Roaming around in Pune!

Pune has already become cosmopolitan, with new International airport and Metro coming up, will same old Pune exist at all?

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It’s good to be moving around your own city but with age and technology, there is a possibility that you may not be required to move out of your home, especially after retirement. You can get your grocery online, you can pay your bills online, for cash you can go to ATM and deal with a machine rather than a human. All these things look sexy initially. But humans are social animals, and they love to meet and talk to friends, relatives, acquaintances, and unknown people. It is a well-proven fact that if humans become isolated then there is a good chance of early death. It’s good to know what new things are happening around you. When you move around, you observe different aspects of life. You know where the world is going.

Kasaba

The other day, we went to a dentist in the old part of Pune. We took an Uber and lo, we reached there in about 25 minutes, which was 15 minutes earlier than expected, and 30 minutes before the appointment. That too during peak hours! As I have always said that I tend towards being an atheist, but once in a while I do visit Mandirs on my own. I suggested to Jaya, that since we were pretty early, we could visit the Kasaba Peth Ganapati Mandir which was bang opposite the clinic. It was surprisingly empty. After going inside, we realized that it was Chaturthi, an auspicious day from the Hindu calendar. I bowed to the God, Jaya did some more prayers and took another five minutes. As is usually done, we sat in the Mandir for five more minutes. When you go to a Mandir, and do not have even five minutes to spare, might as well not go there! This is done  to soak in the atmosphere. The Mandir is a totally different world than that I live in. People were very much engrossed in praying; a priest was giving a sermon and he was talking about day to day issues, how to handle them and how to face the world. I thought it was a very good way of helping people. The priests are revered by the society; his sermon was a good way of guiding people as a tradition. This is one tradition, people should continue to follow, instead of following some irrational things. The young dentist is my daughter’s classmate and I know him well. He jokingly said, “Uncle HE must have been happy that you found time to meet Him!” To me, HE is everywhere, I need not go to a Mandir to meet Him.

Use of Uber brings you in touch with more people, a group of drivers, the way they talk, the way they work, the way they look at the profession. I always make it a point to chat with them. One observation is that 50% of them are from Vidarbha, Marathwada side! In recent four trips, I had varied experiences. One chap was very unfriendly from the beginning, and ended up shouting at me and threatening me with dire consequences! In a huff, luckily, he cancelled the trip on his own. I complained to Uber and they took a lot of feedback from me. Next one was a good person, was shocked how expensive Pune was and did not know much about Pune roads! When will Uber train these drivers about the city where they drive? I explained to this fellow that Pune is expensive because it has money and since it has money, a lot of people use Uber! Next one had his car in horrible condition, dusty and unclean from both inside and outside. I asked him why he had not cleaned the car? He said that he got the trip immediately after login. I asked him why he did not login after the car was cleaned, he had nothing to say. The last one was the best, he knew all the roads, his car looked new. When I asked him if his car was new, he said that it was two-year-old but cleaned it at least four to five times in a day. It showed his passion to do well in his profession! On top of that, he was very polite! I gave him five stars!

GoodLuck

In Pune and Bombay, there is a tradition of Irani restaurants. These are the restaurants run by people who have come to India from Iran and have settled in the last century. These were our favourite joints in our school and college days. They would offer, Bun-Maska (butter), Pastries and Omelet. Chicken and mutton also used to be their speciality if you wanted to take lunch or dinner. I was coming home in the very clean Uber and could look around for a change, as I was not driving. We passed by an Irani restaurant called Regal! I now came to know how the times have changed. They had a display board saying special treat for people who keep fast for 9 days during the Navratri festival that is currently going on! (We always have some festival running or coming or just finished celebrating) Sabudana Wada, Sabudana Khichadi and so on. Typical Maharashtrian dishes. Goodluck is the most famous Irani restaurant in Pune. Looks like to grow their business, they are also offering stuff that people want. So happy to see the flexibility of the management. Another thing that I have seen these days is that these are small restaurants and are at prime locations. With traffic density soaring all the time, their prime locations have become no parking zones. Some of these hotels have bought a couple of shops near the restaurant so that they could provide parking space to at least 20 to 30 bikes, inside those shops!

Another great tradition that is going great guns in Pune, is cultural programs during the Ganapati Festival. Many colonies, apartments, condos have different programs on various days of this festival. In our Condo, there were cookery competitions, painting competitions. Youngest was my grand-daughter Rhea who gave a three-minute solo dance performance. Oldest was a 75 years old lady who took part in story-telling. Jaya and I also had fun. I interviewed her on the subject of modern technologies of IOT, AI, VR and AR. (These buzzwords were explained in the language all will understand) It was done in a chat format and we explained the technical things in such a way that common people could also easily understand the subject. We also kept it interactive and people asked a lot of questions! This is one tradition that should never be allowed to die! This brings people together, the main aim of Lokmanya Tilak who started this festival more than 100 years back. During this festival, people go to each other’s homes, sometimes uninvited, and attend the Ganapati Aarti (Prayers) which are performed in each home!

We keep on making a big noise about traffic chaos in any city. Pune is no exception. But my personal opinion is that Pune’s traffic is still manageable. But the indiscipline is rampant by the two-wheelers, trucks and buses. They break signals, bikes carry 3 or 4 people in place of allowed 2! They break helmet rule with vengeance! In most other cities this rule is followed quite well! They enter wrongly on a one-way street! But real information that you get is from Uber guys, three-wheeler auto chaps break the rules similarly to two-wheeler guys, so I don’t take their feedback seriously. There are surprises. The first thing we assume is that the traffic will be worst in the old part of the city. These are called Peths! The roads are narrow and winding, sometimes. But according to Uber guys, these areas are much better, traffic wise. According to them, the worst is Sinhgad Road and Nagar road. Hinjewadi IT park area is known for these issues simply because of the sheer volume  of vehicles which pour on the road, within a short span of time. Attempts are being made to correct this situation. But mind you, good things always come out in humans, when things go out of control. Nagar road traffic volume has been high and indiscipline has added to it. A group of people in that area created a WhatsApp group. (A creative way of using WA) At a very short notice volunteers from this group jump the fray and help the traffic to smoothen out. What they have done is to include some shopkeepers in that area who can easily see if there is a jam. They give precise location on WA and in a jiffy these guys, wardens working Pro Bono, come out and straighten things out.

Friends, I moved to Pune in 1967 and stayed over. In these 51 years, it has changed a lot but has remained same too! Change is because of technology and migration. Pune has already become cosmopolitan, with new International airport and Metro coming up, will same old  Pune exist at all? Maybe! In some pockets, it will remain the same good old Pune but in other areas, you may feel as if you are in any modern city! Will it be able to keep balance of both? Yes and no! Chitale’s of Pune have finally started advertising and with no breaks between 1 & 4 in the afternoon! Bhelpuri carts, now have to compete with Bhel Puri shops which sell other things like sandwiches and Ragda Pattice too! Puneri Misal is still famous so is sabudana khichadi (now sold even by Irani restaurants!) Only time will tell!

Is this Popcorn or Caviar!

You have options, cribbing is not one od them!

I went to the airport the other day to pick up my delayed bags. While coming back from airport, I again used Ola cab. There was a difference of Rs.35/ on the same trip, the return trip cost more. I checked the invoice and found that they had charged, airport pick-up charge. Ola and Uber both now have stands at the Pune airport. For this facility they pay yearly fees to the authorities. They are passing it on to the customers. At a time 8 to 10 cabs are always waiting at the airport!

The other day, we went to a multiplex to watch a movie! I did my booking on the website. Besides buying high priced tickets, I was charged convenience fees above the price of the tickets. I asked my young friends, who are savvy in such things! A friend suggested that we should use the website to check the tickets availability; if plenty of tickets are available, simply go the multiplex and buy the tickets. No convenience charges are applied.

So far so good. While watching the movie, we thought that we must follow the tradition and decided to eat popcorn, sandwiches and coke (diet of course!)  Popcorn was freshly made, sandwiches were ready to eat; probably made in the kitchen near the back office. Coke was from the fountain. None of the product sold were legally “packaged” food. “Packaged”  stuff under the law of MRP!  Non packaged products do not have MRP and there is no need to “declare” it price!

(MRP) Maximum Retail Price is a maximum price which can be charged to the consumers in India, as specified by the authority. Under the Consumer Goods (mandatory printing of date of Production and Maximum Retail Price) Act, 2006, consumers cannot be charged more than the MRP mentioned on the packing of the products.

When my card was charged I realized that there was not a single packaged item. Hence there was no MRP for whatever I bought. I realized that the multiplex owners must have had robbers as their ancestors! They simply robbed me on food prices, and there was nothing I could do about it. The total cost of food was much higher than the price of movie tickets. Since the items did not come under MRP laws, they could charge me whatever they wanted! Mind you there was a big queue to buy stuff and apparently people have money and do not mind spending money on entertainment. I asked my young friend later, the trick to overcome this issue. I asked her, if we could take stuff from home to eat. She said that we are not allowed to take outside food in the multiplexes due to security reasons; and that is the law! My theory about ancestry was proven!

So far so good, the movie was nice so we did have a good time in spite of meeting the  robbers! Now what is the law on this? Somebody has recently taken these multiplex guys to court. Arguments are going on in the court. The court has made an observation that when we go to five-star hotels, we pay whatever they ask for the food! We never expect the prices to be similar to other smaller restaurants. Similarly, I know that the prices of movie tickets in single screen theaters are much lower than what multiplexes charge. I am sure pop-corn, sandwiches also cost much less in single screen theaters. The court will check only the legality of billing done for food, if needed. Compliance of taxation will be checked by tax department! But nobody can tell them at what price they should sell the food!

The stories apart, is the high price for food charged by multiplexes justified? I am not sure but the multiplexes are projects by themselves and there is a lot of investment made in each such project. The movie business is unpredictable in general, so sell of tickets will depend on how popular the movie becomes! Their earning from movies is also unpredictable. The movie tickets are priced from Rs.80/ to Rs.400/ plus, for morning shows to most popular movies later in the day. I am not aware of their earning per ticket. So, what they are charging us for food is as per their business model. We are going to five-star movie theaters where we have fancy theaters, escalators and all the modern things. Prices will be high and we will have to accept them.

In India, when we travel by railways, we don’t pay extra luggage charges. But when we fly we are required to pay additional fees to the airlines as per rules. On some airlines they provide food free because the price of tickets is inclusive of the food. But on some low-cost airlines, we are required to pay for the food. Recently on our first leg back to India, on Seattle to Toronto flight, Air Canada was charging for food but they were serving coffees and cokes free, though it was an international flight! They probably decide based on the duration of the flight. On New York- San Francisco flight we were served food, since duration was 6 ½ hrs. So, each of the businesses have their own business model! We shouldn’t crib about it. We choose whatever is suitable to us, itinerary wise and price wise. So, we have options to see a movie in a multiplex! We have choices! Single screen theaters, YouTube, Netflix. We have to decide ourselves, nobody is forcing us.

What is the solution to this issue? For me there is no solution! But yesterday a party known for its rough politics, man handled a restaurant manager in a multiplex, for selling popcorn at  “high” price. Is it the right way to handle things? What can the manager do about it? The prices are decided by the management! Taking law into your hands is never justified whatever the reason!

There was one new Ranbir Kapoor movie being released! In the second week when the ticket prices are down, we can go for the movie. Tickets are on me, food is on you! Offer open only for multiplexes!  Are you game?

Technology Onslaught! Reskill or Perish!

Technology forces humans to retrain!

Some lawyers in Pune have declared that they will go on fast until death, against the decision of Charity commissioner. It is now decided that that all registrations with charity commissioner will be done online! Thereby eliminating the need to employ lawyers to handle this work. Lawyers have gone by the only route known to them. They are cribbing, crying and fasting. Welcome to the brave new world of technology.

Technology is a part of revolution that mankind has seen from stone age. Only difference is that today’s technology can take away work from highly educated and successful people! When the wheel was invented, the strong people in that era must have gone on strike because with invention of wheel, people with brute force, for doing various manual things, became irrelevant. This sort of thing is not only technology related but it is about out of box thinking too!

Western part of China has many industries that produce goods for the world! Shipping of these good to Europe was a real long haul; taking the goods to east coast of China and from there goods would sail to Europe, in big ships. Total time taken would be between 40 to 45 days. Someone had a great idea. China had talks with Russia and rail system in western China was realigned to connect to Russian rail system. Trains full of these goods now reach Europe in 15 to 20 days! Ship owners have not gone on strike!

Human nature is such that we want status quo, all the time. While going is good, humans don’t try to find efficient methods of doing things better. Lawyers probably never understood that drastic changes that were coming up. Nobody designed something specific to make lawyers’ work irrelevant. Technology does not target anybody, it just looks to improve things or to do things in a different way. Somebody in government took a step forward to make the system more efficient and transparent. This is already happening in many areas in the private as well as government domain.

Blockchain is a classic example of technology can change things drastcially! I will briefly explain about Blockchain. A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions inexpensively. This technology is already being used in cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Technology is proven and slowly becoming popular. This technology has a potential to eliminate ALL the agents that are currently there in the system. These agents are Chartered Accountants, Bank Agents, LIC Agents, and so on. Over a period, Bitcoin Technology is expected to eliminate even the Banks and Currency! This shows two things; currency as a tool can vanish and Blockchain can push many educated people out of work, in big numbers. What is the solution? Retrain, get new skill sets! Don’t crib!

The other day, I was having coffee with my friend Sharad. He told me a story about some government agency people who wanted to do ground survey, near his factory, for a new expressway being planned. The people living in that area have been opposing the project. As a protest, they blackened the faces of the surveyors. Surveyors were cool guys. When Sharad asked them how much time the survey will take? They said 15 minutes. They moved around, put some paint marks on the rocks around and were ready to go. Sharad asked them, ” What happened to your survey?” They said, ” We are done! Now Google will take over and do the necessary survey; we just had to paint some markers.” Technology? How are local protesters going to stop Google Satellite?

Do you remember Tonga, the horse carriages being replaced by Auto Rikshas? Now a days, we rarely see young people driving Rikshas, so it could be on it’s way out! Heard of Uber and Ola? For long distance travel, the replacement was trains. Then came airplanes, local purchase is being slowly replaced by Web based selling. Amazons, Flipkarts are taking over business from local grocers! Typewriting institutes? What is that? Where are the typewriters? Where are the typists? Are we now hearing stories about Electric Vehicles? Another 20 years maybe! There may not be big repair workshops!

Most of the times, new technologies start with some mundane task or something which is not relevant at that time. It takes people thinking out of box that makes rapid and sometimes dramatic changes. Something similar is happening in another area of our lives.

When Jaya did her engineering in early 70’s, ladies in this field was a novelty! Lady engineers making a full-time career after degree was even more rare! This has been changing for some time. Early part of current century has seen major jump of ladies coming into different professions, in large numbers. They got themselves adapted and trained to handle many aspects of life which they were not supposed to know or do! How has this changed things in the society! It’s the women who have been retraining themselves, realigning themselves to out of box thinking. Some have gone into supplying home cooked food for people, some have gone into running creches! They have retrained themselves as per the need of the hour. Are men doing necessary changes in their thought process? Have enough number of men done this? Have they retrained themselves? Have they re-skilled themselves? Have they learnt cooking? Have they learnt to change diapers? Have they learnt to go to office after spending hours with the child who was unwell at night?

No, they have not! The majority have not done it! What comes in the way? It’s the so called traditional way of thinking that men are supposed to perform so and so things in life and women are supposed bear kids and manage homes. What will happen if men don’t change? They may not become irrelevant like lawyers, but whether they like it or not they will have to face ground realities. Whatever traditions or old way of thinking may say, there is one skill set which only women have! Bearing and producing a child! Yes, men are needed for this but technology has proven that you don’t need men but their sperm to produce a child! Remember, Kunti had given Karna birth by using this method! Mankind knows and is very much aware of this method, for a long time, as mentioned in mythology! But the point of inflexion for this to happen regularly, is still too far away!

What is the easier and more prudent way for men? To retrain themselves, to acquire skills to run the family jointly with women. This does not need technology change; this needs the change in mind set. Change in old way of thinking! Accept that people who don’t adapt to new technology or thinking can become irrelevant over a period of time!

Lawyers, find your selves a new area where your skills are needed. Try and re-skill yourselves for doing something different! Become a great chef, become an online teacher, become a producer for online serials! Instead of striking you may strike Gold in your new profession!

EV’s! The Eco System Disruptions!

Are we prepared for major disruptions in many Eco System due to advent of EV’s?

Below is an article which informs us about governments seriousness regarding introduction of EV’s in India. It is hoped that at least 30% of all new new vehicles by 2030 will be EV’s. Last year, government ordered 10000 EV’s and there is a plan to order the same quantity this year too! Government is also encouraging bus fleets to buy Electric buses. Himachal Pradesh has ordered 25 such buses and are being run in hilly areas. I saw a few of them plying, during my recent holiday in Manali.

http://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/centre-launches-national-e-mobility-programme-10-000-more-e-vehicles-to-be-procured-59845

What EV’s are going to do to various Eco Systems? When we discuss EV’s, discussion is about pollution, how long petroleum products will last etc. There is also a discussion about petroleum cartel holding human race to ransom. But there are many more disruptions that need to be considered. These are not only for individuals but for various agencies like government, businesses and many other systems. These need to adapt, change and modify to suit new environment created by the EV’s.

Take the case of governments tax collection. Tax collected on petroleum products are so huge that these are almost 100% of the price of the petroleum products. At every stage tax is collected. From refining, to distribution to sell. Both central and state governments will start losing this revenue when critical mass of new EV’s is reached. 2030 as indicated in the above mentioned article, may be that year. Government needs to find methods to make up for this revenue loss. Not all revenue will be lost but there will be a loss of big chunk. Another issue is the “fuel” that will replace petroleum products will be electricity which traditionally is being manufactured in Public sector. This fuel cannot be taxed very heavily,  as its usage will be multi-purpose, vehicles, industrial and domestic usage.

Another major change that has to happen is the growth in production of electricity. If this continues to happen using petroleum products, then pollution will come out of chimneys instead of car exhaust systems. Main thrust appears to be on solar systems but they will also have their own issues which need to be tackled in parallel with increase in production. Another method that is being undertaken is nuclear power. This will also help the ecosystem to achieve the same goals.

Why would people switch over to EV’s? In case of buses, since it is a public transport this can happen faster if funds are made available. These organizations are anyway public sector. Of course, cost of the vehicles needs to come down. From present knowledge, it appears that maintenance cost will be lower. With decrease in Electricity price, battery replacement costs may also become quite manageable over a period of time, due to mass production.

But the real numbers will be coming in cars. Why will people change over to EV’s, the cars? Cost of ownership is the going to be the answer. This is made up of Price of the Vehicle, Cost of servicing, cost of repairs, resale value and ease of use. To me the last factor is also very important though it is not a tangible factor. All other factors have been there in IC engine cars too! But this is a new factor that has come up. We are all used to just using the key to go where ever we want; if required, we go to the petrol pumps and fill it up! With EV’s it may not be as simple, to start with. We need to plan, we need to have cars that will give more mileage per charge. The current charging technology available takes about 30 to 40 minutes minimum, to fully recharge. How fast this technology will improve? Will the charging time reduce to 5 minutes or some such time? Only time can tell. This brings us to charging stations, which is going to be a factor by itself!

EV’s will need charging stations, bus operations will have their own stations. But cars will need a huge number of charging stations. In India, we should not forget two Wheelers. Two-wheeler companies are also thinking big in terms EV’s and those numbers could be large. First and foremost is going to be the charging time! Unless this reduces drastically, number of charging stations needed will be a big challenge! So, to me this improvement to around 5 minutes or less is almost mandatory! I am sure the improvement in battery technology will increase the capacity of batteries which in turn will increase per charge running of vehicles. Who should invest in charging stations? Who will invest in charging station? Current Oil companies can take up onus of this, being public sector companies. Chicken and egg situation will prevail in initial phase. Charging stations first or EV’s first will be the dilemma! ROI on charging stations will be tricky and priorities is going to be an issue. Till IC engine vehicles are manufactured, they will keep on having the pressure of exhaust pollution control. By 2030, something equivalent of Euro 8 or 9 standards will be prevalent.  Car companies and Oil companies both will have to invest a lot on pollution control during this phase, along with investments in EV’s. This is tricky because nobody can predict the speed at which proliferation of EV’s will take place. Lest we forget, EV’s are Zero pollution vehicles!

About charging stations, will the government agencies build them or private agencies build them? Private companies have an option of not building them. There will be  individuals who may have proper parking space in office or at their home. They will build their own station but that number is going to be small, at least to start with. But looking at vehicles parked on roads even at night in cities, common charging stations, like petrol pumps, looks to be the only way. Can there be a “Charging Station Cess” on all new vehicles sold? Will it be acceptable to burden IC’s engine car buyers to benefit EV buyers? Can local governments take part in this, in cities where EV’s will be sold in large numbers? When will they know the trend? When will they decide to do it? All these questions do not have easy answers, but these issues need to be resolved.

The drive train in IC engine cars, starting from Radiator and ending with Exhaust pipe, will be replaced by about 18 parts, maximum. Out of these, the motors and gear are the only so called moving parts! When there are less moving parts, there will be less repairs needed! In fact, Tesla is offering life-long warranty for their cars. So, the car service industry will be the first victim of EV introduction. Today major chunk of repairs after warranty period is over, are the drive train parts. When these repairs are simply not needed, will the service industry be viable at all? Will manufacturers offer the paid service life long, through owned outlets. This is already happening in spare parts business, where component manufacturers find it difficult to compete with the vehicle manufacturers.

Another major disruption will be component industry and their basic vendors like casting, forging industries and their allied industry. These industries today, employ millions of people. Since there will a major disruption in this eco system, things are going to be tough. If a certain business simply ceases to exist, what do you do in life? Not everyone plans 10/15 years in advance. By the time they realize this, it could be too late! This group of business men will have business knowledge but may not have where withal to completely switch over to something new! How many will be smart enough to change to a totally new and/or unconnected business?

Friends, I have seen my city Pune change from use of carriage pulled by horses (called tanga), to auto rikshas, to Ubers and Olas. Tangas simply don’t exist now! I have observed that riksha business will also taper off over a period of time. Riksha is not an elegant mode of transport and it appears that young generation does not want to come in this business, as it is NOT COOL! The advent of Metros in the city in next three years will push Rikshas and even Uber/Ola! I will definitely use a Metro, if possible! When I talked of major disruptions, I was talking of obsolescence too! History has been harsh, and there is no replacement or option for obsolescence. If a system has to go, it has to go whether it likes it or not! It is like death, one has to accept it. Welcome to the brave new world of EV’s.

Feudalism

I and Jaya were travelling by Uber the other day. When the trip started, the windows were down and AC was OFF. It was stifling hot. Jaya told the driver to put the AC on. Our journey was not for more than 20 minutes. The driver said that he cannot put the AC on as the fuel level in the car was very low. He in fact told us that he will take a diversion to fill up the petrol in the car. From where we started, trip to petrol station and back, with queue at the station, would have taken at least 25 minutes. I said please stop the car and cancel the trip we do not have spare 25 minutes for a 20 minute journey. He said he will continue and reluctantly put the AC on.

Later on the driver was cribbing all the time and I asked him why he had taken a trip though fuel was low? He had no answer. He also did not know the faster/shorter routes other than those shown by the GPS. When I started giving him the direction, he was unhappy and told me that he lived in the same area as I did and had a Rs.10/ million bungalow of his own. He also said that he was the “Barathe Patil” of that area, a title given in olden times to the local rulers. I told him that I did not understand the significance of this information. He felt that I was treating him poorly because he was a driver! But I only was looking to reach my destination in 20 minutes!

Now I understood his problem. Probably life was not treating him well moneywise, he had a property which must be in dispute; about 10/15 years back the same property was not even worth half a million Rupees. But in the minds of our friend he was still from the ruling class, though he may not get much time to rule, after driving an Uber taxi for the whole day. The titles from the olden days are now only for name sake and persons holding them have no real power in today’s modern society.

When a decision was taken in India to do away with Red Beacon on top of cars of VIP’s, the ruling class (Read politicians, govt employees)  was very unhappy because their so called importance was just taken away. That was the feeling in the mind of ruling class. Government thought that only a couple of people in India need this beacon along with ambulances, and fire-fighting trucks. A couple of months after this directive was published, I saw one vehicle with a beacon; I knew that the vehicle was being  used by middle level officer in the Government, known to me. I asked the driver why the beacon was not removed. He said their office had not received the directive, yet. Come on, the whole world including chief ministers are moving around without beacons but this guy with middle management title did not want to remove it. Loss of power? What power? Why did these people think that they got power just by putting a beacon on top of their cars? But these folks just wanted to cling to so-called power till the last moment.

What power does this beacon give? I was never intimidated by these cars and people using them but there must be a large number of people in the society who must be showing them respect because of the beacon. These guys were allowed to pass through toll booths without paying toll. They could park their vehicles in no parking zone, police would be afraid to touch them.

In olden days, we had various small states which were ruled by many small time kings. At the time of independence these kingdoms were dissolved and merged into India. In 1971, the 26th amendment to the Constitution of India withdrew official recognition of all official symbols of princely India, including titles and privileges, and abolished the remuneration of the princes by privy purses. As a result, even titular heads of the former princely states ceased to exist. Years after this was achieved, many of the so called Rajas call themselves by old titles and behave the same way. Many people also treat them with “respect”  mainly out of fear!

Why does this happen? These titles have got embedded into DNAs of Rajas and they cannot think otherwise. Some people, even today, put the title of Raje at the end of their name! For example Ashok Raje and then their surname! They are so much used to take advantage of their position that they now feel helpless without titles. In northern and eastern India feudal system of zamindari/ subhedari (Land owners & favored people who were gifted lands by the then kings) existed for a few centuries. These landlords behaved like Kings and could get away with murder, literally. They used wives of their laborers as sex tools. The whole family would just live on the mercy of these Subhedars/Zamindars. Changing their way of life, achieved  through land reforms,  from their DNA was like changing their blood group! But this change has taken place.

In olden respect was achieved by titles and in modern times by red beacon on the car! In life one needs to earn respect by own behavior, achievements (not monetary), and humility.  It is how you get along with all strata of people in the society, that is more important than your so called title of Ex Raje or MP or MLA. Those who have achieved in life earn their respect and they don’t keep people as if they own them! I know of an ex-Mayor of Pune. One day I was driving in a car somewhere and a person went on his bike in the opposite direction. The face looked familiar but I could not place him. Later on it suddenly struck me. He was Mr. Ankush Kakade whose Mayor ship term had ended only the previous day; on the next day he was going somewhere on his own bike, no showmanship. No tantrums! Probably in public life we need more Ankush Kakade’s! An idea struck me suddenly. In the beaconless cars Government must put photograph of Ankush Kakade to give everybody reminder to all modern day Rajas, that they should emulate Kakade and not some Ashok Raje! Return their official cars and homes when their term is over and not to cling to benefits offered by the position! My friends I will say that India is progressing when this is achieved.

Social behavior

I have always been thinking how a society forms, matures, and evolves. The basis for a good society is faith, empathy and accommodation. These points have nothing to do with the crime in a society. Because I feel that crime is an aberration to any society. When we say that a certain society is a good society, it is how the majority in the society behave or react to a situation.

When we travel to any place we are first exposed to roads, traffic, and public behaviour of that place. It is roads, traffic, public behaviour on roads that defines the first impression of the society, it can be orderly or disorderly. In Pune where I live, the city is supposed to be one of the better cities in India, people are generally of helping nature and soft. But what happens to them on the roads?  I am not talking of road rage! Road rage is a different matter altogether. Road rage is triggered by an event, howsoever small. Yesterday evening we were driving on a crowded road and traffic was slower than usual. Suddenly I found that some people on bikes going ahead driving on footpaths! It was not a case of random nut but there were many who were driving on footpath. Why do people do this? If they are in a hurry why not start a little early so as to reach on time.

Motorcycle guy standing at right angle to the traffic direction.

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As a society are we not trained to follow rules? Is it in our education? Is it in our culture? Or is it in our DNA? I feel that it is combination of all the aspects. I sense that the wrong elements in our DNA become more active when we are in our own city or country! Or is it related to implementation of laws? But will there be a specific law saying that people are NOT allowed to drive their bikes on footpath? Some are written rules and some are unwritten rules. I also feel that 150 years of British Rule has distinctly changed our DNA partially. The civil disobedience movement, during freedom struggle has got imbibed in our minds. As society we feel that rules made by the Govt are to be broken!

In a vast and not so rich a country like India there are issues. Availability of toilets at home and in public places has been a big problem. Current government is encouraging people by giving financial aid, making laws so that people who do not have toilets at home, though they can afford it, cannot fight an election! But how is this changing the situation? Some changes are seen but one still reads stories of people using their fields for their ablutions even though they have toilets at home! Why? Because it is manly to do so! I see on Mumbai Pune expressway people will relieve themselves in open just 30 meters ahead of public urinals! What is it? Is it brain fed? Is it I don’t care attitude? I get a feeling that DNA issues get to the top of the list.

Helmet less people

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Road traffic is one area where it is almost impossible to understand behavior of people in Pune. There is a Supreme Court ruling that wearing helmets is mandatory while driving two wheelers. But we don’t wear helmets. The argument is it’s our head, how is Government concerned? Statistics show that 99% of the deaths in two wheeler accidents are of those, who were not wearing helmets. Supreme Courts be damned!

Last week there was an incident at Pune airport. A young guy went to meet his lady friend who was transiting through Pune airport. If you buy a viewing gallery ticket at any airport, you will not be allowed to enter transit area. This gentleman wanted to meet this friend so what did he do. He had travelled a few days before to Delhi. He modified the same ticket to make it look like a valid ticket. Using the modified ticket, he entered the airport but was later caught with the modified ticket by security. Looks like brain fed is the latest norm.

Caution  board on Mumbai Pune Expressway

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Its sad to see such boards on expressway! On roads having medians, anywhere in the world, you are supposed to drive on the correct side of the road but in our great city of Pune people will drive in the reverse direction upto the distance of one kilometer to avoid a detour of a couple of kilometers. So much for the fuel conservation. Mind you these are people from all strata of the society.

Women’s rally

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On Women’s day bike rally on 8th March, an official event, there were so many ladies taking part it was amazing. This was an official event but organizers forgot to tell the ladies that they should wear helmet if they want to take part in the rally. In their eagerness to get dressed up, they put on various fancy head gears but very few put on helmets. What was the signal sent to younger generation? Fortunately these days all bike companies when they advertise their bikes,  make sure that the person driving the bike is wearing a helmet!

Coming back to my query, why we behave this way as a society? One thing is for sure that the implementation of our laws is lax and on top of that there are corrupt policemen. Strong implementation shows the results all over the world! Dr Chauhan, a staunch Khalistan movement backer, used to live in London in 80’s. When Indian Government requested the British Govt to stop Dr. Chauhan from making inflammatory statements, he was just called to office and was told that if he does not behave, he will be simply deported. From that day Dr. Chauhan’s mouth was shut! Our brethren behave differently when they land at Singapore! Why? The reason is strong implementation of laws. In general world over maybe 10% want to break the rule but in our case this % goes to 40/50%. With our large population handling law breakers is also not easy because of sheer volume.

Uber self-drive vehicle

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Uber’s Sweeny, in charge of driver less cars project was asked, where will Uber introduce such vehicles? He said, “US and Europe are typical example of organized traffic so we will first try there”. When asked about some larger countries in Asia, he just smiled!

Any solutions? Suggestion, anyone? I feel that unless there is a mass drive started, to involve anybody and everybody, it will be very difficult to change! Politically, we see that the whole nation is getting driven towards development, away from cast, creed politics. Do we need a national leader to take us towards modern developed organized society, so that Uber’s of this world would not give a smile, when asked if they would come to India for trials of driverless cars?