जानता हैं मेरा बाप कौन हैं?


This blog is going to be as small as a tweet and I will try my best to stretch it. In fact I already did by these two sentences. Now it had been strenuous week so far, and tremendous achievement, I maintain, that the Lokpal bill is out there, to be made into an act this monsoon session. As a result, and I am very proud of it, the citizen empowerment is ensured and the common man will become mighty !

With all these on my mind, and my Business Statistics class assignments that I am yet to finish, I hit the bed, tired. To my best of knowledge, I was asleep immediately. However, what I clearly remember this. I was driving on the street and a policeman stops me, asks for my license, registration, PUC, insurance and everything he could think of. Still contemplating what did he stop me for, but did not proceed with that thought chain.

I got out of my car, I looked into his eyes, with anger, ego and how-dare-you-stop-me attitude, I asked him, “जानता हैं मेरा बाप कौन हैं?” (read: do you know who my father is ? – a common phrase used in India to threaten anyone, when one’s father is a powerful man)

With slight fear in his eyes, but trying to maintain his position, asked me back in the same rude tone, “कौन हैं बे ?” (read: who is it ?)

Now this a winner. I said, “Common man”, “आम आदमी”.

Case closed.

Anna’s Satyagrah


 

It was disappointing to learn that some of the intellectuals of the nation called the attempt of Anna Hazare’s satyagrah erroneous and a blackmail. Perceptions can be funny I always thought, but could it have been painful, I never thought. Let us look at it with an unbiased view and qualitatively judge if the actions of the citizens last week were justified.

A system where, for 62 years, a substantial population lives below poverty line and the ambitious 5 year plans by various governments conveniently fail or fail to achieve its intentions to the fullest. Yet the citizens are expected to be patient in the name of democracy and law.

A system where, only in 2010 4 major scams come out to public and government denies it flatly and bows down only when the probe is deep enough to prove or there is a strong pressure from stakeholders including media. The question is where is accountability, where is integrity, for merely to save the face, the government denies it.

A system where,  public healthcare is dire straits, public education system is namesake and food distribution system is going to dogs and the common man is yet to achieve his powers for the votes are being bought for cash.

A system, where the leadership exploits the caste differentiation and generates vote banks to achieve its short term goals ignoring the growth and development, without a doubt is questionable.

When the governance fails, and leaders looks away from their duty, when the judicial system is questionable and the control systems in the nation are weak to not answer to the nation, when the head of the nation is mum over the problems of the citizens, the common man has to stand up. Such a system is unsustainable and will only lead to failed state of the nation.

A question of blackmail in the name of democracy is definitely a joke, for it is the democracy that is abused so much that parties like ShivSena and MNS are still allowed to be a part of government. It is a joke when the some events are termed to be the right of a citizen because of democracy yet, events like these, where Anna Hazare’s citizen movement when termed undemocratic, are questioned.

It is important to understand, that citizens have right to bring about a change in the governance when things go beyond threshold. It is unarguable that no one is bigger than the constitution, but it is also important to know that a nation and her citizens, collectively are bigger than any one else and unless the common man is not put above everything else, the country will be termed as a failed state.

Lokpal and after


It was Day 4 and the old man Hazare was still going strong as I began to write this piece. Embarrassed by the fact that what the youth should be doing, the old man had to do. I have no excuse for not playing my part completely. Nevertheless, I have always expressed my concerns about the psyche of the youth in contemporary India. Even with the anti-corruption fever sweeping the nation, I am disappointed to see Lakme Fashion Week getting media coverage. I do not blame media, for the root cause is not media, it is the viewership ; TRP.

However, it is not because I wish to crib about the nature of society today, that I have chosen to write. It is because, I intend to provide an approach what should the next step be. I have not a doubt that the Jan Lokpal bill will become a law for the UPA government is at the back foot and has no option but to agree to the demands of the citizens. How much ever the ministers argue about the provisions in the constitution or its power, no government can survive the wrath of the citizen empowerment. It was RTI first, then an unsuccessfully unorganized attempt of students against reservations and now Jan Lokpal bill, the government has always felt the heat of the outburst.

I happened to go through the Government suggested Lokpal bill as well as what Anna Hazare and the core team suggested. Coming back to the systematic approach citizens must employ in order to complement the Lokpal bill.

The Lokpal bill, if passes in the monsoon session, will have a lot of power to enforce transparency and fair transactions between not only civil society and public servants but also between corporations and the ministry. All said and done, the Lokpal will do his job, but, would it be effective on its own ? My judgment is no. In fact, not a governing body can ever be effective to its fullest potential unless the citizens are a part of its function. It can only be effective, if we play our part.

Now, that the government has accepted the demands, making an unquestionable victory for the flags of the citizen’s army, the real task begins now. In my opinion it is just a battle won, the war is still on. A lot of claims and appeals have been made to citizens by numerous others to “support” and “fast” and “come together”, however, none say, how, in an organized manner. This is an attempt to put forth an organized approach to support the Lokpal in true sense.

The following are the few cases considered and approaches one should employ to overcome the situations:

Case 1: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for any official purpose and is asked for a bribe or is presumed that a bribe has to be paid to get the work done.

Approach: Deny to pay any amount. To be firm and stand by the principle of being absolutely incorrupt is the greatest support you can give to the Lokpal. Having done this, next step is to blow the whistle. The Lokpal has a strong clause for whistle blower which really interests me. Note the name and the department of the public servant and write the letter to the Lokpal ( Vigilance department or Anti Corruption Bureau). It will not be a surprise that the same public servant will act similarly with any other citizen who will deal with him for any official purpose. This will lead to multiple complaints against the same man. The Lokpal will be forced to act against the public servant.

Case 2: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for breaking any law and asked for a bribe to get out of it.

Approach: This is a real test. It is important for every citizen to ensure that they do not break any law. In case one fails to abide by the laws, the penalty must be paid. The role of whistle blower is very important here. Any citizen who notices such an event where someone fails to abide by the laws and any public servant accepts bribe to let the person, who brakes the law, get away should notify the Lokpal. The use of RTI can be very important here. Thanks to Anna Hazare, the RTI is a very powerful tool and can be used to identify the loop holes in governance.

Case 3: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for any official purpose because there is a medical emergency/death.

Approach: In this case, the citizens has to take a call. If possible avoid indulging in any corrupt activities. It is evident that Lokpal does not “yet” have any provision for any emergency solution to this issue, but in my opinion this Lokpal bill is merely a start and we have a long way to go. Having said this, I believe these events like medical emergency should be considered as an outliers for most the situations will be covered in Case 1 and Case 2.

Case 4: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant who is a higher official in the government who encourages one to indulge into corrupt activities.

Approach: Yet again, still by to your principles. It is important that one do not indulge into corrupt activities for it is a loss to the country. All these years, I have noticed that Indians are  most patriotic when cricket is involved. I am a management student and even while I write, I can come up with so many ways, legal ways, to earn money. I am sure being astute business class that India has, everyone can come up with many such ways. However, if the public servant is a hindrance, a strong step should be taken. The media will have a important role to play here. In these cases, one can safely say that there shouldn’t be any emergency and project should be delayed. The Lokpal too will have a very important role to play too. The bill says the probe will give its report in 6 months. It should be a wise step to delay the project for 6 months.

Case 5: In an event the corporation has an encounter with the ministers who encourages the corporation to indulge into corrupt activities.

Approach: It is a brave attempt to write about this section of corruption. The role of whistle blower and the whistle blower protection clause which Lokpal is inclined to readdress should be an important aspect. Including WikiLeaks should be a far-sighted vision too. With the media prying for the news, it would be unwise to think they would be interested in the matter. Once out in public, the Lokpal will be forced to take an plunge into the event. This can be exemplary. The role of Lokpal will be justified completely.

Case 6: In an event the ministers indulge in cash-for-votes or gifts-for-votes.

Approach: India is still a country with 22% of its population below poverty line and it is evident that the ministers employ dirty tricks to win elections owing to the mentioned figure. In such cases, the best way is to a) Accept the cash. b) Vote for the leader you wish is a “better” choice. c) The whole village should write individual letters to EC and CVC. Such mass complaints will, without a doubt, lead to expulsion of the minister from the election in the area. It will also taint the party and ensure clean minister next time.

Even as I write, I feel disturbed that the corruption has rotten the state of affairs in India to an extent that we have begun to question even some of the greatest of events in the country. A great nation, with a past with super-human achievements has now become a manifestation of rottenness. Nevertheless, the things are changing. The bubble has burst. With growing support to the old man Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption wave has swept the country. But it is not enough, for if you seek to see your nation clean, come out and make dirty your hands.

I also believe there are come clean politicians in the government and have great visionary ideas for the nation, but the light bearers of anti democracy do not allow them to work towards their goal. I have no doubts that the power of citizens should not be undermined for what happened in during Gandhi, Bose, Singh and Azad, can be repeated very easily. It is important that the government too does not take the common man (and woman) lightly for the masses are now moving from being uneducated to highly qualified individuals.

Be vigilant, Be brave, Stop Corruption. Love your country, beyond cricket.

Note: The approaches suggested may have flaws or may be  are not fool proof but are ethically viable approaches. I am open to discussions, debates and questions. This article does not mean I am anti-government or am rebellious, but prefer a clean governance.

I am confident that the Lokpal will bring a remarkable difference in the governance of the nation and citizens will get a chance to live under a clean system.

GET THE DAMN CUP HOME


Dear God,

I know your tricks now. I know you were waiting to get a ton at Mumbai. But that does not disappoint us. We understand. It has been so far a wonder to watch you around. In fact, at Mohali, you kept us on the edge. Especially when you moved to UDRS after that mortal’s judgment. Forgive him oh Lord, for he knows not his sins, for the mere mortal he is. Dear God, you know it never ceases to amaze me, how many man of the match awards you are going to gather in your kitty.

It has been more than 20 years. I know your time has come for one who comes into this world must go sometime. I may be sad, I have a tear or two, for the passionate times you have given us mortals, may not be re-lived ever again.

It will never be same without, but we sure will learn to move on. It cannot be helped. You see in India, we are too religious and undoubtedly, too political. We had our Dr. Manmohan –Weak—Singh, Madamji and Baba out there having a ball, while so many did not get tickets purely because they couldn’t pay 15000 or even more. Do you have any plans to come back for second innings to play politics ? Its a lucrative sport, I am sure you’d enjoy it.

Nevertheless, I am sincerely looking forward to Saturday. You have done it before, millenniums ago, and even this time I am sure you will slay the demon. However, the only difference is, they have come on our land and Lanka is no more made out of gold. Though I have my grievances that you did not ensure proper treatment today to guests across border, because we scored way too less runs and let them do way too may, but it with the faith we had in you, with those words “God is on our side, he opens for us” helped us past all the tough times so far in the world cup and reach the closure, the Finale against the Lankans.

By the by, I’d should have some nerves to ask you one wish. In fact two. Come Saturday, score a ton or two, and GET THE DAMN CUP HOME !

With love,

Shrikant Shelat

p.s. Thank you for keeping everyone in and around safe. Thank you for not having to use Missiles.

Gandhi’s Talisman


I am most distracted to do the last task on my priority list when the top most one is under Red-light-flashing, critical state. However, my urge to write over-powers my need to getting back to books for the Mid-Term due in seven hours.

Though, committed to do exceptionally well in the test later today, I have a quick few words to share. Words that I tumbled upon yet again:

One of the last notes left behind by Gandhi in 1948, expressing his deepest social thought:

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”

Source: Gandhi’s Talisman

Patriotism, who ?


Patriotism, who ? Déjà Vu I feel when I hear the word, Patriotism. May be it is just limited to cricket, now that World Cup’11 is just round the corner. I heard a friend saying, "We’ve already got independence, what Patriotism now ?". Funny, it never occurred to me for I’ve never been associating patriotism with Independence. Long gone, old timer, Independence.

I do not live in India, and its been a while. Though I question myself should I have a right to speak of patriotism. I also question myself for being hypocritical. I plead not-guilty for I do not think my patriotism is limited to cricket, for I stand up in the name of my country, not only when some other national tries to demean India, but also, when an Indian demeans India, and all the more, when my fellow country men is ok with the rejects the need for being patriotic anymore because we’ve already achieved Independence more than 60 years ago.

Arts, Literature, Books and now Films have defined the psyche of the society for years. Contemporary arts, literatures and films today limits itself to relationships. Though I laud the interpersonal, human/non-human relationship, the creativity limited to this area is disheartening. It also has a directly relation to the psyche of the society. The era when people enjoy Big(g) Boss, and K-series, of the very (im)famous Balaji Telefilms, makes me, but, sad.

I have been talking to a lot of teenagers for last few years. I did not meet anyone who knows Dr. JP Narayan, MLA Lok Satta Party. I believe not many adults know him either or are aware of his vision of politics. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d know Shahrukh Khan’s birthday. With all due respects to the Khan, this is a metaphor which depicts, with whom society today is able to relate.

It is shameful that today, we are proud of evading paying fine by paying a policeman 50 Rs. Even UN recognizes that in order to do business in India, one HAS to pay a bribe. May be corruption has become our culture and at this pace, it will be legalized for India is independent and patriotism exists only in books and during cricket matches.

Sadly but true, we gave a chance to  P. Sainath, rural affairs correspondent for a leading News Paper in India, to speak, who says we have glamour correspondents, film and entertainment correspondents and sports correspondents but whilst more than 65% of population still living in Rural India, we do not have Rural Correspondents in Indian media. I attribute it to lack of interest in today’s society, and thus Rural news do not “sell”. After all its all about TRP. I wouldn’t blame media for meaning pure business. We are at fault too. We lack patriotism. Patriotism, who ?

Dhobi Ghaat


This one really got a piece of my attention, may be a lot more than a mere piece. I thus owe it a review. It has been a while, I have written a word or two, but Dhobi Ghaat does not need words. Artist’s delight – the movie mostly shot in the some of the most interesting parts on Bombay. A lot many may not agree but Mahalaxmi, a western suberb in Bombay where world’s largest outdoor, manual laundry is, amongst the most scenic areas in Bombay.

I do not wish to give a review about the story, lives of four people, cross each others and their experiences with the other, which in itself is no story at all if a film is seen with mere comercial interest and value. Something that I wish to point is this, art and its inference while the whims of someone, who calls himself a loner, a divorced middle aged painter, who enjoys Jack Daniels. His director wife, Kiran captured a wonder when she shot Arun (played by Aamir Khan) with a glass of whiskey trying to dilute it with rain.

I’ve known few Pratik(s) who spell their names in two different ways, then I came across the third kind, Prateik. Just as interesting the way he Hindi Film industry actors introduce alphabets in their and their films’ names, killing the phonetics of the language, Prateik Babbar’s most interest part in the movie was his portfolio shoot. A laundry guy from upstate Bihar, no more a backward state of India, is an aspiring actor. However, high his aspirations may be, his poses during the portfolio shoot, did depict a style of common man of lower economic strata. In other words, shabby, but apt for the charecter.

Of the four main actors in the movie, the most catching was the video letters to her brother, by a sister who is newly wed and has moved to Bombay. A simple non-conservative muslim girl from a village is hardly an actor, except for her cameos shot for her brother as letters which leads to Bombay excursions and in turn moves towards being a tragic end after finding that her husband has an affair. Though the movie fails to explain, after finding the video letters in his new apartment, Arun tries to comprehend something. However, a very thought of finding such video letters of an unknown lady for her brother, and trying to imagine someone’s life is very interesting.

The connecting link between the two “real” actors in the movie is an investment banker who is on a Sabbatical, commonly known as super-long-sometimes-half-paid-vacation. She loves photography, Arun loves painting, Munna loves to act. There seems nothing too interesting about her role, except she is really cute. Monica Dogra who is (I just googled..) also a singer, is keen on capturing interesting Bombay in her Canon EOS.

You do not need an award to such movies. A 100 mins movie with hardly any budget, in house production and seemingly shot with a semi professional camera and no songs deserves attention. I do not recommend the movie to anyone who seeks cliche comercial cinema, complete no-no for him, but for someone who seeks movies with technical class and complicated inferential genre, its a must watch.