BOOK EXCERPT

Nikesh Shukla’s new novel captures the immigrant experience in the UK through three generations

An excerpt from ‘The One Who Wrote Destiny’ by a British writer of Indian origin.

We are sitting in a chip shop, with a jacket potato in front of each of us. They are drowning in beans, covered by a thick layer of cheese.

It is my son’s Edinburgh tradition.

Go to the Tempting Tatty. Get the jacket potato with cheese and beans.

“How often do you eat this?” I ask.

Rakesh tries to answer but his mouth is full. I hold my hand up to say stop.

“I do not want to see the contents of your mouth,” I tell him.

I reach into my overnight bag. I am lucky that my train was delayed and I did not have time to leave my things at my hotel before Rakesh’s show.

I pull out my small glass container that used to contain cinnamon. Now it has chilli flakes.

I sprinkle some on my potato. Rakesh stops eating and looks up at me. He pauses, slightly disturbed by my action, and looks around. I put the container down between us. Then he slowly breaks out into a smile, picks it up and sprinkles it all over his potato.

“I’ve got chilli flakes in my overnight bag, swag,” he says.

“Pardon?” I reply.

“It’s a Beyoncé thing. is is amazing, Dad. I love this. I love that you travel with this. Ready to chilli everything. The chilli man.”

“Your mum used to call it Indian-style,” I tell him, laughing. “When we were out, and I added chilli to something, she’d say, chicken burger Indian-style. Or cucumber sandwiches Indian-style. Or jacket potato Indian-style. It always made me laugh.”

“Dad, you are hilarious,” he tells me. “This is really, really funny. Anyway, it’s good to see you. Thanks for coming up to my show. I can’t believe it. I think this is the first time any of my family except Neha has ever seen my act. And what a show to come and see. The one about you. I mean, it would have been less awkward for me if you’d seen the one I did last year, about how I became an internet meme, but there you go.”

“I listened to the show on your website,” I tell him. “I still do not understand what a meme is, but did you ever think to tell those people that you are not Muslim and therefore using your face as a way of describing angry Muslims is offensive to you?”

“No. Like I say in the show, whether I’m a Muslim or not isn’t the infuriating part. It’s that they thought I was an angry one. You have to show solidarity. Those people don’t give you the benefit of nuance. So you have to stand side by side.”

“I have stood side by side,” I tell him. “It is not a place I wish to be again. Have I told you about the story of how I met your mother?”

“Yes,” Rakesh says, looking down at his potato, shovelling a big piece into his mouth.

“Let me see. I have no reason to be anywhere. I find myself in an in-between world, with no purpose, except to lean with my back against the wall, across the road from Nisha’s amee and papa’s house...”


This show is different from the earlier one. This time the comedians, who are drunk, come up to do five minutes of material about the politics of the day. We are in a pub. The stage area has been dressed in a big black curtain. A man is talking about the Prime Minister and people are booing. There is chatter from the back of the pub. Rakesh is sitting next to me, shaking his right leg furiously. I put my hand on his knee to steady it. He must be nervous.

He takes out his phone and looks at something on the screen, then looks around him.

When his name is announced, he bounds on to the stage. I do not know how he has this much energy. I can feel the bottom of my stomach swimming with baked-bean juice and melted cheese. I feel heavy.

Rakesh’s energy, on stage, is that of someone who has just been electrocuted and has five minutes of intensity before falling over. He is shrill. He talks in a voice I have not heard before. Normally, his voice is like mine, slow and mumbly. On stage, he is shrill, loud, a fast-talker brimming with nerves. His voice goes quickly up and down from falsetto to loud and assertive, sometimes in the same word. He is someone I have not met before.

“Colonialism,” he says. “What’s up with that?”

People laugh. I smirk. Colonialism was silly.

“Thanks for the railways. I always have to say thanks for the railways, it seems. Forty per cent of the country said colonialism was a good thing. Forty per cent? I don’t understand it. That’s a lot of people who think that the systemic rape, pillage and resource-mining of countries across the world, enslaving whole generations, forcing them to be Christian – then when some countries fight back, giving them the illusion of democracy and dividing the people – is a good thing. A positive thing. Well done, the Brits. Wasn’t colonialism great? It was shit. I know it was shit. My dad knows it was shit. He grew up during the British Empire, did you know that? The British Empire. And he thought it was shit. And the forty per cent of you who thought colonialism was a good thing – if you’d been alive at the time, it wouldn’t have been like Downton Abbey for the majority of you fuckers. No, you feudal serfs would all be dead of scurvy and syphilis. How’s that for white privilege? Everyone wants to go back to the good old days, no matter how shit their place in society would have been, because at least they would have owned the coloureds. Am I right, ladies and gentlemen? Colonialism, what’s up with that?”

“Fuck off back to where you came from then...”

The audience gasps. I look around me, angry. How dare they interrupt my son? Go back to where he came from? My bloody son is from Harrow.

Rakesh freezes. He looks out into the crowd, a hand on his hip, and sighs. He doesn’t know what to say. The audience is waiting for his response. He has none. Whispers start.

I stand up, trembling with the same combination of anger and fear as I did all those years ago, when Nisha and I stormed the community hall doors.

“Who said that?” I shout to the crowd.

“Yup,” Rakesh says. “I brought my dad and he’s going to beat up the dad of whichever fucker said that, so goodnight and always punch a Nazi and see you in the car park. I’m bringing my dad.”

The entire audience bursts into laughter. They clap. Some stand up. People pat me on the shoulder. My face slips from anger into laughter.

Rakesh jumps off the stage.

“Let’s go,” he whispers.

“Why?” I say.

“Because I’ve just challenged someone to a fight and I want to go in case they actually accept.”

Excerpted with permission from The One Who Wrote Destiny, Nikesh Shukla, Penguin Random House India.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

Play

The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.