Do we have freedom from tech?

Some call 75th Independence Day and cherish the freedom we have. I agree that there is no British ruling India, and, in that sense, we have freedom. Do we have freedom from technology?

In last one year, there has been lockdown with perceived aim to protect people from pandemic. At the same time, Karnataka government wanted to stop migrants from travel to home towns to ensure that there are workers for the civil construction activity. Citizen’s protest lead to trains scheduled for migrants to travel to their home.  Sure, home retuning migrants had difficulty to earn money for their living, still they has the freedom to choose. On other hand, IT professionals have choice to travel and also to stay home to live their family. Should everyone irrespective for their economic status have freedom?

Arogya Setu app was made mandatory to travel by Bangalore Metro. Bangalore metro assumed that every citizen has smart phone to install apps and prevents citizens without smart phone to travel.  Are citizens forced to choose technology like mobile phone to have freedom? Some citizens went to High court to remove this draconian constraint for citizen to travel.

Today as I choose not to have Aadhaar, which is voluntary. I consider getting Aadhaar indicates that I am surrendering my rights to UIDAI, which arrives at mechanism that brings approaches for the benefits of crony capitalists to exploit my data. Should government deny my freedom to file income tax returns?  Are citizens forced to choose technology like Aadhaar over freedom and desire to pay income taxes on-time?

I am owner of my fingerprints and I can choose who to give and who not to give.  I want freedom to get Aadhaar without providing fingerprints. If Nandan Nilekani failed to create identity scheme guided by “privacy by design” principle, should I lose my freedom? Some people ask whether I gave fingerprints in passport purposes and my answer is “Yes, Do I have freedom to choose to share my data with passport systems who do not share my data and keep it secure? Do I have freedom to choose not to share my data with UIDAI who plans to sell my data and make me feel insecure”?

Today, I cannot open bank account or demat account without providing mobile number and email address.  Can I choose to transact in shares and have bank account without email address and mobile number?

Today, banks, EPFO and share transfer agents ask for Aadhaar that I do not possess and being threatened that there will be consequences if the accounts are not linke with Aadhaar. The money invested in shares and PF is my hard-earned money for which I paid income taxes. Am I denied my freedom to ownership of my own assets? Are we forced to choose technology over freedom?

Today I cannot collect my matures insurance without IFSC code. Why am I denied freedom to collect cheque for my matured value? Are we forced to choose technology over freedom?

One needs mobile number to get Fast Tag. Already, we started to forget that we are paying tolls on roads to travel between cities. Yes, we pay toll for technology, why do they need my mobile number? If we are able to directly charge fastTag number after login to our bank account? Do I have freedom to leverage activated Fast Tag without mobile number? Are we forced to choose technology over freedom?

i look forward to a world where I want to be able to choose to live without mobile phone. Some people ask me how will i communicate? I can communicate using slack, Teams, telegram, signal on my computer and can be reached via those channels. Banks and FinTech firms can reach me on email and I can reach them via online access. i do not required regular SMS updates from credit card and I can take care by noting down my expenses. I should be able to repair my family’s laptop iPhone and mobile devices easily.

Lived@hostel in college days

My elder daughter completed 12th standard, joined college, and stay in dorm from last week. While I was talking to her about her college and hostel. I felt a lot of old memories of my own hostel days coming and decided to post this blog, as means to share my college hostel life with my daughter.

My masters was at CEG, Guindy between 1996-98. Like my daughter who enrolled in to hotel without us, I enrolled in to my hostel alone. My father’s brother’s wife(Periamma) helped me to get basic items required in a hostel and reached college hostel by auto from Gill Nagar, Chennai.

The name of the hostel was “Barathidasan hostel”, for non-engineering master students and was located between two U.G hostels. The hostel building has 3 floors, 2 wings per floor. All rooms were part of the wing and there was corridor across whole wing, where we had ropes to dry clothes. At the end of the wing, common bathrooms wash-basins and toilets were present. Remember a drum to store water to support water scarcity(did not raise). The hostel costed Rs600 per semester.

My room was in the second floor. The rooms were structures to be shared with 2 fellow students and had 2 cupboard, 2 set of open shelves, 2 cots, 2 tables and 2 chairs. There were 2 windows against which table was placed and one could read being in chair and have a view of the trees and branches outside. Every room had tubelight and also a good working fan.

  • A landline phone was present in the ground floor with incoming connection. Your parents can call you and the watch men will shout your name and room number. You need to go down and attend the phone call. At time, your parents cut the call and called you post 5 minutes.
  • Alternately, students went to STD booth to make a phone call to their homes. Neither, I got a phone call from my father had a STD phone at his work and I was afraid to call my father on the same.
  • The hotel had entertainment hall in the first floor where there was TV and newspapers available. It was a lot of fun to watch TV, shared by 100+ students.
  • Students washed their own clothes in bathrooms and dried the clothes in the corridor ropes. After first month, I found that there exists a person who will get clothes washed and get them ironed( charge per cloth) and I realised this was a luxury.
  • Some neighbour rooms had their personal water heater and shared with others and we used them to heat water for bath in the winter.

The dining hall was P.G mess, far away from our hostel near Engineering master students hostel. It was a great fun to join fellow students to go for breakfast and dinner. There were great conversation and great fun. More fun when it rained. We borrowed umbrellas from each other to go to dining hall to grab food.

The food options was veg and non-veg. The mess offered breakfast at 7:30 am, lunch at 12:45 pm and dinner at 7:30 pm and had tables and chair was us to sit and eat. There were special tokens for egg and curd, one has to purchase at mess office and provided to waiters to get the same. The college campus had 2 cafeteria where we can get dosas, tiffins and snacks, opened by 7 am and closed by 7 pm. We had pepsi and coco-cola fountains which gave us glass at Rs 6 per glass.

On my first visit to Neyveli, I brought over my bicycle from Neyveli. Someone helped me load to top of bus in Neyveli. To get get cycle down in Guindy, the conductor asked me to climb on to bus top and provide the cycle down. I cycled down to CEG Guindy. I shared the cycle with my friends and still remember how I and Hari used to go to shop near IIT entrance to have bread-omlete in the middle of night around 1 am.

The best things I enjoyed in college hostel was access to Ramaujam Computing center(RCC) and friends who helped me to get campus placement. RCC was open 24 hours and 365 hours and had windows computers and linux terminals, where you can create programs and have fun. when I look back, I see as a huge privilege that enabled me learn programming.

My first year was spend with 2 other room-mates in 1996. One roomie was Saravanan who I lost touch post 1998 and possibly he would be teacher in government school(which he wanted to become). The other roomie was P.Sai krishnan very simple down-to-earth person from Vellore who had a lot of gratitude to hid brother’s decision for allowing him to do masters and very aware of his family’s sacrifice to send him to college. All three of us were part of mathematics department like me. We had a fourth unofficial roomie Palanisamy who was senior in college and stayed with us to complete his course and enjoyed sharing room wih Palani during my hostel stay.

College hostel also brought in to forth same great relationship, some lost and some nurtured over years

  • My course senior Baskar stayed in hostel, we collaborated along with Sriram to create course brochure,  presented  to IT companies so that maths dept students can attend campus placement sessions. Been in touch with Sriram, who is in IT industry and lost. Feel guilty not to be in touch with Baskar, even in today’s  social media. Been connected with Palani via Linkedin, living in USA
  • In those days when few households had a desktop computer of their own. Still remember the sharing nature of Harirajan, who had desktop computer in the hostel room and allowed interested to make use of the same. Hari, belonged to my match, came from Pondy, studied MCA, gave me confidence that I can get job in the campus placement. Been in touch with Hari and Jeeva for along time in his final year too. Met Hari and Jeeva in USA. Both visited in the first week of my daughter’s birth in Milwaukee and we visited them in Madison multiple times.
  • Thirumurugan was in my same wing, completed his doctorate to became professor in Middle East(Oman) . Reminded of Jaychandran his room-mate who woke up us in the morning and also shared his  water heater. Saikrishan, my roomie, finished his doctorate from IIT Madras and is Professor in NIT Trichy, met in last few years in Trichy. Remember that Sai and Thiru used to work with TN Entrance examination department to earn money to self-fund their studies. Thirumurugan went extra mile to provide tutions to people and earn money.
  • Gratitude to Shankar Ganesh( joined SAP), his roomate and Murugan who were MCA final years and provided me with guidance around my campus interview and clarify some programming topics.
  • Lost touch with Dharamlingam, Perumal & Meghnathan who stayed in hostel and were in maths depy. Lost touch with Jayachandran, Vijayakumar, Siva and Veerabagu, who stayed in my hostel. Gratitude to Veera for introducing me and taking me to donate blood at Cancer Institute, Adyar.
  • Some of my course girls stayed in hostel. Sandhya, Vijayalakshmi, Jeeva and Soumya. Been in touch post college with first three and all of them are present in USA. Not in touch with Soumya.

My dark year across 87-88

When I heard that one of my school mates, lost his wife during Corona, I called him and shared that he needs to take more care of his twin children than earlier. I added that father can be replaced in child’s life, still very difficult, while loss of mother is not replaceable till child’s journey to death(father may die in later years).

if you are sensitive person, please do not read this blog. it is my dark year that I spend with my father alone for most of the year. This blog is continuation of My first 11 years with my parents and starts rights after announcement of my mother’s death.

I did not know what to do. I went to my home. My mother’s body was bought in ambulance and I do not remember crying. Heard later that someone beat me to make me cry. My father started to focus on ceremonies. How will a 12year old boy grieve? I am not sure anyone understood how to take me though my grief process.

We went to Mayavarm where my fathers’ brother(Periappa) lived. My Periappa helped to complete 13-day ceremony. My grandpa visited me during the ceremony, it was new environment and every day, I have to wait to get food, till ceremony got over, 2 or 3 pm in the afternoon. My father felt that his son did not have Upanyayam so that his son can directly perform ceremonies.  At end of 13 days, I and my father came to Neyveli and my sister was admitted to school in Mayavarm

It was scary to enter to home in Neyveli. I have not been with my father alone even once. Yes I have been with my father an my mother together over weekends.  The first interaction started with scolding and beating as I could not find my pen to go to school.

  1. My father paid and asked me to eat in my uncle’s place and the food was not good for me. Some time they did not provide good food (as in my past) and there was comment that I am pampered child. Felt that my desires were ignored.
  2. My father stayed working in office very late, that sometimes I met him in the next morning when I was going to school.  A elderly from neighbor’s house used to check me at 9pm and in my father’s absence stayed with me. My father’s mother choose not to stay with us as there is no help. Occasionally, my grandpa used to visit me with snacks. Felt deserted, isolated and not cared.  
  3. Post my mothers’ death, some tantrik came home and said that there was evil planted in the home and hence my mother died. My father paid money to conduct puja in the garden. When I was alone, it used to be scary that the evil will kill me. My father would say “I may die too” and I was made at 12 years to prepare for my father’s death. How to care for scared child after mother’s death in young age?
  4. As I came back from school to open empty house and must wait for servant maid to come and clean the home.  If the maid comes late, there was no play, as it would become dark. Look back, I can say that I lost my childhood
  5. There used to be coins in the iron shelf to pay for ceremonies.  I used to take money to buy chikki and comics books and keep myself engaged in the isolated evening.  Some of my uncle’s son stayed with me and I vaguely remember being exposed to porno books. How to help child without mom for good touch and bad touch?
  6. My father went on trips to Mumbai and Delhi for close to 15 days at stretch in every trip. My father used to position new suitcase as gift for me. Possibly he did not know even what to purchase for son. In third trip (lot of cribbing), my father bought me a chess board, my first gift. Already came to conclusion “No one to care for me”.

My father did not trust me and believe me, as much as he trusted and believe others Suddenly, my father finds all the money was gone from the iron self and he enquires me . I has realized few days back that money was gone and thought my father gave it to someone. I was scared that my father would find that I spend money on chikkis and comics. When my father said that amount was Rs 2000, I was scared as I did not take that much money to spend

My father went to Delhi again and I had to stay in my uncle’s house. My uncle trashed me and hit many times and made write in paper that I took money for chikkis and comic books. My uncle presented the paper to my father on his return. My father termed me as “Thief” and I cannot pardon him even today. I did not steal from some other home. My father never enquired with me what I did with the money and what happened at my uncle’s place to have written paper. My father tried to tear my clothes and drive me away from home naked. It was scary as there was no one else at home to protect me from his trashes. He did not allow me to east food as punishment. Even now, i am made to feel ashamed and I want to let go this feeling.

Truth takes time and still comes out. I have gone to my 7th standard exam and my father has got Rs 5000 from bank and kept at home and stepped out of home. On return, he finds that Rs 5000 was gone. My father comes to school and confirms that I have bene writing exams. Then he checks neighbour who says that his daughter saw 2 boys taking something using stick from kitchen window, where money lost was present. There are marks as evidence and my neighbours daughter says that she has observed the same boys who comes to my house in last year regularly do this.   Why did my father not enquire before calling me “thief”? It hurts me even today. When my purse was pickpocketed in 2012, I did not want to ask him for money to come back to Bangalore.

If my father was little more caring and put little more trust in me, how would my life transform? My father was not able to be flexible at my Periappa’ house too. May be he did not have anyone to grieve too and doing ceremonies did not solve things. My father realised his limitation to take care of his son and now my sister too.  My father got married again. My second mother was very good to me, while she did not want anything from my father’s finances. Why was may father harsh to my second mother “Do not take role of my wife. Take care of my children as provider”? Why do men push their limitation of caring to their women in an uncaring way?

In his isolated space, my father pushed me to perform everything. My father was in control and I did everything what he asked, unhappy that my life is not like other kids. May be this if the reason that I refused to leverage my investment knowledge till I came back from USA. I did not know any goal beyond “Standing on my own legs”, independent of my father

The more my father said that ” be ready if I die tomorrow”, I started to learn more financial work for my own safety. Started projecting going to bank and selling shares as privilege that none of my friends have. The show off had its own benefits, while I was never sure how much was it real pride.  

My first 11 years with my parents

Rajesh guidance made me connect my father’s positive contribution to my life journey and acknowledged his contributions to my life journey, I realized in the last 2 months that I am refusing to let go the dark period of my life, year after my mother’s death. I am in Chennai to clear my father’s finance and bank papers and there are deep emotions which forced me to write this blog.

I still have questions like following unanswered. Did he really wanted me to learn things? Did he look at me as “means to the end” to get his job done? For sure, my father never made me feel that he really cared for me. Does my father’s intent matter, when I learnt from him by practice, and learning is mine?  My suffering led to my learning. Not sure how much my sister learns from my father who took care of her very well till her 20s.  

Every person is good at something. My relationship to father was more professional, and not personal. This blog provides insights into my private relationship to my father. Few people (my sister was 3 years old then) can validate facts here as truth or false. Some friends like Ranga may relate to their observation of my father during our 12th standard.

For my first 8 years, I lived with my grandparents in their home. My father and mother used to work, and they would take me to their home for my weekend holidays. My mother was born with 4 sister and had 4 chithis and my father wanted to take care of her sisters. My grandpa Lakshmanan(mom’s father)  took care of me well along with favorite Chithi.

The only thing in my memory with my parents in my first 8 years is going on single excursion tour to different places in TN. Still reminded that the trip got postponed multiple times and, on the trip, my father did not sit along with me and my mon. My father was generous to single old lady who did not get her seat. While my father did a good thing, I missed.

My sister was born, and my parents decided to bring first child to their house. For 3rd class, I moved to my father’s house and the school moved from Block-9 annex to Block-26 annex. Post marriage my chithi’s employed in Neyveli, my grandpa started to live in our home. I was happy that my favorite Chithi lived with me.  Observed a lot of fights between my father and another chithi and my mother hurt being in the middle to take care of her husband and support her sisters.

Four significant experiences with my father between my 3rd standard and start of 6th standard has impact on my entire life.

  • I went to park in main bazaar and in the dark, I jumped on a iron fence that tear me all along the body. I was afraid that my father will beat me for getting injured. My mother and my favorite Chithi took care and protected me.  I was never able to express my fears and feelings to my father in normal way. Fight was more natural.  
  • I learnt to drive bicycle all by myself. My father took me to free storytelling session of Keeran and Krupa nandha Variyar. As family, we provide homemade food to these luminaries and my father added me to this exercise.
  • I wanted to get a pad for writing exams. I was made fun in the school for taking an outdated pad. When I cribbed to my mother and she wanted to buy, my father shared that it was un-necessary expense. My mother that she will sacrifice her afternoon tea and walk to her office (save bus ticket) and buy exam pad. Later, I felt that my needs were not important
  • When my sister was one year old, first year function was planned at my home. My mother had menstrual days and was asked to sit at next home and function continued without her. I hated inhuman practise that happened to my mother. I refused to follow any practices home that my father refused to visit home, as my father was impure.May be this is reason why I did not want to perform his death ceremonies.
  • Two of my cousins, Ravi and Rajee come to stay with my parents in summer holidays when my parents went to work. Is this the reason that I am in touch with them even today, supportive of my cousin Ravi and like my cousin Rajee.

On the start of my 6th standard, I shifted to Jawahar school, main annexe. My sister became not well and Neyveli hospital could not diagnose my sister’s health condition. My mother took care of my sister in the hospital and I was in the care of my favorite Chithi at home. I visited few times to hospital and could see my mother only during visiting hours.

My mother would come home to take bath and refresh, while I was in my school. My father used to work and then visit hospital and come home late and favorite Chithi would have put me to sleep. Looking back, I can see what the impact of my environment on myself and I have a lot of gratitude for favorite Chithi.

After 2 months, my parents took my sister to Chennai for better diagnosis. While my sister ailment got diagnosed in less than a week, my mother got infected by Tuberculosis fever and became bed-ridden. My father stood on his principle to not get admitted to Apollo and admitted her to Selvarangam nursing home in Anna Nagar. Did my father principle prevented him to do more for my mother?

My favorite Chithi got married on Dec 10. My mother came home as patient in first week of December to attend her sister’s marriage. My mother was too weak, and she required help to take care of herself. I was happy that marriage of my favorite Chithi got completed and then realized that my favorite Chithi will not be with me.

The other chithi got a job in Chennai and took my grandpa and grandma(her parents) along with her and I was alone with my parents. This is the first time I was with my parents without my favorite Chithi and my mother was weak to take care of herself itself.

Transition from heights of comfort and been cared to heights of discomfort and to take care of my mom, doing housework, go to grocery alone, wash my own clothes. While my mother was not happy about her state, she required help for activities like going to restroom. She did not have energy and will power to attend to her son or her daughter(<4 years old then).

My mother send me to Chennai with my grand mom at end of March to ensure that I had good summer vacation. I was exposed to homo-sexual in Chennai at that time(bad touch) and did not know who to express. I returned to Neyveli along with my parents who visited Chennai for a marriage .  

No one to purchase me stationery and books for 7th standard. I got money from my father to purchase in the store. While my mother was physically weak, my mother offered that she would wrap my notebooks to school.

My mother’s condition went worse, required assistance to even wear dress and for the first time I saw her in nighties at home. My mother got admitted in end of May to Neyveli hospital and scan pointed that my mother may have brain tumor. My father (keeping his principle) admitted my mother to Madras GH and the diagnosis was brain clot or brain tumor. Doctors wanted to experiment medicine and operation approach (both new). Post 2 days of administering  medicine, my mother collapsed and died on 5th July 1987.

I was left at my uncle’s home alone watching TV and wanted TV entertainment continue. These were days of No Television in my house. Someone switched off TV to inform me that , my mother’s was dead. I am not sure where my sister was in this time, while I know she was not along with me.

I did not know what to do. I went to my home. My mother’s body was bought in ambulance and I do not remember crying. Heard later that someone beat me to make me cry. My father started to focus on ceremonies. How will a 12year old boy grieve his mother death, by doing ceremonies? Even today, I am not sure how much people can take a young child in state of loss and grief? .

interesting to observe that my father’s impact was very limited in my first 12 years and also in years after I went to college in Chennai (20 years).

A Tribute to my Father – Part 2

A follow-up blog dedicated to my father. I had privilege to live with highly principled man, who showed me by example to perform required actions, still be detached from results.

Every living being born on earth walks on journey(life) towards goal (death). When human being achieves death, should we say congratulations or condolences. Think.

Have Strong Opinions

In executive role, Gopalakrishnan had no fear to hold strong opinions at work that he believed.

  • Straight forward and against corruption.  Gopal was known to ensured that employees got their salary on-time (including cash salary) and retired employees got PF on-time without harassment. Is this the reason why I choose not to have Aadhaar?
  • Detailed Oriented in what you do. Gopal was known to perform scrutiny of commercial tenders(corrupt people hated him) Contractors used to come to home with favours. While I asked them sit in the garden bench, my father working in the large garden would ignore them or ask them to leave, with stern warning not to come home again. Then, I used to think my father was harsh and insensitive to people. Now I realize he has to do what he did to maintain clean hands and avoided any unnecessary  bias.
  • Be assertive and supportive Once, when staff sat in front of his room to harass him as my father did not agree to union demands, my father used to walk across and sit with them and ask them to continue the protest. In addition, he offered staff use of the executive bathroom in his room for their needs. Can we call him tough, assertive or supportive? Staff dispersed by his behavior.
  • Stand up for your belief One, when loan deal was signed with German firm in early 90s , he took a hard stand that loan repayment to be done in Indian rupees and not in German marks. When lender insisted on loan repayment and management tried to align with him, he gathered Indian banks to compete on large loan amount and got things way. Post retirement, his stand became achievement, as Indian rupee deprecated significantly by then.
  • Enable others to learn, and learn more. My father used to teach a lot of professional to clear bank examinations or accounting examinations. My cousin Rajeswari, my school friend’s sister Gowri Vedaraman and my classmate Shankar.T visited  my father to learn accountancy and costing. While I was aware that he was strict to help them learn best, I refused to engage him to learn school or college subjects. Did my father influence me to contribute to skill development?
  • NO TV  at home till 2000. When I started to work for 2 years and bought a TV for mother to watch. He wanted his children to create and learn and not be distracted by entertainment.

Live by example to enable me to learn to be minimalist and at the same also a giver

As he grew his first 20 years with little or no money, my father  was minimalist in life(self) , and being giver( for others).

  • Do not overuse authority. As executive, when NLC provided my father with 2 vehicles(2 drivers), my father never allowed drivers to drop  me to school. Coming home, we would cycle together  in the evening to vegetable market, purchase and cycle back. When he was late from office, the driver would be asked to take vehicle and park vehicle near his home(than cycle home)
  • Do no misuse power: when I was working in Bangalore, my father was on official visit coming by company vehicle, staying in 5 star hotel and came to meet me at my home. When asked, he said that he came  by bus route no: 139 and we ate together in Darshani. When In shared this to my house-mates and I shared their admiration for his simplicity when I met him in 5 star hotel, he took me to Sukh Sagar, simple restaurant to have lunch. From next trip , my father started to stay ips at Hotel Chalukya, cheap, high quality bed and breakfast place.
  • Educate difference between wants and need As father,  he enabled his family to have basic needs  and not wants(luxury). Buying book or having few dress was need, while having more than 5 dresses was luxury. Having a maid to wash clothes and gardener was luxury. I have to wash my own clothes from 12 to 22 years.  My father used to sweep leaves in the garden and tend to plants in the garden on regular basis.( may be stress buster of those days)
  • Be giver and still be a minimalist(self) While my father behaved miser to his own children, he contributed  to my grandfather(mother) to marry his 4 daughters and other people. In typical marriage, my father will provide money to the bride’s father, perform a job of server in the marriage hall to serve food, eat as part of last group to eat and leave. My father never indulged in any gossip or fun activities and never stayed in marriage hall asking for things. When my father’s brother calls him and introduces” this is my brother.  he is executive. Do not think he is cook”, my father will silently move away from the scene.

“Stand in your own legs”. My father took tough stands to ensure that I learn this lesson

  • With less marks in 12th mathematics,  I refused even after he asked “Do you want to join engineering in private college”. College annual fees was Rs 32000( his boss scolded him as he could afford to pay with his salary).
  • I joined my college and the Treasurer of college society was his colleague. When Principal asked during admission, I had my father provided answer (with fear) ready that “I have documents and money for admission. If needed, please call my father on intercom”. The principal signed, asked to pay fees
  • When I joined CEG. Guindy, his influence on me continue to drive me. I did not joined MCA/MBA in private college and had determination to reach companies to allow companies to allow me to sit for campus placement and get job in campus interview.
  • My sister will laugh at above saying  father asked me to join 5th class all by myself and I went and joined myself and neither attended REC Trichy function where she was awarded Gold Medal. As he lived in Trichy,  I am sure she felt hurt. But sure, she had resilience to manage situation. 

I choose to move to IT industry as I did not want to be financial professional like him, to ensure that I “Stand in my own legs”

Let me start with my father’s phrase  “It is difficult to earn, it is more difficult to save from what you earned, it is most difficult to grow what you saved”

Coach who created opportunities to learn, pushed me too hard to learn, learn and learn

While I really learnt by practise and no intention, I did not enjoy doing those actions in my first 20s.  In next 20s, I realized value of training he imparted to me. Once can think like a  developer teaching their children coding today. He enable me to learn

  1. Learn/Understand importance of savings  My father used to invest in Fixed deposits. At age of 12, I had to fill fixed deposit applications, visit retiring executives to enable them fill their fixed deposit applications and cheques and deposit in Integrated enterprises.  Sure I pocketed some commission in process(hacked), my experience made me learn more about savings.
  2. Learn/Understand investments My father used to invest in stocks and debentures. At age of 17, I had to work with his friend, a sub-broker and do activities to perform share transfer(purchase or sale) and also collect cheque and cash around the town.
  3. Ability to work with banks with ease In 1 hour lunch break at school, I have to come home for lunch by cycle, finish my meal, visit a bank to submit cheques or IPO application or obtain demand draft/stock invest and cycle back to school prior ringing of  the school bell.
  4. Learn/Understand stock trends: My father did not purchase newspaper at home. I got Hindu from my neighbour auntie to read. In evening, my father would bring economic times for work and ask me to capture share prices in note book on mostly daily basis. I hated and still forced to group stock with its prices across industry category(industry  Sensex). Looking back, I read two newspaper every day and was made to learn to understand stocks.
  5. Learn/Understand to analyse stocks My father used to collect annual reports of companies where he invested stocks. When my father proposes stock to purchase, he would read reports and calculate EPS and book value and explain me why he picks stock to purchase. Today, when I look back, I see that he enabled me to understand what moneycontrol.com  provides today
  6. Learn nuances of running org My father was treasurer for Sath Sangam and Saradambal temple in Neyveli. From age of 15, my father delegated (while I hated efforts in first 20,  I know value in my next 20)
    1. job to collect donations(provide receipts), buy groceries wood for religious functions.
    1. Job to ensure the surplus in these organizations are deposited in Fixed deposit(advised by him) to enable earn interest on surplus and build temple corpus.
    1. Job to distribute religious year calendar to subscriber’s homes and collect subscription at the start of the year.
  7. “Learn ICWA (Inter), will help to get some job. There are no jobs”. This was in 1993 and IT industry has not boomed. Angry that my father did not believe me or motivate me. My father used to share with me what he worked in office and made me learn lot of accounting process, so that I will get some job. Completed ICWA(Inter) Group 1 and 3 papers in  ICWA(Inter) Group 1.  Later in my start-up days, when GN asked me and described the concept to develop virtual learning platform ArthaVidhya, financial accounting flowed in to me. Thanks GN for visiting my father and  explaining ArthaVidhya.

Let Go,Act – tribute to my father

With an heavy heart, I state that my father, Gopalakrishnan expired on Tuesday June 8th, 2021 in Chennai. A person who worked hard to grow in career, and let go everything in the end, while being active. My father’s life poses these questions to me

  • How to let go desires, achievements & relationships gained by your own effort? 
  • How to learn to become detached as one grows old in life?

Corona limits your friends and relatives to come to death ceremonies of human being and I felt their absence in my grief time. The lock-down across Chennai and Bangalore allowed 3 other  people at cremation ground. To grieve better, I had to share with friends/relatives by WhatsApp messages, SMS and quick phone calls.

Here is a post dedicated to my father, viewed as 4 spans of 20 years and I am fascinated more with his last 20 years. Rajesh words enabled me create a positive narrative about my father by saying, “Congratulations! Your father was highly principled man, grew you and your sister well to become self-dependent humans. He acted by example to serve/support others, and stand up for what you think is right. Your father achieved death, common goal that every human wants to achieve from birth. I do not say Condolences”.

1st 20 years – work hard, become matriculate and get a job My father was born in Allur village near Tiruchirappalli, studied at ER High school ,Trichy, involving daily train and 6 km walk. My father school shirt was stitched from dhoti cloth and wore dhoti to school. To earn money to pay school fees(minus scholarship). my father accompanied his father (sastrigal – priest for Hindu ceremony) to religious ceremonies and chanted mantras My father failed in matriculation in English subject, and passed 10th standard in re-attempt. Leaves me to wonder about privilege and comfort that I, reader and my children enjoy today.

2nd 20 years – work hard, become finance professional My father married and a son(me) was born.

My father’s first job was typist in ER High school. Got typist job in NLC in 1963. (Did not use recommendation letter to Director that he was given). Learnt stenography to become Steno, studied for intermediate(12th standard), enrolled and completed bachelor degree in commerce (by correspondence). Passed Accountancy exams to become Accountant

With desire to become professional, perseverance and resilience for years to self-learn, my father made multiple attempts to complete (pass) ICWA(inter), ICWA(Final) exams and became an executive, Assistant Accounts Manager in 1981. My father continued to help students and working professionals with what he knew, to enable them to learn & prepare their best for exams.

In later years, I admired his determination/resilience hearing“ I come back from exam, and continue to study the same exam subjects till the exam results are out. If I failed, I get more time to prepared for the exam”. Intrigues why I do not possess any professional certification and my interest to volunteer for skill development. Continue to wonder why I complained at those times that my father continues to study all time at home. and has less time for me. 

3rd 20 years – Continue to grow in career, prepare to move beyond career. My father grew as executive to Chief Financial Controller in NLC, got voluntary retired in 2000. He was known as an honest and straight forward officer and as terror for corrupt contractors. Still remember stories of ownership to obtain a better deal with German loan , to visit State secretary to collect electricity dues, to relocate place of disposal tender location to Bangalore to gain better sale price ( reduce corruption)

My mother’s death in 1987 pushed my father to spend more time on religious activities and organisations. With fear that that his son would not get job, my father had engaged me in every area of his expertise to empower me to learn.  Forced me to visit banks at 12 years and train to get things done, support his friend , a part-time stock trader, learnt to manage investment in fixed deposits and identify shares to buy/sell. My father forced me to learn event management and donation collection for Sath Sangam for which he was treasurer. Looking back, I can think that I was not super happy at that young age of what I was asked to do, without playing with friends. I moved to software industry as I di not want to be in my father’s shadow. Looking back, I seem to have achieved hi saying “Stand in your own legs”.

When my father did not push me to medical/engineering, he was worried and pushed me to join ICWAI classes, shared real work examples to motivate his son(me) to learn complexity of finance. In later years, I acknowledged his influence on me for the confidence and my finance know-how to play role of product architect of ArthaVidhya ( Thanks to GN to visit my father and share about ArthaVidhya

Story does not end at 60, it  continues to take a different run that ran to his death.

(4th)Last 20 years “Let Go” and “Take action” On retirement, my father decided to go back to his roots, relocated to Trichy, letting go his profession and professional network.

Take Action, unlearn to relearn My father spend 10 years to relearn Vedas, like a young student in Veda padashala, chant mantras regularly, also read & write mantras to memorize them. My father spend extra time to read Ramayana, Bhagavata be participant in Seetha & Radha Kalyanam & Veda Parayanam events.

Take Action, Cycle and no car/jeep. How does human used to car/jeep(provided by NLC with driver for (>)15 years move to bicycle just like that ? Till 76 years, daily, my father cycled to Srirangam Amma Mandapam Cauvery ghat to take bath and bring water for home religious ritual. At 78, his active world ends with prostrate diagnosis & a leg fracture.

“Let Go” outside food. outside home. How does human familiar with eating in 5-star hotels and air travel in 80s & 90s let go outside food completely?

“Let Go” comfort of A/C, shirt, phone, Start barefooted How does human (stayed in A/C executive cabin from 80s till retirement and separate bathroom) not use A/C installed in home? What makes professional to let go his shirt, refuse to buy shirt and wear his son’s old t-shirts( protect against cold in the night)? How does professional used to STD/ISD phones at work desk(in late 90s) not be without internet/mobile? How does human change to barefoot after years of wearing shoes?

“Let Go” investment expertise My father did not own a house in his life. Post 2008, my father reduced his interest in investments and lived as minimalist. Death in his generation pushed my father to demat stocks in 2016 so that it can pass easily to his children

“Let Go” relationship. For Last 12 years , my father lived a life with less or no desires and attachment to relationship. On others visit home, he engaged and treated them, say as fellow train traveller or friend(includes me), shared his home food and detached once the other person(includes me) exist home. Still he offered help to people , as required/possible.

“Let Go” everything. As prostrate issue worsened, my father moved to an old age home in Pallavaram ( be close to my mom in my sister’s place). Is this Vanaprastha? At old age home, he continues chanting of Vedas, perform religious ceremonies in small temple, influenced other seniors to lean/recite mantras.

Photo taken in late 2020 or early 2021

I failed to understand my father adopting “Let Go” early, found that my father had a desire. My father wanted me to perform his 13 death ceremony and I asked stupid question “ Why desire on religious ceremony? How will you know what I will do when you are gone?’ My father rambled that he is not able to let go this desire. I need to forgive myself for asking this desire question(stupid) to my father.

Educate citizen on regulations!

Here is my story where my knowledge helped me to bypass hurdles posted by the official and I am sad that my efforts were not passed to benefit common man, beyond my own self. What happen to a common man with no know-how of FinTech regulations?

What is decision of law or what is the Supreme Court judgement does not mater. The official implements what rule book states. A wrong interpretation of judgement in put in rule book and shared with the official, official will ensure that everyone adheres to wrong interpretation of judgement. If you try to say that the interpretation is wrong, you will be looked as violator and you will be asked to take responsibility of proving what you say, effectively create all possible constraints that the wrong interpretation of judgement or law is adhered.

I wanted to open PPF account in my daughter’s name and went to bank branch nearby home and asked procedure to open an account. The bank official asked me to get my daughter PAN number and Aadhaar. I asked her when I, birth father opens account on daughter’s name, ” Why do they need PAN number” for the child. If they need PAN number, they can use my PAN number.

Bank staff response was ” that is what bank rules say and we cannot change the same for you.”. I asked her to obtain banks rules and regulations. she said that it was not available and it would has to be obtained from Head Quarters and gave me 2 week time-frame. On visiting the bank post 2 weeks and waited in queue to meet the same person, I was informed that “regulations are yet to come and I can come back after some time” .

Visited the bank after 2 weeks again and she gave me a printed copy of bank rules and regulations. There was no rule that asked for PF number or Aadhaar number. when I pointed out the same, she asked me to meet the center manager. The center manager was nice guy to talk with and a great listener to my story. He asked me to get identity proof and address proof for me ( have SB account in same branch). I went home and provided required documents. He authorised the same and I offered to collect the application and papers and share with the bank counter staff

The manager said that ” he would take care and I will get SMS for the account opening in 2 days”. the SMS came and I went and deposited money in to PPF account. I went and thanked the manager and had to perform another transaction in bank.

At this time, I hear another young father ask bank official, “Can I open bank account for my child?”. The answer is “Please get application filled, along with PAN number and Aadhaar for the child”. The young father says that we have Aadhaar and whether we need PAN number and the clerk asks the PAN number is required.

I was dumbfounded that all my efforts have gone waste, as I wanted to solve the issue I faced for myself and others. While I have got a resolution, the other person is not provided the resolution that was possible by the bank official. This makes me wonder whether the centre manager collected my application and ask me leave and did not want to staff to learn the correct interpretation.

I was sad that to see attitude of the bank to customer. Been customer for more than 30 years and this is the same bank that helped me in 2001 and 2006 to arrive at conservative loan amount compared to all foreign banks that arrive at aggressive higher amount.

Learn to be more compassionate

Observed blogs written about what they performed during Covid times with respect to productivity at work and the money raised as capital and the positive impact of increased revenue. Looks like i leveraged Covid times to become more compassionate to other suffering and my own suffering.

Volunteer for Sahay initiative

Launched mental health platform Sahay during Covid times along with Sochara for the poor and needy who live in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Pondy. We started service using personal number provided by Zoom . I was directly involved to on-board mental counsellors and volunteers to manage platform, who offered limited hours free for the service. Please check this blog to know more about Sahay in early days.

With new version of zoom with password , Sahay needs to be moved to paid exotel subscription to be made more friendlt for people who need mental help. Thanks to Sochara who took exotel bill and Thanks to exotel for offering special program focused on NGO. It was a lot of fun to collaborate with mental counsellots to plan time when mental service is available and also to configure exotel.

To create awareness for the platform, I was directly involved to created webinars that discuss about mental health. Here is blog with steps to jump-start your webinar. In addition, Thanks to Guru@Sochara, volunteers on-boarded college master students to support or man helpline

Volunteer for Food Rations

Thanks to Meera of Citizen Matters and Guru of Sochara, I also became volunteer for MercyMission programme in Bangalore that aimed providing food to needy across Bangalore. While I provided food rations for needy in my residential location, I was amazed by ability of Aradhana and Smitha who collaborated and tracked requests and fulfilment across Bangalore and also work of Guru and Senthil to get permission and physically visit slums to offer help required.( i lacked this courage).

Close to 100 volunteers coordinated and collaborated using WhatsApp to provide food rations for people on different parts of Bangalore. It was interesting to observe my small involvment influences my friends to contribute significant amounts to fund-raising campaign.

Volunteer for Migrants travel

When the Karntaka goverment wanted to block migrants travel, it was not happy moment and there could be protest only on Social media. Thanks to support from humane people similar to Azim Premji article , state government allowed migrants to travel. Still police station tried to slow-down the application process for travel and book tickers. Had to visit HAL, Mahadevapura and Whitefield police stattion to take application lying outside and presenting the same to station staff to take action.

Had a interesting episode in the Whitefield police station where ex-police man( not in unfiorm) tried to threaten me and tried to answer all my questions posed to police staff. At one point, I asked this person (not in uniform) to show his ID and he silently moved away.

Shared that Sochara was involved in distribution of PPE and masks in community hospitals. My action influenced my brother-in-law and his friends to organise fund-raising campaign in Houston to collect donations for similar causes.

Volunteer for Sath Foundation

At the start of June 2020, Thanks to my friend Sudha informed on phone “ there are 30 children in Mahadevapura and they do not have food. Can you please check?”. I went to Sath Foundation , I found govt school that serves also as boarding place for 30 girl children. They did not have space to keep large amount of rations and had rations for next week. When asked children “Can I purchase choclates?”, one child responded to me “Can you get us fruits?” This was response that I have not expected

The home were close to Outer RingRoad, near Mahadevapura flyover. 30 children with 2 caretakers shared 2 bathrooms(+ toilets) and lived in a single room. I took Mridula my elder daughter second time and I an my daughter had discussion “How priveleged we are?”. I decided to go and get them fruits every weekend.

Felt that universe is providing me a larger opportunity to care for others in Suganya Ghar of Sath Foundation. Started making a practise to visit them every weekend to visit them and purchase fruits every weekend. The Fruit vendor of the shop we buy fruits has become friend and rounds down to lower value , once he became aware that I purchase every week for charity. My friend Naveen, Vidhya, Arvind accompanied me in earlier days and enabled me to create weekend habit of visiting Suganya Ghar.

I wrote to bunch of friends for help.

  • Vidhya donated laptop and Saravanan a donated desktop and we collected story books from our apartment neighbours and Naveen helped with new table and JIO router for internet.
  • Some of my friends decided to revamp the website of Sath Foundation for free. the current website was done by these volunteers.
  • My wife (a teacher) and my elder daughter teach these children for 1.5 hours every Sunday.
  • My friend Ganesaraman wants to facilitate corporate CSR support for Sath Foundation
  • For last 5 months, I visit Sath Foundation every week and provide my weekly supply of fruits. { i give fruits at entrance and come back and do not enter to maintain physical distancing}

Found that helping and being compassionate over last 7 months provides me with a lot of benefits.

  1. I have become more balanced a person and less emotional.
  2. My old memories of being alone at home agter my mother died are fading away. These 30 children meet their parents once a ywar and some chidren cannot meet their parents at all.
  3. My personal difficult times(like losing job) has been more easier to handle from emotional perspective.
  4. The more I support them even in difficult times, I observe my confidence increases. It has become a habit to visit Sugany Ghar over weekend, my youunger daughter reminds me to go and provide fruits.

For Diwali, we visited them with a sweet for each one of them on Saturday and sponsored their dinner on Sunday( no one else had sponsored). For children’s day, i joined my wife and daughters in their cultural program they offered to children on Sunday. I was able to observe how children hold hands of my wife and my elder daughter, as they know we come every weekend. A sense of gratitude to universe and Covid-19 for enabling us to support Sath Foundation

Thanks to Spring Beauty residents for allowing us to continue execute and support old newspaper campaign twice for Karunashraya in Covid times.

Solution to the problem called education

Found in email description calling folks to join the webinar of http://aarohilife.org/. Found it very powerful, copying for my own reference.

Imagine going to the same cinema hall to watch the same movie again and again. That is when most of us do not even like the movie. The only silver lining is that invariably most of your friends too would be there.

For the last 100 years or so we have been going to the same hall, watching the same movie.

In little ways, over the decades the movie has been made better, earlier it was black and white (remember our textbooks), now colour has been added, the visuals have been improved, animations and slicker technology has been added. But the cinema hall and the movie are the same.

The projectors (teachers) are now more contemporary and viewer friendly, no doubt. The cinema hall has also been upgraded, more comfortable and modern, even air is now conditionied. But the cinema hall and the movie are the same.

The parents feel good that their child is going to the same cinema hall and watching the same movie they watched. If the child comes back cribbing about the movie, they sell them the movie even harder. They even send the child to smaller repeat shows (tutions) so that the child masters the movie or some parents give children tabs at home which screen the same movie in a different way. They have even created a toddler version of the movie (called preschool) where children can get prepared to go to the cinema hall for the movie later. But the cinema hall and the movie are the same.

In conferences, in publications and media, in drawing rooms and discussion groups, in debates across the world, this watching the same movie in the same hall has been lamented, criticised and shown to be the greatest malady of the industrial revolution. But the cinema hall and the movie are the same.

Most of us, when we think of the problems with education, resign to it, declaring it is a humongous and futile task to change the movie, the cinema hall, the system.

We have an invitation to you all. SImply walk out of this system, walk out of the hall. Life is a multiplex. The moment you walk out of the cinema hall you can see so many more movies outside. For one interested in music, there are musicians making musical movies. For one interested in football there are clubs playing football movies and for techie geeks there are coders coding movies in open source communities. I am sure you get the idea.

For the children not sure of one kind of movie, they can explore myriad kinds of movies in the multiplex of life and choose their calling in due course of time. Many of us, called entrepreneurs, can even create new movies.

We do not need to change the system, we can just step out of it to (www) a wide wonderful world. Interested? Welcome to open learning.

BlockChain in Corporate Governance?

corporate governance
In 1990s My father used to invest in shares. These were days used to submit share transfer application in paper with real share transfer stamps on purchase of shares and on sale, handover signed transfer application and share certificates to share broker. Yes, all this started to become history with introduction of demat accounts today and today they are only in history.

My father used to receive annual balance sheet and annual general body meeting(AGM)  notice every year. The annual general body meeting has resolutions proposed by company secretary. Each shareholder is provided with right to vote for each resolution proportion to the number of shares of the shareholder. There is a proxy vote form to be filled by shareholder and proxy person can attend AGM and cast votes. Rarely my father visited annual general body meeting.

Company needs to provide annual balance sheet to each shareholder and also submit to company affairs department. In those days,  annual reports in hard copy received were stacked at my father’s home. An organized person who stored annual report  and could go 20 years back. For a lot us, we may consider this to be waste of space and paper in today.

My father used to give these reasons

  • A shareholder can compare 2 year annual reports and question company if there are irregularities or data about previous year has been tampered in next year. As there is copy of balance sheet with each shareholder, the company does not dare to tamper data of the balance sheets.
  • With resolutions, the number of shared that is owned by share-holder is printed. this proof of share ownership provided by the company to you.
  • In addition, he used to confirm whether dividend declared in AGM is credited to account. If not, he used to write letters and get unpaid dividend.

My father seemed to have a system similar to block-chain manually. Today shareholders are asked to receive balance sheets online, instead of printing and save paper. Companies send balance sheet on email, not send as email attachment and send as  PDF link in the company site. A shareholder clicks link to download the balance sheet and can store locally.  The current balance sheets are bulkier close to 300 pages

In current days of corporate scandals including famous Satyam case, let us analyze some challenging scenarios and solutions to mitigate the same below.
Scenario 1 Can balance sheet be tampered?

  • Can company personnel tamper data in balance sheet? How prepared are shareholders to identify company tampered and uploaded new balance sheets? For example, I open, read a few pages and delete. I do not read complete document of 200+ pages
  • What happens if company tampers balance sheet and place tampered on its website? Everyone will compare both tampered copy and confirm that all is well. Is it really well?
  • How to compare 2 documents with 300 pages are same? Where to find free software to compare to 2 documents that look similar, and check for tampering?

Scenario 2 Is resolution and balance sheet refer same or different information?

  • Do balance sheets present in company website viewed by shareholders and what is being submitted to the department of company affairs match?
  • If there is a difference, which balance sheet is considered the right one?

Scenario 3 Did resolution pass or fail? Earlier few people vote on annual general body meeting resolutions as small shareholder in Chennai need to be physically present at AGM that happens in Delhi or Gurgaon. Now, more shareholders can vote if they are provided with online access to vote from their home on AGM resolutions. Still

  • As shareholder, where does one view votes received for specific resolution?
  • How to be sure that vote count was not tampered before submission to department of company affairs?

Scenario 4 Has dividend payment reached shareholder? When I received email Infosys to submit tax declaration for dividend to be not-taxed at source, I visited website and performed login using my PAN and demat account number (DP ID) and client beneficiary. I did not see the following

  • Display of the votes received for resolution in earlier annual general body meeting of previous year when I was shareholder too
  • Dividend paid to share-holder each year. While they make use of my PAN and demat details to allow me to create user, I would like to see my details
  • The number of shares for which I was provided dividend amount. If the dividend was given multiple times, an entry for each time and day of dividend credit to my bank account(masked)

Worked in block-chain, do we need to implement solution like below to prevent mishaps like Satyam episode from happening again. Let us dive in to block-chain solution.

Department of company affairs maintains a block-chain, that guarantees the integrity of balance sheet, AGM Resolutions and vote and  shareholder specific transactions
Transaction 1: Balance sheet is signed by directors  e-signature for its validity

File hash of Balance sheet is stored on block-chain and gets transaction number, and placed on company investor website as web link to balance sheet.

  • Instead of storing entire document on block-chain, we can store document hash on the block-chain. Even If company personnel updates balance sheet to correct spelling mistakes, document hash gets modified too and new version gets added.
  • The auditor of the company can place yearly audit report as document hash on the block-chain.
  • Auditor needs to leverage their e-signature to both balance sheet and audit report for its validity. Now auditor becomes responsible for any future irregularities found in balance sheet.

Transaction 2: Visit company investor site to download balance sheet. On doubt,

  • the balance sheet report can be downloaded from the company affairs site using document transaction number.
  • document hash of balance sheet placed on the company site is same as the document hash of balance sheet submitted to company affairs department.

Transaction 3: All annual body resolutions get stored on second block-chain.

  • AGM resolutions can be connected with digitally signed balance sheet and audit report.
  • All votes received by resolution are also placed on second block-chain and also who voted for and against the resolution
  • Based on resolution, if balance sheet needs to be updated, generate new document hash for updated balance sheet and audit reports, store them in first block-chain.

Transaction 4: When a company pays dividend, the dividend transaction along with share-holding of share-holder gets stored on block-chain.

  • The dividend is associated with to resolution ID from second block-chain transaction that is related to approved dividend.
  • Along with dividend, the information whether transfer of dividend via NEFT was success or failure. Can shareholder be facilitate to know about  not received dividend?