Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Indian kids go far from the Playgrounds!!!!!!

One of my friends was having a chat with me today and suddenly I recollected a point that was very close to me but I was ignoring it for a long time. My friend and her wife are both working andthey have a small kid of around two years old. It is obvious that living in a busy city like Mumbai and with both the husband and the wife meeting their erratic professional schedules it is very difficult for them to give quality time to their ward. Only quality time that is given by the parents to their children is actually the weekend and with this evident fact it is also obvious that this quality time devotion also coincides with the time that they want to take their necessary rest because of a hectic week’s work and a possible hectic week ahead. The child desires to play with the parents and wants to play in fresh air. However, the parents have some other ideas.

Here comes a very good solution that meets the necessity of both the parents and the child. This solution is that of the fun-zones and kid’s playing areas made up in the shopping malls. There is the very necessary air-conditioned ambience and all the possible options in form of play area to make the kid very happy.The parents leave the kid in the play area for one to two hours by swiping some card and then either sit idle near the play area or just enjoy the company of their kids in the air-conditioned ambience. Seems very good and very convenient and it looks as if one is in the heaven and needed nothing else to entertain the kid. This, however, has a very shady side ahead which I am going to explain you.

Arush (name changed) is a kid of 5 years, and like many kids in Mumbai has both his parents working. A very intelligent kid considering his age Arush is one of the toppers in his class offirst standard and is very good in studies. However, he has a very weak point and that is he is not comfortable to play in the playground. He is not very accustomed to sports like cricket and soccer. He only waits for the weekends when his daddy and mummy are going to take him to the mall and make him play some cranky video-games in the air-conditioned atmosphere.Arush has also developed a sort of dust allergy, that should not develop in this age and this has happened due to his lack of exposure to playground environment. Whenever he goes to the playground he feels uncomfortable to play and yearns for his video games. To re-enforce this vice daddy has even bought a Play Station at home, which Arush relishes everyday under the split AC of the bedroom. Today he feels that even-though he doesn’t have enough friends to play football or cricket these gadgets can actually serve the purpose of his childhood.

The only question I want to ask is how justified is this incident that has happened with Arush. A kid of 5 years is allergic to dust. He doesn’t develop a good friends’ circle that is actually more apparent in this stage of growing. He is not fond of playing in the playgrounds and always wants his video games to be a part of his sporting activities. He is on the verge of becoming an isolated creature because of no fault of his and only the fault of his parents’ busy schedules. Is this how the future of India is going to grow? Is this the way we are going to nurture the hope of this country and proclaim that we will be the super-power of the 21st century? I believe to maintain a good order in the society and to sustain proper growth for this country it is very essential to provide a good quality childhood to our children. There is necessity for us to take these kids to the playground and make them accustomed to sports that are more practical and less virtual by sacrificing a little part of our comfort.

It is not natural for a kid to play video games and actually be addicted to that, when it is actually the age for him/her to be in the vicinity of nature. The kid has all the right to have a decent childhood just like we had. He is also equally entitled to see the animals in the zoo and not in the “Animal Planet”. We have our own justifications that it is much safer in the TV and zoo is mis-managed, but just introspecting may yield an answer that the mismanagement of the zoo is also due to our lack of interest in such places over the few years.

I remember, in this tender age I was not glued to the television and I used to wait for the clock to strike 5 in order to go and play. However, this zeal is not missing from today’s kids and the reason is the laid back attitude of parents like us. We really need to take some good advice from our predecessors in order to give our kids a good childhood. It is a fact that today’s children are becoming victims of premature obesity, lethargy and other metabolic complications due to the incorporation of these bad habits in their itinerary, for which, I believe the parents have to take the responsibility.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Global Warming!!!Common man feels the heat.

Just recently I came back from Gujarat and well what to say it was a great experience. I have a part of Gujarat in me and it always feels great to be over there, taking a break from my schedule, I may not call it busy but definitely hectic and important. Gujarat, greets me like a mother, and takes me in her laps and pacifies me with selfless encouragement. However, during summer, the maternal instincts of Gujarat for me are somehow concealed to some extent due to the extreme rage that she generates by means of heat. Summer heat in Gujarat this time was 49 degree celsius, technically 5 degrees above last year but practically speaking unbearable and unbelievable.

I had read somewhere that the world is warming up. For a country like India, laid-back and ruled by geriatric policies, this warming up metaphorically may have meant a great deal of hope for the younger generation who always need a cause to charge themselves up. However, this was not so. Global warming, was not a matter of joke anymore, and this had really knocked the heads out of the common man like me. If somebody reffers to the meteorological records of Gujarat then he/she will find that every year the maximum temperature of Gujarat since the year 2003 has risen consistently by and average of approximately 1 degree celsius. By this calculation, I mean that in 2003 the maximum temperature that Gujarat recorded was 43 degree celsius and this time after 7 years the mecury has almost scored half a century. Not only that from 2003 Gujarat has been able to break this record every year with a very good perfection. This time I really felt the heat of Gujarat, not only in my body but also in my soul. I could not digest the fact that how a state is consistently beating the records of the mercury-rise in good stride an the people are adjusting to this. I tried to find out some reasons for this.

1. Excessive use of non-renewable resources:

Gujarat is a state that is extremely enterprising and very prosperous. It is a state that technically lies in one of the states that receive very low rainfall. The state is swarmed by busnessmen and their kins, who have more money to spend than time to think. Even for purchasing milk from the shop nearby, the person doesn't hesitate in using his sedan which is actually a fuel guzzler and a great carbon emmitter. Most of the houses have more than one Air Conditioners which are turned on almost for the whole day. The rate of power is much less than it is in other parts of India and so there is very less stress on power consumption, which is actually leading to greater emmission factors.

2. Vicious Circle of Air Conditioners:

Come summer and there will be hoardes of scheme for the purchase of new air conditioners. People are attracted immensely to such schemes and good marketing has transformed the Air Conditioner from an item of luxury to a commodity of necessity. More and more families by AC, they install it and these devices generate more heat to contribute in a great way to the emmission share. This generous contribution increases the global warming factor and thus the temperature increases. Time now to sell a new kind of AC to avoid this confusion. Thus the people get an opportunity and the agenda of prevention of
Global Warming goes for a toss.

For the first time in my life I saw my mother (Gujarat) fuming in a great deal. But who is to blame for these scenarios. Please give your suggestions for the same.;

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mumbai!!! The capital of wastage.....

There was an article long back in the Mumbai Mirror that how much resources are actually wasted by the maximum-city. The article was a thought rendering insight on the callous attitude of Mumbaikars to the things that are easily available to them, and was an alarming forecast of a gory reality that every Mumbaikar could face in the future. It is not very difficult to understand that the way the city is growing and the way the demands of infrastructure are rising there is soon going to be a scarcity of essential resources. Water-problems have become a harsh reality for the lives of many Mumbaikars now, except for some privileged ones who waste the people’s money in the Mantralay. I was wondering that for a city that is so fast, so time managed and so much programmed how can this problem ever arise? There are so many ways the Mumbaikar rises to the occasion and emerges as a victorious contender to any competitive scenario. Then why on earth does the same Mumbaikar succumb to scarcity problems and gives in to a life of adjustment.
I believe, the major reason is due to the fact that Mumbai, though a very sensible city is actually having this vice of wasting resources. I had been to Carter Rd today after a long time with my wife and kid to have some good time and coffee in the CCD, however what I saw was really shocking. The sensible houses over there have their lights on unnecessarily and that too on all the floors. One of the houses over there, which I believe, belongs to a very famous actorin our country had all the lights fully on eventhough the fact was that he was not at home at all. Yes, I must be the first crazy person in this country to have asked the watchman of a star’s house whether he was there or not; not to actually meet him, but to understand whether the turned on lights were that due to necessity of lights inside the house or utter wastage. I could understand one fact that, the lights inside the house were only turned on in order to assert the fact that this was a star’s house. This is what bothers me most. I agree that there are some people who have some privileges in life, but what is the actual need to make a public display of this privilege by wasting natural resource. Some of my friends would easily term my ideals to be more of a Marxist nature, I would like to tell them that I am as capitalist as they are. I am also for the ideology that reveres the person who is hardworking and deserving by substantial financial compensation. I am also not crossed about the idea that why actors in this country earn even more that the farmers, who are actually feeding the country, actors included. In some offices the terrace-lights are on the whole night, just because it adds a kind of show to the building, or helps them shadow-brand their products by keeping the lights on. These are actually signs of insensible capitalism and mindless freedom given to the people that even allow the vice of wasting in its own stride and capacity.
Mumbai has the highest rainfall in the western region. There are cases where the city has been flooded due to the effect of rains and the rain has really plaid a demon to the lives of God-Fearing Mumbaikar. Every year there are floods, but the question is; where is the method to actually conserve water in these floods and save it for the time we need? I am sure this aspect has not been thought/ analyzed by the civic body. I never saw any apartment or society in Mumbai having seriously implemented the idea of rain-water harvesting. If this would have been implemented on a serious note then no society would have had to face the water scarcity that is looming over Mumbai now. The civic authorities of Mumbai, the mayor, the collector are actually oblivious to the ways of conserving natural resources for the maximum city. It is very astonishing that a civic body, whose budget is bigger than 7 states in this country is actually not educated/aware of such a creative policy of conservation. Probably this happens when merit actually takes a hit in selection of people who will rule on the hapless denizens of this city. There is no clarity from the civic body and every day the spirited Mumbaikar would also have to think how to make both ends meet. The common Mumbaikar cannot make efforts to conserve and all his endeavors to do so are actually pulverized by such uneducated rulers that actually rule over them.
Mumbai, is not only a city, but also is a hope for many people who come to this city to fulfill their dreams. However, today any outsider can perceive the fact that Mumbai is a capital of wastage and nothing else. From electricity to water every natural resource is being wasted here. Yes the Mumbaikar pays a lot for these services that he gets, but then paying alone doesn’t obscure any kind of responsibilities that he has towards the society. Let us pledge today that we would never want to waste any kind of natural resources given to us in whatever proportions that may seem to be. It is a question for a worthy living which I believe everyone sitting in Mumbai would give a thought too.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Narcissist Bengal!!!!

26th January 1950 was really a historic day for the history of India. It was a day when we resolved to be a sovereign, socialist and secular republic. We resolved to the unity of this nation and also pledged to maintain the principle of unity in diversity. The stalwarts and the architects of this nation laid some common guiding principles that would bind the social fabric of this country that has a heritage of over 5000 years and a human resource of over a billion. However, as the days passed there was the obvious contamination in the principles and there were molding of values going on across. Today, a time has come when we feel the visions of the architects of this nation have been obscured by the current political ambitions of some parochial people.

I am not pointing to the obvious soft target and that is Raj Thackeray. Enough has been written about him and enough has been said, however today the focus is not on him. He is the obvious choice of any regional-based debate, but today I want to tread on the line that is not more often taken or even perceived. I am talking about the parochial intentions of people, people in general in some states. I had this good opportunity to traverse across many states in India and I feel that apart from Mumbai more or less every place has got a regional bias, which is totally against our constitution. When I go to Bengal I discover a place called non-Bengal, which is a fictitious place mostly kept in isolation by the Bengalis. I see an ostentatious display of the Bengali culture in some of the occasions more to assert the Bengali mindset that actually to ameliorate the cultural fabric. I hear about the Bengalis bragging about their achievements as a state of Nobel laureates and Oscar winners to an extent of insulting or demeaning other states that are probably not so ornamented with awards. Pride is a good thing but the metamorphosis of pride to narcissism is something that is dangerous for progress.

I have seen some people in Bengal who are at present living in the glorious past and ignoring the challenges of the future. They are proud about the fact that Tagore brought them the Nobel in 1913 but oblivious to the challenge that the same Nobel prize has been stolen from the Shantiniketan and the thief is yet to be nabbed. I have seen egoistic assertions of the Bengali pride to some non-Bengalis to an extent of misdemeanor or misbehavior. Is this the reason why the Bengali crowd when they are outside Bengal is sometimes termed as a grossly egoistic crowd? Are we heading for a regional dislocation leading to national discord?

I have had the very good opportunity to taste every food in this country, however when I go to Kolkata I see a sense of egotism also involved in the food. There are people who would want to claim that there is no other food like the Bengali food, which I believe, is too tall a claim. It is really good to be proud of one’s own food, but discounting others to be worthy of even competing is something I would never approve of being a citizen of this country. Similar is the case with sports. According to some there is no better player of cricket than Saurav Ganguli, good, I am also a fan of the Rolls Royce of the off-side, but this following has not led me to a state that I would really ignore his bad form and would not allow a cricket match to take place in my city if he is not playing. I am of the opinion that the game should go on, despite the fact that one of my player is not playing. I have seen Bengalis coming up with arguments as to being the most intellectual of the lot in India, hearing proverbs that what Bengalis think today is thought by the world in the next 10 years. True, I believe in some aspects, but not entirely. The corollary is that if this was the case, why we have so laid-back development in the city of Kolkata. Why there is no material growth in the city? What makes actually a Bengali to move out of Bengal if that state were actually run by the most competent and intellectual lot?

I am a Bengali, I am proud about the Bengali culture and I am really honored to be a part of this crème-de-la-crème, but having said that I would not put any other region of this country in the trash-bin. I love the taste of hilsa and rahu, but I am equally turned on by the smell of undhiyu, butter-chicken, masala-dosa and poha. My advice to narcissist Bengalis is to actually explore the world in a more positive sense and appreciate their own culture in a more amicable and peaceful manner. Think about this.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The white collar thieves of India (Big Bazaar)

I was in the first standard, when I consciously learnt some values in life. One of these was the concept of not stealing. Stealing is a bad activity and is socially not acceptable to anyone; forget about the fact that it is criminally prosecutable. I didn’t know that the values would change so fast and so drastically as I grow up. Today stealing is a day to day affair, whether it is concerned with material articles or with cognizable ideas. One would imagine and thus accuse the growth of population in India and the subsequent rise of poverty to be the main causes of stealing and thefts. This, however, is only one part of the story that people are seeing. Of course, there has been a growth in population and poverty, but tell me how much can a poor person actually steal from us. Since he is poor and the need for him is only about the basic necessities, he would only target those articles, which probably would not be of much interest to you or me. So this piece of information is not about the conventional thieves that you and I have in our minds, this is about the other lot.

I am generally pointing my finger at the lot, which is privileged, economically dominant and assertive and have all the powers that actually money can buy. I went to the big-bazaar store and found out how actually white-collar theft is actually actualized in the real world. Big-bazaar gives us several plans that actually entice the middle-class consumer. One understands that actually one is going to save a lot as one is going to big-bazaar to shop for his daily needs. So he decides, deliberately makes and exhaustive list, of probably even those articles that he doesn’t need and rushes off to big-bazaar. He takes a big trolley and purchases all that is written in the offer. After making a heap in the trolley he reaches for the billing counter. Needless to say that the billing counter is populated densely with similar minded people of his mindset who are actually trying to achieve the same thing that he is trying to do, saving by spending. He is exhausted in the queue and is eagerly waiting for his turn now that the shopping extravaganza is over.

The best part starts after this. He has around 200 items to bill, so the bill counter just takes items one by one from the trolley and bills them. The bill amount goes on increasing. The catch is that the offer that you see in the advertisement is only updated in the hoardings and places where you are taking the article from. In the billing this is not updated. Big-bazaar, maintains a trial and error policy where if the number of items are more than it is quite possible that the customer will not check the bill in detail, also the bill is in gibberish format so the customer is totally duped when he is buying more. For me I could catch their fraud at least three times. One in the food-bazaar in Infinity mall, then in Himalaya Mall Big bazaar in Ahmadabad and last but not the least in the big-bazaar super sale in Kandivili East in Mumbai. There is one very good way to catch this is buy items in load but then give the items that are in offer to the counter man. Seeing your big trolley he will not adjust the prices to the offer and then you just enquire in the middle of the bill as to how much are you billed. You will catch them red handed.

Excuses that they might come up with are “the thing is not updated in the system.” “There is some technical snag, please bear with us.” All sorts of polite defenses by an educated “White-Collar thief is what you will get. The proprietors of Big-Bazaar have actually opened a factory where people are looted and made scapegoats every day. By the law of averages if in a day you find 200 such scapegoats then the profits go up exponentially.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The business of marriage in India

2PM in the afternoon on a Saturday, my wife tells me that we need to go to an exhibition cum sale of wedding articles that is going on in the Bombay Exhibition Centre. For a person who has been married for the last six years and is quite content with the present married life the request was no less than a ‘déjà-vu’ and return to the old times. However this had to be done because it was for the sake of my younger brother who is to get married pretty soon. In India, Marriage is a collection of various rituals in order to re-enforce the fact that two souls will be living together henceforth. In the west the event of marriage is solely concentrated on the bride and the groom but in India the story is a bit different. Every member of the family has a role to play in the marriage, and this result in a plethora of rituals that takes place in a wedding event. Needless to say that all these events need special commodities which don’t fall from the air, so they have to be bought.

The Wedding Industry:
The last sentence gives rise to a big industry in India, The Wedding Industry. Today in this busy life everything cannot and should not be planned single handedly so in come the torch bearers of this Wedding Industry to sell you each and every thing that is required for the sake of a successful marriage event to take place. There is least you can do because you are also loaded with words like culture, tradition etc which are enough to lure you to be a milky consumer of this industry. I went to the exhibition and saw various things that you could actually imagine to buy in a wedding, jewelry, clothes, kitchen appliances, photography options etc. From the pre-nuptial period to the first anniversary there is everything for sale. Ironically, in this exhibition I really saw more people like me (whose marriage are actually in the archives) than prospective grooms or brides taking the call. Of course in a country where nearly 75% of the marriages are arranged-marriages the rituals are also planned and programmed and most of the responsibility lies of the elder of the family (the archived groom/bride).
Among these rush and hush, I was feeling like the odd one out, because honestly speaking my flare for shopping is not a quality that I could really record for myself or boast of. I would really have liked to go stall hopping if they were gadgets, electronics or even food items, but apparels and jewelry nah!!! So what to do? I took the responsibility of looking after my little kid while my wife went stall hopping from one to another stall, looking for newer and newer articles. I was really stunned by the sheer volume of items that were available for this event called marriage, however the groom and the bride have really no clue about what is going on for the event that is only going to ascertain the fact that they both can now live together socially.

Chinese Dominance:
In recent times, like many other parts of the world, it has been noticed that the Chinese articles have gained supremacy in the market than local articles. These articles are cheap, efficiently made and if you excuse my audacity, also innovative in some sense. It is a fact that most of the traditional looking Indian clothes are also China Made. In fact one of my friends, Mitul, also says that if God made everything, He/She might me Chinese. So I also felt this so called divine intervention in this trade gathering and could sense a great deal of Chinese dominance especially in the kitchenware section. For the people who are not from India, it may give rise to an element of curiosity that what is the necessity of having a kitchenware stall in a marriage-shopping list. Well, the workplace of the Indian bride is supposed to be the kitchen, and by buying the kitchenware for your daughter, who is the prospective bride, you are actually getting her ready to face the big bad professional world of house-wives, now also called home-makers. The kitchenware purchase of a high quality ensures that her tenure in her “Oval-Office” is secured for much long time than even the tenure of the president of the United States.

The best place in the exhibition:
For me, the exhibition was a tortuous three hour ordeal. No place to sit, no place to stand, everywhere people just busy buying things for an event in which they are not the centerpieces. I wondered what this exhibition could have had for a total non interested person like me. After all I am not the only weird species in the whole world; I expected that there may be some like me, even though the odds were not much in my favor. Just as I was thinking this and my daughter was getting cranky, I saw a very good place.
Well this was the food-stall. Somebody really thought about me. Actually no, food is the most essential part of a marriage event. The reputation of the family depends on the fact that how the food had been organized in the marriage. These food-stalls were kept for two reasons. To give a sumptuous relief to the tired wedding shoppers and to make a potential deal with a wedding shopper for catering in the wedding event, this, believe it or not fetches him 45% of the wedding budget and in some cases even 70%.
I was actually more interested in the first reason, although I didn’t entirely qualify for this but anyways, I was not being monitored. After having paid Rs 30 for the entry-fee I deserved this thing at least. So I sat down and had some Kachoris. My daughter also enjoyed it to the core.

What is the need?
The most important question over here is that why should we spend so much in an event that is supposed to be a natural process of life. Marriage is actually a communion of two souls, and this should be more left to the persons who have actually decided to get into this social agreement. The society can be a witness but not a participant of this social event. I am not pointing my finger on the way Indian marriages are conducted, I am merely bringing out this issue that when there is so much to do in the country with so limited resources, why at all spend so much on an event that is actually a normal process of life. Marriage is a state, it is not an event, and it is an agreement of happiness and not a display of financial status.
Sometimes it so happens that these petty and trivial reasons of status quo take mammoth proportions and lead to problems like dowry deaths and even female infanticide in this country. In this country the father of the bride is often so pressurized by these rituals that he wished he had never given birth to a daughter. This anxiety and social oppression (sublime though) leads to evils like female infanticide and female foeticide. These inadvertent displays of financial status under the blanket of holy rituals are actually the reason for these evils. These, so called rituals only oil the industry, the industry of wedding, the industry of religion ( read dakshinas to priests and others), the industry of myth but do not in any way uplift the married life of the two souls who are being bounded in marital bliss.
I would consider myself successful, if after reading this article at least one person stops spending on his/her marriage indiscriminately.

Are the holy shrines partial to Celebrities????

I woke up today to hear very exciting news of Hrithik Roshan one of the very “Cool-headed” bollywood actors bashing up the media in the holy shrine of Shiridi. The news was not shocking nor was it a very fresh of its kind. Media-bashing by celebrities, especially actors have been a common thing in the past. However, this happening in a holy shrine is something that is new, and that too in a place like Shiridi, which is actually a place of solace.

My story is however not on that, my question is somewhat different. I happened to visit the holy shrine of Shiridi around two weeks back, what I saw was a complete different arrangement. Anything remotely photographic or any device that could anyway function as a camera was not allowed inside the temple premises. I was very amazed at the strong security arrangements that the temple follows amidst the present situation that constitutes of many security threats. The policy of the Darshan is very organized and this lets all the devotees have a glimpse of His Holiness Sai-Baba’s Samadhi in a very amicable manner. The process if streamlined and there is virtually no lapses in the security per say.

This however, is not the order of the day, when there is a celebrity like Hrithik Roshan or Sanjay Dutt visiting the holy Shrine. There are reporters all around with different kinds of cameras, then there is the full media fully allowed with their equipments in the holy Shrine and allowed to do any and every sort of photographic activities in the Shrine. Well, well, well we have a change of rules over here. There is a different set of rule for the Shrine when there is a celebrity and this is not only true for Shiridi but also true for various other shrines like Tirupati, Akshardham and many others. Why is this double standard being played on with the people? In a holy shrine, where every devotee is supposed to have equal privileges for access to God, there a development of class difference occurs between one kind of people and another kind of people. Why can’t Hrithik Roshan go to the temple just like any other common man? He should have remembered that this is not his film studio, but a place of worship where star tantrums and glitterati could have been kept aside. Also why did the Shrine authorities not follow the rules that they have set for common people. What makes them let the media enter the shrine with all their equipments? Is there no security threat in that? Is there no danger of an even bigger accident considering the fact that a famous person is inside the temple premises.

I go to places like the Vatican and the Tomb of Jesus, which are also religious shrines of importance. However I don’t see any celebrity getting a special treatment if they are visiting these places. Consider Tom Cruise visiting the Vatican. Would he have got a special privilege over there? Would the gates of St Peter’s Basilica open for him with some higher importance? The answer is no. of course there is more fan following of Tom Cruise compared to Hrithik Roshan internationally, but this fan following is only for his films, he is not given special privileges otherwise and this should be the norm.

The Indian society is by nature a publicity-hungry, sycophant society. The administration of any institution, shrine or anything goes overboard in worshipping these “demi-gods” created in the society itself. It is very unfortunate that such an incident had to take place today in a religious shrine, but I would not hold the press or the star as responsible, but rather would have my grudges on the temple administration, that prepares a different set of rules for people like me and a different set of rules for celebrity worshippers.

I often wonder if God Himself approves of such sycophantic policies. How can somebody actually bribe (if not monetarily then influentially) his way to God? Is this how we are going to shape the country? India is known for her culture, tradition and heritage, but when will the time come that this country will also be known for her good discipline and order? We have to prepare ourselves for the modern world keeping our own so called primitive values intact, and this is no way that such developments are going to happen.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Have the terrorists won in India?????

Over a million people have been killed in terrorists’ strikes all over the world over the past twenty years. The figure as astounding as it may sound is actually graver that we are imagining. One million people stand for not only themselves but one million families, one million hopes, one million dreams and one million visions. So we can say that in these two decades fanatic terrorists’ attacks have mitigated one million chances for this world to be a better place by killing one million people, they have killed more than the figures could actually tell. I was starting to think as to why killing is the only solution towards achievement of an objective, which probably can be attained by dialogue and discussion. I was pondering over the thought as to what can be the essential objective of terrorism, because if it is only death then one million deaths are more than enough to substantiate the success of a mission. I figured out that it was not death. Killing of people is probably just a by-product that comes into being in a terror-attack.

So what can be the objective of a terror-attack? Money? Power? Control? I think these are things that can be attained more and even by better means by being a part of the system than actually revolting or rebelling against it. I was watching this movie called “The Siege” and I found out that most of the terror-attacks have a common objective, and that is to engrave fear in the mind of people and attack their way of life. Wars are not won by winning territories; wars are actually won when you win over the people. To win over the people there are two ways, one is to win their hearts by being a part of them and second is to engrave fear in their hearts for you so that whether you are present or not your fear always haunts them. Terrorism follows the second dictum.

So have the terrorists won? Million dollar question after a million deaths!To think about it, the answer of this question depends upon the machinery that is working against the terror mechanism. The government, the security forces, the police and the peace loving people. The principle of winning any war is actually to obliterate any counter principle that may exist in the war-zone. The antibody of terror is peace and the first objective of the terrorist is to destroy peace. So the modus operandi is actually to kill the peace-loving people because then and only then can a kingdom of terror be established. This is the first operation that any terrorists’ organization actually does. After this fear is engraved in the minds of the peace-loving people and the first bastil of a democratic administration falls.

After this it is the responsibility of the government elected by the people to actually deal with this crisis situation. Dealing with terrorism requires a counter terrorism approach. Terrorism cannot be dealt with dialogue, because when there is a terror attack it is implicit that the domains of discussions have been stepped upon and the situation has become much more to actually deserve a dialogue. Then it becomes a game of power, and power can only be countered with more power. Many governments, like ours, actually do not believe in this kind of an idea of handling and solving terrorism. Maybe it is the attitude or some internal politics that actually prohibits them to think for the people and more for the so called diplomatic nitty-gritty’s. So what happens due to this? First they come up with a very good condolence statement followed by a series of condemnation (As if the terrorists care!!!!) and then they give a statistics of how many were killed vs. how many were actually alive. This is just to wrap the inefficient security process that it actually had.

As days pass the people are said to adjust with their lives. More checks in nights. Places where, we could have gone without any problems become sort of fortresses which we cannot enter now on the pretext of security. Places where people went for night-walks are actually closed down. Personally speaking, I always loved the idea of a weekend night stroll in the marine drive, but after the 26/11 attacks I also fear to go over there. Why only Mumbai, the situation is same in other cities as well, where inefficiencies of the government machinery has resulted in changing lifestyle of the people. So to say one thing, terrorists have actually been successful in India. They have managed to change peoples’ lifestyle and engrave fear in them. The attack happens only once in a blue moon but the effect continues for a lifetime. The lives are altered, not only for the victims of the gruesome attack but also for the people who are not a victim of the attack. People who are not the victims live in fear that in future they might become one. Slowly the fear enters their daily life and then finally they adjust with it.

Once the terrorists feel that the fear has to be re-enforced they launch another attack on some other vulnerable city in India, maybe with also some help from the existing political machinery. The fear never dies down after any attack. It becomes a part and parcel of our lives as we know that our system can never protect us from the terrorists or avenge our loss from them. And with one more attack this fear becomes stronger and a part of life.

To conclude, I feel that somewhere the terror mechanism has really has its way against the lack-luster government machinery that we have. India’s sleuth politics, lethargic beaurocracy and even morose and banal judiciary system have let the subjects down big time.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mumbai!!!! How long will she suffer??

Talk about man-made calamities, then you will always recollect the various events that shook this world, e.g. the Second World War, the atom bomb, 1984 Sikh riots, 2002 Godhra Riots and so on. Well, these were the ones that came in the news due to their sheer devastative natures and mammoth life altering repercussions, on and on they were played in the media during the time they happened and the media also gives a retrospective on these events in the forms of anniversaries and comment platforms. There are some man-made calamities however that do not have the sheer charm to remain in the public memory for a long time. The Mumbai local train strike was one of them. Very pronounced, very impactful, but yet not making a mark that would remain in the public memory for a long time. This is because of the fact, Mumbaikars have a very short memory, or rather they don’t bother or don’t have ample amount of time to ponder over the past and remember what they have actually been through due to irresponsible acts of the government. This is the reason why the contribution of Mumbai as a city is unchallenged in the exchequer but its representation in the cabinet is like that of a pauper.

The city is often accredited by the people, often who don’t live in this city, about the famous Mumbai spirit. Well what is this spirit actually? Is it the ability to forget and forgive the acts of 1993 blasts? Is it the amnesic response of the people 4 years after the train blasts took place? Or is it the total oblivion of the normal people or condone they have bestowed on the political machinery after the gruesome 26/11 attacks? Well, I really fail to understand this word spirit, even after spending so many years in Mumbai. I also fail to understand why the people, who often approbate the city about its so called spirit, seldom reside in the city?

The local-train motorman strike on 3rd and 4th of May was actually an event that can be attributed to the sheer failure of the railway ministry and the government machinery. This was an administrative failure that cost “maximum city” almost 75% of the productivity on 4th of May. It probably made a dent into the government income directly or indirectly by around 600 crore rupees. It made the life of the office – going and enterprising Mumbaikar a living hell, due to the fact that the lifeline of the city was paralyzed because of lethargic government response. Yet, I hear some news channels, today also harping about the famous spirit of Mumbai to get back on track after anything and everything. I often tend to believe that these approbations are cooked up by political parties that want to blanket their inefficiencies under the cover of the famous Mumbai spirit. They did it in the 2005 floods, the train blasts and the terrorist attacks and they are also doing the same now.

A parochial, good for nothing railway-minister from Kolkata, shirked all her responsibilities towards the Cosmopolitan, vibrant city, which actually is giving the lions’ share to her ministry to stay afloat, so that she can open boxes of favors to the Bengal public by announcing special trains. She suspends all her duties and concentrates on the trivial municipal election of Kolkata. Her party members are in total support of her and defend this act of idiocracy that lacks any kind of moral responsibility from her side. She is also given a sheepish response by the ruling Congress party in the parliament because of their political obligations towards her. She doesn’t even bother to address this crisis situation responsibly and at least be on the ground in the first place. The state government acts like a cornered mouse to a fierce cat in this situation and ducks at the very first instant, just like it always does when any kind of crisis hits the city.

My concern is that will this step-brotherly treatment by the minister also not open the eyes of the common Mumbaikar? Is it not the right time to once and for all stand up and say that we want our share of good life, for the amount of money we pay? Is it not the right time for the city who gives 45% to the government exchequer to claim a fair representation in the cabinet? I know that I may be sounding cliché, but I am sure that I am reverberating the voices that are most of the time attenuated due to the severe burden of life we carry. I am not revolting, I am just reminding, that such incidents happening in Mumbai have become more than common, and it is about time the Mumbaikar rose to the occasion and dealt with the things in more sensible way. Time has come not to fantasize with the spirit of the city but actually to do something good for the city, not by advertising campaigns of news post, but by sheer man-power involvement.