Where is the reset button? 

Could you attend the PTA meeting? I have an important presentation. Hey dad, I will call you asap. I am a little stuck up. I have contacted the garage three times; they are not responding. You had promised me that we would meet for dinner for two consecutive months. Now let me check with my astrologer when is the D-day! We will pick up the new car at four p.m.; we will go in a cab. From there I must go to the airport directly. How many times have we heard such statements?

If hundreds of thousands of people are so busy in their work 365/24/7, then the many things are wrong. We do not know how to estimate the time required for an activity. Or it could be that the sales/planning team gives unrealistic promises to customers about the delivery, based on current capabilities and strengths. The whole team does not understand each other’s capabilities; hence everybody is busy round the clock. What could be the reasons?

Shishupala

There is a story in mythology. Lord Krishna promised his aunt, Shishupala’s Mother to spare her son for 100 crimes such that each will be worthy of a Death Penalty as per the rules of their World. When Shishupala crosses the limit, Lord Krishna struck off Shishupala’s head with Sudarshana chakra. Current situation of humans is like that of Shishupala. Our Lord Krishna is Mother Nature! We have behaved in such a way that we completed at least 50% of the hundred allowed crimes, against mother nature, in the last fifty to seventy years.

The current pandemic is Nature’s way of telling us that enough is enough. Nature, for us, is Mother Nature. Typically, she will condone some more crimes, as a mother.  You can say that she has communicated the strong message by way of a text or WhatsApp message, a tweet. She has written on our FB wall and the Instagram account. She has been moaning with pains due to what we have been doing. But we do not want to learn. She has sent a message in the current language, RESET!

We have been so busy doing other things that we do not even know where the Reset button is. In India, she had sent a couple of strong messages by way of Tsunami in the year 2004. Then the next year 2005, there were thirty inches of rains in a few hours in Mumbai. It stopped everything, and Mumbai limped back to normalcy over a period. Lessons learnt, zero! In 2005, typhoon Katrina flooded New Orleans in the US. It took months for them to come out of the disaster.

At least now let us try to find the Reset button! The button is in our hand all the time, but our brains do not send the signals to the fingers. I will explain what I mean in the global language, computer language.

If you are having problems with your PC, you can:

  1. Refresh your PC to reinstall Windows and keep your files and settings. Refresh also supports the apps that came with your PC and the apps you installed from the Microsoft Store.
  2. Reset your PC to reinstall Windows but delete your files, settings, and apps—except for the apps that came with your PC.
  3. Restore your PC to undo recent system changes you have made.

I feel that humans have passed step 1 mentioned above; we are in phase 2.

How do we achieve Reset? Well, there many smarter people than me in this World to tell this; unfortunately, some feel that they are smarter than Mother Nature. Resetting can be done if we want to do it. It is in our hands.

First, try to delete the term 365/24/7. We feel that all the time available to us must be devoted to work, work and work. We know that there are other things like holidays, family, children, parents, friends. The current situation has given a great shock to us. One of our family friends expired early morning today. Because of the pandemic, we could not bid her adieu! The same thing happened when another friend died last month. For these families, it is the most significant punishment when children living far away in different cities or countries could not come. A family had taken a similar decision to ask the child not to come when the father suddenly died! Reason US Visa issue! Mind you, and there was no pandemic going at that time! Oh, one has to be prudent! Do you understand what I mean? Visa status is more important, not the father’s death!

Now technology is commercially available for moving away from fossil fuel for the automobile industry, for the last ten years. We are progressing at the snail’s pace in that direction. To hell with the smog. We are still talking about improving emission in fossil fuel vehicles. We are okay with heavy pollution!

IMG_0267 (3)

But the current situation has shown us how the atmosphere looks without pollution. It is displayed in a photo of Sinhgad, above, that I have taken. It is 20 km from home. In Punjab, people can see the Himalayan range from 100 km distance. Do we want this change or not? Are we going to heed the signals sent by Mother Nature? If we ignore our body signals, we can die of a heart attack. Mother Nature has given us another chance; grab it. Honestly, I am not sure that we have it in us.

The good part is some of us seem to have located the Reset button. Far-flung families and friends are zoom calling every week. Husband-wife both working from home do not feel shy to inform that they will be off meetings for a couple of hours as their child is unwell. Neighbours talk to each other from their gardens or balconies. They sing songs together. They have formed orchestras with neighbours and enjoying it. It is a profound change; people did not have time to talk to each other in the family due to 365/24/7!

We have started appreciating cleaning crews and sweepers as we have realised that they are as important as doctors and nurses. We understand these people who have been working nonstop for a few weeks.

But countries like the USA are not able to find that Reset button. They still feel that Arctic snow melting is a temporary event. They are not worried about CO2 and CO emissions. Once the business activity starts, everything will be hunky-dory! Was there a pandemic! Oh, you are talking of the Spanish Flu, a hundred years back! Recently a million US citizens had a touch of Flu; 88000 thousand deaths were just collateral damage! Nobody died in my home!

Another good activity observed is that people and countries have started cooperating as a “Bubble.” Australia and New Zealand want to start working with each other. Some small Baltic countries have started working together. Cooperation is the name of the game; fighting with each other was never going to be beneficial to anyone. Rich countries like Singapore and Saudi Arabia have realised the folly in treating migrant workers shoddily.

The casual approach of the developed countries during the pandemic has hopefully taught them that they can also learn from not so developed countries like India.

Where are we friends? What is your estimate that we will press the Reset button at least in some areas? I will be thrilled even if 50% of us find it, mark my words “find it!” Out of these people who find it, even if 50% use the Reset button, it will be fantastic! I will join you for that dinner that we have been missing for many months. I will give you the treat, and do not forget it will be in my garden! I will cook! Oh, I have found the Reset button, and I am very much going to use it!

Donation Culture!

 

donate1Since time immemorial people have been donating for various causes. Some people have been wealthyprosperous to average persons like you and me. But many people who themselves are monetarily challenged have also been donating. Causes for each individual and organisations have been different. I would prefer to use a phrase sharing of resources for the monetarily challenged people.  

I had written a blog previously about Donation Culture.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/let-us-all-become-bill-gates/

The largest of the donor known to us has been Bill Gates. Through his foundation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he has donated the US $ 60/ billion or maybe even more. When asked by someone about his still being in the top five wealthiest people in the world, he replied, “Maybe I am not donating enough money!” Warren Buffet and many superrich people have been donating funds for the causes they believe. Recently, the Titanic actor Leonardo Decaprio donated the US $ 30/ million to help douse the fires that have erupted in the Amazon River jungle.  

The list will go on and on, but I have one grouse. Why do people advertise what they donate? I have nothing against Bill Gates because along with donations, he personally and with his team ensures that funds are utilised efficiently. He is giving his management expertise along with the money. The team working on these projects get paid by Gate’s foundation. In case you are not aware, he donates money mainly for the eradication of diseases like AIDS, Malaria; he does this by sending expert doctors and scientists to these areas. He also negotiates and convinces pharmaceutical companies to keep their profits to reasonable levels for the medicines they buy, and not at the normal extravagant levels. By negotiations, he ensures that the money he donates reaches more people.  

I have been observing over a period the trend of donating money during national calamities like floods and earthquake people enthusiastically give by way of money and material. But do we have to advertise this by posing for photographs, while handing over the donations? Every day, I see in the newspapers individuals or group of people being photographed while handing over the money to authorities. Is there any need to publicise this?  

There are reasons to donate. You donate to charity, donate for a specific causeGiving culture is very important in our life, it boosts our morale, and it makes one feel good. It introduces children to donation culture, the importance of donation. Nobody wants to live on charity, but the circumstance in some cases force people to live on charity. Some are born in deprived family, where parents may be uneducated, sick or may have some other cause which leads them to opt to live on charity. Some people simply don’t want to take efforts of doing any work and would rather live on charity. But my judgement tells me that there would be very few people in this world who would prefer to live on charity.  

In India, the donation culture is started and pushed forward by the Marwari community. They are a business community, and there are many moneyed families. They have been donating to hospitals, the food kitchens for needy on round the year basis.  

The Sikh community has a superb method of “giving”. Sikhs perform Kar Seva; it means that people offer physical services in Gurudwaras, like cleaning, sweeping, cooking, and whatever work is available. Such services are provided by the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich. You may find a Managing Director of a company and a peon from that company sweeping floors at the Gurudwara at the same time. The basic theory behind this is that in front of Him, everybody is equal. Another system in Gurudwaras is Langar. Food is provided to all those who want to avail of the facility, irrespective of one’s social status. Jaya and I were lucky to have langar food at the Harmandir saheb in Amritsar!  

Birla family has donated crores of rupees to build beautiful Mandirs at various places in India. Unfortunately, these Mandir’s are not called Ram Mandir but Birla Mandir! I can understand a plaque being mounted, or a board hung, giving the names of large donors. But naming the structure, especially a Mandir, in the donors name does not suit my tastes.  

There is another tendency that is cropping up these days. During the calamities, thousands of people donate material, money or services. I am pleased and proud of this gesture. But every day in newspapers, photographs of families, members of organisations handing over the cheques to authorities are displayedI feel that it is incorrect to display one’s good deeds. Are you doing it for publicity? Are you donating to show off? Do you want the whole world to know that you have given funds to a cause? I don’t think it is essential. Why can such acts not be done discreetly? For someone Rs 200/ or 2000/ maybe a large sum but to me, it need not be publicised.   

Do the soldiers in the rescue operation publicise their photos, every day? Do the disaster relief team members advertise their deeds? They know that they must take over rescue operations in the time of disasters. In the same vein, it is the responsibility of people to support the way they want to, discreetly. What do you gain by printing your photos, other than a boost to your ego?  

One exciting act I have started noticing in recent times. A group of motorcycle mechanics from the Aurangabad area shut their shop for 15 days and went to the worst flood-affected areas of Sangli. They stayed put in that area for about two weeks and serviced the vehicles which could not even start as these were under floodwater for a long time. They did this work for fifteen days, free of cost! What magnanimity? Don’t forget that the mechanics earn their bread on the day to day work they get in their shops.  

There have other groups who have also offered their services free. Some of these are doctors and nursesI always say that I do not bother about political affinities. But I must praise the volunteers of the RSS who rush to spots the moment they realise the need for support. Let us not forget that these people are like you and me. They are clerks, engineers, accountants, and maybe even vegetable vendors too! But they all come under the umbrella of RSS and take the lion’s share in helping people irrespective of the caste and creed!  

I would like to share two interesting news items. During Kerala floods, the UAE government had offered a massive amount of funds to India. It is because a large number of Keralites work in UAE. But the Indian Government politely declined the aid after thanking the UAE government, saying, “We have enough funds!” 

There is always a grouse that private organisations do not do much during disaster situations. Walmart has proven everybody wrong. When there was severe flooding in New Orleans, after the storm Katrina, for the first few hours, everything was paralysed. Before US government agencies could organise rescue operations, Walmart gave instructions to their New Orleans office to use whatever was needed from their stock in New Orleans, including small boats, to be allowed to be used for rescue. For the first two full days, only Walmart team were doing the rescue operations!  

Disasters will come and go, people will help, but I hope day by day the tendency to self-publicise will come down.