Gujarat – What keeps it ahead of the curve?io

Going by 2018 numbers, Gujarat is the 9th most populous state of India, ahead of a divided Andhra; otherwise it would have been 10th. The change in its population in comparison to 2011 was a mere 5.74%, which is amongst the lowest ( in comparison Bihar grew its population by 14.76%) in the country, even lower than the most literate state Kerala that grew its population at 5.76% between 2011 and 2018.

However, this state has produced perhaps more entrepreneurs than any other state in India. Though Punjabis are known for their ability to work hard, Tamilians and Bengalis for their intellect, Marwaris for their business acumen and Marathas for their valour, the fact remains Gujaratis seem to be ahead of the curve as far as entrepreneurship is concerned. While it could be incidental that once in a lifetime celebrity and achiever Dhirubhai Ambani was a Gujarati, it cannot be a sheer coincident that much of the textile sector ( in fact almost all the textile mills of Mumbai) is controlled by Gujarati community. Adani, Laljibhai, Sun Pharma, Nirma, Surat diamond cutting industry and the national icon Amul ( a great outcome of the success of cooperative model ) are not for no reason connected to Gujarat. Even Parsi community that has dominated business in India in spite of very low population count ( Tatas, Wadias, Godrej, Shapoorji, Poonawalla) have in some manner historic connection with Gujarat.

But inspiration for this blog has really come from Modi 2.0. While all the states of India have fair share of their own freedom fighters, national icons, brave hearts and the ones leaving a lasting legacy, Gujarat seems to be ahead of the curve. While the legacy of Sardar Patel is now a matter of hot contention between BJP and Congress, Gandhi, the father of the nation, remains an icon for both the national parties unlike Nehru, who lately seems to have come under lots of fire! Morarji Desai was one of the first rather longish serving and popularly elected PM outside Nehru-Gandhi clan and this tradition now seems to be reversed completely by Modi, who was yesterday sworn in for his second term.

On a dispassionate side, national icons are not the property of any state or an individual. We do not see Netaji as a Bengali, Chhatrapati Shivaji as a Maratha, Bhagat Singh as a Punjabi, Maharana Pratap as a Mewari and C. Rajagopalachari as a Tamilian. They are loved, idolised and adored not only across the country but across the World as well! But Modi 2.0 is definitely a matter that’s bound to raise the question that’s the title of this blog! We hope we continue to admire Gujarat for its entrepreneurship, it’s progressive attitude, it’s garba and dandiya, food, infrastructure and its contribution to the pool of national leadership and that Godhara and riots post Godhara would be just one-off stigmas in its otherwise fine history of valour and amity. We hope it produces more Gandhis, Patels and Modis, depending on how he handles the affairs of this great nation in his 2nd and subsequent terms, should he be asked by the nation to lead again and again! He has acquired cult status, but to be national icon in perpetuity may require something extraordinary that others mentioned this list had achieved!

Peekaboo

Peekaboo or hide and seek that we have all played in our childhood days, remains popular till date, especially with infants and young children. When you suddenly reappear from hiding and say a loud boo to the kid seeking you, his/her joy and laughter can be infectious.

You may wonder why suddenly this blog on something as archaic and frivolous as Peekaboo? I have been excessively engaged in this age old traditional game with my two grandkids – one a 2 years and 4 months old devil and the other 3 months old angel who is on the verge of becoming a devil! They came here on a short visit, but overwhelmed us with their presence in so much as , much of our routined existence was severely challenged and we were mostly at their disposal!

Now that they’re traveling back to their home in Johannesburg, this simple game of Peekaboo suddenly seems to be having a much deeper connotation. Their periodic visits to India and our travel to South Africa to meet each other are in fact a form of this age old fantasy that children have indulged in since time immemorial. They and we shall go in hiding, seeking the hidden partners and when we actually seek and meet each other, there will be joy all around! All the parents and others having expat children and nears & dears will cherish this blog as they all seek their beloved in this game of hide and seek!

Happy Birthday to Me

This is one of the problems with being a blog writer. No body is going to write and dedicate a blog in your honour on your birthday. Alas, such an honour also the blogger has to do himself!

Having said so, one must thank the social media and especially Face Book for making you feel that you are the most popular guy around. Thanks to their advance notification, I have started getting birthday posts right from today! I am sure most of the wishers failed to read the fine print that it’s an advance notification for 28th May; they just went through the motions of wishing an acquaintance happy birthday!

But it’s rather mean of me to go into such intricacies rather than acknowledging spirit behind these wishes! They at least took some time out of their precious FB and WhatsApp surfing time to wish me happy birthday!

I belong to a generation and family where birthdays were one of those days when the birthday boy was granted exemption not to study, go out to have dosa and at best catch up a new Bollywood release. Of course, no friend or relative would remember the day as there was no FB and gifts were unknown! From that day to this day, it’s a different feeling. Apart from wishes over FB, Messenger, WhatsApp and Twitter, there are cakes, flowers and candles- mostly virtual but some from very close acquaintances, real!

So while celebrations have become much more hyped and pronounced, the number is increasingly becoming disconcerting! While the above described listless low key birthdays of childhood and youth in some sense led to a magical number – teenage, completing teens, 25, 35, 45- all very important milestones, the birthday of tomorrow leads to none too impressive number – 57! It’s definitely not representative of youth, but it’s too early to qualify one for senior citizen privileges! You are retiring but not anytime too soon! You are not free but not tearing busy either! You don’t feel like seeing any Bollywood movie, though eating any food still remains a weakness! Everything is somewhere in between – neither too late but not not bang on time either!

So I am not going to get into any thought that conflicts with my zeal to enjoy my birthday! I shall have good time and that’s what matters! I will accept good wishes from friends and family, eat good food, take a break and live the moment ! After all 57 is just a number and any student of mathematics can tell you that number line is infinitely long! For something that’s infinite, why should we make our joy of living finite!

Thanks for wishes to all my readers in advance! Some of them will have to exert themselves to wish me here on Word Press as also on FB and possibly WhatsApp! But don’t worry, I will count them as three wishes and say Thank you three times😀

Expectations

It’s a season of expectations. Although, having expectations is contrary to the teachings of Bhagvad Gita that sermonises us to only perform and expect nothing, these expectations are albeit of a different kind. Here to do anything or perform is not in our hands, yet we nurture high hopes of spectacular success. What are these? Let me enlist a few as under/

(1) There are huge expectations from Modi 2.0 and after spectacular win in the elections, Modi has acknowledged fear psychosis affecting minorities and need to include everyone on this journey of growth and development. As its said, well begun is half done!

(2) Cricket fans have high hopes from Virat Kohli and his boys to repeat the feat by his illustrious predecessors Kapil and Dhoni and bring home the World Cup. Unfortunately, well begun theory does not apply here as the Team India has lost its first warm up match to New Zealand.

(3) Nation has huge hopes from rain gods to bestow generosity upon the parched land and give water in abundance – for drinking and irrigation. Drought in certain parts is severe and declining underground water table is hardly a cause to ignore.

(4) There were election promises around payment of monies directly in the accounts of farmers and popes. With Modi, the pioneer of direct to account payment of subsidy back in power, people shall shortly start checking their Jan Dhan accounts expecting inflows.

(5) There are expectations from Finance Minister, stock markets, Bollywood, Trump, Imran and what not?

Hope, expectations and optimism are some of the best gifts bestowed by God on the mankind. As Charles Dickens in his great work called “Great Expectations” wrote :

The broken heart. You think you will die, but you just keep living, day after day after terrible day.

Backbenchers in school- Frontrunners in life

My friend and an avid blogger himself , Sunil Babbar, is highly active on social media and he frequently sends interesting material that sparks an idea of writing a new blog in me. He today sent an interesting poem on the backbenchers in school, who are unique in many senses. The poem reads as under:

*The Back Benchers*- *a tribute*

In school, there was, is and will be,

A unique and discreet subset.

A few rows of back-benchers,

Students, who were never afraid of a test.

The backbenchers took the longest breaks,

Took the longest to settle down.

Rarely would have done their homework,

Still, from teachers didn’t evince a frown.

They were current on movies,

And knew great stuff on sports too.

And if our city had secret places to visit,

They already been there an done it too.

They weren’t good at academics,

But weren’t bothered about it.

They were good in sports,

But would not bother others about it.

They were taller and heavier,

Some had seen more summers.

Puberty struck them earlier,

One of them was a drummer.

They had magazines which front benchers didn’t,

More glossy and re-readable at that.

There was an air of mischief,

And a smile that complemented that.

Except in the art class,

The ones in our class were great artists too.

They’d draw on the desk,

Art mentionable & unmentionable too.

They knew how to fly planes,

Land missiles on teachers.

And with a poker face,

Lie with panache & credence.

Catcalls and comments,

Came from them with a regular flow.

Assignments were jointly completed,

Later than sooner they would show.

They were a nice lot,

Happier than most others, I’d say.

More at peace with themselves,

Except on the results day.

Sports Day was the day they’d excel,

And make their class and house proud.

Win points and medals,

Be cheered by the crowd.

They had the colours on holi,

Their pen wielded ink too.

Their crackers resounded in toilets,

They had the gadgets & games too.

In time we met again,

In social media groups & reunions.

They’ve done as well as those in front,

The differences have melted since.

Happy then and happy now,

The backbenchers had a fair deal.

They must’ve slogged in between,

As good or better than front row, I feel.

It generally evens out in life,

Whether you were at the front or back.

The benchmark was never the bench,

Or where they sat, front or back.

Who will not connect to the above poem? The poem immediately refreshed the faces of backbenchers in my class. And the fact is that on reconnecting with many of them on social media, it is amply evident that they have done as well or badly as any of the front or middle benchers.

Incidentally, I came across another great thought from evergreen great spiritualist Mahataria that read:

Success is not what you have achieved, as compared to others.

Success is what you have achieved, as compared to what you are capable of.

I was a middle bencher with ordinary abilities, but I consider myself successful because I seemed to have achieved greater success compared to what I was capable of ! I don’t know what readers should make out of this blog – if nothing else, they should enjoy one great poem and one great thought ! After all , what’s life all about other than what we think it to be!

No saffron no lotus – It’s Modi all the way

The entire nation seems to be getting saffronised or should we say lotusised? I am sure if this wave, that started in 2014 and is only seem to have got stronger in 2019 , continues for some more time, Oxford may be compelled to add two new words into its lexicon- saffronisation (already accepted in slang) and lotusisation! However, for once it may neither be about saffron nor lotus! Though a staunch supporter of organisational strength , always believing that an organisation is much bigger than an individual, Modi seems to be belying this age old adage. BJP and NDA may be basking in glory of having decimated UPA, not only in the face of grand opposition unity but also strong anti incumbency mainly arising out of Demonetisation and GST, the fact remains that the verdict is for the man of the moment – Narendra Modi. He spanned the country across all 4 directions, addressed numerous rallies, connected with the people through all possible channels and dwarfed the unified opposition campaign through his sheer tall stature. People of this country have reaffirmed their faith in Modi (not necessarily in BJP and its allies together constituting NDA) for his honesty, sincerity, hard work and intent. If the vote is for Modi, the entire onus to deliver the goods would also be on him. Hope he now has adequate first hand experience that big disruptions in a big country like India can create big issues. Government should act in a manner that causes maximum damage to mischief makers with minimum of inconvenience to law abiding citizens. Government should also care for sensitivities of this large nation that houses different religions, castes, creeds and communities that whose freedom is guaranteed by the constitution of this country. Any attempt to rewrite the history of India may not bear desired outcomes but collective and unified efforts to rewrite the destiny of this country by uprooting corruption, intolerance, lawlessness, dishonesty and favouritism will ensure that Modi’s name is recorded in golden letters in the annals of the history of this great nation!

Congratulations to Modi led NDA! Hopefully Modi 2.0 will be less disruptive and more progressive, less acidic and more prolific, less noisy and more productive, less divisive and more harmonic and above all less exclusive and more inclusive! Message for opposition – elections have ended and electorate of this country will vote on the issues and not on rabble rousing. They should play a constructive role in nation building rather than asking for proof of everything, including surgical strikes!

Long live India! Long live Indian democracy!

Election results are immaterial- Governance is important

We are on the eve of the D day. Tomorrow election results will be out and we shall all know who will helm the nation for the next 5 years- Modi 2.0, Rahul or someone not belonging to either BJP or Congress. Mini verdicts in the form of scores of exit polls are already out, most of these giving a clear majority to BJP led NDA. Stock markets have already reacted to these forecasts by breaking 10 year’s record for a single day rise in Sensex. Media is all agog about the likely priorities of the new Government. In as much as even Pakistani media is discussing the fall out of Modi in his second term on their country.

But we seem to be getting it all wrong. Maharashtra and some other states are facing devastating drought and with the forecast of inadequate rains during the current monsoon season, nation is going to see a helluva problem . Kashmir seems to be going out of hands and Maoist are on rampage. Unemployment is reaching new heights. Twin impacts of GST and Demonetisation seem to have killed small businesses beyond retrieval. Hindu Muslim polarisation seems to be reaching an inflection point. Already certain incriminating evidence on EVMs has already raised ugly noise, which is likely to get louder should the results be unexpected, The campaign undertaken by political parties was malicious, vicious, obnoxious and atrocious.

It’s not to say that Modi Government is responsible and that there are better alternatives. But whosoever forms the Government must set the priorities right, This nation doesn’t require rulers; it requires selfless servers who have the courage and vision to take the country out of quagmire.

May be by the time thus blog is read by you, trend about who is form new government will already be clear. But relevance of the thought captured in this blog is not incidental to any outcome but is timeless.