Monday, November 28, 2016

Demonetization or Demonization - Much Ado About Nothing?

Hello Friends,

It has been a few days since the 1.2 Billion Indian population was caught completely unaware with the Prime Minister introducing what is now termed as "Once in a Life Time Change".

A Political and Economic Risk - will it pay off?

There have been reams written about it along with countless hours of electronic media coverage as well. I am here to add a perspective from a "Every Day Indian" as the other word is taken over by a political party.

To start off, I would like to put out a few questions as they seem to bother me the most.

Frustrating to stand in queue to take your own money!
The Timing - Agreed that there never is the best time to take such decisive and "bold" decisions, the timing is not ideal with Rabi season mid-way through in a nation that still depends on agriculture for the GDP. The hard felt impact on the agricultural laborers, farmers and of course the middle-men (who we love to hate) is bound to put things in perspective when we get to the harvesting time. With the marriage season commencing and with seemingly stupid guidelines (marriages only between certain dates)on who becomes eligible for the 2.5 Lakh withdrawal, the move will impact the average middle class citizen.
  • The Process - With a grand standing and an emotional quotient, the PM appealed to all the citizens to "bear" for 50 days with the promise of fair days ahead! The very first thing that went wrong was the announcement that money will be available from 10th November which did not happen. Each day, the government is forced to react and change rules - 4500 exchange to 2000 with indelible ink and so on. The rules kept changing through out and led to the earlier confused and in some cases frustrated people.
  • The Assumptions - It was a huge Leap of Faith assumption from the people in power that enough accounts were created under "Jan-Dhan" so that the deposits and exchange can be easy which even by looking at RBI's statistics of March were wrong. The assumption that folks who said Yes on an App on Smart Phones is being brandished as a vindication of the move - does the government truly believes that the rural folks who are suffering the most will have logged a response? 
    No one is spending - will it impact the Economy?
  • Accountability - It is widely understood that the PM stands accountable for this huge political and economic gamble, what is not clear yet is the reluctance to do so in the parliament which represents people's elected representatives. This is not the first time that this PM has done that - largely disappointing especially the former PM mocked for not being eloquent stands up and delivers a rousing speech!
  • The Growth - The long term growth seems to be still on track even with the current turmoil. That alone is still making people like me hope for a better future with the troubles that all of us are going through.
  • The "Digital" interpretations - The world around has changed dramatically of late - every sane question directed against the people in power is being branded as Anti-National in the social media. Even in the current scenario, questions asked of the actual process followed are ridiculed and jeered. Can't we agree to disagree instead of indulging in loud rhetoric?
    Higher Denomination - Easy to hoard in future?
  • Why not "200"? - This is perhaps one of the biggest questions in my mind - when the government banned the higher denominations and introduces a new higher denomination, it stumps me! It is a nightmare to exchange a tough gotten 2000 Rs note - why did the government not think of introducing a 200 Rs currency instead?
  • The "Black" Money - The creation of "Black" money is a process and needs to be addressed in a end-end fashion. I am sure that there are concrete steps waiting to be taken which will address the issue (Gold, Property, Benami accounts etc.) as the current exercise subjected inconvenience and hardship to at least 90% of the population and the others listed perhaps will not impact the "White" population. I will hope to see the details on the real black money found during this exercise and the tax earned by the government.
ATM - All Time No Money :)
I will end the note on a positive "note" that the people are waiting to see "Acche Din" and hence are supporting this huge step. However, if those days are not coming soon, the patience on the ground will run out faster!

Here's to wishing to a "Cashless" and "ATM less" economy in the lines that the PM is expecting us to be! Till then, let's stand in the line, hope for the "cash" to show up in the still defunct ATMs and wish for a Digital India to come upon us soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sundarakanda - Interpretation

Hello Friends,

Favorite God for kids in India
I was always fascinated by the mythical hero "Hanuman" from my childhood. All the stories about his wisdom,strength,power and dedication to Rama left me spellbound. In fact my name being synonymous with Him made me feel special :)

I remember the countless times I heard Sundara Kanda through M S Rama Rao's immortal voice and it remains to date one of my favorites. I would like to attempt interpreting Sundara Kanda the only chapter where the hero of the epic takes a backseat and Hanuman takes center-stage.

Story

Self Realization strikes Hanuman
Sundara Kanda talks about the journey of Hanuman who sets out to find Sita who is captured by Ravana. Hanuman who does not know his strength; is goaded into action by Jambavan. Once he knows his true worth, sets off on a mission to reach Lanka by crossing the Indian Ocean. En route, faces several obstacles- Surasa who tries to swallow him and Hanuman becomes tiny and gets in and out of Surasa's mouth. He encounters others like Simhika and Lankini and effectively manages to kill/defeat.

In Lanka, he sees tremendous wealth, material marvels like Pushpaka Vimanam among others but does not let his mind wander from his goal of finding Sita. He mistakenly assumes Mandodari who is Ravana's wife to be Sita and celebrates prematurely. Then realizes that it cannot be Sita by discerning that Sita cannot live with Ravana.
Sita meets someone who she can trust

He prays to Rama for guidance and finally locates Sita in Ashokavanam. He is shaken by the plight of Sita and chooses to recite Rama's story as a way to win Sita's trust. He then exchanges the ring of Rama with Sita's Chudamani and assures Sita that Rama will arrive at the earliest to lead the destruction of Lanka and Ravana.

He proceeds to challenge the Rakshasas in Lanka to estimate their strength and leads to the proverb of "Chusi Ramante Kalchi Vachadu" (Burnt down Lanka when He was only asked to locate Sita). Finally, He reaches Rama and provides Him the joy and happiness so much so that the Lord Himself feels He has nothing to offer to Hanuman!


Interpretation

Sundara Kanda means a Beautiful Chapter and that is the first in line of many symbolic inner meanings. The chapter starts and ends with "Tat" which in Sanskrit could mean a river bank. It could be interpreted as Birth and Death for all of us.

The search for Sita is actually the search for Godliness within us. It is not an easy exercise and we will face a lot of challenges in getting there.

Sundara Kanda - In Pictures
The first one would be not knowing the true Self and assumption that we are worthless. Even after knowing the Inner Self, we tend to get distracted by the material desires that tempt us in all possible ways. Hanuman shows us the way in not getting distracted while on his search. The parallel of Surasa can be drawn to the fact that we need to be humble and well grounded. Hanuman also teaches us the importance of time as he refuses to accept an offer from Mynaka mountain to rest before he embarked the journey to Lanka.

Once we find Sita (God who resides in each of us), our duty becomes even more critical as we then need to clear ourselves of the influences of Ravana (every day evils we get caught up with).

So, in the spirit of Sundara Kanda, we will need to embark on the journey of life, realize the true purpose of it, keep ourselves out of evil influences that consume us all too easily and stay steadfast on to the true goal of merging with the Paramatma.

This is just an attempt to interpret a very complex chapter that can be full of deeper meanings and perhaps in the coming years, I might discover a few more with the help of all of you!