” Rafale Fighter Jets – Bringing a new Era of Defence Powerhouse ” – July 31, 2020.

          India’s eagerly awaited Rafale Fighter Jets have landed at the Ambala Airforce Base. The five French made fighter jets largely viewed as game changer will be inducted in the No. 17 Squadron,  ” Golden Arrows “.  India has drawn the agreement to buy 36 Rafale Jets from France. That these jets will add to our strength and play a critical role at this critical moment in the history of our nation facing threats from China, Nepal, and Pakistan is not a matter of doubt.

          It also is a fulfilment of our long standing need and desire to acquire enhanced air defence capabilities to meet the challenges of the new age. India is also engaged in agreements with Russia in the purchase and procurement of MiG and Sukhoi new generation medium range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets. From 1961 (MiG)  to  2020 (Rafale)  is a long way in combat jets additions for India.

          Several of our obsolete jets have been removed from use simultaneously. It is also, however, not certain whether the Sukhoi jets can match the strength of Chinese jets in combat. Hence, the arrival of these Rafale jets as our first step is a highly satisfying measure.

          Indian Defence experts believe that these jets are more sophisticated, modern, and performance heavy compared to those held by China and Pakistan. The performance of Rafale jets in the wars of Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, Iraq, and Libya has been a matter causing fear and insecurity in the minds of opponents. At the same time it is also felt that these five jets may not be enough against China if a war erupts.

          That India has lagged behind in strengthening the forces with advanced aircrafts and equipments in the last 25 years is a well acknowledged fact. Efforts to strengthen the capabilities of the defence forces have faced setbacks due to accusations and scams in the past. The present purchase/procurement of Rafale jets is a process initiated in 2007 coming to fruition 13 years later. Initial discussions related to the purchase of 126 jets have been skittled down to 36 ultimately. The agreement for the 36 was signed by our PM during his visit to France in 2015. Five years have passed since then. We have received five jets now. 

          Rafale jet is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance,  ground support, in-depth strike, and nuclear deterrence missions. It is an  “Omnirole”  aircraft from Dassault Aviation. Each aircraft can carry payloads of 10000 kg. The aircraft will require air-to-air refuelling. Indian pilots and technicians underwent more than a year long training already by Dassault Aviation with the participation of the French Air Force. Delivery of Rafale jets despite the COVID-19 pandemic is viewed as proof of Dassault Aviation’s commitment to delivery schedule.

          Purchase/procurement for defence capabilities is not a simple matter of  ‘retail’  transaction. It involves :  (a) Careful evaluation of the jet ;  (b)  Following procedures, rules, and guidelines of acquisition ; (c) Drawing up the timeline for the process of manufacturing and delivery ;  (d)  Avoiding middlemen and other unexpected delays ;  and  (e)  all necessary follow up for delivery. What is needed is a clear political resolve; a clear far-sighted decision; and a clear plan to fulfill the need – all top skills to great leadership in management parlance.

          Technologically and in terms of plans, armaments, and equipments our Air Force has been in need of modernisation for a long time. Struck with obsolescence it is a yearning desire to enrich itself soon for the safety and security of the nation. Tejas light fighters are simple as compared to other foreign made fighter jets. The upgraded form of Jaguar SEPECAT (about 100+)  are also old. When India procured it there was international amusement virtually. Conditions have changed now with fresh enthusiasm and vigor in our approach to be combat competent with major powers.

          Interesting to note is the observation from the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs in Harvard Kennedy School which says that India’s Air Force is more powerful than China’s. Mirage 2000, Sukhoi 30, and now Rafale gives India an edge over China’s  J10,  J11,  and  SU27  fighter jets.

          Indian Air Force should have 42 Squadrons each with 16 to 18 fighter aircrafts in the normal circumstances. But, it has only 27 Squadrons now. Pakistan is aiming to increase its Squadrons to 25 within a year. It is against this background that doubts regarding the completeness of our full need being met with all 36 Rafale jets are now expressed in some quarters.

          Not focusing on the enhanced capabilities of defence forces by the past Governments has been viewed as a serious weakness. This lack of concern was primarily due to the raised levels of caution after the Bofors deal was perceived as a major scam. Other contributing factors are :  (1) Lean budgets for Defence ;  and  (2)  Increased retirement benefits.

          Rising instances of border security challenges in the recent years have created a rude awakening now. We can no longer afford to stay calm under pressure or when violence takes hold. We are hard pushed to face our enemies with resolve and determination proving ourselves powerful and effective.

          Rafale jets purchase is a clear move intended to strengthen our position as a major defence force.

         ” RAFALE  MARKS  A  TURNING  POINT  TO  MAKE  INDIA  AS  A  DEFENCE  POWERHOUSE “

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Friday, July 31, 2020 –  6. 19 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Never, never be afraid to do what is right, especially if the well being of human is at stake ”  –   Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

.

 

Standard

” Healthcare for Seniors – Rulers to Ponder Aloud ” – July 31, 2020.

  There can be no two opinion  regarding the fact that COVID-19 impact is felt more seriously by the “migrants”. The tumultuous scenes of the long trek they made along the roads and railway tracks carrying their belongings and children on their shoulders are the strange happenings that cannot erase the memories of this period in human history.

          The trauma and travails of the migrants have been a matter of record and discussion in news magazines, social media, and in general public conversations. But, there is also a matter of precisely equal importance that is not discussed in the same vigor. It is the emotions raging within the hearts and minds of a section of the society – the SENIORS. Be it the government,  be it the news outets,  be it the Social Media,  or be it the society in general – all look at it with a heavy face and with the knowledge that their problems are not any less serious.

          It is clear that COVID-19 affects individuals younger than 15 years of age and older than 65 years of age more frequently and easily than other age groups. Older individuals, specially above 65, have less ‘energy’ ;  high susceptibility to diseases ;  and poor immunity responses. Data on COVID cases and death toll substantiate this amply. Further, individuals already suffering from blood pressure;  breathing problems;  kidney malfunctions;  or diabetes tend to be seriously susceptible to COVID-19.

          Even those living as a family unit cannot be dismissed as being safe. With the gradual lifting of lockdown, their risks to contract the disease actually increases. Lockdown lifted, youngsters resuming their work schedule in offices and other places are more prone to transmit the disease back home even when they remain asymptomatic.

          Total lockdown presents the following two distinct characteristics to seniors :  (1)  Seclusion and the accompanying mental/emotional tension,  and (2)  inability to engage in walking exercises within homes. These in turn have the potential to cause a rise in blood pressure affecting their physical health as well. Without any proper outlet to lessen these difficulties they virtually swallow their strength in an effort to hide their feelings. A vicious circle follows.

          For Seniors who live without children or relatives, the problems are compounded with vulnerabilities. When they themselves go out to buy their basic essentials like medicines, groceries, and vegetables/fruits the dangers of contracting the disease rises (Not all can make e:purchases sitting at home). If one is deprived of  ‘home help’ , as is often the case in many instances, cooking and cleaning puts additional burden on them.

          In the last 5 months I have often been disturbed by seeing seniors maintaining social distancing, standing in long queues with difficulty (even in medical shops) with no one lending a helping hand. Heaven help them !  That even the simple human nature to extend priority to seniors was a no go is what pains most. Hard and cruel to stand.

          Situations in health clinics and hospitals are not any different either. Be it the provision of bed ;  providing oxygen treatment ;  fixing ventilators –  priority goes to youngsters and those with financial clout. Seniors find themselves relegated. Whole incident needs to be relegated to the back of mind if calm and peace are essential. A cruel irony again.

          The practices are the same all over the world. Even if there is some justification in some cases, our minds fail to accept it completely.

          For ordinary seniors, health insurance is still a high hanging fruit. Middle income groups suffer the most here. For an individual more than 70 years, a 3 lakh insurance will hold ₹ 60000 as yearly premium. Even with that to have the luxury of complete reimbursement is beyond imagination. At least  20 to 30 ℅  of medical expenses need to be shed from the pockets independently.

          Those below the poverty line can exercise “Ayushman Bharat”  scheme under which a family secures ₹ 6 lakh in a year. Middle income groups cannot participate in this scheme. Chief Minister’s insurance schemes in States will not help either.

          These are also times when FDs in banks fetch the lowest rates of interest. Cost of medicines is also spiralling out of control.

          When will the seniors experience sheltered lives ?  As an absolute minimum all seniors should get, be enrolled in,  “Ayushman Bharat”  scheme. Medium and high income individuals can opt out of the scheme voluntarily.

          Provision of healthcare benefits with dignity to seniors when Central and State Governments are involved in enhancing the facilities for all identified groups of people will be a laudable accomplishment.

          ” RULERS  TO  PONDER  THE  QUESTION  FOR  A  MOMENT “.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Friday,  July 31, 2020 –  4.29 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ”  To care for those who cared for us is one of the highest honors ” –  Tia Walker.

Standard

” Mystifying Theories of COVID-19 ” – July 17, 2020.

        COVID-19  continues to be a scourge of the world debilitating the physical, mental, and economic well being slowly. Predictions of Scientists and Doctors have all been proving false. It made everyone squinting. 

          Amidst imaginative and fact oriented discussions in respect of the origin of Coronavirus for months no clear assessment either by an individual or by a group has become clear yet about the likely spread and total containment.  So has been the case in regard to the drugs/vaccines that can help cure the disease. In India, ICMR and Bharat Bio-Tech jointly work to come out with a vaccine by August 15  but its safety and efficacy are still being debated.

          That which started in Wuhan in China has been subjected to investigations, and the mode of its spread throughout the world has been discepted and researched with no light still at the end of the tunnel. We,the people are simply the onlookers kneading our empty hands.

          First in China in December 2019 ;  then in Europe in January 2020 ;  then in America in Jan/Feb 2020 ; followed by many other countries – all happened in cold conditions gave lie to the theory that hot conditions may prevent the spread of the disease. Its impact started in India in Feb/Mar 2020 and in summer the cases were exacerbated (April, May, June). The total number of cases that were in the range of 100-200 per day initially rose to 1000s per day in summer.

          Americans and Europeans, well known for their extra attention and care for general health in addition to their religious adoption of best practices in health are considered vulnerable to allergy with less immune resistance. Hence, the huge number of cases in America and Europe, the experts averred. Most Indians on the other hand are accustomed to living in less hygeinic environments, hence their ability to display a  higher degree of immunity to the virus – the theory afforded. Social media also propagated the view that India may not be affected to the extent other countries experienced.

          The fact that by July the cases in India crossed the figure of one lakh with the death toll crossing 25000 is in stark contrast to the low levels in Feb/Mar 2020. Theory proved wrong.

          That a higher official of WHO referred to the fact of vegetarians being affected less compared to non vegetarians made rounds in WhatsApp last month touting the resistance of Indians to the disease. With no fact finding analysis or research on the above, many in India took pride in their food consumption habits and even started sharing the values freely. A sense of complacency  has been induced. But this again proved to be false as more cases were recorded. Vegetarians succumbed to COVID-19.

          Again the public perception that Coronavirus affects only the elderly individuals without much affecting the young population was also given a lie even though the gap did exist in small degrees.

          Also, a person who has been affected by COVID-19 and recovered may not contract the disease the second time was proved wrong with some such cases coming to the fore. At least 2 true cases have been recorded in Tamil Nadu. “It may be one of those rare instances” – declared by specialists is actually a way of seeking solace temporarily.

          Epic Mahabharata depicts the incident of Lord Sri Krishna with his Sudarshan Chakra completely obscuring the view of the Sun God –  in an effort to fulfill Arjuna’s vow to kill Jayathradha before sunset –  and then releasing it to teach the Gaurava King, Duryodana, a lesson. Duryodana was left wondering and pondering as to what more will Lord Sri Krishna do and what more is in store for himself.

          In the same manner with all theories being falsified and the spread of COVID-19 continuing at will everyone of us is left wondering and pondering as to what life holds in store for us.

 

” Dieu avec nous “

Friday, July 17, 2020 –  8.19 p.m. (IST)

Tidbit :  ” Mystification is simple ; Clarity is the hardest of all “.  –  Julian Barnes.

 

 

Standard

” COVID-19 Impact ; Victory Through Knowledge Acquisition ” – July 17, 2020.

       Everybody is in a fighting spirit today when the deadly Coronavirus threatens to annihilate human existence. The good news, however, is that we are able to hold our weapons against it effectively. Cleaning the hands is the primary weapon ;  Face mask is our primary shield. We stand in the centre of the battlefield.

          ” A few months have disappeared ”  is the most likely expression used in our life’s journey through this as it has been in our assigned reading  ” A few pages are missing “.

          Feelings run deep when we think of the plight of the students for the year 2020-2021.  Confined within four walls ;  Voluntarily or involuntarily compelled to spend time only on e-gadgets ;  forgoing all the usual entertainment and games with friends – lives of students today make the parents to be frantic with worry. But it is the time for everyone to be resolute amidst all discomfort to concentrate on our duty.

          Usually, students finish their final examinations ;  enjoy the summer vacation ;  and prepare themselves ready in June for their next sojourn through studies – with dreams full of vigor taking a flying leap. Sadly, this year has been totally different (April, May, June) exposing them to difficulties experienced for the first time, first hand. Even those who initially liked this unusual and unprecedented experience are now yearning to go out, mix with friends/classmates and attend face-to-face classes. They are dreaming about the days spent in schools earlier.

          Their holidays are so long now to say enough is enough. But nobody is in a mood to celebrate the prolonged holidays. Think of the times when students will yearn for just one more holiday when the schools are closed for a burst of incessant rain or a storm. Days have transformed in the midst of their unpleasant COVID-19 experiences of lockdown. They now yearn for information regarding the commencement of classes. Imagine those who run like wheels on heels in normal times being held hostage at home with nobody around and their mental crisis will be unimaginable.

          Noises of the 2020 results being reduced now, students and parents worry about the 2020-2021 strongly. Their thinking is focused on preparations from June/July itself for a good individual record. COVID-19 has transformed the situation into a day to day challenge against uncertainty that needs to be met with effectively by Students, Parents, and Administrators of Educational Institutions.

          Some private educational institutions have begun classes on-line. Educational TV has also become an integral medium for imparting school education ( 2nd to 11th standard specially ).

          According to the CBSE guidelines for beginning classes on-line for the year 2020-2021 :  LKG and UKG students will be assigned 30 minutes per day ;  1st to 8th standard students will be assigned two classes per day of duration 30 to 45 minutes each ;  9th to 12th standard students will be assigned 4 classes per day of 30 to 45 minutes each. There should be a break between classes of at least 10 to 15 minutes.

          Recognising the dangers to the eyes of viewing TV ;  laptop screens  or  cell phone screens continuously, the short periods suggested along with the necessary breaks are guided by a strong sense of purpose, duty, and identity/urgency. In effect, this means that the amount of time spent in study by students this year will be less, calling for a proportionate reduction in  ‘Syllabus’  too.  CBSE, after due consultations with expert academics (more than 1500) has made the following announcement :  A  30%  reduction in syllabus for students of 9th to 12th standards ;  along with clear details of the parts in each subject waived. When most schools remain closed as a precautionary measure of safety against COVID-19, the above decision by CBSE has been welcomed by most Institutions in the country.

          Today’s Communication and IT technologies have opened the doors of innovative methods of accomplishing one’s duty with success. Deep faith in future for the students is a necessity. Tomorrow’s action (inspiration) can only change today’s disillusionment/frustration. The position and stance of nature’s laws may play differently but we have to fight our own weaknesses through our strength of resolve only.

          Swami Vivekananda’s abiding faith in our ‘Youth’  is reflected in his own words :

          ” Give me hundred young Students ;  I will change the entire world “.

          ” Even after I depart from this soil, my influence will continue for thousands of years “.

          ” Each young individual should first advance himself ;  and with that advancement he should move on to advance the Society “.

          These were his dreams. Shunning unnecessary fears and disbeliefs,  focusing on constructive abilities will make our stars shine with a refulgent glow in the horizon.

          Students may not have had the time to leisurely think about these earlier ;  but still can utilise the extra time they have got now (amidst the COVID-19 shutdown) to learn more about the world. Also, be faithful and introspective ;  think about your goals, cool as you please ;  and start your journey with fresh enthusiasm.

          The five letter word  ” COVID ”  has everything topsy-turvy that those who carry their dreams of College, Job, and Achievements are still finding themselves in the waitlist. In the normal circumstances everything would have been al-right.

          Keep yourself engaged in exercise, games, learning new languages,  strengthening technological knowledge and expertise,  reading,  and any act that can keep you happy. Use your time to practice unconventional approaches to problems. Explore the avenues left unexplored. Add faith in the minds of people around through your encouraging words.

          COVID-19 has placed us in an environment when change in attitude, approach, and action seem compelling. Our thoughts and actions vacillate normally. Some may think :  ” I am working on-line,  using computers,  I am studying ; my neighbours enjoy like free birds “. Some others may think : ” Classes have not started for me ; but my neighbours have all begun their studies “. Be calm, be patient.

          On-line education has made strides in our education system. Listening and learning abilities vary from person to person. Question and Answers sessions and Interactions move both the students and teachers to the next stage in the process of Education. COVID environment has restricted this beyond anybody’s imagination. What one’s progress depends upon will be marked only by one’s efforts. Some have books, others have technological equipment or gadgets. One should be prepared to use the available facilities to devise one’s Strategy with an impressive  array of tools of Education.

          Progress in tech have made possible the use of a variety of machines useful in our lives. One may use the opportunity of the day to rectify the simple faults through our own learning and experience without the need for experts. Replacing an electric bulb ;  removing the dirt and grease from chimneys ;  iron Box cleaning  ..  …  everything is a learning experience.

          Entire world is stunned today to experience the impact of COVID-19. Losses to individuals ;  Losses to homes ;  Losses to Organisations/Institutions ;  Losses to the Nation – we need to learn the lessons from these.

          How to remain stable and sustain the activities without any further deterioration is now high on the agenda of every human being, every family,  every organisation,  and every nation. 

          Today it is COVID-19 ;  Tomorrow it may well be another, new, challenge. We are now in a compelling situation to advance our knowledge, abilities, and experiences with each passing day. Role of  Youth  is more than just significant.

          ” NEW  WORLD  IS  THE  WORLD  THAT  WILL  BE  LED  BY  THE  YOUTH “.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Friday,  July 17, 2020 –  12.49 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ” Every child is designed by God to be a Leader “.

Standard

” Welcome to Organic Agriculture !” – July 16, 2020.

          A new wave of Job Creation is sweeping across the World centered around Agricultural Growth. If Information Technology (IT) figured as the game-changer with a new breed of technologists in the beginning of this millennium, 20 years hence, now, Agriculture is becoming a game-changer with a new breed of Organic Cultivation luring the farmers and technologists alike.

          Rising to the challenge of COVID-19 when doctors, public health experts, and nutritionists elevate the sense of direction in people to Safety and Protection of Public Health, Organic Agriculture is receiving the needed waking up.

          Organic Agricultural products receive a growing welcome in terms of higher prices both within and outside the country. There is also an increasing trend among the  “Youth”  to work and participate in Organic Agriculture now. It is also reflected in the interest and involvement of many IT employees leaving their attractive jobs in India and abroad to make their next foray into the developing Agriculture Market.

          ” If the farmer starts counting the efforts,  even the dice box will not be left free”,  says a proverb. Input expenses ;  shortage of workers ; flood and drought like the natural calamities – constitute the challenges that the farmers face making their livelihoods a misery. It also results in not just loss of income but loss of land itself. Hence, they are also compelled to switch their jobs for their living.

          From seeds to harvest without addition of any chemical but intense use of only natural fertilizers constitute “Organic”  food. This kind of farming method is also known by the term ‘Organic Agriculture’.

          The belief,  specially among the youth, that Organic Agriculture products promote better health is growing fast. The cost of such products are high but the culture of Organic food consumption is also high in India and abroad. The use and value of herbal cosmetics and beauty products/devices are also growing.

          India is now in the 9th place in Organic Agriculture in the World. It also exports about 1.5 million tonnes of certified Organic Agricultural Food Materials every year. Sikkim has been declared as India’s  first fully Organic Agriculture State.

          With increasing demand for Organic Agriculture products, farmers engaged in this field of activity need to get Angagam (Organic Outlet) Certificate. Only this will help increase the faith in their products.

          Angagam Angadi, the Outlet Store of Indian National Farmers’  Producers Co. had opened its first franchise in Kancheepuram on Feb 6, 2017. Fresh organic products from honey to millets are available at affordable prices.

          To secure the Certificate farmers need to follow the practices prescribed by the National Organic Production Commission. Farmers who perform the harvest every year should follow the practices for at least 2 years prior to applying for the Certificate. Farmers and others who have groves, orchards, or thickets should follow the practices for 3 years prior to applying for the Certificate.

          Avoiding chemically refined seeds ,  while at the same time increasing the use of naturally refined seeds ;  use of natural fertilizers ;  use of only plant insecticides – are some of the practices to be adopted.

          Input materials should be purchased with proper  “assurance and promise”  along with written/printed receipts. Crop rotation , mixed crops ,  intercrop harvest ,  closing with straw/hay ,  leaving appropriate distance between the crops ,  use of good quality seeds , are some methods adopted in protection of soil health.

          Maintenance of proper records of input materials brought inside the farm ;  materials taken out of the farm ;  regular activities of the farm ;  yearly plans of farm growth ;  and experiments conducted – are important requisites. Also, there should not be any industrial effluents drains,  or farms using excessive fertilizers or insecticides close to the organic farm.

          All farmers growing their produce in Organic manner are eligible to get the Certificate. Those engaged in Animal Husbandry , Cattle breeding, Beekeeping, Forest materials collection are also eligible to get the Certificate. Sellers of Organic Products can also acquire the Certificate from AFIDA as individuals or groups.

          Three copies of all records are to be submitted. Application Form ;  General information about the Farm ;  a Map of the Farm;  Information on Soil and Water in the Farm;  Yearly plan for Cultivation;  Copy of land records;  PAN;  and Two passport size photographs along with the required fee should be submitted for the purpose.

          Fee for the individual micro and small farmers is ₹ 2700/-;  for others it is ₹ 3200/-;  For groups it is ₹ 7200/-;  and For Sales enterprises it is ₹ 9400/-.

          In an effort to encourage Organic Farming, the Government has started a National Plan under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Under this Organic Production Scheme there are 30 recognised Certificate issuing organisations and 562 Organic Agricultural Certificate Organisations.

          To promote Organic Agriculture and Organic Processing as well as to help the exporters, a separate Commission exists. Food Safety and Standards (Organic Foods) Regulations, 2017.

          The Government has introduced a common logo as an identity mark to distinguish organic products from non organic ones with the tag line “Jaivik Bharat”.

          That  “Organic Agriculture”  will be the next big change in the third decade of this millennium is certain. It is imperative that every district in the country with its administration and the Ministry of Agriculture should encourage development, investment, and growth to raise the hopes of farmers in their careers.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Thursday, July 16, 2020 –  9.29 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Every major Company now has an Organic division. There is more capital going into Organic Agriculture than ever before “.  –  Michael Pollan.

Standard

” Women Power can Lead the Nation ” – July 15, 2020.

Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, Women power can lead the nation.

         Worship of Divine Women Goddesses as prevalent in India has not been seen in any other part of the World. Reason : Indian tradition holds Women in high esteem. Anthropologists ascribe this to :  In times when humans lived as disparate ethnic groups it was women who provided the lead to all their actions. They were the ones who are now worshipped as Goddesses. Even today, the abilities and deeds of women in India are hardly surprising. Tamil revolutionary poet, Subramania Bharati, has hailed women in his poem thus :  ”  Femininity relieves and remedies all sufferings “.

          From the times of Vedanta Period – Sangam Period in Tamil, 3rd Century B.C.  to  4th Century A.D. –  the record of accomplishments of women have been a matter of pride to all women. 

          Queens who ruled people ;  enlightened women who provided ways to better acquaint with the Lord ;  and women skilled in fighting as leaders of people  are not few. These women who have etched their names in our history have not just reflected the status of women of those ages but live in our memory as examples of ‘women power’  in society today.

Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi in fight with the British.

     Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi, one of the legendary figures of the Indian rebellion of 1857 and a symbol of resistance to the British Raj is too well known for her fight with her child strapped on her back. It is a historic fact that the British could not step into the soil of Jhansi until her demise.

Avvaiyar with Lord Murugan, humbled

          The famous Tamil Saint/Poet  Avvaiyar is known for counselling Kings of the period like Adhiyaman besides writing poems in volumes like  ‘Purananuru’.

         Examples of women with extraordinary mental power who have created a name for themselves in history abound.

Veer Mata Jijabai with Shivaji

         There are also women who created history through their siblings. Veermata Jijabai, the eternal mother symbol of faith and courage, created history through her son, Shivaji, who founded the great Maratha Empire.

          References to such women from history and puranas recounting the birth and deeds of Women of Valour, Skills,  Creation,  Learning,  Poems ..  ..  evoke little in the minds of the present generation who are too willing to dismiss them as just fertile imagination. Their insouciance to these adventurous acts of Women in history often finds the reply thus : ” It is fine in those periods ;  it is also fine to listen to and praise their acts ;  but today’s world is changing swiftly ;  it may not be practical now “. Hence, the need for citing examples of Women’s Skills (not so much valor or bravery in war)  in our productive activities of economy. The qualities that make women – responsibility,  sense of duty ,  humanitarian characteristics ,  love/affection ,  and dedication have never been in doubt.

          Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic threatening human lives the world over, it is only justified to learn from the good events emerging in our society. Four examples are given below :

          1.  81 year old Saroja of Kandhampatti village, Salem District, Tamil Nadu,  makes her living from the meagre resources left behind by her deceased husband.  She draws pension. She uses a portion of that money (pension) to sew masks and distribute them to the local workers and other people in the village. She also distributes  “Kabasura Kudineer”,  an Ayurveda mixture of water to almost everyone in the village daily. She makes a demand estimate everyday to fulfill this. With little signs of ageing and with scarce resources but with strong humanitarian bent of mind she continues her service .

Nanjammal, kitchen garden creator

          2.  84 year old Nanjammal of Thoppampatti village, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. She grows vegetables in her kitchen garden and distributes saplings free of cost in a bid to boost the culture of  “Kitchen Gardens”.  More than 100 families grow kitchen gardens now in the village. Ultimate aim is to create  “Village Kitchen Gardens”. Significant in the wake of shooting vegetable prices in these days. Every family can save ₹ 6000/-  per year according to her. Tomato, chilli, brinjal, bottle gourd, greens, drumstick are grown generally. She also makes natural pesticides from neem leaves and custard apple. The village is now self sufficient in vegetables. The village has become the most active in the region and the lady Nanjammal has been extremely successful in transforming the village and the region too. Again, with little signs of ageing ;  with little  resources but with strong sense of dedication and focus she continues her service. She is confident that this will contribute to the village economy in a big way in future.

          Are these two old women any less dedicated than Avvaiyar is the question raised by people around these regions. Answer is a firm “No”.

Roshini of Ajnaul Village, MP.

 

        3.  15 year old  Roshini of Ajnaul Village, Bhind district, Madhya Pradesh. Roshini used to cycle 24 km  on a daily basis to attend school. She scored 98.5℅  in Class 10 Board Exam (State Board), and stood 8th in ranking. Her father is a farmer by occupation, Purshottam Bhadoria. High on motivation and support, he helped his daughter work hard and make everyone in the family proud. Roshini’s dream is to do IAS. There are  lakhs of  Roshinis living in every district, every state, and every region in India. They have something to emulate here.

          Again, Subramania Bharathiar said :  “It is the duty of women to provide education to children “.

Jyoti Kumari with her injured father as pillion

          4.  15 year old Jyoti Kumari of Dharbhanga in Bihar. Jyoti Kumari cycled nearly 1200 km  last week with her father, Mohan Paswan, (who was hurt in an accident that left him unable to continue his job of driving an e-rickshaw)  riding as pillion to reach her hometown in Bihar from Delhi. It took her 8 days of tiresome cycling at a stretch. This happened amidst COVID-19 struggle that shattered the lives of lakhs of people. The military personnel in that region in Bihar gave her prizes. She also received ₹ 100000/-  from Mankind Pharma for her Commitment to her parents ;  and a free IIT-JEE tuition by Bihar’s widely acclaimed Coaching Centre,  Super-30. Cycle Federation of India has also invited her  for trials and rewards.

Jyoti Kumari receiving an award of ₹ 100000/-

          Jyoti Kumari is now an example of the will power and pertinacity of Indian Women in general.

          This heroic act of Jyoti Kumari went viral in Social Media throughout the world that US President, Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, immediately recognised the heroism displayed by the girl acknowledging with the photo of Jyoti Kumari with words : ” An accomplishment full of love and affection of the highest order”.

          There are also lakhs and lakhs of Jyoti Kumaris in India. Strength of India lies in the strength of the minds of such individuals.

          Is Jyoti Kumari any less courageous than Lakshmibai, Jhansi ki Rani ? No.

          Civilizations may change ;  Seasons may change ;  Science may control the World ;  Whole earth may shrink to become a small village. But, there can be no doubt that the minds of Women filled with ‘Zeal and  Stubbornness’ will cross all the hurdles not just to stabilize itself, but also to stand tall leading the World.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Wednesday, July 15,  2020 –  2.09 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ” She needed a hero ;  so that’s what she became “.

:

Standard

” COVID-19 Impact – Stress Needs a Fresh Look ” – July 14, 2020.

          Two incidents that happened last week must have shocked everyone in the country.

          First,  the serious and violent incident that resulted in the death of father and son (Jeyaraj, 62,  and  Bennicks, 32) of police brutality after being taken to the police station for breach of lockdown regulations. Father and son, owners of a mobile shop in Saththankulam, Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, failed to close the shop at 8 p.m. despite prior warnings ; taken to the police station on June 19 ;  and died of  beatings and physical assaults on June 22/23. This incident will be etched in the memory of people for long. The case is being investigated by the CBI now.

          Second, what happened in a bank branch in Surat, Gujarat,  on the evening of June 22.  A woman bank employee in Canara Bank was assaulted at its Saroli branch in Surat. An FIR has been lodged and further investigation is now underway. The incident pertains to passbook entry request being ignored and avoided by the lady staff member to which the customer reacted ‘menacingly’  approaching the staff. Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitaraman, has spoken to the Police Commissioner to ensure the safety of employees in banks.

          In times of Lockdown like this, almost every individual is frustrated and disillusioned because of the  “Stress”  induced. To remain within homes like a prisoner not just can cause anxiety or irritation in the present, but could be a cause or worry permanently in the future if mental conditions get affected. Working from home may prevent many from losing their Income  (good essentially), but the positivity of face to face assessment, discussions, solutions, and actions ( beneficial and realtime) for the progress of work may still remain at stake.

          Work pattern and environment, whether familial or official,  are slowly undergoing a process beyond recognition because of the impact of COVID-19. Even under these stressful situations, ( something that is now to a majority of people in terms of the nature, implementation, and experience ), there are three key departments that lend their services without disruption :  Police,  Medical,  and  Banks. Services of individuals working in media and print need special commendation now. But direct contact is not evident here too.

          1. Doctor’s Case :  A couple of months ago a familial kin of mine had the opportunity to visit a Clinic along  with a friend and his wife who had to be tested. The Clinic is quite a reputed one with a flurry of activity usually. On that day there were only a few customers waiting. They were sitting in religious adoption of Social Distancing. After the treatment the doctor prescribed a few medicines. Amidst the conversation he also mentioned the possibility of a long period before any visible sign of a complete cure for the virus attack. When a couple of sisters came in to take the follow up instructions, ” the doctor made his voice heard clearly saying that he had already advised them to go to Government hospital. The patient already has redness and swelling in the face “. It was an open display of anger. Looking at the patients and my relative afterwards he also suggested that   “lockdown  has eased in foreign countries “.  It was an open admission of his treatment having come to an end. He gave the clue for a way out. A clear sign of the doctor under ‘heavy stress’.

          2. Bank Case :  Those working in Banks are exposed to a different set of problems altogether. Customer’s queries come first in the line. The concession that RBI has extended to the customers in terms of postponement of the loan/interest payments by three months (six months now) has created the highest degree of Confusion. Due passbook entry record has been shunned from the onset of lockdown. It is difficult to understand why it became a centre of controversy in the assault of a lady staffer in Canara Bank branch in Surat. Customer is tense because entry was avoided;  and the staffer was tense that while many sit at home only they had to come to the branch/office for work. A clear sign of “stress” playing its role in the attack.

          3. Police Case :  Police department is an entirely different case. The chances of police to grow tense because of work stress is higher than many others. Stress outlets appear in different forms and ways. To prevent them from reaching a stage beyond control, psychologists emphasize the need for Yoga and Meditation. But what happens in practice is different. Forget work environment. Saththankulam police case is a clear sign of police as also the victims under “Stress”.

          Even in our day to day lives our response to stress gets reflected on people who have no connection whatsoever with either the incident or the cause. We find it convenient to respond with anger to the house servants or the watch and ward staff. It is not uncommon to notice the house lady to clean the vessels/house noisily when in anger. Stress tells on house ladies too.

          Weeping is a basic and natural response to sorrow and grief. In an unanticipated death of a relative in a family it is not uncommon to see the concerned member of the family sitting like a maniac ; and relatives will start recounting the old remembrances to clear his mind from manic depression ;  the person will then start weeping along with others. Only then mind and soul will slowly relax.

          COVID-19  pandemic is an unprecedented tragedy. It has encompassed and affected the entire world. The stress emanating out of this is quite natural. It needs several outlets to get persons stay relaxed. Regular prayer ;  music ;  reading ;  and games  provide for some beneficial outlets.

          It is important at the same time to safeguard the interests and lives of others without the stress turning into a spree ( a killing spree as in the case of the police incident ;  an assault spree as in the case of the bank staffer getting attacked ;  or a verbal spree as in the case of the doctor ). 

          In such situations, the Government will be forced to take actions on criminals ;  assaulters ;  and  violators.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Tuesday,  July  14,  2020 –  3.39 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit :  ” My body needs laughter ; as much as it needs tears. Both are cleaners of Stress “.  –  Mahogany Silver Rain.

 

 

Standard

” COVID-19 and Traditional Indian Medicine – Thinking Out of the Box ” – July 11, 2020.

          Even as the World is shaking with fear of COVID-19, India with its record of containment seems to be signalling the world ” ” Don’t worry, Nobody has anything to fear from it “. A comforting signal.

          Hope, trust, and faith come from none other than India’s Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, Siddha, and Unani practitioners who have medicines for all types of diseases. The sad neglect of these doctors in the name of spirituality has stopped the deserving growth, plans, and spread of these medicines from moving forward. The Society in fact has been the loser.

          Siddha practitioners have elaborately detailed their processes of preparing medicines in Tamil Literature, specially, through songs. Many great practitioners are living amidst our general population even today. Without the proper rights of practice in this Medicine from the Government, they are in fact languishing with their skills not being brought to light. They categorise diseases in terms of  “Vata, Pitta, and Kapha”  and accordingly prescribe dieting and ‘powders, decoction, and pastes’ from special herbal leaves.

          When allopathy is struggling in its fight against COVID-19,  ‘Kabasura Kudineer’ or Choornam from Siddha practitioners gives its challengers a medicine to beat a path in treatment. Significant to note is the fact that many Government hospitals are providing Kabasura Kudineer to their patients daily.

          Siddha prescriptions come with tons of forces of immunity. When their claims are represented to the Government it should be immediately put to test for practice and not put it past use. There is the case of a Siddha practitioner sending his medicine to the Ayush misnistry for approval after a legal protest. But it is not a feasible proposition for every other practitioner to engage in protest and make the Ayush heed the proposal. The right to accept or reject the prescriptions after due tests always rest with the Ministry. But hesitance or reluctance should not be a factor for use of traditional medicines.

          Here’s a Suggestion :  ” It is imperative that Government allocate Special Funds for testing the effectiveness of these drugs from the practitioners of Siddha, Ayurveda, Homeopath, and Unani Medicine”.

          There is a pressing need for encouraging research in traditional medicines and extending support to the traditional practitioners. The main intent here is to use the knowledge and experience of these for the benefit of the Society.

          COVID-19 has provided an excellent opportunity for these practitioners to hold up their heads and ignore all the negatives that have been heaped so far. Even the courts have stressed the importance of Siddha Medicine emphasizing the need for a fresh look at its value and efficiency.

          States should take efforts to open medical centres with proper bedding facilities in every district catering to traditional medicine.

          Based on their research, precautionary measures to keep the population alert in situations like COVID-19 be followed is the general feeling among the aspiring social enthusiasts.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Saturday, July 11,  2020 –  1.59 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Nature is the best physician ”  –  Hippocrates.

Standard

” A Boon to Luxury Loving Travellers ” – July 10, 2020.

          Strict parents ;  strict colour codes ;  strict diet ;  strict logic ;  strict format in leisure ;  strict rules ;  strict policies ;  strict upbringing ;  strict goals –  all have become old-fashioned ideas today. Today’s world thrives on liberalism (Liberalisation) ; of being less strict. Globalisation has forced it on us. It gave a welcome fillip to privatisation as quality, convenience, efficiency, improvement, and fulfillment took prime concern and importance.

          Boosting private investment is the big gain of Liberalisation. When the public institutions/organisations engage in sale of their shares the private organisations which buy them become the beneficiaries with or without some control. The participation of the private organisations in  ‘transportation’  sector also facilitates them to evolve into a major transportation service provider. When air transportation was liberalised it helped build new airports with attendant gains and growth to get ahead in airline services. Likewise, private ships are also gaining ground.

          In the  ‘Railways Sector’  Government has permitted through IRCTC, the special Tejas trains from Delhi to Lucknow, and from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. Now the Government has sought applications from eligible private organisations to run 151 special private trains in 109 routes. This is likely to fetch ₹ 30000 crores in investment apart from creation of new job opportunities.

          At present there are 2800 mail/express trains running in various parts of the country. 151 private trains will be just 5% of the total. In 2019-2020  about 840 crore people travelled by train. About 5 crore people failed to get reservations in trains. About 13.3 %  couldn’t get reservations during summer and festival holidays – according to the Chief of Railway Board.

          The Government has decided to run the special private trains (151) from April 2023. These trains will be provided with modern facilities and services. Drivers and Guards of these trains will be railway employees. The coaches/compartments of these trains will be designed to attract those travelling by air and air-conditioned buses. Introduction of these new trains will not reduce either the existing trains or the existing railway employees in number. Cost of travel in these private trains being high, existing trains will have charges lower than these. While it will enable the willing travellers with a sense of high comfort to make the travel by these new trains ;  it will not restrict travel by the existing trains in any manner.

          A distinguishing aspect of these new trains is that there will not be any special passes or concessional charges for travel. Hence, the new trains will not be an impediment to the regular travellers in existing trains.

          On the one hand it helps secure fresh investments whole enhancing job opportunities. On the other hand it can satisfy those who want a luxuriously comfortable travel and who prefer these modern trains to airplanes. The Government probably feels that it has the responsibility to provide opportunities for the interested.

          People need to be satisfied of the need for a new system in any case, first. 

          It is an unimaginable luxury to travel by these trains, anyway.

          For the youth, who specially love the full enjoyment of liberal systems in general, it sure will be a boost to not just the ego, but also their confidence and morale.

          ” WELCOME TO THE NEW TRAINS THAT CAN SWALLOW YOUR CHILDREN’S INHERITANCE NOW ITSELF “

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Friday, July 10, 2020 – 9.29 a.m. (IST)

   Tidbit: ” Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind ”  –  Seneca.

 

 

 

Standard

” Is Agriculture the Old Dog that won’t Yield to New Tricks ?” – July 9, 2020.

        Eversince Independence in India several transformational changes have happened benefiting the lives of Citizens. Governments have changed ;  Governments have been dissolved properly/improperly. Whatever be, the plight of farmers – agricultural growth, the personification of change for promoting the livelihood of farmers – has mostly remained changeless. The Government, nevertheless,  should be commended for its strong, official statement that : ” we’ll  increase the farmers’  income twofold by 2022″.

          Well, statements should not become just the state-craft. It also has to be harvested and tasted for its completeness. It is in this context that the following three historic ordinances were passed, reinforcing the resolve of the Government to be ready for the harvest.

          First, the Essential Commodities Act 2020. This is actually 65 years old. To tide over unforseen situations and to release from the act of saving in a disciplined manner, the following have been removed from the list of necessary produce (rice, wheat, cereals, oil seeds, onion,and potato). Union Agriculture Minister has expressed the feeling that a country that has achieved self sufficiency in Agriculture may not need this.

          We may be aware that when onion prices had shot through the roof recently, hoarders were encouraged to collect and keep large amounts of onion in secret places. The above Act was used to take severe actions against them at that time. According to this amended Act merchants and organisations can save without limits. 

          Onlytime can tell what changes, pleasant or otherwise, will come out of this. The success of the Act lies in that.

          Second, the FPTC  Ordinance 2020 (Farmers’  Produce, Trade, and Commerce Act 2020).  Farmers can sell their produce in any place they choose to and according to the price they desire. There is no restraint that it should be sold only in a particular market at a particular price. Uptil now, procurement of Agricultural produce has been limited to Government markets. Price also was restricted to the minimum support price as determined by the Government markets. The amended Act paves the way for farmers’  produce to be sold  in private markets also. 

           Only time can tell as to what extent the private contribution will bestow in this situation.

          Third,  the FAPAFS  Ordinance 2020 ( Farmers’  Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance 2020).  This ensures the safety of price agreement for procurement between the farmers and farmer’s organisations reached according to the agreed cultivation contract at agreed price with the procurement Organisation. This is expected to enable farmers to engage in contract with big organisations at the same time deriving the benefit of technology assistance. Also, violation of the agreed contract price with organisations can be legally acted upon. It is hoped that this will facilitate a safe relationship between farmers and agricultural organisations.

          Only time can tell as to how this will turn out in future.

          It  cannot be denied that the enshrined laws incorporating several key elements of agricultural production and sale rests upon the linear vision of private contribution. Contribution and partnership of private organisations in Agriculture is considered essential accordingly. At the same time we need to remain cautioned about our total subservience to private contribution as history will enlighten.  “Farmers need to hold their heads high with a resolute look”  should be the ultimate goal.

          Most private organisations are profit oriented. Cooperative and Government organisations will never let their associates in lurch. A good example is the case of Milk Cooperative Organisations continuing with their contracts of milk procurement with producers even during this critical period of COVID-19 pandemic. Some private organisations have reduced their procurements from producers. They have also reduced the price by ₹ 4 or ₹ 5  suddenly.

          A cursory glance at the status of relationships between private organisations and agricultural producers/farmers in the past will make clear the following :  During 2005-2006, huge hoarding of wheat by private organisations caused India to import 5.5 million tonnes of wheat at twice the price. After this incident private organisations were restrained from direct purchase/procurement through farmers. 

          In 2006, in Bihar, the Government dissolved the APMC markets and brought to fore the private markets with the help of private investments. No significant change, however, emerged after this. Even now, merchants are selling their produce in Punjab every year. The simple and single reason is that the minimum support price exists only in APMC markets.

          Farmers still complain that cultivation cum sale agreement with private organisations lead to the following :  (1)  Farmers are compelled to agree to the input elements as dictated by private organisations ;  (2)  Private Organisations will procure only the well grown and quality produce from the farmers ;  and  (3)  The agreement also paves the way for a kind of subservience in future.

          Considering all of the above, it may be concluded that agreements/contracts with private organisations alone cannot be the single most crucial factor to bring about change in the livelihood of farmers.

          “A  SINGLE  TREE  DOES  NOT  MAKE AN  ORCHARD “.

 

   ” Dieu avec nous “

   Thursday, July 9, 2020 –  7.09 p.m. (IST)

   Tidbit : ” Farming is not a low hanging fruit that any trick can succeed “.

 

Standard