Is Aadhaar leading to fear?

Yesterday was July 31st. From July 1 , 2017 I have tried to submit my income tax returns. My understanding on Supreme Court order was “Persons with Aadhaar number need to link Aadhaar number and PAN Number”. On other hand, I I have no Aadhaar number and made attempts to file my income tax returns and was prevented by e-filing portal.

Being a law abiding citizen, I visited income tax camp at Gaythri Vihar at Bangalore. The help desk explained that my tax returns cannot be submitted without Aadhaar. I did  asked to meet income tax commissioner and was lead to a very nice person Commissioner offered me a seat across the table. When i explained my challenge, he showed surprise of not having Aadhaar and neither have plans to apply for Aadhaar and was empathetic.  Felt that he had more meetings with individuals who had issues to link Aadhaar and PAN.

  • On sharing that some folks without Aadhaar number have  uploaded their returns over weekend, he explained that may be possible and added income tax returns of individuals whose PAN was not linked with Aadhaar will not be processed.
  • On sharing  media intimation “Aadhaar not a must to file I-T returns'” by income tax department,  he explained that media had got the communication wrong and they have published correction on Sunday.

When asked how to move forward, He shared that “I ask individuals to get Aadhaar and submit income tax returns. In your case, where  you  have taken a stand and well aware of supreme court case, you may wait to get clarity and decide accordingly. Please understand the current stand of income tax department and things may of may not change.”  He also added ” As I have not additional tax to be paid, he does not see immediate impact other than PAN being invalid by some other govt notification.”

Thanked commissioner and wrote a note in visitor book stating “With supportive folks at income tax camp, I could not file my income returns” and dropped below letter too. IMG_20170731_170454

It was quite easy 3 years back to write this blog “@Field : DBTL and Aadhaar”  as an observer and not impacted party. Today I experienced  impact of not having Aadhaar. In 2017, I am aware of  people who enrolled for Aadhaar with no choice.( did not want to)

  • A bunch of state government staff did not get salaries as they did not have Aadhaar. After staying with no salary for 2 months, they enrolled for Aadhaar with no choice and received salary in arrears in 3rd month.
  • I had a friend who did not have Aadhaar and his daughter goes to college this year. On day of admission, college asked them to provide Aadhaar. On friend’s inquiry, the college explained that there was instruction from UGC and they cannot risk accredition. My friend and his daughter enrolled to Aadhaar with no choice.
  • I have a friend who filed his income tax returns prior to June 20,2017 and escaped being forced to get Aadhaar for filing income tax returns.
  • I informed my wife that she has all rights to get Aadhaar and she went and obtained Aadhaar for her and my daughter.

I found few friends without Aadhaar number, who do not know how they were able to file income tax returns in July 2017.

I want to acknowledge the hidden fear that creeps in me of being left out. Found nice article The right to be left alone and asked myself “Do I have the right to be left alone?” To handle fear, I started to list down what are different avenues that I would be forced so that I would go and enroll.

  • My BSNL connection will be blocked and my airtel connection will be blocked. I can ask my wife to get additional phone account on her name and provide to me.
  • I may not be blocked to book bus ticket and train ticket as single person travel. if I travel with some one with Aadhaar, then I may be able to travel.
  • My wife and I hold joint account. Can my bank account get deactivated, not linked to  Aadhaar? May be my wife  can withdraw and help me with cash for expenses.
  • With no bank account, it is going to be tricky for my company to credit salary to my bank account? May my company would provide me cash to live.
  • With no bank account, my demat and equity trading account gets blocked.  Quite possible and cannot transact in equity and same constraints apply to mutual funds.

In addition to fear about your own self, there is hidden fear about my family. How will l me not having Aadhaar  impact my family and my relationship with them. If I die tomorrow, what is the impact on my family that I do not have Aadhaar. Will they be forced to get Aadhaar?

Should I blame anyone for my situation? I work in IT industry and understand privacy and have been using IT for my living.  I was part of a particular group and wrote article India Stack: Powering thousands of experiments. I do not see reason to blame anyone other than myself.

While I acknowledge fear, I want to end article with question ” Would India  have achieved freedom in 1947 if the freedom fighters succumbed to fear of British? “

 

Ignore, Accept, Forget

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We meet different types of people in our life in diverse areas of  work, family circles, social circles or as part of community. With some people, we develop relationship and with a few it ends up as transaction . Each and every relationship or transaction comes with its own actions and interactions, added with emotions that arise in people engaged in transaction or relationship. Started to observe few scenarios in my life and my family, and shared here.

Scenario 1: While one person focus to nurture and develop relationship, the second person focus may focus on what is required to complete successful transaction. The second person may prioritize the transnational outcome of success than people working to achieve the outcome.  If you are the first person who does not like this experience, how do you put aside your feelings?

Scenario 2: Two persons focus to nurture and create  transparency in relationship  between them and other working with them.  The first person  fails to communicate some information to other person or hides information without any specific intention.  Due to destiny, the other person becomes aware about the information misrepresented to him or withheld from him. On realizing this, the first person acknowledges the miss of not sharing vital information, adds “Sorry” followed with eagerness to push things  under the carpet.

The other person feels let down or may even feel cheated.  At times, the other person cannot  afford to have conflict or walk away from the first person( a boss or customer or powerful person).   As the other person, how do you put aside your feelings?

Scenario 3: Assume  person in focus  is  good to his/her relatives, help them whenever asked for and also been a support for them in times of adversity. May be was doing a “Pay forward” expecting  support in bad times in future.  Remember that the person has no control over how others would react in his/her bad times. If you are this person, getting pushed in to bad state caused by interaction or action of people that he helped/supported earlier, how do you put aside your feelings?

Ask yourself whether you want to forget, ignore or accept situation.

What did you do when a child had a bad cut finger? Still child thought of it, it hurts and is painful. Some one distracted child with chocolate,child probably forget the discomfort. The basis instinct of your brain is to ignore pain if it can. On other hand, try removing chocolate form the child, child gets time to think about his wound and starts crying feeling the pain again.

You can distract attention away from negative energy. There is nothing to be learnt, as your brain already knows how to ignore things not important to us. On facing scenario similar to the above, Why do I suffer, feel sorry for myself  & spend the rest of my life in misery? Can I learn to accept it, co-exist with it & ignore it when I feel like it.

Forget the other person involved and look at what you feel. May the other person is happy with situation. May the other person does not want to develop relationship with you and build trust. Start to learn this as a nuisance, that interrupts your daily life and drives you up the wall. No way to force other person to return your feelings.  You have no control over how other person feels or choose to do with his or her life.

Delete old emails or remove anything that brings back old memories of the incident and stop you from forgetting the same.  In olden days without technology and people has bad conversation, there was time for them to meet again.With the passage of time, people did forget. Today, we have stored older emails and recordings to remind of the past and prevents us to move forward. Delete the person from your contacts.

Give yourself time to feel upset. Feelings don’t just “go away” if you ignore them–they come out in other. Give yourself the time and space to express your sadness. Be careful not to get caught up in your sadness. At a certain point, you need  to start making moves to heal and its time to focus on feeling better.

Give yourself much more space as possible. If possible, please take a break from this person for a while. That does not mean to cut him/her out completely. Some  distance becomes necessary for you to put these feelings to rest. if the person is part of your daily life, find ways to do everything that can minimize your contact with him. Do not visit their home or do not sit next to them at lunch, of walk away from the person. Staying away from someone you really like can be hard, but it’s an important part of putting a stop to these feelings

Make new friends One gets to think that no one else exists or no one can make you happy. Meet new people and you are reminded that this is not true. While it is okay for some time to be alone, spending time with other people speed-ens the healing process and distract you. You can attempt to talk to someone, if you cannot let it go.

Creates new hobbies or activities for life to redirect your focus and not think about your feelings for this person. Stop giving yourself time to think about it. May be concentrate on studies or work or volunteer for a cause you are passionate about

Start to have fun Laughter can make you feel good and happy. Spend time with people who make you laugh or doing things you love. Laughing relieve your heart from the ache.

Learn to like yourself There can be a major setback to your self-esteem after rejection and forces you to focus only on your perceived faults. Focus on good things that you have done, write down your achievements and write down things you really like about yourself. When you feel down, read the list you have written.

Let us accept that we face times when we need to push aside our emotions to get through a difficult situation. While no one can ask you to live in a state of pain and emotions, take interest to practice managing the pain  to get through a difficult situation. While one may not ignore pain in full , one can re-focus pain and emotions to be less negative. At end, do not  comfort eat as this would not do any good in long run and do not  expect results right away.

Computers@schools in non-digital era

My daughters  started to work with laptop, iPad, internet, emails, Kindle and have access to computers in schools and teacher communicate over Compute devices.  Earlier, I attempted to discourage my daughters not to use emails for knowing what is Homework or test next day and write home work in diary. With more inputs send by teacher via online media, my wife registered with online portal and coordinates teacher interaction. Kids also have started using WhatsApp on mom’s mobile.

The school has set up online fee payment portal. Till now my elder daughter used to find fees for her and her younger sister. Collecting cheque, she verifies the amount, take cheque safely to drop in the school and also collect the receipt.  While online payment reduces work of school staff,  how my younger daughter will learn about school fees, due date to pay and responsibility to carry cheque & collect receipt.

School provides books and notebooks with comfort to get all things under one roof. I see lost opportunity to perform  self research, research for notebooks to purchase, store to purchase notebooks, the price paid, whether  notebook/book is worth the price.  School makes every student in class purchase same additional practice book. In 90s,additional books were bought to suit our interest.  when different books are bought, possibility of knowledge sharing  increases  with peers. What is the impact of all students learning from same additional book? 

My daughters have their email address and use them as tool for some years.  Not easy to explain children Should children learn using computer as tool or learn to be tool in hands of the computer?”  I fail with word attempts like “Computer helps to consume more content and makes you lazy to create your own content. how to focus to create content rather than consume content? ” or “Leverage computer for things other than school work. For school work,  search books and self-learn to collect content”.

My first brush with computers was in 1990 at my father’s office computer room, where computer operator was present. Learnt to input content, do some mathematics like complex multiplication and print typed content in dot matrix printer.

In 1991, I was not sure whether to join Computer section for 11th standard. Those days in Neyveli, every child was under pressure to become doctor or engineer. Anyone who chose computer section makes a choice not to become a doctor. Another challenge was my close school friends were in Biology section.(5 sections in 11th , 4 were biology).

When our 10th standard results came, all 11th standard students were to sit in assembly place when teachers read marks in public. This gave us a joint time where we could discuss as individual about our own interests and what we want to do and what we were actually doing. After 1 month in  Biology, 10 of us walked over to computer section.

While no one wants to wait 10 days to obtain original mark sheet, and today, students find it cool to view marks on internet at instant the results are declared. I want to appreciate  that experience where one waits patiently to know marks for their friends and their own, creating the collaborative space between students to discuss with less intervention and make joint decision.

Today, with women representation in IT industry is going less,  my computer journey started with two women teachers, Geetha & Praveena. Geetha helped to learn to write programs, when programming was not in 11th book. I also remember the privilege to be in air-conditioned computer room, where principal had no air-condition in Neyevli’s scorching heat.

My  school had 2 PCs and one computer teacher for both 11th and 12th,a count of 60 (25 seniors + 35 in my class)students. After programming using Fortran and Basic, I found programming more like solving statement sum problems in mathematics, which I always enjoyed.  I found maths and physics more challenging than computers.

Geetha drove to think open and creative exposing to a one day excursion to VGP Golden beach, Chennai.  First of its kind in school after many years in midst of concerns of school and parents.  This experience enabled students with confidence to organize and plan a 3-day excursion to Bangalore, Mysore and Ooty, during 12th standard. I am reminded of being cashier for both excursions.

In 1990s, knowing calls for admission of educational institutions was cumbersome.

  • See notification for admission in newspaper If you miss to see notification in newspaper, you missed the admission as the application date gets expired.
  • No one was sure whether all newspaper will carry notification for admission. Go to library and check all newspapers whether they carry admission notification.
  • On finding notification, inform all friends of the same. No easy way like Google to search or Facebook to post notification so that other friends can easily learn.

In 2017, While I am happy about better experience, I observer that students in 90s performed what Google does today to collect information and collaborate to share information with others. Today information is less shared by individual collaboration and is more shared by search engines.

In 1990s, college application submission was also cumbersome,not easy  similar to

  1. Read notification and understand what needs to be done. if you have doubt, you need to go to your friend place or senior place to get clarity.
  2. Obtain D.D in Bank and send to educational institution to get the application by post. Different educational institutions tied with different banks. To apply for 3 institutions, one may end up going to 3 different banks to get Demand Draft.
  3. Fill application and attach Xerox’s and sometimes additional D.D and send to educational institution. Then you get hall ticket to write exam or called for interview for admission.

In 2017,  I admire the speed and comfort to perform submission and payments online, I question myself whether learning opportunities are created to students, when parent makes payment online. There is no opportunity to make errors and learn from failures.  Even in my school days, parents denied students to learn from errors. Lot of friend’s father used to take office leave to submit application for children and accompany children till the room where entrance examinations happened.

This is opportunity I got from the application process. Treat reading notification as equivalent to read and interpret statement sum problem in Maths . The application process provides first visit opportunity to banks, fill D.D request forms, carry cash safely and obtain Demand Draft (D.D) and also visit post office to drop filled applications and D.D in envelope and send by post. When they travel alone to write entrance examinations, they find how to stay at relative place in Chennai for short time, carry hall-ticket safe. Effectively learning to be disciplined and organized, essential for students staying in hostel, away from parents.

Will Identity(Aadhaar) lead to separation?

Today I was reading  articles and started to ask myself question of “why identity?” and started to look  beyond privacy

Identity can be sense of security, safety, a sense of being owned and of possessing, that gives great comfort, which is more of  illusion. Privacy is fear(lack of security) , when person shares data(identity)  with authority or others and fears that data(identity) in hands of authority has potential to lead to your own exploitation.

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Anyone from India is aware of what happened when India society gave identity to people in terms  of caste, sects and work and gave rise to a new sect of people called untouchables.  When  children of scavenger applies for opportunity , the connection of  children’s identity with parent’s identity  has potential to bias in the judge who decided whether person qualifies for opportunity or not.  If you  claim maturity in objective evaluation, watch video கக்கூஸ்” ஆவணப்பட இயக்குநர் திவ்யா,  to understand how much society context is influenced by identity of individuals.

Look  200 years back. Did people have passport? No. Passports may be provided by kings or emperors to give special privileges to specific people. When King asks special persons of opposite country to surrender his passport, the message was “Your country has lost the belief of ours” or “There are serious differences with your country”.

Will identity leads to separation? Post industrial revolution,  new identity of of owner and workers or capitalists and socialists that separated them.  Look at  IT industry is created based on job roles that separate them and cause for conflicts.

In my daughter’s school, there are houses formed with identity and asked to compete against each other to bring success to their house. Why do students are not taught of the ability to achieve more as single school, rather than two houses in school?  May be students can use time to compete with others to learn to compete with themselves .

Having spend time as entrepreneur, I see entrepreneurial clubs based on identity of your business. Occasionally, When club fails to represent all their aspirations, a new club gets created based on their identity.  Most of times people are working hard to gain access to existing clubs and people are denied access to social network of club. One’s failure identity will make exclude you from the club’s activities.  On other end,  folks who invested in efforts to build brand identities leveraging club exploit the same to their personal advantage.

Passport is an identity document used by countries  to limit people from other countries to migrate in to the country in the process to safeguard benefits of country for people who stay in the country and do not want to lose them to migrants.  H1B or Green Card are identity got by migrants arriving to USA. The identity brings fear in migrant as it enables them to earn the economic benefits, and absence of the identity leads to loss of economic benefits. Economic benefits leads some to give away citizenship of their birth country to gain the citizenship of the new country.

When I see an article You need not submit Aadhaar card to comply with FATCA, my mind questions what is the identity of  people interested to make Aadhaar mandatory. Are these people Indians? Have they lived in USA for years? If yes, they would social security benefits. To repatriate social security benefits India and USA needs to have treaty and every India needs to have something equal to Social security number. Is Indian taxpayer money used to gain benefits for some of theses self servicing people?

Let me end with quote from world teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti  ” When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind”

How I would act if I am PM – My 2 cents

PM Modi may be right or may be wrong about his focus  to remove black money and time will say. I am concerned about the plight of the common man who paid his taxes and have no black money. While we can debate the pros and cons of the drive, let us focus on immediate problem today,

I agree that every implementation has challenges. My question always connects to whether PM Modi is working on ground to solve problem or expecting others to solve problem, being on foreign travels, while common man suffers. It is easy for me to have opinions and thoughts. Here are some of actions that I would take if I were PM.

Action 1: Digital approach  1: Setup monitoring room.

Ask his officials  and bank officials to  setup dashboard that shows summary of cash availability across all bank ATMs and branches in India.

  • When cash goes empty or close to empty in ATMS or branches, it shows red
  • When cash is available, it shows green

The dashboard should be be displayed state-wise and branch-wise. If  a bank ATM goes red, the bank CEO gets SMS and is expected to fix the same in next 2 hours.  This happens 24 hours and not during day hours. if officials need security, he can arrange for the same. Have a RBI representative for every state, any fault of ATM or branch in state should involve the representative working with bank officials to get this corrected in 2 hours.

Transparency: Expose above dashboard to public. Let public see how things are made effective by PM. Let banks get good marketing by making things work or  bad marketing when things are worse. The representative would give announcement of day’s progress in the evening to media at 6: 30 pm about how effective they were. PM  would consolidate and address the nation at 8 pm.

Servant Leadership: Let PM walk down and get cash in bank ATM. Let him do this at different part of the country without informing officials.  He can be joined by Finance minister and RBI governor also. The point is for  Modi to demonstrate that he is on the ground to solve the problem and is really working to balance removal of black money and the challenges of common man.

I am sure  his demonstration will motivate everyone in the entire bank machinery to  ensure that cash is replenished  to branches on time.

 

Who did we give our remote control ?

“Do not give your remote control to someone else.”

Some one remarked that not having money to spend is making them anxious. I see the long queues in ATMs and bank branches. The weekend  brought to me to question         “Can we punish all including  innocent person as we cannot identify who is guilty?”

When I went around neighborhood, road-side merchants and vendors reported losing 50% business from customers as customers do not have currency. On more enquiry, one offered me chat and I replied that “I do not have new money to pay for chat”. He gave me chat and offered me, asking me to pay later. I acknowledged his act of kindness  and ate the offer. Same is story heard from old newspaper vendors and construction workers. I thank people who helped their maids and drivers with cash they have and also request them to realize that poor people have more self-respect and may not ask for money in Indian society and may instead choose to starve without money.

On a different note, I received email written with right intent that educates employees who have bank ATMs within corporate offices to visit their offices to withdraw cash. Are those ATMs only accessible to employees working in corporate offices? What would common man do? Some one would say  “If you have worked in IT park, you would have no problem. Not working here is your mistake for losing privilege “.

Everyone has privilege or right to live in the world and get privilege from nature and not from firms or humans or any governments. No invention and no innovation defines breathing of humans.

To have better life, a government setup was created. No government or firms perform favors by allowing us to have a good life, right food and surrounding environment. We choose them and gave them power and rights to act in our behalf. Think that we need to remind ourself that our life is not define by some one’s good nature or some one’s pity.

Looking around, I feel that all animals expect humans seem to live with more freedom. The urban man seemed to have lost his freedom completely and is on path to become slaves for experiences, comforts and conveniences that he enjoys. That includes me too.

Fundamentally, seeds sown in fields to grow crops has been taken over by MNCs. Today lot of farmers do not keep seeds for sowing for next crop. We are afraid to east fruits with fear of pesticides. Children think that food comes from departmental stores.

We are happy to swallow medicines and take injections given by doctors without questions.  You are not ready to be cured of fever in 5 days and demand doctor to provide antibiotics for quick relief. Soon, mobile applications are arriving to recommend medicines and injections to patients without even visiting doctor.

In India, there is a long tradition of sharing front portion (called thinai) of our house with travelers and visitors for free.  Our history talks of families sharing food with  guests and sleeping with empty stomach. 20 years back, I have gone to Palani and stayed in Chattaram which was almost free. Where are chattarams today? In trichy, bus stand is still called chattaram bus stand.

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Today we justify and share or inability with living  in apartments and have security and not able to allow people to come in easily. In addition, with advent of airbnb , we now rent rooms of the house and make money.  Your apartment  has club house that is large and empty and you cannot share the same with homless for nights. You also have bathrooms down for staff which can be used by them. You still do not allow them. what has comfort and convenience lead you to?

In my birth town, my father had never used to drop me at school in his official jeep, while he used to pick employees/workers on the way to office. His employer did not expect him to do that. I know that he was paying back similar privileges received  by him when his superior with jeep picked him and he had no personal jeep assigned.

Today, we take rides using Uber and Ola. When we ride as single individual, can we pick guy known to us travelling in same direction, waiting for bus? Some of us would say that this is not allowed and once can use OLA-share or Uber-share. Has someone tried the same?  When three passenger can climb from your home in Ola-regular for same price, what stops us from picking this guy waiting for bus?

In last few months, my kids cajoled me to experiment using OLA and Uber. I have started to travel by bus, cycle,walk for many years now.  Earlier, I have pitched to my children of reducing pollution, reducing fuel consumption and also cheap travel( when they were young and had half/no tickets).

For shorter rides, children pitched that costs for 3 people to go in OLA was less than going by Volvo bus in Brookfield area. Very true. When we I tried to hail auto for same travel, we learnt that cost of hiring auto was more than hiring cab  using mobile app. They seem to ignore the other things. What happened to them?

Let me remind myself that girls travelled in bus for close to 8 years, when we did not own a car. My younger one used to like Volvo bus to play monkey style in Volvo bus and the elder one liked breeze in auto and complained against car and preferred auto in the past.

While hiring online cab, I was wondering how to move my children to take bus. when I looked at their regular activity, children traveled by school bus for a shorter distance and for other travel, they go along with my wife in car and have less exposure to bus today. Now both of them demand for AC in car, once car is on the roads.

For me walking and travelling by bus and cycle, I found the comfort of OLA and Uber nice. I started to experiment myself  with Uber and OLA to observe my own needs of comfort and conveniences. Visits to Chennai made me realize comfort that Ola-share and Uber-share provides same quality service at less costs. For rides, where prices are same for both option, I choose normal OLA and where prices was costly, I choose OLA-share.

I kept paying by cash and resisted payment by card. When a driver failed to turn up, I walked to metro station close-by, got a bus and went to suburban station and reached home. I was not ready to allow me influenced by the comfort.

I felt that lower cost has become more important criteria than benefits of car pooling to save environment. I realized that for long distances that I like comfort of Ola-share.

Coming back to Bangalore, I find myself more getting used to comfort of car, moving from cycling to work.  Becoming aware of my comfort seeking, I pushed myself to cycling again.

On day of demonetization, I worked late at work and had planned to take OLA. With cash currencies of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 not acceptable any more, the first thought was whether to connect my credit card with OLA to enable going by OLA.  My inner mind started to question why I have not asked for office cab and why I am falling to comfort. I decided to walk home and walked 4 km to reach home.

Yesterday and Today, I observe a lot of people standing in long queues before ATMs and sure lot of them work for IT companies. What is productivity loss with people standing in front of ATMs and anxiety of not having cash? When there is a strike and employees are not able to report to work, Bangalore employers complain about loss of productivity. Why there is no sound now?

On other hand, IT industry is happy with behavioral change induced by current situation to bring more business  online. There is little or less thought on the difficulty brought to their employees, beyond the challenges faced by themselves without cash.  Maybe thought is employees have to visit ATMs in their personal hours and will not impact productivity.

Banks promise that customers can use ATM at their convenience. In past, bank representatives come to our offices to open accounts. Where can they not send today people with cash to offices and disburse the same?  They have failed to keep up their promise as part of service contract.

While I acknowledge efforts of bank employees as individuals, I view that banks as entity have failed their customers. Banks pushed customers visiting branch to use online services and ATM services, some charged money for visiting branches.  To show that they are customer friendly, some published notification to effect that charges are waived.   When customer failed to maintain minimum balance, customer is not charged for not meeting commitments and is rarely given a chance. Are banks justified for negligence?

Today, banks have outsourced operations including ATMs and is that reason they find it difficult to handle scenario.  Technology can be used for good or bad. What would happen, in these challenging times, if there is failure in power grid and ATMs stop working? What would happen if there is natural calamity in these times?  Let me thank God and nature for protecting us. Has Indian government thought of these risks?

 

How inclusive are tech meetups, hackathons

I attend and participate in meetups and technical events on Saturday. I started to observe the presence of more men than women in these events. The ratio of men to women looked like  75: 25 or 80:20. In last few week, I was involved in few activities and experienced some new learning and sharing the same here.

diversityI am father of 2 daughters. Last few years, my wife started to work and some Saturday morning, she needs to attend events at her work, where I offer to take care of my children. Few weeks ago, my wife had planned work for whole of Saturday and I was leading event at my office on the same day. When both of us discussed to take care of children, I decided to take my children to my office. (they hanged with my cousin for large hours across lunch). While i was happy that i can keep my children with me, they shared with me that it was exciting initially and felt bored and restless after few hours.

My personal experience made me look at our volunteers. We had one female employee to volunteer. She was one year experienced and that made it easy for her to come.   I looked at male employees and asked myself ” Who was taking care of their children in their homes?  Are their wife house-wife’s?”. Felt good when a manger brought his son for few hours to event.  I found volunteers were mainly men. I was surprised with lady HR executive who stayed whole event, possibly she is recently married.

Our whole day event(9 to 8)  got delayed by 30 minutes. My wife came and picked children around 6 pm and I was left to come home late. A mother would have found it tricky to balance delay in event and needs of her children.  My own daughters become uneasy and uncomfortable when mother come few minutes late from promised time.

In another technical meetup conduced, a female colleagues and women had come. When thanked for their participation on weekend in their busy schedules. they shared ” Event was closet to my home for me to attend”. If you look at Bangalore, more of events happen in Koramangala or IndiraNagar. What is percentage of weekends events that happen around ITPL ? When I inquired women about joining session online, they said “Not easy to join webinar. kids allow father to do office work and not mothers”. Reminded of ex-colleague who takes conference calls being  present in bathroom to reduce disturbance.

While I  consider hackathon helps to identify talent applying knowledge rather than only being good theory and enable hiring of diverse talent. How much hackathon help companies to recruit qualified  2 to 5 years experienced IT women professionals, married and mothers. Do companies miss to hire women employees using hackathons? On a different note, women employees stay for long time in their jobs compared to men. To leverage short-term benefit, are we sacrificing long-term benefit?

On Google of  words “hackathon Bangalore  women”, here are few result links.

I observe that  above were single day hackathon. Recommend companies who want to hire diverse mix of candidates to have 1-day hackathon compared to 2 -day hackathon ( Friday evening to Sunday evening). While  48 hour schedule  favors men than women, i acknowledge that married men & fathers want to spend weekend with their families.

Happy to see lot more inclusiveness  in paid events  TechSparks events are on Friday and Saturday, completes early evening, allow  participants to return home/families. HasGeek events are more on week days.  NPC events are mainly on weekdays, with night networking on the first event day. Can we measure the number of women who stay to network ? Let me thanks them for allowing Sundays to the participant families.