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!

End of the road for Diesel cars!

Maruti Suzuki declared today that they would not manufacture cars with diesel engines starting from 1st April 2020! That is the day on which BS 6 norms for pollution will be implemented in India. This time the government is very stringent, and it is declared that from this date, only the cars BS 6 norms will be registered. Forget the selling; there will be no registration of cars other than BS 6! It is a great thing that the government means business, now!

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But is this the beginning of the tumultuous scenario in the automobile domain? Is it a mini tsunami? Has this statement started indicating the way things would happen in the auto industry? All these years life was much more straightforward; introduce a new model, play around a bit with the price and periodically change pollution norms when government forces you. The smooth ride was the norm! But a statement by Maruti says that the cost of development of BS 6 compliant diesel engine and the cost of making the BS 6 engine will be so high that in the small car segment, customers may not be able to afford them. Currently, the price difference between petrol and diesel model of a car is around Rs. One Lac. They feel that this difference could be Rs.2/ lacs for BS 6 cars ( ten lacs is a Million). On a vehicle costing Rs. 5 to 6 lacs, difference of two lacs will be too much, and customers may not be able to afford these cars. For cars/SUV’s costing Rs.10/ lacs and above, though the difference will be similar, % increase would not be high. How this sector will perform from next financial year needs to be watched. For SUV (both mini/standard) good news is Maruti Brezza will not be sold; hence manufacturers will rush to pick up the market share up for grabs. Maruti, however, has left the option open for 1.5 L diesel engine cars, used in Brezza.

Diesel engine cost issue due to BS 6, was expected. Volvo has already declared that they will stop making diesel cars when the norms change from Euro 6 to Euro 7, because of the cost of development and the price of the vehicle. Compared to trucks, the number of cars sold is much higher hence a smaller number of diesel cars will be better from the pollution angle.

Why did people use small cars with diesel engines? The lower price of diesel was the main reason. These cars cost approximately Rs. One lacs, plus plus, more than petrol cars. If the usage of vehicles was not enough, then owning such a car was not cost effective. On top of this, diesel engines have periodic mandatory maintenance cost which petrol cars don’t have. In many cases, it was not viable to own a diesel engine car.

With the imminent entry of Electric Vehicles in large numbers, the market is expected to be shaken further. In the late ’90s of the last century, Toyota came up with Prius, their first Hybrid car. (For those new to this subject, a hybrid car is one which runs on petrol and battery combination; each manufacturer has its own combination of the technology) It was expected that Hybrid would be the future and Toyota was expected to be the leaders. Yes, they are still the leaders in Hybrids. But a maverick called Elon Musk decided to plunge into EV’s. General Motors had manufactured around 500 EV’s at the beginning of this century, but then what happened? Petroleum lobby made sure that this initiative was killed. A few years later GM scrapped the vehicles.

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Combination of Tesla’s efforts, cheaper battery sets (hopefully!) at some stage, fast charging technology are pushing humans towards EV’s. Range per charge still remains the primary concern. Add to this reduction in the price of solar systems is making cheaper fuel for the EV, the Electricity. Now, what is adding to making it more difficult for petroleum products further, are the pollution norms for diesel cars?

What will be the future of diesel engines in the car segment? In India, the overall car segment is under pressure. In the last financial year, four lac more old cars were sold than the number of new cars that were sold. It looks like more small vehicles are being sold in II and III tier cities. Will Maruti’s prediction about diesel engine cars affect thinking by other car manufacturers? Will they also go away from diesel engine cars? Only time will tell.

The current financial year is going to be very tricky for car manufacturers. Let me explain what is involved, as the last date on which the BS IV car will be allowed to be registered. That date is 31/3/2020. To achieve this target, they will have to attempt and sell BS VI models from 1/1/2020. To meet this date, they will be required to push in BS VI vehicles from 1/10/2019. During this transition period, there will be tricky scenarios. BS IV cars will be produced less and less, but customers may want to buy them, as these will be cheaper than BS VI models. There is a possibility that in certain areas there will be customers and no cars; in other areas, there will be cars but no customers. All unsold BS IV cars will have to be sent back to manufacturers for conversion to BS VI at a considerable cost. Predicting requirement from 1/10/2019 to 31/3/2020 is going to be a nightmare for sales teams and along with them the dealers. The trend of lower sales is going to add to the difficulties further.

Will everything be hunky dory after 1/4/2020? That is again a very tough question. To achieve better fuel efficiencies and to go away from petroleum products, there will be efforts to introduce hybrid cars. But except Toyota, nobody has real expertise in this area. The predicted numbers for 2030 are 30 % EV’s, 30% Hybrids and balance IC engine cars, mostly petrol and CNG version. Does it mean that it is a death knell to diesel cars?

Another prediction by Maruti is that for small EV’s, where numbers are high in the typical small car segment, the volumes can be tricky as the price could be between 9 to 12 Lacs. This price is based on battery packs being manufacture in India. Larger cars will cost much more, but the high-price segment is less sensitive to the price tag. How the volumes will be achieved in EV’s, will be difficult to predict. I have not even discussed the charging station infrastructure issues! In India, most cars are parked on the roads for the night, so how and when will the charging be done?

At least in India, there is a significant turmoil about where the car market will go? Will Maruti continue to lead the pack? Will others follow Maruti and go away from small diesel engine cars? Only time will tell.

I am an Indian with Birth rights!

 

Traffic2Lokmanya Tilak had said, “Swarajya is my birthright, and I shall have it”! Swarajya is self-government. Tilak had said this when the Britishers were ruling India. As a society, we take certain sayings by great men like Tilak seriously, especially when it suits us. This morning I went for my morning walk and enjoyed the lovely weather. Near our home there is an excellent and broad street with trees; most of the establishments on the street are commercial. Hence at 5.30 in the morning, it is an ideal road for a walk. Suddenly, I saw that there was a cluster of 50 to 70 motorcycles and about a hundred plus young men. I had seen them yesterday too, but I thought maybe they are meeting there to start a walk or run a race!

But today I saw a truck, and there was lighting on the footpath that could be seen from a distance. I thought that there could be some film shooting taking place. But when I went near, I saw that there were heaps of milk pouches manufactured by six or eight different companies. Total milk lying on footpath must have been about five hundred litres. At Rs.40/ litre its cost would be Rs. Twenty thousand, and per month billing would be Rs. Six lacs or 0.6/ million and per year turnover of Rs. 7.2/ million. Not bad! But the gentleman who was running the show was using a public place to run a biggish business. At that time of the day, no authorities would be awake to check this misuse! It was the business man’s birthright as an Indian citizen.

One aside in this story. After the milk was distributed, all the used plastic bags  employed as bulk carriers were strewn on the road. After all, it is the job of the corporation to clean the streets. As against we have seen that the Japanese are assigned separate sections to watch world cup football matches. After the game, the Japanese clean their whole stand of kachra before departing.

Near my home, on the main street, an ice cream vendor occupies about 250 square foot of road and footpath area to run his ice cream parlour, chairs and all for customers. He is there between 6 pm to 11 pm, on a crowded road. He has six to eight ice cream parlours all over Pune. This location must have been his first “parlour” established on public property as he lives nearby (he must have put it up initially as a small-time businessman). Though his business has grown large, he continues with his birthright of using public property. The anti-encroachment team of the corporation are, of course, not “aware” of the misuse.

The Indian government has made it mandatory for people to build toilets inside homes as a prerequisite to stand for any election. People have taken it seriously and built the toilets. But some manly, macho people still use their fields for the morning ablutions. They feel that it is stupid to use a toilet for the purpose. Birthright?

I started thinking of many such birthrights that we assume are granted to us by the constitution.

  • Spit anywhere and everywhere
  • I have seen many people especially drivers of buses and taxis, who rinse their mouth with water from their water bottles and spit it out! Why can’t they drink the water instead of spitting on roads?
  • There are shopping areas in cities. Government and armed forces officers and their families go for purchases. The entire road is a no-parking zone for four-wheelers. But the owners of cars ask the drivers to park on the road and wait there. Why can’t they ask the drivers to park the vehicles in designated areas elsewhere and call the drivers when they are done?
  • When a small businessperson starts his/her business without following rules, it is not justified but understandable. But as they start occupying footpaths and roads in connivance with officials, it is not fair to others. The statement that they are poor people etc. does not justify misuse at all.
  • A small percentage of people break traffic rules, the world over. We as a society do this in bulk. If there is traffic signal failure in the main junction, we create gridlock of vehicles in such a way as if there is no tomorrow. I have seen in many countries where intersections are without traffic signals, but traffic moves smoothly. I had shared a story with you sometime back about a Chartered Accountant, originally from Delhi living in Sydney, Australia. When he was asked why he was so thrilled to go home to Delhi? He said, “I feel claustrophobic here. I am looking forward to going to  Delhi so that I can jump traffic signals, at least 30/40 times!” Amen, God Bless!
  • Our so-called educated brethren chewing beetle leaf (Paan) consider it their birthright to spit in any corner, on the staircases, on roads. They feel that if they spit in corners, it’s ok! It is the same as the dogs use the poles to do you know what!
  • Some birthrights are specially conferred city wise. Our Pune people have added non-compliance of helmet rules as their primary duty while on city roads. They will find various methods of breaking the law. They hang their helmets on bikes on the mirror handle. When they reach near an intersection, they stop and put on the helmet to avoid fine. Some organisations have made it mandatory to wear helmets while coming to office. Our friends follow the same method. Just before they reach the destination, they put on the helmet as the rules do not allow entry without a helmet.
  • There is an interesting story of a highly educated surgeon. He was travelling on his son’s scooter, and at an intersection, he stopped on a zebra crossing. A few days later his son told him while having morning tea, about how the police had fined the son. The son said, “Daddy, you seem to be the only one standing on a zebra crossing that day. Police cameras have sent a photo to me. I paid Rs.200/ fine today morning.” Our surgeon friend was livid. “How can the police make me pay the fine?” I am a renowned surgeon blah blah!” His son said, “Dad, come on, it is system driven. Cameras caught you, and since it was my bike I got the photo”! But our friend was justifying this to his group of friends and said that he would never go by that road etc. When his friends suggested not to stand on a zebra crossing in future, he gave a nasty look to his friend!

What is so unique that we behave this way? What could be the reasons? DNA? I don’t care attitude? Fundamental lack of sense of discipline? What is it? Lack of fear of the authorities?

We seem to be proud of our exotic chaos, we are proud of all the dirt spread around us. And that’s why foreigners flock to see us. They have never seen such confusion anywhere in the world, so they come here to shoot movies showing the worst of us and go on to bag Oscars for depicting Indian at its ‘best’.

And then, we blame our politicians for how corrupt they are. When we are so undisciplined, so selfish (ignoring public property to suit personal comfort, needs a term worse than selfish), then how can we expect them to be ideal? I think we deserve the corruption in bureaucracy and politics we are facing today. Our politicians are as selfish and undisciplined as we are. We then even blame our youth for brain-drain, I think there is nothing wrong in escaping this mass indiscipline if one has better options abroad.

Friends, any suggestions? Do you know specific reasons why we behave the way we do? Let us discuss it, no point in ignoring any further!

A Ray of hopes?

With the India-Pakistan skirmish of the last few days, is there a hope finally for the sanity to prevail? This blog is just taking a reference to the critical event happening in our sub-continent! A little miscalculation could have led to a war between the two nations having nuclear weapons. (Fingers crossed) The hyphen that I used above to mention the two countries is only in the perspective that indicates similarity of massive war machines and nuclear weapons the two countries have.

But I will not use the hyphen again when I mention India and Pakistan. The hyphen is used when two entities are equal in most respects. Till 1971 war, both countries were equally poor, but India handled the situation deftly at that time and split Pakistan, waiting to be divided. Cultures in the then West and East Pakistan were so different that only the might of the army and police state could not keep them together. After this war, both the nations followed a different path which was a typical Asian chaotic path and both succeeded. India has now become a significant economic power having a reasonable say, in world affairs. (With cows and Mandirs still around) Pakistan became a haven for terrorists and terrorism; it has done better than India and has reached the top! India started the journey by transferring its gold reserves to Bank of England as surety for taking loans, and now it has become the fourth largest economy in the world. Pakistan tried to ride the tiger helping the USA against Russians in Afghanistan; this conflict sowed the seeds for mercenaries and in the end, the so-called faith-based terrorists. Osama Bin Laden as the most dreaded non-state actor was born under such environment and rest, as they say, is history.

But I am not going to write about terrorism. Last year I had written a blog

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/democracy-mobocracy-lynching/

Today my friend Pradeep wrote his comments on this blog, as below. Pradeep lives in the US.

This blog addresses the unfortunate consequences of fake news, but the initiation and spreading of fake news seem like the fundamental problem which needs real and immediate solutions. None are on the horizon in spite of some recent efforts. At least in the US, anything goes under “freedom of expression”, but there are those who will believe anything. Some are gullible, some are naive, but many are opportunists waiting to advance their agenda under any guise.

Today’s blog is mainly about good changes that seem to have taken place in India during the last few days. The whole electronic media was sober in reporting the news, compared to the usual jingoistic discussions. They were reporting only confirmed news, or no speculative news was reported. The news coming from Pakistan was also taken from their official sites or official twitter handle. For news from Pakistan media, the words used were “Pakistan Claimed” to describe the news item. I am quite sure there must have been hundreds of rumours, spiked videos circulating on the net. But the WA groups where I am a member hardly circulated such fake items. If someone attempted to share fake or rumoured news, members were immediately asked by the admin to delete such items. The usual sharing of laddoos and sweets was shown on videos on WhatsApp, but this was also done quietly.

Rumours and fake news spread has been mainly because of the advent of social media. India has the highest number of WA users in the world. Indians have taken up to WA like fish in the water. But the Indian government has been pushing WA management to find technical solutions to prevent misuse. A few months back WA came up with a restriction that a message could be forwarded to only five entities, at a time. This restriction has helped in reducing the forward’s people used to make. Now spreading fake item or rumours is not as simple as it used to be. On top of that the WA management is putting up advertisements in newspapers, all over India, in local languages; they are encouraging people to avoid misuse of WA. They are saying, “Use us for joy and enjoy!”

The government of India is also talking to media companies like Twitter, Facebook and is trying to get their big bosses to meet the parliamentary committees, specially formed to prevent the issues created by misuse of social media. These are multinational organisations, so they will take some time to meet. But ultimately they know that volume of business is going to come from India, in future. In India already 400 million people have access to the Internet. This number is larger than the population of the USA. I feel that the so-called freedom of doing anything is misused in the USA more than any other country in the world. In California, a few years back during gunfire, police felt that a terrorist could be involved. The US government tried to get the data from one persons iPhone. Even the courts could not force Apple to give access to his records. So much for freedom!  Freedom is more important than a few deaths at the hand of terrorists. On the other side, the US government has a terrific tracking system of suspected terrorists. One name on the US list is Shah Rukh Khan. Famous Indian superstar has to face interrogation every time he enters the United States at any port. No exceptions.

Are we changing as a society? No, we are not. We glorify many things from olden times, even though many theories are still unproven. More than ten years back a rumour started spreading in India that a Ganesha Idol was drinking milk. India came to a standstill with this rumour. Check this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MG64rk6qkg

Almost 30 years back, there used to be TV serials Ramayana and Mahabharat. Their timing was 9 am to 10 am. The traffic on roads at that time would be zero! So much for faith. Indian society has unbelievable faith in mythological stories. Another remark that I hear is that if it is in writing, then it must be true. In today’s scenario, if there is a video of something, then it must be true. Such blind faith is ideal for rumour mongering.

Let me remind you of something which you must be aware. People of all strata of life believed in the Ganesha rumour; education wise, financial status wise there was no discrimination. Everybody believed in that story. This story reached my ears when a friend of mine Managing Director of a company. He is highly educated and sophisticated. He called me early morning to tell me the story. I said, “Come on buddy, you don’t believe it.” He tried to convince me how it was true.

Good things have come out of this skirmish. Pakistan initially showed a video of the blindfolded felled pilot. After a couple of hours, this video was removed. There were 10 to 15 videos on youtube which Indian government felt were not proper for a peaceful atmosphere. Youtube quietly removed those videos. On WhatsApp, some messages circulating were about how not spread hate messages. Whom to report if such a message was observed. There were messages to all to remain peaceful and let the government do its work. This definitely is a welcome change.

But this has happened during a national crisis. Will we behave maturely in future, in the normal course of life? Will we as a society maintain decorum and be sensible? Honestly, I am not sure. Let the black clouds of Pulwama disperse and let us see how our society behaves. Lynchings based on Cow vigilantes or rumoured kidnappings of babies are not going away very soon. We are capable of blindly believing and following anything. Kalburgis and Dabholkars of this world have been murdered because they were against rituals and trying to teach people to stay away from them.

Pradeep, yes, a good beginning has been made in the backdrop of Pulwama, and it shows a tiny ray of hope that is breaking through dark clouds! That too in India, of all the places! Amen!

MeToo or IToo!

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MeToo movement has caught everybody’s imagination, recently. We all know what MeToo is, but do you know what IToo is? IToo is an old movement followed by many experts who are “experts” without being experts! Expert is defined as a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.

The recent trend is, people join the Google Academy and become experts in any field they want. I will tell you how the thought about writing on this subject came in my mind. I have selected the topic IToo because there are people who market themselves as experts in specific fields. They come in touch with some subject because of their career and start calling themselves experts. They are always in contact with newspaper reporters, they cultivate people who write in newspapers and magazines. Over a period, experts are named scientist or senior scientist and so on. I am not sure, but after some time “experts” really start thinking that they are the real experts.

I heard an interesting story from a friend. We have our homegrown “experts” in Pune. One computer expert went to the bay area on a visit, and he was invited to speak, by a group of people predominantly from Pune. (He is not known outside Pune) During the speech, he asked a question, “How many of you are from Pune”? Many hands went up. He asked them, “Now that you have lived away from Pune, for many years, which three top things you remember about Pune.” The obvious replies were Chitale Mithai wale, (Sweets Shop) PNG Jewellers, and Vaishali restaurant. Vaishali is Pune’s iconic adda for more than 50 years. It is a joint which serves mainly south Indian food like Dosa, Idli. Any of our brethren coming from foreign countries must visit Vaishali at least once during the visit. Our expert, after coming back told his Rotarian friends that he was surprised to see the great value of Vaishali brand name! Now can a Pune person not knowing  about Vaishali brand be called a Pune person? Experts are supposed to know a few things about things outside their area of expertise. But not knowing Vaisahli…. Then he went and met the owner of Vaishali and told him that he wants to honour him on behalf of his Rotary club because of such achievement. The owner said, “I don’t have time for such functions.”  They honoured him at the restaurant itself!

Such stories are found everywhere. Generally, people are decent hence they don’t challenge the pseudo’s about the knowledge. But why people want to be called an expert when they are not? I would not like to call myself an expert in anything because I am not! Why do you want to be known as, what you are not?

I found this interesting table which shows traits of pseudos in the field of science.

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Another field, where there are many self-professed experts, is diets! There are many dietary experts in this profession; their number is going up because of WA and FB. People will share before and after photos, write stories about the path they have followed. My meagre knowledge on the subject tells me a simple method. The human body is designed in such a way that human health depends on what we eat and what we spend in terms of calories. When there is a mismatch, either you lose weight, or you gain weight. Ok, it is not as simple as I have written. There are many other factors but generally what I have written is obvious. There are experts like Dixit, Bose, Tripathi, Divekar. The latest name I have been reading is Joshi. He is giving his theories, and according to him all other “experts” are a hoax or bogus. There is another group (in fact it is a company) which has created the “real expert” groups. They give you a book called “What Doctors do not know and understand” or some such name, to begin with. I thought that Doctors are the ones who study medicine, they study about our body, they generally know the basics. Some may become surgeons, others pathologists and so on. But I feel that they would know more than the “experts”, about our bodies in general.

There has been another group of experts. People from this group are generally from art, cinema etc. As being the members of such a visible group, they think that they are experts in the field of human freedom, censorship etc. They publicly speak like socialists or communists! They treat anybody and everybody from the government as a pariah. These experts don’t mind using government support for foreign jaunts to attend festivals. They do not remember getting land or homes from the government at a meagre price or maybe free. But when it suits them, they suddenly start attacking the government. Recently, an eminent personality from Pune was invited for a talk about an artist and his paintings. This gentleman started talking about how the government is secretly forcing censorship on the art groups, the selection of venues and so on. The organisers had called him to talk about the artist. The committee chief stood up while our friend was bombarding the government. The chief suggested, “We are meeting here to listen to you speak about an artist and your equation with the artist. So please stick to the main subject.” The gentleman got upset and said, “If I have no freedom to talk what I want, why did you call me?” The answer was simple he was told. “Sir, we have called you to talk about the artist and the function is not about government policies. You are free to talk about these policies on the right forum!” He is giving interviews and blaming the organisers for their censorship and high handedness.

There is a saying in Sanskrit, “येन केन प्रकारेण प्रसिध्द पुरुषो भवेत ”! This means that try and remain in public eye by hook or by crook! These “experts” become very much addicted to remaining in the public domain. They try and get some business or work out of their showmanship, but at some stage, their shallow knowledge gets exposed. Their changing the tune to suit the situation is proven many times. They do it only for their own benefit. Self comes before everything else.

Let me share with you an anecdote. In the early days of computers a personal computer was the norm. An “expert” had bought five computers. Someone like me asked him about the multitasking capabilities of the systems. Without blinking an eyelid, he said, “Oh, I have hired separate computer operators for each shift!”

Pseudos!

Pseudo is a term to define non genuineness. Years back I remember, Indian Industry doyen S L Kirloskar had made a very valid statement. One of the main roads in Pune was being widened; some trees were required to be uprooted. Environmentalists, anti-everything gang made a hue and cry that trees are a must and trees need to be protected. Of course, it was true up to an extent. But SLK said, “Are trees for us or humans are for trees?” Development of the planet, some call it raping the planet, is bound to occur. It is now happening at a faster pace. This puts pressure on cities and their infrastructure. We need wider roads, more houses. This needs to be done, keeping in mind the environmental aspects. Opposing everything is incorrect, illogical, and to me stupid. The pseudos want all this to happen at the Stone Age Ecology levels!

We humans sometimes behave arrogantly, try to bulldoze, try to push things to extremes. It’s good to have checks and balances. But opposing everything, for the sake of opposition is equally arrogant, pushy and so is bulldozing everything. It is essential to keep a check, on checks and balances, to me these groups are Pseudos in most cases.

Take the example of a road that my city Pune, is trying to build across a hill. This is going on for a couple of decades. Groups have gone to court. The opposition is against trees that will be damaged. City authorities have given an affidavit to the courts, saying that they will plant 10 times the number of trees that will get damaged. But somehow the case is dragging. Come on, entire cities like San Fransisco are built on the hills! Still, the city is so green!  All said and done, even after so much progress (?), Pune is still a green city!

Why do people and groups oppose everything? Who are these people? They are environmentalists, they are the people who feel that saving this planet from others is the responsibility bestowed on them by Him! Most importantly, they feel that they are experts in every field! They know that roads should not be built on the hills. I thought that there is a concept called a hill station! What are they? How do you move around on hill station without a road? How do you reach the hill station? We know what the roads do. Roads bring cars and trucks, roads bring pollution. But roads also connect places and people. Roads bring prosperity, roads improve connectivity. An idea should be to reach the goals with the least possible pollution.

In this decade Electric Vehicles technology is coming to the fore! The inflexion point for EV’s could be as early as 15 years from today. Various groups should come together and find out what new problems will come up. One thing is sure that emission issues will go down drastically and particle pollution from IC engines will start reducing. But our pseudo-friends instead of working with the vehicle manufacturers, have started discussions about how batteries will create pollution.

Another area where these groups are very active is animals. Saving species from extinction is the responsibility of each government and individual. It is the responsibility of humanity. The natural diversity that we have on the earth should be maintained. In India Maneka Gandhi, Minister of women and child development is at the forefront of this movement. It is a great thing that the Indian government is backing these efforts. But to what extent this should be done is a matter of discussion.

We had a recent incident in the state of Maharashtra. A Tigress, which had become man-eater over the last two years had become a major problem. She has attacked and killed 13 people in her area of dominance. The government of Maharashtra decided finally to take services of a sharpshooter. Even in such situations, an attempt is made always to use darts to anaesthetize the animal by using darts.

The “Shikari” used the darts, still, the Tigress advanced forward in their direction so he shot her dead. Congratulatory messages started flowing and immediately a controversy was created. “Murder” was the headline in newspapers followed by a very strong worded statement by Ms Gandhi. When the minister from Maharashtra Government sent a congratulations message to the hunter, Ms Gandhi demanded that the minister should resign for authorizing a “Murder”! Tigress must be saved at any cost people’s lives be damned! What are 13 people from a population of 1.4 billion people? These people can always be spared.

Then there is the big story of stray dogs. In India, touching a stray dog is extremely tricky. There are rulings which are very much on the side of the dogs, which to me is the right thing.  As per the laws of nature, humans have gone far ahead of other species in everything. They keep dogs as pets, lately, some people adopt dogs instead of giving birth to children or adopting human babies. These lucky pets and adopted dogs have a good life as we humans have. But there is a big population of stray dogs, some of them sick and others rabid. According to laws government agencies can only catch them and can’t kill the rabid dogs. Read this an old article from BBC which says that in India rabid dogs kill more people than the terrorists!

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36035456

But to what extent the leash should be loosened, pun intended, is a matter of conjecture. The subject of saving the dogs has gone a bit too far for my liking. I also have the same question as what SLK had. Are dogs for us or are we for the dogs? I like dogs and I am Ok with folks who have dogs as pets. I know of a couple who live in the USA. They have adopted dogs and when they travel round the globe, they Video Chat with their children. Good for them!

But to me on any of these subjects, humans must come first and and dogs, trees, tigresses, and environment comes second. Not a very distant second but still a second! What is your opinion, my friends?

If – Poem by Rudyard Kipling!

Kipling was a famous English writer/poet who was born in second half of 19th century and died in 1936. He was the first English writer to have won Nobel prize, in literature in 1907. His most famous works of fiction include The Jungle Book, Just So Stories, Kim and The Man Who Would Be King. 

Kipling was born in Bombay, Malabar Hill photo of olden times displayed above, and died in London. He lived in India when the British Raj was at its peak, world over. Some of his writings do have the shade of white supremacy! But he was definitely not out and out a Hitler. Like every coin has two sides, the Britishers felt that Raj was their birthright, though for us it was colonial supremacy which needed to be overthrown. There were many Indians who had taken up jobs with British Government in Police, Army and Civil services in India. Did it mean that they supported the British Raj? Except for a minuscule number, all people took up jobs with British as their lively hood. Naturally, during those times, the rules required to remain in the service, had to be followed. I am sure many of these rules were anti Indian, but the people had to follow them to continue in service. Did it mean that they supported the British? No way!     

The poem, “If”, which had been painted on the wall of the students’ union building, in Manchester, was removed by the Students’ Union on Tuesday, 17th July, in a bid to “reclaim” history on behalf of those who have been “oppressed” by “the likes of Kipling”. Student leaders at Manchester University declared that Kipling “stands for the opposite of liberation, empowerment, and human rights”.    

Besides Kipling’s racist poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’ and there is  plethora of other work which sought to legitimize the British Empire’s presence in India and De-humanize people of colour. This logic by students’ union is deeply inappropriate. The students’ union thought that to promote the work of Kipling, in the Students’ Union building, named after a prominent South African anti-Apartheid activist, Steve Biko, is inappropriate. Is it not a mockery literary activity? Is it not hypocrisy? Literature gives us an opportunity to compare world from different times and place, perspective of which may or may not match with our own. Literature teaches us nuances and the importance of engagement instead of “my way or highway” attitude. It also fore warns us against the pitfalls of being judgmental. Removing the poem from the wall is not the way to show dissent. 

What would have been the right way to dissent?  The poem “If” is about real life and puts forward very positive thoughts about our day to day life. Following are two lines from the poem 

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same   

Kipling has expressed positive thoughts in these two lines! All our life, we face Triumph or Disaster; but Kipling says that you treat them just the same. If we are able to follow his advice, if we do not get too excited with triumph and too dejected by failure, we will travel our life’s journey without many ups and downs in our mind, we will be able to avoid pitfalls! The poem “If” just talks about keeping positivity in life though we may face many storms!  You can read the poem “If” here. 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46473/if— 

What was the point in erasing this poem which promotes positive thought process? The students’ union representative who explained their view point was an Asian lady. This incident took place in Manchester. England is known for its freedom of expression. At the Piccadilly Circus in London, every day you can watch people of different race, caste, creed and religion expressing their views openly. With this atmosphere, students’ union team did what they wanted to do. However, my view is that since the Poem on the wall was “If” and not “White man’s burden”, they should not have erased the poem but should have written the poem by Maya Angelou “Still I Rise”, alongside! “Still I Rise” poem can be read in one of the photos below. This poem is equally positive about life, and tells downtrodden people how to overcome difficulties, though obstacles keep arising!  

MayaAngelou

The British ruled us for 150 years and looted a lot of things from here, including the Kohinoor! They were brutal many times and showed their cunning ways by following the policy of divide and rule! But they had good side too! Recently, Elphinstone Road station on Mumbai suburban railway line was renamed, as Prabhadevi. But basic fact does not change that the railway system in India was built by the British for troop movement! But when they left India in 1947, they did not take railways away. Before British time, there was never one country called India, as is known today. We have been singing paeans of Bharat all the time, but complete Bharat never existed. There were many small and large kingdoms all over which were run by various Kings. British, to take full control over these kingdoms, won over some of them by trickery and some in war.  Credit for formation of Akhand Bharat goes to the British, our number one enemy before Independence.

The literature helps us to look at both sides of a point of view, it has also helped us to look at the British Raj from different viewpoint. Bad points about British need not be elaborated, as they are well documented, but there are many good points too; I am writing in English, which is a gift from the British. Especially after proliferation of computers, importance of English has increased tremendously world over. British society has allowed the students’ union to remove “If” from the wall, they have shown great tolerance by allowing this to happen in England. Will we allow a foreigner to remove a Shloka from some wall in an institution in India? Are we as a society mature enough? If, if only we had that maturity.. It’s always “If” which was written by Kipling more than 100 years ago!