Category Archives: A new sunrise

Tools for succeeding in the hereafter

Humility for Humanity

Just the other day, during a pep talk to students, a young enthusiast posed this question- “Why are you advising us to be humble when this world values first impressions and self confidence more than humility?” Though I answered to the best of my modest capability, I wasn’t quite contented with my own reply.

So after reaching home, I decided to go Pal Sourcing on this subject. I posted this query -“In just 2 words, give your tips on how to be loved by all” on FB and tagged many of my good friends. In the comments that flowed in, many of them wrote “Be Humble“. I couldn’t but compare these comments with the responses to another query-“How to be successful?” that I had posted earlier. I remember very well that none of my good friends had brought up the topic of humility then. This aggravated by doubt- Were people attributing humility to sweet, submissive also-rans and pride and boisterousness with Success? If the responses of my Pals were an indication, yes they were. Could this be true? – I tried to seek out empirical research on the topic. So Google Ahoy.

Interestingly, research on humility showed that this trait has great value. Humility has been linked with better academic performance, job performance, and excellence in leadership. Surprising!!!it was found to be a distinguishing trait of CEO’s of successful organizations. Moreover organizations with humble leaders were found to have more engaged employees and less voluntary turnover.

Research further showed that instead of having low esteem, humble people were self regarding as well as other-regarding. They valued the welfare of other people and had the ability to “forget themselves” as well, when appropriate. Not bad at all…..

Humble people were found to have better social relationships, and tended to be more forgiving, grateful, and cooperative. A recent set of studies also showed that people who are humble tend to be more generous with both their time and their money.

So the verdict is out- shunning arrogance and embracing humility will make you better loved as well as super successful. For our own good and the good of humanity, let us therefore set out to cultivate humility. (In ourselves first, preferably)

Humility for Humanity– I love the way it sounds.


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Women or Men- who are more productive?


Answer to the million dollar question- Women or Men- who are more productive?

According to a new study by independent research consultancy the Ponemon Institute, Women employees work harder and longer than men do

By observing both genders during 10 minute work windows

• On an average females worked 2.5 minutes during ten minutes, while male subjects worked for just 2.1 minutes in the same amount of time. (Almost 20% more)

• Not only do women work longer, but they also apparently work harder than their male counterparts.

• When subjects were given the opportunity to walk away during an experimental waiting period, just 38per cent of women left their desk, while 52per cent of men did.

• When the researcher and subject were both male, the average time worked was 3.6 minutes.

• When they were both female, productivity rose to four minutes.

• But with a female researcher and a male subject, the time worked dropped to just 2.8 minutes.

• Another investigation into the impact of having children on the productivity of male and female lawyers has found that childless women get the most work done – more than childless male lawyers and lawyers of either gender who have children.

So to have maximum productivity, have an all girl team!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope I don’t get terminated 🙂

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Come, let us share some Oxytocins ……

Don’t we all know that experiencing positive relationships puts us on a perpetual high?. We feel better, think better and behave better when we are with the ones we love and cherish. And now we have empirical evidence to substantiate what we always knew.

Scientists have found that the very experience of positive relationships releases Oxytocin (a very cool hormone) which lowers blood pressure, heart rate and gives us better ability to handle stress calmly. Moreover ms Oxy increases trust levels and thus prods and pushes us to seek more social contacts and this again flags off a virtuous cycle along life’s lovely tracks.

To add compliment to good health (My miserable take on the opposite of “adding insult to injury”) , stress related hormones like ACTH (beats me- so google it up pls) take a deep plunge while experiencing positive relationships.
In another mother of all studies, it was also found that Alzheimers patients who received considered social support started up (can’t use “ended up”, can we ?) physiologically much younger than those who didn’t.

So now- apart from gut feel, we have scientific proof to motivate us to make more friends , Close friends and followers.

Come, let us deplete some ACTH’s as well……

Blogged after ages today- Thanks for the reminder, friend.


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This Merry go round of death

In recent months, we have all been regularly jolted from apathy by recurring news about suicides committed by our compatriots. A majority of those who take this extreme step do so after succumbing to the emotional breakdown brought about by unmanageable and surmounting financial obligations. Even though statistics never reveal the depth and intensity of reality, the figure “1 death in every 3 days” is staggering, to say the least. While it is heartening to know that several Government bodies and voluntary organizations are striving hard to build awareness and to help the kin of the victims and support those in dire financial straits, we have to realize that we have to collectively seek and target the root cause of this issue, if we need to arrest this trend. Treating the symptoms alone can only provide momentary relief. Proactivity is the need of the hour and it sternly calls for a mission to identify and eliminate the real reasons behind this quagmire.

Let us dedicate this mission to the memory of our hapless brothers and sisters who have fallen by the wayside. And let us hope and pray that we can keep the rest of our pack together and continue our onward journey without sacrificing anyone anymore….

This mission will have to take its toddler steps by examining the root causes for the existence of poverty. When I pose this proposition to my readers they usually come up with the following answers- Corruption in the system, improper utilization of resources, poor attitude of the people, lack of smart ideas and so on. I don’t disagree with them, completely that is. While these factors can accelerate a nation’s slide towards poverty, there is one key factor that didn’t feature in this list at all. And unfortunately, this undetected stealthy sneaking factor is the grandmother of them all…..

Let me stop building the suspense and reveal the culprit – that dark menacing force that drives individuals, families and nations to poverty, bankruptcy and suicides is the Interest based economic system that we are a part of. And I can categorically state that if this element is present in our system, we will have poverty regardless of whether corruption, mismanagement and the rest of the social ills are at hand or not.

I know that I have just made a mighty whooping statement and that my discerning rational readers would need evidence before coming along with me. Let me try my best to present the same.

You need to get some basic facts first. Here they are.

1)Banks are the only source of money– Every currency in existence has come out of some bank or the other. If you think that your cash has come from your organization in the guise of your salary, go a bit backwards and understand that organizations get most of their funds through bank borrowings. If you think that your cash has come as pensions from the Government, realize that governments cannot create money as even they have to borrow funds from the monetary agencies, in return for bonds that promise to pay more (more about this later). Hence note that that every single unit of currency available in the market can be traced back to some bank.

2)Bank’s give out money only on interest– there is no free lunch in the interest based economy. In other words every unit of currency given out comes with an obligation to pay back more. This is the case even with governments. If the US Government wants to issue USD 1 million into the economy, they have to give the FED, which is akin to the central bank of most countries, Government bonds which is worth more, say USD 1.1 million. Central banks lend to other banks only on interest and thus do these banks lend to customers. To cut a long story short, just keep in mind that every dirham that you see around here comes with an inherent obligation to return more (say 1.2 dirhams) to the bank.

3)Banks give out money only if you provide collateral– This one is a no brainer. We all know this and we also know that banks eat up this collateral if you are not able to pay back.

Now imagine that there is only one bank in the whole world (Tough proposition, since we have over 50 banks in our UAE itself). But I need you to envision this as a simplified model makes it easier for me to make my point. So this means that all the money in the world can come only from this bank and this money will come out with an obligation to pay more (points 1 and 2 above)

Imagine that this bank (Let us call it the ONLY BANK) is getting ready to lend out for the first time (That means that there is no money in the economy yet)

There are three prospective customers. Mr. A who wants USD 10. Mr. B who wants USD 15 and Mr. C who wants USD 20. They have a house, land and farm animals respectively to provide as collateral.

The ONLY BANK gleefully welcomes them in, collects their collateral and doles out the cash with the following directives.

Mr. A gets 10 and has to return 15 at the end of the year
Mr. B gets 15 and has to return 20 at the end of the year
Mr. C gets 20 and has to return 25 at the end of the year

All three go back home to live happily ever after without knowing the sinister trick that has been played. The ONLY BANK has issued USD 45 and is asking for USD 60 at the end of the year. This extra USD 15 doesn’t exist in the economy since it has not been created/printed/released yet (remember point 1 and that ONLY BANK is executing its first lending cycle).

Now the ignorant enthusiasts set out to do things with their newly found prosperity. Money exchanges hands and imagine that the scenario at the end of the year is…

Mr. A makes a loss of USD 5 and ends up with USD 5 at the end of the year
Mr. B makes a loss of USD 5 and ends up with USD 10 at the end of the year
Mr. C (Lucky guy) makes a profit of USD 10 (5 + 5 lost by A and B) and ends up with USD 30 at the end of the year

Please note that even at this point only USD 45 exists in the economy, distributed differently though.

The ONLY BANK comes calling, with their recovery team (He is not as friendly as he was at the dawn of the year).

Mr. A who was supposed to give back USD 15 ends up losing a big chunk of his collateral.

So does Mr. B.

Mr. C (The lucky guy) gives back 25, gets back his collateral and gets to keep his USD 5 as well.

The ONLY BANK gets a triple treat, USD 25 from Mr. C and collateral from A and B. By releasing just USD 45, It has magically and treacherously made a total of USD 60 from the deal.

Hope you got the trick by now. Regardless of how smart you are and how well structured the system is, someone will have to lose money and go bankrupt as the extra money asked back doesn’t exist and is more than what is released (45 released and 60 asked back). Now imagine thousands of banks and millions of lending cycles and you see the damning effect…

No country ever paid back its debt to the world bank and the IMF.

For most countries interest repayments are more than what they spend on education, health care and infrastructure combined

Richest 225 people own more money than 2.5 billion poor

Every 30 minutes, one farmer in India commits suicide and in every 3 seconds one child in this world dies out of hunger

These are some of the byproducts of this corrupted system which has an in built proposition of WIN-LOSE, where the banks win at all costs and someone loses at all costs.

Let us make it more personal now. This is the hardest hitting part. Imagine that you take a loan from this system and you pay back (because, you have a job, or a business and is wealthy), someone somewhere has to lose his collateral and go bankrupt and perhaps, even commit suicide. Because if you become Mr. C, someone has to be A and B. Note that I am not saying “Someone may have to be A and B”- The fact is that “Someone has to be A and B”. That is how the system is built. Period.

Come to think of it, inadvertently and unknowingly, our hands are stained with the blood of these hapless victims who fall prey to this system. Recently a family in the UAE, suffering from the throes of financial burdens elicited by multiple loans and credit cards did the unthinkable. The mother held the little girl while the father smothered her with a pillow. Once her body hung lifeless, they both attempted suicide. The mother survived though. In a way, we may have been responsible for this incident. They may have been pushed to be either A or B when we occupied the role of C. In any of the impending cycles we may have to play a different role and end up as one more victim of this vicious merry go round of pain, defeat, humiliation and death.

Now that the root cause is identified, what do we do against it?

Build awareness: We will be outnumbered and out voiced. Such is the power of this system. But let us reassure ourselves that RIGHT is RIGHT even if one person does it and WRONG is WRONG even if the whole world does it.

Do whatever is possible: Encourage people to live within their means. If they cannot afford something let them wait until they can. If they want funds to invest, let them seek and find alternatives that will work out a profit and loss arrangement- a partner/institution who will co invest with them and partake the outcomes regardless of its implications. Without collateral which will be usurped regardless of the financial state of the borrower.

At the end of the day, it is the purpose that we choose for ourselves that makes us distinct from others. There are many of our co travelers who choose to live a life of Begin, Beget and Be gone, which is in no way different from the lives of lower animals. We become humans only when we choose to use our talents and resources to make differences in the lives of others- those who are in pain, who need our help and support. We may not be able to usher in a new sunrise, but we can at least be a candle that can combat the darkness in its own special way and also provide inspiration and light to countless other candles.

Hope the Mission begins…..


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Is academic performance the best indicator of potential for success in life?

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Hatred doesn’t come free.

After decades of promoting and indulging in Free sex, they have now shifted to endorsing Free Speech. While the popularity of the former was arrested by a certain incurable virus, the latter is growing unhindered across blogs, tweets and discussion fora. What could have triggered this ado? Do a Google search and you can instantly locate the partisans on either side of the battle lines. Fierce looking Muslim youth holding placards reading “Death to those who defame Islam” on the far right (literally) , and liberal, cool, inspired, educated ,intellectuals on the other- The proverbial clash of the civilizations . The community has once again worked itself into a nasty corner. Changing their online status from “Victims” to “Aggressors” overnight- due to their reactive, crude style of activism. Flag burning is permitted in America, because it is a free country, they say. But the flag burners invariably end up, spied and stalked forever or even in orange overalls behind barbed wire enjoying generous doses of water boarding. And even in the strongest bastions of freedom, holocaust denial is taboo. In the recently held UN World Conference Against Racism- Canada, Italy, America and the best of the west announced they would boycott the session if Israel is criticized. A spokesman for Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister, said that a proposed passage, which relates to the situation in the Palestinian territories, contains “unacceptable, aggressive and anti-Semitic phrases”. The champions of free speech went on to drop that passage unanimously. But as long as it is not on the streets and not as outrageous as the placards, America is a free country and its these radicals who are against free speech.

Most write ups for Free speech reveal the Villain in the first paragraph itself. And the heroes are always the ones who provoked the antagonists in the first place. Though I cannot speak on behalf of the whole community, I can confidently say that believing Muslims have never been against “Free Speech”. It is perfectly fine to disagree, discover, debate, decide and then strive to make a difference. But it is just not ok to use one’s uninformed assumptions and prejudices to abuse, hurt and attack the dignity of others. It is said that over 60,000 books were written against Islam in the last century. Go to Amazon and search for “Islam” and see the number of books for and against it. In my last count, I found 4 books FOR and 18 AGAINST. No problem mate. But when someone doles out “classics” calling the prophet a dog and his wives prostitutes, any self respecting community will definitely have a problem with that. For that is Hate speech disguised as Free speech.

Mahatma Gandhi, Prophet Muhammed and Joseph (The husband of Mary) married women aged below 13 years. All three girls had attained puberty and had agreed for the nuptial union. But if you are uncomfortable about the age, please take some effort before shooting off. Read books from sources close to them, ask the scholars and try to understand the context behind the event. If you still feel uncomfortable, go ahead and express it by all means. But make sure that what you say is True, Kind and above all is intended to reform and not to insult and provoke. This is hugely different from degrading them as “lusty pedophiles”. I can express my reservations against girls wearing miniskirts, but if I call them sluts, then I am asking for trouble. The fact that technology makes it easier to make our voices heard (even my blog has over 3500 followers) makes it incumbent upon us to be even more responsible and careful. In a recent poll that I conducted online, I had posed the question “What hurts longer and more- an insulting verbal attack in public or a slap?”. The results are given below and are self explanatory.

Let us go by what the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him speak good (khair) or remain silent.” Disagree by all means, but be true and kind with the intention to reform.

Coming back to the double speak of the enlightened west, Noam Chomsky, summed up the western concept of freedom of speech when he said: “If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don’t like. Goebbels was in favour of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favour of freedom of speech, that means you’re in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise.”

Going by this- forced detentions, banning the niqab & the building of minarets and burning the quran are the best examples of efforts against “Free Speech”, not the angry youth with the placards.


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What hurts longer and more?

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India’s heroes in her fight against communalism

Ten years have passed since the Gujarat riots. The images of burnt houses, smoking villages, charred babies, brutalized women and murderous sword brandishing mobs are still fresh and vivid in our psyches. It is very sad that thousands still languish in refugee camps and many more live on in terror, alienated within their own land.

Such examples of planned polarization, arson, looting and carnage aimed to further petty political ambitions make even the most optimistic evangelists of “Unity in Diversity” disheartened and skeptical. Are our differences so irreconcilable and our past so traumatic that we have to commence self destructing cycles of provocations, revenge and counter revenge at the drop of a hat? Is the dream of a unified India, proactively working together to realize its deserving place in the world community too utopian? Are we destined to sporadically and almost automatically trigger self defeating pogroms that undo everything that we have done so far? Can’t we just forget the past, quell the anger and hatred and move on? Can’t we diffuse and throw away, the time bombs loudly ticking all around us?

Today, I have a story for you that will give all the optimists and well wishers something to cheer for. A story that will definitely resuscitate hope within our hearts. Hope that our children won’t make the follies their predecessors did. Hope that the underlying foundations of love, tolerance and camaraderie that have been pushed deep down by the belligerent war mongers, divisive politicians and sectarian war lords will shrug off the layers of abhorrence and appear again. Hope that the true spirit of India, which has manifested itself every time our country has faced a real threat (Internal or external), will resurface once again… in a new invincible all pervading avatar.

My story is about the valiant fight put up by a defiant and fearless group, consisting mostly of non Muslims to win justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots. People who have put their own lives in extreme danger to struggle for the rights of their hapless brothers and sisters.

This is an incredible story- a riveting tale of sting operations, court cases, movie productions, digital protests, whistle blowing and bold social activism. This is the story about how our Non-Muslim leadership fervently stood by Gujarati Muslims. And this is the story of true India.

We have Harsh Mander, who resigned from Indian Administrative Services (IAS) after the riots, openly saying that his colleagues didn’t do what was expected from them during the pogrom.

We have Teesta Setalvad who has become a Messiah for poor muslims, their leader in fighting for relief and rehabilitation.

And Mukul Sinha who painstakingly collected vital evidence against the rioters after scanning thousands of records.

Prashant Bhushan, who uses every forum to take up the cause of the victims.

Whistle blowers- RB Sreekumar and Sanjeev Bhat who exposed the state- rioter nexus

DIG Rajnish Rai who is trying hard to expose all the post riot fake encounters.

Rahul Sharma, the IPS officer, who ordered firing on the mob who attempted to burn down a Madrasa and kill 300 children in Bhavnagar.

Officers like V K Gupta, Manoj Shashidhar, Narasimha Komar, Vivek Srivastava, M D Antani, Upendra Singh and Keshav Kumar who went against official dictates and ensured that violence was controlled in their areas.

Socialites like Mallika sarabhai, and Nandita das who gave vent to the sufferings of the victims through films, documentaries and talk shows.

The reporter who through a sting operation disproved the government’s take on the Godhra burning, the police officer who arrested the Sangh activists who hosted the Pakistani flag in Karnataka to trigger communal riots, the journalist who traced the true sources of Love Jihad propaganda. They were all non Muslims.

These are just a few names from the heroic cast of India’s epic battle against sectarianism and tyranny. I am sure that there are many more of these valiant fighters who shut out brainwashing attempts and rise over narrow communal inclinations to stand up for pluralism and togetherness. Every single one of them is India’s answer to the demigods of strife and odium.

While these heroes inspire me, they put me to shame as well. For I will find it hard to name even a handful of Muslim leaders who took up similar positions against the ethnic cleansing of pundits in Kashmir and the harassment of non Muslims in certain Muslim countries. But I hope that the selflessness of these heroes will inspire me and countless other fellow men to follow their steps- and to make the True soul and spirit of India stronger.

With gratitude towards my mentor, the author of the blog for inspiration, context and data- Jai Hind


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History keeps repeating- Burning the reformers at the stake

The Spanish Inquisition is back… with a difference. The reformer that is getting burnt at the stakes today is a book revealed to mankind 1400 years ago. Though, the fervent clamors of the Florida pastor fizzled into a “No show”, the most civilized army in the world went ahead and burned the book. Big boys are all over the media issuing apologies, not because they deplore the act, but because the crocodile tears may reduce the likelihood of increased threats to their invading and ravaging forces.

They have always hated reformers. And have unapologetically used the Assimilate or Annihilate strategy against them. And history tells us that has succeeded to an extent. May reformists changed their viewpoints and started toeing impotent official lines. Other were either made irrelevant or outrageous thorough the media or just bumped off. But unfortunately, they can do neither with this book, though they are trying hard.

Why do I call this book a reformist? Let me answer using the words of eminent western historians and sociologists.

It inspired an ideology that was the first to denounce aristocratic privileges and reject hierarchy. So says the Great Bernard Lewis. The Constitution of Medina, drafted and implemented by the Prophet in 622 is the first instance of a charter that brought together different religions and tribes, with specific rights and responsibilities within the fold of one single community- the Ummah. John Esposito credits Islam and the Quran with the abolishing of rampant customs like Female infanticide, exploitation of the poor, usury, murder, false contracts, adultery and theft. The Quran has a specific verse on infanticide- “When the sun shall be darkened, when the stars shall be thrown down, when the mountains shall be set moving, when pregnant camels shall be neglected, when the savage beasts shall be mustered, when the seas shall be set boiling, when the souls shall be coupled, when the buried infant shall be asked for what sin she was slain, when the scrolls shall be unrolled, when heaven shall be stripped off, when Hell shall be set blazing, when Paradise shall be brought nigh, then shall a soul know what it has produced”.

The Quran was the first book that established a process towards purging slavery. Trading of slaves was prohibited. Slavery was permitted only as a mechanism to save and accommodate prisoners of war who were previously executed ruthlessly. The prophet made it the responsibility of the Islamic government to provide food and clothing to captives, regardless of their religion. Jonathan Brockopp writes that the idea of using alms for the manumission of slaves and the practice of freeing slaves in atonement for certain sins is unique to the Qur’an. John Esposito categorically states that the Quran’s reforms affected marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Women were not accorded with such legal status in other cultures, including the great west, until centuries later. Gerhard Endress states: “The social system builds up a new system of marriage, family and inheritance; this system treated women as an individual too and guaranteed social security to her as well as to her children. Legally controlled polygamy was an important advance. It was only by this provision (backed up by severe punishment for adultery), that the family, the core of any sedentary society could be placed on a firm footing.” “Women were given inheritance rights in a patriarchal society that had previously restricted inheritance to male relatives” says Annemarie Schimmel. She continues- “Compared to the Jewish and Christian position of women, Islamic legislation meant an enormous progress; the woman has the right, to administer the wealth she has brought into the family or has earned by her own work”

No wonder they are paranoid. They had painfully, through media and technology, created a culture that openly promotes loose values and low living, allowing man to be driven by his hedonistic animal instincts-Man who would never question their masters as long as their primal desires are met. However people in droves are rejecting the world they have created and are pursuing their higher spiritual and self actualization goals- Read this article (Click Here)from CNN.

This also proves that the “TERROR TAG” isnt working either.

No wonder they are fervently arranging the stakes again.

But will burning the book do any good? It is estimated that over 5 million people around the world have memorized the Quran. Even if you burn every single copy on the face of the earth, it cannot be destroyed. Believers from US, France, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ghana and every country in the world can come together and recreate the book within hours.

So much for the arsonists. History keeps repeating- Truth does rise from the ashes.

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Map your confusions away, Tool 2

Please click on the image below to get a clearer view… but do come back to my blog after relishing the pic 🙂

Ok, so its time for Tool 2. Thanks for all those who called up exclaiming “Visual Squash really works !!!!”. Of course it does. I wouldnt be suggesting it otherwise, would I ?

The second tool uses Mind Mapping, the phenomenal brainstorming, creativity and learning tool by Tony Buzan. It is a simple, yet ultra effective technique.

Mind Map about “Mind Mapping”

Enough of talking, lets get to work….

Take out an A4 sheet of paper and a set of colored pens. Write your dilemna in a box at the centre of the sheet. Add a nice picture to compliment your text. By using images and color, you are roping in the right side of your brain to think for you and research has shown that when both sides work in tandem, you get double the number of ideas.

Draw a branch towards the right and put in option 1: (Staying in Dubai, perhaps). Now watch your thoughts and feelings and record them on new sub branches. Dont forget the images and color. Keep adding branches till you run out of thoughts…..

Now move on to option 2 and draw it within another branch, this time in the opposite direction. Extend this branch with sub branches, one each for every thought.

Once you complete the mind map, you need to asign scores to each branch. On a scale of 1 to 10, assign values to each branch. If its very important for you, go ahead and put a 9 or 10. If its dispensable, assign 2 or 3.

Done? Great !!!

Now add up the score on either sides. In my case, Paris scores 29 and Dubai scores 27. I have a winner here, with a wafer thin margin though. But I have my decision…..

Try it out and I will return with tool 3……..

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