Silver Work Anniversary

A dear friend,who is also my boss, sprang a surprise in the morning. He came to me, shook heads warmly and then gave a hug catching me unaware. Seeing this rather bewildered expression on my face, he wished me happy silver jubilee in the organisation.

Joining dates and work anniversaries are important events and one seldom forgets them. I clearly remember my first job date , my second joining and the current job, being the last time I changed my job. And I remembered this date till very recently, more so this being my silver jubilee. However, caught in certain other engagements, when the D day arrived, I forgot it completely.

These occasions are matter of great satisfaction and rejoicing for these are milestones. Milestones assume an added significance when destination is undefined and only journey matters, which is an apt description of my job and my organisation, where there is no limit to which you can excel or say I have done enough and nothing else is left to be done! As our CEO explains while putting forth his expectation – ” I will see the glass as half empty, replace it with a bigger glass when it is filled up to the brim and when even bigger glass is full, keep a pitcher there for all of you to fill.”! In this case, half glass empty is not pessimism as the saying goes but an overwhelming optimism to always look ahead and not to get complacent!

What’s next? More milestones to be crossed with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, maintaining child like inquisitiveness to learn more and new things and dissemination of whatever little I have learnt over all these years to willing learners!

As the poem goes:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Thanks to all my bosses, colleagues, team members, friends, well wishers and family, who have accompanied me on this continuing journey and whose support will take me to miles before I sleep!

Letโ€™s protect our mothers, sisters and daughters!

The blog is titled this way instead of using a common gender oriented word such as women or females to highlight that no female in this country is safe from the evil intents of characterless sex maniacs. A few months ago, there was a case where a grandmother was raped, while today on the heels of dastardly Hyderabad act, I came across a news item regarding rape of 2 years old girl by a monster!

And our lawmakers are clueless about tackling this menace! There are stray noises in Parliament and lots of advisory around dos and don’ts for our girls such as – don’t venture out alone late at night, don’t wear provocative clothes, don’t drink alcohol, do jot down number of taxi or auto you are hiring, keep your parents informed about your movements etc.

Every time a Nirbhaya happens, everyone wakes up just to go back into slumber once again. Every time a girl dresses up in a chic manner, agrees to share a drink or two, is alone in a place, expresses her views openly etc, she is actually giving a license for her exploitation! To such low levels has stooped our thinking !

I call upon – not police – but all other vigilantes – cow protectors,green brigade, RSS, Nihang Sikhs, Muslim bodies, Christian missionaries – to rise above narrow consideration of caste, community and religion and join hands to protect our mothers, sisters and daughters! Unless we learn to respect a lady who is not our one of the above viz. Mother, sister or daughter, continue to treat woman as an object of desire and treat them as a weaker sex to be dominated and exploited, all our life’s missions will be failures and we shall not be able to justify our existence on this virtue of myopic missions of protecting cows, trees, religion, caste and community!

Only a strong community joining hands can weed out this malaise – law, police, governance etc will always be only partly effective .

Aghadi or Pichhadi?

Immediately on assuming office, the new Aghadi government headed by Uddhav Thackeray has taken two important decisions:

(1) it has ordered stoppage of work at Aaray metro car shed; and

(2) it has decided to review the bullet train project.

As I had stated in one of my earlier blogs, ideologies were my least of my concerns , the main concern being the need for a stable progressive government agreeing to work for the benefit of Mumbai and Maharashtra based on common minimum programme! Unfortunately, the new government seems to have chosen the path of disrupting the existing developmental work instead of carrying the progressive agenda of the previous government further!

I lamented the setback to Devendra Fadnavis, for he did so much for the state and Mumbai. However, I was fairly optimistic, for Devendra got replaced by another son of the soil, who in some respects knew at least Mumbai and it’s problems more. I hoped he would provide impetus to the ongoing metro network construction, revive coastal road project, work on pothole ridden roads and encroached pavements of Mumbai, announce major relief for the first draught affected and then untimely rains affected farmers of Maharashtra, tighten the worsening law and order, especially relating to road traffic and ensure restoration of Mumbai’s pride in the nation’s aviation scene, but all that he ends up doing is reviewing two projects as aforesaid!

Uddhav has his glorious father’s legacy, good wishes of veteran Sharad Pawar, support of two ex CMs Prithviraj and Ashok and general goodwill of the people of Maharashtra being a Thackeray scion to pursue Maharashtra and Mumbai’s progress and development. Choice is his! In no time, all his above strengths can become a noose around his neck suffocating him to frustration! Also, he has stepped into the very large shoes vacated by Fadnavis! People of the state and city are prepared to suffer if the glorious future promised by Devendra is reiterated by Uddhav!

Being an eternal optimist, I have full faith that Aghadi government led by Uddhav will have a glorious stint and that stuttered start is just a blip!

Two notches down – more in store?

Read this morning in newspaper that very soon Bengaluru would overtake Mumbai as the second busiest airport in the country after Delhi. Having lost the numero uno position to Delhi in 2009, this slippage in its rank this time to IT capital of the country clearly indicts its past rulers, who did very little to upgrade its infrastructure, including the airport.

All its past rulers, including the party that has ruled the roost in BMC for years together have now come together to form Aghadi and Maharashtra government. And ironically the man who took it as a mission to upgrade the infrastructure of the state, with special focus on Mumbai will be sitting in opposition. Let’s hope the Aghadi government continues the good work by the previous government and do not waste time in settling political scores, which will seriously damage Mumbai’s interests.

First Air India shifted its base to Delhi and almost all the Airline’s direct international routes from Mumbai became indirect via Delhi save a few such as Dubai, Singapore, London and New York. It’s iconic tower at Nariman Point is also up for sale. Secondly, due to shortage of parking slots and heavy overnight hangar charges, Indigo, Spice Jet, Air Asia etc have chosen centres other than Mumbai as their hubs. On top of it, the main runway of Mumbai airport is under repair till April 2020 that will lead to severe disruption leading to cancellation of several flights. Air service scenario looks grim for Mumbai in near future and it may not be surprising if another emerging city such as Chennai or Hyderabad push Mumbai one more notch down!

New Government must expedite ongoing work on Metro network, new airport, expansion of the existing airport by removing encroachment, traffic management, cleanliness , declogging of its roads and pavements and doing something spectacular for long suffering peasantry of Maharashtra. I am not too worried about metaphors such as ” marriage of convenience” or ” diverse ideologies” being used for Aghadi ! If they deliver results, all will be forgiven because there cannot be any ideology more important than development of Mumbai and upliftment of Maharashtra’s farmers!

Trust and believe

Certain things hit you like an avalanche, making a deep impression on your mind and psyche. A very well known Urdu scholar and poet Janab Zulqurnain Khairoowala has written a beautiful piece that can be loosely translated as under:

There was an acrobat who was walking on a tight rope tied between two high rise buildings. He was nicely balancing himself with a large beam in his hands and his young son on his shoulders. Hundreds of spectators standing down below were witnessing this act with bated breath. His progress was slow but sure. At last when he made to the other building all in tact, spectators cheered him loudly giving him the finest ovation.

He asked the cheering crowd what they thought whether they believed that he would make it back to the first building from where he started? Everyone shouted ” yes”. They said that they were even prepared to put their money at stake such strong was their belief. He said that he’d do so but with one small difference. Instead of his son standing on his shoulders, he would take someone from the audience! There was a pin drop silence. They all believed (yakeen) the trickster to complete his act but would not trust (bharosa) him with their lives!

He has then beautifully summed up his story by clearly bringing out the finer nuance between trust and believe. He says that when we trust someone then we are not afraid to take a plunge. We all believe in almighty, but we don’t trust because should we trust him, we would never doubt his omnipresence in our lives.

Hats off to Zulq Sahab for such a deep message in such simple words.

Whereโ€™s the ninth planet?

When we were in schools, we studied that our solar system had nine planets- Mercury, Mars, Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn, Neptune and Pluto. However, somewhere down the line, Astrophysicists decided that Pluto was not a planet and since the year 1999, we have only 8 planets. This immediately brings to our mind a recent development in our Country with number of states reducing from 29 to 28 and number of Union Territories increasing from 7 to 9 consequent to status change of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two UTs – Kashmir and Ladakh. I distinctly remember that in our Chemistry classes in High School, we studied that periodic table had 104 elements, a number that has gone up to 118 today.

Kashmir is a fairly recent big disruption, the news is probably on everybody’s mind. Chemistry is no longer being studied by me and I am really not in a circle comprising many chemists. Therefore, periodic table related information is really not very important except from the point of general knowledge. This means, changes are happening in a dynamic world- some affect us and we are abreast of them while a few others do not reach our radar unless specifically looked for. However, de recognition of Pluto as a planet in 1999 was really a very momentous and emotional occasion as I gathered from some of the material I recently got exposed to. Monday, May 24, 1999 was a night of revised cosmic map. The night Pluto fell from grace. The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was at the centre of the Pluto controversy, brainstorming on the definition of planet with his scientific brethren, recounts playfully and poignantly the history and transition of Pluto from the jubilant discovery to its classification wobble to its redemption in this dossier of a book titled “Pluto Files”.

As the book reads, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto’s at Percival Lowell Observatory in 1930, the third and the last person ever to discover a planet in our solar system, initially earmarked as Planet X by the astronomers who conjectured the presence of an interfering planet to explain the perturbations of Neptune. The name Pluto was first suggested by Venetia Burney, an 11-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford.

The farthest planet Pluto composed of rock and ice inspired poetry and aroused curiosity among the observers who peered at the tiny blip of the wanderer, so distant and so clandestine that it merely grazes above us withholding its tantalising secrets. But one secret that it protected for years was its identity. What is that tiny disk even doing in that farscape? That secret was busted with the discovery of similar iceballs in the frontier of our solar system, very pluto looking, but what are they? As more iceballs, the size and separation of Pluto were discovered rapidly, the fate of Pluto swung precariously in the altercation and voting of the plutophiles and pluto demoters, with the Rose Center for Earth and Space sounding the death knell to Pluto’s planetary rights when it opened its door to the public on a Saturday morning in the year 2000 with Pluto removed from the planetary exhibits and shoved among the newly discovered objects in Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud.

The book recounts the events leading up to the critical decision and the aftermath and the backlash from public supporters who decried that the unarmed and defenseless Pluto floating as a shirt-tail relative of the otherwise well-formed family was unceremoniously kicked out of the planetary alliance. Pluto lost its patrician status and given the mundane citizenship of kuiper belt object. Further in 2006, owing to immense public fallout and scientific review, Pluto was slightly uplifted and officially designated as “dwarf planet” with newspapers either rallying or condemning this revision as seen in this rhyme published in Oregonian:

๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ ๐˜—๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ,

๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ธ๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฒ๐˜ถ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ

๐˜ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ฅ

๐˜Œ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ

๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ป๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ

๐˜“๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ ๐˜‰๐˜ถ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฅ๐˜บ, ๐˜ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฌ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ’๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ.

The public outcry ranged from the plea of a 59-year old who has lived his supervised life under the auspices of nine planets to an ultimatum from a 6-year old who petitioned affixing the poll result of his fellow six-year-old scouts who all unanimously agreed that Pluto, their favourite planet, should be reinstated without much brouhaha as their collective knowledge decreed that Pluto was a REGULAR REAL PLANET, just colder than the rest which you cannot hold against it.

The book captures the protests, letters, recordings, debates and online mobilisation to protect the dignity of Pluto inquiring whether it could be considered as an exceptional planet for sentimental and historical reasons with one loyalist claiming that stripping Pluto of its planethood was like stripping George Washington of his citizenship because the US wasn’t really a country when he was born. The judgement to demote Pluto by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in the August of 2006 had little or no effect on steadfast states like New Mexico and California which continued to ennoble Pluto in its undiminished respect declaring March 13 as “Pluto Planet Day”, since 2007, to uphold its entitlement in planetary confederacy.

Pluto achieved something unparalleled in clamour and distinction that no planet in living memory has ever been able to provoke, with American Dialect Society announcing the word ‘pluto’ as their 17th annual ‘word of the year’ in 2006.

๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ/๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ: ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ

Wonder, if Pluto in its itinerant 248-year orbit would snicker at us, or be grateful to us, shrug unobvious, or show defiance in our havering to typify it as a planet vs belt object, proclaiming itself to be the self-styled: I am the small yet mighty Pluto! Don’t mess with me.

This is only curtain raiser of what certainly seems to be an interesting read. There’s something in these planets and their configuration or placement may or may not decide our fate or destiny, but whether it’s the names of the days kept after them or the afore stated love for Pluto, the relationship with mankind is special.

Jawaharlal University (JNU)

I was born in 1962 that makes JNU about 7 years younger to me. But it’s very much part of my childhood, which was mostly spent in the serene surrounding of the well-laid out and planned government colony RK Puram, JNU being at one end of it, not too distant from another pioneering institute, IIT, Delhi. In a sense that area became like an institutional area with sprawling campuses of IIT and JNU!

JNU quickly gained in reputation and stature and for students pursuing certain faculties mainly economics, political sciences and languages, admission to JNU became aspirational. It soon started attracting talent not only from other states, but also internationally. It boasts of alumni such as Noble Laureate Abhijit Banerjee, PM of Libya Ali Zeidan, PM of Nepal Baburam Bhattarai and several politicians, diplomats, artists, academicians and scientists. In fact, I am a proud alumnus of this prestigious institution myself by virtue of having completed 1 year part time course called certificate of proficiency in Russian language.

Controversies are not new to JNU, though with a right-of-centre government in power, the ideological bent of ” left-of-centre” of the campus politics have brought out rifts quite blatantly. In April 2000, an Urdu mushaira, in which Pakistani poets also participated became a hot controversy when two army officers attending the same were beaten by students when they objected to certain contents. In 2010, a meeting was organised to oppose “Operation Green Hunt” to celebrate killing of 76 CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh, demonstrating a clear bias in favour of Maoist thinking. In 2015, efforts to create courses on Indian culture were opposed on the basis that these were aimed to saffronise Indian culture. Of course, the worst was a cultural evening organised against the execution of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat and for Kashmir’s right to self-determination. Police arrested Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid on the charges of sedition.

It’s unfortunate that an institution that was aimed at dispensing quality education of international standards and that indeed produced so many bright alumni has today become hotbed of politics that has rotted from harmless issue based student politics to controversial politics following certain ideology to such an extreme that appears like sedition! While it’s stand on LGBT, freedom, communal unity, economic equality etc are praiseworthy, the overaged students with controversial linkages and habits using the university’s privileges and infrastructure to pursue a particular political ideology is deplorable. Contrarian view need not hinge on sedition, issues of national importance need not always attract contrarian view and if the youth of this nation does not form view on merits but go the beaten path of fixed ideologies of right and left, then it certainly is a problem. Where’s pure left today? China is the largest capitalist market and Russia has all but shifted to centre! Where’s pure right today? Hitler is history! JNU should uphold its academic excellence; politics can be pursued outside its precincts.