Posted in Political, Women & Family

Pro Choice Vs Pro Life.

Pro Choice Vs. Pro Life, an Indian perspective

The raging debate in the US right now is on women’s rights on abortion. Its a very sensitive issue there where teenage pregnancies are not rare. And equally common are broken families, adoption, foster homes. The legislation expected could have political, social, economic ramifications. I never expected any nation to be so much alive and politically-socially conscious as the US, although I have been increasingly aware how mature and literate the American population generally is. And I am also surprised how the country is divided on opinion. Well balanced. I guess America has come of age. I respect the way they dissect a bill before it becomes a legal statute. The pro-life – pro-choice arguments are heated, and for reasons justifiable. How the population engages in healthy discussions and present counter arguments is interesting. There are campaigns, rallies educating masses and gathering support. Before the motion is brought to the floor of the house, the finer aspects are contemplated and analyzed logically in great detail leaving no room for misgivings. Witnessing the democratic way the entire construct is executed building momentum showed me how every voter’s or citizen’s right counts in democracy. I wish India is as mature, and not just the world’s largest democracy. We have to move things from grassroots level and our masses need to be well informed and opinionated. In coming months we shall come to know what will be the law of the land, but as of now the pros and cons are doing the rounds in the States.

I may be an outsider, but my family is American so it concerns me as much. I was not vocal on the matter during my recent visit to the US because, women there are extremely sensitive when it comes to women’s rights and issues especially when it comes to something as personal as women’s body. Precisely this is why I am Pro-Choice.

a question of quality vs quantity. don’t our unborn children have a right to dignity. https://vijiravindran.com/2019/03/30/when-law-needs-to-take-a-walk-medical-termination-of-pregnancy-after-20-weeks/

As a grandmother, as a mother, there is a lot I have seen in my life than the younger women of today who are raising banners for Pro-Life. They in all probability have no clue what they are talking about. How many of these women in twenties or thirties or still in teens will have the patience or mental strength to raise a spastic child or a Down’s syndrome baby whose birth could have been prevented. Leave alone the medical bills to foot. India has such Draconian laws that do not allow women to go in for Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) when the foetus is twenty weeks. I have known a case when the ultrasound scan and other medical test reports showed anomalies in the second semester when the pregnant mother was forced to carry on with her term against her wishes, expecting the birth of an abnormal child. The couple have been raising a boy physically and mentally handicapped since his birth and now he is eight years strapped to his baby cot, fed through tubes. How many women who shout slogans arguing for pro-life will have the devotion, courage, financial backbone and/or strong heart and mind to go through what these young parents are undergoing. Their happy life as they knew it long since vanished with one scan report years back. A simple MTP could have done everyone good. Only, the detection came a couple of weeks later. Laws that are outdated need repealing. In this scenario, I do wonder how mature societies like the US can actually go on and frame constricting laws that can do more damage than bring in welfare to the society.

The religious perspective adds fuel to the fire as we can see. The Catholic church is not for termination of pregnancies.

What about teen pregnancies. Illegal pregnancies appear to be rampant in the US in underage women which can be constituted as ‘rape’ (as in any other country). How can any legal statute try to legitimize the birth of a baby born out of such unholy nexus. How can any law enforcement agency reserve the right to deny these victims their fundamental right to abort what they do not want or deserve. How many babies are abandoned in the trash can every year? How many end up in foster care? Is this what the state wants for our unfortunate unborn children and their poor unlucky mothers.

It is not just the US, it is high time even India revisits the law governing MTPs. If abortions cannot happen for valid medical reasons on completion of twenty weeks of pregnancy, then the screenings for anomalies at any stage is pointless. Quality of life is worth considering than quantity of life. These were media reports stating that government was considering allowing legal abortions until 24 weeks although there is no update on the issue. There is always misuse in some quarters but this is a small collateral considering the larger benefit on anvil. Govt of India can weigh allowing MTP upto 24 weeks consulting a medical bench when the mother’s life may not be endangered. Asking for sex of the foetus is illegal in India punishable with a sentence. This is to prevent gender-based crimes in the garb of MTPs. It seems to be serving the purpose.

Posted in Economic

Amazon to Reliance will be like frying pan to fire.

If India gets rid of Amazon, I will be the first happiest. Only I don’t want it to be replaced by the Reliance of Ambanis. In which case I would rather Amazon stays put. The foreign players are far better in service. With them we have fair dealings. Staff quality is exceptional or best across the board. If Amazon must close in India, then Reliance and Tata also must exit the retailing business. I as a principle NEVER SHOP FROM RELIANCE RETAIL. I have bought from the Westside of Tata, and harbour some guilt feelings about it. Tell me one area that these two huge business houses have not disturbed or have spared. Titan sent home all small time watch repairers and downed the shutters of dozens of watch-clock shops. What happened to HMT? Is Titan all one hundred percent Indian. What about Timex and foreign brands on display. Titan Eye Plus has taken over all the businesses of practising opthalmologists in my city Chennai and across entire India, that even I prefer changing my glasses here rather than our family optics we used to go to for decades. They employ a round-the-clock opthalmologist that you don’t even have to seek anyone for consultation. Its all under their one roof. Now we Indians wear Ray-ban and Essilor even for Varilux lenses., i mean the progressive lenses. See, even varilux is imported brand. Never stepped into Reliance Trends once that sent so many, many, retailers and small boutique owners packing. NEVER GOT A RELIANCE 4G PHONE. As much as possible avoid Uber or Ola. I prefer to use the services of a loyal automan who used to ply my son to school. Unlike the foreign app cabs and cabbies, the auto wallah used to get my son veg puff if he ever would pick him up late from school in the evenings. That is the humanitarian touch we all enjoyed in businesses and trade dealings in India until the thoughtless industrialists collaborated with foreign investors to bring it all down. Traditional market is long since gone in India. First of all how many can talk about Futures trading in our markets. Have you ever seen a tweet on what damage is being done to small farmers. Who are these bigshots doing the talking? What has F1 got to do with India. This is obscene that one must even think on these lines. India is not merely Delhi and Mumbai. India is also Chennai and Madurai and Kochi and Mangalore and Viayawada. Whether you like it or not, you have to accept the fact that I HAVE NEVER BEEN TO DELHI ALTHOUGH I HAVE TOURED A DOZEN WORLD COUNTRIES. I don’t even have the urge to see my capital city. YET I AM INDIAN AND NO LESS. And I admire Arvind Kejriwal even if I cannot belong with his political party. People down south, at least vast majority Tamils, cannot speak Hindi and are not even aware that an SRK or Amitabh Bachchan exists. The bestest Indian restaurants to my knowledge across the world may be Saravana Bhavan and Annapurna and Udipi, definitely not five star. These are from south. Bombay Chowpathy, Tandoor and the Kailash Parbath and of course now Zaffron are leading north Indian restaurants to my practical knowledge. We are NRIs for over 25 years now. The Saravana Bhavan chain caters to middle class NRIs or PIOs not the diamond trading Gujjus (who have reputation for fleeing the country bankrupt). India must become self-reliant totally, but improving human resources quality and potential is a must in this case. Our infamous ‘chaltha hai’ attitude must be dealt with first. Extremely proud of Indigo flight landing on India made gear (navigational system Gagan). Now that is truly desi and patriotic. I hope these bureaucrats stop suggesting to masses what is right and what is wrong and what we must do. We all have our eyes open and we can see what’s going on. I would any day prefer to get back to pre-Amazon times but then I am asking this one question: why should the Flipkart guys sell out. What happened to Jabong. Our selfish Indian bros exit making quick bucks the moment an opportunity presents itself. At least the Amazon are doing a wonderful job. Amazonless days are welcome, but don’t fill that with Reliance, is what I would like to tell Modi government. So whatever happened to Reliance oil in Krishna Godavari basin. Why should we ever trust an Indian business/industrialist.

PS: Amazon earned its rightful place in India during the emergency imposed upon us by back-to-back lockdowns when the pandemic reached us, even as nations including ours were grappling with the sudden influx of Covid. Everyone else failed our masses but Amazon did not. What were Big Basket etc., doing. Theirs and even the Dunzo app were down and ill equipped. Those who managed to get through and place orders were still left in lurch without delivery. The capacity of Amazon – is something I realized in this crisis situation. Lived upto its name literally. If not for Amazon, I am not sure what would have happened to us. The supplies were prompt, the website did not crash and no mix-ups either. And no inflated price over the markup.

Posted in Environment, Political History, Science Engineering Technology

The Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022

Until the Antarctic Bill was passed in our parliament very recently, I wasn’t aware that India hadn’t even bothered to table it all these decades. India’s interests in the south polar region were until now circumscribed by international laws, not desi. Kudos to Modi government for keeping matters official, documenting and filing for reference, record and history. After all, this is some legacy we may be leaving for our future generations. The bill renders legal validity to India’s claims in the Antarctic. This streamlining discipline is something India has lacked culturally in my opinion.

Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri are India’s permanent stations in the Antarctic. Established in the Indira Gandhi era, the last troubling news from the Indian base in the Antarctic was that, the ice shelves had begun melting-disappearing with global warming at an alarming pace. Antarctica is nothing but glaciers galore.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/dakshin-gangotri-in-antarctica-is-disappearing/story-HvwlpfeGyoifHozTNMACCI.html

Various Indian expeditions have made it successful to the south Pole over years keeping the tricolour flying high on the continent of penguins.

We have an impressive read here: This is very informative.

With the Bharti Research Station in the Antarctic, India belongs in the elite club of nations with research facilities in the south pole. The lab houses Indian scientists, botanists, geologists and others who carry on essential studies on environment, climate etc., for India making the nation proud.

https://www.businessapac.com/indian-antarctica-bill/

With the introduction of the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022, India legitimizes her jurisdiction over part of the Antarctic. The Bill validates forty years of Indian interest in the south pole.

Posted in Political

What’s happening in our neighbourhood.

at this moment my thoughts and prayers are with Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s Karma: Imagine rendering homeless millions of Tamils, destroying their livelihood, killing entire family trees, dividing families, disabling/maiming the population, striking down their homes, systematically ethnic cleansing … how many thousands had to flee this tiny island country for safer havens. Here is an open secret: only Tamils will work, the lazy Sinhalese never can! You remove the Tamils, Sri Lankan economy collapse cannot be prevented. What an enterprising community is the Tamil population. Knowledge factory. Cultural ambassadors. Disciplined and hardworking. Balancing factor. Backbone of the Sri Lankan economy. An intelligent nation will capitalize the Tamil potential to full advantage. They are such a support system. A state of emergency has been declared in Sri Lanka. Humanity is suffering. My heart goes out to the aam aadmi in the elephant country. Prayers for the Tamil Sinhalese communities to stay united and come out of this crisis in better shape. With love from India.

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Horrendous stories coming out of Sri Lanka. So near, yet so far. No I haven’t yet set foot in the island nation – i mean barring a dozen times I switched flights there whenever I flew Sri Lankan Airlines. So my foray into the country is limited to mere Colombo airport. No power, food prices soaring thousands of times higher, essential provisions and groceries no more affordable, school final examinations postponed for lack of stationary among other reasons, no oil and gas, no transport, no medical service, public utilities shut down, etc., etc. What about the Sri Lankan currency. Rajapakse – the one man to blame, sold Sri Lanka to China and even we in India are surprised, this doomsday has arrived a bit too early than expected. Common man is suffering. The issue is, when as a Thamizh I write on Sri Lanka, I could be suspected of not being neutral. I have no prejudice in the matter really. We in Tamil Nadu resented the thoughtless Rajiv Gandhi assassination, but except for handful of plotters, rest of the island Tamils had no connection with it all. The massive ethnic cleansing of Tamils that took place has shaken us totally because, we are right here separated by a strip of sea watching helplessly what is going on there. The remaining few Tamils are not happy. They are hit the hardest. To thwart India, Rajapakse played right into the hands of China. India is the big brother. May be bossy, but will NEVER HARM the SAARC countries, as simple as that. For this majority Hindu nation, Akaand Bharat comprised of the Saarc countries even if they have fallen apart from us over time. We still hold a moral responsibility toward these nations. Sri Lankan nightmare started with Hambantota port that is now entirely Chinese owned. Too late for the country to make amends. I have never and will never support extremist organizations. Still the way the slain Tamil leader’s young son was shot at point blank by the Sri Lankan army has a lot to say on human rights violation in the country. The boy was mere 7 years of age. To offset India, Sri Lanka joined hands with Pakistan and China. It is China that is most nefarious. The debt trap for Sri Lanka was so very carefully laid. It will be mammoth task to undo it. Can India step in: Where Chinese presence is there, India will move with caution and patience. Guess, India is already helping. Now in times of crises like these, the Sinhalese will realize how blood is thicker than water. With India, the Sri Lankans whether Sinhalese or the Tamils, have the historic umbilical cord connection that cannot be severed for eternity. We are culturally bonded, racially the same. What is Hindu Dharma without Ravana’s Sri Lanka. Where is China in all this.

Sri Lanka must be a warning to other SAARC countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh and Bhutan on perils of getting entangled with China. Pakistan can forget Gwadar and the tract leading to the port city. Their own citizens must be personas-no-grata already in the region! Pakistan will see debt rising very soon and currency becoming worthless.

https://www.livemint.com/industry/energy/in-a-first-coal-india-sends-fuel-to-bangladesh-power-plant-11625477768944.html

Nepal is the other jealous neighbour we have. The Himalayan kingdom landlocked with access only from India and China will learn a lesson like Sri Lanka in near future. Nepal still has the time to climb out of the debt trap. Bangladesh too. Bangladesh is not yet however that much committed to China, because Bangladesh trusts India basically and that could be a life saver for the Bengalis. Maldives is also courting China and will be facing consequences far sooner than we may expect. Bhutan is generally India-friendly. We will have to wait and watch.

The current Sri Lankan scenario must be ringing the alarm bells already in Saarc capitals.

As for Pakistan, Imran Khan is still a man I respect even if he has made a complete fool of himself over time. He is clearly unfit, incompetent, and is not cut out for politics. He did handle things bad perhaps. From India vantage point it suits us!!! But he has been verbal against India (in UN etc.,) (except for in very recent times). All that cannot negate what he did for his country as a gentleman cricketer: from founding their first ever cancer hospital. I understand it is a super. I was a great fan of his and my husband is still his huge fan. He recalls the day he watched Imran bowl in Chepauk cricket ground in good old Madras as a spectator in the crowd. The masses erupted and applauded for the wickets he took not for the India batting he says. Of course politics is a different ball game altogether. But the love we feel for Imran is still there. Politics is a sewer. It must be left to dogs. Imran must have realized this by now. Hopefully he comes to no damage once he leaves office. We in India fear for his life (i mean we middle class Indians!). The alternatives to Imran Khan do not appear attractive.

Around us is this chaos. India is still sailing smooth. You open social media: you see how the communists and leftists and liberals are commenting on our PM Modi ji. However even they know, we are okay so far because the captain who is steering this big vessel called India in rough waters is Shri Narendra Modi ji. He does what is best for the country. The quantum of loans he has paid back to the international lenders like IMF! The debts he has cleared for India. How he has overhauled as much as possible the Indian economy bringing everyone under tax net. You just cannot hide – or hide with success for long – in India now. He has streamlined processes, regularized everything and has made everyone accountable. GST! This is what I love about him most. There will always be a collateral, who is denying. I know Modi ji is a tough bargainer and he gets us Indians the best deal in every front. His life is devoted to India. Enormous respects for this selfless man who lives and breathes only for Bharat Matha. Even his critics have to give him that. As a citizen of India, I feel safest and securest when India is under the tutelage of Modi ji. As an NRI I realize how better we are treated and the added respect and recognition that have come our way. Diplomacy, thy other name is Modi. How he handled the gulf crises with UAE, Saudi and my second home – only we know. Never antagonized any arab country but got them do everything for us. In this moment, I have to think about Smt Sushma Swaraj, the lion lady who personally engaged in diplomacy with the oil states.

But India’s stability to a large extent relies on the equilibrium we have in our neighbouring/SAARC countries. Their economies have to flourish for them not to disturb us! India is a very strong and reliable ally. Unfortunately we are denied an engaging role to play in each of the SAARC countries for fear of our hegemony. India can play a constructive role as we did in Afghanistan. Our work speaks for us. After the US forces left, we are still remembered. Nothing goes to waste. I can never imagine India behave like the Merchant of Venice (aka China). Sri Lanka is now waking up to this hometruth. India is willing and waiting to invest in all SAARC countries. Let us grow and prosper together!

Posted in Political

Ural country.

No, I have not been to Ukraine but I think it borders Georgia, of the erstwhile Soviet Union. From the Ural, we were shown the other side that was Ukraine. Vast, vast vestiges ran up to the distant horizons. Not many footfalls in this part of the world. Untouched mostly and unmarred by too much of human presence: this is what came to my mind as we made our way through the mountains to Gudauri ski resort. Normally you may expect the former soviets to be stiff and upright. But in total contrast, I met on the way rural Georgians who kept bees, gathering honey from floriculture and watched old row houses growing grapevines zip past in the countryside. My visits to Georgia and Azerbaijan gave me an idea of what the mighty Soviet Union must have been in some ways but disproved many other myths. One one side there were the so-called rundown block of flats but on the other were these snaking highways and gas pipelines as easily. Russian technology is different, not obsolete – at least in my opinion. I have not been to UK, but have visited the US although have covered only a fraction of the entire landmass, and I have been to a few European countries as tourist. So unlike others and in spite of all that I read in media, i have come to love the serene and calm environs of the former states of the USSR that are now republics on their own right. The engineering and technology are another level. Highway standards and automobiles are another standard but then I know that the first shuttle that flew into space was the Sputnik from the USSR. So I do have enormous respect for Russia even now. I don’t deny that communist regimes breed corruption as history has shown. More than corruption the autocratic rule is what can be truly oppressing. In Azer I even got a feeling that the public preferred being with Russia! Georgia however was different and was keen on joining the European Union at a future date. Georgians saw themselves as Europeans – a recent outlook only, even as the European governments have started flirting with George trying to establish business links. Azers felt closer to Turks and Iranis probably dictated by shared cultural ethos. Azer and Armenia have been historically at loggerheads. This is one more sensitive geographical spot so far as I can see that can blow up anytime, infused with hate and aggression. Mafia in Azer I understood was run by Russian thugs. Mafia in that entire region was under Russian control. Azers were of opinion they need Russian help to scoff at Armenia, the christian country that had tacit European backing.

In this scenario, I recall a visit from Kiev university of a professor of Economics (whose name I am unable to recall) to University of Madras. My major (in masters) was Econometrics and the year was 1990-91. He was a visiting prof who was on in the last leg of his lecture tour when he was in our campus. I guess I have blogged on this earlier but I will anyway do it again. The hindi picture ‘Brashtachaar’ was released starring Rajnikanth whose billboard he said, he happened to notice in every big city of India where he went for giving lecture. He said, when he understood that the meaning of the title was ‘corruption’ he was flabbergasted, because no way in the Russian dictionary this word existed! It was illegal and it could mean trouble. The professor was astonished at the range of merchandise and veggies and fruits that were sold across India. He said, he was taught that India was poor but the bountiful India came as a surprise to him. He felt, India was a very rich country, definitely better than USSR where the locals had to queue up even for buying bread. It was just before the soviet union came apart. Gorbachev was the president. He said, the USSR was breaking up anytime time and that he looked forward to it. I neither remember his face nor his name but the way he compared India with Russia – the gist, stays with me. He was all admiration for India. The visit was an eye opener to him. I did think of him Georgia and Azerbaijan. I realize the historic significance of his visit only in last few years. It was just the crux of time.

Since we have all read the book 1984 by George Orwell and we feed on the books fiction or nonfiction authored by writers from west steeped in capitalistic values, we also tend to underestimate the communists at the same time. To me Georgia and Azerbaijan came across as unspoilt countries, natural beauties not marred by greed and crass commercialization that plague Europe and the US. I wish both remain original to eternity. Life is tough no doubt, but it is tough for everyone, in every corner of the globe. Georgians happened to think that they have been held back from progress (read westernization), but they must know that they must count themselves lucky to have missed the bus. I hope Georgia doesn’t join the bandwagon of EU but rather stay different and outside the loop. But I agree the EU entry would open so many doors for Georgia.

Although the Russian technology is strange to us, being basically engineering men, my husband (civil & structures) and a family friend of ours (mechanical) could somewhat evaluate and compare their standards of engineering with others. They were very impressed with what they saw. Even the wine breweries and cheese I found to be the best in Georgia. Local cuisine was exotic and unlike anything continental. The entire experience for us was a novelty. Yet I was charmed by the old world laidback lifestyle of both Georgians and Azers. They could be poorer cousins of Swiss or Germany, but the peace and richness I found in these two countries was very reassuring. Churches and mosques were opened after the balkonization of the soviet union. Pristine environment. Tourists are already flocking to this part of the world as both the countries along with Ukraine, also opened their doors to the medical and engineering universities that are rated the best and could be at par with those in the US or UK. In another 10-20 years I have to admit sadly, that even these heavens will become regular thoroughfare losing their quiet magic. The precious gift they hold their citizens are not aware of. Instead they yearn for anything branded or imported from America.

I hope the professor is well and safe in Kiev. I have interest in Ukraine for this reason. All said, may peace prevail. We were only guests but the day we were leaving, our Georgian cab driver got us a bottle of red wine his wife had brewed with her owns hands and stocked in their cellar. It was well aged. That really moved me to tears. In Azer too, shook hands with very many kind rural folks. Human beings are the same everywhere.

Posted in Political

Hyundai India Controversy.

How can Hyundai India be held accountable or responsible for Hyundai Pakistan?

Following the outrage in India after Hyundai Pakistan tweeted in support of Kashmir Day, Hyundai India has issued two apologies to the nation distancing itself from the controversy. Indeed like rest of my countrymen I got carried away by the Hyundai insensitivity. But then my engineering boss (my hubby) explained to me how any two (or more) franchisees of the same multinational company based in two (or more) different countries, may have nothing to do with in common and how they are far detached, and function as two (or more) entirely different entities having been incorporated as per the local laws of the host countries. The only connection between the two different arms in India and Pakistan in this case could be the parent company who may pass on to them technology or the assembly line. In India’s case, production is undertaken in Hyundai plants and Hyundai India also has captured an export market. Hyundai India has nothing to do with Hyundai Pakistan therefore. Moreover, social media may be handled by independent agencies for the companies. Hyundai factory is in Tamil Nadu, located very close to Chennai, at Sriperumbudur. For over 25 years, Hyundai has had a quiet and steady growth in India. They procure their spare parts from small scale Indian industrialists, and they provide employment to locals. I have friends who worked for the company. They are pretty decent. Never have the south Korean expats or the company voiced an opinion on Indian politics or economics or culture as our Indian govt and media may note. Fellow Indian citizens also must take note of this crucial fact which is vital to arrive at any judgment. Hyundai Pakistan may have deliberately incited the disturbance. We Indians come out with typical kneejerk reaction for everything. Pakistan is still a banana republic whose annual GDP falls short of one day trading volume at BSE in India. Hyundai Pakistan sells a reported 8000 assembled cars a year as against 800,000 plus Hyundai sedans sold in India mostly entirely manufactured locally. This must speak about the capacity of both the companies and the economies. Hyundai HQ in Seoul must have been unaware of the developments. In truth, they may not even be aware of ground reality or political equations in the subcontinent. Hyundai India has still come out with two back-to-back apologies and that must do. In fact as I see, there is no reason for them to apologize at all. Lever India, Nestle India, Pepsi India etc., have similarly no connection to their counterparts be it in Pakistan or in another country in the world. MNCs or Companies incorporated in India are mostly public listed companies with stakes even held by retail investors. Some like Hyundai, Honda etc., may be privately held. The scene we have in India is completely different from what they have in Pakistan. However, the backlash Hyundai has received in India must be an eyeopener for global companies that want to do business with India. This is why Narendra Modi matters!

And how the floodgates opened!

Why this apology may be important: Hyundai India, KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Honda know of the ease of doing business in India as against a lawless country like Pakistan. Who is lining their pockets. Most of us NRIs do comprehend the dynamics of running-managing an MNC in different parts of the world. It is just next to impossible to do business without conflict of interests. The treading ground is treacherous. So sometimes, mistakes happen. In this case, what originated from Pakistan seems to be a well planned and coordinated INTELLIGENCE exercise, coercing the MNCs to issue statements in unison, not keeping with their policies. Very cheap stunt. Well, that has bombed in their own backyard now, so fellow Indians relax! What Pak would not have factored in must be this spontaneous Indian solidarity that made the MNCs in India buck down and issue apologies. Yet, admittedly it is a recurring practice that only Indian/Hindu sentiments are most disregarded. India is taken for granted by the MNCs who will never dare to repeat the chapter with China or Pakistan.

I opt to give the benefit of doubt to Hyundai India. I trust and keep my faith in them. Let us not judge them with one incident or rather one motor accident! They have a proven track record in India which is good. The Indian market for them is too precious to lose. It has been built for a quarter century with the goodwill of both the nations.

Once the dust settles on Hyundai matter, hopefully our PM Shri Narendra Modi ji will turn his govt attention to Netflix and Amazon Prime, the OTT platforms that India can do without.

Posted in Socio-Cultural

The Nightingale Calls It A Day

My school days went with the Vividh Bharathi timings. 7.30 in the morning meant ‘Sangeeth Saritha’ by which time my mother would already have left for Mylapore tank to board the PTC bus to her school. In fact walking her up, my father would have returned home by the time the olden goldies based on Hindustani raags would start blaring from All India Radio. A half an hour of Rang Birangi or something would follow, essentially Hindi oldies but tuned to Hindustani mostly. 8.30 would be the time I would leave for school, and when my father would leave for his office.

Afternoons on holidays would always be with ‘Man chahe geet’ between 1 and 2. Would never miss that precious one hour for anything. Evenings there was ‘Chaya geet’ between 5 and 6 that I would miss mostly. However there were times I would take the transistor to my terrace and let it play my fave hindi songs. Bed time or dinner, if I would have finished studying and if awake, ‘Aap ki farmaish’ between 8.30 and 9.30 would be allowed. Rest of the hours, our radio would be mostly tuned into Sri Lankan Tamil broadcast.

I have to say, my parents and grandparents shared my love for hindi oldies. Or probably I acquired my taste for Hindi from my family. My mother loved Rafi and Lata as much as she loved Tamil filmi. In fact she was one step ahead of her peers, being a huge fan of Runa Leila and Nazia and Zohen Hasan towards her last days. May be the year was 1981.

Memories of watching hindi flicks with my family stay afresh in my memory. From Bobby and Sholay to Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin, we left nothing screened in good old Madras. Sholay I and my sister watched with my mother and chithi before my cousins were born, at old Satyam theatre.

Although in India we get exposed to a variety of music including authentic ‘agmark’ classical to Bollywood and regional to folksy, I have always felt that the Hindi music is by far exceptional. Or at least it used to be. It had a soothing effect on our soul. Tamil typical classical and Sangam, i have found to be not that very relaxing. You need to be alert to listen to Tamil. Not so with Hindi which is much more mellow and soft on your ears. Aesthetically probably Hindi language has an edge as it’s kind of culmination of cultures.

Rafi s’ab, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar were the quintessential trio who brought in so much of popular hindi music and happiness to our lives among others. It may be only filmi ghana yet it mattered. Even today their romances remain timeless classics. I am listening to them some 50-60 years later. Lata in particular has sung some desh-bhakth songs as well. There have been criticisms against her for blocking younger talent and those from the south like Vani Jayaram, but after listening to her voice in ‘Valaiyosai’ in Tamil, a duet with SPB, I concluded that Lata was indeed the uncrowned queen of playback singing in India. Others were leagues behind her. I don’t deny today we have Alka Yagniks to Shreya Ghoshals who are good and special in their own ways. Yet Lataji is a legend, a saga. I wouldn’t say we would miss Mangeshkar as we already have the younger lot trying to fit in in her shoes. What I would say is, it feels like a grand old tree uprooting and giving away, that’s all. The shade where we rested and had taken for granted, will be there no more.

Posted in Political History

Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram

My friend forwarded to me in social media, the new or perhaps the oldest and authentic version of ‘Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram’ which we can say is the national bhajan of India! Popularized by none other than the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, there is no flag hoisting ceremony of any kind without rounding off the occasion with the soulful composition sung in chorus all across our country. The devotional sarva-dharmic song is etched in our hearts from our school days and this is no exaggeration. Now when I hear the original version of Raghupathi Raghava replacing a couple of verses that mention the Middle Eastern Gods with the authentic Hindu god names, with our PM’s sanction, I have mixed feelings. Believe me, I just cannot have enough of the authentic version. I am a great devotee of Lord Ram. And I love Bapu’s bhajan equally dear with its altered verses from very young years like my fellow Indian citizens. There is so much of goodness here and eternal divinity. So sometimes I wish, things are left as such without disturbing the equilibrium – in this case with the Bapu’s words that resonates in all our hearts reinforcing our faith and unshakeable trust in humanity. Why stir the hornets’ nest that is brewing sweet nectar. To what end. India is all ours. None can deny that the soul of India is Hindu. Of course I would have loved a Hindu Rashtra but I wouldn’t want any Indian citizen, particularly minority, to be left out or feel alienated with this dream of mine. I guess, you can understand my logic when you live as minority in foreign soil where alien gods write your cheque every month. Interestingly, my friend’s son studied at a Christian country and works there now. Many of us make a living in the Gulf states. It is true that India has had a violent and tragic past because of our invader-marauders who came from here. But presently, the Hindu India also gains a lot of stability and economic support from Middle east. Our bulk of oil & gas import is from this region. The gulf states favour India over Pakistan even if our hostile neighbours are followers of Islam. It shows how impartial the Arabs are. They care for substance over anything. Wherever that is, they do not hesitate to trade with or make bonds. And their kind of trust and ally is very strong and reliable. My humble request to my Prime Minister on this Republic day is to NEVER do anything to undo the goodwill generations of Indians have earned for our country. No Indian citizen must feel insecure and/or excluded from our mainstream society. You may do whatever to stop conversion and/or take on terror, and you can do what it takes for our national security, but please do not do anything that will break the age-old kinship we Indians enjoy over caste and creed. At the end of the day, we are all Indians. Today I came across pictures in social media of expat Indian muslims hoisting our national flag in arab countries. I came across christians celebrating our Republic day. Our own younger people are studying/working in christian/islamic nations. NRI funds India cannot do without. If we want acceptance anywhere in the globe, then India has to embrace all her citizens as what we say in Thamizh ‘oru thaai makkal’ EQUALS. Again I do love the original version, but let Bapu’s version be the one that is always on our children’s lips.

Can’t resist Ustad Bismillah Khan’s shenai:

Can’t help sharing Vaishnava Janato by Lata Mangeshkar either:

Bapu’s version of Raghupathi Ragava Raja Ram that became the national slogan during India’s independence struggle against the British:

When you stop singing Bapu’s version, you are starting to dismantle all that has come to make India for what she is. Bharat Mata is Mother India to every Indian citizen and the entire Indian diaspora spread across the globe. Let not some of her children be rendered orphans thanks to thoughtless actions of our politicians. The worst insecurity someone can have is that of not belonging anywhere. Let no Indian citizen be subject to this trauma. Or are we witnessing a deconstruction of our recent history as we know it.

Posted in Economic

The LIC Privatization

If LIC is on peril on privatization, then so are private pension funds in India such as HDFC, ICICI, Max, etc. And what about the private banking institutions. I was a bank employee myself and I worked for a private bank that was held by seven private and public sector banks with no retail investor. Now the bank is taken over by the parent public bank. I can recall the sentiment of fear and anxiety when private banks came into existence in India in a big way starting from the turn of the millennia. Indeed there was some ground for the public apprehension: one such a private bank, the Global Trust Bank, did go under. But there are others who have outperformed over economic forecasts from right their inception, the chief among them being HDFC and ICICI and UTI (Axis). These banks also have entered the insurance industry and stock markets and mutual funds. Should these banks fail, it means the end of India as a nation: that is how big these private institutions have grown into and spread wings (branches) pan India with roots well entrenched in strong fundamentals in the country as we have had the Indian public stand eyewitness to their taking babysteps from day one to expand into impressive institutions with global reckoning. So much so that it is private banks such as Axis, ICICI and HDFC that are most efficient today than the nationalized ones who are mostly queued up for mergers as they show heavy balance of the Non Performing Assets (NPA) accumulated over years. The private banks have been harbingers of modernization and computerization, taking technology to grassroots level quicker than public banks. Their banking service is considered benchmark today in entire banking industry. They dispense more cash with an impressive network of ATMs which is a proof to their liquidity, and their processing and disposal of loans etc., is much faster. When it comes to cards issue, they are par excellence with international validity that cannot be matched by nationalized banks. Indian citizens now prefer equally if not more the private banks, and this is by no means any exaggeration. In other words, the private banks of India today have metamorphosed into pioneer financial institutions of the country within very short span of time.

In life insurance and pension industry as well, we have participation of PNB Paribas tied up with SBI, HDFC, ICICI, Axis tied up with Max, etc., that have come out with credible results and performance. Not all are unit based funds. Mutual funds as well stock markets too see a healthy participation from the private banking sector over the government owned financial institutions.

India’s has been a mixed economy with both the government and private entrepreneurs working in tandem to cater to public demands. This is how our national economy has been operating since the dawn of our independence. Before Indira Gandhi nationalized the private sector banks in the year 1969, the Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Bank etc., were privately founded and managed by efficient hands turning out profits. In fact, the May Bank of Malaysia was founded by Tamil Chettiars which was nationalized at a later date by the Malaysian govt. The May Bank was the first ever banking institution founded in Malaysian history that is the pride of every single Malaysian Indian. This underscores the participation of the private sector that cannot be written off. Even today conservative private sector banks such as Karur Vysya Bank, etc., are rated best among the industry.

The private banks and insurance industry have been forerunners of some wonderful products (financial) over public financial institutions. Their interest earnings are far better. Their schemes are very flexible and their apps/platforms for trading etc., are user friendly. As for general insurance such as automobile and (foreign) travel insurances, the private insurance companies have a huge presence and may have overtaken the nationalized ones already. You only have to take govt insurance and private insurance for your two different cars and make a claim to discover which is fast and best and more reliable. In the health insurance industry as well, we have private health insurance companies leading from the forefront. The Star Insurance and Apollo collect the bulk of premiums over national health insurance companies.

That brings us to health industry. Who among us is willing to go to Omandurar govt hospital or Kilpauk or Stanley. The private health industry cater to all segments as per our budget: from five star hospitals such as MIOT to the neighbourhood polyclinic with specialists visiting on appointment.

Even in air travel, who is getting the general janata fly from one corner of the country to the other cheap and fast? Only the private airlines such as the Indigo. What stopped the government from founding more economic airlines to service the masses? When a private entrepreneur can operate a budget airline adhering to air safety protocol at profit, why cannot the government. What was the condition of Air India all these years. The former national carrier will be turning a new leaf shortly with the takeover by Tata.

If everything has to be nationalized, we must first down the shutters of some private political tv channels founded with ill-gotten money violating FERA regulations as it has been alleged. We shall have actual PEACE and NO VIOLENCE in this country.

Indians today prefer to enroll their wards in private or deemed (autonomous) institutions over established public universities is it not? Except for the first tier of IIT/IIM/AIIMS and the second tier such as NIIT/JIPMER etc., who among us would want our children attend government colleges. Will those who raise voice against privatization send their children Presidency College and Arts College. Or to Corporation schools or Government schools. I am proudly the product of a government aided State board school. Understandably, the private institutions have better lab facilities these days and employ the best brains for faculty over government universities.

In rural India, it is the private buses that come to the rescue of our masses living in far flung villages with no bus routes. The public transport such as railway may still be miles away.

How many of us have BSNL broadband at home. Why should we go for Airtel or Hathway or ACT. How many of us use BSNL network for mobile operator. How many among us use Vodofone or Airtel.

I am not for Reliance at all, yet I miss the Reliance petrol stations for their superior service and washroom facilities. No IOC or BP or HP outlet in India can match the Reliance standards. Highway travelers will agree with me.

Finally, today it is the private industry Information Technology (IT) that generates and employs a major chunk of our fresh graduates. The word to note is: EMPLOYMENT GENERATION. This is now done best by the private sector be it in manufacturing industry or what you call core industry or financial or tertiary sector. This is also one industry where foreign participation is enormous, that it can hurt us if anything goes wrong ‘on site.’ Public institutions simply do not have in them such a mammoth capacity to absorb skilled labour or they have been systematically weakened over decades by the preceding Congress govt that today they have degenerated into skeleton institutions and nothing more.

Note: Most of private industry have sizeable foreign participation already. Pharma for one thing. Startups such as Swiggy are possible only thanks to foreign investments. We live in an interdependent world: not in an insulated and isolated bubble just by ourselves. How many of us have modular kitchen installed without a foreign collaborated unit. How about our air-conditioner units. Automobiles. Refrigerators. Mobile phones. Even our furniture. TVs and PCs/Laptops/IPads. Dove soaps. Garnier shampoos. Loreal cosmetics. And we talk about nationalistic policies.

How about leaving Hindu temples to Hindus now. Will the DMK government give back our temples to Hindus. Or will they equally take over the churches and mosques, audit them, staff them and use their funds as it has been happening with Hindu temples? All Hindu temples across India have to be given back to their devotees for management. Indian government and state governments have been SHAMELESSLY using Hindu temple money to meet their own selfish ends. If Hindu temples have to be in govt care, then all churches and mosques must be similarly taken over and their financial positions gazetted along with details of Hindu temple fundings. I challenge our governments to do it or hand over Hindu temples to Hindus.

Private Industry such as the Tatas, the Birlas, TVS, Ashok Leyland etc., are hallmark manufacturers of India who have gone on to acquire foreign assets. What was the first Indian company to get listed at NASDAQ in our history? INFOSYS. Who have global imprint today employing millions around the world.

I have not gone into the financial analysis of LIC with relevant statistics for my write-up. My logic lies in weighing the pros and cons. We have encouraging precedents and we are hopeful that LIC will follow a similar path to privatization and healthy zooming profits in future. If this boat is to sink, remember India must go under, God forbid! To empty talkers who have no patience or inclination or facts and figures, ignorance is truly a bliss!

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Until now i have not googled LIC privatization. I am adding a few lines from googling hereunder:

LIC going public is fine but the foreign participation must be capped to 49% maximum with controls resting with Indian hands on disinvestment. LIC has been conservative institution in Indian history. The public reaction on privatization is understandable and must be addressed. Foreigners holding stake upto 75% may carry risk component that can rock the ship. Let PM Modi not forget Lehman Brothers. As financial institutions grow, their expansion beyond boundaries cannot be helped. Joint ventures have to become public listed corporations, etc. Key industries with security concerns such as the Defence, Space etc., and mass facilities such as major rail routes need not have to go in for privatization. However luxury private trains are permissible and are already on operation such as ‘the palace on wheels.’ Along with star rated hospitals, the public health centers (PHCs) need to be expanded for the general public. The private and public industry can co-exist in mixed Indian economy servicing to different segments of our population.

PS: I am no financial pundit or qualified expert to speak on this. Just a housewife’s cue 😀

Posted in Political

Love him or hate him, there is none like my prime minister Narendra Modi.

One moment he is in Manipur, one of the seven sister eastern states of India bordering Burma and Bangladesh. Shortly he surfaces in the western state of Punjab where the safety protocol for the nation’s most important man is brazenly breached. He is made a sitting duck with his convoy, jammed from every side in the highway with traffic freezing all around for over crucial and dangerous 30 min. Security lapse of highest order, perhaps pre-planned? The next morning Shri Modi ji is inaugurating almost a dozen medical colleges in the lines of AIIMS in the south virtually, alongside a classical language university. He is opening expressways and tunnels simultaneously in Jammu, the northernmost country and cutting ribbons for industrial complexes in the hinter heartland of India. Takes a break to hit Varanasi for a temple visit and rounds off the day addressing the business community/entrepreneurial sessions online. Diplomatic affairs are handled with equal finesse in the sidelines. Not to forget that the country lost our valuable COAS only very recently, that must be weighing heavily on his mind. A million issues crave for his attention. He is tugged here and there: but he goes with it all giving everyone and everything his hundred percent. That is my prime minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. I have not had a prime minster like him in my memory. My country India is the seventh largest and most diverse nation in the world. We are also the world’s largest democracy with a population of an estimated 1.3 billion. This is our busybee PM Modi ji, at70+, who hardly sleeps for four hours a day even in this pandemic, which is the reason we Indians are going to sleep in sheer bliss: we are in safe hands, that of our prime minister. He will see to that we have our peace and security as he stands guard over our nation even as we the citizens raise such a hue and cry ever since the Covid invaded our spaces in the year 2019. Through the intervening period, the man led the nation on an unparalleled campaign of administering over a billion corona vaccine doses, indigenously produced or made in India, all the same exporting the lifesaving vaccines to dozens of world nations. He just turned the country into missile exporting elite. He wouldn’t miss the awards ceremonies in the Rashtrapathi Bhavan honouring the unsung heroes of Bharat from all walks of life: from the noblest teaching profession in village to the native tree sapling planter. He neither forgets our sportsmen nor our army men, leave alone the artistes and artisans through the length and breadth of the country. From tribals to the enterprising youth and agrarian/pastural rural population, he engages with them all at every stage. Through all his busy schedule, our prime minister still finds time to address the children of the nation with his ‘Man ki bhath.’ He is an avid Yoga practitioner and a vegetarian. He is dynamism and hyperactivity rolled into one for his age! I am yet to come across a single young man as hardworking and driven as my prime minister is in his seventies. Touchwood. He is in my everyday prayer. After all, Shri Modi ji is in his retirement age already. He could have opted for the safer, easier way out. Modi ji is clearly the man on a mission.’ A follow-up of his You tube channel can let you know how this man born and bred for India, leading a frugal life, is easily one of the finest leaders India has ever had. It is easiest to criticize or point fingers. To achieve what he has, one has to have monumental mental strength and grand vision. My country is mammoth and chaotic. In all the chaos and confusion, India still has her character. To head my nation and propel us towards prosperity, encountering adversity at every step is no cakewalk even for elected parliamentarians. We are surrounded by China and Pakistan – our hostile neighbours. Border skirmishes bleeding us day in and day out are our routine. There are betrayers within our boundaries who would like to see us blown to smithereens. The stewardship of my colossal nation is therefore a Himalayan task literally. Anyone who does it bravely and surefooted like my prime minister Shri Narendra Modi ji and that too with his kind of elan, deserves a standing ovation. Clearly he is head and shoulders above most world leaders. It is unfortunate that the corona pandemic has to be dealt with in his golden period. Or perhaps it is a blessing for us Indians that we have dynamic leadership at this point of time. This is also the time for us to let him know how much he means to us Indians. As the delta variant and omicron are raging around us everywhere, let us take a moment to let our prime minister know how dearly he is loved and respected. May you be blessed with a hundred years Shri Narendra Modi ji! Take care, the nation is with you.