Saturday, October 31, 2009

Be Prepared

The motto of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides is "Be prepared". They are supposed to be prepared in mind and body to face any difficult situation.

Schools and large offices generally have/ should have a plan in place regards how to swiftly evacuate the building in an orderly way in case of fire.

People take out medical insurance to ensure that they can afford any medical expenses they may face in the future. Some take out life insurance policies so their dependents will not be left destitute in case of their death.

Any preparation for a future possible calamity has to be made in advance. No use starting preparations after the problem starts.

This is what the following Subhaashit tells us-

चिन्तनीया ही विपदामादावेव प्रतिक्रिया l
न कूपखननं युक्तं प्रदीप्ते वह्निना गृहे ll

(A person) should consider (चिन्तनीया) the consequences (प्रतिक्रिया) of any (probable)calamity before it takes place (विपदामादावेव).

It is not (न) appropriate (युक्तं) to start digging a well (कूपखननं) after the house (गृहे) has started to burn (प्रदीप्ते वह्निना).

The recent fire at the Indian Oil Company's fuel depot at Jaipur, in Rajasthan has brought forward the question of how ready we are to tackle such calamities.

This fire is exceptionally catastrophic, and experts say that there is no alternative to letting the fuel burnt itself out.

However, the state administration does not seem to have the capability to control a smaller fire, either. Training of Firemen is minimal, and equipment is out-of-date.

Funds have been sanctioned from various governments schemes. "But the conditions are still the same and the fire vans are used to supply water for government functions or to fill the tanks of officers and politicians," says a source.

'Sources also reveal a snorkel ladder costing Rs 5 crore was sanctioned to Jaipur in 2001 by the Centre to control fire in huge buildings, but the municipality brought other equipment with that money.'

The situation is not likely to be different in other states. The recent fire at Thane, here in Maharashtra, where six Firemen tragically suffocated to death as they took an elevator to reach a burning apartment on the 14th floor shows such lack of training.

The government would do well to insist upon modern equipment and regular and intensive training, if such tragedies are to be averted in future.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dormant Strength is of Little Use

शक्तोऽपि जनस्तिरस्क्रियां लभते l
लङ्घ्यो वन्हिर्न तु ज्वलितः ll

Even if a person is powerful (शक्तोऽपि), if he does not show that power (अप्रकटीकृतशक्तिः), people will regard him with contempt (जनस्तिरस्क्रियां लभते).

When the fire is inside the wood (निवसन्नन्तर्दारुणि) (in a latent state), anyone can walk over it (लङ्घ्यो). (But this is not so in the case) of a burning fire (वन्हिर्न तु ज्वलितः).

It is not enough that a person is powerful. On occasion it is necessary to make evident that power. No one should be in doubt of a person's capability to use his power if needed.

What is true about a person is true about a nation also. Sometimes it is necessary to show our strength to stop further aggression.

China is currently testing India by making controversial statements about Arunachal Pradesh- an Indian state. It has protested against Indian PM Manmohan Singh's ' recent visit to the “disputed area” and asked India not to “stir up trouble” there'.

India has merely expressed its “disappointment and concern”.

The Dalai Lama is to visit Arunachal Pradesh next month.

News agency Reuters reports that 'Beijing could see the Dalai Lama's trip as encouraging the Tibetan struggle by undermining Chinese territorial integrity'.

Why does India not protest against such wording?

Who knows whether India even has any potential for fire. But if we do have some, now is the time to show China that we do.

Friday, October 09, 2009

More About Knowledge

In the previous post, we considered a Subhaashit which explains why helping a person to obtain knowledge is important.

This following Subhaashit tells us that knowledge is the best kind of wealth.

न चोरहार्यं न च राजहार्यं
न भ्रातृभाज्यं न च भारकारि l
व्यये कृते वर्धत एव नित्यं
विद्याधनं सर्वधनप्रधानम् ll

A thief cannot steal it (न चोरहार्यं), neither can a King confiscate it (न च राजहार्यं).
It cannot be divided among brothers (न भ्रातृभाज्यं), nor is it a burden (न च भारकारि).
If spent (व्यये कृते) it constantly increases (वर्धत एव नित्यं).

(Therefore) the wealth of knowledge (विद्याधनं) is the most superior among all wealths (सर्वधनप्रधानम् ).

On a lighter note
In this following verse श्लेष (multiple meaning/ pun) is used to interesting effect.

शंकरं पतितं दृष्ट्वा पार्वती हर्षनिर्भरा l
रुरुदे पन्नगाः सर्वे हा हा शंकर शंकर ll

Seeing (दृष्ट्वा) that (Lord) Shankar had fallen (शंकरं पतितं) Parvati (पार्वती) could not contain her joy (हर्षनिर्भरा).

All the serpents started wailing (रुरुदे पन्नगाः सर्वे) Alas! Shankar! Shankar!(हा हा शंकर शंकर).

Here we are surprised that Parvati (The goddess Parvati- daughter of the Lord of the Mountains ) would be happy to see that Shankar (her husband) had fallen.

But there are double meanings of 'Shankar' and 'Parvati'. The other meaning of Shankar is the Sandalwood (चंदन) tree and the second meaning of Parvati is 'a female who resides in the mountains' -which refers to a tribal woman.

Since a tribal woman makes her living by selling bundles of wood, she would be happy to see a fallen sandalwood tree. And the snakes which live in the base of the tree would be unhappy because their home was destroyed.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.

Lao Tzu said "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."

It is good to feed a hungry person. But it is even better to give him skills so that he becomes capable of feeding himself.

If we merely give a hungry person a meal, he will feel hungry again in a few hours. And if we keep on giving him meals, we will compel him to be dependent on us.

How much better to give him knowledge instead, which will enable him to get food for himself- thus making it possible for him to become independent.

Similar sentiments are expressed in the following Subhaashit-

अन्नदानं महद्दानं विद्यादानं ततः परम् l

अन्नेन क्षणिका तृप्तिः यावज्जीवं तु विद्यया ll

The giving of food (अन्नदानं) is a great type of charity (महद्दानं) . But the giving of knowledge (विद्यादानं) is even greater than that (ततः परम्).

The satisfaction (तृप्तिः) obtained from food (अन्नेन) is only momentary (क्षणिका), while that gained from knowledge (विद्यया) lasts lifelong (यावज्जीवं).

Farmers' suicides have been in the news for some time now. The government prefers remedies which are mostly cosmetic in nature, such as loan waivers and financial assistance on an ad hoc basis to farmers. But the relief obtained by these measures is short lived. The very next season the farmers are again in debt.

There are many reasons for the failure of agriculture in India, but the use of Genetically Modified and hybrid seeds is considered to be a significant one.

These seeds are non- renewable, meaning that seeds cannot be kept aside from this year's produce to be used for next year's crops. So the farmers have to buy seeds every year. These GM seeds are usually high-cost and unreliable, too. They also require the use of chemical fertilizers. All this is very costly and forces farmers into debt.

Many agricultural activists feel that farmers need to be encouraged to use organic seeds, so that a part can be kept aside from this year's harvest, as seed for next year. These are also less costly, and so would reduce the necessity to take loans.

At the same time, education about the best methods of crop cultivation should be given to farmers, which would raise productivity, increase their income, and restore their independence.