Old age? What is that?

I have shared a poem below that I read on WhatsApp. The poet talks of when one should accept that a person has reached old age. The poem has many lines giving hints to know when one has become old. My counter lines against each line are written in Red.

*केंव्हा समजाव …..?*

*कि, आपल वय झालय*

 का समजावं की वय झालयं! 

 ★ सकाळी गजर होण्याआधी जाग आली की समजाव ….

 झोप झाली आहे 

★ सांगीतलेल्या गोष्टींचा काही तासात विसर पडला की. समजाव…

 त्या महत्वाच्या नव्हत्या 

★ आवाज, गोंगाट याचा त्रास व्हायला लागला की समजाव ……

 ऐकण्याचा आजार नाही 

★ घरातील व्यक्ती वेळेवर न आल्यावर तगमग झाली की समजाव …..

  त्या व्यक्तीचा फोन खराब आहे 

★ रस्त्यावरील वाहनांच्या horn चा त्रास व्हायला लागला की समजाव …..

लोक सुधारणार नाहीत

★ शेजारुन वाहन जोरात गेल्यावर त्याचा वेग आणि आवाज यामुळे भितीने कंपने निर्माण झाली की समजाव …..

 की आपण मधुन चालत आहोत. 

★ एकच गोष्ट परत परत सांगायला लागलो की समजाव …..

 समोरचा लक्श देत नाही 

★ दुपारी डोळा लागल्यावरही मी जागाच होतो असे वाटले की समजाव …..

 की अजुन झोपायला हरकत नाही 

★ रस्ता ओलांडताना पाय थोडे थबकायला लागले की समजाव …..

ट्राफ़िक जास्त आहे  

★ ओळखीच्या चेहऱ्याचे नांव पटकन आठवले नाही की समजाव …..

 ती व्यक्ती बर्याच दिवसात भेटली नाही 

★ बाहेरच्या जेवणापेक्षा घरची पोळी भाजी आवडु लागली की समजाव …..

घरचं जेवण बाहेरच्या जेवणा इतकं चांगल असतं.  

★ ऊठतांना,बसतांना हात गुडघ्यावर आणि तोंडात देवाचे नांव आले की समजाव …..

 दारू जास्त झाली आहे 

     सगळ्यात महत्त्वाचे-

★ जेव्हा मुल म्हणतात बाबा तुम्ही थांबा,जरा शांत व्हा मी बघतो की समजावे …..

 अखेर मुलगा कामाला लागला 

★ बँकेत गेल्यावर कोणीतरी हळूच “काका जरा पेन देता का?” असे म्हणाले की समजाव की आपल वय झालय …..

🙏🙏🙏

मागे वळून म्हणा काही म्हणालात? 

Since the poem is in Marathi, I have tried to explain my thinking in English, about some of those lines.

Above lines are from a poem being shared on various WhatsApp groups where I am a member. The group members are typically educated, and their age group is around 70! The gist of the poem is how one understands that one has become old. One is born,  growing up, getting old, retiring and passing are the phases of one’s life. One needs to celebrate all the aspects or stages through which we pass. Happy and sad are events and not phases.  But this poem talks about when someone can know that the person has become old, sadly.

It appears that generations before our generation lived a life which was quite different than today’s life. Most of the changes that have taken place have happened in the last ten to fifteen years. Our generation calls this golden period. Depending on finances available and the health condition, people do many things which they could not do during their working days. Along with this, technology has brought many old and long lost friends back to our fold. Those who embrace the new technology and newer way of life are happy during the golden phase of life.

When you have a happy phase in your life, should you be embracing the thought process of getting old by saying, “Oh, I am getting old”! Yes, biologically nothing has changed; people become old, at some stage, they fall sick, and in the end, they merge with the nature. As I have already said, the phase is never sad or unhappy, but the events can be sad or happy. I will share my thoughts on some of the lines of the poet. I have written my say on each of the point raised by the poet, in Marathi above.

The first line says, “When should I recognise I have become old”? My say is “why should we bother about what age we are?” That is precisely my point. How does it matter what age we have reached? Things change biologically, but there need not be changes in our rational thinking. Our mood changes with events in life but it happens in every phase of life! Mood changes should not be correlated with old age.

Another line says, if you forget things which you were told in a few hours, then you should recognise that you have become old. If it is humour, then my sense of humour is different. From my younger days, I tend not to remember things if they are not necessary! It is a practical way of ignoring unimportant things. Connecting the ignoring of small stuff to age is not correct.

A family member has not reached home on time, one’s anxiety indictaes old age. Well, I don’t agree here too! In today’s traffic, it can happen, the cell phone may be discharged. If someone’s nature is anxious, then that person would be worried at any age, young or old!

The poet says, “When one starts repeating things again and again! Consider that you have become old.” I know two people very close to me, who  have been repeatings things again and again since their 30’s.

Most of the lines written by the poet are in a similar vein. If this happens, if that happens, consider you are old! This thought process has been the result of history when old age was a tough period of life. It was a period in olden times when there was not much to do! Sometimes when older people were seen enjoying life, others were surprised, they were alarmed. In today’s times, people make new friends, new friends of different sex too. Being friends of different sexes, even today is looked at as a surprise. But people at old age have realised that they need friends even at an older age. And why not? The old couples stay “alone” as families have become nuclear and are spread all over the world.

We see some couples getting married at “old age” when their respective spouses have passed. Is this taboo? At one stage widow marriage or marriages by divorcees was also not acceptable in the society. I think that was wrong. What is wrong in hoping to have companionship? Life’s basic needs of having friendship, fellowship do not change as one’s age increases. Is it something wrong if an “old man” loves to watch Tom & Jerry cartoons? Is it wrong if an “old lady” goes out with friends for ice cream?

Friends, I urge of all you to accept that biological age increases. But to hyphenate or connect old age with some minor changes in one’s faculties is wrong! You cannot call someone old because you see white hair; you may see someone with hearing slightly impaired. They are not old.  Someone may call you “Kaka or Uncle” does not mean that you are old. It is the Indian way of respecting the people older than you. In India, a thirty year old or  a twenty year will not call me Pramod. I will be called Pramod uncle. That has nothing to do with old age, it has to do with our culture!

Those who have flair for writing, should try and write about positive things in life! I have read comments from people on the poem above. Most liked the thought process and contents of the poem. My question to all is why not come out of the old ways of “enjoying” the sadness. Post independence there was  a thought process in India. Rich were supposedly weak and poor were strong as they could withstand tough life. This was glorifying the poverty. Simliarly, I feel that such poems suggest to us to accept that things are going to become tough and sad as we grow old! Biologically becoming old should be accepted as a fact of life. But start touting the golden period of life, enjoy, have fun and never say, “Oh! I have become old”! Changes in body faculties be damned!

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Brightness and Darkness!

Humans with their evolved brain look at the same thing in different ways. Someone looks at the bright side of things, but other person will only visualize dark side in the same situation or event.

A couple of days back I came across a poem, संध्या (The evening) by Gyanpith Award Winner Kusumagraj, (कुसुमाग्रज ) a well-known Marathi poet. In that poem he has mentioned about our life. He says, “The dawn in life was of course beautiful. But I find the beauty of setting Sun even more charming! The Sun during its day time journey was satisfying, guiding all with its brightness, helping the birds looking for their daily tidbits to eat; it was also helping these birds in looking for their path. However, I find it more exalting to see the enchanted birds coming back to their nest as the Sun is setting towards pure darkness. The satisfied souls are coming back to rest in their nest is more satisfying to me.” The poet is more charmed by the setting Sun or the twilight years of his life; this may be because of pure soul pleasing darkness brought in by the evening!

On the other side, there is a poem by Bha. Ra. Tambe, (भा. रा. ताम्बे) another famous poet in Marathi. Instead of welcoming the twilight phase as done by Kusumagraj, Tambe is sad, soulful about the twilight phase of life! मावळत्या दिनकरा (To the setting Sun) is the poem in which he talks about the pragmatic way of life where rising Sun is always loved but nobody bothers about the setting Sun! The world forgets that the same setting Sun was once a rising Sun!  People will bow to the rising Sun and ignore the setting Sun. The good deeds of a person are simply forgotten, the person maybe ignored as this world shows no gratitude to the previous good deeds. The world will talk about the goodness only on the face of the setting Sun but behind his back he is nobody! This raises a question whether for good deeds performed does a person expect gratitude? If done selflessly, then this feeling of rejection will not be there. Here is the song मावळत्या दिनकरा

I always want to understand how a poet writes a poem? Is it dependent on time period the poet lived in? Is it dependent on the mood of the poet at the time of writing the poem? Is it based on certain experiences that poet has lived? It is very difficult to say. Most probably it is dependent on the mood of the poet at that juncture. Tambe was born in 19 th century and died in 1941 whereas Kusumagraj was born in 1912 and died in 1999. It is possible that in his youth Kusumagraj’s mood must have been elated as India got independence. Whereas Tambe lived all his life under the British Raj. This could indicate diametrically opposite thoughts on  the same  subject.

But again, if we read some other poems of Tambe he appears to be in an elated mood e.g. पिवळे तांबुस ऊन कोवळे पसरे चौफेर. This poem is simply happy song of life. He sees happily swaying fields, birds chirping. He sees the swaying flowers as if they are swinging on branches. कुठे बुडाला पलिकडिल तो सोन्याचा गोळा is the last line in the poem. The same setting Sun appears to him like shining golden globe! This is the beauty of human nature, same event from the nature seems different to the person  at different times, in different moods.

I read a poem by a friend, where a lover is looking at his beloved from a distance. There was a tiff between the two and after the usual lover’s tiff, the couple is being pulled back to each other. The lover is worried to see the tears in the eyes of his beloved. When they meet and hug, he tries to help her and lovingly tells her, “Don’t you worry my beloved, now that I am here. No tears please!” The beloved smiles and still has copious tears in her eyes. She says,” Darling, these were never tears of sorrow, but were tears of joy! When you were away from me, I always saw your face in front of my eyes and I could not stop my tears of joy!” The same tears were seen by two sides in diametrically opposite way.

Why does this happen? Is it due to negativity? Is it due to something else? It is  because the mind is difficult to predict.  I don’t know.  In the lover’s tiff  above, both expressed their thoughts with equal love but in opposite words. Our life is similar, made up of bright days and dark nights! Some periods in life are bright and some are dark; our mood changes to match this change in the life’s ways.  This is how the life changes form bright to dark phase and there is generally light at the end of tunnel to bring back the brightness! Bha. Ra. Tambe, (भा. रा. ताम्बे) has shown to us the effect of mood changes in his treatment to the setting Sun! The world around us is same all the time; our perception and mood make it dark or bright! So when the dark clouds come in the sky or in our life, look at the bright side. These clouds are going bring the rains! And then of course, the Sunshine! 

Budget! It’s not a Game show!

Annual Government Budget has been a political show for years together but over a period it has lost its sheen and it is less of a show. When India became an independent nation, budgeting process had to be started. India as a whole, had never been a sovereign country before independence. In 1947 November, India’s first budget was presented. Of course, India was a poor country then and even now the large majority of the people are poor. But over a period, India started many industries, services, IT services was a major proponent of growth. India has a large number of farmers and farming sector, even today, it engages largest number of people. With the rapid growth in various sectors, India’s GDP is in top five nations in the world, though its per capita income is still very low, due to large population.  

As expected, India had a great difficulty in budgeting as there was nothing much in the kitty. Balancing the budget was a great art and there was always a conflict in budgetary allocations. Naturally, we started with education, India opted for large public-sector industries, big dams to help farming and to generate electricity. Then there was war with China in 1962, Pakistan 1965 & 1971 and one in 1947. With these wars, allocation started going more towards arms and ammunition. Factories were built to produce war material. Like any poor household, this strategy put stress on other sectors like agriculture, education. Private manufacturing was looked down upon and the industrialists were looked down upon as profiteers. Profit was a cuss word in those days, hence there was permit Raj and there were limits on the quantity of goods that could be manufactured. This type of thinking always led to scarcities and shortages. This further led to hoarding and black marketing. Added to this was political turmoil of 80’s. I think Bajaj Auto was the first company who challenged the government and said we will produce more scooters than the capacity, let us see what you do!

Since last ten years things have improved in India’s finances. Money is around and governments are trying to be prudent about allocations. Making a large country like India modern in science & technology, engineering, transportation, farming and defense is not a joke. Another important area is digitalization of the nation. Huge allocations are required for all these sectors.  

There is a large middle class, rich class, and biggest class is the poor class. Other than allocations for various sectors mentioned, the poor class needs to be supported in such a way that they become self-sufficient over a period of time. Other two classes have the where withal of taking care of themselves with or without Government support. This is what the government has done in the current budget. Poor will not be helped by dole or subsidies. But government actions may help this group in the most difficult areas, handling medical expenses.

Government has proposed a medical insurance scheme which will cover 100 million people in next couple of years. This scheme will cover a family of 5, for Rs.5/ lacs each. This means that 500 million people will come under the scheme. Illnesses have been one of the major factors that have ruined poor families’ finances. This scheme can take care of expenses during illnesses. Cynics will talk about difficulty to implement such schemes etc. Have you heard of something called Aadhar lately? Aadhar will be perfect tool to launch such an ambitious scheme.  

There is one more decision that will help millions of farmers. Government has covered 23 different items where farmers will get higher than today’s assured purchase price. This will help farmers, hopefully, from their current financial difficulties. There will be discussion why item A is not under the scheme but B is under the scheme. But this discussion is natural as everyone will be interested in his own well-being. But it is about people who are poor!  

But I see people like you and me cribbing that Income Tax slabs have not been improved. Come on we pay taxes; the majority who need help are those who don’t pay taxes! We worry that deduction against money spent on medical insurance is not increased. Difference is we are able to buy our own insurance, there are millions who can’t even buy it.  People are worried that iPhone, diamonds will become costly, Mercedes will be costly. Can these be even subjects for discussions? Every group of people want their pie to be improved. All want Indian cities to look like foreign cities. Only GDP increase does not do this. There should be minimum people below poverty line in any nation. Budgets now should now try and achieve this. For this all have to work together and support the Government whether it is formed by Party A or Party B!  Let political parties play the blaming game; it is their business but why you and I should be party to this?  Let them treat it as a game show in the Loksabha or outside the Loksabha!

Another thing I have observed post budget this time, is the proliferation of “Experts” being interviewed by newspapers. Since when students, housewives start giving Stars to the budget? Are they even one star in their knowledge about budget? Ask finance guys, ask people from industry, ask people in the know of it. They should be giving an overall opinion. Many real experts have opined about the effect of budget on their areas of work. Their remaining comments were general comments and not sweeping ones. What do the newspapers achieve by asking such a wide spectrum and asking them to give “Stars”? If by chance somebody had come to interview me, I would have 100% said, ” No comments! I am no expert in national budgeting”. 

Our nation is now on auto pilot for growth of GDP because of actions by successive governments. Now our budgets are what they should be, declaration of intents, allocation of funds to the priority sectors as visualized by the government in power. Let us make sure that this does not become lopsided; help poor to come out of their quagmire. Super rich will become richer without budgetary support. You and I should stop cribbing about vegetables being a little costlier, tur dal being a bit expensive. Sky is not going to fall if income tax deduction percentage is not improved. We want better India, smarter India and cleaner and neater India; let us make it all inclusive improvement. There could a little pain for a few groups, bearing it is tough, cribbing is simple. You decide what you want to do. Jaihind! 

 

Low Aim is a Crime!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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