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Sunday, August 13, 2017

SOL...!

There are times when I go to Google to find the formula to calculate the circumference of a circle. I was good at Mathematics and even excelled (supposedly!) in Geometry at some point in my adolescence. It’s not that I am being forgetful or old enough to show signs of dementia. Still I go to Google every now and then for petty doubts and solutions except for locating my misplaced clothes; I have a wife for that! And don’t get it wrong… I don’t misplace them, she does so by arguing that they are well-placed NOW! How dearly I wait for the day when she does the same with me and grace me with the same remark…!

Now why do I go to Google so often… like Everest-man George Mallory’s famous three words reply… 'Because it’s there'! Nah… that’s not the only reason. There is more to it, like… accessibility! Wi-fi connectivity is no longer a Chunavi Joomla nor is Smart Phone a luxury anymore. If you have both, accessing Google is piece of Cake with a Cherry of ‘I am feeling lucky…’ for the topping. With such a lure, it’s difficult for Banta not to lookup to Google for his lost car keys. ‘I mean, if Google Baba Sab Janta Hai to I should give it a try, you know…!'

Second thing that Google offers – no matter how irritating it gets at times – is suggestion and prompting. You start typing a word and it will come up with hundreds of suggestions prompting you to complete the word. Many of the curious souls decide to listen to Google and end up reading about ‘How to kiss…’ while searching for ‘How to meditate…’ as Google thinks the prior is more appropriate to your gender, age, ethnicity, inclination, priorities, surroundings, upbringing, Social (Media) status and your Search History… Google KNOWS IT ALL, period!
What I am trying to suggest here is the changed scenario of ‘Learning’ and the absolutely vibrant dynamics of Information, Knowledge as well as ‘wisdom’. The entire quest of Human Evolution is about finding, sharing, developing and applying the ‘knowledge’ (or ‘Gyan’ as even Google recognizes the word!) It took millions of years for Humans to figure out the shape and size of the planet they live on, four seasons and the pattern in their rotation, characteristics of other species, creatures, flora and fauna and naming them accordingly. And finally the groundbreaking (literally) discovery of Agriculture that changed everything for Homo sapiens in just a matter of 10,000 years or so!

The startling speed of development in recent 200 years made the journey of millions of years look obsolete. With the new age Gurus like Google and WhatsApp, it is not difficult to get a college degree or accumulate some Academic Credit Scores ‘virtually’ (By the way do you know that India’s premier tech institute IIT Kharagpur has launched a mobile app that brings as many as 65 lakh books, journals, periodicals and research materials to anyone who has a Smart Phone, check it out - https://ndl.iitkgp.ac.in/), appear for telephonic interview with your Video Profile followed by a Skype Call, get an online job that you could do from the comfort of your home and your salary would be credited to your bank account through net-banking which you can spend on online shopping for the goods and apparels delivered to your doorstep that you might never need but must buy to show-off on Facebook, Instagram and other social media to all your ‘friends’ whom you never meet in person and it is most likely that you never would. What’s more, you can even find your ‘love of life’ on Facebook, saving the cupid from winking and shooting that arrow or ‘Partner for life’ on any of the matrimony site without any Aunty acting as a mediator… (Little pun intended!) Sad that you couldn’t order or download babies as per your required configuration yet and you still have to do some physical ‘work’ for it, if you don’t choose to remain the DINK family, that is. However, with AI, Cloning and Thinking Robot, that too is not so far, it seems. Japanese have already made remarkable progress in that direction, I heard.


So, is it a so far so good situation…? I don’t think so. No, I am not some anti-development, old-fashioned, prehistoric caveman even though I just love to be in the wilderness and could actually connect to the bliss of the nature, I am equally fit to qualify as a modern-day man who could survive in the Digital Era and this Blog stands as one of my compatibility proofs, I guess! So why am writing this seemingly irrelevant and conceptually paradoxical post?

Well, with the outburst of technological advancement and outraging growth of gadgets that control your body, mind, thoughts, habits, behavior… in short your entire existence (read: being), is something that upsets me. One of the alarming sign of this overtaking of machines (no matter how intelligent they become) is the rising number of un-employability of all college graduates in general and Engineering Graduates in particular. Many of the grads are found to be reasonably sound in Hard Skills of their respective area of study or specialization, but majority of them lack in the Soft Skills; many research and survey reports suggest. One of such reports, by World Economic Forum in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group, even lists some Life Essential ‘Competencies’ and ‘Character Qualities’ that the current education system worldwide lacks in.

It is interesting to note here that this entire list is about ‘Human’ traits. Out of Reptilian, Mammalian and Human Neo-cortex brains, only the third – the most evolved one – has the potential to develop these listed ‘skills and competencies’ and if it is not utilized to its fullest potential, the entire Humanity looks like Seven Deadly Sins that will destroy the world as Mahatma feared… and we are witnessing them around us in abundance already. I have added Eighth Sin to the list to sum it all up – Activity without Purpose! And to find the ‘Purpose’ we need something beyond (if not instead) the schooling.

A tiny seed has a potential to grow into a tree that would develop a foliage as big as providing shelter to 100 cows. But that is the Potential and not the Projection! Projection is imaginary and has an element of speculation that has greed in the undertone while potential is ability, capacity and worth that is yet to blossom. With the help of right ‘Environment’ the seed is bound to sprout and flourish. Same is true with the ‘Mind’, it needs to be trained in the right ‘Environment’ to become conscientious and responsive to its immediate surrounding and ecosystem it is part of. While human Neo-cortex brain hosts the cells that make it intelligent, it also has elements that make it sensitive – to its own self as well as others and the entire existence when it expanses beyond proximity… Only if it is trained to do so, however! If you find all this too philosophical and idealistic, I would give you a practical example of this theory – MIT, known for its absolute professionalism, launching a World Peace University with human-centric courses…


We live in the era of externalities – things that are neither organic nor helpful in the truest sense of the word – popularly and frantically called as supplements or accessories. We have protein supplements for a healthy body; all the anti-biotic (just learn the word cautiously and you will get the hint) in the name of medicine to give us instant relief from anything under the Sun, apparels and wears to make a fashion statement while showing off and hide the inner uncleanliness; expensive be-longings (once again, get the hint) to cover the poverty inside… so basically we have more accessories than the substance and we are used to it already. So it won’t be a herculean task for us to consider an Education Supplement, the only part different with this being its organic, all natural and actually helpful (even enlightening) quality than the original substance aka conventional education.

If we could stand to these supplementary education, we could eventually replace the existing non-functional, long-trodden, consumerist education system with this holistic option as the mainstream. This might seem an overconfidently optimistic and unimaginably long-term dream but then ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, they say…!

If I have such a long prologue, I certainly have a ‘Course Structure’ for it that could overwhelm the reader. But for that you will have to wait a little longer or Sponsor my course…😏… Choice is yours! I intend to conduct my course of ‘Seed of Life’ in all languages that could be scripted and make everybody experimenting with it ‘feel at home…’ in the truest sense of the phrase.

While the quote, ‘Never let Schooling interfere with your Education’ is attributed to Mark Twain, I recently read a T-Shirt, ‘I was born intelligent but education ruined me’… neither is completely sarcastic, I believe!

Looking forward to glorious days of humanity, stay tuned…!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

RoW...!

Image Courtesy: Times of India, Pune - Sunday, 04 June 2017

Here's another 'joke' that made rounds on Internet few years ago and, with its sarcastic tone, even managed to become popular for a while.


A while ago, a worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was…

"Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"

In Africa most didn't know what "food" meant.

In Eastern Europe most didn't know what "honest" meant.

In Western Europe most didn't know what "shortage" meant.

In India most didn’t know what “you” meant.

In China most didn't know what "opinion" meant.

In the Middle East most didn't know what "solution" meant.

In South America most didn't know what "please" meant.

And in the USA most didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant...!

In my last post you heard about the Post-tortoise, now here's the American version of it! I am not sure what Mr. President is up to but one thing is sure that he is proving to be an American to the core who truly believes that USA is an independent planet (attacked by the aliens in their wildest imaginations!) altogether and is not connected to the Rest of the world! The biggest relief is his mindless acts are being ridiculed at home (literally!) only and RoW can hope for a sensibility prevailing in the world's most powerful country again, soon. 

Amen...!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

My fault...!

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me. Can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." 

The man below says, "Yes, you are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 40 feet above this field. You are between 46 & 48 degrees N latitude and between 52 & 56 degrees W. longitude." 

"You must be an engineer," says the balloonist.
 
"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?" 

"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct but I have no idea what to make of your information and the fact is I am still lost." 

The man below says, "You must be a Manager" 

"I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?" 

"Well," says the man below, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met but now it is somehow my fault...!"

This certainly is an old and widely circulated ‘Management Joke’ which I myself have shared many times in get-together as well as through mail and WhatsApp. The reason I am putting it on my blog here is that it would remain as a permanent ready reference to provide me some solace that neither I am the only person who has to go through this in this world nor there is any dearth of post-tortoise ‘Managers’ whenever I have an encounter with them!

By the way, according to an old farmer a post-tortoise is… “When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that's a post tortoise. You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, he's elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with…!” No pun intended and no offense, please!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Titanic...!


Iceberg is one tenth visible over the surface and lies nine tenth below the surface of the ocean. Not just that, it is pyramid or cone shaped, which means its bulging volume under the water is huge than what a human eye can see or the mind can imagine. This same iceberg causes shipwrecks, most infamous in human history being the Titanic, so much so that anything on the verge of complete destruction easily qualifies as being Titanic! The tip of iceberg doesn’t look that scary or dreadful, in fact it’s a good view to please the eyes with its sparkling conical shape like a lampshade that illuminates the ambience of any living space. At times it shines like a diamond and manages to make a woman indulge in its seamless beauty. However the fact that it holds a potential of shipwreck under its mesmerizing tip could not be ignored while planning a safe and smooth voyage.

Secondly, a completely natural and momentary distraction from the path – no matter how romantic the reason of distraction being – can cause a havoc, is what Titanic has to teach the humanity. For the safe and smooth sailing, focus is as important as the thorough knowledge of the expanse you are venturing in. In absence of both these essential elements of a voyage, a shipwreck is not just likely it is almost imminent! And no voyage could be called successful that concludes in a shipwreck. History will take a note of it, no doubt, but would it be for any good reason? Well, what this philosophy implies is plan your voyage conscientiously, be prepared for the worst and yet have an action plan ready for the situations that you can neither anticipate nor seem to have control over. Hmmm, quite a tough job isn’t it…? But that’s what life is all about, in the digitally modern world, for sure!

Along with rampant verbal violence spread around through all the media, all the incidences of violence right from – farmer’s suicide to domestic violence to attacks on Doctors to sexual abuse and molesting to fighting and firing on the streets to heinous crimes like murder, rape and acid attacks to stone pelting on the army crews to terrorist attacks – are nothing but the outrage of a feeling that has only one thing at its core – frustration! Now what causes frustration could be a topic of a research and its outcome might list out hundreds of things in various scenarios and different contexts, however the string that will run through to tie these reasons together could be termed as – apathy; with nobody in particular to blame but apathy of entire evolved (or developed?) humanity towards its fellows. Now before you label and typecast me with some pseudo-humanist title so that it would be easier to outcast me eventually, take a deeper look all around with all the senses wide open and try to decode the message all those hideous incidences are trying to convey through their outrages…


A little concern, a small act of kindness, an expression of empathy and above all, a listening heart, a helping hand and a genuine recognition can work wonders. There’s no bigger solace than having a shoulder to rest on for an irritated mind and unfulfilled soul. Take out some time and first lend your ear to what the other has to say. Then extend your hand in the gesture of being helpful and not hateful. It could be followed by offering words of appreciation that would at least soothe the wound, if not heal it instantaneously. Finally provide a purpose for every being so that it could realize its potential and start a fulfilling journey by contributing to the common good in its own capacity and finding that dignity, self-respect and empathy, virtues of a being, in due course. No being is borne a trouble-maker or a criminal – circumstances and environment it develops in forces it to take the path of rebel.

This might sound very idealistic and philosophical, but then there is no Dr. Fixit with quick-fixes that would offer instant solutions to chronic problems. Fevi Kwik might be a wonderful adhesive, it cannot fix everything… alas! Even Allopathic treatment cannot claim to ‘cure’ a disease as it intends to suppress the pain for the quick relief the subject expects while nature takes its healing course. The remedy for recovering and regaining health is neither easy nor quick but it is the only way to regain and improve the health. When administrators of a system realize this principle, they will stop gazing at the classic romance between the capitalists and the market for the outcome called ‘development’ and will be aware of the locale masses that are being the iceberg. The moment the ship of development hits the bottom of the iceberg, it explodes like a dormant volcano that can erupt at any moment and burn everything with its lava. We need to be extremely careful while planning the route and steering the ship of development en-route as it in no way should hit the bottom of the iceberg that can transform into an erupting volcano and destroying everything around.

Let us be more empathetic, a little less ambition can do… Way to go!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day of the Jackal...!


Today is the Day of the Jackal... not by any tradition, custom or ritual... but for my yet another attempt to understand life and reflect on it! Here are 3 stories taken from Hitopadesh, Isapniti and Jatak Katha, with different morals but a same vice, I guess!

1.

Once upon a time, a hungry lion went from one place to another in search of a prey. He was soon exhausted. He decided to hide in a jackal’s empty cave and eat him when he entered. The idea of an easy catch watered his mouth. He waited patiently for the jackal to return.

The jackal reached his cave. He was about to enter when he sensed some danger. He thought of a plan. “Hello cave, how are you?” he said. Nothing happened. He said again, “Dear cave, what is wrong with you?”, and waited. Inside, the lion thought, “May be the cave answers the jackal and if he does not get the answer, he will think there is something wrong…” The silly lion roared in reply. The jackal now knew about the presence of the lion in the cave and ran away...

Moral of the story...? Force is no match for wisdom.

2.

One day long ago, Jackal was trotting through a narrow, rocky pass in the mountain. He was sniffing the ground trying to find something juicy to eat when he saw movement ahead of him in the pass. Jackal stopped in his tracks. The mighty Lion was coming straight toward him. Realizing that there was no way to escape, Jackal became very frightened. He had played so many tricks on the king of the animals in the past, and he was sure that Lion would take this opportunity to get his revenge. Suddenly Jackal thought of a plan.

"Help! Help!" cried Jackal. He cowered down on the cliff path, looking above at the rocks. Lion stopped in surprise. "Help!" Jackal howled, "There is no time to lose! See those huge rocks above us? They are about to fall and we shall both be crushed to death! Oh, mighty Lion, please do something! Save us!" And Jackal cowered with his paws over his head. Lion looked up, most alarmed. Before he even had a chance to think, Jackal persuaded Lion to put his strong shoulder against the rock and heave.

"Oh, thank you, great King!" yelped Jackal. "I will quickly fetch that log over there to hold the rock, and we will both be saved!", and with that he bounded out of sight.

So Lion was left all alone to struggle under the weight of the rock in the hot sunshine. We will never know how long he stayed before he realized that this was another trick, but the clever Jackal had once again escaped from the mighty Lion! 

Moral of the story...? Wisdom is more powerful than strength!

3.

Once there lived a mighty lion in a cave of the Himalayas. One day, after killing and eating a buffalo, when he was on his way back to his cave, he found a jackal prostrating before him. The jackal, in fact, wanted to enjoy the leftovers of the lion.

He asked him, “Why do you lie like this, Jackal”. The jackal said, “Sir! I would like to be your servant”. The lion accepted his proposal and treated him affectionately.

Since that day the lion offered him the leftovers of the animals that he killed. Being fed on those the emaciated jackal soon bulged; and so did his pride. Further, he fostered the false idea of having equal power like that of the lion. So, one day, he said to the lion, “O lion! So far I am fed on your leftovers; but today, I shall offer you my left over as I shall kill and eat an elephant…!”

The lion advised him to refrain from any such act, as he did not belong to the species of lion-like animal to kill a strong elephant.

The haughty and foolish jackal did not listen to the lion. Feigning like a lion he moved out of the cave and uttered the cry of a jackal thrice, as if it was the cry of a mighty lion. He then looked for an elephant; and saw one at the base of the mountain. He jumped at the large animal from the top of the mountain. But instead of falling on elephant’s back he fell on his feet. The elephant without paying much notice to the existence of the jackal lifted his fore-leg and placed it on his head and mashed his skull. Thus the foolish jackal was killed instantly.

Moral of the story (Uncut, uncensored and unsolicited)...?
Surviving on leftovers of a lion doesn’t make a Jackal a Lion and cunningness is no match for bravery…!