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Friday, August 16, 2013

Am I independent?

But that’s not the case I am talking about. Neither I am here to make case for any of the political parties (hundreds registered) of India. The question I am asking to you and sometimes myself is more than simple. Am I independent?

It was 14th night in the western hemisphere and the rantings on the social networking sites go on for merry wishes for Independence Day.

And now that another 15th August has passed, with banners flashing across visual media congratulating India on its birthday. Wait, really? I mean, was India born just 66 years ago? As far as my education goes, I was taught that India was (is) a civilization thousands of years old.

We Indians once known to be the best breed the humanity has known, has a habit of blaming others for our short comings; first they were Islamic Invaders, then Mughals , Turks, Afghans  and finally British, and Portuguese at some places. My happy merry schooling days always told me that the British conspired against us; and even after knowing that it took us 90 years to drive them out. My question is why weren’t we ever told that where did we went wrong. For us it should not be difficult to learn that self-realization makes self-worth. My text books said that India is a peace loving country and yet 33 % of India’s districts are either affected by Maoism, Naxalism, terrorism or other sub nationalism. [1]

Only if self-rule was the motive behind independence, then, why is that we are lobbying really hard for food security bill; and prime minister mounted on Red Fort saying it will help 75% of India. So does that mean 75% of India is still poor? 66 years of independence has not yet changed the phrases like ‘Do waqt ki roti’. Is it not a matter of shame that this country’s poor still craves to eat at least twice a day?

But who am I really blaming with people on my social networking sites, keeping nationalist symbols as their DPs and just before the day changes, everyone on square one. I’ve still not got any problem with that. The question again I have is, have they actually taken ownership of their country? Is changing your DPs and updating your status ends your duty towards your nation? Or in that matter is only singing ‘Sare Jahaan se achha Hindustan hamara’ will make Hindustan a place worth living? Don’t we need to revisit these theories? The question is worth asking yourself; what difference did really make to make my country a better place. The question is more than enough to help you introspect.

It is rightly pointed out that patriotism knows no language, religion or social status. Yet we have a brigade of people or rather self-proclaimed patriots who spit venom against other countrymen that are not from their religion, language or cast. It’s still out of my understanding, how can one love his country, hate his countrymen, and still claim to be a patriot? If this is what patriotism called then I have no reservations in not calling myself a patriot.

As every year (since I got into my true senses) this year too I am not celebrating Independence Day as my countrymen below are still not independent.

è 2 farmers commit suicide every day. (They died on Independence Day as well). [2]

è 1/3rd (33%) of Indian politicians face criminal charges (They also include, Rape, extortion and murder) [3]

è Nearly 70% of Indians live on less than %2 a day (And how will you explain a poor mother not able to feed her children about just 5% growth of GDP and current account deficit)[4]

è 48000 child sexual abuse and 24000 rapes (registered). This brings an average of 200 women and children every day. (They were raped on Independence Day as well.)  [5]

è 25,455 crimes were committed against Dalits. Their homes were torched, their women raped, their men murdered.(Every hour two Dalits are assaulted. They were assaulted today as well.) [6]

Help me, I am in short of reasons to celebrate Independence day.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Promise Myself

A person’s quest for knowledge starts with every word he reads, every picture he sees and every sentence he hears. There are many things that one comes across and catches one’s imagination. There are countless answers to a question of how one should be, how one should behave and what one should expect. It was only through Facebook that I came across this text. A text that answers everything when you feel low, when you feel angry, when one is visionless when one is alone and when one questions his existence in the life circle. The text is written by Christian D. Larson.

In his word the text goes this way....

I Promise Myself....

To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person I meet.
To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of  
others as I am about my own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the
greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile
To every living creature I meet.
To give so much tie to improving myself that I
have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that whole world is on my side,
so long as I am true to the best in me.

   CHRISTIAN D. LARSON                                          

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Me walking on a thin silky string
Getting schmaltzy over things petty.

Flowers fail in the wood
Fall from the hill
Knowing not, in world,
What beauty you fill

Breathing thin air of profligacy
But some mind in confinement

Fine album of the night
Too opaque to imagine
Forgetting that you spread
The aroma fine of a jasmine

Me walking on a thin silky string
Maudlin over the laborious past

Thinking low of self
Serpants weaved around sandals
Unknown for the fact
The fragrance that you set

Feeling sharp melancholy deep somewhere
Still filled with hope above somewhere

Dew slipping of the leaf
Lament short life it has
Unaware of the life you give
Each dawn the leaf lives

Me walking on a thin silky string
Waiting for destiny, come whatever may it brings.

Me still walking on a thin silky string.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Great Indian Railways.....

The Indian Railways; the moment we hear these words, some things that come in our minds are dirty tracks, filthy toilets, unending queues for reservations and all those unpleasant experiences that we always had travelling through railways.....But if one puts his hand on his heart and tries to remember with good intent, he will always have the best memories of railways in his mind alive. If the history that I was taught is to be believed then, the first railway line was commissioned in India in 1853 between Mumbai to Thane. The British brought this behemoth to the subcontinent for transfer of goods from farms to the ports. It is quite an irony that only after 4 years northern India was struggling to attain independence from the British subsidiary alliance system and it seemed that India was taking a big leap forward form 19th century to 20th century, from the end of the medieval history to the start of the modern history.

I still remember my childhood days travelling in the railways and waiting for really long time to see one of those food vendors who sold soups and cutlets in moving trains. The noise of the engines and the sounds of their whistle, the flora and the fauna, the tunnels and the mountains, and always seen but never remembered the turning trains through which one can see the engine and other bogies from one’s window seat. I still see myself confused seeing the other train move from the window and think that mine has started till I have a look at the platform. Looking downside from the window and seeing the tracks change and trying to figure out how is it going to work. The railways perhaps have become the part of the Indian masses from across all classes. On a typical Indian day on a typical railway platform one can still see half a dozen people coming to see off one of their loved ones. You can hear sentences like “Saaman ka dhyaan rakhna” from parents to their unsuspecting teenaged children travelling for first time, or “please take care of my child” to the other adult sitting on the opposite seat. We have seen countless marriage processions travelling in railways enjoying their time and also many a times we too have been party to those marriage processions. Like building friends or college friends or school friends, it is not uncommon to see people that are train friends in cities like Mumbai. There are many successful relationships and marriages that have taken place in the course of journey between North – South of Mumbai.

I never thought of writing about the railways until some time ago I spent a lazy cold Sunday filled with snow all around, in the community library where I got hold of this book on the railways of the world. The ‘Indian Railways’ is the fourth largest rail network in terms of functional tracks after the United States, Russia and China. Unconfirmed sources say that Indian Railway’s total revenue is approximately INR 1,00,000 Crores or $ 22 Billion and profits approximately INR 2,500 Crores or approximately $ 2.5 Billion. The history of railways is as interesting as the railway itself.

There are many questions like why was the railway important in uniting India. It is common to see a headline in an Indian newspaper that reads that railway tracks blown up by Maoists or any other guerrilla groups and terrorists. This is may be because the importance of railways is understood by the Indian masses from the top to bottom. But surprisingly the very railway that we consider as our greatest strength was once targeted by our revolutionaries against the British. The railways prior to Indian independence was not solely owned by the government but privately owned and managed by European companies and princely states. It was only after the independence that this system was united and categorised into major six zones.

I also got to know that the Indian railways is the second largest employer after Wal-Mart with approximately 1.6 million employees and many other employed through indirect employment. The Indian Railway it seems is an economy in its own way in India. There are approximately 14,000 passenger trains running in India carrying approximately 6.5 crore passengers across the country daily, the highest in the world and goods trains carrying approximately 30 lac tonnes of goods from one place to another across a net of 41,000 miles of laid railway tracks every day. Cities like Jamalpur in Bihar and Jabalpore in Madhya Pradesh owe their existence to the railways. The best part about the railways is that it was built with the rules and regulations across the board from the railways minister to a porter without any flashy individualism that might rock the boat. The only man that deserves the most credit for Indian railways is Lord Dalhousie who in our history books was often vilified with the charge of British imperialism. Had it not been Dalhousie the Indian Union could not have seen much of the progress it has seen in both social and security parameters.

This nationalised behemoth is both responsible for both unite and divide of India. Seeing and knowing India is incomplete if its railways are not seen. That should be the sole reason why Gandhi chose to travel by train across India after he came from South Africa. After much learning about the railways, I was more than certain about one thing than anything else is that if India is ever to achieve solidarity and progress; it must be by the means of the railways.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chanakya Neeti.....

It was a couple of years ago that I was in Vanita Visharam Ground visiting the annual book fair conducted by the SMC. Though I am an active reader of non-fiction genre of books, this one named Chanakya Neeti really caught my eye. This man who was the first one to term the word Akhand Bharat was the political teacher and mentor of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. He had his say in every walk of life from student to king to teacher to husband to wife to friend. My reason for writing this particular blog is not to communicate with my readers personally but to give them a chance to sneak into this great person’s life and thinking through his quotes. Following are some of his quotes that are my favourite ones.
· A man is born alone and dies alone; and he experiences the good and the bad consequences of his karma alone; and he goes alone to hell or the supreme abode.
· A man is great by deeds, not by birth.
· As a single withered tree, if set aflame, causes a whole forest to burn, so does a rascal son destroy a whole family.
· As soon as the fear approaches near, attack and destroy it.
· Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions- Why am I doing it, what the results might be and will I be successful. Only when you think deeply and find satisfactory answers to these questions, go ahead.
· Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person.
· Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats beauty and the youth.
· He who is overly attached to his family members, experiences fear and sorrow, for the root of all grief is attachment. Thus one should discard attachment to be happy.
· Never make friends with people who are above or below your status. Such friendships will never give you any happiness.
· Once you start working on something, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.
· The serpent, the king, the tiger, the stinging wasp, the small child, the dog owned by other people, and the fool; these seven ought not to be awakened from sleep.
· There is no austerity equal to a balanced mind, and there is no happiness equal to contentment; there is no disease like covetousness, and no virtue like mercy.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Same Thing, New Wrapper.... Every Time...

Old wine in a new bottle!!! There are many such sayings in many languages, which, in a layman’s language mean to sell the old stuff with a new presentation. There is also another saying which I got to know (thanks to Facebook) that says “wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they want to say something.” But it didn’t take me long to know that it was taken from the note of ancient Greek philosopher Plato, (thanks to Google).
Last few weeks should be the best weeks for any movie goer like me. We saw M: I – 4, Don -2, and recently, Players adapted officially (shamelessly) from The Italian Job. Coming to M: I – 4, I felt, not even for a second that the movie was boring in any part. It was the 4th Mission Impossible in fifteen years the first being
 released in 1996. This, I guess implies the first part of Plato’s saying that wise men speak because they have something to say. Because it took 15 years for the producers to make 4 parts undoubtedly they had something to say.

Coming back to Bollywood (a mixed breed between Bombay and Hollywood), year 2012 according to one report in a news channel will see 23 movie sequels from Hera Pheri – 4 to Dedh Ishqiya (sequel to Ishqiya) to Golmaal-4. The last Golmaal I enjoyed was the first Golmaal released in 2006 and the last Hera Pheri I enjoyed was the first one I filmed by Priyadarshan. Both films being remake of super hit South Indian movies. After watching movies like Golmaal -2 and Golmaal -3, they had nothing but loud nuisance except few original gags which are too less to tickle your funny bones. Here the case being 4 parts in just 6 years; the second line of Plato’s saying , “Fools speak because they want to say something” goes perfectly well with sequels of Golmaal,.

But the question still arises that why film makers in Bollywood are eager to make one sequel after another, the first reason being but not limited to bankruptcy of original ideas and creative writing. The sequels perhaps are easy to market as it already has a brand value and does not need to be created all over again or lesser promotion cost or a cult following or all of the above. Not to mention lesser risk financially.

Sometimes I feel that sequels are released just to make more money by selling (read fooling) solely to the fans of the original. The best example again I can think of is Golmaal and Dhamaal. Most of us liked the film. But Golmaal Returns and Double Dhamaal were the classic examples of bankruptcy in the creative thinking and original ideas in Bollywood.

The case here I am trying to present is not that sequels or series of movies are always worth criticizing. The best example I can quote here is Lage Raho Munna Bhai. One cannot draw parallels between the characters and actors of the first movie Munna Bhai MBBS and the former. Both films were commercially and critically acclaimed.
The point worth making here is that the Indian Film Industry often referred to as Bollywood should give more emphasis on originality and creative content based products then simply using old brands to score financial points. With 23 sequels in 2012 gives on an average 2 movie sequels every month. Hope the best judge (movie goers) will give their best verdict.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ring in the old. Ring out the new.

Dynasties...!!!! The moment we hear this word, there are many things that start coming in our minds, from Ottoman Empire to the British monarchy to the Timurid Mughals of the older times and political families in many countries around the world in modern times. But the question here arises is how important these dynasties are and people’s acceptance of those dynasties.

The year 2011 was full of political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa. Either people were fed up of the current leadership, like in the case of Syria, Tunisia and Yemen or Egypt and Libya, where the old leadership tried to introduce a new leadership in the form of their own kin; Gamal in case of Hosni of Egypt and Seif in case of Gaddafi of Libya. But surprisingly there was also an end to the leadership of Kim Jong II of North Korea. In this case, there were no protests and violence, but a natural death. There were people again on the streets, not shouting slogans but mourning the death of their absolute leader. Surprisingly within days of his death, his younger son Kim Jong Un ascended the throne of North Korea and the development was hailed by the public in general.

All the above cases look good to read and listen when it is the case with the dictators around the world. Their stories of rise to power and decline in some cases is always an interesting topic to discuss and participate in. All of the above examples are those of non democratic countries. Interestingly there are dynasties in functional democratic countries too, especially South Asian ones. Be it the Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh or Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka or the Bhuttos of Pakistan and not to forget the Nehru-Gandhis of India.

The question that comes in one’s mind is that is it in the DNA of the people of the subcontinent to support dynasties? I remember the incidence written by William Dalrymple in his book `The Last Mughal`, when the palanquin lifters of a white influential woman stopped; irrespective of being a Hindu or a Muslim and bowed at the sight of the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar knowing the fact that the Emperor`s empire hardly existed beyond the Red Fort. It seemed that after the mutiny of 1857 and abolishment of the Mughal Dynasty there would be an end to the Dynasties in the subcontinent.

The emergence of the congress party in 1885 and the subsequent freedom struggle saw many leaders coming up on the stage from middle, lower and upper middle class. One amongst them was Motilal Nehru. No one perhaps at that time would have thought that his generations would rule India for many decades to come. People are still confused whether the political dynasties are good or bad for Indian democracy, for many the largest in the world. First came Nehru and his brand of socialism, a system that benefitted only our political class. But, it is said that you have to give the devil his due credit, resulting in the emergence of the IITs and the heavy industries and self sufficiency of India in space and nuclear technology; and above all not to mention the famous Non-Aligned movement of Nehru which helped India gain its position and a considerable soft power in the world affairs.

After a brief rule of Lal Bahadur Shastri, came Priyadarshini (Read Indira) Gandhi. Again India saw some good things like the fall of Dhaka, but along with that, it also saw the rise of Bhindrawale and resulting militancy in Punjab, one sponsored by the congress to weaken Akali Dal in Punjab. Had it not been the dynasty of leaders and lust for power in the Nehru-Gandhi Family, the rise of Punjab militancy, corruption and above all the disgraced emergency would not have been happened. Never in the world has it happened that after the death of the prime minister of a country the new prime minister was appointed within 24 hours.

The Rajiv Gandhi period also saw the revolution in IT and Telecommunication sectors across India, a task that seemed almost impossible at that time. Nevertheless, Bofors scandal should not be forgotten as among the first scams in the history of independent India where top level politicians as high as the P.M were allegedly involved. It was only after the sad demise of Rajiv Gandhi that political pundits in India speculated an end to the dynasty. It was only after 8 years in 1998 when Sonia Gandhi took over reigns of congress.

The times had changed a lot by now. The leaders in congress now had no intention to be loyal to the public but directly to the family. This can be seen with the people like Vilasrao Deshmukh and Shivraj Patil, the former being the minister of Earth Science and Technology and minister of Earth Sciences and later being the Governor of Punjab. Their only competence to stay in power after the 2008 Mumbai attacks was their loyalty to the family.

When everyone is taken into account then how can Mr. Rahul Gandhi be forgotten? The powerful congress general secretary of congress and his only qualification is perhaps the birth in the family. It would be unfair to comment on Mr. Rahul Gandhi as he has not yet delivered anything on the national level yet. But one thing is sure; that is consequence of being in thrall of a bloodline is a weak party that lacks shared policies or common values. There are promotions, certainly, but on closeness (loyalty) to the family and not on merit resulting in a weak democracy and an India suffering from policy paralysis. Eventually dynasty rule will have to give way to something more openly contested and democratic structure. All we can Just hope that it be sooner rather than later.