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Anna Hazare’s Fight against Corruption

Posted by Mrityunjay on April 9, 2011

We Indians are not really known for good memory when it comes to our social responsibilities, civic sense and tolerance to rampant corruption committed by powers-that-be. But the way, people from all walks of life kept pouring in at social activist, Anna Hazare’s fast unto death campaign at Jantar-Mantar, one could smell winds of change. The movement that ended this morning after 97 hours fast of the renowned social reformer spread to many parts of the country. I, myself, witnessed it yesterday. The movement had all the essential ingredients including candle-lit vigils, street plays, singing and dancing, and other usual trappings of moral indignation and fervor. It was almost reminiscent of a festive air around Jantar-Mantar.

Though, when the announcement of Mr Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death against rising corruption came few days back, not many expected it to gather such gargantuan momentum. Going by the inept reaction of government as evident from its unpreparedness and initial reactions coming from spokespersons, it was definitely a comprehensive victory for protestors. It would not be wrong on my part to call this campaign a blackmail tactic but perhaps, that was the only resort left to Indians fed up with one scam after another. Haven’t we exhausted all other options? Moral coercing can do wonders, sometimes!

For once, I was tempted to remember “Peepli Live” because of the presence of hundreds of television cameras and anchors. People kept scrambling and clapping. The intensity could be felt. Now that government has agreed to form a joint panel for Lokpal bill, I wonder, if this movement and its success is a sign of things to come or just a flash in the pan? Indian is definitely not Egypt or Tunisia or Yemen simply because we are a working democracy and we ourselves have selected most of these morons to rule over us. Since the time CWG scam broke out, we have literally lived through a corruption season. One skeleton after another kept tumbling out of the closet and yet the man considered as an epitome of honesty and integrity, instead of rising to the occasion and lead from the front, kept hiding behind the ‘pallu’ of  our very own Greta Garbo. We are being held hostage by a culture of corruption but our spineless PM kept citing compulsions of coalition politics as prime culprit.

I am not really sure, whether Lokpal bill drafting process will really serve its purpose. Agreed, we will have some reputed civil names in the committee but it will require plenty of will on part of government and opposition to pass the revamped version of the bill. Additionally, some critics are not really convinced about Hazare’s attempt to influence the working of a democratically elected government. As Karan Bedi rightly pointed out in TOI, “if someone has a problem with corruption, report politicians to the police, file a PIL or better still, don’t elect them.” But try telling these things to people of Baramati and you will get a resounding slap. Yes, this is a noble goal but what’s the guarantee that Anna Hazare will be able to draft a perfect bill aimed at rooting out corruption from our system? Even Arvind Kejriwal agrees to that and rightly terms the entire 97 hours as a small step towards the bigger objective.

It will be foolish to assume that a Lok Pal will ensure the elimination of corruption immediately by striking fear in the hearts of the corrupt. Make no mistakes about it as that is not going to happen. There will be effect, certainly and hopefully, administrative and political corruption will burrow down a bit. But all in all, for our own sake, this just can’t be a one-off movement. We, the people need to keep hammering on regular interval. The movement must not stop and should try to include more and more people in its reach. Above all, I hope, we get rid of our ‘indifferent attitude’!

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Ayodhya Judgment – The Key Takeaways

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 30, 2010

So, is it the end of one of the longest awaited and most controversial cases in India’s history? The judgment actually reflects the collective mood of the nation. Though, on surface, it seems fair but I wonder how long we will have to wait again if and when one of the parties decides to approach the Supreme Court.

The actual suit “The Sunni Central Board of Waqfs UP Lucknow & Others Versus Gopal Singh Visharad and Others” was filed in 1989 but the battle is going on for almost 125 years. The Allahabad High Court dismissed the title suit filed by the Sunni Waqf Board. There are some important takeaways from the verdict:-

1)    The court declared that the disputed site in Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, the Hindu God-King. There is no question about it.

2)    The Babri mosque that stood on the disputed site and was destroyed by a rampaging Hindu crowd in 1992 was built by the Mughal Emperor Babar. But the ruling said that the mosque was built against the tenets of Islam and therefore could not “have the character of a mosque”. The evidence was provided by the archaeological survey of India (ASI).

3)    Another important part of the ruling pertains to construction of “mosque” which was built on the site of an older Hindu religious structure that was demolished.

4)    Hindu Idols were indeed placed in the middle dome of the disputed structure on the night of December 22/23, 1949.

5)    The High Court also made it clear that property in question is undeniably the site of Janm Bhumi of Ram Chandra Ji. Hindus have been worshipping at this place since time immemorial.

6)    The status quo needs to be maintained at the site for three months. The full ruling runs into more than 8000 pages.

7)    The last important piece is about division and distribution of the disputed land in three parts:- one-third for Hindu Mahasabha, one-third for Sunni Waqf Board and one-third for the Nirmohi Akhara.

Ok, so basically these 7 points sum up 8000 pages. The verdict is seen as a step closer to final settlement in this historical case. Though, the Hindus always claimed about presence of a Rama temple in Ayodhya and its demolition by Babar 500 years ago, Muslims never really accepted it. There were plenty of conspiracy theories circling the claim like it was a British ploy to divide Hindus and Muslims by providing fake archeological proofs etc. But things got really nasty after razing of the mosque. Thereafter, it became a matter of establishing secular credentials of political parties and securing vote banks.

It was actually a relief to see that the verdict failed to cause any emotional and violent reactions. Both Hindu and Muslim leaders have judiciously used their words post the judgment. Though, it’s far from over as All Indian Personal Muslim Law Board and Hindu Mahasabha have already indicated their desire to approach Supreme Court.

Throughout the day, the country was on tenterhooks but nothing untoward happened. Many offices were closed today in anticipation of riots, but peace prevailed. In a way, it was a very smart decision. Everyone got something. British would have been proud of this decision. Divide and Rule. The only difference was, this time it was used for good.

BTW, The High Court should have given one third to OBC or SC or ST, no? After all, what happened to our famous quota system? Okay, no more cheekiness…the judgment is basically “Peace in pieces”!

P.S- someone tweeted- who was the winner today? Not BJP, Congress or SP or BSP. Its News Channels and Corporate People who were gifted half-day leaves.

Anyways, now that whole episode turned out to be a damp squib, lets get our focus back on Kalmadi bashing. 😛

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A Letter to Railway Minister

Posted by Mrityunjay on July 22, 2010

Honorable Railway Minister,

For quite some time, I was thinking of paying a tribute to wonderful services rendered by you in your capacity as Union Railway Minister. I do hope to have your response despite your proven track record of dismissing every allegation of neglect made against you. I am also aware of your penchant for blaming the CPI (M) government for every rail accident and poor safety record of your ministry. But as we all know, you are the woman of masses; you care for the common men and yes, also behave like one. Your grass-rooted mentality (read myopic view) has gifted us just 14 accidents in last 14 months at a mere cost of over 400 lives. Yes, you read it right. Just 400 and that is the official data. But thinking of it, these martyrs have sacrificed their lives for a greater cause and that cause is to see their beloved Didi in the Writers’ building in Kolkata. No, no we have completely managed to forget that you are also in charge of Railway ministry and you are supposed to attend Cabinet meetings which are so often missed by you because of pressing commitments in West Bengal.

Didi, the common men have always loved to sacrifice their lives for heavenly causes and what can be more pious and divine than your pursuit of forcing CPI (M) government out of the state? In exchange, we are always willing to adjust with your ignorance of Rail Bhavan. We also do not mind your constant jibes against the state government and blaming them for every rail accident that has taken place in last one year. Trust us, we don’t even pay attention to the current status of 90,000 vacant posts including 20,000 posts in railway safety and security. We understand your priority and the need of the hour.

How could opposition parties term you rudderless or irresponsible and a pioneer of sabotage theory? Aren’t they aware of your unquestionable commitment to the victims of West Bengal who are supposedly under a tyrant’s rule for over three decades? Perhaps, they are still living in the Nehru-Lal Bahadur Shastri era and can’t get over the moral responsibility taken by Mr. Shastri in his capacity as a Rail Minister and subsequent resignation following the train accident in 1956 that took away 150 lives.

We are living in the era of pragmatism and yet dissenting voices blame you for not shouldering responsibility! Pity on them for doubting the credentials of our honest minister who wears simple slippers, lives in a one-room flat and likes to address mammoth rally every month in the heart of Kolkata. Why should it bother the common men that these rallies stop the life of the city and results into colossal loss for the state’s exchequer? After all, it is for a greater cause.

Honorable Minister, we sincerely apologize for all the negative comments about your ministry made by some passengers who managed to achieve the feat of getting a reserved seat in this summer by paying 3 to 4 times of actual fare. How would they know how tough it is to establish a profitable nexus between bureaucrats and ticket agents? But no, these narrow-minded people are only concerned with attending marriage functions or funerals or meeting their family members after a year of hard work. Please forgive those ignorant souls who feel they have been duped by your inability to handle summer rush and provide new trains.

Didi, we empathize with your unwavering focus on removing Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government who couldn’t even provide ample security to Ratan Tata and his ambitious Singur Plant from the unruly workers of your party, Trinamool Congress. Please complete your mission first and then we will think of getting a comfortable reservation system, procuring iron rods, wagons and safety instruments for railways. Till then, let the jealous souls blabber about your decision-making paralysis and resulting piling-up of bodybags on Indian tracks. We are happily willing to ignore string of mishaps under the reign of tragedy-railway-queen. After all, it’s all for a greater cause.

Sincerely Your’s

A Common Man

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Racism Row : Are Indians Really the Victims?

Posted by Mrityunjay on June 8, 2009

racismAfter 10 long days of procrastination, finally thought of nailing it down. Yes, I am talking about writing! It’s not that topics did not come to my mind but…but..Well, there is a great shameless but…

One news that kept staring at us was/is racist attacks on Indians in Australia. Is this is mere coincidence or plain luck that newspapers never feel any dearth of news? Check out the trends in last one month. IPL, Indian elections, new government formation, Share market rally and the latest Twenty20 world cup! Something or the other keep blessing newspapers and channels and we the poor souls are being burdened with information overload! I wish, someday I could just skip the morning paper but blame it on my most regular habit, I can’t really start my day without looking at few junk news!

Ok, about racist attacks on Indians, I saw an article by Jug Suraiya and I could not help myself getting inspired from it to scribble few lines..err..Paragraphs! Somewhere, we Indians keep finding ourselves in racist row. Remember, our very own Shilpa Shetty emerging as new anti-racism icon! Well, the moment she became a part of ‘Big Brother’, a sort of history was created. Few tabloids even compared her with deeds of Mahatma Gandhi who stood against the might of white Africans a century ago! I would rather not dwell on merits of that comparison. The point to be noted here is what we sow, we reap. We just can’t crib about being the victims all the time. Finding me unreasonable? Tell me, aren’t we racist? Yes, we are one huge breed of racist ourselves. We define racism on the basis of black and white. Black is considered as inferior whereas we always give white color that superior feeling. I have already talked about a certain dimension of this aspect in complexion article.

During my days at Delhi University and even today, I often saw locals treating African students in absolutely disgusting way. They called them ‘habshi’ that is equivalent to being called ‘nigger’ and that is as offensive as it comes! North India has always been besotted with white color. That is very much in tune with TV commercials advocating usage of fairness creams. Having said that, it reminds me that even John Abraham has started to advertise for a fairness cream!! (Dude, you look nice the way you are and if you are so concerned about it why don’t begin the charity with a gift to your girlfriend!)

So why this fascination? Because we were first invaded by superiority of white ‘Aryans’ and later on British? We are a different kind of racists because apart from color discrimination, we decide about the quality of the people based on their castes. Remember, when did you last try to sincerely ask a north-eastern student his name instead of calling him chinky? Or people from Bihar are called biharis and assumed to be ill-mannered, uneducated and malnourished. Bengalis are supposed to be ‘Phattu’ (coward) and south Indians always talk in ‘laa-ille/ ille-po’ sort of language. Gujjus always seek money and as Jug Suraiya pointed out they love ‘heavy SNAKES for tea’! Well, tell me if that is not racism then what ist? But yes, we live in a country that represents ‘unity in diversity!’ so much for equality! So much noise for the sake of being the victims in Australia! Probably, the truth is we are not meant to handle racism because it reminds us of our own ugly reality.

:- Image of Indian students protesting in Melbourne

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Pappy Voted, Finally!

Posted by Mrityunjay on May 8, 2009

So finally, Pappu voted! I truly feel that it was a big psychological leap for me. I can’t really express how excited I felt after voting. At the same time, I am really ashamed to admit that it took me 27 years of my life and 9 years after reaching eligibility benchmark to exercise my democratic rights. Phew! Well, better late than never. Since last few days I was wondering about whom I am going to vote for. I tried checking the qualification and standard of candidates and finally decided to choose one based on his development plank.  

07052009446I won’t be able to claim that the candidate I voted for was the best one, but yes, I tried choosing the lesser evil. Got this wonderful blob of ink on my forefinger and to be honest it feels good! 😉

Delhi did witness a relatively better turnout of voters at 53% and majority of them were first time voters like me. So many ‘Pappus’ managed to break through their disillusionment and indifference towards politics. Thanks to media and campaign like ‘Jaago Re’ and ‘Making a difference’, many youths changed their mindsets and thought of contributing their bit. The ‘Jaago’ campaign proved to be a masterstroke from Tata Tea because of its commercial as well as social success.  

Another change witnessed was the notion of voting as the ‘IN’ thing. It really became fashionable to vote. Celebrities loved to flaunt their inked fingers and flash that plastic smile with ‘victory’ sign! Probably that drama did play its part in many adoring fans turning out at polling booths. Lastly, the funniest thing was many malls and shopping places offering 15-20% discount on groceries and readymade clothes to the people who have voted!

Well, that was not a bad idea actually. Many people availed this offer once they were done with their ballot thing. A win-win situation for both business and consumers! I wish, our politicians could offer any such discounts (though, do they have anything to offer? :P)!

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Me N Politics

Posted by Mrityunjay on April 18, 2009

sikhs_camp_shadara_1984_prashant_070411_outlook_india2So I was talking about my heightened state of interest in the murky world of politics. I used to follow poll opinions and discussion among the election pundits with religious regularity. I also remember my active interest in opinions expressed by senior family members and then using those adopted opinions in my group and gosh, it used to give me such a high! Of course, my friends were impressed with my knowledge in a thing that was alien to them and that’s how I was bestowed upon with sobriquets of ‘General Knowledge Master’. I am not really ashamed to admit that my image was based upon some stolen opinions of elections but other parts of the ‘precious tag’ that included sports and movies were earned by me. It was some sight seeing the entire group of ‘dads and papas’ sitting around the TV set and each having a different set of opinions. I used to watch, listen and grasp the basics from them as sincerely as possible.

 

Actually that whole scenario can be termed as true symbol of election fever. I always wanted to be first in leaking out news about who won from which constituency and the reactions I received always varied in nature. From despair, ecstasy, excitement to contemplation and criticism, it used to be myriad expressions of contorted faces. It was no less than a festival occasion for me. Just now as I am writing, I am realizing that there was one more reason of my excitement. And that was a ‘feel-good’ factor associated with seeing all the otherwise busy persons of the society sitting in a harmonious environment and indulging in some chit-chat. Yes, it gave me a feeling of harmony, brotherhood and togetherness. I am still trying to figure out what actually happened in my life that made me this aloof and a sucker of individualism.

 

It’s hard for me to pinpoint the period when I found myself with dwindling interest in politics. I just stopped caring who is winning and who is losing. That was also a symbol of emerging indifference towards all the things not directly related to me. As I kept entering into different phases of life, my area of interest found itself manifested in process of crossing new frontiers. Sports, career, girls, sex, movies, travel and many other such aspects of life held my interest at different point of time. In recent times, stock market, communication, blogging and socializing have added themselves to the ever widening chambers of my life. But yes, politics was left behind. Now I feel all I am interested in knowing is the final result and not the process.

 

People around me have also impacted. Not even a single person that I know shows any interest in such things. Probably they are justified. However, there is one difference. Most of the people in my knowledge are critical about politics and politicians whereas I am still indifferent. Sadly, those who are critical are not much knowledgeable as far as nuances of politics are concerned. They feel compelled to criticize because criticizing politics is the ‘IN’ thing and they like to do it because everybody else is also doing the same. Did I whisper herd mentality? Oh, yes! Sometimes more you try to differentiate yourself, more you remain the same s**t-load of human garbage!

 

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Secular Party’s Manifesto

Posted by Mrityunjay on April 17, 2009

I don’t remember when did I last watch a political debate on TV? Probably 7-8 years! Before that I can vividly remember myself actively listening to all the participants in a live show. These participants used to belong to different ideologies and it never used to a pleasant and healthy exchange of ideology and philosophies. A fish market basically, all the candidates had this inherent desire of maligning others and proudly flaunting their own superiority. That time I was still an active citizen and I had my own favorite party and leaders. I had yet to feel indifferent to all the crap preached by them and I had yet to say the oft-repeated statement of youths ‘politics gandi cheez hai’! Well, I still don’t say ‘politics is no business of mine’ but yes, I have definitely turned indifferent and perhaps disinterested.

 

I have started to find all the leaders same and alarmingly all the parties more similar than ever before. Just look at the manifesto released by all the parties and you will understand what I mean. There are hardly few differences in the manifesto. Just manipulation of few words here and there and well, world’s most populous democracy finds itself at the mercy of ‘not-so-progressive ideologies. The best manifesto definitely belong to SP. It says there won’t be any computers or English medium schools and culture of malls, multiplexes will be abolished! Whoa!!

 

And then I read about SP’s party chief sending his two sons in a high-end convent school. I also tried to get the view of SP’s most visible face, a socialite and power broker. This person released the party manifesto and can always be seen hobnobbing with India’s biggest movie star and one of the corporate giants. He loves to attend ‘Filmfare’ awards function and cutting ribbons of new ‘Boutique’. His actions are definitely in ‘sync’ with party’s policies. But then he hates malls and multiplexes where he watches premiers of new movies with first family of bollywood. No doubt, he is very flexible in his approach. His PA can also be seen with quite a few ‘laptops’ but did not he believe in getting rid of computers? I told you, he is much diversified when it comes to situations and actions. I guess, I will continue with this part…     

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