Heart or Brain?

Many a times, humans take decisions in a way that it becomes difficult for others to fathom. Sometimes the brain is required to take precedence over heart and other times heart is supposed to take precedence over brain. In love, about family and friends, heart should take precedence over brain; emotions do overcome brain in these cases but in other cases it should be the reverse. But this sometimes does not happen.

Recently a term has been coined “Post Truth”

Post-truth relies solely on personal beliefs and ignores any facts that may conflict with those personal beliefs.

Initially, humans lived in small groups, with evolution many things changed. This included communication, travel, language and many other things. When small groups were not connected, most of the decisions taken were based on personal beliefs because knowledge acquired by other groups could hardly be known as inter group communications were either non-existent or were very poor and not wide spread. Human race has evolved over a period especially about communications.

In modern world, the knowledge and information gets spread so fast that we can know many things, if we want to. This gave the opportunity to know how people behave in different ways for same situations. Also many facts and figures became easily available. With this change, migration also increased. Initially people looked at migration as globalization; effect of globalization was assimilation of global population with different skills, to manufacture stuff/provide services from anywhere in the world at the lowest possible cost. Globalization did spread with the advent of knowledge and information and better communication. It had its great effects, initially. Second “industrial revolution” was even faster and more wide spread. This “industrial revolution” was digitalization and computerization of our world. Its effect has been to democratize the global economy to some extent.

But in recent couple of years, a different effect of this revolution was felt by the local population e.g. losing jobs to “outsiders”. Now the thought process has started changing from global to local. This has led to the creation of term “Post Truth”. So called “Global Thinking” people have started thinking “locally” to get their jobs back. The effect is for all of us to see e.g. Trump becoming President, Brexit and so on. Apparently Post Truth is more prevalent in Public Domain but sometimes it’s prevalent in personal domain too! We cannot say that US population is not aware of “could be effects” of  Trump presidency. Britishers are very much aware that coming out of large single market is not good for Britain. But in spite this knowledge, decisions have been most unexpected. 

EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) episode, challenging the Election commission by political parties was a typical Post Truth case. EVM voting sanctity was well proven over a period but Political parties did not look at the facts and just challenged the Authorities. In 1971 India Pakistan war, Pakistan had two very distant fronts to fight on, Mukti Bahini was strongly fighting the guerilla war, Indian Forces were far superior but Pakistanis had a notion that one Pakistani soldier is good enough for 10 Indian soldiers! Rest as you know is history. Alienating Qatar by other Gulf Countries is another Post Truth decision. Qatar is a small nation but is also the richest. All concerned countries on both sides openly support terrorist organizations. So most of these countries have same issues so how alienating Qatar is going to solve that areas problems is difficult to understand.  

Why the Post Truth? Under what circumstances does emotion take over the brain? At what stage “globalization” becomes less important than “localization”? One important aspect that has come forward is that very large part of population gives in to “Post Truth” phenomena. Is it because of fear psychosis? In many cases, the “Post Truth” thinking actually becomes believable. In case of Trump phenomena, it was real justified fear of the so called “White Trash” in America or “Rednecks” and Right supremacists. In case of Brexit it is probably the fear of Muslim refugees landing in Europe. In England already there is a large population of Asians which has come legally and has been causing stress to the white population and “Post Truth” thought process must have been simmering beneath the surface. In both cases the large population has ignored the facts and taken decision solely on personal beliefs; this phenomena is difficult to explain.

In case of personal relationships, life and decision making is too simple and emotional. When Jaya and I decided to get married, we were both students. Both had rudimentary information about each other’s families. Both of us were below 20 years of age, it was simple and “to hell with the consequences” was the attitude. But who any way knew what is marriage? That things turned out to be okay over a period was a different matter. Folks, what do you consider yourselves about things in public domain or even somethings in personal domain which needs brain over heart? Or are you a heart over brain person?

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My voting rights were on hold, almost…..

I and Jaya have been voting for last 45 years. This morning we got our morning stuff out of the way quickly and reached the voting station just at the starting time, 7.30 am! Of course we did not go in the finery to celebrate the dance of democracy, but enthusiasm had not diminished in 45 years. The election was for Pune Municipal Corporation and was a local one.

There were many web sites where one could search details like name, polling booths and so on, but both our names were missing from all lists. We tried different spellings but nothing worked. This was a couple of days back. We assumed that our names were “struck off”! Then suddenly I received an SMS which included details about Jaya and my brother Shrikant, who lives in the US! This increased our hopes and I thought maybe my name is also there somewhere.

Surprisingly this time, arrangement for locating ones name and polling booth were quite rudimentary. Normally, we would get detailed slips on the day before voting from different political parties. We just needed to show the slips to locate the booth. But this year there were no slips! I thought India has gone up the value chain, no paper slips only SMS’s and online search. I somehow had an inkling that my name may be missing after all. We managed to locate our booth and went inside. There was nobody with laptops, searching etc. We presumed that our names would be in the same booth. And Lo! Jaya’s name was there and mine was not found. We came out after Jaya voted and went to a Govt official who had a list of names separated alphabetically. We could not find my name. The beauty is that names of ALL our neighbours from the Condo were seen only my name was not found.

While driving back home, I felt sad and it was getting converted into a “Pall of Gloom”! How can this happen? All these years I have voted, there is no change in our official address, there was no change in anything. How can my name suddenly vanish? Human nature is such that cancer, heart attack, accidents and “name vanishing from voter’s list” happen to someone else to be read in the newspaper! I just could not believe that it happened to me! I went home and later went to my office. Luckily my polling center is very close to my office. When we discussed my missing name in the office, everybody sympathized but sympathies don’t bring the name back in the voter’s list. Then my man Friday Pankaj took all the details from me and said, “Don’t worry! I will recheck.” In half an hour he came back with my details. My name was in another booth. There were six booths with approximately 800 people to vote at each booth. But Pankaj met one of the candidates and he made sure that my name was properly checked, manually and successfully! Was I happy!

Now thoughts come to my mind, why do these things happen? Why simple search on websites is not efficient? How can names actually get deleted? Or do they really get deleted? My perseverance helped me locating the name. But all people may not be that keen. If the name is not found, people just let go, in fact I also let go but Pankaj helped me vote, which is my basic democratic right! From work point of view creating and updating the lists is not rocket science but we read stories of a lot of errors. Why it cannot be stopped? That my name was not found on any search sites indicates that their data is not properly updated or their search criteria are wrong! Along with improving searching, volunteers should also be sitting with Laptops on the Election Day to make life easy for people! But for that to happen, data must be proper. Another thing that could be done is the vendors who process the data for Govt agencies should be penalized if names go missing. Probably they are given medals today! Financial punishment is a great way of increasing efficiency and correctness! May be they should also be offered bonuses, for zero errors!

One thing I have learnt today, if your name is not there don’t give up! Make an effort, maybe the name is misplaced and not deleted. Voting is our basic right, we don’t know how lucky we are that we live in a democracy! Check about life in non-democratic countries! We only look at chaos in India but we must also start looking at the vibrancy of democracy seen everywhere. We may not like the candidates in our area, we may not like the politicians but we must not forget the power of democracy! Democracy allows Modi to become Prime Minister and it also allow Trump to become President! Long live democracy!

 

 

 

Topsy-turvy!

Modern world is changing so rapidly that whatever was thought politically correct till very recently, is turning topsy-turvy. I am sharing a poem below which is very appropriate.

Topsy-turvy Land

by H. E. Wilkinson

The people walk upon their heads,
The sea is made of sand,
The children go to school by night,
In Topsy-Turvy Land.

The front-door step is at the back,
You’re walking when you stand,
You wear your hat upon your feet,
In Topsy-Turvy Land.

And ‘buses on the sea you’ll meet,
While pleasure boats are planned
To travel up and down the streets
Of Topsy-Turvy Land.

You pay for what you never get,
I think it must be grand,
For when you go you’re coming back,
In Topsy-Turvy Land.

Similar thoughts came to my mind when I read in the papers recently that, Amruta Fadnavis wife of Maharashtra Chief Minister dancing with THE Amitabh Bacchan for a video being shot! Ok you will argue that Bacchan danced with her because she is CM’s wife! Of course it is obvious but then it goes with the territory. Once you are in the stratosphere of social circle, you remain there as much as you can. Now what is topsy-turvy is that banker Amruta Fadnavis is turning into a dancer for a video, simultaneously! I am absolutely happy that Amruta is attempting this move. Now how does Axis Bank take to their VP openly moonlighting for a filmy video? During bank timings she sanctions loans or does whatever bankers do in the bank; do waiting customers see her video, on bank waiting lounge entertainment TV , while they wait for their meeting with her? This creates an interesting scenario. I am absolutely for women doing whatever they want to do as professionals, so on that front I have no problems. But how will Axis Bank handle this? This is the topsy-turvy I am talking about. Let’s see how this moves forward.

This topsy-turvy trend had started somewhat when Vilas Rao Deshmukh was the CM and his actor Son Riteish stayed with him. Deshmukh faced the wrath of people when a film maker Ram Gopal Varma tagged with him to take a round of devastated Taj Hotel during 26/11 terrorist attack.

Then we have Mr. Trump winning the US presidential election. Trump the man who made below the belt, rough, nasty, ugly political statements and was supposed to be also ran. Everybody said there is no way he can win the election. The topsy-turvy happened and now he is President Elect! Till very recently everybody was talking of globalization but Trump’s inward looking policies have hit a raw nerve. When he talks of getting jobs back to US, not allowing any more jobs to be moved out of the US, globalization gets tossed out of the window. I recently read a book “Hilly Billy Elegy by J D Vance; this book explains the inward looking phenomena and its reasons. Trump does not say these things discretely and is proposing them openly. Same about his statement regarding Muslims.

Same inward looking stance was never visualized by outsiders in Britain but during Brexit it came out and ensured the vote to take Britain away from European Union. A few years back this was unthinkable. How is the world going to handle such topsy-turvy scenarios?

Till 8th November “Cash is King” was the motto in India! We loved to do everything in cash. According to some experts cash kept the wheels of the economy greased! Biggest topsy-turvy as far as we are concerned happened. The demonetization, a frontal attack on strong black-money hoarders was unthinkable even a few days before 8th November. I have seen the world of certain people turning topsy-turvy in an unthinkable manner. Similar attempts were made in olden days but were damp squibs. In days of KYC, Aadhar card linking, direct linking of TDS to PAN card, in short various forms of electronic linking are going to make it very tough for people to hide their undeclared incomes. People have said that Govt had no plan and acted without going into details. It is not so they have an action group which is creating new methods of helping people to overcome tough times, at the same time making it difficult for defaulters to hide behind Jandhan Yojana!

All the events mentioned above have happened in the year 2016 which can be considered as watershed year. One may argue that where does Amruta Fadnavis story fit in these other major events? Yes it does. It’s changing the definition of political correctness. Will be it ok for a lady Collector of a District to give public dance recitals as she is trained dancer too! Is it ok for Senior Vice President of a large Private organization to be in advertisement as he/she started their career as a model? Or you need to be CM’s wife to be able to do both? Trump the candidate and Trump the President, will they be speaking the same language, the so called politically incorrect ones? Because when President says some such thing it becomes a policy! Friends I think we are at a very interesting phase in this world of topsy-turvy changes so let’s see how it works out in the end. I am sure 2017 will be even more interesting!

Monetisation!

I landed in Seattle very smoothly and thought wow, what a smooth landing! I went to pick the trolley for my bags and found that most of the people were lugging their bags. I thought people were saving their five dollars! I came out and was waiting as my son got stuck in in traffic. While waiting I thought let’s have a coke. I went the counter, I had a lot of change with me, from my previous trips. I gave the girl all loose coins. She counted those twice and had difficulty in counting. I told her don’t worry the amount is right. Finally I could drink my coke.

My son arrived he said there was a big rush at the toll collection and in the parking area. Luckily he had a stash of coins in his glove compartment. He said that I must be having cash? I was wondering what happened to him? Usually he takes away my wallet when I reach the US and returns it when I am being dropped back at the airport.

Again there was a big queue, arguments, somehow people were managing to pay the toll in cash. I thought probably something wrong with their electronic collection system. Reached home, freshened up a bit then I suggested to my son that we go out for dinner at my favourite Italian place. It was almost empty and I was wondering how this place is not crowded on a summer evening. We had our leisurely dinner, followed my practice back home, put the cash and paid; took a small drive in the mountainous area and came home. (Later on I wondered why my son did not object to my paying for the meal)

I put the TV on and saw President Trump just starting his address to the nation. America had decided to monetize itself as all the electronic transfer systems were under tremendous strain. With too many small transactions, internet was getting clogged. Hence the US government had taken a decision that all transaction below US dollars 100/ will be done in cash. Now I realized the meaning of things that I could understand on arrival! My son had about US $ 22.53/ in his home. These he would need for at least two days of travel toll. He was really not sure how long he may have to work from home as getting cash from ATM’s and bank had become a nightmare.. There were big lines all over US at ATM’s and banks. Majority of notes coming out from ATM’s were US $100/ as small denomination notes were in short supply. People had no use for large denomination notes as such. Mr. Trump said US Government had taken this action because a secret report showed that younger American generation could not count, they did not know number tables and they also could not do small mathematical calculations in mind; that is the reason they have started centers all over US to teach young generation to count notes and coins, quickly. Retired bank people, teachers and whoever was willing to help were drafted to teach people to count. At toll booths a lot big boxes were required to collect the small denomination notes and coins. People had difficulty in recognizing notes as many youngsters had hardly ever seen them. Calls were frantically made to Indian government to send experts to share Indian people’s knowledge of stashing cash.  Indian government had a ready list of such people; they were given visas to travel to US, no questions asked!! Large number of small notes were getting printed in the US but CIA was negotiating with counterfeit dollar printers world over, who could offer their presses to print genuine currency. Narcotics gang were also checked but they all had large stacks of high denominations notes. They were offered 20% clean profit for exchanging small currency notes but to no effect.

I was wondering does 12 hrs of time difference make so much difference. Or was it cultural? Or was it in DNA? How the problems of two nations were diagonally opposite? I started to explain to my son the experience of demonetization that we had in India. I was quite animated and moved my hands to explain a point and thud! Something fell down. Oh, I just woke up with a start and my wife said we have just landed at Seattle. She said you were very animated in sleep. We got down and saw our son waiting for us. We embraced and he removed my wallet from my pocket as was normal practice and said “Dad, Welcome to US”!