Friday, September 04, 2015

"Only the dead have seen the end of war"

Yes, I am back to blogging after a long hiatus. Another post will cover the reason for my absence, be assured it is nothing interesting, just some introspection.

What jolted me back into the world of blogging? Google 'dead Syrian boy'

Why? At the end of the day, all the sadness, shock, disbelief, all of it boils down to that one word question, why? It is human nature that we need to hang our dirty laundry somewhere, we need to assign blame or responsibility to someone. Where do we start in this case of the Syrian boy, is it the British? who carved the land into pieces for easy management while dividing up the people and combining them into a heterogeneous and chaotic mix; or the people who were divided up? but for how long will we blame the European colonists, why didn't the heterogeneous people, after living for generations together, come to the conclusion 'Hey aren't we all humans, why harbor hatred for this other group', individuals might have asked this question but as a group, the divisions were kept alive and well, albeit just below the surface; or should we blame the people in power? those in political realms and specially in religious institutions, they wield so much power and influence, they command people's heart and mind, never once one of them stood up and said 'Hey wait a minute, for long we have tried to divide and rule, preached hatred to shore up my crowd's unity, how about I try something different'; or should we blame the current superpowers? they could have curtailed this problem well before it got out of hand but they either chose to ignore it or chose to actively stop any intervention; or should we blame ourselves for not doing anything, for being helpless, for being minuscule?

Tragedies of war and any violence, are well documented; we all have seen bloodied bodies, even that of children. I have seen many from this very conflict but they were different, they were gory, there was blood, you could see the destruction to the human body, there was dust and grime but this one picture of the Syrian boy is different. As he lay on that beach, with waves lapping his head, ironically it looked like the waves were patting him to sleep, it looks like he could be any kid that just fell asleep on the beach. This picture disarms you and then eviscerates you. With a gory picture, your guards are up almost instantly, then you rationalize it by saying something like 'Yeah, if you get hit with xyz, with such force, this is bound to happen' but this picture has a totally different strategy. A clean, calm, and peaceful kid, with eyes closed, looks like he is sleeping but nope, he is not. Yes he is clean, calm, and peaceful but for a very different reason, a very sad reason, and humanity has collectively failed this kid. I know I cannot and should not blame the entire humanity for all the tragedies in the world, apparently it is not practical!! but having kids die in a war started by adults, it somehow is not fair and doesn't sit well with me. And yet it happens without fail, every time, every generation, in every region inhabited by humans.

And what makes it worse? the realization, that this toddler is just today's top most body on a pile of at least 200,000 other humans. When people read about the one too many instances of mass killings of innocent people, they always put them in the framework of History, as if somehow they are distant from such horrible events, in some sense I and as an extension the time that I live in, is better than that 'old' stuff. But looks like nothing has changed, humans still kill each other, whenever possible they do it in 1000s, humans still look away, humans still block an intervention. If this is a human habit, which apparently it is, then boy oh boy, I cannot wait for that once in a millennium asteroid to pay us a visit.

I know people will ask me to look at the positive things but I feel it is too little and too late. Every time you take a small step forward, there seems to be an avalanche waiting to set you back.
Some people are justifiably opposed to posting pics of dead people but once in a while a pic comes along that represents not one but scores of dead (in this case upwards of 200,000). Such a pic must be seen, to shed a tear, to burst our bubble at least for a fleeting moment, and to ask ourselves what would we have done if those refugees were at our shores?

I hear people say, "Oh how would it have been if he had made it through". What would have happened!!! I feel guilty that when I will finish this post, I get to sleep in a warm cozy bed, in the safety of my house, and wake up to the comforts of my circumstances. But this boy, even if he had made it through, would have to struggle to get basic food and water, get to see riot police let loose on him, crawl under barbed wire, get exploited by fellow humans, try his best to avoid refugee camp, hopefully find a relative's house in some distant land, then live the life of an illegal immigrant............

And what is an even bigger tragedy? We will move on. Don't. I don't want that to happen but I know it will happen. Few rants, few posts, few discussions, may be some monetary donations, and then what? My head hurts...... a cynical voice in me completes that statement ".....not as bad as the heart that still beats in the dad who lost that Syrian boy today"

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

On death of a pensioner - the pension

On death of a pensioner, or for that matter, on death of any near and dear one, there are innumerable emotions flooding the mind and the soul. No matter how deeply emotional the situation may be, someone has to keep an eye on the future, what happens to the one who is left behind? to be more specific what happens to their financial security. Here is what I learnt about the pension details after death of a pensioner ......

PS: this post is specific to Indian Govt's Ministry of Railways pension, a central govt pension and a very specific case; your case and details will differ

Having worked for the Indian Govt for a certain period of time, a govt employee is entitled to receive a monthly Pension after retirement until their death. After the person's death, their spouse is entitled to receive something called a Family Pension.

The pension amount is comprised of few components, namely;
  • Basic Pension - fixed amount, determined by the employee's last pay and pay grade
  • Dearness Allowance (Relief) - variable amount, calculated as a certain percentage of the Basic Pension, this accounts for an increase or decrease in cost of living, the % value changes every month
  • Medical Allowance - fixed amount, usually a very small and insufficient amount
  • Commutation (Adjustment) - if the employee did not retire at the typical age of 58 but worked for few more years then the govt will subtract a particular amount from every month's pension until a certain time (to account for the extra pay the person received from 58 to whenever he/she retired, or as some might say - to level the playing field!!). In this case the person retired at age 60, so couple of thousand rupees are reduced from each month's pension for 15 years from the date of retirement.
This continues until the retiree is 80 yrs old after which they receive an increase in the Basic Pension, followed by an increase at age 85, then at 90, then at 95, and then at age 100 where your Basic Pension will pretty much double!! Live large oh fragile centenarian :-|

On death of the pensioner, the govt extends the post-retirement help to the person's spouse. The surviving spouse is entitled to something called the Family Pension. Here are the details;
  • If the pensioner dies before the age of 67 then the spouse receives an Enhanced Family Pension which is similar in amount to the Basic Pension when the pensioner was alive. However this continues only until the year that the pensioner would have turned 67 if he/she were alive. Read below to see what happens after this.....
  • After the year when the deceased pensioner would have turned 67, the surviving spouse takes a hit and starts receiving a reduced amount named as Ordinary Family Pension which is usually only 60% of the pensioner's Basic Pension
  • This Ordinary Family Pension will continue until the surviving spouse turns 80, after which he/she will receive a small increase, then an increase at age 85 and the pattern continues until the age of 100 (just like the pensioner would have received if they were alive, as mentioned in the above section)
  • The Dearness Allowance will continue to be calculated by multiplying the Family Pension (Enhanced or Ordinary) by a certain % value
  • If the pensioner dies before the Commutation period is over then the commutation (monthly reduction in pension) is stopped immediately, i.e. the above mentioned couple of thousand rupees will NOT be subtracted
Every once in a while the govt may alter the provisions (Pay Commission) to increase all these types of pensions but the basic structure will remain the same.

MOST IMPORTANTLY - all this information and much more will be in a fragile piece of paper called PENSION PAPERS or PPO (Pension Payment Order) and will have a serial number named as PPO Number. It will be handed over to you as soon as you retire. Do not lose that paper and if there are any errors in it then get it changed as soon as you receive it or else you WILL suffer unless you hit a jackpot and don't care about the pension.

So thank-you oh all mighty Indian govt for taking care of your retired employees! And as for the rest of us, the non-govt employees - start planning and saving today unless you plan on jumping off a cliff after retirement or living on food stamps.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Why I like the blogosphere

Lot of my friends ask me why I spend so much time checking out the blogosphere, so here is why........
To me the blogosphere is like a window through which I can reach out to people with whom I possibly cannot make a connection in the physical world. Note, I do not use the term 'real world' since the things on the Internet are also real, they are just not tangible.

Barring a few exceptions, a typical life style ends up as a routine set of interactions with a fixed set of people. There are solutions to this situation, like traveling, changing jobs, taking up new hobby etc but try doing this when you have a 9-5 job and a family and a house mortgage and a ........ so on!! Thus the blogosphere (and Internet) allows me to transcend the restrictions and for a brief moment share other people's experiences - people from different parts of the world, people from different backgrounds, people doing some amazing things, or people just having just plain and simple fun. Where else can a person like me (9-5 job, family, house mortgage etc) get in touch with a physics professor with a flair for classical music, a writer/reporter who doesn't flinch while tackling a sensitive issue, an accountant who is an aspiring writer (a really good writer), a smart guy who blogs to discover himself, an awesome photographer who leads a challenging life while facing similar trials and tribulations as me (and probably millions like me), an aspiring belly dancer from a family background that will surprise you, a cool dude who made a life for himself out of Excel, an army dude who wanted to spend his life in the army but lost an arm in a road accident (soon after deployment!) and then went on to do MBA in a premier institute................ I can go on for few more paragraphs but you get the point. I can socialize all I want in the physical world but can never dream of coming in contact with such a diverse set of people and their experiences. Being in the blogosphere is like being in a bar where anyone can walk in at any time.

All these interactions enrich my thoughts, gives me a perspective in life, prevents me from achieving an equilibrium with my immediate surrounding. And the best part, this blog-hopping or blog-surfing hobby has infinite potential because the above list is a mere scratch on the surface. Did I tell you about the nurse/social worker in a remote tribal region, the school teacher who wants to make a difference in a small town, a tech guy who ends up becoming an entrepreneur ............ blogs and blogs to read before I sleep.

And what can I give in return - just open a window into my life

Happy Blogging

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Friday, May 04, 2012

Running Along The Beach

Happiness is ....
   ... running along the beach, hand in hand, with someone you love.

Sadness is ...
   ... running along the beach, wishing you were hand in hand with someone you love.

Jealousy is ...
   ... looking at someone else running along the beach, hand in hand, with someone you love.

Freedom is ...
   ... running along the beach, hand in hand, with any woman or man of any race or religion, in any of the beaches of the world.

Parenthood is ...
   ... guarding things while your children are running along the beach.

Health is ...
   ... running along the beach ... every ... single ... day.

Gratitude is ...
   ... running along the beach knowing that there are people without legs.

Progress is ...
   ... running along the beach, on bionic legs.

Life is ...
   ... running, just running ... and a little bit of all things above.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

B**b time

All married men share my pain .................

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Yaar ham tho hamesha dosth rahenge .............. (dear friend, we will always be friends) ........... you almost never say that explicitly but you mean it. I also meant it and I am sure someone else also shared the same feeling towards me. But the dialogue writer of this movie knew something more about life than I did.

So many great people,
some very good friends,
some so far away in distance and time.

After a point in life you really need to invest lot of time & effort and you need luck on your side if you want to maintain a friendship.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Once more

Yup I did it once more. The last time I did it, I had just got married and this time I had a baby!!

It is the same storyline ............. "got busy", only the characters in the play have changed plus I started too many projects at the same time. Man, one life is too small for all the wonderful things that can be done :-)

What brought me back?!?!? this music on this infinite looper :-) Yup I am a Dil Chahta Hai fan