from Rajan in Mumbai, India: Gratitude

May 1. Migration from rural to urban is reality in India. Millions of people are estimated to migrate from rural areas to urban areas and metropolitan lobour markets, industries and farms. It has become essential for them from the regions that face frequent shortages of rainfall or they suffer floods, or where there are less or no opportunity for employment. There are other social, economical and political reasons also. It also adds burden on the urban areas in many aspects.

Many of these migrants do not bring their families along with them. Once a year they go to their native places to visit families. Among the biggest employers of migrant workers is the construction sector,textile, domestic work, transportation etc. They are poor people.

Sudden announcement of lockdown due to corona outbreak and because of the sealed borders they could not go back to their native places. When all others were staying with their families, these poor people could not. Under these kinds of situations everybody needs emotional support. They somehow tried to go back even walking several miles. They were stopped on the border of the district by the local administration  and quarantine them in schools, hostels or whichever place was readily available in that area. Their life became miserable. However, Government and NGO’s made some arrangements for their food free of cost as their income is nil in these days. 

Now the State governments are trying to make some arrangements to send them to their native places. The number of corona positive cases are increasing and therefore It is a challenging task for the government to send them safely. Now after 40 days various state governments talked with each other and made a plan to send these migrant labourers to their respective homes safely. Both the Government and these migrant workers faced problems because of the lockdown. But I must say that the Governments have failed in social intelligence before taking a decision of lockdown. There is a need to amend lobour laws for these kinds of situations about fixing the responsibilities of the respective governments.

But I have a story to tell about some sensitive migrant labourers even when they were suffering. Some migrant labourers who were provided temporary shelter in a school building during lockdown in a village Palsana, district Sikar, state of Rajasthan in India. As they were getting good food from the villagers they said we will go home when time comes, but we can not stay idle for long. We may get sick if we don’t work. They voluntarily offered to paint the building. We will not charge anything but give us paint and brush so that we can facelift the school building. Students studying in this School are like our children, at least they will speak good about us, will remember us. Villagers, administration, sarpanch and principal made all the arrangements and we are grateful to them. Hats off to labourers for showing gratitude to villagers for taking care of them in time of crisis.

I must say that they may be poor but rich in their heart!

from Rajan in Mumbai, India: apple chapati for my mother-in-law

apple chapati

Apple Chapati. My mother in law is 91 years old. She has stayed with me since 2010. After my daughter got married recently only two(oldies) of us are at home. She did not move out of the house except twice. Once when I moved to another city for a job and once when my daughter got married. Otherwise she is confined to her room. Past ten years she is following a fixed time table: have morning tea and breakfast, then read newspapers/books/magazine, followed by lunch, again read, have a nap, have evening coffee & snacks followed by dinner and then sleep. She manages on her own except taking bath on her own.

She is very much missing newspapers due to lockdown. The only question she asks is when this lockdown will get over. Even though she is almost in a quarantine situation since  more than 9 years as she can’t really move out, even then she is living her life as per her wish. Whoever comes to meet me, she meets and greets them enthusiastically, shares some stories with them and laugh with them. I am astonished and surprised over her approach towards life, her attitude with which she is living. Not complaining about getting bored. On the other hand I recieved many telephone calls from young and adults including some teachers that they are getting bored because of Lockdown. There is so much to learn from these kinds of old people. At least I am learning something.

She is very fond of eating tasty Indian food, especially sweets. Every alternate day we give her some sweets to eat. But yesterday there was no sweet at home. I was thinking what to do. Suddenly  I saw an apple lying in the fruit bowl, inviting me to eat it. An idea came to my mind – to use it to make Apple Chapati out of it and I made it. She liked it.

I used an apple, sugar, cardamom, ghee( butter), whole wheat flour, very little salt and milk. First I made a dough out of wheat flour, milk and a pinch of salt then made a filling(paste like) out of ghee, apple, sugar by heating it till you get a paste. Then follow the procedure as we follow to make a stuffed paratha. You may try one. Taste depends on the skills. I am sharing a picture of the final product with you.

My experiment was successful!

from Rajan in Mumbai, India: Slum Dharavi in Mumbai

Health Minister, Government of Maharashtra Mr Rajesh Tope in Dharavi

April 14. Dharavi is is in Mumbai, India. It is the biggest slum in Asia. It is has been founded in 1884 by during British rule. Approximately 300 thousand people stay here. It has an area of around 2 square kilometres. The number increased  by way of migration in search of jobs mostly from rural areas. Surprisingly it is astonishing to say that it has an active informal economy. Many of the household enterprises employ many slum residents. It is estimated that there are around 4,000 businesses and more than 12,000 single room factories. The products made here such as leather bags, purses, jewellery, accessories, textile etc has a market in US, Europe and Middle East. Annual turn over estimated at over US$ 1 billion.

It has not escaped from many epidemics. Plague in 1886 killed half of the population at that time. After 100 years they suffered from Cholera and now when the first case of novel Covid 19 was found, Panic button was pressed in the minds of Prime Minister to Chief Minister to Health Minister to Policy makers to general people in the country because of the type virus and the spread it may cause. How will they follow social distancing. In every small house measuring approximately 150-250 square foot on an average 7-8 people live. They are using common washrooms and many other problems. How do we quarantine them? It is the most difficult task. In addition there are 2-3 more such pockets but smaller in size in Mumbai where also the infection has entered. 

However I must appreciate the Health Minister of Maharashtra, Municipal Officials, Doctors, support staff have gone there personally to asses the situation and led the operation from front. The Chief Minister extended full support to the team. They are agressively following the strategy of CTRR (Contain,Test, Relief and Release). They all are brave people. They need a great congratulations. Young people came forward to volunteer their services.

God bless all those who are working to save them as well as the residents…

from Rajan in Mumbai, India: COVID CRICKET 20-20

April 11. Cricket! All over the world due to the corona virus pandemic, governments have had to announce a lockdown in their respective countries. Necessarily, therefore, people have to sit at home during the lockdown. Many have never before spent this much time at home. People are in search of ideas to pass time qualitatively and with fun. They are in search of some new games. Here is one fun game that I have created for the people. The name of the game is “COVID CRICKET 20-20”. You can play this game at your home with few and easily available resources. 

Description of the game is as follows:

  1. Number of Teams: 2(Two). Team “A” and Team “B”
  2. Number of players: 1 player in each team
  3. Umpire: 1(One) (optional)
  4. Resources: one die (six faced) OR a set of six playing cards OR six paper chits of size of 2×2 inches.
  5. Rules of the Game:

R (1). The Umpire will toss a coin. Whichever team wins the toss will have the choice to select batting or fielding first. The other team will necessarily have to choose the opposite side.

R (2). If a die is available, well and good. But if not, then you will either use playing cards with numbers 1 to 6 appearing OR six paper chits of size 2×2 inches (on each paper chit you have to write one number between 1 to 6 and then fold it in such a way that none of the players can identify the number written on it from outside)

R(3).  First the fielding team will roll the die, observe the number on the top and record the number in the scorecard (in the format given below).  Next, the batting team will roll the die, observe the number on the top and record it in the scorecard. This will constitute one over. They will have to play until either 20 overs are completed or 7 wickets have fallen, whichever is earlier. [Explanation of ‘wicket’ is given in R(4)]. This means that if 7 wickets have fallen before 20 overs are completed, it will be considered as ‘all out’ for the batting side. Thereafter the roles will reverse; the fielding team will ‘bat’ and the batting side will ‘field’. The same process as mentioned above will be repeated for either 20 overs or till 7 wickets have fallen, whichever is earlier. [All odd number sequences of rolling the die will always be done by the fielding side and all even number sequences of rolling the die will be done by the batting side]

R(4). The difference between the number appearing on the top of the die after the batting team rolls the die (denoted by ‘B’) and the number appearing on the top of the die after the fielding team rolls the die, (denoted by ‘F’) will be the ‘runs’ scored by the batting side in that over. The number of runs for each over will have to be counted and recorded in the scorecard. However, if the difference in any over is zero, it will be considered as one wicket fallen. This too will have to be recorded in the scorecard.

  • For Example:
    • If ‘B’ = 5 & ‘F’ = 3 then the runs in that over is (B-F) = (5-3) = 2
    • If ‘B’ = 3 & ‘F’ = 5 then the runs in that over are (B-F) = (3-5) = -2
    • If ‘B’ = 4 & ‘F’ = 4 then (B-F) = (4-4) = 0. It means one wicket has fallen.

R(5). If there is cheating by any team, then 5 runs will be deducted from the total score of that team. The Umpire’s decision in this regard will be final.

R(6). If time permits, a series of three games may be played.

R(7). The umpire may be paid ‘fees’, such as Tea/Coffee/Snacks, as mutually decided by both the teams, if deemed necessary.

R(8). If the game is required to be stopped before completion, it may be continued again later.

R(9). The team which scores more runs at the end of the game will be declared as the ‘winner’. If the total scores of both the teams are the same, then three more overs have to be played to decide the winner. However, If there is a tie again, the winner shall be decided by tossing a coin.

R(10). In case of use of playing cards or chits instead of a die, then shuffling of the cards or chits prior to picking one by any team should be done by the opposite team so as to avoid cheating.

  • How to play the game:

(I). The Umpire will toss the coin in the presence of both the teams.
(II). The Winning team will choose either to ‘field’ or to ‘bat’. 
(III). The Fielding team will first roll the die and then the batting team will roll it in the first over. A record of the runs or wickets will be maintained in the score card as per the format given below. This process will be repeated for 20 overs or until 7 wickets have fallen, whichever is earlier. Then there will be a change of sides, meaning the fielding side will become the batting side and the batting team will become the fielding side. The same process will be repeated for 20 overs or till 7 wickets have fallen, whichever is earlier. [Do not forget to name the teams (A and B). It will help in recording on the score card.]
(IV). In case you are using chits (1to 6) or playing cards (1to 6), you will shuffle them well and place them in a way that the numbers on the chit or the card are not visible to the players. The rest of the process and rules as explained in the case of a die will be followed fairly and honestly.
(V). The scorecard format:

  • Name of first team: A
    • Name of second team: B
    • Name of Umpire: C
    • Date of Match: DD/MM/YYYY
    • Start time(AM/PM):
    • End time(AM/PM):

The following format of the score card shall be used for both parts: Part I when one team is fielding and the other is batting.Part II when the sides are reversed.

OverNumber on the die/card/chit (fielding side)Number on the die/card/chit (batting side)Difference
1   
2   
3   
4   
5   
6   
7   
8   
9   
10   
11   
12   
13   
14   
15   
16   
17   
18   
19   
20   
                                                             TOTAL 

Score of team A: ( Runs scored – penalty, if applicable)
Score of team B: ( Runs scored – penalty, if applicable)
Number of wickets of team A:
Number of wickets of team B:
Number of overs by team A:
Number of overs by team B:

Winner of the match:

Note: 1.We have worked out many variations in the game. It has not been given here.
           2. Copy right is with Rajan Welukar, Mumbai

from Rajan in Mumbai, India: Quarantine!

My daughter Janhavi Welukar, Consultant Skill Education            B.L.S/LLB, MA in Public Policy and Masters in Development Management added the following story.

April 9. QUARANTINE has become the new “it” word. Everything in our lives has started revolving around the “quarantine” issues. Memes about quarantine have been flowing in like biblical flood since the start of lockdown period; your WhatsApp, Facebook Instagram everywhere there’s just one thing trending. In this time of social distancing Virtual has become the new Real. Screen time has increased since personal interaction has reduced. If you scroll through your feeds on social media, you’re bound to run into many perspectives of people about this quarantine period.

Some people are looking at the optimistic side for mindfulness and are of the view that maybe we all should practice this for more days in a year to enhance mindful living. There are retrospective talks about missing one’s loved ones and missing important things in life like the growing up years of your child, children or parents living abroad, maybe a broken relationship or friendship which was worth much more and many such thoughts and feelings. Some people said it’s a great reminder of how important nature and environment is and we are nothing but small specs of a much larger system. Some even said that it is an humbling experience as one understands the true meaning of life itself and what it means to live. Whichever medium you use today, you’re sure to have come across one of these things. But in my mind, it’s just intellectualizing things.

I dedicate today’s article to my mother and many such mothers across the world. My mother was a housewife. Every day when I returned from school, she would greet me with an enormously enthusiastic smile like I had just made the discovery of the century. She would then proceed to feed me healthy food (for which she would have to find new ways of garnishing to make it more interesting for me). Then it would be the time for my homework, sleep and then sending me off to play time. By this time, it would be the time for my father to come home. She would greet him so very lovingly and chit chat about his day and share a nice cup of tea with him and move on for dinner. Then sleep then again breakfast, send child and husband to school/office and the same routine would continue. She went out once a week to get the groceries and would get about 5 hours per month to do her own thing. And yet I never heard her say I am bored, or life is too monotonous, or I feel caged, or I am depressed, or any those fancy things we discuss today in times of quarantine.

One thing to note is that my mother lived in the pre-social media age. Our lives today are nothing different than a regular housewife’s life every day. But see the hoopla around it. This comes from a life of privilege and luxury of spending our time on our own terms without any restrictions. I can’t imagine how my mother and many other mothers kept their morale, energies and creativity high every day of their lives. The only thing they strive for is a happy and healthy family, good education for their children and prosperous lives of their children. Now imagine having to do all of this on a tight budget. Today I pledge that I dedicate all my 21 days or more to all those housewives who imbibed the simplicity within the complexity that we know as “life”. And henceforth promise to keep my spirits high, help people around me and find innovative ways of keeping my mind active and healthy for as long as I can.

from Rajan in Mumbai, India March 2020

30 March. Factually Speaking… Today I met the Health Minister of Government of Maharashtra to discuss the status of corona infection, preparedness and the challenges to address the issues in the state of Maharashtra. Had a meaningful discussion. I must putforth my appreciation on behalf of the citizens of the state towards him and his entire team who are seriously with sensitivity working to arrest the growth of corona virus. Today almost 27 days are over after the first case entered Pune city in Maharashtra. Till today the multiplying factor has not crossed 1.13 which is additive. I asked the Minister: what measures you have taken since the first case arrived in Maharashtra? His humble answer was that we patiently took stepwise decision from one week after the first case entered Maharashtra. Off course majority of the people supported our decisions. The decisions include: to quarantine those who were potential infected came from outside the country, making government hospitals ready to deal with such cases, training to health workers, closing down the malls, requested corporates to allow their employees to work from home, closing down schools, colleges and universities, postponing examinations, initially calling only fifty percent of the government employees to the office, later only five percent were called for work, reducing public transport, lockdown till 31st March etc. Chief Minister, Health Minister, Home Minister and other concern Ministers of the state were doing their bit and also coming on the television to make appeal to the people. All these decisions within first 16 to 17 days. On 19th March the Prime Minister appered on television to address the citizens to make an appeal to nation to follow one day Janata(People’s) curfew on 22nd March. It was successful except few incidences. But as the number of infected cases were increasing and few people were not understanding he had to come again and announce total lockdown for 21 days in the entire country. There are few lapses but unexpectedly the State and central governments are working with full efforts. Only people will have to have patience and they need to co-operate with the government for their own sake. The country otherwise have many challenges. Might be because of the stepwise interventions and majority of the people’s support the number of infected people till today (fingers crossed) has shown linear increase. There may be other reason for these reduced number is, less number of people who came forward or the government could trace them for infection test. I may be wrong rather I should be wrong in making this statement. In addition to this Civil societies and corporates are supporting the Government financially and in other ways. In last 27 days India has not crossed 1,250 whereas some countries cross more than 20,000 in the same period. Our situation is more challenging because there are around 25% illiterates and poor people. The Government shall take care of their basic needs during this period. Government is trying their level best.

I can’t end without appreciating the doctor’s, health workers’, police personnel all human resources in essential services, helping corporates, NGO’sO and off course all law abiding patient people seating at home in this lockdown. I pray God to educate those who are, may be out of fear or out of innocence or out of arrogance or out of over confidence not following the protocol/ instructions of the government, at the earliest.

Jay Jagat!

30 MarchHome … My daughter, Janavi Welukar, who has done her LLB, Masters in Public Policy and Masters in Development Management also got exited to write her reflection as below:

Marriage in India is considered to be a beautiful custom uniting not just two individuals but two families. I recently got married and walked into a new family. We have a traditional Indian joint family. Woah !!! I know what you’re thinking (how do you manage?). But you will know as the story unfolds. Me being a very unconventional individual been brought up unconventionally doing anything traditional was a milky way away for me. But somethings are pleasantly destined, I guess. I am an only child so as you may understand adjusting with a new family is a tough cookie. Everyone uses everyone’s everything. From your books to your bed and even your bathroom is a tragedy of commons. When your super new, all small things seem to bebig. Like from your food habit’s to sleep timing’s are dictated mostly by the timetable the family has been following for the same for the past 30 years preceding your entry. You seem like a lost owl in the family of penguin’s. Trying to /nd your own. Hence the first thing I thought aboutwriting in my quarantine diary was about family.

We are a family of six. My mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, his wife, their 8 year old daughter, my husband and me. All three women in my house including me are working women hence our lives until now were dictated being away from home for a certain amount of time like all others in the family. And all of us are really distinct personalities who like to do really diferent things to pass our time. I really consider myself to be lucky to have entered such a generous family who have been inclusive in their behavior towards me. Be it my choices in the arrangement of the furniture or my choice of food, they make it a point to at least try it once. So when began the epic tale of the quarantine we charted out the food menu first (yes, we are a family of foodies). And everyone took turns to cook the dish they suggested over days.

After day one we realized the importance of house help as they could not make it to do the daily chores. So our eight year old sprung up and said “I will mop the floor” and gave birth to the distribution of work equally amongst all the family members. Day 3, food coma was taking over and lethargy was slowly but steadily creeping in. And came to the rescue my brother-in-law, a national level basketball player who drove us all to the gym on the upper floor and gave us an individual exercise chart. While my mother-in-law watered the plants whilst explain us distinct features and life cycles of each of them. Yes, of course my husband played the DJ to motivate us and after exhaustion came in the surprise. My eight year old niece said let’s play cricket because she had nothing else to do apart from being sous chef to all. And so giving in to her wishes we all played and did rather well. Since we had been doing so much through the days we end the day with of course a big bowl of Dessert.

This reason I wrote this rather long story is to say how simple and really small things that aren’t worth much gave me so much joy. How easily it eased me into this new household made me feel like a part of it. It made me realize a single child the importance of community. Yes its true, it does take a village to grow a child but it also takes a village to and the deep seeded happiness within you. To glow in nothingness without material and brands and fancy nothings that have become everything for us in this world of fast. We’ve reached mars faster than our own heart. This compulsory pause has helped me certainly come close to myself and what drives me. Hope it does the same to all.

I thought only Indian’s are unprepared and casual

28 March. Since the laat two days I have mostly been watching television, going through whatsapp posts and reading the available literature on Covid 19. While reflecting on the number of infected cases, active cases, recovered cases and number of deaths all over the world, especially in the developed countries like USA, Italy, Spain, UK and others, I realised that these countries initially took corona virus rather casually. Only later did they take it seriously. But by that time the virus had already shown its true colours and the infection increased rapidly; in some cases exponentially. I think we all were in a state of mind known as ‘knowledge illusion’ i.e. we know everything. However, in one go the virus has brought all of us on ground; in fact, literally brought us to our knees!  Now, in order to save mankind and for the sake of humanity, we must change our approach towards the world in which we are living. We need to control the speed with which we are approaching ‘growth’ without realising ‘development’. This is a big lesson to all of us. It is telling us, “now or never”! The Corona virus has truly acted as an eye-opener regarding the preparedness of our health systems. The mounting anger and the frustration of the people is visible in various news paper reports and several articles in magazines and journals. Prior to the Covid 19 outbreak, various governments the world over were taking pride in their health systems – not only health care, but also disaster mitigation. Now people are asking questions to these very governments: where are the systems?This is the time to wake up! 

25 March. Government sealed the borders … But couldn’t seal the minds

On March 22, the majority of the people followed the curfew as appealed to by the PM. Few who did not made a negative effect on the innocent majority law abiding people. As soon as the curfew was over, the very next day, maybe because of the confidence (over confidence) on their immunity or ignorance or they might have felt that since the PM has told them to follow one day curfew, it is sufficient to break the chain of coronavirus.

Further thinking that now it’s over, they came out of their in large numbers for going to their work places as if now everything is normal. The result of this was lot of rush on the roads of big cities and markets. The third day also they made a rush in the vegetable market without following the instructions of the doctors and the government in spite of the curfew was still on. Even when the Government announced that essential commodity market will remain open. Might be out of fear that if government announces closer tomorrow then what?

Here we could have visualized the situation earlier and planned to take appropriate measures. I think social intelligence could have helped the implementing agencies. It can be made compulsory to teach social intelligence to all the students. It is surprising that even after the number of deaths in developed countries like China, Italy, Spain, USA, UK etc due to the infection of corona virus some over confident people are not understanding the scale with which it can destroy the nation economically and with human resources.

People think that they are independent, have democracy, freedom to think act according their own wish even under the present context. No doubt that the Government, the doctors and others involved in the rescue operations are doing a wonderful job but I am tempted to say rhetorically that the Government could sealed the borders of the villages, cities and states as a precautionary measures but unfortunately they couldn’t seal the mind of the people. Everybody shall be made aware of the checklist Dr Atul Gawande is talking about in his book “Checklist Manifesto”.

Finally after keenly observing I could not find a very effective but pointed communication about the chain effect of virus spread from the common man’s perspective. Government, media, celebrities and others are doing it but they can make it more effective with the help of Creative Media, advertiser’s, marketing and visualising experts so that people can understand. By understanding the chain effect, they will realise the scale. This will help arrest the growth of infections.

Of course, majority have shown the maturity but some have proved to be deaf and dumb. God bless all including them.

23 March. Will a one day curfew help India?

As number of cases of corona-virus infection have been detected and they are increasing every day. The government is taking it quite seriously. It has gone into the mode of taking emergent actions. They are trying to arrest the growth of infection. Two days ago, the Hon’ble Prime Minister requested the people to remain at home on Sunday 22nd March from 0600 hrs to 2100 hrs to which he termed as Janata (people’s) curfew. This kind of appeal was made by the then PM to the nation some 55-60 years ago. Secondly the PM also requested people to come out at 1700hrs in their gallery and clap or make a sound using metal utensils or a bell for 5 minutes to express gratitude and appreciate the great contribution of the Doctors, Nurses and other Emergency Services Staff. People overwhelmingly participated in the curfew. They actually locked down themselves in their homes. That was indeed a grand success. All roads were empty, shops, hotels were closed. Even temples, churches, mosques were closed for people except for the priest etc. who take care of these places. People did come out in the galleries with their families and clapped, made sounds. This also included the celebrities and politicians.

However, some enthusiasts made 5pm an event. They came out of their homes in groups. These included children and old people as well. They were standing without maintaining social distance. While recognising and appreciating doctors and other servicepersons, they forgot the instructions/advisories given by the doctors. I don’t know whether they really wanted to appreciate doctors or doing it to show to somebody that they also participated in the event. Is it not hypocrisy?

Moreover, one day curfew is not going to help us. If we really want to arrest the spread of corona-virus infection we need at least 14 days’ lockdown to break the cycle. Now the state governments have started taking more stringent measures by promulgating stringent laws and shutting down public transport. The positive part of this time of distress and pain is that the world is finally realising the relevance of Gandhi’s principle of self-discipline.

22 March. Are Children more responsive than…

The other day my domestic help came to the drawing room where I was watching an interview of the health Minister on the coronavirus. I asked her if she needed something? It was 9 p.m. in the evening. She said, “Sir, I will have to go as I have received a call from my daughter who is studying in senior KG. She is insisting that I immediately go to a doctor.”

On this I requested her to leave immediately. At the clinic, there was a big queue and they could meet the doctor around 12 in the night. Later when I asked her what was the issue. She told me that she had suffered a little cold recently. Her daughter knew this and when she had gone to the school in the morning, her teacher briefed the class on coronavirus. In her care & love for her mother the child asked her to go to the doctor for the check-up. She wanted to take all precautions for herself and her family.

In another news I heard of a very famous singer who had travelled from London to India recently. Avoiding the quarantine norm, she instead, threw a party to people after coming from London. Around 250 people attended the party including some politicians. Now the singer is tested positive but she had hidden the travel history from her guests. Similar cases of criminal negligence have taken place in Surat and Hydrabad, in India.

Actually, it is expected from adults that they obverse caution and also teach their kids about it. Here, it seems that children are more mature and caring!

May God save humanity!