Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021 07:15 [IST]
Last Update: Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021 01:43 [IST]
A look at the facsimile of above Post Card launched in India subsequent to flight of pigeon era of the world wars has a special value to me as an essential ingredient of University and formative years in service.
What we notice on top is a sketch of a tiger soon after it was adjudged as the national animal. Old generations may, however, recall all-pervading three lions of Ashoka occupying the coveted place earlier.
The Post card, unlike the contemporary means of communication was a low cost, affordable means which was open on both sides, perhaps to ensure a flair for transparency. Not only one could scribble main welfare material nicely, same was also keenly controlled to convey the emotions at the nick of the moment. Nothing mattered, either worry or hurry, for a reply or response, not necessarily a reaction, would be forthcoming within a week or ten days. I was used to waiting. Heaven was not going to fall in between, I would console myself prior to hitting the pillow. (presently patience and tolerance are not heard of).
A different kind of joy would be noticed on the faces both of sender and receiver when the quintessential 'Dakiya' in his pet Khakhi dress with a beaming face would press the bell of his bicycle. His off and on arrival was greeted with offer of a glass of 'Sherbat' or tea. It could take the shape of a 'Bakshish' in the event of a Money Order. At post graduate stage, slips would be displayed first. Actual currency would arrive only the next day.
Later, the post cards were supplemented, not replaced by a light blue coloured Inland Letter Card for the reasons of privacy, if not security. Though it was a closed and shut object, yet fun loving/ mischievous relatives and friends would manage to sneak into, to find out the juicy or teary eyed expressions of a lover or a spouse vis a vis a beloved or a hubby physically separated but maintaining strong emotional bond, nevertheless.
With a view to perhaps fortify, envelopes hit the scene. Not only it ensured exalted cover and safety, the pages inside would invariably exceed six or seven. Of course one had to pay extra as per added weight.
Telegram facilitated through a wireless Walkie Talkie soon emerged through a code only deciphered by the sender and receiver post office. It had a provision only for short messages which revolved around new arrivals, successes, setbacks, weddings, get well messages, meaning thereby it encompassed joys and sorrows of life. When I used the facility by paying Rs 2 and 50 paise, upon getting into the Civil Service, my joy won't know any bounds. But somehow, the news of arrival of a telegram was generally linked to a bad omen or sudden expiry of a dear departed. I suffered on this count also as name of my deceased Bhabhi was not indicated.
The chain won't be complete unless we also describe Money Orders, later replaced by Telegraphic Money Orders. The former will have a little space for communication at the bottom, which will be routinely torn off by the Post Man while collecting his tip. Both Telegrams and Money Orders have now been dispensed with officially.
The role played by the statics and dynamics of phone which no sooner than later took the shape of a cordless or mobile, being familiar to one and all, may not need any explanation. Gone are the days of talk less, work more. Compulsive and frequent speaking has become order of the day. Apart from facilitating unnecessary flight of temper and obliquely causing noise pollution, it can cajole as well in no time. It has also become a source of passing time, if not endless entertainment.
With the advent of Internet in the seventies and its further fine tuning in the Eighties and WhatsApp in 2008, the communication scenario began changing. Now it appears to have transformed completely. Further innovations in the form of video calls, Signal App and Telegram App have also been made available. With these multiple choices the human beings may be under the wrong impression that it's time to relish the 'Freebies’. But how many of us are aware that the freebies always come with a concealed cost?
Your assets, hobbies, art objects, property, possessions, all may be at risk if you go astray.
There is nothing like end to end encryption as claimed. The most widely used free 'Search Engine’, according to a source quoted by a popular Hindi TV channel, keeps a two Biga bite record on each user. Whatever you disclose even in good faith is kept in a profile form in a safe place. Your assets, in addition, in different forms or data generated itself becomes a product to be used by the goody goody service provider to earn profit out of advertisements. Google believes in delivering Googlies. I repeat, Google believes in delivering Googlies. According to the same source, in 2019 alone, the estimated income of Google was $11 lakh 83 thousand Crores of which $ 9 lakh 86 thousand Crores came from digital advertisements.
Rapid use of Smart Phones by the Indians (thanks to 'E-learning' imposed even on poor during the ongoing Corona phase) increases the addiction levels of youngsters in addition to causing damage to their mental faculty. Not only these attractive hand held toys are kept close to brain, these have to be also changed frequently as if a dress is to be bought quarterly if not on a weekly basis. We need to introspect as to which direction one has to take.
In the beginning of the new Millennium, one had to pay a paltry sum for the Internet but same was probably peanut compared to the mine of information that could be downloaded or uploaded. Later cost/tariff vanished completely and actual exploitation of innocent but greedy Indians harping for education and employment abroad began. Many websites, portals, addresses would turn out to be fake affairs. Now gears are getting reversed. More and more foreigners are also being duped by Indian self-proclaimed agents. The NCR specialises in such frauds, more so, they seem to have mushroomed with the connivance of the former employees of banks and financing institutions during and after Lock Down phase. Passport, Visa, bank account, fixed deposit, insurance, EMI details and what not are not easily known or disclosed by ever eager Indians, having a desire to become Crorepatis overnight. Warnings issued from time to time by the Government and authorized agencies fall on deaf Ears.
As a safety device, all transactions, loan advances, credit debit exercises must have confirmation copies to be conveyed through a closed or sealed Envelope. Signature on same by the authorized person has to be insisted upon for the reasons of safety and authenticity. The alibi or pretext of absence of an authorized signatory on a computer generated slip/statement/receipt should not be accepted under any circumstance. Its question of one's lifetime hard earned savings which may be linked to the future wellbeing of the offspring or the 'will' in favour of deserving nominees but only after you have ensured a decent accommodation for the self and spouse.
One has digressed sufficiently but same was in public interest. Need for unhindered communication will be there even if space tourism gathers momentum or colonies are planned at Moon. But adequate care and precaution should be our hall mark. With each passing day, urge for learning afresh and saving for the sake of giving should also be our motto. Appropriate concluding line may be- Take vaccine but do not give up mask, the mask of safety.
(The writer is former Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim)