” Formidable Intellects of Our Times” – March 26, 2021.

Knowledge and information brightened up at the words of leaders tinged with humour, grace, and subtlety in Parliament , International meets, and Assembly houses in the past.

They are now facing the risks of being harmed and endangered with often insults, and physical attacks becoming common.

Here are some excellent examples of the conversation(s) reflecting the confident, impressive, and high quality performances recorded with great skill.

(a) A newsmagazine reporter asked Mahatma Gandhi the question : ” Why are you always travelling in III Class compartments in trains?” Gandhiji replied : ” Because the trains do not have IV Class compartments.”

(b) Gandhiji participated in the Round Table Conference in Buckingham Palace along with many political heads from other countries. King George V held a tea party for all of them on November 5, 1931. As is his wont Gandhiji attended the party in Khadi cloth (dhoti) raised upto his knees, a Khadi shawl covering his body and an ordinary Chappal – a light and comfortable open shoe. As soon as the party was over, news reporters approached him with interest and one of them asked Gandhiji, ” Didn’t you feel embarrassed to meet the King George V wearing these plain old clothes ?” Gandhiji replied smilingly : “No worries, King has compensated adequately with his multi pieced habliments “.

(c) Jawaharlal Nehru went to US for the first time in 1949. He was astounded by their style of life and with a puzzled frown on his face he remarked : ” Nobody should go to US as their first trip”. Those within the US get accustomed and habituated to this style of life without evoking any feelings of astonishment or bashfulness. Can we?

(d) V K Krishna Menon was on his visit to US to attend a UN meet. It was the time when America extended its help generously to Pakistan with defense equipments and armaments. Krishna Menon raised questions about the intent and application of the defense armaments supplied to Pakistan saying : ” America’s action is against the interests of India.” America defended its action : ” The armaments supply will not be used against India”. Krishna Menon’s reply in just a sentence was a revealing insight into the unusual incident as perceived by India. ” I am yet to see a Tiger that does not eat flesh”.

(e) An American news reporter once asked Indira Gandhi why she refuses to meet the Pakistan President Yahya Khan. India Gandhi replied : ” How can anyone shake hands with closed hands and arms?” What she meant was her inability to talk to a person who does not sport an open mind.

(f) There was a time when Rajiv Gandhi made frequent visits abroad. When he entered the Parliament after a long break, Mr Upendra, Telugu Desam Party and Opposition Leader, remarked : ” Let us all welcome our PM, Rajiv Gandhi, who makes his august presence in the Parliament by clapping our hands”. Rajiv Gandhi understood the trace of sarcasm and the subtle manner in which it was displayed. He smiled approvingly while handling the situation with a light touch.

(g) Soft hearted and well mannered Dr Manmohan Singh attended the meeting of the Asian Leaders in a neighbouring country. He had the opportunity to discuss with the Pakistan President on the sidelines. Pakistan President with total indifference to what the reaction will be, said : ” It is only an accident that you are the PM”. Astute that Dr Manmohan Singh always has been replied : “That I am the PM may just be an ‘event’ but by being the President you have put your nation’s democracy to a serious ‘accident’ of history”.

(h) In the 1957 State elections in TamilNadu, CN Annadurai , stood as the DMK party’s candidate in Kanchipuram . The opponent was a famous Medical Doctor. Famed actor, NS Krishna went to Kanchipuram to speak in support of CN Annadurai, alluding to the opposing Congress candidate as a great Doctor who provides excellent health care at nominal charges for the benefit of all people here. It will only be appropriate that he stays in Kanchipuram itself lending his services rather than going to the Assembly to fight for your needs. Let Annadurai fight for you in the Assembly. Choose him to be your representative. ” His speech was as humorous as it always has been in films.

(i) After the Gandhian leader, KKamaraj’s death, senior leaders of Congress (O) wanted to merge the party with India Congress (R). Erstwhile speaker and Kamaraj’s confidante, Chella Pandian was supposed to release the first statement. The statement was released supporting the merger. Youth leader, Kumari Ananthan, who was not in support of the merger remarked humorously : ” Chella Pandian has been a popular leader till yesterday ; he has been a pure conformist toeing the line of Kamaraj ever ; but supporting the merger now he has become ” Chelladha Pandian ” ( ‘ invalid Pandian’ ). The very next day Chella Pandian replied : ” I have been a ‘Chelladha Pandian’ yesterday ; I will remain one today ; and I will continue to be one ever”. I cannot follow any track other than what Kamaraj has taught me “. His ability, shrewdness, and sensitivity were on full display.

Let us all hope that we will get to hear such brilliant, illuminating, and intellectual exchanges with no hurt or damage to anyone’s feelings in future among leaders of all hues.

” Dieu avec nous ”

Friday, March 26, 2021 – 12.09 p.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” Intellect of the wise is like glass ; it admits the light of heaven and reflects it”. – Augustus Hare.

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” World Water Day 2021 – Water, the Driving Force of Nature” – March 22, 2021.

Water and Civilisations are closely interlinked from ages may be a revelation to a few, but a best known and familiar fact to many.

That many Civilisations have their origins near Waterbodies like Indus, Euphrates, and Tigris is history. Our research also shows the same aspect without a second thought.

About 75% of earth’s area is covered with water. Yet, three out of four individuals suffer from shortage of potable water. About 97. 5% of the available water in the world is salty and only 2.5% is fresh water. About 69% of fresh water is covered by snow and ice. Of this about 39% make up good water; about 3% constitute fresh water lakes ; and the rest constitute waste water.

Worldwide, the use of water is highest for farming activities. It constitutes about 85%. About 10% for manual, industrial, and craft work. Only the remaining 5% for domestic use.

It is important to know that how our population uses water will be the chief determinant of the quality of life of everyone in future. Urbanisation causes many problems. Water scarcity ; poor health consequences ; and susceptibility to water borne diseases ; are some factors to be kept in mind if we want to strive to be first or strive for perfection in protecting the water resources. We have already reached a level where total acceptance to the growing water problem is a norm.

Human population increases by 9 crores every year. Concomitant with this our need for water is also on the rise. For every 8 seconds an infant dies due to non availability of safe water according to one statistics. About 1 crore and 50 lakh children die every year. Also on the rise is death due to water borne diseases.

Water scarcity and Global Warming are the two most dangerous challenges that the world faces today. The minds of experts, researchers, analysts, academicians, and even common citizens are filled with worries as discussions have been growing to protect humankind from these disasters.

According to the world water programs by UNESCO, about 30% of available water for every human being will be reduced in the next 20 years. As at present, about 40% of our population is capable of meeting their water requirements for their sustenance of minimum health care.

The biggest change, if any, that one will notice in the 21st Century will probably be the “Water War”. Awareness of Conservation of water ; Safety of Water ; and Saving Water are the three aspects seriously lacking amongst us at this juncture.

Need for water increases in direct proportion to the growth of nation and growth of technology. To tide over these difficulties the one aspect that needs utmost concentration is to correct ourselves on the three aspects mentioned earlier. Wasting water without due reasons and using water disproportionately will only exacerbate the scarcity.

Awareness to the three factors mentioned above should begin from every house and reach every street, every school, every locality, and every village. Rain water harvesting should also become a basic responsibility of every citizen.

It was in 1992 during the UN Conference on Environment, a decision to celebrate the World Water Day on March 22 every year from 1993 was reached.

The theme of World Water Day 2021 is “Valuing Water”.

Water holds a greater value than even our shelter, food, culture, health, education, and economy in our society today.

But we still remain insensitive to Valuing Water even while improvements have been noticed in many areas in the last 10 years.

Because the demand exceeds supply, water today has become a competitive cum market unit in our discussions and deals.

Beyond the orbit where human beings inhabit, no other sphere of planets seem to have life according to researchers of the day.

Hence the research until today discounting the existence of human beings in moon or Mars which have been fairly explored.

World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of Global Water Crisis and a core focus of observance is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 – Water and Sanitation for all by 2030.

Most religious texts laud water as the most sacred requirement of human beings. There is nothing softer than water in this world but even the most strong objects of human innovation and use can be destroyed by the force of water.

Thiruvalluvar, the great Tamil Poet, in his Thirukkural (Bible of Tamil Land) says the following in excellence of water and rain : ” When water fails, functions of Nature cease you say ; thus when rain fails, no man can walk in deity’s ordered way” Thirukkural 20.

For the villages and cities to prosper ; For the nations to prosper ; For the World to prosper ; Let us resolve to protect the wealth of Water.

” Dieu avec nous ”

Monday, March 22, 2021 – 10.19 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” Thousands have lived without love, but not one without water”.

Canadians are stewards of one fifth of the world’s fresh water. And with three mighty oceans and nearly 2 million lakes in their backyard, Canada truly is a Watery Wonderland.

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” Duty is God ; Work is Worship ” – March 21, 2021.

A 38 year old former employee of the Mercedes factory in Vitoria city, Spain, with his longstanding grudge against the management drove a wheel loader and destroyed nearly 50 finished vehicles parked and kept ready to be delivered. The damage caused was estimated at $ 6 million. It was a gunshot fired into the air by a security guard that stopped his deadly action and got him arrested by the Police. Authorities cite that as, ” work related revenge attack”. It was also learnt that he damaged nearly 70 vehicles while on course to bring the wheel loader to the factory.

John D Rockefeller, the Standard Oil giant, U. S. A. displayed the beneficent and beautiful side of his personality ( contrary to the general description of him being ungodly to his workers who were made to endure low wages, dangerous conditions, miserable housing, and persistent debt) during a strike by his workers in a refinery, which became a revolt and finally a flare-up nearly uncontrolled. Rockefeller invited the Employee leaders for a discussion. His metamorphosis as a grace endowed negotiator was stunning but his facundity in the talks erased all the repulsive impressions that employees held until that moment. Those who wanted him hanged finally embraced him with reverence. They also vowed to make good the losses incurred by working harder than ever. It made them forget the wage rise they were seeking and made them report for work the very next day. What was the secret of this transformation? It was the conciliatory approach to the problem with a clear understanding of the situation ; an astute grip on possible solutions ; and the realisation of the future impact that effectively got the workers tied to the task of restoring work efficiently.

What happened in Kolar District, Karnataka, on Sunday, December 13, 2020, will remind everyone about at least the two incidents briefly narrated above.

Narsapura Industrial Estate is the proud holder of the famous “Winstron” factory which makes supplementary parts for the famed IT trio of Apple, Microsoft, and Lenova. With its HQ in Taiwan, the factory with an investment of Rs 3000 crores is one of the 16 software manufacturers that the Indian Government has recognised.

On that fateful day, the factory was damaged by the employees (themselves) at 5.30 a.m. inflicting losses estimated at 437 crores.

Unions generally take pride in the fact that, ” factories and employees” constitute the ‘Two Pillars’ of economic growth.

The employees of Winstron have engaged in this destructive act for their perceptions of poor salaries and salaries not paid in the last four months.

What has happened can be described succinctly as the confrontation between the two Pillars with one Pillar bringing the other Pillar to Ashes. Employees brought down the factory.

About 8000 people were employed in this factory. It worked in two shifts. About 1400 are directly recruited with others employed on contract basis.

Their main grievances are : (a) Salary not paid for four months ; (b) instead of the 8 hour work schedule imposition of a 14 hour work schedule ; (c) not being paid for the extra work time ; (d) not providing necessary amenities for women workers ; and (e) providing food of poor quality.

Despite making several representations, the management did not pay heed to their grievances.

Result : Widespread anger and their felt need to find a way to express their pent up anger. It made them take to weapons and allying themselves with anti social elements in the society.

“Anger destroys and ruins oneself ” said Bharatiyar, the great Tamil Poet, and if only the workers had reminded themselves of this during that fateful moment .. .. “Winstron” would have retained its fame and glory.

Union leaders justify their acts citing the following : First, reduction in wages ; An engineer’s salary of Rs 21000/- per month has been reduced to Rs 16000/- and then further down to Rs 12000/-. A worker holding a Diploma found his salary reduced from Rs 11000/- to Rs 5000/-. Even this was not credited to their accounts on the scheduled dates.

So on Sunday, December 13, 2020, at 5.30 a.m. about 428 employees combining with anti social elements set fire to the factory causing serious disruption and damages.

Same is the case with the struggle and scuffle due to the Farmers’ Protest in Delhi. That they have damaged more than 1500 cell towers cannot be easily forgotten and forgiven even if their demands are met tomorrow. The cost of damage is enormous and the cost of restoration will not only be enormous but time consuming too.

” The spiritual weapon of employees is Marxism; and the Employee is Marxism’s physical weapon” – the adage that was forgotten causing the loss. Karl Mark also said : ” the sweat and toil of workers is the biggest investment of the owners (capitalists).” That very same investment has been brought to Ashes on this day in December.

COVID-19 had presented serious challenges to factories and companies. Many factories closed last year still remain closed. Instead of feeling happy that “Winstron” has been functioning at least in two shifts, engaging in such destructive actions is not justifiable by any argument.

After damaging vehicles costing Rs 60 lakhs ; iPhone costing Rs 15 crores ; CCTVs and Refrigerators costing about Rs 10 crores ; and damaging other amenities besides the tangible treasures of reputation, job potential, and progress ; from where and from what will the employees comfort themselves in future poses a mystery.

The cause of the catastrophic results lies in the forgetfulness of the workers to the famous dictum : ” Work is God”.

” Dieu avec nous ”

Sunday, March 21, 2021 – 10.37 a.m.(IST)

Tidbit : ” God is working in everybody’s life, right now in ways one doesn’t understand “.

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” International Day of Happiness 2021″ – March 20, 2021.

Today, March 20, 2021, is International Day of happiness.

The theme for this day is, “Keep calm, Stay wise, and Be kind”.

I observe in this year’s theme a pleasant coincidence of thoughts and ideas that the celebrated Tamil Poet, Thiruvalluvar has given in his ‘Bible of the Tamil Land’ through his couplets called sacred verses.

The theme of the World Happiness Day 2021 chime in well with Thiruvalluvar’s 734th couplet which means : ” Kingdom is that which continues to be free from excessive starvation, irremediable epidemics, and destructive foes”.

In vernacular Tamil it reads : ” Urupasiyum Ovaap Piniyum Seruppakaiyum Saraa Thiyalvadhu Naatu”.

(a) If one stays calm and secure one doesn’t have to fear any fierce opponent ; (b) If one stays wise one can relieve oneself from the shackles of diseases ; and (c) If one stays kind one can relieve the hunger that strikes any individual. These are what I understand from Thiruvalluvar’s couplet to be his recipe for happiness.

Economic deprivation and Social inequality are the two serious impediments to any nation’s progress according to many researchers.

Economic deprivation causes poverty and hunger ; Social inequality causes physical and mental health problems.

(a) Poverty and Hunger : About 19 crore people go to bed without food every night in India. There are about 50000 beggars in Delhi, the capital city of India alone. About 67 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in India. Renowned Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen, emphatically says that shortage of food is not the primary reason for poverty in India. It is their diminished capacity to buy/purchase the needed things that results in poverty. It follows from this that the two primary courses of actions needed are to : (a) prevent the wastage of food items ; and (b) raise the buying/purchasing power of citizens. Happiness restored.

(b) Physical and mental diseases : You visit a doctor for treatment of any ailment ; you will hear the doctor posing two questions : ” Do you have diabetes ? and Have you ever suffered from heart disease before?” It is only the revelation of the dreadful impact that these two diseases can cause in human beings. On both these counts, China stands First with high incidence of these diseases ; and India stands Second. Apart from practices of allopathic cure, basic changes in life style activities can help combat the diseases considerably. Healthy food habits, exercise, and avoidance of polluted environment are just to cite three. Mental health is as important as physical health which does not distinguish between people of wealthy or poor countries. About 10 lakh people commit suicide every year because of poor mental health. Another study points to the fact that one in four individuals in their lifetime succumb to dangerous mental health. To be excessively subservient to others ; extreme desire to keep people under one’s control ; superiority /inferiority complexes displayed by individuals ; addiction to smoking/drinking ; and ostentatious lifestyle beyond control are some characteristics noticed among people suffering from mental diseases. Engage in lifestyle changes and be wise to control physical and mental health. Happiness restored.

Afghanistan is the least happy nation in the world ; Finland is the happiest nation in the world – according to the UN World Happiness Report 2021.

India ranks 139 out of 149 countries the report has surveyed. Sad, not to be proud of anyway.

Pakistan ranks 105 ; China ranks 84 ; Sri Lanka ranks 129 ; Bangladesh ranks 101. All these countries score better than India.

We, Indians in general are by nature individuals worried about the future. A transformation in mindset shifting the worries of tomorrow to the lives and activities of today is my SOLUTION to happiness.

” Dieu avec nous ”

Saturday, March 20, 2021 – 9.25 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” We have 1440 minutes everyday, that is we have 1440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.”

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” Youth Will Get Older One Day” – March 19, 2021.

Psychologically void of support, reclusiveness, diseases accompanying old age, and not being able to act independently are the host of problems that old people face in general.

While medical treatment helps to prolong their life, it doesn’t much help to enhance their ‘peace psychology’ is a fact that society should keep in mind.

There is no universal solution to this problem.

Everyone should be better at remembering this aspect of the elderly in the society. Then only the Government will be remembered for its achievements.

If India can boast of its youth power, it can also boast of holding a good percentage of the elderly ( above 60 years of age). This population is expected to reach 30 crores by 2050. About 70% of the elderly are poor ; almost illiterate ; face the dire need for working hard to meet their ends without being subjected to hunger, abject poverty, and impoverishment. Specially, for the ladies this presents the most challenging problem. About 65% of the elderly ladies depend on others for their basic subsistence. About 30% of the elderly ladies do not own anything to meet their daily expenses. It is dreadful to even think of the ways how they can solve their problems of health under these circumstances.

National Health Policy for Older Persons (1999) visualised that : (a) the state will extend support for their financial security, health care, shelter, welfare and other needs of older persons ; and (b) provide protection against abuse and exploitation, make available opportunities for the development of the potential of older persons and seek their participation to improve the quality of their lives. (NPOP, 1999). But the responsibility for taking care of the older persons is left to their kith and kin entirely. Hence, those on the lines of poverty cannot adequately keep the older persons comfortable.

Our constitution ( 41 and 47 conditions) spells out clearly the responsibility of the Government to protect older persons and to ensure the availability of proper health care. Responding to this, the Government and the States should take necessary steps to allocate financial resources and engage in truthful action.

Former Union Minister and renowned lawyer, Ashwani Kumar, filed a suit in the Supreme Court for the protection and welfare of the older persons. ” In particular, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the responsibility to protect the elders assume special significance.

Priority to elders for admission in public hospitals and treatment procedures should be accorded ” – held the court of sessions comprising judges, Ashok Bhushan, and R S Reddy ( August 4, 2020).

Ashwani Kumar again filed another suit in the Supreme Court when no other States except Punjab and Orissa complied with the orders.

It was heard by the judges in their sitting last month and ordered that, ” private hospitals also should accord priority for admission and treatment of elders/seniors”. They also sought proper explanation /answers in respect of Ashwani Kumar’s suggestions within a period of three months.

This makes it clear that States have a responsibility for the health care of older persons – an order reiterated by the Supreme Court in August 2020.

Policies and Programmes of the Government need to be prepared with as much focus on elderly as they are with youth welfare.

It is imperative for the Government to establish that Indian Culture ever holding an esteemed value for the opinions and ideas of elders and their experiences will strive to inspire confidence treading the course on the right tack.

” Dieu avec nous ”

Friday, March 19, 2021 – 5.41 p.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” I am getting older ; I am also becoming mature and wise. My role is also changing better. Don’t ignore me.”

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” The Bank Strike That was Unwelcome” – March 19, 2021.

There was this two-day Bank Strike on 15 and 16, March, 2021, at the end of which the Employee Unions’ Leader pronounced what has now become the usual statement : ” Our strike has been totally successful; employees and officers solidly stood behind us”.

What does this mean to the common citizen? Haven’t we heard of the doctor declaring on many occasions : ” We tried our best ; the treatment has been excellent, but the patient died”. If as a common man you see some familiar and natural feelings of deja vu after listening to the statements above, you are not out of your depth.

The call from the strike emerged from the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFPB) which represents nine bank unions. About 10 lakh people participated in the strike. Government’s budget announcement regarding the privatisation of two banks (names still not specified ) was the raison d’etre.

Employees of Banks engaging in such strikes is not new. Often during the process of negotiations and discussions on salary hikes, it is common for the unions to bring pressure to bear on the authorities to arrive at a mutually consensual decision. But the fact remains that the power of the unions to use Strike as an armour in these discussions have waned, specially in the last decade or so.

Just as the employees’ participation in strikes is enshrined in the rights of Employee Regulatory Frame, the authorities also are endowed with the responsibility of reducing the Employee strength or terminating some activities for effective performance. All these are, however, conditional.

We may all be familiar with the nationalisation of banks in 1969 and in 1980. Since the 1990s with private banks like ICICI and HDFC commencing operations and growing phenomenally there has been disruption of the monopoly status of the Government banks. One reason for this is the introduction of computers and digital technology in their operations giving them the head start with their personnel being treated fully as employees/associates without the involvement of the unions. Because of this they also remained immune to the serious impacts of strikes by other unions. Even in the public sector banks the existence of net banking, mobile banking, and ATMs have ensured the usual functioning of the many services rendered. Perhaps the exchange of cheques /drafts between the banks (clearing house), cash deposits and withdrawals, and issuance of DD/PO are the functions that got seriously impeded.

According to the principle of, “No work, no pay”, the employees may lose their income for the days of strike. Also, while commencing their work after the strike period, they are likely to be under extra work Pressure /Stress. Hence, the involvement of employees in the process of strike does not reflect their happiness in reality.

While strikes for increased emoluments of workers/employees may be a reality from their point of view, strikes for other causes as in the present case plays to the contrary. Nobody would like to lose wages unnecessarily. Further, the purpose and intention of the unions are also being viewed in doubt these days. Yet, if they participate it is largely because of the need for projecting a sense of oneness with their leaders. Cases of feigning illness and even getting admitted in the hospital as a means of avoidance is also becoming common now.

That the Centre with its majority power has been reflecting its resolve to carry forward their decisions in a bold and resolute manner is clear in this instance. It has no obstacles in formulating the needed amendments. Also, the declining support for such strikes among the people is on the rise.

A consistent pattern of behaviour to oppose the government efforts by the unions may also cause erosion of support from all even for ‘just’ causes in future. They should focus more on the overall welfare of the workers/employees in partnership with the Government. The government has also dismissed the possibility of any difficulty in any form to the banks, – be they the banks to be privatised or others.

The government will implement the move certainly ; there is no stopping the privatisation of the two banks already announced.

The strike by workers will largely remain “Symbolic” without any real impact.

” Dieu avec nous”

Friday, March 19, 2021 – 3.59 p.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” A preemptive action today, however well justified, may come back with unwelcome consequences in the future “. – Bill Clinton.

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” Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover ” – March 17, 2021.

A highly prestigious and famous company in UK once imported a huge, expensive, and modern machine cum equipment from Japan. The cost of the machine ran into crores.

Japanese manufacturer had sent a team of experts to install the machine in UK. One among the team members is a 20 year old young boy. With his twinkling bright eyes and sharp responses to queries the boy smilingly mingled with everyone in the team for most part of the day prior to installation. The Chief of the UK company, however, did not like the boy much.

Installation about to commence in 2 to 3 days he sent an e:mail communication to the Japanese manufacturer : ” We imported your machine spending really a huge fortune. You have sent your service team comprising a small boy. We received them at the airport and accommodated them in a hotel. It appears that they have come here for a vacation tour. Installation of this huge machine is not a small task and I wouldn’t want the boy to even touch the machine during the process of installation.”

Japanese manufacturer sent his reply promptly : ” We stand forgiven. It has sure been our mistake. We will send a senior member immediately. The boy will, however, be there ; but without touching or handling the machine or parts in any manner “.

The senior member reaches UK in time for the installation. He works with the team members actively. The boy, however, was sitting in a place away from the installation spot. Team members gather together during tea breaks , lunch, and dinner. Installation gets completed in 3 days satisfactorily. It was a thorough and perfect job.

A sense of guilt pervades the mind of the UK Chief that he possibly shouldn’t have acted in a harsh manner sending the e:mail. The boy in his usual smiling manner strolls around the hallway.

Feeling that a proper expression of his guilt will take the load off his mind, the UK Chief approaches the senior member and said : ” Sorry, this has been our prestigious project. Huge machine ; huge expenditure. Should there be any problem during installation it will be a a serious impediment to the progress of our Project. That is why I asked for a senior even when I liked the boy and his energetic actions. It made me feel that the small boy was not the right person. Hence, my request earlier “. He was polite and his expression was polished.

The senior member replied : ” Oh, it is alright sir, we give enormous respect to our clients. Immediately after receiving your request I was asked to prepare for the task by my Organisation. Now the machine is installed perfectly and is working exceptionally well too. But I must add an important information, he hesitatingly says .. “

The UK Chief enthuses him : ” Oh, fine, please tell me whatever you want to say “.

The senior member said : ” I am only a senior working in the Stores section of our Organisation. I cannot even distinguish between a B and a battledore. This machine is not even known to me “.

The UK Chief stood stunned. He asked the senior : “How did you work on this installation ?”.

The senior member said : ” During work, I will go to the boy ; ask him what to do ; take his instructions ; and follow it religiously. That is all what I did. “

With his mind perplexed, the UK Chief asked him : ” How could the boy have given you proper instructions without coming near the machine ?”

The senior member said : ” It was possible for him bacause he is the person who invented and designed the machine. “

The UK Chief felt how great a mistake he has made in Leadership.

Never underestimate the talents of anyone.

” Dieu avec nous “

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 – 11.47 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” The idol may be small ; its fame is big “. ” Don’t measure the worth of a person by their size/shape.”

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” Everyone in the World is a Consumer – World Consumer Rights Day ” – March 15, 2021.

The World is One. If I am to name one aspect of our everyday actions that binds everyone into a single unitary human being, it is the aspect of “consuming”, meaning the “use of things” for our lives. Every human being in this World is a “”consumer”, one way or another.

Manusmriti and Arthashastra in our culture ; Muhammad Nabi in Islamic culture ; and Holy Bible Book of Proverbs in Christian culture – all even from 3000 years ago vouch for this.

Holy Bible, Chapter 11, Verse 1 says this : ” A false balance is abomination to the Jehovah ; but a just weight is his delight “. I understand from this, references to traders using false balance and weights even in those days.

Muhammad Nabi said : ” Dear Muslim traders ! Our success in this World and the Hereafter lies in conducting trade in accordance with the Sunnah. May Allah make us follow the Sunnah and levels of integrity, truth, honesty, and trust while conducting trade, business, or selling “. Again, I understand from this, references to traders having used unfair practices even in those times.

Manusmriti, the ancient legal text and constitution of Hinduism ( translated into English in 1776 by British Philologist, Sir William Jones for British Colonial Government and rule ) prescribes the Code of Conduct for Trade along with punishments for breaching the Code.

Kautilya’s “Arthashastra” emphasizes that States shall ensure commercial activities to be truthful and transparent to consumers with adulteration of grains, oils, salt, medicines etc to be punished with severe fine(s). He also prescribed safeguards and policy measures for Trade. This was 2400 years ago, remember. Again, I understand from this, references to adulteration of products even in those days are evident.

What is happening now is nothing new. Today the word “consumer” has become an interrogation point. A constant barrage of advertisements in the Social Media, specially, makes us buy even things that are not essential to our means of living. Traders, businessmen, and e-commerce giants do not hesitate to dump their poor quality goods by propagating to sell at a very low price.

Every Organisation is keen to project itself as the best producer/dealer of quality goods in the ‘rat race. No one should miss the fact that “profit” remains the prime motive of businessmen.

It was only on March 15, 1962, the then US President, John F Kennedy, declared Four basic Consumer Rights – ” the right to Safety ; the right to be Informed ; the right to Choose ; and the right to be Heard ” – and established the Consumer Bill of Rights. The day came to be recognised as the ‘World Consumer Rights Day’.

We have the basic right not to buy any product of a substandard quality. Consumer Protection Act of 2019 enables a harassed or cheated consumer to make legitimate complaints against manufacturers and dealers.

United Nations in 1985 (April 16) had prescribed some guidelines for Consumer Protection and on December 9, 2015, added a few more.

We in India too have the Consumer Protection Act enunciated on December 24, 1986. A revised one in the light of emerging e-commerce frauds and false advertisements has been made on August 9, 2019. Necessary actions to curtail business embezzlement practices are also initiated in full swing.

Even at the District, State, and National level organisations for protection of consumers are functioning. The complaints lodged in these organisations need to be investigated and a verdict arrived at within 90 days. But in many States even the Heads of these organisations are not filled yet resulting in inordinate delays in proper investigations and in innumerable number of cases the results are still pending.

This situation needs to change.

Today, March 15, is the “World Consumer Rights Day “.

” Dieu avec nous “

Monday, March 15, 2021 – 10.27 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” Each of us is like all of us and like no one else ; We are one Human Family “.

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” Do Not Accept Pay for Showing Kindness, Says Mother ” – March 7, 2021.

” Atraar Azhipasi Theerththal Aqdhoruvan

Petraan Porulvaip Puzhi ” – Thirukkural 226 by the great Tamil Poet, Thiruvalluvar. Translated, it means : ” Let man relieve the wasting hunger men endure ; for treasure gained thus finds his treasure house secure.”

Here’s a real story from the life of a Gynecologist that lives to remind us all about its meaning .

There was this boy Howard Kelly, who earned his living by selling and distributing small wares from home to home everyday. Heavy work prolonged his agony of extreme hunger one day. He didn’t have money to buy a meal. He decided to seek help from a neighbouring home. He knocked on the door of the house and waited. A lady opened the door. He wanted to ask for a meal but shyness prevented him from speaking further. Nervous and embarrassed, he asked her, ” Can I have a glass of water to drink ?”

The lady quickly judged his feelings of hunger and pain. She brought a large glass of milk for him to drink. The boy was too happy after drinking the milk and wondered how he felt deeply indebted to her for the support.

The lady replied : ” For an act of love there is no price at all. This is what my Mother taught me. Do not accept pay for showing kindness. I did just that “.

The boy expressed his thanks to her and left the place stronger and with greater resolve to accomplish something in life.

Years passed. Toiling hard and paddling his own canoe for resources, the boy finally accomplished his dream of becoming a Doctor. He was also working in a hospital in the same city.

As chance would have it, the lady suffering from a dreadful disease has been admitted in the same hospital for treatment. And the boy happened to be the Doctor who had to treat her. He was given the medical report of the lady for consultation and treatment. The moment he saw the lady’s name and the place she came from, a sudden thought and meaning flashed through his mind and he immediately rushed to the ward to see her. His feelings were proved right. She is the same lady who gave him a glass of milk when he was a boy.

From that very moment he put his best attention, care, and treatment to the lady. She got cured after prolonged treatment. Hospital treatment consumed lakhs in fees and other expenses for her cure. Hospital authorities prepared the bill containing a long list of medical care fees.

To her utter astonishment she could not imagine how she will pay the bill. But the two sentences at the end of the bill by the Doctor were even more surprising to her. The Doctor had written the following : ” We are submitting the bill. You don’t have to pay a penny even. The glass of milk I consumed as a boy from you takes care of everything. It is time to express my thanks for your support.”

The boy was none other than the famous Doctor, Howard Atwood Kelly, ( 1858 – 1943 ), the American Gynecologist.

Everybody reading this may like to say many things. But, our great Tamil Poet, Thiruvalluvar, has said that succinctly in his famous two line verse : ” Wiping out the hunger of the have nots is the treasury the haves have deposited their wealth “.

” Dieu avec nous “

Sunday, March 7, 2021 – 9.49 p.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” Howard Atwood Kelly along with William Osler, William Halsted, and William Welch together were known as the “Big Four”, the founding Professors at the John Hopkins’s Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.”

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” Cooking Gas Cylinder Prices – Extremely Concerning Conundrum ” – March 5, 2021.

Common men and women are not in their usual happy self today. If they had a gander first at the prices of Gold, Petrol, Diesel, and Vegetables/fruits in the morning newspapers everyday, it has now extended to the prices of ‘cooking gas cylinder’ too.

A perceptible change specially in the last couple of months of this new decade.

” No cooking sans a gas cylinder ” will be the prevailing norm in houses soon. It has become more than essential.

PM Modi under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) scheme launched on May 1, 2016, made gas connections in homes a priority Scheme. It helped shift the poor from their dependence on wood, and kerosene to cooking gas cylinders for their needs. There was also the pleasant element of subsidy associated with the scheme. But not any longer now. Gas cylinder prices are shooting up and the subsidy element has become nil.

From March 1, 2021, the price of a 14.2 kg cylinder has been raised by ₹ 25/-. From February 4, 2021, this is the fourth increase. On February 4, 2021, the price was hiked by ₹ 25/-. On February 15, 2021, it was increased by ₹ 52.50. On February 25, 2021, it was again hiked by ₹ 25/-. Within a month the rise in cylinder price has been ₹ 127.50. If calculated from December 2020 the rise has been ₹ 225/- or more.

In tea stalls, eateries, restaurants and other commercial establishments the 19 kg cylinder has increased by ₹ 287/- in the last couple of months to a level close to ₹ 1775/-.

This is regarding subsidy : In December 2019 when the cooking gas cylinder price was ₹ 714/-, the subsidy extended was ₹ 174/-. Now, when the cooking gas cylinder price is ₹ 835/- the subsidy is only ₹ 25/- and many do not get that even.

The seemingly uncontrolled increase in the last couple of months are more due to reasons beyond Government’s control is what is perplexing everyone. Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan’s explanation of the increase being only temporary that will be moderated by the end of winter adds to the perplexity. That the price increases and the subsequent nil subsidy element have helped the Government mop up at least ₹ 20000 crores is glaringly obvious. ” Benefits to Government if there is profit ; and Burden to People if there is loss ” – seems to be the guideline in price fixing.

The poor and downtrodden who gleefully shifted to gas cylinder use will revert to their old habits of wood, stoves, and kerosene at homes again. True, “Old Habits Die Hard ” , will they feel comfortable now ?

Big GDP Growth, big schemes, big plans , big programs, and big initiatives are not for the inexperienced, ignorant, and the incognizant. Nor would they be interested to understand them .

A fair course of action for the Government will be to space the increase, if any, in prices of cylinders once in 6 months. Else, those who willingly shifted to gas cylinders earlier will retreat to their traditional ways again.

” Dieu avec nous “

Friday, February 5, 2021 – 10.29 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” IOC, BPCL, and HPCL command the lion’s share of the LPG market “.

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