Thursday, 16 November 2017

Robert Mugabe

#RobertMugabe  As I grow older, one by one all the relics and associations of the past fade away into oblivion . The news of the coup in Zimbabwe is one such event that makes me feel again how the world has changed over the years. Right from the days I started taking interest in politics, current affairs or international events, the name Robert Mugabe was very common . Perhaps even a little more than Nelson Mandela who was still in prison when Mugabe assumed power as the PM of Zimbabwe in 1980. He held on to power for more than  37 years by various means and advocating different political philosophies .  At the age of 93 , he is the oldest ruler in this world. His life and times have been well documented and many fictions woven around him.  Those who read Wilbur Smith will immediately find the shadow of Mugabe in many of his novels . 

Zimbabwe was formerly known as Southern Rhodesia and was ruled by the British . It is a landlocked country sharing border with Zambia ( formerly Northern Rhodesia) at the north and majorly on all sides by South Africa.  The inhabitants  unilaterally declared independence in 1965 and after a protracted struggle for independence , finally got it in 1979. Robert Mugabe was at the forefront of this  freedom struggle and he was rightly hailed worldwide for his leadership .  He rose from  poverty to complete  his University education and started  as a teacher before  taking the plunge in politics .

Being indoctrinated in the Marxist philosophy he was supported by the Soviet Russia ( read KGB) who were trying to build their influence in Africa - Angola, Mozambique , Ghana  and many other countries through their proxy, Cuba. The party he headed - ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) received widespread patronage from the  Soviet bloc as well as the third world countries all over the world. After independence of his country , Robert Mugabe naturally headed the government and became a well known anti imperialistic figure in the  third world countries and Non aligned movement . The Independence of Zimbabwe actually gave impetus to the anti apartheid movement of South Africa  and also a foothold for the rebels there to continue their armed struggle .

The glory days of NAM showcased famous personalities from our youth - Indira Gandhi, Fidel Castro , Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi, President Tito , President Assad, Hosni Mubarak etc. Robert Mugabe made his place among them . Many , who are particularly sympathetic to US interests  would term this as a rogue's gallery but please note that the world was a different place 30-40 years back .

But as it happens everywhere, somewhere along the line  Robert Mugabe became too powerful and believed himself to be the supreme . Not everybody can relinquish power like Gandhi or Mandela . Most rulers degenerate into Idi Amin . Mugabe was accorded the status of being the father figure of his country. But his rule of 37 years was a story of incompetence, inefficiency, corruption and ruthless power play.  But let us concede one point. In spite of his dictatorial style , Mugabe never gave up on the pretense of democracy. He got himself voted , term after term through massively rigged and manipulated elections .

At the last count, he cant be termed as a fascist. And through out his life he remained an anti imperialist , often at loggerheads with USA and a thorn to their ambitions.  Robert Mugabe was a great friend of India  and have visited our country often  right from his revolutionary days. Last year there was a small controversy about his attending the World Culture Festival organised by Ravi Shankar . He was briefly reported as missing after having left the country to attend the function .

But he was the person responsible for bringing a thriving  country like Zimbabwe with potentials in agriculture and mining into penury. Starting as a Marxist ideologue, he morphed into Marxist- Leninist, then socialist and finally pure kleptocrat. With the new world order after the dismantling of USSR and the withering of NAM, he lost his support and bargaining power and gradually lost relevance with age . Lately , he was more known for his remarks against racism and imperialism.  His rule became synonymous with the economic doom and jokes about the currency of that country. Last heard I know of a joke doing the rounds which said that 100 trillion Zim Dollar was equivalent to 40 US cents. Don't really know how far it's true.

But in all of this , there is a lesson to be learnt . No ruler lasts for ever and no ruler should be allowed to gather so much power  like the dictators we see around us . USA wisely has a constitution which allows only two terms , maximum eight years of power, to an individual. And UK retains the crown as a figurehead to provide a rallying point instead of any individual , however popular he or she may be.

I am neither an expert nor have any qualification to comment on international affairs . But to a layman like me observing the drama unfold as an armchair specialist of stories laced with political intrigue, it appears on the surface that the coup has the blessings of USA who are desperate to gain a foothold in Africa to counter the growing influence of China, who unlike USSR do not export revolution to any country ; only Chinese goods . But what lies beneath can be anybody's guess.

So now, long live the Queen.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Random thoughts 16112017

#Conspiracytheory Don't underestimate the biggest actor of India. If nothing goes right , then he may feign a heart attack during a public rally two days before the voting day in Gujarat. And remain in the ICU till voting is done to whip up public sympathy. He can do everything. Use every trick in the books . I simply don't trust him .

*******************
14.11.2017

This culture of trespassing into the personal lives and using spy camera to malign opponents must stop forthwith. Those who suport this or even try to justify such reprehensible behaviour do not realise that all this poses a great danger to individual freedom . Life itself is a resultant of lust and desire. Trying to be holier than thou and preaching morals related to carnal desire is idiotic and that too between two persons engaged in the act with mutual consent.

Encouraging this culture will destroy the social fabric. I am apprehensive that the day is not far off when people will stop bothering about cameras and start making it out in the open , like animals.


Monday, 13 November 2017

Random thoughts 13112017


14 years of continuous BJP rule in Madhya Pradesh. Yet they could not wrest the Chitrakoot assembly seat from Congress. How can you believe that they will deliver a Congress-Mukt Bharat ?

22 years of continuous BJP rule in Gujarat . Yet they have not been able to stop the illicit trade of liquor in the state. In spite of prohibition, liquor is freely available there through smugglers.How can you believe that they will deliver a corruption free India ?

Bhaktjanon kuchh toh bolo re !!

Those who criticise or mock North Korea , its leader Kim , his father or his grandfather and accuse them of war mongering may please answer - Which country has North Korea attacked in the last 50 years ? And how many countries the USA have attacked in the last 50 years ?

Without resorting to a nuclear attack , USA will never be able to win against Korea in a conventional war . Not only that , it will also lose its bases and hold over its client state South Korea. So North Korea is correct in developing a nuclear bomb as a deterrent strategy. Otherwise it would have faced the same fate as Libya or Iraq , by now.

It is their national interest they are pursuing . Since they have never shown any hostile intentions or provocations to other countries , it is strange why some Indians show off their twisted sense of foreign affairs by mocking or spreading US propaganda. Some TV channels are especially irritating in their anti Kim or anti North Korean content.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Random thoughts 09112917

Many years back , perhaps in the late seventies (or early eighties) , Shri Ashok Mitra , then finance minister of West Bengal shouted these words - I am not a gentleman, I am a communist- to the bureaucrats , possibly to make them fall in line. He was roundly castigated and a debate ensued . Now, Mr. Mitra was personally a genuine Bhadralok  (gentleman ) learned , erudite , austere and along with that uncompromising (a little too much) . He was a rare example of a civil servant who also excelled as a Marxist thinker, politician and minister. Still he had to bear the brunt of  universal opprobrium on his statement and for lowering the level of politics.

Anyone who recollects or considers his statement and dwell upon the present scenario of political discourse in the country will realise how much lower it has become now. Our country is now headed by a person who mocks his predecessor by jibes of having a shower in the bathroom in raincoat. He refers to the wife of an opposition politician as 50 crores kaa girlfriend and generally abuses the opposition in his farcical street-corner style speeches.

To many of us his speeches and actions would appear to be childish, classless, petty, vulgar and deplorable. But the fact remains that they are also being lapped up by many and there are enough people who appreciate him and his style of speech. That points out to the lowering of the standards in public discourse, rather a free-fall. While castigating him, we cannot forget that the responsibility for that also devolves on us, we the people,  for elevating this man to the pinnacle of power.

The trend of irreverent and comical style of speeches has always been lapped of by the Aam Aadmi but the element of indecency combined with twisting of facts and history is a recent phenomenon and coincides with the term of the present government in Centre ;that everybody will agree. Some will even justify it with a brave front saying this is the dismantling of Lutyens Delhi culture using the word with a sneer just like the other misused terms sickular , liberal and presstitute.

The general refrain from the supporters is - “He’s not a bigot, he’s just politically incorrect. He speaks the truth without bothering for niceties.” But it is very important for us to ponder on this aspect of indecency in public discourse. We must bring back the value of respectfully disagreeing with one another without vitiating the atmosphere with acrimonious insults. Lumpen in politics were always there ;. they lend muscle to the parties. But the political discourse was never so much vitiated with inanities and abuses . Had these abuses been followed up with stern action at the ground level to root out the cause of abuse, it would be welcome as a rough but decisive action. But without any such effort this abusive content only serves to lower the standards further and encourages the lumpen elements.

If this is a sign of changing times , then it is a portent of some catastrophe  that is waiting to happen. Riding a tiger may be easy, getting down from its back is difficult.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

October revolution - 100 years.

What we commonly term as October revolution actually happened in November and today is the 100th anniversary of it.  Once upon a time the Bolshevik revolution of Russia that saw the creation of the mighty USSR was seen as the ultimate expression of people's power against feudal rule and more cerebral than the french revolution. It was celebrated worldwide with due fanfare and appropriate glory.

With the parting of the Chinese communist party , fall of USSR and dismantling of the socialist setup  throughout the world , the October revolution has lost much of its glory. Gone are the days of pomp and show at Moscow, Beijing, Havana, Berlin  and yes, the huge rallies at Kolkata and Trivandrum. To many young people October revolution is more like a Robin hood type story where the rich were looted and poor came to power ; that's all.

But it will be a mistake to write off the event and its significance in the history of humanity. Those who take it lightly or ignore the lessons are living in denial . No idea or event can be judged by its ultimate success or failure but the impact that it creates on us .

October revolution did not fail by itself. It was the Soviet system which failed . And why ? Because of the conservatism of dogma and deviation from the Marxist-Leninist principles . And like drainage to the roots of a tree , constant evolution of any principle or idea is necessary to keep it growing . This is where perhaps the Soviet system failed primarily . The Chinese , however, modified their own system and suited it to their own national interests .

Perhaps there lies the lesson . In their zeal to export the revolution to different countries the Soviet system neglected the structural deficiencies of their own . And the Indian champions of October revolution too remained mired in their dogmatic views trying to supplant the revolution like a dose of medicine.

It has been hundred years only . Who knows how the wheel of time moves in the next hundred years ?

Monday, 6 November 2017

Fly away

Before you start flying on your wings,
so many thoughts would haunt you.
What happens if – and such other doubts
would have clouded your mind.
Because you have never ever flown before this;
on your own wings,
away from the gravitation of the earth,
into the blue skies. 
Till now, you must have only dreamt about this,
feared this day; in your mind somewhere,
there was always this lurking sense of uncertainty.
But all those are now behind you
as the moment of reckoning faces you.
You have to meet it head on,
there’s no other way.
So, take a deep breath, flap your wings
face your fears today for the last time
and then jump into your glory.
Fly away.   

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Random thoughts 22102017

Travelling on a train in North India after many , many days. I always find train journeys to be very interesting and educative . Observing people , places, languages, food and habits always leave an impression.

But with time, we have grown just that bit softer and while travelling with family , try to make them comfortable. So as I travel in the comfort of airconditioned environment of a Shatabdi train to Dehradun, I find half the charm of my wooly headed romance of train travel missing. But well , considering the heat and dust of the rough landscape outside , I don't miss it too.

One thing that immediately strikes to mind , off hand is that the sound and noise about cleanliness drive is a sheer nonsense on ground . If the places along the railway tracks around the NCR can remain so unclean , then what is happening elsewhere is better left to imagination. Secondly , it is high time that humankind especially Indians come out with a solution to the scourge of plastics. Some sort of organic or inorganic process , perhaps some enzyme or some recycled mode of disposal is just necessary now, otherwise we are doomed.

Plastic , which helps to make our lives comfortable , is also our biggest enemy.  All around , the ground is littered with plastic and why shouldn't it be . In the last 16 hours, the two of us have used and discarded six plastic bottles , four plastic cups , sundry wrappers and packets. A burden that I am leaving behind for future generations . I realise this but am I bothered about it ? I don't really know.

*****************
Travelling on a train in North India after many , many days. I always find train journeys to be very interesting and educative . Observing people , places, languages, food and habits always leave an impression.

But with time, we have grown just that bit softer and while travelling with family , try to make them comfortable. So as I travel in the comfort of airconditioned environment of a Shatabdi train to Dehradun, I find half the charm of my wooly headed romance of train travel missing. But well , considering the heat and dust of the rough landscape outside , I don't miss it too.

One thing that immediately strikes to mind , off hand is that the sound and noise about cleanliness drive is a sheer nonsense on ground . If the places along the railway tracks around the NCR can remain so unclean , then what is happening elsewhere is better left to imagination. Secondly , it is high time that humankind especially Indians come out with a solution to the scourge of plastics. Some sort of organic or inorganic process , perhaps some enzyme or some recycled mode of disposal is just necessary now, otherwise we are doomed.

Plastic , which helps to make our lives comfortable , is also our biggest enemy.  All around , the ground is littered with plastic and why shouldn't it be . In the last 16 hours, the two of us have used and discarded six plastic bottles , four plastic cups , sundry wrappers and packets. A burden that I am leaving behind for future generations . I realise this but am I bothered about it ? I don't really know.

*****************

Had a somewhat new experience yesterday which highlighted the great changes that have taken place in our lives over the last few decades. Reaching Delhi,  we proceeded to our hotel Ginger, Rail Yatri Niwas , previously booked. I had chosen this hotel primarily because of its vicinity to the station as we had to board a train next day, quite early in the morning.

We reached the hotel around 8.30 p.m. At the reception, I produced my reservation slip and was asked to produce an identification card. I submitted my Aadhar card. But to my surprise the reception clerk wanted some I-card for my wife too. This had never happened before .


Calling out my wife , seated on a sofa , across the hall , I joked - "give me your I-card , perhaps they don't think you're my wife."  My wife came up to the counter and passed on her ITax Card to the receptionist. What happened next  is the reason for writing this post.

The receptionist refused to acknowledge the IT card as proof of identity as it did not carry any address .  My wife did not carry her aadhar card , driving license , bank passbook or passport as suggested by him. Moreover , she got annoyed and raised her voice. I could see that her feminist tendencies raising the hackles. Moreover , since the last few years , she thinks that being a lawyer's mother she can tackle any rules and regulations in her stride and take legal action on anybody who comes across her way . But the receptionist remained adamant and I must say he retained his cool and remained polite , a novelty considering it was Delhi and a Rail service.

I am myself a short tempered person but realised that the matter was not heading anywhere with the stonewalling by the receptionist taking refuge behind some rules which we were perhaps not aware. And you can't really do anything against a polite official ( a lesson learnt).  It was already getting late and we wanted to snatch a couple of hours for a short Delhi tour. So I asked the guy if some scanned copy would do . He agreed to this idea as a concession. 

Next job was to contact our son at home , get him open his mother's cupboard , rumage through her bag get her passport out , take photos and send it to me , via Whatsapp message. All this took five minutes or so . And we were handed over the room keys in another five minutes, me relieved but my wife furious.

Later , we joked about the whole thing and wondered what the world was coming to. Two adults , well past their prime can't live together in a hotel room without showing proof of their residence. Moreover , we are a bit tentative as not sure what will happen if at some places they refuse to accept the scanned copies and demand that the original be produced. What do we do then , live on the footpath ?

But some lessons were well learnt from the episode.

1. Aadhar card is omnipotent . Now  our whole lives have been taken over by it.

2. Life has really changed over the last few decades. Nobody asked me anything when I took my young wife to hotels earlier but now don't want to allow my old wife with me unless she proves it .

3. Technology has really eased matters a lot and solutions can be had of problems quickly.

4. It is better to carry a scanned copy of identity card on the smart phone . But what happens if it falls into the hands of others is a concern.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Shayari copied from places and persons


माना कि, तेरी नजरो में सजा का हकदार था,

जरा आँखों में आँखे डाल के बता गुनहगार कौन था


तकलीफ़ मिट गई मगर एहसास रह गया

ख़ुश हूँ कि कुछ न कुछ तो मेंरे पास रह गया


यूँ तो बेवजह कुछ भी नही ज़िन्दगी में

हर एक वजह का बोझ ढोना ही पड़ता है


प्रेम या सम्मान का भाव 

सिर्फ उन्हीं के प्रति रखिएगा।

जो आपके मन की भावनाओं 

को समझते हैं।

कहते है कि

जलो वहाँ , जहाँ जरूरत हो।

उजालों में चिरागों के 

मायने नहीं होते।

        

परिंदे शुक्रगुजार हैं,पतझड़ के भी दोस्तो*

*तिनके कहां से लाते,जो सदा  बहार रहती"*

तंज़ कसते रहो तुम उम्र भर... धुएँ की कालिख पर,


मैं तो इक चराग हूँ  ....मेरी फितरत है  रौशनी देना.

इत्तफाक से तो नही टकराये हम,


कुछ तो साजिश खुदा की भी होगी

मैंने तो माँगा था थोड़ा सा उजाला अपनी जिंदगी में


वाह रे चाहने वाले तूने तो आग ही लगा दी जिंदगी में

कर सकते हो तो किसी का भला करो !! ..


बुरा करने के लिए तो मोदी जी बैठे ही हैं 

तमन्ना ने जिंदगी के आँचल में


सर रख कर पूछा -


"मै कब पूरी होउंगी?"

जिंदगी ने हँसकर जवाब दिया-


"जो पूरी हो जाये वो तमन्ना ही क्या!"

अंदर ही अंदर से


खोखले हो जाते हैं घर


जब दीवारों में


पानी भर जाता है...

मिलीं तो बहुत


तेरे बाद मगर ,

तू किसी चेहरे में


नज़र नहीं आयी

...ये कौन शख़्स है


इसको ज़रा बुलाओ तो ,

     ये मेरे हाल पे


क्यूँ मुस्कुरा के गुज़रा है ,

अजब अंदाज़ से


  ये घर गिरा है ,

   मेरा मलबा


मेरे ऊपर गिरा है , mn

नाम तो काँटों का ही लगेगा,


ये सोचकर

कई बार फूल भी, चुपचाप ज़ख्म दे जाते हैं।

Collected from internet

CD hain par usme sex nahin hain. 

Marksheet hain par degree nahi hain. 

Ram hain par mandir nahi hain. 

Bhashaan hain par vikaas nahi hain. 

 MoU hain par investment nahi hain. 

Corruption hain par arrests nahin hain.

Swiss bank accounts hain par naam nahi hain. 


(Courtesy Veer Pal Kamal Ji)

Chaoukidaar hain par tijori mein paisa nahi hain.

Swacha Bharat cess hain par Bharat Swaccha nahi hain.


And last but not the least, Pradhan Sevak hain par insaan nahi hain !!


-Amit Behera


"And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in."

Haruki Murakami

Was the Konkan Railways constructed by the Indian Army?


Just the other day, I was reading about Konkan Railways. An extremely challenging route of 738 Kilometers through some of the most difficult terrain was constructed in less than 10 years.


The Konkan Railway Corporation Limited was incorporated on 19 July 1990 and the track opened for traffic on 26 January 1998. There is about 2000 big and small bridges and 92 tunnels in the entire track length. The longest tunnel is the Karbude Tunnel and is 6.5 Kms long. The Panvell Viaduct (210 ft.) constructed on this line was the third tallest viaduct in Asia when the line was completed. 


And now a BJP government needs the Indian Army to construct a footbridge over tracks in the Elphinstone Station? 


What is one to say about this if not a stupid political gimmick?

********************

The owner of an underwear making company was having a tough time with stock shortages.On departure for home all worker's bags were searched and everything always seemed to be OK.  All security measures you can think of were put in place, Auditors were called in but still no one was caught and stock continued to disappear.All workers including management were checked on departure, each wearing just one underwear and no one was caught with more than one pair.

Then one day security was advised to check all workers on arrival. He got shock of his life when he found that all the workers including management had no underwear on them.

This is not a joke. This is a reality about corrupt people. There is no suitably used system to check what the corrupt person wore when that person entered the factory.


आप किसी सरकारी अस्पताल में चले जाएं ,वहां 2-4 घन्टे  व्यतीत करें ,फिर आपको समझ मे आ जायेगा सरकारे क्या करती हैं , आप अस्पताल के स्टाफ,डॉक्टर को दोष नही दे सकते, हो सकता है कुछ गलत हों उनमे से ,असंवेदनशील भी ,परन्तु किसी व्यक्ति की कार्यक्षमता से अधिक बोझ, उसके कार्य के स्तर को प्रभावित करता है,साथ ही साथ असंवेदनशील बना देता है ,अस्पतालों में भी यही स्थिति है, डॉक्टर कम, स्टाफ कम, मरीजो का बोझ, स्वाभाविक है असंवेदनशील हो जाएंगे ही । 

अस्पताल में अमूमन गरीब परिवार वाले ही जाते हैं ,सौंदर्यविहीन मरीज, हमारी संवेदनशीलता भी सौन्दर्यप्रेमी हो चुकी है, गरीब,बूढ़ी, गन्दी ,काली-सांवली महिलाओं में सौंदर्य कहा मिलेगा,फिर उनका इलाज भी तो जानवरो की तरह ही होगा ?

कल द्रवित हो गया मन, दिल भर आया, अस्पताल को देखकर, काश यह शराबबन्दी,दहेजबन्दी जैसी नौंटकी बन्द कर के सरकार अस्पतालों पर ,स्कूल और कॉलेजों पर ध्यान देती ।

Via ~ मदन तिवारी ~


 Lost in thoughts, I wasn’t adequately alert this morning. So on drawing 10k at an ATM I walked out of the booth, forgetting to collect the cash from the mouth of the machine’s bin. I woman in a blue dress was awaiting her turn as I passed by. Having walked about fifty steps, I realised I had forgotten to collect the money I withdrew. But by then, the cash had disappeared. So had the woman. 

So much for honesty. But I’ve none else except myself to blame.

Lao Tzu, on who is a good leader 

"A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, "We did this ourselves." "

Lao Tzu : Chapter 17, Tao Te Ching, fundamental text for Taois 

"There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us ... First, China doesn't export Revolution; second, China doesn't export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn't come and cause to you headaches, what more is there to be said." -- Xi Jinping

The paradox of our times

A box of chocolates named Cadbury's Celebrations costs 160/- but the chocolates inside the box are worth just 125/- (at MRP)

The box goes right into the dustbin.

But it is the penchant for a big box of gift that makes many of us give the box rather than giving extra loose chocolates.

No wonder it is called 'Celebrations'. The company laughs all the way to the bank. 

Vinod Chand

*************************

How to Sell Combs to Monks ?

3 sales professionals applied to work for a huge company. As they were all evenly qualified, the interviewer decided to set a sales challenge and the person who sold the most would be awarded the job.


The challenge was to sell combs to monks of any temple up in the mountains. "You have 3 days, and the person who sells the most will get the job" said the interviewer.


After 3 days, the 3 applicants returned, and reported their results.


Candidate 1 said "I managed to sell one comb. The monks scolded me, saying I was openly mocking them. Disappointed, I gave up and left. But on my way back, I saw a junior monk with an itchy scalp; he was constantly scratching his head. I told him the comb would help him with his scratching and he bought one comb"


Candidate 2 said "That's good, but I did better. I sold 10 combs." Excited, the interviewer asked "How did you do it?" Candidate 2 replied "I observed that the visitors had very messy hair due to the strong winds they faced while walking to the temple. I convinced the monk to give out combs to the visitors so they could tidy themselves up and show greater respect during their worship."


Candidate 3 stepped up "Not so fast, I sold more than both of them." "How many did you sell" asked the interviewer.

"A Thousand Combs"


"Wow! How did you do it?" the interviewer exclaimed.

"I went to one of the biggest temples there, and thanked the Senior Master for serving the people and providing a sacred place of worship for them. He was very gracious and said he would like to thank and appreciate his visitors for their support and devotion. I suggested that the best way would be to offer his visitors a momento and the blessing of Buddha. I showed him the wooden combs which I had engraved words of blessings and told him people would use the combs daily and would serve as a constant reminder to do good deeds. He liked the idea, and proceeded to order a thousand combs"

"You got lucky," one of the other candidates said bitterly.

"Not really," the interviewer countered.. "He had a plan, which was why he had the comb engraved prior to his visit. Even if that temple did not want it, another one surely would."

"There is more," the third candidate smiled. "I went back to the temple yesterday to check on the Master. He said many visitors told their friends and family about the comb with the Buddha's blessing. Now even more people are visiting every day. Everyone is asking for the comb, and giving generous donations too! The temple is more popular than ever, and the Master says he will run out of the combs in a month... and will need to order more!"

Learning Points:

The three different candidates show us the different levels of sales performance:

Candidate 1 displayed the most basic level, which is to meet the prospect's personal needs. The monk with the itchy scalp had a personal need; it was specific to him only.

Candidate 2 shows the next level - anticipating and creating new needs for the prospect. Perhaps the monk doesn't have an obvious need for the comb, but how can it still be beneficial to him? When you can educate the prospect on new possibilities and benefits for his business, you are already outperforming your competitors.

Candidate 3 demonstrates the best level of all; an ongoing relationship resulting in repeat sales and referrals. Everyone was a winner, the monk, the devotees, the 3rd candidate and the interviewer. Help your prospects benefit their prospects, to create maximum value. View each prospect not as individuals, but also their contacts and network beyond them. See each customer as lifetime clients instead of one time sales.

Our beliefs and thoughts shape our actions and ultimately our results. 


When faced with a challenge, how do you respond? And how big do you think?

Variations on the quote below have been misattributed as a response to a toast, by John Swinton, as "the former Chief of Staff at the New York Times", before the New York Press Club in 1953. However, research reveals that Swinton (1829-1901), after moving to New York, wrote an occasional article for the New York Times and was hired on a regular basis in 1860 as head of the editorial staff. Afterward holding this position throughout the Civil War, he left the paper in 1870 and became active in the labor struggles of the day. He later served eight years in the same position on the New York Sun and later published a weekly labor sheet, John Swinton's Paper.


The remarks were apparently made by Swinton, then the preeminent New York journalist, probably one night in 1880. Swinton was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying:


There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.


The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.

      गुरू ज्ञान      🌹
🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿
👉नाई से उधारी में दाढ़ी
👉या फिर सेकंड हैण्ड गाड़ी,
👉नॉन वेज होटल में वेजिटेरियन खाना,
👉बिना पानी देखे टॉयलेट में जाना,
   🙏कभी नहीं, कभी नहीं !!🙏
    👇👇👇👇👇👇👇
🌹      गुरू ज्ञान      🌹
🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿
👉चोरी के डर से पड़ोसी को सुलाना,
👉कम उम्र की महिला को आंटी बुलाना,
👉लंगर की पंक्ति में आखिर में बैठना,
👉और पत्नी से उसके मायके में ऐंठना,
   🙏कभी नहीं, कभी नहीं !!🙏
    👇👇👇👇👇👇👇

🌹      गुरू ज्ञान      🌹
🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿
👉बिना हाथ दिए गाड़ी मोड़ना,
👉सफ़र में सहयात्री के भरोसे अटैची छोड़ना,
👉चिपकू मेहमान को बढ़िया खाना खिलाना,
👉टीचर के बच्चे को ट्यूशन पढ़ाना,
    🙏कभी नहीं, कभी नहीं !!🙏
                                                                                                                                                                 
    👆👆👆👆👆👆👆
🌹      गुरू ज्ञान      🌹
🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿

👉साले की बुराई,
👉शक्की को दवाई,
👉प्रेमी कोे दोस्त से मिलाना,
👉पत्नी को असली इन्कम बताना,
👉नवजात कुत्ते के बच्चे को सहलाना,
👉पहलवान की बहन से इश्क लड़ाना,
     🙏कभी नहीं, कभी नहीं !!🙏
    👇👇👇👇👇👇👇

🌹      गुरू ज्ञान      🌹
🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿🌿                  
👉दो नंबर की कमाई रिश्तेदार के नाम रखना,
👉सुंदर जवान नौकरानी को काम पर रखना,
👉पत्नी से सुंदर प्रेमिका को बताना,
👉और पुलिस वाले को मकान में किराये पर रखना,
    🙏कभी नहीं कभी नहीं

👌Nice line🌻🌹🥀🌷🌾
*ढूंढना ही है तो परवाह करने*
*वालों को ढूंढ़िये ...*
*इस्तेमाल करने वाले तो ख़ुद ही*
*आपको ढूंढ लेंगे...
      🌞🙏 *सुप्रभात* 🙏🌞

काम ऐसे करो कि लोग आप को TV में देखें,
ना कि CCTV 😬 में ...☠️👽☠️

****************
Why wasn't Jesus born in Australia?

God couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.
*****************
Seeing a diwali Rocket, just realised
.
.
.
That if we have to reach greater heights in life, we have no choice but  to take the support of the bottle😊😉☺😍

***************

A Gujju bought a well from a Jew.

The next day while on his way to market he met the Jew who told him "brother I have sold the well to you but I have not sold the water,if you use the water you will have to pay for it"

The Gujju replied "in fact I was planning to come to your place and ask you to empty the water and if you don't do it than you will have to pay the rent for the water ."

Disclaimer : This is a collection of messages and posts from twitter , Whatsapp facebook and other social media sites. I neither endorse the views nor follow them necessarily.

Random thoughts

30.10.2017

Our old friend Jaggi is desperately trying to keep his media profile up , at a time when surprisingly his other mates Ravi and Ram are being discrete. Perhaps the other two have made enough of their pile and counting the silvers. That makes our Jaggi more eager to thrust himself at the forefront. 

So , he picks up a safe issue to poke his nose in . He tweets about the national anthem and obliquely , very cleverly counters the recent Supreme Court ruling on the subject. 

He is actually itching to be in the limelight and be a bigger power broker . And he is trying to exploit emotive issues like a seasoned politician. A case in point is the missed call campaign for “Rally for Rivers”. It is  not only a hoax but also an exercise in collecting relevant data of prospective supporters.

This self styled guru speaks English and wants to build his client base among the urban Indians. Contrary to what one may assume , this section of the populace is gullible enough. Many of the people in my circle of people are supportive of any campaign to save the natural ecosystem . They also believe that they are doing a great job for the nation and the environment by giving missed calls, thinking this will save rivers. 

These gullible urban people make great followers for him . The Rural north India is not the target of this self styled guru as it doesn’t speak English. Once the mobile numbers enter the data base, subsequent programs of the Foundation can target specific people by simply sending an sms. These people are the ones who will fall in line with comparitive ease as these people were simple enough to believe a missed call can save rivers. 

A specious argument is being preferred saying that a majority vote is required to impress the government.  Now, the government has itself invited proactive programs and ideas to save rivers. They are not resisting the idea. So where is the need to pressurise or prove majority. Can you see the obvious attempt to ride piggyback.

Secondly the campaign will at best get 3 crore missed call which is 2% of the population and nowhere near a mojority as propagated. If the intention was to impress the government, a simple memorandum with a workable plan after a country wide tour by our Jaggi would have been enough. But he wants to be a Jagga . And he knows that in a country which believes mythology as Science and blind rituals as religion , his suave urban appeal will stick on to many . After all , if a charlatan and sex offender like Gurmeet can build up a huge empire and naje people create mayhem on his arrest by court order , then this guy looks a soft rabbit in comparison . What lies beneath is altogether another matter.


29.10.2017

#Randomthoughts Kishore Kumar was h such a great playback singer himself , apart from being an amazing actor too.  In fact , he could change or modulate his voice to suit the different heroes he did playback for. The best examples are Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna and even Rishi Kapoor. So it will come as a surprise to many of us that there are indeed a few songs picturised on him that are sung by other singers.  


I was just listening to one of them - Muchhe Jaaoa Dinguli ... from the Bengali film Lukochuri  , which has been sung by Hemanta Mukherjee. The song is played in the background and he is not  shown lipping it. 


On making a Google search I found a very good article published in the newspaper The Hindu last year on some songs that others sang playback  for Kishore Kumar , the actor.Quite interesting to go through. 

The link is given below.

http://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/When-Kishore-da-had-others-sing-for-him/article14553177.ece


**********************

Yesterday England won the final match of the U-17 football WC against Spain in a most dramatic fashion. The 5-2 scoreline of their win will remain a statistical point in future which will reflect that the match was a delight for the spectators as goals flowed freely. But what will perhaps never be properly appreciated later, after many days , is the fact that Spain was up by 2-0 and the comeback by the England and the overwhelming manner by which they ran over their opponents . Spain suddenly seemed to lose their free flowing rhythm which helped them to reach the finals and made them the favourites to win the trophy. 


Congratulations to the English players for winning the championship. The AIFF should also be congratulated along with the central and state governments and various municipal corporations for the successful organisation of this football festival. And the FIFA deserves a big thank you from the Indians to allow a World Cup tournament being held in the country. 


The coverage of the tournament was not adequate , as befitting it's status and many were unaware and unconcerned about the matches. That reflects poorly on our failure to build (or rather destroy ) a proper sports culture as a nation. The collective national obsession with cricket and it's super commercialization may be the prime reason for this. Sports, by itself is not considered a way of life for Indians . Probably it was never so down the ages. 


Many of these junior players who represented different countries will be graduating to the senior team in a couple of years and some may even become superstar players in future. Perhaps we will see quite a few of them in the next FIFA world cup. 


And let us hope that some day India will take part in the Football World Cup proper, both junior and senior by its own ranking and not by virtue of being a host. But before that , it will not be a bad idea to aim for organising events like the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics.


28.10.2017

We have returned back home from our week long trip . Well , it has been a mixed experience , to be frank . The fun and holiday spirit was definitely enjoyable but some things also fell short of expectation . Probably because the concept of holiday travel have now changed for people like us. 


To start with , Dehradun and Mussorie disappointed me , to some extent. As I have lived in the vicinity of Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan and travelled these places, the comparison is overpowering . But even then I must say to me Dehradun looked like a big problem waiting to happen . The rampant constructions and exploitation of the land there is creating a terrible mess.  The number of vehicles plying and the indifferent garbage disposal system only adds up to its woes. But  then , the cantonment areas looked much better and the institutional campuses were well maintained, I must admit. And most people in the city have no idea or bother about the history associated with the landmarks or the town itself. At least I got that impression. That may also be my bad luck or lack of a good guide. 


Mussorie again is overhyped and seemed like a mini version of Shimla  and distant cousin of Darjeeling. The place is no doubt beautiful, romantic and still abounds with natural beauty , in spite of crass commercialization.  The best way to enjoy such places is to book room in  a resort type  hotel and walk around the place , soaking in its charm , trivia , tales and history. Unfortunately, we didn't follow that style. So again , I should not hold anybody responsible. 


Rishikesh was an excellent place to visit and I regret that I did not stay here . Like Mussorie , one needs to stay here for some time. The place is popular with foreigners and there are a lot of different activities thst can be indulged into. Foremost among them is spiritual pursuits and Yoga. But a word of caution may be well in place - the total commercialization of Yoga is very evident here and perhaps a lot of charlatans are making their pile here. So it is necessary to have a reference from a trusted and experienced person. The same goes for various spas and ayurvedic treatment centres. 


Haridwar fully satisfied my urge to connect with the India that is Bharat.  People like me have discounted this India from our lives by compulsion, accident, design or vicissitudes of life, however we define the excuse. So sometimes it is necessary to reconnect and feel the difference both ways ; what we are really missing and what we are privileged not to bother about. For me , it was a great experience . Actually all such trips are. 


Overall , in spite of mixed feelings , we were both fit and fine and did not have to face too much troubles . The foods suited our palate and stomach . The weather was great to roam about without woollens and yet no sweat. So there goes another trip into the albums of memory . 


27.10.2017


The last day of our trip was spent lazing around Haridwar. Shops and ghats. The weather was chilly in the morning with a light breeze making it  seem like maximum winter by Mumbai standards. So it was quite enjoyable to bask under the sun and watching people bathe at different ghats from a vantage point . 


So me and wife spent the time watching people in various state of undress, rather overdressed in some cases, having their dip in the river Ganga , washing away their sins. We could not but help appreciating the deft and quick way of changing dress by the women , particularly. Had I been alone , it would be termed as ogling but with a wife supportive of my idiosyncrasies of watching human behaviour , it was quite revealing , I say. 


But frankly speaking , I was really appalled to see the littering of the river with everything possible . People were throwing flowers, leaves, dresses, hair, milk, sweets , coins and even currency notes in the river. Without meaning any hurt to religious sentiments , I must say with a heavy heart and conscience 1that it will be a long time for Indians to appreciate the environment and ecology issues because of the culture that encourages pollution by religious rituals .


We also visited the seven storeyed Bharat Mata mandir , just on an exploratory spirit. Two things struck ironic and funny to me . So sharing them with pics. Now this temple has seven storeys each depicting a theme . On the third floor were the clay models/idols of various famous women of India. On one panel, we found Annie Besant and Sister Nivedita. Their deification was complete with people offering coins and notes as "Chadavaa" . I could only wonder about their cooption into the pantheon of saints . 


Similarly , the second floor has the collection of  Indian brave hearts and right there , in a panel resides , Netaji, Hedgewar and Gandhiji , side by side. Perhaps the only place. See the pic below. 


26.10.2017

The ghats of Haridwar are filled with crowds . Probably the occasion of Chhath festival have increased the crowds or maybe it's always like this. I am visiting Haridwar after 34 years so the change in the town is visible. But some things like the ghats have not changed . The same shops, dharmshala, temples, sadhus, cheats, beggars still throng the ghats along with numerous devotees . We reached here by late afternoon and had a review of the ghats and the markets  till  a few minutes back. 

Some things we did meanwhile were a lot of walking ,  eating  kachori  and rabri , buying woolen garment (don't ask me why) and even ride a cycle rickshaw (after many days with my wife).


Tomorrow , we will roam around this town properly . We are not too much religiously inclined so our trip is more devoted to watching people and tasting different foods of the place we visit. Haridwar is a most interesting place to study north India , if you can negotiate the crowd, dust , cows and their droppings. And by the way , the place seems to be a favourite destination for Bengalis. They are everywhere and many signboards are in this language too. 

*********************

22.10.2017

Had a somewhat new experience yesterday which highlighted the great changes that have taken place in our lives over the last few decades. Reaching Delhi,  we proceeded to our hotel Ginger, Rail Yatri Niwas , previously booked. I had chosen this hotel primarily because of its vicinity to the station as we had to board a train next day, quite early in the morning. 


We reached the hotel around 8.30 p.m. At the reception, I produced my reservation slip and was asked to produce an identification card. I submitted my Aadhar card. But to my surprise the reception clerk wanted some I-card for my wife too. This had never happened before . 


Calling out my wife , seated on a sofa , across the hall , I joked - "give me your I-card , perhaps they don't think you're my wife."  My wife came up to the counter and passed on her ITax Card to the receptionist. What happened next  is the reason for writing this post. 


The receptionist refused to acknowledge the IT card as proof of identity as it did not carry any address .  My wife did not carry her aadhar card , driving license , bank passbook or passport as suggested by him. Moreover , she got annoyed and raised her voice. I could see that her feminist tendencies raising the hackles. Moreover , since the last few years , she thinks that being a lawyer's mother she can tackle any rules and regulations in her stride and take legal action on anybody who comes across her way . But the receptionist remained adamant and I must say he retained his cool and remained polite , a novelty considering it was Delhi and a Rail service. 


I am myself a short tempered person but realised that the matter was not heading anywhere with the stonewalling by the receptionist taking refuge behind some rules which we were perhaps not aware. And you can't really do anything against a polite official ( a lesson learnt).  It was already getting late and we wanted to snatch a couple of hours for a short Delhi tour. So I asked the guy if some scanned copy would do . He agreed to this idea as a concession.  


Next job was to contact our son at home , get him open his mother's cupboard , rumage through her bag get her passport out , take photos and send it to me , via Whatsapp message. All this took five minutes or so . And we were handed over the room keys in another five minutes, me relieved but my wife furious. 


Later , we joked about the whole thing and wondered what the world was coming to. Two adults , well past their prime can't live together in a hotel room without showing proof of their residence. Moreover , we are not sure what will happen if at some places they refuse to accept the scanned copies and demand that the original be produced. What do we do then , live on the footpath ? 


But some lessons were well learnt from the episode.


1. Aadhar card is omnipotent . Now  our whole lives have been taken over by it.


2. Life has really changed over the last few decades. Nobody asked me anything when I took my young wife to hotels earlier but now don't want to allow my old wife with me unless she proves it . 


3. Technology has really eased matters a lot and solutions can be had of problems quickly.


4. It is better to carry a scanned copy of identity card on the smart phone . But what happens if it falls into the hands of others is a concern.

********************

19.10.2017

My Deepavali wish for all - May the people of my country be illuminated by the light  of knowledge that empowers us to see through the smoke screen of propaganda and the sound of fake news . The demons be destroyed along with the evil they spread.

*****************

I am now convinced fully about the lae of averages. See how ten years of having a PM who hardly spoke has been over compensated in three years by a PM who can only speak, speak , speak and do nothing else. 

******************

Extremely saddened and frustrated to see on TV a fire raging at the Jeevansudha building, Kolkata. This building houses the erstwhile Foreign Department , now GMU of SBI .  I have so many happy memories of working there . Hope the damage is contained and the fire is brought down at the earliest.

***************

My Deepavali wish for all - May the people of my country be illuminated by the light  of knowledge that empowers us to see through the smoke screen of propaganda and the sound of fake news . The demons be destroyed along with the evil they spread.

#############

18.10.2017

TINA and MINA

Some people who come with the oft repeated counterpoint of – “Then who do you think should be the leader?” wants us to believe that only a single person is responsible as well as capable to lead  our country. This sort of arguments actually brings out the closet supporters of dictatorship, who try to layer their obnoxious ideology with a coating of Majoritarian model of democracy. The thing which is conveniently forgotten is that democracy is not only a rule by majority but by the people where the minority, the marginalized and the individual too have their say without feeling that their interests are being hampered in doing so.

 Concentration of more or less unchecked power over 1.25bn people in the hands of one man cannot be a comfortable feeling. Some may coin new terms like “new normal” and apply it to whatever is happening around. But the fact remains that it is not only normal in a democracy; it is dangerous. No single person should be vested with so much power. One-man rule is ultimately a recipe for intrigue, instability and breakdown of institutions. It also results in arbitrary decisions like demonetisation being taken, without a proper analysis or preparation. 

******************

Woke up to an unusual foggy (or should I  smoggy) morning. It is happening since the last few days, but today the visibility was very bad . At 6.30 in the morning, as I was on my morning walk,  I could not see anything beyond 250 metres. Why this is happening can be probably explained by experts . I have my own theory ; this smog may be a result of the recent incident of fire on the Butcher island. The difference between the day (hot) and early morning (cold) is causing the suspended particles to form a dense fog .

Don't know how the situation will be for the next few days with firecrackers adding to the woes. Hopefully a short spell of rain or gusts of wind will improve the situation.
*********
A marked departure that I notice this Diwali is the sudden reduction , almost to the point of absence , of those pseudo-nationalist messages exhorting us to boycott Chinese goods. What an irritant they have been, I say. And to get such messages from those whom you love, adore or respect was more frustrating.
************

Think about this -

First you give your children the most sohphisticated mobile phone with internet and then call the police to save your kids from the blue whale.

And don't be under the false impression that all these things happen to others. We are not like that is just a false belief that you hold.

************ 

I always believed that the term Bong-Bhakts was an oxymoron. 

But now I realise that there are many Bongs who are simply morons.  


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Synthetic states.

The world remains the same , its geography remains the same but the political map undergoes changes regularly .  If someone compares a hundred year old map of the world ,with the the present one , we will be surprised to note the changes . Even a fifty year old map will show the difference vividly.  Countries are regularly formed  by mergers, integration, conflicts and dissension. Right now we are witnessing the process of Catalonia trying to break free of Spain . Similarly  we also see the decimation of the self styled and short lived  Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) .

Often federation of countries, states or nations are formed under a common flag . Sometimes they hold together , sometimes they don't . USSR and Yugoslavia are prime examples of federation countries imploding away ;  many young people don't even know about them. USA  is a shining example of a federation that has held and maybe India too ; though many staunch nationalists will be up in arms against any attempt to term India as a federation, which it actually is .

Apart from the amalgamation and dissolution process by which countries are formed there has been some examples when a country has been formed arbitrarily in a synthetic manner.  By synthetic , I mean a country that was never in existence before as a political, geographical, historical or a linguistic entity.  It does not consider entities like erstwhile Yugoslavia or present day Malaysia, Indonesia etc.  which were formed by union of different states.

The Republic of Liberia  (1847) is perhaps the first synthetic country formed in the modern world . It was  formed by settlers from USA , who were freed black slaves of America or black people born free there. Thus, there was a distinct racial bias in the formation of this country. Later , this formula was tried to create the two most famous example of synthetic states , which were perhaps the biggest blunders (or mischief) by the receding colonial rulers . In 1947 , Pakistan and in 1948 , Israel  were formed on the basis of religion . The formation of both the countries witnessed mass scale migration of two types never seen before.

Jews from all over the world left their countries of abode to congregate and build the new country of Israel. The birth of Pakistan saw the biggest transfer of population in the history of mankind accompanied with brutal rioting . Pakistan was a more complex idea because it comprised of  two landmasses  separated by about 2000 km. Later , East Pakistan became another country -Bangladesh , in 1971,  on the back of an uprising that had linguistic considerations at its core.

Liberia has survived , only to be ravaged by mis-governance and  bouts of army rule , so typical of African countries. Israel has proved to be a success story as a nation that has held itself against multiple hostile neighbors , wars and constant threat . But its very existence  is always beset with problems and a source of continuous instability in the neighborhood. Pakistan has traveled a tortuous path  alternating between democracy and military rule and beset with myriad problems of which terrorism is the primary one. Though denigrated by many as a failed state , it still has the potential and basic foundation to be a modern state only if it stops its obsession to be one up on its neighbor India and sectarian politics of hate.

Thankfully , not many experiments of synthetic states have been tried further . Because , in the absence of very strong  bonds of  common heritage, religion or language , it is very difficult to build a nation and survive long.

Vignettes

A small bag of peanuts in my hand
and a floppy hat on my head,
I watch life move by,
sitting alone on this bench by the park.
People pass me walking
or in their scooters and cars
but nobody stops for a moment,
even to look at me; they are all busy.
They do not have time to waste like me,
under a glorious sun with a cool breeze playing.
I watch their serious faces,
lined with deep concerns and feel
the palpable tension that has them in its grip.
Munching my peanuts, I think,
if only for once, some one
among these passersby stop to smile at me
and sit by my side, speak to me,
or just asks me – How do you do?
How lovely it would be, for the person
and also to me, to talk about the morning,
share the peanuts and may be also walk up
to the nearby tea stall  to sip tea
under this glorious sun with a cool breeze playing.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Waiting for another stampede.

Waiting for another stampede

Today as I was coming back home in the evening , it was raining . The crowd and the jostling at the entrance of the Currey Road station reminded me of the Elphinstone stampede. What happened on the fateful morning of 29th September 2017 at Elphinstone station could have happened at other stations too. I was myself at the next station Currey Road during the time of the tragedy which killed 22 lives in a stampede. And I can visualise and fully understand how things went wrong at Elphinstone as I had regularly used the footbridge at the adjoinining Parel station. That makes me write about a greater danger lurking and another tragedy waiting to happen, any day, at the Currey Road station.

Currey Road Railway Station is a suburban station in Mumbai which lies on the Central Line, i.e. the Central Railways. It was named after C. Currey, who was the Agent of the BB&CI Railway from 1865 to 1875.This station is said to have been built originally to carry horses during the derby season from stud farms in Pune, in the British era, because of its proximity to the Mahalaxmi race course.   The prominent areas served by this station on the west is Lower Parel and on the east, Lal Baugh.  The two other stations which are next to it are Parel on the North, towards Thane and Chinchpokli on the south, towards CSTM.

Once upon a time, the area around Parel or for that matter between Dadar to Byculla was the hub of trading and industrial activity in Mumbai, particularly by the textile mills. As a corollary, the area around Lower Parel was also dotted with labour barracks, commonly known as Chawls.   All these mills are now closed and the properties owned by many well known industry houses have come up for redevelopment, a euphemism for construction of multi-storeyed buildings on prime property. Many of the chawls are also being redeveloped. It’s a huge creamy cake set up to gobble and the involvement of politicians, builders, goons, financiers and sundry middlemen can only be left to imagination. The whole area is a study in contrast with tall glass panelled structures standing like islands in a sea of old buildings and a heavily congested area. And the construction activity continues.

As the middle class and the working class people of Mumbai increases every year, the city has expanded mainly towards the north and east (Navi Mumbai) because the south and west are bound by the sea. The main commercial centre of the city which was at the southern part, around Fort and Nariman point started getting too far off for the daily commuters. As a result, the business district and commercial centres stared relocating to the Bandra Kurla Complex. But the BKC was not enough to accommodate all the offices. And along with that the Parel area, with its obvious connectivity and available space was tempting for the real estate lobby.  Within the last two decades huge multi-storeyed buildings housing residential and office complexes have come up in this area, mostly on the properties, once synonymous with textile mills.

The area is well connected, in a way, by roads and also by railways. Both the Western and the Central lines pass through this area and the Harbour branch line is also within two kms. The stations of Lower Parel and Elphinstone Road on the western line also serve the daily commuters along with the other two already mentioned on the Central line. The Elphinstone Road (WR) and Parel (CR) are actually adjacent and connected by a foot over bridge and the distance between Lower Parel (WR) and Currey Road (CR) is less than 250 metres. It is expected that the monorail will also be operational soon, connecting the eastern part of the city to this place. The construction is almost complete and trial runs have also been made. In fact the monorail system will also have two stations in the close vicinity of Currey Road Station.

The passenger footfall at these stations has increased exponentially like the income of the sons of politicians as the number of daily commuters too increased in a viral manner. When these stations were built perhaps nobody gave a thought about the rush of daily commuters that would besiege the stations during the office hours, both incoming and outgoing.  And when the area was being developed, nobody bothered to examine if the existing infrastructure would stand up to the crowd that would ensue. As a result, the stations don’t have proper crowd dispersal facilities and in case of any small disruption, natural or mechanical, there is immediately a build up of chaos due to congestion of traffic and crowds on the streets and the platforms.

Let us focus on Currey Road station. Only slow suburban local trains stop here. The station comprises of a single platform, on both sides of which the trains stop, to and fro. Unlike other stations, it does not have the provision of another spare platform for the adjoining tracks for fast local trains which could stop here, in case of emergency. The cause of grave concern is the way how the crowd dispersal system is designed here. The station itself is built upon stilts of steel and not more spacious than one of the luxurious flats in one of the many high-rise buildings around it. The entry to the station opens on a narrow 3 feet wide footpath on the Currey Road Bridge which is a part of Currey Road itself, now named as Mahadev Palav Marg. It connects the main arterial Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road on the east to the N M Joshi Marg an important branch road to another arterial road Senapati Bapat Marg on the west.

The platform is at a lower level under the Currey Road Bridge and there is a single inclined ramp about eight feet wide which is the only way to enter and exit from the platform. During the rush hours, hundreds of commuters disembark from the trains, to and fro and have to jostle their way out of or into the platform. The flow of the crowd gets aggregated at the landing space of the station which, in size is less than a drawing room hall in a normal flat. The two ticket counters also open on this space and the people lined up there add up to the crowd and the jostling.  It does not need too much imagination to visualise the chaos which does not end there itself.

The thronging crowd of commuters have to pass the narrow footpath which is barricaded by a strong steel boundary wall  about four feet high to avoid the crowd spilling over on the bridge and the road used by numerous vehicles including motorcycles, cars, buses and trucks. So getting out or entering the station during the rush hours means a brief round of jostling and pushing through a small narrow stretch for about a minute. It should not be a matter of concern for a fit person on a normal day. And the experience is gender neutral; females are also subjected to the same treatment.  But from personal experience, I can say that it can be very irritating and on days when someone is having a weakness or fever it feels harrowing. Now consider the plight of the old, infirm, disabled and pregnant who have to use the station for their daily commute. Further this does not take into account the crowded station or the efforts to catch a train brimming with commuters.

What happened on the fateful morning of 29th September 2017 at Elphinstone station could have happened at Currey Road station too. The morning was bright and sunny to begin with and when I left home around 8.30 a.m. Though there was a weather alert, I did not carry an umbrella because the rainy season had receded and I didn’t want to be burdened with one. Later, I found that almost everybody did so and this was a major reason for the tragedy. May sound strange but that’s a fact.

The residences of people living in Mumbai are broadly categorised according to the suburban railway lines near their homes – Western line, Central line and Harbour line. Nowadays, something called the Trans-harbour line has also come up. So, I live on the Harbour line and my office is adjacent to Currey Road station, on the Central Line.

By the time I got down at Kurla station to change from the Harbour line to the Central line train, the weather had suddenly changed and dark clouds were threatening heavy rains. Even as I boarded my train, it started pouring heavily. As I reached Currey Road station, I was surprised to find the platform filled with people. For a moment, I wondered but then I realised that it was raining heavily and almost nobody carried an umbrella. They were waiting for the rain to subside. But the rain seemed to be incessant and it was pouring mad. People somehow managed to stand on the platform and with passing time the crowd was swelling in number as trains from both sides brought in fresh commuters at the rush hour, all eager and raring to avoid being marked late for attendance.

I had already decided to wait for the rain to stop and saw some of my colleagues also on the platform, stuck up like the hundreds of other people. Everybody was cursing themselves for not bringing an umbrella but the rain was so much copious that it would be of no use. The only way of exit, the inclined ramp was totally filled with people as was the small station floor. People were neither going out to avoid getting drenched in the rain nor allowing others to go out. Even those who were coming in drenched from outside were blocked from doing so.  All in all, it was maddening.

Perhaps, this was the time when the stampede happened at Elphinstone, just two kms away. Why it didn’t happen at Currey road was simply because of the flat surface of the ramp inclined upwards instead of a stairs going down wards. Pushing people up didn’t generate the momentum for a collapse somewhere. Had it been a staircase, I am sure such tragedy would happen at Currey Road station too. And it can happen any day, not necessarily in the rains. During festivals like Ganapati, the chances of a stampede here is very much real.

I have often pointed to this potential of stampede at Currey Road station and Parel station to many and some of them contacted me after the accident and told me – “You said this could happen”. I am not the least happy to have predicted such a tragedy. My heart goes out to the families of those who died. Why I write this is primarily to narrate the reasons leading to the tragedy and the foreboding that it can happen again, anywhere. But is anybody listening?

P.S: I find that the authorities have now posted police with portable loudspeakers managing and directing the crowd at the entrance . But it is useless in the face of a flash mob situation . Hundreds of people trying to enter a narrow gully in the rains . Try to visualise the situation, you will understand.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Random thoughts 18092017

Does it surprise you to find a whole lot of apparently educated , supposedly intelligent and professedly neutral people getting carried away by propaganda and even abetting it by using twisted logic  ? Actually there is no surprise in all this muted support by these I-am-not-a-Bhakt-but types. These people are overwhelmingly from the urban middle-class category .

They feel happy with the grandiose dreams that are being shown to them and they also believe in them . They are also more selfish and eye both the rich and poor with a lot of animosity. But since they need the rich to get the bones from the table , they behave properly and wag their tails dutifully. Occasionally they complain with a whimpering voice to draw attention. But they are very particular about the strays that howl outside. They would never like the strays to enter the beautiful house because that would mean sharing of the bones. So at the behest of their capitalist bosses they bark, growl , chase away the weak pariahs and keep them away, as far as practicable from the gravy train.

And regarding the defence of everything the government does or actually doesn't , please remember that everything has its positives depending how you perceive and argue. It doesn't need great intellectual capacity or the mind of an ideologue to establish the benefit of something gross and unnecessary. Anybody can do that. You need a good propaganda machine to spread the benefits of  even something as unnecessary as snake oil. Don't believe me ? Then please read the next paragraph and tell me .

For example - Open defecation is also good. It helps to supply manure to the soil . This manure helps the grass to grow . That grass nourishes the cows grazing on the fields. Those cows give more milk . That extra milk helps the farmer to earn extra money . That extra money is spent on buying consumer goods. Those goods are sold with applicable GST. That GST goes to the government coffers. This money is spent on repaying loans . That enables us to take new loans to build Bullet trains. ..............

Hope you get the drift. 😑😶

Friday, 15 September 2017

Random thoughts 15092017

A lot is being made of how great a deal has been made on the so called Bullet train project by getting a huge loan at a negligible rate of interest. As if the loan doesn't need to be repaid at all.  And the loan has been availed without any strings attached for the development of India with the most altruistic reasons by the Japanese. If  the loan is so cheap that you don't have to pay almost no interest at all , then why not spend it on medical and educational infrastructure throughout the country instead of a high speed train system that will benefit only a particular region .  Belies logic.

How many medical colleges , hospitals  and research institutions could be built with this money , can you guess ? And they would all pay a huge dividend in terms of health, education , job creation and small scale industries instead of helping brokers from Gujarat to visit Mumbai and have their tipple. The whole thing is a total bullshit in terms of cost effectiveness and long range planning.

It is surprising how the simple fundamentals of the development narrative is being construed as a route to embark on grandiose schemes without bothering to address the priorities. The nearest analogy that comes to mind is that of a poor or middle class person splurging on the funeral of his father by inviting the whole village for a grand meal to show off his social commitments when the roof of his house is leaking and his children not even having school uniforms to wear.

By neglecting or abdicating the  responsibilities the governments , central or state are pushing the country into a dark hole . By 2020 onwards India will be the country with the largest population. Consequently we will also become the country with the largest population of aged , infirm , malnourished and illiterate. This will continue for years if the basics are not altered. Can you hear the time bomb ticking . And with due respect to the great votaries of free market , the situation can never be reversed , even arrested by outsourcing the administration of the social sectors to the private investors. The democratically elected government is by the people  and it has to work for the people. There can be no ifs and buts, justifications , comparisons or semantics. As of now there is no roadmap or efforts to address this fact of life that stares at us.

Along with that as a nation we will be constrained to live with a weak human genetic pool both physically and intellectually. Further , the absence of research in medicine , science and technology will make us perpetually dependent on the developed nations for our needs.  We will remain forever a hostage to the multinational corporations for medicines and technology.  Do we even understand the import of the neglect.  Indians were used as indentured labour to grow sugarcane in Caribbeans, lay railroad in Africa, coolies in Southeast Asia , fight wars in Afghanistan and Mesopotamia and presently write software codes in the Silicon valley. The service industry we boast of is just an exploitative system that thrives on our inadequacies . If we are happy with that then we can live in our fool's paradise as long as the fires of hell don't roast us.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Random thoughts 14092017

The speech made by the  Indian  National Congress  party VP  at Berkeley university was neither a great piece of oratory nor an erudite exposition . It was a simple , sober and straightforward speech without frills but with political overtones and he was candid enough to admit mistakes .  That a speech  by the de-facto head of their political rival should draw the ire of the ruling party is not surprising. But the reaction and the rebuttal of the speech by multiple press conferences and the deployment of more than two dozen Union ministers along with various party functionaries for this purpose is  somewhat jarring.

This overkill has two facets to it. Firstly the BJP is not ready , as is it's wont, to  allow even a small dent to their self created facade of  achievement and development , propped up by clever propaganda . They are ready to go all out for every opposition to their goals and agenda , whatever that may be. They are ready to use heavy artillery   for a seemingly innocuous criticism . And they want to show this to everybody else in a blatant display of power and arrogance.

Secondly they are still uncertain about their footing. In the heart of their hearts , they know very well that they have done nothing . Their agenda of hype over nationalism  has faded over the ground realities of non performance and  ground realities of a sluggish economy. The other divisive tactics of polarisation over religion , however is a poison ivy with deep roots and difficult to be uprooted . But more than that what gives them the inferiority complex is that the quality of the leaders and the governance that they offer fall much short of expectations . The personality cult aided by co-option has not really helped as no sensible person can continuously digest the gap between their promises made and delivered. Further nobody other than two persons and a close coterie of outsiders have any say on anything . And that includes people in the party with a lot of administrative and political experience.

But still they continue to be confident . And this confidence actually stems from the bunch of lazy, compromised, self seeking , fragmented and a directionless opposition who lend succour to the ruling party by default . Even as so many  Union ministers came out to speak against the said speech , hardly any opposition leader supported it. Even his own party did not put up a strong defense or bothered to highlight the contents of his speech. If that is not lethargy , then what is ?

The real worry of the political leaders in opposition is the drying up of funds and the spectre of CBI cases hanging on them , rightly or wrongly for their various ommissions and commissions. Actually , it is a sad commentary on our polity that the stronger opposition leaders who have a mass following are all compromised . Moreover their old style of politics involving  money and appeasement have been busted . The other point to note is that presently all these opposition political parties barring a few do not have any ideological locus standi to speak of . Their stance is guided more by opportunistic alignments but never against capitalism. Given a chance they will further the interests of crony capitalists themselves. The lip service to socialism and democracy that they profess actually has made the rise of fascism , capitalism and communalism possible in this country.  

Politics and its dimensions may have changed . But the basics have remained the same , in spite of the changes. Grass root mobilization , people's movement, opinion building  and mass participation are the four pillars of a political entity. But for this the leaders have to hit the roads and inhale the dust. Whatever opposition that the country sees now are in the realm of spontaneous outbursts of indignation.  But such outbursts have a tendency of getting corrupted by self seeking lumpen elements and lose their credibility.  What is needed now is a crystallisation of the opposition to really put up a fight .  Because the portents are getting murky . 2019 will be a make or break year . We may wish that 2004 will repeat itself but then wishes are not horses. And the  opposition can't  take voters as Santa Claus .

Dark night

Let this darkness prevail tonight,
we will explore
its unknown mystery  together.
Nothing else to come between us
in this pitch-black night ,
not even the scruples of morality.
The only reality of this night
is the union of our bodies
to the vertex of pleasure .
This night will not last forever
and when the dawn breaks in,
the lights from the skies will peep
to bring back those silly feelings
of guilt , pangs of regret .
So forget everything, 
be with me tonight
to savour the opportunity
provided to us by this dark night.
We will celebrate
the rites of darkness in ecstasy.
It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong,
holy, unholy or sheer madness.
I love you and you love me,
and we need each other tonight
to complete the circle
of unfulfilled desire that binds us.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Lassitude

A lethargic  and humid afternoon ,
with no apparent reasons
to get busy  or even pretend
about some engagement.
I spend my time lazily
watching a cobweb
at the corners of the roof
swaying lightly with the fan .
I enjoy this illusion of stillness
that time weaves around me
like a giant spider .
Even as every moment perish
into oblivion , never to return.
Inertia takes over me
in its languorous embrace .
I take a deep breath
just to confirm that I'm alive
and everything is all right .
Then I close my eyes  to escape
from all that is right with my life
with a deep sense of abdication.

Random thoughts 11092017

You spend a lot of money for the education of your children. Sometimes a lot of money . Compared to the money spent on your own education by your parents, it may seem somewhat obscene  . But that gives you a feeling of satisfaction even if you are stretched beyond your means.You do  this to ensure a better future of your child . Because you are pragmatic  and believe that education is the best investment for the kid .

Let us stop here . If you believe that arranging the best education is a factor of your parental sentiment and your own expectations about the child , then I will accept it. Maybe it's not exactly correct to do so , but one can't argue over sentiments and feelings. But, what did you say, investment ?  Then please do a fact check like you do with all your investments. Are you investing your money wisely ? Are you sure that you are not wasting your money on an inferior product ? Do the education provided at all those places , beginning from the play-school to the coaching institutions worth their  money ?  And lastly , is your child getting to learn , appreciate and practice the value of his education or is it just an exercise to score brownie points over your neighbour .

There is no problem in doing your best to provide the best education for your child . But when it becomes an object of comparison like cars , flats, carpets or i-phones to show off your material status , it becomes a self fulfilling curse. Only, you realise it at a very late stage . And the price of your ambition or misplaced priorities is paid by the poor child . That is the tragedy .

Friday, 8 September 2017

Random thoughts 08092017

Often , I find many in my circle of friends and family ,who become very emotional and voluble on the subject of caste , particularly on caste based reservations  . Personally , I find the concept of caste to be obnoxious, abhorrent and inhuman.  But along with the same view let me also make it clear that  I do not support any form of reservation being extended till eternity to multiple generations of the same family. That creates the problem of privileges being usurped by the creamy layer within the so called backward castes  who monopolise and stop the flow of the benefits to those for whom it is intended , in the first place . But that is my personal observation and as a citizen of the country , I am expected to abide by the constitution and the laws passed by the legislature in a democratic country.

But clearly , even after seven decades , the blot of caste system has not been erased from our society , in particular from the followers of  the majority Hindu religion. From time to time, we come across different incidents , events and happenings which open our eyes to the proliferation of caste as a motif  in our social fabric .  A recent news item from Pune reveals that a lady  holding a senior level designation at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), has lodged an  FIR against another woman , who was employed as a cook by her , with charges of impersonation by suppressing her caste and marital status . Though news reports have not mentioned it, other allied charges  must also have been lodged against the accused , I am sure about it, because that is the way it is done. And mind it , all this happens  not in some rural hamlet , but in a city which is touted as high-tech and cosmopolitan .

It transpires that the requirement was for a married woman of Brahmin caste as a cook ostensibly for religious reasons and after more than a year of employment, the discovery that cook was neither a Brahmin nor married triggered the police complaint.  Now how or why the police accepted such an FIR is a bit of mystery to me as the logical corrollary should have been the immediate arrest of the complainant under the provisions of Article 15 of the Indian constitution which prohibits discrimination  on grounds of caste besides discrimination on grounds of religion, race, sex or place of birth .

I do not support the actions by the cook in falsifying her caste or marital status. But spare a thought for the reasons why she did it . It was to earn her living . When the certificates required for a job itself are such demeaning and discriminatory , where is the crime in faking them.  In a country where ministers and even army generals  have fake birth certificates and educational qualifications, she is now being hounded only because she is poor . Thank the heavens that she belongs to the same religion. Just imagine for a second , if she turned out to be a Christian or Muslim . What would have happened then ?  What would the lady do then ? How many kilos of Cowdung or how many buckets of Cowpiss  would have been required to purify ?

Some reports also refer the complainant as a Scientist . Now we can well imagine the level of science that is being pursued in the country by such noble souls. She is not alone .  We will find thousands of such "scientists"  in our country who still believe in the precedence of rituals in their religious beliefs and a strong conviction about the supremacy of their caste which they inherit by birth. As a citizen of the country these incidents shame us individually and collectively . As a person who was brought up as a Hindu , it  highlights the hollowness of the faith  which I am supposed to follow. As a literate person, it makes me wonder about the gaps in our education .

Shorn of the caste angle , the incident also provides insight to the faultlines of class conflict that exist  in the society  where the privileged can demand  and get the services of the underprivileged for a pittance. Suppose the cook was indeed  a Brahmin married lady . Then would this qualification enable  her to be treated at par with her employer socially?  If not , then what purpose does her higher- caste status serve ? And what happens to the principle of equality of all  ?  I don't have any answers to this.  I don't suppose the police inspectors bothered to consider all this ? As usual the administration represented by the police have done their job . They have sided with the socially powerful elite against a member of the less advantaged. The complainant can afford to engage lawyers to fight her case, the accused may not .

Let me very clear that even if it transpires later that the accused committed felony,  bore a bad character or any such accusations that can be made against her , the premises of discrimination done against her does not alter . She can be punished for all her acts of ommissions and commissions as provided under the law, but what about punishing a senior  government official for displaying such crass mentality and  disregard to the constitution.

And what about the Hindus ? Are they comfortable with this dominance by the upper castes to dictate on the religion or its rituals . If  anybody really thinks so, then my middle finger salute to the bigoted religious beliefs.