Thursday, 16 February 2017

Future beckons

Future beckons
31 December 2020
Ansh and Priya are dancing like mad in the party at The Parks, Noida. After all it was New Year ’s Eve and the atmosphere is of gaiety. The husband and wife both have been drinking heavily and having a hell of a time. Around two they decided that they had enough and decided to go home for passionate love making. Also their daughter Pinki was alone with maid.
They came out and Priya insisted on driving the Scorpio. As the SUV was powerful and huge Ansh had reservations but he agreed in a drunken stupor. Priya sat on driver’s seat but the guard came and asked Ansh to receive their complimentary gift from hotel. Ansh repented till this day what happened when he went inside.
When he came back with gift he saw a nasty looking fellow pointing a gun at Priya head. Priya in panic pressed accelerator till it touched the floor. With 2200 cc engine Scorpio lurched forward like a bullet. The guy hang on to the door. Priya was 4 Patiala peg down after the party and car severed and it hit an oncoming truck with full force.
The robber was crushed immediately. Airbag of Scorpio opened and it took most of the impact. It happened in such a split second Ansh was dumb struck. He is fully sober now.
He ran along with others to the SUV. Priya was wedged in between seats and bag. The guy mutilated body was lying on the road. Truck driver sped away.
When priya was brought to Kailsah Hospital she was bleeding profusely and unconscious. On examination it was declared that due to impact the disc is dislocated and she won’t be able to walk for the rest of her life. But for the better safety features of Scorpio she would have died.
Both were devastated.

31 December 2025
It was again the night of 31st December 2025. Ansh is an automobile engineer and till today he has not forgotten that unfortunate night. Priya is wheel chair bound and only solace is that she is alive.
Ansh, Venkat and Kshitij were sitting in the lab of M&M discussing there invention sof road safety.
Ansh since then has left his job in MNC and joined M&M research division. His sole aim in life is to prevent these kind of accidents with the use of technology. His colleague Venkat is his enthusiastic supporter. Venkat is his junior but very intelligent.
“Sir, we developed biometric wheel drive and another is alcohol lock.” Said Venkat.
“Yes Venkat if on that day Priya could not have driven as she was drunk this had not happened. Also if she knew that that bustard can not drive the Scorpio even if he wanted to she would have stepped down.” Rued Ansh.
“Now sir we have perfected the biometric scanner and alcohol lock do you think it will help.”
“I have an idea how it can help. But I foresee many problems also because of this. Being a civil engineer I prefer geometric improvements of roads and strict traffic laws.” Interjected Kshitij. He is the civil Engineer from Highway division of M&M.
“I think we have to understand the science and rationale behind these provisions. Kshitij! I agree the things you mentioned should also help.” Ansh said “But if you ever travel by metro you will see many safety features which makes it almost fool proof. Say for example if any part of body is outside doors it won’t close and metro won’t move. So it is a failsafe safety guarantee. Also you see no Ticket Collectors as the system is of magnetic strip token or passes. It is almost impossible to travel without ticket and there is no need of TC. Still people jump in front of train to commit suicide and they may carry something inside and here better policing and enforcement comes into picture. Similarly geometric design and sound structure is basic requirement. So it has to be a combination of all three namely technology, design and enforcement for a safe practices.”
“We both agree” replied Venkat and Kshitij in unison.
“Now let me explain the rationale and science behind our invention. The blood alcohol content (BAC) legal limit is 0.03% or 30 µl alcohol in 100 ml blood. On 1 March 2012, the Union Cabinet approved proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. Higher penalties were introduced, including fines from 2,000 to 10,000 and imprisonment from 6 months to 4 years. So our alcohol lock in M&M vehicle will have a breath analyzer. The vehicle will also have a biometric steering and only those persons who has registered will be able to start the vehicle. So once the driver starts the vehicle he has to do a breath analyzer test and if it is above the limit of 30 µl alcohol in 100 ml blood the vehicle will not move. This is a two pronged safety against theft and drunken driving. I have developed more features like warning light when close to other vehicles or when we severe and change lanes dangerously. Human Vehicle interaction through technology for a safe ride is the motto of my life now.” Examined Ansh.
“Hmm it is all very well in theory but in practice you have to drive the vehicle sometime even if you are drunk” Kshitij said.
“Kshitij if you see my wife as I see every day, and shed tears of blood on her helpless condition you will not ask this ridiculous question any more. She is mother to Pinki but now Pinki has become her mother. Her childhood is lost due to this bloody drunken driving. I am sure if that that Priya would have been sober she had given the vehicle to that devil. Nothing is worth your life. Call a cab if you are drunk or stay in a hotel overnight. My invention will ensure that nobody can drive when drunk.” he was overwhelmed with emotion and close to tears.
Kshitij held him and so did Venkat.
“I know dear how you feel and you have gone through a lot. It is not easy to see your loved one to go through this ordeal day in and day out and you have become vulnerable. I also propose geometrical solutions for safety. Like better design of road, zero tolerance for encroachment, closing unsafe crossings on highways, proper management of traffic lights and world class maintenance of roads” said Kshitij.
“we should have a zero tolerance policy towards reckless drivers. Even greater focus on risk groups, for example young drivers, senior citizens, motorcyclists, drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and irresponsible, aggressive road users. We should have more rigorous system of license issue and zero tolerance towards offences. If someone violates law 3 times his license should be revoked and if he is found driving without one he should be jailed.” added Veknat.
“Yes we should also standardize the traffic regulations in India, as far as possible and reasonable. More educational campaigns on traffic regulations. Rules only work if they are generally known and understood (for example, with new infrastructure models like “shared spaces”).” Kshitij said “we should have an eeven more intensive promotion of safety-conscious and responsible behavior by all road users (for example with driver training courses to get to know their own limits; educational campaigns regarding distraction by smartphones).”
Ansh agreed and said.” Ok guys now we have done our bit I have to head to the naturopath who has been treating Priya for past year. Now she is having some movement is he toes. Let us hope she walk anytime soon. That will be the best new year’s gift I will have”
Amen said Venkat and Kshitij in unison.

1 January 2026
Ansh, Pinki and Priya were in Ayurvedic Ashram. Swami Swarupanand who has been treating Priya with Panchkarma therapy was smiling at them.
“Listen Priya beta I am sure that you will walk within six month with God’s grace. From today we will start rigorous exercise and the hard work you have put in in last five years is commendable. It is your determination and support of Ansh and Pinki God has become merciful on you. This is a happy new gift from my side. Just be regular and by the end of this year you will be normal like us.” Said swamiji.
Ansh and Priya were crying. Pinki could not understand that these were those tears when joy becomes overwhelming and words can not describe the joy. They touched feet of Swamiji and left.
Pinki got a treat of black current and Ansh hugged Priya so tight as if there is no tomorrow.

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall

The Case of the Love Commandos (Vish Puri, #4)The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tarquin Hall is a British journalist hailing from London. He has written Vish Puri India's "Most Private Investigator” books. Hall has a good understanding of Indian realities. He weaves these in Vish Puri books.

Ram and Tulsi are in love. Ram is a Dalit (lower caste shudra, untouchable) and Tulsi is Brahmin. Naturally her father is against the alliance and tries to prevent them from getting married. There is a secret organisation called “THE LOVE COMMANDOS” who tries to unite these star crossed lovers and guards them against honour killings. But on the fateful day Ram is kidnapped and Tulsi is taken in hiding by commandos. Vish’s assistant Facecream, who is a part of Love commandos, gives the investigation to Vish. When he starts investigating it is known that Ram’s mother is also murdered. The conspiracy goes much beyond a simple love story. There is an institute which carries out research in genetics and DNA, a corrupt CM and politicians. And it has Vish competitor Hari also.

Tarquin Hall understands India very well. Look the way he describes caste:

“We are a research institute, Mr. Puri. But I would say this: India will never progress, never join the rest of the civilized world, until we are rid of the caste system once and for all. It is utterly divisive, breeds corruption in our political system and ensures that tens of millions of Indians remain mired in poverty and ignorance—a great albatross around our collective necks. So, yes, it is my sincerest hope that our research will change the way society regards itself.”

The journalists in India are not trustworthy and are corrupt

“You should never believe what you read in the papers, Hari—journalists being corrupt and complacent and all.”

India is a vast, poor and populous country. It is very difficult the police and Uttar Pradesh is a very big state. Police in India is highly corrupt and in collusion with political masters.

"Puri knew he was wasting his breath with such a fundamental question. On average, fourteen people died and fifty-seven others were injured on the roads of India every hour. Even if the police had wanted to investigate each incident, there wasn’t the manpower to do so. Uttar Pradesh alone was short of nearly a quarter of a million civil and armed police. And its serving officers were essentially uniformed bribe takers. Most raked in several lakhs per month from truck drivers alone, a goodly percentage of which ended up in the pockets of their superiors and political masters."

Driving in India is a nightmarish experience.

“Normal driving meant driving like everyone else—in other words, winding through traffic without signaling, straddling two lanes at once, flashing “dippers” at any car that dared to get in the way, honking incessantly, jumping queues at red lights and wherever possible blocking everyone behind trying to go straight ahead.”

Finally a little preaching.

“Tradition and customs have their place and provide us with key reference points and a certain continuity. However, rigidity in thinking is the enemy of progress. Likewise, babies should not be thrown out with the bathwater. It is for young people also to act responsibly during times of change. A successful marriage is built on mutual understanding and compatibility. Love should also be there.”

Tarquin Hall is very witty and humorous. He keeps the tone light despite dealing serious issues like caste, poverty, corruption and murder. He makes you feel for the poor dalits. The village society is deeply divided on caste and religious lines. Even the ramshackle school has divisions. Everyone is busy looting the system be it the lowly village Pradhan or Chief Minister. There is huge oppression. The newly powerful castes like Yadavs also become oppressors of Dalits. In fact they are worse then Brahmins.

The concept of DNA mapping of castes is a novel one. If what is said is true we can definitively know the origin of castes and degree of intermingling amongst various castes. Indian caste system is based on very rigid segregation of castes and little or no intermarriage. This has its pros and cons.

This is most unjust social system. It divides the society and makes it weak. The shudras at the bottom, are worst sufferers and bear the burnt of this. They have no opportunity to break free from this vicious circle of oppression, poverty, ignorance and despair.

If lovers are from different castes it is not accepted and it sometimes lead to honour killings also especially in rural parts of North India. There are self styled Khap Panchaytas who are like Kangaroo courts and sanction these killings with impunity. They are answerable to no law or courts and derive their authority from caste order.

The worst part is caste is sanctified as a part of Hindu religion. It is mentioned in all religious scriptures including the Geeta.

Lord Krishna speaks to Arjuna as he clarifies the origin and purpose of the caste system in sanaatana dharma (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 4, Shloka 13).

cāturvarṇyaṃ mayā sṛṣṭaṃ guṇakarmavibhāgaśaḥ .
tasya kartāramapi māṃ viddhyakartāramavyayam .. 4\-13..

I have created this four fold order ( 4 varnas / castes namely - Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras) according to the quality of work.

They constitute the four-fold order. The three gunas - sattva, rajas and tamas - and the law of karma - these four elements were divided by Me to create the four varnas.

Sattva guna predominates in Brahmins - and they are assigned the tasks (karma) of sham, dam, tapas (meditation) etc.

Rajas guna predominates in Kshatriyas - sattva guna is secondary. Their karma is to be warriors and show bravery and tejas.

Rajas guna also predominates in Vaishyas - tamas guna is secondary. Their karma is to be farmers and traders.

Tamas guna predominates in Shudras - rajas guna is secondary. Their karma is to serve others.

If something is sanctified by religion and an AVATAR of Vishnu (Incarnation of God Vishnu) it is very difficult to argue with. A person fate is sealed at birth and he is doomed to live up to his pre ordained destiny.

Puri’s associates have funny names like Handbrake, Facecream and Tubelight. The tone is kept light but he never loses sight of the bigger picture.

Vish’s mummyji and wife, Rumpi provide comic relief. Mummyji is a parallel investigative firm. But I find that distracting and it breaks the flow of the story.

At some point I have to stop reading and laugh for a minute or two. Like the scene where Tulsi is crying again and again.

“If she keeps crying like this she would have to be taken to a hospital and rehydrated”.

In the end a very good book. 9/10 stars.

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