Saturday, April 25, 2020

Not a child’s play!

April 26, 2020, 11:23 AM IST  in The WriteClick | Lifestyle | TOI
(Parenting is easier said than done but an investment worth priceless)
I remember the times when I would, as a bachelor said to myself, “I will make the best dad. I will play with my kids, eat with them, sing with them, bath with them, sleep with them- do everything with them and for them.” Some of the bachelors today could be pardoned for breeding the same thoughts. But what was fundamentally wrong with the above resolution is that, ‘It didn’t reveal the time frame-number of hours and days.’ It is not that I didn’t do all these activities with my kids, in fact, every parent would. The point where one’s weakness as a parent gets exposed is when these rituals are to be performed “everyday”. Yes, that is right, 7 days a week. “Chips are unhealthy, why do people feed their children?” would be an occasional silent comment on my mind every time I saw kids eating potato chips, back then. 
Fast forward into 15 years i.e. now and the picture is just the opposite; the other day I’d walked a mile in search of potato chips. “You should bring Chocolate, chips, ice-cream, burger, French-fries, and coke,” ordered someone, standing 3 feet tall from the ground. Lists of ideal foods for kids have all healthy foods and none of the items I was ordered to buy, featured in the lists. The challenge of letting kids ingest those listed ideal foods is another back-breaking task which demands planning, patience, hard-work and ironically a promise of providing those foods not included in the list, if they eat. Each spoonful of food to their mouth is a mission worth celebrating its success.
Vowels, consonants and use of different mathematical signs like addition and subtractions are in their syllabus while they struggle to write the ‘Capitals and Smalls of ABC’. All those dreams of telling your kids about the wisdom you thought to have attained in years will see the end of the day when after few words of you interestingly narrating a topic, they’d yell “Give me your phone.” Like potato chips, Mobile phone was the one thing I loathe seeing in children’s hands. “Irresponsible parents,” was usually my thought. But now, not only do we oblige their demands, but there are even times when we give them the Phone just to make them stop the maddening runs and wails, not to mention the ransacking of the house.
The most difficult part is when deciding how to discipline your child. They could be so mischievous that at times you’d feel like calling the cops to get your 4-year-old son. Then there are motivating tips on the internet which soothe your mind for a few hours reminding you that they are kids and they need time. But when those compassions are taken for granted and your neighbours started telling you, ‘had my child done the same, I would have beaten the hell out of him,’ it is not only tempting but appears justifiable at times to rather use sticks. But then you have that dream of raising your kids without a stick being raised, which will keep you in dire situations not knowing what is good or bad.
There is no perfect strategy in parenting. The last time I tried implementing something I have read on the internet, it backfired badly. ‘This must be for Americans kids,’ I said to myself, only to later accept the fact that one can’t even apply the neighbour’s strategy. All the kids are different- naughty in their own different ways. The number of unsolicited advice one received on parenting is overwhelming. Every parent is guilty on this count; both as a giver and a receiver. The usual- ‘Oh! My son sleeps late’ would be met with the obvious ‘make him rise early so that he sleeps early’ advice. It is not the lack of knowledge of what to do that is challenging but rather the question of how to do it, that makes parenting practically  tougher than rocket science. This must sound like a shocker to some as I often upload pictures of the happy moments with my kids on social media. What is not visible to all is the effort rendered by parents to get that one shot- which is a different struggle altogether. The number of deleted pictures and its selection process thereof behind every uploaded picture is a tale in itself for another day.
Having said all, the best thing to be busy with is on children. They are undoubtedly the best gifts given to parents. The best moments of a parent will surely involve those times spent with the kids. The magical feeling of your child coming to you and hugging you when you returned from work is comparable to none. With all the stories of the roses and thorns, parenting is one experience which all parents will eventually missed. It is without doubt the management of an investment of one's most precious wealth. Only that the terms and conditions of parenting are subjected to changes every day, if not every hour. The returns, though mostly non-quantifiable are worth a thousand times the premium. #HappyParenting

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Holidaying at Home

April 22, 2020, 9:00 AM IST  in The WriteClick |India | TOI


As a diligent husband, I’d planned the family holiday well in advance, for once, and applied for leave from15th April to 30th April 2020 with the destinations too zeroed down two months prior to the D-day. What was left was only the flight ticket. Ignoring the relentless reminder, I’d decided to do it in the ensuing weekend. Then came the news; of flight suspensions and national lockdown for 21 days. I was so near to creating a personal record of successfully planning a vacation well in advance, a task which I am regularly reminded, I am the only man left in the world yet to do that. I did cancel my leaves but not the family vacations.
A couple of years ago, I was, one evening returning from work with a sense of Male chauvinism all too imminent on the looks in my face, which was done on purpose, and throwing the booked tickets on the sofa next to where the home minister sat, I said, “Now who wants to go Goa next week with me. The fare is on offer, non-refundable though. But who cares right?” She suspiciously looked at me and took the tickets and in a minute threw back at me. The tickets had Goa to our place the next week and our place to Goa 2 weeks later. The to and fro destinations got interchanged. So, literally, we will have to book a ticket to Goa first in order to use the tickets I just booked. The fact that we went by train, which was another thrill altogether failed to amuse her when it comes to planning for vacations. She is excellent in doing these ‘holiday planning’ but insisted on my doing for reasons I suspected many. I dreaded that to the extreme. That was why I was trying so hard this year so that I could set the records straight and be done with it once and for all.
While ‘Mommy and the kids’ plan on many things for the vacation, I have just one thing- in fact two things; two books to immerse myself in, away from the stresses and dresses of office-works. Fast forward to present and I have finished 3 books and ‘Mommy and the kids’ have recorded plenty of songs, cooking videos and memorized many rhymes. What a better holiday than this? I said to myself. ‘You don’t get to go office while the leaves remained intact; spent time with the family for 21 days free of costs and no transportation and shopping expenses incurred, unlike any other vacations.’ But all these, only when the TV remains switched off.
Once the TV is turned on, the feelings of being on a vacation with family vanish in thin air, even as one develops a strange feeling of being some important personality put under house-arrest. The facts are too real to ignore and you suddenly realised for the first time that the outside world is full of negative things and depressive news; everything opposite to vacation vibes. And for once your loss in thoughts in the tiny confinement of the four walls of your room becomes a blessing you have so far never latched on to have been endowed with it.
Now that the lockdown gets extended for another 19 days, I do not have to worry about the financial expenses for flooding and lodging. But one concern does occur. How long is this going on? It is not the dislike for lockdown that is troubling me. On the contrary, I firmly believe that it is the best thing we have done so far in this fight against the disease. My concern is something else, one which displays our selfish human peculiarity; of devaluing the significance of anything in excess even if that means holidays. I am sure, on my first day of work I will be missing staying at home with family and devouring books but right now, this mind and body long for just one thing- the end of holidaying at home and the return of all things to normal even if that means me having to plan for the holidays all over again.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Of flowers and women

April 19, 2020, 11:55 AM IST  in The WriteClick | Lifestyle | TOI

Though we are not certain of the presence of roses and daisies in the Eden Garden, there is a mention of the presence of ‘tree that is pleasant to the sight’ in the book of Genesis. For centuries, flowers have been attributed to romance and it is said that centuries ago tulips were more precious than Gold in Holland. Women could thus be forgiven for attaching so much importance to flowers.
“How can you say that you love me when you have never brought me a flower,” said someone I love to the core. The effort rendered to prove my love bereft the necessity of a plant ‘pleasant to the sight’ was comparable to any mission-impossible tasks one could remember. The matter was put to rest only after an assurance that it will be bought the next day. What is interesting is the fact that the level of importance men gave to flowers is equal to what is given by women, if only measured from opposite ends. I forgot to bring home flowers again and it is anybody’s guess the ensuing atmosphere at home.
I’d often invest precious hours in thoughts to find a clue for the reason of that special connection between flowers and the fairer sex. What is common in both is ‘beauty’- pleasant to the sight. ‘There are many other beautiful creations’ is a fact which will only throw a monkey wrench into the supposed new found reason of mine and therefore purposefully ignored. Beautiful while they bloom and ‘the most beautiful of them all has thorns’ is a fact true in its literal sense and its metonymic implications.
I finally got her a bouquet of beautiful Red Rose. The satisfaction in witnessing her wide smile and her disbelief was worth the money. She removed all the flowers from the wrap and placed in one glass-vessel filled with water to the brim. I was shocked to learn that the flower lived more than a week- retaining its beauty all those times. By the 2nd week, regular changes of water in the vessel and sprinkling of water could not slow down the withering process. It eventually dried up only to be thrown into the dustbin. I noted something of great importance.
While my first observation correlates the flower and women with beauty, which was all exciting, the thoughts that occurred to me in the second instance were about the relationship of flowers and romance, which can also imply to that of beauty and romance. Flowers, beauty, and romance are all pleasant, even to the extent of rejuvenating an unredeemed soul filled with despair; showing the reason to look at the beautiful side of life to a man who has lost all hope. The sad part is that none of them lasts an eternity. A full-blown flower with all its beauty lasts only weeks; beauty-with all its romance be that of a flower or woman has a natural process of withering, it cannot avoid obliging.
Realizing the value of something, which is short-lived, makes me understand why women love flowers to a great extent. It may be beauty, it could be romance, but the impending reality of the only few weeks such a beautiful creation has in its dominion must have stolen their hearts. I began to fall in love with flowers and women and guess what? – Romance follows them. We all will perish someday and we all know, that someday will arrive in the blink of an eye. It is worth learning from the flowers and women that, ‘no matter how short your time, bloom it with grace and beauty.’ Let us all spread the beautiful side of ours, like the flowers, in this garden of life

Is banning #TikTok an open-ended Solution?

April 15, 2020, 3:55 PM IST  in The WriteClick | World | TOI

In April 2019 the Madras High court had ordered the banning of TikTok only to be revoked in the same month. While there are concerns about the Chinese video-sharing platform’s threat to national security, some citing the possibility of the App being used as a tool by the Chinese Government to access confidential data, the App owner had claimed that it does not have any connection whatsoever with the Chinese government. Interestingly, the US Navy has banned the use of TikTok by its personnel. But what is important is the absence of any convincing evidence that proves the security threat allegations labeled on the App.
Apart from the security concerns, there are apprehensions on the contents which are available on the popular platform with some even alleging that ‘pornographic contents’ are found widely shared and responded. While a platform that has many of its users below the age of 18 is expected to check on the contents circulated, it is all the more important to note that among the hundreds of millions of users, there could be the possibility of a few people flaunting the guidelines. The ideal practice would be to avoid those contents and not search for it. The accusations leveled against the highly popular 15 seconds video sharing App being filled with vulgar contents, irrespective of its correctness- for I have not come across such, is not an argument strong enough to merit the ban as there are not only numerous sites which a person could visit, with that mindset, but also because the App’s content is mostly about creative videos shared by the users. It is the intention which should be educated and corrected, if need be.
Contrary to what naysayers have claimed to have seen, I saw talents in multitude and could not help myself feeling in awe of the immense gifts we are endowed with. Interestingly, it is not just influencers’ videos that are going viral. There are millions of popular video clips created by other users. You cannot honestly ignore the creative posts of hundreds and thousands of youths showcased in the App. It will not be an exaggeration to claim that some of them are way better than a few established stars.
There are valid concerns however of youths over-enthusiastic about the app, even to the extent of neglecting their studies by utilizing their times instead on creating or viewing videos in TikTok. Addiction is the word many parents prefer to use to describe this trend. It is, however, prudent to note that this concern of “addiction” is not restricted to TikTok alone. If there are millions of youths addicted to PUBG, then there are an equal number of people spending too much of their times on Social network like Facebook and WhatsApp. Someway, somehow this issue needs to be addressed. That will however require a paradigm shift in not just our cyber laws but also our general attitude; to embark on a collective approach towards “addictive internet apps” as a whole and not just TikTok.
At present, banning TikTok will only result in the migration of users from one platform to another. This is when the role of parents and the moral consciousness and responsibility of the youths become imperative. While moderation of the users for judicious usage should be the focus, proper care should be taken in dealing with the youths to circumvent depression and aggressive behavior associated with the withdrawal of any addiction. One way of doing that is by encouraging our youths to engage their time and energy in choosing hobbies outside Social Media. This will require a larger involvement from parents and adults by not just crying for the ban but by engaging the users in other activities; to show them that there is a world outside social media and for us to understand the fact that there are alternative ways other than banning the App for a long-lasting solution.

Still transacting by cash? Digital karona!


April 12, 2020, 12:07 AM IST  in The WriteClick | Economy | TOI
If there is one item which we handle every day, which changes hands very often and one which we essentially use it for our living, it is cash. From buying groceries to paying for our amenities, we need money. Physical cash has that advantage of being handy, which does not involve one to worry for network connections like digital payment mediums. For the past 15 days, all of us are obsessed with sanitizing our hands every now and then, which in fact is a good practice. But how many of us know that the one thing which has the highest potential of being host to microbes is the one thing which we hold dearly- cash? Banks have started using gloves to handle cash. What about us the public?
 There are not many options to deal with #DirtyCash. Apart from its own disadvantages of being susceptible to ‘tears and wears’ and posing a high risk of being stolen or lost, physical cash being a potential medium for transfer of virus has made the task of finding an alternative super important. While a Whatsapp video of a man ironing cash in an attempt to sterilize the cash went viral, it will be practically impossible to iron our cash every time before using it. One option though is to turn to digital payments. Heartening to note is that most online stores have now disabled cash on delivery and insisted for digital payments.
There are certain challenges associated with digital payments. If there are concerns about the existence of a wide number of people without the technological know-how to operate payment platforms, there are equal concerns for the number of issues related to digital payments like; wrong credits, frauds, transaction failure but account debited, charges and fees, etc. While the first concern is more or less resolved by the implementation of Adhaar based payments through Bank Mitras/ Bank correspondents, frauds related to online transaction has seen an alarming rate of increase. The age-old advice of not sharing personal and account-related details still seems to be compromised. On the issue of reversal for transaction failures, financial institutions including payment agencies should work towards resolving it at a much quicker time for digital payments to be considered the undoubted mode of payments for all.
The benefits of digital payment are that; it is fast, easy and convenient. Gone are the days when simple tasks like sending money or enquiring balance took hours of standing in a queue. Now, that is just a click away. Post demonetization, the number of people opting digital transactions to cash has increased manifold. Now, we have the financial infrastructure to pay almost everything through online/digital transactions. The widespread use of digital payments and our decreasing dependence on cash will eventually lighten, to an extent, the Central Bank’s burden of printing, circulating, recollecting and storing the notes; all of which involve the utilization of vast resources.
The benefits of Digital banking far overweight its challenges. It is only expected that this medium of transaction will see wider usage and acceptance in the days to come. As the country strives to be a less-cash society, there is no prize for guessing what the alternative is. Taking note of the prevailing situation around us, when everything and anything ought to be sanitized, there is no better time than now to avoid cash transactions. If you are wary of receiving and paying notes and if you want safe and secured transactions, Digital karona!

My accomplishment so far- `The Secret Diary of the Chinese President Xi Jinping’

April 11, 2020, 10:07 PM IST  in The WriteClick | World | TOI

November was quite cold here in China- a season where many usually suffered from flu. Our lab at Wuhan has cost me fortune without any desired results; their products being not exportable. You see, in China any activity which is not related to export is not an activity at all. It has been quite a while- in fact, more than a decade now that we are tipped to be the superpower, replacing the US and our good ally Russia. It shames me to death to realize that we are far from overtaking the US. My helpless friend from the neighboring country, His Highness (Self-styled) Kim Jong Un called me up one morning in late October, 2019 and shared some very splendid stratagem, one which could fulfill my long cherished dream of making China the No.1 in the world. It was the first time that HH Kim is of any help to me.
The plan worked as planned. Now, most countries in the world are engaged in managing their physical health and are reeling under tight lockdowns while Beijing is not just alive and kicking but producing goods and services all ready to be exported. The only problem is Mr. Trump, who keeps referring Covid-19 as Chinese virus. Who on earth leaked it to him? Anyways, while that is something which is bound to happen sooner or later, some incidents reported in India where people called their citizens from NE as Corona or Chinese could not make me stop laughing. My plan has actually worked. In reality, it actually is not my plan. I read voluminous books about Indian history in a bid to find some clues of what their weaknesses could be. ‘Divide and rule’ seems to be the one strategy, which the Indians loved to fall for it over and again. Conquerors didn’t have to look for any other plan. “Indians can be defeated by Indians alone,” was my take away from reading their history. The whole part of North East India and especially Arunachal has such a strategic importance both geographically and politically that it is after Tibet that I am thinking of staking my claims. Some Indians are really helping me in my endeavor by already giving them the recognition of Chinese nationality. I cannot wait to torture them like Dalai Lama’s followers.
A few days back, some people told me a piece of very good news about religious fanatics helping me spread the disease far much quicker than the normal reliance on coughing, sneezing and touching thus far. How funny though it is to note that all religions teach people to love one another while fanatics who follow it behaved just the opposite. The Good news being an incident taking place in India, I have huge optimism of observing the good deeds as receiving assistance from my good friends- the Pakistanis. They are dependable on that front. I will not only make sure that China vetoes India’s bid to enter UNSC but also, in the most likely event of a next Kargil happening, I will blame India irrespective of the cause and consequences- just to show my appreciation. This has been communicated to my Pakistani friends today instant.
I still cannot come to terms with how Dr. Li has been made a Hero by international media. There are thousands like him, who defy the state’s order and are being relieved of their duties on earth altogether. There is nothing heroic about it. At best, he was trying to disturb my idea of setting the world in order, where China sits comfortably on the top. My idiot Secretaries handling official figures of those affected by the so designed disease had released a data of 90 percent of the affected recovering from the sickness, raising suspicion from all quarters. I was the one who proposed the figures to be circulated though.  I just hope the vaccine which all medical experts all over the world are now working on it by spending millions of dollars and one which is already in my possession be made available for sale soon. I t is not just the money but the act of selling that gives such a pleasure and excitement, the feeling of which could be hard to fathom for many. We as a nation are addicted to selling so much so, that there were few intellectuals, who even came up with an idea of exporting Chinese lands. ‘Let us complete our mission of exporting people first’ I told them.
By the way, a close aide of mine told me that there are reports of the International court of justice requesting UNHRC to look into this whole issue and ordered us to compensate member countries affected by the virus due to our alleged actions and inaction. This scares me a little because it could hamper my design of accumulating Billions of dollars by sharing the vaccine for the virus, both of which are developed by us. I sincerely hope some people would warn this ICJ for the sake of mankind. Before I stop my dancing pen, my heart goes out to the Consulate General in Australia who got roasted by Daily Telegraph, giving point by point rebuttal to the press communiqué which I personally drafted for them. Everything in the rebuttal was fine, but come on- 2 pages in Daily Telegraph, and not even a single mention of my name whereas Dr. Li’s name featured? This insult will be appropriately answered. May be I will have to talk to my friends in Pakistan again tomorrow.

Beyond the light and darkness of #9minutes9PM

April 6, 2020, 3:34 PM IST  in The WriteClick | India | TOI
The noble intention was to end the darkness and uncertainty emanating from the crisis, by progressing towards light and certainty. It is up to one’s choice whether to focus on the darkness or the light during those 9 minutes. Both surely were there. The significance of light is common in all religions. Christmas, Diwali,  Eid, and Vesak all have lights associated with it. People thus trying to paint the initiative with religious colours will have to produce a rainbow, which is again a symbol of renewed hope.
The outcome of #9minutes9M  like its set up, which has both light and darkness have indeed both positive and not-so-positive consequences. Rampant disregards for #SocialDistancing were witnessed in many places. There were people who went to the extent of bursting crackers so much so, that a renowned journalist reminded people that “It is not bloody Diwali” in his tweet. The fact that the use of bloody before an auspicious festival had enraged many people notwithstanding, we the common people have the tendency of taking everything to the extreme. If viral videos circulated in social media are to be believed, Solapur Airport runway and few houses were in flames as a result of blazing crackers; a lesson for us yet again, to stick to what is requested of us. Then there are news and videos of people switching off their lights and singing “we shall overcome, we shall overcome” ( hum honge kamyab) which instilled a new sense of determination in this fight against #Covid19.
Since the day lockdown was enforced, most of the citizens are stuck inside the four walls of their rooms; only workers of essential service providers and healthcare staff are busy on the ground. It anyways is not advisable and practically impossible for everyone to tender the sick and weak. To imbibe a sense of togetherness, any initiative which encourages the participation of all the citizens of this country as long as it does not violate social distancing norms, is a much-needed exercise. #9minutes9PM delivers the all-important message that ‘though the whole country may not be physically involved but we are morally united as a nation in this fight against covid19’.  Another accomplishment during the #9Minutes9PM initiative was the addressal of the need to divert our thoughts and minds away from the mental stress associated with #Lockdown and #Isolation .
Now that we have done our part of participating in the symbolic fight against the highly contagious disease, it is time to focus on works at the ground. Some people raised serious concerns about our lack of attention towards the alarming shortage of medical equipment for our healthcare workers. In fact, #SaveOurDoctors campaign has been trending in social media in the last few days. Though assuring enough is the Govt’s allocation of funds for the pandemic disease, we need to give higher priority to developing medical infrastructures including test kits and medical equipment. As the WHO Director-General said, we will have to ‘Test, Test and Test’ apart from enforcing #Lockdown. Most importantly, our frontline fighters, like in any battle should be strong and powerful enough to withhold the enemy to have greater chance of winning.
Unlike the darkness that lasts only for nine minutes during #9minutes9PM, the gloom brought in by the Virus does not have a countdown for it to disappear.  As our effort of lighting through the darkness for nine minutes ends, and our rooms once again are lit by pressing the switches ON, we hope that the natural switches turned ON before our candles are exhausted in this long drawn darkness. Until then, let us hold on to the lights within us and shine, strong enough not just for ourselves but also for those around us.

Mrs. Reality and Mr. Dreams need me!

April 3, 2020, 1:19 PM IST  in The WriteClick | Lifestyle | TOI
“Everything will be all right. Irrespective of what happens around you, you are destined to succeed in life; you just need to have a positive attitude,” said Mr. Dreams. “The power of mind is so great that in fact what one has in one’s mind and thoughts are eventually the outcomes in one’s life. ‘Think great and have great’ should be the mantra. Indeed those who have cheerful outlook have lesser chances of contracting even pandemic viruses'” he added.
“Do you mean to say that thoughts and positive attitude alone will bring food for a hungry person? Or, for that matter, will positive thoughts heal a man with a dreadful disease or prevent him from being affected? It is in fact this false belief of encouraging oneself with the idea that things will be alright as time goes by that makes people ignorantly disregard the glaring facts and put-off them to take necessary efforts to meet their goals. It is this false mindset that emboldened some people to believe that they will end up being a millionaire just by thinking of it while the thought actually ruins them. Knowledge of facts helps us in taking realistic plan and action. As for your advice of maintaining a ‘Cheerful outlook’ to prevent a pandemic, I would suggest you to use a mask not just as a protective shield against the virus but to hide your look, which normally should not be cheerful when Lakhs of people are dying,” said Mrs. Reality.
Mr. Dreams replied: “Come on! You have to confess that there are things beyond our knowledge. The universe is governed by something ahead of our power. The world has witnessed many events but eventually everything gets resolved over time, by default. Contrary to our beliefs, our actions have little impacts. It is but the mind which decides our failure and success. Even in the face of defeat, saying ‘we will overcome it no matter what’ will eventually help us do it. The whole idea is to ignore negative thoughts and negative happenings around us but to focus only on positive things. Believe me; the universe has its own way of rebooting itself.”
“So, basically what you are saying is we don’t have to do anything on our part? As for me, I will make sure that before I sleep, there are foods for tomorrow. I cannot be naive enough to not notice telling signs around me; whether positive or negative. I will continue reading the news even if it tells a story of thousand people dying because that will not only update my knowledge but also help me prepare and take informed decisions,” said Mrs. Reality.
As I observe Mr. Dreams and Ms Reality debate, I cannot help but agree to Mrs. Reality’s concern of the menace of just ‘dreaming for the best’ without taking into consideration the facts going on around; not taking preventive measures as well as avoiding preparatory efforts to achieve desired goals. Regardless of what is our plan, we need to mull over details around us; some bitter yet necessary too. Mr. Dreams too have a legitimate point when he talks about the power of mind and the need to have positive attitude towards the future for things to get better. Because irrespective of the efforts we put, without picturing a beautiful world ahead, there could be times when facts could make us depressed and anxious as we wither away in the process.
Just when I was trying to leave the house, Mrs. Reality and Mr. Dreams both cried in chorus, “Mr. Hope please don’t leave us.” ‘It is you Mr. Hope that, in spite of the unimaginable gloom that surround us, I have reasons to look forward and trust Mr. Dream. Without you, Mr. Dreams would be long gone and I know I do not want a life without Mr. Dreams either,” said Mrs. Reality. Mr. Dreams smiled, as always, and said,” I know my whole existence depends on you. My life would be meaningless without you,
Mr. Hope. I must also admit that while I promise all the good things, ignoring Mrs. Reality and not working with her altogether could make me just a fantasy.”
I don’t know which of the two needs me more but I am sure that for a healthy correlation between Mrs. Reality and Mr. Dreams I have a huge role. To sum it up,
“Without Mr. Hope, Mrs. Reality is too bad and suicidal whereas Mr. Dreams is too good and useless, if not dangerous.”

Being Positive with hope amidst #CoronaFear

March 31, 2020, 8:43 AM IST  in The WriteClick | India | TOI
The numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19 keep increasing like runs in a 20-20 Cricket match; only that in cricket the addition of runs lasts for only specific overs. In just a week, the United States have reported 100,000 positive cases. We are not certain how long will this fight against the virus go. Lockdowns are in-place in most affected countries; almost all countries are now affected. We are in a situation where fear dominates over everything else. We, in India took the virus seriously only after ‘Janta Curfew’ and the announcement of National Lockdown. Even during the Janta curfew, there were instances where people in group thronged the streets, and not from their balcony as advised, much to the dismay of the concerned authorities. However, post the Prime Minister’s Lockdown speech, we realized, for the first time that the virus has reached our country; our state and our city. “It is good to be scared now, than repent later” said one observer. While the concept of having fear factor which will help us take the situation more seriously is surely without doubt, there are glaring concerns as to how, prolonged panic and fear could affect us. We cannot be host to the virus of fear. There has to be a balance. Can’t we be serious without fearing?
The moment the Prime Minister declared national lockdown for 21 days, the first thing that occurred in the minds of everyone was, what will we eat? And when that is sorted out, at least by some if not all, we tend to worry for the poor and daily wage labourers and wondered, ‘what will they eat?’ When the Finance Minister announced packages worth Rs. 1.7 lakh crore for #CoronaCombat mission, some apprehensions, if not all, for the poor were removed. It is only human to want our future secured and planned; at least for the next 30 days. What is worthwhile to refer here is the Prime Minister’s announcement of “We will have to sacrifice 21 days so that we do not go back 21 years”.
The National lockdown should not be viewed as some sort of authoritative restrictions imposed on us. It is only a contribution and sacrifice rendered by us for our own good. If the situation so warrants, we should be willing to sacrifice more as it concerns matter of our very own existence. The #National Lockdown for 21 days has many people asking what they will do during these times. While there are fairly good numbers of “what to do during lockdown” tips on internet, it is highly advisable for people to spend these precious times in doing things for which they have not had time for it earlier. In this fast moving world, where we hardly have time even for our family, complaining 21 days of lockdown for the absence of any worthwhile task in one’s hand needs serious retrospection on our personal life.
There must be people who have complaints of fear and anxiety swallowing their life. It is impossible to get diverted from the thoughts of Corona virus. In fact it should not be possible; when the world is filled with nothing but news of Corona, it is normal to be occupied by the thoughts. It will be a more frightening concern if one could easily forget the issue amidst global emergency. But it is very important to ensure that we do not let our thoughts get the better of us. The whole idea is to try and take few hours away by engaging ourselves in different other things. Eventually we will be lost in the thoughts of the virus again. But our efforts will ensure that we are not over-thinking it.
Even as we dread the disease, let us not ill-treat any one. Even as we maintain social distancing, let us not walk away from our social responsibilities; of helping the poor and needy. Even as we grin about the lack of medical infrastructure, let us not forget to acknowledge the sacrifices of the healthcare workers, sanitary workers, shop owners, transport drivers, security personnel, bankers and other providers of essential services. Even as we take all precautionary measures, let us keep our faith on the almighty and hope the Government is blessed with the wisdom and strength to pull us through these challenging times
If the news of increase in the number of affected people scares you; everyone is. If the thought of isolation and quarantine frightens you; you are not alone. If you are wondering what will be like 2 months from now; nobody knows it. In this environment of fear and uncertainties, it is our responsibility as human to rise above all of it. The uncertainties also give the probability of the disease vanishing soon in the coming days. At least hoping for it won’t kill us but hoping against it could. It is humanity that can only make a person go through isolation voluntarily with a hope to make the world a better place. While we take all the precautionary measures, while we follow all the advisories given by the Government, while we try our best not to get sick, let us know that Corona is not for eternity. With this hope, let us face the world with a belief that ‘this too shall pass’. Also, let us spread the message that #Staying Home and #StayingSafe can be #Staying Happy too!

TOI Blog - Of National lockdown and Lathi-Charge

March 30, 2020, 11:27 AM IST  in The WriteClick | India | TOI
The association of the words ‘Lathi-charge and lockdown’; will be erected in our memories for quite a while now after witnessing what happened in the first week of #NationalLockdown to combat Covid-19. It would not be an overstatement to say that all states in the country have tough times in ensuring that people stay home. Police in most cities have to literally chase people from the streets to their homes. While people have different reactions towards the numerous video clips uploaded in social medias-of police resorting to lathi-charge to enforce the lockdown, a particular incident at Silchar, Assam, where a policeman was beaten to death not only enraged many but throws a serious issue to ponder with.
‘Why is it that we still need force to direct us to do something which is only for our own good?’ Is a question that merits the attention of every right-thinking individual. National Lockdown is our best bet to control the widespread of the highly contagious disease Covid19. When we have 1000 reported cases of the disease, the least that is expected from us is to oblige the advisories given by concerned authorities. Unthinkable it is when we not only flaunt the advisories but fight back.
The enforcement of lockdown has witnessed a chaotic situation where the police lathi-charged even people who venture out to buy essential items. The guidelines on Lockdown issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was circulated minutes after the announcement of 21 days lockdown has mentioned the exemption of essential service providers and one person per household to buy essential items. Now, there seems to be a miscommunication on the question as to the timing at which the permitted one-person-per-household individual could leave their home.
As the viral videos of the public being chased and beaten by law enforcement agencies keep appearing in Social Medias, some people could be forgiven for shifting their fear to the police from the virus. The police, on the other hand, have the enormous task of controlling people who flaunted lockdown norms as people thronged markets and shops without maintaining social distancing norms. The absence of managing it could defeat the whole purpose of the lockdown.
While the videos of police personnel, which have flooded the internet, resorting to lathi-charge to enforce the lockdown could make an interesting past-time indulgence for some, it is impossible to not notice the hardships encountered by both the police and the public. One simple way of resolving this is to have a time schedule during which the public could buy necessary items maintaining off-course the norms of social distancing and one individual per household. To avoid overcrowding and misuse of the scheduled timing, different timings could be arranged for different localities. The best would be to engage personnel of licensed suppliers to conduct home deliveries for essential items.
In as much as we feel the need to isolate and stay home, we cannot altogether ignore attending our biological needs. While endeavouring to meet our biological needs, we need to remember our responsibilities as law-abiding citizens of the country. As we enter into the second week of the 3-week lockdown, we hope to see more videos where public and police work together towards ensuring the smooth implementation of the lockdown by maintaining effective #SocialDistancing and #Isolation norms. We never know what awaits us in the next 14 days and who knows this could be a preparation for a longer lockdown. Let us hope that is not the case by doing our bit; to stay home without being lathi-charged.

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