WEEKEND LIGHTER*: President’s anguish!
(March 18/19, 2017, No.11/2017)
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
*Weekend Lighter is posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
Section III:”Despair”from ‘Consolations’

Cover Story
President’s anguish

This refers to the report “Guard against majoritarianism, says President” (Business Standard, March 18).  Pranab Mukherjee’s call to restore the democratic functioning of legislative bodies and mention about the significance of the role of opposition in democracy need to be taken seriously by the political leadership of the country.
The concerns and anguish expressed by the first citizen about In-house conduct of legislators in recent times and overall deterioration in the standard of debates in parliament over time in effect give voice to the simmering anger of the common man in India. Read with this the treatment meted out to Irom Sharmila who contested Assembly election in Manipur and collected all of ninety votes which made her say that in today’s India even Mahatma Gandhi may get defeated in elections.
It is history that the British handed over India to Indian National Congress and that party’s pre-independence clout made it difficult for any opposition party think in terms of coming to power until there was crisis of leadership in Congress. The era of the coalition-politics that followed left the electorate wondering whether there was any difference in ideologies of different political parties other than sharing power!
But, history or the congress background of the President should not make us brush aside the anguish expressed by him about reducing number of working days of parliament or the lack of respect of parliamentarians to disciplined and efficient proceedings inside parliament. Perhaps, the political parties should work out a consensus on having the ‘pandemonium hours’ everyday only after completing the business scheduled for each day. The present practice across legislatures (from parliament to local bodies) is to start with protests on some current sensitive issue, create confusion by demanding skipping of question hour and make the Chair adjourn the house latest by noon. It will be perilous to delay corrective measures and the President’s expression of anguish need to be seen from this perspective.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Recent responses

Need succession plans*
With reference to the editorial, “Not a part-time job” (Business Standard, March 16), the absence of transparent and efficient succession plans affects the functioning of not only big companies and large organisations in the public and private sectors as well as government departments, but also all top-level assignments where political decision-making is involved.  

Some instances in this category include Pranab Mukherjee shifting from North Block to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Manohar Parikar shuttling between Panaji and New Delhi. Such manoeuvering gives an impression that the job of a legislator or a minister is not a full-term or full-time one, where the incumbents are accountable for what they do during a pre-decided tenure of their appointment.

Legislators go back to acting in films or anchoring TV programmes, central ministers concentrate more on solving problems in their respective parties at the state level or devoting their entire time to electioneering when polls are announced. The present arrangement gives bureaucrats an upper hand in governance, affecting the democratic functioning of government.

While conduct rules, it seems, can’t be enforced on public figures, there should be some self-regulation to ensure that those in public office do justice to their jobs. Continuity in incumbency ensures accountability. 

Political parties should maintain a talent pool for smooth succession. This will also help prospective candidates to prepare themselves for their expected assignments. 

The time is ripe for parties to recruit candidates from the market instead of depending solely on the “catchment area” comprising ground-level workers, students, trade union leaders, lawyers and family members of current leaders.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*Business Standard, March 17, 2017, Letters

The right skill set

Sanjay Kumar Singh’s personal finance article, “Reskill to survive” (Business Standard, March 14), offers useful tips for those who by chance or by choice took up a career in the information technology sector. 

Online skill development or on-the-job reskilling has become a necessary ingredient of human resource management. It goes beyond survival skills of employees or shop-floor requirements of industries.

In 2013, when Raghuram Rajan talked about a career horizon of 10 years for professionals, many did not take him seriously. India was yet to gauge the implications of an employee’s skills becoming obsolete if he or she stayed in the same workplace for a long period. People thought postmen, station masters, clerks, teachers, hotel managers and political leaders would remain where they were for decades. But jobs nowadays need current skills, whether one is a farmer or a scientist. 

The significance of on-the-job reskilling, acquiring new skills for migration to other work areas and learning more to prepare oneself for taking on higher responsibilities needs to be understood in the right spirit by policymakers, employers and educational institutions (from primary schools to business schools). 

As employment prospects improve with economic development, need-based skill development has to be integrated with education policy and HR practices of government and private sector organisations. Else, there would be a shortage of the right people for the right jobs sooner than we can imagine.
M G Warrier, Mumbai

Despair takes us in when we have nowhere else to go; when we feel the heart cannot break anymore, when our world or our loved ones disappear, when we feel we cannot be loved or do not deserve to be loved, when our God disappoints, or when our body is carrying profound pain in a way that does not seem to go away.
Despair is a haven with its own temporary form of beauty and of self compassion, it is the invitation we accept when we want to remove ourselves from hurt. Despair, is a last protection. To disappear through despair, is to seek a temporary but necessary illusion, a place where we hope nothing can ever find us in the same way again.
Despair is a necessary and seasonal state of repair, a temporary healing absence, an internal physiological and psychological winter when our previous forms of participation in the world take a rest; it is a loss of horizon, it is the place we go when we do not want to be found in the same way anymore. We give up hope when certain particular wishes are no longer able to come true and despair is the time in which we both endure and heal, even when we have not yet found the new form of hope.
Despair is strangely, the last bastion of hope; the wish being, that if we cannot be found in the old way we cannot ever be touched or hurt in that way again. Despair is the sweet but illusory abstraction of leaving the body while still inhabiting it, so we can stop the body from feeling anymore. Despair is the place we go when we no longer want to make a home in the world and where we feel, with a beautifully cruel form of satisfaction, that we may never have deserved that home in the first place. Despair, strangely, has its own sense of achievement, and despair, even more strangely, needs despair to keep it alive.
Despair turns to depression and abstraction when we try to make it stay beyond its appointed season and start to shape our identity around its frozen disappointments. But despair can only stay beyond its appointed time through the forced artificiality of created distance, by abstracting ourselves from bodily feeling, by trapping ourselves in the disappointed mind, by convincing ourselves that the seasons have stopped and can never turn again, and perhaps, most simply and importantly, by refusing to let the body breathe by its self, fully and deeply. Despair is kept alive by freezing our sense of time and the rhythms of time; when we no longer feel imprisoned by time, and when the season is allowed to turn, despair cannot survive.
To keep despair alive we have to abstract and immobilize our bodies, our faculties of hearing, touch and smell, and keep the surrounding springtime of the world at a distance. Despair needs a certain tending, a reinforcing, and isolation, but the body left to itself will breathe, the ears will hear the first birdsong of morning or catch the leaves being touched by the wind in the trees, and the wind will blow away even the grayest cloud; will move even the most immovable season; the heart will continue to beat and the world, we realize, will never stop or go away.
The antidote to despair is not to be found in the brave attempt to cheer ourselves up with happy abstracts, but in paying a profound and courageous attention to the body and the breath, independent of our imprisoning thoughts and stories, even strangely, in paying attention to despair itself, and the way we hold it, and which we realize, was never ours to own and to hold in the first place. To see and experience despair fully in our body is to begin to see it as a necessary, seasonal visitation, and the first step in letting it have its own life, neither holding it nor moving it on before its time.
We take the first steps out of despair by taking on its full weight and coming fully to ground in our wish not to be here. We let our bodies and we let our world breathe again. In that place, strangely, despair cannot do anything but change into something else, into some other season, as it was meant to do, from the beginning. Despair is a difficult, beautiful necessary, a binding understanding between human beings caught in a fierce and difficult world where half of our experience is mediated by loss, but it is a season, a wave form passing through the body, not a prison surrounding us. A season left to itself will always move, however slowly, under its own patience, power and volition.
Refusing to despair about despair itself, we can let despair have its own natural life and take a first step onto the foundational ground of human compassion, the ability to see and understand and touch and even speak, the heartfelt grief of another.
*‘DESPAIR’   By David White ( From CONSOLATIONS: 
The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.)
Response to a personal email (March 18, 2017)
For me, purpose of interaction in groups is exactly what has been happening during the last few weeks. When one of us share an experience, story, joke or a response or article, the reader connects the content with her/his life or experience or perception. I personally don't expect all to come back and tell me everything s/he feels. Luckily I've other methods to know whether my views are still relevant. 
A mention about the love a member received from his father and how he cared to make his father’s life comfortable in old age, brought back my father live into my memory...The care he gave me and a small part of which I could give him back with the support of my wife during his last two years ending July 10, 1979.
During 1950's when I was in school, there were occasions when public borrowing/donations was the source of funds for paying my monthly school fees of twelve Annas. Delay resulted in a fine(two Annas, I think). My father was allergic to paying fine(check with the NewGen who gets a high when they announce losses due to delayed payment of credit card dues or payment of Electricity bills through net banking after receiving disconnection notice!).
Except while traveling by train my father's uniform was mundu and a small towel on his shoulders. He makes a knot at the tip of his long hairs and throws​ it on his head. He could be easily identified by the way in which he put sandal paste on his forehead. During rainy season he carried a palm leaves umbrella with a bamboo 'leg'(holder).
Once during a rainy day, which was also the due date for my fees after successfully mobilizing the resources to avoid a default (an experience of triumph similar to the one Venkitaramanan had as RBI Governor when he got some dollars in London by pledging some 7 tonnes of gold which lies still in Bank of England vaults for which we are paying rent, as the loan has been repaid), he kept his umbrella outside the class room and came straight to me inside the class as the teacher who was on his job was known to my father. The reception he got from my class mates was loud and terrifying. After giving me a Rupee coin, he ran away.


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