These are recessionary times. Almost all the industries are facing slackness in demand and are observing more and more non production days. Lay offs are common. The industries that are, strictly speaking, not facing any contraction or recession are also laying off people as a cost saving measure. Companies are also using more and more automation as also new technology such RPA (robotic process automation) and AI ( artificial intelligence) that is giving them leeway to reduce manpower. Lastly, several skills such as stenography, data entry, secretarial, clerical etc are getting redundant paving way for newly skilled or up skilled personnel. In short, people are getting laid off by dime and dozen.

Earlier, we used to bestow a lot of respect to early or premature retirement that’s the outcome of lay off. In rarest of the rare circumstances, lay off is employee induced in which case it’s called resignation. The terminology used for lay off was pink slip, severance, separation, disengagement, dissociation etc. The other day I came across use of another term, which is normally used for chickens and not human beings. This term is “culling”. I heard it in the context of a company’s another attempt at laying off workforce and it was said that the company was embarking upon another round of “culling” to reduce manpower.

Some employees are high performing, very smart and highly effective and these are like golden goose. Second set are those who lay eggs, but no longer golden eggs. There’s third set who lay eggs only intermittently. Lastly, there are old birds who have stopped laying eggs and these are generally the subject of culling. However, cullers may keep only one thing in mind – these old unfertile birds are no longer even table birds to be consumed as meat. Their meat is hard to cook, tasteless and hard to digest! Therefore, instead of culling them, they can be allowed to remain in some corner on minimal feed, awaiting their natural end!

14th February- A special day

Tomorrow is Valentines Day. The festival has caught on like a rage, especially amongst the youth. They may forget their parents’ birth or anniversary dates or even their exam dates, but never February 14, a date etched in their heart – a place storing all their romantic feelings.

In the blog written last year, I had lamented about having grown too early and fast, for my youth was bereft of this beautiful romance sozzled festival- to add jocularly, Rakshabandhan was more prevalent then and we were scared of being tied a rakhi by a girl other than our own sister 😀!

However, jokes apart, your lover need not be your own valentine. Anyone, whom you admire, love, adore or worship can be your Valentine. In fact, Urdu poetry is replete with subtle nuances where lines eulogising one’s lover could in fact be meant for the Supreme Godhead ( much of folklore around Lord Krishna is also built around this particular aspect as who else can be a bigger Valentine than him?) as would be clear from the following lines:

Jhuk jana hi mohabbat hai,

Aur iss baat ka sabse bada saboot

Sajda hai!!

To bow down is the real love,

And the biggest proof of this is prayer!!!

The inspiration for this blog actually came from a thought outside Mahim Church that read:

“One country, one love. Happy Valentines Day.”

The above is another connotation of Valentines Day where the Valentine is country.

In fact, one’s parents, children, teachers, friends – anyone whom one loves and adores can be one’s valentine, which renders an altogether different and beautiful feeling to this day!

Those who oppose this beautiful festival, vandalise gift shops and harass boys and girls just need to open their eyes and minds and they will see beauty in this festival and beauty in this God’s creation called the world.

Happy Valentines Day.

Welcome AAP 3.0

After election results are out, its time to defend the position and stance that the party had taken prior to polling but that is proven woefully adverse by the actual results. Therefore, media as well as social media is replete with the reasons, causes, excuses and logics. A friend of mine, who is a staunch BJP supporter forwarded an analysis that has several cuts and slices basically to prove that while Muslims vote enbloc, Hindu votes are divided. Understandably, in Delhi elections, Muslims seem to have voted enbloc for AAP, as the analysis suggests ( generally, news doing rounds in social media should be believed with a pinch of salt – as I saw in another social media post, someone is suggesting disenfranchising Muslims , the logic being Belgium is going to be declared an Islamic nation with UK soon expected to follow suit! ).

If the above analysis is indeed true then it’s high time that the reasons for such a polarisation be identified and addressed. Why Muslims have inclined towards AAP? It certainly is no AIMIM and Kejriwal no Owaisi! The fact is that Kejriwal has emerged as Messiah of poor, weak and downtrodden by giving tremendous relief to people in this category through subsidised or free electricity, water and transportation. I understand that his Government also did exemplary work in the field of education. As poor, downtrodden and economically weakest sections of the society seem to have voted enbloc for Kejriwal, he has scored this glorious victory. Unfortunately, majority of Muslims also fall in this category.

It’s a fact that BJP and especially Modi were gaining acceptability amongst a section of Muslims. We had read that Muslim women were happy with abolition of triple talaq and that in in some elections they had queued up to vote for BJP. This is certainly a set back for the party, but it’s not late. Increasingly, this nation seems to be veering around efficiency and solid work rather than ideology, the only ideology acceptable being the constitution very deftly drafted by our visionary leaders. BJP would be missing the wood for the trees if it analyses the Delhi verdict as an outcome of polarisation rather than emergence of a new formula of feeling the woes of the poor sensitively.

Broom 3 has cleaned the cleanest!

My mother-in-law remains hugely interested in current affairs and throughout the day catches up on latest news on news channels. Her interest gets severely enhanced during election times – whether it’s national polls for Lok Sabha, state polls for Vidhan Sabha or even by polls!

No wonder she’s very keenly following Delhi election results, being literally glued to the TV set for the last few days. She first tracked the built up to the polls, then exit polls and finally the actual results today that are still in the process of getting unfolded.

In all her innocence and naivety she asked me that although all the exit polls were showing easy and overwhelming victory for AAP, the spokespersons of BJP and Congress were singing a different tune. While BJP was harping on getting majority notwithstanding the exit polls, Congress was preparing to spring a surprise, not forecasted by any of the exit polls! She said that all these exit polls seemed farce given the confidence of BJP and Congress.

However, I must admit that exit polls have been indeed proven wrong ! Most of these predicted seats ranging between 45-55 for AAP and 15 to 25 for BJP. But AAP has proven all this wrong by winning 60+ seats, leaving BJP in single digit and Congress at zero. My mother-in-law is now eagerly waiting to see what these two spokesmen have to say now? While Congress has indeed surprised by not opening its account, BJP has sadly got its mathematics absolutely wrong !

Congratulations to Arvind Kejriwal, his bunch of dedicated workers and the winners. Hope they will continue to provide good governance and make Delhi a world class city.

12 ways to create a wonderful world – New Tata calendar

A friend just forwarded to me Tata’s new year D&I calendar- D&I standing for Diversity and Inclusion. This is a commendable effort by TATAs especially at this juncture when the diverse elements of the society in our country need reassurance about our country’s all inclusiveness as guaranteed by our constitution.

The calendar starts with a brilliant message of a child’s mind being like a blank slate, bereft of any preconceived notions or prejudices and how good it would be if we all view this world with a child’s eye.

January’s theme is ability over disability with a child sitting on his father’s office chair seeking permission to run a wheelchairs race. February theme is Love is Love, exhorting that love has no forms, labels or norms. March theme is “Collaborage”, a brilliant connotation to emphasise that this is the age of collaboration amongst diverse thoughts. April theme is level playing field and May highlights the need to break stereotypes (brilliant illustrations drive home the message most effectively – here two girls looking at the boys with a placard reading boys are bullies, with one telling the other that my papa was also a boy once and he’s not at all a bully). June message is the every voice counts ( we shouldn’t muffle any), while July advises people to ask rather than assume because assumptions are mostly flawed. August talks about Nurturing being universal, September says differences enrich while October messaging is that thoughts transcend languages. November says that diversity thrives in inclusion and December advises us to shift a little to grow a lot!

All the above are pressing need of today and such relevant and strong messaging through the medium of calendar is thoughtful, innovative and appropriate. Hope people have not only forgotten Vijay Mallya but also his much sought after Kingfisher calendar depicting semi nude models in provocative postures disguised under the garb of art! Tatas new D&I is the need and representative of new India.

Will lotus bloom or will it be clean sweep by broom?

I decided on the title of this blog after writing this blog and it inadvertently turned out to be a nice rhyming piece of poetry.

Broom didn’t clean Delhi,

As it seems for the last 5 years;

But in mud blooms lotus,

And this can leave AAP in tears!

However, Delhiites love their freebies,

And so it appears that lotus may not bloom;

The votes are likely to be swept

By AAP in style with its broom!!!

I am in Delhi and luckily the campaigning has come to an end for tomorrow’s elections. I am told that this was amongst the most bitter electioneering as also the noisiest and in some senses obnoxious. Thanks to the ongoing Shaheen Bagh stir, the politicking on the issue has created some sort of polarisation.

Though its supposedly three way fight, Congress that ruled the roost once, with mercurial Sheela Dikshit winning three consecutive elections, looks like a spent force, and the main fight is between BJP and AAP.

AAP is riding the wave of virtually corruption free 5 years as also a host of freebies, including power, water and bus rides. BJP is trying to fight on the basis of national issues.

We all lament when Governments waive debts of poor farmers, many of whom commit suicide every year due to their pathetic economic condition. Comparatively urban poor are slightly better off with better earning opportunities , cheap conveyance and unauthorised stay in slums. Moreover, some of the freebies are not exclusively meant for poor, but are enjoyed by those who should be paying these bills,

Delhiites need better planning and bigger outlay to develop infrastructure. Metro network has not reduced road traffic. It’s wider six to eight lane roads are proving to be grossly inadequate. What Delhi needs is multilayered flyovers the kind we see in Bangkok. Distances are becoming larger with the entire NCR virtually becoming one! I see cleanliness outside Lutyen’s Delhi pathetic. Taxis and autos look shabby and their drivers discourteous. This is not Delhi where I spent my childhood that was much cleaner, greener, quieter, more disciplined, sophisticated, cosmopolitan and progressive.

I have nothing against Arvind Kejriwal. In fact, in the latter part of his tenure, he scrupulously avoided unnecessary comments and rather focused on his task. But apart from politics, he will have to focus on civics, geography, environmental science and above all economics, if he has to make it to merit list and be a benefactor of Delhi, the historic and world class city and not a few sections of Delhiites.

May the party wishing the best for Delhi rules it for the next 5 years.

Have I found a new profession- Future forecasting?

A couple of days ago, at the request of a dear friend, my son-in-law in fact, I wrote a blog on the eve of budget. In general, the blog contained my wish list from the budget.

Yesterday the Finance Minister presented the budget. It gives me an eerie and creepy feeling that so many items of my wish list have been covered in this budget by the FM. It’s as if I had insiders news on what’s coming up!

Let’s discuss these items one by one:

(1) My wish on simplification of tax structure has been addressed on personal income tax as well as GST fronts.

(2) Government has increased the outlay for capital expenditure with special emphasis on infrastructure.

(3) In fact most of the schemes of social sector viz. National Education Mission, National Health Mission, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojna, Jal Jeevan Mission, Krishi Sinchai Yojna match my aspiration of Government’s support to social sector, including water management.

(4) An enhanced amount has been earmarked for Swachh Bharat, another important item on my wish list.

(5) The best match is FM deciding to reduce revenue expenditure as also some of the unproductive subsidies.

However, after going through the provisions of budget several times, I see no immediate relevance or benefit for the people of my ilk in general, though I do think FM has aimed at structural reforms (hopefully) that could bear fruits in medium to long term future.

Incidentally, another prophecy that seems to have proven true is – “Chanda mama door ke”!