Let us become an expensive nation

My friend Saibal and I exchange views on different things, and his brother Probal also takes part in discussions. He is a young man, as defined in Indian politics- he is on the wrong side of fifty. He has earned his spurs in the fierce market place and has got a good experience and knowledge of of the prevailing market conditions. Once in a while he also gets upset like any other proud person. I am sharing with you verbatim, his feelings about the Indian and international market place.

The Japanese management companies in India, have developed this new policy of saying that if they switch over from an imported component to an Indian part, then the spare part should be at least 30% lower in price.

I was wondering why? Are we so cheap as a country or as a community? Are we cheap people? Are we as a country, responsible for this situation? Over the years, we have perhaps unnecessarily announced that our labour and designers are cheap. Indian IT professionals charge much lower rates, minimum wages have been horribly low in India, something like 126th in the world today ( used to be 144th only a few years ago ), the manufacturing cost is low in India etc.

We should all ponder, and our next generation should ensure that they command more respect and charge rates commensurate with their talent. Hope we become an expensive country someday, and the costly tag does not only belong to the Mercs and BMW’s.

I have no intention to insult anyone, but the end result has been unfortunate. I will share with you some examples from the automotive industry. The doyen of the Indian business announced years ago that his company would come up with the cheapest car in the world. This was the beginning of gaffes galore. What does the word cheap indicate? Though the intention was good, in practice, it was a marketing disaster! Why was the term cheapest used, instead of affordable? It was a matter of perception. Are we poor at English or we think that we are destined to manufacture cheap cars? Sometime after the introduction of this vehicle, a vehicle caught fire on the road, while someone was driving. The next day, there were photos splashed in all the newspapers. On the same day in Pune, a brand new Japanese sedan also caught fire while it was parked and entirely burned down. But this news was not allowed to splash the way the cheap car caught fire. One more marketing failure? One more marketing failure was the highest version of this car sold the most! In India, cars are bought and used as a status symbol! Who would want to purchase something tagged as “Cheap”?

If such is the thinking in a large company, then many of their decisions also follow the same path. The results also follow a similar trajectory. The whole ecosystem becomes “Cheap”. Now the question is why Japanese and German products are expensive? A simple explanation would be that their products are top of the line products. I will not write about the details of their industry at the end of the second world war. When I was in school, there was a derogatory term used for Japanese toys- in Marathi the word used was कचकड्याची. If you wanted to buy cheap / कचकड्याची buy Japanese toys; this was the reputation of Japan in the early ’50s. In a couple of generations, people started recognising Japanese products as top-end products. How did this happen? Pride, hard work and urge to become the top country for manufactured goods. Cars, Electronics and other products were the areas where the Japanese concentrated. Toyota, Honda, Sony, Toshiba became household names globally. They decided the group of products, and competed hard with global players and beat most of them. Germans were the ones who fought hard with the Japanese. In their range, the products were superior in quality and with competitive costs. Like the Germans have Mercs, and BMW’s, the expensive cars, the Japanese have their Shinkansen trains. These are superior quality trains and are very expensive.

I will share a couple of anecdotes. Someone was going to travel to Japan for work, and he was going to move from place A to place B in Shinkansen. He wrote to the Japanese, “I am going to catch a flight from B. How much buffer time should I keep so that I do not miss the train?” He got a reply, ” From the train station at B, the airport is 30 minutes away. You do not need buffer time because Shinkansen is late only when there is a major earthquake.” I am sure this was written with pride.

A Rolls Royce car engine failed in Paris, and the car was towed to a dealership. After inspecting the vehicle, the customer’s driver was told that he could collect the car at 9 am the next morning. He did get the car at the appointed time, all running and it was neatly washed and cleaned. How did they manage it? Pride, coordination and excellent customer service plus marketing. They had found out that repairing the engine within such a small period was impossible. They spoke to their headquarters in the UK. A brand new engine was shipped to Paris in a chartered plane, and a happy customer took his car back the next day morning.

Saibal, we need to become expensive in our thinking and our deeds. We should have pride in what we are doing. If your sense of achievement gets hurt, you should be able to walk away from the situation. Your business plan should consider such costs. Airlifting of the engine from London to Paris was such an event where financial damages were immaterial. I have walked out of such situations in our software business a couple of times.

Indians are still mentally two hundred years behind. In Northern India, people boast about how they haggle about the price of vegetables. If the vendor says fifty Rupees, people demand it for ten Rupees and ultimately buy for thirty Rupees. It is our thought process of buying everything cheap; it does not make us competitive it makes us “Cheap”. It gets converted into a mindset of selling and buying low-quality stuff. When I buy apples, I buy top quality apples. I choose the apples and then ask the price. A bit of haggling is ok, but if you want a product for less than half the price, the quality of the same will be proportionately bad. When we buy a car, the first question asked is कितनी देती है? – what is the mileage it gives? We do not bother about other specifications and performance. In short, we are the least bothered about quality. All we want is “Cheap” everything!

Till we, as a society, do not change our mentality, how will we get the quality products? Here I have discussed only a couple of products, but there are products like fans, mixers, refrigerators and so on. There is the service industry. IT industry is a big player in services. After twenty years of a good run, they want to remain the service providers; we do not want to make world-class products. These companies are flush with funds, but since they do not have any roadmap to come out of the service industry and make their own products, they spend this money on repurchasing their own shares. These acts are big negatives for the share market. Hence their valuation also does not change- a sorry state of affairs.

When you do not want to go up the value chain, how shall we become an expensive country? It is our mindset that needs to change first. In many foreign countries, I have seen plumbers, electricians who are proud of their trade. It is slowly happening in our country too! My electrician is a superb artisan, but I had to teach him to clean up the work area after finishing the work. Our big shots in the IT industry, who do not want to go up the value chain, need to clean up their cobwebs. They should want to become proud and say, “We are expensive, but once you come to us, you will not go anywhere else!” I have heard the Japanese saying this often!


From the COVID Patient’s mouth! 

In English, there is a term used, “from the horse’s mouth”! It means from the person directly concerned or another authoritative source. It is the story of a family living in London. Both husband and wife are in the early ’40s with a ten-year-old child.

The information becomes more authentic because both husband/wife in the medical field,; they are dentists! Another important point is that they are family! Today I chatted with them on the Facebook messenger. He was down with COVID 19 for a couple of weeks! By God’s grace now everything is all right, and he has come out of it. I have given below the chat verbatim. I have removed my side of the discussion as I thought it is not important. Secondly, I have removed the references regarding family matters for obvious reasons.

Unedited comments from the patient are below:

I’m good now, just had the most horrendous two weeks when I was down with COVID 19 along with pneumococcal pneumonia. But now fully recovered.

Nice. All three of us at home as well ….no work, no active school (for the child) for the next three months, except for online teaching/learning

Different times. Make the most of it

Most happy to share, no shame. So started out typically with tiredness and mostly mild fever on day1….fatigue, the malaise started to get worse and felt slightly bunged up from day 2 …no cough though. Fever persistent so was taking paracetamol, and grandmom cures like steam, warm lemon juice etc. Just normal measures boosting Immunity and Vit C. Fatigue, tiredness kept increasing…by day 6 the “lady of the house” and myself felt symptoms were worse and was getting very tired. Obviously, I was self-isolating -stuck in a room. Day 7 called up NHS helpline- went through the rigmarole of talking to call centre, a nurse then doctor. Once doctor Heard- I could not even complete sentences- she booked me at the local hospital as a walk-in emergency patient- From then onwards – I went in- all sorts tests ECG, blood, urine, chest X-ray, swabs for normal flu and COVID etc. I was advised to go home with broad spec antibiotics that day and next day the call confirming diagnosis – noticed patch in the left lower lobe of one lung

Problem was that the fever was not abating despite paracetamol even after antibiotics, but then day 10 onwards things started improving. Greatest relief was the drop in heart rate – so much peace within yourself …throughout the illness due to breathlessness or drop in lung capacity or due to fever – heart rate was above 110-115. So literal palpitations. Also total loss of taste and smell.

It was certainly a ride of a lifetime….never before felt so tired and exhausted. Luckily I was eating and drinking fine…and great care from the wife.

From day 10 everything improved …antibiotics were given for 14 days…finished course. Slowly limping back …still feel tired after doing work…but every day improving.

Braver is the lady of the house …because I think there were a few days when I was in delirium. The wife told me that she was really scared but kept her pecker up

Doctors and nurses – I think are the bravest

About locking down- Us too….for months to come

Especially in this era of ever-evolving knowledge…concepts today debunked tomorrow. Scary times.

Chat ended.

Friends, we have been flooded with a lot of information (or misinformation), most of which are “stories”! I thought that I should share with you the experience from the “patient’s mouth”!  One thing I have understood is that COVID 19 is a serious illness and should not be looked at lightly. If a forty-year-old fit person can suffer so badly, what will happen to older persons? Our friend also did not suffer from any other ailment. But still, the severity of suffering could be felt from what he has shared with me. Imagine the fear and suffering of his wife and his child. Please understand that it is a very difficult situation for migrant diaspora living in other countries. The difficulty is that they do not have any family members to support them. It is both physical and mental support that you need in tough times! A bit of hand-holding, caressing of cheeks can go a long way in helping the patients to handle the illness.

The lesson for all of us is that we should follow all the instructions given by authorities to the last T! Don’t be over smart and definitely don’t be foolish. It is an illness, which consumes you easily as currently there is no cure in sight.

When the going is good, life is good for the diaspora but this unprecedented situation has brought in a tricky scenario. Uncertainty, lack of family support, no clarity about the time frame can make life extremely difficult and uncertain!

It is not only illness but any tough situation that one goes through must be shared with others. People write biographies of people who have gone through life’s ups and downs bravely and smartly. Sometimes one wonders who is bothered about someone else’s life. But people look at the heroes because of what they have achieved. If we did not know about such heroes where will be the beacon for other normal people to take the bull by the horn. There have been athletes, and there have been pilots. We know how Armstrong won the French Road cycling cup despite battling cancer! How Pistorius overcame his birth defect to use Prosthetic on both legs (artificial limbs) to become para Olympic champion is a fairy tale!

Friends, be brave, be open in life. Share how you have achieved great things life but also share how you have overcome the setbacks and the fears accompanying them. It is a great service that you can share with others.

I want to share with you again a blog about my cancer treatment six years back. Falling sick with any illness is not a shame. Destiny gives you a great family, brilliant physique and brains; it also gives you illnesses, accidents and setbacks. You feel happiness in life because the life cycle is made up of happiness and sadness! If one is absent from your life, you may not feel the other! They are a part of the sinusoidal wave of our life.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/23rd-december-2013-to-28th-june-2014/

Next link is about how my friend Prakash Nirgudkar handled a catastrophic event in his life.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/23rd-december-2013-to-28th-june-2014/

Thappad! A Slap!

Thappad2

Some professionals review the movies. I just wanted to write about this movie as it touched my mind and soul.

Jaya and I had just finished our lunch, and I asked her, “Should we see Thappad?” She said, “Okay!” So, I booked the tickets and off we went at 2.30 pm to see the movie Thappad. We had made the beginning of enjoying or new perk in our golden phase. Feel like going to a movie, go! Mind you, it was first-day first show Citi Pride, Kothrud, Pune. As expected, the hall was less than 1/3 rd full. Movie halls do not fill up for realistic movies with no nach and gana!

The movie is a classic two-hour-plus show, based on “just” one Thappad or a slap. The director has woven a story based on one incident. The atmosphere for the movie is created beautifully by the director showing three couples from different strata of life. First one is in a Mercedes, the second one is on a Motorcycle; both the couples are enjoying an orange candy. The third couple is going double seat on a cycle. The husband scolds the wife and makes her walk home the remaining distance, after a fight after initially enjoying the conversation. It builds the atmosphere that indicates that happiness and domestic violence/fights are prevalent irrespective of where you stand in the pecking order!

Thappad1

The storyline:

Vikram and Amruta are a happily married couple. They are in the process of moving to London and would live in Hampstead (The upmarket area in London), with a blue main door, a favourite colour of Vikram. Vikram is a dashing professional. Amruta has a strong personality who could have been a professional classical dancer. She has given it up on her own to become a housewife. To celebrate the news of his promotion, they have a party. Things take a sudden nasty turn when Vikram gets the story that he will not be the boss in London but will have to report to someone. He argues with his colleague, and there is an exchange of rude words. Amruta and others try to salvage the party by taking Vikram away. In that lousy mood, he slaps Amruta in front of all. All hell breaks loose! Or is it! No, it does not happen that way. Amruta is stunned and shocked. The words used show the reactions of others. Sh*t happens, you have to move on! Ek to thappad tha! Life moves on to the next day as usual, but Amruta’s thinking is poignantly expressed when she says to Vikram, “You could not move on in your career episode because you were emotionally involved with your work. But what about me? I had invested my whole life living with you. So how can I move on?” She later tells him that she must move on because she does not love him anymore.

How the movie rate?

It rates up there except for the last fifteen minutes or so! It appears that these fifteen minutes bring in the box office side of the business. Acting by Taapasee Pannu as Amruta deserve the top accolades. She turns, looks and feels like a wilted flower the moment the Thappad scene is enacted. Moments before, she looks like a fresh Morning Glory flower! Her presence brightens and freshens up the screen with simple things like collecting the daily newspaper, cutting fresh herbs for morning tea! Pavail Gulati’s debut role as Vikram shows that he will go miles in his career. He has a pleasant personality, and I was impressed by his involvement. Veterans like Kumud Mishra as Amruta’s father and Ratna Pathak Shah as her mother are perfect! Tanvi Azmi plays a critical role, Vikram’s mother to perfection. Smaller roles of Amruta’s lawyer and the maid are also played professionally.

Outstanding aspects of the movie:

It is the way the film is woven around one incident in the life of a family indicates the exceptional work done by Mrunmayee Lagu, the writer of the story. Another important aspect is how the story opens the minds of different characters due to the stand taken by Amruta. From initial withdrawal and sadness, her role develops into a strong personality. Pannu shows her prowess as an outstanding actor. You can see her character developing in front of your eyes.

I observed one thing about people watching the movie. Initially, there were some stupid comments and murmur. As the film progresses, there was a pin-drop silence right till the end.

The scenes between the father and daughter Amruta are beautifully handled. The subtle act moistens one’s eyes. Don’t feel ashamed; it is okay to display your emotions. That bond has a special place in our lives.

How has Chalta Hai, Bardasht Karo attitude (Move on) changed the thinking and the minds of other characters? It has changed the thinking of seniors initially. Their primary thought, in the beginning, was “Log Kay Kaehenge? Or what will people say if you talk of divorce? Our society never thinks in like Amruta? Her main question to everybody is what about me? (In plain language, “to hell with everything else.”) Vikram’s mother says to Amruta, “It was my fault that I did not teach Vikram how to behave with ladies. I taught him to be selfish and achieve his goals.” Amruta says in one dialogue, “Vikram wanted that home in Hampstead with a blue door. But mother, my favourite colour is yellow, he never bothered about it. I had given up all my “likes and dislikes” to keep a happy atmosphere at home and what I got in return was a Thappad in front of everybody!” Vikram’s mother also says that “It is your mother’s fault too! She never taught you to give it back to husbands but meekly accept everything.”

Amruta’s act opened wounds of all the ladies. Her lawyer tells the stunned husband, enough is enough. “I don’t need anything from you.” The maidservant hits her drunkard husband as she is also encouraged by Amruta’s act. To hell with male entitlement!

Vikram goes to the neighbour enacted by Dia Mirza to request her to give a false statement during the trial. She tells him, “My husband died long back, but he was a good man. Please go!”

One could on and on, but the slow rebellion is to be seen to be believed.

It is an excellent film on a subject taboo in our society. How can we make changes in our community? To begin with, go and see the movie. I sincerely hope that our filmmakers will make more such films.

Pathbreaking?  

We are lucky to be around in 2020, especially for those from my generation because we have used bullock carts, radios and we have used computers, cell phones, apps changing the world. I am comfortable using all the new technology, and I am not overwhelmed by various apps. The gadgets and apps galore are changing the way live. Sometimes I wonder how we survived during my childhood. But everything always has two sides. There is proverbial another side the society finds at some stage, once the euphoria dies down for anything new.

I am talking of Cell Phones, FB, WA and Instagrams and many such 21st century things; along with this, there are game-changing apps, too, like Air Bnb and Uber/Lyft/Ola. These were designed to create a lifestyle previously unknown to us. But you will be surprised how the apps get used for the purpose not thought of by the creators. Those who create such apps also make errors of judgement in the software will work, or users could use it. I know a bit about software as I ran a software product company for almost twenty years.

We had a product called DMS, dealership management system. The product did everything for authorised dealers who sold and serviced vehicles. The product created for such companies followed all statutory rules, but for private dealers, we modified it to suit their requirement in the initial launch phase. One problem these dealers faced was that some vehicles were brought for repairs by the drivers hired by owners. They would demand some easy money from dealership owners. We tweaked the system to include some spare parts in the bill but did not reflect on the inventory. The extra money was paid to the driver from the vehicle owner’s pocket. An enterprising dealer used this system for engine overhauling work. The user would replace 50 spare parts but display 70 spare parts in the bill and skim the money! Software users are smarter!

Let us consider Airbnb. It stands for Air-bed and breakfast, or Airbnb (“Air-b-n-b”) for short. Airbnb is an online community marketplace that connects people looking to rent their homes with people who are looking for accommodations while travelling. How does Airbnb workAirbnb lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. Airbnb takes 3% commission of every booking from hosts, and between 6% and 12% from guests.

Okay, this is the business part. But what it means that I have a home where I have a room available for temporary renting. I make it available on the site. Travellers who are going to be in your city, look for accommodation. They see various options with the help of photos and writeups; the home may be an average home to fancy home. You advertise the rate for the stay. If people find it suitable, they will book and stay. When you leave, you bring it back to the condition you received it in and go. It is more like a homestay.

But in London, they found a big fraud had taken place in the system. A group of people came together and created a system whereby various “homes” were under the umbrella of an organisation. They got these properties on Airbnb and fictitious owner names of Jack, Daniel, and so on. They would rotate the same properties in the name of these people. Furniture, arrangements inside were similar, but they would publish photos taken from different angles so that homes looked different. Airbnb has a separate business company where they list hotels too! But Airbnb is only for individual households. The group in London was running a big fraud probably because Airbnb charges a small commission for such homes. People tried to take advantage of some loophole in the system to cheat the company. When people offer their homes, they generally provide with great care. But this group had poor cleanliness standards and in general, had the mentality of fly by night operators. Why people go to any extent to cheat for a few extra bucks? Such episodes bring different thoughts in mind. Should I save some dollars or book formal hotels? In these hotels, at least I know what I would get.

Let us now think about Ride-Hail apps. When talk of these apps, Lyft, Uber and Ola (in India) names come to mind. The apps were supposedly THE solution to pollution problems. What was expected from the apps? People would stop using personal vehicles; they would stop buying private cars in large numbers. Lower emission and lower pollution will make a happy world! But has it happened the way it was supposed to happen? Yes and mostly no.

Why is it so? It is because there was one assumption made in the model. These ride companies expected that a lot of their business would be given by sharing of the rides, because of cost-effectiveness. But in reality, it does not happen that way. To begin with, a person like me who is used to travelling in my own vehicle, I don’t even consider sharing a ride.

How does share work? Assume that you are going to the airport. The software maps your path; you then select a share option. The software would track a customer going in a similar direction with share option. Cab will pick up the customer or customers! They all could be going to the airport or in that direction. You are already late to catch the flight, and you might just make it. On the way, the Cab takes a five-minute detour to drop or pick up a customer. You become jittery. I hope that I have created an extreme situation. The situation may not be critical every time, but would you give an additional 15 minutes buffer to handle such eventualities? It is an individual choice. But data indicates that ride-sharing is very low though sharing ride could be cheaper for customers.

Another thing that the app designers did not consider was, would ladies share rides with unknown males? If you regularly share with your colleagues, it is another issue, but otherwise, this possibility is remote.

What is the result? There are not many shared rides, but there are more and more cars on the roads. More importantly, the data says that cab drivers drive for 40% of the time on the streets, empty. Pollution is not reduced, and drivers are not happy. What has the app done for society? For people like me, when I feel that there could be a parking issue, I hail a Cab. Some of the younger folks don’t buy cars these days. They use these Cabs extensively. If the benefit expected was ten, then I think we have achieved between three and four!

Why such errors take place? Do people not think through correctly while designing the business model? These companies do not own cars, but their product is the software which runs their business. Sometime back Uber CEO had mentioned in an interview that he does not think Uber will ever make a profit! Currently, it is losing money heavily.

 What other effects does it have? As the number of cars has gone up, the peak time traffic speed has considerably reduced in all Metropolis areas. As these vehicles are available anywhere, they have sucked people away from buses and trains. People used to walk short distances, but now they hail a Cab. All these consequences were unintended, but the fact remains that it has happened!

What is the lesson for the future? Wait for any new system to show its results; immediate results are meaningless. Many VC’s have invested tons of money in these companies. Is it really worth it? Does it mean that product designers made mistakes and the VC’s also misjudged? How does the entire ecosystem make errors of judgment? Mind you, these are not small systems.  We have also seen the intended and actual use of social media apps. A classic example in India is the way people use “Missed Call” to send predefined messages.

In future, it is going to be tough for the human race to decide which new processes, products to use!

Justice Delayed 

Justice1

The problem with the law is that it is blind. It is quite like the plight of a young blindfolded child trying to hit a piñata – there are always chances of collateral damage. The blindfolded statue of Justice which is supposed to portray Her objectivity and therefore Her greatest strength also becomes Her greatest weakness. 

Justice, as a concept is depicted by a statue of lady justice which is blindfolded, carries a balance and a sword in hand. What is the significance of this depiction?  

Lady Justice is most often depicted with a set of scales typically suspended from one hand, upon which she measures the strengths of a case’s support and opposition. 

Since the 16th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or any other status. But in some statues, the blindfold is removed. The explanation is that the maidenly form of the statue implies that she will be impartial.  

The sword in her hand indicates the power that she has as the final authority. It suggests that there is no argument on the decision taken by the authority of law.  

All these definitions and discussions are fine in. But does one always get justice in real life? What is the definition of justice? After all, the justice system in any state or for that matter in the world is based on rules and regulations decided by you and me or our representatives. So, the justice system is fluid and needs to change as per the situation. At the same time, it cannot change at the fall of your hat.  

The thoughts about the justice system started in my mind as I have been reading about the Nirbhaya case. (The brutal rape and murder of one lady in Delhi by a gang of six thugs including juveniles in the year 2012.) After a long and delayed case, finally, the verdict was given to hang all the culprits to death. But the convicts are taking advantage of the loopholes in the legal system.

Nowadays, when I read the judgements, a term regularly is used “rarest of the rare cases.” In many countries, the death penalty is not given. But the maximum sentence given is life imprisonment. It is difficult to say what is right and what is wrong. India still has the death penalty in its system. But sometimes the term “law is blind” seems to be appropriate. In the Nirbhaya case, the most brutal attacker was a juvenile! But what should be the definition of a minor? Simply because the person is below eighteen, he/she is defined as a juvenile. The brutality displayed by the young person in the Nirbhaya case was so severe that the person should have been hanged publicly; if possible, he should have been stoned to death. He got away with a stay of three years in a correction centre. I am sure that he is leading a healthy life now as an adult. I am not sure if it is possible to live normally when the person had behaved so brutally. Maybe he is a demon in human form.  

The sentence given to them is to hang by death. But it appears that the ruling was that all of them should be hanged together. Why is that so? The only logic a common man like me understands is that since they performed the act together, they should be hanged together. To me, it is the most illogical. All these guys are taking advantage of the system and are making appeals after appeals in cyclic manner. If an appeal delays the hanging of one person, all persons escape the hanging. Innocent till proven guilty is a sentence which one hearstypically. But once these guys are proven guilty beyond doubt, the current system allows them to delay the final act. It is making the mockery of the system. How long the cyclic appealing will continue, only the god knows. The system does not consider the family of the victim. They are looking for closure about what happened to their beloved daughter.  

One side story in this episode is equally awkward. A well-known Supreme Court lawyer, Indira Jaising, has suggested to the family of Nirbhaya that they should pardon the convicts. She has given the example of the pardon by Sonia Gandhi in Rajeev Gandhi assassination case. But no two families are the same. Who is Indira Jaising to tell this family about forgiveness? It only adds to the agony. Why has Indira Jaising not filed a PIL to ensure that the cyclic escape route for the convicts should be eliminated from the system 

A couple of days back, there was an attack in London during the daytime. A terrorist attacked a few people with a Matchette which was as long as someone’s arm. One person died, and a couple of people were injured. The attacker was caught by the anti-terrorist squad a few years back. He was sentenced to three years of prison. He had appealed, and during the hearing, it was found that as per the existing laws, the attacker could not be kept in jail. So, he was released after the stay in prison for one and a half year. He was released. But there are hundreds of such cases in Britain and these persons are required to be physically followed to ensure that they don’t attack people. But there is a limitation of how many such people can be observed. 

The terrorist was under the surveillance, but still, he managed to attack and kill. It was the system that released him. The British law or for that matter laws of any country were designed and defined when there was no terrorism as we have today. They were planned when there was hardly any migration. It is observed that the terrorists in most countries are migrants. These things take time to change. But real-life situations like terrorism and immigration don’t wait for the laws to change. These aspects of life are like time and tide! They don’t wait for anybody.  

What is the solution for this? I honestly do not know. But one thing for sure is that preachers like Indira Jaising should not interfere in somebody else’s life. Her daughter was not raped and murdered. When the event occurred in 2012, Indira Jaising must have surely burnt a few candles in the candlelight march. I hope she had not met Nirbhaya’s family at that time to suggest to be lenient to the perpetrators.  

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even Better India!

My previous blog was Better India! The blog got responses from people, and the subject has touched many hearts! My friend Ajit was very vocal and made strong pointsThese many comments induced me to write this blog, Even better India! 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/11/18/better-india/ 

Most have agreed about self-discipline, and road discipline and rule-breaking by ordinary people. But the comments also suggested that if specific actions are taken against a group of people, we can have “Even Better India”! Who are these people? Which is this group of people who need to be controlled? Politicians, Bankers, Rogue business persons? Or all these can be defined under one group, Goondas? Maybe this is too strong a word! People working in government have great opportunities to take bribes, but let me assure you it happens in the private sector too! Let me tell you that taking bribes has been happening even in my parent’s generation! I know it because my father was a police officer and retired as a DCP! Since he was an honest officer, after retirement, he did not have enough money to buy his own home too! Our family found a different solution for them. While I was in school, at some family friend’s house, I had accidentally seen a few bundles of hundred-rupee notes! He was a government official. So how do we start to make even a better India?  

Independent India started with people who had their needs barely covered, but there was only small higher middle class and wealthy class. Our country was in a euphoric mood, and the income tax slab at the top end was 97 %! We were in a socialist mood. There was general hate about wealthy people as if they were some aliens. Wealthy Kings and Royalty were expected, but there was dislike about rich people. At 97 % income tax rate tendency to hide profits and not showing correct income started becoming a norm. My personal view is that I would have also done the same thing had I been a taxpayer in those days. Over a period, the government understood the folly of such high taxation plus need to get linked with the global systemTax % over a period became more realistic and with global links business activity in India started increasing. IT industry suddenly put many Indians in the worldwide workforce. The number of people in the middle class and higher middle class started growing.  

Now we have millionaires and billionaires in the working class. Along with this change, businesspeople started becoming superrich. Income tax compliance increased, but people still started hiding their income, the most standard method was to create a group of shell companies, thanks to the creativity of chartered accountantsSome well-known global accounting firms also started helping businesspersons by suggesting the Swiss Banks and Cayman island routes. Some super-rich became roving Casanovas and had lifestyle which created many Nonperforming assets. Homes in London, Villas in Cannes, spending summer months in St Moritz became the lifestyle of these people.  

When there were so many super-rich people, politicians could not be far behind. The nexus became stronger. The lawmakers tweaked the laws for their friends, and the quid pro quo was not far awayWhen money levels reached thousands of crores, the need for bank loans increased, with this cheating the banks also increased. Over some time, friendly managers, general managers and directors of the banks started the quid pro quo acts with the rich! You help me; I will “help” you!  

Some of the super-rich entered the political arena, along with these people some harmful elements from the society also joined the bandwagon, including those with murder charges, started becoming netas and getting elected in Vidhan sabha and Lok SabhaWe all forget that theoretically, India is a great democracy with significant rules and laws to keep check on malpractices! The income tax departments, enforcement directorates, and other authorities were around but were kept dormant under pressure by politicians. These group of officials were “told” to ignore malpractices done by certain groups of businesses. Politicians thought that they were immune to such actions.  

But in recent years, the government is trying to ensure that the vigilance departments would start doing the job actively, without any influence from interested” people. The action created Mallyas, Modis and Kotharis. People who thought that they could never be caught have become official fugitives. Government has started action against shell companies, and three lac shell companies were forced to closeThe act of closing shell companies automatically brought out the trail of black money. Government has started acting against chartered accounting firms who were “guiding” people to hide the black money trail. A chartered accounting firm in Bangalore was guiding thousands of employees to “steal” money from Income Tax. All these people were made to pay correct tax, and it was easy for the department to locate who was guiding them. The authorities acted against this particular company too! 

The nexus between all these groups is so deep in the system that it is going to take time to bring them to books. Some political families, who were middle class twenty years back now have thousands of crores with them, without any specific known source of income. How is this happening? Will the government have the guts to act against such families? I think the government has shown courage already by taking action against individuals and families 

Supreme Court is also quite proactiveThey are actively pursuing cases like Sahara, DSK, Unitech, Amrapali and many others. The court has put many big shots in jail. They have been told, arrange to return people’s money if they wanted to come out of jail. Mallya, Modi, Kothari have been shamed as they are declared fugitives! They are living the life of fugitives in other countries. The courts, even in the UK, are making it very difficult for them to get bail. These folks ran away from India before they were declared offenders, so their exit from India and entry into the UK has been legal, so extradition has become a tough and longdrawn process.  Banks have also started correcting their errors. The NPA money to the tune of four lac crores has been recovered from defaulters 

One thing is sure that the system does not like non-corrupt officials and politicians. But some non-corrupt people have shown that one can work in the present corrupt environment. When the government started giving various subsidies based on Aadhar card links, many groups and individuals were upset. Some state governments are already acting on corrupt officials, but there is a long way to go!  

Making changes is not as easy as it looks, but again it is about the culture. The world over there is significant corruption in large business deals. But usually, it does not happen on day-to-day be basis like our policemen, anti-encroachment team taking hafta (speed money)! So, it comes back to the same issues what I wrote in the blog “Better India”! If the policeman on roads, clerks in the offices, peons sitting outside the boss’s cabin stop taking haftas, things will change.  

Government action on business people, politicians, and goondas is going to help create “Even better India”! But as Ajit had also mentioned in his comments that the general public is good; no, I don’t agree! All the big guns or goons whatever you want to call them, are being chased and are being taken to task; the same non-hafta culture and culture of self-discipline must filter down to the lowest common denominator!  

Actions need to be taken right across the board and not against only some groups! Combination of these two actions is going to make “Even Better India”!

 

To err is human!

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The common phrase ‘To err is human’ is often heard in its fuller form ‘To err is human; to forgive, divine.’ It means that we humans are bound to make mistakes, and err while we live. But it is crucial that others forgive those who have made errors. Without this forgiveness, people will try to avoid the work they are doing.  One thing for sure is that what we are talking are errors and nobody wants to make errors deliberately.  But the slide above is a more realistic representation of the human thought process.

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But there are some fields where errors are almost non-acceptable. These are the functions where human life is involved, for example, the medical field, the pilots, and so on. Errors in these fields can lead to loss of human life and/ or property. But that is another subject.

Sometimes we all lose our way. We are humans, after all. We make mistakes. We focus on the wrong things. We pursue goals at all costs. We waver on ethical and moral cliffs. We get too far down a slippery slope. We steal. We cheat. We lie. We deceive others. We deceive ourselves. We don’t open ourselves up to our friends. We see crime or fraud committed by our friends and colleagues, but we don’t speak out. These can be misjudgments by good people. In these moments we’re not the friend others deserve, the partner others choose, the child our parents raised, the epitome we wish to be, nor the person we’re capable of being. But does this mean that we should not get a second chance? Does it mean that we should be blamed throughout our lives? Should we be punished for life? 

Take the case of Australian Cricketers Smith and Warner. They were caught planning and cheating to alter the ball condition in a test match; there was video evidence. They were sent back from the tour and banned from playing Cricket for one year. It was a great humiliation. Loss of face which happened because of a moment of indiscretion; the indiscretion was caused by an urge to try and win a test match at any cost, by any means. Were these players born cheats? Were they bad humans? I don’t think anybody is born that way. They learned their lesson, accepted the punishment with humility and fought their way back in the team by sheer performance. Last week, Smith was being punished the second time by booing crowd at the Oval in London in a World Cup game against India by mostly Indian group. The second part of the proverb came into play to the surprise of all. Their cricketing foe Virat Kohli gestured to the crowd, while batting, to cheer Smith instead of booing. Such magnanimity! To me, this gesture was more pleasing than the Indian victory. It showed how Humane Virat is! Later he said, “Smith was already punished; he has all the rights to make a comeback!” 

It is not the failure that defines people; it is how they come back from disaster. It is already a bad thing that you stumbled, but it is worse if you do not want to change, improve and attempt to become the right person again.  

What defines a mistake? What is an error? When we started living in an organised society thousands of years back, the society formed its own rules. The societal norms became acceptable by trial and error. In the absence of the concept of ownership in the pre-farming days, the standards were different. The idea of marriage and ownership did not exist. When couples had sex, there was no question of breaking the rules as there were no rules. Probably, only the mother knew about the birth father of the child. The concept of theft was not very serious, as almost no one owned anything.  

But there are mistakes and errors which are the time honoured ones like a promise given to another human being. In today’s world of social media, we have too much data and information flowing in our direction. Add to this the travel time required in major cities, which has gone up.  We have so many “friends.” It is moralistic thinking “to err and to forgive”. All these can lead to failure on our part to honour commitments.

But with modern society, new thought processes have also come into vogue.

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This is a tongue in cheek slide which reflects on the current management principles. The rules and thoughts about erring are quite different because of politics in any organisation. Those who can win the political game, win the race. Forgiveness be damned! This my friends is real life! Proverbs and sayings are for mere mortals not for hotshot managers!

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This slide, of course, is looking at the new technology with humour. Computers have made life quite simple for us. At the same time, we are becoming over-dependent on computers. How can the computer make a mistake is a real question? The way computers process data and information for us is totally dependent on how we humans have programmed it. To correctly program the computer, those writing the program should understand the subject in details. Advice from domain experts is critical. I will share one professional experience with you. We had sold a software product to a multinational for their business processes. Later on, the GST regime started. We had made our product GST compliant. From the customer side, they had a top-notch management company to advise them on the subject. Some changes were needed in their SAP. We called for a meeting to check the compatibility of our system. We found that the knowledge of the domain team from consultants was not adequate. With our experience, we knew that in such a complicated situation, a smaller vendor is declared erroneous! Might is always right. But we made sure that we were perfect and their system was tweaked to match our policy.

So in the real world, the mighty is always right, they never err! So it is necessary to avoid errors or mistakes. Also, it is essential that the whole world knows about it. But in personal life, forgiveness works, and you don’t need to blow your trumpet! Forgiveness reminded me of a story.

A thief is caught after some theft in his village. His mother comes to see him at the police station. Before being taken away, he requests a private meeting with his mother. He embraces her and bites her ear. She screams, but the thief says, “Mom, I always used to steal things in school, but you never reprimanded me, in fact, you almost praised me. Your forgiveness was wrong as you never scolded me. Look now, I have become a thief!”

 

 

Birds and the bees!

In the politically correct language when parents are supposed to talk to their children about sex education, the term “birds and the bees” is used. That reminds me of a joke. A Lord from London goes to Paris with his son for a week. The son has turned 18. After coming back, her ladyship is after the lord to teach their son about the Birds and Bees. Reluctantly he calls his son to his library. He says, “Son, we went to Paris to the night club. We had some drinks and later on met some beautiful ladies. Ahm! Next day, we had breakfast with them and later on went for a swim with them.” The son is confused and said, “Dad, what are you trying to tell me?”. The Lordship says, “That is what the birds and bees do!”

Human has many common traits with other living things. All are born and die. They procreate, eat food, travel, some species migrate. The main difference in humans and others is the development of brain and thumb on the hand. These two make humans different and superior to most species. Species coming closest to humans are monkeys. Humans are supposed to be enhanced version of monkeys.

I was thinking about how advanced we humans are but some things we do, always put me off! Why does the “advanced” brain work awkwardly and nastily these days? Humans tend to look down upon those with “lesser” brains! My favourite activity in the day is to watch birds keeping themselves busy. How do they know where to fly for their food and water? Which GPS are they using to travel back and forth to their destinations every day? Which alarm clock are they using to wake up every day on time? How do they understand the Sun’s movements? How do they understand Equinox and Solstice? Do the non-migratory birds change their daily travel times in line with the Sun’s moves?  How do the migratory birds have advanced GPS to travel thousands of miles, back and forth every year? They also understand Equinox and Solstice. Are they with “lesser” brain?

We can learn many things from other species. With our brains, we should be selective and pick-up good stuff from them. Take for example the Cat. It always tries to cover its poo with something. Some unfortunate humans don’t have access to toilets but they never even try to hide their poo after they are done. The other day I was watching some pigeons. In the next condo, there was an overflow of water on the terrace. The pigeons were making use of the water pool that had formed, to take their bath. But they made sure that water did not splash anywhere. They were doing it in an orderly manner. Pigeons don’t get such poodles every day. Look at the frenzy we have on common water taps. People have been murdered over the fight for the right to collect water on public taps.

I am sure the other species have their fights. There are altercations in humans too! But we humans sometimes cross the limits. I go with my daughter Priya to drop Rhea for school. With Sun’s direction change, the Sun rays on that spot where we wait were very bright. So, we stood inside an apartment complex, a few feet inside their area for shed. A man came, he was a resident there. He started speaking nastily about our entering their premises without permission etc. Priya and Rhea immediately started walking out. On the way out, I said, “Sir, we were standing only to avoid the bright Sun, for the child”! Something clicked in him. He started a tirade which took a nasty direction. It was a monologue which ended with a statement that we were trespassing. I said, “Sir, why don’t you call the Police and register a complaint!” The bus came, and we left that area. Friends, you will be shocked when you know the words he used! I have only written politically correct words.

I am sure the other species have their unwritten rules, which they understand. We see some battles and fights among them about the ownership of the territory. But we brainy humans have made better and or more sensible rules to create better habitat. We have an elementary practice of giving the right of way to the pedestrians, to cross on the zebra crossings. Near our home, we have a zebra crossing, freshly repainted. I was crossing the road, and a motorcycle guy came at a speed. I was indicating to him to slow down. But he shouted at me and said, “Don’t you see I am going at speed, you xxx!” He zipped in front of me.

I have seen the cats feeding the kittens, the birds giving food to their babies! Do they check WhatsApp while feeding them? Are they sometimes late because they have attended kitty parties? Do parents not have time to take their kids to doctors because “Oh! They are in IT!”

I am sure there are some extraordinarily capable and as well as dull species like we have in humans. But to my knowledge, they never fail to do their basic things. The nests they build, the colonies they create, the hives they construct are the classic examples of the essential work done by species. You will never see a bee without a hive, or an ant without the hill unless of course damaged by us smart humans. Why don’t we follow our primary responsibilities? Why do we create a situation where a large group of humans will be homeless? Another large group will be forced to live in poverty? Is it because a small group of people own substantial assets?

Keeping track of our health is in our hands. But we flog our bodies so much that we fall sick. Getting sufficient sleep is one the primary requirement. But we humans are experts in getting less sleep. Only rarely this sleep deficit can be work-related, but mostly it is fun related like partying and drinking. I will share with you how Polar Bears stick with nature’s requirements. Due to extreme cold, they are required to go into hibernation. Scientists have done studies about the sleeping habits of the bears. They found out a fascinating phenomenon. The polar bears in an area go into hibernation precisely at the same time, though they may be dispersed over an area! Going into hibernation at the precisely same time is impressive. Lights out in the army barracks?

The human race has progressed a lot compared to other species. But with these developments, we do some things that cross the limits of wasting time! Syncing with nature and enjoying the fruits of development and research can go hand in hand, provided we want to do it. Let’s be humane and not only humans!

In future, I am sure that whenever the Lordship tells his son about the birds and the bees, he will also say how the other species rest well, how they take care of their young ones, how they do not flog their body to enjoy vices. He will also suggest to his son to be in sync with nature!

Happy Republic Day!