29Jun/20

Death not in vain

“Galwan clash: PM Modi says, death not in vain”, read the emblazoned headlines.

My father Major SN Tandan, was injured in the 1965 Indo-Pak War, he succumbed to his injuries on account of a major surgical faux paux in M.H. New Delhi in March 1966.

My father was accorded an Army funeral, his body was taken in a flower bedecked Gun Carriage to the crematorium, three shots were fired in the air to commemorate a life; minutes later it was a life, ‘done’ save the memories.

Fifty four years later I ruminate, did my father`s death go in vain, fifty years of Pak bashing, and now China bashing post Galwan, and the unnecessary loss of twenty soldiers, a close dead repeat of events 1962. Any lessons learnt, heck No.

My mother was given an army pension of around Rs 80 per month in March 1966. When my mother re-married in 1967, her pension was stopped, on Govt order, since my mother had re-married.

In 1973 liberalized family pension kicked in which is given to widows of officers who “die in the face of enemy”, and is even payable to widows who re-marry. Unfortunately my mother had re-married a stranger, and not her brother in law, or my fathers brother or “devar”. My mothers pension was reduced to taxable Ordinary Family Pension, from the non taxable full blown Liberalized Family Pension.

How weird is that, yes it sure is..

 As per Govt order with effect 24.6.2005, MoD letter No.1 (1)/2001lD (Pen-C), Liberalized Family Pension (LFP) was made restorable in remarriage cases, even for widows such as my mother who had married a stranger.

Unfortunately the Govt order was pronounced, but no one informed my mother, and she continued to receive a paltry taxable pension of Rs 6,020 till April 2013.

It was only when this matter was vigorously taken up and vehemently and stubbornly followed up, was my mothers full liberalized pension restored in 2014. The pension arrears were paid in 2014, which today is grossed up 1:25 (Twenty five) times tax free, of what she was drawing in 2013.

Gross injustice or what..

In the intervening years when the money was required the most, did my mother get her dues, NO. There must be literally hundreds of thousands of Officers and men and women of the Defence forces, In India, wef 1947, who are in desperate need of money and are not drawing their due pension. Is there anywhere they can go to correct this, NO.   

Does anyone care, No, does it matter for the family Yes, does it make a swot of a difference to the authorities aka  Govt, that pensioners are not getting their due pension No.

Does PMCares fund cover this, of course Not.

Did my father die in vain Yes, and even decades later one wonders what the heck was all that about, oh dear he died, finito.

It’s a round World, and round and round we go in a merry go around. What a life…

13Apr/20

Corrosive Thinking

13th April` 2020

William Shakespeare said about 400 years ago, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet.)

The mind set people easily settle with more often than not, is seen through the prism, and narrative of the mind of others, which at times is completely at odds with the situation and ground reality. Fuelled by social, digital & print media the mind plays truant, and when done collectively across communities, with political twists and intonations it can be very dangerous. Be careful what you think about.

The immediate result of the lockdown, is the burgeoning of new terms one never heard before, such as Islamophobia and Carona Jihad. For goodness sakes what do muslim milk sellers in Punjab or Jharkhand have to do with Carona in India ?

For close to twenty years I lived in Auckland New Zealand. I arrived in Auckland in 1989, for a holiday, with a few hundred dollars, and ended up staying  for almost two decades. Three successful businesses, were set up from scratch, the most interesting and competitive being in Information Technology. I also ended up winning and securing two prime SAP implementation projects at Reliance Industries and TELCO, now Tata Motors, Mumbai.

One thing which I recall vividly is that whenever multiple Indian friends would get together for a drink or a meal, more often than not, the conversation would almost always veer towards an outright comparison of Indian or desis with the Kiwis or Pakehas, a comparison that always went in favor of the Indians. How caring Indians are, how well they look after their aged parents, unlike the Pakehas who put their parents into old age homes, how thoughtful Indians are and how much we love our parents, as opposed to Kiwis who are heartless. The near manic like rants would only increase with the lowering of the whisky levels. Why the heck are you guys New Zealand, you don`t deserve to be here, return to India and stay there, I would say…….no one ever did.

This is an event which routinely plays out in New Zealand, Australia, UK, USA, Canada, Europe, and just about anywhere and everywhere there are Indians who sincerely and devoutly believe that Indians revere their parents more than Anglo Saxons; that as a race Indians have a patent right on, “revere and respect”, period, only we (Indians) know how to look after parents, after all that is our patented birthright !

No no no, we do not have biased double standards, its just our thinking is so. They say that a mere six words can change your life; “you become what you think about”. In November 2001, President George W Bush said, “you are either with us or against us’, and what followed was; a sovereign Country was totally decimated.

Fast forward and about nineteen years later in India, a fiery political community tussle is tearing the secular fabric of the country apart; is gaining alarming propensity, timely ignited by Carona is set to explode.

Over the course of the last year, I have been constructing a Convention Centre in Ranchi, its close to completion. The majority of the skilled workers on the project, are muslims, several of my personal staff are muslims, my driver in Goa is a muslim, would you believe, My aging Jeep mechanic, who has steadfastly maintained my Jeeps for the last 35 years is a muslim.

William Shakespeare was right,  heck thinking can be corrosive….think right.

02Apr/20

In God we trust and the rest strictly cash

In God we trust, and the rest strictly cash, seems to be the mantra for the moment, in the midst of Carona – Covid-19.

Strangely, a few years ago, I almost purchased a property at Carona, a small neat village close to Aldona in North Goa, I`m glad I did`nt !

If God is the spine of India, the fervor of the religious and the spiritualist, he/she (God), is also the unifying force for the believers and seekers of religion and spirituality, as both the religious and spiritualists largely and wholly believe in the giver and take of life syndrome.

Some would say that Carona-Covid 19 is driven by Karma, which to me suggestively augurs towards, “collective karma”, pertaining to a multitude of people contracting Carona at the same time. Is there such a phenomena or belief, I wonder. Some would say that, “collective karma” is driven by the constellation of the stars, the rare conjunction of Saturn, Mars, Jupiter and Ketu, in the same house/spot. They say that this is an unusual event, which last occurred some hundred years ago in the early 1900s; a culmination of events leading to large scale upheaval and multiple catastrophic events, which changed the world. Or was this a coincidence, or pure figment of someone`s imagination, I ruminate.

Be it as it may the, “karam” for the moment, seems to have been hijacked by the constant washing of hands, wearing of masks and, courting madame Social Distance, the combination of which will be the giver and taker of life, so we are ominously foretold.

If you can, “furlough” Carona by washing hands and thereby give yourself, a new lease of life, would that suggest that you have wittingly held, “Mr Karam” at bay, I wonder…

For the moment sit tight, rue and contemplate the opportunities that will come everyone`s way, once the lockout is lifted, and believe me they will, perhaps a bit staggered but they surely will come – juggernaut of opportunities` 2020..

Till then in god we trust, & rest strictly cash, as the people in horse racing would say, “break a leg”.

24Oct/19

By God`s Grace

When I was growing up, I always used to tell myself that I would take up golf when I was older, for my belief was that golf is an older person`s game. It was also fixated in my mind that I would veer toward religion and religious practice, as I got older, these were some of the perceptions in my mind as I grew up.

Till about a few years ago, I was convinced that dame luck, played a big part in fashioning my life, today I can say with conviction looking back at my life, that`s not entirely the case, as I had strongly believed earlier. The events that shaped my life were purely based on the opportunities I took, coupled with pure hard gritty work.

Today I will say that with a sense of mindfulness, and hard work, luck will get you, as opposed to, ‘getting lucky’. Mind you, I am not taking about luck as in the Casino, and there again, there are people who are able to fashion that craft to perfection – card sharpies.

Over the last few months, I have been ruminating, wondering, thinking, and exploring the depths of my mind, is there a god, what is Karma, and how does that play out in one`s life.

The karmic theory I have come to believe is the soft cushion for many, for should something go wrong or not work out, it`s resolved in your mind that’s its fate foretold and karma taking hold. Karma to me is the immediate result or a by-product of work done, or in many instances work not done. Thus for instance for a student, if you do not study, and do badly in your exams, you cannot reduce that result to karma from a previous birth. In other words, you are almost always directly answerable to your own actions.

In a nutshell a person`s thinking is encapsulated by their perception or belief, which more often than not is driven by circumstance. When we are born, we are not given the comfort of choosing a religion or faith, as we get older life forges its own path, based at times on biased thinking. There is not a religion in the world which does not consider itself the very best, and by that very definition, “better people” as opposed to others.

In India, the land of Baba`s & gurus, and Spiritualists, the same hold`s true, and here again, its perception which rules, and aligns with your mind, either positively or negatively.  At a point, perception gets converted to, ‘faith’, which is defined as, “belief in God or in a set of religious doctrines”. The merge of perception and faith gets a little tricky, as by definition they are both very different, but the mind plays truant.

The other day, I was thinking whether there is a perfect person, untainted and incorruptible, and by that I also mean someone who does not believe in giving money and jewellery and bullion in furtherance of godly idol worship, for in a sense that could be construed or considered by some as an, “ethereal bribe”. I was asked what I thought of myself, on a honesty scale. After a little consideration I deduced that I was about 80% – 85% honest.

The gods and god people have enough wealth, why then give them hugely abundant additional material wealth, which more often than not, you can ill afford, just for the sake of feeling good. At the end of the day, life can be viewed in the prism of quid pro quo. The karmic theory is 100% driven on quid pro quo, you reap what you sow, and I am not talking about the past life, as that remains a distant and an unknown quantum.

They say to be happy in life, there is only one thing you must do, that is to make other people happy, get into the habit of giving, without thought and consideration. The more you give, the more you will get back, which in time will change your life diametrically and assuredly. There is literally nothing else you need to do, to be content and happy. Here too the quid pro quo principal will kick in over a period of time; it will happen.

Whatever you do, if done mindfully, and with due attention, you will reap dividends. Take human relationships, they fly high emboldened with love and due attention, and totally break asunder when that integral forward driving love spark is missing.

I was reading about a spiritualist healer and sage in South India who got busted recently, he said, “Whenever there is a big crisis the grace steps up enormously.”  In Sanawar we used to say grace before and after meals, but this was/is a different type of grace, far different from being thankful for what we are about to receive, and have just received; is strongly tilted towards, “gods will”, an integral and essential congregation gathering godly ingredient.

Perception = faith = grace = god = positively good for the mind and soul.

As per christianity.com, “Grace is the opposite of karma, which is all about getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and not getting what you do deserve”.

This would be better left to thought, which could be someone`s perception, or faith, or grace, ethereally or otherwise; believe what you will.

Now some forty years later, I have not taken up golf, nor do I partake in religious practice, such is the difference in perception a few decades later, but life is good.

Continue ruminating, and if you fall get up and, Never Give In !

15Aug/19

Kashmir – A controversial issue

Kashmir – A controversial issue

Since the revocation of Art 370, and Art 35A, on 5th August, I have been trying to determine the, fundamental “sense of it all”. Was it ruled by the logic and sagacity of an universal rule of law, unilaterally across the union of India, and the resultant fair play for the whole nation ? If so, then shouldn’t the privileges and exceptions, granted to the other 10 states in India, also be withdrawn and brought into line as of August 5th ?

Continue reading