Monday, December 18, 2017

Squadron Leader K M Daniel RAF

The picture above is a snap of the front page of yesterday's Sunday Supplement of  Malayala Manorama, the number one newspaper in India published both in print media as well as in digital online form. (Those who can read Malayalam language may click the image above to open the online page to read the content.)

I was surprised when I read the full page story with illustrative graphics and pictures because the hero depicted in the story is none other than my own great uncle who who left this world to his heavenly abode two decades ago.

As I started reading the story, my surprise and curiosity both began to rise. There were reasons for that.

I was reading some hitherto unknown things about a person whom we thought we knew well. I knew my late great uncle was a pilot of the Royal Air Force during the World War-2 and a commercial pilot with the erstwhile Tata Airlines which got nationalized as today's Air India later.

Besides, I was very close to Late Shri K M Daniel during the times when he was no more a serving pilot. He was younger brother of my grand mother late Mrs.K.M.Annamma . As a teenager, I was very fascinated with airplanes and the men who piloted those flying machines and obviously this uncle was my hero during those days. I remember spending several nights together listening to his adventure stories which he used to share with me.

But those were things of the past. Except we the old timers, hardly any one from the new generations had a chance to know about this pilot of the world war times. And the news paper now carried certain things which he never told me. Had I known those, he would have been a greater hero for me and perhaps I had known more interesting things of his life first hand!

For the benefit of my readers, let me briefly tell you his life history from the things I had known and also from what the newspaper now told:

K M Daniel was born and brought up in a village called Kumplampoika, few kilometers away from the present day Pathanamthitta city in Kerala. He was a couple of years younger to my grandmother who was born in 1902. They were a total of 11 siblings, sons and daughters of late Kulanjikombil Mathai, the founder head master of the present day CMS High School Kumplampoika.

My great uncle began his career as a teacher in the same school after his graduation. The family had plans to make him an ordained priest and hence he had attended some time in a seminary too.

But he was a sports enthusiast and aspired to serve the Royal Air Force and did not know the way by which he could do so. But he tried his luck by writing a plain letter to the Air Force Command that operated from Madras (present Chennai)

As luck turned in his favor, he was called for the selection process and selected. He got trained as a fighter pilot of the Royal Air Force. There were several times he saw death face to face, but escaped unscathed. 

One interesting episode is his solo flight of a single engine air craft with a cobra emerging in the cockpit, enough to make any one to loose his cool. But he took the plane to the base and landed safely and the incident made him to be known as 'Cobra Mathews' among his mates later.

There are several stories that he told me personally during the days of the war and later. I brevity, I am leaving those here.

After the world war, he retired from the RAF. He was in the rank of a Squadron Leader at that time, quite a senior position of those days. But he had never mentioned this to me. Perhaps, he thought this not so important.

Being a rare breed of experienced Indian pilot of those days, he was soon absorbed by the pioneering private airline company of India, the Tata Airlines which later became Air India.

He was the pioneering commercial pilot from India who got trained by Boeing company to fly Boeing jet planes. He had told me that it was he who took delivery of the first Boeing aircraft from USA and flew it to India way back in the 1960.

Being the pioneering international pilot from India in the Nineteen Fifties and early Sixties, he was the pilot of choice for Indian leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru. He had told me that it was he who flew the first non-stop Air India flight from Delhi to Moscow which took Smt. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit there as the first Indian envoy to USSR way back in 1947.

But he had never told me about his closeness to great leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru or Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of British India. I remember him referring these names casually during our talks. But only after reading yesterday's newspaper story, I knew how close he was with these great men of  the last century. He was one among the three who was invited from India to attend the marriage of the daughter of Lord Mount Batten in England!

Later in his life, he became a Christian preacher with several people flocking to listen to his preaching and prayers. It was a life quite contrary to his flamboyant previous life as an elite air force officer or an international VIP pilot. During that period, he hardly ever talked about it. I remember him writing letters to me when I joined Bhilai Steel Plant as an engineer. He was more concerned with spiritual aspects during that period. I remember him talking very detailed spiritual things with me when I became an young professional just as he had talked about his adventurous and glamorous past life as a pilot some years ago during my teenage days.

And to be very frank, I could hardly fathom the depth of his talks then, though I was a patient listener to him. As I was a novice in spiritual matters, I could hardly ask him any questions either. I lost a great opportunity!

I am glad that he left this worldly abode as a contented man, not in fame or wealth, but as one who was drawn to God transcending all ways of the world and the material glory!

I have now started understanding the difference!

Just a wishful thought. Had he been living now, he would have been one person with whom I could have discussed about my book of life guidance!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Why did I Prefer to Buy A Diesel Car?

Unlike the times when I purchased my first car way back in the 1980's, the present situation in India is quite different. In those days there were only three or four options for any one who thought of buying a car. But now there are hundreds of options.

Almost all leading car manufacturers in the world have entered the vast and growing Indian market with their car models to satisfy the demands of Indian customers from all economic classes, very rich, rich, upper middle class, middle class and even the lower middle class.

Expensive cars costing several millions of rupees and entry level cars costing fractions of a million have now flooded the Indian space with glamorous car show rooms of car retailer companies showing off their presence in the peripheries of most big and small Indian cities and towns.

Used car retailers too are a common sight now.

To aid and woo the potential car buyers, there are scores of car buyers' mobile apps and websites giving all possible information on various makes and types of cars such as car comparison, car features, technical specifications, car pictures, videos, expert and user reviews, basic and on the road prices from place to place, offers, car loan options and the like. 

But too much of car models with all kinds of information has been causing confusions in the minds of the average, not so tech savvy users.

Added to the confusion is the common Indian mind bias of imitating the bigger group. Many people simply avoid taking rational decisions of their own. Instead they prefer to go after crowd opinions and likes. Car marketing companies know this weakness of the Indian public and some of them successfully exploit this to their advantage.

Cars are conventionally a status symbol rather than being a  transport convenience for most people. Hence, car pricing has more to do with status rather than its usefulness.

Car manufacturers, therefore, produce scores of variants of the same model car with minor add on features with differential costs. Often the additional costs they charge for the extra features are not commensurate with the additional features.

Most expensive cars used as a status symbol signature of the user are neither value for money nor fuel efficient. Since they are mediums for showing off the affluence of their respective owners, I do not want to say any thing about those, here. Let the affluent class spend their money the way they want. It will not make any difference to them, but by spending they do make some difference to the economy. So, I feel they should be encouraged to spend as much as they can!

But that is not the case with people like me who come in the so called middle class or lower economic class. They have limited incomes and they need to spend their money with caution. They should get value for their money when they buy some thing like a car.

My first car that I bought in 1984 was an Ambassador Mark-IV petrol car. In those days, petrol prices in India used to be around Rs.5 a liter and it still pinched our pockets as this car hardly run 10 kilometers with one liter petrol. The limited option car then costed around Rs.60000/-

Both cars and petrol prices have been steadily rising over the years as is the case with most other things. On a like to like basis, fuel price rise in India has been more than the car price rise.

More over, the new car models have better design features and fuel options. Petrol, diesel, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) are the automotive fuels available in India for the car users.  Electric Battery Operated Cars and Hybrid type cars are also available, though not very common. LPG and LNG are only available in select pockets and areas in the country.

Thus, petrol and diesel are the two common fuels available for all automotive users across the nation.

Now the question is which type car one should go for, petrol or diesel?

Petrol and diesel engines use slightly different techniques for burning the fuel inside the engine cylinders for extracting power. Petrol is a petroleum fuel that can be easily converted to vapor form. Hence, in petrol engines, petrol vapor mixed with air is compressed and ignited using electric sparks. On the other hand diesel fuel does not vaporize easily. When it is injected as a spray to highly compressed air in the diesel engine cylinders it automatically ignites with an internal explosion to push the pistons.

The internal pressure that a diesel engine has to withstand is much greater than a like powered petrol engine. Thus diesel engines have to be made with thicker metals to withstand the higher compression.  So diesel engines are naturally more heavier. The body of a diesel car has to be made with better strength to withstand the heavier engine and its higher torques.

In the older times small diesel engines were not so perfect. As they develop more internal pressure and torques, diesel engines used to be bit noisy, heavy and not comfortably felt as smooth.

But diesel engine technology has evolved much better now-a-days.

The newer diesel car engines used for entry level cars are much sophisticated than their old versions.

Unlike petrol, diesel fuel contains more chemical energy per gram and diesel engines are more efficient in converting this chemical energy to mechanical energy. Thus diesel engine gives more mileage and more power as compared to a similar sized petrol engine.

For ignition of the fuels, petrol engines need high voltage generated and supplied at the right time. So petrol engines need an electric ignition system connected to a reliable battery and electronic ignition management system. The spark plugs in the engine have to be maintained without carbon accumulation for good and trouble free starting and running of the petrol engines. If moisture or water enters the electrical system in a heavy rain or flood condition, petrol engines may give problems of starting and running. Such problems do not normally arise in diesel engines.

In short present day diesel engine cars are more reliable, fuel efficient and less prone to frequent servicing. Most entry level diesel engine cars give more than 20 km per liter with air conditioners working as compared to less than 15 km per liter for their counter part with a petrol engine.

In India, diesel is marginally cheaper than petrol. This is due to governmental policy and may not continue that way always. Even when the costs are equal, diesel engines give more mileage due to their higher efficiency.

Another advantage of diesel engine is its higher torque and power delivery even at lower engine speeds. Diesel engines are less likely to stop in a traffic jam and on a hill climb.

Diesel engines are a bit noisy and have more vibrations. But newer versions of diesel engines have mostly over come this and they are as smooth as petrol engines at least from the inside. At the outside, they may be a bit noisy at idling speeds. But during idling this same feature gives enough confidence to the driver in the reliability of the engine some thing a petrol engine can never give.

The car manufacturers typically price the diesel versions higher and typically in the entry level models a diesel car is costlier by around Rs.100000/- than the petrol version. But yet, my feeling is that it is worth going for the diesel version.

I had considered all these when I went for my fifth car an year ago. I do not repent on that decision. I am fully satisfied.

The  car I chose was Ford New Figo Titanium Diesel. This car is the most powerful in this range with a 1.5 L diesel engine and much cheaper when compared on a like to like basis. It is a very reliable vehicle as well. On road it costs around Rs.800000/- now. It has two driving modes-fuel saving economy mode and power drive mode. The fuel economy certified is 26.2 km per liter, but what I had obtained in real road drive condition is 19.5-23.5 km per liter with air conditioner running.

Image result for ford new figo

The least expensive and the best diesel car now available in the Indian market is perhaps Tata Tiago Diesel XM(O). On road it is available in the price range of about Rs.600000/- now. However, this is not as powerful as Ford New Figo (D).

Image result for tata tiago

Both cars are good value for money in the entry level diesel range. For city users, the Tata Tiago may be a good choice considering its compact, yet useful size and cost. It is reported as giving a fuel economy of 27 km per liter of diesel. It is having a 1.03 L, 3 cylinder engine with enough power for city and long drives.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Why Democracy Evolve To Stupid Governance?

No doubt, democratic form of governance is the best that we humans can have. Nevertheless, democracy can lead to stupid governance or government when the majority people have not attained the desired levels of mind development.

When the majority people are not in a position to correctly assess the quality of their would be leaders and exercise their democratic voting rights judiciously, democracy often leads to the choice of evil leaders. Often, this would hamper the development of good governance and pull the nation's progress backwards.

In this context, I would prefer to share with my readers the caution that my favorite book of divine guidance has to say about democracy. Let me quote:

Democracy, while an ideal, is a product of civilization, not of evolution. Go slowly! select carefully! for the dangers of democracy are:
Glorification of mediocrity.
Choice of base and ignorant rulers.
Failure to recognize the basic facts of social evolution.
Danger of universal suffrage in the hands of uneducated and indolent majorities.
Slavery to public opinion; the majority is not always right.

Let us examine the dangers of democracy when adopted carelessly:
Glorification of mediocrity
What we inherently understand as the basic quality of leadership is merit. Only meritorious leaders with good leadership qualities such as competency, character, courage and compassion can ensure overall good of the society or for that matter any group. Though, this is a well accepted fact, when democratic choice of selection is vested with the people without any safeguarding regulations, the majority people are often observed as glorifying mediocre people as leaders.
This happens when the majority people have not attained proper levels of human development index. In such a situation, the majority people would be with a mind development below the mean level. When majority choice is the democratic form of selection, the majority often try to select a leader who is equal or similar to one among them rather than going for the wise choice of selecting one with the desired qualities of leadership.
The result is most always the selection of mediocre leaders. Eventually, the society is forced to glorify mediocrity and the meritorious ones in the society are pulled down.
Choice of base and ignorant rulers
Democracy is essentially majority rule. When the majority are ignorant or below average in knowledge and other good qualities of human civilization, their choice for leadership would often be for the selection of characterless and ignorant rulers. Once that happens, continuous degradation sets in.
Failure to recognize the basic facts of civilization
A democratic government with glorified mediocre rulers with below average leadership qualities then leads to a governance that will ignore the basic facts of civilization. This will lead to reverse civilization or anti-progress or the development of non-homogeneous civilization. The gap between the rich and the poor and the haves and have-nots widens. The quality of education widely differs from place to place. The quality of commercial, judicial, law enforcement, media and other establishments begins to deteriorate.
Universal suffrage lands in the hands of ignorant and lazy majority
The democratic right of selection of government slowly get in to the hands of a majority who is essentially lazy and ignorant making it difficult for any one to do any positive changes in governance. The result is permanent or long term disaster of the nation from poor governance.
Slavery to public opinion
The democratic governmental system adopted for a nation with underdeveloped people soon evolves a government which is essentially enslaved to ignorant public opinion. It is not very difficult to see that the majority is not always right when the majority is not comprising of cultured and well educated individuals.
In this kind of a government, good people often suffer the most. Evil start enveloping the whole of the nation.
It is not difficult to visualize this problem. Any one with a reasonably good mind can easily realize this problem of democracy for any nation with majority underdeveloped people.
Democracy though the best, it is the best for the best kind of people and not for any tom-dick-and-harry! For the latter, democracy needs to be implemented with caution and restraint or due care.
If not, democracy could pull a nation backwards in progress. It could lead to stupid governance. Or even the so-called demon-cracy!
How many of my readers agree with this?
What could be the solutions?
I leave it to your wise thinking.
Share your views if you feel it important.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

EPFO Pension Fiasco: The Real Story !

If you are a concerned person with some background information, you may directly go to my earlier blog article titled: EPFO of India- How An Indian Statutory Welfare Organization Functions!

But there are millions in this country who are pretty well unaware of EPFO. The pity is that even the so-called contributing members of this organization are also not very well informed.

I have been requested by a few to write a simplified article about the struggle of thousands of people centered around this central government organisation, in the present times.

Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is a statutory organisation of the Government of India which is under the control of the Labour Ministry.

One can know the official version of the functions and the details of this organisation by visiting the EPFO Official Website.

It's essential function is to provide post retirement income to the work force of  both private and public sector in India by a collaborative process of financial management.

The EPFO is set up under the statutory provisions of the EPFO Act enacted way back in 1952 and amended several times later, the latest being in 2017. The organisation is also called the Provident Fund Organisation.

By the provisions of this act, all employees coming under the purview of this act in India are required to make some monthly contributions towards their Provident Fund, a fund that would be returned back when the employee retires from active service life, together with the interests and incomes accrued.

Towards the fund, both the employee and the employer are required to contribute almost equally. How much they need to contribute was stipulated by the government by way of amendments of the EPFO Act or its Rules and Regulations from time to time.

The contributions to the fund thus varied from 8.33% to 12% of the basic salary and dearness allowance. Suppose an employee had a basic pay of Rs. 1000/- and a DA of Rs.500/- per month, approximately Rs.150/- was deducted from the employee's monthly salary and sent to his provident fund. An equal amount was required to be paid by the employer as well.

The money so collected went directly to the government account held by the EPFO. It was EPFO's responsibility to invest these funds wisely and gain a return well over the bank interest rates. Of course, the government of India ensured the growth of the fund by suitable direct or indirect interventions from time to time.

While the employees governed by the PF Act got their accumulated PF fund at the time of superannuation, direct government employees governed by the pension act got monthly pensions after retirement direct from the governments' budgetary provisions for salaries and pensions. Such employees too contributed towards PF fund. However, they did not have the employer's equal contribution.

Imagine the amount of contribution which went to the EPFO's account every year! How much it is a matter that is not disclosed easily to the contributing employees or the various employers. Besides, employers not making contributions in time are penalized according to the provisions of the PF law.

Since very large sums were to be invested by the EPFO, they exempted some large companies from remitting the monthly PF collections to the EPFO. Instead some companies were allowed to set up independent Provident Fund Trusts under the general superintendence of the EPFO which were allowed to do the investment management of the funds. Such companies were later called the so-called 'Exempted Organisations'. Consequently, those smaller companies who transmitted the funds directly to EPFO were known as 'Non-exempted Organizations'.

Exempted organisations did not have full autonomy in investment decisions as well as fund repayments. That had to be based on the government directives. Even the profit or interest payable on any year was determined by the government, directly or indirectly. 

Before the 1990's the bank interest rates were to the tune of 10-12% or even more. Thus a lump sum CPF retirement accumulation of Rs.25 lakhs, could easily fetch a monthly interest income of Rs.25000/- which was some thing better than the pension income of the pensionable employees. Thus there was not much grievance from the employees covered under the non-pensionable CPF scheme.

However, some individuals with very low financial management acumen often made big follies in handling the good retirement corpus they received as CPF accumulation. They were left with no survival income after a few years of their retirements. Since India joining the liberalization band wagon, the bank interest rates were on a declining trend.

This forced the government to make an amendment in the PF statutes which envisaged a small portion of the employer's contribution to be set aside separately for making monthly pensions, instead of lump sum payment. This amount was payable directly to the EPFO by both exempted and non-exempted organisations.

The amount to be transferred this way amounted to about 8.33-12% of the employees' basic pay and DA as contributed by the employers. However, the government arbitrarily fixed the maximum monthly salary deemed for any employee at Rs.5000/- way back in the 1990's which they periodically enhanced to Rs.15000/-  in the recent times.

Never during the time when the government introduced this change, it did not give any clarifications to the employees nor the employers about the manner in which the pension would be calculated nor the manner in which it would be paid.

Neither the government made any reasons for the arbitrary fixation of a ceiling to the individuals' actual salary for the purpose of pension contribution.

The government appeared to be not so serious in giving the employees' any real benefits. It appeared to every one that the government had actually tried to grab their hard earned savings in the PF.
Editorial in Malayala Manorama (14-12-2017)
News Paper Highlighting the Irresponsible Attitude of EPFO
(Click the image above to download it) 

I was a member to this scheme right from its inception way back in the 1995. Though my actual basic salary and dearness allowance was well above, Rs.5000/- during those days, about Rs. 450/- every month got deducted from my employer's contribution to be sent to the CPFO. My employer being a large central PSU, the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) was an exempted organization because it had been allowed to set up various trusts in various states to manage the CPF funds. To be frank, we have never heard this term Exempted or Non-exempted during our service period any time!

Most employees had no feed back on how this EPFO or the PF trusts functioned during those days. All felt it was some government function for the benefit of all.

My company routinely issued statements of CPF accumulations and also the mandatory deductions towards the so-called PF-pension. However, we never knew how much would be our pensions nor the formula for working out this pension.

Earlier to that there used to be a monthly salary deduction towards what is then known as the family pension scheme (FPS). It never got implemented even after decades of money deductions. This too was a government initiative.

To be very fair, the government of India had such schemes floated with no seriousness of actually implementing it. Indians, have learned from decades of experience that their governmental system is not for any real benefit to the people, but only provided lip service by inefficient democratic functionaries! They also knew that the bureaucrats had gained their legacy from their colonial masters and they were not very comfortable to provide any thing that really benefited the people. Both the bureaucracy and the politico-cracy were reluctant to work for the benefit of the people. They were great practitioners of self aggrandizement!

The so-called EPFO pension or PF-pension got to some serious pension payment only a couple of years ago. Regardless of the persons actual retirement age, EPFO considered retirement at the age of 58. This fallacy is due to the government attitude of amending various laws without proper home works!

The EPFO seemingly never maintained any proper records of the money they collected towards the PF pension from the individual organizations towards the concerned employees. Though they are a central organization, they maintained their accounts state-wise with responsibilities distributed to a government official called the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner. There is only one office in every major state which is normally located in some location in the state capital city. For those who are not staying in the state capitals, it is really a great punishment to locate this regional PF office and get their PF related problem fixed.

Efforts for computerized management of accounts with Universal Account Number (UAN) for every contributing employee member has been implemented only in the recent years. Even now the system is not very transparent! The system still is in its infancy state and it is not very easy to transact through their computer system or know any information that the members might require. The members also cannot put up their applications or file complaints through the website, though they claim it as possible.

Similar to many like me I got retired from my company in 2016. As my company had operating centers in several states, I had to work in a couple of such centers during my career. Though, my company deducted the statutory PF pension contribution for me to the EPFO, the amounts remained within the concerned state regional PF office account, never to be joined against my UAN. The EPFO never attempted to do it of their own. During my retirement time, I remember the pains I had taken to approach these offices and the company's PF coordinators for getting this done and to get my pension (though pea-nuts) paid. Though I had an actual retirement time basic plus DA salary of over Rs.150,000/- the PF-pension for me with the arbitrary government decided ceiling was coming only about Rs.2000/- per month. On the other hand, a direct pensionable government employee was able to draw his PF in lump sum plus a monthly pension of Rs. 75,000/- which was to grow every year till his remaining life time. And the lump sum contributory provident fund that we received was not going to yield any corresponding income when there is no guaranteed returns from any investments on a long period with interest incomes are on a declining trend. Unless you are a financial wizard or your family is financially sound, the employees retired from public sector and private sector are faced with great uncertainties of retired existence!

Here one point is to be made clear. There is absolutely no difference in payment of pension contribution to the EPFO by the organisation whether it is exempted or non-exempted. Exempted or non-exempted is a categorization done by the EPFO officials for their own convenience of accounting for the management of the entire PF funds.

But for the PF-pension contribution, the government asked all to transfer the money to EPFO even for the exempted organizations where authorized PF Trusts have been in service. This perhaps caused many in the exempted organizations to think that the PF pension contribution is a type of government tax and it was being used to augment the government's yearly budget!

A couple of years ago, some employees from some Kerala based organizations learnt the manner in which the EPFO calculated the pension due for each of the contributing employee member. The formula they presented showed a very high pension had there not been the ceiling arbitrarily fixed by the government for the salary!

For example, instead of the Rs.2000/- I would have got about Rs.40000/- per month. Though this is income generated from our own funds with administered returns, this amount would not have grown very high as compared to the conventional pensioners of the government. But surely it guaranteed a better tension free retired life at least for the present times. If we were to make a long term annuity of that level we have to invest over Rs. 50,00,000 ! And there is no provision for future inflation!

With this realization, some retired employees felt that the arbitrary ceiling of salary that the government fixed without the concurrence of the employees must be removed and a higher pension according to actual salary to be given. Several retired employees were ready to refund the lump sum CPF they were paid during retirement.

But to their utter dismay, the EPFO was not in their favor. This government organization which was created for providing and ensuring the retired employees, actually preferred to be non considerate! In my opinion, this unfriendly attitude of this organization is not because of any political directive, but due to bureaucratic attitudes, for which India is conventionally infamous! 

Besides, Indian bureaucrats apparently love people to be drawn to the courts even for such things were things are logical and simple to find solutions and decisions. They know the art of making simple things complicated. Many times, their attitudes and actions even cause their political masters too at the receiving end of higher courts!

Thus EPFO bureaucracy of that time forced the aggrieved retired employees of Kerala and some other states to approach the courts for the justice denied rectified. Initially the courts too were not very considerate due to the wide misrepresentation of various facts.

Finally, the Supreme court of India gave a verdict in favor of the retired employees. It asked the government to pay PF-pension to the members based on actual salary removing the arbitrary ceiling.

The employees and the retirees felt relieved, only to be betrayed by EPFO once again. This time EPFO bureaucrats issued a circular from their side, apparently without the approval of the EPFO board, restricting the Supreme Court judgement in favor of only the employees of the un-exempted organizations only. This was clearly a well calculated movement by the EPFO bureaucrats to make things complicated and get the sadistic pleasure from watching the plight of the helpless retirees.

Unfortunately for India, many bureaucrats are of this nature. They think Indian governance system is their own vested property. Democracy, peoples' right and the constitutional guidelines have no place in their minds. They do things so cleverly or too indifferently that their political masters are left to their mercy. Since they do not really aspire for any final results, they are not often bothered by the way the final decisions move!

This was the time, some people thought of approaching some politicians. Though the PF law is apparently their brain child, the good majority of politicians do not have any real understanding or the thrust to make an effort to understand the problems of the affected people. They normally act, when they feel that it is a good vote bank issue!

The matter was presented with full details and facts by a Member of the Parliament in the central legislative body compelling the government side to make some statements and course of actions. Normally the ruling class try to go against the demands made by any MP if he or she is from the other side. If they act by the genuineness of the matter, it is really something appreciable.

The present government, no doubt, is the one which made some remarkable initiatives with regard to the management of the EPFO.

The present PF-pension issue of removing the arbitrary ceiling of salary for all member employees in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Supreme Court judgement is some thing the government can easily do if they are genuinely interested in the well being of their senior citizens who worked in the factories owned by the government and the private groups in the past.

I hope the present government would act positively in the earliest time possible without falling prey to the bureaucratic objections or misguidance.

The issue is now concerned with all workforce of India because, governmental pensions no more exist now. The existing workforce in private sector, public sector and the government are all benefited by the EPFO working with genuine people concern.

There are agitations initiated by various associations of retired employees to make the issue known to the government and the public.

I earnestly hope the present government would make a difference and a marked action of effective governance in this issue.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Minor Incident That Boosted My Happiness!

I would have remained an atheist or a suspicious theist had I not got the precious opportunity to find my favorite book of life guidance* and to know its revealed truths about the origin and purpose of the universe, earth and human life, in a manner never told in the known history of mankind so far.

It was almost a decade ago at the peak of my professional career when I started feeling the pains of human struggles of existence inadvertently making wounds more in my mind rather than on the body. 

Fortunately for me, my finding was so great and overwhelming that it healed up my pains so soon and I got transformed to one that achieved inner peace and tranquility. Alas, I knew the reasons for human life struggles even at the cost of their fellow beings!

Some time ago I too was like them, fighting for existence even at the cost of my fellow beings with mind full of anxiety, ambition, ego, clever calculations to succeed in every day competition to gain the mantles of power to control others and the grief of various kinds of failures periodically nullified by occasional successes.

The new earned knowledge made an end to all those. I realized the futility of life struggles the way it had been earlier. New definitions of life and the way of life had been told to me that was fully acceptable to my rational mind.

The wealth of knowledge that the book revealed to me has been tremendous, mind boggling and above all satisfying.

Like all animals, including humans, I too was suspicious in the beginning. Animals and humans that got cheated earlier cannot trust anyone or anything even when it is genuinely good.

I explored hard to eliminate the chances of getting cheated by this new source of information and knowledge and fortunately for me, I could find no reason to suspect any fraud or piece of information that was nonsensical, illogical or inconsistent.

But the information that I have now challenged many common ideas and belief systems of my fellow men and women. But since many of them are similar or much better to me in understanding and assimilating new information and knowledge, I thought I should not keep the treasure of knowledge to me alone, but share it with them so that they too could find the peace that I gained.

I was too enthusiastic to share my new found knowledge with my fellow beings.

I started talking to almost all of my friends and family members about the treasure of knowledge that I had with all genuine enthusiasm and expected them to show a similar enthusiasm to know more.

But I was proved wrong.

I never found any such enthusiasm in any one.

Some showed lukewarm eagerness to please me for the time, some indifferent, some even shown signs of animosity for reasons I could not understand initially.

These responses were enough to down me with desperation. But my new found revealed knowledge had answers to eliminate my desperation. My desperation got changed to curiosity- curiosity to know more about the things unknown!

It was that curiosity that compelled me to share my knowledge pieces with the world of unknown fellow beings through this blog site. The articles in this blog site while sharing my thoughts help me to understand the level of egoistic ignorance that prevent my fellow being from not becoming broadminded or generous. The prevalence of mind hardened humans keep surprising me.

How can a real human be happy when his fellow beings do not taste that happiness and peace for whatever reason it could be? Evil is that power that find happiness when fellow beings suffer in unhappiness. Evil infested humans too could become like that. But that is not what humans are intended to be. 

I would like my fellow beings to come out of evil infestations and be happy. I would like my fellow beings use their intelligence and wisdom for that purpose. But I can see the cleverness by which humans are entrapped in the game of untruths.

At my home, I keep my favorite book of life guidance at the bottom deck of a glass topped center-table. This big blue book is very well visible to any one that comes to visit us. The book has been there for more than a year ever since I shifted to this house. The idea of keeping this fabulous volume there was my curious intention of seeing any one getting any remotest curiosity in knowing about the book.

I knew that it will not happen because I have been forewarned about the level of human mind level in the current times from the knowledge that the book revealed to me.

Yet I was curious to find at least one such being who could be similarly placed like me in my immediate surrounding.

And at last it happened that immediately boosted my happiness.

A childhood friend of mine came visiting me quite unexpectedly with his wife. We have been meeting after nearly five decades!

While we were talking, I saw his wife glancing the blue book often. Then I found her grabbing it from the bottom deck and reading the titles and the sub titles. 

I could see the hidden curiosity on her face. So I asked her whether she would like to know more about it. To my surprise and satisfaction she said in the affirmative.

She wanted to know more and I was happy to tell her.

My briefing no doubt exceeded more than an hour and she was not getting bored. Yet I found my childhood friend and her husband getting bored and yawning. So it was better for me to curtail the briefing.

I asked whether she would like to have that book and she enthusiastically said yes. So I presented her the book and I could see the happiness in her face.

I too was happy. It was the first time in ten years that some one asked for the book enthusiastically and showed curiosity to know about it.

I do not know whether she would keep her enthusiasm to read the book and to gain its treasures of revealed knowledge.

If so, it would be really nice. 

* Explore this site to know more.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

What Should be Done to Make My Country Good to Live?

When individuals start losing the fear and anxiety of living, they become more and more generous and considerate to their fellow beings. They become less and less greedy. Corruption in the society arising out of insecurity and greed begins to fade away. Real progress of individuals, society and the nation begins. That is what I have experienced as true.

Now the real issue here is the individuals getting out of the fear of living. Imagine a situation like this and think about it: 

Suppose that the government of your nation ensures the necessary income or money for all individuals to have a decent living, wouldn't your anxiety about the future reduced to a great extent? And when you have full confidence in your government's people oriented policies and their consistency, your anxiety of living would get further reduced.

Nevertheless, it is not possible for imperfect humans to overcome all their problems in a day or even in a couple of years. Human imperfections would take several generations to fade out significantly.

Yet it is possible for governmental systems to move towards overall societal benefit, provided these systems have good leaders with courage, character, competency and compassion. I have written about this earlier in this blog article. In this modern era, there is no dearth of good leaders in any society or nation. However, good people with leadership qualities are often sidelined by collective human cowardice augmented by unseen evil forces.

Do you consider your country good for a good living? If so, why? If not, why? If you are a person of reasonably developed mind, you should think of giving some thought about it and consider sharing your thoughts with others.

For example, I consider my country, India, good for a good living regardless of the many problems it has. No doubt, there are millions of people in this country who still prefer to migrate to other countries after gaining lot from it. The most interesting part of Indian migration to other nations is that it arises out of greed for some so-called better living! And the greed comes from fear of insecurity about the future!

The fear of insecurity in India is so great that almost all well-to-do Indians including those in power wants to secure a living place for their future generations in the so-called developed nations that encourage immigration. India presently has the best possible education facility comparable to that of the developed nations. Yet, well-to-do Indians want their children to study abroad and settle there!

Their greed for a perceived better living is arising out of fear of the future of their nation. They are not comfortable in India with their improvised brethren around them whom they fear to grab the comforts  of their future generations. But as they do not often do a self introspection, they may not have realized the reason for their insatiable greed for foreign pastures!

So, what should be done to remove this fear and the greed coupled with this fear of living and the uncertainty about the future?

Many people, I hear as saying: I do not trouble others, yet why this problem for me? Many of us think that being good means being impartial or indifferent or living independent of others. I have my space and I respect your space. This, many think, is good living. But humans just cannot live independent of each other. They are intrinsically social beings. That means, they have individual as well as collective or social responsibilities. Being indifferent to social causes is a grave error that could cause great harm to all.

Often we forget some of our essential responsibilities of collective living. In our attempt to live a comfortable peace loving life, often we tolerate injustices in the society. We are reluctant to voice our concerns about societal evil. We pretend to be helpless and we often take shelter in our cowardice.

This year, the world YMCA has chosen a theme for their weekly prayer fellowship titled: Stand up, Speak out and Be the voice of the voiceless! Obviously, it was a call to the so called good people to come out of their cocoons to raise voice against injustices happening around them!

It is not a call for any rebellion. Yet it is a reminder for every one to show some concern when societal injustices are observed. When we begin to compromise on errors consistently, sin and evil overcome us! When that happens, our good living gets doomed!

Because, sin and evil cannot ensure good for ever, though it might appear as advantageous to some for some time.

What makes a country good for living is not essentially its geographic advantage or geological wealth. I believe it is the nature of people that is of prime importance.

If material wealth and higher education makes one egoistic with a mindset to consider the not-so-privileged as slaves or the so-called 'cattle-class' he or she has a weak mind that is easily influenced by unseen evil forces. They become easy targets of evil.

Real human progress is characterized by more and more individuals in the society with a mind set to be in the humble service to fellow beings. They are essentially humble and hence oriented towards divinity.

If material progress results in the increase of more and more individuals with insatiable ambition to grab more and more to further their own selfish interests with least concern to fellow beings, then such a material progress is essentially evil. Such a progress will never make the nation good for living. More and more people, even after gaining much wealth and status might feel like migrating to other pastures because the gains have not provided them real peace or security. The rise of evil doers around them will hamper their happiness.

To defeat the growth of evil and to make a society or nation a better place to live, what is essential is to have more and more individuals who have the strength and courage to declare a spade a spade. In other words, people with essential traits to incline towards divinity should be careful not to allow those with evil inclination to come to predominance.

Good people should learn to develop their intrinsic character of knowing truths and to discern truth from untruths. They should learn the technique of suppressing hypocrisy.

Then, divine qualities in the society, such as humility, kindness, fellowship, courage and character begin to show in more and more individuals making the society a real good one to live without anxiety or greed.

It is very simple, only when you really want it to happen.

Else you might well think of migrating to better pastures in search of  some better place or keep lamenting over your fate!