Modi 1 and 2

Modi 1 started with a whiff of fresh air. First thing he said was that he would review all the major infrastructure projects- roads, power, ports- and would restart and expedite all the shelved and delayed projects respectively. He undertook surprise visits to ministries, hospitals, public places etc to check punctuality, cleanliness and working atmosphere. He brought in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code that was to change the way banking sector would deal with defaults forever. Even demonetisation and GST were well intentioned, though their implementation could have been better. Above all, Clean India” or Swachch Bharat” campaign was started that changed the very thought process of the country on the need to maintain hygiene and cleanliness.On foreign front, India gained unprecedented recognition and emerged as a significant international player. Pakistan was cut to size and sent strong message through surgical strikes and destruction of Balakot terror camps through a daredevil act by IAF. This led to the people of India backing Modi for the second stint.

What have been achievements of Modi 2.0 so far? Abrogation of articles 370 and 35 (a), Court’s verdict on Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid case ( not directly attributable to Modi), The Muslim Women (protection of rights on marriage ) Act that bans triple talaq in India (initiated during Modi 1.0) and CAA.

Modi 2.0 should become all encompassing, fully observing Raj Dharma working for the betterment of economy, prosperity of all sections and strata of society and development of the country. Kashmir will always be ours, government can always grant citizenship to anyone it desires and the electorate are always going to vote differently for state and national elections. United India will become stronger, division will weaken its roots! Our ancestors have lived together and peacefully – let’s continue with the tradition. If all the above happens, 1 or 2 will be mere numbers and we can keep on counting 3,4,5…..

Deepika Padukone- An Indian before anything else

What comes to your mind when the word Deepika is mentioned? Ethereal beauty, petite and svelte lady, grace personified, dignified, superstar, bundle of talent and in any case a celebrity par excellence? In fact she is all the above and much more!

She is arguably one of the most beautiful stars to have adorned Bollywood silver screen ever- right in the class of Madhubala and Madhuri. She has proven her mettle as an actor with some powerful performances, the most recent in Chhapaak being her best to date. She continues to reinvent herself with every movie and every character that she plays. She’s most sought after star, model and personality. Yet she’s very traditional. She was a good obedient and normal child in spite of cult status of her father- all time great India badminton exponent Prakash Padukone. She entered entertainment world on her own merits. She had regular flings and affairs like any normal girl, but she never trespassed the Laxman rekha and at the peak of her career she decided to tie knot with a man of her own choice. Unfortunately (sic), like any normal human being (albeit with a celebrity status) she also has an independent mind and guts to express her views!

JNU, alma mater of such prominent personalities as Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, current FM Nirmala Sitharaman, politicians Sitaram Yechury and Prakash Karat and several others who have made significant and path breaking contributions in their respective fields, is today being know only for “tukde tukde gang”! Anyone supporting the dastardly act of attack by masked hooligans on hapless students is being labelled anti national! People are going to such an extent that they are boycotting all the brands for which Deepika is a brand ambassador. One moron also termed her visit to JNU to empathise with their cause as a promotional gimmick for her new release!

We all agree that JNU should regain its position as an institution of academic excellence, its students must have an independent view without turning JNU into a place of political hot bed, vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous politicians. Overaged students with no academic goal but sole purpose to attain their political objectives should be packed off from the campus. But in a democratic and free country like India violence has no place and we all must have patience and largesse to imbibe all views and debate those issues that are contrary to our deeply etched beliefs. Nothing per se is wrong or right – everything is contextual.

Let’s celebrate Deepika’s freedom of expression by giving her a standing ovation and not only supporting Chhapaak but all her “good” future body of works! Please continue with Padukone legacy Deepika – your father won gold (world championship) for the country and you win a golden peacock (if not an Oscar) for your performance! May God bless with all the happiness and you in turn shower that on your beloved nation that’s badly in need of love and happiness!

Tufail Niazi

The other day someone forwarded on WhatsApp to me a clipping of an old live performance on PTV. The song was evergreen “tarak kar ke”. As I had heard the song in my childhood, this clipping brought back whole lot of memories. A little bit of research revealed that the artist was Tufail Niazi, the king of folk music. His repertoire includes such marquee songs as “sada chidiyan da Chamba” , ” main nahin jaana kheriyan de naal” apart from the evergreen “tarak karke”. These songs are popular on the either side of the border and are sung in Punjabi households during marriages and other functions.

Two things crossed my mind while writing on this subject. First is Tufail Niazi represented a breed of artists who had lived on the either side of the border, shared a common heritage and were loved equally ardently in both the countries. Like Dilip, Dev or Raj, all born in Peshawar in Pakistan, Tufail was born in Jalandhar and had performed all over India from Saharanpur to Jaipur to Kolkata before moving to Pakistan post partition. In his interviews he fondly recalled his association with so called Hindu centric activities such as managing a gau shala ( and actually publicising the need to treat cow as mother and not to abandon or slaughter her), taking parts in Ras Leelas, singing Krishna bhajans and performing nautanki. This clearly shows that for an artist only music is his religion and language. With the demise of almost every one of that era, this breed is on the verge of extinction and that much touted common heritage, music and performing arts that the two countries shared will be a thing of the past.

Second thought is that punjabi pop and punjabi influenced Bollywood songs that are heavy on rhythm are not true representatives of punjabi folk and it’s richness. It’s raagdari, gharana based singing , mellifluousness and richness would in no sense be less than Hindustani or Carnatic classical music that we aficionados of music hold in such high esteem while discounting punjabi songs as shallow and frivolous.

Tufail Niazi’s sons under the banner of Niazi brothers are carrying forward their late father’s rich legacy.

Winters of childhood

Northern and Eastern parts of India are experiencing unprecedented cold. Delhi recorded a maximum of 9 degrees centigrade, which was lowest in a century. This brought back the fond memories of my childhood spent in Delhi. Though this year might have broken a century old record, Delhi used to experience severe cold, especially during the period between Christmas and Republic Day. Mornings used to be foggy (pure crystal fog and not smog that we see today), days were murky with sun eluding for days altogether and nights freezing cold. Houses were not compact, heating was not very effective (mainly coal fired angeethis or sigris) and geysers were unheard of. Bathing was infrequent and body sponge with change of undergarments helped in keeping one clean. All these memories came alive when I recently read a piece in Urdu titled ” Bachpan ki sardiyan” or “Winters of childhood”. Though translation does not fully capture the finer nuances, I have tried to be as close to original as possible. It reads as under:

In winters in our childhood, geysers were unheard of and our Amma would heat water in a five litre ghee canister emptied after use of its content and give short bath ( munh haath) to all of us brothers and sisters. She would then put mustard oil in our hair, cold cream on our faces ( Neeli sheeshi wali cold cream – I think it’s Afghan Snow) and Vaseline ( he uses the word Pomade) on extremities to prevent dryness. Then she would dress up us in colourful jerseys. To outside world, we would like jokers but to mother, howsoever ugly her children may be, they always look cute and the best in the world. Today, we spent thousands on centralised heating, water heaters and geysers, costly and designer woollens, best of the food and diet, but the charm of the winters of childhood cannot be recreated .

Very simple, but touches the chords of the heart somehow! I hope it gives readers, most of whom are in Mumbai, a flavour what harsh winters of north are all about and how middle class dealt with it in the past.

Gifting ideas for the new year 2020

This is the season of gifting, with Christmas just having been celebrated (though as explained in one of my earlier blogs, Christmas festivities continue for 12 days and 5th January is actually the last day of Christmas season ) and New Year spirit very much in the air. As it’s said, gifting is an art; in fact, it’s an art for both – the giver as well as receiver. What you gift is important, but how it is received by the receiver is even more important.

Just read an interesting article on what the receiver says and what he actually means when he receives a gift not as per his/her expectations. When someone received a grinder, while thanking the giver profusely, in her heart the receivers felt like grinding the giver. A gold ring (normally a precious gift and sure shot winner when a man gifts it to his beloved) made the lady blush, though in her heart she was cursing her lover for delaying this gift so much! The article wittily deals with gifts of various kinds and reaction of the receivers. In the end I Phone emerged as a great gifting idea on which the reaction and thought of the receiver were fully aligned.

I am privy to gifting related goof ups made by both givers as well as receivers. A gift like watch, pen or Bluetooth speaker invariably leads to duplication at the receiver’s end, resulting in further gifting! A piece of clothing can lead to size and taste mismatch issues. Shopping vouchers may force the receiver to go to the particular store much against his/her liking, while gift cards can ruin shopping experience when retailers refuse the card or give excuse of the card reading machine not working. Cash is king, but people could find themselves in uncomfortable zone while giving or accepting cash! Of course, I also came through a news item where a marriage invitation was sent on a cloth handkerchief (Hanky to be used in future), only blessings were solicited as gifts and as return gift, all the guests were presented with cloth bags having two saplings – neem and pipal – with full process on the paper on how to plant the saplings and care them to grow into trees! Very thoughtful gifting indeed!

Some of us seem to have overcome this dilemma at least as far gifting for occasions like marriage and birthday are concerned. It’s stated on the invite itself that gifts in the form of blessings will only be accepted.

Let in this new year, we gift everlasting gift of love, compassion, piety and kindness to fellow human beings as these gifts neither require any elaborate planning nor entail the risk of being sneered at by the receiver!

Happy 2020!

New year’s musings

2020 is special; its not only a new year but start of a new decade also. In fact my previous blog welcoming 2020 is all about positivity and optimism. However, its risky to be living in a fool’s paradise and closing our eyes to the harsh realities on the ground. This feeling has provoked me to compose a few lines that capture the grim reality of today but as is typical of me, ends on a positive note.

New Year’s Musings

What’s all this hullabaloo about

Years come and years go

What are all of us celebrating

When the only change is a big No

Girls will continue to be molested and raped

Even infants and children will not be spared

Polarisation on caste, religion and ideology will go on unabated

How it can it be stopped when it’s been deliberately created

There’s negativity all around on Demon., GST, CAA et al

How can it be banished when misuse of social media is rampant

And while Bible preaches that love thy neighbour

But our neighbours are always challenging our valour

Does it mean it’s all very gloomy and all very murky

Not if we decide to get rid of the above evil faced turkey

If we are aware, awake and put up a united face

All the adversities can be converted into a magic mace!

Happy new year to all on the hope that none of us falls prey to the evil web being woven around especially through myth and fiction on social media. Let’s keep our ears and eyes open for real facts and think from our minds rather than hearts!

Welcome 2020

Memories of new year eves mainly revolve around the special programme that Doordarshan used to telecast and when the clock hit 12’o clock, wishing family members happy new year over some sweet meats. Not that, I have not celebrated arrival of new year partying with friends and family at a club or restaurant, but I think memories of distant past of childhood are more strongly imprinted on one’s psyche.

For a change, I have welcomed 2020 only at 6 AM after waking up. Probably it was partying and celebrations of past few days during my daughter and her children’s 3 weeks stay here with us that took toll on my stamina that led to such a cold reception of the new year. But that does not for a moment indicate that I am not excited at the prospects of having a great 2020, which also heralds the start of a new decade. An eternal optimist, I have lots of wishes and yearning for the good of me, my friends and family, organisation, our country and the world at large.

(1) India, the land of peace and love, should get over these acronymic syndromes such as CAA, NPR etc and be the multi ethnic, multi religious, peaceful and tolerant society – the land of Krishna, Mahavira, Budha, Nanak and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti- that it always has been since the time immemorial.

(2) Kashmir, the heaven on the earth, should become heavenly once again and those snow laden mountains be pristine white, trees of chir and deodar prosperous green and waters of Dal lake blue and serenely calm instead of the current regime of fear, hatred, helplessness currently prevalent there at.

(3) Let this be the end of the woes of our farmers and our prudent water management never leads to another draught , forcing our farmers to commit suicide. Let our rivers and water sources be filled up to brim to quench the thirst of parched throats and lands.

(4) Can hatred and criminal mindset be eradicated from human psyche so that we don’t witness indiscriminate shooting on the praying mobs in temples, churches and mosques and on children and patrons in schools and restaurants, rapes of girls and minors and jihad of any kind? Can this world be a happier, safer and more beautiful place the way in which God almighty has endowed it to us?

(5) Can my family members and friends and why only them and not everyone else be healthier and happier, overcoming their worries and troubles and fulfilling all their wishes and aspirations?

(6) Can my organisation,in which I recently completed 25 years, become the best – in its line of business, for its customers, as the best employer and in its philanthropic pursuits – and become a niche organisation?

As a popular saying goes, ” if wishes were horses, beggars would ride them”! We can wish for the moon and sky but we will have to work towards all the above aspirations rather then expecting their fulfilment to be served to us on a platter! So karma is a pre requisite for all this goodness to come into our laps.

Another change from the past is that I am not making any new year’s resolutions because there’s no point in resolving something and be disheartened at the end of the year for having not kept the resolution. Instead, this year our resolve should be to be happy and to spread happiness as ultimately the objective of all the goals and enrichment is Supreme bliss!

I wish all my readers Supreme bliss that should not last only one year but the entire decade as it’s being made at the start of this new decade and in fact, the entire lifetime! For my country, I wish that in this year 2020 let the nation score quick runs as is done in a T20 match for we have to do catching up with the rest of the world and batting like a 5 days’ test may not help!

To end, let me say a few lines:

Is 2020 merely a number

Or is it the start of a new year and decade?

When we leave behind our worries and woes

And become a real happy brigade!!!