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?