Voting Dilemma- Reinforced Not Resolved !!

The world is about to witness one of the most decisive events of this decade- the curious game of numbers played at by the electorate in the largest democratic system in its upcoming General Elections between April-May, 2014. Regarding various scenarios, I had written an article early this year, titled Aamjunta’s Dilemma – whom to Vote in 2014 ?

Let’s quickly take a look at how things have changed since then behind the curtains…At the moment this is what an aamjunta in India still largely perceives of the stage being thus set for the big play.

Congress – Its status remains quite unchanged. The party now and then harps on various vote-bank tactics and has started fielding hugely tainted candidates just to retain constituencies based on caste-based votes or the like. So the aamjunta and their concerns are all still ignored !

BJP – There is no remarkable improvement in its lack-of-leadership /vision status. Moreover, of late it has started absorbing back big corrupt ex-members despite ‘stiff’ opposition from its senior leaders and this may awfully erode its image !

Another word of caution for BJP- the mesmerizing ‘Modi chant’ may not work everywhere as is also evident from some opinion poll trends after the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate’s recent visit to Odisha. The state’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who has performed enormously, still continues to reign supremacy. Hearing some lines of Mr. Modi’s speeches during this visit, I personally was rather de-motivated let alone being impressed !!

AAP– It entered the scene with lot of promises and hopes but unfortunately, lost a golden chance at performing in Delhi alone. After forming government there, it started indulging in unweighed decision-making and administratively erroneous methods which are definitely not to be sympathized with lack of time in gaining political maturity. With a good intention, at the beginning it rightly raised several issues against corruption but failed to duly pursue or act upon them and impressively conclude a single big task in that regard. Then recorded in public memory are its usual fruitless efforts of conducting dharnas, andolans, etc. and throwing brickbats at the Delhi Police. As a consequence of its inabilities in governance, now it seems to completely lack any definite set of ideologies for the benefit of the nation as a whole and the temperament to accomplish the expectations of the ‘aam aadmi’. It now merely keeps visiting different states to only criticize respective state governments and generate some easy vote-bank tactics for its ‘aam aadmi’ like riding an auto-rickshaw or a local train.

Wish it got back to its original form and then acted thoroughly on core issues !!

Others – Busy calculating or forming alliances and contemplating creation of a Third-Front which can prove more ruinous !

So for many, the dilemma- ‘whom to vote in 2014 ?’ continues…

Aamjunta – what do you say?

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?

Maoist Menace in India and Aamjunta

The recent kidnap and hostage drama of the district collector of Malkangiri (Odisha), Er. R. Vineel Krishna and Jr. Engineer Pabitra Majhi has once again opened the Pandora’s box of democracy and governance in India. It is unfortunate that the Maoists had targeted Er. Krishna who has been working effectively and honestly for the Tribals of Malkangiri and that to, after the inauguration of electricity connection to a village after 63 years of India’s independence. On a serious note, this incident once again has proved the lack of coordination between the police and the civil administration. However, on a positive note, the kidnap drama has initiated food for thought among the Tribals for whom the Maosits are working (claiming!), the Politicians – both at the Center and at the States, the Government machinery, the Intellectuals – both anti-Maoists and the sympathizers, and the aamjunta like you and me. If some one carefully observes the reaction of people of Odisha and that of the people of Malkangiri in particular, then certainly one can understand the concern, love and respect of the people for the Collector who has been working selflessly there. In addition, it has increased the frustration of the people against Maoists and their day-to-day interference on public life – by killing, blocking roads, kidnapping and using tactic of bomb-blasts. Overall, the episode of 9-days rather seems to be a positive development. Moreover, it is a learning experience for the Government, corrupt Politicians, Maoists and the Intellectuals.

Killing and kidnapping by the Maoists is not new. They have done this before during their Nayagarh (Odisha) attack in the fateful night of 15th Feb 2008 and other instances. They took the entire town by surprise and nearby villages in their captive for hours, killing policemen mercilessly. Their action on that fateful night and the killing at Nayagarh, Nuagaon and Dasapalla on their way to Phulbani jungles is very much similar to that of Talibans in Afganistan during their march towards Kabul in late 1990s and early 2000. This is just barbaric; no one can justify this kind of barbaric activities. Who gave them the rights to kill innocent people just because they supported the system in place? Interestingly, their leader Mr. Sabysachi Panda under whose leadership Nayagarh attack was hatched, was a local BJD leader before joining Maoists. His father Mr. Ramesh Panda was a long time MLA of Ranpur in Nayagarh. With this kind of background if he does not feel to be a part of the system, then there are many other ways in which he can take part and motivate the people for their rights. Taking the Maoist ideology is not at all the right way. He should have taken a positive clue from the Praja Andolan of Ranpur (to which he belongs) during the independence struggle of India.

Not only Nayagarh or Malkangiri, Maoists are very active in various parts of other states like Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh. The numerous killings at Dantewada or the land mine attack on Chandrababu Naidu’s convoy, or the sabotage of train lines leading to numerous accidents or kidnapping police men, doctors, engineers can never justify their means of struggle.

On an ideological view, the socialistic aim of the Maoisim or Naxalism might be right, but the means of their struggle cannot be justified. Violence, killing people – be the policemen or the aamjunta, just to show strength, calling frequent bandhs and stopping the development activities in the tribal areas cannot be justified as right paths to achieve a socialistic society. These only delay the development process ! Moreover, the Maoists have failed to notice some of the substantial work undertaken for the upliftment of the tribals by some honest men of the land.

Violence alone can never solve their issue; history has proved again and again – in Arab, in Sri Lanka, in Libya, in Myanmar and in many parts of India too. Contrary to that, peaceful struggle with human base and mass agitation can definitely uproot the corrupt government and the officials. It has happened in India in 1947, in Bangladesh in 1971, in South Africa in 1990s and very recently, in Egypt. However, peaceful struggle does not mean to keep silent all the time and to be a silent spectator to all misdeeds of the government; it should be a strong and honest opposition with human base. One has to remember that if the common man can make the government, then it can definitely throw the government out of power.

If development of people is the core issue of Maoist movement, then we need to look at it from all angles – from the Government’s angle, from the NGOs’ perspective and from the people’s view. One will not disagree to the fact that most of the regions where Maoists are active are mostly undeveloped – no road, no education, no sanitation, no electricity and no development for the last 60 years. But, who is responsible for this?….. Only the Government and babus? How can you discount the indifference of the aamjunta of those regions for decades? And how can you discount the politicians of those regions and let them go scot-free for ages? Are not they accountable? Of course, they are… Then why are we silent on that? Moreover, it is not that funds have not been sanctioned for development, rather sanctioned funds have been siphoned to foreign banks, luxury estates, villas and flats in cities. A very small fraction of the sanctioned amount actually reaches there, and some times money also returns without being duly spent.

In addition to funds, Government also encourages its employees by giving extra remuneration for working in those remote areas. But how many of them have worked and how many of them are working? Most of them never go there; the teachers, the doctors, the engineers and even the VC of the Central University works from Bhubaneswar (citing an example in Odisha). All of these are open secrets. It is a collective failure of aamjunta and a conspiracy or callousness of corrupt babus, politicians and greedy middle-men.

It is late, but better late than never. The development programmes have started as evident from the trips of Collector Er. Krishna. Most of the development programmes are directly monitored by officials, the political leadership has realized its mistake and aamjunta of those regions are vigilant. Then why anymore the killing and kidnapping drama? Let every one fight for the common goal – development and continuous development. Let the law of the country takes its own stand – to punish or to reward; we can definitely be a part of the system and expedite the development process. If the babus and politicians are corrupt, then we should be blamed first; we only made them corrupt for our “chalta hai” attitude. Can we stop bribing, start using RTIs, file PILs and keep an eye on our development programmes? Every one should be answerable, and we need to change the method of our opposition and struggle.

The other major change required in this area is the communication of this part with the rest of the world. Other things will come automatically – be that education, sanitation or electricity. Road blocking, bandhs and life-threats will only delay the development process. There is a need for drastic change in the education system in those areas. Remember – education can bring all changes in life as in Chanakya’s era or in Bangabandhu’s era or in Mahatma’s era; history repeats every time.

In addition to all these, there is a strong need of robust reformations in the State defense mechanisms of the Maoist-hit regions. Policemen should also be very well-equipped with modern arms and ammunitions, technology and information system; not with out-dated guns or batons  only as seen in many parts of this region (note: Most of the policemen posted in Maoist regions even do not always keep arms and ammunition with them, and they are advised informally to keep safe of their own.). Medics and para-medics must reach them promptly. Good rewards, citations and recognitions at public ceremonies must be duly commissioned as a salutation of their acts of bravery and priceless sacrifices in protecting the lives of the aamjunta.

As for the surrendered-Maoists, proper rehabilitation centers must be set-up and the State must find suitable employment for them.

The media and the aamjunta have very crucial roles to play in the system, right from creating social awareness and motivating people to guard against an otherwise corrupt and ungrateful system.

Very sensibly and collectively, let us stop politicians, bureaucrats, miscreants, middle-men and goons from hijacking the entire development programme of the land. At this stage, our internal malices, stigmas, and huge corruption with the public funds are menacingly large to enable us to stand as an united India against any external aggression/threat, or to take further leaps towards even pursuing a world-class economy. Its high time for all of us to act in a matured manner… There’s absolutely no more space left for any dilly-dally! Unless we realize and take care of ourselves, no one can do any thing for us. It is an wakeup call for the aamjunta and then the rest.

Jai Hind!

Note: For the benefit/reference of interested readers, this article is a sequel to “Odisha Assam me Hai na!“, an article published by aamjunta.

Humanity at the Cost of Safety and Life?

In the hot summer if some one comes to your door step and asks for some drinking water, then what will you do?

You will give water and serve! Right!, “Atithi Devo Bhaba“, That is the usual manab dharm or to say humanity.

Hold on…

Let me narrate some of the incidents first, then you can answer for yourself.

Recently, a young couple, very well-dressed, were selling papad and some house-hold things in various parts of Bhubaneswar. They visited door to door, went to some one’s house at about 12.30 pm on a working day of an early summer. They went to some one’s house and pressed the calling bell. On hearing the bell, the lady of the house came to her door to check who is there and inquired from the couple what is the matter. Like many people, she also did not show any interest in buying those products. She was a newly married lady, well dressed with a nice saree and gold ornaments. She was about to close her door, the saleswoman requested her to give some drinking water. And as a matter of humanity or manab dharm, the house-owner lady called the sales-lady to her verandah and went home for water. She did not know what eventuality was following her. The sales couple followed her, bolted the front gate without anyone’s knowledge. They simply went to the kitchen and put the lady of the house on gun-point. It was too late for the lady of the house to understand what was happening. She could not do any thing; just gave them all her ornaments, cash and other valuables. In no time her house was looted by a couple who posed as marketing agents or sells person and that too exploit the hot summer. Bringing drinking water for them on a hot summer become a nightmare for her.

This is not one isolated incident, rather one of many such frauds, loots and cheating happening in various parts of our country. There are reports, that couples book train tickets (AC/Non-AC) and travel all along from Mumbai to Bhubaneswar or from Delhi to Puri or from Delhi to Patna or from Delhi to Howrah…; on long distance trains. They just gel with their co-passengers and make sure that no one doubts their behaviour at any point of time. They talk, eat, discuss and even share many things of their life, family and various other issues. They not only exchange their residence addresses (false address) they even share their bogus telephone numbers. They pose as responsible individuals and become friendly with their co-passengers in no time.  But friendship with them becomes a costly affair for many people in that carriage. They use some chemicals or medicines and make sure that their co-passengers get deep sleep on the 2nd night (long distance trains such as Konark Express, Purusottam Express, Howrah Mail etc., usually takes 36+ hours). This helps them to loot their new-friends. They simply vanish from the train after taking some valuables, bags and belongings of their co-passengers in  the night.  No one will have even any doubt, even if one sees them alighting from the train with bags and baggage. They ensure that they get down one or two station before their last stop and choose their prey with maximum care.

Sometime it is also observed that these couples aim very high, do not loot their prey on the train. Rather, they get down decently in their chosen stop. But afterwards, they start communicating with their new friends/co-passengers. These criminals invite them for vacation parties, and visit them frequently at their homes. In a month or two through them, they create a new bond with many other families. And on one fine day, they fool everyone by winning their trust, loot them as the 1st couple did on the hot summer or in  different innovative methods.

So…

Aamjunta, now tell me…  what is your answer,  give water or not?

After going through some recent reports on News Papers and TV, one will seriously think whether to give water or not. One should seriously think his/her safety first and then manab dharm or humanity…”Atithi Devo Bhava” . Many such incidents are happening in an alarming rate in the city. Unless, we the aamjunta keep an eye on such kind of couples and activities, we ourselves will be in problem. Who knows, who is their next pray. Be very careful aamjunta. Though it is right that “all our friends were strangers“, we need to be very careful wile dealing with strangers, be it in train or market. But, that does not mean that we will misbehave them or show our arrogance. Treat them with care, but at the same time keep an eye on their activities.

Note: I personally still believe that we should follow manab dharm, but with care. Belief should be with reason and facts, not blind. And I still want to practice “Atithi Devo Bhaba“, but with due care.

Satyameva Jayate

 

Glimpses of India – from the Eyes of an Aamjunta

Boarding the Train

It was almost 2.00 pm, I started journey home from my room. As usual this time also I forgot to carry one of my bags. Forgetting things in the last moment is becoming a usual habit in me. Something or the other … I forget to carry at the last moment 😦 , no matter who accompanies me and how long or short the journey is. Have faced many problems due to this forgetfulness. I sincerely hoped if I could manage this trip without that bag. Luckily, I did not forget to carry my last minute shopping item.

It was getting late for a Local train journey to Dadar and so decided to call for a taxi. I am privileged to own the tel. no of “Vijay taxi wala”. He reached dot on time and was waiting downstairs. I was carrying my laptop with me. In the main-gate (of IIT Bombay), the security guard was supposed to stop any vehicle and ask whether any one is carrying any electronic item as per the security rules. But that did not happen here (that was not the first time also). No one asked me and no one stopped my taxi. Even though I was ready with my gate pass, I was expecting the security guard to follow the minimum security measures. But no one bothered to inquiry. They hardly ask any one carrying any thing; just mute spectators in most of the cases. But, at times certainly harass people to show their power and to score a point. Unarmed, unprepared and indifferent security force of IIT Bombay 😦

Anyway, managed to reach Dadar before time. Konark Express, Train No. 1019, my train and home for the next 37 hours was scheduled at 3.10 pm from CST. But, I decided to board the train from Dadar at 3.25 pm to save some time. Vijay could manage to drop me within 35 minutes as there was hardly any traffic at that time (quite unusual in Mumbai). I entered Dadar Station through Platform No. 6. I was expecting huge police presence in the station after the incident of 26/11 in Mumbai. Yes, traces of police presence were there, but could not find their preparedness and alertness.

My ticket was in RAC and therefore I had to check before boarding whether the ticket was confirmed. Asked the police officer sitting at the enquiry counter to guide me to the place where boarding charts are put. After asking him 3 times, he answered my query with a sign language and pointed his finger towards the notice board in Platform No. 5. I was relieved to see my name in the confirmed tickets list. Tough to travel by RAC for 37 hours without a sleeper berth. Anyway, was lucky this time. My serial number was the last in confirmation, though it was the last berth of the coach. I just thanked my starts and made some telephone calls to friends and relatives to inform them that my ticket was confirmed. Train was on time and I boarded the train.

Train Journey – A Mini-India

My berth number was B3-64. Already two people were sitting in 63/64 by the time I reached there. Both of them were claiming that they have 63 – RAC! Interestingly, some one else came in and too claimed that his seat no is 63. Three persons for the same seat!! 🙂 Could not believe. With the help of the PNR number verification from a BSNL Mobile, they could resolve the seat problem. Two of them had RAC, and the other person was having W/L ticket only. The wait-listed person could not believe how come his seat had not got confirmed, when he had already booked his tickets 25days ago. This gentleman was W/L number 1 whereas the other gentleman was W/L 36! The other gentleman could manage to confirm his ticket through some VIP quota, even though he bought the ticket at the last minute, leaving the other guy with W/L-1. Looks like aamjunta suffers every where, no one listens.

By the time the seat confusion got resolved, TT had verified our e-tickets and the train had reached Kalyan. A new drama was unfolding related to ticket buying and selling. Seat no. 59/B-3 was still vacant. The lady who booked the ticket did not show up. Every one was eying that seat. In principle that seat should go to the person with the lowest RAC. But, I wondered … will the TT allot that seat without taking a single pie? The person seating in B3-63 with RAC started buttering the TT and literally begged for berth no. 59. He did not hesitate to bribe the TT too, opened his wallet and gave two one hundred notes to him. And the TT… thanked his stars, took those with a smile …. his first income of the day. I thought when we are talking and gossiping against corruption and corrupt practices, we forget to include ourselves in the list of culprits. Both bribers and bribe takers are equally responsible.

In the mean while our train had reached Pune, I was dozing off in the upper berth. With a big suitcase, a young girl in her late twenties entered our compartment. Pushed her suitcase under the seat, tried to occupy the seat no. 59, which was already assigned to some one else. She could not believe that her seat was allocated to some one else 🙂 . She started arguing with the TT and the commuter. After realizing her mistake (booking from one station (CST) and boarding from a far-off station (Pune)) she became distraught and composed, but had to finally accept. She requested the TT at least to allow her to board the train and to share the seat with the other gentleman who was occupying seat no. 63 in RAC. She could manage to convince the person and shared the seat.

In the mean time a couple of plain cloth police men came and inquired with many of us and checked our luggages. May be the bombings in the trains and other places in India are the reasons for this checking. But, I did not find a single police man afterwards, in the next 30 hours of my journey. What kind of security measure then? Couple of my co-passengers (including ladies) were software engineers working in Pune. To spend their boring train journey, they were ready with many things, at least some 10 different type of snacks, all the meals of train’s catering and most interestingly they had enough bettle (paan) leafs and all masalas (jurda, kimam, katha, supari.. etc.). Each of them are experts in making the bettle pack and in eating those. Amazing scenes. There was another co-passenger who had a RAC ticket and started narrating his links and connections with big politicians of Mumbai and his lunch/dinner parties with the IPS/IAS officers and the ministers in Mumbai. He did not leave a single stone unturned to boast of his greatness. I did not understand one thing, if he had all the connections then how come he could not manage to get a confirmed seat? May be Laluji ki raj me kuchh gadbad hai 🙂

Home Sweet Home

Train journey was cool, though a bit boring. I reached Bhubaneswar on time – at 4.35 am. My brother was there to receive me. Once I reached there, I found myself at home. The care and concern of my brother, home made food of my bhabhi and the love of my sweet nephew — what else I wanted? The Bhubaneswar which I had carried in my memory and that which I was seeing were completely different. Nowadays, it has grown like any other city in India. But, on the flip side as an outsider in my own homeland, I could witness rash drive of young (kids some times) students and unemployed mass, the effect of liquor on our society, eve-teasing, showiness and artificial smiles of relatives and friends. Tough to accept 😦 I stayed for a day at Bhubaneswar, visited couple of my relatives and friends in the evening, did a little bit shopping for my nephew and niece. I was meeting them after a gap of 18 months, longest gap so far. I knew my parents were eagerly waiting for me in my village…. I got at least 15 calls on that day with only one question: “when are you coming?” “Come at that time, do not bring this and that”… etc., and etc…

Once I reached home (village), I felt like the king of that place 🙂 . Very happy… I started showing all the photos of my last China visit, and was telling the stories of my success/failure, life, future to my parents. Suddenly I realized that I forgot to bring the Umbrella which I carried for my father. I left that in the bus, forgot completely…I felt very very bad. The umbrella was an amazing and unique piece, many people were interested to take that… but, I was adamant that it was meant for my father…. I tried my best to follow the bus, enquired with the driver through some of my relatives, but could not trace it. Felt very low as I was too much attached to the umbrella and carried a lot of dreams to present it with love to my father.

Small Incidents of Big India

I stayed hardly for 4 days at home. These four days I was completely cut off from the rest of the world. There were important calls which I was expecting on my MTNL roaming cell. But alas… MTNL and BSNL had problems, my roaming phone was half of the time struggling to find and register itself with BSNL. More than 90% of the time, its signal was down, and the rest 10%, frequent call droppings, one sided voice, bad signal quality …. I was pissed off with their services. How come these so called basic service providers (largest telecom. operators in India) do not maintain the basic quality in their services? Nobody was listening to my complaints, they were not even accepting their fault. In fact, even now after a month of my coming back from home the service and signal is extremely poor. Other users also are facing similar problems. Had it been in USA or other European countries, the operators would have been sued for service failure. I had to struggle a lot to call my friends in Mumbai for updates.

While at village, I came across with some interesting facts. My father was narrating to me about the Rs 2/- per Kg rice scheme introduced by Orissa Govt to help the needy. Initially when I heard about this I was thrilled and was very happy that the Govt is helping the poor; the common man. But my happiness was short lived. Looks like Rs 2/- per Kg rice is the biggest problem at this moment. Most of the people who are availing the scheme are becoming very lazy. Many of them are not working for more that 4/5 days in a month. Reason, a day’s earning is sufficient for their livelihood of a month.. 50 kg of rice (Rs 100/- is the daily wages) and the other 2/3 days’ work is sufficient for the rest. More than 70% people are not working, not ploughing their land even… why to spend time and money, when they have free food at their door step? The question that came to my mind… is that Rs 2/- per Kg rice scheme for the benefit of the country? Are we doing justice to the tax payers’ money? Why is the govt playing with the country’s future? For vote shake? For power? Election is around, and many parties are committing Rs 2/- or Rs 3/- per Kg rice. My frustration became serious, when I came to know the names of BPL (Bellow Poverty Line) card holders… many rich people of that area are having BPL cards, they get those rice in Rs 2/- per Kg and sell that in Rs 20/- Kg in the market. Pathetic attitude.

During my short stay, I visited couple of Govt. and Private schools, couple of Engineering colleges. What I saw there and what I experienced was pathetic. The condition of the education system and commercialization of basic services in many parts of Orissa (in India too) is something which is of serious concern. Engineering education is a big business there. In the name of charity, people just do business and exploit. They also spend huge amount for bribing the authorities (be it state education board or national education board) to get the accreditations. The common man suffers everywhere… their land is being sold at a cheap price to these institutes, their kids are not getting quality education, they pay heavy price as donations and fees for education, and they do not get their full salary. No one is interested to send their wards to Govt. run schools. Every one is interested in English medium schools. But the English medium schools charge heavily as fees and donations, make interviews of the parents and the kids . My nephew was asked for his Class I admission : Name two Chief Ministers in India who were married in the same day?. Neither the Govt rulings nor the court directives stop them from blatant commercialization. Not only that the quality of teachers they have are very poor. Many of them are under paid too. With this kind of education, where do we see our future? I could not visualize…

Corruption, attitude problem, politics, castism… everything is corroding this country and the common man. Unless the common man does some thing and realizes that he/she has to be aware and do things to help himself/herself who else can save? It is late, but not too late. Still there is time to shape the country, to guide the youth and to channelize the taxpayers’ money.

Aamjunta it is your turn now.

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