necessary evil; that is how the people who voted for Brexit think. These are the same people who think that royalty cannot be from a mixed-race! If someone marrying into the Royalty is Caucasian from Europe, that is fine. But they can’t be mixed blood from anywhere else; be it China or Japan or India. Mixed African-blood? Oh, my God! It is not acceptable at all.

But nothing is new in this thought process. In Hindu mythology, Gods have always been described with fair coloured skin; and demons are all the time having big moustaches and dark colour. In our society, if we meet someone who is good looking, our opinion about him/her is always fair, initially, pun intended. Similarly, if that person is fair-skinned, it is even better. We use derogatory terms describing people with a dark complexion.

The most surprising aspect in Meghan affair is that Royalty also faced significant issues at the hands of the press; the reason being the mixed-race of the Her Royal Highness Princess Meghan! Oh, sorry! I cannot say this, now she is only Princess Meghan. They have given up the title HRH now as an arrangement within the royal family as even the Royalty could not prevent hounding by the Hounds of the cousins of the Fleet Street!

A smallish nation like Britain cannot behave like this for practical reasons. Now they have almost a non-existent manufacturing base. North Sea oil will be important until petroleum products remain essential for the world economy. It is possible that after the exit from the EU, London may not remain the Financial Centre of the world.

Effects of Brexit can be challenging to predict, but there will be tough times. If the press can hound the Royalty, it can always create issues for the significant population of non-Caucasians living in Britain. Albanians. Czechs, Poles anyway will go away due to Brexit.

So, what next? Brexit-Megxit and finally Exit from the global scene? It is difficult to exist in this “bad, bad” world without collaborating with others. God save the Queen and Britain.

Out of curiosity, I saw the site www.royalsussex.com. You may also want to view it. I came to know many new things from the website about British Royalty.

Instant Heroes! 

Darwin must be smiling in his grave! His theory is proving right.  

Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (born in the 19th century) and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.  

Lately, it seems that humans can achieve things much faster and at a very early age. I remember Nadia Comaneci attain great heights in gymnastics at the age of 14 by scoring ten on ten in an event in the Montreal Olympics. Sachin Tendulkar started to play top-level cricket at the age of 16 and went on breaking all the records in the world by playing till he was forty.  

But these examples show the physical evolution of humans. But lately, it seems that intellectual growth is also happening very fast. Or is it really happening? Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg have suddenly become the intellectual instant heroes of today’s time. At the ripe old fourteen and sixteen, these two girls appear to have become prime experts about girls’ education and environmental issues. Malala has reached the top as she was awarded Nobel prize at the ripe age of 17 along with India’s Kailash Satyarthi! I call them social media heroes. Kailashji has done his work for water conservation for more than 45 years.  

Malala started writing some blogs about girls education. According to me, it was an essay, at the age of eleven or twelve. She wrote it anonymously. I am sure it was a good essay commensurate with her age. She wrote it on BBC Urdu. The subject of the piece was her life under the Taliban Occupation of Swat in Pakistan. The following summer a New Yorkbased journalist made a documentary on her. She lost her anonymity. Sometime later, while going to school on a bus, Taliban shooters attacked her. A bullet hit her in the head. Pakistani authorities airlifted her to a hospital in Rawalpindi. She was stabilised there and was further taken to Birmingham, England. By god’s grace, she survived. My question is there are so many such attacks by the Taliban in Pakistan, why only Malala was airlifted to Rawalpindi. I am happy for her that she survived. Then a German newspaper took fancy for her story. In Pakistan, many such Malala’s and Yousuf’s get hit by terrorist bullets; some survive, and many of them die. But why did people took up fancy for the media and social media stories! Is it because we lack good news in today’s times?  

I have no issue whatsoever that she got the best of the treatment and survived. Many more such actions should be taken to save lives. The German newspaper called her the most well-known teenager in the world. Somehow she got permission to continue living in the UK. Some NGO took her cause and created Malala fund for Right to Education with the help of the organisationAt the age of sixteen, she coauthored a book, I am Malala. Well, we know the meaning of coauthoring. The NGO and the author use Malala’s name to make her famous and “intellectual”She was awarded Nobel prize in 2014. She was in the list of most influential people of the list of Time magazine for 2013/2014/2015. The Canadian government gave her honorary citizenship. Now living in the safe climate of the UK, she provides “advice” or gives her expert opinion on how things should be done in Pakistan. How is India wrong in applying changes in article 370 on Kashmir. It is good that the Indian government ignored her comments. Who is Malala to tell India what to do? Is Malala a real genius? Do you get the world view on serious matters because the Nobel prize committee thinks that you are a genius?  

Now take the case of Greta Thunberg from Sweden. She was born in the year 2003 and first understood about environmental issues in the year 2011. Well, well! At the age of 8 if you know such a complex problem as environmental issues, then you have to be a genius. Darwin is proven right again. For two years, she challenged her parents about the environmental footprint. A book recounting this story of this family was published in the year 2018. 

In late 2018, Thunberg began the school climate strikes and public speeches for which she has become an internationally recognised climate activist. Her father does not like her missing school but said, “We respect that she wants to make a stand. She can either sit at home and be unhappy, or protest, and be happy”. Thunberg says her teachers are divided in their views about her missing class to make her point. She says: “As people, they think what I am doing is good, but as teachers, they say I should stop.” In July 2019, Time magazine reported Thunberg was taking a “sabbatical year” from school, intending to travel in the Americas while meeting people from the climate movement.  

It looks as if no one else is doing any work on this subject. Thunberg gets an invitation to speak at a UN conference! She gets to lead an environmental protest march in Montreal, Canada where 50000 people took part in the march. Greta gets awards from Sweden, France, Germany. She is amongst the 100 most influential people in the world. December 2019, she is on Time magazine cover.  

I am all okay with this. Is the world looking for instant heroes? I am surprised that she is not yet been awarded the Nobel prize. Some organisations and individuals are doing a lot of work in this area. But awards are suddenly being given to a sixteen-year-olds! Darwin is again proven correct! Is it?  

She understands the subject, and she is an excellent speaker. But does that mean that she has contributed so much that the whole world is giving her awards! She is a sixteen-year-old with a lot of enthusiasm and good oratory! All the other people working in this area for a long time have not contributed anything, it seems.  

Very similar things are happening about CAA/NRC in India. How many people know about what is happening? Suddenly students from some universities have started protesting against the same. I am happy about protests, but I am not pleased about protesters who do not know the subject. They go by Facebook messages and WhatsApp messages. These social media messages travel fast. I am very confident that 95% of the students do not understand the subject. They start protesting with half-baked knowledge. It took me a few days of detailed study to understand these subjects. The students go by the herd mentality.  

Social media makes instant heroes out of the student’s protests these days. But I am of the firm opinion that Nadia, Sachin is rarity any field You may add Boris Baker to this list.

But Malala and Greta are creations of the media and social media. NGO’s and some author has used Malala’s name for their benefit! The same thing appears to be happening in the case of Greta! Darwin or no Darwin, I don’t think that children start to understand complex things from the age of eight, ten or eleven!

Please share your views on this subject with me!  

9th November!

Mr Modi spoke about the importance of 9th November in his brief speech to the nation! He said, “On the 9th of November, three important world events have taken place.” I was surprised because I was aware of the Ayodhya Supreme Court verdict, the opening of the Kartarpur corridor. The third event was the fall of the Berlin Wall – this happened in 1989.

These three are significant events in history. The court verdict and the public reactions show India as a developed society and democracy. The Kartarpur Corridor opening is about the thawing of the tense relations between India and Pakistan. Fall of Berlin Wall signified the significant change in the relationship between the Western World and the Soviet Union led Iron Curtain nations.

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The Kartarpur Corridor is a border corridor between Pakistan and India, connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib (in Punjab, Pakistan). The corridor is intended to allow religious devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles) from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa.

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The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Construction of the Wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) on 13 August 1961. The Wall cut off  West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, including East Berlin. The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany. I am not going to discuss this point in detail because it is not relevant to what I am writing currently.

Ayodhya dispute is a well-known religious dispute in India, which started soon after India got independence. In the conflict, the Hindu’s claimed that Babri Masjid was built on the original place where Bhagwan Ram was born. For forty years, it continued and was always the flashpoint of hate speeches, claims, counterclaims, and sometimes riots. The issue was a point for the dispute in various elections. Hindutva parties would have rath yatras, which culminated into some fight or the other. All political parties used Ayodhya dispute as a strong point of argument leading to further tensions. All this culminated when Hindus finally merged at the Babri Masjid for sloganeering and show of strength. The situation went out of control, and the  Karsevaks came in large numbers and demolished the Babri Masjid in 1992.

After the demolition of the Masjid, there has been tension in Ayodhya and around all the time. Some groups would suddenly land in Ayodhya, creating tensions. Based on this subject, there would be discussions, claims/counter-claims in the other cities, which would lead to riots. Political parties shamelessly exploited the human sentiments causing division in the society based on religion.

Ultimately this dispute ended up in the Supreme court. After arguments, counter-arguments, proofs provided by the Archeological Society of India, Supreme Court decided to have the hearings for 40 days every day. Based on that, the decision was reached, which was declared on 9th November 2019.

I do not want to write about the fairness, the correctness of the Supreme Court justice, after all, the Supreme Court is the final authority to decide disputes considering the legal aspects based on evidence and proofs. The judges are luminaries, and that is how they have reached the top position in their field.

I am thoroughly and wholeheartedly impressed by the way the nation handled the most critical day of the judgment. The government of India and the state governments had made security arrangements in such a way that they would be able to handle the crisis if it arose. I am sure the officials must have discussed with leaders of political parties and general dignitaries in the society the importance of maintaining peace, whichever way the result went. People were advised not to celebrate overtly. The judgment was not a victory or defeat for someone or the other. It was the resolution of the long-standing dispute which was being handled by the highest authority in the country.

In the days of social media like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, it is simple to spread false stories and rumours. Police Authorities had sent the circulars warning people against spreading the wrong information and rumours. From what I read in the newspapers, a minuscule number of people were arrested for playing mischief.

I think it is a good sign for India; it indicates that we as a society are finally maturing. The absence of over-celebrating, not putting up the banners about the victory of community A over community B, shows that we, as a society, are learning to understand the importance of restraint! The Supreme Court judgment was the judgment of national significance, and it has brought out the sensible and humbling behaviour by society in general. Of course, there are extremists on both sides of the judgment, but they also have behaved sensibly because of maturity or because of the fear of action that the police might take.

Many times it has been observed that during important events or incidents happening in the country, it is the political parties who behave immaturely. When the government decided regarding Article 370 in Kashmir, some parties still made politics out of that act. The act was of national importance, Those opposing the action could say that action is correct, but it should have been handled differently. Suggesting different methods of handling the situation is one thing, but talking against such an important matter is incorrect. For such vital events, the whole nation should be together, forgetting their difference. Both these situations were almost equal to the war-like situation!

After Article 370 decision by India in Kashmir, the relationships between India and Pakistan have reached the nadir! Against Pakistan’s anti-India propaganda, the Indian government has shown maturity; the major nations in the world have been explained the situation, and most have supported India. But on the side, Pakistan had declared before 5th August that they would open a four km path connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib (located in Punjab, India) and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib (in Punjab, Pakistan). Pakistan has finally shown some maturity and has kept up its promise. The path was opened to pilgrims on the 9th of November, the same day as Ayodhya’s judgment. Is it the indication of the thawing of the relationship between Pakistan and India? I hope so!

The nations and societies mature and progress over a period. It will happen only when the governments act maturely and responsibly. Taking a posture or giving immature reactions don’t resolve any issues. Pakistan has to accept the ground reality that most of the problems with India are due to terrorist camps that are allowed to flourish in Pakistan. If they take action against terrorists, most of the problems are solvable.

Let us hope that there will be many more 9th Novembers in the future which will resolve long pending issues between nations, political parties and society in general!

I thought you might like the link below. It’s about the Berlin Wall!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50363404

 

Have humans improved?

I am not talking about technology or other advances. In the facilities and technology, we have improved. In poverty eradication, health, hygiene and medical sciences, we have improved.

Many advances reach low-income countries and people because of the different actions taken by humans. But I am talking of social aspects. Especially in the caste, racial and religious issues, though tolerances have improved, to some extent, it is difficult to predict when things will erupt.

Take the classic case of a football match between Bulgaria and England, a couple of days back. England team had a couple of players of African origin. The game was in Bulgaria, and suddenly the racial comments were being shouted by spectators. Things went out of control a couple of times in the first half, and the match was almost abandoned twice during that session. The police took control of the situation and threw out a  group of spectators. To the credit of Government of Bulgaria, their President acted swiftly, and within an hour of the match finishing, he suggested to the President of their football association to resign, and he did. World football Association will take further action on Bulgaria is the good part. But my worry is why such things suddenly erupt? Does it mean that such things are dormant and waiting for some spark to inflame the situation?

“Us and Them,” thought process world over has reduced, but bad situations erupt suddenly, and it can happen anywhere in the world. It can happen in the most advanced countries to the most backward countries. In this respect, the world has not changed.

Today I read one incident on Facebook. It is written by someone known me and not the usual “forward”! A family runs a business, and their washroom is outside their premises, in a condo. Another family staying in that condo were to start painting their condo. About half a dozen workers were expected to do the work. The gentleman approached the owner of the business and requested him for the key to their washroom for ten days. When he was asked why he wanted their washroom keys, he said, “Those people will be doing the painting for about ten days. I don’t want them to use our washroom. Since yours is a common washroom used by your employees; I need the key.” The business owner asked, “Why not let them use your washroom?” The condo owner replied, “How can I let “them” use our bathroom?” By his logic, their own bathroom was too pure to be used by “them”! Hence the request was made.

The business owner politely refused the request, and the condo owner is now furious! The incident is a classic case of caste incidents that occur in India. The event is from a very “forward” city of Pune which has led India in the social reforms during the last century. Social reformers like Karve and Phule were from Pune, and they have been pioneers in the social changes. I am worried that if the incident mentioned above can happen in Pune, what will be the situation in smaller towns, villages? What would be the situation in socially backward states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar?

The world over attempts is always made to correct historical errors. But sometimes it goes to the other extreme, and things get overcorrected. The actions of the South African government post-apartheid regimen shows the result of overcorrection. The apartheid government collapsed in early 90 s of the last century. Rules have been made to reserve the seats for people of African origin — nothing wrong in that, we do the same in India. In India, in some instances, reservations % has become as high as 76%. Whether this is right or wrong only time will tell. But there are no reservations in sports or the armed forces. But in South Africa there is a reserved quota for people of African origin in their Cricket team- I am unaware of other sports. Due to this, many good cricketers who do not fit into the quota would never get a chance to represent their country. What do they do?

They take help of Kolpak ruling. What is Kolpak ruling? The Kolpak ruling is a European Court of Justice ruling handed down on 8 May 2003 in favour of Maroš Kolpak, a Slovak handball player. It declared that citizens of countries which have signed European Union Association Agreements, have the same right to freedom of work and movement within the EU as EU citizens. Thus any restrictions placed on their right to work (such as quotas setting maximum numbers of such foreign players in sports teams) are deemed illegal under EU law. The legal actions in Germany set a precedent for professional sports in Europe, which have had a wide-ranging effect, especially regarding English county cricket and European professional rugby.

The South African white cricketers when they do not get the opportunity to play for the nation, formally retire and move to England and make contracts with counties. The counties are waiting for such players because they are excellent cricketers. I am aware that sports are a tiny part of our lives; so decisions can be quickly taken as a minimal number of people are involved.

In the US an attempt was made by a Supreme Court ruling, referred to as busing! The ruling made it mandatory for students from an area to go to the same school, irrespective of race. The attempt by the Supreme Court helped to some extent, initially. But then white people started moving from cities to predominantly white suburbs. Those who could afford put the children in private schools. These actions of white negated the effect of busing!

The subject is vast and cannot be discussed in details in a blog. But racial prejudice is followed world over, including in India, sometimes blatantly and most of the times discreetly. I know enough Indian people who live in different countries, and they have all said such practice is followed world over, not in any particular nation. The reason for such action may differ, but the act continues, and I don’t think that it will ever stop.

Religious discriminations have political reasons, and these are going to be tough to handle. Let us hope that people all over the world change their attitudes and live in harmony. But it is a serious subject that needs to be dealt; social media does not help in such situations! But let us hope that better offices will prevail and people will live in harmony.

Millennial Work-Life balance!

 

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The above image is eutopian image of working from home!

In the last thirty years, Work-Life balance has gone for a toss! But there are new generation Millennials who are changing the thinking — a millennial is a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.

Work-life balance is the lack of opposition between work and other life roles. It is the state of equilibrium in which demands of personal life, professional life, and family life are equal. Work–life balance consists of, but it is not limited to, flexible work arrangements that allow employees to carry out other life programs and practices.

The term ‘work–life balance’ is recent in origin, as it was first used in the UK and US in the late 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Work–life balance is a term commonly used to describe the balance that an individual working needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life. Areas of life other than work–life can include personal interests, family and social or leisure activities. Technological advances have made it possible for work tasks to be accomplished faster due to the use of smartphones, email, video chat, and other technical software. These technology advances facilitate individuals to work without having a typical ‘9 to 5’ workday.

People who began working until the late 1980s were docile people and would accept all the rules and regulations of their workplace. Over a period of time, the demand for work and the employee time started going up and up. Through the 90s, the work graph started going up exponentially. Over a period, it became fashionable to be in office for ten to twelve hours a day, and later it became routine. Slowly the long working hours became the norm; going home at the regular time was jokingly called “half-day” leave.

These changes, plus long travel times, made work-life balance totally imbalanced. Competition in business and rat race amongst employees gave a different meaning to this imbalance. People were getting scared to take a couple of weeks of holiday with the fear that if work moved smoothly in their absence, they could become redundant. Such situations made life even more stressful.

I will share a couple of stories, which I may have shared in some other blogs before. A friend came to my house one evening and asked me if I could spend a couple of hrs with him. It was an emergency. We went out, and he said he was doing very well in his job, but his work-life balance was so disturbed that he did not feel like to going office even for one day. I suggested that he should resign. He did resign his job in a week and got an even better job but with better work-life balance.

Another friend went to the US for work for a couple of months. His daughter was unwell, and there was a significant repair work pending at home. One day we had gone to meet his wife. At that time, our friend called and told his wife that now he had to travel to Germany and he would be in Germany for three months for work. We did not know how to console his wife!

In the first story, the friend did not have a choice, but in the second story the friend was senior enough, and he could have decided to travel back home for a couple of weeks before going back again. Workaholic? Or Who cares?

But I am pleasantly surprised to read about the way millennials are looking at the situation these days. When they look for a job, they look for prospects, salary, benefits and flexible working hours. Flexible working hours are now becoming as important or even more important than the salary. Millennials look at the job as a part of life and not the central part of life.

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Each human has the responsibilities of the family. It could be some repairs at home, Parents-teacher association meeting, helping ailing parents, supporting the spouse when the spouse has temporary additional work pressure. I also agree that these are also equally important aspects of life. Human should continue to enjoy professional work, but if the work is going to prevent the person from fulfilling other responsibilities or having a yearly holiday, something needs to be done.

We read of many examples where people accept a significant pay-cut to achieve work-life balance. If the money you are earning can never be used for enjoyment or support family responsibilities, what is the point in making that money? For many people, work has become an obsession, long hours and endless struggle to aspire to do better in job. It has caused burnout, unhappiness and gender inequity, as people struggle to find time for children or passions or  any sort of life besides what they do for a paycheck.

But increasingly, younger workers are pushing back. More of them expect and demand flexibility — paid leave for a new baby, generous vacation time, along with daily things, like the ability to work remotely, come in late or leave early, or make time for exercise or meditation. The rest of their lives happens on their phones, not tied to a specific place or time — why should work be any different?

Today’s young workers have been called lazy and entitled. Could they, instead, be among the first to understand the proper role of work in life — and end up redefining work for everyone else?

It’s still rare for companies to operate this way, and the obstacles are more significant than any company’s H.R. policies. Some older employees may think that new hires should suffer the way they did, and employers benefit from having always-on workers. Even those that are offering more flexibility might be doing it because current unemployment is so low in certain parts of the world, and they’re competing for workers, which could change if there is an economic downturn.

But such luxury is not possible for many people. People working on the shop-floor of the manufacturing industry, the police, the doctors and nurses, and many such workers cannot work from home whatever modern technology we invent. But the effect of millennials working for better and more flexibility will affect other sectors. Such cascading effect could make the life of workers better than what it is today.

Jack Maa of Alibaba had suggested to his workers to work 996. Nine to nine every day for six days a week. You may get a very high salary but when will you spend it? When will you rest? When will you have quality time with your family?

But the same Jack Maa has now suddenly changed his advice to work three hours a day four days a week.

https://tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/corporate/jack-ma-says-12-hour-work-week-could-be-the-norm/70892513

With technological advances, this is possible in specific industries. Probably people are thinking in the right direction. I am quite sure that once people get real flexibility in work, they won’t mind working a few times even while they are on a holiday. It is going to be possible because your work tools are available to you, 24/7 at the tip of your fingers.

Imagine you are lying on a seashore surfing both on the sea waves and on the net! A vital customer calls you and requests you to resolve his critical issue. Maybe you will do it because your company is taking care of your flexibility needs. So why not go out of the way and help the client?

That day hopefully is not far and it will be Win-Win situation for everybody!

Montreal Musings- day to day life II!

Since I am in Montreal for a homestay, (with my daughter) visiting different places is more incidental than specific. I am trying to see how people, live, behave in their day to day lives is more important to me. Human beings are the same everywhere, with some natural local and regional variances. To me, it is the interactions and actions that are more important.

One very interesting facility was observed in a housing society made up of condos. They have kept an enclosed, empty plot. During non-winter times, these plots are offered to residents for use. The plots are of two-three sizes. Users can plant vegetables, flowers, or whatever they want: the seeds and technical help is offered by a gardener available. The gardener helps and guides you as per your needs. For this period you can grow what you want and enjoy! What a novel idea!

The buses have the swiping card system or for, one-time use, you have to put coins to get the tickets. Once a senior citizen was trying to swipe the card, it would not work. It was 2nd of the month. The driver asked the gentlemen, “Have you recharged the card yesterday on the 1st”? The gentleman had forgotten and said so. He said, “Get it done later today.” Subject over. Empathy?

Many of you must have travelled to different nations and have seen the world. But to me travelling in a city in local transport is the best way of knowing small unique things. While travelling by Metro yesterday, we were in the compartment next to the driver. I saw a guy entering the train with his bicycle. I was surprised. Nikhil told me, “Baba, it is allowed only during specific timings and only in that compartment where they had provided space for a few cycles. The cycle owner is supposed to stand near the cycle and not take a seat; even if the train is empty.”

Yesterday, we went to visit the Botanical Garden. The garden is just next to the Olympic Stadium in Montreal; it was a nostalgic visit for Jaya and me. We were in Montreal in 1981 for two days. We had explicitly travelled to see the then-new Olympic stadium, which held the 1976 Olympics. If you folks remember, that Olympic was famous for the super performance of Nadia Comaneci from Rumania. For the first time in history, she had scored a perfect score of 10.00! I felt a little sad that in certain areas the maintenance was poor!

Nadia Comaneci! Then and now!

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada!

 

It seems that Canada is way ahead of many countries in having beautiful gardens. I am sharing some photos for you. We had visited Victoria, B.C., on the west coast of Canada in 2016, as a part of Alaska Cruise. We had visited Butchart Garden then. That is the one the best Gardens, if not the best; we have ever visited. I am sharing some of the Butchart Garden photos too!

Another observation was that in Montreal, I met many young Indian Diaspora during the Ganapati festival. I found that these people are working in different fields. One chap was working in Atlas Copco. A couple of guys were artists, not animation experts. A few were working in finance, and a fellow was working on the logistics side of an engineering Company. I noted that one chap was working in Air Canada. Out of the people I met, only about 25 % were working in IT! It was a pleasant surprise for me.

I have enjoyed the change of colour of leaves in Boston and Maine area; and also is the Seattle area. There the colour changes from green to yellowish to orange. Whereas in Canada, the Maple trees are predominant. The Maple leaf changes its colour to red; hence, the Canadian flag also has a Maple leaf on it.

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I had never bothered to check why this happens. There is a simple explanation though the science behind it is complicated. During summer and autumn, the leaves use Sunlight and Carbon dioxide the make their food. They also get water through roots. They create oxygen and food. The process is helped by green Chlorophyll which masks the other colours which are already present on the leaves and are seen when Chlorophyll goes away.

Winter days are short and dry; many plants stop making food in the fall. The chlorophyll goes away. Then we can see orange and yellow colours. These colours were in the leaves all summer, but the green covered them up. The trees survive on the food they have made during summer and autumn.

Enough of science. When I go out every day, I observe the changes in the leaves and their colours. Some become red earlier; some take more time. There are many shades of red that we can see. Not all the maple leaves become blood red, as we see in the photographs. One question always comes to my mind. Why do humans not follow the same discipline that is followed by nature?

Another question always comes to mind about assimilation. How do “outsiders” assimilate with the culture of the country that they have adopted? In my opinion, this should be easy for people from India because we have different cultures in each state; we have different languages spoken in each state. Many people in North India have never seen the sea in their life, though India has a long shoreline. I saw snow for the first time at the age of 35, when I had travelled to Germany in winter. But we have regions in India where there is regular snowfall in winter. But ultimately it comes to your openness, your adaptability, your will to accept change. I see people of different colour and creed, religions and languages in Canada. I am sure that those who assimilate live a comfortable life.

Still, a month and a half more to go to Canada and I am sure I will have more tidbits later. I have read that average Montreal temperatures in October are 15 deg high to 5 deg low, sometimes even going to zero! So those are going to be different days in terms of weather. I never lived in these temperatures. About that, I will write later when I shiver through those temps!

À bientôt, jusqu'à mes prochaines friandises!

India Shining Silently!

Among the political upheavals, hyperbole things are changing in India, slowly but surely. There was a political slogan, India Shining,” sometime back. But India is silently shining. The surprising part is that the change is happening on the Engineering side of life. The engineering feats are not sexy like IT, where smart men and ladies market their achievements.  

I read a couple of news items today. I found them very interesting for a different reason. One of the articles was about railways, and the other was about DRDO. 

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/indian-railways-piyush-goyal-premium-trains-rajdhani-shtabadi-5796304/ 

I will talk about the railways one first. When we speak of railways, we visualise historical systems, dirty platforms, and bogeys. In general, we get to remember inefficiency everywhere. But this article shares details about how a 20-year-old problem was resolved by Railway Engineering arm. The problem was about LHB coaches which were put into service; these were imported from Germany. There was a problem of coaches shaking, giving jolts while braking or at a higher speed. Railway team found a solution locally. There were about five thousand coaches involved. They replaced the Center Buffer Couplers with new design couplers. They also found that the usual braking method also caused these jolts. Hence they asked the drivers to use regenerative/dynamic braking system when speeds were above 30 Km/hr. With a combination of these two, jumping teacups and jolts have become history. There were 5000 such coaches, but with proper project management, the work on all of them was completed in two years. These stories don’t come out with fancy celebrations; these projects were done as part of routine practice. Great story to make everyone proud. 

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-israel-spike-anti-tank-missiles-drdo-5796306/ 

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The news above is another silent development of a highly complex military requirement of anti-tank missiles. Initially, the order was placed with Israel, who had a fierce competition with the US. This order was placed in 2014 for 351 launching systems and 8000 plus missiles worth US $ 500/ millions. Indian organisation DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organisation) was also in the process of developing the missiles locally. After successful second stage testing at Ahmednagar, the government decided to cancel the contract with Israel and go ahead with DRDO under Make In India initiative. These weapons are highly sophisticated and use infrared technology which has been proven during testing in hightemperature regions of Rajasthan deserts. No fanfare, the sheer hard work is the key to such success stories. Again this is the story of excellent project management where DRDO will deliver all the systems by 2021 as per requirements of the army! Kudos to DRDO. 

At the end of the second world war, Japan and Germany had lost, and many of their factories and cities were destroyed. All the treaties that were signed ensured that they would not resurrect rapidly. But somehow these nations rose literally from ashes like the Phoenix bird! All this was achieved due to the dedication, will power to excel and love for the nation.  

India, as we know today, became one nation for the first time at the time of independence. With the diversity of people, religions, languages, cultures, it was like Europe or much more complicated. Getting people together itself has been the greatest achievement of the last century, though we do not realise this. India has another significant problem. Our diverse culture has been very mature and has an old history of thousands of years. So, specific thoughts and beliefs are ingrained very firmly in our minds. We take time to change. Added to this was the large population. That India has survived and prospered is a miracle by itself.  

Slowly, we have started to learn to keep the diversity at home and now work together with professional pride as a single proud nation. Reading the above stories gives great hope to me about our great nation and people.  

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The viaduct of Pune Metro!

There are many such stories which are known to us, and we have started taking things for granted. Metro railway is an institution built singlehandedly by the doyen of this technology E Sridharan. He was also instrumental in developing the Konkan railway system. The system was one of the most stringent projects to build because of the tricky mountainous terrain. What Sridharan did was a technological marvel, management marvel. All the projects handled by him were always completed on time.

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Konkan Railway Bridge on the river Panval

My classmate Shashikant Limaye was the chief engineer for bridges on the Konkan Railway project. Shown above is the bridge designed by him on the river Panval (Yes it is supposedly near my native place Panval, where I have never been!). This bridge is 80 meters high from the ground level. It is considered a significant technical achievement in the project. How do people like Sridharan achieve such things? Looking into the smallest of the details has ensured everything works like clockwork on these projects. There is an exciting story about Sridharan. As the Metro lines started becoming operational in Delhi, he would visit different sectors every day to begin his work. Where he would go was not known to anyone. As he entered the station, he would bend and check if there was dust on staircases and escalators by wiping with his hand. What was the result of this dedication? Delhi, Jaipur, Kochi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Hyderabad, Lucknow are all having Metro lines or are in the process of installation. All projects have always been completed on time.  

These projects have proven that in India, we can do worldclass technical work and have excellent project management abilities. In the example of bogeys, do not forget that these bogeys were not in one place but spread all over India. The work was completed without hampering the regular services.  

We have been doing great things in Technology. ISRO has already proven that it is India’s showcase worldclass organisation. It competes and beats others from the world in quality, performance and equally importantly, costs! 

On the business side Reliance has done a fantastic job of creating world-class large business; they have proven the same again in their Jio venture too!

But somehow we are not able to go up the value chain in other areas where we can do it. I am talking about the IT industry. They started doing well in ’90 s of the last century with Y2K! They started making big money and started getting large service contracts. Such contracts led to making even more money. In 20 years, these companies became very large, and have so much money that they did not know what to do with that money. Recently they started buying back their own shares from the market. The buyback indicated that they had no plans for developing new skills and gaining expertise in more modern areas. They have still not shown the willingness to go up the value chain. They have the people, the money but lack the will! I sincerely hope that these companies invest some money, human resources, and efforts in creating world-class products! Don’t just become Billionaires; become proud owners of great products!