Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The ear rings

(Image courtesy: Google Images)

Little kids can be so amusing or annoying, especially the wailing types. The small crowd that was wandering around the church fair observed with some amusement at 6 year old Tina who was loudly asking her mother for some ear rings on display at the counter. After much discussion Tina’s father got her the ear rings despite the apparent exasperation of her mother.

The big smile on Tina’s face was so contagious that the other shoppers smiled and went back to their shopping. Tina was walking around with her new ear rings tightly clasped when she saw another girl sobbing profusely. Her parents were trying to console her but failing miserably. By now the other shoppers started showing signs of annoyance wagging their heads at the wailing child and her helpless parents who could not control her.

Tina looked at the little girl went up to her and gave her the ear rings, said “Merry Christmas!” and walked away. The crying girl looked at the ear rings in her hand and smiled in surprise. Soon she forgot why she was crying and looked at the gift in her hands, when she looked up Tina was not to be seen. As Tina got into the car her father asked her in surprise, “Do you not want the earrings anymore?”  Tina replied, “I wanted them but I saw that she needed them more.”

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The little things that seldom matter...

There is a team in Chennai that does a very commendable project in connecting blood donors and those in need.  Blood is a very precious donation that can be easily done by everyone subject to certain physical and health requirements but the mismatch between requirement and supply can be high and that is why Team Bleed and others like them are great and deserve every bit of support they get.

This topic is however not just about blood donation but about how blood must ideally be segregated in our country after donation. Today at present blood is segregated by O+/-, A+/-, B+/- and AB+/- (hope I got them all) but in doing so they are forgetting one important thing; the provenance of the blood. How can the blood not be tagged with the caste of the donor in this caste mad country? How can the sacrilegious act of transfusing the blood of a lower caste person to a pure higher class person be permitted? How can a doctor from a lower caste operate upon someone from a higher caste? When places of worship are purified because of the presence of someone from the lowest class, how can the defiling of an upper class body be permitted by impure lowest class blood or hands?

Hardly surprising that for small things like blood or organ donation, caste is ignored because when it comes to other things like entering a place of worship it is criminal forgetting that the place may have been built by the same people who are not permitted entry. It is not worth a second thought when the rice is grown by a lower caste but it cannot be cooked by the lower caste. It is hardly surprising because in our country we have our priorities right, the small things seldom matter.

(Image courtesy: Google Images)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Cashless in Chennai...

(Image Courtesy Google images article)

When the Prime Minister  threw that googly to the billions on unsuspecting people on November 8th I was as puzzled as many others but since we live in a highly polarized country where the crazed fanatics bully every other point of view other than their own I kept my peace.

Today after Chennai was left shaken but not stirred by the cyclone Vardah I think it is time to speak out against the way this demonitization has been done. One of the four metros in the country from a highly developed and progressive state is now on its knees not because of the cyclone but what its after effects combined with this bitter pill called demonitization has done. Since the floods of last year the citizens of Chennai have discovered that they are a better people and they care for each other. They are also resilient to face up to what has been thrown at them.

Vardah left behind a trail of destruction that included uprooted trees, fallen cables (power and others), out of service mobile towers. The last two ensured that the city was without power and mobile network for the better part of three days now. This has also ensured that the current goal post of this demonitization exercise namely a cashless economy has got one tight slap across its face. The growing number of people who do not have money to buy milk, food, fuel and other essentials despite having money in the bank and multiple cards on hand, not to mention e-wallets and banking apps is a telling comment on how the government has messed up.

We have read enough about the muddled pointers and the shifting goalposts for this demonitization exercise but this seems to be the tipping point. People have accepted and endured the endless wait in the queues to get their hard earned legitimately earned and often tax paid money in the false hope of a greater good only to be slapped again with stories of wedding extravagances by ministers and colleagues of the teary eyed PM. The now routine unearthing of the scarce new notes from people across the country without any details of their origins shows that the mess ups are piling on.

When I first heard of this demonitization after the initial incredulity I thought that this government deserved a fair chance as this was a radical and revolutionary step which if done well could be a game changer. The first obvious gain would be to widen the tax base, far too long the poor salaried class carry the tax burden disproportionately of the country while the informal segment hides under various escape routes. Having worked with the informal segment for a few years now, it is a gross understatement to say that many will be earning in six digit sums and paying paltry sums or no tax because their incomes were never captured. By tracking the bank transactions there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel. By recognizing their incomes and thereby legitimately taxing them, the much taxed salaried class could have got a welcome break. With this idea I waited only to be cheated repeatedly by faulty execution of a good plan.

How long will a parent accept that his / her inability to buy food for his child despite having money for the greater good? As I was typing this post the heart breaking news of a mother killing her two kids because she could not bear to hear her starving kids cry anymore as they had no money after the father had lost his daily wage job due to demonitization. Today the brash PM ignoring the plight of the common man and pushing his digital initiatives by announcing lottery schemes only serve to rub salt in the wounds of people.

While the government kept shifting their objectives for this exercise the blind fans kept bullying the detractors online with the anti-national card, publicly shaming those who could not suffer a little for the nation. My question to these blind men is when did the nation get separated from its citizens? How will the nation improve by killing its people?

What worries me is that public memory is fickle and it only needs another gargantuan step by the PM with his usual theatrics to sweep this move under the carpet. The collateral damage that has come about will also then be forgotten. From what has already been unleashed on the poor unsuspecting people, I am really worried about what else is in store.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

I obey...

What makes a person obey someone?

The recent events in Chennai when we paid our last respects to the Chief Minister are fresh on all our minds.  The fact that the much feared violence and riots did not happen made me wonder if the riots of earlier were not the real expressions of grief no matter how incongruous it may seem to others. It also leads to a sneaky doubt that there was no requirement to give an order for these kind of actions. At this moment I wonder when we vilify a leader we find that many of the actions attributed to him or her are actually done by the followers. For instance Adolf Hitler;  we demonize him and accuse him of killing countless Jews in the Second World War but the persons who actually committed the acts were normal human beings like you and I. The use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima & Nagasaki was not an act of terror because it was done by the victors; even though it may have been sanctioned by the US President there was a long chain of command which obeyed this single act of mass destruction and ended with one pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Everybody simply obey the order.

When a ruler asks his people to wage war or kill his neighbour, ordinary people accept and obey. Why do we do that? Why does the need to obey supersede the need to do what is right? Why do we let our individual conscience become submissive to an outside call? Fundamentally what is about humans that they tend to obey a person at a higher level? Hitler would not have been Hitler if the people below him refused to accept his orders. Great warrior kings have been written about in history books but in reality they were successful due to the armies of foot soldiers who fought on their behalf following commands. The personal ideals and ideologies of the foot soldiers ceased to exist when confronted with an order. Can it be simple adulation for the leader or is fear of punishment or is it something deeper? The much feared Black Tigers, the suicide squad of the LTTE was known for their suicidal attacks ordered by their leader, young men and women gave up their lives for their leader or the cause.

One reason I can think of is our upbringing. From infancy children are taught to obey to listen to the elders and somehow the conditioning is restricted to doing what is being told rather than doing what is right. As the children grow they never forget that they must obey to the next person who is bigger than them. Have we denied our children and ourselves the right to question and decide if what has been told them is the right thing to do? Have we accepted that there is always someone bigger who will tell what is to be done and we will keep obeying? Have we accepted that life is all about obeying what has been told us?

I wonder…

Image Courtesy: Google Images