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Friday, November 30, 2007

The Fear

The ‘Fear’ has been the only factor in human life which makes this mankind tolerant to others and sensible. The fear could be related to anything and that somehow makes you alert and obliged. Though the death fear is the ultimate in that category, other fears also have their own importance depending upon the individuals and the contexts. However, I would like to share with you of my fear for a person as a ‘Lower Primary School’ student. The names of the characters are changed and any similarity is mere coincidence.

I studied in ALP School near 'Pazhayakavu' temple from 1st to 4th Std and my home was around 2 – 2.5 Kms far from the school and I used to walk to school from home and back. There used to be one individual, who used to work in our fields, who takes me to the School and back. I had another friend called “Natarajan’ who happened to stay near by my house along with me everyday.

After the long bell rings at 4 PM, we kids used to flow in the metal road with no place left for anybody else, till we reach the main road and then the crowd gets diverted to various places. For me the walk was always eventful…..!! Most of the households on the roadside I used to pass by everyday, know my family very well and many of them used to wait for me to reach in front of their house to share some special dish with me, which they have made on that day and the individual who used to carry my school box ( An aluminium school box, which I used to boast of as a prestige symbol ), used to get irritated at each of my stops… However, I enjoyed irritating him by delaying at every stop…!!

While we walk as a big bunch of sheep on that narrow metal road, Chellappa Iyer used to suddenly appear in front of us and we will be running for our lives…..!! Chellappa Iyer was a grand old man retired from Government services and had lots of energy to frighten us and make us run by creating sounds of various animals……!!!! We believed the stories told by many boys that he is really a beast in the looks of a human…!!! His dark lean hands were interpreted as the skeleton and we even believed that in nights he had become ghost and wandered all over our village. Some one told that he's a good ghost who used to protect our village from ill fate.

Years passed by and when I was studying in Govt. Victoria college, I had an opportunity to visit one of my friend’s house in an ‘Agraharam’* near my college, where I was stunned to see Chellappa Iyer lying paralytic in a coat. Later I came to know that my friend was his nephew and as he was unmarried, they had brought him home to look after when he fell ill. I could easily recognize his face as that was permanently recorded in my brain as the synonym of terror….!! But when I looked deep into that face, I realized that it had gone much fragile and his wry smile is still in my memory. My friend told that he loved children and he had donated his entire wealth to an orphanage run by some missionaries….!!! He liked to tease children and play with them as he never had an opportunity to love his own children….My friend said that he used to give lots of gifts to my friend whenever he visited them in Mumbai….”mama’ was always a welcome guest for them and above all, he was a friend to them….!!! However, still when I remember about him I start with the fear I had and end with the wry smile on his face…..!!! May his soul rest in peace….!
*‘Agraharam’ is a brahmin habitat of South India where adjacent households are located

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Grain drain may touch our lives any time…

India is really shining….with a robust and consistent GDP showing with a record FII investments and exports…..and what not…?

I know it is not fair to see negative aspects when we are going in high gears of prosperity. But forgive me readers..I just can’t keep quiet when I see this headlessness…!! ( I’m not a Ronen Sen to use a similar word, but it’s a mere coincidence..).

In the whole world, every economist knows that India is an Agriculture Economy where the majority of the population still depends on the Agriculture and associated jobs to meet both the ends of life. This fact, even our great economists who govern this country know very well.

Now, the irony of life is that the most endangered species of life in India is not the tigers of Gir forest, but the farmers of our country. East or West, North or South they are getting self killed in numbers, some getting noticed by the so called powerful media ( of and for powerful people )and some are deliberately ignored by the same media.

For politicians, the farmers were always a cause and roadmap to power. They climbed up the ladder, even up to the superior power of the country and then did everything to keep up the same condition as to retain the power and then used it whenever they want to climb the power ladders…. So their intention was to not to resolve, but to take some populistic measures like rice for poor programme etc., and to make the governments bankrupt and thus making urban population think that the entire bankruptcy is because of the villages…. A well carved political rift between the city and villages…..

Indian Agronomists, Scientists, Farmers’ groups and all other concerned Governmental and Non Governmental Organizations should come together and devise an emergency mechanism to provide valuable inputs in increasing yield per cultivated land and a proper mechanism for better prices for farm produces and technological innovation for more viable farming. Above all, there should be a very root level awareness and training programme on “Post harvest Handling’ of produces among the farmers. I’m sure once the farming becomes a profitable profession, then there will be young and techno savvy entrepreneurs venturing into farming without hesitation.

You have alarming reports of shortage of grains and the country which was grain sufficient till recent past is importing wheat from Australia this year and the quantity of import is predicted to go up next year, if the Government does not take drastic measures with immediate effect to curb this. Another horrifying fact is the conversion of fertile cultivable land into residential plots by the real estate mafia and headless governments adds their part in the name of SEzs. There are large chunk of non-cultivable land still available, but no one really thinks about converting those lands into industrial and residential zones as your setting up cost will increase due to the non-availability of natural resources.

We will & we do borrow technology for making soaps and tooth pastes by allowing MNCs to have a free ride on our large chunk of consumer society, but reluctant to get the best agri-tech from Israel in the name of safe diplomacy and much teeth less Non Allignment Movement and so on…

You ask the Ministry of Agriculture about the action plan to deal the crisis situation in future, they may come up with lots of book worm theories and never ending projects which will see crores of tax payers money flowing into private pockets of a few! The Governments change and years pass, but we the people never respond to a Rs.35 per 1Kg of rice and Rs. 55 per 1 Kg of wheat….. We’ll not mind sending our children to work as bonded labourers in ITES companies and reduce their life span, thanks to the rotating shifts of work and keep yelling and killing each other over petty issues of community, caste and religion and ultimately regions. The people who instigate us at various occasions know very well that they can distract our focus like this forever and have a gala time for themselves. And in the end of the day we pray God and blame our destiny for all these bad days and live happily thereafter…..!!!

Asking yourself everyday is essential...

It is essential to ask yourself daily before going to sleep about your actions of the day is very effective method of being self critical. It will definitely lead to self correction, provided you are performing it truthfully to your conscience.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Misinterpretation of Self Respect

I feel people conveniently disguise their ego through extravagant definitions of self respect... Self respect is always within and no need to show it off.... When you respect yourself, you can tackle any situation without listening to your ego... When you undergo humiliation from others, normally your ego wakes up and you interpret that as your self respect...!!! Humiliations are a test of your modesty and passing in such tests will actually boost your respect towards your own eyes..!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sethusamudram Project: A reality check

I would like to quote an article I have read for forming an analytical view of the projects proposed in our country in the disguise of development..... For whose benefits? For whose advantage? With what agenda? People of this country should realize and respond....constructively.....

"The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP), which envisages dredging a deep water canal across Adam’s Bridge at India’s southern tip, has been in news for all the wrong reasons.

Yet, without negating the divine implications and without questioning people’s beliefs, there is a need to objectively analyse the project and assess whether it in our national interest.

The project, which would cost the exchequer around Rs 3,500 crores, entails building a 300 metre wide and 12 metre deep channel from Gulf of Mannar across the Adam’s bridge all the way to Bay of Bengal beyond Palk Strait off Point Calimere, a distance of about 44 nautical miles, so that the ships from the West Coast of India can transit to the East Coast through the Palk Bay, rather than going round Sri Lanka.

The protagonists of the project feel that the canal will save precious fuel and save transit time for the ships, and also develop the Tamil Nadu coast. Many feel that the entire traffic from the Persian Gulf and Red Sea to Malacca Strait will eventually take this route.

But the facts are somewhat different. The channel is being dredged so that the ships with up to 10 metres draught can transit through it. But almost all the tankers and bulk carriers from Persian Gulf or the Red Sea and bound for East or South East Asia are much bigger in size, and will not be able to use the channel due to constraints of draught.

Even for those ships that can transit through the canal, except for traffic from Tuticorin to Chennai, the time gained by most of the merchant ships on account of shorter distance will be more than neutralised due to delays that are inherent in transiting through a narrow channel, where pilotage in all probability will be compulsory. The ships will have to anchor and wait for a pilot (a local expert who navigates the ship through confined waters). Time will be wasted in waiting for pilot, embarking him, disembarking him and also due to speed restrictions mandated in a narrow and shallow channel.

If the traffic increases, then the ships will have to queue up as big ships will find it difficult to cross each other in a narrow channel like this. Any fuel saved will be neutralised by Pilotage charges and other charges likely to be levied on ships transiting through this artificially made canal. It is therefore unlikely that any significant shipping is likely to be diverted through this canal, even after it is ready. This poses serious doubts about the financial viability of the project.

From the security point of view, it must be noted that all big ships during their transit from Adam's Bridge to Point Calimere will be extremely vulnerable to attacks by LTTE, as the ships on account of surrounding shallow waters will be constrained to move at a slow speed and follow a fixed path, which will pass very close to the waters dominated by the LTTE. This will provide LTTE a strong leverage against India and the flow of traffic through the canal will depend on India's relations with this terrorist outfit.

Strategically, India must aim to bring the countries of South Asia closer and strive for a South Asian Economic Union. But the Sethusamudram Project creates an unnecessary Gulf between India and Sri Lanka, which is uncomfortable with the project as it perceives it to be against Sri Lankan interests. Although it has been circumspect as it does not want to ruffle feathers in India, but Colombo’s displeasure is well known.

Sethu project — A strategic blunder

It would make much more sense to go in for a land bridge between Dhanushkoti and Talai Mannar (over the Adam’s Bridge or the proverbial Ram Sethu) so as to achieve better integration of Sri Lankan Economy with Indian economy. This coupled with a reasonable devolution package by the Sri Lankan government could resolve the long festering ethnic turmoil in the island nation. Several studies indicate that a land bridge between India and Sri Lanka would make enormous economic sense and the cost could be recovered in less than a decade.

As an emerging maritime power, India would like to monitor shipping in the Indian Ocean at least in its vicinity, and one of the most significant Sea Line of Communication close to our waters is the one that connects Dondra Head (South of Sri Lanka) to Malacca Strait. Though Indian naval ships would still have the legal right to be in Sri Lankan waters after the construction of Sethusamudram Canal, they would definitely lose the moral right to do so.

The environmental impact of the project has not been studied adequately. It is believed that Adam’s bridge prevented Tsunami from affecting Kerala, but what is more significant is that the region has been prone to massive tidal waves and one such wave in the sixties had washed away an entire train from Dhanushkoti Railway Station.

The Gulf of Mannar has been chosen as a biosphere reserve as its waters and its coast are rich in marine life, which contains over 3600 species of plants and animals including 117 species of corals and 17 species of mangroves. The project will definitely have an adverse impact on the marine life even if the shipping lanes do not exactly pass through these waters; mere proximity will pollute the marine environment and destroy the coral reefs.

The local fishermen feel that this will not only ruin the fish breeding grounds but could also bring in deep sea trawlers, thereby threatening their livelihood.

It is therefore essential to dispassionately review the project and not see it through political or religious prisms. As the channel will not allow transit by bigger ships and small craft have always been transiting through Pamban Pass, it may be much more cost effective to dredge the Pamban Pass to allow ships of up to five to six metres to pass through. This may not even cost one per cent of the cost of SSCP, and besides saving exchequer’s money will definitely avoid the adverse environmental, security and strategic implications of this project. "

Hence, our esteemed Governments have the moral responsibility to bring the facts and figures of this project in front of the tax payers as they are accountable for each penny they intend to spend in the name of this project.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Logic & Politicisation of Myth, Culture & Truth

In this beautiful world of ours, there lived many legendary philosophers and great individuals who thought and contributed for the betterment of the entire human kind – regardless of caste, creed and regions. Their thought process was always influenced by the magnitude of the impact of the effects of their thought and not by the narrow aspects like religions and regions….!!!

India is unquestionably one among the ancient civilizations in this world with rich cultural heritage and strong philosophical base. This makes us proud to be Indians and at the same time warns us about the responsibility on how to carry ourselves in this world. It demands us to practise what we have imbibed from our ancestors and it demands a very high tolerance level towards any discrimination and untoward instances, so that we become an example for this modern world too…..

However, how many of us can claim to be this role model and show the path to our younger generations? Answer is very much known to each of us and it is high time to analyse and assess ourselves about our inherent tolerant levels. There is a dire need of a strong analysis on what we are? And what we should be? and not on what we were ? or what we had been…..?!!

I had travelled across the country and had an opportunity to observe our highly diverse culture, very close and specific…

Be it ‘Durga Puja’ in Guwahati & Kolkatta or ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ in Mumbai & Hyderabad, or ‘Holi’ in New Delhi & Hyderabad or ‘Diwali’ in Coimbatore & Lucknow or ‘Onam or Vishu’ in Thiruvananthapuram & Palakkad….

All are the same…except some small variations, rest everything is same…..Same excitement, same enthusiasm….!! However, in this frenzy of excitement we are ignoring certain value erosions in the process…!! One of my friends from England (He actually hails from Athens, but settled in England), who happened to be well read and has pretty good knowledge about our heritage and culture (May be more than some of our ASI officials) had opened my eyes on the issue.

Across India, during the festivals ( Be it Holi, Ganesh Nimajjan, Durga Puja etc. ), the processions take place and people dance in frenzy and shouts slogans to praise the lord….Understandable….But how would anybody justify people drinking alcohol in public and the organizers supply alcohol in public during these processions….??? In no epics anybody has referred to this kind of celebration and display, rather these celebrations have always been described as an act of sanctity, (i.e.) sanctity of mind, body and thought…!!! When my friend pointed out the mockery of ‘belief’ even by those so called ‘Moral Police’, I felt ashamed of these irresponsible display by our people. When somebody make a film on existed evil of ancient India, there is a huge hue and cry about it. But, these mockeries of belief are done by the same species of people and it is very difficult to digest such actions by the true citizens of India.

I had also seen exception to these common trends and understand that there is hope, still prevailing in the end of this cave of ignorance & hypocrisy.

The first instance was when a group of ‘Rajasthani’ dancers were displaying the traditional dance during ‘HOLI’ at Hyderabad. They were traveling in a van going from one Rajasthani house hold to another one and performing the dance. It was mind boggling and inspiring…..No forcing of colours, no mixing of chemicals with water & eggs, no shouts and above all no drinks…!!! They came in group, performed the dance with a backlore of folk music, applied ‘Tilak’ on the foreheads of the surrounding people and parted sweets and ‘Prasad’ and very calmly left the place to the next destination.

The second instance is during ‘Ganesh Puja’ in Hyderabad, where they used to keep the idol and conduct ‘Bhajans’ every day and do the ‘visarjan ‘ in the end without making a big noise about the entire phenomenon. This bold display to follow truly traditional and holy festivals should be appreciated and encouraged…These acts are extinct species and if not recognized by the society, it will vanish very fast. Each one of us as a responsible Indian who owes lot to our culture, tradition and the knowledge passed on to us by this great land, should do something to appreciate such initiatives to keep up the dignity and sanctity of our culture and tradition ever alive….!!! Through your comments, you can suggest me the logical steps and plans from your end in this regard.

I would like to conclude with a related aspect about the development….It is neither wise nor scientific nor an act of intellect (Unlike the social perception or myth in India) to just discard the past and do some project, which would have borne in the brains of some individual beaurocrats, who don’t have any social obligation as the species rarely feel they are accountable and they overlook at the ecological and emotional imbalances and impact to the society by and large…!!

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Tribute to my Friends across this Planet


What do you mean by that? There are many movies, theories and larger than life definitions by many great people about this relationship……and nobody is wrong in their own context….I’m trying to analyse what is friendship from my perception and experience…..

Before getting into the depth of it, let’s ask some preliminary questions to ourselves…..

Does Friendship start with love & affection you feel for each other?
Is friendship only an acquaintance in the beginning and then evolves into a strong bond of love & affection, which prevails there forever?
Is friendship based on the needs & usefulness of the individuals to each other?

Now, there could be many more (Millions of them) questions in this format, for which it might be difficult to find answers ever…..!!!!

More than 85-90% of the friendships start as mere acquaintances and then gradually evolves as a strong bondage and impression upon each other, which leads you to continue the relationship and maintain it further…..

Gradually you come across the various character patches of your friend and the impacts of the same. It is a test for your tolerance levels and you will tolerate his behaviours, depending on the willingness and character of your own self….!! You may decide to quit and still you may be half minded to offend him, purely depending on your own nature and the way your character is moulded….

According to me, after initial intimacy and getting closer, so that a bondage had happened, I do not expect my friends across this globe to contact me every time , just to say ‘hello’ and regardless of all these expressions and displays, which primarily lie in the froth level of a relation, I would like to serve my friends when they actually need me and when they come up with a request…and I expect the same from them too….Not the typical friendship day cards and those sweet chocolate words and no action of bondage….!!!

I had lost many of my friends because of this philosophy, since they all belong to the class where they had seen lot of ‘Public Display’ and they are in that trap, where you do not go beyond that level….If you do not call or meet them for 2 days, then there are lot of complaints and repercussions…!!!

I feel the friendship needs to be valued on the basis of the sacrifice one makes for his/ her friend when you are required to do it….!! Not by calling or meeting somebody regularly and when need arises, you do nothing…!

Based on my principle, I have lot many true friends and a strong networking channel of like minded friends who really care for their friends…!!

Oh…My friends …. I’m proud to be your friend.

I have other friends also who belong to the other category of glory and show off and I certainly know from my experience that they may fade away over a period of time.

Another aspect I had seen is that many of the friendships and network are with a specific agenda and goal….To me its absolutely absurd…and totally unacceptable…!!! Like mothers’ love, the friendship should be unconditional and without expectations….and should not be maintained for emotional bargains….!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Different Family Experience....

When I was referring about public display of affection to an audience in a debate forum, I shared my experience with them and would quote the same for you all....In Assam, Iwas living with a middle aged doctor couple, who had three children... first 2 daughters and the last one son. first daughter was studying in kolkata, second one in Delhi and the son was in Guwahati, with them....

During one of the vacations, all the children came home and were introduced to me...

We all were having lunch together at home and then the girls' favourite dish was prepared by the servant and served. In the middle of the lunch, an important phone call came and the madam doctor excused herself for sometime....

By the time she came back, the special dish was over as the girls' cherished it well as they were back home after lousy, monotonous hostel food.....

I was taken aback at the response of this respected lady, who screamed at the children for not keeping it for her......I am not able to explain my condition as it was unimaginable shock for me, comparing the way I was brought up......The children stood up with heads down and told sorry to her....

They boast themselves of the quality of convent education they had received for themselves and for their children, the best fashionable clothes, accent and a lot of public display of affection..... Whenever they see the children, you hug them, kiss them and what not..Many a times it was little difficult for me to digest as the girls were 19 & 16 years old respectively and the boy was 14 yers old and were looking much more matured than their respective ages....
I was wondering who were they trying to convince that they have lots of love for their children...or who are they afraid so that they want to establish an emotional bond with their children and bargain on the same later on....?

Yes, I too agree that the love should be expressed......but that should not be to cover up your insecurity nor to disguise the lack of it.....

You show your love and affection in such a way that they understand the depth of it, through your action, your sacrifice and at times by the absence of your action.....!!! Through your action, they should realize the value of sacrifice in love.....then definitely they will sacrifice for their loved ones....!!!!

Its really noble

It requires lot of courage & maturity to love others unconditionally....This is a culture, which needs to be inculcated and passed through the generations.....

Whenever, any special food article was brought by my dad during my childhood, my mother used to portion it and give it to each one of us and many a times, being the youngest among them, I used to ask for more after eating my share....and she brings and gives me more...then it is the turn of my bro....and sister...each one of us, she will give.....

Of late, I realized that she's managing to give us again from her portion and most of the times she hardly gets anything....I wondered how she was able to give it to us when rightfully it is her's.....At last one day, when I was in my inter, I asked her this question....Then she told me she finds it happy if she sees her children enjoy it rather than tasting it herself....still I could not realize the fact....but I understood, she's doing a sacrifice by giving off her portion to her children.....

Now, when I sit with my children and eat, me & my wife are more than happy to give away things for them and my mother used to pass a meaningful smile from her seat...!!! Hence, for me love is sacrifice and love is the joy of the loved ones....!!!! So this is a culture to be inculcated and passed on.......!! I would like to share one more story of a family whom I have lived with, in Assam as an other extreme example later......

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