Where are you, my audience?

This is take on change in the social fabric vis a vis plays, movies and entertainment industry, in general.

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Sunil Barve actor, producer and a friend, wrote an article about a Marathi play produced by him under the banner Herbarium 2. Herbarium is a collection of preserved plants stored, catalogued, and arranged systematically for study later. The idea is to look at the plants and leaves after enough time has passed, and to view them in posterity. Sunil named his endeavor Herbarium for the old plays to be  enjoyed nostalgically after 3 to 4 decades. Herbarium 1, was extremely successful where Sunil revived five old Marathi plays, in 2010. The response from audience was exceptional, to say the least. Each drama had 25 performances all over Maharashtra. Herbarium 2, started with a Marathi play, Pati Gele Ga Kathewadi पती गेले काठेवाडी. This was in September 2017.

SunilPatiGele

Sunil wrote the article in surprise, to the reaction from the audience; he said where has the audience gone? It was just a matter of seven years. In that period, very good response for Herbarium 1, switched to ok response in Herbarium 2. Sunil was wondering what could have happened during this period? Sunil and I spoke on phone on the subject. I think that these seven years were crucial years where the generation which was nostalgic about the old plays, became much older and the younger people were not very keen about those plays.

Life meanders in a way where old likes & dislikes change, new thought processes come up, new technologies and media like Netflix become popular. The traditions and social ethos change with time. We may feel that certain things continue and do not change much. But they do change, though subtly! For example, foods and food habits change over a period. In my childhood drinking coffee in Maharashtra was almost non-existent; now we have so many coffee-shops and bistros. Drinking alcohol during my school times was taboo but now it is a socially accepted drink. Stadiums used to be full for Test matches, but slowly one-day matches took over; T-20 was the next step but IPL jamboree is the most popular now.

50’s in the last century had movies which were themes based on nation which had just earned freedom, मेरे देश की धरती सोना उगले, उगले हिरे मोती. 60’s films were more of sad stories and love stories. Then in the next decade came angry young man movies. So, trends keep on changing. Now the popular movies are, Salman Khan type of movies like Dabang. Connoisseurs of movies may like art movies with subtle stories, but general populace prefers Dabang. Connoisseurs may call such movies gross, but life’s realities are different! Ultimately, making movies and producing plays is business and their success will be dependent the masses and not classes. 

Connoisseurs of dramas would rather see Herbarium 1, but this number is dwindling. Are the days of such revivals numbered? Do people really care for plays in which Dr. Lagoo, Satish Dubashi, Nilu Phule and Kashinath Ghanekar acted? Do people now really care of writers & poets like Vi Sa Khandekar and Kusumagraj? If they are not in awe of such personalities, then there will be no nostalgia. Someone like Pu La Deshpande may remain in the lime light for a generation or two more. Do we hear the names Ga Di Madgulkar and Shanta Shelke these days? Pu La, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohamad Rafi are still on pedestal but for how long will they remain there? The most popular actors of yester years were Clark Cable, Vivian Leigh? Heard these names anywhere lately?

Another thing that comes to mind is the strong drama movement in Newyork’s Broadway and in London. Similarly, strong activity happens in Prithvi theater in Mumbai and NSD in Delhi. This continues at one location in one city! But, does it mean that going to different towns to perform, may not happen in future? The costs have gone up because of travel, and now GST. With these limitations it can be difficult to revive old plays in future. What lies in future for attempts like Herbarium is difficult to judge but indications are that it is going to be a tough call! Maybe equivalent of Prithvi theater in Pune, is the way forward!

I will share one more nostalgic experience with you. Recently, I purchased a device called “Caravan Saregama”. It looks like a Radio of the olden days with knobs and all! It of course, has a remote too! This device has 5000 songs stored on it and these songs can be played by mood, singer, music director and has Amin Sayani’s Binaca Geet Mala songs stored with his commentry. Songs are between the period 1950 to 2000! The moment I saw the advertisement I bought Caravan; nostalgia, love for olden days, not too much efforts to search songs,  were the reasons I bought it. How long this device will sell?  I don’t know. Maybe they can increase its life span by having songs between 1970 to 2010 and so on.  Audience for 50’s & 60’s songs is going to dwindle fast! But will the young gang buy this device for themselves? What is Amin Sayani for them? What is “Hava mein Udata Jaye” for them? I am not sure! In fact, I am sure it does not mean anything to them!

Caravan-Brown-9

 

Experiments like Herbarium are fantastic things that happened to Marathi theater, but the quality of the play and actors was not the only reason people flocked to see the first edition! Herbarium was “Amin Sayani”  & “Hava mein Udata Jaye”  of theater for them, nostalgia! Is my generation, which around 70, craving for Sehgal’s “Jab Dil hi toot Gaya”? No, it is not! The natural process of fading with the time, goes on all the time! I am quite sure that Sunil will definitely find the right path for more such experiments!

Sunil2

Since I am in filmy mood, let me end up with an appropriate Hindi song Ye Jeevan Hai! It says this is what life is all about! There is some happiness and there is some sorrow! Life goes on and on! 

 

Advantage, Poor Economies!

Sometimes not being too developed is an advantage!

As the cliché goes, “Change is the only constant”! Human race with smarter brain and use of Thumbs of both hands has leaped frogged ahead of other species. From stone age tools, to the wheel, to metals, list is endless. During any and every change there has been resistance, there has been reluctance to accept new things. Flat earth theory is the classic case of non-acceptance of the progress of science. But in the end, all the new changes became routine.

During last 50 years of previous century and 17 years of current century, the changes and innovations have happened at an breath taking speed. Some things kept on becoming more efficient and improved tremendously. Some products, became obsolete even before their potential could be realized. Classic example is Fax. Before we started using fax in a big way other methods of communications came into use, PC became a mass product and over period fax machines simply disappeared. Some products which never existed before suddenly became household names, like iPod.

Computer proliferation has been the most important change that happened during 80’s and 90’s. Advent of computers, first as big as a room, then came desk top machines, followed by laptops, tablets and smart phones. This sequence is important. Computing and storage capacities went on increasing so rapidly that current smart phone capabilities are far greater than original desk top machines. One of the most important effect of these changes is to speed up discoveries in various fields, improve diagnostics in medical field due to better imaging techniques and faster results of collection and analysis of data.

I have only touched upon a couple of innovations and technological changes, but I always wonder how the general population of the world will handle these changes. One important thing about some of these changes is that they are seamless and are accessible without the hindrance of international borders. This reminds me of a Hindi song Panchi Nadiya, Pawan ke zoke, Koi sarhad na inhe roke! Birds, Rivers, the Breeze fly and flow at will and no border can stop them. Internet is one such thing like the birds and rivers and breeze! Except in countries like China, who go by their own laws of freedom. Another unfortunate seamless development is terrorism but that is a subject by itself.

How is general population able to handle these changes? In developed countries where literacy levels and education levels are higher, you might think that they handle it the best. But we already know that India is leading the usage of Cell phones, more than 80% of India’s population has biometric identification, which is practically unbreakable. High % of Kenyans use cell phones to make their financial transactions. I am quite sure many more Indians can do it but they avoid doing formal transactions so that they can cheat on taxes. I do not know the data about how many Indians have started using Bitcoin crypto currency! This switch over will be fast because it is currency which is non-traceable, seamless internationally and illegal in India. This will help people keen on dabbling into “black money”; at least currently it is better than keeping money in Cayman’s island!

How can new technologies change the world order? This may not happen overnight, but it can happen. Countries like US, England, Germany and many other are money rich countries, but countries like India are data rich. In 70’s in the last century when gulf countries realized the importance of oil, in a decade or so they became rich countries because they exploited the oil! Mukesh Ambani has recently said that Data is new Oil! What is the meaning of this statement? It means that the country which garners and manages the data well, will become rich fast. China is both rich in money terms and is data rich, so they will probably gallop over the others.

The Rich world already had systems and with new technologies they have improved on their systems. But in countries like India a large % of people who are not in the system, are taken into formal system, thanks to Aadhar which has biometric authentication. This has enabled India to create completely new systems. This will enable such people to access loans, and funds to which they never had any access. These systems can give poor, subsidy in Electricity bills and Fertilizers, directly. Before new systems there was a big leakage of funds and benefits never reached the poor. Systems are being designed for day to day use where biometric authentication is the only thing that is checked e g vending machines. Using this authentication, financial transactions can be completed. In India power deficit has been historical. Recently, a solar power plant for 800 Megawatt was commissioned in six months in Andhra! Five thousand people were employed on this project. One more example of new technology doing quickly, what old and polluting technology was taking years to do. Those who can afford, should put a solar plant on their own rooftop, for home use. What this does is 30/35% transmission loss is gone because there is no transmission!

Will the “uneducated un included” population be able to handle these rapid technology changes? If cell proliferation is an indication, then things look good! Cell phone is going to be the tool for all so it is upto the app developers and various agencies to create business processes in such a way that life becomes easier and easier; biometric authentication is already there! Before signing off let me share one more example of new technology and thought process. There is a Dam near Pune with a very large reservoir! The is plan, is to cover 4600 acres of water with floating solar panels to generate 1000-Megawatt power! Do you know what the bonus is going to be? Great saving of water which is lost due to sublimation! Great thoughts and new technology are simply going to change things for “Have Nots”!

All Is Well!

All is really Well in this World!

InternetGenie

Pramod somehow managed to make Internet Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Is really everything well with this world?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual Genie kept on talking. Pramod, world over, we have ISIS, Terrorist of different ilk doing atrocious things!  Today, the muslim nations have come together and have decided to fight all the terrorists upfront.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/saudi-crown-prince-condemns-egypt-attack-at-meeting-of-islamic-military-coalition/story-LEupTN0M10pcub8j7OuWzN.html

Genie said that this is one the best news he has read in years! This news gave you a feel that “All is Well” in this world. Concept of “All is Well” in global context is different as such events happen occasionally. But “All is Well” can happen in our day to day life regularly. The combined events of these individuals or organizations give the feel that “All is really Well” in this world. These small and big contributions of individuals daily, make us think positively about our life.

Pramod, “All is Well” is a term coined based on song from a movie by the name “Three Idiots”. In this movie three college students are passing through their college hassles with happy face against many adversities, singing “All is Well”! Below is the video of the song.

Pramod yesterday, you reached home after dinner, with friends. In your parking slot, in the condo, you are required to reverse the car. A young kid, delivery guy for food items, was waiting for the lift (Elevator). As soon as you started reversing, the kid jumped and went behind the car! You wondered what he was doing! He started guiding you to reverse the car, as the area did not have good lighting. Pramod, you could have managed without his help as there  were proximity sensors in the car. But the kid was keen to help you, and you took his guidance to park the car! You, of course, thanked him for his help! Such small actions by unknown people really help you believe that “All is Well”.

Pramod while you were travelling from Zurich to Frankfurt, your train could not take a direct route as there was some issue with the tracks. You were required to take three breaks to change trains, to reach Frankfurt. At a very small station during this detour you found that it did not have escalators to change the platforms. In fact, after changing the platform, you were required to travel by bus for about 20 km. Pramod, you had two heavy bags and two bag packs and were worried how to reach the bus, going down and up the steps. Suddenly, a guy materialized from somewhere. He was wearing a uniform. Most probably he was a porter. He picked both the heavy bags and spoke something in German. You thought that he will charge you money for his services. Pramod, you were relieved that he was helping you, and you wanted to pay him. After crossing the platform and putting the bags on the bus, you asked him the charges. He knew a bit of English, and said, “No charges, Gratis!” This was a most unexpected response and the incident again proved that “All is Well!” Benefits of being  senior citizens?

Pramod, one sees many good Samaritans in this world, so you tend to think that there is  “All is Well” kind of situation in the world. But there are some bad elements. Yesterday a case was reported in Pune where a professional was recording the intimate scenes of his neighbour, a husband and wife,  using selfie stick. Outwardly that person was well behaved, passionate in his work, very helpful in nature! But he had some very bad streak within him! Currently he is missing. On the other side you see so many good citizens that your faith goes on the upswing! Some time back Mumbai had a flood like situation due to very heavy rains, there were good Samaritans on road who offered food, tea and some cases shelter for stranded people to spend the night at their home too!

Pramod, the ultimate act was by Policeman Ombale during 26/11 in Mumbai; his sacrifice helped the police to catch one of the terrorist alive though Ombale died. This shows that there are more good people in this world than bad people. Ombale’s act really shows that “All is well”

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, ” Genie, I am quite gung ho about our world where All is always well, though there are some major or minor negative events happening all the time. “All is Well” ledger is always in the black!”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. ” Pramod, I am feeling ashamed of my 2 G speed when people are already talking of 5 G and 6 G, so I might be away for some time, ciao!”

 

Who is the worst? 

High seat to Jail! At whose cost?

Recently we have seen a spate of financial defaults where the so-called giants in industry and business have financially played havoc. Mallya, Sahara Chief Subroto Roy, Unitech Chandras list goes on and on and on! Question came to my mind who is the worst of the lot? I missed on adding the name of our local hero from Pune D S Kulkarni, who has joined the elite list though not on that scale.

In such matters two major aspects need to be checked. Whose action has caused the problems to the health of banking & financial system, and whose action has caused the most damage to the livelihood of individuals besides the banking system? The first group which has caused the issues to banking system are led by Mallya. Before he could be “caught”, he managed to change ownership of companies and to my knowledge companies are running reasonably alright! It appears that both Mallya and the new management have managed to siphon money to tax free heavens. Mallya apparently has billions of dollars in his personal name and has managed to evade tax in many locations in the world. How to get money back from such people? Assets he created all over India have become tricky to dispose-off, now that these have become tainted assets. Same issue is there in case of Amby valley, near Pune, huge asset created by Roy!

How to decide who is the worst of the lot? My thought process tells me that those who have cheated individuals, many of them retired, who invested most of their life savings, are the worst culprits. By this test Mallya may appear to be a saint. No individual has launched any complaint against Mallya. By this logic other three appear to be major culprits. Roy and Chandra are in jail for some time, thanks to Supreme Court; has their families’ life style changed, no way! They have no money to return but have enough money to blow! Our friend D S Kulkarni’s family lives in rented flat! So sad! Not really, the flat is in Trump Tower in Pune with a rent Rs. 400,000/ per month! Extremely high by Indian standards. Mallya’s case is totally different. He moved to UK when there was no criminal case against him. So, when he entered UK, he was not “tainted”! The propah British law says that when Mallya entered Britain, he was not “tainted”. So procedures had to be followed, as he was not a fugitive when he entered Britain! British took their own sweet time to start the extradition processes. The Indian authorities are now tensed up and keeping their fingers crossed. In another similar case in Britain, the judge who will be handling Mallya’s case gave a decision that the concerned culprit will not be extradited, as jails in India are in extremely poor condition. Same logic may be applied in Mallya’s case!

I don’t have knowledge of various laws but my common sense tells me that such people’s factories shut down, businesses close down; the so-called owners are still having fun whether there is profit or loss.  The workers, financial institutes, and vendors are facing the main brunt. I remember when in Pune, Garware Nylons shut down, the loss was to the workers, vendors and banks! Garware’s have been moving around in their helicopters!

Why does this happen? How is this allowed to happen? Where is the lacuna? When any organization starts, it needs money; it gets money in the form of equity, loans and fixed deposits and working capital. The persons who start the company are also expected to put in the seed capital. Everything works quite all right in the initial phase. How business runs, depends on many factors some under control and some not under control. When people invest money in business as equity, it is a risk taken knowingly. When business does well people get dividend; and at some stage some investors liquidate their shares, based on share market variation and make their kill. But when the business does not perform well they are in for a loss. This is a known risk for investors. Same things happen in case of fixed deposits by people. Interests are paid on time, whenever requested deposits are refunded. Problems begin when businesses start floundering. Promoters, at this stage probably start treating FD’s as equity! If business conditions deteriorate further then the deposits become Ponzi schemes! Take deposits from someone promising high rate of interest and try to pay interest to older depositors. Vicious circle goes on and on and on till the court and Police cases start. Unfortunately for individuals, the first right on recovery from such organizations is with financial institutions!

In the meanwhile, the smart promoters have done something in between. They take deposit under the name of one company and transfer the money to their other businesses. This is done like hedging when intentions are not good . So, their other businesses run well. The assets and incomes made in these businesses are not in the name of original promoters of the main company. You don’t need to own a helicopter or a Mercedes to use it! 😃Holidays in cool climes continue because it is never done under parent company. Wealth is flaunted and social activities continue. I am by no means a socialist or a communist but what I have just explained is simply cheating. Small vendors, retired teachers, others are affected badly. This is what is happening in case of D S Kulkarni. He even has gumption to claim that his business started suffering when Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008!

How do these people maintain their lifestyle even after they are in jail or court cases are on? Here is an example from building trade. It is pretty simple. Company A buys a plot of land. B, C, D and E are other companies from the group. The plot is finally purchased by E following the straight path via B/C/D. By the time plot is in possession of E its price maybe five times! This is loaded on the project to sell homes to us. A is the company who takes FD’s from people but income of A is meagre and this money is routed to “other” companies. A & E ownerships may have some connect but B, C, D are owned by other family members or are trusts. These companies will have high profits! Another way of making the killing is that when E sells a home either B/C/D gets say 3 % commission on each sell as they are “Sells Agents” for E! Got it.

What is the solution? Believe in market rumours! Smoke is seen only when there is fire! It is impossible to know which organization can go into difficult times. The moment you hear some story, withdraw money from such organizations. Don’t keep on hoping that they will come up again! If they do come up put your hard money with them again! After all it’s your money! My take is that those who put individuals in difficulty are worst of the lot!

Has living in India become easier?  

Ease of use on day to day basis for common man has increased by 60 points!

I read a news item in newspaper that India has jumped 30 places in “Ease of Doing Business” ranking, given by world bank. (Later our PM also said that general living has become easier in India.) These experts have used pre-defined methodology; the same methodology is used all over the world. This indicates India’s ranking is compared with world’s other nations.

This made me think of us common people. Has our life changed? Has “Ease of doing things” changed for us on day to day basis? I am not talking of general infrastructure and holiday destinations and that kind of things. It is day to day mundane things that we are required to do. It is like shopping, making bill payments, availability of services, standing in queues. It is also about travelling from place A to place B which is part of our daily things that we do.

I am talking about city dwellers who have access to wi fi,  and internet on cell phone.  This infrastructure has improved a lot during last five years. Proliferation of cell phones is really deep. This has made life easy for the people, who have adapted to the use of this technology, irrespective of their location. Payment procedure of regular monthly bills like cell phone, electricity, insurance policy premium has become extremely simple. These are done by card, net banking or even simpler “standing instructions”. New system of wallets is also spreading quite fast. But how many of us have really started taking advantage of this change? I still see many people going physically, to pay these bills, standing in queue! Reason no belief in the system! Systems are available and they are making things easier. More people should be encouraged to use such systems.

Daily transportation is one of the biggest hassles in daily life! In this aspect, things are definitely improving. Main difference is due introduction of Metros in a big way, in many large cities. Metros definitely ensure that people travel from place A to place B in world class comfort and in shortest possible time. Just to give an example in city of Pune, going from Pimpri to Mandi area in peak hours takes about 75 to ninety minutes. After Metro is introduced, this will be reduced to 30 minutes! This one world class solution does overcome daily hassles, reduces traffic on road. Metro is operational in Kolkata for a long time, Delhi was the second city and now in coming three to five years 10 to 15 cities will have Metro. Another advantage of Metro is world class system has changed the mindset of people in public, they are quite disciplined while using the Metros. Of course, they go back to original ways, once they are out of Metro concourse! But I am sure slowly this conduct will improve outside Metro system too!

Abundance of various items, has definitely improved. Vegetables, fruits, groceries, milk, grain, medicines, and what have you, it is available in abundance! Days of shortage have simply gone. Availability of services of technicians like electricians, plumbers are easily found through yellow pages!

During 90’s when people’s aspirations started increasing, getting admissions to schools, colleges and professional courses became very tough. But since last few years seats in many courses and school/colleges remain vacant. This indicates that supply has become much more than demand.

In Banking system, there is marked difference due to technology. Processing of documents has become easier and many types of personal loans are available quite quickly provided all documents are ready. In fact, some banks offer pre -sanctioned loans to some elite customers. ATM’s have made access to cash simple.

Since India is huge democracy many things take time to happen. But they happen. Income levels have gone up and easiest indication of this is the sale of two wheelers in India. India has become the largest manufacturer of two wheelers in the world! Ok this creates its own problems. But expressways are coming up all over and authorities are trying to improve infrastructure to the best of their abilities.

I will share with you a very efficient system created by Pune Municipal Corporation. This is about their yearly property bill. They send the property bill details by SMS or text message. On clicking the link in the message, I was taken directly to their site with all required details filled in! They only showed a button “Pay”; when clicked it asked the normal payment options and  I paid the tax. Time taken 1 minute. Very similar system is created by vehicle insurance companies; insurance renewal time required is similar. Flipkart, Amazon and all such companies have made doing daily purchases very simple. Don’t forget ease of buying Bus tickets, Air and Train tickets.

Why people do not use the systems is due to apprehensions, lack of knowledge and simply because they have techno phobia. I know of an eighty-year-old lady who decided that she wanted to use all the modern payment systems and she has done the switch in about one month!

Most important change for business community is the GST! This one change has made things very simple. There were many taxes before GST and doing business was a nightmare to which we were used to! But talking to many factory owners, people from trading community, they find things much simpler than before!

Of course, there are minuses! Main issue is confrontational politics, there are naysayers like “development experts” whom I call zolawallas! There are people who are really upset because of Government drive against parallel economy! According to me there is an improvement of 60 points and not 30 points in our day to day lives.

Your Final Ledger with HIM!  

HE closes the final Ledger!

A couple of days back, on one of our WhatsApp groups, a friend sent a forward about death of a person who was described as industrialist, businessman, philanthropist and everything possible. Paeans of praise were being heaped upon the person. I knew about this person. I wanted to understand my friend’s views about this person hence I wrote, saying “I would like to know the business that person was in!” My friend did not reply for a couple of days. When I reminded him, he was angry and said a few things about me, in parliamentary correct language. In huff he left the group. Poor me! I was inconsolable! 

The departed soul had started his life with a small business in tobacco and beedies, his family business. Later on, he graduated in to creating new tobacco based product, to which people got addicted very swiftly. This product after many years was banned by the Government. He has a huge factory near Pune but there was not a single board indicating what they manufactured! Why was this so, I never understood. One should be proud the product that you are making or marketing! If you are not then… 

With this background you will realize why my friend was angry and upset! 

Another friend Mukund shared with me a couple of stories. His uncle was Jail in-charge. In childhood, Mukund would visit his uncle during school holidays. Uncle had servants working for him. His uncle said that servants were all convicts who were in jail for long term. His uncle found it convenient as he could use them for longer period. Practical solution! They were normal people who in fit of anger had done an act of killing or seriously injuring someone. In due course they were sentenced; most of them were remorseful and repenting of what they had done. But unfortunately, in HIS ledger the debit entry against their name was ahead of all credits.  

Mukund shared another story of a Don! This Don was in Robinhood mold and would help needy. But his main reason for being in jail was kidnapping, murder and so on. Now the question arose, is Robinhood act above what he has done?  

There are deeds which people do where they break the law; some acts are done which don’t break the law but are as bad or worse than the acts in which laws are broken. How should these people be judged? What we discussed about the industrialist is definitely a big deal and have to be dealt morally. If one’s products are known to cause cancer, that organization and person will not be condoned by HIM! Their ledger with HIM will be in negative, always, whatever good deeds are done by such people, with money earned from immoral activity. What good is a hospital built with such money?  

Another issue, that comes to mind is about people, like my friend, who are praising industrialist’s good deeds, and get angry when asked about his real deeds! What was the reason for my friend to get angry? Does it mean that people like my friend agree to the deeds of such people? Why do newspapers write only about the good deeds and not about the main deeds? Is it to make sure that their advertisement revenue stream does not get affected? Those whose streams were not affected, reported in details about the products manufactured by the industrialist and actions taken by Government, recently. Why give only selective information about the departed soul? Why hide the fact that he was heading the organization which manufactured controversial products?  What is the job of the press? To hide unpalatable and unsuitable stuff?  

To conclude, I will say that whatever we do in this world, we should try to do our best not to break laws of the land. System will handle you if you cross the line. Similarly, one should not break HIS laws, which in earth’s language, are called moral laws. In this case, HE will take handle you! HE has our ledger with him, is it not? Once you start breaking the moral laws, these laws cross path at some stage with the law of the land! So, you will be punished either on earth or in final resting place!  

Paradox, thy name is India!

Disrespect & Indiscipline are the main reasons for lack of cleanliness!

A friend Shreekant, went to Europe for a month and mostly lived in Holland with relatives. On his Facebook page he shared some very nice write-ups about the pleasant weather, systems and so on. In his comments there were natural references and comparisons with Bharat desh. He made a very prudent and specific statement that we tend to be very harsh on ourselves when we compare with other societies and other nations, we are a young nation with very old civilization. I totally agree with him because there are a lot of complexities involved in our nation and life! I have always been wondering for the reasons for these paradoxes! Honestly I am never able to come to any conclusion for my question, WHY? It is why to everything.

Let us not say that in India, people live mostly in Villages, it is old story. There has been a big migration from villages to towns and cities. I know why this is happening. It is the abject poverty and lack of job opportunities in villages that pushes people towards cities. Recently I was in Europe, in larger cities and smaller towns and sometimes in villages. Obviously my mind too started making comparisons. Both in cities and smaller places things were relatively similar in Europe. In India also we have similarities but of the wrong kind! We are extremely capable as a society of making our cities & villages dirty! Cities like smaller places can be really dirty! That is the first impression that we carry whenever we travel outside India to developed nations.

 India as a country has made great progress  in satellite technology,  they are well known in IT field! India is the largest manufacturer of two wheelers in the world! Suzuki car production in India is much larger than their production in Japan! India has slowly started doing well in sports at world level! Indian engineers, doctors, scientists have done pretty well on global scene. This is where the paradoxes begin.

Let us begin at the beginning. How long have we been one, as a nation? Before 1947 there was no concept of India. We may sing paeans of glory of Bharat, जहा डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडियां करतीं हैं बसेरा यह भारत देश है मेरा! It feels good to listen to the song but the ground realities are quite different. Indian continent was made up of hundreds of small kingdoms ruled by the Rajas and Nabobs. For the first time in the history of the continent, area from Pune to Atak was under the rule of Peshwas. That too was for a brief period. Many years before that, Mughal invaders came to “India” and ruled. Before 1947 British ruled us for 150 years, using a small army and big brain. British had clearly understood that since there was no “India” as such, they could easily use the divide and rule strategy. Under the non-Indian rulers most of the population never had any rights; the benefits of technology hardly reached them. British made sure that industrial revolution benefits reached only where and when it was beneficial to British. There was no “All India” policy.

European countries have existed as nations for centuries, sometimes by different names, some have split and some have merged. Japan has been in existence for a long time. China also is around for a long time. United States and Canada have also been existing as countries for a couple of centuries. Most important aspects of these countries is, though there has been variance in different parts of the nations, mostly they were quite coherent in food, culture, clothing and language. Except for the obviously large countries, all others are pretty small, smaller than the many Indian States of today. Ruling and managing such countries was much easier.

Indian complexities start with 31 major languages, with that many different cultures, as many different types of foods including the way we eat. But somehow one thing we have in common across the cultures of our great Indian continent is total disrespect for laws and rules, total disregard for each other’s personal space, disregard for maintenance of personal infrastructure of all types. I am not talking of government infrastructure! You must be wondering how I have not written anything about cleanliness! Lack of cleanliness is the end result of everything.

Disrespect for law is ingrained in our DNA. We have disrespect for authority. The respect starts with respect to next individual. In Hindi movies whenever a young person meets elderly person, they are always respected by touching their feet! In mythology we have great stories of Ram, Laxman, and Bharat who go really out of the way to respect their eldest brother Ram. When it comes to public life how respect suddenly vanishes? Though we have our old traditions for respect! In north India even a new born child is addressed with respect, using word आप. Luckhnow culture is known for पहले आप culture, meaning please go ahead, I will follow you! I feel that we make use of traditions conveniently! What could be the reason for disrespect? The Indians were always ruled by others for centuries. Main reason could be it is a way of protesting against authorities. But we forget that now it is our country, so how this attitude will help?

Disrespect to others creates “I don’t care attitude!” I feel like spitting in public, I will spit! In our society chewing paan or betel leaf and/or tobacco, and of course spitting the juice in public, is “culture”! Basic things like standing in a queue are handled so differently. People sometimes stand so much near you in your personal space that you have to tell people to move away. You will be jostled, pushed. Most of the time, someone will always try to jump the queue claiming “I have only half a minute work”! I also find problems in traffic. When I stop for red signal, at least 5 to 10% of times guys on bike will try to snake their way in non-moving traffic banging on my side mirror! Personal space, never heard of that!

Stopping for a red signal is an international norm. We will try to jump signal if policeman is not around, else we think that stopping over zebra crossing is our birth right. This is disrespect to others and law! Laws are made for smooth running of the society. In any society a small percentage of people are bound to break the laws. But in India very large numbers break laws with impunity. Once I was driving thru a green signal; after I passed, I heard commotion. Suddenly around 15 bikers just broke the red signal and drove thru. A policeman was there but how can a single policeman catch 15 people? Two wheelers are supposed to carry two passengers; it started with taking additional baby in the lap. Then it changed to two adults plus two children around the age of 10 or 12. One of them sitting on the petrol tank of the bike. Mind you this is not an exception!

Personal infrastructure is the area around homes, condos or where you live! In olden days there were small homes generally one story or ground level. Cleaning homes and pushing the dust outside home was the definition of cleaning the home. There was no concretization, there was no paper, so cleaning was pretty simple, push dust outside in the dust around your home. Things have now changed drastically and homes have also changed. The amount of trash we generate is enormous. The mix has changed, there is plastic, there is metal, there is paper and there is glass. Still in many homes definition of cleaning has not much changed. At the most people collect their trash and throw it in a convenient spot on the way to somewhere, dumpsters be damned! The best way to keep things clean is to not create the trash in public spaces;  when you achieve this, you  don’t have to clean the roads. In advanced countries the trash that you generally see on roads is tree leaves and cigarette butts. Somehow developed countries have also not been able to eliminate these butts. Once my grandson Suyash, who lives in the USA, had come to Pune. From our 7th floor abode we could see a lot of buildings around. Suyash asked me, “Grandpa, why don’t they paint their homes?” They all looked pretty ungainly because they were never probably repainted after construction. Buildings were maybe 10 year old. In these ten years not even one building was repainted. With Monsoon and heat, Moss streaks make buildings not a very pretty site. I am sure people living in these buildings could definitely afford to get them repainted once in ten years! I  normally live in a colony of row houses or town houses. People just used to hang their laundry from front balcony. Only after we started fining people they reluctantly stopped it.

I feel that all the lack of discipline, disdain for laws and rules, lack of consideration for others are independent of social status, financial status, (In fact sometimes I feel that it is inversely proportional) and your education. All the cleanliness drives, swatchhata diwas are of no use if the mindset is not changed. If we as a society handle the trash prudently instead throwing stuff where ever we want, we will have cleaner cities and villages. Pune is one of the better places where sweepers sweep the roads sincerely but I would rather have sweeper less Pune. Why are we required to sweep the road instead of collecting trash? All over India there is a big drive going on from government to stop open defecation, subsidies are also offered to needy. to build toilets But in Punjab many men still defecate in fields though they have toilets at home; when asked why they do so? The reply was, “It is Manly”! God bless us! Amen! You may listen to the song जहा डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडियां करतीं हैं बसेरा using link below. Tell me how you feel after listening to the song, now!