Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is Anna India?

There has been quite a resistance from my side to express my views on the whole issue of agitation, anna and India.  However after going through the Lok Pal Bill, Jan Lok Pal Bill (JLPB), submissions of Aruna Roy and views of many people in print media, television and discussions with friends, I write this piece of mine on the current situation in India.  What has been happening at Ramlila ground and where I stand, where do I find myself?

There is absolutely no face saving on the issue of corruption.  All political parties, individuals, social activists, agitationists are sounding in unison that corruption is one of the most important issue in India.  We need to tackle this, punish the guilty, set good examples, put proper regulation in place and implement it honestly, cautiously and expeditiously. 

Since last 42 years the Lok Pal Bill has been waiting the nod by the parliament which is a supreme body to enact laws in india.  There have been voices from many corners in all these years for having a lok pal at the national level in order to look into the cases of corruption, however some of the states have Lok Ayuktas but they are ineffective in the absence of strong laws and proper implementation.  Surely I agree no law can correct people untile people themselves resolve to be honest and to fight corruption.  But laws do matter as at times fear drives a person not to get into corrupt practices.  Fear forces one not to indulge in something which one's conscience does not agree with.  Thats how fear becomes a strong restraint as insecurity becomes a strong motivation. 

Last time (April 2011, 97 hrs fast) when Anna Hazare sat at Jantar mantar in demand of strong Lok Pal Bill, it culminated into inclusion of five members (Anna Hazare, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejrival and Santosh Hegde) in the drafting committee as representatives of the civil society.  Many have raised fingers on that including the opposition parties.  Were these representatives really represented the civil society?  What I understand from this is a simple thing, if you make noise you get heard, otherwise the government (hereinafter called Rulers) has a hearing problem.  After the inclusion, the rulers started showing their reluctance on listening to these members and incorporating their views in the bill and sent the draft bill which was drafted by these rulers to the standing committee for consideration.

Anna had already warned the rulers after Jantar Mantar fast that if the bill is not passed before 15th august (4 months time), he will sit on fast again on 16th August.  Indian children called Anna a second Gandhi.  It was well in the notice of the rulers and having looked into the credentials of this great leader called Anna Hazare, who has through his determination and strong concern for different causes has sat on anshan more than dozen times, it must have become obvious to the government that he would do so.  To this end they should have atleast, a) heard their voices, b) shown their strong commitment for a strong Lok Pal, c) should have taken him seriously.  On the contrary, as usual, following delaying tactics and thinking that they would be able to deal with the issue of Anna's Anshan (scheduled from 16th Aug) the same way as they dealt with Ramdev's Anshan.  The success story of dealing with Ramdev's anshan was expected to be repeated by the core successful team which could demolish the character of the whole issue by behaving like no less than britishers on the midnight of the 4th June 2011, by attacking on unarmed people silently sleeping on the ground, convinced about the causes raised by their yoga guru, travelled several miles from different parts of the country, to join him, ignorant about the political vendatta and conversations that transpired between their guru and the political gurus (the rulers).   

The rulers were well prepared to repeat the same this time, the learnings of the last victory was their strength and the weaknesses of their action was their guiding restraints for the action to take shape may be on 16th night.  From the first week of this August the rulers first played all tactics in order to stop him from sitting on anshan, by all kinds of means which included putting false allegations against Anna.  One of the representatives of these rulers (Manish Tiwari) went on to say that Anna is corrupt from top to bottom in a very desparate effort to put down the public image of Anna.  Undettered, Anna called on him publicly and stated the facts related to the statement so made.  The rulers started bargaining on the location, Anna wanted jantar mantar again, they refused, they allowed JP (Jai Prakash Narain - popularly known as JP, for JP movement which shook indian polity in 1974) Park, with lot of conditions, 5000 people, 50 cars, 50 bikes, 3 days......... It showed their unruly arrogance to allow a citizen of India to sit on anshan in order to raise his/her voice.  As the day was approaching section 144 Cr PC was clamped at many important places in Delhi which included all these parks, surroundings of Indian Parliament etc.

It was the morning of 16th Aug 2011 when Anna along with Arvind were picked up by Delhi Police when they were planning to proceed to JP Park.  The police is believed to have told them that they are taking them and they were not arrested yet, once they reached the guest house, they were asked to hand over their mobiles and told, they are under arrest.  What really was the intention of the rulers?  Shashi Tharoor (former minister and congress MP) said Annaji's brief detention by the Delhi Police was unwise, further he mentioned that the rulers did not realise that they can only arrest an individual but not an Idea. 

They were taken to Tihar where Kalmadi, Raja, Kanimojhi are arrested for CWG and 2G allotment corruption charges.  The rulers equated Anna with them may be not in a literal terms but surely they wanted to convey to Anna that this is where you belong since one of their representative himself had alleged about Anna's top to bottom corruption.  The rulers were found mindless and in hurry the 7 day judicial detention was reduced to 12 hours detention and in the evening he was asked to leave.  But Anna refused to go anywhere, he just wanted to go to JP Park for agitation and the rulers were still in their high spirit on an issue of allowing him to sit on fast, he sat in Tihar and addressed, met, communicated with the masses through Twitter, Youtube and other sources.  These days technology dominates human imagination and facilitates the creative genius in individuals.  May be Kapil Sibal (one of the great ruler who heads science and technology ministry) did not realise it specially when it came to its use in reaching out to people, especially the younger ones. 

The rulers were lost in their thoughts when they saw this 74 year old adamant creature sitting in Tihar jail.  I just liked and admired this man for his adamant behaviour, it was required, it was just, it was tit for tat and it was well convincing for the cause this person was standing for.  After two days of negotiations he was released and allowed and given Ramlila ground for going on fast unto death for 21 days on a condition that if needed to be extended it could be done so with 4 days notice time.  Anna started his agitation at Ramlila maidan for ending the life of Ravan called corruption.  Today is 9th day of this and his health is deteriorating, the rulers are sounding coming to some terms, things are beginning to take shape for good (I hope so).  This is just small reporting, now I would like to raise issues from my personal concern.

Many people including Arundhati Roy have very vehemently criticised the movement and questioned the credibility of Anna and his team members. I feel the cause is well taken and if even after 64 years of independence, we are not able to live in a country, known for its rich culture, without giving bribe to different agencies for small routine works, we need to be concerned with this.  Favouritism is the most cheap commodity available in the market at the price one can easily bargain at times.  So the cause is well taken.  Some of my friends keep telling me that corruption is part of indian culture, we carry gifts, presents, sweets to the people's houses from whom we seek favor, we keep pleasing bosses, we don't mind helping our relatives, friends, near and dear ones and at a later stage at a more formal level it is reflected through our behaviour while we sit on a chair which is vulnerable to such causes, concerns, favors and benfit.  We get lured by the market forces and are not able to resist the temptation to get corrupted.  The reason as many of my friends give me is that Corruption is part of our culture.  I dont buy this defense fully, though to a small level, it might be a fact.  There is corruption in many countries even when their culture does not resemble that of ours.  I feel we have failed to implement laws and the legal mechanism is so tiresome, costly and time-taking that one does not mind being a victim of corruption.  It has become part of our system.  Once the legal system is prompt many would really take up the cases and try finding a solution.  It took Kalmadi 8 months to get to the place he deserved, Dayanidhi Maran is still enjoying after leaving the ministry, must be busy in finding proper counsel, defense and washing off the evidences.  Cant we have a system which is prompt.

The issue of Anna team being adamant has been finding quite the takers, however I dont agree on this.  From day one, they have been saying we are open for talks, though media and many people have mentioned that it is as if JLP and only JLP that they are fighting for, it is not so.  If the intention of the rulers was clean they could have honored their participation, and may be agreed to talk to these issues.  The rulers have been quite smart in buying time and delaying this bill.  In politics it is always that you keep the issues open and does not get it resolved so that in case of need it can be capitalised.  

Many of my friends question whether the crowd really knows what is JLPB, for them it is just corruption.  Let me put my mind here.  Anna's credibility is such that bring people together.  We are ought to have trust in the rulers, we allow them to rule over us with good intentions and go with the policies they decide, even when we do not know them, understand them.  Each one of the person supporting Anna does not really need to know JLP.  When India got freedom, does everyone who fought for it knew what is freedom?  Did we fight the British for the freedom that we are having today?  It is a matter of credibility.  Credibility catches the crowd. It is the brand which makes the product saleable, not really always the product per se. 

Where do we go from here?  This is a strong question in my mind.  Are we going to get rid of corruption?  Are we going to have public awakening like this for all issues?  For sure corruption is not going to come to an end.  Anna has been saying it several times, it is not that such a bill or strong Lok Pal shall remove corruption.  It all depends on the individuals involved in the process.

What I personally feel that there has to be a middle path for the provisions on Lok Pal Bill. The rulers version is very weak and the JLPB is very strict or very impractical.  We need to have a middle path to this.  The worst that I feel at present that on all these issues there is no word from Rahul Gandhi who has been under preparations for taking up the reign of this great nation or for that matter, no one knows where is Sonia Gandhi, she chose this time for her medication, she is totally silent, she is unfortunately the president of Indian National Congress.

There must not be any effort to question the supremacy of Indian Parliament.  It is just because of this strong democratic values which are enshrined in our constitution that we get organized and raise our voice against issues of concern.  The problem has been that as our rulers are ruling against the constitutional provisions and there is no one to question it, such practices have become their system and they have started taking it for granted that.  Corruption somehow has become an acceptable system to get speedy responses and favors.

The peaceful protest and questioning the corrupt system in my opinion is purely justified depending on the nature of issues, assertions and suggestions.  Many of my friends keep saying that Mean is equally important as the End, for a justified End the mean has to be justified as well.  Sure, I think the only question is how we define what is justified.  When there is visible resistance from the rulers, one has to put pressure through different approaches which can lead to justified end.  The mean of peaceful agitation, hunger strikes, driving the elected members to have an opinion, are all justified means in my opinion.

The question of Is Anna India has to be taken from the context of a political statements which were in currency in the 70s by the present rulers, India is Indira and Indira is India.  If at all we look at the context, I personally vouch the fact that yes Anna is India, not for anything else but for standing up with all self-less motive and honest intention to start a renewed process of reducing corruption in India through 13 days purely non-violent, countrywide agitation.  I stand for India Against Corruption and for the moment I am not really interested to know much on who are the people behind it as I have never cared if at all the intentions are honest.

As I wind up this write up through additions on the earlier version, I am fully convinced that the present agitation against corruption shall surely lead our way for the making of great nation.  Surely one should not expect that suddenly things would take shape.  As mentioned earlier and as I keep telling my friends, charity begins at home, can we take an oath that we shall never get involved in corrupt practices.  This agitation has certainly galvanized the Indian youth, the future of this great nation, for the cause of corruption free India, a sense of great pride in holding the national flag and wearing annatopi (gandhi cap).  Emotions play more important role than intelligence, heart is more important than the brain, intangibles value more than tangibles.  This whole movement has awakened India to fight this cancer of corruption irrespective of caste, creed, color, gender, tribe, region and religion.  After purna-swaraj, this seems to be a great resolve, if at all it is.


There has been a great debate on the whole issue of Lok Pal, Agitation, Anna Hazare, supporting as well as opposing the agitation.  This is our democracy where it is respected and taken in positive way.  Many people have questioned the credibility of Anna, I have also read criticism of Gandhi and there are people at present living in India who oppose Gandhi as well as Gandhian philosophy.  It is basically one's mindset that one looks for its defense.  Guha wrote that there were 4 lac people against nuclear plants in Calcutta agitating and it could not become the voice of India, no media called it so, where as just about 50 thousand people gathered at Ramlila are called the voice of India.  I feel it is not a wise comparison.  It is not just 50 thousand in Ramlila, had it been such, the rulers would never had given it any weight. It was all because Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Guwahati to surat, everywhere people were on streets.  Anyways I am just putting some links here for a better judgement of the readers.

Some important links:

28th Aug 2011, Shillong

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Friday, April 01, 2011

Cricket Diplomacy

Tomorrow India shall be playing world cup finals against Sri Lanka at Wankhede Statium, Mumbai. The match shall start at 2:30 pm. Before this finals India played semi-final against Pakistan on 30th March 2011 at Mohali. More than the finals this match was important and as any other cricket fan I watched the whole match on TV.  As I have been watching other matches I have been thinking of writing down my personal reflection on the world cup, which is much more than the sport, a great business opportunity, a great advertising venture, a profitable enterprise, full media masala, and a political platform for many.
While we watched the semi-final there were many things and thoughts which kept my senses vibrant all through.  First when it was decided after the quarter finals (India Vs Australia, India won) that India shall be playing against Pakistan, the national media nerve took all counts and got busy in capitalising almost all opportunities.  The Prime Minister of India, Man Mohan Singh (MMS) sent an official invitation to Pakistan's Prime minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, who is 26th PM of Pakistan, to watch the match which was positively responded.  All bigwigs of media, politics, administration, business were their to watch this match which included the whole Gandhi family who chose to sit in the public gallery, of course surrounded with the designated personal security in suits and black goggles.
MMS and Gilani were seen watching the whole match and exchanging glares. After the match they had dinner together (hosted by MMS) and talked on various issues of mutual interest.  MMS told media that the talks were quite cordial and they wanted to start afresh forgetting the turbulent past.  Pak chief also addressed Pak media and reported that it was a good beginning.  There seems to be a good reason why MMS chose this cricket diplomacy at this juncture, there are elections in 5 states and there is so much about the present government (financial scams of all nature and the dumbness of MMS), this must have been a great opportunity for them to catch the eye of the media for all its positivity.
Anyways let us get back to the match, it was fully charged match with not even a single instance of sledging or facial retaliation, which I thought was quite unexpected during a match between India and Pakistan.  there were many who were found waving Pak flag and carrying Pak stickers on their cheeks.  It was in itself a good display of positive gestures.  I saw one spectator, wearing Indian cricket team like attire (blue) waving Pak flag.  Further another interesting placard which read 'India has two religions - cricket and cinema, then why do we fight.'  It caught my eye and then there were film personalities like Aamir Khan, Prity Zinta etc and the business tycoons like vijay Mallaya, Singhania, sharing their proximity with Prafful Patel and other politicians who are involved in national policy making.  
I was again and again thinking that if at all India looses this match, how media is going to respond, I am sure many of them might have already made up some stories so that they can telecast it just after the match and boast of their first reporting.  But that was not to happen.  AK Singh (my colleague) told me that India is going to win this match by 27 runs and he told this at around 5 pm even when India was playing. What a precision in his kind of astrology I am sure Nostradamus must have had some connection with him or Alwin Toffler must have infused some environmental sociology in him so that he could be so definite. India won by 29 runs. Well done...Dhoni, Raina, Sachin, Nehra, Yuvi, Munaf, and Sehwag... all team members.
Sachin played very well.  He is considered God of cricket.  There have been people who have advocating that he deserves to get Bharat Ratna (highest civilian award given by GOI) award.  I feel it is little early for him, though he deserves it.  He has contributed to cricket through his excelling sporting behaviour and cool temperament. He is not a good leader but he is an excellent team member.  Through he did not play his best innings in this match as 4 times his catches were not caught, but still his contribution took India to a quite competitive start and finish.  He is playing cricket since last 21 years (started at 16 years of age, he is 37) and as I have brown I have followed his career growth which has included some phase of out of form syndrome but overall he has been one of themost consistent and reliable player for his team.
When he started playing, Indian cricket team was sponsored by ITC through its cigarette brand called WILLS.  Indian team use to wear WILLS.  Many players were using WILLS on their bat.  I remember seeing Azaharuddin in FOUR SQUARE bat, but Sachin refused to endorse any tobacco brand and instead chose to sign a contract with Madras Rubber Factory (MRF) and played with that tag until recently when he signed a deal with Adidas and now he carries Adidas on his bat.  His attitude towards tobacco products is a good gesture and tell us about his personality and value system.
The best part of the semi-finals which I liked was the response given by Shahid Afridi (Captain of Pak Team) after he lot the match, at the presentation ceremony in response to Ravi Shastri.  Afridi appreciated indian cricket and said India played better cricket, he apologised to his countrymen that they lost and cold not come upto their expectations.  And he wished good luck to Indian team for playing their best int he finals.
After all we are one, India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka, we belong to one continent and sport is their to bring us and keep us together and not at all to divide us.  Lets take the finals in good spirit and enjoy the game, does not matter Indian wins or Srilanka, Cricket must win and shall win in the finals.  Wishes

Monday, February 07, 2011

Nalbari Nerve

I reached backed to Shillong on 4th night (4.2.11), though I had planned to come on 5th evening after the seminar at Nalbari Commerce College.  The conditions in the hotel as to Food as well as other things somehow made me think that it might be little difficult to stay one more night here until it is really required. I spoke to the organizers and they readily arranged a Taxi for me to reach Guwahati. It was a great travel of around 70 kms from Nalbari to Guwahati and the best part of this was the learning from Dr Basanta Kumar Dev Goswami who is the president of the governing council of the Nalbari Commerce College and former principal. He is a renowned Sanskrit scholar though he wanted to study Mathematics.

As I see lot of banners of BABA RAMDEV on the way, and all in Assamese I inquire from him - what does it mean? He tells me, Baba Ramdev is coming to this place on 13th Feb and it is Nihhulka. I somehow only get that he is coming on 13, I again inquire what is this Nihhulka. He tells me in English... Free... Oh I got it now: S is H in Assamese so Nishulka becomes Nihhulka which just reminds me of my Assamese friends and conversations with them. Then the conversations started up and we started talking on different issues. I was keen on knowing more about this district of NALBARI, more so since it has been in news for all wrong reasons and at times people from other places think twice before visitng this place. It is Bodo dominated area, Barpeta on one side, Kamrup on the other side, and Rangia (which is 54 kms from Samdrup Jhonkhar which is an adjoining district in Bhutan) on another side. I found people of Nalbari very kind, accomodating, traditional, religious minded and simple. Dr Goswami has spent many years here at Nalbari so who could be a better person than him to tell me more about this place.

Nalbari is known far and wide for its strength to spread the knowledge of Sanskrit all over the places. There is Sanskrit school and college here and a central university of Sanskrit is proposed, which is going to be inaugurated within this month or so. The people have donated 122 bigahs of land for this cause. All over Assam and other places as well man Sanskrit teachers are from Nalbari. MahaMahopadhyay Dhireswar Acharya, who is also known as next to Kalidas, was a great scholar of sanskrit and he hailed from Nalbari, donated all his wealth for the cause of sanskrit education and hence Nalbari became the land of Sanskrit.

Then he tells me little about his family, he says that after his retirement from the services in 2005, he has moved to Guwahati where his children are reading. I again tend to think what is this... reading or studying... then give the benefit of doubt of not knowing the usage of correct words of english.. to him. However I have always been thinking that here in this part of the world most of the students are found to be reading and not studying. Anyways jokes apart there are some great scholars from this part of the world and they have believed in strong values and developed huge literature for the benefit of scholars. I am told by him about four sources of values and traditions: Oral tradition, Manuscripts/Written tradition, Art and Dance and Pictorial tradition and he seems to have done his research related to these areas. At present he is working on monucriptology. I have never heard of this term. At present there is a Mission for manuscript which works under the department of Culture, Government of India. 

I would like to thank the principal of the college who provided this opportunity to me to learn about many things which I would never have learnt about the place, people and practices as told to me by Dr Goswami. Thanx Dr Goswami, it gives a great feeling when I learn from you that at your age you keep yourself busy and pursue somethings which many of us are unware of...Manuscriptology. You have made a manuscriptological influence on me. I shall cherish this travel for long.

Bareilly Blues

My stay in Bareilly has been short this time, unlike earlier years, this time I stayed here just for 10 days or so and that too at a time when the cold wave kept me almost inhouse.  Every time we visit Bareilly we witness change, change in its physical as well as behavioural context.  
I posted on my wall: It looked quite different than before... more rush, no traffic rules, shabby roads, arrogant attitude, corruption everywhere, Cold Weather-Hot Behaviour, Personalised Hoardings of Opportunist Politicians.  I was just thinking UP has gone worst than Bihar.  The replies of friends from all over the places made me believe that it is really a fact and though these are things which concern us, we still keep our roots and respect them.  
Yesterday when I got back to home I was just thinking on the amount which must have been spent on putting the hoardings of the Birthday celebration of Mayawati, the chief Minister of UP.  On almost every available space there were posters, banners, huge size hoardings on the grand celebration of her birthday on 15th of this month.  It comes every year, it goes every year and in a country where more than one third still does not get enough to eat, in a state where around half of the population does not get a square meal, people, we can afford to spend so much of money on just putting these banners etc forget about the amount of gifts, donations, gratifications etc that floods around the state.  Bareilly is just a small city of this state of around 85 districts and I have strong reasons to believe that this must be the case in almost every city of this state.  Bareilly which does not have BSP MP, yes MLAs are there, can boast of such an stupid act of flattery seeking favors.  
Where are we heading?

(Jan 13, 2011, Lucknow)

Friday, January 07, 2011 : Infosys honours six eminent Indian researchers

A great initiative by Infosys in recognizing indian researchers. It shall surely boost the morale of other researchers and such a recognition shall go a long way to encourage others to get into research areas as well as to develop something which can make a difference in the lives of many of us. A great CSR initiative. : Infosys honours six eminent Indian researchers