Saturday, 29 April 2017

Random thoughts 28042017

As a responsible citizen ,it is now our duty to ensure that all the cows we interact with , have their unique identification tags. Please note.


I must admit sheepishly that I have not seen Bahubali 1 except for some half an hour on TV. So I have missed out on the national obsession on - Kattappa Ne Bahubali ko kyun Maaraa ? Now Bahubali 2 will answer the question, I suppose. Best wishes to all viewers for a nice movie experience with the kids. I have already decided to give this too , a pass.

If that makes me like the guy - jisko PSPO nahi maloom hai - so be it.


Need has a physical perspective but greed is purely psychological. But very often we can not differentiate between the two and end up equating our needs to the dictate of greed. Then blame the needs for the stress.

Both greed and need are natural and they can't be just wished away. Without them perhaps the material world we live in would not be what it is.The history of the evolution of human civilisation is linked to them. Need is behind all the innovations and inventions and greed has fuelled the wars and kingdoms.

Some amount of greed is good, perhaps. Otherwise we would all be ascetic monks. But it is the balance of the need and the greed in our personal lives which defines us.

Random thoughts 29042017

Korea is a country with a very old history and culture. And the people of Korea have always strived hard to keep their own identity without being swamped by the more dominant Chinese or Japanese. Being geographical neighbours to China, Japan and Russia, the Koreans have always been invaded and subjugated. But they are fiercely independent minded. Surprisingly, it is perhaps one of the very few countries never to be colonised by any European power.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Koreans have been subjected to tremendous atrocities and used as a pawn in the chessboard of global domination. It has been under a brutal occupation by the Japanese imperialists from 1910 to 1945. And then after the second World War, the USA and USSR decided to carve out the country into two parts along the 38th parallel (latitude). Just like that as the spoil of the war. Without even bothering or caring for the country. North Korea and South Korea, thus formed were instigated to be the enemy of each other and even fought wars. Gradually, the USSR backed socialist regime in North Korea veered away from the USSR and established its own brand of dynastical dictatorship clothed in the harshest forms of communist principles. It got the backing of China who still looks upon the country to be within their sphere of influence. Closing itself to the outer world in general, it has now earned the sobriquet of a rogue state.

South Korea went on to become a vassal state of the USA. The US maintains a big military presence in South Korea.  But neither the South Koreans love USA nor the North Koreans want to live by communist slogans. People in both the countries want to reunite. While South Korea have developed materially due to a free economy and US help, the North Koreans are militarily more developed because the military is the biggest and probably only thing in that country. In spite of so much of having negatives in their political atmosphere, the Koreans, both from North or South excel in technological and educational aptitudes.

But China, Japan, Russia and USA would never like a unified Korea which can become a regional power. So the situation there will always simmer. More like the Kashmir problem to tie down India. The situation is made worse by the closed dictatorship of North Korea headed by a ruthless person. His grandfather Kim Il Sung was the leader thrust by the Soviets who established the totalitarian regime in the Stalinist mould. But he was a global figure who ruled for five long decades till his death in 1994. Some of the readers will remember the full-page advertisements in Indian papers with the smiling face of the " Great Leader" during the seventies.  His son and successor Kim Jong Il had a comparatively shorter inning which was characterised by confrontation with the USA.

The present ruler Kim Jong Un is portrayed as a raving lunatic by the US propaganda. But he plays his cards quite well to needle the US. Whatever we know about him or North Korea is a highly biased propaganda from the west . After the experience of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan , Cuba and Venezuela, it is better to take such propaganda with a large dose of salt. The main game played is the clash of Chinese and US interests. Behind the scenes, it is the Chinese who are manipulating Kim 3 to give a  message to the US . After a bout of stage-managed crisis, the situation will resume to the previous status. But by then the stock markets will play their own game.

Random thoughts 30042017

#Randomthoughts The ghastly car accident that happened in the wee hours of 29th April at Kolkata , killing a young model and injuring a young upcoming actor  brings to fore a number of questions. Some of them related to indiscretions of youth, lifestyle, traffic rules, social mores etc would sound like clichés . So detailing or discussing them is not necessary here. I don't think that would serve any purpose other than creating that nebulous feeling of awareness which is just as ephemeral as the dewdrops on a desert.

However a small item from the news reports raises a valid technical question. It's about the airbags that didn't open. Now like parachutes, the efficacy of airbags are proved only by their opening, during the the impact of  the accident. Either they open or they don't . Car makers advertise airbags as a premium safety feature and charge extra amount for the same. But do they really help ? Can any of the readers of this post recall any instance when airbags have saved lives. It would be interesting to know.

Should the opening of airbags in cars during emergency be subject to a number of specified parameters ? Can the car companies evade liability and responsibilities for the non functioning of airbags during emergency ?  Because at every instance of airbags not opening, they come up with a lot of technical details that ought to have been followed. All this may save them from losses but does not help to answer the doubts. These are some questions that come to even a blank, vacant and idle mind like mine. More intelligent and experienced  persons may throw some light on this matter.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Random thoughts 27042017

#RIPVinodKhanna. Very early in life, I  learnt that the word beautiful can not be used to describe men. Women had the sole right to beautiful and men could only aspire to be handsome.  In  Bengali we also have a term called Sonar Patharbati (Golden stone bowl) to describe something incredible.

Vinod Khanna perhaps epitomised the concept of a beautiful man and his beauty perhaps the nearest to be the  Sonar Patharbati . To me he was the most handsome man I have ever seen. And the only male for whom I had a crush .Yes, I have no shame to admit that I liked him only for his looks.

I first saw a movie starring Vinod Khanna probably in 1975 . But I remember the movie - Mera Gaon Mera Desh . And he was the villain, a Daaku .The mesmerising twinkling black eyes, the perfect nose, the thick sideburns, the naturally well built physique and the mocking smile on his face made an impression.

He was a competent actor but  I don't think I will remember him for his acting. It was the sheer magnetism and virility that he exuded that will keep him in our hearts. He was a man of many dimensions apart from acting, spiritualism to politics . A man who could leave stardom and explore himself. Then come back again and   carry on from where he left. Joined active politics and won the mandate of people repeatedly.

But above all he came out as a gentleman in his  behaviour. And inspire of being blessed with such a celebrity status, he always maintained the persona of a kind neighbourly person. Never gave the impression of a busy , haughty star or politician.  Actually people like him are getting less and lesser in our midst.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

An assassin lives within me

An assassin lives within me

destroyer of faith

I kill in my cold blooded neutrality,

the reasons to love.

I kill the possibilities

that could have emerged

from the womb of eternal truth.

How easily I terminate

the promises that I made

to myself,

in selfish moments of lust.

I am cruel when I penetrate

my sharp sword into my victim.

Fully in my senses

and knowing very well

what will happen next

I throw away goodness

to embrace the evil.

Grappling with the questions

of right and wrong

I smother my morality.

I ravage the chastity of conscience

and bury it deep.

In such moments of frenzy,

I realise I am a killer

An assassin lives within me.

Random thoughts 25042017

#BitterPill  To all those who are fond of hailing all decisions and announcements of the Union government since May 2014 as " Out of the box " ideas, this AADHAR card like ID proof for Cows must be the crowning glory.
That the highest seat of justice in this country has to hear such submissions by the legal representative  of the Union government in all seriousness is by itself a telling comment on the priorities that the nation grapple with presently.
I can only wonder at the other contents which are to be unboxed in due course. But as long as the clapper boys are ready to cheer their hero , we have to put up with all sorts of lopsided priorities to cover the deficiencies in delivery of the promises. 


Whenever a major terror attack takes place, killing a large number of security personnel, be it police, para-military or military, there occurs a justifiably shrill condemnation of such " Dastardly attack", sympathetic support for the security forces, a wave of patriotic fervour and precious little more in terms of action to ensure that such carnage do not happen again. Of course, we forget the roaring vows of " fitting reply" and varying degrees of Ninda, Kadhi Ninda, Ati Ninda, Maha Ninda and more from the ministers.
As concerned citizens of the country, we are expected to fall in line, follow the template and prove our patriotism. Any question on the reasons for such terrorism or any queries on the glaring security lapses is rebuffed with tags of "anti-national". Nobody is accountable, ministers and the government just brush off the incidents like specks of dust from their spotlessly clean jackets. So it's better to keep silent. Remember Pathankot and what happened then. Looks like Sukama will go the same way in some file.
But surely, a country where tagging cows with unique identity get priority deserves such rude awakenings from time to time. Then again go to sleep.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Random thoughts 21042017

#BitterPill A lot of hue and cry has been made over the recent statements made by singer Sonu Nigam on the subject of the sound of Azaan on loudspeaker , disturbing his sleep. People have very quickly divided themselves into for and against camps, and the issue has been portrayed variously as a religious matter, secular ethos and liberal views. Most of the people seem to have taken stands based on their emotions , prejudices and political views.
Any controversy with religious colour on this matter is needless because our allegiance as a citizen of the Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic  Republic of India should primarily be with the constitution which is supported by the legal system and laws enacted by the elected representatives.  Either we follow the constitution or  rewrite it to suit our needs. Either we change the laws or let us follow them. People giving statements right and left on the subject of use or misuse of loudspeakers may please note that there is indeed a law on this subject too.
The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 has been enacted by the Government of India in exercise of its powers conferred under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Under rule 5 of the law there are some restrictions imposed on the use of loud speakers/ public address system, which says-

(l)       A loudspeaker or a public address system shall not be used except after obtaining written permission from the authority. -

(2)       A loud speaker or a public address system shall not be used at night (between 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.) except in closed premises for communication within, e.g. auditoria, conference rooms, conference  rooms, community halls and banquet halls.
The law also has other aspects like noise pollution, silence zones, consequence of violation, responsibility, ambient air quality, power to prohibit , statutory provisions and many other things mentioned therein.
Why not let the law take its own course and if we have to take a stand then let us take it in favour of the law and the legal provisions . And let it be applicable to all instances i.e. for marriage parties, political meetings , religious congregations,  corporate activities , IPL matches  and even musical functions (in some of which perhaps Mr. Sonu Nigam performs himself) . And the responsibility of enforcing the law lies solely with the government machinery because noise pollution is a matter of Law and Order , not an issue to be identified with this religion or that religion.
But I wonder, if some people are so concerned about noise pollution or disturbance from it then why don't they file a FIR. Tweets and FB posts do not stop anything. But of course, it enhances the visibility of a profile. Only legal steps can stop something which is illegal. There are laws but we don't bother using them or feel afraid to use the provisions for lodging a complain. That should be a matter of introspection. If you can't fight injustice then no point in crying over it. Better keep quiet and enjoy life as others are doing.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Random thoughts 18042017

#Trivia Females in India who wear Saris generally wear an inner skirt called "Saya" over which the sari is draped around , except when wearing it in the old Maharashtrian style. Though the dress Sari is being used by Indians, perhaps from ancient times, the use of this petticoat called Saya is perhaps not very old. It seems to be influenced by Europeans. In fact the word Saya itself is Spanish meaning petticoat. Those who thought that it is a Indian dress and part of our often touted great and ancient Hindu culture may please note this fact.

So the valid question which comes next  to mind then is - Did the Indian women actually use any underdress in earlier times ? Perhaps not . So that means all those scenes in TV and films of Draupadi in her petticoats during the Vastra haran scene in Mahabharata are all wrong. Isn't it ?

Further another hypothetical question which pops up is - If India indeed becomes a Hindu Rashtra as envisaged or dreamt of by many , will there be a ban on wearing Sayas under the Saris ? I know by now many females are ready to hurl stones at me. So I stop here.

Sorry, but can't help such stray thoughts coming to mind. I am like that only.#RandomThoughts

Random thoughts 17042017

#RandomThoughts Was just wondering about Baluchistan, which will be soon the next hot spot, as things are moving. But then I suddenly realise that I have never met a  Baloch or even a person of Baloch ancestry.

Being born and brought up in a melting pot place like Jamshedpur and then having lived in places like Kolkata, Mumbai and North Bengal I have come across different persons with origins varying from Burma to Afghanistan, Nagas to Adiyars , Nepali to Tulu, Muslim Santhals to Roman Catholic Brahmins (Yes, yes this is a fact) but somehow never came across any Baloch.

There are a lot of Sindhis in Mumbai  and Delhi. The Sindhi is a scheduled language for India . There must be some Balochis too.  What type of language that they speak , any idea ? I mean is it more like Pashto,Punjabi or Sindhi ? Have you met one of them ? If anyone reading this post can share their personal experience about knowing or  interacting with Balochis, that will be welcome.

If Kulbhushan Jadhav is a private Indian citizen and not done anything to deserve death sentence, then we must try our best to save him from being hanged .

But if he is indeed a spy who has been sent there by the Indian establishment , no efforts should be spared to get him released. Because he is in this rut to serve the country and he should be brought back as a hero.

Random thoughts 18042017

#Trivia Females in India who wear Saris generally wear an inner skirt called "Saya" over which the sari is draped around , except when wearing it in the old Maharashtrian style. Though the dress Sari is being used by Indians, perhaps from ancient times, the use of this petticoat called Saya is perhaps not very old. It seems to be influenced by Europeans. In fact the word Saya itself is Spanish meaning petticoat. Those who thought that it is a Indian dress and part of our often touted great and ancient Hindu culture may please note this fact.

So the valid question which comes next  to mind then is - Did the Indian women actually use any underdress in earlier times ? Perhaps not . So that means all those scenes in TV and films of Draupadi in her petticoats during the Vastra haran scene in Mahabharata are all wrong. Isn't it ?

Further another hypothetical question which pops up is - If India indeed becomes a Hindu Rashtra as envisaged or dreamt of by many , will there be a ban on wearing Sayas under the Saris ? I know by now many females are ready to hurl stones at me. So I stop here.

Sorry, but can't help such stray thoughts coming to mind. I am like that only.#RandomThoughts

Random thoughts 19042017

#RandomThoughts The secular reforms of Turkey, which were initiated by the Republic's founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, appears to have failed. The political, economic, and cultural reforms which were initiated by Mustafa Kemal were revolutionary and served as a template for all secular states. Among the two most important reforms he brought in were making primary education free and compulsory and granting  Turkish women equal civil and political rights. These were done ahead of many Western countries. The constitutional referendum that was held throughout Turkey on 16 April 2017  to approve 18 proposed amendments to the Turkish constitution, perhaps changes all that.

The new administrative system will take effect after the elections in 2019 when Erdogan's current term ends, yet immediate changes are enabled for the president to head the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) while serving as president, and make high-level appointments, including members of Turkey's top judicial body without parliamentary approval.The new powers would allow Erdogan to issue decrees, declare emergency rule, appoint ministers and state officials as well as dissolve  parliament. He could also potentially stay in power until 2029, while the prime minister's position would be abolished. No foreign or domestic political power can effectively challenge Erdogan's authority in Turkey now. As Erdogan grows more powerful, Turkey will become less and less Westernized and consequently, less secular too.

#BitterPill  All over the world maps keep on changing . Over the last 100 years itself so many countries have vanished and so many have come up . It should not surprise us if within the next 50 to 100 years, the map of India is also redrawn. What seems impossible now may always be treated as the logical solution after five decades.

If we apply ourselves honestly and objectively without letting nationalist sentiments or the synthetic patriotism cloud our mind and detach ourselves from the ensuing result, then it will be obvious to  all of us that given the situation prevailing there, Kashmir should not stay within India. Our presence there is like an occupation force.  It is a stark reality that is facing us and should be acknowledged. In the heart of our hearts, we do. The huge number of security forces that the Indian state have deployed there is perhaps a pointer to the efforts that is being exerted to keep the situation under control. There is no point in blaming the security forces. Because they are not there in their own volition. Successive democratically elected governments of the Republic of India have kept them posted there to ensure that Kashmir does not break away from the nation.

As of now the situation will continue to remain like this and perhaps alternate between bad and worse, depending upon the weather and support from Pakistan. Let us all accept this fact. Because as a large democratic country with a federal structure and regular elections , no government can even dream of  ethnic cleansing . Moreover, due to the disputed and special status accorded to the state, it is also difficult to migrate a large number of people to settle there as China has done in Tibet to dilute the mix of population. Because of land border and continuous border dispute with Pakistan, we also can not use force like the Sri Lankans  did to finish off the Tamil Eelam (for the time being).

Force and brutality is not the answer, it can at best be a reaction. The only way we can defuse the Kashmir problem is by scrapping the special status for the state and make peace with Pakistan .  Some may point out that another option would be dismember Pakistan itself. But perhaps they forget that Pakistan is a nuclear state and China will not be amused with the idea. Simply using force without making demographic alteration by mass migration will never help to integrate the state into the Indian union. Kashmir needs to be populated by Indians who own land there, otherwise it will never be a part of India.

As pointed out, this situation will prevail for some time to come and therefore naturally we will hear regular news of attacks , terrorism and human rights violation. Politicians will continue to use the strife to garner votes. On paper, it may appear that the best solution would be to let the state go free and fend for itself. That will save us a great waste of resources. And show those separatist hotheads how the shoe pinches.  But the cold fact is that the Republic of India can not let Kashmir slip away from itself. Because, the moment it goes away, there will be clamour from Nagaland  and other N.E. states which will trigger the waking up of the dormant sub-nationalism from other areas. The genie will escape from the bottle. Kashmir is the cork that has kept it in. So we have no other option but to occupy it physically. Looks like we have already lost the soul. That makes the job more difficult.

But who knows what will happen after 50 years.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Bishorjon বিসর্জন

#বিসর্জন After many days watched a movie that brought a lump to my throat and tears in my eyes. That too in a kissing scene. What a wonderful movie Kaushik Ganguly has made. Such a simple story; why it's not a story at all. Just a storyline of a few days. But what a treatment, hats off.
Bishorjon is a story of love and it's many facets. An Indian Muslim man meets with an accident on the river and gets carried away across the border in Bangladesh. He is rescued and sheltered Hindu widow there. A powerful man of the village loves the widow and waits patiently for her acceptance. This would seem a hackneyed story. But as I said the story is so sensitively handled that it grows upon the audience without getting into a cliche or boring the viewer.
The restraint that the director has shown in exploring the emotions of love, lust, friendship, gratefulness, despair etc deserves praise. Because any overdose would have made the movie a trite tear jerker. But instead, it has turned out to be a story of sacrifice that keeps the flame of love alive.
There are only three main characters in the movie which makes their task cut out to carry the film. Jaya Ahsan just mesmerizes with her portrayal of the Padma , a Hindu widow. I am now a fan of this beautiful Bangladeshi actress. Sans make up for the major part of the movie she radiates the sad elegance of a Bengali village woman. Next is the director Koushik Gangly himself. He overcomes the barrier of appearance and body with such an outstanding serious comic performance which makes you laugh and feel for the character at the same time. Comparatively, Abir Chatterjee, the main star is subdued. But his underacting goes well with the role he plays. In the climax leading to a very brief kissing scene, he cuts loose and only with his facial expressions, establishes his pedigree.
Background music by Indradeep Dasgupta is a highlight and the flavor of Bengali folk music in the songs set to tune by the late Kalikaprasad reminds of his talent. I am very very satisfied with #Bishorjon

#বিসর্জন নতুন বছরের প্রথম দিনে বাংলা cinema দেখলাম - বিসর্জন । মুম্বাইতে কেবল একটি মাত্র hall এ একটি মাত্র show দিয়েছে কৌশিক গাঙ্গুলির এই ছবিটি । বাড়ি থেকে প্রায় 25 km দূরে উজিয়ে গিয়ে এই cinema দেখার প্রধান কারণ আমার গিন্নির আবদার । আমি কি না বলিতে পারি তাও আবার পয়লা বৈশাখের দিনে ?
যাকগে, কাজের কথায় আসি । প্রথমেই বলতে হয় ছবিটি মনে দাগ কাটে । নিতান্তই সাধারণ একটি গল্প মন ছুঁয়ে যায় । cinema hall থেকে বেরিয়েও একটা feel good রেশ ছড়িয়ে থাকে মনে। কৌশিকের গল্প বলার style খুব ভালো । বেশি চরিত্রের ভিড় না করে গল্প কে এগিয়ে নিয়ে যাওয়া তার বৈশিষ্ট । এর আগে সিবেমাওয়ালা বা বাস্তু শাপ ছবিতেও এই ব্যাপারটা লক্ষ্য করেছি ।
অভিনয়ে জয়া আহসান অসাধারণ। কত দিন পরে এমন অভিনয় দেখলাম । বোধহয় শেষ দেখেছিলাম হিন্দি কাহানি তে বিদ্যা বালন। আর কৌশিক নিজে এত ভালো অভিনয় করেছেন । আবির নিজের চরিত্র অনুযায়ী underacting করে গেছেন তবে ক্লাইম্যাক্স দৃশ্যে নিজের প্রতিভা চিনিয়ে গেলেন ।
একজন ভারতীয় মুসলিম পুরুষ ও বাংলাদেশি হিন্দু বিধবা নারী এবং তার অকৃতদার গ্রাম্য বড়লোক প্রেমিক এই তিন চরিত্রের টানাপোড়েন । বাংলাদেশের পটভূমিকায় গড়ে ওঠা এই গল্প দর্শক কে ভাবতে বাধ্য করে । অথচ তেমন কিছু বিরাট ব্যাপার নয় । সাধারণ একটি ছোট্ট গল্প কিন্তু উপস্থাপনা অনবদ্য । নির্দেশকের পরিমিতি বোধ এই ছবিকে অন্য মাত্রা এনে দিয়েছে।
নদীর জল এর মতোই নারীর মন রহস্য ময় । নদী ও প্রকৃতি , গ্রাম বাংলার সজীব রূপ এত সুন্দর ফুটিয়ে তুলেছে camera এবং টান টান চিত্রনাট্য শেষ পর্যন্তই ধরে রাখে কাহিনীর বিন্যাস যদিও আমি ও আমার স্ত্রী দুজনেই গল্পের শেষটা আন্দাজ করতে পেরেছিলাম।
ইন্দ্রদীপ দাশগুপ্তের আবহ সংগীত এই ছবির সম্পদ । তবে বাংলা লোকগীতির রেশ নিয়ে এর গান গুলি দর্শকদের মনে করিয়ে দেবে কালিকা প্রসাদের কথা। নচিকেতার একটি গান অবাক করে দেবে । আমার খুব ভালো লেগেছে ও চোখ ভিজিয়ে মন ভরিয়ে দিয়েছে এই ছবিটি । মনে থাকবে ও আবার দেখবো ।

Friday, 14 April 2017

Random thoughts 15042017

#BitterPill As I understand, killing an attacker to save your own life is not considered murder. By the same logic, the use of the human shield to save lives can't be faulted.  Arjuna used Shikhandi as a human shield against Pitamaha Bhishma in the war of Mahabharata.  It may be morally reprehensible to some people. But then, what is morality in the face of death. The soldiers and para military forces who are posted in Kashmir valley are just pawns on the board of geo-politics. In addition, they are also foddered to whet the appetite of the bunch of jingoistic hyper-nationalists.
I don't rule out excesses by the forces and condemn all such atrocities which we come to learn about. Maybe the reality is more brutal than we imagine. But what else do we expect from armed individuals huddled in groups, restrained by orders, feeling vulnerable among hostile environment and people? By the standards of abuse which we experience from a traffic constable on the road, surely we don't believe that armed jawan to be Jesus like intolerance.
Violation of human rights is a matter of concern, no doubt. But that does not mean sending people to death in combat. And let us not forget that J&K has a special status. The situation there is special and there is bound to be certain deviations from the normal law and order arrangements that we observe in other places.
I am sympathetic to people of Kashmir as fellow citizens of this republic. The question is - do they also think that they are indeed fellow citizens of the republic? If not, then how can somebody expect me to waste my tears when compared to the army jawan who is earning his living by the tax paid by me ( supposedly) and sent to guard the state by the government elected by me (metaphorical).  I will support the person who upholds or fights for my constitution, as long as I believe in it. Isn't that natural?
Let us not castigate the armed forces at the drop of a hat without an iota of empathy. Agreed that they are not saintly and sometimes indulge in horrendous abuse of power. But treat them as professionals instead of tools to satisfy either our incipient jingoism or arm chair humanism. If anybody feels that tying the alleged stone pelter in front of an army vehicle was wrong to let them take legal recourse for it by filing a writ petition. But then at the end the day why should we be concerned? Because my only worry is that this innovative use of human shield may become a norm and template to be followed by the police force and vigilante groups in other states too, rightly or wrongly to exhibit strength and power. What happens then? 
Don't forget, we live in a country where abuse of power is still considered a normal privilege both by the powerful who wields it and the powerless who is at the receiving end. I can already visualize a person being tied to the front of a jeep and paraded on the streets charged with eve-teasing or cow slaughter, real or imaginary. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Random thoughts 13042017


A small group of islands are situated about 700 kms  away from the coast in the Valparaiso region of Chile. This place is known after the Spanish sailor Juan Fernandez who discovered them in 1574. The Spanish named these three islands as Isla Más a tierra (near the land) , Isla Más a fuera (away from the land) and  Isla de Lobos  (sea-dog islands) respectively.  These islands were used by the pirates in the 17th and 18th Century and later they were used as penal colonies (much like Andamans ) . But escape from the islands  was not difficult for the convicts and many deserted the islands. The island was  a source of fur seal (seadog) skins and seal hunters visited the place for this reason. The species almost went extinct due to unlimited hunting but now a very small number remains as an endangered species. Besides this animal, A species of Penguin, claw-less lobsters and some exotic varieties of bird (petrels) are part of the notable fauna ecosystem here.

The book  Travels in Peru , during the years 1838-1842 by Dr. J.J.Von Tschudi  describes the place thus – “ In 1812 anumber of prisoners were confined there, but the rats, which had increased in an extraordinary degree, consumed all the provisions sent from Chile. Several fruitless attempts have been made to populate the island, but that object is now given up and it is only occasionally visited by sea-dog hunters. Ulloa speaks of the great number of sea-calves or dogs with which the island was frequented and distinguishes kinds which belong to the short eared species. Their skins are excellent and they sell at a good price in England. Wild goats are numerous and their propagation would be excessive were it not for the multitude of dogs, also wild, by which they are destroyed.”

But the main point of interest attached with the island is something else . In the year 1704, a man called Alexander Selkirk was dumped  as a castaway on this island by the captain of the ship he was employed with , as a sailor,  for his unruly behaviour. He was landed on the island of Más a Tierra  with a musket, a hatchet, a knife, a cooking pot, a Bible, bedding and some clothes. .In spite of expressing regret for his behaviour  he was refused to be let back on board. But Selkirk survived the island, then uninhabited, for more than four years without human company. He was rescued in 1709 and returned to his home in England in 1711 after being away from for 8 years. Incidentally, Selkirk never set foot on Más a fuera, only on Más a Tierra. Just to keep the contemporary perspective of time in mind, it may be noted that Aurangzeb , the emperor of India died in 1707.

The details of Alexander Selkirk's travels and the accompanying travails generated  great interest and his adventures became a part of folklore of mythological proportions. He later died in 1721 ,at the age of 45, of  yellow fever, a scourge of those times. Daniel Defoe wrote the famous book  The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe , published in 1719 in which the character of Crusoe is sketched to a great extent on Selkirk and his adventures. This book has stood the test of time and still a great favourite of young readers . I myself love to read this book again and again and have a personal copy at my home.

In 1966 the Chilean government renamed Más a fuera as Alejandro Selkirk Island and Más a Tierra as Robinson Crusoe Island, in order to promote tourism. Isla de Lobos is now called Isla de Santa Clara.

I am presently reading the book Travels in Peru , during the years 1838-1842 by Dr. J.J.Von Tschudi  in ebook format.

Random thoughts 14042017

The life of Jesus represents the leadership of the oppressed by one who sacrificed himself for those who believed in him .  The life of Ambedkar is a template which shows the marginalised a way to rise above social barriers through education and perseverance. Their message of organisation and collective struggle against the vested interests for equal human rights is relevant for all times.

The various new years being celebrated all across the country shows the variety and diversity of our great republic . The expression and symbols  of sub nationalism in an unified federal structure is a strength which should be nurtured and cultural diversity needs to be respected to build a more humane and tolerant society.

Seasons greetings to everyone. Stay cool in the hot atmosphere and enjoy the bonding with your near and dear ones that the long weekend offers.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Random thoughts 12042017

Newspaper reports mention that some rowdy named Yogesh Varshney, who also claims to be  a BJP youth leader, has offered Rs 11 lakhs for Didi's head . Now, it is not clear whether the claimant will have to produce an AADHAR card to get the money and if it will be subject to TDS at income tax rates pertaining to the appropriate slab. The mode of transfer of the funds, obviously in some electronic format by direct credit to Bank account is also not mentioned. Also if the claim is made after the GST bill is passed then what will be the GST status also remains to be clarified. There should surely be a law against making such announcements without specifying the  norms of funds transfer and the mode of settlement

Dear reader,there is no need to smile at the sarcasm after reading these lines. . Because when a BJP functionary announces such bounty, then it must be assumed to be clean and well accounted  money. All of us know that the party is avowedly against corruption- by its own over the roof top proclamations- and because it also supports transparency in public life in a more revealing manner than Mandakini's wet saree in Ram Teri Ganga Maili. And we can presume that the members of this party spend their hard earned tax accounted money for such great causes like beheading an aged female leader, when she can't be defeated by political skulduggery.

There will be some people who will be quick to point out that the BJP has dissociated itself from the person and it has nothing to do with such threats. They should be reminded that members of this party who have made much worse statements and committed far heinous actions in the past have been rewarded with exalted status and some also occupy very high positions of power. So this watering down statements are meaningless and better not used as extrication tactics. We are well aware of the mask that hides the real face.

Then there will be people who will  raise their hackneyed clamour of "Where were you when ....." or "What about......" . There will be comparisons drawn with such threats given in the past by persons aligned to ISIS, Jamaat (of different varieties), SIMI etc.  No doubt such people idolise these outfits in the heart of their hearts and want to follow in their footsteps. These  tit for tat specialists are actually twits of the lowest grade. 

But the latest addition is a  variety of people who will hail this announcement of bounty as an " out of the box " idea to get rid of the lady.  Such is the extent of the brainwashing and propaganda that there will even be arguments put forward for the need of such an action to accelerate the development of the country by removing all obstacles. Anybody protesting will naturally  be termed as a habitual nit picker  by people with pretenses of better upbringing or education and as an anti national by those who don't. Their low level cousins from the gutter , the social media trolls will heap the most innovative abuses related to the parentage of the person and the anatomy of their female relatives in a graphic manner.

The north dominated setup of the saffron brigade is not so much eager about the southern dominance right now because that may throw up unexpected claimants for power and upset the apple cart. Much as the South Indian Bhakts dream about  a lotus garden, it is not in the immediate agenda. When co-option can yield result, why go for an outright acquisition? The fact is that West Bengal is now the last frontier for the saffron brigade to capture and Didi is the last defense against them. And right now she is hopelessly cornered . Her own party leaders are not opening their mouths because all of them are compromised with different court cases. And many of them are not averse to switch loyalties too, in due course. Her long standing fight with the Left also denies her of open support from a large section of the educated middle class who are just watching the fun, as they always do. But the lady is fighting back as she has always done for a major part in her life.

Her personal image is her biggest asset . In spite of being surrounded by self serving politicians facing corruption cases of various degrees , people by and large still believe in her personal integrity , unlike the Behenji from UP or the Late Amma. That she is pro poor and acceptable to all castes and communities is her another plus point. She may be mercurial and whimsical but by herself, she has not been shy of taking decisions. She may be cold and calculating in her ambitions but also displays a softer and more earthy side of personality which endears her to the masses.  The saffron think-tank knows this very well. And they are using all resources that they can muster to break the wall of Bengal.

This announcement of reward for Didi's head is not meant to threaten her. This is directed to terrorise her followers and the common people. This is the naked assertion of open menace - " See we are not as powerless as you think. Even if we can't get her, then it will be you. "  The people of West Bengal are in for very troubled times.  The state has seen the worst of carnage , riots, famines and refugee problems during the last 100 years in multitudes. We tend to forget all this . But these events don't forget to leave their impressions deep inside the psyche of people. And at vulnerable points of its journey, history repeats itself.

Beneath the surface of apparent communal solidarity there is always an undercurrent of old wounds which have never been allowed to heal by vested interests for vote-bank politics. All the sins of the past will now catch up with these so called secular parties. It is up to the people now to organise themselves against the attempts to destabilise the social fabric. And whether one likes her or not, Didi is now the only option to rally behind, if the people really want to resist the bloom of the poisoned flower which can only bring devastation in its wake.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Random thoughts 07042017

#BitterPill I often find newspapers , columnists and even well meaning people using the term "Dance of Democracy" to highlight the supremacy of people's verdict and mandate. It is also used to denote the primacy of the legislature . Whatever is happening all around makes me think of the need to coin new terms like "Cabaret of Democracy" or rather "Striptease of Democracy".

Random thoughts 11042017

As if deciding what we should eat or rather what we shouldn't wasn't enough. Now how much we should eat is also going to be limited by the powers that be.
Wastage of food is really bad. My blood boils when I see food being wasted. But that doesn't mean that the number of prawns that I pay for with my own hard-earned money, restrictions, with accompanying taxes and service charges as applicable, be limited in accordance to someone's Mann ki Baat. And the size of the Chicken Tandoori that I want to bite into can't also be made to order. What about those who love to eat ? And those who live to eat ? In other restrictions, if brought in, are sheer nuisance and nonsense , both rolled into one. The restaurants will now readily limit the food helpings to absurd levels as suggested by diet planners but will not reduce the price.
What is the world coming to , I wonder. If this is the state of affairs, then it will be better to live permanently in detoxification centers living on Lauki juice and Papaya salad. 

Random thoughts 10042017

Ever since I joined the SBI in 1984, I became aware of Comrade B. B. Das who was the all-powerful General Secretary of the Officers' Association in Bengal Circle. He also held the post of the President of the All India SBI Officers' Federation for a couple of years before his retirement in 2003. Once upon a time, his hold upon the officers of SBI was the stuff legends and myths are made of. Though I never needed it, I know of many people who were benefited by his interventions and also a few who were against his larger than life personality. He was one of those persons whose shadow was much larger than his frame. He was universally known as Das-da and I have seen quite senior officers buttering him up to be in his good books and avoid trouble.
I was not close to him like many others who were his die-hard followers. In fact, I had contested twice for the elections as a candidate opposed to his panel of members. I had spoken to him and also for him.That perhaps makes me a little bit of opposition for him in a small way. But I also had a very good rapport and understanding with him. During his last two years of service, I was quite aligned with him on many issues. Those were the days of agitation against shifting of forex treasury from Kolkata to Mumbai. My most close interactions with him have been for two closed-door meetings, almost one to one, where he wanted to have inputs on forex dealings and settlement procedure. I found him to be an intelligent, witty person quick to grasp the fundamentals.
Death renders void traces of all debates, acrimony, misunderstandings, complaints or ill feelings, not that I had any against him. He was not also a part of my life. Just someone who touched it briefly. But one thing is sure. I have not forgotten him, neither I could. Even after so many days of disconnect, the news of his demise makes me sad. Because, beyond everything, I remember his genial face. He has been suffering a lot of health problems for the past months and probably death came as a relief to him. I sincerely condole his death, empathize with the bereaved family and wish the departed soul eternal peace.
I also hope he receives a final farewell befitting a leader from his numerous followers, well-wishers, beneficiaries and also the SBIOA Bengal Circle. Goodbye Comrade B. B. Das.