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.

Buck up Mumbai – World is moving very fast

And here I am not even talking about the world but our very own country and two other megapolis cities that I happened to travel over the last two weeks – our national capital New Delhi and the city of joy Kolkata.

Well New Delhi is a relatively newer city and parts of it, especially Lutyen’s Delhi, are very well planned and lush green. Plus it can now boast of an absolutely widespread and world class Metro network. But what surprised me this time was absolutely well laid out , layered , long and world class flyovers that could take you from one end of the city to another bypassing all intersections! As my itinerary included going from North-West Delhi to extreme south-East part (Noida) to central part ( Karol Bagh) to Airport to catch flight back home, I was a worried man. But I could do all these legs in virtually no time and that too in spite of my driver driving the car at a moderate speed in view of strict speed limit restrictions! Of course, Delhi’s Airport is amongst the best and the busiest in the world.

Kolkata used to be notorious for traffic jams and wayward driving. However, during my this visit, Airport to Salt Lake to the city centre ( Shakespeare Sarani) to back to Airport was absolutely smooth and glitch free through a combination of long flyovers, strict compliance with the traffic rules and one way traffic management. The city that boasted of the underground metro in the country is also further bolstering its metro network that’s clearly evident from large scale infrastructure development currently in progress.

On returning to our beloved city Mumbai, I was greeted by delayed arrival, thanks to the main runway that’s under repair till April, potholes ridden roads, indisciplined traffic clogging the entry points of all flyovers and frequent disruption in its infrastructure projects thanks to environmental and other issues.

Once the crown of the country, our beloved city badly needs a visionary ; Devendra Fadnavis came quite close to resolving these issues, but political ground realities have brought an abrupt end to his tenure. Let’s hope whosever heads the new Maharashtra government, he or she will rise above narrow politics to carry forward good work by Fadnavis.

Jai Maharashtra! Long live Mumbai!

14th November- An important day

Our first Prime Minister post independence, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was born on this day. Though lately much has been talked about his lineage, his decisions and his thought process, the fact remains that he was the architect of Modern India and notwithstanding this orchestrated campaign against him, he continues to be popular amongst masses. Because he used to love children who used to call him Chacha Nehru, his birthday became Children’s Day, celebrated each year with much gay and joy. For me it would always remain a children day for another reason for my daughter, Ankita being born on that day. I have always been fond of children, making children’s day special, the same becoming extra special being birthday of my daughter.

I was reading somewhere that while Europe is already middle aged and would soon become an “old continent”, India is going to be the youngest nation with the current median age being 26.8 years. This has been one of the positive fall outs of population growth and reduction in infant mortality rate and though it by no means supports the concept of population explosion and we must take steps to control it, the nation is on the threshold of reaping the benefits of its youth power!

Let’s celebrate this day as a day to boost the future flag bearers of this nation – children and youth of today! I additionally celebrate as my child’s birthday!

जन्मदिन मुबारक वीणा

On her birthday on 12th November, my wife Veena, who is currently in Singapore, will not be celebrating the occasion with me. However, a special person deserves special wishes and I wish Veena a very happy birthday through this poem, which has come straight from my heart 💔. It reads:

तुम पास रहती हो तो

दिलोदिमाग़ पर छा जाती हो।

तुम दूर जाती हो तो

मेरा दिल और दिमाग़ साथ ले जाती हो।

समझ में नहीं आता तुम्हारा क्या करूँ?

तुम्हें याद करूँ य तुम्हारी याद में मरूँ!

तुम हंसती हो, हंसाती हो,

सारे जहान में ख़ुशियाँ बिखराती हो!

घर में तुम्हीं से रौनक़ है

तुम नहीं तो सब बेरौनक़ है।

जीवन के कितने ही सावन बीत गए,

पर मुझे याद है वो पल अतीत के

जैसी सुंदर तब थीं

उससे कुछ ज़्यादा अब भी !

हमेशा ख़ुशियों में सराबोर रहो

मुम्बई चाहे सिंगापुर रहो!

Happy birthday Veena. Stay happy, healthy, gorgeous, beautiful, petite, innocent and much more!

Hats off to you

Supreme Court gave much awaited verdict on Ayodhya case. There was palpable tension all around. Government left nothing to chance. Police bandobast left no room for error, peace committees of multiple religious groups were formed, people were advised neither to celebrate victory nor to lament the loss and everyone, including our PM spoke the right language, leveraged around tolerance, brotherhood, unity and magnanimity.

Then came the D day. While the verdict was delivered on the expected lines, the communities showed marvellous restrain and maturity. Hindus embraced Muslims, calling it a legal decision based on the facts presented by the two sides. Muslims on their part decided to take the verdict in their stride, without any bitterness or malice. Sunni Wakf Board has already decided not to challenge the court’s decision.

Not that there have been no voices of dissent! Owaisi called it a victory of faith over facts, though 5 member bench headed by CJ himself made it amply clear that decision was based on the facts and evidences provided by two sides. He also said that Muslims didn’t require Government’s charity of 5 acres land parcel, as ordered by the hon’ble Supreme Court, for constructing a mosque. But by and far the dissent has been muted and isolated.

The moot point is who is you in the title of this blog? You is no individual or agency! It’s all of us – the Honourable Supreme Court, Ranjan Gogoi, the incumbent Chief Justice of India, whose untiring efforts to complete hearing and pronouncing judgment before his retirement, would be viewed with gratitude by nation, four other judges on the bench for unanimous verdict, lawyers who fought tooth and nail but without acrimony, Hindu and Muslim religious leaders, PM Modi, opposition, law keeping agencies but above all, the people of this country, including you and me, who once again chose to stand united against any adversity !! India emerges stronger and communal bonhomie much deeper and a hope takes birth that all our issues can be resolved within the ambit of constitution through dialogue and amiability.

When the cat’s away mice will play

This is a period of an unexpected bliss- not only one but two cats in my life are away at the same time and this mouse is getting so overwhelmed, not knowing how to celebrate! Agreed, wife is a great companion ( lifelong) and friend! In my case, my boss is also a friend of more than 30 years! I share great rapport with my domestic as well as office bosses. Having said so, a boss is a boss, a big fat cat, friendly but it’s basic nature is feral.

Life doesn’t become any easier in the absence of bosses. Home boss’s absence makes food, house cleaning and laundry big headaches; office boss’s absence lays down additional responsibilities and removal of the protective layer, shielding you from even bigger bosses!

But all said and done, the very feeling of the brief boss-less existence is exhilarating. For once you are your own boss, able to play unrestrictedly as the big fat cat is away! Only one thought is the spoilsport- would the big cat come back hungrier, fatter and more feral ? And this fortnight of freedom already seems exhausted anticipating the return of dragon(s) – or did I call them cat?

Shyamashree

Poetry is not necessarily an outcome of romanticism, though love ballads are supposedly the best poems. Poetry is also a powerful medium to pay obeisance to an awesome personality and therefore, instead of verbose prose, I have tried to compose a few rhyming lines for Shyamashree, a person I admire a lot. It’s called An ode to Shyamashree:

An ode to Shyamashree

God has created men and women,

But is really female a lesser gender?

Not if you know Shyamashree,

She’s so headstrong & yet so tender!

She’s what all a person can be,

A scholar, professional and a teacher;

Besides being a loving wife & an affectionate daughter,

And above all a doting mother!

Her heart is generous,

As she doles out empathy, love and knowledge;

To each and everyone without exception,

Whether you are in office, school or college!

Lucky are those who know her closely,

But not only husband, children, father& mother;

But even those who know her from distance,

An outsider like me and million others!!!

Happy birthday Shyama, stay blessed; achieve all your aspirations and help make this world a happy place!