Confessions : Choosing is a difficult business. I know this out of personal experience and observation. All sorts of people come here, and t...
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Yesterday I finally decided to pay Nu 10 and take the disco pencils from the withered boy who comes to greet any commuter the moment the traffic signal turns red. A couple of days back, on my way to work at the Hindustan Times House, I came across these groups of children, who looked more dedicated and punctual. They have now become a part of my internship at The Mint, a business paper in collaboration with the Wall Street Journal.
On a summer day, I join the office goers in the capital city of Delhi, hiding my face behind sun glasses to protect my flushed face, and ear phones that hooks me to radio fever 104 FM throughout the 30-minute ride from home. As I reach office, I feel like a Bollywood actress (I mean one wearing a see through dress, thanks to the sweat). I get down from the auto and walk across the subway to office.
The very next moment, I find myself standing tiny with almost a dozen of unfamiliar faces, of which only some care to smile. Here, I have learnt to smile less. The moment I enter The MintOffice, I get a homely feeling. Over the past few days here, I have managed to introduce and get introduced to a couple of grilled journalists and beginners.
Unlike, the news room back home, one doesn’t have time to greet their colleague sitting opposite. Here there is no time to sit and gossip. The reporters are good and aggressive; a tactic that I seriously need to learn.
The huge office bay doesn’t allow you to know each and every person here and it’s not until the lunch break till you actually get to see these people lighten up at the office canteen. It always packed but amazingly never runs short of food.
We never saw reporters sitting beside the editor when he is editing his story or not even see a reporter going to say he has filed the story. The office runs on a computer intranet called idos, which smooth the progress for the editorial team. No one needs to meet in person.
While I struggle to make my way through the coordination here, I keep counting the days. I panic if any of the stories I do would appear, I rush to bother the few sources who have become familiar to me. I look at my watch. It’s getting late and I am told, it is unsafe here.
I pack my equipments, take an auto and enter the fleet of vehicles that show no sign of vanishing.
This is new for me, and this is news.
Looking through his thick lenses around the busy Saturday market, Birkha Bahadur, 49, signals a vendor at the next row settling back on his tattered stool, “The man was supposed to come by 12 noon and collect the meat but hasn’t showed up.”
Birkha Bahadur occupies a small space in the Centenary Farmers’ Market. He brings mutton from Tsirang and sells it to buyers in Thimphu. He fixes the deal through his mobile phone when the sheep is slaughtered back in Tsirang.
Bhutan’s move from having no mobile phones to a growth in mobile subscribers in 2008 was close to 100%. The technology has been the biggest boon in the microfinance sector and transformed rural society.
Although Bhutan’s mobile banking system is not fully fledged compared to other countries, mobiles have compensated for insufficient infrastructure such as no roads, telephone and post offices making communication easy helping in expanding market efficiency and market behavior.
And service providers are willing to collaborate.
“Bank can provide banking facility and we can provide access,” said Thinley Dorji, the managing director of Bhutan Telecom. He added that the mobile facility takes off better in remote areas. He said there is a need to promote public awareness and educate the farmers and how to make the best use of the facility.
Currently, Bhutan has around 300,000 mobile users and around one-third of the users are from rural areas.
Bhutan National Bank (BNB) launched mobile banking system in March making banking possible throughout the country. BNB tied up with B-Mobile and Tashi Cell. Balance inquiry, transaction details, money transfer and bill payments is at your finger tips.
The service is faster, cheaper and safer way to transfer money than the alternatives, including handing an envelope of cash to a bus driver.
The Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay, wrote it in his blog: “Almost half our population, and mostly farmers, now carry cell phones. So mobile banking should now be possible throughout the country. And our farmers should finally find it worthwhile to open bank accounts.”
With rural mobile phone use for business, farmers can now save money and have safe banking facility.
All this have direct impact on economic growth: an extra 10 phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points, according to the World Bank. More than 4bn handsets are now in use worldwide, three-quarters of them in the developing world.
A report from the Ministry of Agriculture, states better marketing facilities have resulted in an increase in food production which has raised income and improved the livelihood of the population. Marketing has boomed after the portable device entered the scenario.
Tenzin Chophel, the communication officer of the Ministry of Agriculture told Business Bhutan that, “today every rural household owns a mobile and they can communicate through it with the agriculture administrators in their dzongkhag.”
Villagers in Dungkar, Lhuentse, a one-and-a-half hour walk away from the main road, now have the option to send a message when and how to collect the potatoes and also fix the deals with potential brokers before the yield.
Aum Zam, 58, a Kishuthara weaver in the Bumthang, looking proudly at her Nokia 1100 said, “Business has been going good for me, I get orders from my buyers on my mobile. Once the order is done, I inform and ask my customer to come and collect it.”
Sherab Gyelsten, a gewog administrator explains how the farmers in Tsirang have been using the mobile service to get farming tips. He said, “rather than wasting a day to visit the help center, the farmers can call and get the help.”
A study by the World Resource Institute found that as developing-world incomes rise, household spending on mobile phones grow faster than spending on electricity water or anything.
The Bhutan Telecom managing director said, “Banks should see it as an opportunity to reach out to new customers. Tie-ups between banks and operators will help support the rural customers and expand the scope.”
Whether one believes in the hypothesis of the world coming to an end in 2012 or not, one bitter question we can disagree on is; do we even have to wait for the predictions to come true?
This morning, I woke to the death news of somebody I knew. He had fallen off a cliff with his Maruti van (Uncle had given me a lift some years ago). Although I was sad, I could do much rather than praying that his family can gulp down the loss.
Later in the evening, I hear another death story of someone my mother grew up with. He died of a prolonged illness.
This is definitely not the first time I have lost somebody I know but then every time I hear about it, I tend to relate all loose ends.
One might chose to die a natural death or from a prolonged disease. But I am sure; no one would like to have a surprise death. And yes, Death does not come with a notice. It just looms over our head and takes you off-guard.
I have always wondered what would go in the mind of somebody who knows he is dying.
I assume, by the time you realize you are dying, you might not get a chance to even bid farewell to your family and your loved ones. It might just look like any other day in your life; you might have works pending, you might have promised your beloved a surprise and then it suddenly strikes and you lie there helpless: with the death knell seizing your life away.
Your voice will never be heard again, neither your smile bring happiness to your family. All that will be left of you will be memories that will soon be mellowed with other aspects of life.
And even if 2012 doesn’t bring an end, you will at least be a history for your family. It might take a while for your family to balance life with your absence, but they would learn to live with it overtime.
Although we cannot change anything, we all wish that nothing happens to our loved ones; we never have to lose them.
If only we knew when our time on earth is coming to an end, and we could bid farewell to our family and friends. And let them know how much we love them and care. And how much we want to grow old with them.
Never mind, while the whole world is living with it, I think it is okay for God to be so ignorant!!