SajanSpeaks

Thoughts that originate deep within

Career Guidance & Counselling: Why should we do it?

There is a general feeling in today’s society that if you are good in studies one should take up Medicine or Engineering. Most other college options are taken on what is available amongst the many choices. Very few people actually look for what is best for the child based on their aptitude and personality.

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Let me start with few examples. It was the year 1990. Computers era had begun. A bright student thought that computers field is the best and took up BSc Computer Science. He then went on to do Masters in that field. He never considered about his own personality fitment into that field. He was an extrovert with tremendous people skills who hated sitting alone. In the end, he never even worked more than 2 years in that industry. Today he is in a managerial position but in a field that he did NOT study. Imagine his potential had he gone for Business Management based on his aptitude, where could he have reached today.

Year 2017. Child currently studying in XIIth who got 10 CGPA in Xth standard CBSE. He wanted to join IIT. All of a sudden his parents are complaining that he is not focused. The child himself is confused which field is best. He thought two years back that Engineering was the way ahead, but suddenly feels his priorities have changed. He remains confused and the parents dumb founded.

Another child never knew that Design was his calling, till he was guided by a counselor based on his aptitude. He secured admission in a good college based on his scores in the entrance exam. The college academic submissions are so grinding, that he is sleep deprived for many days yet he is raring to give it a try while most of his friends have given up. Why? Because his aptitude and personality is best suited for that line of study. He never feels it is a burden.

We have numerous examples of children giving up life even after joining prestigious IITs. The suicide rates are highest there. Why would anyone who has succeeded so much take such an extreme step. Have you ever thought of it? There is a recent case where a girl after clearing the competitive NEET and getting admission to a Medical College has committed suicide. The classmates are saying that she was pushed into the field without taking her choice into consideration. Had any of them gone to a Career Counselor they would have reached their max potential with minimum efforts and each day would be fun instead of a dreary engagement. There seems to be a science behind it all.

Guidance and counselling are not the same. While Career Guidance talks about the world of work that is available, Career Counselling actually deals with the world of the individual. It is the task of a good counselor to match these two worlds to get the right fit, so that the child is not burdened.

There are some who go by the name Career Counselor without requisite certification or assessment tools for testing. Some offer services very cheap too. Many are online operators who perform the entire guidance based on outdated assessments on one parameter and actually may misguide the child.

I have experienced how much my child personally benefited from such counselling. So I wanted to help out parents and children. I searched and went to one of the leaders in the field, Dr. Chinu Agrawal, PhD, Founder Feeling Minds, who had immense experience. She has studied many popular tools being used for the Career Counseling, the world over and then designed a testing method that is extremely reliable, credible and scientific. She has trained a lot of counselors all over India. Her mission is to empower the children to make the right choices.

A good assessment of the child’s potential should be based on the child’s Personality, Career Interests, Career Values, Skills, Aptitude, Child’s Environment, Parental guidance and so on. This process has three parts to it. First, Initial Interview to understand the child and to guide him/her to the testing methodology and taking the 45 minute online test. Second part is the individual counselling based on the results. The final part is counselling along with parents to discuss the 32 page report which is exhaustive and guides the child to 5 top Career clusters that they may choose from. It is about exploring the various suitable career choices available after matching the World of Work and the World of Individual and then taking an informed decision.

It is possible that the child has other preferences. In such cases the counselor would explain the skills that are needed to be developed, to pursue that filed of choice. The entire process and system is holistic keeping in view of the child’s interest, personality and the environment that he/she has grown up in. This is not to say that the child can’t change his choices. But a good counselling will minimize the risk of going to a wrong profession leading to a career change later.

This Career Counselling can be done on children who are 14 years and above. This is also recommended for those who are looking for a career change. Hence it is suited for adults who are looking for a second career, but do not know what to look for.

If we calculate the entire cost of the child’s preparation for exams, college education, and the cost of a wrong choice, then the cost of going to a good counselor is so minuscule. I would always encourage parents to advise their children to understand themselves better by taking guidance from a Career Counselor. It has helped my child immensely and it would help yours too.

Should you need more information on Career Counselors in your city or to do it online through Skype (in places where trained counselors are not available), do write to us – sajan@renergetics.com with the age, class of your child and city (with location). We would be happy to help and guide you. If your child is in class 9 or above, the Time is NOW!

May your Child reach his/her best potential. May they be Winners in Life. 

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Is your Child going to Higher Classes? What Next?

Most of us have kids studying in higher classes. Some of us do not have much idea what to do further. Only a few children have a clear idea what to pursue next. Many of them just follow the crowd. As parents we encourage our kids to study well and crack the IIT. Not because it is best suited for our child but because it assures them a good future, and because neighboring Pammi aunty’s child did that and did it well.

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I too fell for this trap, because I thought the grades which my child brought home right from Class 6 in a reputed school, were quite good. His class teacher in 10th always used to tell us during PTA meetings that I need not worry about my child. Most of his friends were planning the IIT-JEE route and he too expressed interest in it. So, as a good parent, I got him admitted in a popular IIT coaching institute. I thought, I have done the best thing for my child, even though it was a costly option.

11th class was tough. My child’s efforts were never lacking. However grades didn’t match up to the efforts. That is when my wife said, may be he doesn’t have the aptitude for this field. I rubbished it. I said, “More efforts is the only solution”. As days and months passed, I realized my child was getting more worried. I wondered, – “How come, a good student suddenly looks pale as compared to his former self”. 

So when he reached 12th, I had a word with my good friend Subhaashini, who is a professional career counselor. She suggested an online Career Assessment Program at www.youngbuzz.com . They claim to be India’s #1 Career Assessment Test, which has been accessed by over 1 million students. It was affordable. The scores were Greek and Latin to me. But she interpreted it beautifully. She told us in a conference call, that scores indicated that the child had an aptitude for Engineering Design and not the classical Engineering at IIT. Now that was like a bolt from the blue. I had missed noticing something clearly all my child’s life.

All through his childhood he had been creating things in an innovative manner. At 6 years of age, he completed a Lego design meant for age 12+. Being a photograph enthusiast, I had clicked pictures of most of his creations. I thought every child was as creative as mine. We were blind to his aptitude in Design, although it was being displayed everywhere, in his school projects, in the things he made, in his drawings and the sketches stuck behind his door.

So I searched the net and found there were Design courses conducted by IIT itself but the entrance was through an entirely different set of exam called UCEED. I downloaded the past question papers and gave it to my child. He just took to it just like a duck takes to water. He found out more about the course. He spoke to people who were already undergoing the course. He liked what he heard. He prepared for it and wrote the exam. He qualified with a good score. He was called for Interview and Portfolio Presentation from a College offering B.Des, based on these scores. All those creations he made over the years came in handy, when he had to present his portfolio to the interviewing team and they were mighty impressed. He is now looking forward to join Digital Design. I thank the day we took the decision to go for the Aptitude test and to Subhaashini for her insights, and to God for having shown us this path.

Here is a suggested road-map, for all you parents. If your child is in 10th or completed it, it is the ideal time to get an aptitude test done. So that you and your child are clear about their true passion. You may not understand the Aptitude test scores, but when interpreted by a Professional Counselor and when matched with the displayed interest of your child, you will be able to find the right career path. Once you do that, it will be easy for you to enroll the child in the chosen stream in 11th which will be useful for that right-fit career.

Once the child reaches 12th, enroll for the admission alerts from a website called http://indiacollegefinder.org/ even though it costs some money. Do this in late August or early September, as the period of validity is for one year. This will help you get information regarding all entrance exams, their application start date, last dates for applying, dates of exam etc. It is a one stop shop. Now search the net for colleges offering the courses that your child has displayed an aptitude, and find out the admission tests/ procedures. Make a group of like minded parents/ friends using social media Apps like WhatsApp or Telegram to get inputs from others and also share costs. This kind of research and inputs will expand your choices exponentially and you will never miss out on the many options that are generally not known. You may assist your child with additional coaching if required based on their interest. Remember to apply in all the colleges/ exams giving you the options in the chosen field. Each application costs you about Rupees 1000-2000 and most have options to pay online. Create an excel sheet with dates for exams, dates for downloading the Hall ticket, booking slots for exams etc so that the dates do not clash. Many parents apply for exams even for those where their child does not have interest in. They justify giving the reason, “It gives Practice”. I leave this decision to you even though I don’t personally recommend it.

Keep the months April to June free for you to travel to various places if required for exams and interviews. Some parents feel that online exam is better than pen pencil exams. Even IIT-JEE has both options to choose from. Ask your child which option they are comfortable with. Choose exams/ colleges depending on your location preference, quotas, fee costs etc. Our choices would vary as per our need/ requirements.

Avoid forcing your child in a field that they are not interested in. It would be akin to asking a Rabbit to swim, or an elephant to climb trees. Remember Robert H. Schuller’s quote – “Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure it just means you haven’t succeeded yet.” If the child’s aptitude and chosen career path matches, then one does not need to motivate the child, or force him to prepare. It will come automatically. Remember each child is special and unique, so comparing him with “Sharmaji ka beta” is the most unintelligent comment we can make.

Whatever the child has created, please keep a record with pictures. You never know when they would come in handy, the way it came for me. Encourage the child in whatever they do passionately, one day their passion may be the source for their daily bread.

I wish you all make the right decisions in your child’s future and wish them admission to the best colleges and studies that will make their life a pleasure to live every day.

Remember words of Confucius –“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”

Disclaimer: The links given in this article are based on my personal experience. I have NO business links with those organisations, neither am I promoting them. You are free to choose based on your research – http://www.sajanspeaks.wordpress.com

What ails our Children? Are we Parenting Right?

Have you ever wondered if you are parenting right? Are you one of those parents who do not interfere much in your child’s growth and allow them to find their way, or are you one of those who help their children in everything and guide them to perfection?

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Whatever category you may be, here is something for you to chew upon. You may thereafter make whatever corrections you feel right.

In the past 4 years I have had the opportunity to train nearly a thousand students from ages 7 to 16. I have met them in all ages, sizes, shapes and nationalities. The best among them as far as satisfaction level are the young ones from 7 years to 10 years who are bubbly and open. The older lot of are far more inquisitive and a bit guarded. One has to earn their trust before they open out unlike the young ones.

Recently I was involved in a Training where children had to build and program Robots. It was a 7 day 4 hour per day course. I had two batches to handle in a day. Across the batches I noticed some common behavior traits. And this got me thinking.

Robotics as you would understand in a mix of technology, hardware and software along with oodles of logic and reasoning. This means that what can go wrong will go wrong. The things that go wrong are usually very simple and can be easily resolved or overcome with a bit of patience, reasoning, logic and thinking.

Every day we did encounter such issues. As a policy I never went forward to resolve the issue when it occurred. I used to ask the children to resolve the issue themselves. One child even went to the extent of complaining to his parent that I wasn’t helpful when they faced a problem. The common behavior that I noticed was that they were a very impatient lot. They wanted the Robot to work in the first instant almost like the ATM giving money when we insert the card. Failure was not acceptable in their rule book. They used to blame the kit, blame it on their group, blame it on the software, but never ever took the blame on themselves. Very few had the patience to go through the process and rebuild or reprogram to find the fault to understand, why something that ought to work, did not work at all. Many just gave up. Few lost interest in no time. Some children wanted to do everything themselves as they did not trust their peers. Only few displayed true leadership and good communication to get everyone to work as a team. I kept observing the various reactions, day in and day out.

I only stepped in when I felt there was no progress. And very soon the issues were resolved and lessons were driven home. My observations about the behavior led to some revelations regarding how we bring up our children in today’s world where inter personal interaction has become more through gadgets than face to face. Where material things have taken over human feelings.

Most of these behaviors stemmed from the fact that parents in our enthusiasm to protect our kids, to save our time, have been delivering ready-made solutions to our kids rather than they discovering it themselves. Kids have been over protected because we wouldn’t want them to be disappointed. That has made them wanting to win each time. There seems to be a refusal to accept that they could fail once. There is a need to drill home a lesson that failing is not a bad thing and what is important is to try again and be patient to get the work done or reach the goal.

Single kids, being brought up in neighborhoods with even lesser kids, hectic schedules of books and homework, have caused kids to remain at home instead of going out to play. This had led to lack of communication skills to resolve issues, to work as a team and get things done. This behavior could be a cause for a big failure when they grow up.

It is time therefore for us to be less of a parent and more of a guide allowing them to explore, make mistakes, learn the consequence and get hit by Life, rather than giving them Life in a platter. It is essential that we do not help them out every time they get stuck. We just need to show them the way and they need to walk that way, rather than we doing everything for them. We need to be tough at times, so that their life becomes easy later.

Little did I realize facilitating a Robotics Class would involve much more than mere technology. Along with Robotics I ended up imparting the much needed Life Skills and learning from them as well.

What is our parenting style? How well equipped are our children with the Life skills crucial for a Happy , Successful life?

Let’s pause and reflect a moment.

Pay More – You don’t get More: The BSNL Paradox

One always feels, that when we pay more, we always get better service and more benefits. While this should be the norm across many industries, it may not hold good if you are a BSNL telephone user. If you are not a BSNL user you may stop reading further.

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I am one of those satisfied BSNL users of both mobile and landline broadband till couple of days back when I got a very unreasonable bill. Four years earlier when I shifted to the current place, I got a FTTH connection (Fiber To The Home). It was always ON, blazing speeds, unlimited downloads for Rs 1099 a month. I was happy paying the amount. Somewhere down the line around 6 months back, there were pop ups stating I have consumed my quota and the speeds would throttle to lower speeds unless I clicked a top up amount of 300 bucks. The slow speeds were good for me and I did not bother. But I still got a bill two months back for an additional amount. I thought either my wife or kids must have clicked for higher speeds. I paid and kept quiet. This month that bill increased by additional 800 bucks. That’s when I realized something was indeed fishy.

Reliance has disrupted the internet data market and was giving away 1 GB data for 10 bucks and here I was paying so much. I called up the BSNL Customer Care and conveyed my apprehensions. The girl at the other end said, “Sir, why are you in such a plan where you get far too less data. You need a plan change.” I got irritated, – “What? Do you mean that I have to shell out more?” She immediately corrected me “No, Sir, there are far cheaper plans out there with much more Data. Your Plan is really really very old”. It was then I realized that my ancient unlimited plan had just 8 GB max download at 10 Mbps and unlimited thereafter at much slower speed. I was smug and happy with the service totally unaware that the world of Data had grown bigger with lower costs. I requested her to change the plan, to which she asked me to visit the BSNL Office.

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Next morning I was there at the BSNL Office in front of another lady. I asked her why I was being fleeced when I am paying more. “Don’t you think, I should be getting the best service, for the amount I am paying?”. She just shrugged her head and in a typical Govt fashion asked me to change into another plan that would only cost me half but will give me nearly 10 times the Data at even higher speeds. 75 GB at 15 Mbps speed for just Rs 645/- That shock did not stop. I also found that if I paid another 98 bucks, all my calls would be free from the landline to any network. Then I got yet another shock, that at half my present post paid connection rate, I could have three times Data, and unlimited free calls to any mobile or landline network. I realized the cost of not keeping abreast with the changes. I have been shelling out far more for far less. I immediately opted for all the required changes which will save me at least 2000 rupees per month.

To all my friends in whose mind the bulb just lit, go to your BSNL office and change your plan to the current ones. And check every July and April for changes. They never tell you if you are paying more for getting less.

I was thinking how much we paid for a call way back in 1995. A five minute call on STD used to cost me nearly a hundred bucks. Thank You Mr. Ambani. You have really whacked the shit out of these sleeping giants. I got benefited.

Where are you investing next? 

 

The Tipping Point: Give Me One Last Chance!

Some time back, I got a call – a girl’s voice and I expected it to be another of the pesky marketing calls. She introduced her name and said, “I don’t know if you remember, I had spoken to you long back”. Her name was unique, it connected somewhere in my mind. I quickly put two and two together and replied, “Of course I remember you. You are Abhi’s sister”. It was her turn to be surprised. She said, “How come you remember my voice after so many years?” I confessed, “Your name is unique, and I follow Abhi’s updates on Facebook. Your name did come up couple of times and I just guessed, it must be you”. She was asked by her brother to contact me, to know more about a career in Corporate Training.

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Her call opened up the closed pores of my memory. It was Y2K. Computers were being introduced in a big way at the National Defence Academy, Khadawasla, Pune – The Cradle of Leadership. Technological advancement was happening big time, yet the cadets remained the same. Trying the same old ways to outwit the Divisional Officer’s (Div-Os) without realizing that these instructors had walked the very same path many years back and were aware of all the Tricks of the Trade. Yet at the end of the day, we often learnt a lot, from these young men.

The squadron I was posted as a Div-O was doing well. Things were going in absolute harmony, till one fine day, Cadet Abhi, a fourth termer from another Squadron, was relegated on disciplinary grounds for some major breach of Discipline. He was transferred to our Squadron and my Division. My Squadron Commander Sqn Ldr Sharad Srivastava, told me, “Sajan, this boy requires guidance.

I was a No Nonsense guy, who disliked people who broke the rules. I was nicknamed “Bajauddin” by the cadets because I was extremely strict. I knew this because this name cropped up during the spoofs done by cadets during the end of term Squadron Socials. During my first interview with Abhi, I made myself amply clear, “Son, you have to play by the rules, You have made a mistake, for which you have been punished with relegation. It is a big blow, I understand. Now it is time, you got your act together and be disciplined. This Squadron and I, will show NO mercy at all.”

The next thing I did, was to take out the cyclostyled sheet and send a Withdrawal Warning Letter to his father stating that, he better advise his son, Abhi, to improve his Discipline, failing which he would be withdrawn from the Academy. The rule position was very clear. You could not get relegated in the same subject again in the same term. And in all, you couldn’t get Relegated thrice in all the terms put together. The cadet would be withdrawn from the Academy if that happened. Unlike other subjects where one had to clear regular tests, Discipline was assessed differently. Punishments were awarded for every breach of discipline and published in the Academy Routine Order. Each punishment carried with it a physical endurance activity as well as some negative points. For example, Extra Drill would be 1 point, Endurance Training Run awarded the cadet 2 points, a Hike to Sinhgarh Fort collected 4 points, and a Restriction added 7 points. Anyone who collected more than 200 negative points in a single term, was relegated on Disciplinary grounds. So Abhi, having collected 200 negative points, got relegated right in the middle of the term itself.

Unfortunately, this boy was of a different mettle. He just couldn’t care less. He went about his life as if nothing happened. Very soon, I received a report from the Academics Dept about his continued absence from class. I confronted Abhi and he promptly confessed that he had bunked. He used to sit in the library instead and browse through his favourite books, magazines or the internet. I awarded him 5 days Restriction, and counselled him NOT to miss classes anymore. But this boy cared even lesser. In less than a month I received a number of reports that he had missed his classes again. This time I marched him up to the Squadron Commander, who warned him to be careful and awarded him 7 days Restriction for the repeat offence. Since he was approaching the half way mark for relegation (in his case withdrawal), a letter was shot off to his parents asking them to warn their son. Surprisingly, I never got any response from his parents.

Yet this boy would not improve. He was caught bunking again and this time due to the nature of repeated offence he was marched up to the Battalion Commander, who awarded him 14 days Restrictions. I called Abhi and advised him that he was continuing to play with fire and that he better be very careful. If he received any more punishments then he would be withdrawn from the Academy. Despite this, Abhi collected some more punishments elsewhere and crossed the 200 points threshold. As per rules, he was to be withdrawn from NDA. A letter went out from the Academy asking his father to come and collect his son after paying up the training costs. His father had to pay up almost 1.5 lakh rupees for the 4 semesters he was at NDA. I thought, this boy will never learn in life.

The end of semester was in progress. One day, a scraggy looking, tired and weary, thin, bearded man walked into my office. He introduced himself as Abhi’s father. I was very annoyed with him. I asked him why he had never bothered to reply to my numerous letters. Now that his son had been withdrawn from the Academy, what was the use for him to finally come. He spoke with lot of humility, “Sir, I can’t read. Letters used to come to me, and I used to call up Abhi. He used to tell me that they were letters praising him for good work done in the Academy. It is only when I got the letter asking me to pay up huge amount of money, I took the letters to my office colleagues and they told me to rush here.”

I was annoyed further and told, “Now, nothing can be done. Please take your son back. Kindly pay up the training cost at the earliest.” His reply resounded like a tight slap to me, I am a class IV employee from Railways. I hardly earn anything. This is a huge amount for me. I came here on a Railway pass, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to. All what I earned in my life, I have educated my children. When Abhi qualified for NDA, I thought a huge burden is over. This much amount of money I can never pay back in this lifetime. And the he delivered his punch, that left me stunned, “Even if I SELL my wife and daughter in Agra market, I can’t raise this much money. You do one thing, please take my son and SHOOT him. He doesn’t deserve us.” I was knocked out!

Tears rushed into my eyes. What have I done? How could I ever resolve this issue? How I wish the father had spoken to me earlier. How I wish I was not instrumental in the punishments awarded to this boy. No one, I knew could ever turn the clock back. This poor family was doomed, and I cursed myself partly for it. I thought there is only one man who could do something. That was the Commandant, Alas! He could do Nothing, now that the orders for withdrawal had come from the Army Headquarters.

I pulled a chair near the computer and furiously typed out a letter addressed to the Commandant from the Father. I poured out the angst of a defeated parent into words. Took a print out and made Abhi’s father sign it. I requested him to post it from his hometown. I told him, I was sorry for what had happened, but the only hope was Commandant acting on this letter. With that letter and Abhi tagging along, with drooping shoulders and his face, writ with pain, the poor man left my office. I got calls from his sister and mother. I told them, I was sorry for what happened, it was Abhi’s mistake, but now, nothing could be done by me. Abhi stood withdrawn from the National Defence Academy on Disciplinary grounds. His father was given some more time to pay up.

Vacations started and I went for my Annual Leave. The pain of this incident receded. Soon the next semester commenced and things started buzzing again in the Squadron. One day I was going to the office and all of a sudden, one cadet jumped into my path. I screeched to a halt almost falling off my Bajaj scooter. The cadet gave a smart salute, standing in perfect attention in crease-less uniform. I realized, it was Abhi standing there. I was shocked, and sweetly surprised. I asked him what he was doing here.

He narrated to me that, he went back to his hometown. He realized that he had brought immense sorrow to his parents and sister. He prayed if and only if he had GOT ONE MORE CHANCE. Miraculously the letter did its work. They received a reply from the Commandant informing that he was taking Abhi back, for one last time. I looked up, thanked God, turned towards the other God inside Sudan Block, the Commandant – Lt Gen SBS Kochar, PVSM, AVSM and thanked him as well. Now Abhi was in another Squadron. He then promised me one thing, standing right there on Trishul Marg, “Sir from today, I will not get even one punishment in my life. You will see this”. 

I kept a close watch on Abhi, even though he was in another Squadron. True to his word, throughout his next three semesters, he did not get a single punishment. Not only that, he did not get any punishments at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.  He kept in touch with me through letters. He took my guidance to opt for his Choice of Arm. He asked me if his dossier from NDA would ever come in his way when he became an Officer. I assured him, what happened in the Academy stayed there. Soon he informed me about him donning his stars as a Commissioned Officer. I was relieved. My Cadet had kept his word.

IMA Passing Out Parade- http://www.sajanspeaks.wordpress.com

Occasionally I got his letters. Years later, we got in touch on Facebook. He was doing well in life. His passion for photography was unmatched. In one of his updates, his Dad, Mom and sister were standing in the picturesque surroundings of Wellington where he was posted. I was not only happy but proud of this reformed cadet.

Today, Lieutenant Colonel Abhi is doing exceptionally well. He was awarded three Commendation Cards for Gallantry in consecutive years. His undercover work broke the back of one NE Militant group where the entire hierarchy was apprehended. He has completed a tenure abroad with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. I am confident that soon he will be approved for his next rank too. His sister, works for a top MNC traveling often to US. Their Dad is retired, content and happy. A few weeks back, when we talked over phone, I was asking Abhi about his Dad, he said, “My biggest assets in my life are my Parents. My family today is what it is, all thanks to the love and care given by my parents.”

The long journey from the dingy Class IV houses of Railway Colony in Agra to the place where they are today, really is a journey that gives hope to many. Along with it, I learnt very valuable lessons to….. Never Judge a Book by its Cover or even the first few chapters. And to always provide another chance to someone who makes a mistake, once twice, thrice….

Give them their, One Last Chance! You never know when the change happens suddenly, to last a lifetime. Never ever ever give up, on anyone!

This article is dedicated to Abhi, his Dad, Sis and Mom, and to Gen Kochar.

Jai Hind!

The Deadly Duo- Father & Son! : Zero to Hero

Jan 26th, Republic Day arrived- a day when deserving Defence Forces people get awarded for various acts of bravery and distinguished service. A few of my friends, and course mates too got the well-deserved awards.

A week later, I got a call from an unknown number. “Hello Sir! I am Vikas, can you recognise me”! It just took me two seconds to call out his surname, and he was thrilled and said “You haven’t forgotten me Sir, after all these years!”…. I replied, “There are very few students from whom I have learnt so much. And you are one of them. How could I ever forget you!!

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The National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune

My mind went back to the year Y2K. I was posted as a Divisional Officer – called as Div-O in the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla, Pune. This Academy is known as the Cradle for Leadership where Boys become Men. Cadet Vikas, was a tiny puny second termer. During my visits to the PT and games fields, I noticed he was weak in Physical Training. Then his mid-term academic results came, I realized he was weak in Academics too. As per routine procedure, I took out the cyclostyled sheet, filled his details and addressed the letter to his Father. The letter went like this …

RELEGATION WARNING LIST

Dear Shri Vinod Kumar,

We regret to inform you that your son/ward, Academy Number xxxxx, Cdt Vikas xxxxx of xxxx Squadron has performed poorly in Academics / PT for this semester. You are hereby advised to warn your son/ ward to improve in the subjects mentioned, failing which he will be relegated on these grounds at the end of the semester.

We are hereby placing him in the Relegation Warning List

Anyone who has been posted at the NDA would know, this was a pretty routine affair for Divisional Officers, and most of these weak cadets barring a few would always scrape through. The parents also came on hard on their children and gave the cadets a piece of their mind through their letters or telephone calls.

In this case however, things did not happen exactly the same. Instead of Vikas getting a letter, to my utter surprise and shock, I got a letter from his father instead, and it read like this…..

Dear Capt Sajan,

I have sent Vikas to National Defence Academy. My duty ended there. If he is not performing well in the Academy, then I suggest you review your own performance, because it is your responsibility to make him do the needful to pass all the subjects.

The ball was back in my court, and the father’s letter made it look like, that his son, Vikas was my responsibility. So I sent him another letter. I told him that I would ensure that his son passes the Physical Training tests by putting him through extra paces. But in Academics, nothing could be done, unless his son works harder. I informed him that his son had failed in Maths and the only way to ensure that he passes out with his course, is to change his stream from Science to Social Studies. I thought I had devised a brilliant way out. The ball was sent back to his court.

Pat came his reply a week later, with the letter starting in Hindi…with these lines.

“Girte Hain Sheh-Sawar Hi Maidan-E-Jung Mein; Woh Tifl Kya Gire Jo Ghutnon Ke Bal Chala Karte Hain! (It is only those who ride a horse in the battle field who may fall; How can cowards fall who walk only on their knees).

My son has dreamt to become a pilot and by shifting his stream to Social Studies you are taking him away from his dream. Vikas may fail, but he will learn. I have handed my son over to you. Do what is required. You can kick him, kill him, but I want to see him, as an Airforce Pilot”

More than Vikas, I was highly motivated with such a father who was not willing to compromise, not ready to give up. I just prayed Vikas would imbibe his Dad’s attitude.

As the days passed, I went about kicking Vikas nice and proper especially in the PT fields. I was around when the second termers had their PT classes. Ustads were instructed to give Vikas an extra boot up his back to make him do exercises to ensure he passes. My visits to the Squadron often during the ‘Study Periods’ always ended up in his cabin. I would ask Vikas how his academic preparations were and he always told me it was going fine. To my great relief, towards the term end, he scraped through in PT in the last attempt of the tests. Vikas had made sincere efforts to make himself stronger to clear the tests on his own. What endeared to this guy to me was that despite all his difficulties, he always had a smile in his face whenever I met him.

Academy end of term mood arrived. The semester exams ended. Everyone was busy preparing for the Passing out Parade of the sixth termers. One day, I got a call from the Academic Counselor, asking me if Vikas, was my cadet. On my affirmation, he told me, to my horror that Vikas had failed in the final exams. His marks were so poor that the Maths Dept had decided to relegate him straightaway. I asked the Counselor, whether the names have been sent to the Adjutants Branch which printed the Relegation List. He said they were about to send it. I requested him to hold on for a minute. I rushed to the Sudan Block where the Maths Department was located. I ran to the HOD who was my professor at NDA many years back. I pleaded that the cadet has failed, yet he deserved a chance. If only he could recommend a retest instead of relegation, it would mean a lot to me, to the cadet and his family. The HOD relented and recommended his name for a Retest instead of Relegation. I requested the HOD to provide extra tuition for Vikas. The HOD happily agreed and allotted a Teacher. Vikas was excused from all other duties except the Drill practice in the mornings and I told him that if he had to get out alive from the Academy on term break, he better study hard. Otherwise I would skin him alive.

The tuition’s helped. Vikas worked doubly hard. He passed the Maths retest and was promoted to the next semester. His Dad visited the Squadron few weeks later and met me. A fine gentleman, who could really motivate a dead corpse and make it run in no time. A man of principles and extra ordinary courage who had struggled in life, had seen the worst days of partition, and supported his entire family single-handedly. He himself wanted to join NDA, but was medically unfit with colour blindness. In the wake of the Kargil War he had motivated his son to join the Forces. Vikas was therefore a product of a powerhouse Dad, brought up with very solid principles.

Few months later I got posted out back to my Unit. And Vikas and his Dad moved into a corner of my memory, as I went ahead with life, busy with my work in my unit. Some years later, I got a letter from Vikas. This boy had kept track of me. The letter proudly announced that he stood first in the Helicopter Training School and got the Best in Flying Trophy. I was so proud of him. Few years later, I was specially invited for his wedding. His father spoke to me over telephone, very kindly and fondly about our association. My official work prevented me to attend his wedding. Over the years, I kept getting brief calls. Even that stopped for some time.

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Vayu Sena Medal

Now after a very long time, Vikas was again on the line. He proudly announced to me that he was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for outstanding bravery during flying in the Northeast where his act saved many passengers when his engines flamed out. I was so proud. My cadet had progressed so much ahead from his Academy days and is now blazing his path with panache. He has made his Dad proud. He has made me, his Div-O, proud.

This tiny puny guy, overcame all his weaknesses and kept working at his goal to become a pilot and, what a fine one he has become. To such an extent that he has now been recognized by the nation for his bravery. Proud of you Vikas!  May you continue to Touch the Sky with Glory!

What stood out for me here was the indomitable spirit of two made up minds who simply refused to give in to challenges until their battles were won victoriously. This is therefore dedicated to Vikas and his wonderful Dad, Shri Vinod Kumar! The Deadly Duo!

As James Allen aptly puts it ….

“You will be what You WILL to be! When the Spirit rises to Command, the Gods are ready to obey!”

Son Turns 18: A Father’s Advice

My Dear Son,

You turn 18, and I am engulfed in a kaleidoscope of emotions. You will officially be an Adult. The World opens out for you with fabulous opportunities while you will also be enticed with equally powerful vices. What you choose and how you decide will take you to a place and position where you will live much of your life. I wish you will choose the right, and the best options.

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Your Mother and I have tried to bring you up well with the right values. I want you to know that it was truly a pleasure to bring you up. You were one of the sweetest child, never troubled us, never asked for things unnecessarily, had less demands unlike children of your age, not fashion conscious, always understood the priorities of the family, kind hearted, who always stood for your friends, a good student to your teachers, and a good son to us.

As you turn 18, I would like to you, go forth and blaze your trail. Do well in whatever you choose to do, Be the best, yet never burn yourself to do that. You may spend, and within limits, you may enjoy and even that has limits. Be balanced in Life, in relationships, in Work. Balance is the Key in life.

I would love you to do what you feel is good for you, your future. Remember, Money does buy you stuff, it may ease a lot of things in life, yet there are many things that Money can never get and that is True Friendship, True Love and a Loving Family. So invest in your Friends and Family. That will stand you in good stead under all circumstances. There may be times when you will have to choose between Money, Health and Family….always choose Health & Family, you will never regret, because Money can always be made.

Every action of yours, need not end in success. Never be too proud of what you achieve, and Never feel too sad about what you lost. Failures are great if we know how to Fail Forward. Learn from each action, improve and you will definitely succeed in your aim. In everything keep Human Beings a priority. Be a good human being. That is important as much as punctuality, discipline, loyalty, honesty, sincerity and all other values you have learnt.

I have attempted to translate for you, a poem in Malayalam, I received from an unknown author.. This encapsulates an advice I would love you to keep in mind

Whom should I become, asks my child, and I answer, whoever you become, Become Good

For that Flower, standing in the fiery hot afternoon sun, Be a cool hand, who can give succor to it;

For that Life, struggling for a drop of water, Be the Water, on its tongue;

For that Person, standing alone in danger, Be the Faith, who can guide him;

For the Earth, parched dry and cracked, Be the Rain, that will fill the Earth up;

For the Traveler, who is sun burnt and tired, Be the Shady Tree, where he can rest;

For the Student, struggling in the rain, Be an Umbrella, to keep his books dry;

For the Fisherman, lost in the deep sea, Be the Light house, which can guide him safely back ashore;

For the Calf, crying and searching in the crowd for its lost mother, Be a Mother;

For the Person, suffering from hunger, Be a handful of food;

For the Woman, needing security at night, Be a Brother;

For the Old man, shivering in the cold, Be a warm Blanket;

For the illiterate, looking for knowledge, Be a Teacher;

For the Sibling, who trips and falls, Be the support;

For your Parents, always be a good Child;

Whom should I become, asks my child, and I answer, whoever you become, Become Good!

Go forth my Son, and Be the Best in whatever you do. Be Good, Do Good! Our blessings remain with you always!

We love you!

Key Board Commandos & the Defence Forces: The Video Vagaries

Every Occasion, every Festival, every Birthday, every Anniversary, I never fail to get a call from Biraj – My buddy in my last posting. He came only for a few months, but a tragedy at his home, a still born baby, he was forced to stay with us for a year more on medical grounds. I got him a house allotted out of turn and ensured his wife was looked after by doctors regularly. At times when he was away in the unit to do his upgrading cadres, I drove his wife and her mother in my own car to civil Hospital (as we were in a defence establishment without Military Hospital facilities). His joy knew no bounds when he was blessed with a healthy boy. He considered me as his family, and till this day is grateful to us for having been with him during his troubled times. Such stories abound in the Army. You can call Biraj by any name – Sahayak or Batman, but he was my Buddy. I respected him, he respected me. Period!

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Buddy System.  Somebody asked me why should you have this buddy system? Why not abolish it? Well, the buddy system is how we operate in war. Each man’s backside is looked after by his buddy. For an Officer you can’t have another officer, because he is only one in the Platoon or Company. So he has a Buddy. They train together. They are the eyes and ears of each other. The simplest example I can tell you to elucidate this relationship is by this example…… Have you seen old couples communicate? They hardly talk. One look and the other person knows exactly what needs to be done. Exactly the same way, the buddy and the officer communicate without speaking. It also helps the officer to concentrate on his tactical plans rather than bother about his administrative requirements which is taken care by the buddy. Buddy System is not only for officers but every soldier has a buddy. They live together, work together, train together and if possible go on leave together.

This buddy system is authorized by the Govt in the War Establishment. Every soldier is allotted work as per his trade classification. There are NO specific “Buddy” trade. A Soldier becomes a Buddy as per his trade requirements. In an Armoured environment more often than not the Radio Operator of the Officer doubles up as his buddy. In an Infantry environment the Rifleman becomes the buddy. In peace time, they need to be together and train together. Gen Panag in his Tweet reveals that the Batman concept came into being from a man who used to looked after the Battle Horse and hence the name Batman, which evolved to Sahayak and now the Buddy.

Buddy Stories.  In Northern Glacier in 1994, one soldier fell in crevasse and was not visible, going in for help was not warranted nor acceptable risk. His buddy, a young officer, entered crevasse without permission and rescued his Buddy with pulse of 18 only. Warmed him up and finally saved him. During 1947-48 war…..during an attack on a ridge, the Company Commander got injured so did the company JCO. While being given first aid for his injury the Company Commander had only one wish, to have breakfast on top of the Tekri…..As the Company Commander was from Rohtak, his buddy promised him that breakfast will be on Rohtak Tekri. Attack to recapture the ridge was led by that NCO and to this day that ridge is known as ‘Haryana Ridge’ with a ‘Rohtak Tekri’. I know of someone’s buddy refusing and delaying his daughters marriage till his Officer reached for Kanya Daan. There are many instances of the jawan’s children being named after the officers they served and respected.

If someone is using the Buddy for work other than what he is meant for, using more than one person as a buddy, then the person doing it and the one ordering it, both are at fault. They haven’t understood the True meaning of it altogether. Buddies are not servants by any means. Such practices if done, should be stopped forthwith. The issue is with shortage of officers, where there is limited grooming leading to misuse of this system.

Our Grooming. I remember, when we were youngsters, we had to maintain a “Crepe Book” which was made after interviewing each person. It had the details of each and every soldier in our sub unit. It also included his family details and everything under the sun from his pay to promotions. This book used to help us a lot, esp. when we used to meet a soldier during the day’s work. We would start our conversation by asking about his family. A soldier’s happiness and morale shoots up when he knows his superiors really care about him and his family. In many units, Officers on commission, stay with troops in the unit lines till they pass upgradation test and are accepted by their company as their Officer.

Many units send their young officers on a familiarization tour to the areas where their troops come from. They learn their language. Show me one Officer posted to a Gorkha  Unit who doesn’t speak Gorkhali! I was commissioned in a unit which was commanded by Col (later Brig) Riyaz Ahmed Ansari. He and his wife used to lead all the Aarti’s in the Unit Mandir. Vice versa, I also know of my course mate, Martyr Maj Rajiv Kumar Joon, Ashok Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, of 22 Grenadiers, who used to not only pray but keep fast with his Muslim troops.

Such leadership is a routine affair in Indian Army. Which is why our troops are ready to die in battle, because they know their paltan, their officers and buddies genuinely care for them and will look after their families with honour, long after they are gone. It is also because our officers lead from the front, that we have the highest Officer to Men casualty rates anywhere in the world. Our Forces have done proud to our Nation, every time they are called to action. Such victories can never be achieved if everything was actually rotten within.

Cook House.   It is a drill to this day in units that the Duty Officer visits the Langar- the cook house of the men, and tastes the food every day. Many sub-units take pride in the fact that their Khaana is the tastiest. When the supply chain breaks down due to contractual issues, breakdown of transport, bad road links, or due to poor availability of fresh veggies during summers, the kitchen garden comes to the rescue. I also know in some units, where the soldiers contribute 1 rupee each a day to pool in and make an extra vegetable dish to make the food better. And who is the Cook? He too is a soldier himself who is by trade a “Cook”. Good food is a great morale booster. After all the Army Marches on its Stomach.

In the field area, sometimes supplies do not fetch up esp. in forward areas when the weather gets bad for days. Helicopter drops are not possible, and hence there would be some days when we would be forced to go without fresh veggies. We lived with a bit of tinned food, till the time the weather cleared and we got fresh dropped in parachutes. Everyone understood the issue and roughed it out equally.

The Videos.  So it hit me, right in the socket when I saw videos uploaded by soldiers with their cribs and rants. Something seem to have broken down somewhere. On digging a bit deeper, I found at places things could have been better. But more importantly, What I found was that, the video uploaders themselves were defaulters, undisciplined fellows trying to avoid punishment by resorting to this method of maligning everyone up the chain. There is a malice in this whole show. The Armed Forces are by and large very fair and have a good redressal mechanism, a system that rectifies and corrects itself very well. It is nearly impossible to cover up issues in a large scale as there are a number of checks and balances in the system. If one or two bad eggs exists in the higher chain, they do get sorted out by the people above them. Hence the blatant idea peddled that a cover up takes place everywhere is prima facie false.

Media.   That brings me to the role being played by media. They peddle stories that sell. They all want to be by the side of the underdogs, they want to rescue those who are being tormented and downtrodden. Well that is all fine. But all Stories have another side, which is strangely not being portrayed. This hyperbole of videos and showcasing the poor side of the Forces definitely affects the morale of the Troops and causes a chasm in the Officer-Men Relationship, which can affect the Nation as a whole.

In battle, there is No question of defying authority, No second Takes, No Runners Up Trophy. When the Leader orders, “Fire”, there should be NO Questions asked back. Whether it is an HR violation, or whether there any restrictions. You either Fire or get Killed. You either Win the War…. or Lose it. Hence the Discipline and Authority is of paramount importance in the Forces much more than all other organisations. Media should never play with topics that break down this Discipline. If it does, then, We are certain to Lose the Next War.

Yes by all means, highlight any wrong doing by approaching the concerned HQ. Every effort will be made to rectify or reset and provide justice. Because these wrong doings by itself may prove to be the unmaking of a Disciplined Force. But if you do a Media Trial with inexperienced commentators, trigger happy Twitterati supported by disgruntled elements, be rest assured you have done immense damage to the Organisation that has been carefully nurtured over the years, and in turn will ruin the nation.

Our Defence Forces have been great and will continue to be, despite these Key Board Commandos and Social Media Warriors (who wouldn’t know the difference between Gorilla & Guerrilla as Sam Manekshaw put it). I request you to kindly stop sharing the one sided untruths. For those of you who did not have clarity on this issue, I hope you have it now.

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Let’s be there for those who Live and Die for us- Our Armed Forces. Let us Salute the True Heroes and Warriors, not the smart alecs with their smart phone.

Jai Hind!

The Amazon Phish: Beware of Online Frauds

With the recent Demonetisation, many of us have shifted to the cashless economy, relying more on Plastic cards, E Wallets, online payments, and online shopping. These are all going to impact the Indian Economy in a major way. I am not going to argue whether the Govt move is right or wrong. Time will tell us pretty soon.

What stares at me and worries me most is the growth of online Frauds. In 2016, UK lost 10.9 Billion Pounds. According to Symantec, India lost USD 4 billion in a year between Aug 2012 and July 2013. Today that figure could be even more.

241827634-stay-safe-online-graphic-for-quizLast week my sister got a shock when she got a mail which looked exactly like the mails you get from Amazon when you shop online on Amazon website. It informed her that she had ordered an item for 150 Pounds (Nearly 13,000 rupees) and it would be delivered within one working day to someone in UK. For a casual person, the mail had a typical Amazon mail id. It further stated that in case the order has NOT been done by her, then she had to click a linkhttp:/www. amazonrefund.co.uk/cancelorder/ server/amz/ security/” which would give her a full refund. She did panic, and called me. For a moment I thought she has been defrauded. When I looked at the mail she forwarded me, I immediately recognized it was a PHISH.

When anyone of us gets such a mail, we do panic and click the link. And that Exactly is what the Fraudsters want us to do. When we click such links, we will be taken to an Amazon looking duplicate site. We would be asked to enter our log in ID and Password to resolve our issue/ process refunds. The fraudsters now having our credentials would then log in into our account and shop using the cards we have saved online, or use cards which have been stolen from others.

How do we detect a Fraud Phishing Mail?  Whenever you get such a mail, you can decipher that it is a fraud or a Phishing mail by looking under the bonnet. At the outset all you need to do is to check the mail id. In this case though the Senders Name was “Support.online@amazon.uk”, the mail id showed it was from dw388@freenet.carleton.ca. This is the first give away. Why would Amazon mail id end with @freenet.carleton.ca? It should ideally end with @amazon.com.

Next place your cursor on to the link they have provided to resolve the issue. When you place the cursor on it without clicking, the actual destination link will be displayed on the left bottom corner. In this case the Link had words which said http:/www.amazon-refund.co.uk/cancelorder/server/amz/security/” but the site it was taking us to, was displayed as http://jhgfrdt5rfgf5rf.selfip.org/onlineamz-suppot/account/. Again why would the site NOT show Amazon.com. These two are the typical signs that it is a phishing mail that needs to be deleted forthwith.

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More Kinds of Frauds? You may get such fraud mails that look as if it has arrived from the IT Department esp during the IT refund season. In all earnest you may think it is from the Govt IT Department and provide your details and some even ask for Banking details to process refunds. Then there are mails announcing you to be the Lottery Winner or having won Free Recharge to your mobile. There are now new forms of putting Trojans in your mobile phone by circulating links that offer Free Calls, or New Updates to WhatsApp which will turn green or blue etc. Kindly delete these links the moment they come. Do NOT click on them. Do NOT forward them in any groups.

What should you do? In case for some reason, you have clicked these links earlier, I would suggest to format your mobile phone/ laptop. Next change all your Banking passwords once in a month. In case you are like me who always forget passwords, ensure they are easy to remember sentences. For example one possible password example which you can never forget could be MfCniSbi2002@B. What is this??? The first letter of the sentence “My first Child’s name is Shankar born in 2002 at Bangalore”. The password should be more than 8 characters, have Capital and small alphabets, numbers and special characters.

What More should you do? Never Store your card details online even though it is convenient. Always do your online shopping from a computer that is never used to visit any unauthorized sites or to do surfing. Ensure you buy an original operating system that gets regular updates for your computer. Also install a good antivirus like McAfee, Kaspersky or Norton. Always renew them on time. Do NOT go for any FREE pirated software. Because there are NO free lunches in this world, unless you are a computer geek and wizard and you know how to crack the software codes.

Card Verification. Ensure you use a card that has Grid system behind it for verification. Or else opt in for Two Factor authentication using your mobile One Time Pin (OTP). Visa Cards come with an extra layer of security VerifiedByVisa, which is an online password verification. Mastercard too has something similar. NEVER share your PIN and password with anyone esp on phone. NO bank ever asks you for it. If someone claims to be from the Bank and asks for it, be rest assured the person is NOT from the Bank.

E Wallets.  E Wallets like Paytm have become essential today as there is no ready cash or change available. Keep very less cash in your E Wallet. Load just before you go out to shop. You may use the Govt App BHIM instead.

Two Bank Accounts. Some of the intelligent people have two bank accounts. They put their life savings in one. They use the other loading it regularly with minimal amounts and use the credit and debit cards linked to this second account. Should an online fraud take place, they do not lose much money.

Times are changing and we have to change with time. You have to be part of the internet revolution. At least after the DeMonetisation, you are forced to be.

On this New Year, Wishing you to Stay Safe, Secure and Never Sorry in the online world. 

 

DeMonetisation: A Tughlaqi Farmaan for Rural India?

Nov 08, 2016 was indeed earth shattering for many. I believed this bold move would destroy Black Money. I still remain an ardent supporter of the IDEA of DeMonetisation. Please note …the IDEA only. I also remain to be one of the strongest critic of the poorest planning and implementation ever seen. In the name of secrecy, RBI and the PM seem to have bungled big time, and when we add some unscrupulous bankers who exchanged the Black money for a 20% cut, then all we are left with is, Zilch plus lots of miseries for the poor and middle-class.

As a City dweller, I had quickly adjusted to the DeMonetisation. People in cities, adapted well. They used Paytm, MobiKwik, SBI Buddy, UPI, Credit/Debit Cards and shifted gears easily. Supporters of the move were quick to share Paytm payment QR codes flashed by Tea Sellers, Veggies Sellers etc.  It is true, I faced very less problems in the City, oblivious to the fact that there actually exists another India within this country.

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Armed with Cards from three top banks, my mobile phone loaded with Paytm Wallet, I set out to my hometown in Gods Own Country– Kerala, the highest literate state. 15390734_1219213911519432_8279734669448398891_nWith that kind of literacy they must have surely embraced the DeMonetisation, so I thought. I paid for the taxi at the airport through my card. That evening, I asked a shopkeeper for card payment, he said “Sorry”; I asked “Paytm?”- He replied “What’s that?”,  So I let out my typical dialogue -“When will you learn to be a part of the Nation Building? How can one man Modi do everything? Don’t you want to do your bit to help people?” He replied – “Cheta (Elder Brother), please take whatever you want and pay me when you have the cash. We know your family, so we don’t have to worry. You are the first person who has asked for all these things. The poor people who come here don’t have all these cards and costly mobiles to do such E-payment.” I moved ahead. None of the Fish sellers had any such facility. When I asked one young fellow, he was quick to tell me, “Who is going to buy a new mobile for that. After all how much money do we make in this?” Then he added a few unprintable words.

The next day, I went to buy some cooking oil from the factory premises of one of the largest Coconut Oil mill in Kerala. A company that existed pre-independence since 1941 and now certified by ISO 9000:2000 standards. Naturally I expected card payment facility. The lady at the counter said, “No one pays by card. We still requested our bank to install one machine, it hasn’t been delivered so far. There is a shortage of these swipe machines”. I paid hard cash that I had earned by standing in Bank queues.

I went ahead to the biggest Chandha (market) in the town. Requested for the Card payment or Paytm. Again met with refusal. So I let out my favorite dialogue. The old man sitting in the counter told me, “People like you come once in a while. For that you expect me to have a swipe machine and pay rent for it and they take 2.5% from the billing. Here the poor come with just enough money to buy stuff they require. These things don’t work here. Go and Build your nation elsewhere”. Finally I found one shopkeeper ready to listen to me. I tried to install the Paytm App in his Samsung Duos, but it said No Space. I deleted a few apps and tried again. The download failed. He looked at me and said, “We will do this next time you come”. I had failed yet again.15400354_1221834867924003_3489486132585669168_n

Defeated in my efforts to drive sense to these people, I marched to the nearest bank where I have an account. There was hardly any queue. This bank has no queues because they have hardly any customers because they have just one branch in the Taluk HQ and the next branch is 20 kms away. Not many locals bank here. Hence no Queues. I presented my cheque of 10,000 and got a bagful of cash. Bundles of 10s, 20s, 50s. I told the lady, please take pity on me and give me 100s. She said “NO STOCK Sir”. I felt very rich that day with bundles in my bag. Earlier they just couldn’t even fill my pocket

The locals bank mostly with Cooperative Banks which are doing very well here unlike other states where they are generally scam ridden. Or the people bank with the most popular main stream Federal Bank, South Indian Bank, Dhanalakshmi Bank and State15036346_1518771561473079_8382943149879673242_n Bank of Travancore which have lots of branches in every town and some ATM’s in villages. The wait in those banks to get cash is four days. You go and present a cheque today, you get a token which mentions and time and date, 4 days later. What a pity!

The shortage of cash has put a lot of livelihoods in jeopardy…. Painters, Masons, Carpenters, Fishermen, Coconut Harvesters, Labourers are all suffering. Velu who is a mason’s assistant tells me that he has not found much work after November 8th. He was a busy man earlier with work available on Sundays too. Today he is eking out an existence doing odd jobs waiting for the day when the economy will improve and people will start employing him again.

I analysed why Kerala, the highest literate state has not gone the digital way with Plastic or E Wallet. The answer does not lie in the resistance by the people, but because of poor infrastructure. You hardly get a signal to talk in the mobiles, so getting an internet connection, to enable the electronic payment is out of question. Govt should have enabled the countryside to be wireless before they pulled the plug. The fault is with the poor infrastructure and not the people, and the fault lies solely with those who advised the PM without having any idea how the India outside its cities and towns function.

I hope our Nation will be able to rebound from the ill effects of DeMonetisation, because the Black Money has been converted to the new Black by collusion with few corrupt Bankers, and hardly any Counterfeit has been detected. So the twin aims of why we went in for DeMonetisation in the first place, seems underachieved so far. Truly as Dr. Manmohan Singh said, it seems to be really a case of – “Monumental Mismanagement”.

Today, I tend to believe that the whole exercise was indeed a Tughlaqi Farmaan especially for the poor rural folks! I only wish time proves me wrong!

 

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