Sunday, August 9, 2009

the burden of democracy - have we failed?

This 15th August, India will again be independent. This time for the 63rd year. We are the largest democracy in the world.

Radio channels organize programs asking people to air their patriotism. People, of course, express that and express their displeasure over how the govt is run. Students organize events, participate in events, win prizes and keep them in shelves. Dignitaries invited for the independence day celebrations at the red fort try desperately to get rid of sweat using the invitations early this morning in New Delhi. My mother cooks food and speaks over the phone to maximum people possible on a national holiday. The shopkeeper near our house sells national flags for a decent price on 14th August every year because people wouldn't care for them the rest days. Every year, Indian soldiers gather for parade and for the security for the local politicians. Sweets are distributed countrywide and independence of our country is celebrated. Indian independence day is just another day where business is made in the name of nationalism and patriotism than anything else. Students no longer remember independence day as the day our country was freed from the slavery of British but remember it as one of the few holidays the school celebrates giving away freebies and prizes for the competitions conducted the previous week. People fancy flag hoisting as just another occasion to show-off their power politics. I can illustrate this with one example in the colony where I live in Hyderabad.


The administration rights (i.e. maintaining records, collecting maintenance fee, implementing proposals etc) stay with the permanent residents (who own their plot) but not with tenants. This was made mandatory after a tenure of irregular activities on behalf of the committee formed by the tenants. So, the ruling committee (owners) organizes some-namesake-competitions for the independence day but distanced itself from doing so off-late quoting low funds. They distribute prizes on 15th August every year through the hands of some prominent local leader(generally the local MLA or the mayor). In the recent years, the tenants formed their own faction in the colony and organize their own flag-hositing occasion for the day and they make sure that the same prominent leader hoists the flag first.



In the entire story, I did not mention any constructive work done on the day because there isn't any. People are more bothered about what kind of eatables they are given and discuss it beforehand and 'grace' the occasion. The importance of the day is lost admist the local politics. I believe this is the case at every micro/macro level of governance. Do we recollect the loststories-in-the-historybooks of our great freedom fighters? The great sacrifices of the previous generations are trivialized in the day-day life in these times. These are the days of reality shows, t20entertainment and lalitmodi-ipls where there are instant gods like Rakhi Sawant. People are flocking home to watch Rakhi swayamvar. This is what sells these days. Nobody is bothered to watch a documentary on Kashmir or the plight-of-indiansoldier-in-assam or the-deathof-farmer-in-droughtarea. Media creates heroes every other day. Where can you find the media hysteria over terrorism and the things-todo-lists submitted to government now that was very evident after the Bombay attacks last november? The reality is media sells what people want. The newage corporate media has affected common man more bad than any good.


Coming back, have we forgotten the sacrifices of the leaders? We've emulated the British system in every possible way be it our railways, our constitution or the democracy. Putting that little differently, have the leaders sacrificed the nation by choosing democracy? After sixty two years of democracy, we're still lagging behind many countries in development. By development, I'm not imagining a computerized-wified twenty floor glass building or the numberofmillionareslist. All I care is about the people under poverty and people without education. The day India educates all girls in the country, it is real development irrespective of the number of nuclear deals we sign with developed countries, irrespective of the number of SEZs sanctioned(provided people gain from it), irrespective of the number of space projects about moon or mars it doesn't really make a difference to a poor family. And if you thought 'educating' people means the kind of literacy our government boasts about, you might want to think again. I've known plenty of people who aren't well-versed with the knowledge of a computer but went ahead to get Bachelors degree and are preparing to fool themselves by attaining a Masters degree. I'm embarassed by the quality of engineers our country is producing day-by-day. It is serious time to think about inculcating value based education for the next generations. Two days back I met few Masters students who are wondering what a thesis is! All these are going to 'serve' India by donating back or whatever. God Save India.

The issue of Kashmir dates back to the day of independence, sixty two years back. I'm not judging the past leaders by their decisions but it is rather important now to ponder over the future of kashmir hereafter. Should it remain with India or with Pakistan or stay away from both the nations? Personally, I do not care if it doesn't stay with India if they choose not to. A year after the Kashmiris came out rallying on the streets of the state demanding for an independent state, more importantly, seperating from India... azad kashmir. Popular novelist Arundhati Roy supported their voice apart from Vir Sanghvi and Swaminathan Iyer. For me, her call makes more sense today than any earlier. If the people of Kashmir want it to be seperated from India, why should we bother to 'save' it in our kitty bag. If allocating a seperate budget and a special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir for the welfare of the people doesn't guarantee their freedom with India, I wonder what else would. If an army of about half an million doesn't impress the security arrangements on part of the Indian government, wonder what else would? Do kashmiris want US army to control the land? Do they want another Iraq or an Afghanistan out of a kashmir? Afghanistan. Iraq. Kashmir. If Kashmiris hoist the pakistan flag and raise the jai-jais of pakistan and insult/blame (whatever you're comfortable with) Indian government of slavery, do you see a point in kashmir staying with India? Imagine this, if the entire budget of maintaining halfamillion army is spent on educating illiterate India and reducing poverty , our imagination should be the winner. Is spending on education and poor worthier than spending on weapons and army? Yes, I believe so. Moreover, how do you think spending millions of public money/ourmoney/taxpayersmoney on weapons/maintaining special status of kashmir gels with the secular, socialist democracy of ours? I strongly feel how Ms. Roy criticizes that a peace loving democracy maintaining an army of halfamillion in kashmir isn't a value it hoped to gain was advocated in the right way. If Indian govt.'s actions are anything to go by(suppressing the popular idea of Kashmir seperation, denying the claim at the outright, employing military against common people, imposing curfew so that people cannot agitate for the seperate campaign), the solution to kashmir dispute isn't visible in the near future. These are half-hearted measures only to delay the inevitable. India should remember that the revolt it supported thirty five years back resulted in a new country Bangladesh. Why are we shying away to work on the solution? This cannot go forever. Probably our government still believes that offence is the best form of defence. It is time to realize that the people who our government is trying to defend aren't inclined to stay with us. It is in the best of our interests that we act sooner than later and avoid further damage. A failed state isn't what we hoped for but if it is so, so be it. If India faces humiliation for letting Kashmir go, so be it. If this is humiliation, consider the situation of the slaughtered Kashmiri pandits in the valley, murdered muslims in the broad daylight in Gujrat. Cold blooded murders. men. women. children. If the India feels losing Kashmir is a defeat in hands of Pakistan(another failed nation where I'm told suicide bombers are bought for ten lakhs, beware India), consider the lives of generations altogether, a non-state. special status. killings. It is important to consider Kashmir more as a social problem rather than a political or a communal one. It is time to answer years of injustice in the valley, years of unaccountability, lack of transparency, careless addressing of the problem. And yes, my view is only from this side. Imagine the movement at the other side! Interested readers can read more about

fake encounters by Indian army and accounts of rape by the army here.
The Kashmir tinderbox - at human rights watch
Another brutal account of rapes on women by Indian army in Kashmir.


More on Kashmir issue by Arundhati Roy
What would independence mean to kashmiris?
Azadi
9 is not 11 on bombay attacks


What do you make of popular movements for seperate states like the seperate Kashmir call, liberation of Asssam (ULFA), seperate telangana, gorkhaland, kodagu, tulu nadu and purvaland? Only the call for Tulu land is based on preserving the culture whereas all the other calls are based on neglect or under-development of the regions. These are only the 'popular' movements which started on a high note with great following but haven't enjoyed the legislation yet. yet. The other separate statehood calls are bundelkhand, gondwana, rayalseema, saurastra and even bombay to name a few [source: wikipedia].What does this suggest? Decades of negligence of these regions have prompted some to take up the separate movement, while some have challenged the government about the priorities even as some have taken up weapons. We can no longer neglect the fact that extremists[naxalites/ulfa/freedom fighters(jihadis) are born out to fight years of injustice. Sadly, both the government and the extremists are supposed to fight on behalf of the people and for the welfare of the people but end up fighting with each other. And government isn't finding a way out of this. All the govt. tries to do is to destroy the extremists while the focus should be on the development. Suppression doesn't end any revolt but strengthens it. The root problem is the neglect and injustice done to the respective regions and the problems should be addressed. It is heartening to learn that the protests against the sarovar dam project have been non-violent so far given the number of people who participate and the number of varied opinions about the project. If the situation continues this way, there will be a day when people are saddened by the death of a naxalite more than the death of a policeman. death. Both lives are precious but do they deserve death? Death, the most severe punishment a human can get just for the struggle on behalf of a common man? We all should hope such day doesn't arise where we debate over the superiority of naxalite/police death and all lives strive for the success of the common man.

Independent. In-dependent. not being dependent on anybody or not to be influenced by others in anything (if one were to refer the dictionary). Keeping aside the topic of being independent for few moments, don't you think we are a burden for the great motherland, the most secular (if secular is the right word), the largest democratic (really where polls are reportedly rigged very often), socialist (where farmers land is dragged away for lowest possible prices to raise land for corporate houses and where poor literally have nobody to turn to), peace-loving (this must be the only truest feature as we'll know how our government answers terrorism) India? I really believe all the citizens who do not contribute to the nation's growth are a big burden. We are selfish groups of people who do not care about people who beg daily at our doors, we are happy to fill the pockets of police when they catch us without a driving-license and we're happy to evade taxes when we join a company by showing a constructing plot. If this is our response to the society, are we entitled to imagine/expect, i dare say, change? Coming back to being independent, are we really independent? that is the basic question we should ask ourselves and people around us. Do we really teach our children to be independent or are we independent in the first place? If you were to choose your career at arts or science, I bet you might have selected science because people who advised you didn't think art as state-of-the-art career to settle in! Career is too big a choice to make, so take the example of ordering in a restaurant. You wouldn't order what you want to eat because your friends might taunt your dish choice. I know I would end everything in choosing your career but if you cannot choose your career, how equipped are you to guide your child? I bet you are not and you shouldn't guide in the best interests of the child.

I'm not done with the range of topics dealt in this post but posting this little early and would add few more sections. do come back.

P.S: I've just met a girl who is confused about the date India became independent between 14th or 15th August. talk about patriotism and I'll show you people who will take India forward. Freedom sucks to the extent where young forget when your mother was born.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Growup Young India

lets get our hands on free coke at downtown
lets not waste our money and get free getorade near the stadium
lets barge the next door and eat the cooked food
don't lose your time in collecting different nuts at the Presidential lunch

i do not know if this is how young India thinks. do we have an attitude problem? do we have no public etiquette? is it the way people are brought up at their home?

get your act right, project yourself.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Education Reforms

Board exams - To write or not to?
Medicine/Law/Arts - Should IITs have them or not?

The debate is finally on. Does modern India need educational reforms? I strongly believe so. we should get away from the regular systematized educational system which brings great pressure on students and parents. I seriously doubt if this system imparts any real knowledge in students. All the time, teachers focus on building the cramming abilities of students.

It is good to have an open-minded Kapil Sibal at the helm rather than an opportunist who seizes to capitalize the situation by dividing the society on the basis of reservations, Arjun Singh. It should be obvious to those who believe in development that reservations only divide the society forget unifying or up-bringing the deprived. What we all need today is a meritocracy, a society where studious can excel. Are we really marching towards it? We should hold no qualms in denying this.

The Perspective - Reservations

Reservations must have helped some of us to settle in life. But, at what cost? At the cost of fellow merit students? Considering the situation in my engineering at Vasavi college of engineering, there must have been at least three students who weren't eligible to get an admission but thanks to reservations, they found their way. It was in 2004. After the completion of their engineering in 2008, how many of them were ready for life? I believe none of them managed to make a mark in their respective lives. I'm not loathing the fact that I'm not given an quota seat in the admissions but our leaders and people should retrospect the effect of reservations on common man. I whole-heartedly know that our politicians can never get rid of quota system unless the prime minister is Jayaprakash Narayan. But my anguish doesn't die. Coming back to the students who made in to the college through quota system, they couldn't get a life after four years and a year after the graduation, they are still confused about their future. It is a sad story that this had to end it this way for now. They have been empowered, given admissions, taught to face the competition but they faltered in the end. Why is this happening? Is it the quality of teachers? or the quality of students? where does the fault lie?

Opening IITs to Medicine, Law, Arts

It is a welcome proposal by the union minister. I personally know how students develop after making it to IIT. It is the facilities that drive students to study and perform well. I strongly believe that a maintaining a uniform educational structure such as IITs in engineering would definitely help medicine, arts and law students. This will improve the quality of arts and law education in India and would prompt the parents to consider these areas as career options. I personally told few students (must be 18 years) to consider arts and other career options when they were considering to join engineering after EAMCET. Nobody really bothered to consider by observations. We all should acknowledge that

To know the road, ask those coming back - Chinese proverb

In the end, they too joined the flock by entering the world of BTech education. I'm not undermining the value of the degree here but I'm appalled at the decision of the parents to force their children in to engineering. When I talked to them, all they said was engineering is best for my boy, he will get some job in software company and draw good salary. Are we so obsessed with the software industry? We all know how many loathe that job every day (of course it is another matter that they would consider themselves fit only for a manager position or a prime minister). The process not goal which is THE important thing. It must be true that we get what we deserve. Why are arts and literature not considered as career options? How many of us are in research field? Personally, I believe the best work in this world is to teach students. But we often listen comments like 'Is he working as a lecturer? damn him, how mean'. Damn you sucker. Why is a teacher work so mean compared to a software job? Our relatives lose no time in commenting ha, he is earning so less! so sad, look my son is minting dollars in US. Really? It is time for all of us to introspect.

Board Examinations

I have my doubts about scrapping the board examinations. It is to be seen how practical and logical will this move be. However I believe that the current system of cramming should be done away with. In my childhood people asked me if I was first in the class. This registered in my sub-conscious mind that I should stand first in the class in my childhood. It was not until my eighth standard that I realized only knowledge matters not the ranks (however, I never lost in touch with the ranks :P but was sure that ranks don't matter much). Unfortunately, there are people who do not realize the importance of knowledge compared to the grades. People maintain a GPA of over 3.4 or 3.2 but fail to understand that there is a directory that stores temporary files in a computer. The student I'm speaking about is currently doing his Masters in Computer Science. May God help computer science field! Not to forget the fact that he maintained almost 80% in computer science of engineering. Would you rate this child as an illiterate? or an educated illiterate? I'm sure that there are thousands of students who are in this situation.

We should not forget that unless we get our fundamentals right (educating children in a value based system), there will be loads of people asking 'do we actually have directories storing temporary files in a computer?'.

Edited on 6th July, 2009

With references to Yashpal Committee report here, I hope you would be inclined to find the Report on Higher Education linked at Academics India (pdf).

Edited on 21st July, 2009

Watch the Barkha Dutt show on 'One India - One Board' dealing with the proposed educational reforms. Watch leading educationalists and students express their views.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Insecure Indian

It is the end of elections 2009.

Ending excitement around the formation of next government, results were announced on 16th may 2009. Honestly, I wasn't surprised at the outcome at the center but bitterly disappointed with the results at the state-level (read, Andhra Pradesh). Even though the UPA government did not tackle terrorism in the previous term, I did not want the NDA government to rule the India as it would mean an identity crisis for our nation. I'm fed up with the godhras, riots against muslims and I'd believe no amount of appeasement by BJP on muslims. Moreover, I've no trusts on any number of third or fourth front governments formed just to keep BJP and congress at bay from power. Sadly, UPA government hasn't done much to tackle terrorism (considering the number of terrorist activities in the recent years). However, I believe the situation improved a bit after Chidambaram took over the hopeless Shivraj Patil as Home Minister (as I observed no more terrorist activities since then). More needs to be done to ensure the belief of common man on security.

A close observation would take us through the following statistics. As far as I can remember, Congress gained significantly from 145 seats in 2004 to 206 in 2009 elections. BJP on the other hand lost a considerable number of seats from 138 in 2004 to 115 in 2009 elections. What is the point of blaming its allies if one cannot steer its own boat? The congress has increased its tally. Should this be attributed to Rahul or Priyanka factor?

I believe the congress party made amends by apologizing to the sikh community over the sikh riots in 1984 following the assasination of Indira Gandhi. Mr. Chidambaram might have faced the boot before elections but one cannot deny that the UPA is awarded another five years attributing to the apologies to sikh community. BJP on the other hand refused to leave their hardline hindutva stance and moreover, Narendra Modi wasn't even inclined to take any questions on Godhra riots, leave aside apology.

At state level, I was hoping desperately that Chandrababu Naidu sailed through these elections. It was a pain in the head to watch him sit in the opposition for the past five years. I fear that I might see more scandals such as Satyam fiasco. I fear that we'll stay behind the race competing with other cities in development. The only respite is that TDP increased its tally to 106 from 47 ni 2004!

What I do not get is

The voter turnout in Bombay was the lowest (42% if I were to believe) in the recent history. This even after 26/11 attacks? Common Bombay, wake up.

Its bye-bye Advani. You are no saint.

I've no idea what went behing the scenes in releasing terrorists at Kandahar in 1999 but I believe Advani is the man behind Babri demolition. He should be prosecuted for his role in bringing down the sacred mosque in 1992. I believe, he is the one responsible for dividing the country on communal lines all these years and no amount of reconciliation on his part (Jinnah episode) would clear him from my mind.

Monday, March 23, 2009

nrIPL - Democracy on back-foot

A typical Indian's voice is echoed in Modi's (yeah, the godhra's modi - for a change this time) words that 'how can your government provide security to 111 crore Indians if you guarantee 11 lives on a cricket pitch?'

It is understandable that elections is a big priority over cricket in India. But, for a cricket frenzy nation like ours, IPL moving out of India is huge blow. It is as if accepting that 'yes, we cannot provide security to international cricketers in these torrid times. our government is incapable of safeguarding politicians forget even the thought of protecting cricketers!' It is interesting to learn that non-congress ruling states are ready to organize IPL (assumably, congress governments in different states have rejected organizing IPL). Is this a move by UPA against BCCI (read sharad pawar - considering his recent flip-flop with congress) ?

It would be very interesting to observe how our government responds to BJP's claim that UPA government has put India on par with Pakistan (by not permitting IPL) with regard to security issues. However, government has reacted strongly to the claim by asserting that this is no national shame. It would be interesting to see how Lalit Modi (who was a darling with congress till yesterday) reacts to this entire episode and consequences following this.

For me, the native feel and energy of crowds (which are unique in India) will be missed abroad, undoubtedly. Further, I still doubt if this government has the 'x-factor' to tackle terror head-on!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

INDIA - SOS!!!

Yes!! It is a call!! Why?? Why should all this happen?? Why should I be in a position where I cannot do a damn thing about any of it?? Why am I a citizen of this country when I can't help it fight its evil?? WHY??

These are not questions I ask myself out of frustration. These are what I ask myself after a long thought process. Where are we headed?? We can go around saying we are a rich cultural bunch of people. Our heritage. Our civilizations. But all that is PAST!! Can ONE man give me a universally acceptable good that's going on in our nation right now?? Maybe you can, but is that big enough to cover all the bad (a million times larger) that happens here??

Teasing women is now gone. Assaulting is the new in-thing. We still have the same old promises yet to be fulfilled being made all over again in the political battle-fields. We are RUINED and ROTTING culturally , politically and worst of all humanly!!

I feel like dragging the rascal in the car who's driving while he's on his phone and spits pan on the road... but I am physically weak to do that!! The majority around me don't seem to care. The over grown adults pissing along the walls of the government school... no one cares!!

I guess its time for the GOOD in India to fight the BAD in their own way. People should start mobbing up and beating these uncivilized people to death. People should unite in the name of a good cause and beat the filth out of our system. Yes, AN EYE FOR AN EYE!! I don't care if its wrong!! Enough patience!! Anyone who feels this is wrong, go file a case against the guys who beat the women up at Bangalore, who raped young girls all over, who harassed people for the way they dress, walk, talk... and do it the RIGHT way and let us know if a damn thing is done about it!! We have seen how strong our political system is just recently at Chennai!!

I'll stop here. I can go on like anyone else but, what's the use?? I'd rather do what I am supposed to do, well. And then, once I am done with that, maybe, I can actually go about cleaning this filth that is flowing into our lives!!

For a Happy India
Another desperate citizen.

I FEEL WE SHOULD FREE THEM AND PUT ALL THOSE PEOPLE CREATING HAVOC IN THE NAME OF GOD, RELIGION, COMMUNITY, CAST, COLOR, CULTURE INTO THESE CAGES!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Man of many Contradictions in Politics

Yet another import to Indian politics. The latest is from Dutt family. Surprisingly, he opted to join Samajwadi Party. He preferred it over the grand daddy of Indian politics, Congress, the party his father stood by still his death. If we were to listen to Sanjay Dutt himself, "Amar Singh is like my brother who stood through thick and thin for 13 years, when in power or not." Amar Singh returned the compliment saying "Sanjay Dutt is not a terrorist". How should we observe his entrance to politics? a spoiled-brat who learnt his lessons? a selfish man who is hoping to cash on Gandhigiri? a welcome change (youth over old-age, remember he's pitted against Vajpayee)? yet another mockery by Samajwadi Party at Indian politics?

At a time when Indians couldn't tolerate a moderate Shivraj Patil, a lazy Vilasrao Desmukh and equally ineffective RR Patil, Sanjay Dutt's entry is a political joke. At a time when we're hoping a better country (free of controversial personalities in politics, read Raj Thackeray), Mr. Dutt (hoping to carry forward the legacy of his father! I believe it was Priya Dutt who came forward a few years ago) chose Lucknow over Bombay against seasoned politician and former Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee. Even though I believe Mr. Vajpayee has nothing to offer to our country at 85 years of age, Sanjay Dutt either isn't a good person himself. With a terrific criminal background, Sanjay Dutt is only an icon for potential gangsters or self-inflicted Rahul Mahajans across the country dreaming as parliamentarians! Sanjay Dutt is no youth icon and he should understand quickly that Amar Singh is trying to 'misuse' his Gandhigiri popularity. 

Perspective

Everybody deserves a second chance. But how many chances does Mr. Sanjay Dutt need? He tried his hand at drugs in high school. If we consider school to be tender age, ok forgiven.

"He was charged of illegal possession of bomb vests and ammunition and illegal deals, which were part of the consignment used in the bombings. According to the CBI case filed in a TADA court, the gangster Abu Salem and his men went to Dutt's house on January 16, 1993 and gave him three AK-56 rifles, 25 hand grenades, one 9 mm pistol and cartridges. He allegedly returned two AK-56 rifles, hand grenades and cartridges to Hanif Kadawala and Samir Hingora but kept one AK-56 rifle with himself. The rifle and cartridges allegedly formed part of the consignment, which was smuggled into India at Dighi Port on January 9, 1993."

If we consider this act as his 'out of young blood adrenalin rush', ok forgiven. So, should we consider a man who is charged for conspiracy and terrorism to look after us? If we encourage him as our protector, how would we explain this to our children? If Mr. Dutt claims he's a good person now (he committed crime 14 years ago and supposedly got punished for the act) and that he should be cleared of all charges, no wonder Azam Amir Kasab would contest in our country. It is unfortunate to compare Mr. Dutt to Kasab but of why did he need AK-56 rifles when police is guarding the city?

Vajpayee vs Sanjay Dutt

Sanjay Dutt is nominated from lucknow, current constituency of former prime minister Vajpayee. Is SP trying to play hard? It appears to me as if they're emulating congress when it nominated actor Govinda against the then petroleum minister Ram Naik. Govinda eventually won the election. Of course, Vajpayee is way ahead of Ram Naik. Vajpayee served fifty years as MP. He has been one of the tallest leaders India has ever produced. Even his detractors admire his qualities. So, what provoked Mr. Dutt to contest against him?

Even if Mr. Dutt wins tomorrow, it would be much because of incompetent voters than his 'ideal man' image (created by Munnabhai series).