Cancer Debate Around Sadhguru’s Quote

Image result for sadhguru pics

Sadhguru

To start with, one has sympathies for those who are suffering from or have lost near and dear ones to cancer. One also has respect for those who have successfully fought and defeated cancer and are leading a healthy life today.

That brings us to Sadhguru‘s tweets on the subject on World Cancer Day

I came across numerous responses to these tweets, especially the former one and I responded to some. However, this article in particular caught my attention.

One was pained to see sweeping generalisations, with Sadhguru having been painted with the same brush as other Gurus. However, that is hardly a surprise. In an age of limited attention span and relentless social media outrage, taking a step back, getting into details and forming a considered opinion is at a premium.

The article referred to earlier mentions the word ‘cure’ (cancer) six times, hinting as if Sadhguru has made any such claim in the referred tweet or otherwise. On the contrary, Sadhguru propagates leading a healthy life using techniques of Inner Engineering that help PREVENT ailments like cancer. What’s wrong with this message to generate an outrage of the sort we have seen?

If you read the blog post titled Cancer: A Yogic Perspective by Isha Foundation, you will come across the following passage :-

Fundamentally, yoga is not a form of treatment. This is a way of balancing your inner energies. We never really treat the physical or mental body in that sense. Irrespective of what the disease is, we only aim at balancing and activating the energy body.

Essentially, Sadhguru talks about adopting yoga practices for inner well-being; taking care of the energy body, thereby ensuring proper flow of energy to even those organs which are not in active use and have the danger of nurturing cancerous cells. So , Sadhguru talks about PREVENTION and not CURE of cancer.

One cancer patient asked Sadhguru about a cure. Check what Sadhguru replied, especially starting 4:40 minutes in the video!

Sadhguru clearly mentions that once one has contracted cancer, it is better to pursue an allopathic treatment. Yoga can definitely help in overcoming the after-effects of chemotherapy but patients should not run the risk by not taking allopathic treatment.

Some critics mentioned that if cancer was a self-created, what explains cancer to kids or passive smokers? Valid point. If one reads the blog post Cancer: A Yogic Perspective carefully, it clearly mentions that there are external causes of cancer. But in most cases, root cause lies in imbalances in the energy body. This is preventable.

So, what was the outrage about?

Posted in Cancer, Health, India, Isha Foundation, Sadhguru, Social Media, Spirituality, Twitter, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Twitter Debate

img_2866

@PritishNandy recently wrote why he felt Twitter was dying. His article received widespread response, both for and against, and it is this debate that prompted me to write this blog post.

What Pritish Nandy wrote has been doing the rounds for quite some time now. The New Yorker, in its January 2016 piece, was quite emphatic about Twitter’s decline. Advertisers and Marketers focussing on digital media have been livid about a less-than-encouraging ROI on Twitter.

I have studied both sides of the debate over the years. However, I have been surprised by some of the arguments put forth after Pritish Nandy’s article to explain that all was well with Twitter and that it was up to the users to make full use of the medium. Take, for example, this thread of tweets.

Some said, Twitter user base couldn’t be compared to Facebook’s.

Even @ValaAfshar’s tweet has been quoted and widely circulated as an argument about all being well with Twitter.

One cannot disagree with the above sets of tweets. However, none of them refer to data. There is where the problem lies. Let me explain.

Below is the trend of Monthly Active Users (MAU) as declared by Twitter.

img_2865

If you notice, the MAU growth has been plateauing since Q1 of 2015. So, while Twitter obviously can’t be compared to Facebook, such nominal growth indicates serious issues with the medium. Stagnation is death.

While the ad revenues are growing as of now, they are much below expectations and there are reports of advertisers reducing their spend on Twitter in the future owing to low ROI.

While the Board of Directors of Twitter has taken cognisance of the problem and has already made changes in the Twitter leadership and has even put the organisation up for sale, many Twitter users remain oblivious of the larger picture of poor AMU growth and ad ROI issues.

To conclude, I agree that Twitter isn’t going to die anytime soon. However, if many users feel that Twitter isn’t what it used to be; and the same is supported by data, one must sit up and take notice. Negligible AMU growth indicates that, if not addressed, Twitter is ripe for disruption.

Posted in Business, Social Media, Technology, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthier And Happier – Inner Transformation With Yoga

  • On my last travel to Rajasthan, my home state, I happened to meet an old industry friend after almost 7 years. The moment he saw me, he exclaimed, “Aman, you are getting younger with age!” Of course due to paucity of time, yoga couldn’t be discussed but he was emphatic in his observation.
  • Whenever I read stories of self-sacrifice or one displaying humanity, tears roll down my cheeks. This is a two year old phenomenon and coincides with my spiritual journey.
  • During my annual medical tests for the last 3 years, the reviewing doctor has consistently been asking me what I do to maintain my health. I tell him that while I practise yoga as a spiritual process, good health is a by-product. He then just blesses me with the statement, “See you next year”; meaning he would love my not visiting him again till the next year’s check-up got due.
  • A person was shouting at me for reasons best known to him. However, I didn’t feel disturbed or agitated at all. I maintained my calm (quite unlike what I used to be before I got introduced to Isha Foundation) and let it pass.

I attribute all of the above to the yoga practises I learnt at the Isha Foundation. I have attended Inner Engineering Retreat twice where I learnt the Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya preceded by ancient preparatory asanas like the Surya Namaskar

I practise the entire sequence for 1.5 hours in the morning. I also learnt Isha Kriya preceded by another set of preparatory asanas in the Isha Insight program that I attended at the ashram in 2015. I practise this for an hour in the evening. That is, I spend 2.5 hours a day practising the profound yoga asanas and Kriyas that I have learnt.

My job entails travelling 10-15 days a month. But I ensure that I do the kriyas every day. 

Of late, I have been getting opportunities to share my experiences on stage at Isha’s sathsangs which I occasionally attend to rectify errors, if any, in my practises. I then decided to just put down my thoughts in a blog post.

Dietary Discipline And Weight Loss
When I first learnt the Shambhavi Mahamudra Kriya in February 2013 as part of the Inner Engineering Retreat Program, I was told to practise the Kriya twice a day for 45 days. However, I could follow the twice-a-day schedule for 7 months, dedicating an hour each in the morning and evening every day. Since there had to be adequate gaps between food intake and the Kriya, my intake automatically reduced to 3 times a day regimen – breakfast, lunch & dinner. So, all the samosas, kachoris and gulab jamuns that I consumed on occasions in the intervening hours got eliminated. This dietary discipline coupled with regular practise helped me reduce my weight (while that was not the intention of my yoga) thereby making my body more flexible.

Eliminated Anger


I got introduced to yoga essentially to be able to control my anger. I occasionally blew my top thinking that it was an appropriate way of getting my job done. When the subject came up during my formal training at the Isha ashram, I asked this question, “How and why should I not get angry when I think that’s the only way to get my job done?” I was awestruck by the simplicity yet profoundness of the answer. “Do not get angry. Just act angry. That will help you maintain your inner peace.” I practise this till date and will continue to do for ever. I have realised that I cannot give the keys to how I feel from the inside to someone else. That has to be in my control.

Improved Health

With regular practise, my health parameters have improved. Instances of falling ill have come down and I feel light and rejuvenated all day. My breath is balanced; a feeling I was oblivious to before I started regular yoga practises. My snoring is gone (still wondering how that happened!) and sleep quality has improved so dramatically that 5-6 hours of sleep a day (and an afternoon nap on weekends) is good enough.

As Sadhguru says, “Are you creating poison within you or the fragrance of the Divine? This is a choice.” I have made my choice through my own inner engineering!

Posted in Health, Spirituality, Yoga | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

India is the best!

Ah! The luxury I enjoy in India while checking into a hotel – a warm welcome by the staff followed by the bell-boy support to carry the luggage to the room – quite unlike Europe.

As I checked into a 4-star hotel during my recent Europe trip, I noticed there was no drinking water in the room. I enquired at the reception and was told that the empty refrigerator was meant for me to keep my items. If I needed drinking water, I could use the tap water from the washroom 🤔 as the restaurant or the bar wasn’t yet open and hence I shouldn’t expect any supplies from room service at that hour.

In another hotel, I and my room-mate weren’t able to charge our mobiles as the adaptors were incompatible with the sockets. On requesting either an extension chord or compatible adaptors, the operator told us that extension chords couldn’t be provided for security reasons and the hotel had only one spare adaptor which could be provided against a security deposit 😟

On arrival at the Zurich airport from Prague, I tried logging into the airport wifi. It asked for my cell number for the OTP SMS. The SMS never arrived. Same with all my colleagues. Any intervention for troubleshooting would have been time consuming. So, we moved on.

As I arrived at the Paris airport from Zurich, I waited for about 30 minutes before luggage appeared at the conveyor belt. As I tried to log into the airport wifi to utilise my time, I couldn’t. Then I thought of charging my mobile but see what, not a single charging point was in working condition!

All the drivers and the guides, though quite courteous and punctual, were inflexible too. I noticed certain instances when they could have acted beyond the call of duty but didn’t. Remember Ratan Tata’s lament when Tata Motors took over JLR?

I can go on and on. My question is, how would have we reacted when faced with such irritants in India? Quite unsparing in our criticism, I know.

Netherlands has 2/3rd of it’s land below sea level. It is so short of land that expansion through reclamation is the order of the day. Also, water has to be continuously pumped out into the sea with high capacity pumping machines from whatever limited land the country has. Though adequate safeguards have been made, the country constantly fears flooding.

The above instances are just pointers. After my recent visit, I have other reasons to believe as well that Saare Jahaan Se Accha Hindostan Hamara (India is the best).

European countries are so small that it made me wonder why they weren’t a single country in the first place; or a stable EU at least. How can such small nations be secure, self reliant and thriving in the long run? This made me salute our leaders (like Sardar Patel) who ensured amalgamation of all provinces into a single nation. They realised that anything short of single nationhood would be a disaster, as had been in history.

Demographics in Europe seems to be unfavourable in the long run. The working age population is declining. Immigrants are therefore being allowed (exceptions apart) but the ISIS problem has complicated even that.

The European economy isn’t growing fast enough. People aren’t able to grow their businesses. A simple example. I noticed shopkeepers across Europe irritated and short tempered. They expected that if a customer entered the shop, he/she MUST buy. Else, strange reactions ensued. And no, this wasn’t about bargaining. I noticed the trend in fixed price shops as well.

This is not to say that all is bad in Europe. The way the Swiss have developed their snow peaks (like Mt Titlis) is remarkable! But I understand that scenic beauty of India’s Kashmir and Rohtang Pass (Himachal Pradesh) is mind blowing; if only we developed these locations as tourist destinations matching the level the Swiss have done in Mt Titlis.


India has a lot to learn from Europe – cleanliness, discipline, traffic etiquettes etc.. I am just saying that we have the potential to get there.

India is a resource-rich country with demographics in her favour. She is the fastest growing economy in the world. She has a stable government and sound democratic systems. Her armed forces are professional and adequately equipped to defend her borders. She has a large domestic, consumption-driven market economy. In short, India has the potential to be way ahead of what we consider as the developed world. 

It is time each of our institutions asks itself what it would take to be the best in the world (benchmarking) and then strive towards that. What prevents India from having schools and universities that produce Nobel laureates? Why can’t Indian corporates innovate as so many West-headquartered organisations do? Why can’t our corporates turn into Indian multinationals? Why can’t we, as citizens, ensure that the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan succeeds? Why can’t each of India’s states plans tourist arrivals per annum equivalent to that of Netherlands? 

I get a feeling that India is much closer than ever in history to realising her potential. Many might not realise this but India has it in her to be the golden bird again, and just in a matter of a few decades! How many decades it will take depends on how much fire we as citizens have in seeing us up there in the hierarchy of nations.

Posted in Anecdotes, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Jet Airways, You Rock!

  • We as consumers waste no time in complaining when we face customer service issues. It is equally important to appreciate when we receive outstanding service standards.
  • I am a loyal Jet Airways passenger and have been accorded a Platinum JetPrivilege membership based on my rich association. However, it is only now that I realise the importance of this loyalty program of Jet Airways.
  • I was booked on the 9:15 pm flight (later rescheduled to 9:50 pm) from Bengaluru to Mangalore. I am quite disciplined in keeping time and have therefore never ever missed a flight. In keeping with my habit, I left for the airport at 6 pm, a good 3 hours and 50 minutes ahead of the departure time. This, I thought, would give me neat one hour at the airport lounge to clear my mails and have dinner.
  • However, that was not to be. Within 5 minutes of leaving for the airport, it started drizzling. Immediately thereafter, traffic snarls started. After about 45 minutes (at 6:45 pm), I checked with the taxi driver if we would make it to the airport on time. He said we should be at the airport by 8 pm. I was relieved.
  • However, the traffic snarls only got worse, and our speed slower and slower, till we came to a complete halt at one point. It was then that I realised that I was in real danger of missing my flight. I tweeted in frustration. 

  • Some Twitter friends wished me luck, pointing out that I had many more crowded areas to cross!

  • Amidst this turmoil, I was getting my Plan B ready. In case I missed my flight, I would check in to a hotel near the airport instead of returning back to the city (in view of the traffic snarls) and take the morning flight to Mangalore. I even called up Jet Airways to confirm the check-in time deadline in case one had already done a web check-in. I was clearly told I had to report 45 minutes prior to departure even if I had already done a web check-in. It meant that I had to report latest by 9:05 pm.
  • By the time we cleared the traffic snarls, it was already 9:15 pm and we had another 15 kms to cover. I almost lost hope. I still decided to give it a shot just in case there was a last minute flight delay from Jet Airways itself.
  • I reported at the check-in counter at 9:35 pm; barely 15 minutes before departure! The girl at the check-in counter first said it was too late. Then she realised I had already done my web check-in. Then she noticed that I was a Platinum JetPrivilege customer. She stood up and called her boss, informing about me and that she was checking me in as a special case. Since it was too late for checking in my luggage, she also took permission to allow me take the same as hand baggage. On getting the superior’s go-ahead, she asked a support staff to accompany me through the security using the gate meant for airport staff. 
  • On seeing that the support staff was taking me past a gate meant for staff, a CISF (security) official blasted him and threatened him, demanding he call his superior. The poor chap got terribly frightened. He had put his job on the line to ensure that I caught my flight. I noticed his plight and pleaded with the security official to pardon him and allow me to pass. He cooled down and let me in.
  • Having cleared the security, I ran towards the gate, only to be told that the last bus to the aircraft had already left. I again requested the gate staff. They relented and took me to the aircraft. 
  • I boarded the aircraft at 9:48 pm, barely 2 minutes before departure. Being the last one to board, all passengers turned back to see who the late entrant was!
  • However, I was tremendously relieved to have made it. The lady at the check-in counter, the support staff who carried my luggage through the security and faced the ire of the security official, the man at the gate who took me in a dedicated bus to the aircraft; all were unsung heroes in my eyes. I didn’t know their names but was full of gratitude for their having gone out of the way to help me catch my flight. Its employees like these that make any organisation a darling of customers!
  • Thanks Jet Airways for the excellent level of service quality! You made my day!!
  • I would be marking this blog post to the Jet Airways Twitter handle, hoping that it would be shared with those unsung heroes and they would read this. I also hope that Jet Airways rewards them for the exemplary commitment they showed towards customer delight. These employees are definitely an asset to Jet Airways.
Posted in Anecdotes, Business, Travel, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Air Costa, Where is your Customer Centricity?


Air Costa is a small, Vijaywada (India) headquartered airlines that seemed to have specialised on some routines (like Chennai-Jaipur, Chennai-Ahmedabad) connecting South India with some key towns in the North and West India. The airlines seemed to create a niche for itself by connecting towns that had no direct flight by other major airlines.

Take the example of the Chennai-Jaipur sector. With no other airlines connecting the two cities with direct flights, Air Costa launched one and became a preferred choice for me over the last two years. The airlines clocked the sector in two hours and twenty minutes flat while the other airlines took four and a half hours with their hopping flights.

Therefore, despite being a Jet Privilege member, I preferred Air Costa whenever I travelled on the Chennai-Jaipur or Chennai-Ahmedabad sectors.


However, the way Air Costa treated passengers like me recently on the Chennai-Jaipur sector during the peak 2015 Christmas-New Year season has left a bad taste and has forced me to take a pledge – never again travel by Air Costa. It is better to rely on the likes of Jet Airways as they are not only more reliable but also highly customer friendly.

I had my Silver Jubilee school reunion planned in Rajasthan during Christmas of 2015. I therefore booked to-and-fro tickets for the entire family with Air Costa in September 2015 itself. On December 21st, 2015, I got a shocker of a call from Air Costa that all flights on the Chennai-Jaipur sector between 26th December 2015 and 4th January 2016 had been cancelled.


Since I was leaving for Jaipur on 23rd December 2015 itself, that flight was confirmed but the return flight on 2nd January 2016 for all family members was summarily cancelled. The terse communication from Ait Costa was that the flights were being cancelled due to ‘operational reasons’ and that the booking amount was being refunded.

I had the following objections to what Air Costa had done.

  • The cancellation was last minute. With fares sky rocketing by December 21st 2015, any alternative bookings would cause immense financial loss to customers like me, who had bookings done for the entire family.
  • Air Costa, despite repeated requests, didn’t divulge the ‘operational reasons’ that resulted in cancellation of flights. Why? Clearly, the cancellation had something to do with gross negligence and dereliction of duty somewhere within their system – reasons behind which they knew they would not be able to hide. I will speculate on the reasons a bit later.
  • Air Costa decided that it would neither book the passengers in alternative flights with other airlines nor re-imburse the excess ticket cost incurred by me in alternative bookings owing to the last minute cancellation.

When Air Costa didn’t respond favourably to my request for booking us in alternative flights of other airlines, I had to book our return flight with Indigo, incurring more than double the original cost of tickets. Not only that, I lost two days of the family vacation as I had to pre-pone my return journey to keep the financial impact of the rebooking within reasonable limits (else, the cost to me would have been 3x the original cost).


Air Costa turned down my request for reimbursing the excess fare incurred, citing some rules. This was grossly unfair which has forced me to do three things :-

  • Write this blog post, so that the readers are aware of the pitfalls of flying with Air Costa.
  • Put up a formal complaint with the DGCA and request for justice from an erring airline.
  • Take a pledge to never ever fly with Air Costa in future.

On the probable reasons on why Air Costa summarily cancelled the peak season flights at the last minute, there are two theories doing the rounds.

  • The aircraft flying the Chennai-Jaipur sector had to undergo a repair by 31st December 2015; mandated by some guidelines, something which the Air Costa management knew well in advance yet didn’t plan the repair. I think the airlines realised only as late as December that the repairs were mandated by guidelines and couldn’t be avoided, resulting in the last minute cancellation. If this theory is true, it’s a clear case of gross negligence and poor management by Air Costa. Air Costa not only didn’t arrange for an alternative aircraft but also continued to accept flight bookings.
  • The aircraft flying the Jaipur-Chennai sector was put on duty on some other, more lucrative sectors during the peak season. If this theory is true, nothing could be more unfair to the customers.

Please note that I am forced to speculate on the reasons of cancellation as Air Costa refuses to divulge the actual reason till date. My assessment is based on my informal chats with the Air Costa ground staff and some fellow passengers.

I shall be forwarding this blog post to DGCA as well and request that

  • My blog post be treated as a formal complaint against Air Costa.
  • The DGCA should investigate the real reasons behind the en-masse cancellation of Air Costa flights from 26th December 2015 to 4th January 2016 which put the customers at extreme inconvenience and financial distress during peak season.
  • If the DGCA finds that it was gross negligence and dereliction of duty within the Air Costa system that was behind the cancellations, the airlines must be appropriately penalised.
  • I request the DGCA  to direct Air Costa to reimburse my return fare on actuals. Mere refund of my September 2015 booking amount would be grossly unfair, considering the circumstances.


I have learnt my lesson from the episode. Always trust the airlines which have painstakingly built their reputation over the years instead of betting on some rooky novices like Air Costa which can ditch the customers at any point of time.

Posted in Business, Tourism, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Surviving In A Crisis

Rains4

Curtesy saharasamay.com

What’s it like to be a household in crisis during a natural disaster? Well, we had a close shave during the ongoing Chennai rains.

Chennai rains this time broke a 100 year old record and have, in the process, brought immense discomfort to the residents, to put it mildly. They also gave a glimpse of what all can go wrong during a crisis of this nature.

Rains3

Curtesy The Hindu

It all starts with the event (heavy rains in this case) followed by an electricity outage. This outage is due to both – faults in the distribution lines as well as precautionary, lest it should electrocute someone accidentally if not shut down.

This starts the downward spiral. Loss of electricity results in outages at the mobile towers and internet service providers. The household gets totally cut off from the outside world. Landlines too, especially if they are from BSNL, become inactive in no time.

At home, inverters provide backup for a few hours. However, since the electricity outage is for days together, they offer succour for a limited period.

Rain5

When the clouds come again and again and…!

The next hit are the essential supplies. Panic buying ensures that milk and bread disappear from shelves of the neighbourhood shops in no time. Fresh vegetable cannot be stored as refrigerator at home won’t work. Hence, limited quantities of whatever is available is bought at exorbitant prices. With fresh supplies uncertain owing to blocked roads and closed shops, vegetable that can last longer (like potatoes) are bought in larger quantities. The household shifts to pulses and dishes made of flour.

Bank ATMs do not function due to electricity outages and inability of banks to load cash in time. Card is not accepted if there is no electricity at the stores. A family not having enough cash runs into trouble.

Candles too vanish from shop shelves quickly. If available, shopkeepers quadruple the prices. Take it or leave it! Petrol pumps run out of fuel but that’s not much of a worry as one cannot anyway take one’s vehicle out.

At home, drinking water becomes an issue as water purifiers won’t work! One has to boil tank water and drink; that too if the tank has any water left! If the household depends on a pump to push water to the rooftop tank, it is stuck till the electricity is restored!

Rains1

Curtesy Mansoor Alikhan K/Twitter

Simultaneously, clothes pile up for washing and drying and in a few days, one runs out of clean clothing!

In this scenario, for how many days would a household last? And Yes, if one wishes to escape the mayhem, one cannot; as air, train and road traffic is shut down too!

Rains2

Curtesy financialexpress.com

The above description is of a household that hasn’t needed to be evacuated to safer destinations, doesn’t have aged members, patients or pregnant women. Imagine the scenario when these variables are brought into the picture!

One comes across three broad sets of people during such crises. One, that starts looking for needy people in the immediate neighbourhood and offers help. Two, that doesn’t actively seek out people needing help but offers help, both monetary and otherwise, when requested. Three, that makes such crises an opportunity to make a fast buck. Yes, the third category exists.

Having gone through a crisis recently (actually one that’s not fully over yet as I write this), I realise we are so dependent on public utilities that there is no one way to be best prepared for a crisis. However, we would do well to be part of neighbourhood communities to be able to pool resources to survive, if the need arises. How important, therefore, is to know and engage with one’s neighbourhood, is worth a thought!

Posted in Anecdotes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment