Friday, April 29, 2011

Rs.5 / Rs.10

When drastic geographic and political changes were taking place in the Middle East, a small city in India was on its way to a small financial change. The price of an auto ride from Sector 56 to Sikanderpur metro station shot up, the fare doubled overnight. Earlier, one was able to cover the 7.7 km stretch at Rs 5/- but now have to pay Rs 10/-. The change may sound undersized but a hike of double the amount is worth looking into.
Once upon a time:
Those who are unaware of the geographic location of Gurgaon, sector 56 of Gurgaon is connected to Sikanderpur Metro station by a 7.7 km stretch known as the DLF Golf Course road. There are two modes of public transport; a public auto – I came up with this term because there are two types of auto – a private auto and a public auto. The small green and yellow private auto charge anywhere between Rs 80 to Rs 150; depends on how lucky you are while bargaining.
The public auto used to charge Rs 5 for a one way trip and so did the local bus. Those who have to travel every day prefer  a public transport, either a bus or a public auto.

On a cold January night!
It was last week of January, during the silent chilly winters when the bomb was dropped; the fare increased two fold from Rs 5/- to Rs 10/-, the impact was felt on the pockets of daily commuters.
Who are these daily commuters?
The people who got affected are the daily commuters, which includes people from the upper middle class, lower middle class and lower class. It is a mix of employees working at the multinational companies to workers working at the construction sites.
On an average an auto during its one way trip from Sector 56 to Sikanderpur metro station carry four people, while on the journey back the autowallas wait till every seat in the auto has been occupied, pushing the count thirteen.
Let us assume that an auto starts its routine from 7 am in the morning till 8 pm. In a span of 13 hours, it takes anywhere between 20 min to 30 min depending on the traffic to get from one place to another. On an average an auto would make 11 round trips considering lunch breaks and waiting period and would take 204 passengers on the ride of their life.
So clearly increasing the fare from Rs 5/- to Rs 10/- is profitable. But things are not as easy as they seem as we haven’t factored a lot of things. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
When the rate was Rs 5/-, everybody took the ride as this was the cheapest mode of transport, unless you are hitchhiking. But when the price shot up to Rs 10/-, some preferred going by the bus as the fare was still Rs 5/-. The autos now have to wait much longer to fill it to capacity, hence lesser trips than projected.
Some said No:
As discussed in the previous paragraph, people working at construction sites, as domestic help or who cannot afford to pay double the amount opt out of their usual auto ride. They preferred bus over auto.
We have to consider the altercations that takes place between the customers and the auto driver when customers refuse to pay double the usual fare, as the payment is to be made at the end of the journey, such cases are plenty.
Rs 10/- for a journey from sector 56 to Sikanderpur may sound reasonable but sometimes people do not go all the way, sometimes they get on and get down somewhere in between the 7.7 km stretch, it is during these short trips, altercations are affluent.
The impact of the price change on the people:
The middle class: People falling under this bracket were not affected by the price change. It gave them more space in the auto at least during one way of the journey.
India is a crowded place with millions of people using daily transport, shoulder to shoulder we stand, and shoulder to shoulder we travel, but with the price hike the middle class do not have to deal with the poor anymore as the two are always at the loggerheads.
This price did take a serious blow on people for whom every rupee counts.
Impact on other modes of transport:
The bus services saw a surge in their intake as people who earlier took an auto instead of a bus (the frequency of autos is higher than bus), now opted for bus services. The over flooded bus reminds me of the picture where Mountain blue birds carry a whale whenever the social networking site twitter goes over capacity. Due to the overcapacity, bus takes double the time it used to take. With the present hike, the bus services are certainly not at loss here.
But there has been a transition of people from bus to auto, people who couldn’t stand the slow speed and crowd, they are better off paying the extra Rs 5/-
How much it actually costs:
An average person works for 24 days in a month, he goes to office in the morning and comes back late in the evening, for his one way trip everyday for the whole month he has to pay Rs 240/- more. Is it that big a deal, for many it is!
Was it the right decision?
Financially yes, in my point of view the decision has been right. The hike in prices from Rs 5/- to Rs 10/- has been a good move economically for the both the auto drivers and the bus services.
The future.
Will the balance be restored? It is a question on everybody’s mind. Will there be a price hike in bus services. Till now there are just two transport facilities available, buses and auto, metro is still not in the picture for another 4 years or so. A price hike in bus services would restore the imbalance of crowd , this would be a win-win situation for the autowallas as they would get their customers back, but people will have to pay the price unless they can learn how to fly, get good jobs (so they don’t have to worry about the money) or walk 7.7 km.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

92, not out

It is never too late to give your career a boost, even if you are at 92. Politics is right around the corner. In the coming Tamil Nadu and Kerala elections, we will see a lot of old folks running for the umpteenth time for another seat in elections. Nothing is going to stop them from jumping on the political bandwagon; their age is not going to hold them down.
K.R Gowri aged 92, has been an MLA 12 times since 1952, and is up for another term if she wins this year. She has lost only two elections out of 14 so far. There is no stopping this woman.
In India there is an age cap on every profession, from administrative and medical services to the judicial system, there is a retirement age for all because we believe that competency levels start diminishing after a certain period of time. But certainly running a nation is so easy a job that anyone can do it, the ageing laws have no place here; the more gray hair the better.
I always wondered why politics is so cold and drab; what it lacks is not drama but a Youth’s tenacity.
The youth population of India is its biggest asset. Filled with enthusiasm and spirit no one can lead a country better than the youth of a nation. Sadly, in India the youth’s power, passion and their ingenious new age ideas are never put to use as they are shadowed behind the limping bodies of our old politicians.
Human body is not a perpetual machine. Old age goes hand in hand with experience but people above 60 also suffer from certain cognitive decline such as clarity of thought, concentration, judgment and memory decline. Old age is the onset of a number of diseases. Ageing affects both body and mind concomitantly. Old age makes the human body physically debilitated and unable to handle too much pressure and strain. There comes a significant decrease in working hours as the human body is in need of constant rest. The decision making ability takes a serious blow during ageing. The wear out of the body is visible to everyone but the wear out of mind, confidence and self esteem can only be measured over the span of time.
An automobile needs engine oil, a beautiful but worn out dress needs a stitch or two and a worn out body requires rest. The only remedy for an ageing body is retirement. Indian government has set the retirement age at 60. The politicians in their 80’s and 90’s should pass on the beacon to the deserving youth, who can lead the nation better with a perfect blend of their youthfulness and guidance from the prime politicians. It’s the responsibility of the older generation to mentor the new comers so they could be the torch bearer.
In the coming Tamil Nadu elections, the battle is whether the state would be ruled by an 86 old year old or a 63 year old. With Kerala and Tamil Nadu assembly elections in line, the seats again would be filled by a number of oldies glued to the Kursi like “Fevicol ka mazboot jod”
I would say, the young blood in politics is few and not less as few is used for something that is countable and you can literally count the handful politicians who are young and active in politics. Those who are like Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot are result of family business. The Indian politics is filled with Sexagenarian, Septuagenarian, Octogenarian and Nonagenarian. A pre requisite for being a Member of Parliament, Chief Minister and Prime Minister are as follows:
•    You should belong to an age group of 65-95.
•    You should be a proud member of a political family.
The man/woman in the Kursi is responsible for the future of millions of people, and I for one don’t want that person to be an Octogenarian.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Inside all of us is fear, hope and dream - Udaan

Nobody is born with chains and shackles, we are all born with an umbilical cord and once it is cut, we are all free. Udaan depicts the same message all the way through, to be free and break every shackle that comes your way. Udaan means to take-off and fly sky high in just one direction, towards your dreams, no matter how big or small, dreams are what we are made of.
The movie begins with a group of four young lads studying at a reputed boarding school sneaking out at night to watch a C-grade movie “Kanti Shah ke Angoor”. The boys are expelled from the institute as they get caught by the school warden. Unfortunately, they part ways.
After a humorous start the movie takes a serious turn when the 17 year old Rohan Singh (Rajat Barmecha), the protagonist of the movie has to go back to his father in Jamshedpur, who abandoned him for eight long years. Bhairav (Ronit Roy) the authoritarian father is furious on his expulsion from the boarding school and forces Rohan to work in his factory till lunch-time and study engineering in the latter half of the day, turning a deaf ear to his son’s aspirations. Rohan aspires to be a poet/writer, but to his despotic father, this profession has nothing to offer and is meant for the sissy and pansy. On his arrival in Jamshedpur Rohan finds out about his father second marriage followed by divorce and he has a step brother, Arjun. Rohan tries to fit into the plans his father lays out for him, but things start to tumble when his step brother gets hospitalized and he sees no hope of his father letting him live his own dream.
The climax of the movie was nerve-racking; it drives you to the point where you are not able to contain the adrenaline rush in your body. It commands you sit up and do something.
The movie was released on July 16, 2010. All the actors played their role with finesse and superior artistry. Rajat Barmecha played the role of a 16 year old who aspires to be a poet/writer, but his dreams and aspirations are controlled with a tight whip by his father; the role played by Ronit Roy, who wishes to shape his son’s career his way. Ram Kapoor played the role of Ronit Roy’s brother who has great empathy with his nephews. Aayan Boradia played the role of Rajat Barmecha’s step brother who suffers in silence under the tyrannical rule of his father.
The movie is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, it deserves all the accolades as this is Vikramaditya’s first flick. He has directed the movie with such maturity and perfection that is least expected from a debutant. As of April 2010, the movie has a rating of 8.5 out of 10 on IMDB.
Gone are the days when the success mantra for a movie was the star cast and item songs, Udaan has proved them all wrong, it climbed the ladder of success solely on the basis of a magnificent screenplay and remarkable acting by all the actors.
The music is composed by Amit Trivedi and the lyrics have been done by Amitabh Bhattacharya. The music is a mix of rock and grunge. The lyrics are inspirational, heartrending, stirring, inspiriting and touching. The music made the movie all the more enriching, the spirit of the movie is flawlessly conveyed through the lyrics. Aazaadiyan Pairon Ki Bediyan, Nadi Mein Talab Hai, Naav Chadhti Lehrein Laang Na Paye will touch the cords for years to come.
Some of the heartrending scenes in the movie were the part where a father ordered his son to call him “Sir” rather than Dad. The part when Rohan stood eyeball-to-eyeball confronting his father after coming back from the hospital. The first jogging session of father and son that ends with Ronit Roy saying, “Disgraceful” followed by Arjun imitating his father. The scenes were perfectly enacted, or should I say not a hair out of line.
The movie touched a set of important aspects of life. Late teens are the time when a child is most confused and vulnerable, this is the time to give meaning to life and discover what one is passionate about. This is time where support from the family is of utmost importance.
This movie also showed how important the role of a father is in shaping a person’s life, his role is to provide both moral and financial support. This movie also depicts the effect of the lacuna that is left behind by the absence of a mother. No one can understand a child’s need and desires better than her. It focuses on the father-son relationship, which is always at crossroads, a father who has his own version of dreams and a dreamer son who carries his own. Udaan is a simple straight forward film, which focuses on the problems faced by people in one way or another minus the melodrama.
Udaan asks us all: Is life over, or is it just the beginning?
It is you who is the creator and writer of your own destiny because in the end the choice is yours, you can sit back and let life take its toll or you can stand up and catch the Udaan of your life.
No matter what happens, no matter where you are, what you do or how beaten, scared and baffled, NEVER EVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS.