Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Tree in My Neighborhood

It's about a tree in my neighborhood in my hometown. It survived three cyclones which have destroyed many parts of the city. However, after the last cyclone, it started losing its life slowly. There was a hollow in the bottom of the tree, where some frogs used to live in. Three years back, when I visited this place, I observed that a plant had started growing in that hollow which was narrow enough to protect it from the animals. However, as the tree was dying, the hope of survival of the plant also wouldn't live for long.

Now, when I am on a tour of the same place, what I found is surprising. The tree is still there as lively as it was, maybe, some 20 years back. But at my first look, i neither found the plant nor the hollow in the tree.

Let me tell you, the plant has now become a tree. It has filled the hollow and grown up around the other tree, holding it tight. Now, I think, both of them together are strong enough to survive many more cyclones in the future.

This wonderful natural incident has given an interesting perspective on life. 'Never hesitate to help those who are in real need. Try to provide them with whatever you can afford to offer. On the other side, never hesitate to take shelter somewhere when you truly need it for survival. However, when you are on your own, never forget to return the favor with your full capacity.'

Friday, October 2, 2015

Call for “Monsoon-Ready” India

Every year, in the first week of June, we the people in India wait eagerly for the Monsoon rains. Tormented by the hot sun for more than four months, we feel exhausted and look at the sky every now and then wishing the rains to fall, which would be followed by a fall in the temperature. With the approach of the rains, our dry dams, reservoirs, and lakes would be filled with water and through the pipe lines, the water will head towards the tanks in our houses. The farmers would get their crop fields irrigated. People would throng sea beaches and other spots to enjoy the rains at its first arrival. 

Presume monsoon hits India in the first week of June. So what  would our lives be in the second week of June? Some city is flooded due to excessive rains. Some farmer commits suicide because it doesn’t rain on his land on time and his crops get damaged. Some big city is struggling with the traffic issues. Some train gets delayed or derailed. Some people die due to land slide. Some child falls into a manhole. People struggle to live in their roofless houses, some walls fall down on people when they are asleep, some trees fall down on people, etc. 

India has been blessed with this geographical boon called “Monsoon”, where every year it rains for three to four months at a particular period. Still we don’t have a single year in which we don’t experience all the above mentioned debacles. Nature gives us eight months to prepare for the monsoons; however, as soon as it arrives, our lives become worse in many ways. Monsoon has become such an element in our lives that neither we can live without it nor can we deal with it effectively.

The question is if nature has planned Monsoon for us, why haven’t we managed to deal with it? Why do we still have women in many villages walk miles to get a pot of drinking water? India has always been a country of farmers, where a majority of people survive on farming or related occupations. However, still we haven’t done enough to secure the future of so many citizens. We have seen numerous deaths due to cloud bursts. Have we learnt any lessons from them? For example, are Mumbai and Uttarakhand ready to channelize the water in case of another cloud burst?

Precisely, what we need at this point of time after 68 years of independence is a “monsoon-ready” India. We must have better and more number of water reservoirs spreading across the country evenly. We must have rivers interconnected to avoid any situation of flood or drought. We must preserve the rain water, allowing it to go underneath the ground rather than into the sea. It’s not a work of a few days. It might take decades to achieve this goal. However, we can achieve this goal only when we plan and work towards it. Otherwise, even in next million years, we will continue to lose our resources to monsoon rather than gaining from it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

PK: Questions of a Neutral Mind

  • If Gandhiji is still relevant in India, it is only as a photograph that too only when appeared on a currency note. For most people, his principles hold no value.
  • Nobody is born with any religion. There is no sign of any religion in our body, which will approve our religion. If God had wanted us to follow any religion, He would have given that sign. 
  • At times, our brain is so occupied by superstition that we don’t realize the truth. Even if we set out to fight the evil and prove it wrong, we lose our faith when the first notion of victory of the opponent strikes our mind.
  • Some people believe they have been chosen to protect their Gods without realizing that they are a very minuscule element of the entire creation and the creator is not so weak to need anyone to protect Him.
  • God doesn’t want us to go to faraway places to pray when we are in pain. It’s always the call of the “wrong number”.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Indian Bureaucracy to Get a Shield

Indian Bureaucracy is about to get a shield against the malicious political class it seems. On October 31, the Supreme course discouraged bureaucrats from taking oral orders from their political bosses. The apex course sought an end to frequent transfers and also suggested a fixed tenure to protect the officers from political interference.

Certainly, when implemented, the action is going to make the political class more accountable. The action would also bell the unruly cats in bureaucracy as well. After getting all the decisions and actions in black and white, they will hardly get any excuse for delaying or accelerating any process. Hence, the lightning of the verdict is going to fall on both the political class and the bureaucracy. Passing the buck is not going to work anymore.  

However, there is certainly a concern in this context. Though the court has said that the parliament must enact a law to regulate postings, transfers and disciplinary action against bureaucrats, how much exhilaration the political class will show to take action on the enactment. How reasonable will it be to expect any speedy action in this context from the same political class which wants to get out of the purview of the Right to Information to prevent itself from the noose of accountability?

The verdict came as a result of a PIL filed by 83 retired bureaucrats, including former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why Do We Elect Them?

From cricket commentary to being a participant of the reality show Big Boss 6, to being a judge of a comedy show, it seems the former cricketer Navjot Singh Siddhu has done everything else other than performing his duties as a member of parliament from Amritsar.

Mr Siddhu preferred to lock himself in the Big Boss house for more than a month as if for those many days his constituency won't need him at all.

Hence, the question that remains with us is, "What's the use of having such star members of parliament who publicly ignore their constituencies, having no sense of responsibility?"

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Movie Review: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

It’s a story of a sportsman who fights against all odds and comes out as a winner. It’s a story of a coal thief who joins army to win his love. It’s a story of a child who loses all his kith and kin except a sister during partition and comes to India from Pakistan. It’s a story of an individual who travels from being a no-one to someone on whose name a national holiday is declared. It’s a story about the Flying Singh (Milkha Singh).
“Hard Work, Will Power, and Dedication! Jisme yeh teen cheez ho woh zameen se aashman chhu sakta hai.” This quote by Milkha Singh is displayed after the film ends. The same is true with the film as well. It has become a master piece thanks to the hard work, will power, and dedication of the people involved with this project.
I won’t give you the story here but the feel. While watching Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, you will get the feel of India’s partition, the thrill of an Olympic game, the pain of a lover, the helplessness of a child, the love of a sister, the cruelty of jealous competitors, the forgiveness of a dedicated, goal-oriented hero, the high aspirations of an individual and the hard work he puts in, the pain of failure, the impact of distraction, the will power, the fear of revisiting the same place where one had lost all his near and dear ones, and the happiness of making one’s country proud.
Performance from all the actors is fantastic. Starting from the child who plays young Milkha to the director who does a cameo as a pilot, no one lets down. The movie is about the journey of Milkha Singh and hence the onus was mostly on Farhaan Akhtar who played the pivotal character. From body language to running posture, he played the character with perfection. However, in a couple of scenes, he couldn’t go far away from being Farhan Akhtar particularly where he delivers some witty lines. Divya Dutta is brilliant as Milkha’s sister. She delivers both love and agony through her eyes and voice. I don’t know whom to miss and whom to mention from the supporting star cast. Each of them has done justice to their parts though I liked Prakash Raj, Pavan Malhotra, and the boy who played young Milkha the most.
What makes the film so great apart from the performances are the following aspects: flawless editing, brilliant story-telling, high-class cinematography, perfect locations, and the climax. You come out of the theatre with a smile on your face along with the wet eyes.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How Longer will We Take to Abolish the Dowry System?

When I was in fourth standard, once a teacher asked all the students to write an essay on the dowry system. I didn’t know how to write. Hence, I just documented all the criminal incidents related to the dowry system, which I had come across in my locality. To my surprise, the teacher was very impressed with my essay. That was perhaps the first appreciation I received for my writing. But that was also the first time when I expressed my anger on the criminality of this so-called social norm. I was assured by the teacher that this norm wouldn't be existing in the society ten years down the line. That year was 1989. Twenty-four years have passed since then. And recently, when I browsed through the Internet, the news items that caught my eyes were as follows:
Today is the time when our fight against female feticide has gone stronger. We take pride in taking action against people who get involved in gender identification in the womb. However, the root cause of female feticide doesn't solely lie in gender identification in the womb. It is in the brain. It is also formed in the brain when one comes across facts about atrocities against women like sexual exploitation, torture for dowry, so on and so forth, which showcase how difficult it is to become a woman in our society. Therefore, while we are fighting to make every girl child in the womb see the world, we will need to make the world secure for them at every stage of their lives. Demand of dowry in marriage is one such insecurity.
We have ambassadors for polio eradication, breast cancer care, going green, etc. We need ambassadors for abolishment of the dowry system as well. We need long-term campaigns till this social injustice (norm) is uprooted and erased from our brains forever and for never to come back.
People who accepted or planning to accept dowry in marriage tend to give one or other excuse for accepting dowry. All that is crap. The way you cannot justify any injustice, you cannot justify accepting dowry as well.
From my experience, I can give you some popular excuses. Feel free to add to the list below:
  • I didn’t want dowry. My parents wanted it. (Answer: You are getting married, not your parents. You can definitely stop them from having such illegal demand.)
  • We never demanded. But they just forced us to accept. (Answer: You are not a child. Nobody wants to give you anything free of cost. You must have showed the greed in your eyes. There are many shameless people who don't demand dowry these days, but expects it to be given as a right.)
  • I had given dowry to my sister. Hence, I demanded too. (Answer: Then, you take back from your sister. Why do you take it from someone else's sister.)
  • I spent so much money in my marriage for my in-laws’ pride. Hence, I had to accept dowry. (Answer: Who asked you to spend it. Don't give such crap. You spent it for showing off. And you want your parents-in-law to pay for it.)
  • That’s why I preferred an arrange marriage. Otherwise, I would have gone for a love marriage. (Answer: Greed is not restricted to arrange marriage or love marriage. No girl would have loved you when you had so much greed.)
  • My wife will not demand her share from her parents' property. Dowry is a form of that share. (Answer: Rather you don't take it as dowry and ask your wife to legally demand for her share of property.)
  • I wanted to start a business. This was like the capital amount. It is for their daughter only. (Answer: Wait. Your son-in-law will ask you for the same. Save for the capital amount of your future son-in-law's business.)
  • This is a tradition. We need to follow it. (I am sure you wouldn't have followed the tradition if it was inconvenient to you. You need not follow the age-old traditions that has no relevence in today's time.)