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Old 9th September 2012, 13:46   #76
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Default Re: The Maruti Way : Worker's side of the story

I need a worker to work 8 hour shift with two tea breaks etc... very hard... will pay x amount and no offs, want to work come otherwise please go work somewhere else. i have not read the full story. but i dont know single person ( i employ 200 -300 people most of it project wise temp) who will stay one day if i ask him why you need to go to funeral. let him being earning 6k or 40k.

The concept of exploitation does not exist, work else where if the pay is not equal to hard work.... simple... or a i missing something....


Let say maruti pays 5 lakhs for same work. will still be exploitation. No. i would take the job.

If it is about wrong working practise then its different. then what ever the pay its wrong.

If it is about money not enough for hard work its different. Then please go and get new job. I agree it is not easy. But why should one company pay more than what industry pays.

Where does the violence comes in this.


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Old 9th September 2012, 13:50   #77
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Originally Posted by limited-edition View Post
I think the union has hired some high profile consultant / lawyer, and this whole story is directed by that person
Well, as the Stevie Wonder song goes, "two can play the game" you know!

Labour rights and labour laws exist only on paper in our country. Labour commissioners, like all other govt babus, are up for sale. Some are more British than the British! I have seen a few spouting more management jargon than the management!

Given the circumstances, these type of incidents, unfortunate though they are, have happened before; and they will happen again. Like immutable laws of nature. Period.

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Old 9th September 2012, 15:16   #78
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Agree that this boils down to a fundamental philosophical debate about whether the assembly line and modernity is beneficial or not, and whether India needs to industrialise or not.
There we go again, the false equivalence of a so called debate which boils down to either you are with us or against us . Any criticism means those who criticize want the assembly lines and modernization to be outlawed and want India to be back in stone ages wanting the following.

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living in dignified poverty is better than the loss of individuality triggered by modern production techniques, or the need to be competitive in a global market place.
Or are always thinking on the following terms.

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Very often, the people who espouse these philosophies are themselves comfortably off - and do not see why someone poorer than them will want to give up his individuality, and also have a great deal of resentment towards those who become richer than them by being more dynamic (or crass as they would put it).
Even if there is a slight complaint about crony capitalism (read the story of the Jindals today who got access to coal at dirt cheap prices but sold electricity at way above market rates) they are branded as anti-capitalist to the core who vehemently oppose attempts of the general populace to seek a better life.

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That is the philosophy that prevailed in India from independence, and probably also represents the reason why as a civilisation, India failed to develop modern industrial production techniques despite a number of the scientific drivers for the same such as advanced math having being developed here over 2000 years ago.
Another huge reason is the cronyism and corruption that prevailed between a few business houses and the government (read politicians) who instituted a license raj and killed off industry, competition and more importantly entrepreneurship by creating restrictive monopolies either government owned or through these select business families. Communism only emerged in the mid 70s which was an extreme reaction of what really was going on since India's independence.

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On the other hand, there are those who believe that there is no dignity in poverty - to be rich is glorious, and that if India wants to take even a low ranking place in the civilised world, we must abandon our culture of praising incompetence as individuality, and recognise that we have to operate by the rules of the world we live in.
Another example of either you are with us or against us. If you do not support us using processes and labor techniques that break the workers' bones you hate capitalism. Swell, quite Talibanisque thinking I must say.

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But for the poor, there is no such choice. If they wish to live, they have a choice between staying on the farm earning barely enough to eat at the end of the day, or moving to cities and managing across multiple unorganised sector jobs which give them enough to own a TV even if they have to live in a slum, or if they are very lucky, getting a permanent job in the organised sector where they need to agree to a certain discipline which allows the organised sector company to pay them 4x what their peers in the unorganised sector get.
Quite contradictory this statement as this permanent job thing didn't happen and currently contract labor seems to be the in-thing at the lowest wages possible.

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And for those who think India can ever move out from dirt poor status without a massive shift of the labour force from agriculture to manufacturing and modern services, I say wake up and smell the coffee.
So for argument's sake lets say a massive movement of labor from agriculture to organized labor happens, what are we going to feed ourselves? For breakfast, the nuts and bolts they tighten and chew on the Swift's steering wheel for lunch? I hope this argument of mine doesn't invite a strict instruction that I leave my job rightaway and go work in a farm. The problems in the low GDP and yields from agriculture is manifold and I wonder how is the income from agriculture computed. Is it based on the direct earnings of the farmers? If it is then we fail to capture the actual price we pay for the food on our plate. The farmers probably earn anywhere between 1/4th to 1/10th of what we pay for the food the cultivate for us. Mainly because the incredible amount of corruption and waste and the middlemen involved that exists which I am sure is never accounted in the GDP calculations. To solve this it doesn't mean that farm labor and farmers should become assembly line workers overnight, instead we have to fix the corruption which cause their minuscule contribution to the GDP.

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We are certainly not going to get there if as a society, we think that the techniques used by Maruti are unacceptable.
The only thing folks have opposed is pushing the techniques to such an extent that workers do not have access to relievers for loo breaks and literally pee and sh*t in their pants. What next? A portable loo attached to the orifices of the workers to cut down on the toilet breaks? Pity we don't have Charles Chaplin around to demonstrate its use. Industrialization is here to stay no doubt but it has not succeeded in achieving that perfect reality of everybody becoming rich and prosperous even after centuries. The primary reason in my view is however much we industrialize or mechanize we operate in an environment where nature and the earth we live in is beyond our control and however much we apply technology to our lives we are never going to predict or conquer these factors. Resources are going to be limited and are only going to reduce as days go by and technology can only solve that problem partially so that ideal world of everybody progressing and becoming rich at the same time is simply not possible. Nature always maintains a balance and any imbalance is automatically corrected. I am not being cynical here or want to deny the underprivileged a shot at a better life but I cannot afford to be living in such a false sense of idealism either. Where do we draw the line, how much can technology be pushed to its limits, humans pushed beyond theirs, is anything justified in the name of a better tomorrow where we screw the happiness of our present existence. Oh well, this has gone quite OT here and its better to have this discussion on a different thread.

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or go to Calcutta and debate philosophy while sitting on a Katta (that is the Bombay term - I don't remember the correct Calcutta equivalent).
And yes, it would be greatly appreciated if personal references and regionalism is left out of such debates. One can also claim that Mumbai is a place where any sense of nationalism ceases to exist because folks from a particular region are targeted regularly or in the name of rallies national monuments are desecrated by kicking them down. That would be highly inappropriate.
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Old 9th September 2012, 15:56   #79
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Default Re: The Maruti Way : Worker's side of the story

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Originally Posted by Hayek View Post
Agree that this boils down to a fundamental philosophical debate about whether the assembly line and modernity is beneficial or not, and whether India needs to industrialise or not.



We are certainly not going to get there if as a society, we think that the techniques used by Maruti are unacceptable.
I do not think the success of MSIL and their kind of work practices is the single determinant that will dictate India's prosperity.

There are industrial corporations in the European heartland which are very cognisant of workers rights and yet successful industrial corporations.

I doubt very much that MSIL workers are the epitome of exploited working classes. I also doubt if everything is hunky dory with MSIL industrial relations policy and MSIL is the model employer. To me this entire incident needs follow up in terms of:

[] ruthless prosecution of those responsible for the arson and murder. This meaningless nonsense about miserable working conditions triggering the riots and murder is just that - meaningless nonsense. There is no justification whatsoever for this.

[] examination of MSIL work practices to ensure MSIL does not violate workers rights and humane working conditions are provided. If MSIL does not find it economically viable to do so , then by all means pack your bags and go back to where you came from. Will they leave their largest market? The answer is quite obvious , they will bloody well mend their ways.
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Old 9th September 2012, 15:58   #80
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There we go again, the false equivalence of a so called debate which boils down to either you are with us or against us
Another example of either you are with us or against us. If you do not support us using processes and labor techniques that break the workers' bones you hate capitalism. Swell, quite Talibanisque thinking I must say.
pretty strongly worded.
however in this case it IS a matter of with us or against us.
and the purpose of every debate is show why each of the debaters thinks they are right, isn't it?

infact the irony in your statement is that the Talibanisque mentality (if we can term it as such) was employed by the workers when they decided that unless their demands were met the plant shall shut down and directly and indirectly affect thousands of lives from the vendor who makes the spring that opens the lid to the corporate fat cat who has to explain tens of crores of production halt-age to his superiors and to the dealer who gets verbally/physically abused by the customer for failing to meet the delivery deadline (misery compounded if the car was to be a gift at a wedding or some auspicious date.)

Talibanisque is the attitude of the workers who in the throes of passion(not the good kind) directly/indirectly were responsible for the death of a being and injured hundred others and destroyed crores of property.




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The only thing folks have opposed is pushing the techniques to such an extent that workers do not have access to relievers for loo breaks and literally pee and sh*t in their pants. What next? A portable loo attached to the orifices of the workers to cut down on the toilet breaks? Pity we don't have Charles Chaplin around to demonstrate its use.
appreciate the sarcasm in your statement however unless the urgency is monumental dont we from childhood have enough discipline to control our urges. arent we smart enough to void our bowels and bladder when we set out on a long drive.
dont we hold it off when we are at temples or at funerals.
dont we sit for 2-3 hours in an exam hall without using the loo.
please dont nitpick and say that no one stops us during these times but my point is show that 2-3 hours without toilet breaks doesnt hurt us
unless....
we are sick. and i am sure the supervisor wouldnt stop a sick person from using the toilet. if he does so, then he wouldn't last long as a supervisor would he.
as much as the management can be blamed of being hand in glove with the local politico what about the labour union leaders. do you think they are unselfish kindly souls who have no personal agenda in all of this?

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Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Industrialization is here to stay no doubt but it has not succeeded in achieving that perfect reality of everybody becoming rich and prosperous even after centuries..
i think your definition the goals of industrialization is flawed at the core.
mechanization and industrialization were never meant to be tools solely for wealth- thats a side effect similar to the drowsiness you get when u take benadryl for a cough.
the goal of industrialization is to make it easier to mass produce goods/agriculture to sustain the exploding populace. which it has been successful at to an extent. drawbacks being inflation/pollution and scarcity.




To sound rather crude even the human body cannot digest healthy organic material without generating c r a p.
there is a flip side to every action. a wonderous thing such a human birth leaves in its wake a lady in indescribable pain.
balance is crucial. and when balance cant be found or one gets too greedy it results in a LOSS-LOSS scenario as it has happened in this case.

Last edited by harshaguduru : 9th September 2012 at 16:08.
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Old 9th September 2012, 16:10   #81
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Originally Posted by samarjitdhar

There we go again, the false equivalence of a so called debate which boils down to either you are with us or against us.

And yes, it would be greatly appreciated if personal references and regionalism is left out of such debates. One can also claim that Mumbai is a place where any sense of nationalism ceases to exist because folks from a particular region are targeted regularly or in the name of rallies national monuments are desecrated by kicking them down. That would be highly inappropriate.
I don't want to turn this into a personal debate - you are certainly entitled to your views even if I think they are misguided. However, the reference to Calcutta was not intended as a personal reference to you, but as a reference to the communist philosophy that prevails in that city (where I have lived for 2 years as a student, and also spent more time in on work than in any other non Bombay city) - no offence intended at a personal level.
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Old 9th September 2012, 16:41   #82
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The debate only shows that there different sides to this conflict. I don't think it's going to get resolved unless both sides are heard and the root causes addressed, and MSIL style of managing worker issues could be one of them.

Some of us here have branded this story as one sided, phony or propaganda etc. (Well, I have not seen many saying the same for MSIL Management version. The same description could have been used there too!). Even if it was, it needs to be heard and the issues that it raises looked into.
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Old 9th September 2012, 17:46   #83
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Some of us here have branded this story as one sided, phony or propaganda etc. (Well, I have not seen many saying the same for MSIL Management version. The same description could have been used there too!).
Exactly. MSIL it seems is concerned with their profits only. If whatever the worker has written is true, it is indeed shocking. What is even more shocking is the callousness with which people tend to dismiss this account but most have believed MSIL's version of events without questioning. We all know how the labour Dept. like most other Govt. Departments, can be influenced. We also know how the media houses also tend to stand by the corporates(maybe it is because of the revenue from advertising). If this is how the renowned Japanese work culture works, god save the workers.
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Old 9th September 2012, 19:20   #84
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I just read this article via fb. I was about to post it here but then as always, there's a live thread already.

I witnessed the working of automobile industry. And the credential of the journalist did weigh in for the article. I found it to hard to disbelieve the article.

Now thinking of the huge volumes Maruti rolls out every month with just 2 plants, the conveyor belt would indeed be rolling 24x7.

And as long as Japs are concerned, the 'efficiency' of their management systems are so machine-like, that it would be hard to think the life of a operator to be other wise as explained in the article.

And this is not the first time we got an inside look of what happens at MSIL. There have been stories and MSIL tries very hard to prove them false. Imagine taking a TV reporter to witness for themselves and guided by a top notch management member to make light of the archaic and exploitary rules inside MSIL.

And why MSIL in India ?? Anyone who is aware of production facilities in China and Japan will acknowledge the stringent and even ridiculous measures taken to maximise line production.

Perhaps, HR is the most ridiculed department in a Jap company.

I am not biased or anything, but the article made me sad. And just remember.this goes on 6 days a week, 365 days a year.
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Old 9th September 2012, 19:55   #85
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You seem to unaware that the world has been moving towards what is variously called 'flexible production', 'postindustrial or post-fordist production' for 2-3 decades now... Auto industry is one of the last bastions of assembly line production....

even Suzuki's own Gurgaon factory is much better. Does the future development of auto production has to be like Manesar, or something else?

If workers have to perform such simplified repetitive tasks on assembly line, why does one need such long training periods?

And as regards desirability of market being the sole governing force, one need only reflect on Team-BHP. Why do we need an industry-independent Team-BHP run by consumers and enthusiasts, where people give their time and knowledge... Would you like it to be sold off to the highest bidder that comes along?
Flexible production systems are advanced variants of assembly lines with multi tasking built in. Further, to say that the auto industry is one of the last bastions of the assembly line is false. Look at reports from China on how Foxconn assembles the iPhones and iPads that many of us use. They are no different from an auto assembly line. Assembly lines are not going away for the foreseeable future.

I don't see how Gurgaon is better than Manesar based on any evidence in the article or anywhere else. The only difference seems to be the presence of a level headed union at Gurgaon, and the presence of some hot heads who have misguided the work force at Manesar. What was described as appalling conditions at Manesar did not seem very unusual to me. Training is obviously needed - as per the worker who was quoted, he made it through the three levels of training in one attempt but several people did not. This is despite his having received various warning letters during training. So there clearly was a meritocracy operating there and it is obvious that not everyone was good enough to make it through training.

Finally, markets are clearly the best form of organising anything. Team BHP has been created by GTO and the rest of the founding enthusiasts, not by the government - it is an example of capitalism at work. There are several other auto forums around, but most of us spend time here because this forum is a much better use of time than the others. That is a market phenomenon, where the founders established a culture that works and provide quality moderation - not some kind of statist imposition. We choose which threads to spend time on based on a market mechanism as well - quality threads get more posts and are appear more often to casual browsers.

And if the founders ever chose to monetize their efforts made over the last decade by listing or selling to one of the global internet firms, I certainly would not mind that. If post such a sale, we don't like how the place is being run, we will move away.

Anyway, this is the last post I am putting on this thread. Ciao, and thanks for posting the original link.

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Old 9th September 2012, 21:43   #86
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I dont really understand how capitalism and market phenomena can actually defend what can delicately be called as Exploitation..

If anyone thinks, market mechanism and customer preferences can dictate how a company or for that hing, any organisation works, then, Sir, clearly someone needs a history lesson.

Why is it exactly that colonial rules were hated ?? Or, why did Industrial revolution took place ?? Or for that matter, why did even trade unions be recognised by govt ?? Or why did govt impose labor regulations ??

All over the world, labour protection schemes, skilled and unskilled worker benefit schemes have been and are being formulated. Because they matter.

When its the end of the rope, most people tie up a noose. But some cling on to it and make the climb up.

If the chronicles of the article was true and if this archaic management rules are not loosened up, I seriously have doubts how long will MSIL sustain a peaceful working condition ??
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Old 9th September 2012, 22:30   #87
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Finally, markets are clearly the best form of organising anything. Team BHP has been created by GTO and the rest of the founding enthusiasts, not by the government - it is an example of capitalism at work. There are several other auto forums around, but most of us spend time here because this forum is a much better use of time than the others. That is a market phenomenon, where the founders established a culture that works and provide quality moderation - not some kind of statist imposition. We choose which threads to spend time on based on a market mechanism as well - quality threads get more posts and are appear more often to casual browsers.

And if the founders ever chose to monetize their efforts made over the last decade by listing or selling to one of the global internet firms, I certainly would not mind that. If post such a sale, we don't like how the place is being run, we will move away.

Anyway, this is the last post I am putting on this thread. Ciao, and thanks for posting the original link.
On the contrary, I feel the spirit of Team-BHP is firmly grounded on its not-for-profit nature and is hardly a symbol of capitalism. Non-governmental, yes, but capitalism, probably not.

For Maruti or any other similar issue, the real cure can never be made by profit oriented players alone without legal or government intervention.
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Old 9th September 2012, 23:04   #88
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This i think will be a complaint in every company in some way or another. The level of advantage the company takes would be the difference. Somewhere feel guilty as well for being part of the indian population who constantly puts pressure on delivering cars on time (Actually ahead of time) & the value for money mindset we have is making every manufacturer stretch its workers to the maximum to squeeze every drop of his blood. But then again every industry has fierce competition and so i guess this will be a way of life. The only way this will reduce is to increase literacy levels across all levels so that exploitation would come down. Guess we will never know the actual truth & being such fans of the Maruti brand i am sure people tend to believe only the management and not the poor workers.
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Old 9th September 2012, 23:12   #89
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Taking this into capitalism or industrialization vs something else is hopelessly misplaced. In the early stages of industrialization without democracy, rule of law, regulations, inevitably led to exploitation. Modern political and governance systems with more consciousness of human and worker rights over the last 200 years have led to vast improvements. Exploitation is just that, exploitation.

This is simply about labour conditions in 2012, no need to make a simple issue complex.

Maruti is the no 1 automaker, these workers have been working hard which is why Maruti is where it is. They have a basic responsibility to ensure worker well being and some the practices highlighted cannot simply be equated to capitalism, exploitation maybe.

Nobody here is objecting to assembly line work, everyone understands its monotonous and requires discipline. Millions of cars have been made in India, you can't say now that Indians lack the discipline to do this! It already done, that's just silly. Skirmishes, unrest, strikes and violence are part and parcel.

Most automakers worldwide and here are managing quite well, the workers have to have a share of credit for that. The vast majority of folks work hard, no one wants a free lunch. But basic human requirements cannot be sacrificed in the name of efficiency.

The whole idea of modernity equates to more sensitivity to worker issues, equitable distribution of wealth, worker rights, preventing exploitation which is why sweatshop practices in China are looked down upon and companies like Nike, Apple and others are in the constant spotlight.

Maruti simply has to improve worker conditions, especially those highlighted in the article. We all live in this country, we all know how easily regulations are thwarted and folks who are supposed to protect worker rights compromised. Maruti being the leader has a huge responsibility, these kind of practices simply hurt itself, workers and the entire auto ecosystem.
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Old 9th September 2012, 23:20   #90
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It would be extremely callous on on our part to dismiss the report in such a polarized fashion. I don't believe that worker being quoted is being absolutely honest, or that violence was a fabricated act of management, but there are enough issues cited, which, if they could be verified are a fresh information for me. I had been scouting for a first hand version, a press release by worker's union, that discussed the objective issues that led to the sequence of incidents.

I am no expert on labor laws in India, but a rational understanding of values that make a transaction fair are perfectly clear to me.

The points I found worth exploring are:

1. The concept of INR 17 as overtime remuneration irrespective of hours. A minute late being counted as half day is a very standard practice in institutions/establishments where a person's delay is enough to sabotage the complete operation; but a fair reciprocation should be available for overtime.
2. Existence of a Union without Democratic election does smell of foul agenda.
3. Puppet meetings referred to on Page 12, are a fair indication of of an agenda to relegate the primary agenda under discussion. The authenticity of claims made here can only be verified if independent scrutiny of minutes is carried out (by Government ?).

The focus recently, and very rightly has been on the spur of violence and murder of a manager during the recent vandalism. However, the history of unrest and reasons for the same deserve an evaluation. Most of members have rightly pointed out the typical difficult hours, tasks and situation in everyday office; what differentiates this case however is the possibility of existence of flawed policy execution by an organization. We know in our everyday lives, how without proper followup, policies are twisted in their implementation to completely alter the essence behind them. It is not impossible that in its effort to consolidate its position as leading automobile manufacturer of India, with a focus on reducing costs, the thin line that separates employee welfare from employee exploitation might have been crossed over.

As someone rightly pointed out earlier in this thread, this is an opportunity for some splendid journalism, and this article falls short of perspectives offered. Much more should be explored and written with cross verification of facts, than simply offering a perspective.
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