December 1, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Here is another round of random reflections for your perusal:

  1. A recent international visitor to Delhi made a short trip to Sonipat for a couple of days. On her return, she enquired what makes Delhi –the capital of India–filthier, dirtier and more chaotic than Sonipat? I had similar question when I found Pune far better than Delhi in cleanliness, garbage disposal and filth removal from streets. Likewise, Mumbai traffic, though busy, was moving better and less cluttered than daily experience of Delhi. What is the reason? Delhi is poorly governed! Old construction rubble is lying around in Delhi for years; despite wide roads, traffic chaos is due to uninterrupted ‘illegal’ parking on streets.
  2. Brussels is the capital of Europe, seat of European Commission, heart of Belgium. The city of designer beers and chocolates is a fortress today. Gun-toting army personnel are all over the airport and city; armoured vehicles are parked on city streets. Entrance to the airport is through a heavily guarded back door; personal frisking and bag checks are routine at entrance of every mall. The relaxed and easy-going lifestyle of Belgians has been dramatically jolted after the recent terror attacks. More than killing people, the terrorists are aiming to disrupt European ‘way of life’.
  3. ‘Cash is king’—the recent demonetisation drive of the Indian government has disrupted daily life of millions of Indians. Used to conducting most transactions with cash in everyday life, Indians are at a loss. For millions of non-poor who have regular bank accounts, 2-3 debit/credit cards, and jazzy smart phones, dealing in cash has been a way of life. Now, they are figuring out how to use all those ‘cashless’ instruments they had possessed all these years. Will it ‘modernise’ Indian economy?
  4. Election of Donald Trump has caused disruption in America and around the world. Beating all pollsters and election pundits, Trump won decisively against Hillary Clinton. Since then, a section of American public is protesting on the streets yelling “He is not our president”. Most media and Washington consultants are ‘worried’ about Trump’s ability to govern the country. Some citizens are also receiving ‘loss therapy’ to cope with this loss. Democracy is about electoral choice exercised by citizens. Choice implies selection, and rejection. Those who voted for Trump are as much Americans as those who did not. It is important to interact with those who voted for Trump in order to understand their point-of-view, respectfully. Disagreement should not imply disrespect?
  5. As I have begun to navigate the complex and ‘slippery’ world of social media, I am discovering how creative personal expression is finding a medium. A new genre of ‘limerick-writers’ has emerged on Twitter lately. Funny, sarcastic, rebellious, provocative—these limericks are engaging an increasing number of new-age poets and lyricists. Poetry in cyber halls!

All the very best

Sincerely

Rajesh Tandon