Reincarnation!


Dictionary meaning of reincarnation is a new version of something from the past. Atheist Pramod has changed his colour like a Chameleon. After all, he has to survive in this world; many people believe in reincarnation and rebirth. It is better to conform to the majority opinion. What about the previous blogs where the expression was always against such thoughts.

Okay, do not worry; there is no change of heart, but the good old atheist Pramod is still around. I am using the word incarnation, which correctly means what I want to say. I am talking about today’s global situation caused by the pandemic. The change that happened in this world is unprecedented. There are some good and new things to be learned and if possible old ones to be deleted as described in computer language. According to Satya Nadella, Microsoft boss, the proliferation of video conferencing apps has happened so fast that, according to his estimate, the growth that took place in two months would have taken two years in the ordinary course.

Each country had its ways of understanding the situation. Based on their understanding (or misunderstanding), they applied the lockdown. In some cases, it was rigid, and in others, it was flexible. The end results have been varied. These figures below are dated today.


These are the figures I have taken from a tracker today morning. All the countries except India have high death percentage. Why is it so? I will never claim that India has the most disciplined people. India has the worst medical infrastructure that may be in par with Brazil on the list. But most countries have started “opening up,” the same as India. India of low death rates is opening up along with high death rate countries. It is because of the fear that economically no country can now afford to take any further shocks. These countries forgot that India had started the Lockdown early or on time!

I am using the word reincarnation for this change. Since I do not believe in reincarnation, I do not know what should be the difference between the first and the second avatar. But I feel that the change should be a game-changer. New Zealand and Australia have managed to control the pandemic war the best. New Zealand has become the first Corona free country. But what I read about the first day in New Zealand, the Corona free day, is a bit scary. Every restaurant, mall and public area is full of crowds. Social distancing norms are not required to be followed as per government directive. But is it the right thing to do? Where is the reincarnation? The society has been declared Corona free, does it really mean that there are no asymptomatic cases? When such cases can create problems, should we be totally going back to normal? One thing is for sure that indeed, a second wave could come and then we could be caught on the wrong foot. What happens if you do not go to a restaurant or a mall or a stadium? Heavens are not going to fall!

Every society or the nation has to make its decisions based on their knowledge and expertise. England with a large number of cases, even today, has decided to go ahead with cricket series with the West Indies. Okay, WI did not have much of an issue with COVID. But England still has the problem. The measures mentioned as SOP are very tight; at every stage, there will be COVID testing. I do not have the details, but I am sure that at least the matches would be played in an empty stadium. The act of holding a series while infection levels are high could be either wise or stupid! It could be at the best bravado. Why the England board take this decision? Why the British government gave them the go-ahead? Is playing matches to the empty stadiums an incarnation? I think every sporting event is performed to provide joy to the people. People’s involvement is the key to any sporting event. I had travelled to Melbourne, Australia in, 2015 to see the Cricket World cup final! Did we enjoy the game? There were 92 thousand plus people present for the match. But today’s situation may force reincarnation on us.


We, humans, are social animals. We need to see each other and talk to each other. When we meet, we shake hands, give a hug or say Namaste, the Indian style. Some prefer Adab too! In the reincarnation, the preferred method should be Namaste and Adab. Some may prefer an elbow bump or a leg bump, but this could be more amongst friends.


Why are we in a hurry to go back to the olden days instead of doing something which will be more correct to avoid future health issues? But it all depends on the social fabric. Only Japan has been disciplined in health matters. Whenever a Japanese person catches a cold, he/she will move around with a mask. It is the discipline taught at home, or school or in the society in general. When the football world cup was played in Brazil, a significant contingent of Japanese had travelled to see the matches. Japanese had a section of every stadium dedicated to them. Brazilians were shocked when they observed that the Japanese spectators cleaned their portion of the stadium spic and span, after each match. So if the society has good habits like the Japanese, go back to what you have been doing otherwise..


Some governments currently follow the advice of the experts, and others do not comply. When we do not follow the expert opinion, the country ends up in numbers like the US, rapidly. To achieve personal freedom, many states in the US are opening up due to pressure from the population. The result is there for us to see. On top of that, the Floyd killing issue has created another pandemic, that of public unrest. For protesting against the police, the people are coming out in large numbers where the social distancing norms are tossed out of the window.

In the high-density cities like Mumbai and Delhi, social distancing is just on paper. The Indian government and the local governments need to go into reincarnation mode and see how this is avoided in future. Maybe they have to build a large number of low-cost homes for people. In today’s times, people are helpless. They stay in such tricky conditions just to earn their living. Nobody likes to live in the circumstances that we see in Dharavi’s of this world.

So, friends, reincarnation is not mandatory as long as it goes with the need of the hour. We must have habits which will be useful in case of future pandemics as and when they hit us like a Tsunami. Learn to take things seriously like many so-called “poor” countries did, as against the casual approach of the “rich” countries.

https://summit.news/2020/03/12/mayor-of-florence-encouraged-italians-to-hug-a-chinese-before-coronavirus-pandemic-hit/

Read the above link. The Mayor of Florence in Italy started a stunt asking the citizens to go to the airport and “Hug the Chinese”! It was this cavalier attitude of the Mayor that led to a wildfire spread of COVID in Italy. Learn to take things seriously. One act by the Mayor spread the pandemic!

 

Fantastic progress! Really?

Images and statistics are both deceptive. It is difficult to guess what something represents, and it is impossible to predict where a person ends up in his career. When sixteen-year-old Sachin Tendulkar walked on the grounds to play against Pakistan, people had heard about the prodigy. That he would have retired after playing for 24 years of international cricket, scoring around 35000 thousand runs. Shoaib Akhtar, the Pakistani great fast bowler, recently said that Sachin would have scored around One hundred thousand runs, had he been in today’s era.  Vinod Kambli also walked out at the same time with similar statistic and look where he ended up.

During the second half of the last century and in the twenty years that followed, the world has progressed rapidly. Millions of poor people were brought above the poverty line, the world over. It is an accurate description in countries like India and China with huge populations. It was predicted that India and China would be “developed” nations in a certain number of years. It was based on some predictions, based on financial activities of those periods and statistic. But that was not to be! Why is that so?

That the United States and Europe were developed and prosperous was beyond discussion. Surprisingly, I found that there could be some measures to compare the richness of different societies. PPP- purchase power parity is the word used! A root canal procedure costs Rs 2500/ in India, while it costs, on an average, Dollars 2500/ in various countries like the US, Canada, Australia.

Let me tell you that Dollars 2500/ is a lot of money in the respective countries compared to other living expenses. So is Rs 2500/ in India under Indian conditions. It is a procedure that anybody may require. These aspects were never discussed openly. There were wars to be fought, politics to be played and yachts to be built. Do not worry; statistics tell us that many people have become middle class. Do not worry, if you are not able to buy your Chivas or Dom Perignon, be patient. The shops will open!

The current pandemic has thrown that hidden statistic open! I am considering only the US and India for discussion. In the US, around 35/40 million people have registered for the monthly dole as they do not have money for their next month’s meal. When we travel to the US, we move around in planes, helicopters and BMW’s. We forget that there about 30 % of people whose life has been hit by a typhoon or a Patton tank. The statistic is that it is 30% of US working force that is badly hit. If we consider 30 % of people hit by the pandemic, the number is 35/40 million. In our language, it is from 3.5 to 4 crores. The numbers are much more than this because many people do not get counted in official figures.

One to two months of bad times, without wages, has brought these people on the road. The stark reality is that statistics can be easily twisted to suit any argument. In the US, 3 to 4 crore people are brought to their knees, then the statement that the US is the wealthiest society in the world is baseless. The so-called middle-class like you and me take education and get a reasonable job. We save, get ahead in life, then we keep on saving and try to go forward in life.

So, the theory that millions the world over have become middle-class is not valid! Or I should say that these people have not become middle class- they have come just above the poverty line. When everything is hunky-dory, life looks and feels rosy! Spanking Metros, sprawling airports are the signs of progress. Are they? A sustained and unprecedented event has brought in open what is hidden behind the “progress!”

Why is that so? In the shining glory of the life that we live, the reflection of the bright lifestyle blinds our sight. We accept whatever is said and declared by various governments and organisations! The shining armour of the progress was pierced by one pandemic. Societies are bleeding.

Are we going to learn any lessons out of the catastrophe the large population is facing? I am not sure. The massive construction projects will restart, with workers living in their huts near their projects. These people live from project to project at the mercy of their contractors. They have some money in hand when things are “normal”. They aspire like you, and I do. The moment they have some free money with them, they will buy a bike—nothing wrong in that. The public transports are shoddy, and having your bike makes sense. The officegoers in Mumbai will go back to their trains- packed like sardines! Homes near your offices cannot be taken even on rent, forget buying them.

To me, all these claims of a large group of people becoming middle class is a statistic. If one or two months of no work and mostly no income going to push this group below the poverty line, the definition poverty line needs to be changed. To me, if families could survive six months of “no income”, then they could be treated as middle class. If in the first month of “no income” 20 % of the US workforce comes on the dole, then there is something wrong with of these definitions.

In India, there are two types of people who have progressed from low income; the wise ones have saved money from their income. All the members of such families do some work. Whereas there are some who can not bring families to cities. Such people survive on meagre amounts in cities and send remaining money to the family. The arrangement does not allow them to save money at all.

To me, the middle class is those people who come above the poverty line, live comfortably and SAVE MONEY! If you cannot save money, one shock and you are back to square one.

In every country, people are working on minimum wage. They could be in Mom and Pop stores or the stores in Malls. They could be working in Amazon or Ikea stores. Under Indian conditions, these are people working as assistants to people running kiosks on the roadside. These could be housemaids or cleaning staff in unorganised sectors! They all survive from salary to salary. Their conditions are such that they are afraid to fall sick for two reasons. The first one is they cannot afford the treatment- hence sometimes they waste money on quacks when they are sick. The second reason is that if they cannot attend work after falling ill, they are not paid for that day. It is a double whammy!

What is the solution to such problems? There is only one solution. Let there be inflation, let things cost more but pay people much more than what they are paid today. It will cause big churning in society, especially for retired people. I am not a communist or a socialist.

I am a Capitalist with a big C; I am out and out for the survival of the fittest. I understand and agree with market forces etc. But something is drastically wrong with the current model in which the one month of “no income” can ruin families!

Hey folks! I am with you! You do not need dole! It is your birthright to earn decent money against work done, and you should be able to save every month. So, all the nations, all the societies must first change the definition of poverty line! If that cannot be done, make everyone RICH!

Blind Men and an Elephant! 

Blind-Man-and-the-Elephant

 

Indians are known as argumentative Indians. 1.3 billion population have 13 billion opinions on any subject. The WhatsApp university has created many experts in India; so, all people on the globe except Indians can retire for life. We will run all the governments in the world. We have solutions for everything.

The current situation created by the pandemic was an unforeseen one. No society or a nation could be prepared for such events. Even before the epidemic, India and the whole world was moving towards a significant cyclic recession. The lockdown appeared to be the only solution to delay the spread of the pandemic and gain time to create infrastructure. India has done well compared to many other nations. Now is the time for our nation to come out of dire straits in which we find ourselves.

Every nation has come out with policies. These are declared in terms of the % of the GDP. The size of the package for each nation would be proportional to the size of the GDP. Governments and families try to work within their means. We buy a car after we have saved money for rainy days. Governments are also expected to do the same. When we have an emergency in our home, we borrow money from friends, relatives irrespective of our savings. We take personal loans from banks and against credit cards. It brings severe restrictions on our spending in future as we have borrowed the “future” money. We make the funds available, somehow.

Nations are no different. The economic package is a necessity created by the emergency called pandemic! Countries borrow from various agencies for the future, as the families do. People, political parties have different views of how the money should be made available to different strata of the economy. There has been a lot of discussion going on about this issue. Now you will understand the title of the blog, Blind Men and the Elephant.

When a group of a few economists discuss the finances of a nation, there are different views. But they are experts with different views. Other people, like politicians and common persons,  express opinions as per their experience and knowledge. But ideas are discussed by people of all political hues; it becomes an exercise in mudslinging. But it is okay if they have some expertise. But usually, we find that most people fit the definition by blind men as far as this subject is concerned. They simply throw words based on their poor understanding of the issue. One of the panellists made a statement that the US government put Rs 26000/ in the pocket of each poor American. When the anchor said that there is something wrong in the panellists’ information, the panellist said, “I have read everything on the subject, so you, please do not teach me!” So much for the knowledge.

I have seen the interview of IMF India director Surjit Bhalla on Times Now.

https://www.timesnownews.com/videos/times-now/india/top-economist-surjit-bhalla-on-modi-bailout-package-india-revival-mission/61423

The interview thoroughly explains the subject. Since Bhalla is an Indian, he may have political inclinations. But these are inclinations, and these are very discrete. When asked about politicians, he said let them do their job!  He has said that on the IMF site all the economic packages of different nations are explained. In size, the Indian package comes within the first three nations. The packages of all the countries have about 5 % fiscal component, and the rest are monetary. He was asked why the Indian government is not putting money directly in the pockets of the poor. He said that during the 2008 recession, this was done and led to inflation up to 13% in India. No nation is giving direct money to people to avoid inflation. In India, people are getting grain and food instead, plus some cash. By making ration card portable, they have removed the main bottleneck from the system.

Manufacturing, trade, transport everything stopped. On top of that, a sizable number of migrant workers wanted to go “home”. At their “homes” too no work is available. The first step is to help migrants reach home safely. The government has an ominous task of restarting the whole nation. At the same time, boosting the morale of the populace is also essential.

The government must control the pandemic on one side, with a chance that there could be a second and third wave later. On the other side, it must start financial activities too! Manufacture and trade must begin. But poor people have the issue that they do not have money because they do not have savings. Their life is dependent on their day to day earnings. Now, this is the paradox.

Blind men and elephant appropriately describe the current situations. Most of the people understand only their part. Someone calls the elephant a rope and other person calls it a fan. It seems like a wall, and to others, it is like a pillar. Teeth feel like some tool! Majority discussing this problem explains as if they are know-alls. But all they know is only a part of the problem. Each know-all giving solution based on if it is a fan or a rope. Even financial experts are trying their best to get the hang of the situation.

There is another pandemic in this world! That is a pandemic called “decide your own fact- courtesy the internet!” On searching something, you get many different results. People declare different things as a fact as per their knowledge and “Whatever suits you!”

It is a typical chicken and egg situation, and there are two sides to any economy: the demand side and supply side. Demand-side is what you and I buy. Supply-side is what is manufactured and made available for sell.

Both sides are in trouble. On demand-side vast majority do not have money in hand, but the government is trying to give them some cash plus ration. Ration card can help people buy stuff wherever they are currently staying. The government needs to provide support to people until the supply-side engine starts. When supply-side starts, people will get jobs and salaries. Then the demand will get generated.

But supply-side is also short of funds. Government is trying to support them by various packages. They are changing specific laws which will make borrowing money for business easier. The government will allow banks to advance loans to businesses without collaterals and bank guarantee. The government will be its guarantors. The government calls them pre-sanctioned loans.

All these things are going to take 2/3 months. Then there is a question of some vendors being in the red zone. They cannot supply components to large manufacturers. The supply-side engine is also going to take some time to work in full swing. There are many sectors on the business side. Each one is going to ask for more and more support.

Though most are happy about the packages, there will be some who will remain unhappy, always. Some are saying give us money, not loans. These are the people who are going to keep on grumbling.

It is a tricky situation, and there will be divergent views. Looking for the path ahead is like driving a train through a heavy fog. The train must go slowly to avoid accidents.

In this unprecedented situation, both government and we are having a tough time. We need to work together and find a solution. Do not look at the problem from a myopic viewpoint! It is not going to be easy, and if the waves of the pandemic repeat, then there will be proverbial red signals on our way!

 

Where is the reset button? 

Could you attend the PTA meeting? I have an important presentation. Hey dad, I will call you asap. I am a little stuck up. I have contacted the garage three times; they are not responding. You had promised me that we would meet for dinner for two consecutive months. Now let me check with my astrologer when is the D-day! We will pick up the new car at four p.m.; we will go in a cab. From there I must go to the airport directly. How many times have we heard such statements?

If hundreds of thousands of people are so busy in their work 365/24/7, then the many things are wrong. We do not know how to estimate the time required for an activity. Or it could be that the sales/planning team gives unrealistic promises to customers about the delivery, based on current capabilities and strengths. The whole team does not understand each other’s capabilities; hence everybody is busy round the clock. What could be the reasons?

Shishupala

There is a story in mythology. Lord Krishna promised his aunt, Shishupala’s Mother to spare her son for 100 crimes such that each will be worthy of a Death Penalty as per the rules of their World. When Shishupala crosses the limit, Lord Krishna struck off Shishupala’s head with Sudarshana chakra. Current situation of humans is like that of Shishupala. Our Lord Krishna is Mother Nature! We have behaved in such a way that we completed at least 50% of the hundred allowed crimes, against mother nature, in the last fifty to seventy years.

The current pandemic is Nature’s way of telling us that enough is enough. Nature, for us, is Mother Nature. Typically, she will condone some more crimes, as a mother.  You can say that she has communicated the strong message by way of a text or WhatsApp message, a tweet. She has written on our FB wall and the Instagram account. She has been moaning with pains due to what we have been doing. But we do not want to learn. She has sent a message in the current language, RESET!

We have been so busy doing other things that we do not even know where the Reset button is. In India, she had sent a couple of strong messages by way of Tsunami in the year 2004. Then the next year 2005, there were thirty inches of rains in a few hours in Mumbai. It stopped everything, and Mumbai limped back to normalcy over a period. Lessons learnt, zero! In 2005, typhoon Katrina flooded New Orleans in the US. It took months for them to come out of the disaster.

At least now let us try to find the Reset button! The button is in our hand all the time, but our brains do not send the signals to the fingers. I will explain what I mean in the global language, computer language.

If you are having problems with your PC, you can:

  1. Refresh your PC to reinstall Windows and keep your files and settings. Refresh also supports the apps that came with your PC and the apps you installed from the Microsoft Store.
  2. Reset your PC to reinstall Windows but delete your files, settings, and apps—except for the apps that came with your PC.
  3. Restore your PC to undo recent system changes you have made.

I feel that humans have passed step 1 mentioned above; we are in phase 2.

How do we achieve Reset? Well, there many smarter people than me in this World to tell this; unfortunately, some feel that they are smarter than Mother Nature. Resetting can be done if we want to do it. It is in our hands.

First, try to delete the term 365/24/7. We feel that all the time available to us must be devoted to work, work and work. We know that there are other things like holidays, family, children, parents, friends. The current situation has given a great shock to us. One of our family friends expired early morning today. Because of the pandemic, we could not bid her adieu! The same thing happened when another friend died last month. For these families, it is the most significant punishment when children living far away in different cities or countries could not come. A family had taken a similar decision to ask the child not to come when the father suddenly died! Reason US Visa issue! Mind you, and there was no pandemic going at that time! Oh, one has to be prudent! Do you understand what I mean? Visa status is more important, not the father’s death!

Now technology is commercially available for moving away from fossil fuel for the automobile industry, for the last ten years. We are progressing at the snail’s pace in that direction. To hell with the smog. We are still talking about improving emission in fossil fuel vehicles. We are okay with heavy pollution!

IMG_0267 (3)

But the current situation has shown us how the atmosphere looks without pollution. It is displayed in a photo of Sinhgad, above, that I have taken. It is 20 km from home. In Punjab, people can see the Himalayan range from 100 km distance. Do we want this change or not? Are we going to heed the signals sent by Mother Nature? If we ignore our body signals, we can die of a heart attack. Mother Nature has given us another chance; grab it. Honestly, I am not sure that we have it in us.

The good part is some of us seem to have located the Reset button. Far-flung families and friends are zoom calling every week. Husband-wife both working from home do not feel shy to inform that they will be off meetings for a couple of hours as their child is unwell. Neighbours talk to each other from their gardens or balconies. They sing songs together. They have formed orchestras with neighbours and enjoying it. It is a profound change; people did not have time to talk to each other in the family due to 365/24/7!

We have started appreciating cleaning crews and sweepers as we have realised that they are as important as doctors and nurses. We understand these people who have been working nonstop for a few weeks.

But countries like the USA are not able to find that Reset button. They still feel that Arctic snow melting is a temporary event. They are not worried about CO2 and CO emissions. Once the business activity starts, everything will be hunky-dory! Was there a pandemic! Oh, you are talking of the Spanish Flu, a hundred years back! Recently a million US citizens had a touch of Flu; 88000 thousand deaths were just collateral damage! Nobody died in my home!

Another good activity observed is that people and countries have started cooperating as a “Bubble.” Australia and New Zealand want to start working with each other. Some small Baltic countries have started working together. Cooperation is the name of the game; fighting with each other was never going to be beneficial to anyone. Rich countries like Singapore and Saudi Arabia have realised the folly in treating migrant workers shoddily.

The casual approach of the developed countries during the pandemic has hopefully taught them that they can also learn from not so developed countries like India.

Where are we friends? What is your estimate that we will press the Reset button at least in some areas? I will be thrilled even if 50% of us find it, mark my words “find it!” Out of these people who find it, even if 50% use the Reset button, it will be fantastic! I will join you for that dinner that we have been missing for many months. I will give you the treat, and do not forget it will be in my garden! I will cook! Oh, I have found the Reset button, and I am very much going to use it!

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. 

 

 

 

Bad news is always true, sadly! A Tribute!

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Our thinking changes as we mature, at least we think so. When talking to younger people, we say “Oh! I have seen many deaths! You learn to take them in stride as you grow older and mature!” Both right and wrong! Probably what we learn over a period is to overcome the same earlier than other people.

Ullya phoned me last night to check if I knew that Ramya had died in the evening. (Pardon the pet names- we have been using these for more than fifty years so changing that habit is going to difficult.) Ramya is Ramesh Purandare; he passed out of the Electrical Engineering course with us.  Ramya was a friend, but then he was a friend to all. He lived in Sadashiv Peth while in college, and we knew his elder brother Suresh too. Ramesh was our teammate from the softball team. He made all his career in Pune in a company called Mark Elektrics and was their GM.  Vijay, another friend got in touch with the company to get his photo. They shared some photos and other details about him immediately.

 

Today morning when I woke up, I had another three messages from friends who were in our softball team. As per the blog title, the news proved to be true! It made me sad, but at the same time, I went into a reverie! With this, I went back fifty years and remembered my COEP and hostel days. So, pardon me for the second time using the short or pet names!

Ramya was a jovial person, and he had a quicksilver mind. He used to make a pun (not fun) while chatting. We had two or three locations in our college where groups used to have the adda going between two lectures; many times, the sessions continued during lectures too! Ramya had acted in a famous drama called “Zopi Gelela Jaga Zala.” He had played the role of a Parsee gentleman. It was in our college gathering. He had performed well for an amateur. A minor coincidence! I had played the same role in the drama ten years later in our Colony Ganapati festival.

While playing softball, Ramya was aggressive. He used to be the catcher and would control the game by guiding others to perform. He had a clear view of the field, as he was the catcher. But he had a good judgement of what was happening in the game. We would change the tactics in between as per his suggestions. Once in a match, I dropped two catches one after another! He came running to me and said, “Panya, don’t worry, it can happen to the best. Be a little patient, and your confidence will come back.” We finally won that match. Usually aggressive, Ramya was soft and patient with me on my bad day!

When Ramya was in any group, there would always be laughter! He had stories to tell. He would sometimes share stories of how he had goofed up and would laugh about it.

Taking forward my argument about becoming mature in the face of death, I would say that in most of the cases, it is true. But when some close friend from college days dies it hits you. It would be bravado when I say that I can easily handle Ramya’s death. Ramya and I infrequently met after college days, as typically happens. Both of us had settled in Pune, but we were all busy making our careers and raising our families. I would get updates about him from common friends.

Different people handle such situations differently. I had shared the top photo on our WhatsApp group. Sharya, my roommate in the hostel days reacted with a comment, “This is not Ramya as I remember. Will someone forward his picture from Modern cafe where we used to meet. RIP RAMYA! With cancer, Panya has reported I think he has escaped the sufferings and that is what we expect.”

I replied to Sharya, “Sharya whether we like it or not, the years take their toll! I only met Ramya a couple of times in the last 15 years or so. Before that, I went to his office whenever I was on that side. Changes do take place in everyone, but your memory recalled the time when you last saw him , i.e. when we were in college! We also change, but we don’t realise it.”

I remember an incident when my mother died years back. A nephew of mine lives in the US. When we called him to inform him about the death, he just would not accept it. For about seven/eight years, he had not come to India. He said, “Oh, come on! How could she die? She was so healthy and looked hale and hearty!” I told him, “Buddy since you last saw her, she had become weak and had become frailer. She did have some health issues, and she was tapering off!” Finally, he accepted death. Sharya’s response was something similar. He could not imagine that Ramya was also seventy plus and his photo appears to have been taken after his first cancer treatment which had taken toll of his body.

There are some cynical “rascals” of friends. ( I am using the word rascals in the good sense) They were actually shaken but were trying to show bravado by making some funny and awkward jokes. Ramya would have laughed loudly at those jokes.

Ramya, buddy, what was the hurry to go? But I know that you were a disciplined person. When HE called, you must have just said to near ones, “Ok, HE has called me. I need to go!” I know that you must have gone through a lot of pains for the last couple of years. Chemo and Radiations do batter one’s body! (Probably you were not aware that I had gone through the same treatment six years back) If I had known about your illness, I would come to share with you my experiences. We could have discussed some strategy on the home turf! In that field Ramya, I was more senior to you!

I got all the final details from our common friend Dipya. Ramya I am sure you faced the onslaught bravely. We sports persons are used to victory and loss. But in the final “call” there is loss as far as others are concerned. But you must have accepted it bravely. I am sure, if we had been in touch, you would have told me, “Panyaaa, don’t you come for the final rites with pandemic around.”

The philosophers always say that you come alone in this world and go back alone. Ramya you followed the philosophy to the last T! None of your friends could come to see you merge with HIM! Come on, man, you chose a slightly wrong time to go. You had hundreds of friends, but none could say bye-bye to you for the final time!

Don’t worry all of us are outwardly trying to show that we are brave, but in solitude, you know what will happen!

When the going gets tough! 

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We all know the second part of the sentence; “The tough get going”! We are living in extraordinary times, and we will give an exceptional response to the situation! I am confident about it. The subject came into my mind when I read a lot of exchange on the WA group of a coop housing society, where I have a home, but currently our house there is locked, and we live elsewhere. Most of the people living there are high earning professionals who must be reasonably senior by now. We moved out from there end of 2013!

I read an apt comment from my young friend Sandeep. He said that it is a great opportunity to show the world that the husband/wife pair is “MAID” for each other. I added this sentence by editing this blog which was already published!

The subject was about the maids that come and work in the homes. Under Coronavirus threat, and curfew declared by the governments, most of these maids may not be able to go for work. The reasons can be the fear of the curfew declared. They are afraid of the police, and their neighbours are forcing them not to go. By no means, their services can be declared as essential services, like police, cleaning staff, hospital staff. One of our housemaids came yesterday. Her neighbours would not allow her to go out for work. She cheated and came; she was worried about her wages. Jaya told her that we would pay her even if she does not come for work. She asked Jaya when are they stopping all the flights? Jaya asked her the reason to know this. She said, “People in our area say that unless the flights are banned, this epidemic will not go. But these are for rich people. How will the government stop them?” Another question she asked was, will she be safe if she goes and lives in her native place? Jaya asked her, “How will you get treatment in her native place if required?” She was confused but more worried. The bais as the maids are called are poor confused souls. Their life weaves around the families where they work. It is for money, any other stuff that we give them, moral support and knowledge. They are entirely dependent on us. Let me assure they want to come to work but …!

Let me share with you friends, the extraordinary situations that came up in my life. In 1980-81 Jaya got a United Nations fellowship for MS in the US. My son Sachin was six years old. I was around 30. As a family, we decided that Jaya should take this opportunity, and off she went. My parents lived nearby; we would go for food at their home. My father was very fond of Sachin. He would look after him till I came back from office. My father died suddenly after about three months of Jaya’s travel. But I told Jaya to continue with her education. We somehow managed to handle the situation; my mother overcame her grief to support the family. Extraordinary response from the family helped Jaya finish her MS with flying colours in nine months with 4.0 score!

We read so many stories of children from very low-income family clearing their IAS/IFS and such competitive exams. I will share one story. In the apartment where I lived initially, we had a family of two brothers. One of them was our watchman. Other brother used to work on construction sites. They had two children each. Watchman’s brother died in mid-nineties. Both their wives used to work in our house as support staff. I have watched their lives from close for twenty plus years. Last year somehow, we got their cell number. Jaya called them. Next day the whole family came to meet us. The wives continue to work as maids elsewhere. The watchman did farming in his native place and had some income. He would travel to his farm when required. The ladies came with two younger children. Both had become engineers were working in IT companies; the family had struggled all their lives.

Some of these thoughts came to mind as I have been reading and hearing about discussions on various WA groups. These were mainly about everybody staying at home, managing the cooking, with children at home 24/7- how long nobody is sure. Ladies are naturally stressed out because usual conventions indicate that they will have to bear the full brunt of things at home. Compared to the difficulties of the family mentioned above, I thought that we are better off. We do not have financial worries. We generally do not have to worry about water supply and electricity. The absence of maids could be stressful. But these extraordinary situations call for similar solutions. Equally busy husbands should raise their hands up and declare what responsibilities they are going to handle until this situation lasts. Or is it? Why not continue in the same vein even after humans overcome the current pandemic?

Let us not say that these things could be done by mothers only! Fathers could be equally efficient and proficient in attending PTA meetings! Why should fathers not take up morning chores like breakfast and chai-coffee? We should change the way we think. We are busy in the mornings with phone calls, emails, sending children to school and so on; you finish your dinner at night. Why not pack your tiffins at night? Is it not more efficient? You are going to keep the remaining food into some containers. Fill up the tiffins (dabbas) and then transfer balance food into containers! You are a professional and an expert. Show the same efficiency at home. Make sure that inventories are perfect at home, same as you manage at the office. Life becomes easier. Your star performer meets with an accident and is going to be away for six months. How do you handle it? You have your replacement star performers at home too! The hubby and the kids! It’s tough, but it is doable.

Consider a case of our neighbour who is seventy. She had a heart valve replacement surgery, 2 ½ months back, where all her ribs had to be cut open. Recovery time is five to six months at this age. Now suddenly, her nurse and the maid may not be able to come. They are trying to get permission at least for the nurse, which I am sure she will get. What must be her mental state? How is she going to manage? Her son lives out of India, and the daughter lives nearby. She must look after her children and old inlaws. Solution? I am not so sure. She must quarantine herself from neighbours like us too! Her immunity must be down post-surgery.

In 2013 December, I moved out of Sunshine Villa for family reasons. But the main reason was that I was detected with Cancer. There were practical reasons to move next to my daughter’s home. After three months of 34 radiation sittings, and Immunotherapy, I moved back to my routine in about three months. The “free” time I got during this period converted me into a blogger! In July, I had a Bharat Darshan tour to meet my customers. After that, I have been working hard and travelling well abroad as well as in India. It is possible to surmount odds. It is tough, but “The tough get going when the going gets tough!”

Friends, it is tough to change your lifestyle suddenly. But when there is no option, we do it. You will spend more time with your children. They will know what difficulties the mother’s face. That is a great learning curve for the whole family. Thanks to dear Coronavirus!

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Dictatorship or Democracy!

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Currently, there is a trend or fashion, whatever you want to call the world’s largest two democracies, India and the US, as dictatorships or moving towards the dictatorship. I asked a friend who was vehemently arguing why these are dictatorships. When people are highly excited about their ideas, I generally don’t counter-argue. It is because their mind is not open.

Modi won the election initially in 2014 and then again in 2019 with a higher majority. Trump won the elections in 2016. Their immediate predecessors were Manmohan Singh and Barak Obama. Chalk and the cheese are the accurate descriptions of their style of working in comparison with the incumbents. Though Modi’s victory was expected, Trump was a surprise winner for many.

By no means, I agree with all what Modi and Trump are propagating. It is liberals, seculars in both the countries who are troubled by this development. But in India, at least, these people are happy when minorities are appeased and are given benefits. Both Modi and Trump are right-wing leaders. In a democracy leftist, left of centre, right of centre thought processes are reasonable and acceptable. But the extreme right of centre becomes a dictatorship. Then what does extreme left become?

The latest trend that I see is that the veteran politicians of various thought processes are not used to the so-called right-wing thoughts. Anything that does not match with their thinking is not acceptable, or it is evil. It is a dictatorship. These liberals are okay even with Maoist/Naxalite thought. Some of them take out marches to support convicted terrorists. The latest march was in Mumbai to support Sharjeel who is arrested on sedition charges.

So how is the health of democracy in these two countries? I think it is good. People may not agree with me. How does democracy compare with other forms of Government? Compared to dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies and aristocracies, in which the people have little or no say in who is elected and how the government is run, a democracy is often said to be the most challenging form of government, as input from those representing citizens determines the direction of the country. The basic definition of democracy in its purest form comes from the Greek language: The term means “rule by the people.”

But when the “Opposition” wins, those in power don’t accept the result of the election gracefully. The ruling gentry is used to the benefits that they get when they are in power. Opposition for the sake of opposition is the name of the game. Many times it surprises me that others vehemently reject any action taken by the ruling party. How can two sides be never on the same page for any decision? Does it mean that either of the sides is antinational? When a budget is declared, it is natural to have different views on the same. The opposition should be giving a point by point reply. But since both sides are citizens of India, at least 20/30 per cent of budget points should be acceptable to both. But from the statements, it appears that their views are a 100 % mismatch. Is this the correct way of taking part in the governance of the country?

Democracy is a system where all and sundry are allowed to air their views on all the subjects in the world. Both in the US and India people can openly do this. There is an old joke about this. An American and a Russian are chatting over a drink. The American says, “In my country, I can easily say that our President is an idiot.” The Russian smiles and says, “ Oh! We also have that freedom. I can openly say in Moscow that the American President is an idiot!” Democracy gives freedom to pursue your right to live anywhere in the country. It means you can follow any religion, and you may dress the way you want. You may have political views which could be from far left to far right. The freedom that humans get has to be used within the guidelines or the framework of the law.

The last couple of months, we have continuous protests in various parts of the country. The legal system in the country ensures that protests are peaceful; at the same time, it makes sure that the police don’t go overboard when they act. But the unfortunate part is those parties which are discretely supporting these protests claim that the government is moving towards dictatorship. They write in newspapers, and they give interviews on TV channels. Is this not freedom? In the same breath, they keep on talking of dictatorship. Such acts indicate the thought process of “my way or the highway!” A couple of days back, the US opposition leader Pelosi, tore off the copy of the speech given by Trump in the house. It is absolute freedom that allows such an act. The tearing away of the address is seen in a video, but that is democracy.

Why does this happen? It is because of the myopic view that people take. In the US, people do not now that there is a large group of people in the Central part of America, who are called the rednecks. (These states are known as “Flyover” states, the word Flyover is a verb!) 🙂🙂 These are mostly white Americans from a poor background and were easily driven by Trump’s speech of “Americans First!” They get the feeling that new immigrants are taking away their jobs. They do not know that the US is mainly a high tech economy which needs high-end people to run the organisations. These experts move to the US from anywhere in the world. But rednecks voted Trump to victory because of the “feel” and not fact! A similar thing has been happening in the last few years in India where the middle class has got that “feel” which brought in the current government. Does it mean that there is a dictatorship? It only means that the prevailing ruling party could catch the nerve of the people and have a great marketing department. There are no Goebbels and Hitlers seen anywhere on the horizons. But how can the liberal and their ilk see dictatorship? Maybe, it is their marketing trick to create xenophobia to come back to power!

For democracy to sustain, nobody can enforce it the way dictatorship can be implemented. In vast countries like the US and India, in today’s times of social networking, dictators will find it exceedingly difficult to take over. There will be a mutiny in every other Facebook or Whatsapp group. Due to anonymity behind the screen, each and everybody is an expert on every subject. Democracy is a culture. We have the concept of local committees, panchayat raj, starting at the village level for a very long time. We had the concept of a joint family from time immemorial. Democracy is embedded in our blood. Indira Gandhi’s attempt failed miserably during the emergency.

The Chinese managed to accelerate their economy at a rapid rate. The thinking was that if people have money in hand, they will not bother about dictatorship. But the Hongkong protests are showing the world that money is essential, but freedom is far more important.

As I write this, I read a news item that Trump has been cleared of impeachment charges! It is the beauty of democracy. In a democracy, there is a process to try and remove the head of the government which can go either way!

I think that everywhere Heil Democracy will work better than Heil Hitler!

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Reporters and their ilk! 

What is a reporter? Who is a reporter? A reporter is a person who reports, especially one employed to communicate news or conduct interviews for the press or broadcasting media. Now the definition of press, broadcasting media itself is changing. Methods of collecting information to reach the readers are fast changing. am confused about what a reporter is. 

In mythology, the well-known reporter was Narad Muni. He was known to pass on information (or rumours) wherever he went.  

Narad was a master of the Sankhya and Yoga systems of philosophy, conversant with sciences of war and treaty and proficient in concluding by judging things, not within direct knowledge. He knew about the six sciences of the settlement, war, military campaigns, maintenance of posts against the enemy and strategies of ambushes and reserves. He was a thorough master of every branch of learning. He was fond of war and music; he was capable incapable of being repulsed by any science or any course of action. But he was cursed by Gods that most of the people will not believe in whatever he said.  

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It looks like the definition of today’s reporter! The knowalls! In the western media, the days of printed news are numbered. The simple reason being the proliferation of news apps and online portals. The young people and millennials read their news online. In western countries, the concept of receiving printed newspapers at home and office are almost gone. Old school people like me still prefer to “read” the paper as the newspaper is called. 

A nephew of mine once (ages back) told me a story; he had just started to read newspapers. I told him that something is wrong in the story about which he spoke. The nephew said, “But Pramod kaka, I read it in today’s paper, so it must be true.” I told him, “I will give an advertisement in the same newspaper tomorrow and declare that my nephew is an idiot. Tomorrow it will become true because it is printed in the paper. Buddy, the reporters, can and do make errors.” He said, “Now I understand.” The story is shared just to indicate how we were trained to believe in the printed word. 

So what is it that the reporter supposed to do? With the internet, everything is changing very rapidly. News media was described as the fourth estate of society. The first three being the clergy, the nobles and the commoners. The fourth estate was news walas and the media. But now the internet is defined as the fifth estate. The internet is rapidly changing the way the fourth estate works. Don’t be surprised if the fourth estate becomes the poor cousin of the fifth estate.  

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But what are THE reporters doing in India Many of them look as if they are descendants of Narad. They think they know every subject in the world. Not only that but they are experts in all the issues. 

There are exceptions to this rule. We have Sunandan Lele who has been reporting on cricket for a long time. But he sticks to cricket all the time. Besides reporting, he writes a few articles, but those too are about cricket. Harsha Bhogale is another such expert who talks, gives commentary, writes only about cricket. But these are honourable exceptions. There may be a few in other fields too. It is no surprise that Sunil Gavaskar talks, writes only about cricket; he was India’s cricket superstar in yesteryears. 

But some of them do not follow basic rules. There was a news item in the papers today, which was a statement made by Alia Bhat. Newspapers reported that she was hurt during the shooting of some movie. Alia Bhat has given a statement, “I request people to check before referring to some news. What happened was that during the shoot, my old injury started “talking” again.” When people come to know about an accident about our near one, we become anxious. Till all the near ones come to know that it was the old injury, they keep on calling. Why not check before reporting? It is simple logic. It is ok to “talk” about affairs, flings and so on. These are part of Bollywood glamour folklore. But in this case, too, there should be a limit. They should not hound a person like it was done recently in the case of Meghan and Harry. Imagine the mindset of Prince Harry. His mother, Diana, was bothered by press people and the Paparrazi. She died in a car accident while Papparzi were chasing her. During his childhood and adolescent years, Harry has seen that the press behaved with Diana poorlySimilar behaviour with his fiancé and later the wife Meghan must have brought those memories back. He ultimately withdrew from the royalty!  

The argument put forth by the news people is that they are doing their job; it means that they have to earn money for their channel/paper by means fo ensuring that TRP (Target Rating Point) remains high. Nowhere has anyone told them to break the privacy of anyone. A few years back, they used the telescopic lens to photograph Kate, the Princess of Oxford, in the privacy of her beach. One person’s rights cannot be at the cost of another person’s privacy. It is said that this is the cost of being a celebrity. A celebrity is also a human being. In the case of Harry, he is a celebrity because he was born in a royal family. He loves his privacy more than his celebrity status.  

About TV channels less said, the better. The duties of a journalist are to uphold truth, unbiased reporting, serving the public as a watchdogToday these things remain only on paper. In today’s times, both anchors and the owners of the organisations are hypocrites. They are highly opinionated. Republic TV, India Today, Times Now and NDTV are at the forefront of this reporting. Today while watching the news on NDTV, during break they showed Kanhaiya Kumar reading the preamble to the constitution. Do we need to know whom NDTV is supporting? I am okay if they formally work as a mouthpiece of a particular party. But don’t call yourself a leading channel for the betterment of society and following responsible journalism. What does one say about Arnab GoswamiRajdeep Sardesai used Modi’s victory in 2019 to write a book “How Modi won India?” His twitter handle says that the only ism I am following is Humanism! Modi is right for the business, but when it comes to politics, anything that suits on a particular day is the direction Rajdeep’s ship takes!  

What should we make of all these complex issues? Which news to believe? Okay, there are some sites which tell us about false news and false photos. How do we know the exact situationThe good idea is to see the websites of established newspapers. They at least give the news correctly. Their analysis, justification, commentary will be as per their leaning left/right or centre! BBC at least tries to be balanced, sometimes. But New York Times and Washington post are dead against us on almost everything. The articles in such papers are written by people of Indian origin who live in the US. There was an article written by Kashmiri Pandit scholar lady. Living in the cool climes of the University, she claimed that nothing wrong has happened with Pandits. They have excellent relations with Muslims in Kashmir. She is a third-generation US citizen! 

What is the solution for you and me? Don’t believe things on unknown social media forwards. When it is reported that all the Bollywood is against something, it translates into 15/20 of social media savvy guys are writing and making a show. Someone does it because that person’s movie is being released. There are 5 lacs (five hundred thousand) people working in Bollywood. Some people want top cricketers and Bollywood stars to comment on every subject. The wise ones don’t because they know their limitations. They have expertise in a different area. Common people are made to protest blocking main roads in the dead of winter. It is continued for months together. All the “Leaders” sleep in their cosy homes in warm blankets. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

New challenges of the modern world! 

Western World and the Japanese have been handling the challenges with ageing population for some time. In India, this challenge has started coming up slowly. The current generation, those who were born around India’s independence in 1947is ageing well, trying to take care of healthand in general gungho about life in general. Technology is helping them in getting in touch with each other using WA, Facebook, Instagram and such apps.  

India has an old tradition of handling the aged relatives in the family. In my young age, in many families there used to be one or two grannies, lovingly called aajjies! In those times most of the families were joint families. From the “post-independence” generation, people started getting better opportunities for education. A small percentage of the population went to foreign countries and stayed back there. Over a period, this percentage started increasing. Computerisation made technology more democratic; more and more people began getting opportunities to work and live abroad. 

Along with this, opportunities for education and work, jobs became abundant. Pan Indian migration started in a big way. All these things resulted in the formation of nuclear families. The ladies too were not far behind. After education ladies became  career oriented in a big way. Steady and better incomes inculcated a new thought process in families. All this gave birth to a new term, space; everybody wanted their space. It has become the requirement of grandparents, parents and children. But this space created voids in the family. The effect of voids was not understood, initially. The family kept helping and supporting each other in the short term. Better medical treatments and diagnostics helped longevity. All these events together have now created a new requirement in society.  

What happens when someone in the family falls ill and needs long time support. The requirement of long-term support arose when people of the golden generation became old but could not handle many things, physically; and in some cases mentally. There are two distinctive supports available. One is palliative support, and the other is like home support. Those who are seriously ill with cancer, heart issues, renal problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary issues, cerebrovascular accident need palliative care; such treatment cannot be handled at home. But general ageing related issues can be dealt under home care.  

In western countries, especially in the US, palliative care facilities are available. In Japan, there is a shortage of such facilities. In India, these facilities, compared to the needs, are almost non-existent. In India, as a society, we are prepared to provide space to each other, but while this change happened, we had not budgeted for parents who can live longer due to improved longevity. The confluence of all this created turmoil in people’s mind about handling the situation. In the year 1981, Jaya and I were in Ottawa as Jaya was taking some training. During one long weekend, we went to an island on a lake with a Canadian friend of ours; he was almost twenty years senior to us. 

On the way back, the friend said, “Hey folks, is it ok if I take a bit of detour?” We said, “Absolutely no issues.” When we reached a destination, the friend said, “It is an old people’s home, my mother is here. I come and meet her every 2/3 months.” We were sitting at the back-side of the car and were confused. We did not know what we were supposed to do. But our problem was solved by his wife. In the parking lot, she said, “I will wait with Jaya and Pramod; you go and see your mother.” Problem solved. In 1981, our friend was ok with the idea of meeting his mother every 2/3 months, because she was within 50 km from Ottawa. As a society, we are not mentally prepared with this idea. The older people’s homes available are not providing facilities that people have at home.  

There is some progress in creating facilitiesBut compared to India’s population, this number is lowIt is about creating facilities; it is also about young and old getting mentally prepared for such arrangements. Hospices need doctors, trained nurses, and medical facility to handle day to day critical requirements. Whereas in older people’s homes, the need is to create facilities which suit all the pockets. Some may need fivestar facilities, and others may be ok with a couple of stars. But there is a significant need for affordable facilities.  

Some people will ask me why am I writing about all these things. The simple reason is it is a need of times like we have schools, colleges, gardens and so on. I hope people have managed to create a corpus which will last them till they are around. 

I will tell you about some facilities in India that I know. According to me, there is a worldclass facility but I will explain it in the end. Please let me know if you know about such facilities in India. In Pune, there is one facility developed by Paranjape builders called Athashri. It is well developed and within Pune city limits. To my knowledge, they have couple of locations. In these facilities, one can buy a condo or rent it from someone who has bought it. I have heard about similar facility in Talegaon near Pune. In Lavasa near Pune, similar facilities are there. I have read something about such facilities near Dehradun, and I am sure there must be more such facilities.  But they do not provide what is provided by Dignity Foundation.

The best of such facilities for me is one in Neral. It is on a hillock, with gradually sloping covered but open corridors. Golf carts are available for those who need them. The place is called Dignity foundation. 

https://www.dignityfoundation.com/Contact-Us.aspx 

The rooms that I saw were like a standard hotel room, with bath and toilet. It had a small cupboard and kitchenette too. They also provide round the clock nursing service if required. I know all the details because someone very close to us lived there for her last few years. They had an arrangement with Reliance Hospital if hospitalisation was required. When she needed an eye treatment, they sent their person with her for a couple of days to Mumbai for treatment. She used to paint, so they had provided her with a small room. Besides joint celebrations, they used to show movies and had many activities. 

When she died, the family suggested cremation in Mumbai. But their manager suggested that if there were no specific reason to do it Mumbai, they would arrange everything in NeralWe all went to Neral for cremation. After everything was completed, the manager suggested a small tour of the facility because some of the people had never seen it before. In the end, he took us to their dining area.

He said, “Sir, it is already 1.30 pm. The management has suggested that all of you should have lunch with us and know what kind of food the residents is served.” It was a standard home type food for lunch. But what impressed all of us was the gesture they showed and took part in the cremation as if someone from their family had died! We knew her last twothree years must have passed the way she wanted. It is not the facilities but the human touch that is important. After all, people who live there are far from their family.