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Friday, August 22, 2014

Have a heart - Stand up India

India suffers in silence from the “Mera Kya Mujhe Kya” syndrome. The recent Meerut incident in which a girl single-handedly faced the wrath of goons and fought back in a busy marketplace in broad daylight is indicative of the depths to which we have fallen – that we are a country of onlookers, tamashbeens to be exact. The onlookers at Meerut who were watching the brave girl fighting and facing the wrath of the goons perhaps had no qualms of guilt in not coming to the rescue of the damsel in distress. Why to get involved in someone else’s fight was perhaps the only thought that came in their minds despite relishing for free the action on the streets. 

And why not, rarely does one come across a citizen who possesses the spine to stand up for a cause other than his own. And yet everyone complains when others do not stand up when they are in distress themselves.

Rampant corruption that touches the lives of every single citizen all of the time is also an offshoot of our rank inability to stand up for a cause that does not affect us directly or it affects others. Like the goons, the corrupt also get away because of failure of the masses to step forward against acts of violence, corruption and gross injustice being perpetrated on others.

And it amazes me when even those from the services despite being guaranteed a lifetime of sarkari dole and other legitimate and illegitimate perquisites fail in doing what they should, to stand up against acts that go against the national fabric, even at the cost of subverting their own conscience. And all this for petty personal gains that ultimately do not matter in the long run.

The citizen is still justified but the bureaucrat is not, in failing to stand up for a right cause. After all lack of faith in systems and structures that form part of the government machinery of the nation is the reason why the aam aadmi feels miserably lonely in all his battles. The men at Meerut were absolutely certain that had they moved against the goons, they also would have faced a double whammy, both at the hands of goons and the state police force. Yet these ground realities do not absolve them of inaction by any stretch of imagination.

Modi understands the pulse of the nation and that is why he is the first ever prime minister to put his finger ,bang on the “Mujhe Kya, Mera Kya” syndrome afflicting the nation. He exhorted the entire nation to rise above this syndrome in the overall interest of humanity and if this call is heeded, the country would indeed emerge a much better place to live in.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2 Down – More to go?

The arrest of two senior railway officers recently – Rakesh Kumar CEO of CBFC and K.M.Tripathi former CGM of IRCTC for accepting bribes made headlines. That both these officers are young and from the services is indicative of the depths to which some of us have fallen.

Yet these incidents are not a bigger surprise than the Railgate of 2013 that placed railways as the epitome of corruption in the country. Never before in the history of independent India was a secretary level officer arrested and charged for manipulating with hard cash, his own posting at an apex level in the organization. Yet he was the person who was caught and crucified while others of his elk got away. We all were witness to juicy details of wrongdoings on the part of the powers to be during those days, the shocking cell phone conversations covered by dailies, yet the incident that was expected to mark the beginning of many more heads rolling, actually became the end of such investigations with the result that corruption flourished and achieved new heights.

Recent report of the CVC also placed the railways at the numero uno position in so far as corrupt practices and the number of officials charged with graft are concerned. Not a matter to be proud of, especially for those who like to walk with their heads held high.

It is really a “low” for this great organization. Being regarded as the epitome of corruption is definitely not something one can write home about, yet the very fact that the wheels of this great organization keep rolling magnificently speaks volumes about the cutting edge employees of this organization. 

Is this – the recent arrests – marks the beginning of the end of corruption in this great organization? Many wish so yet the majority having tasted the consequences of not toeing the line would continue to remain skeptical. And that leads me to wonder – why officials from the services despite reaching fairly senior and well-paying positions go astray and secondly why do officers who consider themselves honest miserably fail to stand up to misdeeds of superiors. Prime Ministers clarion call from the red fort this independence day to rise above the "Mera Kya, Mujhe Kya" syndrome needs to be inculcated. Perhaps there is something wrong with our grooming of youngsters who have come to regard their jobs, not as service as Modi exhorted the nation to, but as opportunities at loot and self-aggrandizement. Sad it is, yet one has to accept the ground realities as emerged during Railgate and reinforced by the recent arrests and CVC’s damning revelations.  

That the new government looks upon railways as the prime mover of economic activity in the nation is indeed heartening. The immense potential that railways possess in triggering and giving a push to economic activity in the nation is waiting to be tapped. But for that the organization shall have to first eradicate corruption and unethical conduct cutting across levels, an exercise that would indeed unlock the tremendous potential of this monolith.

There is absolutely no doubt that the time has arrived for this great organization to move in the direction of a genuine fulfillment of national aspirations. In God we trust.......

Friday, August 15, 2014

Support Modi, Support India

For the first time in my life, on this independance day the feeling of pride and satisfaction surged through the heart with such intensity that Modi's address from the red fort today gave goosebumps all over the body. After all Modi is the first true leader that the nation has got since it came on its own. The first leader who having emerged from the ground has a ground connect and emotions, that in their wake encompass even the poorest of the power and the weakest of the weak, is indeed a sign of the good times to come.

His recent clarion call from the borders, laddakh to be exact – na khaaonga na khaane doonga had already set the tone for his address from the ramparts of the red fort and his impromptu speech, for the first time ever by a prime minister of the republic signaled changing times that most of us have been waiting for since the famous midnight tryst with destiny.

Major changes are turbulent and turbulence therefore is to be expected and accepted as an inescapable part of the process that would enable the nation to stand up and trot forward to occupy its rightful place in the comity of nations.

Abolition of the planning commission that had reduced planning to merely a bureaucratic farce and its replacement by a creative body that would search out of the box for innovative solutions to all that plagues the nation says it all about his intent and thought process. His call in support of the girl child speaks volumes about his concern for and genuine love for humanity.  And his clarion call to the populace to emerge out of concern for the self, rise above “mera kya, mujhe kya”  is indicative of his deep rooted desire for a national movement for a grand revival of the sleeping republic.

Modi spoke about cleanliness, his vision for a clean India and the beginning of a national movement on the next birth anniversary of the father of the nation, who throughout his life stressed that cleanliness is godliness. He spoke about ensuring that every ho se has a toilet and every citizen has a bank account. He exhorted the members of parliament to use their funds to lift villages out of the morass and convert them into model villages. All great thoughts yet simple, in tune with his vision of providing a simple yet effective governance. 

And therefore it is time that the entire army of a hundred and twenty crores steps forward in his support. Yet the only way the support would be worth its while would be when all of us adopt and practice his ideas to the hilt. Merely uttering the support word would not do. Our concern for the self has to be replaced by a burning desire to do something for the nation, irrespective of the price one will have to pay.

After all as history has shown time and again that nation building never comes cheap. And this address from the core of the heart of a true nationalist gives hope, plenty of it.

Jai Hind.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

propelling the nation forward

Spontaneity emerges from the heart. Modi’s address at the BJP National Council reinforces this feeling for what a contrast it was from the prime ministerial addresses of yesteryears as well as more recent times. A stony faced parroting of written down text can never compete with words of wisdom and deep understanding emanating straight from the heart.

The confidence, grace, resolve, commitment and poise that the prime minister of India displayed made me proud – proud of the nation I live in and perhaps for the first time in my life proud of the chief executive of the nation. A chief executive whose only concern is that for the nation as opposed to many others who occupied the high chair only to fulfill their own ambition of going down in the annals of history as those who also ran.

Modi’s concern for the common man and the poor was more than visible during the address. His call to the party to adopt and pursue one social issue every year came out as an example of an out of box thinking inspired by genuine concern for the society. His call for conserving energy displayed his practical approach and also his ground connect. His open declaration that in times to come India's writ would prevail in the international scenario adds to the stature of every aam aadmi of the country. That his approach to the nation’s foreign policy is based on national pride, not on appeasement enhances our respect for ourselves.

The recent changes in the conduct rules for government servants that lays stress on the need to maintain the highest levels of ethical conduct, honesty and integrity besides giving meritocracy its long overdue recognition is like music to the ears. These changes are an avid display of the intent of the government to clean up the much maligned bureaucratic tantra of the nation.

These are changing times in the life of the nation. Yet all that is happening gives confidence that Modi's promise to propel the nation forward will indeed be redeemed. For the first time one can feel the surging feeling of national pride deep in our hearts. 

Thank you Mr.Prime Minister for this wonderful feeling. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

respite for a nation violated

The spate of rapes continues to shame the nation, with the Ulta Pradesh taking the lead but others also not much far behind. The recent incidents at Bangalore made the citizens cry out in unison and our hearts bled, yet there seems to be no respite from this monstrosity.

And how can there be? The Nirbhaya incident of the 16th of December 2012 jolted the collective conscience of the nation, yet the perpetrators have not paid for the crime that they committed. If this is the state of the case that made everyone – the citizens, the netas, the police and the bureaucrats sit up and take notice, God help us. And therefore the spate of rapes continues undeterred. The absence of swift retribution gives sufficient encouragement to the rapists and the misplaced sense of legal bias for the juvenile encourages him to take in his stride rapes and other criminal activities.

There is a need to cut the rhetoric that we are accustomed to after all such incidents. There is a need and the time for real action, not mere assurances and the new government gives hope. Yet hope shall remain only till such time despair stays away and these recurring incidents with the rapists having a gala time even after the incidents are slowly leading to despair. The situation has nose dived to such levels that some men in power outreach the rhetoric as witnessed from the response and the remarks of the chief minister of Karnataka to ghastly rape incidents in his own capital.

And the so called armchair activists have a field day. The protagonists of the now much maligned juvenile act harp on the advisability of correcting, not punishing the juvenile. I wonder if their response would continue to be the same had some of them faced the trauma of having his or her own daughter violated. What is good for the gander is apparently not good for the geese in this case.

And the response of the rich and the powerful also borders on a sheer lack of concern. After all almost all the beastly incidents are perpetrated on the lower classes, those on the darker side of the financial divide. The tragedy is that those who can make a difference to the system and the society are not affected by the happenings or the surroundings and therefore remain unconcerned. This major  malaise has inflicted the nation in its almost seventy years of independent existence.

Why don’t such incidents happen in Singapore and Dubai. The sheer fear of a deterrent and swift punishment keeps the perpetrators at bay. If small yet highly efficient nations can have a mechanism to deliver swift and sure punishments for crimes committed why cant’ India, a world within the world do so. It is the fear of a heavy and swift punishment that only will keep the rapists away despite what the juvenile supporters profess.

The nation is deeply hurt and aggrieved and would continue to be so till such time our daughters are freely and without fear able to roam on the streets of their own motherland at all times of the day. One lives with the hope that "Acche Din" are not far away.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The UPSC row - the conflict of conscience!

The on-going tussle over the CSAT issue seems to be assuming epic proportions. While on the one hand we have a large band of students who are against taking the basic test of English skills, on the other hand we have almost everyone else venting their anger against this band on the premise that a civil servant cannot manage everywhere unless he knows English. Both parties believe their stand to be justified and right and therefore the standoff.

It is a fact that English has emerged as the functional language of this country. The reasons for the same can be many – the effect of the british raj, the diversity of languages necessitating an impartial link language or just the national fad for anything from beyond the shores. 

Yes it is indeed a sad reality that confining oneself to hindi alone can be catastrophic in a nation that was once known as Hindustan! With almost the entire official work being carried out in English language any bureaucrat or a technocrat would find it almost impossible to survive without a bare functional knowledge of the same and that is what the CSAT paper strives to achieve. To that extent the paper is fully justified.

And we have hindi implementation or rajbhasha departments in government machineries. Hindi implementation is only possible in a non-hindi environment that existing government machineries have become. In this scenario, it has to be mandatory for all those who aspire to join central services to possess functional knowledge of English. 

Yet it rankles. Why should the link language be anything other than one of the major languages spoken in this nation and hindi being the most popular obviously has the biggest right. Why should a foreign language be the language of the nation is a thought that hurts deep down in the psyche of every idealist? Perhaps the idea behind the hindi departments was to make hindi emerge as the link language in the governmental system, frankly one is unable to think of any other idea that could have formed the basis for the same.

The love for their own language amongst the many countries whose mother tongue is not English is indeed amazing. Why are we different? Is our national penchant for the English language right? Why should people who converse in English be generally regarded as many shades above those who do not? Why should students studying in hindi medium schools feel shy in front of those who study in English medium? Why fluency in hindi cannot take one as far in life in this country as fluency in English can? These are thoughts that disturb all those who are really in love with the nation, for whom the nation should rise based on its ancient wisdom and thought and not language and practices imported from beyond the shores.

Yet we have come too far and English is there to stay. Perhaps the ideal scenario may remain a utopian dream for all times to come. It is indeed a conflict of conscience. The nation has miles to go and mere language can never dictate progress and growth.