April 2, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I thought it prudent to send this monthly random reflection today so as to avoid communicating on April Fool’s Day. Here is for your perusal:

  1. In the hills surrounding Chitrakoot Dham, several million pilgrims visit every year. This is the area where Lord Rama is said to have spent many years of his ‘vanawas’ (forest stay). At least twice a year, nearly 5 million pilgrims undertake the holy walk around the hills in a single day. On many such occasions, stampede and injury to hundreds of people occurs. We do not have the competence to manage large crowds in highly dense settings; in fact, this should have been India’s core competence?
  2. Social composition of rapidly urbanising Bangaluru has begun to create new challenges for the city and its inhabitants. Tandoori chicken and kebabs, roti and parantha, and biryani seem to be more readily available than idli, dosa and lemon rice. Majority of young girls and women are wearing salwar-kamiz. Various dialects of Hindi, Bhojpuri and Punjabi can be heard on the streets. Many more devotees visit Hanuman temples than mosques and churches. Centre of Indian economy and society?
  3. The recent convulsions in the AAP (party with a different politics) are a consequence of its landslide victory in Delhi state elections in February. History provides many lessons from landslide electoral victories that have been frittered away by its internal contradictions. The government of the late Rajiv Gandhi had more than 80% seats in Indian parliament in 1985; in less than three years, the mandate had been embroiled in Bofors. The force for good had been wasted. Ominous signs for AAP government in Delhi?
  4. India is the land of growing e-commerce; media advertising by e-commerce companies has reached new highs. Increasingly, larger numbers of customers from smaller towns are buying goods online. Two commercial assumptions underlie this marketing approach. First, goods purchased online will be the same in quality as shown on their web-site; and, in the event of any damage or incongruence, the company will quickly replace or refund. Second, payments made by credit/debit cards would be recovered through actual cash by the company and the card supplying banks. In practice, given the culture of aggressive selling and absence of compliance, both these assumptions are going awry?
  5. A large number of communities and socio-religious groups in different parts of Asia started the traditional new year on March 21; according to lunar calendar, the seasons, stars and annual cycles change on that day. As a result, harvesting season begins in the new year, followed by rest, marriage and enjoyment season, before the next crop is to be planted. The solar calendar cycle tends to create divergence from the above patterns, including school year calendars. The co-existence of the lunar and solar influence on contemporary life may well be good for humanity, even if they do not converge?

Rajesh Tandon