Plastic Bags! To be or not to be!

Make minor changes in life style for eco friendly world!

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First time I came across the word plastic, was when a cousin of mine, who has settled in England, had come to India. He still lives there. I was in school in those days. He was in plastic industry and would pronounce plastic as “PLOSTIC”. All of us were highly impressed by that word. Little did I realize then that plastic will become so important in our lives. The real usage of plastic bags started world over in late 70’s, of the last century. All the super markets and Mom and Pop stores started giving plastic bags when purchases were made. Initially, it felt fancy that we had to stop using our own cloth bags. Over a period, the whole world became so much dependent on these bags, that other types of bags were passé.

As per human nature, people started manufacturing thinner and stronger bags. Thinner and thinner bags have really started causing problems of disposal. Thinner bags clog things easily and due to light weight float around. From 23rd June 2018, Government of Maharashtra has put a ban on usage of plastic bags for many usages. This ban is not only for vendors but for users like you and me. If you and I are found using plastic bags in public, we are liable to be punished with fines. There are a lot of discussions going on, about what is right and what is not right. Opinions floating are that, what government has done is correct, maybe a little tweaking will help, to blaming government for trying to cover up its failure of garbage collection policy. As usual the answer is somewhere in between but for me it is 80% towards first opinion. There are bound to be teething problems whenever new things are attempted.

I have tried to gather information without going into technical stuff. Here is some information about plastic bags. Since the studies of such nature are more prevalent in western countries, more information will be available from those countries. But to me India with such a large population must be up there in usage of plastic bags, also popularly known as carry bags.

  • Plastic bags are produced using petroleum, natural gas and other chemicals. Its production is toxic to the environment.
  • Plastic bags were introduced to supermarkets in 1977.
  • 160,000 plastic bags are used globally every second!
  • 5 trillion plastic bags are produced yearly. Side by side, they can encircle the world 7 times.
  • In 2008, a sperm whale was found beached in California. It died due to the more than 22 kilos of plastic found in its stomach.
  • Plastic will only start degrading after 700 years and will only fully degrade in 1000 years. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet.
  • Plastic bags remain toxic even after it breaks down. It doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades. It means that after it degrades, it breaks down into smaller and smaller toxic bits of itself – and bleeds and contaminates the environment.
  • Thin plastic bags tend to spread all over, due to breeze, very easily even while they are being taken to the dumping grounds.
  • An average family will use 60 plastic bags on four visits to the supermarket.
  • Only 1 to 3% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide.
  • Plastic bags cause the death of many marine animals when bags are mistaken for food.

As far as India is concerned, the opinion that garbage collection should be improved to avoid plastic bag menace, does not hold good. Rather than talking of failure of garbage collection, we should look at our social behaviour; as a society we have very low discipline level. Dumping things in rivers has been our culture. The flowers used for Puja are next day thrown into river as “Nirmalya”, there is a tradition of dumping dead bodies in the river Ganga, after cremation we dump the bones in water bodies like rivers. With this kind of “tradition”, it will be impossible to expect people to behave and dump their garbage in dumpsters, if found on roads. Clearing the dumpsters full of garbage is another story!

I was traveling by train in Northern India. One could easily judge if we were nearing a station. A km or so before the stations, dumped plastic bags in hundreds, were visible on both sides of the track. Garbage disposal discipline, anyone?

I feel that government of Maharashtra is going in the right direction.  What can we do to support his movement?

  • Start by bringing your own Eco-Friendly bags.
  • Return all plastic bags with you to the corporation ward offices.
  • Patronize businesses that support the effort to reduce plastic bag usage. Don’t get mad at them for inconveniencing you if they don’t give you a plastic bag.
  • Spread awareness by not accepting plastic bags from retailers and reminding them that it’s toxic to our environment. We did that yesterday when a vendor was giving us to carry stuff, in a legally allowed thick plastic bag. We thanked him but used our own cloth bag.
  • Let’s start educating our children about the plastic bag problem so they will continue the efforts and go green themselves.
  • Stop using plastic carry bags altogether.

As the charity should begin at home, socially correct things, which will be good for all, should start with us. Honestly speaking heavens are not going to fall if plastic bags are not used. Till late 80’s plastic bags were a novelty. Everybody was using reusable bags made up of cloth. Even in those times, people bought fish, chicken and mutton when there were no plastic bags around. People were required to buy milk, cooking oil! They took the containers with them! To get food from outside, people carried their tiffin! Home delivery food business will obviously find a solution to overcome the plastic bags ban, after all they want to run their business! In olden days, during heavy rains there was clogging of drains, mostly due to tree leaves. Now majority of the clogging is due to plastic bags.

Some people have been doing a good job. I went to Pune zoo years back. Even in those times, they were environment friendly. At the gates, they would check the bags and would not allow visitors to carry any food stuff in plastic bags. For those who wanted to carry plastic water bottle, they would take Rs.10/ deposit; this would be returned on way out, when water bottle was displayed.

The need of the hour is to look for better ways of handling life, in absence plastic bags. There are ways of making bags which can be recycled. We must find ways to mass produce bio degradable bags, at low cost. I remember carrying cloth bags to get things from market when I was in school and college. We did not have to remember to carry the bags with us. It was a way of life. Humans want a steady state in life, change is always resisted. Going back to olden way of life is generally thought to be a retrograde step. But in this case, I think it is leap forward. It is path breaking stuff and let us all support the good path being trodden.

Success Mantra!

Who is most successful in life?

After my previous blog “Titbits” my friend Subhash suggested that we should analyze the life’s successes vis a vis, education, studies, ranks earned and being a “scholar” during school/college times. One of the definitions of success is the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status. In Asian culture in recent times, there has been a big emphasis on taking good education, it may be in their own country or in other countries. There is a general thought process that education changes a human being and the human becomes more cultured, sophisticated and becomes a better person.  

Does it really happen that way? In most cases, it does happen. But how do you measure success? Is fame the pinnacle of success? Does amassing wealth make you successful? Do all these things take you to upper most layer in the society? Frankly there are no clear-cut answers because there is no real definition of success. One thing is always said that a person appears more successful if he or she is a good human being too! What is important, a good human being or a successful human being? It is important to be successful good human being!

In certain areas of life like sports, entertainment education or the lack of it has not apparently come in the way. If we take examples of Sachin Tendulkar, Priyanka Chopda, they have been at pinnacle of their careers in sports and acting. They have both been good humans, they got themselves trained for being excellent in language and general behaviour. On top of that they are extremely successful commercially! They have been in their field of excellence since a very early age of 16 to 18 and never had time to take “education”! Another important aspect is that they are successful for a long duration. But this does not mean that everybody should not get educated as it did not matter in these two cases.  

Another famous case of a college drop-out is Bill Gates. But he was a drop-out from Harvard! Getting admitted to Harvard itself is success! But looks like he had urge and drive to do something more than completing his degree and rest as they say is history! Recently he has been sharing his wealth of billions of dollars for well-being of human race. He is also encouraging other rich people to share wealth for betterment of society, in general. Yes, Bill Gates can be said to be one of the most successful persons, living. 

Then there was famous rivalry between Tesla and Edison, both scientists. Both have invented so many things that it is difficult to say who was better. But from the history that I have read, Edison had more business sense than Tesla. Edison was a cut throat competitor whereas Tesla was a naïve person. Edison monetized his inventions quite well but Tesla never did that. Edison was all the time trying to see if Tesla could be commercially ruined! But to me Tesla was more successful with his one invention! He invented that A C current was better than D C current (invention by Edison) in real world. This is a difficult case to judge, commercially Edison did much better than Tesla, invention wise  probably both were at par. As human being Tesla was better than Edison. Friends, it’s your take to decide who was more successful! 

That brings us back to the thought that we had in the first place. Does education make a person successful? In our school and college times, there have been colleagues who were successful in getting very high grades all through. After completing education, different areas of work was chosen by different people. Some reached pinnacle of their chosen path but it appears that in most cases the so called “toppers” did not remain “toppers” in real life! Many times, the path to success is also dependent on “being at the right place at the right time”! It also depends on grabbing the opportunity when it comes knocking on one’s door! Those who did this have been really “successful” in life. 

Being at the pinnacle of chosen path makes one successful but being a good human being adds to that success. But I have seen many “successful” persons who in real have been average in what they could achieve. But they have marketed themselves with the authorities who matter. The success in public sector areas and having done the right “marketing” with authorities have earned some people with national accolades like “Padma” awards in India. Some have been so strong in “marketing” themselves, that their mediocre achievements or pseudo achievements remain hidden!   

How to compare success in area A and area B? A friend became MD of one of largest company in India. He also continues to be a very good human being. So, he definitely achieved great success in life. Another friend started a manufacturing unit and manufactures world class products, again a very good human being! If we compare the two, then who is more successful? It is very difficult to judge. Both have worked in different environments in private sector. Both were classmates but were not known to be “scholars” in college days. Another person, a known “scholar” in college times became top boss of one of the India’s premier educational institute. He was always in touch with Govt bosses because of his work. He was awarded with a “Padma” award. This person was recently heard giving a speech about education policy and was found to have put forth average thoughts. Who is successful among the three? I don’t know.  

Success is not dependent on whether one is successful in private sector or as an entrepreneur or in govt sector. Success is independent of the field you are in. It could be business, sports, art, job, armed forces, scientist, social worker or a politician. You must do a great job in what you do and remain a good human being even at the pinnacle; you must retain humbleness and show empathy for others. To be successful in life, one needs to be sincere, consistent, must have perseverance, must be able to take others with you.   

How you achieve these parameters, defines your success. More successful or less successful are comparisons done by others. It is probably impossible to compare success in two different fields. It is not possible to compare a great gymnast with a great scientist! People will always compare between brain and the brawn! Like in studies it is always said that those who are good at Math are very smart. I don’t think so. One who is very at good music is equally smart in his own field!  

This discussion and comparisons are unending; but one thing is sure that the world becomes a better place with successful people. But this success should not be a “marketed” success, it is the success of the human who has contributed to the society, keeping core values intact. But one thing is sure that “success” list is not the same as list of successful candidates declared after college, school level exams. It gets mixed up and many a “back benchers” end up at the top!  

 

Friends, those devils!

Try and fall into the potion of friendship and have greatest joys of life .

RangyaPravinMe

Vijay keeps on sending interesting stuff to me for viewing, observing, commenting and he also hopes that I will also curse him, once in a while. Today he sent me a poem about friends. The poem is nostalgic ride through our lives! What are friends? To me they are god’s gift to the mankind! How do you make friends? How do you become friends? The process of making friends starts in one’s childhood. The other day I went to drop my granddaughter Rhea for gymnastics. She is four and half years of age. She has joined gymnastics about ¾ months back. As soon as I entered the arena, I heard a couple of shrieks, couple of shouts and shrieking and jumping from Rhea! She saw some of her friends whom she meets five days a week. The reaction made me so happy, that I wished I were her age. This is what one feels when we meet friends. The unnecessary limitations created by age, and society norms come in the way of expressing our real feelings. The photo above is one showing me with my friends Ranga and Pravin! We managed to reach Rhea’s age, hopefully!

Good old friends are as rare as the treasure lying on the ocean shores! Friends are those gems which come out of our life’s churning! Those who are lucky will have many friends, long term friends, very close friends and friends who have hardly changed due to life’s passage. There can be outwardly changes in how they look, how they drink but basic core of such person does not change with time!

How does one define a friend? Friend is that person, with whom we are very comfortable. That person is one with whom we will share mundane details like how you enjoyed peanuts the other day, which reminded you of school times. The person, who will know looking at you, that you are having some churning in mind! You are all alone at home, you have some minor or not so minor health issue; the person calls or you call the person and say there is something important that needs to be discussed. The calendar for next hour is immediately cleared and the next sentence is “Tell me!” Another friend, had some major issue in his life and that suddenly. He called his close friend and told him, ” You both cancel all your stuff for today and come over!” They were both professionals but within next 30 minutes they reached their friends home.

The friend is a good listener and has sympathetic body language! With friends you will always feel that there will be only suggestions, no admonishment, no judgment! The person will give you opinion and suggestion only when you ask him. Many a times we need only a sounding board, a friend who absorbs everything and keeps the small secrets you shared, hidden deep in his mind! You can discuss your business issues, office issues and family issues! But I always hope that everybody’s spouse is their ” The Best” friend! In absence of such relationship, sometimes your best friends may find it difficult to absorb and may ask you. ” Did you discuss this with your spouse?” You can tell your best friend that you are simply bored with life and don’t know what to do! In most cases, letting your steam off solves half the problems. Your friend may not be the smartest guy in the world but is concerned about you, and is worried about you. The person always has your best interests in mind.

Does your friend like you? Is he willing to give you sufficient time and energy? Do you feel invigorated in presence of that person? Do you feel relaxed in the persons presence without having tea or alcohol? For me just presence of some persons gives such a feeling. Do they exude any special energy? Do you feel comfortable in their presence, when they shake your hand, do you feel the warmth, when they hug you do you get the feeling, ” Finally we have met”! Is there freedom in your relationship of expressing displeasure, openly?

You and your friend may have some different thoughts on certain subjects; but in case of such issues, the friend will not tell you mend your ways, as he respects your views. You are accepted as you are. At the same time if you are doing something illegal or unethical the person will go out of the way to meet you from busy schedule to warn you about such things! Friend the great listener, will listen to your details till you have completed what you want to say. Only after that the person will start probing you about your issues. The person will give pointers only at the right juncture! The most important aspect during this discussion will be that there will no prejudice!

Coming back to expression of joy by the kids like Rhea, when they meet their friends every day. Why do we not act like kids? In fact, it is not only about friends, in every aspect of life we should try and ape the children. Especially if you are in my age group near 70, we can do whatever we want, people expect you to be senile! But by remaining serious minded, by trying to follow social norms in everything we do, we are killing the child within us. The usual cliché is so right, “do your work seriously, don’t take yourself seriously”!

I see many positives these days when we friends meet. We fight like kids, we argue like kids, we complain like kids (to WhatsApp admin), we exit the WA group in a huff! These are all signs that many of our friends have remained young in mind. Probably our pool of “close friends” may not increase but there is a larger pool of friends who are available as a sounding board. We reach this stage because we have gone through tough phases in life, major illnesses in life. I have met some friends after a long time, I became friends with some of them late in life. But the hitting the right chords is important, like it is important for perfect performance of musical instruments!

Like everybody, I also have some very close friends. Jaya of course is my best friend! I do not want to write the names of these friends as these are such fine people that they will get embarrassed, later when we meet, they will thrash me too! I am lucky to have such a large pool of friends; what do I expect from them? Nothing! I only hope that they will remain in my life all the time.

Alcohol taken moderately has a great effect on humans; you feel light in mind, you get a light-hearted feeling and you feel that everything is right with this world. But this is not essential. Friendship is such a potion. It is like Obelix from Asterix comics who had fallen into container of the magic potion, giving him unlimited strength. Try and fall into the potion of friendship and have greatest joys of life .

Gratitude and thanks!

Simply my musings!

Friends your support in reading my blogs and encouraging me to write, keeps thought processes going in my mind. Some of you keep on consistently giving me your views on what I write; some of you share your own experiences in the life with me, as they were similar to what I have written. These responses are very encouraging and I thought why not compile a few comments and share my thoughts on what is written in responses and comments.

A friend Hemant,  wrote following after reading my blog By God’s Grace

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/by-gods-grace/

I had many things to crib have had my quota of health issues even last month but one thing is that I accept all these matters as they come in positive state of mind and one automatically starts feeling better. 

For my all ailments I always say that they are my buddies and will be there till the time I am here. 

By cribbing nothing changes except we spoil our own mood. 

Wow! What a positive way of accepting one’s own health conditions! Friends, all the living persons have something or the other going on the health front. Please follow my friend’s way of accepting things!

 Another friend wrote this after reading the blog “Goodness is Godliness”

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/goodness-is-godliness/  

In this blog, I had shared video about a child and a homeless person. This reminded my friend of his early learning in a missionary school!

Prakash wrote: Most catching and innocent video!! And equally Godly write up. Incidentally I have had my early schooling  in an Australian Mission school and just reminded me of godliness of those Christian softer ways and interactions. I loved one of the teacher very much. She is now 93 and still remembers me as one of her favorite boy. (My comment- Prakash you are very lucky!) Thanks for your blog.

Vijay said the following about the same blog. He has gone one step further and explained how these God Moments are present all-around us. Thank you friend for interpreting deeper meaning from my blog!

Vijay wrote: Goodness indeed is Godliness and it comes in God – Moments. These moments are all over and around for us to see. For capturing these wonderful Godly Moments all we need is a Clear and Clean Camera of our Mind! 

Another friend Vivek wrote following message to me. In fact he kick started the blog,  as he is the one who had sent me the video! I am happy that I could add meaning to his sharing the video with others!

Vivek wrote: We sent out that video again to persons to whom it was not sent earlier; but with in introduction para I used a part of the blog: 

Be honest to yourself and think whether your heart was touched more by the video clip above or by some rituals you follow, most of the time blindly or because someone else does it. I feel that if your heart is in the right place, the video film will beat everything else most of the times. Look at the Godliness in the film. The child believes that there is God in this world; his mother beautifully supports that innocent idea. He is too young to follow any teachings. He might have just heard from his teachers and parents that there is God and he is good! The reverse side of the story is that for homeless woman getting something to eat and the love she received unconditionally cannot be anything else but an act of God! The beautiful end is when the child tells his mother, “I met God today, but God is a lady with a beautiful smile!” Similarly, the homeless lady tells her partner, ” I met God today but he was much younger than expected!” What a beautiful way of expressing! 👌👍

Next one is about the blog “Where are you my audience?” My friend has correctly described how the changes have been happening on the cultural side of life! But ultimately, he has accepted that things have to change with time; and accepted that  time & tide wait for no one! Such appropriate interpretation.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/12/12/where-are-you-my-audience/ 

Pramod (My friend Pramod) wrote: You have touched the hot topic in the minds of our generation. Surprisingly, I have always wondered where those old melodious Marathi songs have disappeared? Those are not even sung in programs like Sa re ga ma pa and so those programs have become boring. I remember, during Kojagiri Pornima (full moon night), we used to listen to songs about the Moon and stars. Chandra and Chandane, even on TV but that all seems to be lost. Even Pu la Deshpande is becoming irrelevant for this generation. Kalay Tasme Namaha. Time moves on!  

I am very keen to receive thoughts and feedback from you folks. In one of my blogs, I had said that a situation can have two sides and both can be right in their own perspective. Similarly your thoughts invoke different thoughts in me. Friends keep on sending me your comments; I read them with all the humility and appreciate the time you are sparing to read  my writings! I am humbled! 

 Namaste

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!