Sunday, March 5, 2017

Why Can’t: use social inquisitiveness for a safer community

In my recent post I shared my thoughts on this boundary-less world and how it was second nature a few decades ago, to consider all of us as an extended family.
One of the aspects that contributed to that was the transparency of what might otherwise be considered private information.
the WhyCan’t today is:
By making all of our details publicly accessible by others, can we make the world a safer place?
A place where there is greater understanding of each other’s views and positions
A place where core human tendencies to be helpful will be strong

Why Can’t it be so?

Living in a boundary-less world

One of the philosophical ideas associated with ancient India is ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the world is one family!

I am sure you have experienced it at the apparent lack of privacy or the inquisitivenes of even strangers at what may be considered as something private or confidential.

Time was, when every house on the street knew what was going on in every other house. And of course they were all willing to chip in whenever someone needed help!

It takes a village to raise a child was very true. Everyone in the village was genuinely concerned about every child in the village.

When you are on a long distance – possibly even short distance – journey in a bus or train, depending on your age, someone is likely to ask questions like

- are you married

- where do you work

- how much do you earn

- do you own a house

etc etc etc.

One of the reasons for Facebook’s popularity in India is that it satisfies the unadmitted craving for gossip, about other people – neighbors, friends, colleagues etc

Another behavior I have seen – and have to admit, that I have also been like that during school – is to freely pluck flowers [and sometimes fruits] from random people’s houses, when they actually are accessible from the road easily!

All this was considered as acceptable behavior, that does not harm anyone and the stolen stuff is used to be offered to God [flowers] or satisfy one’s hunger [fruits]!

Recently, while driving back from Chennai to Bangalore, the traffic was held up due to a road block by some villagers, to protest a hit and run on the highway a short while earlier.

While they were waiting for the collector to come and assure them of some actions, traffic was just standing still.

It was a hot day and peopple started stepping out of their vehicles.

We were parked almost right behind a truck carrying sugar cane.

It was interesting to see some persons standing around the truck and looking at the stock of cane longingly


I do not remember now how or who took the first step at pulling a piece successfully!

Soon, many more were encouraged to to that – including being good samaritans who would pull and share with others!


One family – couple with two kids, one that was very yound and on the shoulders of the father – stopping to help themselves as they got down from a bus to – presumably – walk towards their home!

I also saw a lady who seemingly pulled more than she can chew – literally! – and broke the can and inserted the excess portion back into the truck! Talk of fairness..

Reminded me of a trip to a farm, where one could pluck apples and eat all that one can, as long as it is done before we left the farm!

This set me thinking in this era of digitalization and the move to make most interactions online, what is the scope and societal respect for data privacy?

If we are friends on facebook, is it ok to have access to all of each other’s data? be it PAN or Aadhar based data?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

WhyCan’t: Kolams as QR Codes?

090806-2 This is one of a common sights in front of many homes in South India. In many villages, there are friendly, neighborly competitions to capture maximum space on the street and draw the largest ‘kolam’s [or rangolis] on the street.

There are many ‘patterns’ that many of these designs follow.

On another track – I have been receiving monthly mailers from the South Bangalore Dharmik Samaj every month.

These were 4 page notes that were produced with very simple technology and distributed to share some interesting articles as well as news related to upcoming events.

The recent issue was on the theme of Sivaratri.

In addition to an artilce on the background and details of the date etc, there were also 2 QR codes!

These QR codes led one to some youtube videos of chants and slokas!

Hence the Whycant!

If a pattern of dots on a page can lead one to content somewhere on the internet, Why Can’t a pattern on the ground lead one to something out there in space?

Could it be that these patterns could represent some ‘URL’ – a really ‘Universe Resource Locator’?

Just as a phone and a QR code reader is needed to decode the pattern and connect to a source, those with the technology and equipment could possibly decipher..

except that the people who create these patterns may be completely oblivious to the possibility and the implications..

The WhyCan’t series..

We are all used to asking Why?
or being asked Why?
The expectation is that there is a logical or convincing or believable answer.
‘Why’ is a good question. Has been the basis for many scientific and philosophical explorations.
Another approach is to ask why not? This is more argumentative and very useful when we do not have an answer or response and can even be a somewhat intimidating approach to shut off a discussion.
But, to trigger imagination and innovation, the most effective question is Why Can’t?
Over time, I ask myself many Why Can’ts..
Being no authority on most things, I find it easier to wonder why some tings can’t just be!
and stay in wonder of things around us..
From time to time I hope to share some of my why can’ts
If you have any points that would help us get towards some answers, that would be great, to explore some of these together..

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I miss Sankars

sankars-logo This year has seen me at the Bangalore airport five times in the last 3 weeks - almost every weekend.

This is after a break of a few months – and the last visit was in a hurry, when I mde it just in time to board.

The biggest disappointment [or shock?] for me was that there is no decent bookstore at the airport anymore.

The information desk pointed me to the store that, to me, is more like a street corner convenience store. They sell fridge magnets, miscellaneous traveler gadgets, chocolates, snacks.. and.. yes, some newspaper and one pathetic rack of books!

Time was, even with very little time at the old Bangalore airport [i must admit that the airport was much smaller and with fewer flights, about 25 years ago], one could drop in at Sankars.

Though the area was quite small, the variety of books carried and the change in stock every time I visited, even when it was quite frequent, was very good.

Not to mention the friendly, personalized service and recommendations that added to the experience.

While I see Sankars in other places – such as Rangashankara, I miss you at the airport!