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This will be a short post of mostly relief. Modi planning to address the country has become a cause for some alarm and ridicule. Absurd tags were doing the round for days before today "guessing" what the Prime Minister would announce today. Turned out to be something of a damp squib. Thankfully. I don't think the country can take any more of his surgical strikes.

To make a long story short, he reannounced a failed goal from 2016 as a wholly new idea called "Saubhagya" - where all homes in India get electricity by December 2018. Earlier in 2016, Piyush Goyal had assured us of electricity for all by May 2017. Now five months after missing that deadline, we are assured of the same thing by December 2018. That is all. At this point, the failure of the government to achieve one goal being repackaged as a bright new idea that will transform India is not going to shock anyone.

If it were any other government, I suppose this would be met with scorn, but I suppose there is no point expecting anything useful out of this government and we must see this announcement as a positive thing - our incomes or savings have taken no new hit, no lives are going to be disrupted or lost as a result of this announcement and it doesn't seem to be likely to result in economic catastrophe. No violence against dissenters is likely to be triggered by this announcement. The gullible hordes have been spared their own unquestioning folly. I suppose it is time to call it a narrow miss from a surgical strike and get on with the business of surviving the less than two years that remain of this spectacularly useless government.


Here is a list of people who have volunteered with the relief work in the Chennai floods. Volunteers are listed by areas as well as nature of assistance that they can offer. If you are listed and can no longer volunteer, please leave a comment. If you are not listed, but would like to volunteer, also leave a comment with the information for each column that is needed for you to have a entry in this list.

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I met kavitha during my visit to Pandharkawada village, Yavatmal district, Vidarbha 

This is the story of Kavitha, who is a mother, a babhi, a daughter, a wife, a homemaker, now a farm widow turned farmer in the capital of India, Vidarbha and she is just 27 years of age. Despite the gravity of the situation, she spoke with great confidence and she spoke with an infectious smile.

The mother:

Manasi, her 8 year old daughter, was very happy since it was the Independence Day and she wore her favorite 10 Rs tri-colored hair band.

The 2 year old daughter was home with her in laws.

The mother also told how she draped her daughter with a tri-colored saree and when how when Manasi entered the class room everyone would say "Look Bharat Mata is walking into the classroom".

The Bhabi:

Bhabi was very worried about her 15 year old brother-in-law because he wasn't getting any work. He only had 2 pairs of dresses which he carefully juggled through. He would be very calm and very quiet, often refused to take part in any social gatherings or any celebrations. He didn't have any footwear, which was one reason why he was feeling very shy to move around. Bhabi was very happy when they managed to buy a pair of chappals for Rs 100.

The daughter:

Her parents were working as landless laborer s and their income these days isn't consistent. They have work only on a few days. Her brother is also looking for a job. She is worried about her brother as well who is looking for a job.

The homemaker:

The kids school expenses aren't that much. The books, uniforms etc. cost about Rs 500 a year. It's the other expenses that add up to about Rs 3000 or so.

The wife:

Kavitha finished her 12th grade and after her marriage had discontinued her studies. Her husband was very troubled and increasingly frustrated over his helplessness and his never-ending debt situation. He had shared this with Kavitha as well but she could not anticipate that her husband would take such an extreme step.

The farmer:

3 acres of land is all she has on which she cultivates cotton and soya bean. There is an outstanding loan with the bank which hasn't waived yet. The price of cotton in the market isn't guaranteed and there has hardly been any rains adding more trouble to the already troubled situation.

There have been many Kavitha's before, many Kavitha's now and unfortunately, if no intervention, there would be many more.

If we blame the politicians for being indifferent, then we are to be blamed equally, for we are indifferent to their sufferings

If we blame the govt for being ignorant, then we are to be blamed equally, for we are completely ignorant of their sufferings.

If we blame the govt for not having the will to solve the crisis, we are to be blamed equally, for we never had the will to question and hold our ministers responsible and accountable.

My friend Haresh Raichura wrote an interesting post on the power of attention to magnify things. You can read it here: New Laws of Science about Which We Are Not Ready Even To Listen

Apart from it being a subject of my interest, it mixed several concepts to come up with ideas that were worth talking about. Some of them, I bring up here.

Scientists say that, from the day they measured distance between Earth and Sun, the distance has started increasing. ........In same way everything they measured, started growing and expanding.

In my opinion, you misunderstood what was being said. Esoteric meditation and visualizaiton types often speak of the universe expanding. What they mean is that your awareness is expanding, and this must not be taken literally 😀 Though the physical universe is expanding in a measurable, physical way. It will expand pretty much in the same way whether you measure it or not. This is not the distance between earth and sun which is one Astronomical Unit and varies only slightly depending on the position in orbit. It does not increase with measurement. Nor does the size of the earth as such, though there is evidence of a very, very slow change of shape.

Whatever you focus on, expands: Or rather it takes up more space in your reality. The principle of Appreciative Inquiry. We notice more of what we are looking for would be a more accurate way of putting it. If there are 50 red and 50 blue dots in a square, asking you if red are more will make that seem true, asking if blue are more will do the opposite. This is about perception. The number of dots doesn't change, we register more dots. If thinking of wealth and poverty were to create those, we wouldn't still have our crisis with poverty, because this phenomenon has been observed for quite a long time now. We could simply make teaching thinking rich a part of education and be done with it.

However, there are times when it works to create change. It is also formalized into a method for creating change called Appreciative Inquiry, which magnifies the life giving forces of a [human] system. This uses several behavioral peculiarities - we are constantly responding to things, and responding on a same level. If I say "apples" - you may think/say "oranges/fruit/red" for example, but are unlikely to think "cement, alligator" It is how our process of recall works. Input triggers associated thoughts in our brain.

To form a rational/coherent response, we also are accustomed to responding in a similar way. For example, if I say "What is the time?" you are likely to tell me the time, or say that you don't know, or ask about the date, etc" Maybe follow that with something about you being in a hurry or having free time, or some model of a watch, etc. You are unlikely to say "Deep sea diving has unique safety concerns" - it isn't logical.

So, in a way, what I ask has an influence on what you think and say. If I ask "do you like your new office?" you think one thing and if I ask "what is your new office like" it makes you answer in a slightly different way - even though on one level it is the same question.

So this "think about what you want and it will increase" kind of logic, in my opinion works to create that perception, but if you want it to show results, then that is possible only where your change in perception is sensed by the environment around you and it changes the responses you get. For example, if everyone in you office is irritable and intolerant and defensive, and you start speaking in a more abundant, non-combative way, it will trigger changes in the office. However, your observations about scams and crime are not correct, in my view. You have no direct ability to influence the actions of those generating those statistics. In that case, I don't think whether you look at them or not will cause a difference to the number. Not looking at them will take them out of your awareness and you will think that they don't exist or that things are better now - which is a great goal in itself for things you have no power to change, but the media cannot and should not ignore.

We ignored farmer deaths and India was shining, but a quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide. We ignore poverty and think of India as an emerging superpower with world class facilities, but that doesn't change the fact that a majority of our population leads hand to mouth lives even now. It was our perception that changed. We did not register the poverty or agrarian distress, so to our understanding of India, those things didn't exist. It is the same with scams. the scams we are discovering now have been perpetrated way before we thought of this experiment. The scam has happened. All we can change is our perception of it, not the reality.

But this is strictly my view of the matter, and there are other things that imply the possibility of the unconscious mind to have a greater impact on the world manifested than we imagine. Like getting a pain in a physical part of the body due to emotional trouble, or who knows... the unconscious is a realm we can only guess at at best as we touch a sliver of its surface.

I admit that I have encountered happenings that seem to be related on an unconscious level, but I couldn't figure out how. I am not able to rule out the possibility that there are ways in which the unconscious mind manifests tangible and measurable changes without behavioral involvement.

So what I am saying is that even if we look at the part that is true, it takes carefully crafted changes or questions to trigger change outside the individual.


Some observations that I have seen with power and people in any group.

  1. Attention is power. If you forget this, you can't understand the rest of this page.
  2. Everybody wants power. Including those who say "I don't care". It is an instinct, not a multiple choice question. Without this, you wouldn't have a survival instinct, you wouldn't have any logic left to your actions. Whether you actually have power, or how you choose to get it, or how do you define having power to yourself may vary.
  3. There is a hierarchy of power in any group. No matter if it is leaderless. No matter if it is a country with a visible leader, or a couple who respects each other, or a group of friends of similar profile. There is no such thing as two people with equal power.
  4. Power is a fluid thing. It keeps shifting from person to person. In a hierarchy that is clearly defined, or institutionalized, it shifts less easily, less noticeably. In informal situations where there is no conscious understanding of  a leader, it shifts rapidly.
  5. Two kinds of power wars happen. The first is to gain power, by challenging someone more powerful, the other is to retain power, to suppress someone who might become more powerful. In essence they are the same, only depends on where you stand. They are happening all the time. You can't escape this, because the survival instinct demands that you do all you can to remain powerful or grow in power. Denying instinct is futile. It will still manifest unnoticed by the denier, but increasingly obvious to observers.
  6. Because a person in power gets challenged by those who want power, we all have an automatic hesitation to be noticed as powerful. We may not understand the reluctance, but we do voice it tentatively, when we make modesty a virtue, or refuse to lead for fear of attack.
  7. Resisting a bid for power itself transfers some power to the bid. Attention is power. Attention of one in power is more potent than attention of one who is not.
  8. There are several power hierarchies in operation simultaneously. They are contextual. You may have power over your boss in some aspect of work because of your expertise, but your boss has power over you as well when it comes to your job or authority over it.

Some ways in which existing hierarchies are supported

There are also several ways in which a hierarchy is supported by people because it works to their advantage. Seen in more permanent ways in an institutionalized situation, it also happens spontaneously. Some ways are:

  1. Accepting the power commanded in the moment by willingly being attentive. This happens as a natural part of communication. Most people do it. Those who resist this are generally avoided unless necessary.
  2. Allowing someone the leadership of the group based on expertise, trust or disinterest in subject.
  3. Rallying behind someone to add power to that person in order to achieve a larger goal of interest to you.

Some ways in which power is granted:

  1. Formally - by conferring authority
  2. Agreeing or accepting
  3. Recommending

Some ways in which power is challenged:

  1. Dissent
  2. Direct challenge
  3. Interruption and redirection of attention.

Some reasons why change in power is desired:

  1. Desire to influence happenings in a different or more advantageous way
  2. Loss of trust in one in power
  3. The one in power harming those with less power.

I don't think these have been listed out quite like that by anyone. There are endless ways and reasons. The examples are more to help you learn to recognize, so that you can spot it happening in the wild, so to say.

They are based on my observations of groups. They can be verified by observing groups, but not everyone has the skills to diagnose interactions, so for the purposes of this article, I ask you to trust these as valid till you can think these out or verify for yourself. Generally speaking, anyone capable of reading this does have enough life experience to analyze the statements for validity given some time to think, remember instances and deliberate.

This understanding of power will form the basis of a few articles on subjects ranging from abuse to child rights to politics. Will list them here as I write them. If the article was written as clearly as I see these flows, you'll probably write the articles in the comments on your own 😀