Social Issues

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Is There Hindu Terror?

Published November 10, 2017 by vishalvkale

Hindu terror {or similar terms like Extremism} – the buzzword of the past week or so. This is, at best, a topic that ensures passion – but we need to confront this allegation head-on as a society, for our own well-being. In the past week or so, two or three articles have appeared that open this debate; the author’s courage and forthrightness needs to be appreciated, that much is certain. Opinion is strictly divided into two camps – one says, with a marked lack of eloquence at times, what terror? The other side says, look around. As in much else, here too, I have a middle opinion – and no, I am not sitting on the fence on this one, as a couple of my friends and seniors have alleged in some cases


IS THERE HINDU TERROR?
So, we first need to examine whether or not there is Hindu Terror at all, in the first place, and then look at its dimensions. Now in this, sorry to state, there can actually be no debate : there is no terror so far as we know from what information is present in the public discourse. Terrorism means, in the words of Collins Dictionary, “Terrorism is the use of violence, especially murder and bombing, in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to do something.” Oxford has this to say : “The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
In the public understanding – using my own personal understanding of what terror / terrorism means, I can state that terrorism is organized large-scale violence meant to achieve some objective, religious or otherwise. I may be wrong, but the above might just be approximately correct. Now if the above three are generally correct for the large part, then I am very much afraid that there is no case for Hindu terror, of that there can be no doubt whatever
But does that mean all is hunky dory, as the Bhakt Brigade makes it out to be? Well, I am very much afraid, not so. All is not well in at least one way – and I don’t refer to criminal activities like hurting and beating up people due to Cow Vigiliantism. That is another matter entirely, one on which we had best remain silent, and not cause tension. Let that be. Having said that, those incidents are worthy of severe condemnation; and I hope the scourge is controlled and eradicated fast.
ARE THINGS PERFECT?
So what can we say of the point I allude to above – that things are not entirely right? Some people believe that there is no issue – I would like to think so; but, I regretfully admit that this is not the true reality, and I do not refer to any political aspect / censorship / defamation cases  and other cases filed as we have been reading. As I have repeatedly stated elsewhere, I am trying to be apolitical, a lover of democracy who keeps {or tries to} keep his political views a secret, not for public consumption.
I refer to my friends and family; to my associates, acquaintances, and other people – people like you and me. They are the reason I am slowly going silent on many issues; yes I do feel scared. I feel terrified, more than terrified. I feel scared of losing relationships, getting into arguments with those I care for, love; those I have to work with, socialize : arguments around politics & religion tend to sour relationships in the personal space, reduce efficiency & productivity in the workplace, and are manifest time-wasters, imho.  Given the harshly defined positions in the mindspace of the people, it is hard to convince either side; leading to hot talks, arguments, with neither side willing to concede.
CLEARLY DEFINED IDEOLOGICAL SPACES
The political space in India is rapidly evolving into two clear ideological spaces; far from this being a flashpoint of worry, this is actually great, as it promises the end of fragmented opinion, voter-groups, and will slowly over time evolve into a much stronger base for our already rock-solid democracy. So long as open free and fair discussion is encouraged, it will enable learning, evolution of national choices, with clear directives emerging over time. Let us all welcome this; that said – there are flashpoints for worry emanating from the extremely charged debates we tend to indulge in with those of us not on our side of the POV. I myself have been discussing, till the time I saw the light and disengaged in totality. On the aspect of religion, I have nothing to say. Perhaps, my silence will be more eloquent than all the words the English language can muster up on this matter. That says it all – Samajhne Waale Samajh Gaye Hain!
Each person is entitled to his or her opinion; let us all grant that space to everyone. So long as that opinion is not a physical, real harm to you, it shouldn’t matter. I readily admit that this rather grandiose statement is very difficult to actually achieve; given the ready availability of information, one or the other side is bound to be proven wrong at some point in time. I further admit that there is a manifest misunderstanding regarding some issues, perhaps on both sides – but our highlighting these will not work, as the beliefs are too deeply held, and will require deep seated change; which is never good when sudden. Change is best when gradual.
CONCLUSION
In conclusion, there is no real Hindu terror. I must also regretfully re-iterate that as of now, for me at least, it is just not feasible to openly discuss anything regarding my political views, or views relating to some aspects of Religion. This is deeply regrettable  – but is not terror; I have a fear in my mind, a fear of losing relationships. Yes, I have lost one or two good friendships, as have other people in my knowledge. And frankly, in retrospect, I see nothing gained from our discussions; in fact, in the one or two cases where I backpeddled and went silent, and let matters lie, I now have a great relationship.

I cannot speak for society; I am not an opinion leader, neither am I a known personality. I am just one person in a Billion, quite literally. I can only speak for myself. And speaking for myself – and only myself, I must admit a creeping distaste and phobia of indulging in charged discussions around Politics and / or Religion nowadays. What does this mean for free speech? Fine – you {metaphorical you} don’t agree with my views – cant we agree to disagree? That is what I have started practicing. There is no need to get personal, or get vicious with words, when we are discussing, is there? So, my call – let it be. I will now try and keep my political views limited to the secret ballot. It is between the ballot and me now. And Religion– is between me and God now… Silence is the best option in this scenario! Now the only aspect on Religion I feel comfortable sharing is quotes of Swami Vivekanand, and some Geeta or other  Scriptural learnings. Nothing else. 
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Inherent Risks Of Social Media Advertising – And How To Mitigate Them

Published October 28, 2017 by vishalvkale

I was enjoying my morning read of the Business Standard, when my eye fell upon a story – Facebook and Google helpedanti-Refugee campaign in Swing States, Business Standard, Friday 20thOctober. I  noticed this story, and marked it for later contemplation. The recent saga over Twitter usage by  Indian Politicians brought my mind back to this story – and its many implications. While the ethical & moral implications are also present – but most vital is the implication of this, and similar happenings we may or may not be aware of, for us the people as well as for democracy.
Image Credit – Google Search

It is one thing for a politician to openly come on Social Media – quite a few have done it quite successfully; they lay their views, attitudes, national plans, ideals, problems etc – like one Indian Politician. Others use Facebook, and especially  Twitter in their own names to further their own views etc. There is nothing wrong with that – in fact, that is actually welcome, as it helps a large number of people become aware of what that person stands for, as well as have a judgement of his or her potential. Used that way it is ethical, transparent, open and disseminates information.
TARGETED USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA BY INTERESTS
However, I would request that you open the link above and read it; the usage of – maybe even targeted usage of – the Social Media platform as described in the article, goes way beyond what has been described above, and indeed way beyond the scourge of fake news that is now a common phenomenon that we are seeing on Social Media nowadays.  “In the final weeks of the 2016 election campaign, voters in swing states including Nevada and North Carolina saw ads appear in their Facebook feeds and on Google websites touting a pair of controversial faux-tourism videos, showing France and Germany overrun by Sharia law.
This is quite frankly, extremely disturbing, worrisome and should cause unease and disquiet in most minds. The article goes further, showing emloyees roles as well as targeted advertising : “Unlike Russian efforts to secretly influence the 2016 election via social media, this American-led campaign was aided by direct collaboration with employees of Facebook and Google. They helped target the ads to more efficiently reach the intended audiences, according to internal reports from the ad agency that ran the campaign, as well as five people involved with the efforts.
FACTOR 1 : OUR ENTIRE LIVES ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET
In the modern world, those of us connected on Social Media have our entire lives on these platforms; it is easy to collate and study patterns for the SM companies – with a larger customer base meaning more defined patterns. It allows advertisers to target people specifically as per your individual tastes. Just think – you click on a site, and ads related to that site pop-up in your feed; used this way, it is legal, ethical as well as a powerful advertising tool, which can and does lead to win-win situations for the customers as well as the companies alike. But recall that we have our opinions, likes and dislikes etc all openly stated; it is easy to spot patterns and create interest groups on a large database.
FACTOR 2 : IMPACT OF AV MESSAGES & MODERN PREFERENCES OF PEOPLE
Secondly, the impact of Audio-Visual messages is known to be strong in both psychology as well as advertising. Further, add to that the increasingly short attention span of the audience combined with the sad phenomenon of lesser personal time / greater work stress, as well as the propensity to prefer easier to assimilate modes of information gathering {AV}, and short tit bits. These two sub-factors combine to create a situation that enables a mind to easily assimilate and accept messages that meet these criteria stated above.
DRAWING INFERENCES FROM THE TWO FACTORS
The two major factors above create a situation wherein a targeted message can be accepted with readiness and ease at least by one segment of the population. The abilities and concepts described in the first factor create a set of people with vested interests that enable the creation of ability and skill sets that can be put to use to reach the set of consumers identified for targeted messaging. In other words, to put it crudely, a set of people willing to accept, and a set of providers willing to use this acceptability of the people to get across a targeted message comes together to create confusion.
Let me explain – on one side, you have a set a data, voluminous, about people – their likes, dislikes, views, readership, viewership, opinions. We can use this to create sub-groups according to various tastes, opinions and what-have-you. This is the company-side skill. On the other side, you have a set of people with easy acceptance of AV or short messages, short content as told in the second factor. The companies can spot patterns among the people, can group them together. Thus it is becomes easy to make tailormade messages that can influence people with specific proclivities and propel their choices towards a targeted objective.
It is feasible to create patterns, extrapolate and draw inferences from Social Media activities. If one person has a habit of regularly visiting Food sites, specific to Chololates, Desserts, Cakes – one can draw the inference that this person may have a preference for sweets. Similarly, if a person regularly likes, tweets, gives opinion on one side of any view in the political or social spectrum, you can extrapolate that he believes in one POV. In large enough data – hundreds of thousands of respondents – this will enable the identification of a set of people predisdisposed towards a thought process. This may not hold true for all instances –  but in a large enough data sets of people, patterns will emerge that generally hold true; and remember, in Social Media we are dealing with live data sets, not snapshots of time.
As can be seen above – a targeted message {Anti-Refuge} was delivered through social media. And again, as we can read, there was direct collaboration of employees. Result was a strong message was delivered at a targeted audience, again as stated in the article.  And that is why the article above is so disturbing. While it is possible for this to happen even without the collusion of employees of SM companies, it becomes infinitely easier with their help; also, the data is also relatively error-free. Add to this the issue of Subliminal Advertising – of which currently there is no provable evidence in the public domain, and neither is it a legislated area.
COMING TO INDIA…
Can this happen in India? Has this happened in India? We do not know; I hope not. But we do know that now the political parties are using Social Media in myriad ways, as has been extensively reported. We also know of at least one book on trolling or usage of SM by one party. We have seen another getting smarter in its SM presence. This they should do – SM is an efficient way to reach audiences – be it politics or be it consumer goods. No issues with that whatsoever.
The problem is if this newfound capability is used to get across a targeted message – especially one of the fringe variety, towards a targeted audience. The biggest question is – where do we draw the line? And who is to judge what is the line specifically? If we have the capability to segment audiences as per tastes, I for one see no reason why that should not be used for mutual benefit. But – as I asked in my previous article as well – how far is too far?
It is we ourselves that are giving these parties and these companies this ability, by placing all our choices openly. This cannot be avoided in increasingly connected world – just not posting on SM is not the long term solution; other proxies can easily be developed, as so much is online in the modern world, that with time, money and capability drawing inferences from data sets is dead easy. This is the evil side, the negative side of the technology that drives our civilization. It really boils down to data security, and a question of simple regulation and ethics.
A QUESTION OF RULES & REGULATIONS
The Social Media companies need to have a strong set of internal rules &  regulations governing content that is accepted by their advertising departments; one that is specially rigorous for political parties or for messages that can be construed to have a political content, or indeed for social content. There has to be a differentiator clearly placed between product-service advertising, and cause advertising. This is doable and is frankly easy to do and operate. It requires an iron will within companies. It also requires strict regulation and a code of ethics so that pressure tactics are not used to pressurize companies.
CONCLUSION

Both the above are doable; we in corporate India need to wake up and smell the coffee. We need to open our eyes, and see the immense potential for good that technology holds as well as the immense potential for influence it holds – and the potential for damage. On a personal side, we customers need to be made more aware of privacy issues, data security and issues arising out of the above. It is not feasible to expect 500million people to stop posting opinions etc on SM; that is not going to happen.  Above all we need to understand the immense creative as well as disruptive power social media holds, its potential, as well as the need for regulation. This is a space that is not self-regulating. We need to wake up, and ensure that some borders are set in place. The US example should not be repeated… 

Snehwan – Placing Community Above Self

Published October 9, 2017 by vishalvkale

The location was not a place where you expect to learn a life lesson – it was the SILC Center in Pune, at the Learning & Development Rendezvous, an event of the L&D Global Pune Chapter, on the 8thof October; on the menu was an eclectic mix of a Power Negotiation Panel Discussion and a Leadership Masterclass; these are not things that lead to such esoteric things as Life Lessons – nonetheless, the surprise item floored me, and touched my heart… The Meeting With the founder of Snehvan


A SOFTWARE ENGINEER ON A DIFFERENT PATH
What do you do when you are a software engineer? Especially if you are from village? You go to the rarified environs of a Software company, and earn money and create a better material future for yourself and your family; even going abroad in a few cases, perhaps leaving India for good in some cases. These are stories you have read ad-nauseum in the news; you have read of the CEOs of American companies who left India, plastered all over the media, almost daily. Well, above them all, ahead of all us, stands tall and proud one man I met, or rather, I had the fortune of meeting – Mr Ashok Deshmane, who happens to be the founder of Snehvan


INTRODUCING SNEHWAN…
On a routine visit to his village, he saw something that changed his life… in his own words as reported in Sakal Times, “I visited the village for celebrating Diwali. The drought situation was at its peak, and many peope didn’t have any reason for celebration. I visited the places of farmers who commit suicide. Children of farmers had to leave their education due to extreme poverty. Some people were leaving villages and going to big cities in search of livelihood. In that process the children had to quit their education”
Now this is something some of us do note – But do nothing about it. The difference is that Mr Deshmane, and his friend Anil Kothe, decided to do something about it. Not meaningless words – and not just the sporadic donation; they decided to start a project called Snehvan. Again, going back to his reported words, “We decided to bring home the children from the families of farmers as well as labourers who were forced to migrate and children forced to leave education. Kothe has provided a 5-room house without rent for the project


Their website – I strongly suggest you visit and spend some time on it, and introspect – also forcefully makes this point; Scorching heat, lack of rain, drought is eating up the land and the result, giver of food, health and nutrition are giving up their lives. Hope against hope has given way to dire desperation. These are our farmers and their families, who have been plunged into a darkness and lack the basic needs of life. Nobody extends any respite for the poor families who are fighting a losing battle against the whim of nature. But what about their kids? Do they really deserve to be a part of this tragedy? Aren’t we able to give them a hand of care, love, safety, education and everything they deserve?     
Snehwan not just an initiation but a hand of स्नेह, Love and care for these destitute children. Its an oath which is taken to give a new ray of hope to those kids who belong from poor family or lost their parents in this drought. These kids are at a risk of being exposed to many threats and dangers like child labour, child trafficking, sexual abuse, extreme poverty, physical & mental abuse and homelessness. Its an initiative for those children who are not getting the light of learning due to growing turbulence in the surrounding environment. Snehwan endeavours to bring into the consciousness of the children their hidden potential and seeks deeper level of social transformation in them.
He himself experienced the hardships as a child, faced due to the poor economic conditions of family. He knows how it feels to live with the fear of losing his family, not having food for a day and selling off books for just few meals. He started working night shifts at his company so that he can dedicate his day time to work for the drought affected kids. He rescued 20 kids and given them shelter in Pune, but he realised just rescuing them is not enough. They deserve a better- life of dignity, a home filled with care and love, along with health, nutrition, education and vocational training facilities to fulfil their dreams.
PLACING COMMUNITY ABOVE SELF – LESSON FOR US ALL
There are some people in this world still present, who place community above self; Mr Ashok Deshmane, who is one such, actually quit his job and has dedicated his entire life to taking care of the education of the children of farmers who have been hit by tragedy; he is supported wholeheartedly in this life project by his wife and his parents, and his friend. I had the great fortune of spending some time with Mr Deshmane, and intend to visit his place, where he now takes care of 25 children. This software engineer, who could have had the material world at his feet – decided to do something about an issue  rather than watch from afar.
CURRENT DREAM
His current dream is to take this project even further… if you, the reader,  are interested, you can donate – links are present on the site {Disclaimer – I am not connected in any way to Snehwan, neither have they asked me to advertise, this is done just on the basis of the deep impression this man’s sacrifice has left on me. I have done what due diligence is feasible for me as of now, and am giving the results of my due diligence below, in the Bibliography}
IN CONCLUSION
In conclusion – I can only say here is a man who is actually contributing to the society in a practical way, sacrificing his time – or should I say, gifting them his and his family’s time, and is actually enjoying himself. In the process, he is also gifting back to society, and in a small way, is helping to make it a better place – especially the farmering segment, which – as my previous and ongoing series on profitability in agriculture reveals, needs all the help it can get. Finally, Mr Media, we read regularly of the people who have left India – how about treating us to such real stories of people in India who are helping to make India a much better place? Don’t they deserve much higher Media presence?  

 BIBLIOGRAPHY AND EXTERNAL LINKS:

My Bees and their Beehive

Published September 23, 2017 by vishalvkale

THE BEES COME TO ME…
I count myself lucky that I had a massive beehive right outside my living room window, on the window concrete sun-shade slab. For several months, the two of us- the harmful and dangerous human being, and those harmless gentle honey bees – co-existed without any trouble to each other. They didn’t bother me, and I didn’t bother them. But this period have me insights both into Honeybees as well as human behavioral aspects, insights that I shall carry with me my entire life. The images of this honey-beehive are given below, which can highlight its closeness to my habitat.
I first noticed them when a few came inside from the open window; I was at a loss as to what to do, till I figured out they were attracted by the light. Only then did I spot the Beehive, and nearly panicked & spoke to the society incharge for immediate redressal of this “grave” threat to my habitat and existence. The bees – they didn’t care too much for me, ignoring me as irrelevant, unimportant and useless, an observation I now agree with!



THE BEEHIVE
Note that-  both of us were close – very close, physically, to each other. And yet, I – the larger animal was scared, while they, the infamous stinging bees, were unconcerned. My existence was as much a danger to them; perhaps a greater danger – and yet they co-existed peacefully. We weren’t causing each other too much inconvenience; and yet the Human Being felt threatened. They didn’t sting me, or anyone in my certain knowledge – and yet, we felt threatened by them. Threatened enough by their mere closeness to us to have them removed forcibly. So who is the greater danger to whom? Humans to the bees or the bees to the Humans?



This interchange is emblematic of our overall interaction with the environment and the way we permanently reshape and alter it. While I don’t deny the presence of some risk, the chances of a stone hitting the Hive causing the bees to get irritated did exist, to be frank; the fact remains that the Bees, by themselves, had done nothing to harm or inconvenience us in any way. It only meant that we could keep the Jali windows open, that is all. Even if the bees came inside- they didn’t harm us humans at all. They committed suicide by getting pulled to the light. And yet, instead of finding ways of co-existence with the environment we seek to alter it, just so we can be slightly more convenient and comfortable.



Now move in a little closer – note the execution perfection of the hive, the complete and wonderful perfection displayed by the hexagonal cells and the way it all comes together. This has been achieved by over several hundred individuals working in tandem towards a common goal; I regretfully accept that as of now, I don’t see how we humans can achieve this incredible level of teamwork shown in these images above. And when the hive was broken – the perfection with which they removed the remains in a few short hours was simply breathtaking!


TEACHINGS BY THE BEES AND THE BEEHIVE
But above and beyond this – the Beehive taught me some other, pertinent and valuable lessons in management, human behaviour that left me speechless. Having observed them from so close for so long –  a distance of barely 2 feet from the 2 feet by 2.5 feet by 8 inches beehive gave me lessons that shall stay with me my whole life. Look at the images above now- and observe. Observe the stunning, nay – mesmerizing teamwork in the way these insects, which aren’t sentient beings, settle together on the hive; observe their focus and their commitment to the common good of the hive. And when disturbed – the speed with which they relocated and renewed taught me a lesson in execution in uncertain times.
This is something that is never found in us Humans – despite being sentient, highly intelligent, thinking, literate and in some rare cases – educated people. Despite this, Humans have rarely, if ever, displayed such commonality, speed and dedication as displayed by these bees. And whenever we have done so – either wonders or disaster has followed. The reason for that is our desires, ambitions play a major role in taking us away from the common purpose, and drive us towards individual achievements, thereby unmaking the good of teamwork. And this happens in almost every Human Endeavour.
Thus, while on the one hand, our higher intellect has made us capable of achieving wonders, our attendant desires have made us incapable of actually achieving those same wonders! Curiously, it is dreams / desires that aid in unlocking potential – unless you desire something, dream – you cannot figure out that such a thing exists -which is why bees will remain bees. But these same desires, when unhindered – binaa lagaam ke ghodaa,  a horse a without a rein – lead us astray, both on an individual level as well as collectively.
ANIMALS & INSECTS VS US
It is rather surprising and more than a little shameful if you think of it – animals and insects, operating without a high intellect, can pull off wonders with teamwork; and we Humans, with our high intellect, cannot do anything on a similar scale. When you consider that every Beehive, and many other animals / insects, do it universally, the Human folly of individualism – given to us by western civilization in some ways as well as  driven by our own nature & selfish desires – becomes all the more shameful. The thought of what we can achieve if we were to learn to work together for a common good is tantalizing, and highly attractive – but extremely hard to pull off in reality, considering the ground realities. At this point, take a close look again – you will find a few types of bees – all doing their own roles expertly.
THE POSITIVE POWER AND THE NEGATIVE PROBLEM OF OUR DESIRES
Human desires are our main strength – they drive innovation, and are indispensable. And Human activities are also hugely diverse; thus, the learning we can take from this above example is simple this: we have to find ways to marry the two – individual desires & individual abilities and weld the two into one powerful whole. Therein lies the gist of what leadership is truly about: it isn’t about getting those numbers, that bottom or topline, or whatever. It is about selecting, training and placing the right person for the right job to enable organizational performance and excellence. Each individual has strengths and desires – we just need to, as individuals and as leaders both, find the right sweet spot. In other words, we need to stop chasing the crowd, find what we are good at, choose from these what gels with our desires, control the both of them – and execute.
The above rarely, or rather, almost never happens. We go by rote, we follow the herd, be it education or be it jobs; we rarely analyse and understand either ourselves or our teams, or indeed the organization and the situation, and blindly ape the rest of the world : forgetting that it is the constant execution of the small tiny things that ensures excellence. Forgetting that control over desires, understanding innate talent and strengthening it is the way to succeed, not following the herd. Watching that Beehive gave me these powerful insights, insights that had laid dormant in me – as evidenced by my previous thoughts on this matter.
APPLICATION TO ORGANISED HUMAN ACTIVITY
This applies for organisations as well as individuals; I fact- all organized / individual activity – if you don’t have the right team to execute in a changed external atmosphere, or if your analysis is not as per ground realities – you are almost certain to fail over the long term. The difference between humans and bees can manifest here : a human beehive would probably not be built on the lintel of another species residence, as the inherent danger should be obvious to us. And yet, we always disregard, and build our beehives {individual lives / organisations etc}  the same way, unmindful of the long term risks posed by our approach and our strategy! As proof, we simple have to list the list of brand and company failures in the past…
SAYING BYE TO THE BEES AND THE BEEHIVE
But the worst part of this entire episode was that I had to, with great reluctance, let go of the Beehive as my colony and my society wouldn’t have it any other way. What is worse, neither would I; the long term risk of an irritated nest so close to home was too great. Yet, it is noteworthy that, left to their own devices, the Bees would not have troubled me at all. In fact, I had gotten used to them living a few feet away. The complete inability of our species to adjust for the environment, and how far we have gone away from it – is the saddest aspect of all.
I for one am very delighted that Parmatma chose me to see this wonder barely 2 feet away from  myself on a daily basis, with its rapturous perfection, teamwork, execution excellence and genius – and the superb beauty of the natural order of things… they have taught me the true meaning of leadership, the true purpose of a leader; they have taught me management; but more than that, above all – the Bees and the Beehive has taught me the power of the environment, and how it is we Humans that are a problem with our ever-increasing desires and selfishness, and lack of adjustment capability… 

Clicking Photos While A Man Dies – Shabaash People!

Published July 21, 2017 by vishalvkale

Stock image from the internet – Blogger was taking incorrect images, so used this



The morning news  – the first article I clicked, an action I sincerely regret now, was on an accident in Pune, the city I live in. I was stunned into shock by the news – people stood around clicking photographs of the poor hapless person while he lay bleeding on the street. Not one person came forward to help. God Bless the only decent man there, a dentist, who came forward to help, and assisted in taking the injured person to the nearest hospital. Just think – people standing around, clicking photographs while a hapless and helpless person lies on the road, bleeding!

PUNE: A 25-year-old software engineer, who was bleeding severely after being knocked down by a hit-and-run accident, died because he did not get timely help from passersby at Indrayaninagar corner in Bhosari on Wednesday evening. Shockingly, the onlookers chose to shoot videos and click photos of the accident rather than take the engineer, {Name Deleted}, to hospital. – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/techie-lies-bleeding-on-pune-road-passersby-click-photos/articleshow/59692374.cms
What do I say to this display of inhuman brutality and idiotic insensitivity? I feel sick, feel like puking at the very thought of clicking photos of a man in dire need of medical help? What kind of sickening mental depravity of the worst order, what kind of sick insane bastard would do that? What kind of mad and equally cruel idiot would stand clicking photographs while a man died on the road? All who did this – you call yourself humans? Even ANIMALS have a greater sense of what is right and wrong. At this point, I am feeling ashamed to be a part of the human race!
What is so damned attractive of an injured man lying bleeding on the road? What is it that makes it a memorable event? Are we so blinded by the attraction of likes on social media that it eclipses our basic human instincts – instincts which make us human in the first place? Why this sickening, horrible and nauseating habit of clicking photographs of a dying man? What will you get out of it? A few damned likes on Social Media? Is it that bloody important?
If it isn’t likes on Social Media, what other reason can you find? If it isn’t likes, then what is it – is it that you are getting satisfaction out of it? Because if that is the case, my don’t-call-yourself-my-friend, you need to check into a psychiatric ward and get treatment. Blunt, Frank and Straight. Human misery – if that gives you satisfaction – then you are mad, period. And evil. The only possible recourse in such a situation is to leave to place immediately if you do not want to or for some reason cant do anything; or – at the very least you can and should try and collect like-minded people to get them to help; Not stand around clicking gory photographs and videos, something emblematic of a society and a person in terminal decline, a sign of a mentally sick man or woman!
If it isn’t either of the above- then what is the curious fascination some people have for such unfortunate scenes? Why are they drawn, and yet stand gawking like morons at the scene? Ok – it isn’t about likes, and it isn’t about a sick fascination. What else can it be? Why do we see regular scenes of half-wits standing around gawking and staring at scenes of mishaps everywhere around us? In every city I have lived in or travelled to in India, I can see this sick scene, when people are attracted like flies to a fire – to scenes of distress and destruction, and yet doing nothing, Just staring blankly as though they were watching a stupendous and mind-blowing performance on Theatre or Cinema!.
As a matter of fact, this actually proves that Animals are superior to what has now become of the Human Race. We call ourselves the pinnacle of evolution; to all those who subscribe to this wholly inaccurate belief, look around how animals also help each other. Compassion is an integral part of being Human – and these displays of evil insensitivity just make us all that little bit more inhuman with each passing day. This is an all-too-regular happening on our roads – I have written regarding this earlier as well. As a Human Being, today I ask for forgiveness from the family of the deceased, and from God… Please forgive us…

Movie Review – Ek Unaad Divas & Its Life Lessons

Published June 22, 2017 by vishalvkale

There are few movies that stick in your mind, entertain you & teach you a life lesson; as well as pull you back to them every once in a while… this movie, Ek Unaad Divas – is one of them. Great pity that this is in Marathi – for this is one movie that needs to be made in Hindi so that ever larger number of people can watch, enjoy and live & change their lives by it! That said, Hindi movie industry just doesn’t have the required depth to make a movie of this caliber. Sad, but true.
THE PLOT
The concept is simple – a highly paid, top corporate hot-shot, portrayed by Ashok Saraf, gets forced into loaning his car for the day to a client, who has just closed a 5-Cr order. And on that very day, Taxis are on strike – so he has to walk back. On the way, he runs into his childhood friend – a lower-middle class man earning 2453/- per month. The hot-shot, Vishwas Dabholkar {Saraf}, and the friend end up having lunch – a life-turning experience for the big man, as he is stunned by the happy outlook of his companion!
The rest of the movie is a roller-coaster as the wonder-struck Dabholkar, stunned by his experience with the poorer friend, walks through the streets to his office with a newly broadened approach towards life. Along the way, we get to learn, or rather, re-learn life – through the eyes & experiences of Vishwas Dabholkar, who interacts with life around him with a newly defined approach towards life – an open, happy approach, savouring many moments and leaving us many, many lessons for us.
THE LESSONS
The movie gets heart-wrenching, yet warming, as the hot-shot big man, walking through the small streets to his office, runs into many unfortunate souls, poor people and people from all walks of life – and yet impacting them in a nice way, helping them in their troubles, thinking – for once – not of self or own family, but of others. That in itself is a big learning, that it doesn’t take too much effort to be nice to other people, and that one can be good to people regardless of their stature, age or social standing
Another hard-hitting lesson is the detachment of “My Achievements, this is me, etc” from the self : forgetting one’s Ego… which can lead to seeing the wonder in so many people and instances in life. My own experience, which was forced on me, taught me this not so long ago – when I learnt a lot from my students, 20 years my junior, when I was a visiting faculty to them. If they are reading this – thanks for showing me a side of life I had forgotten all about; in your youthful openness, optimism and approach I learnt a life lesson, a management lesson, as well as made me a better manager all in one.
These and many many other small lessons in the movie, which  are really important for modern life – the real value of money & sharing, the importance of thinking of the other person, the value of being selfless, understanding the needs of others, being basically a nice person – all those things which the modern metrosexual educated person calls impractical, like things concerning values / ethics / decency / honesty / fun / caring for others –  make this movie one-of-a-kind, and kind of special. This movie shall remain one of the most memorable movies and life experiences for me; I for one shall never forget this movie. My personal thanks to the entire staff involved in making this movie, and teaching me a life lesson!
We take life so seriously – our jobs, our money, our career – even our family, our children’s careers & lives, that somewhere along the line we forget to live. We are so enraptured by the trappings of life, of its attachments, its pulls that we ourselves don’t realise the damage we our doing ourselves and our society. The money will remain here when we die – that apart, by being too focused, we forget the small pleasures of life – something that makes us automatons, machines almost; running after success and money all the time. This pressure even translates to extreme pressure on our children, as we insanely drive them for marks, not on the knowledge & education, as well as the right values… is this the way to live? Go after success, money, ego forgetting the small pleasures & values of life, the importance not just of your own self, but of everyone in your life – small or big in stature… do we ever stop to think?  

A word about the story, editing and the characterization – awesome. One word I had promised – and one word it is, without qualification – awesome. The dreamers have created one hell of an awesome product. The best part is that it is a fun watch; a hugely entertaining movie throughout. There is only one song in them movie – and what a song! Hur Hur Aste Teech Uri, Divas Baraa Ke Ratra Bari! An unforgettable number that will grow on you with its melodious tones &classy lyrics. All in all, this is a tremendous and near perfect movie that is a must watch by anyone who understands Marathi. While it teaches a lot of lessons, changes you as a person, forces you to ask youself some deep questions – it does so in a gently, fun, decent and entertaining way. As the last scene fades away you are left refreshed! 

Our Traffic Jams – And Our Blind Eye To Them…

Published June 12, 2017 by vishalvkale

OUR CROWDED ROADS
Roads… no, I am not talking of the quality – or lack of it – of our roads, for once. While that may still be a problem in more than a few areas, that is still small stuff, really – as compared to the far bigger issue that confronts us with regard to roads. An issue that is not too evident, and yet is increasingly a pressing concern; or, at least – should certainly be a pressing concern for all of us. Not just Indians – but every single resident of this planet.
We worry about the environment – or pretend to, at any rate; that, at least, gets into the newspapers with surprising regularity – not least thanks to a certain Gentleman bearing the first name “Donald”. It does deserve every bit of news space it occupies; that I grant – the environment, I mean. That we don’t do much about it in our personal lives is another matter entirely. I don’t blame the people – those who don’t do much, that is. The environment is going to be just fine for them,  in their lifespans, and thus, they have little to worry about, if you really think about it.
RIVERS OF TRAFFIC!
What I am referring to is something far simpler – the traffic, the abundance of traffic, or should I say, the rivers of traffic on our tiny teensy weensy roads. And I refer to the arteries as well – those teeny weeny 4 and 8 lane – aah-  {forgive me, Civil Engineering / English / Oxford / Merriam Webster et al} – Highways. My heart would ache for the torture they endure were they human. Luckily, they aren’t human, and they aren’t alive. Lucky for us – they would have run away to another Galaxy, leaving us Humans without Roads, had they been alive!
IS THIS PROGRESS?
I have observed the bumper-to-bumper traffic in any number of cities in India; this spans Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Amravati, Indore, Bhopal, Raipur and many more. The sheer waste of resources, time and effort is staggering; so much so, that I gave up my personal vehicle altogether. And I will try my best to continue to use the public transport as far as is possible. A 40 minute journey takes 2 hours – no,  am not talking of Mumbai. I am speaking of other cities. It staggers the mind, and leaves me wondering – is this really progress?
WHY NOT POOL?
Furthermore, it is even more staggering to see cars with one driver on the road frequently… why not car pool? Not to save cash – but to save your time, money, effort, free up time for productive work – I do one hell of a lot of productive work in the commute, for instance – and much much more. But this isn’t limited to cars alone; why don’t bikers also pool rides? Sure, it will be difficult, will involve some compromises. But I have done it for 5 years, and from experience – I can say that it is doable, eminently so.
IT DOES MEAN COMPROMISE – BUT DO IT ALL THE SAME!
Sure, it requires compromise, sacrifice, a redefinition and redesigning for your lifestyle. You will certainly have to walk a lot more – but isn’t that great? I for one have benefited one hell of a lot from the additional walking. And no one is asking you to give up permanently – just cut down – even 3 days a week of a compromise to start is good enough. The time that is saved, can be used to better your enjoyment; like I use the time to listen to Marathi Music, or reading a good book; which I would otherwise not be able to do in a 14-hour day. For the commute time will remain essentially the same, given the traffic.
WHY DO WE NEED TO DO IT AND NOW?
The question is, why do you need to do it? Because roads are finite; land is finite. And new vehicles are being added every day, numbering hundreds of thousands, in every city, street, town and village. Add to that the increasing urbanization rate, and population influx to the cities. Add to that the burgeoning population of India. Put it all together – and the picture becomes crystal clear. You need to do it, else in a few decades, maybe just one decade – the situation might become impossible.
Where do you think the new additional vehicles will be driven? What is the capacity of the roads we have, and how many are using them? Traffic Jams are already a regular issue in nearly every city; and yet, no one does anything. Oh sure, we complain about the Government. Question again is – what are we, the people – doing about it? Cant you get off the roads three days a week? I have gotten off for 4.5 of the past 5.5 years. Sure – it has come at a price. But, I have the satisfaction of knowing I, personally, have contributed albeit in a very small way towards building my nation.
IN SUMMATION
Every additional vehicle on our roads adds to the pressure, it adds to the pollution, it adds a few seconds to the commute time; it adds to body stress, it adds to illnesses, it adds to wastage of time. It is quite possibly among the biggest productivity losses we as a nation are having. How many hours are wasted – a sheer total waste? And how simple it would be to find a better way utilize that time – admittedly at some inconvenience to our ownselves? 

The payback – time saved, money saved, and best of all – a decided improvement in the health parameter. Not just due to the additional physical activity, but most critically due to the lessening of stress, and more positive involvement of the mind! You deserve it, your family deserves it, and most of all your nation needs it. Give up your vehicle 3 days a week!