The Rock and the Hard place! 

To be stuck between two equally tough decisions or situations. The expression is often used when a person feels as if there are no good options available to him or her. There are similar expressions which are Catch 22 situation or Hobson’s choice.

https://youtu.be/WYllKnRMxpc

I had shared the above video with friends. My friend Vijay and I had a banter about this video.

The remark I had written when I shared the video led to the banter.

 “Can’t imagine something dangerous lurking behind this blissful morning!”

 Vijay: Didn’t get it!

Do you mean this Blissful situation is there because of dreadful COVID?

Pramod: Yes. Nahi to smog Hota hai poora😒

Vijay: A Question:

What would you choose between- Routine Day to Day life with smog or the Blissful situation caused by Covid-19?

Pramod: Is that a question 😊 We should be able to reset🙂

Vijay: No, a blunt answer.

Pramod: Business can be rebuilt; nature can’t.

Vijay: Nature is supposed to be the greatest healer!

Pramod: But there is a limit

It looks like an early morning banter between friends, but it put my mind into action. Hence the title! What is good, and what is evil? It is a tough question to answer. But the problem is that this is too big a subject to be discussed in a blog. But let me try.

Here is the situation that has slowly developed and sometimes not so slow. The world is moving ahead at breakneck speed with development in different fields. In the last twenty years, the average rate of growth must be many times that of the pace in the previous hundred years. There is always a downside to any story if we do not handle the environmental aspects correctly. Vijay asked me for a blunt reply. He said, not in those words, but the banter is always implicit. He said, “Would you prefer to see Sinhgad clearly, or would you rather see it in the haze but with continued breakneck growth?” COVID 19 situation has put us in a situation of rethinking various strategies. We should all introspect; we may not get such a golden opportunity again.

The million-dollar question is progress or pollution? Let us first understand the meaning of pollution. Pollution, also called environmental pollution, is the addition of any substance (solid, liquid, or gas) or any form of energy (such as heat, sound, or radioactivity) to the environment.  The rate of addition is faster than it can be dispersed, diluted, decomposed, recycled, or stored in some harmless form. Why does this happen? What are the factors increasing environmental pollution?

The second image is from Bogota and the third one is the Himalayas seen from Jalandhar about one hundred miles away- SHared by cricketer Harbhajan Singh.

Progress and Pollution go hand in hand. Many times, now, the pollution rate is higher than the gain. Why does this happen? Consider power plants run on fossil fuels. Consider anything run on fossil fuels. Cars, Motorcycles, Aeroplanes, Gensets, Power plants are some of the applications that burn fuel, pun intended. Polluting gases like CO2, and particles are released in the atmosphere. It has led to the depletion of the ozone layer. What is the reason for this fast forward in the world? The western world has been polluting heavily for an extended period. In late ’70 s of the last century, before the world realised, China started “progressing” in a big way. India joined the race at the beginning of this century. With a large population, these two countries joined the bandwagon of polluters. But the polluter in chief was the culprit and the judge too! The United States of America.

Combination of progress and controlled pollution is possible when nations have the will. These nations also must spend a lot of money on anti-pollution devices and actions. When the world had small population during the pre-industrial era, we used to dump things in rivers. The smoke polluting chimney was the norm; Nature, like a kind mother, was absorbing our errors. We continued with similar habits even after industrialisation. Some of us “woke up” early and started speaking against these follies. As usually happens, we called these people anti-development or anti-everything. Before we could grasp what was happening, the situation went out of control. The “culprit/ judge” declared then that they were quitting the global body to control pollution because “anti-gang” was coming in the way of progress! There was no serious issue as per the judge. Except for them, everybody else was the culprit!

When a large, highly advanced nation takes this stance, things are bound to spiral into a serious problem. Well, there are many theories now coming out like the mother nature taking its revenge! The revenge is supposedly in the form of the current pandemic. The pandemic has stopped the cities, states and nations. It has stopped has stores, malls, factories and markets. Rail, road and air travel is used only for emergency needs. The world has come to a standstill. Vijay asked me what you would prefer, the better world at a halt or the usual chaotic world with millions of problems which seem insurmountable.

The answer is that the everyday world is preferable but! We must consider the “but” rider. We cannot continue our chaotic, polluting ways. The human race is supposed to live a life that will be a better life for future generations. During pre-pandemic days, we were riding a goods train with failed breaks. The question has been when and how the train would derail. There was no “if”; everybody was sure that we humans would crash. The classic example of this, we saw yesterday on the news channels. State governments in India allowed the liquor shops to open from yesterday. In every city, we saw the same scenes. People lined up in front of wine shops from six am. It was as if the alcohol is a remedy for the pandemic, and you are likely to die if you are not able to procure it. Social distancing norms be damned. We should keep our fingers crossed and hope that all of us change for the better!

What is the answer to Vijay’s blunt question? My answer is we should not forget that the ozone layer depletion, smog, (and smog-related illnesses) are facts of life. The investments in businesses and development must also have a large element of funds to control the downside. If we invest 100 units for growth, make it 70 for development and 30 for environmental issues. If 5G technology comes in the year 2035 instead of 2025 heavens are not going to fall. I would love to go to Sinhgad to enjoy the beauty of nature. But if that 30 km ride is pollution-free, I would love it more. Let me observe the tower, where I live while standing on top of Sinhgad. Sinhgad example is a metaphor. It is like Sakura flowers in Japan or Goldmohur trees in India. These bloom in spring and in summer. What will happen if these flowers do not bloom? If we don’t behave, it could happen. Don’t forget that Arctic ice caps are melting. It is not a futuristic threat; it is already happening. Why not try and switch over to Electric Vehicles? Why not go for wind energy and solar systems in a big way?

Everybody big and small should think in terms of the environment while doing whatever they are doing. Some things can become expensive. BS 6 engines are costly. But is there any choice? All these years, we did not take environmental cost into the business calculation; hence we could sell things at a lower price. There should be heavy taxation on polluting products as they have on liquor (for a different reason). It is the way we should bring a better environment to the next generation. We should teach them to respect the God-given gift, nature.

Yes! We must have progress! But it should not be a relentless pursuit. The progress should be married to a better environment, improved environment!

Sorry, Vijay! Instead of one line reply, I gave you 1300 plus words of reply!

Be the solution! 

As we meander in our life, we follow specific ways. These ways are based on traditions. The meaning of tradition is handing over of customs/ beliefs or even thought process to the next generation. Many times, we continue to do things in a certain way without attempting to find if what we are doing could be done differently. Norms are fixed in our mind such that we are surprised if we find something is said or done differently.  

In Australia years back there was an incident in a Kinder Garten school. The teacher was teaching the children to sing the song “Rain, Rain Go away”. It appeared that the children did not enjoy it, or they could not understand the meaning of the song. During the lunch break, she shared her experience with other teachers. She was surprised to know that children in that area had never seen the rain before. For the previous five years, that region had received no rains. The children had never seen the rain!  

We eat ice cream in summer, and for the children, the ice cream is the treat for which they eagerly wait. We had gone to someone’s home and saw their child enjoying the ice cream in a bowl. I asked the child, “How is the ice cream?” He said, “Yummy and warm!” I was surprised, but his mother said that the child had food allergies so he could not eat regular ice cream. In the US where they lived, they had started getting the ice cream made of rice, for allergic childrenHis father had brought the ice cream on the way back from the office for the first time. The child had a cough and cold. Since the child was going to eat the ice cream for the first time, his mother decided to warm the ice cream. Hence the ice cream was “Yummy and warm!” 

Both of these stories show us that we go away from the norms occasionally. We are surprised when there is variation in the behaviour. But in the current situation, when it gets over, is it going to change the norms? If not, at least here is my wish of things that should happen.  

To begin with, let us go to Leo Tolstoy’s short story “How much land does a man need”? At the end of the story, he has concluded that everybody needs 6’*3’ of land to bury. All the rest is craving, and it is superficial. In Hinduism and many sects, even this is superficial. We only need a crematorium. Let us not go into the usual discussion of our culture is superior to their culture. It is possible that in the culture where cremation was done, it was easy to create, maintain and control fire. Period! But now in many burying cultures, they are switching over to burning of bodies due to pandemic. In some western countries, the casket, land for burial and the overall cost of funeral service are going out hands; cremation would be a better option. 

How much of clothing, footwear and such accessories do we need? If you do your washing regularly, three sets are more than enough. Friends, go and check your cupboards. How many suits and ties, wedding dresses and sarees do you have? Principally, I have nothing against this, when people who have excess money buy these it is okay. But what about those with a shortage of funds also emulate rich peopleI had a colleague who used to manage my office work. He bought more sets of shirts than I did in a year; his shirts were costlier than mine. One I asked him about it. He said, “There was sell going on, buy two get one free. Hence I bought the shirts.” He had spent a big chunk of his salary that day; he has been working with me for twenty years. I gave him an option. I said, “If you stop spending foolishly on clothing, I will take full responsibility for your two daughters education till their college degree, including coaching classes.” He did change somewhat, but I am not sure. I have not gone back on my commitment. 

It is the same about inviting people to various functions. From the naming ceremony to marriages, to 60th birthday’s we welcome many people. For funerals, too many people come on their own (they are not “invited”). Is it essential? A friend died recently during the lockdown. Only four members from his family went to the crematorium. Others could not attend does not mean they did not love him. A few days after his death, I spoke to his son for about half an hour sharing memories with him. Can we not change our “culture” of inviting hundreds of people for joyous occasions like marriages and birthdays? I have been guilty of this. Again, the logic is the same. Those who can barely afford expenses for the marriage ceremony, end up inviting hundreds of people. Finally, the loan sharks are after them leading to some suicides.  

These days I hear that the pathology testing labs have suddenly stopped getting patients. The hospitals have stopped their OPD’s (outpatient’s departments). Many doctors have switched over to telemedicine. Does it mean that people do not fall sick? How can they manage without getting treated? But I understand that in large hospitals, with one patient, four or five people are accompanying. Is it essential? I am sure that those who “need” to see the doctor get themselves treated anyway. But does it mean that people did not need the treatment but still crowded the clinics? I am not sure about this phenomenon! But where possible, patients/doctors should switch over to telemedicine. 

My wish is don’t go overboard in anything. (Definition of overboard? – I have been to a marriage where about eight thousand guests were invited!) Those who are financially comfortable will be left with a significant corpus which can be used for things other food during marriages. But is it essential to invite so many? Those lesser endowed people try to emulate the rich and run into issues.

I am by no means a socialist or a communist. Enterprise is a must to make this a better world. But the accompanying wealth generation can be better utilised for many things in this world. There will be some families whose needs may be different- like perpetually sick children or their children are not doing well in life. But when such an issue is not present, what is the point in “wasting money” on optional things- Jaya and I are sometimes amazed when we introspect and see how we have spent (wasted?) moneyFor example, we have three gadgets or four/five; I don’t know why we need so many devices to listen to music!  

Pandemic is an excellent opportunity to improve our social behaviour. Standing in queues is essential for discipline as well as health. Will we continue to do so, post-pandemic? Have we understood the meaning of migrant workers and their requirements? Now we know that their only requirement is to survive on the day-to-day earnings. Once they think that they cannot fulfil this requirement wherever they are, they will walk out and go to their native place.  

Do we really need to socialise the way we do? Is alcohol a must in our lives? Do we need to go to restaurants so many times?  

The pandemic has shown us that we are addicted to many things. Does it matter if there is no coriander in your favourite dish? We should enjoy life, but nothing is a must! Have we finally understood the importance of maids in our lives? Those who are financially better off, hopefully, will keep on paying the support staff even though we do not use their services. Could we continue doing this even after the pandemic is over?   

As usual, I could go on and on! But when we start doing everything on our own, we know how much wastage is done by support staff. How much water do they waste? How much fuel do they waste by misuse? It is not about money, but it is about efficiency and resource wastage! If all families become more efficient in these small things, we will have more water and electricity available.  

Use these times to meditate and think in solitude. It is a once in a lifetime chance to rethink about life, the ways of life and the way we look at life. Following lines may be appropriate at what I am trying to say! 

I don’t want to run away from the world – I want to rediscover myself within it. I want to know what happens if we again take doses of solitude from inside our crowded days, along our crowded streets. 

 

 

 

The Size of Canvas!

In 1960 there was a bet between two people for US $50/. His friend challenged Dr Seuss that he will give him fifty dollars if Seuss wrote a book using only 50 different words, an entertaining book for children. Dr Seuss took the bet and won. The result was the book called “Green Eggs and White Ham!” Since publication, the book has sold more than 200 million copies, one of the best-selling books ever. I read the book yesterday!

We can think that it was a one-time fluke, but if we look at what Dr Seuss has done, we will understand the meaning of “The Size of Canvas”! Dr Seuss had a restriction that he could use only 50 different words. There is no question that Seuss was talented. He took up the challenge and was at his creative best. The constraint brought the best out of him. Many a time it so happens that too much of everything does not work, it becomes a hindrance to achieving what you want to do.

Many times, constraints bring out the best out of humans. Constraints put the limitations on resources available; they put limits on time possible, they may set restrictions on your network available.

How to use your constraints to your advantage?

The classic case of constraints bringing out the best in people is that of the nation of Israel. We all know that it is a tiny country, surrounded by enemies. Two things could have happened. They would have been crushed and overrun by the enemy. The second thing is they could have become a belligerent state fighting all the time. They chose the third path. They somehow managed to survive, thanks to the USA. But at the same time within their limited resources, they developed skill sets which are on par or better than many nations. Their skills in developing radars, AWACS and rockets and many such things are unbelievable. They have done fantastic developments in agriculture to convert their arid deserts into a highly productive zones. They have a smallish population of 8.9 million people as per records in 2018. By making it compulsory for all to join military for at least two years, they have a large pool of highly trained people. They had no choice, and they had no option, they had so many constraints but they overcame the issues. But they managed to convert these constraints to their advantage and made Israel a developed nation within a matter of a couple of generations.

I must give an example from cricket, my favourite sport. The great Sachin Tendulkar was going through some issues in his batting in 2004. India was in Australia. He was getting out hitting a cut or a cover drive on the off side. Sachin practised and practised! Someone suggested to he needs one big score to get his game back. In the Sydney test match, he decided not to play a single shot on the off side. Once Australians understood his strategy, they packed the fielding on the leg side and bowling on the off side. Sachin had created a constraint for himself of not hitting anything on the off side. His great talent helped him achieve this. He scored 241 runs under this constraint. It is one of best test match innings he has played.

For the cricket enthusiasts here is the link for the inning.

All of us have options to live life the way we want to live. Sometimes we are forced to work under constraints, but I feel that it is a good idea to work under some constraints. Here is why and how of constraints.

Constraints inspire creativity

You may be a basketball player of average height. You will find different methods of scoring in spite of having all your opponents who are much taller than you. Barak Obama became the first black president of United States; he is a live example for a book similar to one by Dale Carnegie “Win friends, Influence people”!

canvas2

Oscar Pistorius’s had both his legs amputated when he was a baby. He became a para champion in running and won a medal in standard running races too, with artificial limbs. He won them instead of these constraints or was it because of the constraints? Limitations drive you to figure out solutions. Your constraints inspire your creativity.

Constraints force you to get something done

I have been blogging for a few years, but since last year, I have become a serious blogger. I have forced myself that I will produce a certain number of blogs every month. It takes 3 to 4 hours of writing and research, an hour of fine-tuning before my blog is published. I have written a blog on flights while travelling from the US back to India. I have written blogs when I was on holiday in Manali. I could have easily skipped the writing during these times, but my constraints have forced me to remain productive. There is no compulsion, but it has become a passion.

Then there is a passion for maintaining certain quality standards I have forced on myself. Without my schedule (the constraint), I would have pushed those blogs to a different day. Or I would never got around to them at all. Constraints force you to get something done and don’t allow you to procrastinate. I believe that professionals set a schedule for their creation while amateurs wait until they feel motivated.

Remember that constraints are not your enemies.

But constraints are not the enemy. Every artist has a limited set of tools to work. Every athlete has a limited set of skills to train. Every entrepreneur has a limited amount of resources to build. Once you know your constraints, you can start figuring out how to work with them.

Here again, I will share the story of Manasi Sagar, a young painter from Nashik. She had decided that she wanted to become a painter and that too an artist painting nude portraits. A middle-class girl from an average family like you and me finally put a constraint that she wants to become an artist of nude portraits. It’s tough, very tough. She has no contacts in the elite art world and is struggling. She has decided not to marry so that she can live the life that she wants.

Read my blog about her journey.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/what-is-porn/

I am a trained engineer with ages of experience but now want to become a serious blogger. I don’t know at what stage I am, but I have put myself the constraint of remaining prolific round the year. I have also decided to try and maintain quality come what may. I don’t know if I am on the right path. But let me assure you constraints do help in a big way. Given below are the statistics from WordPress of what I have done in last year. It positively encourages me to work harder and better.

What constraints are you setting for yourself? What type of schedule do you have for your goals?

I have decided the size of my canvas!

wordpressstats31122018

 

Human reactions!

It is impossible to predict how humans will act, react and behave. We expect that the human behavior will be more rational in developed countries but it does not appear so! This thought came to my mind when I read a news item today about death of Jeff Murphy in Yellow Stone National Park in the USA along with other news items. 

A guy called Fenn has written a memoir where he talks about treasure hidden by him. Fenn claims his treasure chest contains 265 gold coins, ancient Chinese jade figurines, rubies, emeralds, diamonds and hundreds of gold nuggets, some as large as chicken eggs. He estimates tens of thousands of people have gone looking for it, sharing their experiences on blogs and treasure hunting forums. One of his motives in hiding it, he told an ABC affiliate in 2015, was to “get the kids off the couch and away from the game machine.” 

A mysterious 24-line poem in his memoir is supposed to hint at the location. It ends with the following lines: “So hear me all and listen good, your effort will be worth the cold. If you are brave and, in the wood, I give you title to the gold.” 

In last few years, beside Murphy 5 to 6 more people have died looking for this treasure. I just cannot believe, that just because someone has claimed to have hidden some treasure, people are getting killed to look for the same. Fenn appears to be a person who has done this for some purpose, with all the trappings of treasure hunt where hints are hidden in a poem he has published! What makes people, in today’s times, with so much technological advancements, to fall into such traps? Do their families not stop them? Amount involved is not such that one should get himself killed. The place where the treasure is supposed to be hidden is from southern most USA to up North! From whatever little I could understand, the people who attempted and died, did not appear to be “crazy’ persons!  

Another news item I read today’s newspaper is about an ex Minister from the Indian state of Bihar! His tenure in the ministry was completed and was required to vacate his bungalow as a normal practice. As a real world normal practice, the politicians squat on the property and prolong their stay as much as possible. Suddenly, he vacated the bungalow. He claimed that the chief minister has sent some ghosts in the bungalow to ensure that he will vacate! Can you believe such statement?  This person was a minister the government, he was supposedly running a department. In the year 2018, the claim that ghosts have been sent to the bungalow is ridiculous and bizarre to say the least! How do such people become ministers? How do they get elected? It is said that the society is governed by the people it deserves? Are we such a bad society? Or maybe I see only a miniscule part of society that appears modern!  

In United States, there has been a trend in last 20 years of random shootings in schools where innocent children are killed. Till today, in 2018 there have been 18 deaths and 40 plus injuries. All over US, there are  lot of discussions and protests going on. Finally,  US President felt that it is important enough to meet the families of the kids who died. All have demanded that the Gun Laws in the US should be tightened. A young person cannot buy beer in US till he becomes 21 but he can buy a Gun when becomes 18!  

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights  Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right, per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights. 

This was adopted in the year 1791 more than 200 years back when there was wild west, carpetbaggers and gold diggers! The country itself was like the last frontier. This amendment was suitable for those days! In between the gun lobby and industry has taken over the thought processes. National Rifle Association was founded in the year 1871 and the same thought process continues! Their motto is “people kill people”, guns don’t! This lobby just does not allow any changes in the law. End result is that we see the random killing of innocent kids! American authorities including their President have come up with a beautiful solution. The President finally had listening meeting with parents of the children killed. He suggested that teachers should be provided with weapons to handle random gunmen who come with rifles! Currently teachers try to hide in the classroom along with the students. Now they will be exposed as they have guns and there can more killings in crossfire. The officials in Florida have suggested that their officers will attack the gunmen with assault rifles! Wow! What a solution! How these people’s minds work? Gun lobby should not be disturbed! That is a sacred cow giving donations to political parties! How can you disturb the bandwagon? Will this ever change in the USA?  

Friends I have shared some random examples of human behavior. The first one is about individuals who got themselves killed because of their greed. The second one is about a minister in the government who believes in paranormal stuff and was supposedly running a department. Third example is about killings of innocent kids due to adamant behavior of authorities in the society. Why do such reactions happen? Is greed so bad that that people don’t bother about their own death or deaths of innocents due to an irrelevant law which came into being 200 years back and was relevant at that point of time! I am writing this with a great anguish and sadness! What do you feel about these issues?  

 

 

 

Paradox, thy name is India!

A friend Shreekant, went to Europe for a month and mostly lived in Holland with relatives. On his Facebook page he shared some very nice write-ups about the pleasant weather, systems and so on. In his comments there were natural references and comparisons with Bharat desh. He made a very prudent and specific statement that we tend to be very harsh on ourselves when we compare with other societies and other nations, we are a young nation with very old civilization. I totally agree with him because there are a lot of complexities involved in our nation and life! I have always been wondering for the reasons for these paradoxes! Honestly I am never able to come to any conclusion for my question, WHY? It is why to everything.

Let us not say that in India, people live mostly in Villages, it is old story. There has been a big migration from villages to towns and cities. I know why this is happening. It is the abject poverty and lack of job opportunities in villages that pushes people towards cities. Recently I was in Europe, in larger cities and smaller towns and sometimes in villages. Obviously my mind too started making comparisons. Both in cities and smaller places things were relatively similar in Europe. In India also we have similarities but of the wrong kind! We are extremely capable as a society of making our cities & villages dirty! Cities like smaller places can be really dirty! That is the first impression that we carry whenever we travel outside India to developed nations.

 India as a country has made great progress  in satellite technology,  they are well known in IT field! India is the largest manufacturer of two wheelers in the world! Suzuki car production in India is much larger than their production in Japan! India has slowly started doing well in sports at world level! Indian engineers, doctors, scientists have done pretty well on global scene. This is where the paradoxes begin.

Let us begin at the beginning. How long have we been one, as a nation? Before 1947 there was no concept of India. We may sing paeans of glory of Bharat, जहा डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडियां करतीं हैं बसेरा यह भारत देश है मेरा! It feels good to listen to the song but the ground realities are quite different. Indian continent was made up of hundreds of small kingdoms ruled by the Rajas and Nabobs. For the first time in the history of the continent, area from Pune to Atak was under the rule of Peshwas. That too was for a brief period. Many years before that, Mughal invaders came to “India” and ruled. Before 1947 British ruled us for 150 years, using a small army and big brain. British had clearly understood that since there was no “India” as such, they could easily use the divide and rule strategy. Under the non-Indian rulers most of the population never had any rights; the benefits of technology hardly reached them. British made sure that industrial revolution benefits reached only where and when it was beneficial to British. There was no “All India” policy.

European countries have existed as nations for centuries, sometimes by different names, some have split and some have merged. Japan has been in existence for a long time. China also is around for a long time. United States and Canada have also been existing as countries for a couple of centuries. Most important aspects of these countries is, though there has been variance in different parts of the nations, mostly they were quite coherent in food, culture, clothing and language. Except for the obviously large countries, all others are pretty small, smaller than the many Indian States of today. Ruling and managing such countries was much easier.

Indian complexities start with 31 major languages, with that many different cultures, as many different types of foods including the way we eat. But somehow one thing we have in common across the cultures of our great Indian continent is total disrespect for laws and rules, total disregard for each other’s personal space, disregard for maintenance of personal infrastructure of all types. I am not talking of government infrastructure! You must be wondering how I have not written anything about cleanliness! Lack of cleanliness is the end result of everything.

Disrespect for law is ingrained in our DNA. We have disrespect for authority. The respect starts with respect to next individual. In Hindi movies whenever a young person meets elderly person, they are always respected by touching their feet! In mythology we have great stories of Ram, Laxman, and Bharat who go really out of the way to respect their eldest brother Ram. When it comes to public life how respect suddenly vanishes? Though we have our old traditions for respect! In north India even a new born child is addressed with respect, using word आप. Luckhnow culture is known for पहले आप culture, meaning please go ahead, I will follow you! I feel that we make use of traditions conveniently! What could be the reason for disrespect? The Indians were always ruled by others for centuries. Main reason could be it is a way of protesting against authorities. But we forget that now it is our country, so how this attitude will help?

Disrespect to others creates “I don’t care attitude!” I feel like spitting in public, I will spit! In our society chewing paan or betel leaf and/or tobacco, and of course spitting the juice in public, is “culture”! Basic things like standing in a queue are handled so differently. People sometimes stand so much near you in your personal space that you have to tell people to move away. You will be jostled, pushed. Most of the time, someone will always try to jump the queue claiming “I have only half a minute work”! I also find problems in traffic. When I stop for red signal, at least 5 to 10% of times guys on bike will try to snake their way in non-moving traffic banging on my side mirror! Personal space, never heard of that!

Stopping for a red signal is an international norm. We will try to jump signal if policeman is not around, else we think that stopping over zebra crossing is our birth right. This is disrespect to others and law! Laws are made for smooth running of the society. In any society a small percentage of people are bound to break the laws. But in India very large numbers break laws with impunity. Once I was driving thru a green signal; after I passed, I heard commotion. Suddenly around 15 bikers just broke the red signal and drove thru. A policeman was there but how can a single policeman catch 15 people? Two wheelers are supposed to carry two passengers; it started with taking additional baby in the lap. Then it changed to two adults plus two children around the age of 10 or 12. One of them sitting on the petrol tank of the bike. Mind you this is not an exception!

Personal infrastructure is the area around homes, condos or where you live! In olden days there were small homes generally one story or ground level. Cleaning homes and pushing the dust outside home was the definition of cleaning the home. There was no concretization, there was no paper, so cleaning was pretty simple, push dust outside in the dust around your home. Things have now changed drastically and homes have also changed. The amount of trash we generate is enormous. The mix has changed, there is plastic, there is metal, there is paper and there is glass. Still in many homes definition of cleaning has not much changed. At the most people collect their trash and throw it in a convenient spot on the way to somewhere, dumpsters be damned! The best way to keep things clean is to not create the trash in public spaces;  when you achieve this, you  don’t have to clean the roads. In advanced countries the trash that you generally see on roads is tree leaves and cigarette butts. Somehow developed countries have also not been able to eliminate these butts. Once my grandson Suyash, who lives in the USA, had come to Pune. From our 7th floor abode we could see a lot of buildings around. Suyash asked me, “Grandpa, why don’t they paint their homes?” They all looked pretty ungainly because they were never probably repainted after construction. Buildings were maybe 10 year old. In these ten years not even one building was repainted. With Monsoon and heat, Moss streaks make buildings not a very pretty site. I am sure people living in these buildings could definitely afford to get them repainted once in ten years! I  normally live in a colony of row houses or town houses. People just used to hang their laundry from front balcony. Only after we started fining people they reluctantly stopped it.

I feel that all the lack of discipline, disdain for laws and rules, lack of consideration for others are independent of social status, financial status, (In fact sometimes I feel that it is inversely proportional) and your education. All the cleanliness drives, swatchhata diwas are of no use if the mindset is not changed. If we as a society handle the trash prudently instead throwing stuff where ever we want, we will have cleaner cities and villages. Pune is one of the better places where sweepers sweep the roads sincerely but I would rather have sweeper less Pune. Why are we required to sweep the road instead of collecting trash? All over India there is a big drive going on from government to stop open defecation, subsidies are also offered to needy. to build toilets But in Punjab many men still defecate in fields though they have toilets at home; when asked why they do so? The reply was, “It is Manly”! God bless us! Amen! You may listen to the song जहा डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडियां करतीं हैं बसेरा using link below. Tell me how you feel after listening to the song, now!