Posted in Science Engineering Technology

Contractor vs Consultant.

This is a pretty lengthy write-up not yet edited. Plus this needs validation by my civil engineer husband. Here is the unedited version.

Hubby’s comments;

Too long, nobody will read it 😦

Too unprofessional 😦 too many mistakes, too many concepts wrong-wrong 😦

Product of eavesdropped phone calls etc 😀

Half baked theory from a total outsider 😦

Will try to edit & post with corrections I deem fit. I don’t want this to look like an insider’s post. Precisely this is the view of an outsider.

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There is this kind of dilemma that civil engineering professionals face in their careers. Whether to continue working for contractors or to join a consultant company.

Among the contractors one may be Class A category or Subcon (subcontractor who leases work from the main contractor – this could be compared to something like ‘outsourcing’). The civil contractors are the grounds persons who are in charge of the actual execution of an infrastructure project whatever it may be.

A steel designs company drawing up the structural drawings could be the structural engineering consultants for a project, in charge of supplying design frameworks (with which normally projects commence).

Consultants are totally different league from contractors, overseeing the execution of a civil project undertaken by and for the contractor on behalf of client(s), hired for a fee. Besides the structural engineers, the consultants could also be mechanical, electrical and even planning etc., the scope for which may be included in the civil projects. For instance, a highway project may have utilities to be provided (such as cable network, sewerage, power supply, water pipelines etc., ) which will have to be summarily executed by the civil contractors for which the consultant companies may provide service. These additional scopes of work entailing mechanical and electrical inputs may be covered mostly by the respective departments etc., from the parent contracting company. It is generally so with mammoth organizations that mostly have functioning civil, mechanical and electrical divisions with impressive logistics and manpower at their disposal. In some cases, for cost cutting, the civil contracting company may also outsource these extra but inclusive works to a third party subcontractor. Many a time this may prove to work out as an economic and timesaving option.

Contracts usually are awarded on the basis of EPCM, Engineering-Procurement-Construction-Maintenance. The contractors may appoint consultants on approval of clients. The case where the clients award only Procurement-Construction and not maintenance, the former may opt to choose the consultants for the projects. There is another contract model BOT which is Build-Operate-Transfer which is mostly the case of those mega projects such as sewerage plants or power plants.

So essentially, the clients could be mostly the state for who private contractors work overseen by a various disciplines of consultants. This is how civil projects of any nature are undertaken for completion. Rarely there are private infrastructural works. Bypassing the housing sector, let me limit this post to industrial infrastructures.

How do projects commence. How are they awarded, and to whom and why.

The idea for civil or mega infrastructure projects germinates as societies grow and the need for civic amenities multiplies simultaneously. This necessitates building of more dams and reservoirs, highways, airports, water pipelines, sewerage, oil tanks etc besides developing housing colonies. Experts visualize the expansion plans and make a way for providing for the facilities in upcoming budget outlays. There are also five year plans, annual plans etc., floated by national governments and state governments with a view to give more impetus to promote better infrastructure to raise the quality of public life. Good statesmen may think a hundred years ahead when executing and commissioning mega infrastructure projects.

Once the ideas proposed by thinktanks get govt nod, first of all a feasibility study may be undertaken. Many ambitious projects get dropped right at this initial stage before they could even hope for a take off.

Next is the environmental clearance which is mandatory nowadays.

When all the conditions are met, finally it may appear that the said project could be undertaken and fulfilled. It is at this stage that the government may think of appointing a contractor who may accomplish the task for them.

Tenders are floated by respective departments inviting quotes from qualified bidders for awarding of projects. In India, the tenders are advertised in national newspapers and government gazettes. The entire process is to be completely transparent to rule out favouritism or corruption. However this is merely a public gimmick. Normally when projects are in the offing and tendering is to commence, the civil contractors stay alert. A kick-off meeting is usually held in order to detail the bidding parties as to the specifications and scope of works to be awarded. All interested or concerned civil contractors are present to hear and receive the specific details. The terms and conditions and time frame are also discussed in the process. The contractors now have amply material and statistics to study before embarking on the process of bidding for the tender.

In an increasingly competitive world, the construction or contracting companies mostly have departments devoted to this stupendous task of procuring projects, bidding on dot without incurring heavy losses for the organization and at the same time making a slender or handsome profit to make the project viable. Through all this they have to keep an eye on the timeframe, manpower and even machinery. The idling of machinery is burdensome and can incur great losses for the company, not just the nondeployment of manpower/labour.

Competent construction companies may bid for the tenders after arriving at their own costs on careful homework on the project to be awarded. A few may engage the services of consultants even at this stage to crosscheck their cost projections. Needless to say, the contractors have to cover themselves from all fronts right from this point. The most competitive bidder will naturally be bagging the contract which will be justifiable normally with this proven track record when it comes to fulfilling civil contract obligations.

Final estimate for bidding a tender floated for any civil construction project is arrived at after a detailed analysis of overheads such as material costs, labour, consultant fee etc., to which finally a decent margin of profits could be added. The terms and conditions in asterisk marks need a cautious contemplation on the part of the contractor as these mostly mask the hidden costs and charges. Almost every single ambiguity about charges needs to thrashed and disposed off beyond doubt at this stage. Such details are listed in the project prospectus distributed to bidding contractors during the kick-off meeting organized by the client side. The meeting can be a productive session for eliminating dubious double charging and seeking clarifications on all salient points. More than a tendering manager and his department, a project head can shed some light in this unchartered grey area.

The escalation of project costs due to non availability of raw material or machinery or manpower or rising costs of one or all of them cannot be ruled out, the provision for which has to be safely built in in the bidding figure. Finally projects are undertaken only when they are viable. However, there are bidders for international infrastructure and mega projects today who intentionally underquote to win the bids for the only reason of gaining a foothold in the construction-contracting world such as the notorious chinese companies. Today they are the biggest headache for quality civil contract and construction companies who have an impressive track record and who are economically viable from every point of view.

Here let me give an example. Let us suppose there is a small civil project with a turnover of say 9 million $ in construction costs including all bills such as labour, raw material, machinery, logistics, consultant fee etc. A company may include a decent margin of 10% and quote the bidding price of tender at 10 million $ for instance. The competitors may bid at say, 8 million $, 11 million $ etc. The bidding parties have to detail their specs such as the brands of raw materials they may be going for, the consultants appointed etc., which may have an impact on project awarding. The clients proposing the project must also find the bidding costs economically viable and the project feasible in which case the project may be awarded to meritorious candidate. Normally the least quoting bidder wins the contract.

(In India, kickbacks alegedly play a role in awarding of contracts. Sad.)

There is legal consultancy and bankers involved through all this. Legality of agreement is verified to mutual satisfaction on either side and the bankers issue bank guarantees to the contractor even at the stage of bidding which is one of eligible criteria for a contractor to bid for the tender.

In India, there may be a crucial and complex step to be overcome in respect of certain civil projects such as highway expansions, building of dams etc. This calls for land acquisitions which in turn may give rise to uprisings in local communities and ensuing legal battles and human rights issues. Compensations for displacements have to be factored in therefore. In middle east countries, government is the deciding authority having a final say in all matters.

So after all these deliberations, finally let us suppose a company bags a coveted infra project spanning three years with a turnover running into millions of dollars, with the legal contract successfully signed to mutual satisfaction of both the client and the contractor wherein the consultants are also listed

Next comes the phase of structural drawings just as we have in our housing plans. Housing is the basic infrastructure which we are not discussing in this post. High rises for all their imposing stance also are one of the most uncomplicated projects to undertake. Cakewalk. In housing, architects have an effective role to play but even so, the role of the structural engineer cannot be any less significant. Now this is the kind of civil engineering most of us are familiar with. Urban based and easy to relate to and executed in hospitable parts of the country, the civil projects of such a nature are dream for fresh graduates of civil engineering. Metro rail projects, expansion of sewerage plants, treatment plants, powerplants etc., within urban limits are most sought after jobs by young engineers today.

The approval of the clients and consultants is necessitated right from the structural drawings, in the case of massive infrastructural projects. Clients, as stated, are the parties for whom construction may be undertaken. For instance, if we have a civil project undertaken in Chennai such as Metro rail, then the client could be the railways department or the state or central govt. Consultant could be the specialized agency giving the company input for execution of the project stage by stage, verifying with the contractor if things are proceeding on right lines, checking on progress, deviations etc. Foreign consultants could also be hired for this purpose. As mentioned before, the consultants may be of various disciplines such as mechanical, electrical in order to cover the scope of the entire civil work to be undertaken. In Metro rail station construction for instance, scope for electrical contractor arises where it concerns power supply. The civil contractor may outsource this work on landing of the entire project. Or the clients may decide on awarding the extra scope to a third party bidder. In any case, the civil contractor team will have to work in tandem with the electrical contractor, either his own subcon or a third party one appointed by the client. In Chennai’s civic body projects, the Public Works Department (PWD) could be the client for whom private contractors may be working winning a bid floated for the purpose. Naturally, the lowest bidder of the tender wins the contract. Which is why, some NASA astonaut once remarked that, he wouldn’t want to think that the space shuttle he was flying in into space had been assembled and put forth by the lowest bidder who won the contract!

Contractors enter the picture after the structural design companies (also consultants) because they are the implementers of any project as per client requirements. We are not discussing clients here who may be viewed like film producers. The clients role ends with production supply such as financing. The clients may have specifications that may need to be adhered to.

The contractors also mostly engage Consultants for their services for a fee bundle. The clients may need their professional counselling to check whether the work undertaken is to satisfaction and standards prescribed. There is a window for time schedule as well to ensure progress. Mostly the consultants are appointed to the mutual agreement of the client and the contractor. We have to remember here that the consultant loyalty will always lie with the client.

‘Who to work for’ is a big question that arises in every budding civil engineer’s mind. A contractor’s job is that of execution and a consultant’s work is to oversee, kind of cool, even as the client pays for the work. So young engineering graduates always want to gyrate towards consultant offices as working under a contractor is tough and demanding in worst climatic conditions. Even the package drawn by consultants may be better than the contractors who may however merit bonuses on remarkable performances of showing profits.

For that matter, core engineering such as mechanical or civil or chemical never pays as much as the software industry. However there is slow and steady growth in these divisions and the pink slips may never be heard of. The core sector never goes out of fashion although like anything else, gets updated continuously. In my experience I have found the core engineers to be very passionate about their chosen careers. Unless one has the right attitude, he/she must not opt for core engineering in my opinion. The going is tough. Not everyone can become part of the management. Core engineering deploys more works people on the ground.

Married to a civil structural engineer who has always wanted to work only for a contractor so that he can be in the thick of action doing the actual work. My husband is not for the consultant kind of table work which he admits is no cakewalk either. Structural engineering can fry one’s brains. On the other side is my son who is a structural engineer specialized in steel structure. He would like to work for green projects and would want to involve himself in software applications in the field of civil engineering. For old school guys like my husband, this is unthinkable. Years of running around under scorching sun, commanding power and running the show and controlling his team and executing the projects give him the adrenaline rush. Today’s youngsters who play computer games instead of street cricket in hot Chennai sun, says my husband, lack the stamina and vigor and mental strength that are demanded by tough industrial civil engineering projects such as his.

‘If everyone wants to straight away become a consultant, then who will dirty his hands and foot and work for the contractor? who will actually execute a project and accomplish a good infrastructure?’ asks he. If no engineer is willing to man an oil well or the rig or the powerplant, then the world will only grind to an abrupt halt. Someone has to do the essential job. Someone has to be there at the spot where oil spouts out where temperature could touch 70C. Someone has to man the reservoirs. Which is why he says, he prefers working for a contractor over consultant.

Today there are advanced machinery for everything, but for decades, for excavation works etc., manual labourers used to be led first. Poisonous gas accumulations such as methane have proved to be lethal in many a case with workers losing life. Even today there are instances of cranes crashing, mudslides etc., taking toll on labour forces. This is how mostly heavy industrial projects begin and function.

No wonder not many have an appetite for this kind of work. One has to be both physically and mentally stronger to remain and work in the field for a lifetime. Even your grasp of finance and management must be good because, there is a motive for undertaking huge industrial projects as far as companies are concerned: these infrastructures pay well. Where the mathematics may go wrong and the bidding costs could be low quoted, the contractors risk incurring heavy losses. This is why they go for bank guarantees without which they cannot qualify for the very bidding process of a floated tender. For securing such a bank guarantee of a decent limit, the contractor must have a proven track record. This is where pre-qualified contractors rake the moolah. Freshers have to tough it out.

This is not to state that the companies use substandard materials to secure a project or increasin profit margins. There are standard checks at every stage to ensure that quality is maintained for which the contractors may have a Quality department. The specs have to be listed even in the bidding document which will be uncompromisable unless otherwise there is a block in the supply chain.

Civil companies have Purchases department in charge of the purchase requirements. They take care of the raw materials.

Machinery department overseas overheads such as cranes and other tool and machinery etc.

Logistics department may take care of the transport including movement of labour from camps to setting up of portacabins.

Quality department and safety department have an effective role to play in entire process of execution of a project.

Document controller keeps track of all the transactions and records beginning with the work of the Tender department whose work is over with the bidding process and procurement of the project. Documents pertaining to purchases, machinery, logistics, labour, consultants, clients etc., are maintained in chronological order. These become permanent records of the project for the contracting company.

There may be safety hazards involved for which education and training are mandatory as a precautionary method of prevention. Safety departments handle that and almost every single day an infrastructure project starts with safety protocol. This shows, safety is hardly taken lightly anywhere or any moment. The materials in the projects may weigh a ton, one may have to work at an altitude, climb a dizzy crane etc., that may require standard industrial safety uniform complete with industrial safety boots and steel helmet and aprons to be worn by the workmen.

There is a methodology as to how they go about executing a project from the scratch.

On procurement of project starts the planning outlay, the budgets, the phases of execution and more than all the deployment of manpower and procurement of raw material on assessment. The excess raw material is also not affordable. For instance cement excess procured earlier than the time of requirement or excess in supply will have to be waste if not utilized by another site project, out of which no profit can be seen for the current project. Thus there is a catch here. The resources have to be maintained in such that nothing idles even for a single day. Resources usage and availability may fluctuate but everything has to be balanced.. Extra resources get mobilized at once to alternate projects by any company to ensure that no manual effort or raw material or machinery goes wastes. So many many costs cutting and string pulling to ensure that a decent profit is still made possible for the team.

All this involves a lot, lot of working out of engineering charts, scales, drawings etc. Which is where memory power comes to a great advantage. The ability to remember formulae and industrial standards and tables and figures and stats in hundreds and hundreds to reel out as and when needed without reference is the biggest plus for a project head. You have to have everything in finger tips. When I think that thousands of engineering graduates emerge out of our universities these days without a clue as to what the subject is about, I feel exasperated. When you cannot translate what you see in 2D into 3D, there is no use in learning. Industrial visits by our professional colleges may hardly be sufficient or serving any worthwhile purpose. You need hands on approach in this area.

One of the project head’s role is to finalize the sequence of execution or the phases of execution in order. Just like you cannot fell a tree sitting on a top branch, you cannot commence a project without mapping out the entire project in your mind stage by stage. For instance, the utilities are underlaid which must precede any other construction activity. Pre-existing structures also need to taken into cognizance. There have been instances when in the drawings supplied information on the same has been wanting. Industrial accidents can result from this oversight.

An ambitious project head visualizes the project right from the bidding stage for the tender to structural framework and consultant services such as mechanical, planning, electrical etc.,, taking into consideration the budget outlay and the profit projections, manpower and raw materials, supply chain, time schedule etc to its execution and completion, with a pre-conceptualized order of sequence to follow. His involvement in the project may start with the tendering but not necessarily. A loyal and devoted team may be a big bonus. Teams are decided right the moment the bid is won.

One irony is that, at times the tendering department may be staffed with engineers who lack site experience and who cannot carry on a project themselves taking responsibilities. This can result in shortsightedness on the part of the tenderers and they may peg the quote at a far higher or lower rates than feasible. Too low a quote can procure a project but could net losses for the company. Too high a figure may force clients to drop the company from the race. The range of bid has to be practical and affordable to the client and profitable to the contractor at the same time. The client may first shortlist the eligible companies out of which the final pick is made on studying other important factors such as quality of supply chains, manpower, previous track record of the bidder etc.

Involvement of the project heads in advance in the tendering process therefore may be much valuable step for a contractor firm. Inputs from the site experience and over all management of manpower and material can add to arriving at an approximate bidding figure that may match expectations and work out for all parties concerned.

Manpower deployment on procurement or raw materials and machinery follows.

Volumes of tri-partite correspondence between the contractor, consultant and client comes into the fore as each and every inch of progress needs to be reviewed and overviewed and corrected. More meetings, more reviews, more reworkings follow.

Let us say the project is off to a colourful start and proceeds as per schedule or is slightly behind. Every single day of delay is billed separately which can add to losses for the contractor. Accumulated delays can set off a project drastically as time lapses. Sometimes the delay is unavoidable and therefore can be accommodated by the client side on consultant approval. These may later be adjusted by way of variations running into months, that can be billed by the contractor.

Sometimes the client side also may come up with additional scope of work which can also be billed by the contractor.

Rarely the contractors may tie up with other companies for joint venture should the turnover of the project be massive. This increases risk factors for viability and also decreases eligibility criteria for many contractors for even bidding the tender. Normally in such circumstances, a mid or decent level contractor may tie up with a pre-qualified global construction company who may have an automatic bidding access to any civil infra tender worldwide. Agreement between the JV partners will in that case become an inside matter for the contractor. Profit sharing and manpower sharing as well as material allocations are sorted out in advance by the two giant contractors. Signing authorities could also be duel.

Mobilization of raw material and deployment of manpower on smooth functioning of supply chain and nonwastage of any of these added to effective documentation can move the project dramatically forward in a positive way. The morale of the teams working in tandem has to be high at all times. Together the civil project family work the project day and night in an attempt to minimize delays that can be billed on the company. Every hour and every resource saved can add up to their annual bonus, as they are aware of. Yes, this is what they become as they move from project to project: one family. The project head endears himself to his team and their loyalty to him is moving.

For the sheer thrill of such a project execution, some men do not want to move up the ladder to upper hierarchy where you only get to decide on things but not execute the projects. This they may do for their career satisfaction. Also management guys are of different stock unlike the man on ground zero: they can never visualize or execute a project like some gifted men commanding the respect of their teams do. In order to be in such a commanding position, you need to be strong in all areas of relevance.

Project team meets every morning to decide on course of action that day. They also pre-plan fweeks ahead and schedule work as necessitated by the order of sequence suggested by the project head. Construction managers and junior site engineers and site supervisors take control at various steps and down the ladder we have the actual manual labour deployed for the project. These usually are accommodated in a campsite where they are provided food and shelter under the care of the construction company. Mobilization of labour force needs to be quick and effective.

Project sites also have in them medical facilities and safety aids.

Greening of projects is also now undertaken.

Any deviation from the approved drawings or plans will amount to non compliance warranting the Non Compliance Report (NCR) issued by the client. It is important for a contractor to look into this aspect and make the necessary corrections to dispose off such claims beforehand.

Coordination between the civil team and the consultants finally moves the project in a forward direction. The construction company civil site deployment works in tandem with various consultants including mechanical, planning, structural and electrical heads to pull it. As the routine sets in and the project starts taking shape, the civil family heaves a sigh of relief.

A project running ahead of schedule is unheard of mostly but is not altogether impossible. In rare cases, I have heard of this miraculous feat. Such a runaway project is a goldmine for the contractor. A project completed ahead of schedule is like a feather in the cap of the contracting company.

Successful is a project when the client is satisfied with the final output as the contractor team hands over the infrastructure for commissioning to the clients in the presence of the consultant firms. Moment for jubilation!

In the year 1998 when I flew to Malaysia with my son, my husband received us at the airport. He did not drive us straight to our flat as I expected him to. He stopped at the interchange of the Cheras Kajang expressway in the KL suburb which was executed by him complete with RE wall, flyovers etc. We spent thirty minutes here before heading home even as I was bone-tired. But I understood how important it is for some men to look at the projects they have accomplished and pat themselves.

Since then I have been to every single mega/infrastructure/industrial civil project of my husband, access to some of which are denied. Where entry is not permitted, I have watched from the periphery. I have watched his reservoirs and dams, highways and underpasses and bridges and flyovers, huge lofty circular tanks to hold oil, pipelines in hazardous zones where CO2 or H2S ran merely centimeters below the surface…

Salute the civil engineering fraternity for their relentless efforts in giving concrete shape to our dreams! Really a drop of tear rolls down my eyes as I type this…

I married a young man who said his first wife was civil industrial engineering. I hardly paid attention to it. I realized this only with years.

Married into hardcore engineering and medico family, I learnt in course of time what hardwork is all about and how commitment to work is by itself a religion.

I have a brother-in-law who is a metallurgy specialist, probably No.1 in India or at least south India, who runs his own heat treatment plant employing hundreds of workers.

My other brother-in-law is a devoted private practitioner who has never taken a vacation in decades, as his patients are his first concern.

I can understand how one’s occupation or profession or art or whatever becomes their passion. This kind of passion touches me most. The dedication stumps me.

My pranaams to all men who devote so much of their energy and time to such creative passions and processes be it engineering or art or music. You have to have it in you to come to this point. In my understanding of Dharma, these men can have no punar janam. Such is their commitment to their passion, which is also one way to attain Nirvana or Moksha or Mukthi or whatever.

I count it as my life’s greatest blessings that my path has crossed with that of these great men. I can’t ask for more.

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Party time: After successful completion of every massive industrial civil engineering/infrastructure project, the construction company’s team celebrates. Milestones such as achievement of thousands of safety manhours are also observed time to time. Nothing like a rewarding bonus package to egg them on to go on and on by the contractor.

Now tell me, who should a young civil engineering graduate fresh out of university opt to work for?

Motivation is the need of the hour for our GenNext to propel them into realistic tangible engineering that can translate into value addition to our society. Our kids lacks a big source of inspiration. Retired engineers can look into this and provide counselling and consultancy services for young engineering graduates.

Posted in Extras

Trespassers don’t now acquit yourselves of your crime of invading others privacy.

This is my last and final piece on online privacy. I won’t be doing it again.

What is this nonsense you see online advising others to take social media with a pinch of salt. And undercutting the (kneejerk) reaction or importance allegedly imparted by some of us to social media observances.

Let me make it clear who I consider eligible to save cookies or to study others’ browsing habits. These exemptions are the necessary ones in this digital age.

  • Mainstream media in social media platform
  • Apps such as You tube and those that have our explicit consent
  • Social media news and pages of recreational interests such as holiday homes, restaurants, theatres, public places, historical and architectural wonders, tourist spots, adventure tour companies etc., and other pursuers of hobbies like knitting, bathik for instance.
  • Anyone who sells their wares online
  • Commercial houses like banks, insurance etc.
  • Small and medium size business such as handicrafts, cookery, crockery, textiles and garments etc.
  • Large business houses such a clothing line or label, shoes, furniturewala etc.
  • Performing artistes including actors, singers, dancers, instrumentalists etc who may use social media for furthering their career
  • Visual artists who promote their art via social media such as painters etc.
  • Online games pages such as scrabble, etc.,
  • Authors of books, magazines, journals, consistent bloggers
  • Professionals selling their service via social media such as consultant physicians, astrologists, beauticians, chefs etc.
  • Sports persons and fitness enthusiasts with fan following
  • Institutions such as universities and schools
  • Those in active public life including in politics, social service
  • Genuine causes such as for wildlife, etc., and surveys and polls
  • The retired from all these categories.

In short, anyone making a living or benefiting economically furthering their career or profession or business or trade using social media platform earns the moral and legal right to seek internet traffic stats. NONE OTHER.

Anyone out of this list who is trying to justify prying on others’ privacy in the garb of ‘ethical hacking’ is committing not just a crime, but a horrendous sin. I only hope Karma will take care of you! Who knows in your next janam you will be born a pole dancer in a strip club who sleazy men may vie with each other to finger!!

I shall leave things here.

I am trying not to take social media seriously, who says I am. Its not my fragile sensibility. It is your violation of friends’ privacy. It is shocking realization discovering what social media has reduced some of us to.

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I will cite an instance how this so called ethical hacking can hurt friendship and ruin relationships.

I am vociferous when it comes to expressing my critical views on the Abrahmics here in my BLOG ONLY AND NOWHERE ELSE. I don’t have charitable views on them. My friends groups in India are totally anti-christian and anti-islamic who keep sharing attacking posts in private. Yeah, all this we do behind closed doors only. As much as possible I refrain from posting anti-views even in whatsapp. However I am a defender of Hindu dharma and I am opposed to conversion mafia and terrorism openly and mince no words when it comes to condemning these. All of us friends including me retain respect for non-hindus and we are friendly with them in the real world. We recognize the need for peaceful co-existence and we are aware of our own pitfalls. We never fail to appreciate the good work of non Hindus either and we consider them our friends. This is how I am, we are in the public, in reality. The personality I present to the outside world only must count whereas, any intruder who may chance upon our exchange of views on religion perhaps may end up disliking us. Our friendship can never be the same again. We girls may get judged for what we share in privacy where we bare our hearts. What we stand for in public ceases to exist.

Honestly it reminds me of Vivek’s joke in a Tamil flick where he can hear the ‘mind voice!’

Posted in Extras

The many interpretations for ‘Privacy.’

Last few hours have been major hours for discovery of the many interpretations for a stark simple word ‘privacy’ for me.

Privacy seems to be to too very important to all of us that we think we cannot do without it. Our privacy is also very much vulnerable these days and is threatened. More so is the case of art and artists, if I am to go by the words of a(a) (vocal) artist (as I would like to put it simply). By privacy in this context I understand, what the artist means is the space the creative community from the art world deserves where there can be no jurisdiction or judgment or censorship. Absolutely no infringement in this very little private space of artists which is deemed essential for enabling the creative process.

In broader perspective, to use the artist’s own words, isn’t privacy an experience like none other for all of us? Privacy is also intimacy, discovery, security, happiness and lack of fear and total freedom for me and others. Privacy translates as liberty, dignity and choice for us women who are much exposed here online. We are judged for just being ourselves (behind closed doors) not because we throw the doors open, but because some men forcefully pry our doors open. I wonder how many men out there will be sensitive to how I feel about this very personal matter called my privacy.

Sometimes it angers me, it confuses me, bothers me and finally saddens me, but I come to terms with it all eventually. Like the author-singer avers, privacy has not got anything to with secrecy at all. It is not any place or something physical. Privacy is something soooo sacred, that when you learn it is compromised you feel slighted, stained. How much ever I think of dismissing such thoughts that is how I feel: of being sullied. You feel as if someone has physically touched you. Sometimes it even makes me cry.

Am I extraordinarily sensitive and over re-active or is this normal, the way I feel.

I am glad, I ironically found my voice in the writer-turned-vocalist who precisely put into words what I have been thinking about privacy but could not exactly lay down it all in proper form.

For all my concerns of privacy, I found another verbal attack in social media this morning that justified encroachment of online privacy of others. The new age author (as they all are) termed it his freedom and sense of liberty and he was not answerable to very fragile sensibilities of certain individuals who complained about it (in a different context). After all, these moaners were ‘advertising’ themselves (on online platform) when they could have been quiet not drawing attention. Our guy says he just could not deny himself his dose of adrenaline rush online to which he was entitled to! In short I understand, to maintain our privacy we have to stay offline. What a careless approach to a very sensitive issue.

I am at such a loss of words on learning the various interpretations of something very precious called ‘privacy’ but I thought I would share one more post on it to let know of my stance in the matter. I am not eloquent like these guys: just sharing a piece of my mind here. Finally it is upto the men to do what they please. But they have to remember, India and America are not one and the same. What is readily acceptable in western society cannot pass in sensitive Indian society. Many of us ladies would not even want our families to discover our wild side and we let our hair down only when we are in each other’s company within closed doors wherefrom men are one hundred percent kept away. It is realizing that someone may have access to the key of such an ‘insulated’ iron door that tears us apart.

I am questioning myself of late, so should I cut down my exploits with my buddies because now so many pairs of eyes are watching. Should we ladies stop being ourselves in our whatsapp groups. Should we cease sharing adult content or whatever. Or in other words should we stop being adventurous. Should we snuff out the spark in us, the warmth and glow of which we share with a limited understanding sharing, caring circle. How do we ladies share our stuff with each other. How do we exchange notes. Should we pretend to be who we are not to our own family and friends to maintain our ‘image’ that is so carefully cultivated. After all we were only using Whatsapp and such apps in closed circles. We are very tight and intimate bunch. We are not splashing our pictures and news to all and sundry in social media like Facebook. Limited info we do share in public space, but rest of whatever we do is for our own sweet private viewing pleasure only. I am in fix.

It makes me very anxious at times to just think that the privacy of many of us ladies gets compromised so easily online. Intimate family moments are now under public glare. Girls cannot giggle without the world hearing our guffaws. I may expect the offenders to feel a bit apologetic at least. It won’t serve any purpose but it can make us women feel less guilty about exhibiting ourselves. Whereas one seems to define how privacy is so very important to him and his artiste community, the other is keen on justifying encroachment of online privacy. There seems to be not an iota of regret for invasion of others’ private territory.

Navigating the online space with the knowledge that we are forever open to the scrutiny of men is foreboding. I don’t mind the ladies looking. Some do I know but that doesn’t disconcert me. It is the men who are a big bother. Earlier it used to give me sleepless nights, but nowadays I think ‘what the hell.’

Recently I penned a few brief lines comparing women to volcano and not the usual femme flowers. A girl in the group remarked that she could not imagine the timid me coming out so expressive and fierce. So that is how most who have not discovered me online view me. To them I am that shy, soft flower still. So vulnerable and quiet. Nobody knows of the burning passion within me or the vocal me except for a handful of friends. It takes ages sculpting an image for ourselves that we present to the outer world. Isn’t it a work-in-progress for a lifetime. And it is only matter of minutes for someone insensitive to break it all to smithereens…

Virtual reality is here to stay I know. I have resigned myself to the brutal practicality. I would like to close the post with assertion that MY PRIVACY IS MY PRIVILEGE. None has the legal authority or licence to trespass into my much cherished and protected, intimate and personal and private turf with his so-called ‘right to nonsense.’

Posted in Women & Family

பூவல்ல பூகம்பம்

The following was drafted for a brief speech, more like exchange of ideas in verses, at Thamizh Koottam, an informal Tamil gathering. Otherwise my preferred medium for amateur blogging is English language. A few rare Thamizh posts here.

Some corrections pending, mostly ‘yaranaa vazhanaa’ kind to put it in Tamil.

பூவல்ல பூகம்பம்

மலரோடு பெண்ணை ஒப்பிடாதீர்… பெண் மலர் போல மிருது அல்ல. பெண் பூ போல அல்ல. பூகம்பம் போல.

பெண்ணை பூவோடு ஒப்பிடுவதிற்கு தமிழ் திரை உலகமும் காரணமாக இருக்கலாம்.

ஐம்பதுகளில் அரங்கேற துவங்கியது இந்த நாடகம்.

‘மலர்களைப்போல் தங்கை உறங்குகிறாள் என்று துவங்கும் பாசமலர் பாடல். நமக்கெல்லாம் பிடித்த ஒன்று. அடுத்த வரி ‘அண்ணன் வாழ வைப்பான் என்று அமைதி கொண்டாள்’ என்பது.

இதில் பாருங்கள் எப்படி ஒரு கருத்து திணிக்கப்படுகிறது என்பதை.

ஆண் வர்க்கம் பார்த்துக்கொள்ளும் தமக்கையே, கவலை படாதே.  ஆண் இருக்க பயமேன். இதுவே இதன் பொருள் உள்ளடக்கம். ஏன் பெண் தனித்து தன்னை காத்து கொள்ள மாட்டாளா. பாசமாகிலும் கட்டிபோடுவது ஏற்குமா.

‘ரோஜா மலரே ராஜகுமாரி’இதுவும் பிரபல பாடலே. பராசீகதில் இருந்து இரக்குமாதி செய்யப்பட்ட பூவகை அல்லவா ரோஜா. உயர் சாதி மலர். ராஜகுமாரியை ரோஜா மலராக உருவக படுத்துதலின் காரணம். சமூக ஏற்றத்தாழ்வுகளை கூட நாசூக்காக புலப்படுத்தும் வரிகள்.

‘மலரே குரிஞ்சி மலரே’ என்று துவங்கம் ஓரு பாடல். அடுத்த வரி ‘தலைவன் சூட நீ மலர்ந்தாய்’ . பெண்ணின் வாழ்க்கை குறிக்கோளே ஆணை அடைவது தான் என்பது போல.

ஆகா, பன்னிரண்டு ஆண்டுக்கு ஒரு முறை பூக்கும் அபூர்வ குறிஞ்சி மலராகவே இருந்தாலும் சரி, பெண் என்பவள் பிறப்பே ஆணிற்காகத்தான் என்று உரைப்பது

தற்காலத்திலும் தொடரும் கதை இது.

‘மலரே மௌனமா’ என்று ஒரு பாடல். மலரை பெண்ணுக்கு உருவமாகவே கொள்ளும் வரிகள் இதை நாங்கள் என்ன பூச்செண்டு கொடுத்து வரவேற்க வேண்டுமா என்ன.

ஆங்கிலத்தில் சொல்வார்கள் இதை. Pun என்று. Pun intended here.

மலர் தான் மௌனம் காக்க வேண்டுமா என்ன. பூகம்பத்தை கிளப்பும் எரிமலையும் அமைதி காக்கும் பல நேரம். பெண் குமுறினால் அந்த குழம்பில் உருகாதவர் எவர்

பெண்ணை மூளை சலவை செய்து செய்தே அடிமை படுத்தியது போதும்.

இந்தியாவும் ஒரு இந்திராவை பார்த்துள்ளது. லங்கையும் பண்டாரா நயிகாவையும் சந்திரிகாவையும் கண்டுள்ளது.பூ என்று தான் என்னை கொள்வீர் எனில், சேற்றில் முளைத்த செந்தாமரை நான். ஆதாரமற்ற ஆகாய தாமரை அதிலும். இது போல. என் நிலைக்கு நீர் உமது வேட்டியை மடித்து கட்டி தான் கீழிறங்க வேண்டும். இது தலையை குனியாத தாமரை.

Posted in Political

Facebook Adharma

Recently I was shocked to see a post in Facebook by DW that promoted polygamy citing how some women in Malaysia relished the practice in their society.

http://www.facebook.com/watch/?ref=search&v=868832700657959&external_log_id=4930f09e-38cf-4e44-99b6-9341adf71092&q=dw%20stories

The tagline was:

Tiqa convinced her husband to enter into a polygamous marriage, for the good of the family. Would you?

The news channel went on to appreciate how women across the world were breaking stereotypes (like this!)

No, Facebook did not think of banning the page or the news story. Human rights.

I did not read the story, I felt sick. I don’t think this post will be received well even in Arab world where things are changing.

Will Facebook be next promoting child marriage by 15 years which is also permissible in some societies. After all you guys never fail to run the life stories of dreaded extremists bringing to light their humane side.

I also got a suggestion from FB asking me to unfollow a certain page that reported on illicit religious conversions in India. It audaciously claimed that, such a step would enable me to see more posts by friends. I had the presence of mind to click the window.

This page goes by the name ‘No conversion.’ I am following this FB page for years now. It reports on the conversion mafia operating in India funded by the west. It publishes photo proofs and videos to support its claims. It is creating awareness in Hindu society as to how through bribes and brainwashing, the poorest and the vulnerable in India are conned into conversion and pulled into debt trap out of which they cannot extricate themselves ever. The page also calls the bluff of the evangelists whose missionary work includes paying visits to death beds offering miracle cure in exchange for conversion. The expose’ is stunning. Probably it is ringing alarm bells everywhere.

I wonder who gave the rights to Facebook to advise me who to follow and who to unfollow. Who are you Mark Zuckerberg to tell me what I must do. You are promoting polygamy openly in your pages and you do not ban content whose views a majority in the world do not subscribe to. But you ban Hindus who react to such vicious posts.

One gets an idea that some communities are working overtime to see that Hindu claims are nullified. Just Hindu posts are reported and removed/banned. Whereas no Hindu has the time to engage in such nefarious activities calling for ban of others anti-social posts. We utilize our valuable time for more productive issues naturally!

FB suggesting to me what to do sounds illegal to me, not just immoral and unethical. Google is manipulating us to save or rather share passwords with them, prompting us innumerable times when we try to sign into any address.

Social media giants like Facebook and those like Google are literally taking us for a ride. Still we are unable to move out of them. In today’s world, in order to keep abreast of things, we also need these cancers with us. We simply have to learn to live with these evils as we learned to do with the coronavirus.

It is time government of India pays attention to literal blackmail by these US corporations. To what extent can they be granted this leverage to undermine us as a nation. Facebook is allowing posting by those like DW their daily dosages of poison. This is like slow poisoning with arsenic: something that will not make us seek a legal ban and at the same time will do the damage it desired. BBC is openly anti-India news agency that needs to be kicked out of the country with immediate effect. Social media is a double edged sword. It is time India implements some strict regulation measures to control Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Posted in Economic

Yogi’s Population Control Plan for UP

Large size families must be penalized, for stringent enforcement of population control in India.

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A Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bringing all Indian citizens under the single umbrella of a uniform statute is long overdue.

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If India is not overwhelmed outright by terror, I won’t be surprised if we are won over by population jehad. The war is already afoot in India as Hindu population continues to shrink back while non Hindus are exploding many multiple times. Would we be following in the footsteps of Egypt and Turkey before the turn of this century? Would we Hindus become minority in our own Dharmic Hindu nation someday to live at the mercy of others?

India is incomplete story, unfinished business for both the islamists and christians. India defies the Abrahamics and continues to exist in history as a predominantly Hindu nation, one of a kind barring mere Nepal.

When population control was introduced first in India, the target group was Hindus naturally. Enforcing or advising the same to the Abrahamics amounted to ‘offending their religious senses’ as per the Congress govt that had made the Hindu fertility their scape goat. While the patriotic and literate Hindus cut back on their family sizes, we saw at the same time how others were multiplying already like rats and rabbits.

The other day I was browsing through Chennai corporation website to extract my son’s birth certificate. I was shocked to find that over 30% of newborns on a June date as far back as in 1994 happened to be muslim. The chrisitian babies’ figure was normal and within bounds. But the muslim baby count far exceeded my expectation. Birth ratios for communities have to be in correlation with the population share of the respective communities, but not necessarily. The demography ratio and the percentage addition to population by each community have to be in direct proportion. In India, the minorities have the highest rates of population growth while the majority is falling back. This can mean disaster for a secular democratic nation like India. Our democracy is incumbent upon our demography, it goes without saying.

Anyone can crosscheck fact sheets in Chennai corporation website. You can extract your own birth certificate from 1960s/70s and those of your kids born after 1990. A comparative study is advised.

If this is the case of Chennai city, work out the statistics for whole of Tamil Nadu and entire India. While the Hindu families have been shrinking in size drastically, the Abrahamics have been expanding manifold during the same time. While the muslim population in India is increasing in superlatives, the chrisitians are resorting to ruthless conversions to boost their numbers. Modi’s BJP governments successfully plugged many loopholes that were flushing in dollars from the west for the christian conversion mafia operating in India. Foreign evangelists have been kept out to a good degree in recent times. While there is little success in this front, conversion is still rampant all across India without a break.

In under thirty years, there is a possibility that India will become for the first time in world history a NON HINDU majority country which is AGAINST OUR VERY GRAINS. This is the land of Dharma. I respect equality and secularism, but I wouldn’t want India to become one more islamic nation or a duplicate hallelujah country in world map. We have ample number of both chrisitian and islamic nations in the world. Nepal that used to be constitutionally Hindu is also now made secular by the communists. India that must have been constitutionally secular Hindu is steadily losing Hindu population.

What is more worrying is that, India has different statutes governing different communities. I wonder what is taking so long for the Indian government to bring everyone under a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) at the earliest.

I read this social media post on one of the negative effects of having different statutes for different communities in India. This enables polygamy in India on which our leftists and communists and media have been strangely silent about. Neither can you come across our so called liberals pulling up our government when it comes to enforcement of UCC.

This could be an imaginary scenario as well but quite a legal possibility. Consider this: A senior govt servant who is muslim dies, leaving behind his four legal wives in India. Let us assume the first or the eldest legal heir/successor is 60 years old and the youngest wife is 18 years. Then theoretically the fourth and the last wife of the man could continue to draw government pension until her lifetime, The govt exchequer could be paying out the pension to one wife or other of the dead government servant close to a hundred years!

I admit I am not sure about the veracity of the story but this did make me think a lot on the urgency of introducing the UCC in India. The islamic community in Europe, America or Australia follow the law of the land and do not seek special privileges as they do in India. Indian muslims will welcome this move by Indian government with open arms. After all, when the Triple Talaq law was passed, there was wide appreciation for the same from the Indian muslims. Why underestimate them.

Similarly, any legal move aimed at curbing the exponential growth of Indian population is bound to be welcome with cheers by both Indian muslims and Indian chrisitians. The insecurity of the native Hindus will be in their consideration. Which is why I am for the population bill to be introduced by Yogi government in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

There can be a cut-off date fixed like say, 2022. A third baby born in a family could incur for the family more taxes and sops cut. The said population bill is not community-specific. The law may be applying to all Indians irrespective of your religious rooting – be it Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Sikh or Jain/Buddhist.

How unfair is it to have a big family in India:

If you have more than two kids in family born after 1990 or 2000, it means, your family is using more resources meant to be shared by other needy. Even if you have the capacity to pay for energy sources, as these are limited, you directly contribute to increased prices on account of creating artificial scarcity for resources. A three child family consumes natural resources and energy three times as much as a family with a single child. You consume more food, more power, more space, claim privileged seats in universities that could go to poorer and more deserving families. Why should the third or fourth child of a particular community be eligible to enter IIT or medical college even if the scores are good, compared to a mediocre from a two child family. If the kid from single child family or two child family loses out to the brighter kid (we suppose for this case) from a three or four children family, it is very unfair. We live in a world where everything is measured and one family resorting to more consumption of any or all resources is extremely unfair. Population control has to be advised to some communities in a language that can be understandable to them, like how the UP CM is doing now. I wouldn’t suspect illiteracy to be an issue in a nation where the rural poor are very verse with smart phones and apps like whatsapp and gpay. Don’t give me that crap now!

I welcome Yogi’s move for family planning and population control one hundred percent.

At any time, India must ensure that the majority Hindu population does not dip under 75-80%. However I doubt if that is the case already.

Government of India on enforcing UCC can also propose a population control plan on lines of Yogi for implementation at national level. A breathing time can be allowed before the law is in place. The two child norm can have a cut-off date for enforcement, say somewhere in 2022/23.

Posted in Extras

Hacking Into Others Online Privacy Is Online Pornography As Well

NOOO! Friends hacking friends is NOT Ethical Hacking. Period.

This is an old post of mine penned when I was upset that a friend was browsing through all my online stuff. Hacking. My heart plunged because my online avatar is not the same as what I present as myself to outer world. Something reminded me of this today.

Once you come to know that a friend in very known close circle is keeping tab on you, it hurts you deeply. Because we have this thing called respectability and distance always between even closest friends. I don’t want to add any more word. Once you discover who may be following you, you lose the interest or respect you reserved for the friend.

It suffices to say that I don’t even share my blog with closest people.

Rest is my old post with a couple of sentences edited.

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Nothing is private or personal or sacred in online Dunia. I have not done it, but hacking seems to be sickening pastime for some people. I can understand businesses doing it, but I am totally at loss when it comes to understanding the logic of friends hacking friends.

No ethics, no morals, so how can hacking into someone’s online privacy not be any different from online pornography. It takes on a whole new dimension when people known to you may be reading your private Whatsapp messages, scrolling through your Facebook homepage, scouring your Mail, listening to your Internet calls and in general keep tracking you with cookies or whatever. Remember, these are the very same people we may shake hands with and party with. We go out with them, shop with them, laugh with them, or just hang out with them, or simply have a good time together, and they know all our secrets. That’s the saddest part of all. They think we don’t know, but I just know who is doing it.

STOP is all I can say. I view my conversations with friends and family as most sacred. I hate third parties, even my own blood sibling or closest pal reading my family posts. Most of us prefer Whatsapp over Facebook when it comes to sharing family posts, because we think we can have the privacy and therefore share our most personal and intimate memories with our trusted circle in Whatsapp. But what a cruel joke that the Whatsapp is the first and no.1 casualty when we are hacked. I share dirty jokes with my girl friends and I take this liberty because I think we are insulated within four walls of our privacy. Imagine your friends for whom it is not intended browsing your stuff.

It is mostly those breaching into others’ privacy transcending ethical codes who preach the world about the rights and wrongs. How ironic. I insist, religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Whoever uses communal lines for any wrongful justification will mostly have sordid issues like these. I have my strong views when it comes to my race or religion, but i have never ‘preached’ or ‘judged’ people or situations on these grounds.

As a woman I cannot shop for my undies and most personal and basic things online because I doubt whether some prying eyes are watching, intruding into my most private space. Every time I log on to my Bank account and Insurances I feel uneasy that I have online company and I am not alone. Every time I listen to Music, I swipe my Cards, pay my Bills, I know I am spied upon.

The worst thing about hacking especially your friends is that, you may not be aware,  but you become JUDGMENTAL. Something very precious about the friendship is damaged for ever. Casualty of hacking.

I don’t ever want to snoop into others private online life, and most of all into my friends’ affairs. Serious violation of basic ethics. Those who have no qualms about violating online privacy of others especially friends have no locus standi to give opinion on any matter social or political or even philosophical.

I have done many posts on breaching of online privacy by Social Media, Media and Business Houses. Now through this post, I am making  my position clear on what I think about those resorting to eavesdropping on friends’ online privacy. No this is not Ethical Hacking. I and I alone reserve the right to share in public what I want others to know. The post NOT meant for you is NEVER MEANT FOR YOU.

Posted in Environment

rich man’s trash is poor man’s treasure.

Meditate on this. Marinate the words at the bottom of your heart to defreeze and thaw and later consume with loads of thought and consideration. Think ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ Think ‘Sillu Karuppatti.’ Think scores of, thousands and thousands of ragpicker kids …

Netflix documentary featuring Bangladesh ragpicking little boys and girls ‘Children in Need’ (parts 1 & 2) (Tales by Light) may be the latest to expose to the world the disturbing reality humanity tries to shrug off and move on. Filmed for UNICEF by Simon Lister with goodwill ambassador Orlando Bloom, scouting the inhospitable terrain with clogged drains and damp slithery surface, this is one episode that moved me to the core. Childhood snatched from a vulnerable age, with innocence lost and exposed to hazardous chemicals and drugs, how the children endure their harsh lives with a smile on their lips as only kids can, is heart-tugging. The title for this post is picked from the series.

Whether it is this Dhaka story or the Tamil flick by Samudrakani, they had onething in common for us to dwell upon: rich people’s trash becomes poor folks’ treasure, how sad. Even a gaudy little trinket with its lacklustre can gain the attention of a skimpily clothed urchin, combing his/her way through the debris. For the brat, this is like a trophy to cherish. The smart ones among them know what to look for: recyclable toxic stuff. Handling the rubbish with bare ungloved hands, the children are unaware what they are up against. This is why perhaps we the consumerist society have to exercise caution as responsible citizens and dispose wastes with care, with due consideration to the young ragpickers. Invariably underage kids from poverty stricken families end up near the garbage mounds looking for a livelihood for subsistence. The pain of having tender hands sifting through rotten garbage and medical refuses sans safety aprons or boots is highly unsettling. When the school is skipped, we already have a community problem brewing in our hands. Unemployment and crimes are only the following inevitable steps.

We have a massive dumping yard near Velachery in Chennai. In all probability, the wetlands of the area have been taken over for the complex civic responsibility of waste disposal. Only solace is that, my hometown seems to have better organized dumping grounds than the ones in Bangladeshi capital. Of course, there is a difference between a filmy angle and a documentary exposing acid truths.

The Pallikkaranai Velachery marshland is now transformed into an alarming size garbage dump for the metropolitan city. This is no more a single waste disposal problem for the twenty million strong denizens of Chennai. Now we have an environmental issue to tackle. The wastes dumping is driving out the winged visitors including exotic species that had made it a sanctuary for centuries for their breeding season. The Velachery lake is shrinking, and the ground water has to get toxic progressively.

Is there a better way we can handle this mega socio-economic issue. I wonder what my successive state governments have been doing. Sleeping over the matter?

  • Is it possible to move the Perungudi and Pallikkaranai/Velachery dumping yards to somewhere not closer to any waterbody or residential colony.
  • Details of landfills allocated in the city for the purpose.
  • Landfills identified for future use. Long term planning and management of waste disposals.
  • How about restoring the Pallikkaranai marshlands and the Velachery lake to former pristine conditions.
  • Can ragpicking kids be kept out of the garbage sites. Strict vigil mandatory. How can illegal child labour function within government controlled areas.
  • Rehabilitation programs for kids rescued from garbage dumps including schooling and vocational training.
  • There must be a mechanism in place to sort the toxic wastes that are not recyclable from the organic piles. Apparently the non-decomposable are dumped into landfills earmarked for the purpose. How functional is the working system.
  • Is the incineration of bio medical wastes prompt.
  • Is bio mining undertaken in Chennai dumping yards
  • Waste management is a science. It ensures air quality for city residents.
  • Data on energy sourced from the wastes by our state government.
  • Is there any designated power plant.
  • Stats for revenue inflow from garbage dumping yards.
  • Ruled out in scope from this blog post: sewerage treatment

It brings to my memory a little boy under ten years who used to come to our house every week for collecting plastics and bottles and newspapers when I was in school. Not much of plastics then. In fact none at all. Even Aavin milk was delivered in bottles. Anyone opened the aluminium foil top to lick the butter as I did? The ragpicker boy’s skin used to be duskiest with a shade of gleaming blue but he used to have such sharp features. My grandma never took money from him. My dearest old lady. I am talking of a time in late 70s and early 80s. One week instead of this boy with sparkling eyes, a very old woman draped in dirty torn cotton sari and blouseless, came for collection of disposables from us. When we asked her about the boy she said, he was her grandson and that he had died from a snake bite a few days earlier, but life had to go on. There was no time to mourn. The woman kept coming back for years. Never did we take a single paisa from her in exchange but all our neighbours did robust business with her. She went door to door with her jute sack one day of the week. May be it was wednesday I am not sure. She must have been over eighty then. I am suddenly reminded of this poorest family. The boy had no parents. The grandmother was his sole custodian. With the boy gone and forced to work, the oldie used to halt in my house steps for good length of time for water and rest. I think my granny who lost my mom, her daughter, found some kinship with her on some basis. Never did the old woman and grandson collect garbage from bins. They had personalized it long back. I didn’t know how the boy carried loose change but the old woman carried it in her ‘surukku pai.’ She paid for the old newspapers and bottles by weight, the weighing scales for which which she carried on her head.

Even now we have waste collectors in the city doing rounds in our streets. But they can’t get slicker. Use a mic to announce to you their presence. Pedal around in a ‘meenbody’ tricycle. They must be making decent living by the look of them. It is however from my grandma I learnt never to make money from wastes. Or barter or bargain with streetside vendors or small sellers. My househelp periodically clears my extras. I have never so far asked her how she disposes them. Or for what rate. A headache is off for me. This is mutually beneficial. Keeps my house clean of unwanted junk.

It is only the organic wastes mostly that I throw away in garbage bins. Using liners in the waste bins that are organic and decomposable as well. Very conscious of what I dispose. Some friends do make compost with waste. As I shuttle between two cities mostly, I have no fixed plan for organic disposal as such.

Indians still do not distinguish between organic wastes and toxic wastes. My toxic wastes are lumped in a box to be disposed every week, as I said, by my househelp. Recyclable are separated.

There are small merchants I believe in some streets where they take non-disposable toxic wastes such as computer monitor, old tvs etc although I cannot understand their motive.

Vendors in India do minimize the waste issues to a considerable level in my opinion. At micro stage, it is taken care of. India could be a leading country when it comes to recycling the old and used toxic plastics. Glaring example is exchange of old saris for recycled plastic buckets from streetside hawkers! Most housewives in India indulge in this luxury!

It is only the material that sifts out of vendor hands that ends up in garbage yards.

Chennai corporation has privatized sanitary works in the city. Garbage collection and disposal are far better in last ten years or so.

Swachch Bharat was a roaring success until Covid struck. Now garbage is getting heaped in our streets once again.

It is not the case with India alone. By and large most of Asia is like us. We do not treat our wastes the way they must be.

Thankfully many of us back home are moving to organic decomposable carry bags and reusable cutlery and cookware and serving sets once again. This can make a world of difference to Mother Earth, how much ever small step that could be.

Pest control too is organic these days. My request to everyone to go for such a pack, in case you opt for the treatment at your place.

When I see little boys and girls on barefoot climbing over mounds of garbage in dumping yards even in reels, I wish this comes to an end soon. The precious kids may be the only breadwinners for their families at times, yet this cannot just be the way. It has to be stopped forthwith. I am shocked that the human rights activists have not done anything in their capacity to better their plight or remove these little hands from handling piles of toxic rubbish. Is there no controlling authority at all out there. What happens to child labour laws. No scribe going for cover story. No tv crew to film headlines or breaking news. No minister to visit and tweet later at least for publicity stunt…

*********************

I once gave my used laptop (three years old) to someone who needed it. I was surprised to learn that last year, over five years since I gave it up, it is still working but has to be plugged in always as battery has died. The power of giving your bit to the needy. This small snippet of news really warmed my heart. What we so carelessly dispose off is such a cherished treasure to so many, many. Now all our laptops we service, restore and give someone who may need them after deleting data completely.

Mobile phones with lithium batteries etc., need not have to be disposed off. How many phones after all would we own in a lifetime. I think our back lockers or our wardrobes can still hold a cache of them. Until humanity devises a methodology to dispose off them in a nontoxic manner or finds a way to recycle them, let us safekeep our used phones, laptops etc without tossing them out to fill one more landfill.

Posted in Extras

यह मेरी प्रेम पत्र पढ़कर…

प्रिय नरेंद्र मोदी जीl धन्यवादl
आपकी मन की बात सुनी थीl बहुत सच्ची बात हैl

आप तमिल लोगों पर कितने प्यार करते हैंl और इस उम्र में तमिल भाषा भी सीकते हैंl तमिल परंपरा पर आप को कितना मर्यादा हैl आपने कहे आपका प्यार कभी दिमिनीश नहीं होगा तमिलों परl हम भी इधर केहने चाहते हैं कि हमको भी आप बहुत पसंद है और हमको आप पर जितना प्यार है की वह प्यार भी कभी दिमिनीश हो नहीं सकताl

मेरी आँखों में आसूं बहती है आपको देखके l आपकी सेंस ऑफ कमिटमेंट मुझे बहुत मूव करता हैl रोज आप बीस घंटे काम करते हैं हमारे लिएl और आप सोते भी नहीं हैंl छुट्टी नहीं लेतेl पार्टी कभी कहीं नहीं बनते हैंl सिर्फ काम, काम, काम पूरा दिन, हर एक रोज, हर एक महीना, हर एक सालl आप अपने के लिए अब तक क्या कमायेl स्वादिष्ट खाना काये? नया घर बनाये थे? स्विस बैंकअकाउंट है आपकाl आप के पास क्या जीl आप के पास हमारे जैसे आम आदमी है जी बसl

आप सौ साल जिए इस देश के लिएl आप हमारे मन में हमेशा हैं और आप के लिए यह पूरा देश प्रार्थना कर रही हैl आप अब तक क्या किया हम जानते हैं और आप बहुत कर चुके हैंl लेकिन अब समय तो अच्छा नहीं हैं किसी के लिए इसलिए किसी का मन नहीं लगता हैl कोविद कारण है और आप भी जानते हैl इस विनाश काल में हम कुछ स्ट्रांग होना चाहिएl आप तो स्ट्रॉन्ग ही हैंl आप पर हम सबको पूरा विश्वास हैl

आप की माँ क्या त्याग किये इस देश के लिएl हमारी नमस्कारम हैं उनकी चरण मेंl आप अपने ख़याल रकनाl आपकी तबियत की चिंता हैl आप की हाल कैसा हैl आप की सफ़ेद दाढ़ी EVR का जैसा हैl आप अच्छे लगते हैं इस रूप मेंl आप की आवाज़ सुनकर में यह पत्र लिख रहीं हूँl पब्लिकेशन के लिए नहींl सिर्फ आप को पता होना है कि आप हर एक दिन मेरी प्रार्थना में हैंl

आप से मिलना हैंl जब आप दोहा आये थे, मुझे शौक थी आपसे मिलने किl लेकिन भीड़ बहुत था. आपको डिस्टर्ब करना मै ने नहीं चाहती थीl दूसरा भार चेन्नई में देखूंl God willing. टेक केर जी और धन्यवाद आप की तमिल बात के लिएl

यह पत्र मै ने आप के लिए हिंदी में लिखी थीl किसी के मदद के बिनाl (सिर्फ गूगल ट्रांसलेट प्रयोगकी l मेरी ग़लत भाषा को क्षमा कीजियेl ) नमस्कार जीl

Posted in Lateral Thinking

Concentric Circles Of Interest.

There are two circles of ‘Interest.’ Or rather three (if you include the tiniest circle of control where we can exercise control like with our family for instance). The middle or inner one of the larger two concentric circles is the circle of influence where we can hope to have our way or say. We can hope to have some positive or negative influence within its ambit. The third or the outer larger circle is the circle of (no) concern of ours! We may evince some healthy interest in this circle without actual involvement. Or we may plunge headlong into this circle for better or for worse. Where we belong to in the scheme of these circles makes for all the difference.

These circles of influence and concern were first spoken of by the American author and public speaker/mentor Stephen Covey. Now his theories are syllabus of management schools. Still the circles fascinate even the housewife me as they clearly mark a distinction among the priorities we make and the result we infer thereupon.

In the circle of influence which is the inner core, we can exert our personal influence, go for something worthwhile and be proactive. A lot of benefits can be derived from here. We have control over our own actions and behaviour. We are responsible for our own state or condition with none to blame. We can maximize our potential and reap rich dividends with optimal utility of resources at our disposal. Normally this is the story of the ‘rags to riches’ men. For that matter, any high achiever can vouch by the circle of influence. The tapping of right opportunities at the right time is crucial. Those of us who have unwavering attention on the circle of influence can truly make a mark. These guys have a positive approach to things and the good vibes can leave an impression on all around. Such men and women are worthy of emulating. Their journey with pumped up energy to the pinnacle of success and glory can be an enthralling one full of spirit and adventure.

Its not that each and everyone of us have to reach a prescribed height in life. We all have our own small and tall personal summits to climb. Every story is still commendable for the efforts and merits thereoff.

There may be rare exceptions when some can be the cat on the wall when it comes to choosing between the two circles. Media guys can claim occupational hazard as the logic for extra curricular interests. Others can be masses who heroworship sportsmen etc. Theirs is a contained curiosity with no side-effects. We can look upon this as a welcome distraction, if not anything more. A change of scene.

Finally there may be the daring or the overconfident who may be more concerned about the outer world circle. Classic examples may be our political leaders, social activists etc., for who there is a sustained interest in what need not have to concern them in the first place. Perhaps nothing is illegal, yet nothing is warranted either. It also takes a great initiative and spirit to nurture any extraordinary interest when it comes to truly ambitious among us who would like to act as catalyst to social or political change for instance. It can be about anything really, why reduce the scope of anyone’s concern at all. Sky is the limit for these hopefuls. It has to be a personal calling if I may say so.

It is when the lesser mortals get stuck in the circle of concern that can waylay them off their original intended pursuits of goal, that we have a problem in hands. Hindus may refer to such a hanging state as ‘Trishanku swargam’ Unwarranted interest in the circle of concern can prove to be detrimental. It can cost us our peace of mind. It can make us lose focus and be least productive. It is simply unhealthy when you delve deeper with this circle of concern, because it is not going to add value to one’s self. Beyond a point, engaging oneself with this third outer world of concern is not advised.

Can we stop floods or earthquakes? Can we change the flight timings. Simply none of these are in our control. Can we cleanse or reform our society in a day of rapes and other crimes. Healthy discussions and debates are fine. Getting carried away with these factors can have no positive effect on our self. Pre-occupation with these worldly issues can be disturbing. Social media is breeding more of frustrated citizens sitting on the fence of circle of concern wherein they have no business to belong. If it is not in our power to move or change anything for the better, what is the point in cultivating hate or pessimism or negativity.

How to prove proactive in the circle of concern. We can organize sections of society with our position and influence, we can raise awareness, we can channelize our energy to constructive criticism and fruitful action, we can try to usher in changes for betterment wherever and whenever possible. That will be truly appreciated. Over social activists, the social workers are good here. One has to work from grassroots level here.

Still this is no reason to underestimate or undervalue or undermine those who limit themselves with their circle of influence. Their scope is still vast for not having a damaging or counter-productive effect within their small enclosure. The motivation others derive from such simple straight soul is remarkable We need not have to aspire to change this country, this city. But we can strive to make a difference in small willing and interested circle. Which is why in Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says, ‘Do your duty and leave the rest to God.’