Old Friends are Gold!
New Friends are Diamond!
If you get a Diamond,
Don’t forget the Gold!
Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a Base of Gold!

Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist says that a person cannot have more than 150 stable social relationships.

I maintained two address books with manually entered names, addresses and telephone numbers. One was near the main telephone connection at home and one in my brief case which traveled with me wherever I went. Both are fairly tattered and much thumbed and I decided to make one new one as the brief case is of no use to me anymore.

After I completed the task, I counted the people in the new address book who can be considered to be my friends with who I have a stable relationships. I got 20. I added relatives without counting my siblings, nephews and nieces, who can also be considered as people with who I have a stable relationships and came up with 7. If I count my siblings and their children and grand children with all of who I have excellent relationships, I can add another 21.

I have room for 102 more! Must do something about it.

How about you? Do you think that this is a useful exercise? Or something that someone who has nothing else to do, can do but not you?


Welcome to the Loose Bloggers’ Consortium, where every Friday, some of us post on the same topic. Today’s topic “Family”, has been chosen by Conrad.

I would like to write about India’s most urgent problem of the family. If India’s family planning strategies could only work, our prosperity levels would be more equitable.

In the India that I was born in, large families were the norm. Family planning was unknown and the only abortions one heard of were miscarriages. Joint families of scores of members were quite common in the rural parts though in the cities not as many. Today, even in rural parts, such families have made their way for unitary families due to land holdings being parceled out to all heirs. The growth in total population however has been phenomenal. At the time of independence in 1947, we were around 350 million. We are now in excess of one billion.

Identifying the problem, even then as an important one, immediately after independence, the Indian government aggressively decided to promote family planning with a “We two, Ours two” policy.

This thrust shifted to a one child norm subsequently.

I suppose that it is some bureaucrat’s idea of parenthood that, the father is shown with that miserable look on his face!

Many strategies are in place including legislation for abortion being legal. Free sterilization surgeries in government hospitals, including regular camps for the same in rural areas with additional incentives, monetary or in kind, achieve some success,  but we are yet to reach satisfactory levels. In the 1965-2009 period, contraceptive usage has more than tripled (from 13% of married women in 1970 to 48% in 2009) and the fertility rate has more than halved (from 5.7 in 1966 to 2.7 in 2009), but the national fertility rate is still high enough to cause long-term undesirable population growth.

The problem is to take the message to the rural illiterate population. In the cities and towns success has been achieved, but where significant action is needed, the progress is slow.

Unfortunately, India being a democracy, the kind of intervention that China was able to make has not been possible. During the infamous emergency period, forced sterilizations were carried out and the ruling party paid dearly for it after the emergency was lifted and elections were held.

So, we now have the urban phenomenon of different types of families; DINKS (Double Income No Kids), DISKS (Doble Income Single Kid), SINKS (Single Income No Kids) and SISKS( Single Income Single Kid) and other variations of family planning on the one hand, and unplanned production of children in the rural and illiterate population of India. My own small family was among the early adapters of DISK which eventually became a SISK. Now, it is a TINK(Triple Income No Kid)!

The many types of large families that I have seen in my childhood and youth have all but disappeared but we still have a long way to go to reach sanity.

Changing India.

This is a guest post from my brother Arvind who resides at Chennai.

“Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters. . . .
All leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. . .
They’ll have sweet tongues & silly hearts. . .
They will fight amongst themselves for power & the two countries will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air & water will be taxed.”
-Sir Winston Churchill. On why he was against granting indedpendence to India and Pakistan.

Barring a very few notable exceptions among our leaders, everything has come true.

He also said “India is merely a geographical expression. It is no more a single country than the equator.” Here though India has proven him wrong. It is certainly a very diverse country but united nevertheless. There are contradictions but a common thread of hope running through it.

There are two stories in this guest post. One is the changing face of rapidly industrializing parts of India, the other is the badly managed parts of India from where people emigrate to the former. Bihar is one of the badly managed states, which has opted for better governance the last five years and has reelected a government that brought about change. It is too early for Bihar yet, but you will find hard working Biharis spread throughout India. Bihar’s economy is run mostly by remittances, but it is changing.

The story is told in typical Arvind fashion bringing a bit of humour to it. To understand the humour, you will need to learn about Lalu Prasad Yadav. Please read as much as you can about him from the link given here. He is the type of leader that Churchill talked about.

“I paid dearly with my hair for the economic growth of India.

Tamil Nadu and especially Chennai has been witnessing a steady growth of Bihari immigrants.

With so many automobile, and other industries mushrooming, in and around Chennai. the local unskilled and semi skilled workers are paid fancy wages. The garment and cell phone industries have gobbled up the women workers.

Nokia and Motorolla are employing their fleet of buses to ferry girls from as far away as Kancheepuram and Polur. to work in their factories. these girls were originally helping their family in weaving silk and cotton textiles.

So, to augment the unskilled and semi skilled work force requirements, companies are employing workers from out of Tamilnadu, or in other words, Biharis.

The boom in construction activities is totally Bihari oriented. The old Mahabalipuram Road on a Sunday evening is chockablock with Bihari youths. Hundreds of engineering, medical and other colleges, are engaging agents to get students from Bihar. This has even led to a few murders among the agents.

Even in a small scale industry like Sharana Industries, the unskilled workers are Biharis.
(Sharana Industries is owned by our cousins.)

I have been watching this influx with benign bemusement so far. After all, it is as much their country as it is mine. They have every right to migrate to any part of the country.

This morning, I went for a hair cut for me and my grandson.

Needless to say, Biharis have replaced the local barbers too!

And the only hair style the Bihari barbers know is the Lallu Prasad style.
And that’s what my grand son and I got!!!.

And I paid Rs.75/- for each of us.”


My brother Barath is aware of my take and interest in seeming coincidences. My regular readers will no doubt recollect the many instances about which I have written in my posts.

Here is a fascinating story as sent to me by Barath.

According to Vedanta, there is no such thing as a coincidence and that things happen that way for a reason. All that is missing is our ability to reason as to why these things happen.

Back in the early sixties (1963-1968) I was member of a youth fellowship in Edinburgh in Scotland. We were a disparate group of youngsters and participated in Sunday worship as well as putting on various stage shows on an annual basis and the Sunday before Christmas, we would hire a coach and visit an old people’s home in Perthshire called Blair House where we would enact a nativity play and entertain the old folks, who used to look forward to our visit as they were mainly left alone and any company was welcome to them. We enjoyed the camaraderie and also found it touching that some of the old folk got to know us individually and would wait patiently to share all their woes and aches and pains with us.

One of the members of the fellowship was a young lady by the name of Joyce McCluckey who was a very vivacious, easy going and likeable girl, was popular with all the boys and of course, I had a secret crush on her but was way too shy in those days to let her know. From time to time I would visit her and her sister in their home in Leith in Edinburgh and her mother would always make us very welcome, I do not remember her father but have a feeling that he had passed away and that the mother was raising them the best she could. Clearly she had made a pretty good fist of it.

The youth fellowship eventually drifted apart and we all went our separate ways. Last year, I was sent an invite by one of my fellow Boys brigader Scott, to attend the 150 year celebrations of the Boys Brigade, and my former brigade the Lucky 4th Leith Company. Lo and behold, who turned up at this reunion but the redoubtable Joyce, vivacious as ever, had been married and divorced, but was working in DURHAM UNIVERSITY as the PA to the Professor of Applied Physics there. I am now in the oil and Gas business and we chatted a while. She had been invited to the Brigade celebrations as she had been a staff member of the lifeboys which was the junior brigade before the kids graduated to the Boys Brigade. I gave her my business card, we promised to be in touch and like most people went home and promptly forgot all about it.

I am now the father of two sons, both solicitors in London and the younger is Simon who is marrying Hannah his fiance in Edinburgh next month. Simon attended DURHAM UNIVERSITY and obtained his law degree there. One of his closest friends is a likable lad by the name of Jonathan Dover whom I have met several times and shared the odd glass of wine! He likes me enough to have shared Facebook and Linked line with me and I have kept in touch with his comings and goings over the last three years. He is a close enough buddy of Simon’s for him to be asked to be an usher at Simon’s wedding in Edinburgh.

Yesterday I received this e-mail from Joyce:

“Hi Barath,
Discovered your business card and just thought I would drop you an email.
I was speaking to my sister-in-law just before Christmas and she was telling me about her son, my nephew Jonathan Dover, being an usher at a wedding in Edinburgh in February. She mentioned a few things and I said “ I am sure I know the parents of Simon”, his father and I grew up together! Anyway I checked with Margaret and Fred (they have been in touch with me since the reunion) and, of course, it was ‘the wedding’, coincidence!”

Now, how strange is that? My son attends the same University Joyce works at and her nephew is my son’s wedding Usher? I wonder if people with greater knowledge of the Universe would state that there must be some previous life connection between Joyce and Barath?”

I am sure that other things will happen and events take place that will bring Joyce’s and Barath’s families closer in the future too. That is how the universe works!