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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Democracy...?

In management lessons we used to listen to various stories from around the world that tried to teach us one management principle or other. There were 3 stories regarding a Shoe company with different circumstances and, obviously, varying morals. Today I remember the story of the Japanese Shoe company where the workers decided to go on strike as their demands were not considered.

Being the most industrious and creatively productive citizens of all, these Japanese workers invented a new kind of strike that taught a lesson to the world about constructive protesting. What they did was incredible – they didn’t closed down the production units nor did they stop the work as the production contributing to nation’s GDP should not be hampered, let alone shouting defaming slogans or vandalizing. They continued the work as usual manufacturing same number of shoes as they did with a little difference though – they made shoe for only one foot in double quantity. If they were making 100 pairs of shoes per day, they made 200 shoes for a single, say left foot.

This simply meant the productivity of the unit was maintained but the product was not marketable as the factory couldn’t market only one shoe as there would be no takers except for the rare ones who have lost their one foot in some accident. The dispute had to settle one way or other, no matter how long would it take, as the society runs on a fair exchange policy and those workers would make the same quantity of shoes for the other, say right foot when things are settled between them and management.

Wherever there is exchange, give and take transaction, dispute may arise, it is inevitable. Nobody has any right to underestimate the lawful right of other party to make it a fair exchange. And whenever a situation of disagreement arrives, there’s no harm in protesting for your demands, provided those are legitimate. Nevertheless, the way and manner in which such protest is carried out shows the culture and maturity of that civilization.

Democracy is the relatively better system of governance in today’s world and its principle virtue lies in granting freedom of expression to its people, no doubt. Every citizen of democracy has a right to have an opinion, express it and make it public, if the need be. However this same right is one side of the coin and the other side is the responsibility, responsibility towards their countrymen. The coin of ‘right’ always has ‘responsibility’ on other side and ‘being worthy of democracy’ is the ‘edge’ of that coin. One has to mature to a certain level to earn the right as well as the responsibility, nothing is granted!

Our National Pledge has three important lines that nobody should forget ever –
‘I shall always strive to be worthy of it’;
‘To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion’ and
‘In their well-being and prosperity alone, lies my happiness.’

What makes bringing up all this today? Well, being a conscientious, sensitive and socially responsible proud citizen of my Nation, I just can’t stand even the thought of slightest damage to the National property, let alone destroying, smashing or wrecking up anything that belongs to anybody, even a crook.

This week started with the protest and strike of the dairy farmers of Maharashtra is all over the news. There could be disagreements between Government and these dairy farmers and they might have some legitimate demands that they want to be considered. It is completely agreeable that they have all the right to protest for their demands and even get down to streets to seek attention of the system, but is that wasteful protest necessary? Why do you need to spill gallons of milk on the road? Particularly when we are ranked 97 in the Global Hunger Index based on Child Undernourishment and Child Mortality, in the league of Sub-Saharan countries. And top of that, how can anybody do it cheerfully with such a pleasurable enthusiasm, beats me! Just check out the photo...

 News

Germany, known for its excellence in automobile, is the leading European country in terms of growing economy and GDP. However Germans are very keen about their Common Resources and National Property. Here’s an account of experience of an Indian while her visit to Germany –

“When I arrived at Hamburg, my colleagues who work in Hamburg arranged a welcome party for me in a restaurant. As we walked into the restaurant, we noticed that a lot of tables were empty. There was a table where a young couple was having their meal.

There were only two dishes and two cans of beer on the table. I wondered if such a simple meal could be romantic, and whether the girl will leave this stingy guy. There were a few old ladies at another table. When a dish is served, the waiter would distribute the food for them and they would finish every bit of the food on their plates. We did not pay much attention to them, as we were looking forward to the dishes we ordered. As we were hungry, our local colleague ordered more food for us.


As the restaurant was quiet, the food came quite fast. Since there were other activities arranged for us, we did not spend much time dining nor did we consume the entire food that we had ordered. When we left, there was still about one third of the unconsumed food left on the table.


When we were about to leave the restaurant, we heard someone calling us. We noticed that the old ladies in the restaurant were talking about us to the restaurant owner. When they spoke to us in English, we understood that they were unhappy about us wasting so much food. We immediately felt that they were really being too busybodies. ‘We have paid for the food that we had ordered, it is none of your business how much food we left behind,’ my colleague told the old ladies.


The old ladies were furious. One of them immediately took her hand phone out and made a call to someone. Within a few minutes, a man in uniform claimed to be an officer from the Social Security Organization arrived. Upon knowing what the dispute was, he issued us a 50 euro fine. We kept quiet. My local colleague took out and gave him a 50 euro note and repeatedly apologized to the officer.


The officer told us in a stern voice, ‘Order what you can consume, the money is yours, but resources belong to the society. There are many others in the world, who are facing shortage of resources. You have no right to waste the nation’s resources.’


Our face turned red. We all agreed with him in our hearts. The mindset of people of this rich country put all of us to shame. We really need to reflect on this. My colleague took copies of the fine ticket and gave a copy to each of us as a souvenir. This will always remind us that we shall never be wasteful."


By the way, the Japanese and Germans might have shown their commitment and devotion for their respective nation’s productivity and resources, it’s not all gloomy picture at home. The same Maharashtra that is witnessing the wrath of dairy farmers on the date also hosts Mendha Lekha – the first and only village of just 500 population that fought a long peaceful fight to retain their democratic rights and set an example for the world of how a unified effort of a society can have its way to win its almost autonomous local self governance system for living democratically in letter and spirit within a sovereign state by completely respecting and regarding the national constitution of an independent nation. Have a look –

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Solution...!


Migrating to Cities is a global phenomenon that cannot be avoided nor could be detested, only negotiated and not compromised. 'Our Common Future' resides in Urban developments and to make it 'Collective', Architecture as an Art, Skill and Science of designing spaces, need to have a Sustainable approach at the core design thinking.

Unity in diversity is different from uniformity in mass production. Just like the apparel we wear, food we eat and language we speak reflects the culture we uphold, spaces need to have local flair with global outlook. Sustainable development doesn't necessarily mean to 'protect' natural environment, it could be achieved by putting the technology to use for facilitating the sustainable design solution.

Architect Vishaan Chakrabarti drawing his inspiration from the city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia where he is designing a 21st-century open-air village that's sustainably heated using today's technology, in the heart of its downtown. This project is both poetry and prose, he believes.

"The poetry is really about evoking the local: the mountainous terrain, using colors to pick up the spectacular light, understanding how to interpret the nomadic traditions that animate the nation of Mongolia. The prose has been the development of a catalogue of buildings, of small buildings that are fairly affordable, using local construction materials and technology that can still provide new forms of housing, new workspace, new shops and cultural buildings, like a theater or a museum... even a haunted house."

"While working on this in our office, we've realized that we're building upon the work of our colleagues, including architect Tatiana Bilbao, working in Mexico City; Pritzker laureate Alejandro Aravena, working in Chile; and recent Pritzker winner Balkrishna Doshi, working in India. And all of them are building spectacular new forms of affordable housing, but they're also building cities of difference, because they're building cities that respond to local communities, local climates and local construction methods."

"We could build such spectacular cities that we could disincentivize sprawl and actually protect nature. We can grow cities that are high-tech, but also respond to the timeless cultural needs of the human spirit. I'm convinced that we can build cities of difference that help to create the global mosaic to which so many of us aspire."

This is promise of a designer who has skyrocketing aspirations with roots of a banyan tree! How comforting and optimistic pictures this Architect renders for all of us... the most evolved species of the planet, called Homo Sapiens.

Way to go!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Evolution...?


Increased cases of accidents because of apathy, honor killing, armed militancy, mob lynching and suicides, all resulting in painful, disgusting and extremely poignant unnatural deaths, have few common things as their motive or root cause as it could be understood with the help of theory of evolution and human psychology. If we could delve into the fundamentals, we might find some solutions and reforms to get back on the track of humanity that we discovered, understood and embraced not long back.

We, the Homo sapiens, have been animals just like all other species on earth with four basic instincts, ‘Fear’ being most prominent as it directly influenced the struggle for survival and hence went deep into the DNA. It sits there throughout all phases of evolution and technological advancements that made Human the Superpower today that not only tops the food chain but even amends, modifies and governs it at free will! Fear makes a living being insecure and helps it resort to attack – which the best defense as the conventional wisdom says!

And the most dangerous fear is the fear of unknown that can move mountains. This Fear of unknown that triggers the defense mechanism vigorously is the principle element making any species violent; remember how the otherwise lazy cat shows defensive aggression through its claws, teeth, tail and fur when it feels insecure? It becomes the most fearful small beast in a life-threatening situation. However this same cat plays with the mouse before she kills it. Even the carnivorous animals kill their prey strategically, not violently!

Since Homo sapiens evolved to become the Humans with their civilization and settlement, they earned themselves a special status of ‘Social’ Animal! There were some common values and principles that facilitated the early formation of a society. Love and Faith were the primary ones along with Compassion and Empathy. However, with sense of belonging developed a sense of comparison that ultimately resulted in fervor for competition. Competition for petty reasons like small time sporting events and entertainment soon carved the paths for establishing power centers through the victory of a group over other and the triumphant started to claim the shield, cup or throne as the symbol of their victory.

These rewards of victory eventually conditioned the minds to gain the position of power by hook or crook and the moment the thought of grabbing the throne superseded the feeling of empathy and brotherhood, humans once again entered the barbaric state of mind which they could not get rid of till the moment in this digital era of super modern, ultra developed and over-evolved state of mind!

In the power struggle, the contenders of the throne soon understood that it is the number game and more the head count on your side, brighter your chances of claiming the throne. For the developed and evolved man, the means of communication were many and ‘Media’ became its weapon to command, ‘Mass Communication’ offered it the sovereignty to rule from within a newsroom and ‘Social Media’ made it almost invincible by fetching every screen under its dominance! All it needed to do was to make hatred and fake news ‘viral’ and it soon will reach every ‘head’ of the target audience initiating a commotion that would take charge of the situation.

What it signifies is not the unsophisticated mentality a group or mob demonstrates but how it had been there and nurtured throughout all these thousands of years of evolution. Who did this and how it succeeded to hold its grounds in spite of all the cultural sophistication and even if the DNA also undergoes corrections over a period? Can we find the culprit and blame it on him or her?

A simple story offers the explanation –

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said,

"My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued,

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed".

By the way one might find this story an old cliché or very philosophical and many might have heard this before but do you know what the ‘feed’ is? And more importantly who is the ‘feeder’?

The 'Social Animal' has evolved to become an [anti]Social Media Animal and the power-hungry ‘feeder’ is using it as a weapon of mass destruction by continuously and religiously providing the feed of hatred on regular basis. Just opposing to the definition of democracy, hypocrisy is the disorientation of the masses by the masses and for the masses. This picture could be changed only by the masses as objective of their feeder is clear; none of them intend to facilitate peaceful coexistence as it will eliminate the need of their very existence and purpose.

Considering this hateful scenario that is apparent at the moment and catastrophe that is imminent sitting just around the corner waiting for the signal, all what We The People could do is to decide which wolf to feed. It is either Empathy or Hatred... and that’s why World today needs more Counselors, Saints and Philosophers than Attorneys, Businessmen and Politicians. Well if we can’t be either of them, we still have a choice... whom to feed... that will make all the difference, sooner or later!

And how we can do it is really simple, as I exclaimed sometime back in response to something regarding social work that - in today’s date doing nothing anti-social is social work enough! Similarly how we can change the face of the fate that is being written for us by, not just taking us for granted but using ourselves as the medium of that Armageddon, is by being extremely conscientious while using Social Media – Do not Receive, Read, Like or Share let alone Write or Spread anything that has violence – literal or symbolic, entices hatred or prompt an action in an impulsive or unconstitutional way.

If you made it a habit to use social media only for 10% at the max of your working time, that too just for entertainment and important updates and succeed in training your mind to remain uninfluenced by anything that pops up on your gadget of communication every now and then, it will lead you to peace of mind through Enoughism and being mindfully Sane. Try it and you will not regret it for sure...!

I never imagined that my district will make it to National News as front page headline of every other newspaper this way and when it did, I am ashamed of it, afraid about it, concerned about it and absolutely hopeless about it. Whoever wants to make their respective countries great again let them do it; nobody, even with those nukes, can force anybody from following enlightened humans evolved ways of living! No Alexander with his mighty army would ever succeed in defeating Buddha - the Awake!

Let us be Awake, Alert and Mindful against any act of deceit and hatred and not feed the Evil Wolf!

Way to go...

Update : The News

After those intimidating headlines of yesterday, today’s headline offered some solace and hope. The government has warned the Social Media carriers to immediately stop the spread of “irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours and provocation” by fixing some technical responsibility on them. However the ultimate moral responsibility to uphold the constitution, as usual, lies with its protagonist(s) – We The People!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Allegory...!



Any community that aspires to dwell peacefully in coexistence in the most democratic way needs to learn the Principles of Democracy first, that certainly lie beyond merely voting in elections. As the matter of fact the Duties, Rights and Obligations as a Citizen of a Democratic Republic only start with choosing your legal and constitutional representative for voicing your concerns in the assembly of policy makers. Just as the journey of being a proud parent starts from the moment of starting a family and dreaming of being a parent and the role of parent has no expiry unless one willfully decides to act otherwise – by the way of renunciation – or end of the life. Similarly being a Citizen of a democratic republic is not a one-time impulsive affair but a commitment that is an obligation unless it is renounced!

'Rearing a child and making it independent and self-sufficient in view of enabling it to lead a decent, purposeful and wholesome life' is as a triumph and a pleasure as it is a commitment and an obligation! So is 'being a citizen in a democracy'. In a democracy you do not choose people to Rule you as Monarchs and Dictators but you choose Your that is  People’s Representatives who would serve your cause. Therefore utmost care in choosing those and relentless vigilance of their performance is not only required but mandatory to make any democracy successful. Before any community could do it successfully, it needs to educate itself about the principles of democracy – the rule-book of the game. Only learned and matured people can have a government of the people, by the people, for the people!

The first lesson of any subject deals with its definition and attributes. Today let us try to learn what you mean by Democracy by way of Aesthetic Appraisal of an iconic masterpiece – a series of fresco paintings that depicts Virtues and Effects of Good and Bad Government through illustrations. In the TED talk Anthony Romero explains the painting very well and the talk also has English subtitles which facilitates the understanding of the viewer. A little about the Subject Matter of the Talk –

Between the 13th and 15th centuries the Sienese School of painting flourished in Siena, Italy. Disciple of this school Ambrogio Lorenzetti was an Italian painter who was active from approximately 1317 to 1348. He painted ‘The Allegory of Good and Bad Government’ in the Sala dei Nove (Salon of Nine or Council Room) in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico – a palace in Siena, Tuscany, central Italy.

This fresco panels painting on the side walls of the huge Council Room [296 x 770 x 1440 M] of the City Hall of Siena, as the name clearly indicates, is a pictorial representation of how Good and Bad Government looks with their respective Virtues and their effects on the life of the cities and villages. This mammoth work of art has few text here and there that elaborates the meaning of the figures. The prominent and summarizing inscription reads –

"Without fear every many may travel freely and each may till and sow, so long as this commune [Republic] shall maintain this lady [Justice] sovereign, for she has stripped the wicked of all power.”

Way to go...!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Message...!


A traveller walking through the desert wandered and got derailed. After hours of walk he felt exhausted and ran out of all the water he was carrying. Feeling extremely thirsty he started to look for any source of water, even few drops could have saved his life. The traveller started losing hope as he couldn’t find any humidity as far as he can gaze and the glare of the sun started blinding him. With a dehydrated body and depressed mind the traveller prayed for his life and asked for a ray of hope from the almighty.

As traveller’s eyes were about to close, something flashed from a distance and the traveller, with great enthusiasm, tried to keep his eyes open to focus on what he saw. To his surprise the thing was glittering glass as it appeared from the distance. The traveller pulled himself together and approached the shiny thing with great effort in a time that seemed as eternity. Traveller’s awe had no bounds when he reached the thing and discovered a bottle full of water sealed with a cork wrapped in paper.

When the traveller could set his hands on the bottle, he pulled the cork plug out that made the paper wrapped to it free and come lose in his hands. The traveller was in two minds as he looked at the paper...

‘Should I just throw the paper away and drink the water for my life or should I check the paper first as there might be some message on the paper about the liquid in the bottle...?'

Being a cautious man even in his desperate condition, the traveller decided to read the paper first before soaking his dry throat with the liquid in the bottle. As he unfolded the paper and began to read it, he couldn’t believe what he was reading! It was not just a piece of paper with some rudimentary instructions but almost a manual of life, the traveller thought as he grasped the content and intent of the paper to the extent of his cognitive ability and sensitive empathy.

The paper said that there is a hand-pump installed within 100 steps from the place which would force-out water from its spout when pumped. And there is no limit to the amount of water one can draw as long as the handle of the pump is kept in motion. This simply meant that the traveller need not be content with just a bottle of water but he could refill the bottle he found along with all other water containers he had carried with him and even take a bath to drench himself in abundant water as he would get as much water as he could.

However there was a little star of ‘*Condition Apply’ to this ‘Plentiful Offer’The hand-pump must have been dried for being at rest for a long long time, so to set it in motion and make it function to fetch the water from the ground deep down below, it would need some moisture! The only way to add some humidity to the dried mechanism of the hand-pump is to pour the entire water in the bottle in the neck of the pump so that the metal of the machine will work smoothly. This got the traveller thinking.

The piece of glass that seemed to offer solace to the traveller moments earlier, put him in the dilemma now. This was the choice of life... for himself as well for his fellow men that would trail this path sometime in future and find themselves in the same condition as he was in at the moment! So what the completely dehydrated, desperate and exhausted traveller would do? Would he just ignore the message as a prank or something and drink the entire content of the bottle in hand or would he believe every word of the message and follow it religiously...?

What would you do...?

Now are you wondering what is this story about and is there any moral to it? Well, almost everything I share on any platform could be traced to ‘Sustainability’ and 'CSR' in one form or other... so get the hint!

And for the moral of the story... it’s your take to devise a moral of your choice to the story as per your conscious, empathy and understanding of yourself and society you are part of, isn’t it?

A word of caution though... Choose wisely!

Way to go...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sortition...!


Few years ago when I used to send 'Daily Mails' to about 1000 readers that had some anecdotes, concerns, incidences, insights and lessons of a sort; one of the most popular mail I can remember of was about the story of a Bronze Rat which you can read here; I recommend that you read it first to set the context of what Brett is sharing in the video.

Well, the story about the San Francisco Rat was humorous yet sarcastic and didn't actually offered any real workable solution to the replacement of the politicians, if we the people could do it somehow. Brett seems to have the answer...

Considering the fact that being a Hungarian and talking to the Hungarian people in Hungary, Brett makes his proposition look not only  logical and sensible, but also almost doable with examples of experiments about it around the world he cites. However it seems like a distant dream in this part of the world with the status-quo, we must not lose hope all the same as, it is only HOPE that could bring transformation and change the things for better.

"But in practice, it's [ideal of democracy] not working. And that's the second question. Our politics is broken, our politicians aren't trusted, and the political system is distorted by powerful vested interests..."

"It would not be government by public opinion poll. It would not be government by referendum. These informed, deliberating people would move beyond public opinion to the making of public judgments..."

"We can experiment with sortition. We can introduce it to schools and workplaces and other institutions, like Democracy In Practice is doing in Bolivia. We can hold policy juries and citizens' assemblies, like the new Democracy Foundation is doing in Australia, like the Jefferson Center is doing in the US and like the Irish government is doing right now. We could build a social movement demanding change, which is what the Sortition Foundation is doing in the UK. And at some point, we should institute it..."

"I have hope. Here in Hungary [in India], systems have been created, and systems have been torn down and replaced in the past.Change can and does happen. It's just a matter of when and how..."

Indeed...! Way to go...

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Empathy...!



"We all have become complicit in the suffering of others,
and hence accountable in the crime..."

"We all are connected in this world, 
if one suffers, so do we all...!"

Kindness is the language which 
the deaf can hear and the blind can see...!

- Mark Twain