INDIA AND PAKISTAN

‘Neighbours, but still tension prevails more than peace; same physiological conditions , still hatred prevails more than love’ - This has been the tale of India - Pakistan relations so far. Each time a new government is crowned in India and each time the power shifts between politicians and the military in Pakistan, the whole globe awaits the decisions of each of these countries about the relations between each other. It is worth mentioning that from Vajpayee to Dr. Singh, nothing of some value has turned up from the High Level talks. All these talks have been more of a custom than any sincere initiative to calm down the region and thereby provide a threshold to progress.

The most evident aspect of the attitude of these nations to each other is the frequency of cricket matches between these countries. In both these nations, cricket is a religion of the majority or even more. Avoiding cricket matches between themselves is a strong move to make the hatred known. It is India, who appears to be more interested in this kind of a move. It is interesting that India has neither hosted nor visited Pakistan after the 2008 incidents except once, which was more a way to restore its pride after a continuum of losses than a move to encourage cooperation. After a long time it was announced a few weeks back that bilateral series between India and Pakistan would be restored next calendar year, the latest happenings brings back a question mark to the statement.

Now, the ascend of Narendra Modi as the Indian  Prime Minister, was believed to trigger more tensions in the border. But,  nothing has gone hot yet! Instead, it was seen that he started meetings and peace talks from the scratch. When things were expected to be as usual, he stepped back from the meetings after the Pakistan High Commissioner met the separatists in Kashmir. Though it was routine, as Pakistan claims, Modi seems to be upset with it and wants it changed. This is the trouble in assessing this relationship- one can  never guess what it would be like the next moment! When everything seems  to be on track , something comes up. From Mumbai terror attack to the latest Pakistan High Commissioner’s meeting with the separatists in Kashmir, all these factors have spoiled it. Peace seems to  hate this part of the world altogether

We have for sure fallen hands down to the trap set by the British to prevent the growth and development of the region. The policy of Divide and Rule was a great success, right from the case of Bengal to that of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The way they split India into a Hindu nation and a Muslim nation did the trick and India is still developing. No other nation in the world would have matched India’s wealth and now we still striving to be one of the ‘Riches’. We need to break the stereotypes and rise.

Whatever be, the common man continues to believe that sooner or later a positive decision would be made. For Indians, it is that his children would have the right to draw an Indian map with Her head held high and for Pakistanis that terror and blame game on Kashmir would end, irrespective of whether Kashmir is India’s or Pakistan’s. But, still, a solution seems to be very far.

 

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Black and White

black_and_white_hands

At seven, I used to see
In war, there was the good
And there was the enemy
Black and white would never mix
Every problem had a fix

Now, the world’s grey
The good have gone astray
Everyone just wants their way
War is inevitable they say
Deaths become mere stats
Both lands flooded with tears
Beyond the madness lasts

At seven, quarrels ended with play
Why can’t arguments remain the same?
Not turn into a war game

To turn earth into heaven
Everyone must be seven
When black and white would never mix
And every problem had a fix.

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THE BROKEN HALF OF THE SKY

“Today at work”, she says, “My boss went berserk”
Has all the luxuries of the world,
Except if you see closely,  she has no one.

Beautiful and intelligent she is for sure, but
Rumors tell me she was never chosen
Oh! That’s what happen when you,
Keep postponing it, till it is too late
Everyone has moved ahead fast
Now, no one wants to marry an old hag.

Happily, she walks away,
After a few days, she sits down with me again
“Last night”, she says, “He worked till the clock struck twelve”
Fallen into the cycle of work, she says.

Of course, he isn’t married that’s why
Followed the path his heart desired.

This view of her amazes me and I ask
He isn’t married? Isn’t that his fault?
Empty and lonely, I remember you had said last.

She waves her hand and says, “Oh! Don’t be foolish”
Keen on his career he worked on,
You can’t blame a man for a choice well thought of!

 

This was my attempt at acrose poetry. In this form of poetry,  the first letter, syllable or word of each line spells out a word or a message. In my poem, it spells out the title ‘The Broken Half of the Sky’.

This poem was quite a bit of a challenge, because I first had to think of the appropriate line and still make sure that the poem had a continuity to it.

Hope you enjoyed my amateurish attempt!

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RELIGION, CASTE AND POLITICS

After the huge success of the biggest democratic process in the world, India is getting ready to install her latest government. Even Mr. Obama congratulated India for completing the election in a competent manner. But, after it has all resided it is now the time to evaluate ourselves and create the report card of the behaviour of our leaders during the election campaigning. To be very frank, we need to realise that a majority of the candidates were very much below the standards.

If not with the ‘To Be’ Prime Minister candidate, then with whom shall we start? In Varanasi, the techniques he employed went very far from the nation’s habitual standards. We are a Hindu majority nation, but we have always shown the quality to accept different religions and consider them all equal. That is why we could accept the arrival of Mughals and empowering us. We did not worry a lot on foreigners bringing in religions like Judaism, Christianity, etc. with them and establishing their places of worship on our soil. We rooted the formation and growth of religions like Buddhism and Jainism and never obstructed its growth. But all of a sudden the Prime Ministerial candidate in his campaigning requests for votes under the label of being a hindu and because he is from a lower caste. It is really true that with people of Varanasi, campaigning with international issues might not yield the same results it would with people elsewhere. Whatever be, there should be some limitation on the use of religion and caste to gather votes.

This is not the case with our destined PM alone. This has been a common scenario all around the nation. In almost all the constituencies candidates use caste and religion as a tool which often seems to be pitiful. Some constituencies in the country have been earmarked as the fortress of particular castes, where a candidate from some other religion would fail for sure. Even the political parties pay immense care while deploying some candidate in these constituencies. This helps to fulfill the theory the framers of our constitution had in mind while drafting it. It ensures participation of all sects of the society. But doesn’t it carry some negative influence regarding the message we deliver to the generation next about our culture.

Its high time we think about it. It is not a college student from some end of the country who should think and jot down about it. But, it is the so called policy makers who need to frame a policy for themselves about the way they would behave in public. And there is something that all these politicians should realise- that there is a growing generation watching them. But they are not as traditional as the previous generations were. Current youth are ready to air their voice when needed!  

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MANMOHAN SINGH: A CHAINED EAGLE

The 2004 elections saw the sudden rise of an economist into the top most slot of the Indian Government, below the President of India- Dr. Manmohan singh. There is even a tale behind the evolution of Dr. Singh into the Prime Ministerial post. It is said that the Chairperson of UPA,  Sonia Gandhi, phoned him over while Dr. Singh was in a plane journey and asked him if he could lead the UPA government. This tale may or may not be true, but it states that Dr. Singh was not thought of as the PM candidate before the elections. Whatever be, that particular choice of Sonia Gandhi had a lot of significance as much as the nation is considered.

If not for the leadership of Dr. Singh, India would have seen the biggest of the falls during the economic recession of the first decade of this century that reached its peak in 2008. But, even when  US fell steeply, the whole world saw India standing tall and nice. All the important decisions taken by the UPA ministry ensured that India overcome the recession safely. It was nothing but the decisions of Dr. Singh, the seasoned economist, that controlled the impact of the phenomenon on the nation. And, all the more important, when India tackled the recession quite comfortably, it reduced the intensity of the recession. And this helped the cause of recovery even for US, the strongest economy in the world.

From just a growing economy, India was titled to be the third biggest economy in the world, a few days before Dr. Singh handed over his resignation letter to The President. This is not a small achievement, given that no other Prime Minister could make India achieve prosperity as much as Dr. Singh could. It is important to note that Dr. Singh achieved this when the whole world blames the nation for immense growth of population without ensuring the availability of enough resources to sustain this population.

But, it is also a fact that the PM was nothing more than a puppet during his second term at the helm. With corruption charges on Raja, Kanimozhi, SP Tyagi, Suresh Kalmadi,  VK Singh and so on disrupted the harmony that Dr. Singh had developed during his first term. Even though Dr. Singh is accepted all around as a real pandit, he had little say in all these as a negative response could have forced his resignation. Heading a coalition, he sure had to ensure that he did not respond strictly to all these and maintained silence in public. With very little public address during the second term, he was painting his own image as a puppet.

DR. Singh, who realised that 2014 elections would either result in a huge majority for the NDA or a coalition again, took the best possible decision to declare that he would step down whatever the results of the election may be. He did not want to become a puppet again. This reveals the pressure he had borne the past few years. He could not resign, as he had to uphold the confidence of Smt. Gandhi. He could not allow corruption to go on either because he would then be treated as a PM voted out by the parliament. The only choice he had was to keep silent until his term came to an end, which is exactly what he did.

One thing is for sure, India never had the luck to use Dr. Singh to his full potential, which would have simply made India the strongest and the recession resistant economy in the world. Not realising the potential of this man, which was of course painted black by the opposition, the Indian population voted him out of power and brought in Narendra Modi. The ability of Narendra Modi at the helm can be only rated as time passes by. But, Dr. Singh proved what he is capable of, even within all the limitations he had.

And for one last line, Dr. Sing deserved more applause and laurel and so far, there has been no other man who could outrun him at the Prime Minister’s Office.  Continue reading

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AFTER THE HEAT…..

Thinking about the past few weeks makes me proud and sad at the same time. It makes me proud in the sense that my nation, the biggest ever democracy in the world, India, has successfully completed the biggest ever election in the history of the planet. It makes me sad, disappointed and desperate that my nation, including all the small children part of our huge population, witnessed our politicians abusing each other on the basis of party and profession and most importantly caste and religion.

I am really glad that my nation is going to be steered forward by a government with ruling majority on its own. After 15 long years, my nation is at last ready to shrug away coalition governments. Now, the Prime Minister need not be a puppet. We all saw how a real genius, Dr. Manmohan Singh, was spoiled away by a coalition government. In fact, he was a human who would have been remembered by the world as one of the best ruler the globe ever saw. But he was relegated to just a puppet by the UPA. Now, Mr. Narendra Modi has the freedom to take over the nation as a ruler who needs to consider nothing but ‘DHARMA’.

But, this all the more puts heavy responsibility on his shoulders that the nation would not forgive him, if his government were to consider some mistake. It is now the time for the man, who claims to be a tea vendor, to prove that he will always be there for the common man. Ii is now that Modi should prove that his developments in Gujarat was not something that went with the tide of movements in Gujarat, but his  initiative that has now borne fruits.

Also, Modi has to prove that his secular attitude, which he had spoken off during his campaigning, remains so till the end of his term. He needs to ensure that he rejects recommendations that would stir religious riots in the nation, even if it arises from the RSS. But, with the spirited support of BJP and RSS, let us be sure of something that the intervening of foreign powers in the nation’s steering would rapidly decrease and the level of tolerance towards Pakistan would fall steeply.

All his proposals about the bullet train services linking all the important parts of the nation, Sustained growth in the value of Rupee, development of enough opportunities for the young and empowering women needs to be taken proper care of as the public has paid a lot of trust on the BJP and that is the strongest of the reasons for electing BJ into power.

All the aspiring youth of the nation can now dream of a secured future because the nation has now landed in the hands of a strong government. We can now hope that our dreams become fulfilled. We can now believe that India becomes the last ranked among the nations bathed in corruption and the same time becomes top ranked among the developed nations. Sweet and short, the next five years count a lot in our future.

 

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The rush to the Golden throne

The clash of the titans.

It is that time of the year when there are no quiet evenings of television watching. Switch to a news channel and the chaotic debates are sure to put you off. It is a miracle how the panelists hear each other in such a cacophony of retorts and punch lines. Turn on the radio to listen to music while you drive and you will be greeted with innumerable ads of political parties asking for your vote. The popularity of the social media among the public has meant that Twitter and Facebook are overflowing with posts of political affiliations.

It’s that time of the year when the nation is literally boiling. There are two reasons for it : One, being the unrelenting summer and second, the elections. The election heat has made more headlines and impacted living room discussions on an unprecedented level.

It has been reported and opined that the general elections of 2014 are going to be the most fiercely fought elections. Going by the volatile tempers in political circles, it seems a plausible opinion. The verbal war of words has already reached a crescendo but promises to rise much higher.

In his new show, Last Week Tonight, John Oliver compared the general elections to the US elections and hilariously depicted it as a battle between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, much like the US elections where the Democrats and Republicans fight it out.

But as Mr.Oliver said, is it the battle between only the two heavy weights of Indian politics? As it turns out, it isn’t. In all fairness to electronic and print media, which has sung the same tune as Mr.Oliver, there are a lot more influential factors that will decide the outcome of the elections. Not just two immensely powerful men.

To put things into perspective, ruling governments at the Center have been alliances rather than single party ruled governments. Perhaps the leniency offered by the democratic system is as such that coalition governments and hung assemblies are the only way forward. Everybody knows the National Democratic Alliance and the incumbent United Progressive Alliance. What people seem to forget is that there is a Third Front, an alliance of 11 political parties, who aspire to trounce the two mainstream alliances.

Regional parties in India have played a significant part in deciding the outcome of the general elections in the past and will continue to do so. In the past leaders such as M.G. Ramachandran and N.T.Rama Rao played a stellar role in affecting the fabric of the governments at the center. Now that the Third Front has some powerful people like Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik, Jayalalithaa, H.D.Gowda and Mulayam Singh Yadav it is quite interesting to see how it fares when it matters. Although the two mainstream parties, the BJP and INC have declined to support any third front, it remains a worrying factor for them.

Coming to the two main players, Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, the battle has taken some very ugly turns and things are steadily getting out of control. The EC doesn’t seem to care much, even if it did, the verbal volley of attacks seem too diverse and countless to be brought down. The battle is being touted as the one between that of “secular principles” and “development”.

One party accuses the other one of spreading “hatred among communities with non-secular principles” while the latter shoots back, saying the current ruling government stands for “corruption” and “de-growth”. The battle lines have been drawn, jibes exchanged, vociferous campaigns done and presumably back channel talks will surely be very much in progress. Between all the flaring tempers and maligning campaigns, the joy and innocence of an amicable and fair election seems to have been momentarily lost.

There is an excellent quote by an anonymous thinker which sums up the current scenario. It goes like this:

“During the campaign the air is full of speeches - and vice versa.”

Whether the UPA or NDA or Third front comes to power, the world’s largest democratic country deserves a government that provides stability and leads it towards “that” elusive GDP growth. The ‘Golden’ throne eagerly awaits its worthy occupant.

On 16th May 2014, the 16th government of India will be elected and history will be rewritten. Let’s hope the people of this nation get the government they deserve.

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The Bag and the Bin

I see him. Everyday at the bus stop. I catch the bus for college everyday from that place. It is a mad rush every morning. People always on the go. Someplace to be. Something to do. They pass by him without sparing a glance. It is as if he is nothing more than the broken billboards, just a part of the sights of urban life. He is usually curled up beside the dustbin.  The Delhi heat has burnt his bare feet into blisters until you only see them and nothing else. His clothes barely cover his body and his disheveled hair conceals his face. He is no one.

Usually, he carries a shaggy ol’ bag wherever he goes. I am always left wondering what is inside. But, I do not dare talk to him. He reeks of smells unknown. He belongs to the other side. The side which has no identity. He has a blank look on his face, like he’s looking into something far beyond anyone’s comprehension. Some days, he smiles but to no one in particular, just to the infinite sky, like he is the only one who understood the joke. There are times, when he catches me looking at him. I turn away whenever he does. I have been taught not to trust him. I have learnt to look away.

Today morning, I went to the bus stop again. The place I catch the bus from everyday. But, I do not see him. His ol’ bag is by the dustbin, as if carefully left for safekeeping . The buses and the people move like they do everyday. But, he is not there anymore.

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DREAMS COME FREE OF COST…

The rate of heart beat of every Indian youth would be high right now.  All the hopes are not lost.  There is a pond still visible, though far away.  Might be the general elections of 2014 will make our dreams come true.  Might be this election would end the reign of corruption.  Dreams come free of cost!

Yes, like every human being, we, the young men and women of India do dream.  We dream of India, we dream of the poor and the disabled; we dream of a better life in a far better society.  We dream of an India, where women are given due respect.  We dream of an India, where love and care stands above money.  We dream of an India, where parties stop criticizing each other and start serving the society.  Of course, dreams come free of cost!

It is not a Manmohan Singh or a Narendra Modi, who wins or loses an election.  It is the poor, the so-called ‘below average Indian’, who loses or gains in the general elections.  But, for many a year, there has not been anything to cheer about.  A government of coalition nature is like a wrestler, who has not seen food in weeks. It has no strength, nor has it any courage.  It has to first sought out issues within itself and then with the opposition and finally with the media.  This means five year cost.  Might be the forthcoming elections would end this usual sequence of events. Dreams come free of cost!

 

Whether BJP or Congress or even other minions doesn’t matter, there haven’t been many happenings.  As usual, thousands and thousands of projects are thought of by each ministry and a few hundreds of them come out of paper, from among which, only a very small proportion gets completed.  By then the next party would come in power and cancel away all these and start the cycle from the scratch.  At least, this year, there would be a change to this scenario.  Yes, dreams come free of cost!

 

Whether it is waste disposal, energy production, ration distribution, subsidy giving, water and fuel distribution, or price hike, luckily, our government is silent.  They are so patient that they do not go for immediate steps at all!  The death of a few hundred from the 121 crores does not matter, after all!  This should be the reason why infants of Muzzafirnagar are still shivering without blankets!  Or, are we keeping mum so that the market forces can gain something from all these issues and then react?  Might be, all these activities of our ‘intelligent’ politicians would yield better results than we believe.  After all, dreams come free of cost!

 

Our country, now, has a special method of dealing with international issues.  When Pakistani soldiers trespass the Radcliff line and chop off the heads of our soldiers, our politicians tell them, like kings used to, in the ancient times, “We will no longer play cricket with you”!  When the Chinese penetrated into our land and added parts of our nation to the official map of China, we dealt with the issue in professional manner-we hold high level diplomatic talks.  The turnaround of these meetings, as usual, is not communicated to the ‘Aam aadmi’.  Possibly, not playing cricket would end Pakistan’s hatred towards India! Why not, dreams come free of cost!

 

Analyzing the situation in the country, the word ‘corruption’ should be taken out of the dictionary. “I do this for you, you give me a reward and the government gives me my legal tender for having passed the public exam”, is the trend of the day.  And, now, it is no more a rare activity of crime.  As it seems, even the top most positions of the administrative tree seems to be submissive to this idea.  It has started to appear as if collecting money as reward, not as a bribe, from the people for their service, has become the right of every government servant.  Might be just like hiking the salary of MPs from Rs 16,000 to Rs 50,000 in the past years to generate interest in our elected members to do their own duties, corruption should be made legal so that the government servants would discharge their duties in a better way!  This would all be for good, let’s hope, as the Gita says.  Dreams come free of cost!

When the supreme court initiated the cleansing of Indian politics by declaring that politicians with criminal spots in their timeline should be barred from contesting in elections, we saw all the politicians of the nation, irrespective of their origin and culture, irrespective of their ideologies and the colour of their flags, protesting and creating havoc against the declaration of the apex court.  At least for this purpose, we could see all the politicians of the nation together.  Hopefully, this carries to other sectors of political management as well.  Hm!  Dreams come free of cost!

 

It seems that when all the other nations of the world, at least the developing ones, are striving and thriving, day and night to make their names appear at the top of the list of the developed nations, our politicians and officials appear to be toiling, restlessly, with heart and mouth involved and working hard to make very serious and complicated political scams.  It would not be a bad idea, if the government decides to hold a “political big bash” instead of the national film festival, because the former is more in number and the provisions for selection are many.  Each politician can come forward speak about the political scam, the efforts it demanded, his hard work behind it and the “advantage” of this scam to the common man.  Might be these are the short cuts to become the most developed nation in the shortest possible interval!  Dreams come free of cost!

 

My country men, why are we playing to the tune of these idiotic butcherers, at least some of them, who does not realise the value of the common man?  Why are we allowing ourselves to be fooled?  Are we playing the silent man in the poem “I see, look out and am silent” by Walt Whitman?  Are we so dumb not to react?

 

It is high time that we stop voting for these worthless magicians and realise that it is not the colour of their flag but that of their heart that matters. We are not fools to fall in when they speak a few good words.  Stand up, rise, to touch your heart and say “I‘ll vote only for the best”.  Pledge yourself that you will always up hold “Bharath Matha Ki Jai.”

 

Like every human being, we dream! Not those dreams that just pass by free of cost, but those dreams that shall be realized. We need to take the intiative and implement them. Government should just be made the exchequer. Men and women with pure blood in their heart should take over. India should be taken to the heights she deserves, for it is she, who has made us what we are today.

 

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UNSPOKEN

 

‘She asks me, “Will it be okay? What if something goes wrong?”
I shush her. I say, “Everything will be fine, as long as you are strong”’

The lights are psychedelic. They criss-cross around the floor, creating flashes of blues, greens and reds, wherever they go. The music is blasting from every corner. I feel my heart thumping with every beat. I sway with the rhythm, letting go of everything. All that matters is the present. A laugh here, a jiggle there - is all what I see of my friends. The lights are blurring the edges between the known and the unknown.

I look across to her. She is happily moving to a Punjabi number. I pass her a huge grin and she returns it back. “Our favorite song!” she shouts. We madly dance to it together, stopping just in time to scream out the chorus. It is a perfect night to dance all my worries away. I am in my twenties and life seems pretty good right now.

Suddenly, something brushes across me. I flinch. Never mind, I tell myself. After all, it is a crowded place, there is bound to be a bit of chaos. Forget it, I tell myself. But then, it happens again. I turn to check, but all I see are unknown faces. They all look the same to me. Maybe I should stick closer to my friends. As I inch closer towards them, I feel a pinch on my bottom. I flip. I see a train of guys dancing across the room. It could be anybody. I feel lost in the sea of people. In a millisecond, a million things rush through my mind. Should I stop the last person? But what if he is not the one? Will I create a scene? Am I dressed okay? Is this skirt kind of trashy? Should I have worn something else? Maybe it’s the way I am dancing! Should I tell someone? What would they say?

I look across to her. She is dancing merrily. It must be me then. I must have done something wrong. All of a sudden I feel very guilty. I do not know why, but I feel guilty - guilty for coming out tonight, guilty for wearing a skirt, and guilty for attracting attention. I try to hide this flood of emotion from everyone, even from her – my best friend. I want to forget everything and just let go of it all. But, with every flashing light, the guilt keeps haunting me. Everywhere, I feel eyes staring down at me. I can’t stand it any longer. I want to run away from these eyes. I pull myself away from the dance floor. My feet feel heavy. I find the chair in the farthest corner and slump down.

‘She runs to me and asks,
“What’s wrong?”
I manage a smile and say,
“Never mind girl, you carry on”’

When we come back home, I want to tell her what happened. I want to tell her everything, but I am embarrassed. I am scared of her judgments. We fall on the couch and talk about how great the evening was. I fake laugh through the entire conversation without giving anything away. It was going all right, until the staring eyes flash in front of me again. I pause. I look away and I tell her everything. I change the words to make it sound not as bad as it was. You see, I don’t have the courage to remember it myself.

‘I look across to her,
Tears are rolling down her cheeks,
She says, “The evening was no different for me
The touches and pinches broke me down,
Until I was too afraid to speak”.

I stay silent. The truth is too sad to be told. There is so much to be said but our voices are stifled. If only we had told each other. If only we hadn’t blamed ourselves. Why were we being strong for everyone except ourselves? We had no answers. All we had was guilt. We lay on the couch for a long time just thinking about it all.

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