A Psychiatric Fallout !!

Under the new Budget in India, the price of aerated drinks (water with sugar content) has been hiked up by 5 percent, making soft drinks and sugary juices costlier.

1

Health experts are hopeful that this financial step shall help reduce sugar consumption and thus check obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart diseases and dental decay – a theory many countries have begun to acknowledge but brands still profusely dispute !

Interestingly, last year I had a terrible dream : after the last gluttonous sip of a soft drink, I “saw” myself discovering active maggots at the bottom of the glass – and that was the end of all sugary relishes 🙂 !!!

Next morning, as soon as I woke up, I threw the remaining bottles out of the refrigerator. We do not buy any soft drink or ice-creams unless a guest arrives and indicates a desire for it.

Now howsoever thirsty, we prefer plain water. And since then, if we really need to have a soft drink as an accompaniment, only fresh home-made sugarless nimbu paani zindabaad (hail lemonade) ; thus goes our newly chosen flavour with spicy Biryanis and Pizzas as well 🙂 !

For the same “visual pothers” of my dream 🙂 , we have ditched other sugar-containing items and drastically reduced quantities of sweets or amount of sugar in every possible ‘prepared’ item, howsoever attractive – jalebis, chocolates, pastries, ice-creams, tea, corn flakes, milk shakes, cookies, smoothies, cakes, pan cakes, porridges, etc.

2

4

Luckily, my husband volunteered to “share” the psychiatric fallout of my dream 🙂 ! So that has now led us to limit our daily sugar consumption to even less than six teaspoons as recently set by the World Health Organization. Normally, I take only one teaspoon – in my morning cup of tea which I definitely require to stir up my day.

Well… my father (who is also a Doctor), tried for years to make me get rid of soft drinks; so he has been very thankful to God for blessing me with that thoroughly health-effective dream 🙂 !!… Now his other routine insistences are about regular exercises (particularly Yoga), a 20-minute exposure to the morning rays of the Sun and having maximally green diets along with natural anti-oxidants. My husband has sincerely met almost all these expectations, whether of his father-in-law or his Family Physician 🙂 , and of late, I am trying hard to partner him in it.

I suppose all health advices, increasing prices or taxes and making rules in these dietary matters aren’t going to help for long… So I wish that my folks who sincerely intend to get rid of aerated drinks and non-intrinsic forms of sugar, also “see” such a loathsome dream 😉 !!! Perhaps, there is no other way by which someone like me can be more motivated firstly, to quit all those unhealthy molecules feeding potential cancerous cells and secondly, to maintain sustainability at it 🙂 !

 

General Elections 2014: a Game Theoretic Analysis

With less than 20 days left for the first phase of elections, each party has almost finalized the list of candidates; giving a final touch (Congress has already declared) to their manifestos, busy in bridging the gaps between like (?) minded parties for opportunistic alliances, and making advertisements in the print and electronic media. Campaigning is becoming crucial for all political parties.

One strong trend which is emerging clear from the campaigning- candidate selections and the alliance formations – winning the election by hook or by crook –  that’s the ‘Game‘;  a zero-sum or/and a non-zero-sum game but mostly with opportunistic coalitions. The outcome of this game is the real face of our democratic form of government, in which some times the major national party sits in the opposition and a the leader of a small party with 20 odd members can become the Prime Minister of this country. (Please do watch the above video link to see a beautiful illustration of Indian democracy by (Late) Shri Pramod Mahajan.)

And the saying “every thing is fair in love and war” is becoming a reality for this election game-war. It is a game in which political Parties, Media, Election Commission, Police and the Voters are the major players with many strategies for a goal – ‘Rule’ – with and without coalition in which Nash-Equilibrium may not be guaranteed !!

Like every other game, here too, the strategies are very important not only to form a government but also to form a stable and sensible government at the centre and in the states. Strategies are mostly formed by the active players – Political Parties, many in number and extremely divergent in characteristics; propagated by the passive players – Media; judged by the unique players of the world’s largest democracy – the Voters.

Lets analyse few of the common strategies –

Candidate Selection: It is indisputable to say that candidate selection depends majorly on the polarization factor – caste, religion, outsider vs. insider, etc. More than qualities like honesty, capability, loyalty and integrity, importance is being given whether the candidate is from Urban or Rural area, a Hindu or a Muslim, a Brahmin or a Yadav or a Kurmi or a Dalit, a Lingayat or a Vokkaliga or a Kurba, a Jat or a Thakur, an Iyer or a Mudaliyar, son/daughter of some “big” man or an aamjunta, and many more. Change of parties to earn a party ticket are common; for many candidates getting a ticket is more important than the ideology of the party. If the political parties are to be blamed for this kind of polarization and division of the society, then the media is also equally responsible for generating their masala-news and live analysis.

So far as the voters are concerned – we too are biased for our caste and religion sentiments. Remember- neither making a holy dip in Varanasi will make some one a Hindu-sympathizer nor wearing a skull-cap will make some one close to the hearts of Muslims.

Are we going forward to bridge the gap or going back to the era of un-touchability ? The choice is ours !!

Hate/Love Speeches: Making a hate speech is very easy these days. Reason – the conviction rate is very low and the convictions are not exemplary ! Hate speeches targeting religion, caste, community, migrants, etc. are threatening the peace and sovereignty of the country. The words or phrases used by the politicians are sometimes derogatory and flaring. Moreover, these days personalized comments are pathetic and in utterly bad tastes, mostly used to polarize voters and to stop some one from even doing good at any cost. What surprises me more is the negative publicity – parties are busy in finding out others’ faults, not in publicizing their own good governance. Criticizing others for their failures is not bad but laying the foundation of good future is more important. This is not only happening in party manifestos but also in reality. We fail to observe any party or leader sincerely or humbly accepting their mistakes and offering to find remedies for it; rather it appears from their statements that doing wrong things are their deliberate actions and their birth-rights.

If hate speeches are bad, then what about love speeches ? Saying “I love to be in the midst of tribal people” and doing nothing for them; or saying “I will go from home to home and sleep in villages” who had once mocked other leaders for eating and sleeping in Dalit homes. All for the benefit of TV cameras – these are merely romanticizing the election bids !

Freebies: We all love freebies and indisputably this becomes a major strategy during elections. The ‘one-kilogram per rupee’ Rice concept, re-adjustments in the number of of Cooking-gas cylinders, free Ration, Laptops, TVs, Cycles, Washing Machines, even free Electricity, free Water, loan-Waivers and many similar things are common these days. Irrespective of the class and affordability of the people, the freebies are very popular these days. Its as if these are all literally raining from the heavens. Political rallies, party manifestos and advertisements are saturated with freebies – “If you vote for me, I will give you this” ! … Are you really giving from your pocket ? NO !! Then who allowed you to do so ? … Let us understand that freebies are making us nikarma (indolent) and are being distributed from the tax-payers’ money which was meant for the development of the country. If any political party wants to give any substantial gifts to the society by making election-oriented promises, then let them promise us good governance – not generate or do nothing about tackling policy paralysis and corruption; let them create for us a system of quality education,  quality jobs, sustained opportunities to earn our livelihood at our native places (no migrant-labour), good roads, green environment, continuous supply of clean water, electricity, necessary and regulated material resources at reasonable prices, transparent accounting system, ample safety and security for all its citizens, and so on and so forth. Not freebies… Freebies will not eradicate poverty; rather it will keep re-orienting using foolish methods and then reinforce the downward-spiralling of poverty.

A true leader must have the vision to empower its nation by building on every available resource and not callously aim at the gaddi (seat of power) !!!

Alliance: Both pre-poll and post-poll alliances are becoming crucial these days. The pre-poll alliances we see these days are actually not based on a common agenda; rather these are based on political compulsions for a post-poll government formation. Moreover, no one (political parties as well as their leaders) is untouchable. On a critical analysis, we can see that most of the pre-poll alliances are actually converting a zero-sum game to a non-zero-sum game. Here are a few instances – LJP-BJP in Bihar, Shiv Shena-BJP-MNS (?) in Maharashtra, BJD-JMM in Odisha, RJD-Congress in Bihar, TDP-BJP in some parts of Andhra Pradesh, flip-flops of TRS-Congress in Telangana, DMDK-PMK-MDMK-BJP in Tamil Nadu, AIDMK-Congress, DMK-Congress in Tamil Nadu, BJP-BJD in Odisha.

Parties with a strong vote base sometimes do not form pre-poll alliances, so that they can get maximum window while forming the post-poll alliances. Examples – BJD in Odisha, AIDMK in Tamil Nadu, TMC in West Bengal, etc.

Alliances are good if they are formed to truly serve the nation or the state. But bad if these are formed to stop a party or a group to form the government, may be in the name of secularism, corruption /anti-corruption, language, regionalism, etc.

Contrary to pre-poll alliances, post-poll alliances are formed mostly with a compulsion (with political excuses) and with invisible agendas – which are selfish in nature. The compulsions of post-poll alliances will rise with the increase in small and regional parties, and the undesired effect (w.r.t. voters) will be echoed as in 1989, 1990, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2009,… and the recent post-poll alliance of Congress and AAP in Delhi which only lasted for 49 days !!

For an ideal case, alliances should not be dictated for egoistic and selfish reasons but should be committed only and only for the benefit of the people !!

Reservations based on Caste and Religion: This is another big strategy the political parties play, both before and after the elections. To gain vote shares, parties promise reservation for particular castes and religions which needs to condemned right away. Though the concept of reservations was decided and rightly offered for creating a short-term balance in the society, now it has become a major political sword for winning elections after elections, without actually balancing the caste and religion differences in a society particularly like India.

Division of States or Special Status Category: Recently, the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, and the demands for ‘special status category’ to Bihar and Odisha have fuelled this strategy of forming a coalition (pre or post) and winning sympathy-votes based on “step-motherly” treatment by the Centre. If such divisions and categorizations are not justifiably carried out by the Centre (but only for coalition parties to gain sympathy-votes), then we will soon see further territorial divisions and non-beneficial alignments.

Bribing: Bribing voters and candidates are not new. Wine, Women and Wealth play important roles in bribing the voters and political rallies. Critics and analysts say that any thing in the range of Rs. 700/- to Rs. 10,000/- is being spent per vote by many of the candidates. On an average, some of the candidates are reportedly spending more than Rs. 30 to Rs. 50 crores per constituency. I still remember the punch line “Give me 10 votes and take a new bike” – very commonly seen and heard during the Local Bodies Elections-2012 in Maharashtra.

As mentioned before, the political parties are playing the election Game with their positive and negative strategies, and the media (paid or fair) is a party to it in propagating the political agendas in various forms. Both positive journalism as well as negative journalism are part and parcel of the game.

But the outcome of the Game depends on our ultimate decision- whether to fall for the cheap and divisive politics or rise and stand-up for a self-reliant, stronger India which can give corruption-free governance and sustained employment ! If our votes are sold to these corrupt leaders for a selfish and baseless favour or meagre cash or a bottle of wine or freebies,  or a reservation based on caste /community /religion, or a loan-waiver… then whom should we blame but ourselves ? And therefore, it also lies in our hands – what ways we pave for our children – the future of our society !! In this regard, we must appreciate the efforts of countries like Japan and China which have been utterly careful and diligent to correct wrong practices and sustain good ones.

This is the right time or opportunity to show our strength, to redress defects in the system and make it clean and strong. Its our time to play our own Game; let’s cast our precious vote not under the influence of “MCR” – Money, Caste and Religion but on our own conviction – a conviction that is largely based on morals and right knowledge. We need to do something substantial, which will make our life rewarding and us worthy aamjunta; not an useless and corrupt aamjunta. Let us prevent corruption, bring in good governance and create sustained jobs for a better life. Let’s respect our dignity, our state and our country. The choice is definitely ours !!! It is not that far… just couple of weeks more!!

Aamjunta – what do you say?

Jai Hind!

The Chaste of Liberty

Last week, it was reported that the Maulanas in Aligarh (India) are opposing burqas that are trendy with laces, studs, gems, etc. Reason – they fear it will ‘attract the attention’ and ’embolden’ the evil-eyed people !

Many ordinary persons, social or religious organisations and celebrities have also held similar views in the recent past.

Well, I think statements as these are not baseless in view of certain present circumstances as long as they mean to protect women in unknown zones (physical or social) or when they go out alone in places lacking proper gender awareness.

Many may not agree with my opinion but I would still request them to take a look at my reasons, even briefly.

In this regard, I would first of all like to make a small but very appreciative note on my recent observations of some foreign tourists (mostly westerners) visiting south-India. I found everyone of them to abide by certain directions, probably issued from their respective Embassies, in their attire. They all wore traditional Indian dresses and cast a very lasting impression on the native folks by respecting their values.

The gruesome Nirbhaya incident in December-2012 led to some modifications in India’s rape law. Even then, numerous such cases of either rape or molestation or eve-teasing or brutal murder after a sexual assault or acid-attacks have been reported. Sometimes it appears as if these occurrences have rather increased exponentially, like a severely infectious or viral disease ! To add salt to the diabolic wounds, age of the victim or the offender seems to be no more restricted to the country’s present definition of an adult, that is, a biological age.

With regard to rising rape cases, a year back, the Supreme Court of India had asked the Delhi Police to find out the root-cause of such brutal incidents happening every day even in the capital of India. Many psychiatrists like Dr. Nimish G. Desai are of the opinion that rapists are not mentally ill but attribute sexual perversions or psychopathic behaviour to them due to rapidly changing and non-monitored social mechanisms. They recommend institutionalization of gender studies wherein such people of inherent or acquired violent behaviour and/or having feelings of disengagement from society (work or family) can be identified and reared towards a positive direction before they commit such an offence.

In this context, let us delve into a bit more analysis. We all know that nudity is a form of both ancient and modern art expressed as any gender type, and it continues to be unblemished in some regions or societies. It is unblemished with regard to gender studies and characteristics of art itself. There it is accepted and appreciated as a normal, genteel perception. Now here is the sharp contrast. In other regions, a fearsome trend persists or has emerged of late – women (yes, mostly women and young girls) in attire like tight-fitted outfits, jeans, flashy tops, kurtis or even salwar-suits, are being watched with lustful glare. It happens anywhere, at any time and at any age in a society that is not well-versed with gender-related chapters. Formal education, high social status or financial riches are not always a dissuasion to check grossly misconstrued sexual desires. Rather some people’s disengagement from society combined with their lack of awareness of gender studies can turn out to be extremely distressful for others, as rightly cautioned by psychiatrists.

Now consider juveniles and how susceptible they are to committing crimes, the degree of which is comparable to that done by adults. In this post-modern age, juveniles, almost everywhere find quickly streaming information and easily accessible hi-end gadgets. These gadgets are often provided to the young generation either by unsuspecting parents to make them merely happy or by irresponsible parents to promote through the gifted devices a sign of their proud possession or affordability in the neighbourhood. With swiftly changing times, today children are more intelligent and smart enough to use these gadgets, irrespective of whether the usage is right or wrong. If both the parents are working, then there is hardly any one at home to guard against its misuses; and this may further worsen matters. Sometimes, family woes stir the mud in already troubled waters. Unless duly checked, it is possible that the unwanted or violent behavioural trends of juveniles would continue to get perpetrated across their peers or younger groups.

Perhaps, the same logic would apply for potential eve-teasers, molesters, acid-attackers and other type of abusers or violence instigators, abettors or perpetrators.

And obviously, with rising crimes the already feeble police:public and the judge:public ratios will also further deteriorate, thus delaying justice !

Now let’s explore two of our crucial roles in a society that is not only waiting to get adequate lessons in gender studies but having to already confront frequent crimes ridden with sexual components.

First and foremost of all, we must sensibly regulate or restrain certain type of entertainment and media channels, both print and electronic. Films and documentaries should be more censored, very strictly categorized according to various age groups and then distributed with immense precautionary measures. Particularly, women, young girls and eunuchs depicted on reels or magazines must always be shown in a respectable manner; it should not bear the slightest hint of any vulgarity or obscenity just for maximizing commercial profits. Here I want to highlight a very important point – where gender studies profusely lag, mindless projection of any sensual element for promoting modernity or liberalism, or for gaining commercial goals, further exposes the ‘aam aurat’ (ordinary women) and the eunuchs to sexual glares, pounces and pats !! Instances in an elite society may be rare but the ‘aam aurat’ generally bears the bigger brunt. Surely, there are other factors to be reasoned out but the one of mindless projections is definitely very crucial. Such projections can have an immediate negative impact on the minds of both the adult men and young boys; more severely, if they are disengaged from their family, friends or work-place and/or are already associated with anti-social elements or unhealthy environments like taking banned drugs. When every day we get to hear numerous crimes against women, then as responsible citizens, should we not check certain filming or broadcastings ? By preventing thus, we can help a meek society to muster fortitude, act and practically care for preserving the dignity of its weaker sexes.

Secondly, comes our role as parents or guardians or teachers of the current generation of children. It is a gradual effort. Right from an early age, we must educate them on various aspects of gender, and teach them to dress, converse and behave as suited to our culture and society, that is, where we live. Wearing full-length attire (whether oriental or occidental) should not make us a judge in our own minds even; we are not supposed to be labelled traditional or modern merely by our clothes or appearances. The terms are antonyms but it is wise to interpret them such that adhering to one outweighs the other according to relevant occasions. We should thus adequately put bridle on what we wear and appreciate. We should not fall into any sort of crazy rat-race. Our matured thoughts must do the smart talk and walk. Young boys and girls must be taught to equally respect each other and accommodate their issues. Gone are the outdated ways of gender-based barriers and patriarchal dominance ensnared by attitudinal issues!

Similarly, social or official guidelines must be adhered to by all groups of gender in corporates and other social gatherings. These are awfully necessary safeguards in our very own interests.

Well, now consider the provisions and protection sought under law. If enforced properly, it can take a tougher stand against mere violators of law and criminals. But it should not be just to punish them or deter potential offenders. It should also be because children witnessing depictions in any form of media or offences in society, that has sexual components or differential roles of man and woman, imbibe an awful sense of gender inequality at a tender age, and it would in all probability remain with them life-long or worse still, may find their yet scurrilous or violent vent in some form of anonymity at a later stage !! Moreover, changing rules should be in accordance with the definition of gender, the attributed social patterns of which are changeable over time. Hence, it needs thorough discussions and debates and cannot be simply listed over-night.

Nevertheless, law is definitely one of the greatest tools of social transformation. But legal reforms must be supported by an efficient administration, institutionalization of gender studies, holistic understanding of other socio-economic issues by the people of the land, their active participation in large numbers in associated programmes and awareness generation by a responsible media. Without all of us realizing these various aspects and acting in a co-ordinated manner, it would be quite impossible to root out the causes of such diabolical crimes and prevent these in some present societies.

As a well-known Indian columnist has aptly remarked yesterday in a leading newspaper- ‘Empowerment doesn’t work without maturity‘ !!!

Aamjunta – what do you say?

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) – A Necessity in India !!

There are arguments and counter-arguments on FDI or Foreign Direct Investment in India in the Parliament, in election rallies, in TV-debates, in newspaper articles, in general strikes in the country or Bharat Bandhs… There are obvious fears by the farmers, retailers, small-scale manufacturers, and the common man on the effect of FDI in India. Some say that FDI in India will bring major Multi National Companies (MNCs) in India which will abolish small-scale retailers and businessman. There are arguments saying that the MNCs will have a monopoly in the market resulting in a sharp rise in price of items in India. Further, there is also a fear that the country’s security – both internal and external, will be at stake due to the involvement of MNCs in Telecom, Internet, Aviation, Infrastructure, Retail, Healthcare, Insurance, etc.

Not that all the above arguments against FDI are invalid. However, with a positive mindset, we can certainly overcome such apprehensions. This can certainly be done by bringing reforms in our Judicial system, and by resetting a stronger regulator like the Competition Commission in the line of Election Commission of India or Auditor General of India. Moreover, Vigilance Commission has to be more responsive and aggressive in its activities. Along with these, the concept of Lokpal needs to be operational in India and the nature of functioning of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) needs to be completely autonomous in this regard. And of course, the public (consumers) must be aware, prompt and pursuant with regard to issues and their solutions ! With a proper check-and-balance policy implemented, we can  certainly reap benefits from FDI in India. In the current economic scenario – stiff rise in corruption, lack of accountability and transparency – FDI seems to be the right answer and is a dire necessity in India.

Here are some reasons favouring FDI in India…

It is really surprising to know that only 2-3% Indians pay Income tax. Does this figure say that the income of 97-98% Indians are less than the taxable limit (INR 2 Lakh/year) ?? A serious doubt. There are many reasons to it. The first and foremost is the lack of transparency and lack of accountability in our financial transactions – be it in income or expenditure. People prefer cash transaction over card or cheque while buying any item in India. Starting from a kirana shop (local general store) to a jewellery shop, everybody prefers cash transaction and giving and taking a bill /receipt is mostly discouraged. Some feel it is a taboo to ask for a bill, and some think ‘why to pay tax and take a bill’ ? But have you ever wondered that in not asking for a bill /receipt, who is getting benefited – the customers or the aamjunta ?!? ‘No’ – they are the losers only !!!

With direct and organized marketing which will mainly result out of FDI, the financial transactions will be mostly transparent and will be accounted for. Payments will be mostly in online mode. This will not only improve the tax scenario in India but also curtail huge corruption in India. Poor customers will not be cheated… and even if they are cheated, with a valid bill /receipt, necessary complaints can be conveniently filed in the Consumer Court. The investigation process will also become  easy and quick as everything would be duly accounted.

In India, we have the wide concept of “Middle-Man” or “Agent” or “Broker”, who always demands his/her share in every deal; sometimes even more than the actual cost of the product or service, without actually doing any thing or adding any value to it. The concept of direct marketing is hardly available in India, especially in Agriculture, Medicine, Grocery and Household items, etc. Surprisingly, there are many middle-men involved in the process – from the farmer to the consumer, from the factory-worker to the customer, from the laboratory-technician to the patient, and from the poor manufacturer (workmen) to the average consumers. This not only increases the price of the items but also encourages hoarding, corruption, unethical practices in business, unfair trade dealings, and above all the big bug i.e. inflation.

As per a study commissioned by the World Bank, farmers in India hardly get anything more than 12-15% of the price consumers pay at the retail outlet for Agricultural products. The reasons being –  (i) lack of education or awareness (ii) poor infrastructure (machinery) (iii) poor storage system (more than 25% food-grains are wasted in India today due to poor storage system) (iv) poor transport (e.g. non-urbanized roads leading from the agricultural fields to the towns) (v) middle-man (market-domination). With direct marketing as expected because of FDI in agriculture, the involvement of middle-man will be minimized in the process. Both the farmer and the consumer will be benefited largely – quantitatively and qualitatively. Direct sell by the farmers to organized retailers can render them a profit about 60% higher than that via ‘mandi‘ (a big un-organized wholesale /retail market in India) or the middle-man ! This will also check inflation of food items. Moreover, FDI will also ensure adequate storage facilities for food items, improve infrastructure scientifically and transportation facilities.

Like Agriculture, Retailing in India also requires FDI and organized marketing. The quality of the products will be improved and at the same time the price of the retail items will reduce severely. Moreover, it will also generate employment in India. With India’s traditional family system, culture, population and needs, the small retailers will also remain fully functional… but with enhanced accountability – in services and products. It will create a healthy atmosphere for a sustained competitive market.

Other than Agriculture and Retail, FDI will also benefit India to improve its Telecom penetration, Internet affordability, etc. At present, Broadband Services are mainly available in cities only. With better infrastructure and technology, it can be expanded to villages or rural areas at a lesser cost. Growth of Telecom and Internet in India will lead to better Governance, Healthcare, Insurance, Education, etc. This will ensure more and more participation of the common man in day-to-day services or the Public Services of the government. All services can be improved and a better lifestyle can be provided to the common man.

With FDI in Healthcare and Insurance, better care facilities can be provided at a lesser cost in the villages and expert advices can also be effectively delivered through e-health programs. Cost of Medicines will also come down drastically, if the system of generic medicines is adopted in India. In any case, with no middle-man involved, the prices of medicines can be brought down at least by 15-20%. Awareness for insurance schemes – be it life insurance or crop insurance or health insurance – will also greatly benefit the people in general.

What we need is very simple – accountable and transparent services at a better price with growth-oriented policies; create more jobs and provide better services. Political parties – ruling or opposition – must explore maturity levels in understanding the various issues by discussing and debating these in the Parliament, and not on the streets and election rallies ! Nation-wide or state-level strikes must be discouraged outrightly as these activities often spread the wrong message to the unaware folks. Parliament can introduce or change Laws and Institutions such that things can be improved to a larger extent in the interest of the common man.

Many may differ regarding the implementation, policy and the limits of FDI in various sectors. But if FDI brings organized market, with accountability and transparency, then it should be definitely welcomed in India, without any politics.

Recently (May,2013), the Supreme Court of India has aptly remarked that ‘Consumer is King‘ !!!

So, let the consumer decide…

Aamjunta – what do you say ?

Chance Pe Dance – Beyond Indo-Pak World Cup Cricket

With the win of Quarter Final Match against Ricky Pointing‘s Australian’s team, Men in Blue have cleared their path for a semi-final berth against Pakistan at Mohali on 30th March, 2011.  Interestingly, though Pakistan was mostly written-off and was termed “underdog” by their own commentators, they have proved every one wrong. Even though they lost badly to New Zealand, their overall performance is good and competitive. Moreover, their Captain Shahid Afridi has shown his character as a Captain – a leader, the leading bowler of the ICC World Cup 2011.

So far as Men in Blue are concerned, they have also shown a good fighting character. Demigod Sachin, Yuvraj, Raina, Kohli, Sehwag and Gambhir have proved their inclusion into the team as batsmen; Zahir, Ashwin and Harbhajan have proved their inclusion into the team as bowlers. Others have also done their job, though still not upto mark; wish everyone prove in the Semifinal and Final :). Wish the history repeats this time also, and the mighty India wins in the Semi Final against the united Pakistan.

That is all about future… a superb fighting semifinal on card, for the viewers, for the diplomats, for the cricket commentators, for the news channels, for the aamjunta and for Dr. Manmohan SinghMr. Gilani, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Ambani and many others. Every one is busy to reap some thing out of it. Hotels in Chandigarh are full at 3-times rate, tickets are sold at an exuberant price of Rs 1,00,000/- per ticket, NSGs deployed around the stadium, no-fly zone around Chandigarh, world-media is busy with Breaking News and advertisement rates have soared by at-least 10-times. That is not the end of the story… on an invitation from Dr. Manmohan Singh, Pakistan PM Mr. Gilani will also watch this “clash” from the stadium. He will be accompanied by more than 5000 Pakistani fans to watch the Clash of Titans.

On an un-usual note, home secretaries of both the countries are meeting on the back drop of this event, hoping for a bi-lateral engagement and confidence building measure. On a confidence building measure, Pakistan President Mr. Zardari has remitted the remaining jail term of Mr. Gopal Dass, an Indian prisoner lodged in Lahore jail for the last 27 years. Hope there is some more confidence building measure by both the countries. An Internet joke doing the rounds quotes the Pakistani president as responding to Mr. Singh’s gesture with a question: Will Sarah Palin be there? Not only that, the Pakistani media has termed the initiative “Aman ka chakka” or “sixer for peace.”

And in aamjunta’s word it is “Chance pe Dance, every one wants to score a six on the first ball and dance on the chance they are getting through Sachin-Sohaib or Sachin-Afridi or Yuvi-Afridi clash, a life-time entertainment and an would be chapter in Indo-Pak history. It is just beyond cricket and beyond everyone’s imagination.

Wish all the best to both the teams and to the cricket diplomacy. I am sure, aamjunta will also enjoy the match from the stadium or in cinema halls or in bars or in drawing room. A half-day in most of the places on card. As an Indian… I pray for India’s win in this world cup, Chakk de India….  🙂

Jai Hind!

Top 10 New Year Wishes of an Ammjunta

Dear Fellow Aamjunta,

I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2011. As an aamjunta like you I dream, I wish and I want to live and let live… Though the list of my new year wishes are never ending, here are the top Ten New Year wishes for myself, for you and for all fellow Indians.

  1. No to Corporate Lobbyists and let the industries/organization do not have Nira(s), Barkha(s), Raja(s), Raju(s) and Arjun(s) please; everything are in record 🙂
  2. At-least 1/365 day Scam-Free News in Indian News (TV) Channels.
  3. At-least “one major case solved” completely by CBI.
  4. At-least one day in the Parliament with “Full Attendance“, not to vote for a government or opposition, but for usual business.
  5. Let quality prevail in Indian Education system; not caste, religion, money, corruption and politics.
  6. No more deaths please during VIP’s visits because of all roads are closed; be that during PM or President’s visit.
  7. Live and let live; enough of killing by Maoists, terrorists, political drama and regionalisms.
  8. No killings, no stone pelting and no burning of Public Properties in Any strike/bandh by political parties or groups.
  9. All trains diverted/changed timings due to Maoists scare in various parts of India to run in the usual routes.
  10. At-least one day shramadan for the country by every Indian.

Aamjunta, what are your new year wishes… Do share.. and do not forget to share your new year resolutions.

Jai Hind


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.

%d bloggers like this: