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Monday, February 15, 2016

Do I really need a Cell-phone

This question has been bugging me ever since  I could afford to buy a cell-phone. I managed to delay it for as long as possible, but sometime around 2006, sitting at a remote place in North Bengal with non-existent or poor STD services, kind of forced me to hook on to the cellphone network. Now I learn through googling that the device had come into being a early as 1990 and that I had survived the onslaught of this device for a good 16 years !

Since then it has been a kind of love-hate relationship. On one hand, it is sheer magic to be able to communicate from anywhere anytime complete with streaming video images and on the other hand , it is terrible that anyone could intrude into your time anytime, anywhere. It can be a magic window to access  happenings and people , world-wide , 24 x 7 and it can also be a cruel leash around your neck 24 x 7.

I am very poor at responding  to a call , and definitely not 'the fastest draw in the west' as the likes of  people whipping out their phone from nowhere, on the slightest indication of a call, whatever they may be doing, wheresoever .  My log register always shows more missed calls and sent calls than received calls.

I observe that most people carry their phones while going for walk or run and I have heard that they carry their phones even to the loo. As for me, I find it difficult to keep a phone even close enough to reach before two rings.

Where I really missed a phone was when I started seeing the ubiquitous message on my computer screen - "OTP sent to your registered mobile number xxxxx901 and enter the OTP to proceed further" That's the time I started looking for the phone frantically , most of the time , finding it only by calling from my land-line.
So, I started keeping the phone close to my desktop PC as another accessory like mouse or keyboard.

Over the years , the device size has been getting smaller and smaller and presto, suddenly there is a U Turn and the evolution is in the opposite direction. Here's a cartoonist's view of the point of inflection

Anyway, the smart-phones have arrived and with it , the social media apps whatsapp, telegram etc. When I tell people that I don't always carry my mobile phone, the FAQs are:-

Aren't you on whatsapp ?

- I do have the app installed but is it really required to read a surd / blonde joke , immediately on  alert, leaving whatever you are doing ? Isn't it enough to browse, say, once a day?

How can you move around without google maps ?

- I agree , google maps are useful when you are in a strange city, but how often do you need to navigate to your wash room ?

How do you keep in touch with your children ?

-well, I use the land-line, instant messengers or  email while I am sitting at office or home and while on move, it really doesn't matter if one is out of reach for an hour or two .

Don't you miss it when , say, receiving someone at air port or railway station ?

-In army we tie up a whole lot of details before an operation, like frequency for radio communication etc.. but we never lugged around our radio sets 24x7 just for such contingencies. When required for a specific operation, it sure is very useful.

Coming to the original question, 'do I really need a cell-phone' ; it is good to own one , but I have stopped looking at it as a phone anymore . It is a standby for wallet, notebook, modem, music player, news aggregator , in-box, torch light and a thousand other things besides being a device for emergency voice calls.  

So, it is good to have one or more devices, but to carry it everywhere you go , I feel , is definitely a leash around the neck that I would rather do without.

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Tale of two Chiefs

           It was circa 1990, during the address to officers by the COAS at DSSC Wellington, one infantry officer had the temerity to suggest that  something be done about providing better opportunities to infantry officers for nomination to attend DSSC Course at Wellington. He further explained that the Staff Course had become so important for promotion to higher ranks and that infantry officers did not get time to study due to operational commitments.

        Well, the Chief went ballistic; some raw nerve had been touched. He himself was a gunner  and  an air op officer  . When he took over as the  Chief,  a leading National daily , had wondered as to how a battle hardened  Force like the Indian Army had thrown up a Chief without any battle experience. The General was known for his  strategic thinking rather than for soldiering. Mandal Commission was the then  rage, across the country. He thundered, “I do not want mandalization in Army, we cannot have a quota system for infantry”  .  After a long, seemingly never ending  diatribe he declared “ we have a fair system and anyone can reach the higher ranks”

Recently, in circa 2015, the present Chief, during his visit to Mhow, addressed the officers in the Station. In the course of his talk, he disclosed, “....... I am a Non-psc officer , and I have reached where I am through sheer soldiering. We do have a fair system in the Army .....”

He happens to be the first non-psc Chief. Well, we have come a full circle.