Modi – Fag end of his 5 years term

Modi started with a bang ! No, I don’t mean here BJP’s and NDA,s spectacular performance in 2014 elections under his leadership, but the way Government started functioning under his leadership. A few of his initiatives I readily recall are

listed below:

(1) He made it clear to all the ministries that he would be periodically reviewing their performance and that the concerned minister would be expected to give a crisp power point presentation clearly highlighting pluses and minuses.

(2) Much before the formal launch of Swachch Bharat campaign, his sudden unannounced visits to Government hospitals created panic in the ranks and files of hospital administrations, leading to an immediate and unprecedented improvement in the hygiene conditions.

(3) Ditto his unannounced barging into Government offices and Ministries to check punctuality and cleanliness that shook a reclusive bureaucracy, galvanising it into action!

(4) His decision to personally review large, stuck up infrastructure projects provided a ray of hope to these mega projects in which billions of public fund was invested and whose going on stream would have provided much needed impetus to the country’s economy.

(5) He brought in fresh faces in Maharashtra , Haryana and Jharkhand and even UP and Uttarakhand. These choices were purely meritorious and above narrow political considerations of caste and creed.

(6) Of course, his social initiatives such as Swachch Bharat were like whiff of fresh air as hitherto no PM had talked about such basic stuff. His regular broadcast thru Mann Ki Baat and active use of social media, especially Twitter, connected him to citizenry like no one before him.

(7) His overseas visits received overwhelming response not only from governments of those countries but Indian diaspora settled there and India’s prestige seemed to have touched an unprecedented height.

In all, acche din promised by him appeared to be reality and then it all started – love jihad, beef ban, Demonetisation, GST ( it’s ill conceived implementation), fall out with allies (TDP and Shiv Sena in particular), Kashmir situation etc. and all those dreams started getting shattered. Ironically, he still seems the best bet and the General mood seems to be in favour of giving him a second term. But can he bring about the change that he promised and glimpses of which we saw early into his tenure? Can he practice Raj dharma of the highest order that is non-discriminatory and non divisive? And above all, can he get another chance? My view is that Indian electorate is now matured enough to decide whatever is best for them and their motherland and no politician should ever dare take them for granted!

Pakistan- A nation we love to hate

Read an interesting post in FB on Pakistan that says ” Pakistani ghazal singers seek Indian audience, playback singers eye Bollywood songs, actors beckon Bollywood movies, cricketers were mightily upset for not allowed to take part in IPL. If indeed they had such fascination for everything Indian, why the hell they needed separation! Because to drop the bombs that they manufacture, they again have to come all the way to India!” The post very aptly sums up our anathema for our neighbour.

Also read an interesting poetic piece by renowned Pakistani poet Anwar Shaoor, who daily publishes a four lines rhyming poetry in popular Pakistani daily Jang on the topics of current interest that can be loosely summed up as ” Some lessons are not learnt in spite of their serious implications, as it seems that extremist rightist elements in India are hell bent upon creation of another Pakistan.”

Interestingly, both the posts are directly/indirectly about India’s intolerance, though we all take pride in our tolerance of all ideologies, our dharma of peace and ahimsa and our great past of being the land of Rama, Krishna, Budha, Mahavir and Mother Teresa. Thanks to very aggressive media and all the muck on social media, we seem to be losing our rational thinking, getting carried away by sensationalism. Boycott of Pakistani actors, players, artists, goods etc will only create a wider chasm and not bring us closer. Our artists and actors are adored in Pakistan. Pakistan has been offering to host Indo-Pak cricket series since long. Bollywood movies find big release in Pakistan ( till very recently- though now they seemed to have reacted with quid pro quo! ) and on several occasions, their media has been appreciative of our democratic process, modesty of Modi and simple lifestyle of leaders such as Modi and Shastri ( I saw a beautiful Pakistani piece of former Indian PM). Not to say that they are all good, because there are even bigger hawks on their side too!

Let’s strengthen our security, plug porousness of our borders, sharpen our intelligence and consolidate our internal unity to take Pakistan Heads on through policy intervention and militarily. Rest all is propaganda that does little to the pride of our great nation, which shall outlive many narrow minded, single objective focused nations like Pakistan.

Our military is our strength; our democracy is our strength; let’s now make our diversity our strength and we shall be invincible, which we already are, but will become even more!

Pulwama- 2

The dastardly attack on the peaceful convoy of security forces has generated mass hysteria and although I have been blogging on current themes of topical interest, no other blog of mine has evoked such strong emotions laden reaction the way my blog on Pulwama attack has!

While Pakistani interest in keeping the Kashmir burning is now a very well established and known fact, which they do under the garb of alleged human right violations by Indian security forces against so called “freedom fighters” , what is not understood is its foolhardiness in actually believing that by waging either a direct or a proxy war, it can cause secession of Kashmir from India! Well, there’s history and history cannot be rewritten. The fact is that Pakistan was carved out of undivided India and Kashmir issue unfortunately was not summarily resolved at that time that led to intrusion of Kabailis followed by a war, annexation of Azad Kashmir to Pakistan and grant of special status by India to Kashmir. However, India left no stone unturned in soothing the nerves of Kashmiri people. The Government spent billions in building infrastructure ( tunnels, bridges, railway tracks), promoting tourism ( main source of income for majority of Kashmiris) , extending farm and agricultural support and in general, ensuring that by remaining as integral part of India, Kashmir enjoyed a special status ( no Indian citizen can buy land or property there). Kashmir had regular elections and choice of local government was decided by the local people themselves. Sheikh Abdullah, the local hero, had a long reign and so had his son Farouk and his grandson Omar. However, certain elements, who were initially rejected by the electorate in mainstream politics, formed Hurriyat, got open support from Pakistan and started fomenting separatism. Expectedly, very soon Hurriyat lost the control over movement that got taken over by Pakistan based militant groups such as Laskar-e- Taiba (LET), Jamat-Ud-Dawa (JUD). Harkat-Ul-Ansar ( (HUA) etc and the round of violence started that till date has claimed lives of thousands of militants, security personnel and civilians. The situation is so bad that terror camps set up on Pakistani territory are training not only Kashmiri youth but have become hotbed of international mercenaries! By igniting fire in Kashmir, Pakistan has become a headache for the entire world and but for Chinese support, it has all along faced the risk of being tagged a rogue nation!

What the modern warfare (nuclear power and chemical weapons) has done is to lead to balance of military might amongst the nations. Even a superpower like US, after a few bitter lessons in Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan has realised that pure war cannot win clear outcomes ! But look at Pakistan and its protagonists, mainly its Army! They do not seem to have learnt any lesson from the previous wars of 1965 and 1971 and Kargil misadventure, continue to nurse a grouse against India for creation of Bangladesh and are busy in building their military might by diverting precious resources from developmental activities! India chooses to ignore Pakistani nuisance on border and otherwise ( at UN, other international fora etc) because war will be heavily destructive, expensive and inconclusive ; but Pakistan actually believes that it can win a conclusive war against India and secede Kashmir and to this aim, it has caused terrorism in the entire world, besides causing problem for India and in the neighbourhood! Will ordinary Pakistani ever raise his/her voice against these self-serving ruling elite exhorting them to do something creative for them instead of planning India’s destruction and world’s problems?

Pulwama Attack – What’s the objective?

Let’s first think of yesterday’s Pulwama attack on CRPF convoy from a different perspective. While the investigation will find out the identity of perpetrators and firmly establish the role of our now “World Famous Neighbour” as the biggest exporter of terrorism ( unfortunately that country neither manufactures nor exports anything else), let’s try and analyse the possible objectives of this dastardly attack. It could be either, all or a few combined of these:

(1) To attract the attention of World towards the Kashmir issue, Kashmir should never be allowed to be quiet. If you follow Pakistani press and other media, the world is seized of no issue other than Kashmir, which that country prefers to call as freedom struggle and the killers of our brave soldiers as fidayeen ( upon being dead becoming martyrs).

(2) To divert the attention of the World and Pakistani citizens from the internal problems of that country, including its economic bankruptcy, some adversity in India is important for their survival.

(3) Such events in Kashmir keep tourist away from there, which creates serious livelihood issues for millions of locals whose mainstay are the tourists. This increases the frustration of moderate or neutral locals, giving encouragement to youth to be driven towards the path of extremism.

(4) This is the election year in India and another 5 years of stability in India worries India’s enemies.

(5) India’s unprecedented strides in the field of economic growth and its dominant position in the World worries its adversaries a lot.

Whatever be the objective or multiple of it, the message is only one! India needs to remain united at this juncture and not to fall into the trap of Hindu – Muslim, Kashmiri- Non- Kashmiri, Congress- BJP etc. Our forces are strong enough to seek reprisal of any evil doing against us. If we trust our military might, we must unitedly stand behind them as internal strife will only weaken us!

Jai Hind.

Name Game

While names are usually reflective of one’s faith, in a pluralistic but tolerant society like India, it’s not always so. While the names are common across Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, and to an extent Sikhism, I go back to my early childhood days, when I first experienced this phenomenon. A family in our neighbourhood with the then unheard surname Toppo, had three siblings with perfectly normal and common names Vijay, Kishore and Aabha. The head of the family was James and mother’s name was Mary. We were told that they were tribals from remote and backward area of then Bihar ( now part of Jharkhand) who converted to Christianity in hope of better life. Better life they indeed had as all three of their children were going to the best convent schools of Delhi. We also understood that Church allowed, rather encouraged them to baptise their children by adopting common local names. This trend is particularly visible in another state with sizeable Christian population, Kerala, with boys having names such as Babu, Vinod, Vijay and girls Baby!

However, India of yore, especially before partition had common, simple, easy on tongue and uni-religious names. A Dilawar could be Singh, Khan or Chand! Or for that matter Zorawar, Chand, Iqbal, Dara and feminine names like Juhi, Gulab, Chanda and Shayari ! However, the malaise of regionalism, religion, ethnicity in this country has totally disrupted the fabric of tolerance that is an important imperative in a pluralistic society like ours. First we divided languages – Hindi (Hindus), Urdu (Muslims), Punjabi ( Sikhs), English (Christians), then colours – orange/Keshri (Hindus/Sikhs), Green (Muslims), then dresses- Saree (Hindus), Salwar/Kameez (Muslims), skirt (Christians), then food – Roti/Sabzi (Hindus), Gosht /Biryani (Muslims), Pork/ stakes (Christians) – in such circumstances, what to expect of names?

One of the rarest examples of demonstrated secularism and broad minded attitude that readily comes to my mind is that of famous music director Khayyam. Mohammad Zahoor, as Khayyam was originally named, fell for the charms of Jagjeet Kaur, a Sardarni, music being their common passion. The couple named their son, Pradeep, a typical and common Hindu name, who unfortunately had an untimely demise. Names like Rajiv Ahmed, Nazm Sharma, Robert Vadra ( yes our very own Priyanka’s husband) would add so much consonance to the noise that we are currently hearing in this nation on petty matters.

Valentines Day

Anything that has even anything remotely to do with love and romance is bound to be a sure shot hit – be it a love ditty, a romantic movie or love gifting such as greeting card (remember Archie’s an iconic name till WhatsApp ruined its market completely). Under such circumstances, spread of the Valentines Day phenomenon in India ought to have been predestined, after all as a nation, are we any less romantic than others?

The only antidote to all the above is that unlike the event based days or festivals- Holi, Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Republic Day etc- love needs to be celebrated everyday, every moment. Do you think someone starting to date a person on 15th February should wait for one full year to express his or her feelings and make a proposition? Or should that person be expressing his or her feelings every day making the other person feel important and loved?

Specifically designated days should be celebrated to highlight the importance of events and persons who /which are important but get lost somewhere in our day to day struggle. Parents Day, Mothers Day, Environment Day, Rose Day are fine. But Valentines Day seems more like an excuse to be indulging in an already over indulged activity – love and romance. If my assertion needs any further evidence, just look around any place having even semblance of seclusion – beach, park, garden, apart from the indoors!

As long as, it’s all about innocent love and romance with no ulterior motive, let’s allow people to indulge in this festival of love, because in today’s times very few things are left to be celebrated! Let me end this blog by sharing this beautiful poem that I came across on Internet that reads

Have I told you, Valentine,
That I’m all wrapped up in you?
My feelings for you bring to me
A joy I never knew.

You light up everything for me;
In my heart you shine;
Illuminating my whole life,
My darling Valentine.

Happy Valentines Day!

#Me Too Counter Affected

This is a contrarian view- this is not to say that I don’t support the cause of ladies affected by #Me Too movement as we know them – the likes of Vinita Nanda (Alok Nath) , Tanushree Dutta (Nana Patekar), 12 women journalists (M J Akbar), Diandra Soares (Suhel Seth) – they all are sufferers at the hands of powerful lusty men and are proponents of #Me Too movement. Here, I am talking of those, who actually became counter affected ( I originally used the word “victims”of this movement- agreed, victim is a sympathetic word and there should be absolutely no sympathy for these perpetrators of sexual assault or harassment on hapless women; but many of these could ultimately prove to be unproven allegations, highly time barred in some cases!) by being named as offenders.

One worries about someone for whom he or she cares or rates highly. To each his own- if Aloknath, MJ Akbar and Suhel feel that their conscious is clear and that people who matter in their respective lives have accepted their explanation, the concerned ladies may go no further in the matter! However, I feel strongly for one of the finest film makers of this country Raj Kumar Hirani, who has also been accused by one of his assistants of sexual overtures/assault during the making of one of his movies. Going by the fare dished out by Bollywood of late, including by the superstar Khans, one hardly waits for any particular release ( Shahrukh’s last movie Zero was a big zero and Aamir’s Thugs of Hindoostan was even a bigger disaster) . However, one filmmaker who has wowed his audience movie after movie is Hirani. His journey began with super entertaining but with great message, a landmark movie of sorts, Munnabhai MBBS. He followed it up with Lage Raho Munnabhai and then an all time hit 3 Idiots. But with each new movie, the man springs a surprise, PK and Sanju being the evidence.

Like all # Me Too names, Raj Kumar Hirani has been shunned by his long time associates and friends- Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi- his name was reportedly dropped from the latest movie from their production house “Ik Ladki Ko Dekha” . I think nobody knows a person better than friends and family and shunning by Chopra and Joshi certainly doesn’t augur well for Hirani. Will the fine movie maker able to prove his finesse as person also and bounce back to entertain his audience like very few manage? After all. Munnabhai Chala America may or may never see the light of the date, but the concept itself is so entertaining that one cannot help but wait for such a movie ! And who knows how many more such out of box ideas could be fructifying in the man’s head, provided #Me Too does not take its toll on him!