Truth – a Rare Commodity

Recently I shifted from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar. For me, shifting to Bhubaneswar was not only a shift involving cities; it was also a shift from my hostel life to a realistic family life, a paradigm shift in thinking and looking at the world. It is a shifting from an ideal place to a practical place. I did not know that the realities of the practical world were so scary. Anyway, thought of penning some of my experiences through this post.

The incidents I’ve been experiencing here at Bhubaneswar are unique and eye opening in many ways. Some of these experiences which I’m going through are the repetitions of my earlier experiences in Delhi and Chennai. Though, the experiences are very personal, but are common with many of us. I’m sure you must have experienced some thing or the other in your life or will be experiencing in future.

Internet Connection

Living without an Internet connection at home was the toughest part of my life. I decided to get an Internet connection to my place —  inquired with other friends those are having Internet connections at their home, here at Bhubaneswar. I was advised by most of them to take BSNL’s broadband connection. Without delay, I booked a BSNL’s unlimited Broadband connection. I paid the advance amount and submitted all the forms to the designated officer in time. I was told by the Officer that I should get the connection in a couple of days. But that did not happen.

When I inquired after a week, I was told by the officer in-charge that Internet connection will be provided to my place in a day’s time. I took his assurance seriously and called all my friends and relatives to share this piece of good news. But, his assurance did not materialize. After a day or two, when I met the same officer again, I was told that every thing is Ok now and I should get the connection by the end of the day. I was little thrilled this time, but that too was short-lived.

The end of the day is yet to come and I’m yet to get a connection after submitting the form and paying the Internet rent some twenty days before.

I complained again with the SDO, BSNL, I was again given the same false assurance. Interestingly, they themselves keep on telling me that “it will be connected today, tomorrow and so on”. False assurance is a part and parcel of their services. No one told me the truth and reason behind the delay.

House Rent

The difficulties in getting a house on rent in a small or big city have its own unique stories. Especially, getting a house on rent for a bachelor is a tough problem. The experience I am sharing with you is an addition to the list of those stories.

It was 7.20am, Friday, 24th July, 2009. I, my brother and my sister-in-law went to deposit advance for the new rented house for me, which my sister-in-law had booked on 23rd July evening. We were excited, thrilled and quite relaxed.  On our arrival, we were told that some one else had given the advance last night after my sister-in-law left and had already taken the house on rent. We felt really bad. Even, we had some unnecessary arguments and discussions in our house for the reason for the delay. Even though the house owner told us that we were late in coming to take possession of the house, I was not convinced fully. I had a doubt, as he was fumbling while talking to us.  In the evening, I was told by some one else that the house has still not been given on rent. The house owner lied to us in the morning.  He had become greedy and wanted more money for his house. Moreover, he wanted a Govt. Officer and a family man, not an employee of a private firm and a bachelor as his tenant. I could not understand his philosophy. If that was in his mind, he could have told us the truth, or else he could have given us some other appropriate reason. His lie (that we were late) unnecessarily sparked an argument and created an unpleasant scenario in our house. I do not understand one thing — “is  truth such a costly affair”?

The Travel Agent

Since I did not have the Internet connection, I could not book one on-line train ticket for my urgent travel. The booking counters were too far from my place. Therefore, I approached a Travel Agent to book a train ticket for me. I gave him the advance money and gave all the details to him. After taking the money and the details, he assured me for the ticket. He even went to the extent and asked me to meet him near the platform directly to collect the ticket and board the train. I was excited and made all my arrangements for the travel.

Got ready for the journey,  called the agent one hour before the train starts to know the status of the ticket.  He again assured me about the ticket. As per his suggestion, I reached the station 20 minutes before. I was waiting there for the ticket.  He again assured me about the ticket over phone. But, he never turned up. Moreover, he did not pick my calls afterward. The train left the platform as scheduled and I came back home with anger and frustration.  Two hours after the train had left, he called me and said —  “Sir, your ticket is now ready, and you can travel tomorrow. We did not get the ticket for today’s train, we are sorry for that, but we have booked your ticket for tomorrow’s train”.

Initially I did not believe him, but had no other option left. On my further inquiry he gave me the berth/coach number. This time, I thought he is telling the truth and re-planned the travel. Next day again I called him before I left for the train. He asked me to reach the coach and collect the ticket there from his person. I was waiting there with hope. But the person did not come. When I went near the coach to verify the details which he gave me last night, I could not believe my eyes. That berth was booked on someone else’ s name. In addition, he had sold the ticket to some other person instead of giving me that ticket. Fortunately, the person who bought the ticket was one of my acquaintances. On my casual enquiry, he told me that he got the ticket after paying some Rs. 400/- extra. I could not believe this, the trick, the unprofessionalism and the unethical practices. Immediately I called the agent and asked him not to book any more ticket for me and asked him to return my money. He was keeping on telling me, sorry sir, aap ka ticket kaal wali train me kar diya gaya (we have booked your ticket for tomorrow’s train), aap kaal jaiye, wo galti ho gaya…blah blah… and was not ready to accept his  deeds. What a shame! What kind of ethics  are we into?

I booked my ticket after standing in the queue for 3 hours and promised not to approach a travel agent hence forth.

Centre for Excellence and Excellent Facility

Some days back I visited a college after I saw an advertisement in a national daily. In fact, there were several advertisements by the same college in the local TV channels too. As per the advertisement, they were claiming that they have excellent facilities for research, they have best faculties and they have strong collaborations with many foreign universities. I was excited, when I came to know about all these things in the advertisement. I decided to visit them. But, I regretted when I reached there. Regretted, because, I had lost 6 hours and some Rs 400/- to visit that college. Interestingly, they did not have any facilities for research, neither they had buildings, nor they had infrastructures. They did not have a single trained faculty. What they were claiming on quality faculty was completely false. The names they were showing are all well established faculties in USA and have never been to that place. They have a dial-up connection for Internet and their library is even smaller than my private collection. They were just fooling  people through their advertisements. I got irritated in the beginning. On a casual interaction with the trustees, I pointed out the lacunae of their claims. I thought they will take my comments seriously. Unfortunately, they smiled at me, and said, “That was an advertisement, to attract students and their parents, the list of faculties you saw in the college web-site are for the AICTE and for our future students, not for you. We are not alone in this business. Almost all  are doing the same.”

What to say? Did not have any more words.

Is the 63rd Independence year still not enough to teach us to mature in terms of our work ethics, professionalism and culture? What development are we talking of without ethics at the grass-root level? Interestingly, in “India” aamjunta is also immune to these cheats and doesnot even react.There are many more such incidents, happens with me and with you aamjuta. Everyday we see these kinds of false assurances, unethical advertisements and promises.   Don’t take those seriously.  Stick to the truth and practice truth. Else, truth, which is becoming a rare commodity, will be extinct one day.

Aamjunta – Satyameva Jayate.

Racism: Ignorance or Complex

“Since Hitler emerged from obscurity and became the Fuehrer of harmony, we have heard of a great deal about racialism and the Nazi theory of the herrenvolk. That doctrine has been condemned and is today condemned by the leaders of UN. Biologists tell us that racialism is a myth and there is not such thing as a master race. But, we in India have known racialism in all its forms ever since the commencement of British rule. The whole ideology of this rule was that of the herrenvolk and the master race, and the structure of the government was based upon it; indeed the idea of a master race is inherent in imperialism. There was no subterfuge about it; it was proclaimed in un-ambiguous language by those in authority. More powerful than words was the practice that accompanied these and generation after generation and year after year, India as a nation and Indian as individuals were subjected to insult, humiliation and contemptuous treatment. The English were an imperial race, we were told, with the God-given right to govern us and keep us in subjection. If we protested we were reminded of the “tiger qualities of an imperial race”. (Jawaharlal Nehru The Discovery of India, p.356)

So far, times have changed, years have passed, and the political equations of the world have changed. But, does that mean the mind-set of imperialism and racism has changed too? The recent developments in Australia, UK and some other part of the world have reminded us of the ugly faces of racism. Even though there are silent protest marches, and intellectual discussions on these incidents, we still see regular attacks. The racial attacks in Australia on the students of Asian Origin (mostly Indians) have forced the Indian government too to voice its concern. Yet, racial attacks are still on through violence and/or through discrimination. As a matter of fact, after the racial attacks, the student intake in Australia has decreased. It is not only going to impact the economy of that country, but also is going to impact the relationship of India and Australia in a long run.

Racism in Australia has had its historical facts. It has had a very difficult past where almost a kind of apartheid has been practiced and the aboriginal people lost all their land. These people have been suffering from many prejudices. They are not only facing poverty, but also are subjected to various notorious policies in the past. For example, in June 1998, “One Nation”, an Australian nationalist party in Queensland won 22% of the votes (11 out of 89 seats) – with their main lines as fighting against immigration of non-whites. Even though their “race-basedpopulist measures had created uproar in the mainstream Australia and abroad, they could manage to win 22% of votes as the un-employment was very high. They could also manage to convince the people that “immigrants were taking their jobs”. Hate speeches and hate newspaper writings by their leaders in the past had triggered violence. Their concern “in danger of being swamped” by Asians also had an impact on the election results.

It is to be remembered that racism is not confined to Australia only. Many other parts of the world are also witnessing racism either through violent attacks or social discrimination or social un-acceptance. Coming to the racism in Africa, one can observe the row in many African countries. Since most of the African countries have gained independence from their former colonial countries, apartheid and racism is quite evident there. The policy of brutality by the rulers and slavery had also been practiced in many parts of the world through centuries. In most of the places, the conflicts of resource allocation has also triggered wide spread violence against their colonial rulers. For example, the violence in Zimbabwe against the white farmers is due to the poverty and lack of land ownership by the black farmers. Some argue that it is anti-racism. But, does anti-racism advocate violence? If yes, it too is a problematic concern.

In the Middle East – with its policies, the “West” has created (mostly) many more extremist groups. The “oil politics” of the mighty “West” have created not only extremist factions, but also have turned into a form of racism as well; “West” is either hated by “Middle-East” or Middle-East is despised by the “West”.

With the world trade tower bombings on September 11, 2001, there have been violent, hate relationships between various sections of society in different parts of the world. Many innocent people of Indian origin and or of Middle East/Pakistan origin are killed and abused or side lined in different parts of the world. In fact, many Sikhs were “officially” attacked post-9/11/. Why should innocent people be victimized? Both parties retaliated without realizing the consequences. The retaliation by the minority/majority leads only to violence and destruction of the human kind. Racism along with religious clashes at different parts of the world has complicated the entire system of world histories and geographies.

While saying all these things, we should not forget our own country. We too are not cleaned from racial rows. The manus vs. bhaiya in Maharastra, the Hindi vs. non-Hindi in South and the epithet of “Chinky” to the North-Eastern students have not only been witnessed in violence, but also raised many questions about our stake on racism. If people of one part of India are treated racially in the other part of the country, then how do we expect justice from Australians, or Europeans and Americans? Dividing the country based on language, region, and religion might lead to more racial abuses and cases of violence. Either encroachment by immigrants or a sense of superiority or inferiority of one part of the society, adds fuel to the fire. This not only has created social exclusiveness, but also has divided the entire society. Social exclusiveness or forming clubs/parties of exclusiveness is of course not a major problem. But the problem is in its outcome. The exhibition of superiority and un-approachability of the superior class emerges from such social exclusiveness. It divides people of a rich state or a poor state, a developed state or an under-developed state, etc. In a global context, it is India vs. America or India vs. Europe or Australia; the developing vs. developed.

It is understood that racial superiority or imperial arrogance leads to political and economic division between countries and states. As a matter of fact, the division becomes more serious and becomes the class of affordability vs. the world of millions, the aamjunta. One thing is common between these divided groups – dislike/hate against each other. They are ignorant of each other, leading to hate and dislike. Along with the above divisions, many people also relate racism with the level of intelligence and/or with IQ. This is a myth and is scientifically proved to be wrong.

Along with racism, the plight of caste based systems in India has also complicated the entire scenario. The family to which one was born usually determined one’s social status and discriminatory social, political, economical and educational discrimination. The question arises, is merit earned by the possibility of being inevitably born is a certain caste or by one’s actions and efforts? It appears these days in India that caste decide one’s social status. Don’t we think we need an early solution to this? Are we serious enough to resolve this? I doubt. Short-term political goals should be scrutinized and discouraged. The rising inequality among castes, regions, and religions require through checking. Unless, we control this, we are bound to develop racial bias for scape-goating or advancing xenophobic and isolationist tendencies.

It has been rightly said:

… Once, they demonised the blacks to justify slavery. Then they demonised  the “coloureds” to justify colonialism. Today, they demonise asylum seekers to justify the ways of globalism. And, in the age of the media, of spin, demonisation sets out the parameters of popular culture within which such exclusion finds its own rationale — usually under the guise of xenophobia, the fear of strangers.

A. Sivanandan, Poverty is the new black, The Guardian, August 17, 2001

Racism has been in practice, and no doubt will be there in any other form in future. Social and cultural tolerance and equal share of the natural resources is desired, if we are interested to control racism. This however is not going to be easy for any generation. Rising un-employment, and pathetic mind-set of both ruled and ruler need a brake. Else, more violence may be triggered. The division of the elite and the millions requires to be treated carefully. Restraint is desired from both the aamjunta or the millions and the elite. It is we, who can pacify this, though cannot stop it completely. Only the “common man” has the capability to break away from these political traps that divide a human from another human on the basis of race, caste and creed.

Aamjunta – what is your stake?

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