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Friday, July 31, 2015

Kalam after Gandhi

The nation cried after a very long time. It wept when Gandhi left, tears trickled down when Nehru departed and now an avalanche of tears and emotions flowed when Kalam passed away. That mere religion is not at the root of genuine love, respect and emotion is the true learning from this incident that engulfed the nation into sadness.

Today is Guru Punima, the day of reverence to all our teachers and what can be better than to remember the true teachers that this nation had, Gandhi, Nehru and Kalam. Gandhi gave us our greatest gift, the gift of freedom that he snatched from the jaws of the British, armed only with the greatest power on earth, the power of non violence, the power of non submission to what is inherently wrong. Gandhi was also the most powerful man ever to walk on earth for his power was truly personal, the genuine power that emerges from being truthful and one with humanity and this trait alone ensured the submission of the greatest nation of that time to the rightful demands of a very big section of the humanity. And Nehru led this nation in its most difficult times.

Kalam, I met for the first time properly when along with Arunima, my better half we went to his residence to invite him for the annual function of the railway women’s organization. His simplicity was just amazing for we could never have visualized such a big man to be so simple, so down to earth and so humble. Accustomed to the rough ways of those in power and also out of it, we were simply charmed into submission and at that very moment we fell in love with the greatest of human being we had ever met in our lives. He came for the event and conquered forever the hearts of all the railwaymen present for the grandest yet simplest function of their lives.

Kalam, the truest teacher that this nation has ever had showed us the meaning of words like humbleness, humility, commitment, truth, integrity and being true to oneself, the organization and the nation. That these are not mere words from the english vocabulary but have a great inherent meaning and value for the humankind is the biggest learning imparted by the greatest missile man and the finest president ever born in this republic.

He mingled with the differently abled kids on the day of the function as if he were a kid himself and therefore could feel the pain and the joys of being one whom the allmighty has made not like many others. His beaming face, his voice laced with emotion and love and his direct connect with the people, especially the children who are the future simply transports one to a different environment.

And to the men in power and out of it, his life is a subtle message that authority is vested only for the good of people at large, not for self aggrandizement.

His soul left his body while he was teaching at Shillong, a true teacher he was.

Gandhi once said “My life is my message”. Kalam never had to say it, yet his life shall forever remain the most powerful message for the nation after Gandhi.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Protocol, gifts and bouquets

The recent incident on a railway division where a senior officer was found threatening the subordinate for contributing towards the marriage gift of the daughter of boss of the senior was nauseating to say the least, yet none in the officer community was surprised.

An organization steeped deep in unethical practices cannot be expected to be jolted by such a minor incident that otherwise took the nation by surprise and also pricked the conscience of many who have not yet crossed the line between honesty and theft.  

I am reminded of an order by one of my ex-bosses who subsequently rose, if one calls it rise, to become the head of the nation’s largest monolith. The boss was brazen enough to verbally order for departmental get together dinner and booze parties to be organized at the expense of some hapless contractor every month. And as expected I failed to comply and landed into many subsequent soups at the hands of the boss who rose to the top, in rank, expertise in brazen loot and lowly acts of personal conduct. Yet no eyebrows were raised, when the boss issued his brazen order or when I was busy paying the price for my misconduct of brazen defiance of unethical orders.

Yet the latest incident is indeed beyond justification. How can senior officers be so brazen so as to threaten their juniors into submission merely for collecting an extremely high value marriage gift. That the junior by not succumbing to unethical pressure tactics rose a few notches in my eyes, notwithstanding, the conduct of the bosses is indeed extremely uncalled for, despite reflecting a true picture of the deeply prevalent rot in the society.

Excessive bent towards providing protocol to the senior servants of the government also saddens me. Why this bent towards something so immaterial and that too at the cost of delivery per se hurts me to the core. And that too when all these peripheral trappings are bound to vanish in thin air as soon as one crosses sixty. Yet people do not understand and the rot continues.

And the same with giving bouquets and opening the door of the car, not as a token of respect but just to please superiors for petty personal gains.

Sometime back I had taken a drive against plaques that were installed only to carve in stone for posterity the name of the blokes who did the honors while laying the foundation stone or during the commissioning of the facility that should have been there in normal course. Yet I must give credit to these blokes for so far their names have not appeared on plaques next to taps, cisterns and commodes.  

When is all this going to end, especially in the biggest corporate on the globe and till that happens, all our dreams shall remain in air? Tragic is’nt it and also sad that we are giving up on an organization just to satiate the ego of a few who but for the same could make a difference if only they desired. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ease of Living in India!

Ease of doing business in India is a much talked about issue in present times and rightly so – more businesses means a better economy for the good of everyone. Yet I wonder whether tackling issues that impede business is an activity more important than setting right issues that hamper living itself?

It is a fact that living in this nation as a common man bereft of power and money is no cake walk. For every single interaction with the governmental machinery is laced with graft and or pain, be it an act as simple as getting a driving license or as difficult (sic) as registering property.

A machinery that is dishonest to the core with a few exceptions of course is what makes doing business or ordinary living in India so dam complicated and difficult and therein lies the major difference between ours and the developed world. And unless and until we are able to handle the basics, progress would be confined merely to the paper or at best to rhetoric that most of us have been digesting for decades since we came on our own.

Dishonesty or simply put, endemic corruption is the biggest issue plaguing this nation.   

Being honest and that too one who does not tolerate dishonesty in his own realm is indeed a difficult preposition. And the definition of dishonesty is not confined merely to greasing of palms but extends much further. Being true to oneself is what honesty is all about. Being able to look in the mirror without finding a slimy individual in the shadows is what being honest is all about. Being prepared to pay the price for being true to oneself is what honesty is all about.

Yet in a world where the tribe of honest people is shrinking by the day, the dishonest who are apparently flourishing are in true sense not, for inside the core of their hearts they know their true self whom their own conscience detests.

Half-hearted attempts to control the dishonest only result in this tribe searching for and finding ingenious ways of going around the roadblocks. The solution indeed lies in changing the moral fabric of the society that perhaps would take lifetimes of struggle. 

The media is full everyday of reports about people in power raking in the moolah. But such reports do not touch even the fringes of the real problems plaguing the system. While occasionally a big fish lands in the net, the small fishes who throng almost every pond in the country continue with their (mis)deeds unabated. And the common man as well as productivity continues to suffer.

The present federal government has noble intentions yet there are serious misgivings about it being able to stem the prevailing rot, for the rot is miles deep and widely strewn around. In this democratic nation of ours with thousands of years of glorious history, there is no way a common citizen can interact with the system with dignity and grace. Till such time the rot is first curtailed and then cleansed, I do not see much hope for the nation in true sense, yet I pray to the almighty everyday that the present dispensation really succeeds down to the grassroots level in its pious intentions.