Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The romanticization of war - II

The Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar links the presumed lack of respect for the Indian Army to it not having fought a war for 40-50 years. As evidence, he cited the relatively less attention 'an IAS or any other authority' accords to a letter from a military commanding officer than before. It is not the soldier on the ground (who is close to the horrors of war) but the backroom strategist (for whom war is a video game) who itches for war. Evidently,  an IIT degree is not an inoculation against this disease.

Parrikar doesn't seem to realize (or perhaps realizes but doesn't agonize over it since he won't suffer) that War is no picnic – it kills and maims soldiers, deprives families of those they love, magnifying their tragedy in case the dead was also their bread-winner. It strains the nation's resources and throws the normal life of the nation into chaos. Once I was told that there was a report in some magazine that India had the resources to destroy the whole of Pakistan while Pakistan had the resources to destroy 'only' half of India so in the event of a full fledged conflict India's victory was assured. It doesn't seem to occur to war-mongers that it would be a Pyrrhic victory.

War-mongers don't think about the fact that the consequences of war don’t end at the trumpeting of victory or ceasefire, but continue to unfold many years thereafter. In The Palace of Illusions, which is the story of the Mahabharata from Draupadi's point of view, a dying Duryodana tells Yudhishtira, 'I am going to heaven to enjoy all its pleasures with my friends. You'll rule a kingdom peopled with widows and orphans and wake each morning to the grief of loss. Who's the real winner, then, and who the loser?'

In Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, Sergius is the epitome of what every romantic hero should be: He is dashing, handsome, idealistic, wealthy, aristocratic, brave, and the acclaimed hero of a recent crushing victory in a cavalry raid which he led. He is possessed of only the loftiest and most noble ideals concerning war, romance, and chivalry, and he represents the quintessence of what a noble Bulgarian aristocrat should be.

Captain Bluntschli is a realist who sees through the absurd romanticism of war. Unlike the aristocratic volunteers who are untrained, amateurish idealists, Captain Bluntschli is a professional soldier, trained in waging a war in a highly efficient, businesslike manner. At one point, he tells Sergius. 'I'm a professional soldier. I fight when I have to, and am very glad to get out of it when I haven't to. You're only an amateur: you think fighting's an amusement.'

Justice by Michael Sandel gives an idea of the class composition of the American army. Young people from middle-income neighbourhoods are disproportionately represented in the army. The least represented are the most affluent 20% and the poorest 10% (who may lack the necessary education). Politicians also have a poor representation. I am reasonably sure that a similar class composition exists in the the Indian army also. If the decision makers had more of their relatives in the army they would be less eager for war. Those who most urge others to make sacrifices have to sacrifice the least in case of war. Sandel writes about the historian David M Kennedy's views:
He argues that "the US armed forces today have many of the attributes of a mercenary army," by which he means a paid  professional army that is separated to a significant degree from the society on whose behalf it fights.He doesn't mean to disparage the motives of those who enlist. His worry is that hiring a relatively small number of our fellow citizens to fight our wars lets the rest of us off the hook. It severs the link between the majority of democratic citizens and the soldiers who fight in their name.
Kennedy observes that, 'proportionate to the population, today's active-duty military establishment is about 4 percent of the size of the force that won World War II." This makes it relatively easy for policy-makers to commit the country to war without having to secure the broad and deep consent of the society as a whole. "History's most powerful military force can now be sent into battle in the name of a society that scarcely breaks a sweat when it does so." The volunteer army absolves most Americans of the responsibility to fight and die for their country. While some see this as an advantage, this exemption from shared sacrifice comes at the price of eroding political accountability:
A hugely preponderant majority of Americans with no risk whatsoever of exposure to military service have, in effect, hired some of the least advantaged of their fellow countrymen to do some of their most dangerous business while the majority goes on with their own affairs unbloodied and undistracted.
Quite often, the spin is given that the nation functions because there are soldiers on the border which is unfair on other members of the society. The nation functions as much because of farmers, labourers, doctors, engineers, etc., as soldiers.  No one section is more important than the other. If push comes to shove and I have to choose one section, I guess it has to be farmers: one has to eat before doing other things. (Retd.) Colonel L Misra says, 'Even army cannot march on an empty stomach.'

In different parts of the world, the war memorials and the elaborate rituals attending the war dead/military casualities (which are often telecast live) or the breathless display of destructive toys during military parades are reminiscent of how religions inspire awe among the masses through elaborate rituals and magnificent places of worship. In the respect of the worship of modern methods of destruction, North Korea and the countries not on the 'axis of evil' differ only in degrees. Susan Sontag writes in her essay Aids and its Metaphors:
Abuse of the military metaphor may be inevitable in a capitalist society, a society that increasingly restricts the scope and credibility of appeals to ethical principle, in which it is thought foolish not to subject one's actions to the calculus of self-interest and profitability. War-making is one of the few activities that people are not supposed to view 'realistically'; that is, with an eye to expense and practical outcome.In all-out war, expenditure is all-out, unprudent - war being defined as an emergency in which no sacrifice is excessive.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The romanticization of war - I

Aristotle wrote, 'Metaphor consists in giving the thing a name that belongs to something else.' People in power get to impose their metaphors on us - political, business and religious leaders, media, advertisers, etc. War metaphors are in common use with everything conceived as a battle, as a zero-sum game with winners and losers. We talk of various things in terms of a war because we conceive of them that way, and we act according to how we conceive of things. And as George Lakoff wrote in his paper 'Metaphor and War , '...metaphors backed up by bombs can kill.'

You can see war metaphors used often in cricket. After the chest beating talk at beginning of a cricket series, it will be said that 'the battle lines have been drawn', the star player in the side will be called the 'lone warrior' or 'the hit-man'; there will be 'attack' index, twitter 'battle', 'clash' of titans, 'final frontier', 'revenge' series, 'seek vengeance'. A West Indies-SA cricket series was advertised as - 'a war cry resounds as the Caribbean crew lands on the hostile African shores'; a cricket match between India and Australia is called 'a battle without guns' (aggression on the cricket field is not about cricketing skills but about how boorish you can be); there will be 'General Kohli leads his soldiers through fielding drills'; Sehwag 'blitzkrieg' flattens England, 'Do or die' game for India, Sachin's 'blasters' vs Warne's 'warriors'.

In politics, there will be battleground states, war room,  prestige battle, a ministerial communication is called 'twitter battle', 'battle bugle' for Bihar has been sounded, an election speech is described as 'a war cry', 'battle lines' are drawn, there is 'a war of words' between the candidates, the PM 'led the charge' during the campaign, Sushma makes 'frontal attack' on Congress, Rahul leads Congress 'counter attack', we won the 'land-bill battle', battle for Bihar, prestige battle, bitter battle.  The preparations are on a 'war-footing'; it is a straight 'fight' between Modi and Nitish Kumar in Bihar; sentences like 'X attacks Y' or 'X hits back at Y' are common, Congress 'guns' for Sushma, Kejriwal alleges 'pre-emptive strike' by BJP to save Jaitly.

In Metaphors we live by, George Lakoff gives some examples of the 'love is war' metaphor: He 'fled from' her 'advances'. She 'persued' him 'relentlessly'. He 'won' her hand in marriage. She is 'beseiged' by suitors. He 'made an ally' of her mother.He also gives examples of the 'arguement is war' metaphor used in everyday language: Your claims are 'indefensible'.I 'demolised' his argument. He 'shot down' all of my arguments. His criticisms were 'right on target'. He writes:
It is important to see that we don't just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments.We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. We attack his positions and defend our own. We gain or lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we do in arguing are partially structured by the concept of war.Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument  - attack, defence, counterattack, etc. - reflects this.
The war metaphor is used in many other contexts: the court room became a 'battleground'; he was 'under fire' from the experts; the president was 'bombarded' with questions from the press; the organization works at the 'front lines' of the war on poverty; she didn't want to get caught in the 'crossfire' of her parent's divorce; there was an economic 'blockade' of Manipur; the model is a 'Blonde Bombshell'; the new policy is considered a political 'time bomb' for the government; ethical hackers are described as 'cyber warriors', He is an 'eco-warrior'.

Other high-profile examples include the War on Poverty, War on Cancer, War on Drugs, . The body is often viewed as a 'fortress' which protects us from 'invasion' by disease causing organisms. The immune system 'mobilises' antigens...Civilian causalities during military campaigns is called by the anaesthetic phrase 'collateral damage'. It conceals from people what is actually going on. It is an abstract euphemism which ensures that people don't get a sense of repulsion from what is essentially murder. The use of metaphor can be pernicious when it hides painful realities. These metaphors hide aspects of violence that would normally be seen as major crimes.  George Orwell shows this in an essay written in the 1940s, Politics and the English Language:
In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them. Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so." Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:
"While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement."
James Childress describes the use of war as a metaphor as a dilemma: "In debating social policy through the language of war, we often forget the moral reality of war." Their widespread use dulls the realisation that the brutality of war dehumanises us all. Childress observes, ' We are tempted by seedy realism, with its doctrine that might makes right, or we are tempted by an equally dangerous mentality of crusade or holy war, with its doctrine that right makes might of any kind acceptable.' 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The problems of conformity

In The Invisible Gorilla, there is an analysis of why the tiny nation of Georgia provoked a war with its big neighbor Russia over two provinces whose rebels were being helped by Russia. Georgia's leaders actually believed that they would quickly defeat the second largest army in the world. In the conflict that followed, they were overwhelmed by Russia in one week of fighting. How did they get this overconfidence?

Mikhail Sakashvili was elected president of Georgia in 2004 when he was only 36. He stocked the government with his loyalists who were also in their thirties and lacked military experience but agreed with him about containing Russian activities in the rebel provinces. Thus many like-minded people could 'take a set of opinions that none of them held with great confidence individually and aggregate them, by deliberating among themselves and reinforcing one another's public statements, into a high-confidence conclusion'.

The authors describe an experiment which shows confidence in groups. They gave 700 people true/false trivia tests.As usual, people thought they knew more than they did, having an average of 70% confidence in their answers while they actually averaged only 54% correct answers. Then 3 different types of 2-person groups were formed - groups with 2 high-confidence members, groups with 2 low-confidence members and groups with  1 high- and 1 low- confidence member.

You will think that groups will be more accurate and suffer less from the illusion of confidence. But the results showed that groups had similar results as individuals but they had become more confident. Confidence had increased most for groups with two low confidence people. This experiment showed how in the case of Georgia, though the decision-makers may not have been individually confident, when in a group 'their confidence could have inflated to the point where what were actually risky, uncertain actions seemed highly likely to succeed.'

One of the authors once asked a US government official about how they made group decisions. The agent said that the members went around the room, each giving his or her opinion, in descending order of seniority.The authors write:
Imagine the false sense of consensus and confidence that cascades through a group when one person after another confirms the boss's original guess...The very process of putting individuals together to deliberate before they reach a conclusion almost guarantees that the group's decision will not be the product of independent opinions and contributions. Instead, it will be influenced by group dynamics, personality conflicts, and other social factors that have little to do with who knows what, and why they know it.
Till some years back, I had tended to agree with the conventional view that it is good to have a strong, stable government at the centre with a comfortable majority. But now I think a coalition government with its pulls and pressures, threats and sulks is better, especially in a diverse country like India. It may look chaotic but prevents build-up of pressure for long periods. Like in a pressure cooker, it is better to let off steam at regular intervals.

There was an attempted coup recently in Turkey which was thankfully put down by the civilian government. But then, quite predictably, the more dangerous course has been adopted. There have been large-scale purges and like-minded people have been appointed in various positions. But, as Karl Popper points out in The Poverty of Historicism, '...this attempt to exercise power over minds must destroy the last possibility of finding out what people really think.' So one shouldn't be surprised if something unexpected crops up somewhere down the line.

There is a story about Socrates where he is told that he is the wisest man in Athens to which he responds that it is not true because he doesn’t know many things. He then goes around the city interviewing people and finds that he is indeed the wisest man – he at least knew that he didn’t know many things; the others didn’t even know this.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Is a 'strong' leader desirable? - III

 “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”  -  John F. Kennedy

I came across an account of another experiment in Nudge in which the task was a bit more difficult than in Asch's experiment. Here people were kept in a dark room and a pinpoint of light was placed some way in front of them. The light was actually stationary but appeared to move because of an effect called the autokinetic effect. The people were then asked to estimate the distance the light has moved.

When asked individually, the answers varied significantly, which was not surprising since the light was stationary and the answers were random guesses. But when people were formed into groups and asked to give their answers in public, there were big conformity effects. The individual estimates converged to a group norm and over time this norm proved sticky and the individuals in a group were strongly committed to their group norm.

In some experiments, a confederate was planted unbeknownst to the other members of the group. This confederate could nudge the group estimate if he spoke confidently and firmly. If the confederate's assessment was much higher than the group norm, the group estimate was inflated and if the confederate's estimate was very low, the group's estimate would fall. Thus consistent and unwavering people, whether in the public or private sector, can move people in their preferred direction.

What is even more interesting is that the group's judgments became thoroughly internalized so that people would stick to them even when they were reporting on their own or when participating in other groups that gave different judgments. The initial judgement also had effects across 'generations'.Even when the group members changed and the person who was originally responsible for the decision was long gone, the judgement tended to stick. Different types of experiments have been conducted to determine conformity effects. The authors write:
Consider the following finding. People were asked, 'Which one of the following do you feel is the most important problem facing our country today?' Five alternatives were offered: economic recession, educational facilities, subversive activities, mental health and crime and corruption. Asked privately, a mere 12 percent chose subversive activities. But when exposed to an apparent group consensus unanimously selecting that option, 48 percent of people made the same choice!
In a similar finding, people were asked to consider this statement: 'Free speech being a privilege rather than a right, it is proper for a society to suspend free speech when it feels threatened.'Asked this question individually, only 19 percent of the control group agreed, but confronted with the shared opinion of only four others, 58 percent of people agreed. The results are closely connected with one of Asch's underlying interests, which was to understand how Nazism had been possible. Asch believed that 'conformity could produce a very persistent nudge, ultimately generating behaviour...that might seem unthinkable'.

As a species, we seem to be predisposed towards believing that the most confident are also the most knowledgeable.Decisive, aggressive, confident, assertive, strong, etc are adjectives to be viewed with caution when used to describe political leaders. A political candidate who 'looks Presidential' or 'looks Prime-Ministerial' will get votes irrespective of his level of knowledge.

Election time is about making tall promises and bringing large crowds who will cheer at the proper prompts. Colourless, boring politicians are safer than flamboyant ones. (See talk by Prof Apurvanand on 3Ds: Demagogues, Demigods and Democracy.The talk is in Hindi.) As Nassim Nicholas Taleb says in The Black Swan:
Alas, one cannot assert authority by accepting one's own fallibility. Simply, people need to be blinded by knowledge - we are made to follow leaders who can gather people together because the advantages of being in groups  trump the disadvantages of being alone.  It has been more profitable for us to bind together in the wrong direction than to be alone in the right one.  Those who have followed the assertive idiot rather than the introspective wise person have passed us some of their genes.  This is apparent from a social pathology: psychopaths rally followers.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Is a 'strong' leader desirable? - II

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth - Einstein

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell writes about Hofstede's Dimensions devised by the Dutch psychologist Geert Hofstede. The most interesting of these dimensions is 'Power Distance Index' (PDI). PDI was a measure of a society's attitude towards hierarchy and authority. It was measured by questions like: 'Are employees afraid to express disagreement with their managers?' and 'Are power holders entitled to special privileges?' There is a quote from Hofstede's text Culture's Consequences about low PDI countries:
Power is something of which power holders are almost ashamed and they will try to underplay. I once heard a Swedish (low PDI) university official state that in order to exercise power he tried not to look powerful. Leaders may enhance their informal status by renouncing formal symbols. In (low PDI) Austria, Prime Minister Buno Kriesky was known to sometimes  take the streetcar to work. In 1974, I actually saw the Dutch (low PDI) prime Minister,Joop den Uyl, on vacation with his motor home at a camping site in Portugal. Such behaviour of the powerful would be very unlikely in high PDI Belgium or France.
You can generally divide power distance into high power distance and low power distance. If you belong to a culture displaying high power distance, you will tend to view power as a reality of life and believe everyone has a specific place in the hierarchy of power. You will expect that power will be distributed unequally. You will more easily accept autocratic and paternalistic power relations. If you are a subordinate, you simply acknowledge the power of your superior based merely upon his relative position in the hierarchy of authority.

It doesn't take much thinking to conclude that India is a high PDI country. You won't find the behaviours described above in India even if there was no security risk. The 'lal batti'  culture is widespread and leaders love to announce their arrival with a lot of noise. Their power will be indicated by the number of cars in their fleet. Getting Z plus category security is regarded as a status symbol. Prostrating before political leaders or greeting them with huge garlands is a common sight.

In a group decision making process, the members are thrown together to deliberate and reach a conclusion. The thought is that each member will give an independent, unbiased opinion. In a high PDI culture, group dynamics will guarantee that this will not happen. The authors of The Invisible Gorilla note that 'group processes can inspire a feeling akin to "safety in numbers" among the most hesitant members, decreasing realism and increasing certainty'.

The authors describe an experiment to determine how group processes work. What was found was that the people who assumed leadership roles were not more competent than others. They just had more dominant personalities and thus spoke first. And in 94% of the problems (It was a math test), the group's final answer was the first answer that anyone suggested. The first answer will be given by the most dominant personality. The authors write:
So in this experiment, group leadership was determined largely by confidence. People with dominant personalities tend to exhibit greater self-confidence, and due to the illusion of confidence, others tend to trust and follow people who speak with confidence. If you offer your opinion early and often, people will take your confidence as an indicator of your ability, even if you are actually no better than your peers.The illusion of confidence keeps the cream blended in. 
In The Poverty of Historicism, Karl Popper quotes Lord Acton's Law of corruption: 'You cannot give a man power over other men without tempting him to misuse it - a temptation which roughly increases with the amount of power wielded, and which very few are capable of resisting.' This is especially true in high PDI societies. We should be careful about what we wish for. We might get it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Is a 'strong' leader desirable? - I

 'When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.' - Eric Hoffer

Thanks to the education system, I knew nothing about the findings in social psychology till some years after my stroke. (It takes time to detox oneself from some myths of an MBA education). And after a while, the assumption of economists that humans are rational agents started sounding like fiction. But I came across some economists like Robert Frank who says that decision making is often not rational. He says (quoted in The Emotional Brain): 'Many actions, purposely taken with full knowledge of their consequences, are irrational'. He likens many behaviours to Borges' description of the battle over Falkland Islands between Britain and Argentina - 'two bald men fighting over a comb.'

One of the powerful influences on human behavior is social conformity. We think that we make independent decisions that are not skewed by the opinions of others but that is a vain assumption. Advertisers will say that everyone is buying  their product. Politicians will say that everyone is supporting their party. They know that conformity  is a powerful instinct in humans. Politicians and advertisers have a better idea of human behaviour than economists do. The power of social influences varies in different situations.  The authors of Nudge describe its power in one such situation:
In the American judicial system, federal judges in three-judge benches are affected by the votes of their colleagues. The typical Republican appointee shows pretty liberal voting patterns when sitting with two Democratic appointees,and the typical Democratic appointee shows pretty conservative voting patterns when sitting with two Republican appointees. Both sets of appointees show far more moderate voting patterns when they are sitting with at least one judge appointed by a president of the opposing political party.
In Chronicles of our Time, Andre Beteille mentions Alexis de Tocqueville, a great 19th century writer on democracy, who viewed heroes in a democracy with misgivings. He said that there was no proper place in a democracy for heroes because when they arose, they would sooner or later turn into despots. Strong and charismatic leaders secure instant and unquestioned devotion among his or her followers and sooner or later start expecting similar devotion from everyone. Hence Ambedkar's warning in his final speech to the Constituent Assembly:
The second thing we must do is to observe the caution which John Stuart Mill has given to all who are interested in the maintenance of democracy, namely, not "to lay their liberties at the feet of even a great man, or to trust him with power which enable him to subvert their institutions". There is nothing wrong in being grateful to great men who have rendered life-long services to the country. But there are limits to gratefulness. As has been well said by the Irish Patriot Daniel O'Connel, no man can be grateful at the cost of his honour, no woman can be grateful at the cost of her chastity and no nation can be grateful at the cost of its liberty. This caution is far more necessary in the case of India than in the case of any other country. For in India, Bhakti or what may be called the path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a part in its politics unequalled in magnitude by the part it plays in the politics of any other country in the world. Bhakti in religion may be a road to the salvation of the soul. But in politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to degradation and to eventual dictatorship.
In the 1950s a social psychologist Solomon Asch conducted experiments to get an idea about the level of conformity in people. He was trying to understand why so many good,  law abiding Germans unquestioningly followed Hitler's murderous policies. In the test people were asked to match the length of a line with three comparison lines as shown in the figure below:



When people were asked to make a decision on their own, they invariably gave the correct answer since it was an easy test.But when in a group, the answer was often influenced by what others said. When everyone gave an incorrect answer, people erred more than one-third of the time. This conformity effect was present even when the other people present were strangers and there was no particular reason to please them. One-third may sound like a small number till you realize that the winning party in Indian elections often gets only one-third of the votes.

Such conformity experiments have been conducted in many countries and the results have been similar. The authors of Nudge write, 'Unanimous groups are able to provide the strongest nudges - even when the question is an easy one, and people ought to know that everyone else is wrong.' Elections often give surprising results because people vote individually in seclusion and in this situation, their decision often differs from what they say in a group.

In this connection, also see Milgram's experiment and Stanford prison experiment.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

More episodes regarding nurses - II

The people in the world can be broadly divided into 2 classes - those who keep spectates in a safe place and those who don't. (Immediately Jaya reminded me about the famous dialogue in the movie 'HUM'.) Unfortunately for me, nurses belong to the latter category. Since I am heavily dependent on sight  I am very particular about where my glasses are kept. In the beginning, the nurses will be careless about where they keep my glasses. This would be so even if a table is right next to them where they can conveniently keep the glasses.

They may,  for example, remove my glasses for wiping my face and keep the glasses on the chair or on the bed on which I am lying. These are horror choices as far as I am concerned. Someone might sit on the chair without realizing that glasses were kept on it. I might cough suddenly and knock the glasses off the bed. Once, when sitting on the wheelchair, a nurse kept the glasses on my hand of all places while wiping my face. I was afraid that I might cough and the glasses might fall to the ground. I was trying to sit as quietly as possible with my blood pressure rising all the while.There are times when Fate is best left alone.

At such times, I keep signalling to the nurse to call Jaya (not when the glasses are on my hands!). When Jaya comes, I tell her what happened. She will explain to the nurse where to keep the glasses and that I will not let them do anything till I see that the glasses are kept safely. The nurses are told about this when they initially come home but they never take it seriously till I finally throw a tantrum.

******

A new nurse came at around 6 p.m. As usual, the agency said that she was an experienced nurse who had looked after many bed-ridden patients. She asked about my paralysis and Jaya gave a quick overview of what had happened. Jaya then asked her to have tea but she said she didn't want anything. She didn't eat anything for dinner either saying she was feeling overwhelmed after seeing my condition and didn't feel like eating anything. The claim that she was an 'experienced nurse' was beginning to ring hollow.

But she slept soundly and there was no sign of her waking up the next morning. Jaya gave my feeding, then decided to do my sponging herself. She finished at around 8 but there was still no sign of the nurse getting up. By this time we were getting worried since she had been lying motionless. Then she turned over to the other side and went back to sleep which was some relief for us: she seemed to be ok.

She finally got up at around nine and headed straight for the bathroom and from the sounds she appeared to be taking a bath. At that time, Jaya called the nurse's office and informed them about the happenings. They were also surprised that she had got up so late and said that they would speak to her. After some time she received a phone-call presumably from her office after which she went out of my room which I thought was for having her breakfast.

After a while Jaya came and told me that the nurse had left. I was surprised because nurses always say goodbye to me before leaving so I was not expecting it. Jaya filled me in on the missing details. Apparently, she was going with her airbag without telling anybody. My father-in-law asked her where she was going but she kept quiet. He called Jaya to whom the nurse said that she was leaving. In spite of Jaya's repeated queries she refused to say anything else. Finally, Jaya asked her if she wanted to be dropped at the bus-stand to which she replied no and left.  Throughout the time she had been here she did not have anything to eat or drink.