Have humans improved?

I am not talking about technology or other advances. In the facilities and technology, we have improved. In poverty eradication, health, hygiene and medical sciences, we have improved.

Many advances reach low-income countries and people because of the different actions taken by humans. But I am talking of social aspects. Especially in the caste, racial and religious issues, though tolerances have improved, to some extent, it is difficult to predict when things will erupt.

Take the classic case of a football match between Bulgaria and England, a couple of days back. England team had a couple of players of African origin. The game was in Bulgaria, and suddenly the racial comments were being shouted by spectators. Things went out of control a couple of times in the first half, and the match was almost abandoned twice during that session. The police took control of the situation and threw out a  group of spectators. To the credit of Government of Bulgaria, their President acted swiftly, and within an hour of the match finishing, he suggested to the President of their football association to resign, and he did. World football Association will take further action on Bulgaria is the good part. But my worry is why such things suddenly erupt? Does it mean that such things are dormant and waiting for some spark to inflame the situation?

“Us and Them,” thought process world over has reduced, but bad situations erupt suddenly, and it can happen anywhere in the world. It can happen in the most advanced countries to the most backward countries. In this respect, the world has not changed.

Today I read one incident on Facebook. It is written by someone known me and not the usual “forward”! A family runs a business, and their washroom is outside their premises, in a condo. Another family staying in that condo were to start painting their condo. About half a dozen workers were expected to do the work. The gentleman approached the owner of the business and requested him for the key to their washroom for ten days. When he was asked why he wanted their washroom keys, he said, “Those people will be doing the painting for about ten days. I don’t want them to use our washroom. Since yours is a common washroom used by your employees; I need the key.” The business owner asked, “Why not let them use your washroom?” The condo owner replied, “How can I let “them” use our bathroom?” By his logic, their own bathroom was too pure to be used by “them”! Hence the request was made.

The business owner politely refused the request, and the condo owner is now furious! The incident is a classic case of caste incidents that occur in India. The event is from a very “forward” city of Pune which has led India in the social reforms during the last century. Social reformers like Karve and Phule were from Pune, and they have been pioneers in the social changes. I am worried that if the incident mentioned above can happen in Pune, what will be the situation in smaller towns, villages? What would be the situation in socially backward states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar?

The world over attempts is always made to correct historical errors. But sometimes it goes to the other extreme, and things get overcorrected. The actions of the South African government post-apartheid regimen shows the result of overcorrection. The apartheid government collapsed in early 90 s of the last century. Rules have been made to reserve the seats for people of African origin — nothing wrong in that, we do the same in India. In India, in some instances, reservations % has become as high as 76%. Whether this is right or wrong only time will tell. But there are no reservations in sports or the armed forces. But in South Africa there is a reserved quota for people of African origin in their Cricket team- I am unaware of other sports. Due to this, many good cricketers who do not fit into the quota would never get a chance to represent their country. What do they do?

They take help of Kolpak ruling. What is Kolpak ruling? The Kolpak ruling is a European Court of Justice ruling handed down on 8 May 2003 in favour of Maroš Kolpak, a Slovak handball player. It declared that citizens of countries which have signed European Union Association Agreements, have the same right to freedom of work and movement within the EU as EU citizens. Thus any restrictions placed on their right to work (such as quotas setting maximum numbers of such foreign players in sports teams) are deemed illegal under EU law. The legal actions in Germany set a precedent for professional sports in Europe, which have had a wide-ranging effect, especially regarding English county cricket and European professional rugby.

The South African white cricketers when they do not get the opportunity to play for the nation, formally retire and move to England and make contracts with counties. The counties are waiting for such players because they are excellent cricketers. I am aware that sports are a tiny part of our lives; so decisions can be quickly taken as a minimal number of people are involved.

In the US an attempt was made by a Supreme Court ruling, referred to as busing! The ruling made it mandatory for students from an area to go to the same school, irrespective of race. The attempt by the Supreme Court helped to some extent, initially. But then white people started moving from cities to predominantly white suburbs. Those who could afford put the children in private schools. These actions of white negated the effect of busing!

The subject is vast and cannot be discussed in details in a blog. But racial prejudice is followed world over, including in India, sometimes blatantly and most of the times discreetly. I know enough Indian people who live in different countries, and they have all said such practice is followed world over, not in any particular nation. The reason for such action may differ, but the act continues, and I don’t think that it will ever stop.

Religious discriminations have political reasons, and these are going to be tough to handle. Let us hope that people all over the world change their attitudes and live in harmony. But it is a serious subject that needs to be dealt; social media does not help in such situations! But let us hope that better offices will prevail and people will live in harmony.

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Aarey, Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis?  It is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?”, or more precisely, “Whither goest thou?” First, let me get the facts aside, then we will discuss it. Every metro system needs a yard to keep the trains, do repairs and maintenance, and to clean, etc. It is a technical requirement of the system. Currently, there is a significant dispute created by the so-called environmentalists! Aarey Colony has 450 thousand trees in the overall area, out of which the 2600 trees need to be cut for constructing the facility. I am not an expert in this field, but it is elementary maths that a minuscule number of trees are required to be chopped. Let the experts claim whatever they want to say, but it is no disaster.

If we consider the experts first, there will be some who are really knowledgeable persons; some have pseudo-knowledge. When there is chaos, politicians and celebrities are bound to jump in, especially as the Maharashtra state elections are only two weeks away. Politicians are supposed to be experts in every field anyway! Out of this group of people, some stay in new condos, and others live in older condos. My question to those living new condos is, was no tree cut to build the new condos? Did you complain to authorities and go to the courts to stop such projects? I am confident that in all new condos built surrounding the area of Aarey, more than 2600 trees must have been cut! Where were you, sir, at that time?

When a project of the importance like Metro, where costs are very high, every delay increases the cost of the project. All such projects are conceptualised by a large team of experts from every field, including environment experts. I am aware of the concept as it has been explained to me by my classmate Shashikant Limaye, who is a Mentor for the Pune Metro project. Then there are the green tribunal and the forest department. Permissions of all concerned departments are taken before environmental actions are taken! The beauty of the democracy (or the worst part?) is that in spite of following all the procedures, protestors can still go to court. These people went to various courts, and Mumbai high court finally gave a blanket clearance for cutting the trees.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/aarey-forest-tree-cut-felling-metro-bombay-high-court-pils-protest-1606393-2019-10-04

While providing this verdict, Bombay High Court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000/ on Shiv Sena Corporator Yashwant Jadhav, who had filed a plea against the tree authority’s approval to cut over 2,500 trees for the Metro project. Jadhav was a member of the tree authority.

Various questions came to my mind while reading about this episode! Do these “knowledgeable” people collectively understand the whole affair better? Some of them are experts in environmental aspects, but do they have the grasp of the overall project? The question is not only about the grasping, but there are many other aspects which you should know. I am giving the information provided by the BMC in the court about Carbon footprint.

Terracon aims to be India’s leading ecological solutions & natural resource management strategic consultancy firm. Its strengths include its technical knowledge and capabilities in the domain of ecology, botany, agriculture, and environmental science, as well as its deep understanding of today’s sustainability issues and the ability to design forward-thinking sustainability strategies.

http://www.terraconindia.com/

The Terracon report was submitted to the BMC recently. It says, “Each metro trip will result in a reduction of 324 kg of carbon dioxide.

One hundred ninety-seven fully loaded metro trips will suffice to offset the annual increase in carbon emission of 63,953 kg from the removal of 2185 trees, which are proposed to be cut.”

It further states, “The Metro III operations would cover the annual carbon sequestration by 2702 trees within four days of operations and the lifetime carbon sequestration of 2702 trees in 80 days of operations.”

The people protesting against the chopping of trees are aware of these studies as these reports were submitted in the court! That is why my title, “Quo Vadis?” What do you want to achieve by the adamance? As soon as the Mumbai court gave the clearance, within a couple of days, trees must have been cut by the Metro team. Still, the protestors have now gone back to appeal to the Supreme Court. The court case is about the felling of trees not stopping the shed work. Now that most of the trees are chopped, why do you want to continue the fight? The usual issues of, we know the best and the Ego come into play. All government authorities, agencies, Environmental Companies and the whole list of experts are ignorant according to these people.

We are not even discussing the convenience of Mumbai’s travelling people, who have currently no choice but to be in the current train compartments as if they are packed Sardines. There is a proven statistic over the years that ten people die every day in railway accidents due to ever so increasing crowding in Mumbai trains. Three thousand six hundred fifty people dying every year are less important than the twenty-six hundred trees.

Years back, there was a similar issue in Pune about road widening. The Industry doyen S L Kirloskar had asked a simple question, “Are trees for us or we are for trees?”

NalStop1

Pune traffic during rush hours.

A similar problem is lingering Pune about a road on a hill, which will cause a tremendous change in pollution, for 20 years. Environmentalists are creating difficulties one after another. The courts have been very stringent about tree felling activity in general. They ensure that if ten trees are felled, anywhere between 60 to a hundred new ones are planted. Courts also make sure that these agencies ensure and report that at least 90% of the newly planted trees are surviving.  Pune Corporation agreed to plant ten times the number of trees chopped; the “anti-development” people make use of the slow court system to ensure that the project will get delayed as much as is possible. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles that need not come to an area called Nal Stop are forced to come there, causing traffic snarls, jams and massive pollution in that particular area. Only God knows what their agenda is! There are many cities or towns on and in the hills. San Fransisco is the prime example of a major city on the hills.

Such groups exist all over the world. Some are really doing good work but most cause nuisance and create trouble for projects like Metros, which are Carbon “positive.” The human race has created many systems during the last hundred years that have made our lives much more comfortable. But later on, humans understood that during this development phase, some significant mistakes had been made, for example, global warming, plastics, and so on. Governments of the world (except it seems the US Govt) have accepted that there is a problem. Nations are correcting these errors, but the process has just started.

In many cases, solutions are also known. For example, in one-time-use plastic items, large investments have been made; so these investors are naturally going to resist. Even they want to go away from such products; but it will take some time to achieve the goals. Human race especially should know! A human takes nine months to grow in the mother’s womb before it is born. Once the corrective action process takes momentum things will move fast.

These anti-development groups are doing one vital work. They ensure that others do not forget that ecological mistakes need to be corrected as fast as possible. But they should choose the right causes. Mumbai Metro is a Carbon positive project and is going to help millions of people like you and me due to reduced pollution, and ease of travel. Most important is that people in Mumbai can travel in Metro like humans and not cattle!

A few friends were having a cup of tea in Mumbai near Aarey! All were smoking! One of them says while releasing the smoke, “This tree felling is bad, it will add to CO2 in Mumbai!”

Friends, please protest, reminding everybody of the ecological devastation of the earth is definitely essential; but be practical and become “a support group for Ecologically friendly and positive projects”! Get blessings of Mumbai train travellers and not their curses!

Status Quo, Election-nama!

Status Quo means the present state of affairs, especially regarding social or political issues. In life, we humans try to avoid change and want the status quo. Such a status quo is what politicians always hope to achieve. When the status quo is maintained, life becomes easy for them to manage. India gained independence in 1947; we were a vast nation with a significant population. British had plundered the national wealth for their benefit. Add to this the partition that created a new nation Pakistan. The Indian nation survived the first fifteen years on the goodwill of millions of Hindu Gods! There were crises after crises which were somehow overcome with the help of the United Nations and other countries like the USA and Russia.

British had left behind the legacy of brown sahib’s in the form of Indian administrative service. The charismatic leadership of Nehru took over the reins of running the nation. Majority of people poor and rich, both were awed by Nehru and the ICS/IAS officers and their ilk. After Nehru’s death, with a small break, his daughter took over the Prime Ministership. It was the Dynastic succession, and all others were treated as commoners. Commoners had no chance! Running a Dynastic style strives for the status quo, to hell with India, especially poor and uneducated Bharat. To maintain the status quo, you need sycophants. Suddenly, training schools giving a degree in sycophancy mushroomed! Ironclad administrative infrastructure and the sycophants made sure that the whole country was anaesthetised! Whatever the kings and queens did was accepted without much challenge. Masses were kept uninformed and poor! Those questioning the royalty were steamrolled! A minor spectre of a group of people challenging the Dynasty was a blink on the horizon with a couple of seats in the Loksabha, in early ’80 s!

The nation was on the growth rate of around 2%, which many called as Hindu Growth rate! In 1992, India had to take significant loans against the national gold reserves. We were forced to improve laws to make the atmosphere business friendly. After a gap of a few years, the Dynasty again took over as if the nation was bereft of competent and capable leaders. The dynastic grip led to the birth of influential regional leaders. The era of coalition governments had started. Still, the status quo was primarily maintained by the rulers with license raj and coterie of prominent businesspeople. Nation had started growing at a faster pace from 2% to 7%. The more rapid growth was the result of changes in laws and the birth of the IT industry where Indians showed a flair to shine! The world started to notice India and many multinational companies started coming to India. Still, the dynasty rule by proxy came back with a break of five years. While they ruled, the status quo was maintained. But during their latest, ten-year stint, many scandals and financial irregularities came out. The scandals finally broke the stranglehold of the family, and the current government came in power. But this new government was the culmination of the spectre that was seen as a blink in early ’80 s of the last century. Modi took over as the prime minister in 2014.

It became evident that the new government wanted to do things differently to change the way of people’s approach. They wanted more participation from people; they did many things to bring back the anesthetised population to senses. But dynasts and their coterie treated this victory as beginners luck. They were a bit stunned with the idea that a non-Delhi person with no propah English accent became the prime minister. This person was neither Oxford-educated nor was he from a great family lineage. The rulers of India have to be Oxford/Harvard guys as they had to handle the IAS led infrastructure. The administrative gang was one group which knew that once they came out of Mussoorie school, they were the kings! No one in this world could touch them except for transferring them. How can a senior bureaucrat be expected to reach his office every day at nine am and swipe his card? On top of this, there were stories that their team of servants was likely to be eliminated. Please read the article below on the subject.

https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/modi-government-lok-sabha-elections-2019-indian-bureaucracy-ias

Combination of status quo raj and relaxed approach to administration was one of the primary reasons India was able to continue with large scale corruption, loan frauds which remained hidden due to quid pro quo approach by business people and administrators/bankers. The group of dynasts and administrators was complimented by the creation of a group of media gang which is now infamously known as Khan market gang. Khan market gang supported the dynasty and their coterie irrespective of results of their work.

Along with the new government came up another group, which came to be known as “Tukde, Tukde gang”, came to the fore! This gang was leftist, liberal and generally sympathised with anything that was done against the government, including armed rebellion. Showing support to proven terrorist was their specialisation. This gang was not afraid to go to jail. In real life, they were perpetual postgraduate or doctoral students. They got free publicity from the media all the time. Their main aim was to keep turmoil boiling, under the guise of liberal views.

During the current election campaign, all the above were anesthetised into thinking that what Modi government had been doing, was despised by the common man. There was a big hoopla about how the days of the government are numbered. Regional satraps like Naidu, Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and others started behaving as if it was only a question of crossing 23rd May to start taking oath in the new government at the Centre.

They never knew what the population of India was thinking. The highly educated, middle class, poor all were enlightened by the revolution of social media; caste, was not in the equation this time. Caste politics was thrown out of the window. Citadels were flattened, dreams of the above gangs were shattered. Campaigns reached such low levels that the prime minister, the chief ministers and other senior people were openly called thieves. The opposition parties continuously kept on challenging the Supreme Court and Election Commission with frivolous petitions.

The opposition parties had raised the temperature of the system in general. They created hype and started believing it. Rajasthan chief minister had claimed that since Congress had won the state election only six months back, they will win all 25 Loksabha seats in Rajasthan. They lost all!

When the exit poll results started coming out, there were indications that current the BJP government could get 300 plus seats. At one end of the spectrum, the figure was around 240, and at the other end, it was 350. The 350 number predicted by Axis/India Today combination was trolled by saying that they were “sold”. The “knowledgeable” gang of reporters/experts started sharing their knowledge and opinion that these are final days of Modi government. Anaesthesia effect was seen again. In the end, Axis/India Today predictions were vindicated.

Friends, I can keep writing on a lot, on this subject. What I have written is not about parties, candidates, results etc. But I tried to write about how the nation was put out to sleep by a combination of Dynasts, non-flexible bureaucrats and their ancient systems formalised by British, to suit them. Later the team of Liberal, foreign-trained Oxford or Cambridge educated media experts joined the bandwagon. All of them supported the old style, Dynastic style of working and put everybody to sleep. Unfortunately, they also went to sleep and did not know that India had moved on. The opposition simply did not accept these figures. Mamata Banerjee went to the extent of saying, “All this is gossip which I don’t believe. But I am afraid by calculating these extravagant figures, the ruling party will hack EVM’s all over India and cook the figures to match exit polls.”

There is one funny side to hacking theory. Rahul Gandhi lost in Amethi but won in Waynad with the highest margin. Supriya Sule, Pawar’s daughter, won but his nephew lost. Which EVM’s were hacked?

Finally, when they woke up from the deep slumber on 23rd May, 303/353 and 17 times 0 and few times 1 per state were the numbers that became famous! Majority population had woken up, and they have given BJP a mandate to take them on a progressive path for the next five years. I hope that the opposition team also wakes up, pulls up their socks and forms a robust and healthy opposition with constructive politics! Jaihind!

Tango- the Elections!

My friends Nandu suggested I share my views about the Indian elections with others. I am allergic to politics, though I have voted in every election since I became eligible to vote. Maybe I am allergic to politicians! I don’t know; I am confused. Democracy is a necessity of our lives like Roti, Kapda and Makan (Now the latest additions to the need are cell phone and internet!), i.e. Food, Clothing and Home! (For my non-Indian friends!)

Why did I give the title, Tango – the Elections! Meaning of Tango is a ballroom dance originating in Buenos Aires, characterised by marked rhythms and postures and abrupt pauses. In a democracy we expect the ruling and opposition parties to perform the Tango, sharing their views of how to run the country; but our politicians have gone for the last part of the definition, “abrupt pauses”. They take abrupt pauses, change directions, from gentlemanly behaviour switch to use of nonsensical use of language. The attacks this time have become personal, and it appears that there is no end to it! Bad words are used against very senior leaders, Chief Ministers and Prime Ministers. What direction are we taking? There was a verbal diatribe on a lady candidate, below the belt, literally! No pun intended!

When I was in school, India had become independent, and people were thrilled to be allowed to vote. Democracy continues very successfully. (Except for a hitch in 1975) India has adopted electronic voting ahead of all the countries in a big way. We don’t use ballot papers.

I read a story told by Chidanand Rajghatta, TOI US correspondent. He was called in a University to speak about modern election systems in India. At the end of his speech, he was asked to advise the Americans. He said (tongue in cheek), “Outsource elections to India”! There were huge claps all around!

The voting method is where all confusion starts. When parties win elections using the current process, they are ok with the technique. But when they lose the elections, the same method is declared as the vilest system. It gets challenged in the Supreme Court- they have promptly thrown out the petition. Parties catch hold of some engineers who are supporters of that party. These engineers make a big drama of how hacking is simple etc. To overcome such issues, sometime back Election Commission declared a date on which all the parties could come together and prove to EC, how hacking could be done. Not even one political party registered for the event. We make millions of financial, purchasing transactions electronically. Passport system in India is entirely electronic. In India, Visa on arrival is given electronically. But our politicians periodically challenge the electronic process, as an election stunt!

Another issue that is seen this time is the defection from parties. It is on the rise and shows that people are only interested in standing for elections and not working for the party. The usual sprinkling of cine stars is there, and a retired cricketer has also joined the fray.

Another significant change, to worse, is attacking the independent institutions. Decisions given by Election Commission received comments that it is working for the ruling party. Similarly, Supreme Court judgments were twisted to make claims that suit the arguments of the parties. Supreme Court took these people to the task, is a different issue, but such twisted statements waste the time of the Supreme Court.

One state that has galloped ahead of others in “reforms” is West Bengal. Many summers ago, Gopal Krishna Gokhale had said, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” Bengal is the land of Rabindra Nath Tagore, Swami Vivekanand,  Netaji Subhashchandra Bose; it is the Bhadralok (prosperous and educated people), Calcutta was India’s capital at the time of British in the initial phase. All industries started in Bengal first.

https://indiatoday.app.link/ylVjmRhPKW

The article in India Today tells us about the anarchy in Bengal. It is titled, “How to rig elections, Bengal style”! I will not go into details as the report covers what is happening today in Bengal during this election. It will suffice to say that the Election Commission acted “Suo Moto” or on its own and disallowed election campaign meetings on a day before the last day, to prevent further anarchy. The indication of such a situation was seen for many years. During the change of government last time, there were attacks and murder galore which continued all through. Shifting of Tata Nano factory to Gujarat was the clearcut signal to the powers that be! But they were too busy appeasing their electorate, and god knows who! I hope India does not start thinking like Bengal, in future!

Another first in this election is that none of the experts can predict anything. No waves are seen, no indication is seen from any patterns in voting. The voter is the ultimate God, who does not talk to anyone. As usual, the caste, religion equations are being discussed, but nobody can come to any conclusion. Most crucial conclusion every expert is saying is that an unstable government will bring chaos to India, but it appears that the opposition may not be able to form a stable government.

In large cities like Pune and Bangalore, voting % seems much lower than most other places. These two cities are cosmopolitan, and the migratory population is very high because of the easy availability of work. The community is young, and for both towns, the voting day created a long weekend. People went away on holiday. Plus transient nature did not allow people to change their voting location from their original city to the adopted city. Times of India has started a new slogan, “Let your vote travel with you”! In days of internet and computers, people should be able “to carry their vote” with them to where they are staying. Technologically it is possible, but the Election Commission needs to change its laws and people should be educated to change their thinking. This change can be connected to something straightforward and doable. For example, if you file your IT reruns from a city A, this can be shared with the Election Commission to change your place of voting. It is just a way it can be done, but it is doable.

What can be done about the criminal records of candidates? Our laws need to tighten further. Another observation is that many candidates become very rich in between two elections. Most of these people never go to the office like you and me; they are not known to have businesses, but where does the wealth come from?

I have discussed mainly systems in Indian elections. One more thing that needs to be tackled is why not hold national as well as state elections at the same time. It will save a lot of costs. Last national election cost Rs.3800/ crores i.e. US $ 0.5/ billion, in 2014! We can assume a 20% increase in five years. If both elections are held together, there will be substantial cost savings. But somehow many political parties are against this. Probably this the cost of democracy!

All said and done, warts and all, we all should be proud of the democratic process India is following. Voting this time is done in seven rounds; these many rounds are needed to manage logistics! After all, we have states like Bengal leading the nation!

Happy Diwali!

HappyDiwali2018

On the left side in the photo is my son’s family and on the right side is my daughter’s family.

As usual, Diwali has come and will be celebrated in Gusto. Diwali is celebrated in different communities in various ways. There are traditions galore. I love traditions as long as they are harmless; traditions which lead to things like black magic and stuff are no no for me! In most cases traditions, are followed blindly and without understanding why they are followed. Now with a new found liking of trying to understand many things, I am trying to understand Diwali. In my case, I grew up in a cosmopolitan area of Marine Lines, Bombay in 60’s of the last century. Yes, we did celebrate Diwali but later I came to know that it was celebrated differently in the areas like Giragaum and Dadar, these have been predominantly Maharashtrian areas! Borivali and Thane were distant places.

Diwali is celebrated as the festival of light in India. It signifies the return of Rama to his kingdom after he triumphed over Ravana. People light oil lamps and keep them outside their houses in order to show Rama the way when dark. The festival commences with Vasu Baras or Govatsa Dwadashi and cows and calves are worshiped on this day. While this day has more importance in Maharashtra and Gujarat, south India too celebrates it as Nandini Vrat. Cows and calves are fed preparations made of wheat. People who offer prayers don’t consume milk or any wheat products on this day. This tradition is an obviously old tradition of the era when the cow was Gomata and many things revolved around the cows. Celebrating them and feeding them good stuff is probably a way to say thank you to them. In olden days food used to be mainly Jowar and Bajra. On Vasu Baras cows are fed foodstuff made up of wheat, the same way humans eat puran poli made out of wheat to celebrate festivals. The video below was shot by me near my home yesterday, where it seems there was an impromptu music arrangement was done, to create an atmosphere of festivity. ( Was it a business activity in disguise?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgAkG4obqHY&feature=youtu.be

I think most of our festivities are a result of some events from the life of Krishna or Rama. In the same tradition, we have Naraka Chaturdashi. Naraka Chaturdashi (also known as Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas, Choti Diwali or Naraka Nivaran Chaturdashi) is a Hindu festival, which falls on Chaturdashi (14th day) of the Krishna Paksha in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar month of Ashvin. It is celebrated after Vasu Baras.  The Hindu literature narrates that the asura (demon) Narakasura was killed on this day by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. Hence it  is also referred to as Naraka-Chaturdashi. Kali Chaudas is a day to abolish laziness and evil which create hell in our life and shine the light on life.

One good thing is that the  people celebrate the festivals with a lot of enthusiasm. But now they do it differently. Some families come together, some travel together. Some travel but come home on Laxmi Pujan day. Some families have Diwali gambling sessions, some have Diwali drinking sessions but people come together. A new trend has started some years back. There are early morning music festivals, starting at 6 am. The artists sing, dance and play instruments. People are modifying the way things are done but the basic theme of celebration does not change, coming together.

One very interesting development has taken place this year. Supreme Court has given a decision that crackers can be burst during a limited period between 8 and 10 pm. They have also defined the noise level allowed for the bursting! Immediately, there was a hue and cry raised that this is done only against Hindu Festivals. Hindu tradition never said that a string 10000 crackers be burst creating a real cacophony and smoke. In olden days there was no technology to manufacture “bombs” which could make humans deaf! We modify the traditions incorrectly and then fight over it as if there is a further modification suggested; but what the court has done is to bring back normalcy.

We should not be against changes or modifications. The concept will not change but the way things are done will change. When there were no motorized vehicles, we used bullock carts and horse carriages. Due to non-availability of alternate transport, people still use Camels to go from one place to another, in deserts. By all means find different ways to celebrate, find innovative ways to bring joy to this world! My dear friend Jayprakash and we have made sure that we met every year in Diwali for a long time. But this time he and Bharati have traveled to China and will spend their Diwali traveling. 排灯节快乐 Jayprakash!

Laxmi Pujan, Padwa and Bhaubeej or bhai dooj are to well known for me to add something new about them. Only thing I would say is that these are for three very important aspects in lives, Laxmi Pujan is about respecting the money, Padwa is about Husband and wife, and Bhaubeej is about brothers and sisters! Money is a practical need of the life and relations mentioned are the most important ones in our lives other than our parents.

Diyas or lamps lit are supposed to show the path to Ram and Sita to come back home after the dark period in life; the lamps also hustle the bad things or demons to go away. The crackers are burst during these days as a celebration; we do it after we win an important cricket match, too. The crackers are also burst to scare away the devil or demons. Please make sure that us humans are not affected by the loud noise.

I am sure world over, there are different traditions which are followed for thousands of years; but make sure its not done blindly. Keep them relevant for times we live in! Each individual, each family may do whatever that brings joy to them and to others. If you go to buy something in shops, wish Happy Diwali to strangers, wish Happy Diwali to shop keepers. Wish Happy Diwali to auto driver, wish happy Diwali to all the people who are working during Diwali, to make your Diwali merrier. Don’t forget that they are working during Diwali to keep us happy, make our Diwali happier! They also have their own families, they also have their spouses and children and siblings. They are going out of the way to make this occasion happier for us!

Another thing that we need to do is to redefine demons or devils or whatever you want to call them. In olden times devils were like Ravan but now the demons are modern day Ravans. But besides that there are demons like pollution, noise pollution, corruption and many such things. On the occasion of Diwali we can make resolutions like doing social work, helping out poor financially, share your professional knowledge  with society, pro bono!

I read a very interesting interview in today’s newspapers. A couple of business people who sell crackers were being interviewed. A family has been running the business for last 50 years. They said this year, the cracker sale is low and they are facing resistance from their children and grandchildren regarding the selling of crackers. This younger generation is talking about noise, pollution and stuff like that. They are saying that probably the days are numbered for this businesses! I can feel that the number of crackers being burst this year are markedly less! Happy Diwali!

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=diwali+crackers+video&view=detail&mid=1849F03CB11BFE257F901849F03CB11BFE257F90&FORM=VIRE

Human facets!

One of the meanings of the word facet is one side of something many-sided, especially of a cut gem. Whenever I think about the human mind and body, I always find new facets in different persons and even in the same person. These facets are after all are HIS creations. Human facets make a fascinating study. Recently, I heard an old song titli udi from the Hindi movie Suraj (1966) . I had never heard this song for its meaning but when I read the lyrics, I found them fascinating. I interpreted the song my way.

The word Titli in Hindi means Butterfly. The butterfly comes near a beautiful flower and the flower whispers, “please come to me for the nectar”! The butterfly says, “I am flying up in the sky! Beyond the clouds, there are flowers which to you are stars! I want to go beyond everything and reach them, as I want to cross the limits of what I can do. There will be none to tell me you do this and you do that because there will be no boundaries and limits!” The flower says, “Don’t go beyond because you will be waiting and waiting till infinity for your desires to be fulfilled.” The butterfly says, “Only when I spread my wings and go beyond, I will meet my Prince charming”! When butterfly flew beyond, she met new people and found her new persona! She met her Prince charming and love of her life! Wow! Such a simple song but such a deep meaning.

While listening to the song,  a kaleidoscope of different human facets came in mind. I went into a trance and started wondering about how this happens. The song reminded me of someone who was always passionate about doing things and always wanted to cross the limits that all of us face. Recently I read about a naval officer who wanted to circumnavigate the earth, alone, in a boat. He almost did it but for an accident. He got hurt in the accident and it took three days to pick him up. But he held on. I am sure once he overcomes his health issues, he will again attempt the same thing. Testing limits of own endurance both physically and mentally is  a facet of human beings, that I admire the most.

Knowing others is a trait which only humans have. Some people have the ability to get along with new people very quickly. I know someone who used to go on first name basis in the first meeting itself when calling each other by the first name was not so popular. He had a knack of doing it, he had that charm! But at the same time, he had the ability to keep the same affinity with people with whom he would lose touch due to circumstances. I once asked him how he did it? He said, “Pramod, look at any relationship. It may be love, it may be friendship, it may be a business relationship. Getting into a relationship is very simple but keeping it going is hard. You need to cultivate any and every relationship. Unless this is done, falling out of a relationship is quite simple. You just fall out. But that’s the hardest. I simply cannot handle falling out, so I would rather cultivate and keep the relationships going. In love, you have your moments like the butterfly had its moments, only the sky was her limit; two persons are the closest in this relationship!  In friendship, the relationship simply cannot be explained. In a business relationship, you have many good and bad memories of successful and failed projects. Falling out in a business relationship can affect your professional work too! He said, “Pramod, mind you. No matter how much you convince yourself otherwise, reciprocation is important. Without it, the relationship simply dies. You may be postponing that one call, that one message, that one tinkle. Then you get used to not communicating. But mind you, falling out of the relationship is the toughest!”

Another facet that I simply admire is the valour. We have read so many stories of going into battles with knowledge of sure death! We have all read of late Vikram Batra during Kargil war. He and his team had a target and he achieved it, though it was a very tough task and death was almost imminent. It is difficult to imagine such an act from a 22-year old officer. What drives these men? What must be going on in their mind at that juncture? I am sure these are not reckless men but men with a specific aim and great love for their motherland! We all of us know the story of Shelar mama in the battle of Sinhgad fort near Pune. When the going was adverse, he simply cut the ropes which were used to climb the Sinhgad fort, which is on a hill. He told his soldiers that they can’t go back and that one action brought out the courage in them and they won the battle. Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Shivaji’s general had promised Shivaji that he would make sure that Shivaji reached his destination safely. Till that time, he and his soldiers kept on fighting the moguls. When they heard the signal of Shivaji’s safe arrival, he plunged into the final battle and died.

I have talked of good aspects of humans but there are equally bad facets in humans. The Sabarimala case and “Me Too” are classic recent cases of the worst aspect of humans. What brings out superstitious side of humans, I am not sure. The Me Too is a classic case of male chauvinism where males try to throw their weight around to suppress, suffocate females and try to look for sexual benefits.

In case of Sabarimala, Supreme Court gave a ruling saying that the so-called religious tradition of not allowing the females whose menstrual cycles are active. This is because the God at Sabarimala is a bachelor and a celibate! Oh, come on! What is God? Who decides the marital status of Him? Who gave right to priests to decide this rule? Who gave them the right to decide this? This is a bad form of superstition! If these same ladies go to Ram temple, it is ok because Ram is married to Sita! Sounds logical? Says who? On one side we are talking of Industry 4.0 and in which a large number of ladies are actively involved, but on the other side we are trying to prevent 50% population from freedom! The ladies can take part in development, they can give birth to our children but they cannot enter the Mandir, what nonsense are we talking.

“Me Too” is also a similar bad facet of humans and males are creating this problem. I am not going into why this has been happening. But I see some different viewpoints expressed on the subject. A couple of ladies have a different opinion on this than the majority opinion, excepting of course those who are caught in Me Too! One is trying to shame Tanushree Datta and another one is claiming that sex in the film industry is always with consent! Wow! I did not know that the film industry was a secret branch of brothels! Have sex get a song, have sex get a role and so on. Take bribe in kind so that there are no issues with the IT department, later! Forget about your life’s balance sheet when you finally meet HIM!

Superstitions, Male chauvinism is a result of insecurities, being scared of going away from so-called traditions. In olden days, mandir’s were nearby, wearing footwear was not very common. If worn, they would be made of animal hide. So, priests must have formed the rules, no footwear. There were no concrete roads, no pucca roads so walking barefoot was manageable. The black colour is supposedly inauspicious; so, what is the logic that Ayyappa bhakts must wear black clothes! We are a tropical country, the people who go there to pay their obeisance are not professional climbers or trekkers. The black dress would add to their difficulties with heat and humidity! Oh, but this is the tradition and the bachelor God said that all must wear black!

I can go on and on but I will write more at a later stage! There are so many human traits some good and some bad. It’s really a fascinating aspect of our lives. I will slowly delve in them. CIAO!

Meandering!

 

Meandering means following a winding course. This adjective is used for rivers. I saw some beautiful pictures of meandering rivers, on the net and felt like sharing with you! The river water just takes its course following the path of least resistance. Today my thoughts are meandering like the river and jump from one thought to another, just meandering along. In my city Pune, we have two rivers called Mutha and Mula. Their confluence is within the city. Mutha river has a path which hardly meanders, in fact, the river hardly has any water around the year. I am generous in this description. In any year, there are only 3 to 4 days when it can be called a river otherwise it is a stream! This is during monsoons when the upstream dams get full!

Yesterday my day started with a phone call from my friend Shrikant who is holidaying in Spain and Portugal. A rumour had reached him that a dam upstream of the river Mutha had broken and water was flowing above one of the bridges. Thanks to social media! I told him that there was a breach in the canal which draws water from the dam. The breach had caused a bit of flooding in the shanties along the canal, causing damage to homes of many families. As the water kept on coming on an extremely busy major road, there was a traffic jam in large part of the city. In the social media, the breach in canal got converted into a dam breakage!

Another friend who is currently in the US, sent me a message that I have become old, after reading my blog “What really is Romance?” I sent him 🤣🤣 as a reply! Dilip and I were classmates and both are around 70. I was wondering how I suddenly became old with one blog? My definition of romance was being together, sharing everything with each other, face life’s tough situations with a smile, together. Just a touch of hand and caress is romance. These are practicalities of life and has nothing to with age Dilip! Personally, I feel that I am around 45, age-wise, when I am in the gym I feel as if I am 55! Never in my life yet I have felt my real age around 70. Five years back I underwent cancer treatment. My health was down for about six months but even during the treatment my zest for the life never went down.

Our Supreme Court has taken five major decision a short span of last ten days. The interesting part is that 3 of them involved something related to sex. First one was about the gays. Now gays can openly move around in the society, maybe with their heads high. But I always used to wonder what is normal? A man and woman have liking for each other, have sex and make babies. As against that two men or women have liking for each other, have sex and obviously can’t make babies. What is abnormal in that? What was illegal in that? Why their heads had to be down? The gays are made such by nature. Do we mean to say that in “normal” people there are no freaks, there are no perverts, there is no rapist? In fact, rapists are the worst normal persons who go and rape kids, they go and rape even old women of the age of 70 plus.

Next one is about adultery. Finally, the Victorian era seems to be coming to an end – the judgment on Section 497 is progressive in many ways. In the context of changing social realities of our times, especially the transforming gender equations. Justice Chandrachud has cited the violation of Articles 14 and 21, saying that Section 49 perpetuates the subordinate status of women, denies them dignity and sexual autonomy, and is based on gender stereotypes. Previous law said that in the case of adultery if a man had consensual sex with a woman without permission from her husband, he could be arrested. The judgement has removed the criminality from the law. It is allowing women sexual autonomy! We are moving with times!

The latest one is about Sabarimala Devasthanam. They did not permit ladies between the age of 10 and 50 to pay their obeisance at the Devasthanam. They declared that women in this age group have their menstrual cycles active hence they are impure! Hence, they should not visit! Men who had taken this decision seem to forget that they came into this world because their mother had an active menstrual cycle and had sex with someone. They are the result of these two so-called impure acts! This is the tact used by men in patriarchal society to control things the way they wanted it. The court has said that in the democratic nation, rights of individuals are above the so-called traditions which have formed in a society and the thought process, which is totally irrelevant today. Some years back there was an incident. There was a case of theft at Sabarimala and 35-year DCP came to investigate. To the horror of the priests, the officer was a lady! Of course, she went inside and did her job!

Then there was the famous case of Babri Masjid. Supreme Court has given a decision that the case has nothing to do with religion and should be treated as a civil suit. According to the verdict, it is simply a land dispute case and will be decided based on the evidence available.

The last case is about the so-called intellectuals arrested by Pune police. A big noise was made by intellectuals about freedom of speech and freedom of expression. They claimed that it is a politically motivated case and should be summarily dismissed. Supreme Court has said that there is evidence to prove that these intellectuals were connected with a disbanded Maoist organization who have various plans, including bringing down the Indian Government by using force! What is it with these intellectuals? They do not say a word when Maoists kill people, last week two MLA’s in Telangana were murdered. Sometimes back 71 security forces were killed in an IED attack. Not a word of protest. These people have been praising terrorists as if they are freedom fighters fighting for India. Under the garb of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, these folks and their followers make statements which an enemy would generally make. When terrorists are killed, these guys write to the Human Rights Commission. But when security forces are brutally kidnapped and murdered, they are away on a holiday to cold climes! They are strong followers of communism at its worse, though all over the world communism has died.

Ignorance is bliss they say but is not treating your medical issues on time the right thing to do? Heard this one from a neurologist. The patient was diagnosed for MS, multiple sclerosis. This condition is tough on your body. The doctor further said that this has been going on for five years! Why do people delay going to doctors? The person accompanying the patient mentioned that he also suffered from diabetes, which currently was well controlled. Only thing is that the he needs dialysis twice a week, side effect of “controlled diabetes!” Amen!

On a lighter note, thank Mr Trump for starting a trade war with China. Mercedes Benz is now exporting their cars to the USA, from India instead of China! So long….