Advantage, Poor Economies!

Sometimes not being too developed is an advantage!

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As the cliché goes, “Change is the only constant”! Human race with smarter brain and use of Thumbs of both hands has leaped frogged ahead of other species. From stone age tools, to the wheel, to metals, list is endless. During any and every change there has been resistance, there has been reluctance to accept new things. Flat earth theory is the classic case of non-acceptance of the progress of science. But in the end, all the new changes became routine.

During last 50 years of previous century and 17 years of current century, the changes and innovations have happened at an breath taking speed. Some things kept on becoming more efficient and improved tremendously. Some products, became obsolete even before their potential could be realized. Classic example is Fax. Before we started using fax in a big way other methods of communications came into use, PC became a mass product and over period fax machines simply disappeared. Some products which never existed before suddenly became household names, like iPod.

Computer proliferation has been the most important change that happened during 80’s and 90’s. Advent of computers, first as big as a room, then came desk top machines, followed by laptops, tablets and smart phones. This sequence is important. Computing and storage capacities went on increasing so rapidly that current smart phone capabilities are far greater than original desk top machines. One of the most important effect of these changes is to speed up discoveries in various fields, improve diagnostics in medical field due to better imaging techniques and faster results of collection and analysis of data.

I have only touched upon a couple of innovations and technological changes, but I always wonder how the general population of the world will handle these changes. One important thing about some of these changes is that they are seamless and are accessible without the hindrance of international borders. This reminds me of a Hindi song Panchi Nadiya, Pawan ke zoke, Koi sarhad na inhe roke! Birds, Rivers, the Breeze fly and flow at will and no border can stop them. Internet is one such thing like the birds and rivers and breeze! Except in countries like China, who go by their own laws of freedom. Another unfortunate seamless development is terrorism but that is a subject by itself.

How is general population able to handle these changes? In developed countries where literacy levels and education levels are higher, you might think that they handle it the best. But we already know that India is leading the usage of Cell phones, more than 80% of India’s population has biometric identification, which is practically unbreakable. High % of Kenyans use cell phones to make their financial transactions. I am quite sure many more Indians can do it but they avoid doing formal transactions so that they can cheat on taxes. I do not know the data about how many Indians have started using Bitcoin crypto currency! This switch over will be fast because it is currency which is non-traceable, seamless internationally and illegal in India. This will help people keen on dabbling into “black money”; at least currently it is better than keeping money in Cayman’s island!

How can new technologies change the world order? This may not happen overnight, but it can happen. Countries like US, England, Germany and many other are money rich countries, but countries like India are data rich. In 70’s in the last century when gulf countries realized the importance of oil, in a decade or so they became rich countries because they exploited the oil! Mukesh Ambani has recently said that Data is new Oil! What is the meaning of this statement? It means that the country which garners and manages the data well, will become rich fast. China is both rich in money terms and is data rich, so they will probably gallop over the others.

The Rich world already had systems and with new technologies they have improved on their systems. But in countries like India a large % of people who are not in the system, are taken into formal system, thanks to Aadhar which has biometric authentication. This has enabled India to create completely new systems. This will enable such people to access loans, and funds to which they never had any access. These systems can give poor, subsidy in Electricity bills and Fertilizers, directly. Before new systems there was a big leakage of funds and benefits never reached the poor. Systems are being designed for day to day use where biometric authentication is the only thing that is checked e g vending machines. Using this authentication, financial transactions can be completed. In India power deficit has been historical. Recently, a solar power plant for 800 Megawatt was commissioned in six months in Andhra! Five thousand people were employed on this project. One more example of new technology doing quickly, what old and polluting technology was taking years to do. Those who can afford, should put a solar plant on their own rooftop, for home use. What this does is 30/35% transmission loss is gone because there is no transmission!

Will the “uneducated un included” population be able to handle these rapid technology changes? If cell proliferation is an indication, then things look good! Cell phone is going to be the tool for all so it is upto the app developers and various agencies to create business processes in such a way that life becomes easier and easier; biometric authentication is already there! Before signing off let me share one more example of new technology and thought process. There is a Dam near Pune with a very large reservoir! The is plan, is to cover 4600 acres of water with floating solar panels to generate 1000-Megawatt power! Do you know what the bonus is going to be? Great saving of water which is lost due to sublimation! Great thoughts and new technology are simply going to change things for “Have Nots”!

At the end of the day!

Meandering through life with love, faith, humility, gratitude and empathy!

InternetGenie

Pramod somehow managed to make Internet Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “At the end of any day what will you consider as your greatest achievement?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual Genie kept on talking. Pramod, I know that life is full of great many options. You can be a great businessman, or you can be a great professional or a great sports person, or an artist. But what would you call your real achievement? Will you be happy if people say that Pramod is very smart guy, but he is an even better human being? What have been your targets in life? What have been your goals in life?

Pramod, today during at an event for a book release, about overcoming the loss of a spouse, a speaker said that between spouses four things are very important love, faith, humility, gratitude. That is succinct way of putting things across. These four words define the closest relationship in the world where you are friends, lovers; you fight and make up! You sacrifice for each other and you are proud of each other. You give tit for tat in anger and love in equal measure! If similar thoughts can be extended to other relationships in life, Pramod, I would add empathy!

How are the relationships formed and sometimes broken in life, Pramod? When the deficit of any of the five points starts on a regular basis, relations can sour but Pramod there is no reason to break any relationship. People may drift apart but reaching a breaking point is not necessary. One can agree to disagree but what is the point in breaking a relationship. There is only one life to live.

Pramod, I have seen how you have managed the relationship in life! I have been tracking you, though you may not know! Once I remember your son asked you if summer training was possible in Cummins. You told him, “Let me call someone”.  Next day it was arranged. Your son asked you the next day, “Hey dad! How come you always say, let me call someone for any and everything?” You just smiled.

Pramod the other day an old business friend of yours read your recent blog and after a brief exchange of messages, you phoned him. He was so happy that at the end of your chat, he said, “Will it be ok if I barge into your office right away? After listening to your voice, so many old memories kicked in, I feel that I must come and see you right away.” He came to your office in 15 minutes for a cuppa!

Pramod, you have always managed to keep professional and personal relationships in the right perspective but with your attitude and natural friendliness, even you also did not know when professional relationships changed into personal respectful relations. You have become a sounding board for many, people simply share anything and everything with you. You have unknowingly or maybe knowingly applied all the five principles of life in a beautiful way. This has made you a natural aggregator of friends. Pramod, I remember once you had told me about your mother’s opinion about you. She had told someone, “Pramod does not need alcohol to get drunk. Meeting or talking to a few friends is enough for him!”

Genie continued. He said, Pramod you should be proud that this continues well and true in the next generation; and this transition augurs well for the world, if your way of thinking becomes part of inheritance! Yesterday, you met your new neighbour in the lift (elevator). In that one minute, as only Indians can do, you knew details about each other. One thing led to another and you invited him for a cuppa to your home. I know how you managed to convince a person, you had met only for one minute, to come over to your home. He happened to work with your son Sachin, in a company called PTC, about ten years back.  Sachin lives in the US and his friend was working for Pune office of PTC. After half an hour, his friend got up to go home and took a promise from you to visit them over a weekend. While going he said, “Pramod, Sachin was my manager in PTC. When he decided to change his job and move to Microsoft, many of us reporting to him cried!” They were all young professionals, in thirties! You asked him to explain more about this. He said, “Pramod, Sachin is a rare person, who is very smart and he has love, faith, humility, gratitude and empathy. He carried his team together in a beautiful way. I never knew that this is possible in a professional relationship.”

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie you seem to in mood to praise me and for a change I really do not know what to say! I am happy that you like what Sachin and I are doing in a natural way. I have never tried to form a relationship, they just happen. I could switch to first name basis, in first or second meeting with most, though it was not so popular in late 80’s and early 90’s. I could keep separation of work and personal relationship easily, so at the end of a tough meeting, I would enjoy a cup of tea as if nothing had happened. Come to think of it, my mother had a very easy way of knowing new people and had her friendly relationships with many. It is probably HIS way of passing the right genes down the generations. So, my greatest achievement in life is long list of people who are my friends!”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. ” I am sure if the world is full of persons like you and your son, and of course your mother, all is well. 9/11 and 26/11 are just blips!”

 

 

When things get tough…

When things get tough get going!

InternetGenie

Pramod somehow caught hold of Genie, managed to make Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Pramod, how do you feel is the life of an artist? What do you think keeps the artist going? What drives the artists to pursue their art?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual, Genie kept on talking. Pramod, you must be wondering why I am asking you about artists! Ok let us be honest, you are not one, but you are now a closet blogger and blogging is like what artists do. You write your blogs as an individual, publish them and hope that your readers will like them, readers criticize them, disagree with you. When you started writing, you had only three readers, your family. Slowly your frequency of writing increased, you started getting a few more readers. Then during last few months, the “hits” started increasing because your frequency of writing increased, and the blog spread also increased. It took you about 4 years of consistent writing, to reach reasonable hits. Pramod, your livelihood is not dependent on this activity, so it hardly mattered to you whether people read your blog or not! You will continue writing blogs as and when you want as there are no deadlines.

But what about new singers, painters, sculptors and many such people who start their careers and hope that their art reaches a lot of people. How many of these people even reasonably succeed as full timers? They struggle every day not only with success but in making money! Doctors and engineers who work independently also have similar issues, but they can take up some job. But they don’t have to struggle on day to day basis! Where will artists get jobs? Musicians may get but singers, dancers, sculptors they must be on their own. Their work gets tested every day, criticized every day, and they are sure not whether their effort will be commercially succeed! The group of people who can use their talent is quite limited and competition these days is tough. Pramod, I heard that a Picasso painting got sold for US $ 450/ million. What did Picasso earn in his life time?

Hindi film industry music now is a big business. But with so many artists are trying their luck, there is tremendous competition. Top singers like Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Abhijeet have formally said that they are currently not being offered many songs. Same is the case with Kumar Sanu! There are many singers who are one or two film wonders and they are inexpensive! Pramod, you will be shocked when you hear this story. One artist was almost begging to a music director to allow him to sing in a movie and somehow managed to handover his cd. When the music director heard the song later, he found out that the singer was award winning singer for best song, the previous year. After that song, singer did not get any assignments.

There is one more shocking story, Pramod, about lack of control of artists on their earnings! Famous Hindi song “कजरा रेwas sold by a cell phone company for download as caller tune. The total business for this one song was Rs.16000/ crores, almost 2.8/ Billion US $! They shared the money 50:50 with music company. How much did the lyricist, singers, music directors get? Zilch! This one song could have made many artists millionaires! This movie was released in 2005, now it 2017! There is legal action going on. Pramod, I am not sure if they will get their money in their life time.

But what keeps these artists going? Passion! And secondly “No Option”! Pramod, in their passion I am sure, artists did not get trained to do anything else, other than their art! There are few people like M F Hussain and Lata/Asha sisters who were commercially successful ; there must have many equally good artists who did not become commercially successful. The artists mentioned above have also been successful but at a very young age they are “out marketed” by competition!

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie, there is no substitute to passion! I get a feeling that many great things in this world are done purely due to passion. If Steve Jobs did not have passion there would not have been Apple. Without passion there would be no Federer or a Tendulkar. Passion has driven social workers like Baba Amte and Maharshi Karve. Artists and individuals who work only with passion are the real creators in this world! This inherent toughness in them keeps them going in tough times. ”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. “Pramod, I agree with you. But what is the reason in you to have this passion for blogging?

India 2020 or 1820?

I am really not sure if our society is in 1820 or 2020!

                                                                  InternetGenie

Pramod somehow caught hold of Genie, managed to make Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Pramod, you always look positive and gung ho about Bharat desh; but you seem a bit perturbed after you had a chat with your friend, Vijay,  who came back from China visit, today?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual, Genie kept on talking. Genie said, “I know that Vijay must have shared with you the advances made by China in all fields.” 35 to 40 years back Chinese started a revolution in their lives, overcoming the setbacks from Mao regime. Ok, I saw you smirk and I know what you are going to say. They have dictatorship that is why they can do whatever they want! Give 30 % discount to “No Democracy” but still how far ahead are they? Look at their new cities, look at their production volumes? In car production they have gone way ahead of the US also! So many international companies get their products manufactured in China for different reasons. Cost, productivity and quality! When they get these benefits, it is obvious that people will queue up to get things manufactured in China. Chinese think out of the box. They have a major manufacturing set up in north west China. Shipping products from there to harbours on the east coast, putting them in containers and sending them to Europe by ship, was 45 days cycle. They got the rail tracks ready in north west China to connect to Russian train system and now they ship the products by train to Europe in 15 days!

Pramod, you look gloomy. I know that you are not sure if we in India live in 1820 in mind, though we will be reaching 2020 in a couple of years! Yes, we are doing some great things like ISRO but you fail to understand why can’t we follow simple things like crossing roads on zebra crossings; sometimes it looks as if cattle is moving in the field in random direction but these are roads in cities and these are humans and not cattle! It is no rocket science, oh but we do very well in Rocket Science! We run excellent Metro Services in many cities but what happens on local trains and especially long-distance trains? We have dirty bedsheets in sleeper coaches, unclean toilets and so on. We are doing good in IT field and looks like we will go up the value chain going into AI and deep learning. But we can’t find solution to smog in Northern India. The smog levels reached are ten times the normal value, but we are collectively sleeping! Pramod, I know Beijing also faces similar problem, but they are at least trying to do something about it and not sleeping over it!

In our Metro ecosystem behavior of Indians is very disciplined and the system remains very clean all the time! Just outside the system we are back to “Old Dilli” ways. Old Dilli is a thought process. चलता है is our motto! This means whatever rubbish is done we accept it with an attitude, “It’s ok! चलता है.” Unless we come out of this attitude we will remain in 1820! We have Urinals on expressways just after every toll station. But people will relieve themselves on the wall of the Urinal but from outside. Local governments ear mark zones for hawkers, but we will start hawking where ever it is suitable to us. On footpaths, railway foot bridges! But with चलता है attitude we regularly buy stuff from these hawkers and accept situation as if we are still in 1820! Local Governments make anti encroachments drives, within a couple of hours or days, hawkers occupy the same space and it is business as usual. We do not have time to breathe because of busy life but we will spend hours together to follow some age-old traditions under the garb of religion.

Pramod, what is the solution to this? How do you think Indians can be physically as well as mentally be in 2020? Do you at least  see some progress in that direction! Sri Lankan cricket team captain made a statement that their teams performance is not up to the mark because of some “Spirits” are working against them! Are you sure Pramod that these things are not discussed in Indian Cricket team meetings? At least from what is written in newspaper, Indian skipper is a 2020 guy who totally believes in training, discipline, performance and positive attitude! This probably helps Indian team to open the bottle of “Spirit”, Champagne, after most of the matches, these days!

Pramod, I want your reply on this, as I know you have strong views! I also know that your friend Vijay is like you! He also is in gloom after visits to other countries  but is a similarly positive guy like you and wants to work harder again! Pramod tried his best not to talk but Genie hustled him again with the same questions! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie, look at the positive side. All this discussion shows us that there is so much to do! For next many many years, we all have lots of work to do! I am sure we will do it, the way we are doing with ISRO, Metros, IT “

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. “Pramod my gut feeling tells me that most work we will be required do will be on Indian Mentality!”

 

1949 or 1979? 

Nostalgia of 50’s and 60’s!

I am trying a different format of blog which I may repeat if both you folks and I find it comfortable!

I thought why not ask a question to myself in the form of Vikram Vetal story! Vikram, the King is Pramod and Vetal, the spirit is replaced by new entity, “Internet Genie”! (called Genie)

                                                            InternetGenie

Pramod somehow caught hold of Genie, managed to make Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “If you were given a choice, will you be born again in 1949 or 1979, which year will you prefer?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

 As usual, Genie kept on talking. Pramod now that you are in Golden period of your life, you will be a good judge to say if you would rather be born in 1979! Person born in 1979 will not be able to judge if his birth should have been in 1949. You have seen a much simpler world, almost on the verge of being naïve. Cities were smaller, life was simpler but then there was nothing to do in the evening except news at 7 pm and 8 pm on the radio! While you were in school/college there were shortages, incomes were low, and eating an apple was considered a luxury! Ultimate aim in those days was to have your own bicycle.

Had you been born in 1979, as you ended school and entered college, you would have had colour tv, the rationing was almost gone, availability of everything had improved. Eating out in big restaurants with parents would have been a thing to look forward to. Maybe some parents had cars! Sachin Tendulkar had started playing for India, MS DOS, PC, web, these words were discussed. Maruti had already won the heart of Indians but die-hard Ambassador fans were still looking Maruti down!

You were of course very busy managing careers, family, children and trying to attend to the general responsibilities of life, so time had been at a premium. Before you realized that you were around 50 your son had moved to the US. Your daughter had already decided to join dentistry. But you guys could find some time for your children, supporting their extra-curricular activities when they were younger. Already 500 MB hard discs were fitted on pc’s.

Make a jump to 2017, you are now around 70 but you could have been around 40 had you been born in 1979! Now the real tussle has started in your mind. Is 70 or 40 good age to be in 2017! At your present age of 70, you would have been an also ran if you had not retrained yourself in IT related technology. Techno phobia would have really pulled you back but those who have retrained are having fun. Cell phones, tablets, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube are fun things and there is no time restriction. There are no parents to give lectures. You can give a lot time to your grandchildren on equal footing, with modern gadgets, which you did not have when your children were growing, and really enjoy.  Your fun quotient is very high because you have traveled in a bullock cart as well as in Boeing Dreamliner 787!

If you were to be born in1979, at around the age of 40, you would be very,  very busy! You would have grown with all the new technology around you. But not enough time available, all the time work, work and work. Working life in 2017 being very hectic, you would have had everything except time! You have never traveled in the bullock cart so conceptually  not many big changes for you; your fun quotient would not have been really significant! Your children are still young. You have to take them to gymnastics, judo, art class, dance class and so on. So, time available is further cut down. You would have jokingly said, ” Now I have regular day job and run taxi service to take kids around after coming home!”

Pramod I can see you smiling and coming up with an argument. I know what you are going to say. In 50’s/60’s you saw Waheeda & Devanand from 20 feet distance, shooting for a movie!  You met Mukri, Ashok Saraf on a train while coming from Bombay once. You also met Bapu Nadkarni test cricket all-rounder in a train journey to Bombay, another time. In your 79 avatar such events would be only in dreams! Celebrities and hero/heroines are humans like us but human touch is getting lost for this generation because of changing times or is it because human touch is out of fashion?

Pramod went into nostalgia when he heard Genie talking about Waheeda! He forgot the golden rule and said,” Genie you will never understand the naïve 60’s but those were the days! I am good to be born in 1949 enjoying best of the both worlds!”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. “But Pramod whatever you may, I know that Virat Kohli, Priyanka Chopda and Ranbir Singh are your current favourites, though you are not openly accepting!”

Life’s Station or Status!

Person’s success is decided by quality of work as well as person’s commercial success!

Yesterday during Diwali celebrations and chit chat, a very interesting subject suddenly came up for discussion. The discussion became hotter than heat generated by Diwali crackers. Situ told a story of a lady doctor who married a plumber, in America. He also said that such events are pretty regular in foreign countries. He further said that in foreign countries like the US, the social fabric is such that people from different professions in life can be close friends. I said that this a rare case even in America . Jaya and Ashwini were pro this and I was against this thought process. I said that there are two points we are discussing simultaneously and mixing them. One is the respect given to professions/professionals and the other is social friendships, getting married as mentioned about the doctor’s marriage.

My point is that in India, there is no respect given to professions other than the engineers, doctors, pilots, architects and in certain professions. Our society does not give respect to technicians or artisans like carpenters, plumbers, lock smiths and so on. In fact such professions are treated as “lowly”, unfortunately. In foreign countries these trades are definitely respected. But the point being disputed was when it comes to the social status or a social station of these people, will they be treated equally in one’s mind? Will a top notch brain surgeon be a friend of an electrician?  It may so happen that they were classmates in school/college. A small percentage, very small one, will continue to be friends but as a norm this does not happen in real life! Let’s be honest! Utopian thinking says that this happens but will a guy living on Malabar Hills in Mumbai be weekly drink mate of a guy living in Virar or Kalyan! These names written by me are for explanation, please do not take this as my opinion.

Let us look at the background in India, the oldest civilization! There were four Varnas described in Hinduism.

  • Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers.
  • Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators.
  • Vaishyas: agriculturalists and merchants.
  • Shudras: laborers and service providers.

These are called savarnas and are supposedly forward classes; remaining are tribes and scheduled tribes are avarnas, with no Varnas and are supposedly backward classes. These are not to be mixed up with Jatis or Castes. With this separation in India for thousands of years, the so called discrimination always happened discretely and many times not so discretely. Does this happen in foreign countries? My opinion is it happens but mostly discretely. To give example of British royalty, Queen Elizabeth’s sister Margaret, fell love with Snowden, a commoner and a photographer. Well, the family was graceful in allowing the marriage (there was no honour killing the way we have in India!) but Snowden was made Lord Snowden. How can Margaret’s husband be a commoner? This is how the discretion was resolved!

World over, there are different types of discretions and discriminations. In India, it is so ingrained in our blood, it’s embedded in our DNA. Coming back to subject of respect for courses or professions, it changes from region to region. It is the parents wish that the child gets well settled as early as possible, after education. In Maharashtra there have been many industries existing for a long time hence engineering course was a top runner. Doctors anyway are respected hence that was another course respected. But up north previously not many industries were around. Jobs were mostly available in government, so there the aim was to a take a basic degree and appear for competitive examinations.

A person’s success is measured by where the person reaches on the ladder to success.  Utopian thinking says that someone is successful in life when one gets to do things in life that the person loves. People love to sing, dance, and paint, play instruments or become writers of travelogues. In their goal to achieve success what are the steps of the ladder made up of! Are steps made up of the quality, in what you are doing; are you the best in your field and are also commercially successful! But the world is not utopia, so my thinking tells me that people go by quality as well as commercial success. To give an example you may be doing quality stuff in what you are doing but you are not able to buy a car to move around. 99% people will say he is damn good but not successful. That my friends is a fact of life! In whatever you are doing longevity is also equally important. One song wonder or one movie wonders are never called successful and it is said that the person did not live up to the potential, which in other ways is unsuccessful. A person who is already “successful” in something and achieves moderate success in some other field is considered more successful than someone who has achieved more, only in the second field!

Coming back to our “hot” discussion that we had yesterday, in India there is a discrimination in the type of work a person is doing; they are respected as per hierarchy of professions which got defined over a period. At the same time, success of a person is dependent on how that person has commercially succeeded in field rather the quality that has been achieved. But in western countries there is a respect to ALL professionals irrespective of the profession. But the success of the person is still judged the same way as is done by us.

Naysayers or anti dev!

Naysayer is one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is skeptical or cynical about something!

There is an abundance of everything in this world including the naysayers! I don’t think we are born naysayers, it is the characteristic that we develop over a period. Like all other things, this human trait gets developed over a period due to circumstances in which we grow, people we have come across, maybe ones education. But when I think about naysayers that we see sometimes, it is really difficult to judge why one becomes a naysayer. One may be opposed to an idea, or thought process but one cannot be opposed anything new, it can be a new thought or a new technology!

These thoughts came my mind while I was reading about Bullet Train project. Why does India need a bullet train? What is wrong with today’s trains? They take you from place to place, sometimes on time with some comfort. Why change the status quo? To me bullet train is not a train, it’s a concept! I am advisor to a Japanese conglomerate in India. One customer of ours wanted to visit the plants in Japan. He wrote an e mail asking what is buffer time he should keep to catch a flight from place B. He was to travel from place A to B by bullet train. He got a reply from Japan, “What buffer time are you asking about?” Our friend was not sure if the train would reach in time for the flight. When he mentioned this, reply from Japan was, “No buffer time needed! Shinkansen never gets late! Only if there is major earthquake it can get late!”  When we have bullet train in India, I am quite sure part of a system in India will reach international level! Between Mumbai and Ahmedabad it is going to stop at 7/8 stations and will improve systems in those areas! 

Shinkansen

We have all seen this, look at Metros all over India. Very rarely we see Metro trains getting late, platforms being dirty and so on. This is observed all over India. Who uses Metros? Everybody! Why this has happened? It is said that a place is modern when rich use the public transport! We as a society are open to these changes, but our naysayers don’t want them. Sometimes I feel that naysayers are worse than the politicians. They do not want any modernity or a change. Kolakata metro is more than 20 years old but still remains spik and span!  

KolMetro

It is not about modern technology, it is about modern thought process. Modern methods that new technology can usher. When Mumbai Pune expressway was being planned the naysayers were of course dead against it! What happens after 20 years! We cannot imagine life without the expressway. Modern Facilities, infrastructures not only involve technology but a new way of thinking. In many countries train and bus systems are so well connected that they have a single ticket which can be used across the systems. New way of thinking comes up with new solutions. Indian railways is in the process of establishing a diesel engine plant in Bihar which is expected to go live in a year or so. But world over, the thought process is shifting from Diesel to Electric! In today’s papers, there is a news item that discussion is going on with the Partners GE about trying to find out ways of discontinuing this project. Govt maybe forced to pay more than US $ 2/ billions but in the long run it is nothing but benefits! Seeds of this discussion are already sown! Naysayers will of course say, “Oh, we are wasting money!”  Govt has recently scrapped 11 power projects based on coal and have decided to go ahead with Nuclear plants! This is again having the same reason as that of diesel engine plant! These two are examples of how serious now India is about environment! 

Recently we travelled from Zurich to Frankfurt by train. Tickets were bought a couple of months in advance. When we went to Zurich and checked, I was a given a route paper saying that some track work required emergency repairs hence instead of direct journey there was a change in route. After one hour we changed the train, then we reached a very small station by another train, where there were no escalators etc. We were worried as our bags were heavy. But they had made arrangements for senior citizens; our bags were carried free of charge by porters to the other side of the station and put on a bus. The bus took us to another station about 15 kms away. At that station, we were put on a train to Frankfurt! Had there been naysayers in the railway system, they would have told us, Sorry! This is your refund! Have a great trip! What I could have done if I was given refund! Nothing and scramble for a way to go to Frankfurt! But it is positive thought process, because of which, we reached Frankfurt, only about ½ hour late!

How naysayers were against Maruti? They wanted people to continue using Ambassador and Fiat! Rajeev Gandhi introduced the idea of computerization, Manmohan Singh opened the economy in 1992! How much resistance was there! Our naysayers wanted to keep on following socialistic model where everyone remains poor! Even after their Citadel Soviet Russia had failed!

Maruti800

What is the profile of a naysayer; they are generally good speakers, are against any sort of development, have lawyers in the group, an engineer is thrown in between for technical arguments, and are generally know all. What is their agenda? NGO’s preferably foreign funded, are in their gambit, with foreign trips thrown in for lucky few! Their favorite subject also include housing encroachment on hills and tree felling! If half the hills are encroached by illegal shanties it is fine but someone tries to build something legal! Heavens will fall. Good old SFO is a city on hills and there many such cities world over.

SFO

In the city of Pune where I live in India, the usual traffic issues are there. For last 15/20 years government is hoping to build a road on the hills which may take care of bottle necks! Court cases started and it was ruled that, against each tree brought down, ten new trees should be planted. Government agreed to plant 50 in place of ten. Effect, one more court case against with another issue! What is the solution for this?

In democracy these things keep on happening. Patience is what is needed! I am not arguing that there should be no opposition; in fact different views always bring out the best possible solutions, most of the times. But opposition for the sake opposition is not the way forward. Years ago, India’s well known industrial doyen Shantanurao Kirloskar had said, ” Are trees for us or are we there for trees?” Hope our society will carry forward his wisdom and make this world and especially our city Pune, a better and modern place to live!