Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What next?

"India needs change but it does not know what that 'change' will be."

A powerful idea triggered by my editor that prompted to me decipher what the 'change' can mean for the country.

Indians are tired of corruption and inflation.
Indians are angry about rape and molestation.
Indians are hungry for jobs and growth and most importantly, Indians are sick of Sonia and Manmohan.
In short, in no point in the history of Independent India, has the country felt so disgusted about the state of affairs, than what the country is feeling right now.
The last few years of UPA rule has been marred by turbulence, uprisings and revolutions as India seized every opportunity to raise its voice, to hit the streets and to criticize the government. 

The Anna Hazare was the pied piper who drew crores of people when he fasted for the Lokpal Bill. Similarly the country seethed with anger after the Delhi rape case. 

These are facts but what India is hoping for is 'a change’. The ‘change’ might as well turn out to be fiction in future because of the alternatives we have to the present day government!

Who will drive the change?
1) BJP led NDA led by Modi
2) BJP led NDA led by Sushma/ Advani/ Rajnath
3) Third Front plus Fourth Front led by Mayawati/Jayalalitha/ Mamata/ Mulayam..... the list goes on.
4) UPA led by Rahul baba (worst case scenario. Not that the other three are brighter propositions)

I am bit pessimistic as no national parties will get a clear mandate in the forthcoming elections. In fact their position is slated to deteriorate further while the regional parties will gain by increasing their vote share.

If NDA comes to power, the BJP will no longer be able to act as a patriarch as it would require more number of allies to join it to form the government. The result will be the emergence of multiple power centres in central government. Moreover, in absences of an 'acceptable to all' leader like Vajpayee, BJP might even be forced to hand over the post of PM on a platter to any of its strong allies. Given such a situation, where the kingmakers will be more important than the King himself,  I am afraid if the 'state of affairs' will improve or further deteriorate.

Hope the 'change' does not turn out to be the 'poribortan' that didi has brought into West Bengal.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dear School.. your idea is not so cool!

This blog is in reference to the story published in DNA on July 20th, 2012 named ‘Sassy Teachers for Gen Y Kids’. I wasn’t surprised  by the survey findings that the Gen Y students prefer their teachers to be ‘dressed tastefully’ but I was shocked by the fact that Delhi Public School will be conducting a session for teachers by a fashion designer and  skin and hair experts will be roped in for quick tips too.

The schools which entrusted with the responsibility of building values and nurturing independent thinking among the kids are resorting to such crass methods. I fail to understand how the ‘look’ of a teacher matters unless he or she teaches properly in a class. The school should be more interested in how the teachers teach and not how the teachers dress!

More over the story hints at female teachers when it says, “students want teachers to wear eye makeup, smell good and avoid wearing clothes with different colour combinations. Some didn’t want teachers to come to class with chipped off nail colour. If teachers do wear nail colour, they wanted them to polish it regularly”

The very idea of female being treated as an object is encouraged here. If the students want their teachers to wear eye makeup, the school instead of calling fashion designers must call counselors for the students. How do you expect the crimes against women to dip in this country when the schools themselves allow the ‘objectification’ of women!

It is indeed disturbing that the ‘citizens of tomorrow’ are being nurtured  in school which are bereft of their senses.

This is news report for reference:
Sassy Teachers for Gen Y Kids
Gone are the days when students were happy to be taught by a teacher who knew her subject well. But the Facebook and iPhone generation wants more. Today’s students want their teachers not only to impart knowledge, but want them to do it in style: by focusing a little on sartorial matters.
According to a survey conducted by Delhi Public School, South, students want their teachers to be dressed ‘tastefully’. Yes, students are watching their teachers carefully.
The sample survey was conducted on 200 students in the age group of 15-17. The questions, which were open-ended, have thrown up surprising findings.
Sample this: students want teachers to wear eye makeup, smell good and avoid wearing clothes with different colour combinations. Some didn’t want teachers to come to class with chipped off nail colour. If teachers do wear nail colour, they wanted them to polish it regularly.
Taking note of the findings, as a pilot project, DPS will be conducting a session for teachers by city-based fashion designer Michelle Salins. Skin and hair experts will be roped in for quick tips. “We want teachers to know the role of dressing, especially as it builds confidence,” said Tasbia Khan, member, board of management, Delhi Public School, East.
“Along with high IQ, students are looking for a teacher who can connect with them at a personal level,” said Kavita Ghose, teacher, DPS.
“Students have said they want to see their teachers smartly dressed, with a moderate amount of makeup.”
Ghose said she was surprised to know as to how observant students were.
“Students have specified that they don’t want their teachers dressing in a gaudy manner. They don’t want teachers to wear mismatched kurti, leggings and duppattas; they don’t want them to wear wrinkled clothes,” said Ghose.
Even with regard to footwear, students wanted their teachers to wear smart footwear and not casual slippers.
On the other hand, teachers, too, took a survey, with almost everyone keen on a session with a fashion expert to know about the right wardrobe.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Silence of the lamb

As the Supreme Court spelled out in its ruling that only a man of impeccable integrity must be elevated to the post of Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) , the time is not far when the apex court will have to come up with a ruling that only a man of action and reaction can hold the post of Prime Minister in the country.

The honest, decent … Dr Manmohan Singh has in due course of his PM’s tenure turned out to be the most hapless and incapable man in the UPA government machinery.
The nation faced a massive loss of Rs 1027 crores in the 2G scam that could have been averted through the timely intervention of PM.

Its atrocious that the PM choose to remain silent for 20 months when he had a premonitions of the fissiparous tendencies in the telecom ministry. And more atrocious is that he attributes his silence to the compulsions of collation dharma! Thus the ‘Honest’ PM made it clear that for him running a corrupt government was more important than to curb the corrupt practices of the government.

The country lost wealth, an entire session of parliament went for a toss, the investment scene is the country has turned bleak with foreign investors hesitant to put their money , a cabinet minister has been put behind bars, about 25 biggies of the industry are circling the gates of CBI…this is indeed a national shame!

2G scam was preceded by the CWG mess last year. Kalmadi was the scapegoat to be sacrificed at the CWG alters! No one pointed finger at the congress bigshots who should be held equally responsible. The nature of pilferage is yet to be defined in this case but one can be sure that it was the “Common’s” wealth that was splurged at the Common Wealth Games.

One after other the skeletons have kept tumbling out of the UPA’s cupboard! The party that came to power holding the hands of aam admi is now hell bent at breaking its back.

And the crony capitalism fired by the corrupt politics at the sidelines are ushering a new era of growth in the country which is measured through sensex and GDP… an 8 per cent GDP which is yet to reflect in the lives of the farmers of Vidarbha… poors of kalahandi.. Insurgents of Lalghar… and the list goes on…

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Pauperised Growth

The rich ones are God in this country, the middle class constitute the Congress category of 'aam admi' and the paupers are not even eligible to be treated like humans, they have to compete with rats for the basic amenity ‘food’. The government prefers to feed the 500 million tonnes of food grains to the rats than distributing it free to the starving populace, When the judiciary intervened and ordered the government to freely distribute the grains that were stacked in the warehouses,the able prime minister opened his mouth wide for the first time in his political career , subtly bashing the Supreme Court that the ‘policy matters must be better saved for the governments to work upon." There can be no doubt that it is the policies of the successive governments that have led to the pathetic state of the teeming millions.
Coming back to the aam admi again , The aamadmi would act decisively only once in five years when it votes but the poor ones are the desperado who commit suicide, take to arms struggle and yes... they even cast their vote. The biggest tragedy with the government is that it has even lost count of the ‘poor terrorists’ as various committee put across various figures. Thus the government has been trying hard to fix numbers.
Last December, the government announced that only 27 per cent were living below the poverty line in 2004-5, based on National Sample Survey data However, the Planning Commission has now put the new figure at 37 per cent, based on Tendulkar Committee report.
While this committee estimated the number of BPL families at 80 million, the Planning Commission has fixed it at 74 million, while its own earlier figure was 65 million. Interestingly the Tendulkar Committee had been set up after the March 2009 National Development Council meeting, to look into the methodology for estimating poverty, because there was widespread criticism that the Planning Commission was producing unrealistically low poverty estimates.
P Sainath in his article dated "How right are you, Dr Singh" writes "What too, does the Supreme Court do when the government's 2006 promise of a new Below Poverty Line (BPL) Survey to be completed before the start of the Eleventh Plan never materialises? What do they or anyone do when the government sets grain allocations to the states based on poverty estimates of year 2000 based on the 1991 Census. Twenty-year-old data which result in 70 million fewer people getting BPL/Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) grain than should be the case."
With the food inflation increasing day by day and the income levels of the poor remaining almost unchanged, the current numbers of the people living (dying) below the poverty line is surely more than the 'accepted' figures of the government.
What has the government done ?
To mention its few (mis)deeds:
For purposes of food security, the Planning Commission finally accepted that the number of people living below the poverty line in India is 37.2 per cent . The Plan panel, mandated by the empowered group of ministers chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to finalise the BPL numbers, will now meet the secretaries of food and expenditure to calculate the cost of providing food security to so many poor.
While the process of meetings, deliberations and discussions continue and the government finally calculates the ACTUAL number of poor, I am sure the population would have increased by that time and the time would be ripe to form another committee to calculate the number of poor.
The centre has generously decentralised the prices of the petrol, ...... the government rationale is that the complete deregulation of auto-fuels and sharp hike in the prices of cooking fuels would help the government in reducing fiscal deficit and thus curtail its borrowings. Since fuel is a basic commodity, diesel prices rise will increase the carriage charges, which will be added to the commodities being transported. It will mean a hike in the prices for everything that is sold in the market and more money has to be shelled out.
Also, it is a well-known fact that the subsidised kerosene is not reaching the needy poor, rather it is being used as adulterant in diesel and it constitutes a roaring business.
 The government has asked banks to ensure that micro finance institution (MFI) they lend to, do not charge beyond 24% interest from final borrowers.This directly contradicts the RBI policy that there should be no interest rate caps, and the RBI is the regulator of banks. It remains to be seen whether the RBI will assert itself or give way on this. While the government preaches SC not to intervene in the policy matters it forgets its own boundaries.
The main source of credit for the poor farmers has been the moneylenders and their interest rates exceed 30% in most of the cases. The main advantage of the MFI has been that it has been delivering credit at the doorsteps of the needy.
The question is how long can the trio (the aam aadmi and the government and the Gods) continue to turn a blind eye to the poor Indians, it is indeed a national shame to talk about the GDP rates, boast of soaring sensex figures and go gaga over the great Indian growth story where the ‘growth’ hasn’t even touched the majority of the populace. In the year 2010 when more than half of the population is malnourished, 17% are slum dwellers, 35% of the homes still live in darkness,One woman dies every eight minutes due to lack of medical facility... Indian growth figures seem hollow and shammed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A land of million mutinies and a land of million voices – India!

The voice is at times is suppressed, at times ignored and at times unheard of...but it still keeps ringing in villages, in the mud thatched huts, panchayats, bus stands, pan shops, in the courtyards of temples, hills, fields, cow sheds, benches lying near the tea shops, charpoys of roadside dhabas and in many such places. These voices are the ones which the mainstream media carelessly or at times carefully manages to ignore, but there is an strong urge to be heard, thus it is being heard!
The community radio – though a new concept, is picking up in the hinterlands of the country!It is certainly not a romantic idea of the rustic villagers handling the sophisticated equipments of the radio station or RJying ! It is more about the community using the medium to voice its issues and aspirations. A community has a vibrant life and its various hues are being effectively communicated by the members through the channel.
The topics heard on the radio are of multifarious nature…. folk songs, ad of the missing buffalos, ideas of the small business (that could even include gathering peanuts and selling in the nearby markets), a sneak peek into the life of a women who lives in the nearby village, punditry on ‘how to get good harvest this season’, information on RTI, NREGA… and at times granny tales too. The programming is as fresh as jasmine and as innovative as weaver’s bird nest!
There has been a mystery about the functioning of  the media…. No commoners know what goes around the premises of the of a conservative Radio station AIR (I call it conservative as most of the times it’s the particular tribe that mans or at times (woman's) the radio station for donkey years! The citizens are usually the hapless receivers and their ritualistic participation only left to requesting songs or sharing love life dilemmas over the radio ?(be it AIR or FM)).
But here the story is different …there is more than it meets the eye or rather enters the ears. It is about building the confidence of the people and the realization of the fact that ‘We do exist and our problems are not the common problems’.The rural communities experience the perennial neglect of the government.Earlier it was the mainstream media that would atleast report the issues but over the passage of time It is the media that has turned more hostile to the people than the government itself. The ceremonial debate on the 24/7 channels by the driven by ‘God’ like journos are mere gimmickry! In those discussions there will be a voice from the government, from opposition, an intellectual from an academic institution but the ‘common man’ on whom the entire debate is based , stands missing ! His perspective is never enquired by the media. In such a scenario it becomes imperative that the ‘aam addmi’ must speak out…and the community radio gives the platform.It is not just speaking on problems but also about the culture and communicating the local flavor of the community through folklore, songs etc. This the songs that were restricted to the special occasions such as marriage , birth or harvesting seasons are now on the radio and the singers are the local artists. The programs are not in Hindi or the standard vernacular language, but in the local dialect (for example in Himachal the community radio in Solan uses the pahadi dialect Bhagati and similarly in Uttar Pradesh the Bundelkhand radio uses bundeli as the medium of communication).
Community radio signals a lot of things….first the community establishes its unique identity through the medium, second the medium has led to a meaningful addition to the social lives of the people of the community as the people now discuss their issues more vigorously and third and the most important - the mainstream media has in a way failed the ‘rural’ India and thus people will exercise their rights through this tool .

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Manufacturing Images

Thankfully the great Indian Tamasha – IPL(Indian Paisa league) has come to grinding halt … I had literally gone on hibernation during these days. It was torture browsing the web portals of any news channel. Even Narendra modi wasn’t the cynosure of media during his hay days (Godhra riots) as Lalit Modi has been during the IPL. This time Narendra can happily repeat his statement (and I would second it, if it is directed towards Latit bhai) “your riot was worse than mine”. The IPL was literally a Riot!

The drama even shook the not so holy portals of “Indian Parliament” – no doubt Lalu was jealous, vexed and so were other ‘leaders’. A feeling of inferiority complex had crept in as politics is no longer the only ‘dirty game ‘ in country ….there are more ‘sinister ‘ plays now.
IPL robbed the lone ‘dude’ minister, Sashi Tharoor of Congress of his cabinet berth, it robbed the richest man in India of his precious sleep (I guess so as Mukesh Ambani didn’t seem amused when he saw his prettier half clinging to the tiny sardar Bhajji), it robbed the game of the game itself!
IPL….also stirred a bit of my mind… Are all the poorest of Indians actually crying hoax, everything seemed fine in this country during IPL!! All talks about inflation, poverty, inequality had a new connotation these days…if there was inequality in this country it was between the scores of two teams! If there was any poverty, it was of NEWS…and if there was any inflation…. It wasn’t there for the 'sabjis’ but for the ‘Bhajjis’ and other tomatoes and potatoes of the international cricketing world!
No point of shooting arrows on Lalit Modi… one should bomb those 24 hours channel which manufactured only those images that earned buks! Why a farmer from vidharba or from any part of the country would have a prime time slot…. He certainly cannot pay for it…isn’t it?
If he needs to have his story told on the media…. He has to do something dramatic … No a suicide won’t help anymore!! They have to think out of the box…has to be something scandalous as their story is pitted against that of the Modis, Mirzas and Mallicks!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

WANTED - Power!

One of the ‘accidental intellectuals’ of this decade has been Karan Johar. Not that I have any particular liking for this tissue like, touchy kind of  bollywood director , but what amuses me are the ‘not so popular’ issues that he has thrown open through his ‘popular’ cinema! One such topic that popped up with his dumbo Dostana was ‘gay prem’!
Once unheard, unspoken and untouched of the gayish jokes are relatively common these days. Generally people do acknowledge the existence of ‘Gay’ men except for the likes of yoga obsessed baba Ram Dev who claims to cure? Sexuality (I hope karan Johar knows of this). The murmurs are clearer now.  I just hope that we don’t restrict it to the frivolousness of the light jokes surrounding the topic. The debate has to go deeper, raise important questions about the civil rights of this minority community.
The judiciary has to be hailed for the series of ‘welcome’ judgements that it has pronounced in favour of gay men in India. The recent Allahabad High Courts judgement to reinstate Dr Sreenivas Siras back as a faculty in Alighar Muslim University is case point. To give a brief background of the case, Dr Siras was caught on a camera footage having sex with a rickshaw puller and the Vice Chancellor of the university sacked him terming it as ‘grave misconduct’. Judiciary didn’t go with the VC’s version and now Dr Siras is back to his beloved! In an ideal situation its Dr Siras should have slapped a case of intrusion of Privacy on the VC who had sent the so called journos to film him in the compromising position.
These judgements are a good beginning but the stir shouldn’t calm here, not all gay men are affluent and educated as Dr Siras. They are trapped in other unprivileged identities such as Dalit, lower castes, Scheduled castes, scheduled tribe etc. In such a case it is a dual stigma for them… do we brush them aside as they constitute a very miniscule part of the  gigantic population or wait till there is an uprising (I see very remote chances as Not all gay men can unite…. They have hierarchies among them too…as all Hindus do not love all Hindus, all gay men cannot act humane to each other).
One of the solutions can be political representation, If women can have 33% reservation (though passed only in Rajya Sabha) why not gays! If for representing about 46% percent of the population, a 33% of reservation can be thought of then why not reserve atleast 5 seats for about 70 million LGBT populations in India. This proposition might seem contentious and can be criticised on many fronts such as …. How to determine which constituency they must represent as all the LGBT do not concentrate them in one particular land or so, they are scattered, unorganised like any other group in the country. Will they serve as true representatives (in that case no one can claim to be a genuine representative of another). If seats are reserved for LGBT , then reservation based on other identities may be demanded.
Brushing aside all the criticisms and doubts regarding such a move, I would just like to highlight some points …. Our society is homophobic. There have been endless cases when they have been beaten, harassed or put to death by authorities. In many states, they have killed themselves after facing harassment at home and outside. They are forced by family into heterosexual marriages. It is not that all are confident about their sexuality, at times it is difficult to come to  terms with ones identity and it can be painful process when every one around despises you. Gay behaviour is regarded as sexually predatory!
Homosexuality may have been decriminalised but Government departments are yet to acknowledge the fact that India has a gay population, they are yet to be recognised as a third sex (or why not the first sex, I won’t assign hierarchies to different sex). As the LGBT are not a visible vote bank, it becomes imperative that they should be given power to address their own problems.
And what better form of Power than the Political Power…. (As in our country political power is the doorway to all kind of prosperity…. economic, social and what not.. Let gays men also have some garlands !!)