“Reason should frame a good politician’s goal to persuade”

July 9, 2020

(photo credit- shutterstock.com)

On a recent online course, I was made to read one of the most POWERFUL essays (by Amy Gutmann) “The Lure & Dangers of Extremist Rhetoric”, a topic so so prevalent worldwide.

The speech is so profound that it actually made me sit up and take notice of my very own actions and reactions in arguments; and while these principals apply in politics, they are prevalent in family, work and society in general!

Excerpts-

Going as far back as Aristotle, he maintained that –

The proper task of rhetoric is to drive home the logic, the truth and the evidence of an argument.

Reason should frame a good politician’s goal to persuade.

The opposite of a sound democratic argument is demagogy: manipulation and deception in order to divide, demean, deceive and conquer [citizens].

Extremist rhetoric blatantly disregards and devalues truth-seeking understandings upon which citizens [] may make informed judgments.

It also undermines a basic value of representative politics- When politicians use extreme rhetoric to mobilize their base [] they strip the moderate middle of a voice in governance (excludes all those who might join a more moderate [] political coalition)

(photo credit- magoosh.com)

By its very nature, extremist rhetoric excludes from consideration important public values-

  • Liberty
  • Consideration of equally competing values
  • Constructive conversations that improve decision making
  • Denigrates & degrades those who differ
  • Blocks constructive examination of rhetor’s own values and beliefs

When we argue about controversial issues, we should defend our views vigorously while expressing mutual respect for our adversaries [] and competing viewpoints.

We can do this by not preemptively rejecting everything for which our political adversaries stand.

It makes room for moral compromise over reasonable differences.

So, what’s the SOLUTION…               EDUCATION!

(Which reminds me back of an earlier opinion “https://dinshawavari.com/2019/03/15/common-sense-has-left-the-building/”)

Schools, colleges and universities are the natural ARMIES at the forefront to teach our citizens the art of rhetoric, in the words of Amy Guttman –

In searching for antidotes to extremism, there is therefore no substitute for a better democratic education in robust, reasoned, and respectful political controversy and debate. We need to teach students how to engage with one another over controversial issues. Students must first learn how to recognize demagogic rhetoric and then how to counter it, both individually and institutionally.

Well-designed democratic institutions can dramatically reduce the toxic effects of extremist rhetoric. We need to support institutional structures whose incentives encourage respectful controversy. Well-structured debates and factcheck blogs can expose extremist and extreme rhetoric that is deceptive and subversive of the democratic pursuit of the public interest.

This is the start of ‘War Against Extremist Rhetoric’!

Black Money Love- more than just a movie review!

June 26, 2020

One of the effects of the COVID lockdown was an increase of movies my family was watching, primarily being Black Money Love, a Turkish soap opera.

Besides the ‘eye-popping’ beauties (which I won’t go into in this paper 😊), the serial is actually very interesting to watch.

(photo credit- youtube.com)

Its directing and acting is on par with any Hollywood soap; alongwith scenes, production sets and story line; and the actors … 💓💓💓💓 va va voom!

Naturally, like many soaps, there were moments of being “over the top” 😊 and crying ☹ (the latter, not my cup o’ tea) … and my!  LOTS OF SMOOCHING 💓!

However, besides being an action drama it shows the culture and character of modern Turkey –

  • It is a conservatively run country
  • A moderate society
  • A MODERN society!
  • Western & Eastern cultures exist together
  • Conservative & Liberal outlooks live alongside each other
  • High standards of living
  • Educated & talented youth

Turkey is a Muslim state, with a conservative government, but a progressive & modern outlook.

No country is ideal but similar cultures can adapt best practices and standards from each other. 

It is not an overnight change- it is a generational one

…but it can happen.

(The villain’s acting is SUPER! 😊 – he absolutely outdid himself!)

(Photo credit- https://anne-raevasquez.com/?s=black+money+love , http://www.Whatsnewonnetflix.com, http://www.shutterstock.com)

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 6

June 18, 2020

(6 of 12)

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-

Sir Sidney Ridley confirmed to me that he would protect me and would ensure that the Hotel, if purchased by me, would not be requisitioned during the Second World War for the Army, Navy and Air Force, as was the custom.

So, putting up my entire life’s savings and borrowing the rest, I went to Mr.  Wyseman and purchased the Bristol Hotel for Rs.100,000/-.  Mr Wyseman agreed on one condition- that Khorshed and I learn the hotel business with him for a few months.  So, every morning at 4 a.m. I went to the Empress Market to purchase all the groceries, and the mutton, beef, chicken, fish, vegetables and fruits.

As soon as six months training were over and Mr. Wyseman handed over the Hotel to me and left Karachi – and the Bristol Hotel got requisitioned!

When I went to Sir Sidney Ridley and informed him about this, he phoned the British Provost Marshal of the Army to enquire why this was done. The Provost Marshal said “How can a bloody Indian run an English Hotel?”

Sir Sidney Ridley insisted the Hotel be de-requisitioned and the Provost Marshal accepted only on my written agreement to reduce the charges to Rs. 5/- per room and Rs.7/- for room with all meals. Sir Sidney Ridley said I would go bankrupt, but I agreed. Inspite of all my social status, I was still a “bloody Indian” but I was willing to take the challenge.

Now, the charge for a Chota (small) Peg for a Whiskey was Rs. l/. I immediately doubled it and got the Sargeant at Mauripur Airport to send me as many soldiers as he liked and I would pay him Rs.1/- per soldier, as his commission.

Then, I put 6 soldiers in a room and within one year, with both husband and wife working till 2 a.m. in the morning, we made a net profit of Rs. One Lac in the very first year- I paid up the money I had paid to buy the hotel.

(to be cont…)

(previous (5th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/05/26/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-5/)

HOW ABOUT SOME LEVITY FOR A CHANGE!?

June 6, 2020

The world is going through some of the toughest times it’s ever faced – and things are just not in our control … Nature is in control!

…and just like that, I came across this absolute riot of a book review by Ravina Rawal.  It’s not new – it’s from 2014 – but I thought it was just the thing to lift spirits (pun-intended! 😊) and poke fun of our microcosm of a religious community in these trying times.

(Article & photo credit- https://www.pressreader.com/india/the-sunday-guardian/20140223/282759174580097)

So, quoting verbatim from Ravina Rawal, here goes …

QUOTE

The levity and longevity of mealy-mouthed Parsis

The Sunday Guardian · 23 Feb 2014

Sooni Taraporevala and Meher Marfatia’s new book is an exuberant, laugh-out-loud collection of “insults, endearments and other Parsi Gujarati phrases”, writes Ravina Rawal.

There’s almost nothing on earth I enjoy more than a disgruntled Parsi. Or, well, a Parsi in a good mood. Or a Parsi celebrating his/her 95th birthday. Or a Parsi after his/her fourth whisky, at a funeral. Because through all of life’s many celebrations and disappointments, through life’s many moods, theirs is just the same.

I don’t know if it’s the secret of some ancestral, evolution-affecting drug that’s still making future generations trip hard, or if it’s what happens to your genetic makeup when you only marry and procreate within the same 20,000-odd people. Either way, never have I met a people bursting with more enthusiasm, applause and outrageous sarcasm than this curious species of happy maniacs. (And I’m Punjabi.)

They will tell you proudly, “Mummo chuch cho vugur ‘seerpa’ nahin” (If you don’t swear, you are not a Parsi).  And they’ll be right. While the rest of the world is busy getting offended at everything that comes out of everyone’s mouth, the Parsis are having an absolute riot, roaring with laughter at the wicked names they’re calling each other (and their mothers and fathers and aunts and grandparents and house pets).

They don’t care how insulting or politically in correct it is, their brains work relentlessly to conjure up the most imaginative insults the rest of us have ever heard.

“Chumna jheva pug” (feet like pomfret), they’ll remark of a person with large feet. “Who? Boman? Evun toh photo frame thai guya (he became a photo frame)!” they’ll tell you casually about some one who just died, a phrase also substituted with “Kolmee thai guya” (he’s be came a prawn). And some how it isn’t disturbing at all that you’ll of ten hear a mother squeal, “Tuhree kule jee khau!” (I’ll eat your liver!) to her child — because it comes with a generous side of love, laughter and kissy-koti.

“Oont nee gaan ma jeera no vughar” literally means “a sprinkling of jeera in the bum of a camel”, used when referring to a big eater who’s been given too little food.

“Tum boo ma sahib,” they’ll say without a second thought to a pregnant lady, referring to the “boss in the tent”.  

Which reminds me of a famous Parsi actor, who once spoke to the baby in my cousin’s belly for well over two hours over the course of a single evening. Not a word to my cousin, just a very fascinating conversation with (at) her stomach.

One of my closest friends not so long ago was Parsi, and I’ve spent endless hours grinning from ear to ear at her house at the dinner table where every dish was topped (or bottomed) with eedu (egg), and every bite punctuated with a quick bitch and moan about relatives (or friends who are really relatives because, Parsis). I may also have been the most enthusiastic of all her friends about accompanying her to family gatherings she herself so reluctantly showed up at, because I am acutely aware that 150 Parsis all at once is the sort of party you’re never going to forget, or other wise get invited to.

These guys also all seem to live for…ever?  A near 100-yearold Parsi man or woman isn’t the “mado murgho” (sick hen/ sickly person) you’d expect them to be.

And there’s a tiny seed of senility that seems to set into them at a fairly young age (if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say age 10?), so the full blown happy madness that stares back at you from the eyes of a 98 year old, for instance, isn’t new or unsettling in any way.

Despite their ridiculous life-span, there are so few of them around in the first place — and some of them are even getting crazy enough to start marrying out side the community — that somewhere they’re all worried that their wildly evocative, some times bizarre and always funny vernacular will get lost for ever.

So, photographer-filmmaker Sooni Taraporevala and writer Meher Marfatia took up the cause, rounding up everyone they knew in the community for their contributions to what has resulted in a delightful archive of Parsi Gujarati.

(Photo credit- goodreads.com)

Parsi Bol is a little handbook of over 700 “insults, endearments and other Parsi Gujarati phrases”; its pages peppered with lovely little illustrations by cartoonists Hemant Morparia and Farzana Cooper, bringing to life some of their choice picks.

Split into chapters that include picture phrases, sarcasms, insults, endearments, food, twin words, character traits, anatomy and advice, it’s a great book for everyone who’s ever been curious about the Parsis. I guarantee it will make you laugh out loud and share the things you read with whoever else is in the room.

If you don’t mind your favourite phrases in this book, the authors ask that you e-mail them to parsibol@gmail.com to add to a possible sequel.

UNQUOTE

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 5

May 26, 2020

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987 –

(5 of 12)

Mahatma Gandhi who made the British leave the Country, by his policy of non-violence, non-cooperation, asked all the Indians to stop insuring any foreign Life Insurance Companies. The result was that my business dwindled to such an extent that I had to make heavy inroads in my capital.  By 1945, I wanted to change the line of work.

Mr Wyseman was a friend of mine, and he was the Proprietor of the Bristol Hotel. My darling wife Khorshed used to like to eat English Food and so off and on, we went and had our meals there.

(photo credit- http://blogs.tribune.com.pk)

He told me that the British had decided to leave India and he would like to sell his hotel. He wanted Rs. 1 Lac for all the stock, name and fame, furniture, crockery, cutlery, glassware, linen, etc. but not the building which was a hired property from a Bori and a Hindu jointly.

In those days, the Home Secretary, which today is the equivalent to the Chief Secretary, was Sir Sidney Ridley, who was very friendly with me and who had appointed me on many Government Committees.   He was also a Rotarian with me, which Club had only 12 members in those days of 1933. The other members were Sir Montago Webb, (The First President of this Club) who was also the Editor and owner of Daily Gazette, Mr. Voegli, Manager of Volkart Brothers, who was the Honorary Secretary and the only Indian Members were Mr. Jamshed Mehta, Mr. Hatim Tayyabji, Advocate-General and Mr. Hatim Alvi along with myself.  I was also the Organizer of Tobacco Fund for soldiers fighting in the Front and hence I was very popular with the British Community. The reason for my explaining you this is to give you an idea of my status because this has an interesting reference later on.

(to be contd)

(previous (4th) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/26/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-4/)

Don’t Let COVID Consume Other Social Ills!

April 29, 2020

COVID … COVID … COVID!  We will PREVAIL

but that doesn’t mean we forget all other social ills ☹.

I don’t recall the source or location of this Twitter picture but KUDOS to the inventor for this simple ‘garbage collector’ system to capture debris, rubbish, flotsam, etc.

So much of Karachi’s industrial waste, rubbish & sewerage finds its way into the Sea through its identifiable & controllable outlets & nalas (nala = stream). 

There are manifold advantages to this simple model-

  • It’s cheap & easy to make – really, all it is, is a modified fishing net! 
  • Easy to set up & operate – the way I visualize it is that you place it over the city sewer and “stormwater drain” outlets where they discharge into the creeks & canals leading into the sea. 

Not only will it contain all the debris, stopping its passage into the sea on the ebb tide; but debris coming into the City on the flood tide will be contained.

  • It will lead to employment – let the villagers on the cusp of these drainage outlets be responsible for the operation of this system.  They capture, collect and bag all such debris & flotsam; the City pays them; and KWSB simply schedules its collection thrice a day from each of these spots.

Take for example the stormwater drain (built in the ‘80’s by the World Bank) which passes Mai Kolachi into Chinna Creek.  Over the last four decades, it morphed into a sewer.  If you place one of these collection nets at the discharge outlet point (where it drops into Chinna Creek), you will effectively capture almost ALL plastic bags, Styrofoam and other floating debris.  This can then be bagged and collected by KWSB or KPT. 

Other such outlets are at – Shireen Jinnah Colony, Lyari River & it’s various streams, Moosa Lane Nala (fish harbour), Korangi Creek & it’s various nalas, Budnai Nala (Sandspit), Gogni & Nalas (Hawksbay), Hub River, nalas near HUBCO, Kanupp & Port Qasim.

WHERE THERE IS A WILL … THERE IS A WAY to clean up this City!

We Are Who We Are Because Of Our Forefathers- 4

April 26, 2020

REPLY ADDRESS BY MR. DINSHAW B AVARI ON THE OCCASION TO COMMEMORATE HIS 85th BIRTHDAY on NOV 5, 1987-

(4 of 12)

Next day I went to Dr. Kanga’s house for lunch and I was surprised to find that his wife had a boutique from which she was earning Rs. 100/- per month. After lunch, I asked her if she would instead like to earn over Rs.300/- per month. I trained her as an Insurance Agent for only one day. The next day, she brought insurance of Rs. 50,000/- from Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto (Grandfather of Miss Benazir Bhutto) and earned a commission of Rs. 1500/- at the first shot. I had Punjabi and Parsi Agents in Karachi working for me and all did very good business and made very good money.

I sent for my younger brother Rathan from Bombay to come and stay with me where he was attending a College, and as my Father had asked me to look after him because when my mother died he was only One year old. I got a two-bedroomed flat at a rent of Rs. 50/- per month and bought a Wolsley Car for Rs.1000/. The furniture was hired from Jagus & Co.

In those days I used to earn not only Commissions on my own income, but 5% commissions on all the sales of the whole of Karachi, Sind, Baluchistan, Afghanistan, Punjab and N.W.F.P., of which I was in-charge.

Dr Kanga introduced me to a Parsi Dhansak Club situated opposite the Empress market, behind Bomanshaw Minocher-Homji Parsi Hospital. The fee of the Club was Rs 5/- per month and we used to have a lunch for Rs. 2/- only which consisted of  Murghi, Dhansak, Kabab, Rotti Fried Pomfret and Pudding and Hot Drinks including Beer. The Members of the Club were Sir Cowasji as the President, Khan Bahadur, Ardeshir Mama, Burjorji Wacha, Hormusji Khajurina, Dadiba Mehta the ex-Judicial Commissioner, etc., I was the youngest member.  I also have the honor of becoming the FIRST Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) in Asia.

(to be continued)

(previous (3rd) post- https://dinshawavari.com/2020/03/13/we-are-who-we-are-because-of-our-forefathers-3/)

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“Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery” (Further Ramblings of a Layman [COVID]- 2)

April 19, 2020

Well, we are in a Pandemic and it’s not really about “flattery”- it’s more about …

COPY WHAT SEEMS TO WORK from past and current experiences, regardless of personal or political conflict, geographical boundaries or religion!

So, what seems to be working?

  1. Mitigation strategies-
    1. Scale up COVID tests & diagnosis- doing large number of lab diagnoses allow authorities to slow the spread of the infection by isolating known cases while they are infectious, enabling treatment to be administered at a far earlier stage
    1. Increase easily available, random & free testing
    1. “Test and trace for the high-at-risk groups”, which means increasing the manufacture of local test kits
    1. Continue to maintain social distancing
    1. Limit contact with older people, they being more susceptible to the Virus
    1. Two types of testing is required-
      1. Serology tests- which will identify infected patients with antibodies (this will help determine who is immune and help people get back to normal life)
      1. Rapid-antigen test- to diagnose those who carry the virus (without or with minimal symptoms)
  2. Open testing & drive-through centers in each of Karachi’s – as an example – 178 Union Councils to screen as many people, as quickly, as possible.  All tests would be recorded through their CNICs, immediately tested with temperature scan and throat swab.  People who may have interacted with an infected patient should report to testing centers for checking.
  3. “R-0” (R-naught) is the number of new infections an infected person passes on.  Only when R0 is less than 1 will the pandemic start reducing.  So, all mitigation strategies should continue “one month after you drive down the R-naught to zero”.
  4. Increase LOCAL supply chains so as to provide protective gear, supplies & equipment to front line health workers & hospitals; and going hand-in-hand, continuous monitoring and protection of all medical and other essential workers.
  5. Contact Tracing- tracking travel history & all movements of every COVID patient so as to find & test every person in contact with the patient.  This will identify transmission networks and preempt possible further carriers.
  6. Use of Modern Technology & Communications-
    1. *An accurate communication system that disseminates the movements of potentially infected people, in which geographical areas, etc.  There should be ONE SOURCE of this information and all you need to do is push it out to each of the Telco carriers in the City for onwards distribution to the public.  This will enable less contact between possible affected and those not. 
    2. My brother’s suggestion was to use “easy-paisa” & other such portals to disseminate the Federal & Provincial funds to the needy & poor instead of cash payouts.  With almost 80% mobile subscribers in Pakistan, majority of the recipients will be documented, leading to less fraud.

A macro shift is needed from a patient-centered model to community-system care that offers pandemic solutions for the entire population (with a specific emphasis on home care).  As mentioned in my earlier article (https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/07/a-laymans-thoughts-on-mitigation-strategies-covid/), self-quarantine & home care should not be discounted- it will relieve the strain on hospitals & health workers.

As before, the views in this Paper are personal, from a series of publications I recently studied-

“WHATEVER HAPPENS, HAPPENS FOR THE BEST”

April 2, 2020

Life is all about experiences and based on those experiences, over time, your outlook towards life and the world forms & changes.

Likewise, I too have become more philosophical, definitely more religious and have come to sincerely believe in (& follow) a saying we learnt from my father–

Whatever happens, happens for the best;

Whatever happens, happens the way God wants it to

   because that’s the best way

So when my sailing friends, Bill & Kate Gover invited me to cruise with them on ‘SY SENETO’ around the world (https://billkatesail.wordpress.com/), I jumped at this opportunity for their Pacific leg.  About four weeks – a leisurely cruise – interspersed with squalls (and calm) – but nothing grueling like it would have been in a Clipper or Fastnet race.

My wife Dinaz did – and my family would’ve – supported this 100%, as they have my other whims and fancies.  Then I remembered my mother-in-law lives with us since 2017, when she had her stroke; and while Dinaz primarily takes care of her, I too help out where I can- especially moral & physical support to Dinaz.  So, it really wouldn’t be right or fair for me to go gallivanting the oceans while my wife solely supported her mom.  Hence my deep regrets to Bill & Kate.

No one knew COVID-19 would hit the WORLD just four months into their ‘adventure of a lifetime’!  Had I gone on the sail, not only would I probably have been stuck in some port; there would have been no flights back; I wouldn’t be with my family; and they and I would be worried for each other while the Coronavirus engulfed the Country (just as Bill & Kate must be currently for their family and vice-versa as they sail the Pacific).

So here’s the punch- while regretting the voyage was the right thing to do, in hindsight I now believe I was never meant to go as it never had been on the cards for me … “whatever happens, happens for the best”!

Likewise, the pandemic we are facing now is happening for a reason and if mankind can just learn and evolve from this experience, we will be the better from it.

WHERE ARE WE HEADING

March 26, 2020

(source- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts)

Insurgencies, ethnic violence, civil wars, conflicts and over 200,000 deaths in 2019 alone!

  • Afghanistan conflict
  • Yemen crisis
  • Syrian civil war
  • Kurd conflict
  • Iraq conflict
  • Libyan conflict
  • Kashmir conflict
  • Palestinian conflict

(source- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts)

This list doesn’t even touch on intra-country “insurgencies”!

…and now a virus pandemic…

My personal belief is that with the current Coronavirus trajectory, COVID19 has the potential to overshadow all these world conflicts & flashpoints with fatalities.

So, what’s going on? 

  • Is “nature” correcting this Century’s rife?
  • Is this a wake-up call to live within the resources that Earth has given us – not to destroy it?
  • Maybe this is meant to teach us forgiveness & humility towards fellow man – not hubris & greed?
  • Should we encourage education & knowledge for the betterment of mankind – not child labor?
  • If science is to lead the path for a better tomorrow, wouldn’t it be better to do it collaboratively and collectively – rather than conflict & strife?
  • Wasn’t religion meant for our salvation & give a purpose to life – not as a means to power?
  • Maybe the world needs to concentrate on “small government” to help citizens – not big business?  (also refer- https://dinshawavari.com/2019/06/14/what-does-a-government-do-for-us-%f0%9f%a4%94/)
  • Is this pandemic a test to measure the level of universal aid & collaboration – or politics getting the better of humanity?

…OR, maybe the answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE???