Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Has human kind evolved over the last 65 million years – yes, no, maybe?

I have always been interested in animals, nature and other creations of God. National Geographic and other similar channels whet one’s interest in this area to the hilt. Whenever I have some spare time, I watch animal serials. My desire to watch these serials has increased manifold in recent times.( a big thanks to Arnab Goswami, Barkha and their ilk) Watching NEWS is a no no – it’s a #@$%# world. When one watches a serial on leopards – there is no screaming from Arnab – no Singhvi, Maroof Raza, Salman Kurshid, Manish Tiwari to offer expert comments – more importantly there is no debate – the viewer is left alone to watch something interesting and form their views peacefully and without duress. The leopard is also left alone and not subjected to a barrage of questions – “Nation wants to know why you have been repeatedly killing harmless antelopes” your channel wants to know “God” – “are you secular?” etc. Anyone familiar with the Big Fat Indian TV scene will vouch that we are used to watching ‘Breaking News’ only – it is surprising that my TV set is still intact after so many bits of breaking news flooding the scene. Fortunately there is no breaking news from Kruger, Masai Mara or Serengeti National Parks.

Coming back to the point, after repeated viewing, I have been able to summarize the purpose of all animal life as follows – the foremost being, to continue the bloodline. The rest of their activities support the main aim. Eat to survive, rest to recoup, mark and defend one’s own territory at all cost, exercise and impose one’s authority and finally find a mate to procreate and continue the blood line. Anything the animal does in pursuit of these requirements is justified by the laws of nature. They have evolved over millions of years to use stealth, camouflage, cunning, violence, opportunity, greed, stealing, scavenging, alluring, bullying, grouping, protection of offspring, social hierarchy to survive – you name it - it’s all there in the animal kingdom.  

Around 65 million years ago humans started to evolve and we are here today as masters of the world around us. We have made great strides in medicine, transportation, communication and in every field that is associated with the human species. These magnificent achievements separate us from the animals. If one looks closely at all these achievements, you realize that they are all “outside of us”.
What about the evolution of the “inside of us”? I hardly find anything changed in all these years. In spite of 65 million years of evolution, we still fight over territory more ferociously than lions. Almost all the current wars are over territorial disputes. Closer to home, India is embroiled in land disputes with Pakistan and China, draining our economy, growth and destroying any possibility of harmonious living. Land grabbing has become a fine art and so has encroachment. Property disputes ruin families, brothers are pitted against each other, husbands and wife fight over a piece of land and the list is endless. Have we evolved?

When it comes to sex crimes, we are worse off than animals. There is a strict code of conduct in the animal world. There are none in the evolved world. If the recent spate of child rapes in Bengaluru and cab rape in New Delhi are any yard stick to go by, then we are way behind the animals. Atrocities against women put a big question mark on the theory of evolution. Sex related crimes are very common in all parts of the world.

The recent incidents involving white policemen and African Americans in the US, questions the very development of our society. It is very common in India to see hate crimes against people from the North East. Recently a mid day meal scheme near Mysuru was abandoned as the food was being cooked by a Dalit. It cannot get any worse than this. All our societies are replete with such horrific transgressions.  

Dadagiri is rampant in India. Political clout is displayed with utmost flamboyance on a day to day basis. Silverback apes will think twice before they can compete with any of our Political heavyweights. Political workers can walk into any restaurant and create havoc – loot, damage and physically hurt people with impunity – and get away with it. This is straight from the TV serial ‘Animal Planet’ wherein our closest relative, the chimpanzees, attack another community for no reason. Chimps are known to indulge in wars lasting up to four years.

We as humans are yet to find a single God in all these millions of years. In his name, we shed blood and hatred without any hesitation. When it comes to religion our most basic and primordial instincts seem to take charge and possess us. The present day world is preoccupied with religious intolerance and bigotry. Half our time and effort goes into resolving these issues. 

One could deliberate on this issue endlessly. It suffices to say that the “evolution within” seems to have made very little progress. In fact, compared to our predecessors, it has regressed. Where is the equanimity with which they took the world and its problems into their stride? Where is the sense of right and wrong, the innocence of the young, and the contentment of the aged? Most of our age old wisdom and tradition seems to have been lost in transition.

If I were to take ‘Science Fiction’ as some sort of a window into the future, the emerging scene does not augur well for coming generations. Star Wars, Star Trek, Terminator, Alien, Guardians of the Galaxy and others revolve around present day themes – warring nations are replaced by wars between planets and galaxies. Hatred, dominance, personal prejudice, stealing and other such 2014 attributes still continue to play a major role in the ‘reel’ future too.

Where are we headed?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Change-the only constant!

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. --Charles Darwin

In my earlier blog http://samundarbaba.blogspot.in/2010/09/festivals-ganapati-pooja.html I had very briefly touched upon the aspect of ‘Change’- while commenting on festivals in India I had noted –‘Religions and festivals are products of the social requirements of the day. The social environment dictates the level, nature and variety of worship in almost all the religions. Society is constantly evolving and dynamic - what was in fashion a generation earlier may not be of any significance today’.

Extending the argument to all aspects of life, I notice that change is inherent and constant.
The other day, I was watching David Attenborough’s ‘Rise of Animals’- a landmark series about the astonishing evolutionary advances over last 500 million years. In Episode 1: ‘From the Seas to the Skies’ he traces how primitive fish once swam in ancient seas but remarkable advances allowed them to make the radical move onto land, and then they took to the skies with the advent of flight. In Episode 2: Dawn of the Mammals he unlocks the meteoric rise of mammals that led to an astounding diversity of life and laid the foundations for the ascent of man.

We are a product of change and living in a world which is constantly changing and evolving. All of us need to understand this very basic fact of life. Change embraces all aspects of our life - be it parenting, schooling, education, employment, marriage, religion, politics, urban development, warfare, statehood, food, health, travel, leisure, retirement and so on. We cannot escape this all encompassing universal phenomenon.

In our day to day life, I come across some people who find it very difficult to accept change. They either turn a blind eye or pretend that there is no change. Such people live in a world of contradiction, which does not solve any problem but only adds to the overall confusion. I do not know if this attitude is correct or otherwise .But what I do know is that these people are in constant struggle to cope up with the change which is taking place around them with or without their acknowledgement.

Take for instance the question of marriage – we raise our children with liberal ideas, freedom of action, international exposure, sense of fair play, natural justice and so on - and in the end insist on choosing a partner for our sons and daughters. Here lies the dichotomy. A girl child is given the best of education but prevented from working after marriage. 

Post marriage, both the partners should understand the changes that have taken place around this institution. Gone are the days of husband being the only provider and wife confined to the house. Equal sharing of responsibilities, chores around the house, parenting duties are the rule rather than the exception. Our attitude and mind set has to be re booted to establish a new platform which will support modern marriages. Look around, and you will notice most of the present day divorces are as a result of our inability to come to terms with the new set of rules.
People who notice these small changes that are taking place around them and adopt themselves to these changes are the winners.

Parenting is a very serious and difficult chore – especially today. Busy parents, emergence of the e-child with computers, smart phones, the internet, face book, twitter and the rest. How does one balance the equation? Are children being robbed of their childhood with all this e-dust around them? Are they in a fast forward mode? Parents need to sense this change and react accordingly. A new set of rules have to be framed.

Education in India is another aspect which has remained extremely stagnant over many decades. We have failed to embrace change and unwittingly continue to rely on processes which suited a different time frame and mind set. Lord Macauley introduced modern education in India. It was the introduction of Wood’s dispatch of 1854, known as the Magna Carta of Indian education that laid the foundation of the present system of education. The main purpose of it was to prepare clerks for running the local administration (white collar workers). It is easy to surmise that the spirit of inquiry was not propagated or encouraged. Generations of educated Indians emerged without once asking ‘why’. If the grant of patents, number of inventions and discoveries are any indication – we have lost the race. We need to change. Hope the new bill on education under preparation and due in 2015 will address these issues. 

Finally retirement is an excellent issue for a case study in ‘Change’. Nowhere else is the acceptance of change so paramount! Work quotient, earnings, status, symbols of power and wealth, health, libido and the like take a nose dive. On retirement we enter a new realm, which is totally different from what we have been used to in all the previous forty years or so. There are only two options – brood and live unhappily or change and make merry.

Chill maadi and move with the tide of change.

I will end it here; it’s time for a good chilled beer – Cheers!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Golfing in Kodagu – ‘Coorg Golf Links’

Come September, the Indian landscape changes rapidly. As the rains withdraw, it ushers the end of monsoon. The countryside looks squeaky clean and dry-cleaned; the people are out on the streets once again in bright and colorful clothes. As if the heavens were just waiting to celebrate, September and October hosts a number of important festivals. Ganapati, followed by Onam, Dussera, Navaratri and Deepavali bring in gaiety and merriment all over the country. Children and parents step out of their routine and make feverish plans to proceed to holiday destinations. We were no different and decided to go to the Coorg Golf Links Club for a golfing holiday. Sampath and Saroja readily agreed to come on board. Ashok and Push joined us from Delhi. Dore and Lalitamma most graciously lent their valuable company in spite of being ‘non golfers’. All in all, eight of us left Bangalore in the early hours of 25th Sep in two cars towards Virajpet -  Bittangala – Ambatty Village and finally the club. The village is located at an elevation of 3000ft and about 80 kms from the Arabian Sea. The weather is a bit muggy, with so much of rain and proximity to the sea. It is very comfortable in the mornings and late evenings but hot and humid during the sunny hours. The drive from Bangalore to the club is fairly smooth– except for one bad patch in the forest area prior to Gonikoppal. It took us about 6 hrs to travel 240 Kms.*( Lovely breakfast enroute at Kamath’s)

Jai and self wanted to go some place nearby to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in May 2002 and that is when, a close friend, Air Commodore Ganapathy suggested that we visit Coorg Golf Links Club. At that point of time I was a non golfer and went there to absorb the ambiance, weather, Koduva hospitality et al. The club had only one room at that time and very meager facilities. In spite of all that, our stay was wonderful and we had the opportunity to meet Gana’s sister and brother-in-law Mr. K.K.Aiyappa, the Patron of the Golf course and Club. We had a wonderful time and came back with a bag full of sweet memories. This time around, I once again zeroed in on the place where we had, had such a lovely time. Thanks Gana once again.

Over time, the club buildings and golf course has developed by leaps and bounds thanks to the passion and flair shown by the management. Their desire to provide a good clubbing experience is evident in all its facets. The club house is situated at an elevation overlooking the golf course, which is nestled in a valley. The club is fairly old – it started as a 9 hole course in 1991 and later developed into 18 holes 6950 yard, par 72 course. The course is well maintained and provides a degree of challenge to all the golfers as the course winds its way up from the plateau to the hills and back. The front nine and the back nine are totally different in character. The first five holes creep up the steep gradient of the hill, extracting all one’s energy. All along the course the view is simply lovely. Tall trees regally line both sides of the fairway adding a bit of old world charm to the course. 

The early morning view is one of extreme peace and tranquility. Early risers are greeted by hill tops covered in a blanket of cloud, wet flora and fauna, the fresh smell of the earth and the never ending chirping of different birds. We went golfing on all the days, whilst Dore and all the ladies went sightseeing, shopping and most importantly for dawn and dusk strolls.
Having all the meals in the club house provides you an opportunity to gorge on the wonderful ambiance. The Western Ghats are clearly visible from the club house. The overall mood quickly enhances the appetite and one tends to indulge in gluttony. The food prepared by the club is simple and tasty. The club has a well stocked bar to nurse any flagging golfer back to good cheer.   

On 28th Sep, we visited Bhangandeshwara - Shiva temple at Bhagamangala. At this place, the river Cauvery is joined by two tributaries, the Kannike and the mythical Sujyoti river. Lots of devotees visit this auspicious place and take a holy dip at the ‘Triveni Sangam’. Thereafter we went to Talakaveri, the source of the river Cauvery.

Overall the holiday was full value for money – going with old friends is akin to getting into a pair of old shoes – tested and tried, totally comfortable, warm and familiar. Having rested body, mind and soul, we returned to good old Bangalore on  29th Sep.

We were a tad disappointed to enter Bangalore and to face  the ground reality – over crowded streets, traffic jams, filth strewn all over the place and the accompanying ills of a growing metropolis.

Swachh Bharat campaign commencing 02 Oct 2014 initiated by our Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi is a very welcome step; just hope it works.

Figure 1- Proudly proclaiming its presence

Figure 2 – Club House

Figure 3 – View from the club house

Figure 4 – View from the room

Figure 5 – Ashok and Sunder – Hole No 1

Figure 6- Cloud caped hills - Hole No 2

Figure 7 – Fascinating Greens

Figure 8 – Water body near Hole No 4

Figure 9 – Immaculate green

Figure 10 – The climb takes its toll

Figure 11 – A bit of rest at Hole No 5

Figure 12 – Very helpful caddies – Sumitra, Samir and Jaffer

Figure 13 – Looking down into the plains

Figure 14 - Hole No 6 winds its way through

Figure 15 – As the ball rolls to Hole No 6

  Figure 16 – Longish Hole No 7

Figure 17 – Text book Tee off at Hole No 10 by Ashok

Figure 18 - Water body near Hole No 12

Figure 19 – The staff of CGL and my caddy Zeenat with Putter and Driver – far Right

Figure 20 – Photo op

Figure 21 – Pushpa and Ashok all set to return to Bangalore a day earlier

Figure 22 – Evening sky over CGL

Figure 23 – All the caddies for the championship on 28th Sep

Figure 24 - Bhangandeshwara - Shiva temple at Bhagamangala

Figure 25 – Source of River Cauvery

Figure 26 – The gang after receiving Cauveri devi’s blessings