Should Hindi be imposed?

My friend Shrikant wrote on Facebook a very sensible note about an alleged imposition of Hindi all over India. He is a മരുമകൻ– son in law of Kerala. So, I presume that he is in a better position than me to comment. This led me to read the original statement made by Amit Shah, our home minister on the subject. The gist of what he said is in the statement below. 

Mr Shah said, Hindi is spoken by most of the people and can unite the whole country. He said efforts would be made to expand Hindi to different parts of the country but not at the cost of other languages. Shah later also said that the foreign language English is predominant in India, so instead why not Hindi?  

I have not understood the controversy in the statement. Shah has not said that it should be promoted at the cost of the regional languages, anywhere in the statement.  

Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour, and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups.  

Even 200 years back, India was not known as India as it is recognised today. Till then there were Rajahs, Badshahs who used to run their own kingdom. In those times, travel and communication facilities were inferior. Going from place A to place B would take hours if not days. With these limitationsthe bouquet of knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals would remain disconnected with other cultures. The possibility of the merging of cultures must have been within a distance of about 50  to 75 km if the terrain was not steepWith rough terrain, that also would be difficult.  

1947 created India and Pakistan. British had started the railways; road transport had become better than before. Travel had become a bit easier. So some mixing of culture started automatically. If we consider only the state of Maharashtra, people spoke different Marathi in Bombay, Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, JalgaonThe spoken languages were distinctly differentLocal dialects also merged with spoken wordsSo when we speak of Marathi, nobody is really sure Marathi of which region we are talking about.  

HIndi1

So why then the emotional reactions about Shah’s statement. In the year 1978, I remember that in Bangalore we had shared a taxi for a tour with two couples, one Tamil and the other Kannada. We communicated with each other in English. What Shah has suggested, instead of English, why not Hindi? It is just a suggestion; does it amount to imposition? Central Government has offices in all the states and Hindi day is celebrated in each office, irrespective of which state it is. What is the point in looking at every statement from a political angle? Are elections the only important aspect in life? Kashmir had even more serious issues due to decisions taken by Britishers. But the government has resolved it in one stroke. Rules and regulations must be enforced but culture? No way, but who is forcing the culture? A statement made at a function was not a policy declaration. 

Culture seeps on its own. Let us look at the airports. A large number of people travel by air these days. For some reason, almost all CISF personnel are Hindi speaking individuals. You got to any airport from Chennai, Kochi, Vizag to Guwahati. They communicate many times in Hindi, but nobody objects to that. Idli-Dosa is the South Indian staple food, but it is almost becoming national food. You are out and want to have some food quickly. You go to Idli-Dosa joint in any city, and you are out in 20 minutes. Even Mcdonalds has not been able to penetrate their market. Has anyone made it compulsory to eat Idli-Dosa? Hindi films is another medium which merges cultures beautifully! When Shah Rukh dances to the tune of Lungi Dance, Lungi Dance, the whole of India likes it, not only Tamils or Malayalis 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lungi+dance+video+youtube&view=detail&mid=4AAD8BE78B35602C090E4AAD8BE78B35602C090E&FORM=VIRE 

The so-called resistance to Hindi is in the Sothern States of India. Script for these languages is quite different compared to Hindi. But the alleged differences are historical as India became India for the first time in 1947! For reasons already discussed, these differenopinions were natural, and people thought that Hindi was being imposed on them. I will share one example which indicates the complexity due to the technological changes that have taken place in the last seventy years. The regional languages naturally could not keep pace with technological changes. The onslaught of technology was felt by German, French, Spanish and Chinese too! English has come back strongly and has now almost become a global language, thanks to Computerisation!  

The way languages world over are facing the issue,  our regional languages also faced the same problem. These languages cannot cope up with the technological changes. But WhatsApp and Facebook have facilitated all local languages to be used for communication. Thereby the feared obscurity of the languages is gone. Now people chat in Tamil, Marathi and Telugu; and many other languages. Those who are English educated but know the mother tongue, use the Roman script to communicate in their language! “Barobar ahe na?” (Am I right?) I wrote Marathi in the roman script. So, nobody is going to kill local languages.  

How rich the regional languages will remain, depends on people using itAfter all most people “think” in the mother tongueDon’t worry too much. Tyre repair guy will be mostly Anna from Kerala! Idli-Dosa guy will be from Udupi! Recently I have observed that in the construction business, Bihari workers in Pune are being replaced by those from Bengal. In the hospitality industry, we see many ladies from North-East states working in large cities and even in distant hill stations like Mahabaleshwar. But mind you, most of them are conversant with the local language when their stay is long enough, but they also know Hindi!  

One thing we should never forget that language richness, quality and type changes with era. What was considered classic when I was in school, does not appear so today. The same thing is true with songs and movies too! Yesteryears classics seem a bit naïve today! Today’s generation loves today’s classics better than classics of my school daysThere is nothing wrong in that; tastes changevalue system changes! 

So friends, don’t get excited and start slanging matches; don’t begin your protests. Go and see a Hindi movie or a Tamil movie! You will love it! Nation’s unity is more important, not the regional language! 

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The world is my Oyster!

Adab and Namaste!

My nephew Atul used to go to the UK to work as a doctor. He would go for a small duration, and every time he went to a new place. The English spoken in each area was so different that he sometimes wondered if he knew English at all! It took him a couple of days to get used to the pronunciations. In today’s world when your whole family may live world over but for that we all must understand the nuiances of human behaviour. We should not be judgmental about other people’s ways, rituals, methods and their way of life in general. Those who assimilate faster where they go can then say, “The World is my Oyster”!

The nature of humans, their behaviour, their way of handling life is different. We have similar differences in India too! Like Marathi spoken in Pune, Satara, Kolhapur have their distinct flavours and dialects. Aurangabad and Nagpur have their own variants. It all depends on the culture prevalent in that area. Aurangabad was more connected to Hyderabad and Nagpur is still more attached to Madhya Pradesh though both are in Maharashtra.

I was wondering why this happens, and there are reasons. Many times, the culture depends on the construct of the language spoken in that area. English is by far the most flexible language and has absorbed many words from other languages, mainly from Indian languages. It makes the language more vibrant, and people can express what they want more clearly.

French usually give a vague answer to queries, and they may start with a reply which may seem negative. The reason for this is that the French language has 70000 words compared to 500000 words in English. So answers in English can be more precise, where French replies are vague. The first and most important NO in French is the one that means ‘je ne sais pas’ the ‘I have no idea’ NO. It is estimated that nearly 75% of the NOS encountered are to conceal a lack of knowledge. It likely comes from the terror of ridicule for being wrong. The word non in French has its roots in the French obsession for protests. “The French Revolution was about the irrevocable right of all citizens to refuse, and ‘non’ has a quality of ‘revanche des petits contre les grands’ [revenge of the underclasses] that seems to satisfy the inner peasant or proletarian in every French person, of any class.

The unique Indian gesture that often leaves visitors to the country flummoxed is the Indian nod. One thing all travellers to India talk about – apart from the dreaded Delhi Belly, of course – is the great Indian head nod. It’s not exactly a nod (up and down from the neck, meant to indicate ‘yes’) – or a shake (straight side to side to convey ‘no’). It’s a smooth movement that involves tilting the head from side to side vertically, either gently or fiercely. Does it mean a definite, yes? Is that a kind no? A maybe? A sign of uncertainty? Annoyance perhaps? It is difficult to say without knowledge of the context. It is almost always a ‘yes’, or at least indicates agreement. “There is also an element of being friendly or being respectful, and it is difficult to say which unless you know the situation.” Indians are brought up to be pliant and polite, especially to guests and to elders, and do not like to say ‘no’ directly. Indians mumble incoherently; smile sheepishly, and nod vaguely, all to put off making a firm commitment. Indeed, the head nod is a gesture meant to convey ambiguity and does so effectively.

Finnish people have different ways. Finns think if there’s no important topic to discuss, there’s no conversation at all. One of their national sayings is ‘Silence is gold, talking is silver’. But read the next surprising aspect of the Finnish people. With two million saunas in the country, which are enjoyed fully nude (generally gender-segregated, although that rule tends to be thrown out in the company of friends), the Finnish seem to have no problem with getting up close and personal. But when clothes are on, the bets are off. Probably they don’t look at each other much while wearing clothes and hence don’t recognise them!

Germans and their language have different ways of expressing things. Many new words get created by combining more than one word. Schadenfreude means pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. Schadenfreude puts together schaden (harm) and freude (pleasure) – but this is common. Compound words often can’t be directly translated into other languages, so jokes made with compound words simply won’t be funny to non-German speakers. For example, look at this joke below.

“Why can’t you pick up your watch if you’ve dropped it? Because no Urheberrecht.”

It is explained that Urheberrecht means ‘copyright’ – but German has another very similarly pronounced compound word – Uhreberrecht – which has a literal meaning of ‘watch-pickup-right’. When spoken aloud, it’s the dual implication that results in a comical effect. In English, there are no such similar-sounding words, so English speaking people simply won’t understand the joke.

The German comedian Christian Schulte-Loh explains it well. Fully aware of the stereotype the Germans are labelled with, he writes in his new book, Zum Lachen auf die Insel (To England with Laughs), that Germans are too honest to be polite and the English are too polite, to be honest.

Why people behave in a certain way? Why people react in a certain way? One thing we must realise is that people world over are the same as everywhere else. The way we feel that the actions of other people as funny, other people also feel the same way about us. It is a popular notion in India to call a stingy person, Marwari! There is a reason. The Marwari people initially lived in Rajasthan in the desert region. It was the shortage of water and everything that made people care about using all resources. Now the Marwaris live all over India, they are a monied community, but their fundamental nature of minimum wastage has not changed.

I have seen that people in the Aurangabad area have a different way of communicating. People typically say namaskar whenever they meet. But in Aurangabad, I have seen people doing Adab, and their gesture is made in the way as is done in Muslim culture. Why is this so? Aurangabad is in Maharashtra. But the reason is that till ’60 s of the last century, there was no bridge on the river Godavari at Pravara Sangam. Bus from Pune would go up to the river, people crossed the river in a boat and took another bus from there to Aurangabad. Hence Aurangabad had more connection with Hyderabad, which has Muslim culture. By the way, one interesting observation. People from Aurangabad become परेशान  when they are troubled! A word typically used there.

People travel a lot these days, in India as well as abroad. I always tell friends to keep their mind open and accept what you find different in new places. Enjoy local food at those places. Go and see local plays and dances. The more we see these new things, the more we realise that people are the same all over the world!

वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् is the apt term in Sanskrit, meaning the whole world is a family!

Why do I blog?

 

blogI will tell you why I am writing this blog. But let me start with what is a blog. A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. 

The subject of my blog writing came up recently when we batchmates from COEP met for lunch. The current blog is my 474th blog. A friend asked me, “Hey, Pramod! What is your target for writing blogs? 500 or a thousand or what?” I told him, “Look, I never started writing the blogs with any thoughts. I started fiddling around in 2011. In the first 3 to 4 years, maybe I wrote about fifty blogs. Later on, when I was recuperating from my cancer treatment in 2014, I had time on hand. I was in retrospection mode. I realised that I had started enjoying blog writing. I have written blogs to put together thoughts that come to mind. The idea was never to have any target for the number of blogs I wanted to write. At that time, I would have been most pleased if I had reached a figure of 150.

I started getting more and more time as my professional work tapered off, and now that I am almost retired, blogging keeps me busy and interested. I discuss a subject with someone, I read somewhere, and there you are. I realised that there is a blog lurking behind any event that is happening in our beautiful, and sometimes not so beautiful world. Sometimes, it is personal; at other times, it is general. Sometimes it is about something of national or global nature. But there is no dearth of subjects. I am also lucky that I had Mr Mayekar as my English teacher in school. I have done my education till 11th grade in Marathi medium, but I started learning English from 7th grade. Mayekar sir’s encouragement made me comfortable in English. I am sure he would have been happy to read a few of my blogs. He would always say, “Written words become interesting if you put your heart in your writing.” Blogging is now my passion.  

Now the title, why do I blog? There is a reason why this question has come up. A friend from our WhatsApp group seems to be having some issues with my sharing of the blog on the group. Honestly, I do not have any problem with this, but since he is my batchmate, and known to me, I am a little worried about his questioning. I get a feeling that he has some health issues which creates his reactions that look awkward on the group. Now, some other friends from the group have been writing comments on my writing, but I feel that this friend needs to understand what a blog is and why people write a blog.  

First and foremostblogs are written for commercial purpose to make money, but many people, like me, blog for non-monetary considerations. There are many such reasons. One of them is passion. In India, the blogging culture is yet to spread as it has spread in western countries.  

At its core, writing is a form of communication. It is about recording thoughts on paper and making others think, argue and sometimes even agree with the writing. To that end, writing (just like every other form of communication that has ever existed) improves with practice. Blogging will not force you to become a better writer; it’ll just happen as you do it. And becoming a better writer holds significant benefits for the rest of your life—whether you are creating a book, a presentation, a résumé, or an anniversary card for your spouse. 

You’ll become a better thinker. Because the process of writing includes recording thoughts on paper, the blogging process encourages you to stop and think deeper. You will delve deeper into the matters of your life and the worldview that shapes them. Unfortunately, at this point, many will choose not to blog (or write at all) based on the faulty reasoning that they “have nothing to say.” But to that line of thinking, I always respond the same way, maybe you just haven’t discovered yet what you have to say. 

You’ll develop an eye for meaningful things. By necessity, blogging requires a filter. It’s simply not possible to write about every event, every thought, and every happening in your life. Instead, blogging is a never-ending process of choosing to articulate the most meaningful events and the most critical ideas; but this a personal perspectiveThe process of selecting a subject helps you develop an eye for important things. And remember that sometimes the most useful things appear to be most mundane—but you’ll see what I mean once you get started. 

Blog writing is either convergent or divergent. By convergent, it means that the subject is vast to start with, but in the end, the discussion narrows down to a tiny part of the issueBy divergent, it means that one starts with a small event like a sentence we read somewhere, and end up writing about a broad subject. A few times, you know what you are going to write in a particular blog, but many times you start writing, and vistas open up as you write!   

What are the positives of blog writing? It allows one to express the passion for one’s thinking. I have written a few blogs about how I handled my cancer treatment. If these blogs have helped to make a difference in the life of a few people, I will be delighted. My blogs bring me in touch with new people and old friends. Many times, there is an intellectual interaction. I can share my knowledge; I have had all my career in the Automotive field. I can share my experience and explain what is expected in future in the automotive field, with others. I come in touch with like-minded people. Consistent blogging helps me improve my writing skills. An essential aspect of blogging is it improves my knowledge. In my recent blog about article 370, my knowledge on the subject was not much. I researched and understood a lot of things on the subject. 

There are many commercial advantages of blogging like an improved business, networking etc. But for me, it is of no use as I don’t blog for those reasons.  

Last but not least, blogging has now become a passion for me. It is an addiction; it is my alcohol, and it is my cigarette. I never look for any subject or topic for writing a blog. But when I read books, or newspapers something clicks within. When I watch TV, some words or sentences hit me, and my mind starts whirring. It settles down only when I put my thoughts on paper! Somehow, I can find time even during my travels, but work-wise now I am pretty much relaxed. 

My friends, I am not looking for numbers, nor have I any target! I will keep on writing until I enjoy it. Famous cartoonist R K Laxman used to publish a cartoon every day in times of India, “You Said It”! He was once asked, “How can you do this day in and day out for so many years?” He said, “There is no dearth of “cartoons” in this world, so it is quite simple.” In the same vein for me, there are so many things happening the world over; my problem sometimes is that some blogs remain pending for days together, like this blog!  

 

 

Cuckoo in the nest!

The expression a “cuckoo in the nest” has a range of meanings. It can mean any person or thing found where it doesn’t belong and is also used to indicate any problem that snowballs, consuming resources needed for other purposes. Also, the term is sometimes used to refer to an illegitimate child.  

How did all this begin? It began with the fact the Cuckoo puts its eggs in the nest built by the Crows (in some areas different birds). I was trying to find out scientific reasons for this but could not find any logical explanation. Cuckoo is smarter than a Crow. But I also understand that crows are smart, but they are not smart enough. The Cuckoo puts the eggs in the Crow’s nest when the Crow has gone out.  

Cuckoo1

Cuckoo thinks that this fellow Crow is building the nests for him, so why should the Cuckoo waste his time on building the nest. They act like humans and try and conserve their resources. Cuckoo’s eggs hatch early and then Cuckoo’s try and ditch the host’s eggs. The young ones in some cases look similar in the initial phase to that of Crow’s young chicks. They make a lot of cacophonies so that the crow feeds them early and more. It’s like the small babies; the mother gives them milk when they cry. Another theory I have read is that the Cuckoos are vegetarian and they ensure that their young ones get the proteins in the form of bugs from Crows. 

All this discussion leads to a question about parasites. A parasite is an organism that lives within or on a host. The host is another organism.  The parasite uses the host’s resources to fuel its life cycle. It uses the host’s resources to maintain itself.  Parasites vary widely. Around 70 per cent are not visible to the human eye, such as the malarial parasite, but some worm parasites can reach over 30 meters in length.  Parasites are not a disease, but they can spread diseases. Different parasites have different effects. 

We see parasites in the human race too! My first interaction with human parasites was when I was in engineering college hostels.  We used to be three per room. But in some places, more than three students lived. These students lived in the hostels for a couple of reasons. There was a music lovers gang. They would have music sessions on many nights. Sometimes these sessions would continue for a few nights at a stretch. On those days, some would sleepover and continue to do so for weeks. Those were pre-security or terrorism days, so nobody bothered who lived and who went back home. Last year my buddy Nayan and I visited the hostels out of nostalgia and were required to make the gate entry, inform the purpose of visit. We also had to wear a security tag. Then there was another set of parasites, though in small numbers. They were from families with financial constraints and would live in their friend’s room right through the year. Nobody would even discuss such an act (which could be called illegal!), but these folks were parasites out of compulsion and could be called good parasites.  

I remember a very distinct system from my school days.  I used to come to Pune sometimes for holidays to be with my grandparents. In those days, there was a system called “Madhukari” (माधुकरी). In my grandparents home, a couple of young students used to come for lunch every day. I would not know the basis for choosing such persons for lunch. They were obviously from low-income families and had got themselves attached to different families for getting invited for a meal, on different days of the week! The Marathi term for this is “वार लावुन खाणे.” Technically, these young people were parasites, but they were invited by the family due to an act of charity. It was resource sharing by the family with these unfortunate young people. I shudder to think when I remember this system.  

Cuckoos are smarter and many times larger than the hosts. The same analogy can be applied to business organisations who follow a very similar concept. I know about a particular organisation which is massive. They have businesses in many spheres. When they find that an individual small, agile and smart organisation is challenging them in a business area, they compromise with them in that area. But in other business areas, they compete aggressively with the same small organisation. I am not sure whether to call such organisations savvy or smart or aggressive. They conserve their resources in certain areas to compete like hell in the other areas! These large organisations cannot be called parasites, but the act of conserving resources is a part of the definition of parasitism!   

There is an old fable of the ugly duckling. It is a story of accidental parasitism. By some accident, a swan egg becomes part of duck eggs family. The eggs get hatched, and the swan gets treated as a duckling. It looks different than the ducklings and is treated like an ugly duckling. The ugly duckling cannot quack like the other ducklings and looks very different than others in the family as the ducklings grow. Once the ugly duckling looks at its image in the water. It realises that it has turned up into a beautiful swan. We know and hear of such fascinating stories in real life too!

Take the case of Jasprit Bumrah. The Gujarat cricketer has an unconventional bowling action, and when he started playing in IPL for Mumbai Indians, experts gave him a couple of years to be around. They all predicted that he would not be able to sustain his action over a long period. But look now where he is! After five years of Cricket, he is very much around and has become the number one fast bowler in the world. He has taken advantage of his asset/resource of different bowling action and is expected to be around for years to come. Conversion of ugly duckling into a Swan?

Talking of Cuckoos, I always used to wonder about the word Cuckold. Diving a bit into the background, I found something interesting. 

From the word Cuckoo, an interesting word Cuckold has been derived. A cuckold is the husband of an adulterous wife. In evolutionary biology, the term is also applied to males who are unwittingly investing parental effort in offspring that are not genetically their own. In the days of when DNA testing was not available, it would be straightforward to get Cuckolded. When the child was conceived, only the mother would know the birth father. 

I must share an amusing story. In olden days, when the kings would go on wars, they would use the Chastity belt on their wives. The belt design was such that it would allow the wives to continue with their ablutions, but it prevented them from having sex. A king prepares to go for a war. He gets a chastity belt for his queen. He locks it and hands over the key to his trusted servant so that it could be handed over when the king came back from the war. The king was about five km from the town, and he heard the sound of someone riding the horse. The king is surprised to see his trusted servant. He comes next to the king’s chariot and says, “My Lord! You have given me the wrong key”! 

 

Is 450 a prime number? The Math controversy in Maharashtra!

I am so good at Mathematics that I am 100% sure that the number after 449 is 450! But is 450 a prime number? Is 450 divisible by 3 or 5 or 7? What is the square root of 450? What is the nth root of 450? My first statement is 100% accurate, but after all these arguments, I am now uncertain how good I am at Maths. What is the meaning of being good at Maths? Is your aim in life to become Dr Mrs Naralikar or Dr Naralikar? If it is not so, then you do not need to know the answers to all these questions. Why do we need to learn any subject? Why are we introduced to so many subjects while we are students? I assume that the main idea is to make us a rounded personality. See, the aim is to round off; we do not need to know the figures in fractions or fourth decimal in real life. 450 is good enough in real life instead of 449.9999999… etc. Is 450 a Prime number is a rhetoric question!

Recently there has been a big discussion going on in the state of Maharashtra about the way numbers are spoken and pronounced in Marathi. Mathematics expert Dr Mangala Naralikar declared that by changing the way the numbers are currently pronounced, Mathematics as a subject would become easy to learn. Majority of people find Mathematics very tough and challenging to learn and understand. This difficulty can create problems in these people’s day to day lives as their skill sets may not be good enough to perform basic transactions in day to day life. QED!

Q.E.D. or QED (sometimes italicised) is an initialism of the Latin phrase “quod erat demonstrandum”, literally meaning “what was to be shown”. Traditionally, the abbreviation is placed at the end of a mathematical proof or philosophical argument to indicate that the evidence or argument is complete, therefore used with the meaning “thus it has been demonstrated”.

See the Mathematicians want to say “I am done with a problem”, but they make it complicated by using the term QED!

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People taking part in Maths Olympiad, people talking of Fourier transform, discussing algorithms among themselves is fine, but when they start talking about their expertise in a WhatsApp group of ordinary human beings, things become tricky. Is Math Olympiad winner a genius or Sachin Tendulkar? Who has achieved more? Is achievement in Cricket lesser than achievement in Maths? In the academic world, a lot of importance is given to people who are good at Maths. They are considered geniuses, super intelligent, and so on. Is being good at Maths so important in life? In our day to day world, too much emphasis is given to Maths. One writes excellent poems, or she is a fantastic singer. Is it not good enough? Are you dumb if you are not good at Maths?

Ok here is a disclaimer! I have done Master’s Degree in Engineering and have learnt a bit of complex Maths. Come on! How many engineers use Maths in their day to day work! In my school days, there was an emphasis on knowing number tables by heart. Smart ones were expected to know tables up to 30 and also the tables for 1/4, 1/2, 1 1/2. I remember an incident which happened ages back. We were in Dallas in an amusement park. We bought something to eat, and I had the US $7.38 ready to pay. When the girl completed her calculation, I paid the money. She was surprised and asked me if I were a genius. I just smiled. I felt as if I had conquered the Mount Everest! (Not exactly, some minor peak!)

Why is Maths challenging to learn? I can find so many reasons. Proper methods of teaching and good teachers are the most important ways of making Maths attractive. My daughter Priya had a teacher who mixed up between one million and one hundred thousand. Then students are afraid about answers; in Maths, these are either right or wrong. Because of this black and white clarity, the human gets a little worried because he is proven dead wrong.

Many researchers think that teaching to find out approximate value is one of the best ways of teaching maths. Using approximation teaches your brain to collate your eye observation and brain calculation. If there are 25 oranges in a tray, ask children to tell the number of oranges without counting. By observation, we start to understand how to visualise and then count.

Many things can go wrong while learning Maths. You may know the method, but you may not see the reason behind it. So any variation in the problem will create issues of understanding. You will start feeling that you are not good at maths. It can so happen that you have solved the problem correctly almost till the last step, but you make reading or writing error, and write minus instead of a plus sign! Examiner will give you zero marks! QED! You are not good at Maths! But it is not so, you only have made a small error in reading or writing!

Learning Maths is like putting the building blocks on top of each other. If the foundation is not right, then you will find it difficult at a later stage. What you learn in school, you should know even at a later stage in education. Some of us are required to use mathematical knowledge in the day to day work too! Knowing fundamentals is essential for such people.

Maths2

The slide above shows where Maths is used in different streams. While I was doing my Master’s degree in engineering, we had Prof Wartikar who taught us Maths. For three months, he explained to us why Maths is essential to understand engineering subjects properly. Till then, we just used to study and appear for Maths exams without understanding why we were doing it.

maths3

You don’t need things shown above in day to day living. To me, the fear of maths will go away if you have the right teacher to teach you. There is one crucial aspect, dyslexia.  People with Dyslexia find it very hard to learn maths for obvious reasons. One more critical point is that some people have the brain needed for Maths, and some don’t have the brains for Maths. These two extremes are not more than ten % of the population. But it is the rest 90 % of the people in between who face problems in Maths. What do we know in real life? Plus and Minus, a bit of multiplication and division. In real life, it does not matter if you take a minute more to count your notes.

What is the big noise about anyway? It is not that people do not count even with today’s method of pronouncing the numbers. With digital payments and computerised billings, you don’t count these days. The world has enough people who are quite comfortable with Maths, and they will perform the necessary tasks where complex maths is needed. Others are only users. It is ok if they find Maths difficult.

In all this episode, I saw a giant size ego coming into the picture. After some other experts created a big noise against the new method, the authorities declared that they would rethink about the original approach. Dr Mrs Naralikar proclaimed that if this happens, she will resign the post! Why? Can it be only my way or the highway?

Benefits of Social Media!

We hear a lot of minuses about social media, but like everything else, there are always pros and cons. Pluses are what good things you take from anything. I will restrict my discussion to WhatsApp and Facebook; I will add Skype and Facetime to the list too! I am talking about Indian diaspora migrating all over the world. People move for education, job, and lately, they travel to “safe” countries as fugitives too. Some travel for three to six years on different projects. Short term travel has also gone up a lot because the Indian system has now merged with the international business.

Currently, the World Cup Cricket tournament is going on in England. Many Indians have travelled from India and a large number from the US and other countries too. (We had travelled for the Cricket World Cup final in Australia in 2015) The English allrounder Moin Ali was asked his opinion about desis supporting Indian, Pakistani and Bangla Desh teams when these countries played against England. Moin has moved to England from Pakistan. He said, “Now, I have changed my opinion. I am ok if the desis settled in the UK support the countries of their origin.” Many years back, there was a discussion in England that those who have come from outside and settled there should support the English team. That would show their real affinity (patriotism?) to England.

Humans generally do what their heart tells them, in such situations. Is it right or wrong? Who are others to decide? A person who has citizenship of the new country, to me, will always stand up when “Jan Gana Mana” is played! That person will stand up for “God Save the Queen” or “The Star-spangled Banner” too, the country where the person has become a citizen! But you are born and brought up singing Jana Gana Mana; so, when the anthem starts standing up is automatic. It is a natural thing to do.

With the advent of modern technology, staying in touch with people back home is a zip. The main thing is that this technology is mass used and the device, “cell phone” is in everybody’s hand. On top of that, it is inexpensive. In public places, free wi-fi is available, which adds to the ease of usage (and of course to the cost).

People who migrated in ’60 s and ’70 s of the last century found it difficult as international telephony was expensive. Plus maybe the mindset of people who migrated in those times was different. A classmate of mine who emigrated in 1971, came to India for the first and the only time after 45 years. Another friend called his parents twice in the first 15 years, both the times at the time of the birth of his children. I am not sure how these people and their family must have felt in those times.

Another thing was phone density in those times was very poor in India. When Jaya was in the US for one year in 1980-81, we had to do a lot of coordination. She would write me a letter saying at what time she would call me. I would then go to someone’s home to receive the call. We did not have a telephone at home in those days.

Compared to today’s times, not many people migrated in those days. With so few Indians, probably people did not want to say that they were Indians. They would change the pronunciations of names and surnames. Panvalkar would become Pan Walker, Harinder became Harry and so on. Now my son is Sachin Panvalkar in the US and not Pan Walker. The mindset of people has changed. My generation was born around independence and the awe created during British Raj by the “Goras” was not completely washed away. So in other countries, the diaspora would be under the Raj influence, people’s behaviour was subdued. People would try not to openly flaunt Indianness. They were afraid to say, “Myself Deepak Joshi”! They now see many people from different countries like Japan, China and others struggling with English. With this, our people’s confidence has gone up.

Now the situation has changed so much in the next generation that people are not worried about their accent. The social media helps to stay in touch with friends and family back home. WA and FB help in getting alumni, family, friends group updates, so there is no telephonic silence like the olden days. People communicate with each other at the drop of a hat. Living in on different shores does not mean being cut off. Sometimes it so happens that due to work pressure or visa issues, it is not possible to travel home for some functions. People watch the whole thing on live-streaming using Skype. India-Pakistan Cricket match? No problem? Watch it anywhere in the world using modern technology?

How has this helped? How is this useful? Living in different parts of the world for your work does not mean that you are cut-off like the olden days. I remember the story of a person in ’90 s of the last century. He was living in the US for around ten years. For whatever reason, he could not make it back home during that phase. His parents went there to meet him a couple of times. Then his grandmother died. When his father called to inform him about death, the son simply could not accept it. He kept on saying, “ Oh! She was so hail and hearty! How could she die?” In his busy schedule and telephonic silence, he forgot that his grandmother had become eighty! For a previous couple of years, her health had deteriorated, and she had become frail. But in the son’s mind, ten years younger image of the chirpy grandmother was frozen!

Friends, our generation has reached a stage where we have the bragging rights to claim how our life was better, how we used to meet our old friends and so on. We also tend to look down on technology, may be out of phobia, fear, and because we don’t understand the same. Keep an open mind, try and adapt to new technologies. Don’t forget that the same technologies are helping us to remain very close to our families, friends.

Don’t forget that some things don’t change, ever — for example, the subtle reaction on seeing a brown person like you and me in foreign countries. But keeping in close contact with back home, being proud of Indianness helps living life more confidently. The bond created makes the second generation in foreign countries proud to say that they are Indian British or Indian Americans. They handle the subtle reaction mentioned above discretely. My grandson once told me, “Aba when we want to curse Goras discretely, a few of us start speaking in Marathi!” Next time you Skype with your grandson, add a few choice Marathi words to his vocabulary! नमस्कार! नन्तर भेटू!

Sequel to Election-nama!

My previous blog was about Election results concerning the path taken by Indian Democracy post-independence! 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/status-quo-election-nama/ 

But I could not write more things on the subject, as I limit my blogs to less than certain number of words. For want of a better title, I have given the title to this blog Sequel ….”! I had written about the Khan market gang, Tukde Tukde gang and others who were dead against the Modi regime. Somehow I was very uneasy with their extreme discomfort. Why were these people so uncomfortable? What is the difference between these people and others like you and me? 

I read a blog by Shobha De in Times of India dated 26/5/2019.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/politically-incorrect/how-liberals-living-in-la-la-land-misread-the-asli-hindustani/

She has accepted in the blog that she is from this group of people who thought Modi might just survive or lose the election. ( I feel that gang is too harsh a word). She felt that people like her have now become irrelevant. She has also said that she had hoped that all of them would wake up on 23rd May, the election day, with a big smile on their face. Shobha is one of the very few who have accepted what has happened. 

Some of the reactions from liberals on the election results were

  • Don’t underestimate ‘intelligence’ of voters! They had also voted Hitler, Mugabe, & Marcos to power! They have also voted Trump, Putin & Erdogan to power! 
  • It is a wave; it was always meant to be a wave. The hate wave has gripped India for a while. 
  • I clearly remember 16 May 2014. Everyone was rushing to JNU Students’ Union office to watch the Lok Sabha results. I had a naive belief that @ArvindKejriwal would become PM, that India would reject a mass murderer. That was the first time that I felt like a Muslim in India. 

I have nothing against the different views that people have. One of my closest friends is dead against Modi. I must have discussed election results with at least 50 people known to me. They are all professionals. They have been there and done that! Out of these 50, only one friend was against Modi. But he expected NDA to get 250 seats and he was not against everything by NDA. On the similar basis, I assume that comments above were from a specific group of people, who are in Media, who are in public eye, who had  enjoyed the government jaunts of foreign trips with Prime Ministers and other ministers in “olden days”. (Translated to preModi days). They have also been saying how much Modi is wasting money on foreign trips by taking a jumbo jet with very few advisors; he should travel in a smaller plane! (Translates into reporters don’t get free rides!)  

The 50 people I am talking of are very successful people in life, intelligent, smart and what have you. They were the CEO’s and owners and directors. Does it mean that all these liberals speaking diagonally opposite are better and more intelligent than my friends group? No way.  

Another thing I noticed was the discussion on the exit poll day. On a Marathi channel, there were many reporters as experts. The exit poll figure swung between 237 to 350 for NDA. All the “experts were unanimous in saying that figure would be much less than 237 and could go to as low as 137! It looked as if they wished it to happen. The reporters are supposed to be in touch with the ground realities; they are the knowalls! How can all of them be so wrong? When such vital predictions go wrong, does it affect their performance card? Are they demoted because of such blunder in the forecast? Are they forced to take a salary cut? Such project failures would, in any other job, could lead to people being terminated. I have not read any such news about reporters. 

Reporters, Liberal experts, along with the opposition politicians, have proved one thing during this election that they did not have the pulse of the masses. When they use the word masses, they mean to say, idiots. Other than these groups, no one else  knows what is happening in India.  

I am again quoting from Shobha’s blog because no one else has the guts to accept that they failed to predict the people’s verdict miserably.

The toughest thing people like me — like ‘us’ — have to face up to is our irrelevance. And do so, while keeping that stubborn chin up! Do we have what it takes to look within and find out what changed when we weren’t looking? When were we busy trying to convince ourselves, the past five years were nothing but an aberration? How wrong we were! Not just wrong in our assessment but wrong about virtually everything else! We were clinging on to our nostalgia — our over-romanticised idea of India — while refusing to accept the cold, hard reality that India had changed. It wasn’t even India anymore! It had become Hindustan!  

What by the way was an alternative to Modi? Naidu who could not retain his government? Banerjee whose workers created mayhem during the election campaign? Banerjee who refused to meet the prime minister (as per her- the “Outgoing PM.”) who wanted to discuss what help Central Government could give to cycloneravaged Bengal? Mayawati who asked a question, “If we can have Ram statues all over, what is wrong in having my statues too?Lalu Prasad who is languishing in jail with a 13year jail term. Rahul Gandhi who proved his merit by the Congress score of 0 in 17 states, including losing at Amethi.  This opposition governing us, was the “over-romanticised” idea of the experts!

I will share with you how people think, differently. A family friend, an excellent mathematician, has different views. She said, “It is the pharma and weapon lobby in the world who made sure that Modi, the hawk, won the elections. Modi will make sure that their products will be bought by India as Modi will definitely go to war with Pakistan.” I do not argue with such brilliant ideas.

All these wise, bright, sharp people were hoping to get the alternatives that are mentioned above. Had this group of politicians won the election to form a government in Delhi, where would they take India? Consider each persons expertise, and we can imagine that they would have been squabbling, fighting all the time with each other; each state trying to steal the projects irrespective of  whether they were useful for India. Yes, the foreign jaunts of the reporters in Jumbo jets would have started. Politicians and business people could have continued to try and loot the institutions and banks without fear.  

All the “experts” sit in their ivory towers in Delhi. Has anyone travelled to villages in Assam? Has anyone seen the bloodletting happening in Bengal? Following a few TRP story of Gau Rakshak killers make these people think that these incidents are controlled from Delhi. Yesterday when all channels were showing Modi’s speech, one channel showed breaking news Video of some horrible beatings in MP. I am all for Exposés! But we should not forget that bad things have been always happening in the world.  There is no extraordinary increase in these numbers during Modi’s time.

Social media and TV has its pluses and minuses. When a bad incident is telecast repeatedly for TRP we feel that the world is bad. Same is the case with WA and FB. But what people actually have in their minds will be known only by direct contact with them. So let us hope that the media, the opposition, the gang all learn their lessons and become responsible and thereby more effective.  I also hope that they stay away from their romanticism and live in the real world! Amen!