Monday, December 27, 2010

Binayak Sen – we a nation of hypocrites

The conviction of Dr.Binayak Sen for life by a Chhattisgarh court for supporting the naxalites has drawn expression of anger and sadness from many quarters. Which I dare to say was expected.

Sen was arrested by the the Chhattisgarh police in 2007 for allegedly acting as a courier between a jailed naxal leader and a businessman.

The reactions that have come from various sides of the globe have blasted the Indian judiciary, the Indian governing system and alike to all corners. Activists have till now organized many a rallies in support of the doctor. One such rally was organized in the heart of Delhi where the great “Arundhati Roy” too made her presence felt. Online petitions have already flooded emails of many an enlightened Indians asking them to register their protest. Amnesty too has joined in.

The charade of the 'intellectuals' is at full swing for the world to see and to mock the Indian democracy which according to them is trembling in fear of a doctor.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Media unbiased- A 'mythical shit'

The spotlight has never been as intensely focused on the media itself as it is now as the respected Fourth pillar find itself being subjected to the same questions that it showered all these years on the other three pillars of a vibrant democracy.

One after the other, incidents,leaks,expose have come out in the public sphere bringing out in open the dirt that was always present in the media but was very subtly swept under the carpet.

Journalism is about truth and spreading the information. But rare are periods where it was confined under these limits. Ethical and moral limits in journalism are loosely codified and very rarely followed.

Politics,Police,Paisa which ostensibly amounts to ‘power’ have always been a part of the media. And when these three walk with you side by side you are bound to enjoy the rise associated with them and equally share their disgraced fall.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Candle light- Mumbai's only way out

It will be exactly two years, two hours from now when the insanity that is called Jihad played havoc in Mumbai . And as we remember the innocent death due to the countless senseless bullets I am sure many of us will light candles at the busy squares of our cities.

Last year this lighting of candles happened in every city be it Mumbai,Delhi,Patna or Bhopal. At that time I was in Bhopal and I saw two radio jockeys standing under a pandal as they distributed candles to the curious guys that had gathered around them.

And like everyone I too noticed that the reason that so many candles were burning to death was not because of the cause but because of the girls who were distributing them.

I don’t have issues with it- lighting of candle nor I find forming of human chains a very senseless act of displaying oneness. But what troubles me is that why do we stop at such symbolic gestures. Why do we have this feeling of contentment and satisfaction after a hard night work of lighting candles.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Once there was a man called Lalu

Not long time ago Lalu chalisa was a very common thing in the streets of Patna. You could easily purchase it from the many a small shops that are lined up in front of the Patna railway station. These Lalu chalisa that were written by many of the faithful followers of Lalu Yadav would sometimes outsell the more original Hanuman chalisa.

And like his other predecessors from Bihar Lalu too had a fondness for the Indian railways.

Lalu Yadav and Indian Railway shared a very cordial relationship till he was the Railway minister. And both gained from each other. More aptly - it was the Indian railway that gained more. Not going into the economics, it was because of Lalu that the railway became a household name in Pakistan and world over. And it can be debated upon that whether the Railway as an institution gained any long term benefits during the tenure of Lalu.

Lalu Yadav was at that time Bihar and Bihar was nothing but Lalu. And even now that memory has not faded from the minds of many.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Barkha Dutt needs to be defended

I have been at the receiving end of highly critical words and statements for the recent post on my blog in which I have defended Barkha Dutt. Few of them have come through authentic source and they have attached their email address in case I feel that I should revert back to them.

Mostly though have been under the hood of anonymous. And I have no problem with the person being anonymous, since it’s me who has exercised this option of having anonymous comments. But I have been a bit disturbed by the use of language and words which to put it mildly is inappropriate.

All of the comments and feedbacks barring a rare few have said that I am acting as an agent of Barkha Dutt and I am one of those 'educated idiot' who has been recruited by Congress.

I am sure not many of those who have commented on the recent post of mine have gone though my previous posts. And I don’t expect them to do so. None of the commentators have been following my blog so it would be unfair on my part to expect them to know I am ‘what’ leaning. As in am I a Leftist, a Centrist or a bloody Rightist.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In defence of Barkha Dutt

I have never admired Barkha dutt. I found no reason to do so. I always see her as someone who has gorged on the self manufactured hype that she has attracted towards her. She went to Kargil and made sure that she along with India emerged as the sole winner. The focus I still remember shifted from the Bofors to her as she reported the war with dramatic effects that were meant to portray a picture of a woman who is risking her life to cover the war.

She made sure that the right visualizations were carried out to the viewers just like the way she did years later when she was reporting the Mumbai attack. She would cover her ears in articulated gestures as to show how near she actually was to the real shooting that was taking place. The intensely scared look on her face made sure that the viewers had to forcibly digest the fact that she was actually doing a very good job.

She did everything good, no pun intended. But when she tried to cash on it and tried to turn into a larger than life situation, she flunked. Exaggeration fetches and catches the ‘ooos’ and the ‘aahhs’ but modesty and humility makes sure that the real admiration stays forever.

And in the case of Barkha Dutt she has never stopped from making sure that the headline shifts from the news to the anchor.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why I 'hate' India

A long list of people will come up if I start thinking of people who are Anti-Indian. (And what may be anti-Indian to me may be a patriotic individual to you, but that’s a subjective matter.)

But maybe then that list will appear peanuts if I start thinking about those who glorify such people who like to dislike India.

I pose this question to myself and search for answers that why we glorify those who de-glorify India? And for the starters I will make a disclaimer that No I am not a saffronwadi nor a Swaymsevak nor a BJP supporter.

The moment someone starts talking about people who propagate anti India feelings they are attached to an invisible tag of a fundamentalist, a dogmatic and an unsecular intellectual.

You blurt words against the professional dissenters like Arundhati Roy and you are called someone who is in cahoots with the people who perpetrated the terrible riots in Gujarat. The moment you call Geelani , both the Kashmiri and the Professor , anti Indian, you find yourself being measured on the scale of a Saffron promoter.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The man who moved the mountain

In this midst of election fever that sweeps Bihar I randomly remembered a Greek tale that I had heard many years back. And like every other Greek tale this was also a story of love, valor and determination. Of words of courage that were transformed into action. And like every other Greek story it had a sad end.

I first heard this story when I first came to Patna in 1997. And the story goes like this.

There was a young man who lived in a village. He was a frail built man with not much ambition but to live a simple happy life with his beautiful wife. He used to earn his bread while working as a farmer. And whenever it would rain, he and his beautiful wife would sing local love songs that would enthral the whole village.

Every morning he would arise and cross the huge mountain that separated his village and the small piece of land on which he cultivated vegetables. It was a treacherous pass with high raised sharp rocks. This bed of black rocks would become even more dangerous during rain as people would slip and devoid of any medical facility would be disabled for life.

One day her wife who was bringing lunch for him slipped and fractured her ankle. And that day this hero of ours decided that the mountain that had caused hurt to her wife will have to go.­­

And he sold his goat to buy a hammer, a chisel and a rope to chisel the mountain away. And he started working, day and night, ignoring the voices that called him insane.

He hammered and hammered and this went on for twenty two years. And when he finally finished he had excavated a 360 feet long, 30 feet high and a 25 feet wide passage. Due to the carving out of this new passage the distance between his village and the neighbouring village was reduced from 75 km to 1 km. Yeah you read it right, from seventy five to one.

And then one day this man died. As another Greek story of love, courage and determination ended without much fanfare, just like the many other fictitious stories. But this story is different.

The hero in this story was no Greek, but an Indian. And this was not a tale of fiction.

Dasrath Manjhi was a SC (Mushar, rat eating family). And he was born in a village of Gaya in Bihar. And it was sometimes in 1960 when he was still in his 20s that his wife slipped and it was on that day he decided that he would move that mountain.

And it was in 1982 that he chiselled that mountain away. All with a hammer and a chisel.

He died in 2007, long after his wife had passed away. He died amongst tall claims made by political leaders who saw him as a good investment to bank on. While he was alive, leaders visited him and made sure that this visit was publicized as it would mean a good impact on the backward class.

A movie was made on his deeds. But he himself died as a common man.

Promises that were made during his time still remain unfulfilled. Still his family continues to live in poverty and still there is no sign of the hospital that was promised by the state government that would be made in his name.

I am sure that when he decided to break the mountain he never had any intention that he should become famous. He chiselled those mountains because his wife broke her ankle. He made her a promise that he will remove those mountains.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that human deeds of such higher degree was born out of such small reason.

It’s even harder to believe that we still live in a society where some huge, painstaking promises are fulfilled by an individual while some less difficult ones are forgotten by the state.

But then if they would have been fulfilled then this tale wouldn’t have qualified to be called as a Greek tale.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why are we such a great nation

Socho yaar kitna mast desh hai apna,not taunting,but think.

We are spending crores of rupees daily on Kashmir. So many people have given their life and its repercussions are felt all over India. Majority of us know that India is trying to thwart attempts of Pakistan to win over Kashmir yet we have no complaints when an author openly shouts in Delhi that India should free Kashmir. The same lady once wrote an eye watering piece on Naxalism and she famously said that one should not cry over the CRPF personnel killed in the anti-naxal operation as they are getting killed because they are killing the naxalites. Tit for tat. Simple.

We have kept alive Ajmal Kasab so that he can spit on the judiciary. Remember we have also kept a guy called Afzal Guru? He should have been hanged long back. Why? Don't quip that judiciary will take its own course. It will only work as it should if we don't ask it to go slow. But sadly that’s exactly what’s happening. Accepted that terrorist attacks are common in India but even a diehard secularist will say that it’s not daily that you have attack on Parliament or it’s not every third morning that you wake up to find five gun totting men consigning everything that falls in their sight to flames. Parliament attack and Mumbai attack were, are and will remain "a remarkable, out of the blue" incident. And it requires action of the same kind; an action that will be remembered and will serve as a precedent.

Why it is that one leader or author speaks for the whole Muslim community. Who asked them? Who told them that Indian Muslims will feel insecure if the parliament accused is hanged and they will feel anger if Kasab is sent to the gallows? None of my Muslim friends told me so. And I never felt that I should ask them this question because I know they too feel the same like every Indian feels.

Why do these intellectuals say that Kashmir is not a part of India, it never was? Just because they are intellectuals? Didn't we had intellectuals before? Or is Roy the epitome of the Intellectual culture of India? And why shouldn't we condemn her statements? And why is that whoever speaks anything that’s against Roy and her intellectual coterie termed as a Fundamentalist? Why is it that we have adapted ourselves to such double standards? And adapted so well that we don't even realize that we have reached the zenith of hypocrisy and the nadir of having respect for India, which I am sure many of us still regard it as our Country.

Yeah, I am done for now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

But for the tea at Jamshedpur railway platform

The quizzed look in her calm eyes made him flinch for a moment and he was transferred to the past when he would look into those same eyes and would find himself drowning without any regret in the blissful ocean of love, trust and care.

It was during a train journey that he had first met her. 

There was nothing romantically unusual about the first meeting. They both had alighted at the Jamshedpur railway station to have tea and by some innovative method, known only to girls, she had managed to miss her train and if it was not for the classical scene from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenege, he wouldn't have known to how to give your hand to a girl who is running to catch her train like a bride escaping from her own marriage.

That was the first time their eyes met and soon the casual glance turned into an attentive stare. Her eyes were like the best thing that he had ever seen. The light blue Kurta, the black cascade of black falling hair and a spread of innocence worth their weight in Scottish chocolate was too much for him to fight against.

His non belief in love was taking a serious dent, for he was experiencing the gravity of love that was pulling him down. Something was happening, he could experience it. But to describe it in words was something he would have miserably failed even if he would have tried.

He was falling in love. And he knew that had no chance of coming it out of alive.

This happened on a quiet day of a warm winter of January, 5 months ago. And soon their love became the talk of the small train.

And as their love blossomed from Bhopal Express to the dim lit walkways of Connaught Place he discovered that she was the more extrovert of two, always cajoling him to hold hands, swing legs, run aimlessly on roads, pushing through crowds. When she was in her full bloom she could make a 5 year toddler look like a man planning his retirement.

Every stare of her, her every word were like a gentle flowing stream or a subtle blowing air of a cold breeze. He was living in a world that was weaved by her, every string, every colour of this world was painted by her for him.

She was last thing that came to his mind when he closed his eyes. Wordly desires lost their identity as the intoxicating potion of love started flowing in his veins.

She was like a hand that was guiding him though this world.
And then everything came back from the past to the present. A crowd had assembled around the body that was very still. Yet there was something unusual about it as one could sense that a final wisp of breath was still trapped somewhere inside

The people watching him sighed in amazement as he opened his tired eyes for one final time, as the light inside those once bright eyes dulled the rainy morning.

And for the last time in eternity their eyes met again. She had the same quizzed look which she had at that time 
when he had pulled her on the moving train.

He saw her for the last time and his eyelids fell down; never to open again.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Is the Marathi manoos at Stake?

A few hours back I was going through a blog of a friend and I came across his recent post in which he has written about how a member of the Thackeray clan, Aditya Thackeray, son of Uddhav Thackeray walking on his ancestral footsteps, forced the prestigious St.Xaviers college, Mumbai to stop prescribing to a book because he felt that this particular book is not worthy and suitable to be taught at the college.

Just for the records it was not a cheap publication that are available at the numerous book stalls on the railway station of Dadar. The book is titled “ Such a long journey” written by the well known writer Rohinton Mistry. It was first published in 1991 and was nominated for the Bookers and won many recognition including the “ Common wealth writers prize”. In 2007-2008, it was prescribed for the BA ( English) course in Mumbai university. And since then it is being taught there. It is a novel about how a family go about their daily life.

But one fine day a boy who is still struggling with the pull and push of attaining puberty, decided that he has to do something to gain some media attention as he was about to start his political career and add more stench to the already nauseous gutters of “India’s secular politics”. As he was considerate enough to not to resort to use of sticks and swords, he decided to go after “Such a long Journey”.

This guy, Aditya has nothing much to write about him. He is a student of the same college from where Rohinton passed out. And by gods grace he has also managed to churn out a collection of poems which he has aptly named “Black and White”.

Its noteworthy to mention that when Rohinton Mistry was penning down the lines of his book, this dude was probably wetting his nappies while listening to the gory achievements of his father and grand father post 1992 bomb blast.

But then creativity and hooliganism runs deep in this family. His father is a photographer, his grand father too is a cartoonist and his uncle as we all know is a painter. So it was but obvious that Aditya too would inherit this creativity and this rogue character. So, I don’t blame him.

This Thackeray feels that the book talks about the Shiv Sena in a negative sense. As far as he is concerned no other reason is required. If the Thackerays don’t like something ; then they don’t like it. And he issues a dictum 'banning' the book. Simple as that.

I won’t talk or write much about Mr. Poet Thackeray because as much as I know this guy by now has gained enough media coverage and I am sure the sycophants Barati around him would add more color and push him more towards the sky for his success in losing his virginity of hooliganism. He passed his debut test of showing his strength without a blood being shed and a office being vandalized.

Welcome to the world of right is might Mr.Black and White . But as a friendly advice, keep writing heart rendering emotional poems, for you have to show the people that you have a tender side too; just like the other members of your clan.

But I would like to comment on the audacity on the part of the university officials. I mean I just can’t stop admiring their ‘bravery’. They just couldn’t stand a college teen hooligan because he was from the notorious Thackeray clan and was going to start his own group of activist , which he has proudly christened “Yuva sena” . This sena will see to it that India’s cultural value or more specifically Marathi culture is not vandalized, burnt or destroyed.

I would like to commend people on their maturity for still regarding the Sena as a political entity. My immaturity suggests that it ceased to a political party long back. I always thought it was a bunch of mentally deranged goons who had decided to conglomerate on one fine day and start a party. Post the 1992 riots my inexperienced mind told me that soon this ‘party’ will disappear from the political scene of India. But as I now see, I was a fool then.

I was in a good mood today as I watched India successfully concluded the Common wealth games. I was enjoying every moments as I felt goose bumps when the army contingent played the band and I was ‘liking’ every facebook status that my friends were posting about the success of the CWG.

But then reality dawned and I realized that still we are what we were. Still we fear some Hindu clans and still we bow too their fancies without even taking a ‘token’ stand.

I have friends in Maharastra and they are much more forward and liberal than me and they are more into activism than me but I just can’t find questions to my answer that why they keep tight-lipped when they should speak.

I am not in Mumbai, many of us are not. But those who are in Mumbai why don’t they say that “ Ok you may not like whats written in the book but that doesn’t give you the right to destroy it”. Is it that difficult thing to make people understand? Does that require too much of courage?

Is being called ‘Bhartiya’ sounds more derogatory than taking pride in being called a Marathi manoos, UP ke Bhaiya aur Tamil Nadu ka Mallu.

You have to decide that , not those bunch of goons who pride themselves in hurting and destroying everything that doesn’t please them.

Its not Marathi manoos at stake, its your freedom to oppose tyranny and to speak your mind out thats the burning question right now.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dejavu’ing in Patna

Everything is back to the same place where it all started. Couldn't help but loose myself under this sense of Déjàvu. In Patna .

It seems that I have traveled two years back in time. Everything is the same. The same maths teacher who helped me with my IRMA,CAT and PO preparation is coming at my home to teach me maths , again. The purpose too is the same.

We study the same books, sit at the same place. We talk about the same things, the same political situation in Bihar. And before leaving he always ask me whether Bela is chained in or not, just like the way he used to do two years back.

At that time I had two parrots who would chitchat with me and inquire me about my progress in Quants. Times changed and one of the two died and the other flew away. Now I have two new parrot couple who too like their ancestors don’t mind poking me about my helplessness when it comes to maths.

The same room at my home provides me and Bela with a peaceful slumber as we sleep under the antic Khaitan fan. The age old fan in my room is still yellow and still it works in a silent manner unlike its counterparts who have either passed away or hanging in some obsolete corner and who cry out loud whenever they are switched on. I first slept under its cool air in Rajkot in 1987 when I was still trying to learn to recite humpty dumpty...

Two years ago I was not able to attend Abhivyakti in Bhopal because of my ensuing exams and this time too I will have to give it a miss and I will "miss it" dearly. The heart will require some consoling but I know it will manage, somehow.

Its election time in Bihar. The same political atmosphere easily identifiable by the flags on the street and the waves of white Kurtas that cover every corner of the city has engulfed Patna. Two years back it was the General election and this time its the assembly election. Two years back my neighbor Dasji tried his luck as a BSP candidate from Hajipur and lost. The slogan “Jahan hai Das, wahin hai Aas” didn’t help his cause much. 

But still he regards this particular slogan as one of the best he used at that time.

I met him yesterday while he was taking a stroll with his grandson and when I asked him 'which way the political river will flow in Hajipur this time', he replied that he is done with politics. He had decided that he would not contest any election again. Man of emotions and creativity are easily hurt and they find it aimless to bounce back and thats what happened to Dasji, who retired as a DSP and is an accomplished Tabla player.
Somethings I guess have changed.

Udankhatolas of various color and size are flying over the Patna airspace. As the Lalus and the Nitishs try to outwit each other.

For me this is the flight and fight for life and death for Lalu.He won’t form the government in Bihar that is a surety. Nitish kumar will come back again is a possibility that has to come true and will come true. But for Lalu, if he doesn’t performs substantially this time, his political career will be over for good and no amount of minority or Yadav appeasement will be able to bring him back from his political oblivion. He has to win more than 50 seats to command some respectability at the state and Center level.

It would be interesting to watch Congresses performance in the state as the party has decided to go alone this time. It was Rahul Gandhi who was more adamant in Congress going alone in Bihar, and he deserves accolades for that. It was sort of a huge political question that how a national party can be nonexistent in a state like Bihar. The absence of Congress in the state had created a vacuum that had led to the growth of regional parties like RJD and Ram Bilas Paswan’s LJP who were running the state like a fiefdom.

Read somewhere in a magazine that its "Resurgent Bihar" time. Hope this time goes on and on.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I sleep to rise again

People say that I am past my days of glory. They say that my days are numbered now. They feel that I have nothing to give, nothing to take and nothing to smile about.

They say that the last time I shined was years back when some politicians decided that I was shining and they came out with the "India Shining" slogan. And when the truth dawned, everyone lost, including those very leaders who had banked on me to make sure that they enter the revered house, affectionately called Parliament. I was not shining, I was still sleeping on the street, hungry and I was still nakedly poor. And nothing has changed much even now.

But that doesn't mean that I cannot and don't fight back.

They thought that I was a bride without golden ornaments when I had to pledge myself at the World back in the early 90s.

More than a decade later its me who helps out the World Bank when it needs financial assistance. I have bounced back.

One day my neighbour Pakistan thought that I would go down without a fight and Kargil happened. Young boys then turned into men as they fought with courage to reclaim whatever was lost to the enemy. And I bounced back.

Years back I was struck by the pains of Bhopal Gas tragedy. Then recently a fallacious judicial pronouncement that exonerated the accused increased the pain and with that came a rude insult to those who died on that fateful day. Everyone thought that, me, India had lost this time. But it was not to be, as people took to street and announced that enough was enough and this time they will not go down. And I bounced back.

When some insane mind attacked Mumbai, it was not just a part of me that stood tall, rather, it was the whole India who stood as one. Martyrs from many a different state died that day , fighting the terrorist and successfully ending the terrible crisis.

Yet there are times when I myself feel that its better to bid a final goodbye rather than to bounce back again and again. I felt such emotions when incidents like Godhra and post Godhra happened. I felt bad when I see a helpless person being brutally beaten just because he is from a different region. And I feel bad when I see thousands of hungry stomach going to sleep when thousands of tonnes of grains in rotting away.

I am India, and I am full of stories of happiness and Sadness. Of hope and despair. And When it looks that I have fallen never to rise again I do bounce back.

Every end that happens here is a new beginning. Just like every night signifies arrival of a new morning. I am India.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Always wrong- the Left

Yeah they are the worst because they are more educated than the rest and they use that very intellectual depth and their wisdom to fool the mass. The look on their face when they speak emotes as if they would be the first to sacrifice if anything bad is to befall on this country.

When 76 jawans in Chhattisgarh died the Leftist took out a candle light procession in JNU to express their pleasure. During the previous government on one hand they were supporting the UPA and on the other they were crying foul over the nuclear bill.

Yet they didn't have the conviction to withdraw the support because then they would have lost the power that they had managed to secure after such a long while.

If a particular party is continuously ruling over a state for the past 25 years you expect that the state will have reached a respectable level of development, but thats not the case with West Bengal. Its still lying in the bottom six.

My Leftist friends will say that inspite and despite this, its the Left thats winning in Bengal, again and agian.

And I would say that they are still winning in West Bengal because of their notorious cadre strength, which is so famously prone to physical violence.

They swear by Dass Kapital and yet any journalist or politician will tell you that they are the most wealthiest of the lot. They own a stake in Star News, and most of them have huge farm houses in Mussorie.

Left is a place where the intellectuals suppressed seek a sanctuary , a place where their shits and rubbish is proclaimed as a policy. Like supporting China and showing thumbs down to US. They are the worst hypocrites, living lavishly and strolling in kurtas.

Reading Penguin books, speaking Oxford English, always trying to go against what the others are doing, just to prove that you are different is not very difficult, but implementing the words into action is not so easy, specially if you lack the moral conviction.

Many great minds, economists and writers have wasted their talent by joining Left in fighting what they call fighting the corrupt system. But they have been fooled. The Left is a bastion of the corrupts who play sage.

They just oppose for the heck of opposing.Fools they are, and fools they will remain.

Congress and BJP too are bad but atleast they do what they say. Even if they fulfill 40 percent of their promise of they make, but the leftist are the scourge of the nation and their thinking is destroying talented minds of this country.

Someone who is supporting them should think about what the Communist have achieved. They call themselves the champion of poor but they are exactly the opposite.

They are the worst, the Left.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Gharghoda of mines and elephants

Corruption and pollution is something that we come across regularly in our life. Be it a small village or a large town and be it Mumbai or Gharghoda every place has come to terms with its share of the “ion” .

Situated in the industrial belt of Raigarh, which should be more appropriately called Jindalgarh, because of the huge infrastructural presence of Jindal company, Gharghoda is the oldest block of undivided MP and Chhattisgarh, coming into existence in 1928.

If Raigarh is famous for Jindal, Gharghoda is famous for two things, wild elephants and coal reserves.

My uncle who stays in the hills of Uttarakhad had not heard about Raigarh before, but when I told him that I will be staying in Gharghoda, he promptly quipped, “Ahh! Gharghoda, the land of the wild elephants.”

Wild elephants are always in news in this part of this world. Mostly for wrong reasons. Some fifteen days back, one women who had gone to collect Mahua seed was trampled by a tusker. Similarly, while travelling to Raigarh on bus, I had the wonderful experience of being stuck in a traffic jam as the highway was blocked by a herd of elephants who were taking a merry stroll on the road.

To look after the elephants we have the forest department people and they are doing a good job of protecting both the elephants and the civilians from each other. They are very prompt in giving compensation in case of causality due to elephants. So everything is fine on that front.

They are also active when it comes to stopping illegal tree felling, of which I have already given a graphical description in my previous post. So far so good.

But the problem arises when Coal comes into the picture.

Due to coal mining, both legal and illegal, forest cover is being vastly reduced, leading to a sharp increase in man-elephant conflict. The elephants are regularly entering villages and destroying crops and huts because their habitat is shrinking.

To combat this the forest department is investing huge amount of money in increasing the forest cover by planting saplings, but its effort is being bearing little result as more and more forest are being cut to pave way for mines.

Strange paradox, isn’t it. One government department in giving money to increase the forest cover, while the other is giving permission to cut those very trees.

Stand at the local Jai Stambh chowk of Gahrghoda and you will come across many huge trailers that are carrying coals and transporting them to the numerous coal power plant near Raigarh. And most of them are illegally mined. And as is very common in our country, this is happening right under the eyes of the law as not more than 200 meters from the Jai Stambh chowk is the local police station.

The coal is mined from the many a nearby areas and as they make their way to smoke emitting coal plants they have to pass through many a check posts. And rarely have I come across a trailer being stopped for overloading and carrying illegal coal. Most of the trailers are filled more than their capacity and the chance of these huge machines losing control and playing havoc on the street is as much as you and I getting drenched in a rain if we are not carrying an umbrella.

Once in a full moon, a trailer is caught and its details are promptly published in the local Hindi newspapers. Most of the trailers are owned by one of the many big companies like Jindal.

Also having their hands full in this trade are relatively small businessmen who have come from outside and have been wise enough to purchase lands from the local villagers at throw away price and setup their business.

And this is just the beginning. Gharghoda is still a ripe bud when it comes to coal mining. Many new plants are coming up and by 2015, this place will be at its full bloom. When the clean air and green tress will be replaced by carbon monoxide and steel chimneys and when the “Saagun made Belgadi” will give way to “Mahindra Scorpios” and when the local man who walks in cotton loins will purchase a Levis.

May not sound true today, but then Noida is no myth.

Equally true is the fact that these coal consuming factories have taken the necessary permission from the environmental authorities and other concerned authorities before coming up, so they are not to be blamed.

Again a paradox that infects our system.

We allow a factory to discharge toxic waste into the river and then we come up with an authority to clean that very river.

The emission and pollution controlling authority says that they see to it that every thing is done under supervision and Regulation. Sounds just like a holocaust, where they killed selectively, under supervision and in a regulated manner.

I may look like that I from the old age, a Swadeshi, an Opposer of industrialization. Believe me I am not, but what I say here is what is I see here.

The rapid industrialization has brought lakhs of rupees for the local tribes which they have received after selling their land to coal companies. And they simply do not know what to do with it. And some of them lament that times are changing as they feel insecure when they see their neighbour living a life that is more lavish then what they are accustomed to. They don’t know how to face this disparity.

The social fabric is being rewoven in this part of the world as money is pulling someone up and pushing many of them down.

I though draw solace from the fact that I won’t be staying her for long. I will leave way before any of these rivers and trees and green leaves this place, affectionately called GG. And though I may come back , they will not.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mussorie tale

I have been to many a place where I have only felt love and nothing else.

Mussorie ranks high on that very list. Some times back I went to Mussorie, and it was one of those memorable journey which you remember till you say the final goodbye to the world.

Absolute bliss it was. I stayed at the DRDO guest house, courtesy my ever jovial and lovable uncle, KK, who is perhaps more romantic at heart than me. The DRDO guest house is one of the highest residential place in Mussorie where you can stay. And if you go there at the time of monsoon , you will loose your breath again and again by the sheer simple beauty of that place,which is also called Landour cantt area near the famous Lal Tibba.

From there you can watch the exhilarating view of the majestic Himalayas as it white snow covered peak stare at you in a gentle silence. You can also hear the sound of Himalayan Langurs giving out their mating call which is heard for kilometers. You can watch beautiful Kumaoni girls with red cheeks and a mystifying smile climbing the high hills as if they are walking on plains. Or you can just close your eyes and feel the nature outside as it embraces you.

The beauty of a natural place is enhanced if it has legends and myths associated with it. And in the case of Mussorie, it has many a tales. Some haunting, some not so haunting. Stories of Memsaabs and Sirs that took place during the ear of Raj. The British Raj.

One night after having my dinner at the guest house, I came out and started taking a stroll down towards Lal Tibba. As I was walking, I heard some kind of chanting that was coming from a far distance. It was kind of mesmerizing and I climbed a rock to get a better view of the spot from where the sound was coming. And not too far away, in the middle of deep forest , I saw some foreigners carrying Mashals( torch light), as they danced in a circle and sang songs.

Standing at an elevated position i could only see their body under the faint light of the torch that they were holding. It was something that is hard to explain in words. Dark foggy cold night and people singing ancient hymns. It was an out of world experience. God knows how desperately how I wanted to be a part of that group who was enjoying life in its fullest terms.

Mussorie is home to many a legends. Ruskin bond, the great writer is one of them. And thanks to my uncle, I got the opportunity to meet him once. He is the most well known Mussorian and has written many books on Mussorie. A true gentleman. Also if are fortunate enough you can watch the towering Tom Alter sipping coffee at the historical Char Dukan.

If you are in Mussoire you have to go to 4 dukan. They are 4 small shops, located in the heart of Landour, where you find the most mouth watering pakodas and a highly recommended tea. There you can sit, chit chat with the local and the foreigners, watch small pahadi children going to school or just simply watch the sun rising or going down as the time maybe.

Please keep in mind that when I am saying Mussorie, I am implying, the area near the Landour cantt and not the over crowded mall road of Mussorie.

The Landour area is a magic in itself. The climb from the guest house on the gravelled path, surrounded by lush green forest comprising many a tall trees, mostly Pine. The ever present fear that if you are lucky enough you might come across a leopard, who too like you , is enjoying the clouds, that have stopped for few hours to cuddle you in their cold moist arms.

The Landour cantt area also has a language school that is more than 200 years old. Here foreign student come and learn Hindi. This very language school is adjoining a church, which in itself is a marvellous example of a serene construction.

Mussorie gives all this experience for free but in return you will have to promise that you won’t disturb anything. Not pluck the flowers, not harm the butterflies or the trees, not litter the place. And most importantly keep a smile on your face whenever you come across a marvel of nature, be it a tree,animal, clouds, fog or a human being.

The term, love is in the air is literally felt by our soul in Mussorie in no small way. If you are in love or thinking of falling in love go to Mussorie. It has an unexplainable lucky charm that will work for you and this I say on a personal experience.

Mussorie enlightens love in heart...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Iraq - a tale of hope

Finding an Indian in Iraq is no exception, but to find someone who is optimistic and happy is. Living in Iraq is hardly comfortable. Infact you can term it as a living on the edge kind of scenario. It’s a bit hard to experience it in words. Bullets passing by, land mines exploding, cars going turtles right in front of your eyes can make even the coldest of heart miss a beat.

There are according to official figures more than then thousand Indians here. Most of them are doing jobs that can be very easily classified as high threat work. Under the umbrella of darkness, in the middle of a desert, supported by gun totting UN soldiers distinguished by their blue helmet, people like Ram Sharan and Avinash Gupta are braving their only life so that they can earn enough for their family back home and in the process they are doing their job of connecting interiors lawless land of Mesopatamia to the main land of Baghdad.

Some fifteen days back three Indians and four Pakistani nationals were shot dead and then beheaded by suspected members of Al-Qayda. Back in India and Pakistan we might make a distinction between the two nations but in this part a greater insanely hate very easily consumes this very difference that has disrupted the life of both the countries for decades. They both had common friends and when their body was being sent to their respective country, tears that were rolling down too didn’t made any distinction. They were for the Indian as well for the men from Pakistan.

Such is life.

In this part of globe even the bare basic needs of life jumps the fence and becomes a luxury. You will be more than fortunate if you are able to eat more than once in a day and I am not talking about the local, even us, the so called war journalists have to undergo the same fate.

The sun burnt skin of a 8 year old boy, a perpetual quizzed look in his eyes and the pain in his voice when he seeks her now dead mother is the only reason that brings moistness of any kind. Otherwise everything is dry and parched. Hard we may try but the eyes always fail to hide ones emotion.

Hope is a fast disappearing entity here. And I have never experienced such situation anywhere else. People have simply lost hope and those few who have it are now trying to keep it going on until a stray bullet takes that away; along with their life.

The lonely silent as you pass through village after village who were once bustling center where eyes would meet and an accidental stare would turn into an attentive gaze., a place where flour and cakes and balloons were purchased to celebrate birthdays have now become lifeless. All I could see was some slippers and some rags and more blood.

I stop at a house which shows some activity of human presence and I am welcomed by a feeble old man , whose eyes have a unexplainable twinkle, something that makes my spirit soar high .

He goes by the name of Hussein and is the only surviving member of his family. The rest have migrated to Persia and are living happily. He has lived in Iraq since he first clutched his fathers finger when he learnt to walk and he has no fear of anything, only a feeling that who will look after his goat when he is gone . With closed eyes he says that he was born in this soil and will disappear in this soil, a soil that has become red.

All sorts of media is here and countless stories have been told to world about Iraq. When it was Saddam it was he who hogged the limelight and now when he is gone Suicibde bombing and senseless killings make the headline. Blood flowed then too and it has not stopped even now. Only the hands have changed, the bullets are the same and same are those who die.

It is not a war between America and Iraq or Muslims and Christians or Shia and Sunni that have taken lives. They are just excuses, for humans to kill another human,

I desperately seek love to heal my soul that has never been so deeply wounded before. Anything, any love story would do. But there is none. And even if there is, no one is alive to share it with me. I read about Iraq when I was a child. I use to see it as a land of Heer Ranjha. Alladin Jasmine. But it seems like my characters, they too were work of fiction.

Moving ahead as I reach Baghdad I am pleasantly surprised to see a turban wearing sikh who is dancing on Sukhbir and with him are some locals who too are matching their feet with the tall sardar.

The lanky guy is from Bhatinda and runs a grocery store here and plans to stay here till the Indian contingent of Engineers are here. He tells me that everything will change for good; that is inevitable. It changed in Punjab , and it will change here. And he nods his head in yes when I ask him whether he will take good memories of Iraq when he goes back to India.

Then he puts the same question to me.

I say yes; to his invitation to dance too.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...