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Vastu Sashtra

 

Vastu Sashtra is an old building design manual coming from generations in India. Some of its recommendations are required to follow for well being of the families who live in the houses. However, it became a fad and the so called experts suggest and modify the walls, places where to put furniture, kitchen and even small utensils. They destroy the walls and reconstruct them in different designs. I have nothing against them. Any knowledge does not come from reading books. The knowledge comes with dedication, experience and sincere application of the knowledge one possess through books. The so called experts also indicate stringent guidelines for even flats, which is not possible to design as per Vastu which is basically for design of individual buildings.

I do have my own Vastu view of buying new house or flat. They are as under:

  • Neighborhood

When you want to buy or rent, the first thing we should see the neighborhood. We should see whether, there are any slums in the area, any polluting agencies nearby or any bad characters that disturb the local population etc.

  • Neighbor

The second most important factor is to know who is our neighbor? Is he a vegetarian, or non vegetarian, whether he is employed or business man, whether his economic status is to above or below us etc. It is always better to have a neighbor who is similar background to us.

  • House

The characteristics of house are very important, as we are going to stay in the house for a longer time. You go to the house for inspection in day time. When you enter the house, open all the doors and windows and see whether, light and wind comes and flows throughout all corners of the house. It is important that light and air moves freely in the house and there should be no dark spots in the house even in day time.

  • Vibration

Another important aspect is how the house reacts to you. Open all doors, windows and stand in the middle of the hall. Close your eyes and think of the house. Does it invite you to stay or are you getting negative thoughts at that moment. You should get positive vibrations from the house as though, it is inviting you to stay in the house.

  • As far as possible do not buy a second hand house, if you want to stay in the house.
    • However, if you have to buy the second hand house, see that the house is vacant and you will be the first person to occupy the house.
    • If it is not possible, then enquire regarding who stayed in the house earlier and their economic well being and if any deaths occurred in the house during the last two years.

Am I an expert in buying and selling houses? No! But I have seen families who were destroyed in staying in houses where there were fires, deaths, and become poorer in staying such houses.

I believe that the houses are tied up with fortunes of the people who stay there. I do not know for sure it is correct! But I do not recommend buying such houses or staying in such houses.

As far renting houses, broadly follow the suggestions in buying and do not worry too much regarding where to keep you luggage or cupboards etc in the house.

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Sustainable Agriculture

 

I was about 27 years of age when I decided to do agriculture in our village.  Accordingly, I left a Central Govt.  Job and went to my village in Andhra Pradesh. Myself and my younger two brothers pooled our land to cultivate the lands. We purchased a tractor and with great enthusiasm, started doing cultivation in our fields.

In the beginning of the first year, the crops have come up very nicely because of using the latest techniques, and required fertilizers, people in the village flocked to see our lands. But before cutting the crops, there were heavy floods and the crop was lost. When the expected yields were about 100 bags of paddy, the actual yield was only about 10 bags.

In the second year, we got reasonably good yields and tried to establish ourselves in the village.

In the third year, there was a huge drought in the area and the yields are very poor due to late release of canal water with insufficient quantities. The bank loans, reached only after the cultivation. By three years, we had incurred huge losses, which could be repaid only by selling a portion of land. In disgust, I left to join the service again. Technically, I migrated to Maharashtra where I got the Job.

I survived the calamity because of higher landholding, support of the family & education. If any of them are not available, I would have gone the way of many small farmers who either committed suicide or become a laborer.

However, the ground experience in agriculture was very much useful to me as I was working in the area of Agriculture and Water sector during the next 40 years.

Can such a failed farmer in agriculture give advice to the farmers what to do? May be YES or May be NOT.

The word sustainable means different things to different activities and people. A farmer with a family of 5 having a land of about 1 to 2 acres cultivates and earns his livelihood through agriculture. He is a mini entrepreneur in its true sense. He decides what to grow, provide inputs and after cultivation, he earns his livelihood. If you consider the land as a factory, it is true entrepreneurship consisting production, credit and sale of produce to earn the livelihood.

However unlike any manufacturing activity, the agriculture has 6 external forces which hinder the economics of the agriculture. The 6 forces are i) uneconomic land holding, ii) Climate, iii) Timely Credit, iv) Productivity, v) Marketing and vi) Government Policies in agriculture.

  1. UNECONOMIC LAND HOLDING:

The majority of the farmers have land less than 1 ac which is not economically viable for any type of agriculture and the farmers are not willing to pool their land as shares like any industry with the fear of losing the land and continue to cultivate the uneconomic landholding with loss year after year, resulting in high debts leading to suicides in extreme cases.

What is the solution? There are many. The following are some of the remedies

  1. Sell or lease the land and migrate
  2. Lease the land and do part time job (daily laborer) in the same village
  3. Cultivate land as a secondary occupation and use the produce only for self consumption while daily labor is the main occupation
  4. Have an alternate activity connected to agriculture like animal husbandry, poultry, producing organic manure and fertilizers etc
  5. Have a small shop with daily use for the local population like buying and selling oil, clothes, vegetables, rice, and other material for daily use.
  6. Do alternate jobs like stitching clothes, masonry job etc, if you want to stay in the same village?
  7. Never depend on agriculture and never take loan for agriculture operations, if your land holding is less than 0.5 ac. Let the land be fallow rather than take loan and do agriculture.
  8. Never stop sending your children to school. Only education can save your future generation.
  9. Try to do cooperative agriculture with relatives or likeminded people.
    • The maximum command area should not be more than 40 ha with a maximum of 20 farmers.
    • One of the elders can become the leader of the Cooperative society and your land would become your share capital in the society
    • All of you are members of the society and would work in the field and get labor charges as per your assumed rates. This may be less than market rates as any profit would go to you only.
    • Register society so that you can get benefits of getting loans from bank and also get fertilizers, seeds, pesticides at cheaper rates from Govt.
    • You can insure the crops on society basis so that you get the compensation if the crops fail.
    • You can also generate emergency fund by contributing Rs 30 per month per individual like in Self Help Groups and get loan against your deposits or the amount can be used for emergencies for health, education etc.
  1. CLIMATE

Climate is one of most difficult and unmanageable parameters which is beyond the farmers’ control. There will be always one drought and one flood in a period of 10 years, which effectively destroys the economic viability of the farmer. Some of the following remedies may be followed

  1. The farmer should follow the multiple, mixed crop strategy.
  2. The farmer has to divide his land into 5 parcels.
  3. They should grow 5 different crops and plant in different times, so that some crops yield early and some late in the season giving higher rates for your produce because of availability of the same in unseasonal times. One crop should be vegetables and other should be fruit crops. The remaining would be field crops. Vegetables would get you money on daily basis while fruit crops would get money on seasonal basis.
  4. If the unseasonal rains or drought destroy some crops, other crops would survive.
  5. The insurance is the key for the farmer’s survival and this should be on individual basis like car or life insurance rather than Government controlled insurance agency which depends on Govt. declaration on drought and floods for releasing the insured amount.

III: TIMELY CREDIT

Agriculture credit is in the hands of local money lenders since time immemorial and cannot be replaced by any system. Large numbers of committees were formed by Government of India and quite a few recommendations were made. But nothing has worked. Even the latest Self Help Groups are not completely successful in this regard. Some of the issues and suggestions are given below.

  1. The advantage of money lenders are timely credit and available at any time of the day.
  2. The interest rates are abnormally high depending on the requirement of the farmer. It may vary from 24 % to 50%.
  3. Once entered into an agreement, the farmer cannot come out of the system due to frequent failure of crops and very less market rates at the time of selling the farm produce. If unbearable, the farmers commit suicides.
  4. Many attempts have been made to control money lenders without success. As money lenders are part time agriculturists, they fall under agriculture and get credit from banks with less interest, as they are more viable. However, they use the money for lending with higher interest.
  5. They also get gold loans under agriculture with less interest. But they lend the money with high interest rates to local farmers.
  6. Many of the money lenders are registered and maintain two registers one for regular clients which are audited and income tax is filed while the other is with higher interest and not shown in any books.
  7. The loans taken from the banks by the real farmers normally go to the money lenders as timely credit is not available from banks, due to procedural delays in sanction of loans.
  8. Some of the financial agencies try to control the money lenders by trying to imitate them without success as the village branches of banks are one man show and the bank manager invariably stays nearby town as infrastructure for schools, living, health etc are not available in the villages. These stop from giving loans to the needy at the time of emergencies and the farmers have to go to the local money lenders.
  9. The Credit from Government banks always come late, if at all they come and he has to depend on the local money lender who charges anywhere between 24 to 50 % interest which makes agriculture non viable. The industries continuously cry for low interest rates of less than 10 % for their industrial activity
  10. The recovery of loans is also very difficult as the banks follow a system of periodic repayment based on their disbursements, while the farmers can repay at the time of harvesting of crops only. The banks wait till the farmers sell their produce. But, the farmers pay the high interest rates loans given by the money lenders before the banks and fail to repay the loans to the banks, which results in NPAs. The money lenders can recover by purchasing the farm produce at cheaper rates as they also many times work as marketing agencies to the buyers.
  11. The solutions are very difficult to arrive at. The farmers not only require credit for cultivating their lands, they also require for health, marriages & deaths in the family, repair of the house and buying other requirements and many day to day need of any individuals.
  12. Who will give money? The money received for agriculture purpose does not go into investment as there are many other emergency requirements, thereby the agriculture inputs cannot be purchased. This results either in low productivity or involvement of money lenders.
  13. The solutions can broadly be divided into two
    • Give him a credit limit of Rs say 50000 for a family of 5 that is 3 adults and two children. Assuming 3 adults work for 100 days @ Rs 100 per day as per Government employment scheme like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act(MNREGA), they get 30000 per year and if they have 2 acres of land, the net income would be about 10000 per acre that is about 20000. The total amount would come about Rs 50000. The credit limit may also be kept at 50% of the cost of the land + their 100 days income. The family would register with only one bank (nearest to the village) and get a credit limit of Rs 50000 per year. He would take the money as and when he wants and repays as and when he gets money either from employment or from crops. If he does not repay in two years time, the bank would sell his 2 acres of land and recover the same.  There is a danger that the farmers’ draw the money for the purchase of luxury items and default in payments. If they default, the land will be sold and recovered in two years time. The concerned bank manager has to have a good coordination with the local farmers to know who is doing what and how the money is spent.
    • Will this method replace the money lender? No. But there will be considerable relief to the farmers and they need not commit suicide. The money lenders can be controlled to some extent by regular checks on his books and inform the farmers that they should not take loans from money lenders if the interest rates are more than 24 %. This cannot be controlled to a large extent as credit cards charge 36 % and still many use the same. The money lenders cannot be replaced. So, we should take their help but control them to a large extent.

IV PRODUCTIVITY

The productivity of lands is very less in India because of old agricultural practices and mono culture of agriculture year after year. We can easily double the productivity, if proper agriculture practices are followed. But the farmer normally follows the traditional practices as his knowledge base and his risk taking capability is less.

The major suggestions are as under:

  1. Irrigation
  • Flood irrigation should be altogether banned. Irrigation water has to be used only either by sprinkler or drip systems. Large scale sprinkler system has to be encouraged as its adoption is simple unlike drip system. The solution is not giving subsidy on the equipment but demonstration of successful implementation of sprinkler systems on the fields and readily available credit with longer duration of payment. The manufacturer or dealer has to provide maintenance for two years and responsibility of training to the farmers should be on the dealer in addition to Government programmes. The dealer may be provided the cost of maintenance after he gets the farmers signature for every maintenance and training as per the schedule.
  • The canals should be run only for 15 days in a month and the remaining days the farmers have to use groundwater for their crops.
  • Electricity for agriculture purposes may be provided at least 4 hours in a day to about 8 hours per day.
  • No high water consuming crops should be grown except in low lying or water logged areas where water is available in plenty.
  1. Modern Agriculture
  • The farmers should be trained in new techniques of plowing fields, new techniques of seed and application of fertilizers, pesticides should be imparted by the dealers and through Government programs. Government should concentrate on training and demonstration. No subsidies should be given to fertilizers, pesticides etc. The money should be given to training and demonstration based on farmers’ participation. The money will be given to the dealers and other institutions based on the farmers’ signature for each training programme and as per budget for the programme. NGOs may be involved in this programme.
  1. MARKETING
  • If any business man makes a product for Rs 100 per piece, he will try to sell at least for Rs 120. If he cannot sell the product at a minimum profit, he will quite the business and try to set up another business. Only in agriculture, the farmer who produces a product for Rs 10/ kg, would have to sell for Rs 8/kg, year after year leading to higher debts and suicides. This is mainly due to poor marketing strategy of farmers and the exploiting nature of middle men. An Rs 8 / kg at farm gate is ultimately sold to the customer at Rs 40/kg, A huge profit to series of middle men. The producer gets the minimum and the middle men get the maximum. This happens only in agriculture.
  • Storage capacities / Cold storages
    1. The holding capacity of farmers is very less as he has to sell the produce at any rate as soon as it is arrived as he has to repay the loan to money lenders and also to the banks and other relatives from whom he might have taken loan. This makes very easy to middle men to buy the produce cheaply. If there is a provision to store the produce for a short period of 3 to 6 months, it would help greatly to the farmers. If the farmers can store their produce in godowns and get 50% of the cost of the produce immediately, they can repay the immediate loans and sell their produce at higher economic rates subsequently and repay the 50% of the bank loan, they have taken while storing their produce. The NGOs and Government agencies should be encouraged to set up small godowns in villages for this purposes.
    2. Some of the produce required cold storage for storing perishable goods like vegetables etc. The same procedure should be followed to store the same for a short period, especially the rates crash when the perishable goods come to market in a large quantity.
    3. The market yards should be strictly monitored for sudden reducing the prices to help the middle men.

VI GOVERNMENT POLICIES

  • Government policies also add to the misery of the farmers. If an item is produced at Rs 100 per piece in manufacturing industry, he is allowed to sell at 120 or more depending on the demand. But the farmer is not allowed to sell at more than the prescribed price by Government of India. Many times he has to sell far less than Government price.
  • The Government sometimes proscribes export of certain food items and sometimes allows exporting, thereby creating instability in prices and the middle men get the profit at the expense of farmers.
  • There is no agriculture insurance policy which ensures the stability of agriculture, even though many attempts are made to provide insurance, which failed. Insurance should be farmer to the agency. Government should not come in the middle except to frame proper policies and control. If the crop fails, the insurance company has to pay the agreed sum. There is no need to Government declaring drought or flood. The insurance company has to check the veracity of the claim and pay. If the company does not pay, the farmer has a right to go to Government for claims. A suitable system has to be developed like consumer courts.
  • If the farmer from South India wants to sell onions in North India, he should be allowed to sell. There should be no restrictions. He should be able to sell his produce anywhere in India or abroad. If the Government has to procure, let them buy the same as per international rates for the product at that period.
  • Providing subsidies and loan wavers by Government year after year normally do not reach the ultimate cultivator, except the middle men get the benefits.
  • Let Government recognize agriculture as business and provide facilities, controls as per business activities to make the agriculture as an economic activity.

I hope some of the suggestions may be useful, especially to farmers who want to stay in villages and practice agriculture.

But, after doing all the above suggestions, do the farmers get good yields and good money. I still doubt. My father a hard core agriculturist used to say “Agriculture is not business. It will neither kill nor make you rich, only makes people to survive.”

I believe that we should not support “Survival Agriculture”, We should support “Sustainable Agriculture” where the farmers think of prosperity and not survival.  We should move people from the concept of “Poverty alleviation to Poverty to Prosperity”. Let the people migrate to urban or semi urban areas and make their life easier and try to prosper and use their traditional agriculture knowledge to put into “Urban Agriculture” as a sustainable activity along with other business activity to work towards prosperity.

Quid Pro Quo

There is a saying that “whenever you help others in need, God will help you in your need”. I do not know this is a correct statement until I had a personal experience in this regard.

One day a young couple of about 40 years of age with two children of about 5 to 10 years came to our house in the village at around 2 PM. They looked very tired. He has informed me that he is an employee of a Bank and returning to their village from Hyderabad to attend a function. Their vehicle had a break down on the road near our village. He informed me that the people around the place informed him to go to our house in the village and we will help them in this regard. So he came to our house and requested me to get the car repaired so that they can proceed. The children looked very tired and hungry. I requested my wife to prepare some food immediately with whatever vegetables available in the house. Within an hour, she prepared food. In the mean while, the family had freshened themselves and ate food and took rest in the house. In the meanwhile, I send my driver to the place of breakdown and got it repaired and brought the vehicle to the house. They left our house thanking us copiously. The episode was forgotten till a similar incident occurred after 5 years.

I was working in a Central Government Organization situated in Pune. My job involved long journeys from Pune to Goa, Pune to Nanded, Pune to Nasik. Etc. When ever, there were holidays for children, I used take the family along in the jeep so that they could enjoy the trip and journey. Those were the good days. In one of the trips, near Nasik, we were held up due to heavy rains and flooding streams. It was around 5 PM and the children were  very hungry and tired due to long journey. I was wondering what to do. We were preparing to stay whole night there on the road due to flooding stream.

Suddenly, one person came to our jeep and introduced himself as an Executive Engineer of that area of R & B division of Government of Maharashtra and requested us to join him to the nearby rest house which was under construction and renovation. He said he saw that I was a Central Government Officer with children (Based on the name plate on the vehicle) and tried to help us. We went to the rest house somehow with lot of difficulty. The rest house was under renovation except one room. He asked us to stay there. He requested the cook to prepare food by evening. In the mean while we had refreshed ourselves. We enjoyed our stay at that place. The Executive Engineer refused to take any money informing us that the rest house was under renovation and there was no question of taking money till officially it was opened even for food.  In the next morning, after breakfast, we left the place thanking him.

My wife told me in the jeep how we helped a family about 5 years ago in the similar conditions and the same was repaid by God today. What a coincidence. These things do happen and we do help whenever possible without thinking and without expectations. These will be repaid in the same kind by God, in our needs.

PEERSPECTIVE OF YOUNG AND OLD MEN

When I was in my thirties, my parents were in seventies. They used to spend all their time talking to each other in a separate room. I never understood what they were talking. Now I am 73 years old and I know what they were talking. At old age, you have ample time and nobody to talk to. So the only available person is your wife and you bore her with your old achievements or old arguments.

  • The same happened to our parents and would happen to our children.

It is called generation gap which cannot be bridged. A few examples of what I had done in my young age and what I want in my old age.

  • My father used to send money in my college days for monthly expenditure and also sends an express return telegram to inform my welfare. In those days I never wrote a letter to my parents.
    • But now I expect that my son talk to me every day at least for 5 minutes by phone
  • I told my father once, that I am old enough to take my own decisions and no need for his advice.
    • Now I give advice to my son on various aspects, which he refuses not so bluntly.
  • I could not stay with my parents due to employment and I had to stay about 1500 km away from my parents. They could not spend time with grandchildren.
    • The same happened to me as my son is about 2000 km away and we could not spend time with grandchildren.
  • When my father was alive, I did not understand his value. He was the only true supporter and well-wisher and ready to support me at any adverse moment without reservation. Only I realized this after his death, as I could not stay in the village even 6 months after his death.
    • Same things would happen to our children. They only realize when the old man is not there. That is nature.

Some other experiences

  • One of my known people threw his mother out of his house when young and she had to spend her time in some relative’s house. Now, as he became old, he blames his children for not taking care of him.
  • Another person kept his old father in an old age home. Now he laments that his children are not taking care of him suitably.
  • One of my friends has shifted to his son’s house thinking he would be happy with his son and grandchildren. Within 6 months, his son and daughter-in-law sold his books, furniture and all his belongings to “Raddiwala” telling that they are an-chronic in the new house. Now he feels sorry that he left his house and joined his son only to lose his identity altogether.
  • Another old couple who stay with their son rant that they are treated as guests and not part of the family for any family decisions or activities.
  • One of my Sikh friends told me that we should not give all our money to children and depend on them. Anyhow, the money will go to them. Why should you give it before and depend on them? He said that “Wealthy Papa is Happy Papa”. I agree with him.

We never understood how our old parents thought and wanted when we were young. The same happens to our children and grand children. This is a cycle of nature and we have to bear with it and create our own circle of friends and activities to be completely involved and spend time usefully. There is no use blaming either children or parents.

When I was about 20 years of age, I attended a meeting of some spiritual activity. I do not remember the name or place. The main speaker of the meeting gave us an advice which had a great impression on my young mind. He said that nobody can repay the debt to parents, as they bring us to this world and take care of us in our young age. But, we can only thank them and also do “NAMASKARA” every day morning.

So I went to my parents and told them what the saint told me and did ‘NAMASKARA” and also told them that whatever I do in my life and whatever I earn will go to my wife and children but I can only thank my parents for this. My parents laughed at me and accepted my ‘NAMASKARA”. Taking cue, my younger brothers also started doing ‘NAMASKARA” whenever we go out to some other place or leave our village to new places.

Will ‘NAMASKARA” is enough for the old people? I think, we should have taken a bit more care for our parents, as we expect a little more love, affection and care from our children. This is applicable for all generations.

There is no solution to this problem of senior citizens. It is going to be more difficult for the next generation as families are going to be more nucleuses and no place for old people except in old age homes. The old age homes are two types, one for middle and upper income groups and the other for lower and lower middle income groups.

The middle and upper income groups have no problem with the money. They have saved enough money for their retirement or have pension and medical care support. They only have loneliness and fear of disability in old age and nobody to care them at their most periods of requirements. This can be over come to some extent by buying or renting a one bedroom or two bed room flats in the upcoming markets of senior citizens flats / resorts etc. While choosing such a place, care should be taken not to change location dramatically as any change in climate and surroundings would affect them seriously. As far as possible try to locate in your locality or city where you lived during the last 10 years and nearer to the children, if possible. It is important to be active physically and mentally as far as possible. I recommend continuing what you are doing during the last 10 years as far as physically possible.

Regarding the lower and lower middle income groups, who cannot afford a separate flat/house in such upcoming senior citizens’ flats, should try to live in old age homes taking for rent during their life time. The Government should support NGOs or individuals to start such old age homes and provide financial support to them. Government should specify that at least about 20% of the flats/ beds should be free so that economically weak persons should also be able to utilize such homes.  The children of such people should be legally forced to provide financial support to the parents so that they can live peacefully in such old age holes.

There is a stigma in Indian contest to stay in old age homes / resorts and generally the children are blamed for this. There should be no such stigma attached and the children should welcome such moves and help the old age parents to stay healthy and live happily during the last period of their life and also share holidays and festivals with parents and grand children.

NATURES’S FURY

 

During the Earth’s history of 4.6 billion years, many epochs occurred where in, mass extinction of the then life forms occurred and new life forms were generated. The major life extinction occurred during 248 million years, 145 million years and 65 million years ago. The most primitive hominid (human ancestor) evolved- approximately 4.4million years before present and the origins of present human form broadly dates back to about 0.2 to 0.1 (homo sapiens) million years ago.

The present human form is the most dangerous and most horrashias eater of other life forms. He is not only polluting his own life space, he is also killing all other life forms for eating and gaming. Now that he realized what he is doing, he is trying to control the climate so that he can survive a little more million years. Is it possible? The present human form has its own mind and can control some extent by first controlling its population and reducing the pollution around its life space. But nature has a very effective balancing act in its sleeves. It is time for the nature to remove all the present life forms and create new life forms for better balancing act of the nature.

It is well known that each 1 to 10 million years, the polarity of the North Pole reduces and the North Pole becomes South Pole and vice versa, there by changing the geography of the earth. The deserts become fertile lands and the green lands become deserts. It can be seen very clearly that the present Middle East might have been forest lands once upon a time. It is well documented that at present the polarity has reduced to about 10% of the original strength and we do not know when the calamity of changing Poles occur. It may take a few million years or tomorrow.

It is said that, if we can restrict the global warming by 2 degrees, about 20 to 30 % of water per capita would be reduced globally and about 10 to 15 % of reduced crop yields would occur. This may save the Earth or Humans. But, the predictions are that the global temperatures are going to increase beyond 5 degrees which is a disaster to all life forms; where in, the ice in Himalayas & North Pole would melt causing heavy floods and resulting of heavy deaths & migration of the remaining, social unrest, wars etc.

The indications of calamity are already seen. Normally floods and droughts occur once in 10 to 11 years coinciding the Sun spot activity. But now, the floods and droughts have become an annual affair with the most latest effect of floods seen in  Uttarakhand and Chennai in India and is happening all over the world.

While the floods & droughts have a greater effect on agriculture in rural areas, it is on the living conditions of the people in urban areas. The effect of floods is more due to not only change of climate, but also due to manmade actions especially in urban areas. The construction of buildings on the floodways, on water sinks (Tanks), the faulty design of storm water drains and clogging of drains, sudden release of water from dams etc. had accentuated the effects of floods in urban areas. What should we do? A few suggestions are given below.

I cannot give any suggestions to control climate, which is beyond human capabilities except a few minor ones. But, I can give suggestions to reduce the effect of extreme climate events by proper self control and self protection on day to day basis.

  • Rural Areas:
    • The climate change is most destructive on agriculture in rural area. If you are a small farmer of having less than 5 acres, my suggestion would be to sell half of the land and invest the same in non agricultural activity and the remaining to lease out to other farmers and possibly migrate to urban areas or work in non agricultural activities in the villages itself to protect yourself from floods and droughts. Provide education to the children so that they can be self dependent and do not depend on agriculture.
    • Agriculture is the most dangerous activity in India as the farmers have to sell their produce always at less than the cost price and depend on money lenders for their farm activities. There is only lip sympathy from Government and all the agricultural subsidies go to either manufacturers of fertilizers, pesticides etc or to middle men.
    • It is also possible to do cooperative agriculture, by clubbing about 40 to 50 acres by likeminded farmers and do the agriculture. This will effectively help the small farmers as they can spread the loss of flood and droughts equally to all members and save themselves. Only, it requires confidence building in the minds of small farmers that their land is not lost forever due to cooperative agriculture. They can also register as a cooperative land society so that they can get additional benefits from Government.
    • If you are a large farmer, you should equally invest in agriculture and non agricultural activities so that one helps the other in the periods of drought and floods. Do not depend on Government subsidies and loans.
    • If a man is poor, it takes one generation to effectively overcome poverty and if you are a rich man, it takes two generations to become poor by misadventures of various financial activities.
  • Urban areas:
    • India is going to be urbanized by more than 50 % by end of this decade. People are going to flock to urban area in troves. There is an urgent need to stream line the urban administration to effectively tackle the droughts and floods. The droughts would not have much adverse effects except, the cost of living would go up due to non availability of essential goods. But, the floods will have very strong and immediate effects on the urban population.
    • If you are a buyer of a flat or plot, see that it is located on higher ground as far as possible. It is advisable to buy first floor or above.
    • See the Government documents of map of the area to see whether you are near a blocked stream or river or drainage system which is a sure sign of disaster to happen.
    • Hear the weather warnings and be prepared to move out of your dwelling at short notice to nearby high grounds or to other cities where you can stay for a few days.
    • Be stock essential food items and important documents and ready to move at any time.
    • The process of floods is normally for a few days before, unlike earthquakes, so you will be able to prepare yourselves to move out of your area, if necessary.
    • The above suggestions are for the common man. But it is the Government that has to take care of the citizens. The following suggestions would be opt for Government organizations which look after the city planning. They are already aware of these things, only they do not implement the same.
      • Prepare a flood map of the area with 100 year return period. If any river is passing through the city, prepare flood map for 500 year return period.
      • Plot the old streams, tanks, flood paths etc at least during the last 20 years and compare the present map and estimate the encroachments and prepare a map locating all the encroachments.
      • It is not possible to remove the encroachments as many of them approved by Government itself. Only prepare a flood map with all the encroachments and estimate the flood depth and area if there is 100 year and 500 year return period of the area. If the city falls in the coastal area, the effect of high tide has also has to be considered.
      • Storm drainage works have to be designed for at least 30 year return period.
      • The storm drainage works may be cleaned before the monsoon. If the major river is passing through the city, it has to be cleaned and any obstructions on the river have to be removed before the monsoon.
      • Perfect the flood warning systems to control the loss of life and property
      • Disaster management system should be ready and active. The moment weather information indicates a possible cyclone and they should have all equipment ready and can be deployed before the flood occurs itself instantaneously.
      • The major disaster occurs when the water from dams is released in the last moment. There is already a system of release of water for different periods. In special cases or high flood warning times, the water has to be released in adequate quantities early so that there will not any deluge after wards. If it is not followed, strict action has to be taken on the concerned officers as many times, it is the flooding water from dams that cause maximum damage.

Humanism versus Religion

 

I find that there are lots of discussions were going on regarding Humanism and Religion and the importance of one over other. There are extremists in both beliefs and want to insist that they are right.

A few definitions are given below with respect to Humanism and Religion.

Humanism

  • A rationalist outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.
  • Humanism is a progressive life stance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity. • American Humanist Association

Religion

Evolution of Earth and Religion

I believe that the total evolution of various species is due to climate and nourished due to natural activity of the Earth. Man is one of the species evolved during the last 4.5 billion years of Earth’s history.

The first life forms appeared between 3.8 and 3.5 billion years ago and the present humans are branched from a small African ape living around 6 Million years (Ma) ago. The present Homo-sapiens are broadly from about 0.2 million years ago.

During this history of the Earth, many species are born and perished and new species were born out of the evolution process subsequently.

Humans are the latest species on the earth. They may also perish after a few thousand years and a new species would be born in a new mode. This is inevitable.

The only difference between human and other living species is that the humans were provided with a super computer on their head called Brain. Because of this computer, even though, the man is weak physically with compared to many other species, he became strong and can fly, swim and go to moon and return and do anything he wants to do.

The human computer wants to analyze everything it sees, feels and thinks and reason it out.  The human computer knows that the humans are born due to nature’s benevolent approach and evolution and knows that there is no GOD other than the nature. But it wants explanations why some are born rich and some or born poor.  Why some are intelligent and some are morons. Why some actions bring good feeling and some are bad feelings. It wants to tie up every action and reaction and result to something which it does not know and reason it out.

A good and experienced Doctor does an operation but he prays GOD (Super Human) for the patient’s survival. Why? Because, he knows he has done everything he can do within his knowledge but the result is not in his hands. The patient may die or survive for various reasons which are not controllable, or not in his hands.

A rocket engineer does everything he can do but the success of his experiment is not in his hand as there are thousand parameters that may change the result from success to failure. That is why he prays GOD. Even though, the result is due to his thorough preparation, but he does not know that he has taken all precautions for its success. That is why he prays.

The animals do not have any problem of GOD as nature has provided a small computer (compared to a small calculator) which tells the animal when to eat, sleep, defend and procreate. That is the purpose of its computer and as such it does not reason it out of any action it had done and the result there off.

During the history of humans for the last 2 lakh years, humans realized their power over other species and successfully lived on the food available thereof. He started slowly to build communities to live together to fight the predators and started to raise families. The animal instinct of survival of your community versus my community started wars and killings like any other animal kingdom.

The communities have started becoming bigger and bigger and there was need for some rules and regulations & controls to live amicably. There is a need of a Super Human being who is a GOD and who can do anything, if he or she wants. Different type of GODs has been created as per requirement. Thus religion was born. Many religions are born in different continents as per the requirement of the local people and as per the spiritual leaders of that time.

Basically all religions speak the same language. Love thy neighbourer and be kind and serve others and live under certain rules and regulations to live peacefully. The extremists from each religion have taken the rules so seriously that they become unchangeable over a time and life became miserable to ordinary citizens of the world where ever they are.

The regulations had resulted in a caste system in India. This caste system even though originated based on the work allotment to different communities, but degenerated into air tight caste system which defines a person’s caste by birth.  Karna in not a Kshatriya, so he cannot fight war or learn war fare. This has resulted in a big war of MAHABHARATA about 5000 years ago. The story of MAHABHARATA was not told by SRIKRISHNA. It is told by VEDVYASA, the great sage of that period but showed that it is told by GOD himself, so that people follow the path. Ramayana is a story written by Sage Valmiki to say how a king should live for the sake of his people. The story may be true or false. It may be history or may not. That is not important. Various sages or Gurus or Prophets have evolved different guidelines to teach the people how to live in a society/ community harmoniously.

What should we do today?

The rules, regulations and Religions have started since thousands of years ago and they cannot be changed overnight and there is no need to change that also.  All religions are good to control and regulate the human behavior.

There is no use in criticizing the religions and GODs, which has become a trend of the present Humanists. This will not have any bearing on the people. When one humanist cries hoarse on TV, that it is not good to take bath in muddy GODAVARI waters, 10 Crore people have immersed themselves in the river expecting some good thing to happen to them. Millions of people visit Sri Venkateswara & Saibaba Temples and wait more than 12 hours to have a Darshan of about a minute. All religious places of different religions are same.  Do we need to change that? Can we change?

HUMANISTS even thought cannot change but help in directing the energy into positive action, provided, they realize that God is not against HUMANISM. He is for it. All religions teach HUMANISM. Revive the fundamentals of religions in each religion and explain that HUMANISM and RELIGION are same and that they are two sides of the same coin. Let them pray but do help other humans in misery which is better than praying. Highlight the good and bad points of each religion and guide the population in a positive way. Do not criticize that the people do not know anything.

The present HUMANISTS should study the good points of each religion and spread them among people. They should tell the different leaders of the community and religious leaders that HUMANISTS are not against them and that they want to support them in their endeavor to spread the good points of each religion. It is not sufficient to blame all religions and GODs and say that their HUMANISM is great. It will never work except that a few face book (Yeses) in Social Media.

As far as I am concerned, I believe in a super power (like Gravitation) which makes the planets and stars to be there where they are and controls the whole universe including all living beings. It does not show any distinction between humans and other living creatures. The great sages of various religions also tried to identify the super power and name it on different Gods while the humanists or rationalists try to identify the same in their own minds.

The process of evolution has given the man the super computer for his personal use. It dies when the man dies. The purpose of each individual is to make the evolution one step ahead every time a person is born and travels his life journey.

As such, my philosophy is to do my work the best possible way and help any, if possible or keep quiet, if you cannot help. Let the religion and Gods be in their respective places.

 

CAPITAL MARKETS FOR RETIRED PEOPLE

When I had retired in 2001, I had a few Rupees to invest. As the interest rates were very less, I wanted to invest in such instruments that at least I get 10 % returns. But people suggested SIPS, Mutual funds, shares etc. I was a bit confused.

Luckily, we went on holidays and met my brother- in- law, who was a retired bank officer and an expert in shares. He explained a few tips of share investment and day trading.

I had started a dry run of buying and selling of shares for 15 days and bought some basic books on share investment. After reading these books and also seeing the results of the dry run, I came to know that the day trading is not my cup of tea and also realized that investment in shares is not for weak hearts and it requires expert business analysis before investing. But, unless you jump into the sea, you will not learn swimming. So I stared with Rs 1 lakh and started buying both day trading and also long term investment. As my regular work is consultancy and teaching after retirement, I normally cannot give more time than an hour per day for this activity. So the results of my experiences are entirely different from the regular investors in capital markets.

This started in 2001 and I am happy to dribble in capital markets. I had earned a few Rupees and lost a few Rupees. But the journey is excellent. What are my experiences? How do I react?  What I recommend?

The following suggestions are based on my experiences with the capital markets and appropriately for the retired persons, who want to earn a few rupees and also spend time usefully and actively sitting in their houses.

  • If you want to enter into capital markets, try to learn share business. It is not simply buying and selling. It is doing a PhD in business analysis and capital markets. It is a very high knowledge oriented subject.
  • Never take loan and do share business.
  • About 20 % of your total investable money can be invested in shares in stages and assume that you had lost this money. Any gains are bonus. It is participation and experience that is important.
  • Any time is good time for buying and selling. As you go on learning, you know the timings of buying and selling.
  • Selling of shares is more important than buying. The moment you get your goal, you sell.
  • Do not love the shares.
  • Do not be greedy or afraid of loss.
  • The daily share prices are dependent on rumors, daily news and likely government policies. The long term prices are better estimated and you will not be under loss on long time ( From 6 months onwards)
  • Select about 20 shares in different sectors at least two in each sector based on the various parameters and buy and sell the same as and when the price targets are met. Revise the list every year.
  • As far as possible, deal with large and medium Cap shares. Do not touch small cap shares as they are very dangerous. You can only buy them if you know their management very well.
  • Buy shares which give dividend so that you can get dividend when you cannot sell shares.
  • I have done lot of research and identified a few rules for investment. However, they are not required or your will learn during your journey of investment in shares.

Astrology

There are strong believers as against strong disbelievers in astrology. We all know that planets have influence on both living beings and non living materials. The high tides and low tides are due to the gravitation pull of moon. We do have millions of solar systems in the sky in addition to our own solar system. The planets move around themselves and around Sun due to gravitation pull and centrifugal forces generated due to rotation. But do they have influence on our day today activities or do they have influence on us on our behavior and general wellbeing over our life time and we cannot do anything other than follow the stars.

I do not believe this proposition. The stars may influence or not, but it is our self-confidence and self belief that moves us in our life and gives achievements due to us. It is our actions that control our future rather than stars’ activities.

When I was studying B.Sc final year, one palmist saw my hand and said that I would not pass B.Sc and even if I pass, it would be with great difficulty and there would be no more education for me. It is appalling as I was more interested in education and study throughout my student career. Even though, I was not brilliant like my younger brother, I used to pass all the examinations without difficulty. I got the results and I passed with no high scholarly marks. I would have searched for a job or settled in agriculture which is our family tradition. But I applied for about 20 Universities in India for M.Sc and I got admission in one of the universities. Since then, I did not look back. I could do my Ph.D and other degrees to my credit. This only shows that the Palmist may be wrong or he was indicating that my educations levels were difficult to achieve.

I had shown my daughter’s horoscope to a good and reputed astrologer before marriage as the bride groom’s father was a believer in astrology and the marriage was performed. The marriage went on rocks and not even one word of the astrologer’s predictions was true, even after so many years.

It may be possible that some of the predictions might have come true for others.

People say that there are good periods and bad periods. As we have to take decisions every day some turn with good results and some with bad results. If the results are good or bad for a continuous period, then we call it good or bad period. It happens to everyone in life some time or other. Does it mean that our stars are acting on our favor or against it? I do not believe that. Stars do their work and let us do our work in this world. We got lucky and got our only life now and we should maximize it.

The daily and yearly predictions of astrologers may be correct or may not be, we should believe in ourselves and do our work. Never leave it to our stars. When we die, stars won’t help us.

Does this means, I am not a believer. I do believe in our stars do effect our nature to the extent of about 5 %. Take guidance from the stars, if you believe and go ahead with your daily work and have self belief in yourself that you can achieve anything you want. Do not blame the stars for your failures and put in more work to achieve what you want.

 

 

Childhood Reminiscences and Character Indicators

 

Childhood is one of the best periods of one’s life. They were character building periods as well as enjoying the innocence of childhood.  Sometimes we go back to our childhood and enjoy the reminiscences of the period. A few of my childhood activities I always remember.

  • When I was about 8 to 9 years, I told my younger brothers that I could control any type of fire and stop the big fires also. So one of my younger brothers brought the match box and ignited grass mound on our backyard. I tried to douse the fire, but it was suddenly gone out of control and became big fire. We ran into the house and told our mother that there was a big fire. She immediately told my father and the people around stopped the fire. My younger brother explained the reasons behind the big fire and told our father that I could not control the fire as I told. Subsequently, I was given a big spanking and told all three of us not do such things.
  • When I was playing a stick and rod game, one of the games children play in the villages, the rod caught my eye and there was lot of blood and I was about to go blind. Luckily the rod struck just above the eye. I was taken to the local doctor and the necessary bandage and medicines were given. We were told not to play the game again.
  • When I was studying 3 or 4th class, the examinations were about to begin. The school was next to our house. I asked my mother to give 25 paisa for purchase of sweets. She refused. I threatened that I will not write the examination. She said not go to the school, but she will not give the money. The second bell has rung and the exams would start at the third bell. Again, I demanded and again my mother refused. So, I became very angry and ran to the school to write the examination. When, I returned, the sweets, I wanted to eat were ready in the house.
  • In our young days, we take arrows and bows and start fighting like Ram and Ravana and threw stones on the birds etc. In one of the incidences, I threw stones on a group of birds. Normally they used to fly away. However, this time, one of the birds was hit and when I went to see the results, I saw a bird hit by my stone and it was bleeding. I felt the agony of the bird and tried to assuage the bird and after an hour or so, the bird could fly. I was relieved. I decided that I would not through the stones again on any one. I still feel that feeling of agony when even ever I remember the occasion.
  • The school in our village is up to 6th standard only. So my parents taken us to nearby town for our further studies. My parents were there with us, while the farming operations were controlled by our eldest brother who was around 20 and married. When I was studying 7th standard, I became angry with our parents, and without telling anybody, I left to our village which is around 3 km but through a big forest. When, I reached our village, I was afraid of my father and told my elder brother everything. My sister-in-law gave me food for the day. My brother sent somebody to the nearby town to inform my whereabouts. Next day, he came with me to the town and left me there. My father did not do any with me thinking that I would again runaway. This was a great experience running through the forest, where I know that tigers were roaming in those days.
  • On the day of 7th standard final examination, I had a very big fever. If I won’t write the examination, I would lose one year. My parents told me that the loss of one year was not a great thing, and decided to go to our village till I recovered. But I refused strongly that they had to take me to the class to write the examination. I do not know how I convinced my parents. My elder brother carried me to the school and I had written the exam. I could not eat any food during the examination except two “Idlies”. That was one of my greatest achievements and even my parents and elder brothers appreciate for my great fight back to write the exam.
  • We were taught Hindi from 7th standard itself. In one of the classes, I could not reply to the queries in Hindi and I was asked to stand up on the bench. It was a great shame to me. Probably to every child. I decided that I will study Hindi completely so that nobody could question me about it. So I joined summer classes for the examinations in Hindi conducted by Dakhina Bhrat Hindi Prachara Sabha, Chennai. I continued this summer classes ever year till I competed graduation so that simultaneously I got the degree of Rashtra Bhasha Visharda. I cherish this achievement and I got a few scholar ships also for the Hindi studies. I was very fond of books from my young age, and I completely studied all the books of mythology, history, novels etc in the library by 10th
  • During my 9th standard, I used to go to tuitions to nearby teacher. There was a beautiful girl who was my class mate also attended the tuitions. In those days, boys do not speak with girls. As the tuitions are in the night from 7 PM to 9 PM, the teacher asked me to drop her in their house every day. That was a good occasion to make friends. For a few days, we did not talk to each other. But slowly we became friends. She has 3 sisters and I had 4 brothers. She does not have brothers in the house and I did not have sisters in our house. So suddenly, she started calling me brother and I started calling her sister. Our friendship grew and our family members had appreciated our friendship. We are till today brother and sister. I attended her marriage and she and her family attended my marriage. We do occasionally meet after all these years. It was a good memory.
  • In those days only, I met a girl who was my future wife. I did not tell anyone except to my younger brothers, till I studied M.Sc and eligible for marriage. In the final year of my M.Sc, I told my future brother-in-law who was my school mate that I wanted to marry his sister. So with a few hiccups, the marriage was performed.
  • There are lots of incidences such as above. As we grow old they became good or bad reminiscences and many times they are repeated to others who are bored with such reminiscences and try to avoid old people.

 

The child hood reminiscences broadly indicate the future character of the boy. They are broadly as under:

  • The boy is adamant and once decides, will not stop in the middle of any work.
  • Highly emotional
  • Fond of books and studies
  • Broadly against violence

 

Retirement, Work & Retirement Homes

 

Lots of people retire at the age of 60. What is going to happen to them as life expectation is going to be 80 years. How will they spend their time and money?

During employment, there is specific work, the moment one goes to office either self decided or given by superiors and gets a specified amount for their work. The moment one retires; there is no work and no pay other than pension or savings.

The physical and mental attitude is one of the most important factors that take them into future of old age. Some people lean towards GOD and prayers, some sulk and degenerate and some are more active than before retirement.

It is difficult to say which way is correct. One of my brothers-in-law turned into religion, the other turned into a blogger who writes about his childhood events and writes about various ways of cooking. My brother turned into “no work & only enjoy” person. I turned into teaching after retirement. Some friends started NGOs by opening schools, natural living and financing for small land holdings for economic activity.

I believe that one should continue to do work which has a value to keep one’s mind active and useful to the society. The body does not retire until death. So how can we retire?

How retirement homes are needed.

The employment pattern has changed in India during the last 30 years and the combined family living has vanished in India like in West. This resulted in the need for old age homes for old and disabled persons. This need is going to increase many folds in the next few years.

There are three types of homes

  1. Completely dependent on Government grants and donations to take care of the poor people
  2. Middle income groups who can pay for their stay in reasonably good old age homes.
  3. The senior citizens resorts/ bungalows / and flats which can be bought by the individuals and can stay there like any other individual flats with adequate food and health care is taken care off.

All these avenues for old age people are required. But, actually what the senior citizens really want.

  1. Physical health and food to be taken care off
  2. Their mental needs are to be taken care off
  3. Community living which makes people spend time with likeminded people

The first and the third items are normally taken care of in the present old age homes. No concerted effort was made to take care of the need of mental satisfaction of these people.

  1. A retired teacher wants to teach the students/ children with minimum pay to keep his dignity and need of money and mental satisfaction.
  2. A retired bank officer wants to engage in some type of banking work to keep him going on.
  3. A retired Government officer wants to help in Government procedures with minimum payment (Not free).
  4. A retired officer who worked in some type of NGO wants to continue his work even after retirement.
  5. Some people turn to God. Some turn to agriculture, environment etc. So avenues have to be provided for these activities in the senior citizens homes.

Unless wholesome activities are provided for the old and retired people, the present old age homes would not be really beneficial. As more and more old age people join these communities, it is required to plan proper old age homes with all the above mentioned activities included in their homes/ resorts etc. This should not be free. There is lot of money in the construction and maintenance of old age homes, resorts and communities etc.