The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

WOULD AMAZON SUBSCRIBE TO THIS ON ‘SUBSCRIBE AND SAVE’?

Given the kind of depth Amazon has in online retail, along with its pioneering presence and global dominance, we can say the company will soon be India’s biggest online retailer, a market that is soon projected to have the world’s largest middle class. And the way it is moving up its product chains, it is leaving behind a widening gap for other biggies of the space, i.e., Flipkart, Snapdeal, Shopclues and so on, to fill.

Like many of its good initiatives, Amazon India started an easy to subscribe (and modify) ‘subscribe and save’ category last month. Under this category, buyers can monthly subscribe for products from among eight categories. Though the catalogue is pretty short, we can say it has begun on a good note. A customer has the option to opt for frequency of delivery – from one to six months – for each product.

There are two offers with this category that make it worth a pick.

The first is obviously the comfort of home delivery and Amazon has an efficient one. 

The second is about the 10% discount on offer. If one subscribes for more than three products a month, a flat 10% discount on every product is yours.

Obviously, one can get a better deal in many wholesale markets of Delhi where the norm is between 15-20% discount. But here it is about the comfort of ordering from your smartphone or computer from anywhere you are, saving your flesh and soul from the nightmare of Delhi’s traffic and its overcrowded markets. I am talking about Delhi here because I stay here and my experiences pushed me to write this piece.

But in this case – with this ‘subscribe and save’ option – the comfort level of this convenient home delivery option is proving a burden, as well as an embarrassment.

How?

I recount here.

Last month I subscribed for some 10 products under ‘subscribe and save’ category. Two were bathroom air fresheners from Godrej (Godrej Aer Pocket Bathroom Fragrance) – of different fragrances. These two were delivered a week apart. In fact, every product of my order was delivered on different days.

So, that is there where the problem lies.

Amazon sent its guys some 8 to 10 times, stretch over some 10 days, to deliver those products I subscribed last month if I am recollecting properly.

There is always these messages popping up that your products has been packed, that it is ready to ship, that it has been shipped, that it will be delivered today. With the usual tag line – please keep cash or your card ready! Here I would like to mention another thing – none of the delivery guys were carrying the card swipe machine - even if I asked for the one sometimes.

It wastes your time. There is always this leftover in your mind that you have to be at home as the Amazon guy would come to deliver the product.

Also, on a social/societal note, your neighbours would obviously think what has happened to this guy that he is ordering so much online, even if you ordered the basic stuff you need every month. The problem of plenty that was never there!

Does it make any better business sense?

I was thinking to call Amazon for many days to register my thoughts. Today I got my call patched. The guy on the other side sounded sincere on my complaint and he said he would send the feedback up. But he also said that it was due to the cycle of availability of products. Amazon makes a product available to its customers as soon as it reaches its warehouses and, according to him, that is the reason behind the multiple runs of errands.

So, Amazon is incurring loss here. It is what a common ‘common sense’ says. After all, you need to pack the product – that costs. I would say, again of Godrej air fresheners – a small strip worth Rs. 45 was in a packing that would obviously be costly. And as I wrote, I had ordered two.

Then there is this wastage of manpower hours. All the products from a single order, with a tag date of 11 of every month, can be delivered on any chosen day before that tag date. It doesn’t make sense to send 10 guys to deliver 10 products on 10 different days - of a single order.

Or does it?

Does Amazon India see any logical sense in this logistical spiral?

Because I believe I am not alone in thinking so! 


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Featured Image Courtesy: Screenshot from Amazon India website

Friday, 27 May 2016

MAMATA AGAIN: WHERE IS LEFT FRONT’S PROLETARIAT PLANK?

Mamata Banerjee took oath today, again after five years in chief minister’s office of West Bengal, for another five years.

It was a historic mandate in 2011 when she unseated the Left Front in a state that had become synonymous with the presence of the Reds in India, the Communists, with 34 years of unbridled run. It was a comfortable majority then – 184 seats in a House of 294.

It is even better this time – with more seats and a greater vote share.

And this brilliant victory, we can say, has effectively countered the last (and the foremost) claim of the Reds – that they represent the proletariat against everything that is bourgeoisie.

In this election, Mamata simply outdid the Left Front by stripping it of that ideological plank.

She got wide support of the proletariat as well as the bourgeoisie class.

To sum up symbolically, Mamata won all 11 assembly constituencies in Kolkata (like 2011) - and she swept the Jangalmahal region also, the rural belt of Maoist insurgency in West Bengal.

She won 211 of the 294 assembly constituencies the election was fought for – winning 45% of votes – 6% more than the last time.

While the Left Front, with all its constituents, could win just 32 seats.

How ironical that is!

The Left Front’s vote share last time was around 32%. It has drastically come down to some 20% in 2016.

Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee has kept her winning spree on in the state – winning Panchayat, civic bodies and 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state since 2011 – in spite of - first the Saradha scam – and now the Narada taint.

Yes, it is premature to write off the Left Front yet. It is, in fact, not a good sign for the health of Indian politics that is already reeling under the crisis of the absence of a powerful political opposition. After all, a true democratic spirit cannot flow unless there is an influential and responsible political opposition in a country.

But, for the moment, it is like a hara-kiri moment for the Left Front.

The country will watch how they survive this turn of events, something that they themselves are responsible for – allying with a party, Congress, the opposition of which was the driving force behind the Left Front’s citadel in West Bengal.

And the irony is – the Left Front was fighting against a Congress – with another Congress’s support!

After all, Mamata Banerjee was a career Congress politician from West Bengal before she formed her own political outfit – the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC or TMC as we say it). Whether Congress remained in her DNA or not we cannot say but she chose to include Congress in her party’s name.  

West Bengal’s proletariat and bourgeois simply didn’t buy this sham symbolism.  

Instead, they chose to go for painting the Red Road Blue, once again, and with a more profound writing on the wall.

Have the Left Front comrades started reading it? Because if they don’t – they’ll soon be a closed chapter in India’s political annals! 


Featured Image Courtesy: AITC’s Twitter page

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 26 May 2016

MODI GOVT @ 2: A DAY OF STATISTICAL TALES

Today was basically a field days for spokespersons. They tried to cover as much length and breadth of this country as possible and they tried to speak as louder as they could so as to become audible (and visible) to media and social media eyes and ears and so on. What was put in action some days ago saw its top pitch today and will have its various notes in the days to come.

The biggest of them (in stature), held big sized rallies like the one held by Narendra Modi in Saharanpur.

Then there were extensions - from the ruling party - and from the opposition - selling and counter-selling achievements and allegations.

And then there were propped up or spontaneous splinter entities - on airwaves - blessing or bashing the two years of the Narendra Modi government.

Now, statistics tells what you want it to tell.

So, Narendra Modi, his spokespersons, other leaders of his party and his supporters have plenty to tell - from social empowerment - to introducing structural changes in infrastructure - to industrial turnaround - to internal and external security - to foreign policy.

Likewise, Narendra Modi and BJP's political rivals, including Modi's detractors, have as much in their kitty as they want to scatter - and they want to scatter it all.

So, if NDA and BJP's ministers, MPs and other leaders are busy holding meetings and rallies in different parts of countries, hard-selling their claimed achievements in these two years - the two years, that according to them, have changed India - political rivals and opposition, including Congress, Left Front, JDU, AAP and others are busy hard-selling their counterpoints - presenting point by point rebuttal of government's claims.

But the fact is - statistics doesn't really tell the stories that pull votes in times of elections - if figures are without facts - or even if figures are with flimsy facts. We all saw how NDA's 'India Shining' campaign crumbled in 2004. We saw how miserably the Manmohan Singh led UPA government failed in convincing people in 2014 Lok Sabha polls that it indeed had delivered on governance.

Like Modi has directed his ministers and party members to take their achievements to people, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, too, had tried. The difference is - Modi is on the job right from the first year of his government while Manmohan Singh's government tried it as a desperate campaign measure in the face of a sky-high anti-incumbency after nine years in the office.

Obviously, those statistical tales didn't help Manmohan Singh and Congress then and the party was reduced to its lowest tally of 44 in the Lok Sabha. Narendra Modi must be having that in mind.

The biggest currency that Narendra Modi has, after two years in government, is - he still has no competition at his level. He is still the most popular politician, one of the most popular prime ministers and the gap between him and others who could pose as his rival to the prime minister's office in 2019 is comfortably wide. In fact, he is sitting at the top pretty comfortably.

After two years of Narendra Modi in 7RCR, the official residence of India's prime minister, India, still, has no political alternative to him.

But then, three years is a long time in India's political landscape. Anything can happen. Let's see which way the political tide turns (and soars) starting with the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections early next year.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

QUESTIONS BJP NEED TO ASK BEFORE COMMENCING ON ITS STRATEGY FOR UP ASSEMBLY POLLS

THE QUESTIONS

Is the Assam verdict assuring enough to get complacent over BJP's chances and challenges in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state in India with maximum Lok Sabha and assembly seats and therefore with the maximum count of Rajya Sabha claims?

Has BJP not committed blunder by appointing Keshav Prasad Maurya, a Lok Sabha MP from Phulpur constituency in Allahabad district, a virtually unknown face in the power corridors so far, either in Uttar Pradesh, or in Delhi?

Couldn't BJP find a known face in Uttar Pradesh? Irrespective of credentials and controversies associated with Keshav Prasad Maurya, it goes without saying that even many supporters of BJP did not know much about him before his coronation.

Are the credentials of being an OBC, his association with RSS and hailing from a humble background enough to mobilize votes in India's most populous state where the ruling party of India of the day was forced to the third spot with a meagre 47 seats out of 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh? Also, Uttar Pradesh is the state from where BJP began its journey to where it is in India's political circles now.

And what about the baggage Maurya carries? He may have a humble background, but now he is a millionaire with multiple criminal cases lodged against him. His 2014 Lok Sabha affidavit declared assets worth Rs. 9 crore. To name a few, he has a filling station and a private hospital in partnership. Certainly not a saleable package politically (and electorally)!

Before appointing Mauyra, did BJP factor in why it performed so brilliantly in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, and why it has lost every subsequent bye-election in the state?

Although it is slipping beyond any possible damage control exercise now, has the BJP introspected about why it ignored Uttar Pradesh since winning the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls?

A natural corollary to the previous question is - are the BJP strategists, including Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and the RSS leadership, confident enough that they have sufficient time to regain the lost ground and so to reclaim the state - nine odd months now - when the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh are to be held? 

A sub-question to that is - does BJP feel honestly that is has lost the much ground it gained during the Lok Sabha polls in 2014? That is the key to do any exercise that it intends to do now - to map the trajectory ahead.

It is beyond speculation that Keshav Prasad Maurya cannot be the BJP's chief-ministerial nominee. Although he hails from the Kushwaha community (OBC), that forms around 8% of Uttar Pradesh's population, he is simply not magnetic enough to pull a significant chunk of OBC voters from a population segments that is 40% of the total. What is then the basis of projecting him as the OBC face of BJP in Uttar Pradesh?

Can Keshav Prasad Maurya successfully play the OBC card by equating himself with prime minister Narendra Modi, an OBC and a Chaiwala like him (as Maurya claims), given the fact that BJP has not performed well, in Jayapur, Varanasi's village adopted by Narendra Modi where BJP lost local village polls recently and in Varanasi, Narendra Modi's parliamentary constituency?

And the natural extension to all this is - who will then be the BJP's chief-ministerial nominee? Obviously, it should be someone from the upper caste communities who have been traditional BJP voters. The upper caste voters were an important factor behind Mayawati's caste/social engineering in 2007 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh that gave her complete majority. This time also, Mayawati and her party BSP are ahead in the race, as the projections so far say, and therefore, retaining upper caste voters will be a problem for BJP, especially when its new state president has replaced a Brahmin, Laxmikant Bajpai from Meerut. Names of claimants are already doing rounds - Varun Gandhi or Smriti Irani or even Rajnath Singh - or will it be someone else? Certainly, here Amit Shah cannot prop anyone like Keshav Prasad Maurya and it is going to be a difficult decision to take. 

And these are just the primary questions BJP needs to introspect before beginning on any activity in Uttar Pradesh. The party needs to take a top-down approach here because there isn't enough time left for reorganization (and restructuring)  of the party and the party should hope it works for bottom-up issues - like galvanizing cadres and district units - to do their best for the names the party finalizes. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/

Sunday, 22 May 2016

VARANASI WEAVERS: GADDI AND GADDEDAR

Varanasi is a big market, catering to the markets across the India as well as abroad. The concept of Gaddi is basically about distribution the shops. A Gaddi translates to 'seat' in English.

Gaddis is a colloquial/local/social term that is used across many parts of North, East and even Central India, in many businesses. It's kind of having 'seat' of something in your possession - say of business transaction here. So, there may be seats of quilt businesses, of jewellery, of even paan (betel), and so on.

A Gaddi is a seat of central prominence in the circle of stakeholders localised in a particular area and is held by its owner, the businessman, the Gaddidar. Basically, he is a kind of facilitator, a trader, who ensures the product flows to the market from the manufacturer.

They are like small aggregators who sell either to shops or to big aggregators. We can say Gaddidars are equivalent to the local wholesale traders. Though there are no specifics, there should be around 2000 Gaddis in a city like Varanasi.

They work as intermediaries between weavers and the middlemen transacting business for weavers and big traders, i.e., stores, showrooms, handloom houses, design boutiques, big textile conglomerates, big wholesale traders and so on.

Then there are some very big businesses/export houses, in fact aggregators, including some Muslims. And again, most of them only distribute the product, in reaching to the scattered domesitc and overseas markets.

The flow is like:

From Sardars (the community leaders of weavers) - to the aggregators/Gaddidars (Hindus as well also Muslims) - to the big aggregators/export houses/distributors (Hindus and Muslims).  

It all depends on how we define aggregators.

From a weaver to the prospective buyer, these all act in some way as middlemen, eating into the real worth of a product - the huge difference - in what a weaver gets - and on the price the product is sold in the market.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey - http://severallyalone.blogspot.com/