June 1, 2017

Dear Colleagues

Another Random Reflections, written away from the hot summer in Delhi.

  1. One of the most revered temples of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of learning & knowledge, is located at the banks of Godavari river in Basar, northern Telangana. Even though water flow in the river has weakened, the temple continues to attract devotees from far and wide. A common ritual performed in this temple is starting the learning process of young children with blessings of Goddess Saraswati. The pilgrims then find local places to eat. One such fine dining place is called "Ma Durga Chinese Dhaba Restaurant"—-global integration?
  2. Garden Route in South Africa, starting from Cape Town, is one of the most beautiful 700 plus kilometres of wonderful scenery. More importantly, the infrastructure of roads, parks and motels is fantastic throughout this route. The driving discipline, courtesies shown by service providers and hygiene is par excellence. Management of parks, game reserves and beaches is so professional that India could invite them to teach us some too. Even occasional beggars are very courteous, and non-intrusive.
  3. Much maligned dowry practices in South Asian societies are not uniquely local. A recent US survey—Newlywed Report 2017— finds that parents of brides & grooms spend more than two-third of wedding expenses. Of this 67%, parents of brides spent two-thirds— a good 43% — of all wedding expenses. Continuation of such a practice even today shows resilience of patriarchal mind-sets even in modern America. When it comes to weddings, people are still very traditional.
  4. My family attended an IPL cricket game in India and a rugby league match in South Africa this past month. The experience of crowd management and facilities was remarkably different. Food and drinks, including a glass of beer, in the rugby game were affordable, clean and easily accessible. Experiences of entry, exit and use of toilets in cricket game stadium were painful and harassing. Security check in cricket game removed all coins; security check in rugby game allowed food and beverages. And, the price of ticket for rugby game was half of cricket. Wow!!
  5. May 25 is celebrated as Africa Day, as on this day in 1963, Organisation of African Union, the predecessor of current African Union (AU) was formed. Most celebrations in cities of Africa had become ritualized — school kids singing & dancing, with politicians smiling and lecturing. However, on this day this year, a group of civil, social and citizen leaders began to organize for a new movement of justice & peace — Africa Rising! Interestingly, African Development Bank held its annual governance meetings in Gandhinagar India for the first time, on the eve of Africa Day!! Change is in the air?


All the very best
Rajesh Tandon