Friday, September 18, 2009

Too austere to appreciate !

I was eagerly awaiting NDTV's late night program "The Buck Stops Here" as the subject for panel-discussion was our very own very well known(by now, courtesy a grand media attention it has gathered) "The Great Austerity Drive" of the Indian National Congress. The Panel comprised the ubiquitous Jayanthi Natarajan (ubiquitous ! yes, she has to be; she is the AICC spokesperson, after all), Shyam Benegal, another lady and another gentleman (can't recall their names... my bad !). As was expected, Jayanthi Natarajan went on harping on what the INC stood for, what its (political) culture stood for, how insightful, thoughtful, and down-to-earth were the initiative(s) of the top brass of congress, right from the word 'go'. It's interesting to know that the protagonist to the play [who,supposedly, has spun a cobweb with a blue colored "t" written all over it ! (read Tweet...Tweet....Twitter !)], Dr. Shashi Tharoor, was a thousand miles away on an external affairs ministerial visit (to Liberia;yes, I have been following him on Twitter). The furor is an aftermath to a tweet answering a query (asking if Dr. Tharoor was willing to travel in the "cattle(economy) class") that stated "absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our 'holy cows'". My dear friend informed me that "cattle class" is an english slang and a british colloquialism used commonly by the inhabitants there. Besides, the phrase 'holy cows' refers to some sacrosanct belief or principle that nobody can challenge. To my earlobes, though, the phrases did sound  a touch demeaning and inconsequential, both at the same time. As Ms. Jayanti told, innumerable people travel by economy class and to use such phrases(in public domain !) was totally condemnable, disgraceful, unacceptable and a politically incorrect act, more so on the part of such a learned traveled well-read experienced scholarly man. But she couldn't recall enough to tell that it was a phrase that he (Dr. Tharoor) had only repeated, the real culprit (in the eyes of INC, of course) was the journalist who used that phrase in his question. But, even that is totally dispensable. There are bigger more important issues to address.

It is true that the Congress' austerity spree has gained much hullabaloo amidst all the debates and discussions that it has garnered but I certainly see it in light of a certain betrayal to the humongous innocent public that announced its verdict in favour of the congress led UPA not so long ago. The so-called Austerity drives, the Yatras (Rath or Pad or Whatever), all these activities draw great public attention and instantaneously connect with the aam-aadmi by virtue of first, these activities being blessed with an inherent property of amassing billions and second, harnessing the Achilles heel  of us Indians, our emotions and succeed every time because we are like that only, we are emotional people, how much ever we try to, we can never wish away the fact that we have always been and we are still being hoodwinked or to use a simpler and precise word, befooled by the so-called altruism of our governors occupying apex governmental positions(either directly or with an indirect 'Sonia Gandhi').

India, in its 60 odd years since independence, has amassed many issues of critical importance worth applying our brains to and has been really struggling all through to find a way out as if Stuck in a Labyrinth !. We have made tremendous progress too in almost every realm (which I hold no intention to slight to the least) but every time activities like the current austerity drive come up, it leaves me thinking, have we? Really? The incumbent government has a lot to tackle, abject poverty, unemployment, the recession (it's not over till it's over!), the drought,  terrorism, intrusions at the borders, the immediate neighbourhood and accompanying tensions, to name a few. Seeking solutions to these problems and many others would be the real austerity drive for the government. There are innumerable avenues where the government can exhibit its sincerity(in executing government sponsored welfare schemes and other development programs), adroitness(in tackling external affairs and cross-border issues), care(for the poor food growers, downtrodden women, and children), and austerity(in dealing with criminals, terrorists, and other anti-social evils). Suffice it to say, governments at the helm of affairs have, over the years, performed far from satisfactory on all these indices.

It's time governments stopped betraying innocent people on the pretext of so-called austerity drives. It's time governments started behaving more responsively in a manner justifying the trust of billions of people who have nothing but hope in their eyes and in a manner ensuring the hope remains.There are, indeed, bigger more important issues to address.

To get a different and critical perspective on the issue (austerity drive), this piece by Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai is strongly recommended. Follow the link - Keep it Simple

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stuck in a Labyrinth !

'J'indagi jeene ke do-ee tarikke ote ain...ek, jo ho raha hai hone do, bardaasht karte jaao Ya 'j'immedaari uthaao use badalne ki                                                            ...Rang De Basanti (the movie)

All said and done, what if someone is hapless enough to fail to get/understand/comprehend as to what he/she has been dropped in this world for, what is it he/she wants to do, to achieve in life, where lie his/her interests, what should he/she strive for, what should he/she live for?

Read on...

Mother: Hello?
Subhash Jha*: Hello, could I speak with Subhash Jha?
Mother: I am afraid he can't be seen around...(before she could complete)
Subhash Jha*: He must be sleeping, I was wondering if you could please wake him up. It's urgent.
Mother: May I know who's speaking?
Subhash Jha*: My name is Subhash Jha...(before I could complete)
Mother: (remains startled for a moment... then laughs) Ohh, Mrityunjay ! You will never change. Just hold on while I shall go and wake him up.
Subhash Jha: Yeah Mrityunjay, tell me ! Long time !!!
Subhash Jha*: Hi Subhash, this is your alter ego. This is important. Hear me out....(Subhash remains flabbergasted and slavishly(in a manner characteristic of a slave) lends his advertent ear to the most 'important' voice he would ever hear)

A very 'dear friend' of yours was talking to me this morning thinking he was talking to you. We were conversing just perfunctorily when I told him about your friend Mrityunjay who used to follow you (whatever you did so far as academics is concerned) all the time the same way many school-going kids follow their friends or friends-of-friends. I told him how he behaved perversely in his pursuit of admission into an Indian Institute of Technology inspite of your constant reminders on  how good an artist he was, how good he could draw, how good he could sketch and how deservedly he could get admission into National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, one of the elite institutions for 'design'. I told him about how Mrityunjay finally understood what he wanted to do and more importantly what he was dropped in this world for to do and appeared for the entrance examinations of various institutions (with courses in 'design') only to land up finally in one of the National Institute of Fashion Technology centers which was no mean feat, by any standards.

And, then, as you are well aware Mrityunjay went on to find his name registered in the list of designers endorsed by the institute (NIFT) itself as well as in the list endorsed by the Handloom Export Promotion Council of India on its website ( the government website).

I told your 'dear friend' how Mrityunjay, ultimately, got to understand why he was there at all...Yes...I told him he finally fathomed he was there to design the grandest stage of them all.... Life..... in his own original authentic way, that he reincarnated that day as a true artist without following anyone, bereft of all spuriousness.

And then, your 'dear friend' spoke for the first time in ages...the very first time he was speaking of self, with soul, out of desperation, in pain. He told me he had just started his corporate career with a bank and that he had come to know, after the very first month at the bank, he did not want that...he told me he was oblivious to what he wanted to do, what he wished to achieve, what he was dropped in this world for, in the first place, and I could easily see the "Mrityunjay" in him. And this is not a one-out-of-a-million kind of case. This is true for most of your friends, your colleagues, your acquaintances, your relatives (belonging to similar age-groups) and most importantly it's so very true for you.

I know all this because we have enjoyed this ride together....the grand ride right from becoming a supreme academician to a simple villager in pursuit of attaining his visionary goals for his village (and other villages) to a finance wizard to an epitome of corporate success to a vocalist with a sensational musical band to an adroit film-maker making films covering meaningful, realistic, public subjects to an author with the Booker prize to his name to a Nobel Laureate in Literature to a Ph.D holder in Economics to a Nobel Laureate (again!!!) in Economics to an ardent philosopher with specializations in the emotions of Love and Friendship to an eminent Volleyball Player winning the gold medal at the Olympics (in the most dramatic final of all time) for your country to a self dependent hugely successful entrepreneur to a top-notch civil servant to an honest politician. I have been as integral a part of your dreams as the plum is to the pudding.

And I wish to help you out of this labyrinth that you and your 'dear friend' find yourselves so badly stuck in or at least I can make as sincere an endeavour as the mighty sun makes to bless us all with the indispensable sunlight, every single day of our lives. The only way known to me is to follow a conscious mental and purposive process relying on thinking, reasoning, and examining one's own thoughts, feelings and more often than not, one's soul. It can also be called contemplation of one's self i.e. observation of things internal to one's self. And, so my 'dear friend', here's your alter ego asking you to follow the path to your soul, your self......follow and help your 'dear friend' follow the path they call Introspection. 

(The phone was hung up, the voice muted and Subhash Jha awoke from a dream that was to change his life forever...He is currently in pursuit of a living that could easily qualify for the definition of "halcyon years")

Mera yakeen hai ki hum sab is duniya mein koi ek khaas kaam karne ke liye bheje gaye hain. Zyadatar log to umra bhar bhatakte rehte hain yeh jaane bagair ki unki zindagi ka maqsad kya hai, kuchh heen khushkismat hain jo is khazaane ko pa jaate hain........aur hum mein se kuchh aise bhi begairat hain jo ise ganwa dete hain.                                                                                                                             ...Iqbal (the movie)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Home Alone...confessions of a blogger

Keywords(for assistance  only and strictly not to question/challenge your vocabulary):

- Penitentiary : (noun, /pen-i-ten-shuh-ri/) a prison for people convicted of serious crimes
- Audacious : (adjective, /aw-day-shuhss/) willing to take bold risks
- Wrath : (noun, /roth, rawth/) extreme anger
- Lest : (conjunction, /lest/) so as to prevent any possibility that, for fear that
- Amorous : (adjective, /uh-mor-ruhss/) strongly attracted or disposed to love, especially sexual love 
- Aliter : (in Latin) means 'otherwise' or 'using another method' or 'alternatively' generally used with mathematical theorems or proofs
- Smutty : (adjective) dirty, sooty(also indecent)
- Surreptitious : (adjective, /sur-ruhp-ti-shuhss/) done secretly
- Afore : (preposition) before
- Austere : (adjective, /oss-teer/) strict or severe in manner or appearance

Hello Everyone !

Yes, I am alive. I do wish to inform,however, that I have come across absolutely nothing enticing enough[except the sad demise of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Shri. Y S Rajasekhar Reddy(sad because of the mode and the time(he was barely 60 !)) and a handful off his praja(YSR's win is supposedly attributed, in a way, to the Prajarajyam chief Chiranjeevi who (supposedly) nailed an otherwise bright prospect of a Chandrababu Naidu win) or should I say 'people-who-loved-him-and-could-not-imagine-living-in a world-with everyone-but-YSR who decided to follow suit(depart as untimely as the ill-fated YSR, the man supposedly responsible for bringing good fortune to the state of Andhra) !]  to write on/about/for for the past few days and I find myself innocent enough to be able to avoid a penitentiary. No, this is not to flaunt my "vocabulary enrichment" endeavours I have been making all these days(days of no blogging) and I am audacious enough to face the wrath of readers of this blog who can(and should) feel free to comment on my sincerity and discipline as regards updating my blog(yes, I know you found a 'my' there in the sentence but I must avow I was not being sarcastic).

Okay! Getting back to business, I wish to inform(actually, I am dying to inform) the ardent reader has reached Page No. 272 [(522 minus 273(Shashi, will you please do the honours?) more pages to go!] of Tarun's book (his name is Tarun Tejpal, I am reading his book titled "The Story of my Assassins", No, he is not my friend...I wrote Tarun and not his full name just like that....yes, just like that...there is no sarcasm here, chill !). I just finished watching "The Silence of the Lambs"(Yes, I saw the great Hannibal Lecter and I have no intentions of playing him in the next couple of lines of this piece) and I have planned to resume reading Tarun's book lest I gift myself another moment of anxiety/irritation/frustration about not being able to start reading the next one in queue that I am so amorously excited about. But that's after I finish writing this 'piece'(I beg your pardon for being repetitive. Actually, I like this word a lot, piece...aliter you can use 'post'). At this point, I wish to hog upon something...anything that qualifies for 'edible', BUT unfortunately, the paranthas(that our cook makes for me every single day) are all gone and the chapatis could not wait for long either to follow suit emptying the case roll and now all I am left with is my(ohhkay Malik's...Malik, happy? I know you are laughing) kitchen that has become an abode of raw vegetables(can be cooked, I know), groceries(all raw),smutty utensils(required to cook food...for instance, kadahi, tava, kalchhul, chholni, pateela, and pressure cookers(yes, we have a family of 'Prestige' cookers ranging from a 1 litre child to a 5 litre monster!)...all dirty except for the steel-plates(to eat on...Good-for-nothing things reminding me of the fictional character Mahfuz Ali from "Love Across the Salt Desert" by K N Daruwalla, the opening chapter of CBSE Class XII English text book that all we classmates paid great attention towards because of the adjectives used by the writer to describe the anatomy of the female protagonist named Fatimah in the subtlest of ways)....and and I forgot to mention......a tap bereft of water!!! OhMyGod! Finally, I have something.You will be glad to know I have gotten myself hold of a pack of biscuits surreptitiously kept in one of the jars(one that has some variety of indigenous dal in it) and I am going to keep myself busy with the task of finishing it off(I can't abstain from any divine spiritual act, you know !) till I regain my senses [yes, you read is 'senses'...could you not find it all so very nonsensical? you have got to be kidding me......OhMyGod, are your really not kidding me! Okay, I get it need some rest off your daily works that are potent avenues of stress strong enough to affect your left brain muscles (the left brain is the one looking after 'logical reasoning' !)enough to render it bereft of logic or at least visit a doctor........just kidding ! Chill !] and put my mind to something more productive.

Okay, I am off to the task I told you about a couple of lines afore but not before promising you that I shall blog, as better as I can and as often as my right-brain muscles(the ones responsible for intuitive behaviour!) tickle, with austere sincerity and discipline.

Till then, take very good care of yourselves. Good Bye.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kaife? Kaife? Aife! Aife!

Subrata Pal has become a hero overnight thanks to three spectacular saves in the penalty shoot out against Syria on the eve of Nehru Cup Final and has surely given us all a reason to smile amidst all the chaos that surrounds our daily lives. No praise for this Indian Football team can be complete without the mention of Bob Houghton, the Indian Football team coach who not only helped players own a sense of self-belief but also reflect the same on the field or the captain Baichung Bhutia who has been no less than a torchbearer for the sport in India for almost a decade now(not to mention, bereft of a Khel Ratna award and having faced a six month suspension from playing for the club Mohun Bagan for reasons better known to the Anjan Mitra (General Secretary, Mohun Bagan) led executive committee; the media cites Baichung's participation in a dance reality show to be the key reason behind the inexplicable decision as against the club's stance that it had solely to do with the prolific striker missing an exhibition match of the club at Jalpaiguri ). There are three key issues I would like to bring to the desk( read 'for discussion').

Firstly, the win itself ! This win not only ensured that the cup (Nehru Cup) remained in the country but also gives us a sound enough reason to mutate our thoughts towards the game itself, to start with, and then towards the team (the national team) that has been ingrained in the minds of us Indians for generations; the thought that football is not as great a game as some others (read CrICkeT !) and that chances of an Indian team performing well in the interntaional competitive (very competitive, to be precise!) arena are lean, infact non-existent.
Secondly, the sport and its management in the country. It is a well known fact that almost all the sports bodies at various levels in the country have one or the other politician as their president or at best (for the game and the players ! Lol !) a working/stand-in president as is the case with AIFF (All India Football Federation) ;Mr. Praful Patel (Minister os State for Civil Aviation) is the working president for AIFF. Shouldn't we have more sportspersons (having represnted at the national and international levels) in the management team to look after the players with more reason, care for them, nurture them, build their confidence, help them excel at the highest level? Why is it that most of these bodies are headed by some civil servant who knows nothing about the sport let alone the plight of players therein? I propose a management team with a mix of level headed people(beaureaucrats, politicians, coporates, etc.) and sportspersons(not to say they are not level headed!) who have brought laurels to the country in their respective fields in their respective capacities.
Thirdly, ignorance, awareness and the role of celebrities ! In a country where everything right from a Rs. 5/- a unit Parle-G to a mammoth airline thrives on 'hero worship', the role of a person enjoying a celebrity status can be harnessed to benefit anything and everything not to exclude a sport like football. A lot can be done through a plethora of media such as films, exhibition matches, sponsorships, etc. just to name a few. BUT, it is seldom witnessed that a celebrity goes to the stadia to watch a football match or say a volleyball match, for that matter. It was indeed heartwarming to see one such man(name is irrelevant and insignificant kyunki 'insaan naam me mazhab dhoondhne lagta hai (remember "A Wednesday"!)') watch the India-Syria football final match and clap for and back his country's gems(on the football ground), to say the least. More of such contribution and care and responsible behavior is expected off the people synonymous with no less than God in this country.
I can recall a couplet that sounds pertinent to the occasion,
Manzilein unhi ko milti hain jinke sapnon mein jaan hoti hai,
Pankh se kuchh nahi hota, hauslon se udaan hoti hai.
Jai Hind !