Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What's the Right thing to do?

What’s the right thing to do? –Part I

I am a huge fan of TED. While I was surfing most favorite videos on TED.COM I stumbled upon Michael Sandal’s talk on Justice. It was quite an interesting talk; he talked about hypothetical moral dilemmas. I was curious to know more about moral philosophy, so I bought a book titled “Justice” by Michael Sandal. I loved the book immensely. Having read different views of various philosophers from Aristotle to John Rawls I summarize here my views on “what is the right thing to do”:

I am going to start with the issue of Equality. I believe Equality in our society is not a choice but necessity. And by Equality I don’t mean every household’s income should be similar, by Equality I mean all citizens should have access to basic essentials of good life. We can only achieve Equality by taxing the affluent. Some people think by taxing the affluent we are stealing their money i.e. their time thereby promoting slavery (working without getting paid). On the contrary I believe that by not taxing the rich we are promoting the slavery. Let me give you an example; Usain Bolt, world’s fastest runner earns 20 million dollars per annum. While I believe that he deserves to some extent the kind of monetary appreciation he receives, I feel it is total injustice to many others who live in poverty. I do not believe in the notion that Usain deserves his income because he works very hard; there are many runners out there who probably work as hard as Usain does. What perhaps make him stand out is/are his genes and/or his techniques? It is not in other peoples’ choice about their genetic makeup, so it is not fair that one lives in luxury while others suffers in poverty. Hence the question is how are we going to achieve the equilibrium? Simple and straightforward answer is by taxing Usain Bolt. I am not saying that Government should tax him in such away that his income matches rest of the community but to an extent that Usain Bolt still enjoys his success by living off well and letting ordinary citizens also enjoy the basic amenities we as human beings deserve.

Let me give you another example on why we should tax affluent. Let me take the case of Walton family who owns over 50% of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart profits are in billions of dollars annually. Millions of people who work for Wal-Mart pay almost next to nothing as tax to Government because they earn so little. But they all use Government provided roads or public transport to get to work. So indirectly Wal-Mart is making money by using facilities provided by the Government. Hence either Wal-Mart should pay more taxes or increase their workers salaries so that they pay their respective taxes. Either ways Wal-Mart has to shell out some of their profits.

One may ask why is it important to have equality in our society. As Prof. Sandal points out if we let the income gap grow any further, which is happening as of now, there will be a time when rich and poor will live in a separate societies. Then rich do not want to support public institutions as they no longer use them. There will not be any communication between these two societies and further increase in income gap leads to animosity between them that eventually lead to civil wars and loss of human lives.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Blissful Experience With Pain – Part II:

My Blissful Experience With Pain – Part II:

Strolling down the memory lane, recalling when I ran my first marathon in Philadelphia I then wrote a blog post “My Blissful Experience with Pain” about my trials and tribulations. At the end of that blog-post I concluded, “Running can be an addiction”. It turned out to be right, at least in my case; I did Philly marathon again the year afterwards and several other races thereafter. Running, which I have eventuated as an avenue to raise money for charity (AID, India), has become my passion. I know I am not super-duper at running, but you do not have to be exceptional at any thing to enjoy it. I realized I was going rundamental (mental about running) when I signed up to do 40mile walk/run from Keswick to Barrow in the Lake District last year. I was precarious of my sound mind when everyone else from the institute decided to back out and I was still pining the race. And to my utter dismay I decided to join some random team I stumble on K2B facebook page and finished the race. I must say it was a great experience coursing through the nicest part of UK, although it could well be recommended to enjoy the spectacular surroundings by shunning the race. Weather, for the most part, was nice, met some interesting people, exchanged few conversations and it was fun. Although last few miles were a drag but I should be a bonehead to expect a smooth sail till the end, come on its 40 miles for crying out loud. Well, that was last year. I posted on my facebook wall “I have done IT, will do IT again, 40 miles in 7 hrs. 39 minutes! ’’

Keeping my word I decided to do K2B this year again. To everyone’s wonderment around 30 people from our institute decided to walk K2B. Unlike last year, I started steeling for the race this year. Its not easy preparing for a 40-mile race when you have to work on weekends, do house hold chores and go for a long run. But for the love of running, I chose to take up the challenge. My hopes weren’t high about my expected timing (7 hrs) when I read about the weather conditions on the race day. All weather forecast channels said the same thing; it was going to be cloudy all through out with some heavy rains. So I prepared myself for the bad weather, better safe than sorry, isn’t it? But I never know we can never be too prepared for English weather. We had dinner with the fellow walkers from the institute on the night before the race. I went to bed at around 10:30 and I could not sleep. I was too excited; like a kid in the candy store. I probably would have slept an hour or two. I wanted to get up early but did not want to disturb Koorosh with whom I was sharing the room. In the morning (3 am) I thought eating porridge would help during the run, so I forced porridge down my throat. Good heavens, why would human being eat porridge? It wasn’t palatable at all and I will never eat porridge again! I got on to bus to get to the starting point i.e. Keswick. Good lord, the bus ride was horrendous, I thought I was going to puke; may be it was the porridge doing! I controlled myself and was fine when I got down. Around 5:30 in the morning, off I started. It was drizzling; I did not put on raincoat thinking it is not so bad. Well, after 10 or 15 minutes, I realized I do not want to be soaking wet for the next 7 hours, so I put on my raincoat and took off. It was all right for the first 10 miles, I met Dr. Crispin Miller at the first support checkpoint Grasmere, got my energy gels and drinks and set off running. It was raining bit heavily by then but I turned a blind eye and kept on going.

Just when I thought I was going great guns, at around 18th mile, I started having my initial leg cramps (devilish things!). I was expecting cramps but not so soon for I have taken magnesium tablets to prevent them (Thanks to Dr. Bertram Kohler for that advice). I got food and drinks from Mrs. Roberts at Coniston (kind of her to support our teams) and decided to visit first aid, even if the visit takes up few minutes from my timing. My idea was that any aid to ease my cramps might save me some time in due course. I thought probably it was only time I have to pay them a visit, little did I know I will have to visit them at every checkpoint thereafter. First aid was not set up by then, so I waited for some time, they sprayed some thing on my legs and I was fine and dandy. I went about running for another 10 miles with occasional walks when ascending. I did not stop for lunch at 20th mile; I thought it’s a waste of time having lost some time during my first first-aid visit.

Amy was there at third support checkpoint with the welcome sight of my food and Gatorade; I thanked her and set off again. After a few minutes I stopped to spend a penny, that’s when I started having excruciating pain because of severe muscle cramps all over my legs and stomach. Went to first aid, the lady staff who was attending me tried to give me some massage (an euphemism for manhandling if you will), she was making me cry like a toddler (I wasn’t crying literally though☺), but I gave in thinking manhandling my legs might help. She said to me that I must be thinking she is a witch, I was saying to myself -Dear Madam you don’t want to know what I am uttering in my mind. I set off from that place, in about 5 minutes after that my cramps were so bad that I could not walk. After every minute of walking my both calves would cramp, I would just stand still for few seconds and then walk. Just about that time it was getting so cold and was raining like crazy. Since then I did not surpass anybody. To add insult to injury, kids as young as 10 years outdistanced me, and my moral fiber was weakening. I was walking at snails pace; walking probably not right word I would say limping along. Making things worse, there was a hailstorm for short period and it was brutal. At that moment I thought NEVER AGAIN, this is the last time. One kind lady (K2B angel perhaps!) offered me some hot beverage, some biscuits and a blanket. I thanked her immensely for I was freezing and I needed some thing warm. So I dragged my feet for the next 7 miles with a blanket over me; and it felt like month of Sundays. Many people offered me to sit and rest for a while in their vans sensing my predicament, but I decided I should not sit and rest else I would sit there for good. My cramps were going south, especially when I stopped walking for longer than a minute. At about 35-mile checkpoint, I paid my last visit to first aid. My pain was so agonizing that I was hurting the medical attendant’s hand, which I was holding. They did provide some assistance, which made things better; I walked next two miles all right.

At last, weather was getting better; I threw my blanket and was feeling ok. I started running a bit again and the last mail was much better, I ran most of it and finished the race. I was disenchanted as I took 8 hours 34 minutes but then I thought at one point I was planning on quitting so I gave myself a pat on the back. Went to hotel, took a long shower and then back to the finishing lane to see what my other colleagues from the institute are up to. I was glad to know all of us who started have finished the race. And we all were accomplished but limping souls for the next few days. Thanks to my running mate Colin for the ride back home, else it could have been a painful commute on bus for four hours. Now, if you ask me will do IT again? , I say YES, why the hell not! One must always learn lessons, next year I will be well prepared for the drudgery and probably take 10 hours to finish ☺.