Election musings!

Dance of democracy is on, and words after words are written, spoken, shouted on TV. People are feeling happy about the largest democracy going through its rights, luckily now every five years! All this is bliss, what more do you want in life.  People are seen debating on TV to enlighten people of what, I am not sure; in the slanging matches you can’t understand what is being said. In public meetings the leaders, the candidates are offering schemes and money. It appears that even funds available with the World Bank may not be able to provide cash to fulfil promises given to people. A billion here and a billion there does it make any difference to the speakers? But one thing is for sure, despite the politicians the nation’s do progress, things change and improve, albeit slowly. Indian growth in the last twenty years has been phenomenal.

What are the feelings in the minds of the people? For those directly involved in politics are excited and are looking forward to winning the election. Why is the win so important? It is the ticket to wealth. Barring a minuscule % of candidates, most are millionaires and billionaires. During the five years after the previous election, the wealth of many of these candidates has galloped. They never seem to work the way all of us work on a day to day basis. The assets jump beyond imagination, but it appears that all are hand in glove; no politician is ever troubled by Income Tax people.

Percentage of people voting does not change much except in a few constituencies. Why does this happen? There are so-called middle class and higher middle-class people who are too busy to vote, and there are people too poor to have time think about elections.

People, in general, look at democracy and the process of justice as if it is a wild animal; they look at it as a mirror where they want to see the reflection of their own eyes, nose and teeth. The picture is not very pretty. Probably it brings a thought in their mind that there is no alternative to the situation and they accept that they get the candidate they deserve. The feeling of desolation comes to their mind after realising that things may never change. Optimism is good, but after seven decades of Indian democracy, it is observed that things are going from bad to worse. The ugly words are used to describe opponents, calling the head of state a thief, calling a senior leader and his family as a family of marauders. My knowledge tells me that Loksabha and Rajya Sabha are the highest bodies in India. The speeches made there and allegations thrown at each other cannot be taken to the court of law. But the statements made in public are equally terrible, but the action taken by election commission is to debar these people from making speeches for a few days during the election rallies!

People go to the voting centre with a frame of mind as they go to any government office; with half the expectation that their name may not be there in the official list. They are in the least bothered if voting is done electronically or using ballot paper. On the voting day, the voter gets up tying his shoelace and hopes that his vote will improve pollution in the city. Though the initial thought that comes to his mind is, from where will he get his next meal? The ideas in the minds of the candidates are when will they be able to get a BMW or a Mercedes after this election. The candidate does not have to worry about improving the condition of the poor; their party has already declared that they will give a dole of a few thousand Rupees in the bank account of the poor. It is a collective responsibility which is conveniently considered as nobody’s responsibility.

Why is this apathy shown? Why the numbers of people voting not to go up? The first significant reason could be errors in creating voter lists. Over a period, the errors have come down, but still, that apprehension of missing names does not go away. Jaya and I have been lucky that we have taken part in each election. In the last election, my name could not be located for a long time when I went to vote. Since we have the same home address and have always been listed together, how could my name got transferred to some other list is still a mystery to me? This time also our names have been found in the list when I did online checking. What can happen at the booth is another story.  Please read my blog on the similar subject written sometime back.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/my-voting-rights-were-on-hold-almost/

The second reason is that now a lot of people migrate within India. A person moving from Ahmednagar to Bhatinda does not know anything about local politics and candidates. Such people sometimes do not register themselves in the new place and don’t vote. In the days of the internet, a system can be created where people can have the option to vote at their original location. There will have to be checks and balances. But it is doable. A person’s vote should be able to travel along with the person.

This apathy of not taking part in the democratic process can lead to Brexit like situation. When the referendum was held in Britain, the young people stayed away from voting as they did not realise the meaning of the vote. When Britain voted to come out of the European Union, the young people and not so young people realised the folly of moving out of the EU. Being in the EU means to travel without a visa. There is easy access to around 25 countries in Europe for work and leisure. During our holiday travel to Europe a couple of years back, we have observed the ease with which travel is done. By stopping and checking at borders a tremendous amount of time is wasted. For those who are travelling for work, it is the waste of productive time. But now both Britain and the EU are in great turmoil as the majority in Britain want to remain within the EU. But it is not easy as there are laws and rules in an international relationship where it can not be based on whims.

There are liberals, prestitutes, bhakts. Liberals generally discuss the democracy with a glass of Chivas Regal. I am not sure if they are worried about the conditions of the downtrodden. But they support Naxalites movements and are generally anti-government. When the party in government lose an election, then they become partners with liberals. Prestitutes are “Intellectuals” and sometimes appear as if they are paid by someone to air their views. Somehow, they are anti-common view and anti-majority. There are bhakts present in every party who religiously follow whatever their  “God” will say. All these make for small but loud numbers; substantial numbers go by issues on hand, economy, development, international relations et al. But finally, it comes to a vast number of people who are swayed by money paid against each vote, as their primary need is to come out from jhuggi to at least a brick house. They don’t want the struggle of day to day living problems like power, food, water and sanitation. These are things which you and I take for granted. But will these people go and vote in large numbers if their problems are resolved? Maybe not, they will then treat the election day as a holiday like many people do and start enjoying a free holiday.

Three cheers for democracy!

Advertisements

Pulwama-War or Peace?

War1

                 जंग तो खुद ही एक मसला है, जंग क्‍या मसअलोंका हल देगी? 

                 आग और खून आज बक्‍शेगी, भूक और एहतीयाज कल देगी। 

                        इसलिए ऐ शरीफ इन्सानों, जंग टलती रहे तो बेहतर है। 

                  आप और हम सभी के आंगन में, शमा जलती रहे तो बेहतर है।

These are the lyrics of a poem by Sahir Ludhiyanvi, the famous poet and lyricist. These lines aptly fit the stand-off between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. Pakistan has been following the policy of thousand small cuts against India and has succeeded. In between these small terrorist attacks, they have made significant attacks like Pathankot in 2016 and the recent one at Pulwama. With the latest attack, the whole Indian nation came together, and the atmosphere in India became very tense. Some print media newspapers, web newspapers and TV stations started making jingoistic statements. The frenzy led to people making statements like, “Let’s teach the enemy a lesson!” It is easy to get swerved, but the Indian government remained steadfast in their stand and said that they were studying the matter and would take appropriate action at the right time.

The poem brings reason to our thinking in such tough situations. The gist of the poem is in the first line. “When the war itself is an issue, how can we use war to resolve other issues.” Hence, the poet says, gentlemen try and avoid war! It is better if we have the Candles burning in our courtyards! The candles burning signifies peace.  Let us not burn candles for martyrs.

What does war do? In recent times we had one in Kargil and before that 1971 war which gave birth to Bangla Desh. Pakistan had been morally hurt due to the 1971 war where ninety thousand of its soldiers were required to surrender to the Indian army. Unfortunately, none of the Pakistani leaders had the mentality of trying for peace. Bhutto was suave but was a hawk who wanted one thousand years of war with India. Zia Ul Haque was a religious fanatic and gave birth to the thought of troubling India under the garb of religion. Kafirs must be punished was his theory. Musharaff was equally terrible with a hawkish mentality like Bhutto.

Sine the 1971 war, India has always offered to discuss and resolve the issues but Pakistan all the time wanted to take the Kashmir problem on the global forums; India has always said that it is a bilateral problem. Pakistan has all the time had a so-called democracy in which the government was controlled by ISI and the military; successive governments were in denial about the terrorism problem.

Various Indian governments tried peaceful negotiations, including a visit by Modi to wish Nawaz Sharif on his birthday. When Musharraf was the prime minister, cricket match diplomacy was attempted, but results have been continued terrorist attacks. What is the solution to this? War? No way. Jingoistic sabre rattling by social media, TV anchors is not a solution.  They only vitiate already tense atmosphere. The anchors and their brethren have crossed the LOC many times in discussions; they have bombed the bases and won the wars in their dreams. I understand that TV anchors have a job like you and me. But they shout, “We don’t want condemnation, but we want blood, enemy blood!” These folks think that it is like moving around on a film set with a toy gun and kill the enemy, Rambo style! Red paint on the chest and all! It is like playing soldier-soldier! In war, somebody’s brother or father or son dies. We should not forget that it’s a human being like you and me that dies, whether he is Indian or a Pakistani is secondary. Villages and towns on the borders are also damaged, people get killed.

It is excellent for TRP’s with simulated atom bombs blowing the mushroom cloud. But do these anchors know how many people died in the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? It is estimated that approximately One hundred and fifty thousand people died in Hiroshima and about seventy thousand people died in Nagasaki! Are we prepared to take the human losses on this scale? With more powerful bombs and a much larger population than 75 years ago, the number of deaths is unimaginable, if the bombs are dropped today.

The link below is a link for an interview in Indian Express. IE team interviewed Gautam Bambawale who was the High Commissioner of India in Pakistan in 2016/2017 and was in China in 2018, post-Doklam controversy. As per the current practice anchors and politicians may not believe some of the facts shared by Gautam. Style these days is to ask for proof. Gautam, by the way, is a Puneite, and his parents lived in Chaturshringi area.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/one-surgical-or-aerial-strike-may-not-force-pak-to-stop-aiding-terror-but-we-have-raised-the-costs-gautam-bambawale-5618709/

After every incident, there are a lot of discussions in the government agencies, within them and with each other. These discussions are held under the leadership of the head of the government. Armed Forces are consulted for preparedness and options. External affairs ministry starts dialogues with the different international governments to explain India’s thinking and possible action. These friends are requested to support India openly as well as in the bodies like the United Nations. Coordinating with other governments is a real tough and confidential work that takes place in the background. Mr Bambawale has said in the interview that after Pathankot some action was imminent.  (it was known only to a very few people on the need to know basis) The ministry of External affairs had advised him to be prepared to ensure that all embassy staff was safe by locking down in a safe place. Lockdown was essential as the reactions within Pakistan could not be predicted.

Blood for blood is a slogan good for TRP. What terrorists do can never be justified. But in the conventional war, thousands of soldiers from both sides can die! Let us not forget that Pakistanis are also human beings like you and me. Their powerless and hence unreasonable government’s acts, cannot be replied with a full-fledged war. What India did post Pulwama was to show Pakistan that now it means business. It hit the terrorist camps deep inside Pakistan territory! When India made a land-based surgical strike after Pathankot attack, Pakistan went into denial. But this time they tried to react with an air attack, which led to combat and they lost an F 16 fighter, and we lost MIG 21. Indian pilot Abhinandan was captured after he bailed out in Pakistan territory. Under international pressure, Pakistan released him in a couple of days to win a few brownie points.

Mr Bambawale has said in his interview, “With the (surgical strikes) for the first time in 2016, and now again in 2019, what we have indicated is that the people of India have had it up to their necks in suffering from terrorist activities. Also, we have indicated — and the government can take credit for the bold and brave decision — that if Pakistan does not control terrorists, then we will go and strike them inside Pakistan. That is what has changed. A lot of people are describing it as a new template that has been brought to the table. I agree with that assessment. It is no one’s case that one surgical strike, or one aerial strike, would force Pakistan to stop aiding and abetting terrorism. But we have increased and raised the costs for them to do this.”

Our brilliant opposition members in politics seem to have mentally become Pakistani supporters. One of the leaders said in an interview that Pulwama mastermind was Mr Modi. This clip was continuously being shown on Pakistan TV. Some opposition leaders initially made statements that we are together with the government. But later they congratulated the air force for the strike. Such attacks are approved by the head of government was conveniently forgotten. Then they started challenging the attack itself and said where is the body count. It seems that opposition expects that, after a surprise attack some Indians will go to the location and take the body count. Another leader also said the same thing. We will support the air force, but we will never help the Prime Minister. The raising of severe doubts about Indian State and its actions using the Air Force was the height of stupidity. The meaning of what they said was that the Air Force was in connivance with the government to cook a story of the air strike. Pakistanis must have been laughing; they must have said we don’t need Chinese or US support, our Indian friends are supporting our cause.

Mr Bambawale’s interview gives you a deep insight into how the crisis is handled. I sincerely wish and hope that for once the opposition leaders will stop talking in a frenzy as if they were Pakistani supporters. But in spite of opposition, our government has handled the situation well especially on the international stage. Propaganda made in other countries is putting pressure on Pakistan to act against the terrorist camps and the outfits.

war2

“One surgical or aerial strike may not force Pak to stop aiding terror. But we have raised the costs”. One sentence summarises Gautam Bambawale’s interview.  The idiom “One Swallow does not make a summer” perfectly fits the situation. India has finally changed its policy which will make Pakistan think about continuing with its current strategy of supporting terrorism. Individual terrorist attacks may continue for some time, but audacious attacks like Pathankot and Pulwama may not happen again because they know that India is going to hit back discretely, at their own will.

To conclude, Rajwardhan Rathore, Indian Minister,  has summed up the situation in cricketing parlance! He said, “Now in the terrorism game, India is now doing batting also. All these days we were just fielding!”

The Genesis of Enigmatic Society!

प्रत्येक वस्तुला जागा

प्रत्येक वस्तू जागेवर

कराल असे तुम्ही

तर कामे होतील भराभर

This is a saying in Marathi that Jaya remembered from her childhood. Renowned social worker Gangutai Patwardhan used to say this! It translates as below.

Each thing has its own place

The thing should always be in its place

If you follow this

All your work will be done quickly

This is exactly what Japanese concept of 5S says. 5S is a method/Japanese concept for organizing a workplace, especially a shared workplace (like a shop floor or an office space). See the yellow box! The blue box is equally important!

5s-explanation_med_hr

Our society, our lives are like a workplace. Rich and the poor share the same roads and infrastructure. So it is a responsibility of rich, poor and the middle-class to maintain the infra properly, and follow the rules of the society. To me, it is the responsibility of middle-class as their number is large, they are educated and many of them have seen the world.

But the more we change the more we remain the same. I remember when the whole world was holding its collective breath when 1st January 2000 dawned and Y2K was supposed to get things crashing world over, due to the supposed computer glitch. Indian computer companies made a giant-killing by providing a fantastic solution. There were high hopes that in the 21st century finally, India urf Bharat will look forward to getting its deserved place in the world order.

Where are we today at the end of 2018, almost twenty years from the beginning of the new century, but has our society improved? As usual, we have taken two steps forward and three steps backwards. This morning, I was standing in my balcony on my 7th floor home, chatting with my friend Dilip on phone. I saw a scooter stopping in front of a bungalow. An apparently educated lady simply dumped her garbage and drove off. I was observing for the next 15 minutes and saw ¾ more people do the same.

This is a very normal happening in India. We are in Yo-Yo mode all the time, we improve in certain areas and we go back two steps in another area. We have a global company chief in Nadella, Sundar Pichai and Indra Nooyi. We have ISRO sending Satellites after Satellites in space. Then we have people throwing their trash as they wish. We have Municipal Corporations dumping drainage water in rivers without processing. Industrial waste is also dumped in rivers without processing any many places. Under the garb of religion, dead bodies are dumped in the river Ganga!

When Anna Hazare started his Journey for Jan Lokpal Bill in the year 2011, not many had given him a chance of getting through without a great struggle, if at all. But one point which almost nobody had budgeted for was the great awakening of the Middle Class because of this movement. This middle-class was to be the vehicle for India’s journey towards “advanced” society.

Who are middle-class people and what is middle-class mentality? I would define a middle-class person as a person, who is like you and me, who is coming up in life. When one heard TV discussions read articles in those times, it was felt as if being middle class was really rude. The intelligentsia on panels was shocked to see the middle class coming on the road to express their views and argue when middle-class was supposed to be docile.

Now that the awakening had taken place, the same Middle class was being blamed as being too vociferous, too impatient, too aggressive and so on. The intelligentsia had hoped that the middle class will always remain dormant and never go against the proven theories of remaining mute. But with new electronic mediums of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS and so on, this group found a way of expressing their views and communicating openly with others.

There is a flip side to this. Not every cause needs Anna’s intervention; the local issues should be handled locally but the onus is still on the middle-class to lead.

You don’t need Anna to get local roads repaired. You don’t need Anna to solve your daily water problems. You don’t need Anna to clear garbage on the roads! Let Anna handle national level issues like Lokpal. But we don’t bother about our own behaviour. We spit betel leaf juice anywhere. We have unique behaviour on the Pune Mumbai expressway. There are two toll stations on the expressway. After each one, there are washrooms. But some of us drive about 5 Km ahead and then urinate in open. Our government has made laws, especially for villages, which ensures that any person who wants to stand for elections must have a toilet at home. People were still found going to their fields for morning ablutions, some men said they felt manly if they used the field instead of using toilets!

While chatting with friends, the subject of “State of our Nation” always comes up. The conclusion is always the same. Everybody is confused. There is a saying in Marathi, “हे असच चालायचं!” Things will never change. Someone I know was a sophisticated trainer in world’s renowned airline. Every Saturday, he would go a Mandir and offer a small container full of oil to a deity. It was poured in an area from where it would go down the drain. I don’t know how much oil was wasted every day; this could have been given to charity instead of wasting it. This is a story of a highly trained engineer. If the so-called educated people take part in such rituals, remain stuck in such beliefs, how will we ever reach the “Developed” state? I have seen many roadside tea stall owners performing a ritual. They brew their first cup of tea for the day and throw it on the ground. I asked a few of them why they did it? I was told that it gives them good luck for the days business. I asked them why not give it free to someone deserving instead of wasting it, they had no answer.

For our country to become “advanced” what needs to be done, I do not know. Every person’s definition of “advanced” will be different. As long as we don’t come out of the mentality of two steps forward and three steps backwards, the so-called advancement is not possible. For the last 15 years, we are showing economic growth of 7 to 8 % year to year. Effects of this growth are visible but our “backward” thinking dilutes this progress. According to me, the middle-class is the growth engine of the nation but this class also still remains in Yo-Yo mode. In technology, in modern methods, the middle class shows the forward thrust; at the same time the rituals, acts of blind faith are celebrated on a much larger scale because now there is money around. Even in today’s times, I have seen a lady, our relative, go into trance during a religious function. She is a normal college educated lady like ladies we meet normally, but still, she went in a trance, which at least I thought was happening only in uneducated class. The blog below gives my thoughts on such events.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/paranormal-behavior-or-angat-yene-or-devi-ana/

Let me as usual end up on a positive note. We have terrific enterprise, enthusiasm. Our nation is a nation of young people with energy. Let us put this energy to proper use and make sure that we don’t take any backward steps. If everybody folllows the Marathi lines above, then trash will always go in trash bins, vehicles will be parked in their places, roads will not be required to be repaired after every monsoon! We may start “looking” like a developed nation.

Busy, busy busy!

I was having a cup of coffee with a friend of mine. He was the CMD of an organization. One of the GM’s came to meet him about some crisis that had cropped up. They discussed it quickly and my friend told him, “You give this assignment to so and so!”. The GM said that the suggested person was very busy so he will give it to another person. But the boss told him to give such assignments to the busiest person. Busy persons are very organized and efficient hence will finish  the assignment in a jiffy! Half an hour later the GM informed him that the issue was resolved. He said, “This fellow came up with a unique solution and everything is back to normal!”  

Busy2

It is always said that the busiest person has the maximum time with him. We should not take literal meaning of the statement. What it means is that the person who is busy is generally well organized. That person knows the importance of work-life balance. My classmate Hemant Nerurkar was MD of Tata Steel and was a very busy person. He and I used to keep in touch on phone a few times in a year. He handled it this way. Generally, I would call; he would pick the phone if possible but if he were busy, which was by default, whenever he got some free time, he would text a message to me, “Pramod, I will call you on Thursday, 7.30 pm if it is ok with you”. He would call 100% of the times on the day and time given. It was simple, he probably just put it in his calendar and be done with it! He had to be well organized with so much work to do; at the same time, he also understood the importance of “me time”.   

Being busy is a state of mind. People do get busy and many times they get overloaded. Many people have a lot of work. The situation becomes complex in the case of modern families. Along with ladies, some men have also started taking home responsibilities. Office work, home chores, socializing, holidays can be a handful for everybody. But then that is modern life. We should learn to handle modern life and its pressures, things do get busy. But there are pitfalls in this situation.   How can we avoid them?

Stop showing off  

Some of us have the habit of showing how busy we are. But probably there are more people who are equally busy or busier. Showing off does not really help because only a few others are really concerned about you. Nobody is really bothered about your being busy. In your profession, you may be very good but there are equally competent people around. If you become famous for not being available, people simply stop coming to you. I know of a professional who used to go to foreign countries for a couple of months at a time for some assignments. Over a period, he reduced such assignments but his reputation had spread that he is not available most of the times. He took a few years to establish that he is readily available for consultations.

Prioritize the work but don’t procrastinate  

Above two messages show the importance of not being too busy!

Everybody has a list of “To Do” things. Everybody makes his or her list as per their method. But we should remember what must be done and what may be done on that day. Everything cannot be in the must do list. In office situation there can be routine replies to communications; all are not must do! There are some things which can be done the next day but at the same time do not procrastinate and push things forward. In this list, there are some occasional events which are a must. We need to budget for these. For example, birthdays of colleagues. In some offices, birthdays are celebrated with a small get together. One must budget for these events. Never skip such events as these are absolute must-do events. At home, you have decided to do spring cleaning. But somehow on that day many other things have popped up and you cannot do it; your child may fall sick so going to the doctor is a must. Some guests arrive uninformed, they need to be attended to! Its ok do spring cleaning some other day. Don’t fret over not being able to do the spring cleaning. But mind you, cleaning has to be done at some stage. Don’t procrastinate!  

Declog your schedules  

Sometimes we make our schedules so complex that we are not able to give justice to any assignment or a chore. Our mind is clogged and this reduces our ability to think properly and we tend to make errors. Errors put more pressure on your time and our schedules are further clogged. There is, of course, a side effect, a lecture from the boss or the wife! Make sure that you keep sufficient time between events (sometimes it is not in our hands) so that you get a break from the hectic schedule as well as time to prepare for the next event.   

Don’t give too much importance to being busy  

Keep your life simple. Do your work seriously but do not take yourself seriously. Everybody has a lot of things to do at the office as well as at home. But never check your emails while having food. Look at the food while eating. This will create good gastric juices and your digestion will be good. Always keep a bit of free time for your coffee break and enjoy banter with colleagues. Keep free time at home for family members including spouse, kids and parents. TV, FB and WA can always wait. Make the rule of no work in the bedroom. Social media is the main killer of your free time and reducing social media usage will increase your free time. This free time can be used for declogging your schedules and enjoy the banter!   

I will share one more story of how busy people find the time. One of our family friends was a personal friend of Narayan Murthy. The friend had called Murthy’s PA to find when Murthy could be available. Luckily both were in the same city. The PA called and said, ” Mr Murthy can meet you around 6.30 pm at xyz location. Then he can have half an hour of gupshup time with you in the car, as he is going to the airport. The car will drop you back to your hotel.”

Let me say Sayonara with a lovely message.  

Busy4

I will attempt to translate this Marathi message. 

I would have so much loved to write  

But you don’t have time to read 

We could have chatted for hours together 

But you have no time to listen 

We could have walked into the horizon 

But you have no time to walk 

My ears are very eager to listen to you 

But you have no time to talk 

        

 

What is the mind?

This is a song from Hindi movie Chitralekha from 1964, sung by Mohmmad Rafi and Music by Roshan, written by my favourite lyricist Sahir. The song explains beautifully about the Mind which in Indian language is मन !

Can you arrest the Sunlight?

From rising and receding!

Can you imprison the colours?

Who has shackled the beauty?

All dictionaries define MIND in 2/3 ways.

  • The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.
  • A person’s ability to think and reason; the intellect.
  • A person’s attention.

Obviously, it is not a physical thing, it not an attribute but it is something which exists but cannot be seen. It is supposedly having a great depth, sometimes it is said to be deeper than the ocean. The way we cannot see things deep down the ocean, we don’t know what is happening in someone’s mind. It is unpredictable. People jokingly say that it is very difficult to predict how a lady will react to a situation but (jokes apart) same is true about men too, in fact, it is predictable about the human race that unpredictable nature of human facet is predictable!  This is one of the pictorial depiction of the Mind!

mind

The mind is a data bank within the humans, with unlimited gigabytes or terabytes of ever expanding memory. Human mind always compares new things, new events with old data in mind! When we talk of mind, we point our finger towards our head but in the head, we have a brain and not mind! So where is the mind? Mind to me is the human intellect which during “thinking” accesses the data bank, compares and gives out the result by way of actions; these actions may be verbal, in writing or by physical action. To give an example, someone is being interviewed for a job. After various stages, the person is offered that the company will pay 20% less salary than demanded. That person recalculates in his mind and says Ok, I am good. What did his mind calculate? First, it calculated how much was the final expected figure in his mind? What was it based on? Expenses, EMI’s emergency expenses and savings! Based on such variables the mind recalculated the new situation.

How can we develop a mind which is very passionate and always questioning? Probably when we constantly inquire anything and everything, our mind becomes a free mind, which has a lot of data and a lot of flexibility. When the flexibility is gone, the questioning is reduced or stopped, our mind starts accepting everything at face value. Such a thought process then starts calling many things as traditions, which are to be just accepted. Our mind may be gets covered with some kind of rust; this rust coating does not allow our mind to remain active and ensures that we accept everything as beliefs and traditions.

I told my granddaughter the other day that it is not a good idea to watch YouTube or TV while eating food. She has a very sharp mind and mind which does not have cover of rust. She said please tell me what happens if she watched YouTube or TV while eating food. I could have given two answers. One, it is a tradition, which is really true; till 50 years back there was no TV and till 10 years back there was no YouTube. Hence the tradition was not to distract your mind while eating. But for a five-year-old girl both these things have been around from the day she was born. So, telling her that it is a tradition is incorrect! I explained to her scientifically and she was happy with the answer. So many times, beliefs and traditions are something which we use to hide behind instead of facing the truth, challenge an event or a thought process. Because thought is the way we respond to something with old data and current data,  then mixing the two to bring out an appropriate response.

I feel that the brain and mind are synonyms. But the  brain physically exists and in the case of mind, there is no physical existence. As the brain is made up of several materials, it can be studied. On the other hand, it is hard to conduct studies on the mind as it is not made up of any material. The brain is an important organ in the human body whereas the mind is equally important. It is in the brain that all the functions and activities take place. The brain, which is the center of the nervous system, coordinates the movements, thoughts and feelings. But these are put forth or felt through the mind. We all use the mind to think, feel and respond. The Mind refers to a person’s understanding of things and also his conscience. Mind also refers to a person’s thought process. The brain has a definite place in the head. But with regard to mind, it is only supposed to be in the brain. The brain may be affected with diseases and can be diagnosed whereas mind does not have such complications. But yes! If your mind becomes corrupt about something then it is very difficult to eradicate such a thought process.

The mind never sleeps. It is always preoccupied with something; it is preoccupied with thoughts and these thoughts keep on changing all the time. Now the beauty of the mind. This non-physical entity controls many actions and reactions of humans, some good, some bad and some are really ugly. These actions and reactions can result in some fascinating outcomes and some horrible outcomes. The preoccupied mind wears out humans to a great extent, even when they are asleep. A person is worried about something and the mind goes in overdrive. Mind keeps on churning out thoughts to arrive at a correct solution. Till this solution is reached, the non-physical entity tires human body! The result can be that the humans are  not able to go to sleep, or are tossing and turning even when they finally fall asleep. As described in the song above the mind or मन cannot be controlled, cannot be arrested; it will follow its own path at its own will! In the famous song from Sound of Music, “How do you solve the problem like Maria”, there is a line “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” That’s mind for you!

There is a phrase a “Mind Over Matter”! This phrase is one of the most important statements in our lives. What does it mean? Mind over matter is —used to describe a situation, in which someone is able to control a physical condition, problem, etc., by using the mind, the ability to keep going, even when he is tired, it is a simple question of mind over matter.

We have seen and heard of many examples of Mind Over Matter. Lance Armstrong is one best-known athlete who overcame his cancer to win many cycle races. (Unfortunately, he was later caught in doping scandals and stripped off all his medals!) Oscar Pistorius had both his legs amputated in while he was a baby but he overcame these issues by having prosthetic limbs. After becoming Paralympic champion, he took part in normal races too, representing South Africa! (He is currently in jail for murdering his fiance!) We had a co-passenger when we took Alaska cruise. He needed 100% Oxygen support because of his medical condition. But he not only was on the cruise but also took all the land excursions!  I know a couple of people with this condition, who simply died after a few months!

I am still amazed by this human “organ” which is invisible! It controls human reactions, it decides important things in life, it gives great support to humans along with Adrenalin, during excitable situations! There is a lot of discussion going on these days, about Artificial Intelligence becoming very powerful and may do most of the things better than us humans. But I don’t agree. How can an algorithm or any code decipher human mind? Humans themselves cannot fathom the depth of the mind, they don’t have real knowledge about how the mind behaves; so, don’t worry we are safe in the hands of the mind!

 

You Start Dying Slowly!

A friend shared with me a poem “You Start Dying Slowly” by Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet. The funny part is, this information is a hoax. An article in Latin American Herald Tribune reports, “Muere Lentamente” is the work of Brazilian poet Martha Medeiros.

Martha_medeiros_tv_brasil

It is remarkable how this Brazilian poet, despite not getting the acclaim and recognition for her work, is taking it all in stride. The article says she is not losing sleep over it and has “enough of a sense of humor to laugh at all this.” That speaks volume of a person who is not dying slowly. You can read the full poem here. https://7minutesonline.com/2017/03/13/you-start-dying-slowly-poem-by-martha-medeiros-which-has-been-erroneously-attributed-to-pablo-neruda-for-a-long-time/

I have chosen to share some important lines from the poem.

You Start dying slowly 

If you do not appreciate yourself 

When you kill your self-esteem 

If you avoid to feel passion 

At least once in your lifetime, 

To run away from sensible advice… 

We should take some time to find out what in you is dying slowly. Whether it is a job you have long wanted to resign from, or your desire to migrate to a place where you feel like you truly belong, or even for once wear something else instead of black, or to order Bhel instead of your favorite Upama or maybe you want to eat pani puri from street side vendor! We’re all in a rut somehow. It’s time to get out of our comfort zones and to finally live life fully!

What happens is that we are stuck into our day to day routine. We do the same things every day, eat, drink, go to office, come back home, watch TV and go to sleep. Most of us are afraid to change. Afraid of what? I do not know? We also have apprehensions about talking to persons not known to us. We think twice before we call a long lost friend when we get his/her phone number after a long search. “I hope that I am not forgotten. Now the person has become a big shot, will he talk to me as a friend?” All these small things always keep on pulling us back.

I have tried to explain below how the thoughts in the poem are real world things. These examples show that you have destiny in your own hand provided you don’t start dying slowly every day!

A friend called me and said, “Pramod do you have some time for me?” I said come over. When he came home he said, “Can we go out?”. We went about 10 km from home and went to a lake shore. I could see that he was completely stressed out. He said, “Pramod I wanted commit suicide but my wife convinced me otherwise. I was traveling and staying in a hotel.” He was working in a reasonably decent organization and had no work-related problems. He further said, “I just don’t feel like going to my office. Somehow, I hate the atmosphere in the office though personally I have no issues.” He said many things and in the end after about 45 minutes he asked me what he should do? I said, “Change the job.” He said that since he did not have any job offer how can he leave a well-paid job? I asked him, “Will you all starve if you don’t get paid for one month?” He smiled. Next day he resigned, within 8 days he got another good job. He bumped into me after a year or so, all smiles and fresh as ever.

Another friend was a couple of years junior to me in engineering college. After second year he decided to leave the course as his calling was theater! He took a degree in arts and managed to get a job in an insurance company where they allowed him time for his passion! If he had not dared to follow his dream, I don’t think he would have been happy, ever!

Mohan

Leading actor Dr. Mohan Agashe did his MD in psychiatry after his MBBS degree. I need not tell you what he has achieved in acting field including a Padmashri! But most will not be aware of his work in Medical field. I called Mohan today to get the details about his work in the medical field. In post Independence India there was hardly any work done on Mental Education, Services and Research. Mohan conducted a study for the nation vis a vis, state of Maharashtra. He generated a project report on the subject. His report was accepted by Government of Maharashtra in 1988, a decision was taken to establish Maharashtra Institute of Mental health. Established in 1991, this institute trains people to take care of patients who need psychiatric help.  Thanks to Mohan, the pioneer, who was instrumental in starting formal Mental Health training in India. I am sure Mohan must have been advised by many to take up medical practice after he completed his studies which was a sensible advice; but Mohan continued to pursue his acting passion along with medical career. Rest as they say is history!

STen

There was an eleven-year-old boy who was passionate about cricket! How can an eleven-year-old be so passionate that his middle-class parents allowed him to stay with his  relatives, to help him to follow his passion and dream. At the tender age of 16 plus Sachin Tendulkar started playing cricket for India. Basically, this happened because he had passion. Hard work, discipline, for next so many years were things which helped him play for record 24 years for India!

Friends what Martha has said in her poem is aptly displayed in the caricature below.

 Snoopy

Opposite of “You start dying slowly” is you live your life royally! To live life royally you don’t have to do things royal! You should do small things in life that you want to do! As per latest term used these days, create a bucket list of things to do before you die! Make sure that you follow your dreams. In the real world there is always a discrimination by colour of skin, height, smartness, sex, money and many other parameters. But we should not forget one thing. We humans are all a special edition, created by HIM. No two persons are same. We should be proud of what we are. We should have self-confidence about ourselves. Many a time we do not understand our own abilities, our expertise and our own self. Be proud of what you are and what you have achieved. But for that you should have tried your best in whatever you did.

I want to apologize to Martha Medeiros. She has inspired me to add a couple of lines to her poem! Friends, you also suggest your own lines!

You Start dying slowly 

When you do not show empathy for others 

When you do not want to give back to the society 

When you don’t help people in need! 

Martha, thank you for allowing me to take the liberty!

Work Life Balance!

When I was in school, I used to come to Pune during holidays to my grandfather’s house. He had perfect Work-Life balance in those days. He retired before I was born. But from what I have heard, he used to go to office around 9 and be back home by 4.30. He was one of the luckier persons who had a steady job. When I started going to Pune, he had just started his retired life and would go to sleep by 7 in the evening and wake up at 4! Before going to sleep he used to listen to local news on radio, which would start at 7 pm. All others at home would have dinner by 8 pm and simply go to sleep by 8.30 pm. Cozy life, lovely life; there was nothing to do anyway. There was no TV, going for movies was rarity.  

This reminds me of Gulzarji’s lines 

अब दिन रातपे ही आके रुकता है 

मुझे याद है… 

पहले एक शाम भी हुआ करती थी 

Lifestyle has taken a tumble of 180 degrees since those days. Things have reached the other extreme, discussions have started on Work-life balance, which is a concept that supports the efforts of employees to split their time and energy between work and the other important aspects of their lives. Why has this imbalance come in our life? Who is responsible? Do managements expect too much from employees? Is work being done with the help of less number of people? On home front, families have become nuclear, both husband and wife are working, and it has become a norm. There is less support system available from elderly. We have too many commitments on social front, too much time is “productively” spent on social media.    

Times have changed, work pressure on individuals has gone up. Pressure to perform is nothing new, it was always there and it will be always there. Why does the imbalance take place? It is simply because we have 24 hours in a day to do so many things. It is how productively we use that time which is important.  

First and foremost is the travel time. Home to workplace travel time is the most unproductive and tiring time. People these days travel anything between one to 2 ½ hours one way, to work. Traffic is going to become more complex and heavy, so there may not be respite from traffic. But yes, there is a solution. When people take up a new job in a different city, they rent a house as near to work place as possible. But in your own city you probably own a house or have been living in an area from childhood. So, you don’t want to change the house.  Solution, cut the emotion, be a little open minded about shifting to stay near the work place, be pragmatic. I was talking about this issue with my young friend Abhay.

Abhay rues that his generation has all the material stuff but no time to enjoy it. He said that if he moves to stay near his work place, he will save two hours every day! Multiply by 250 days. 500 hrs a year. It is as good as getting 50 days of additional leave to be with the family, maybe hit the gym, which today is not possible today. I told Abhay, after shifting near office, don’t spend additional two hours at office. Deepti wanted to take a new office. I suggested to her that it should not be more than 3 kms from her home, she had that option. Now her total travel time is 15 minutes. Hours gained, anxiety reduced? I don’t think you need any consultant to evaluate value addition done by making these changes. If you have financial need, rent out the “owned” flat. 

Now about the most unproductive thing! Social media. FB and WA are the biggest culprits causing the imbalance. Everybody wants to look at the cell phone at every opportunity available. Waiting for the red signal to turn green, open the device. You are doing serious work in office, you get a ding or a dong, ting or a tong! You stop the work to at least send a message, “I will come back to you”! Heavens are not going to fall if you don’t reply. Of course, friends may think that you have died since you did not respond in 30 seconds.  

Social Media has changed the society in such a way that there is fear in the minds of mafia that they may lose out to Social Media cartel. Take a back-seat Heroin’s, and ganjas of this world. You cannot compete with us! Smoking? What is that? I can have my new drug on my person all the time, police are not going to arrest me for that, parents are not bothered (they themselves are busy with addiction), lovers tiff no way. Why are you not talking to me? You don’t love me anymore. Did you see my new necklace? These words are passé! Both are busy looking at their own screens, looking into each other’s eyes? No way. Looking into his or her screen, yes of course. Did you see this video? Did you read this quote? Recently I saw photo of a group of friends, who met for chit chat! All were looking at their cell phone! Chatting? No way!  

To manage the Work Life balance, another thing we should analyze is how much time we are spending on social media. 2 hours, four hours? How many free hours do we have after deducting time for work, travel, sleep, and day to day chores? Do you want most of the waking time to be spent on social media? In fact, we are cutting into family time, sleeping time, causing sleep deprivation, or even  going out time. Your mind is never into what you are actually doing!  

Not in the distant past, a cranky child was given a pacifier in his mouth. Now the child is given a cell phone or a tablet to pacify the child. When the child crosses a certain age, the parents start cribbing, “Oh, my child cannot spend a single minute without cell phone”. I have seen mothers looking at WA while feeding a child, not breast feed but regular meal. A child needs a bit of attention and diversion. A song, or a story used to be the name of the game while feeding kids! When the mothers themselves indulge so much in WA/FB what do you expect the child to do?  

When we attempt something differently, it should start with you! Will you remain, away from social media for some time? Will you remain away from kitty parties? I am not saying that you shun these things. Anything in moderation is always good. A Mac Burger once in six months, a glass of wine, a cup of your favourite tea or coffee, for that matter any drink in moderation will always give you joy! Please think in a positive way! If we don’t use social media for some time, is it really going to affect your life?

Work pressures will be there, but can these be 24/7 and 365, no there are never such pressures. I have known of a person who went to US for work for a month, then 2 months and then continued his stay for three months. From there he was told to go to Germany for another three months. There were many problems at his home including illnesses; he should have told his boss that he will travel back after a quick visit back home, at least a couple of times. I don’t think his boss would have said no! But our friend just wanted to shun his home responsibilities. I am so busy syndrome!

Firstly, one has to decide if you really want work life balance! If you want it, there are always ways, you can find your own different methods too! Will will find a way! I forgot to tell you; I have promised Abhay that I will have a cup of tea with him one day, after his son has gone to school and before Abhay goes to office! Five minutes is all Abhay needs to go to office. The other day we went in the area where Deepti lives, we barged in to see her mother. Her mother called Deepti, she came home from office to have coffee with us. Utopia?