Sri Lanka blasts – When shall this bloody game stop?

Sri Lanka was beginning to see peace after years of internal strife. In fact, it had emerged as a popular destination, especially for Indian tourists, who found going to neighbouring country convenient and relatively cheap, yet providing exquisite experience. With clean beaches, affordable water sports and affable local people, visit to Sri Lanka provided a complete holiday experience.

However, last Sunday’s serial blasts in churches and posh hotels, mainly aimed at praying and merrymaking catholics, have shaken not only the island nation, but the entire world. More than 300 innocent church goers and hotel guests were consigned to bloody death on the holy Easter Day. In the process. several Indians, Bangladeshis and three children of the billionaire owner of popular brand Vera Moda and Jack & Jones met their tragic ends in a foreign nation.

After a day of suspense, ISIS ultimately claimed the responsibility for these serial blasts, operating through local operatives radicalised by this extremist outfit. The attack was purportedly to avenge the shoot out attack on Friday mosque goers in Christchurch a few days ago.

This should be a wake up call for all the nations directly or indirectly supporting the cause of terrorism under one pretext or the other. No nation is safe from their evil design and it is also amply clear that these suicide fidayeen bombers can strike anywhere anytime. Let the powers of the World join hands to root out terrorism from all over and stop supporting terrorism in any form or for any cause. Till that time, this bloody game is not likely to stop. It should also be wake up call for everyone to tighten the security and alertness. Let’s not lower the guard and remain vigilant especially in places like trains, metros and crowded hubs.

May God bless the souls of innocents martyred on the day of Holy Easter and give some wisdom to those considering killing innocent lives as holy war!

First time voter

I am excited and not without a reason. In my life extended over 5 decades and at least 3 decades of having attained majority, I will be voting for the first time. It’s not as if I have been a careless, irresponsible citizen, who never used his franchise. First it was my nomadic life, as my transferable job kept me shifting from place to place. Of course, for last 2 decades or so, I have settled down in Mumbai, but getting a document – be it passport, ration card or voter ID card has never been easy in India. But India is changing. A neighbour told us that getting enrolment into electoral roll was not all that tough and we were surprised at the treatment extended by the officer in the election Commission’s office. He was most helpful and courteous and stated that though getting ID card before elections wouldn’t be possible, but based on the SMS to be received by us, we could go to the polling booth along with personal ID and vote. And indeed we received the SMS and further inquiry revealed that we could go the the designated polling booth and vote.

The political parties should also feel excited as their chances are going to get brightened by addition to the voter strength in their constituency. Whom shall we vote for? I think electoral preference, like religion, should be a strict personal affair and although people do participate in exit polls, to my mind this should be a well maintained secret. That’s why it’s called secret ballot! I might not have ever stamped the symbol of my choice and deposited my vote into the ballot box, but unlike a few idiosyncratic fellows, I don’t doubt the integrity of EVM and I shall press the button to cast my vote to the most deserving candidate who is worthy of something as rare as pearl – I have heard it takes decades for a pearl to form inside nacre, like my vote (actually our and not only my as my wife is also voting for the first time though I can’t reveal after how many decades as far she is concerned as ladies don’t want to talk about such stupid numbers), which has fructified after 5 decades! Let the representatives of various symbols – hand, lotus, bow and arrow, lamp etc. sit on the edge- wait for the result, which will be delivered when the counting of votes commence after elections. Long live democracy in India!!!

Paradoxes

Life is all about paradoxes. The more you ponder over it, the more you realise the pertinence of the aforesaid statement. Recently, our organisation brought in a retirement scheme for some employees. Those who were targeted were taken aback by this sudden decision of the management. Philosophically, their exit could be attributed to their fate! It can also be stated that whatever happens in life is predestined and it happens for one’s ultimate good! But it is very difficult to explain to the affected person when he asks, ” Why me?”. And this cuts across whole lot of events that we encounter in our lives! This ” Why me?” is asked by those suffering from cancer, losing their near and dear one, living in the condition of extreme deprivation etc.

The paradoxes add a layer of complexity to human life. Some people smoke heavily yet die at a ripe age old, while a teetotaller dies young of lung cancer, liver cirrhosis or heart attack! Some people slog all their lives yet live in extreme penury, while a few are born with golden spoon in their mouth, inheriting big fortune from their ancestors and don’t need to work all their lives! In spite of preparing hard for the examination, the mind simply refuses to work on the d- day resulting in abysmal performance! A prime property suddenly becomes junk due to coming up of a chemical plant, which emits heavy pollutants, in its vicinity! In our daily lives, we come across such paradoxes almost regularly, but thank God the impact of some such paradoxes is not very hard or deep and we continue with our lives, taking such events in our stride!

While not very religious and definitely not superstitious, I feel that sometimes a few such eventualities in life shake you to the core and you start seeing a great learning in a famous English proverb, ” the man proposes but God disposes” ! There seems to be a superpower sitting somewhere there, playing pranks with individuals, the impact and motive of which could be deep rooted and difficult to comprehend! This also brings one to believing another famous sloka from Bhagvad Gita that reads:

“कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन। मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥”?

In simple words, it means:

You have a right to “Karma” (actions) but never to any Fruits thereof. You should never be motivated by the results of your actions, nor should there be any attachment in not doing your prescribed activities.

The above teaching by Bhagwad is the only explanation for paradoxes affecting our lives.

The Great Indian Jamboree

As elections in India once in 5 years fare and this time elections are being fought with unprecedented acrimony and noise, the news around elections is providing me stimulus to write more on the topic. From the language being used to the credentials of certain candidates, it all makes up for sad but in a manner interesting jamboree ! The only solace one gets is that the electorate is becoming increasingly intelligent and able to look through the design of crafty politicians. They now know which of the elected representatives showed them his/her face during the last 5 years, who raised how many questions in the Parliament, attendance record in Parliament, the criminal record etc. and this awareness will eventually lead to the politicians of merit and impeccable record only getting a chance to reach Parliament. However, pained by rather disgraceful conduct of certain politicians in the ongoing campaign, I felt inspired to compose a few lines that read as below:

There’s desperation, there’s frustration,

Because winners take it all,

And losers are out of business for 5 years,

And the stakes are not at all small!

But what’s the lure?

Engineers get paid higher in profession,

Doctors earn more respect,

Yet politics is an uncontrollable obsession!

They seek votes with folded hands,

Soliciting favour to serve the mankind,

But selfless social service is not their forte,

Getting elected gives a kick of a different kind!

Their idols are all national icons,

They invoke the heritage of Gandhi, Nehru & Bose,

But in themselves they ain’t even a pale shadow

Of these all time greats of the yore!

In reality, this service, Nehru, Gandhi all is humbug,

The purpose behind all this hullabaloo is power

Which selfless service to the needy will not get you

But the seat in politics will reach you to the top of the tower!

Where cries of hapless will not reach,

And 5 years will fill the coffers for 5 decades,

The power will be heady and strong,

Which other profession leads to such good fate?

Let people vote with their conscience for the most meritorious candidate rising above all parochialism and we shall have the healthiest form of democracy!!!!

Good Friday and Easter

21st April is just not an ordinary Sunday; it’s Easter Sunday, signifying the end of 40 days of period of fasting and penitence, the Lent.

As the folklore goes, Romans sentenced to death and crucified Jesus on Good Friday and this day of crucifixion of Jesus is a solemn day observed by fasting and praying. However, Easter heralds resurrection of Jesus, proving beyond doubt that he indeed was the son of God and is, therefore, a day of high religious significance and traditional celebrations in Christian faith.

The period of fasting and penitence begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days. The Sunday immediately prior to Easter is Palm Sunday, commemorating arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem where his followers laid down palm leaves on the road to greet him. The last week of Great Lent is in fact known as Palm Week and it ends with Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the Holy Week, which ends on Easter. Easter eggs and Easter bunny are some of the traditions that are associated with Easter.

Like all mythologies, Christian history also makes up for interesting reading and evokes deep sentiments amongst the followers of this great religion. All four gospels in New Testament- Mathew, Mark, Luke and John- state that those who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection are given ” the gift of eternal life”, meaning that those of faith will be welcomed into the “Kingdom of Heaven” upon their earthly death.

Doesn’t all the above sound similar to fasting during the holy periods of Navratri by Hindus and Ramadan by Muslims? Don’t all the faiths promise Swarg and Jannat, the equivalent of Christians’ heaven to the virtuous followers of the faith? Don’t all religions preach peace, brotherhood and love to their followers? The objective and end goal are the same – only the path thereto and rituals associated with the festivals are different! Let’s respect all religions and their followers, because India can only have this uniqueness to let all faiths flourish in her land!

Happy Easter to all my readers and friends! As I read outside a Church – ” While generally we always say – Thank God it’s Friday (TGIF), on Easter we thank the God for Sunday”.

Electioneering is for few days – Statesmanship is forever

(The above is from Obama’s 2008 campaign- keep it simple)

India is a secular democracy. This means that state preaches no religion and people have the right to freedom to almost anything- including following the religion and practices of their choice. However, given the mood and the tone of the current election campaign, all the freedom seems to be vested only with the politicians of all the hue and colour and the people of India, on whom this freedom is bestowed by the constitution, seem to be feeling hapless. In a state as varied and vivid as India, which has plurality of utmost complexity, any effort to polarise people on any particular thought line or philosophy will simply not work except for creating tensions in the social fabric! It didn’t work when Hindi as the official language was intended to be imposed; it didn’t work when certain states decided to go dry by banning liquor; similarly, it will not work if efforts are made to have uniform civil code or beef ban or impose any such unilateral conditionality on the citizens of this country that’s against the spirit of the constitution, drafted by visionaries.

In campaigns during this electioneering, we are coming across the political behaviour of the weirdest kind – from objectionable Modi ki Sena to crass Green virus to downright vulgar Jaya Prada’s khaki panty to asking Muslims to vote en bloc against Modi- these are new lows in the history of election campaigning in India. Supreme Court had to shake the Election Commission out of slumber and EC has now taken action against these culprits.

I admire Modi, for in spite of Gujarat riots, his rightist lineage and very Hindutva philosophy of his party, he, as Prime Minister, has shown a general restraint and his language has remained generally measured. However, the same control he doesn’t seem to have exercised adequately on some his associates. Also, in the heat of the moment of the current election campaign, even he seems to be going overboard occasionally. And the opposition has matched the ruling party in this vilification, even exceeding on occasions!

This once again reminds me of some of the great statesmen that this country has produced – Pt. Nehru (notwithstanding the current smearing campaign against his lineage, actions, decisions, the first PM of free India will always remain dear to this country), Shastri and even Manmohan, but above all Vajpayee, who never treated elections as the beginning and the end of all things! They fought elections on the basis of solid agenda and an inclusive policy. And the result was that while different sections of the society could have been voting en bloc, like they may be doing in the current elections, these statesmen might have won or lost elections, their statesmanship got only enhanced. Instead of character assassination of those who are opposed to your agenda and philosophy, notwithstanding whether the protagonist is dead or alive, the current crop of leader should not forget that elections come and go and they may win or lose a few, but only statesmanship can win the hearts of the countrymen and it is eternal and forever.

Change the World by making your bed

In the recent past, TED talk video by Admiral William H McRaven has been doing rounds in social media generating great deal of interest and gathering rave reviews. It talks about several things, it’s gist being that everyday before leaving the home, we should make our bed so that irrespective whether we have had a good or a bad day, a made up bed at home will be a matter of great solace!

For generations, we have learnt this truth from our elders. I distinctly remember that my grandma, lording over a large brood of about 20 members, insisted that not only bed sheets be properly made after waking up but also be laundered after 2-3 days so that when it came to retiring at night, all family members had not only well made beds, but clean linens as well ! However, she was neither a big time educationist nor a motivational speaker like the TED talk speakers! So, we just took it in our stride as a good habit, without any psychoanalysis! Imagine, she would singlehandedly wash all those bed sheets twice each week by her hands as washing machines became popular much later!

Some of the lessons being preached now as part of Swachch Bharat campaign were taught to us all through our childhood. Spitting was far fetched, even eating innocuous pan was a strict no-no! Although, there were maids at home, some of the cleaning was always done by the ladies of the house! We dare not straightaway try to eat coming from outside, without washing our hands! Clothes had to be changed everyday and washed, starched and ironed to be made ready for next time wear. However, our elders treated all these as part of basic hygiene and there would be no lecturing or limelight hogging for passing on these fundamental tips!

We like to hear it from the mouth of leaders, motivational speakers, Management Gurus, thinkers, celebrities and eagerly share their videos, quotable quotes and books feeling inspired ourselves and trying to spread this inspiration to our friends ! Little we realise that all these small nuggets of wisdom are already ingrained in our consciousness by our elders, who were neither flashy nor proponents of impeccable English but were nonetheless no less effective. It’s being proven again and again that one of the best treatises on Management gyan is our very own Bhagvan Gita that’s been increasingly referred to by Institutions like Harvard! Small life changers have been inherited by us from our family elders and are very much ingrained in us! There’s no harm listening to TED talks or management gurus; but getting mindlessly influenced by them is more of a social media behaviour fad rather than actual fascination with the contents!