Tag Archive for 'Ladakh'

The Three ” S ” Curves of Growth and Life .

The S Curve is a ” Line of Beauty ” as described by William Hogarth . According to him any object in nature or man made  designed on a  S Curve suggest grace and beauty . His famous paintings bear testimony for this and any expert viewer can discern this pattern in his works .

We have adapted this beautiful principle in work and life . Look at the mountain roads or causeways or rivers and you can discern the utility and harmony of the S curves. The famous Hangroo Loops in Ladakh on the Kargil – Srinagar highway in India has 18 symmetrical hairpin bends – seen as S Curves from above which helps drivers navigate a sudden drop of altitude from 14,000 feet to 9000 feet just in about 6 miles . The curved facades of buildings or body line of passenger cars enhance their aesthetics and make them energy efficient .

In life , we pass through number of life stages – adolescence , adult and then an old person . Every stage signifies a growth in one’s life . Even if we take a career mapping for us , it could be a young man’s growth in his first and main vocation followed by a second career not so intense but more fulfilling and then a slower paced life with a more rewarding and purposeful mission in life before we fade away.

The message of S Curve is universal . It signifies utility , poise ,development , growth , purpose and above all is in harmony with nature . No wonder we also call it the Hogarth Curve.

Line of Control – LC and Line of Actual Control – LAC

LC and LAC are the de jure or de facto names used to explain the political – military  border  between India and Pakistan and India and China respectively. Both these are still under dispute in spite of many round of talks at the government level during the last 40 years or more .

In the era of globalisation of business and soft borders in Europe , this situation in the Asian context is an anachronism and the lack of trust and ego clashes translate many times into cross border terrorism in the case of India and Pakistan and alleged  encroachments in the case of India and China . This situation also necessitates large scale deployment of Armed Forces at great costs in difficult terrain on permanent basis and frequently tests the nerves of politicians on either side.

The situation on the ground and the human drama played out during peace time on the LC or LAC is quite different .  During 1967 when I was posted at Kargil , I saw Pakistani  villagers being permitted to cross the LC and fetch water for daily use by the Indian  villagers. The troops at the LC never objected to these daily forays . I also saw a  house at the LC in the Rajouri sector where one window was on the Indian side and another window on the Pakistan side. Of course , this house was abandoned .

Thanks to no delineation of border north of NJ  9842  in Ladakh region, the Siachen conflict happened . While we have some world records to boast in terms of heights and costs of military operation at this sector , stalemate continues . In NEFA or Tawang sector in particular , there is also a standing dispute  on the McMahon Line on the Water shed separating India and China . The Chinese still depend on vintage maps of  ancient dynasties to claim territory and there is no meeting ground anywhere .

Where do we go from here? Many opportunities for  durable settlements of border were lost in the past either due to lack of foresight or sufficient knowledge of ground realities .  Do we continue to harbour such mistrust and commit enormous funds to maintain  a fragile status quo or get on to business assimilating the new paradigm on International relations and live in harmony as good neighbours in the future? . A tall order for the politicians on either side indeed- but not  unsurmountable.

Encounters with the ” Other Indians “

As we enter the second decade  of the 21st century  and envision a double digit annual growth of our economy successfully  managing the fall out of a global recession  , the main stream Indians have many things to cheer about – financial acumen ,  industrial growth ,  improved literacy and primary health care . However ,  the kaleidoscopic  demography of India throws up many challenges concerning those people who live in the fringes – those other Indians . During the last six decades , I had occasions to encounter some of them in their habitat . Let me recount these experiences .

When I was a school boy , a couple  used to come to our house at around midnight  and sing a song for the well being of our family members invoking the God’s Grace .This used to be a random occurance  and  I used to look forward to it . My father told me they are ” PANANS  ” and this is their routine from generations and they were very contended with small change or rice my mother used to give them . I understand this custom is very much there even now in many parts of Kerala .

When I was posted in Ladakh as a captain in the Army , I encountered the Ladakhi villagers who used to live frugally in one of the most inhospitable  terrain  in the world . They used to work for the Army as labor and I still remember the “Chhang – a country brew ” and ” Gud Gud Chai [tea without tea leaves – a cocoction prepared with butter and hot water] they served us when we visited one of our worker’s house . In spite of all developments in Ladakh ,the villagers still lead the same miserable life on a hand to mouth existence.

During my stay at Wellington , Nilgiris ,  in the 70’s we  encountered  the “Thodas ”  in the upper reaches of the Ooty botanical garden . A very exclusive aboriginal  tribe not affected by any developments around for centuries together. Recently,when I was in the US visiting my daughter , we had a chance to visit the ”  Amish people ” in the state of Pensylvania . I could not help remembering the Thodas of Nilgiris.

Recently, I went on a holiday trip with my wife to the Arakku Valley near Vizag in Andhra Pradesh . It was an experience to meet with the tribals and visit one of their weekly market . They still have a barter system  – a cashless transaction involving  village products .

In India , we have many such pockets where no development efforts have reached whether it  is education , electrification or communication. In many places in the remote reaches of Arunachal Pradesh, people have to walk for more than a day to reach a road head  to sell what they produce in the villages . As  a developing nation ,we need to do much more for these “Other Indians ” besides parading them every year in Delhi during our Republic day celeberations.