Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tryst with the Dynasty

No one other than the royal family knows when the prince of Congress party is planning to take over from our most qualified yet “one of the” weakest prime ministers (I don’t think he is “the” weakest one we ever had because some horribly weak people have already been there and done it without even commanding the respect of a few dozen parliamentarians!). But, the good news would be that his takeover would bring in a lot of stability to our government after almost two decades, which for sure is not all that great at the moment. Even a few spineless clowns used to disrespect the prime minister in UPA-1. It’s better now in UPA-2, but it still has a lot of scope for improvement. It can never be perfect unless the person at the top has people’s backing. Unfortunately, Dr. Singh doesn’t have it as he came through the backdoor. As we discussed a few posts earlier, it is not his problem, but ours, for not being able to respect and back an extraordinarily decent leader like him.

When the baton is passed to the prince, it would be a mass leader again at the helm of affairs after a long gap. Advani wouldn’t be able to call him the weakest ever prime minister the country had. He may have to get creative to find out better reasons to criticize him. He may call him half Indian or half Italian. I am sure the prince is not planning to tie the knot until he occupies the much coveted office. I know the marriage before coronation would attract plenty of criticism and give huge room for Advanis and Modis to question his identity again. I sincerely hope that all the news that we hear about the Colombian girl are false. I don’t want to see the Advanis and Modis of next generation wasting their energy in invoking the foreign origin issue once again in our long history. We don’t want another Subramanian Swamy to waste all his intelligence in doing researches around the new foreign Gandhi’s background.

Anyways, when the change over happens, the prime minister would become the supreme authority of India again. All ministers would listen to him. Otherwise they know that they would be parceled in a Rajdhani Express to their home state to contest as an independent candidate in the next election. He wouldn’t have to check with someone more powerful about his every policy decision and take their approval despite being the most powerful constitutionally.

Having said that, would I feel great about having the prince as our king? No. Not at all! Why? When it was Vajpayee versus Sonia contest, I preferred Vajpayee over Sonia though as a party I prefer Congress over BJP. Even if it was Advani versus Sonia, I would have preferred Advani. When it is ideology based, I would go with Congress instead of BJP. But, when it is personality based, I somehow can’t stomach someone getting qualified based on the family in which s/he was born. It’s the most ridiculous thing in our politics. If you can qualify purely based on merit in addition to being the owner of the most powerful surname, you are most welcome. But, it just can’t be justified that someone who worked for the people from childhood is given second priority or no priority over someone who was just born for someone who was just born for someone who was just born for someone who really worked for the people in a government that was by the people, for the people and of the people.

It is all the more horrible when someone becomes all powerful in a country of billion people with her mere ability to choose the right spouse some forty years back. It’s painful for those who spent all their lives on roads and streets with their party flag in hand and huge aspirations in heart from their history-book days. Ideally, I would like to have people like Dr. Singh as the most powerful leader, loved by all the voters across the nation. But, I know it is far from possible. Even he could become whatever powerful he is today only by winning the trust of the family that is all powerful today in Indian politics.

So, considering the problems of practicality, until our voters start liking leaders based on their accomplishments instead of family background or we have a model that allows people themselves to choose their top most leader (I also want to write about the presidential model in near future), I would be okay with the prince becoming the king here for the below reasons.

1. He would bring back the power quotient to the seat, which would make the country stronger in the global arena. I wouldn’t call it a matter of dignity, as Mr. Advani does. It is just a matter of stability to be more precise and “dignified”.

2. Though he doesn’t come by merit, he has spent considerable amount of time understanding the undercurrents of politics. So, he wouldn’t be as novice as his father was while getting pushed into the scene. He just has to ensure that he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes that his father did. I am confident that he would do better.

3. Though this would sound like a support statement for dynasty thing, I also believe that if one’s family has been in public life for so many generations, s/he would surely have a good knowledge and hold over public domain. I am not supporting any promotion purely based on the surname, but I am just trying to find out a reason to be optimistic knowing that no one could stop that from happening.

I just can’t conclude my stand with a simple “yes” or “no” on this. If I have to say in a single statement whether I like him becoming the prime minister of this country, it would go like this – “I want the people of this county to start identifying their leaders from their billion people instead of choosing them from the same family over and over again, but until that maturity comes I am okay with someone like Rahul Gandhi becoming our prime minister instead of any other corrupt rogue from regional politics!” Such a long “single statement”!? :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ayodhya: Where Do I Stand?

There is no better time to talk about Ayodhya issue than now. When I could spend so much time on various not-so-critical issues in last few months, it wouldn’t be fair if I don’t spend a few hours on such a critical issue like this. I prefer to call this Ayodhya issue as the parties involved in this call it differently based on which side of the fence they are on. One group calls it Ram Janma Bhoomi issue and the other calls it Babri Masjid issue. Or, they call it Ram Janma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid issue or Babri Masjid-Ram Janma Bhoomi issue respectively by changing the order of names to make it clear to the world as to what came first in their opinion. I am not very fond of getting into controversies. I would rather be comfortable leaving my surrounding more confused, as I strongly believe that it eventually would lead us collectively to a clearer territory.

I don’t have much data with me to pass any judgment. I don’t need them as I don’t have any compulsion to prove anyone wrong or right. Moreover, I am not part of any right wing group to waste my time on such things. I am called Hindu based on the family in which I was born. I am not even sure if my forefathers were practicing all the rituals that are being done by my family members now. I think all this adamancy towards rituals is getting stronger by the day as people are getting insecure about their faith. If I understood things correctly, Hinduism, like me, was never bothered about what one does to keep his religious identity intact. Or, not all who are called Hindus today were interested in doing all such things few generations back. I think, it is only a subset of us that was following everything that is being called our ritual today. What brought all of them who were not even following all these customs under one banner suddenly in the last half a century, in my opinion, is the insecurity that they went through! I hear a lot of questions around me in last few decades that sound like, “If he is proud of his religion, why not you?” To any common man like me it sounds absolutely sensible. When someone tells me, “If you want to shed your religion, check if all are doing it”, it naturally appeals to me. Don’t ask me back, “Why are you worried about others?” I am worried because I don’t want to be left out as an odd man out. So, I want to ensure I remain a common man following all the laws of averages.

My personal opinion is that an issue like Ayodhya issue should never be an issue to anyone as it doesn’t help us resolve any of our major problems as a country. Instead, it only adds to the huge list of problems. Then, why should we be so bothered about it? If both communities could be united and respect each other’s sentiments this problem would not have arisen in first place. Now that it has arisen as both are just complaining about the other party’s intolerance, we don’t know what the solution is. I am sure the right people have done the required amount of research and investigation into the issue before concluding on it. So, let us be prepared to accept whatever comes out. If we are not going to listen this time, I am not sure if we would ever listen.

I want every Hindu in this country to view it as a non-issue. I think, that is the only approach to solve this problem. Being a Hindu by birth (with all questions around that still being alive), that is what I could request the people from my own religion. I want to say “I have no religion”. But, I have to admit that I have wondered many times as to why I am not able to meet more people like me from all religions. Nobody ever spent any time with me to teach me that my religion was the only true religion. I think this kind of belief and teaching and preaching is what is making this planet more and more unsafe to live. How many of you want to disagree?

That request of mine to leave it as a non-issue leaves my men (I am just calling them ‘my men’ for the ease of usage; please do not waste your time in reading between lines and branding me as another Hindu chauvinist) infuriated with a basic question, “Why don’t you say this to Muslims?” So, being a neutral person, I should be able to tell my brothers from the other religion also the same thing, right? Can I tell this? I don’t think so. Though I strongly feel that what I am going to say is right, I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Why? I feel I have no right to tell them what they have to do. Or, I should say, I am scared of being branded as narrow-minded or communal.

I am left with two options now. First one is to get fascinated by the concept of secularism, get more hypocritical without even knowing the reason why I am becoming like that and talk against Hindus bluntly, which is what I was doing for a long time thinking that I would be called an intellectual if I do so. The second one is to stand up and say “I am neutral from my side. It would be great if my liberal Muslim brothers on the other side also could get as neutral as me and say the same thing to their people”. I thought the second is better. Why? "I realized off late that it was just because there were more people like me in the first category, the need for right wing politics got bigger and gained its momentum". Please write to me if any of you did not understand this statement. This is the most important message that I wanted to give out of this post.

In simple words, what does it translate to, when we talk about our stance on the final verdict? I have no clue as to in whose favor the ruling is going to be. However, I can unconditionally say aloud that I would be the least bothered if the court rules out building a temple in the disputed site or suggests rebuilding the mosque or demolish everything and build something else. I would love to see all my Hindu brothers being like that. At the same time, I would also love to have all my Muslim brothers in this country to remain the same if there is an order to build a temple there or if the court justifies the demolition of the mosque (though it is highly unlikely). If one of you could say an unconditional “yes” in reply to this post, I think I have done my bit as a citizen of this country.

I have been as honest as possible in my writing. However, I won’t be surprised if someone shouts at me claiming that they read between lines and found that I have a natural bias towards my own religion, because, I have myself done it to many of my friends in the past. But, let me tell you again, it is only this kind of branding that leaves people like me in no man’s land that has given plenty of ground for the growth of right wing politics in this country. If we don’t want them to grow anymore we need to get more realistic and honest (honesty is also about not blindly talking against my own group always just in order to get recognized as honest) rather than live in a hypocritical world.

My final word is this. Irrespective of whatever the verdict is going to be, I feel from the bottom of my heart that it is simply not worth losing thousands of lives on silly issues like this. You only strengthen someone’s political capital by doing all these. By getting involved in these fights, your children will surely not have better education or food or lifestyle or culture for that matter. Some of you who come to the streets may have some better food for few days. But, it is going to be at the cost of your life. Is it worth? I will leave it to you.

It is just that we are going to ensure a more unsafe place for our future generations to live. Is that what we want to do using this opportunity?

Would love your opinions…

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Modi and His Politics

Kathlal by-election win forces me to rethink about my stance against Narendra Modi and his way of politics. I know it wouldn’t be seen as humane to like him in Indian politics. His iron fist against terrorists is still appreciated. But, giving green signal to the brutal killing of his own innocent people being a chief minister of a state is just a third class behavior. It just can’t be an act of a national leader. It was his contribution to prove how low a chief minister could get by occupying such a high position in a democratic nation.

I would have been happy if he had caught all the culprits who set fire on the train in Godhra and hung them on streets with complete media coverage. They deserve such a punishment, but not the innocent people that belong to the same religion of the criminals that did it. It is so basic and commonsensical that any punishment should be given to the guilty and not those who belong to the same group, be it caste, community, religion, region, race, language, nationality, or any other nonsense that divides people.

I know there are people who still advocate this theory of harassing the weaker people when someone stronger from their group does something wrong. To put it mild, all such people are still alive just because everyone doesn’t think like that. Commonsense has been prevailing. It is inhuman and barbaric, to say the least. I strongly hold this opinion on any movement against any group. Be it against Jews, Brahmins, Muslims, or any group that is targeted for the misdeed committed by a subset of the group. First thing is that it is a sign of cowardliness. Second is that that is the only thing that differentiates leaders and intellectuals from common men.

If you say all from so and so group have to be killed for a wrong done by some people from that group, even you and I could not have been alive for so long. There are criminals in all groups. Can we go on a killing spree against the group that they belong to when some of them do something wrong? If that’s how you are going to think, you don’t deserve a state’s highest political office, but you could well be spending your time productively in debating in our street corners with half-baked common men who think like you.

Having said that, I don’t think it is also justified in belittling his achievements as a chief minister. I somehow feel that no one dares to speak the good that he has done as an administrator. All of us are scared of the branding that would be done on us if we appreciate anything he does. He has been a great administrator. He is exposing his people to an unprecedented - extraordinary style of governance, without which he wouldn’t have been elected again.

When I see the Muslims in Kathlal explaining why they voted for Modi’s candidate (I wouldn’t like to call him BJP’s candidate here), I feel very happy. I am going to ignore those of you who are going to say that they were paid to speak so in front of the camera. Having grown up in a Muslim street where my friends used to come to Hindu temples along with me (don’t ask me silly questions like whether I also went to their mosques with them the same way), I feel touched by all this. I sincerely hope Modi also would pay back appropriately to this.

Isn’t it a sign of communal harmony? Isn’t it the beginning of end of an era of bitter feelings that a community carried against their enemy for a long time? I am not writing this piece requesting anyone to free Modi from all cases that were filed against him. I am not at all arguing that he had no role in 2002 riots. All I am trying to talk about is the better side of a clean politician in addition to his horrible side, which I am sure would never come out again in his life time.

Politics has always been a business of crooked and corrupt rogues. Having seen too much of such people (rather only such people in recent times), like any common man in this country, a clean system has become the highest expectation from our leaders though it is supposed to be the most fundamental stuff. It looks like a miracle for us to see that kind of governance in a state that is very much part of our own country. He has made it possible in the land where every good thing is impossible in politics. If all his so-called secular counterparts could learn this one simple thing from him, I am sure I wouldn’t have a reason to like him anymore, which I am sure would please some of you who read this.

Funny People... Funny Names...

People spend more time searching for names for their kids than for even searching for their better halves these days. For some people, the process starts as early as their childhood itself. It's not just a name for identification. It means much more to us. We try to communicate a lot of things through those names. And, some couples that pass all tests after marriage get stuck at this stage. It divides families and makes some lifetime dents in relationships. It has become so important to us. We try to prove that we are superior to the rest with these names or at least not inferior to anyone. I don't know how it is in the western world but in this part of the world it has really become a very critical process.

Each one has a logic for naming. There is one group of principled people whose only principle is to find a name that can't be easily pronounced by all. If the number of people that are able to pronounce it correctly is more than that of those that can't, it is a failure for that name. Some others say, whatever be the starting, whatever be the ending, it must have 'sh' somewhere. Another group of people look for names based on the birth star. Only the first letter is important and the rest could be compromised. Another group looks based on numerology where every letter counts. Each letter is given a number and the sum of all those numbers should be some specific number. Some people want to prove their kid's uniqueness through the name by keeping a name that nobody has ever had. Some people choose names that are heard often in their surroundings. Some people are busy filing applications to change their original names in gazette.

There is another group of people who are very clear about it right from childhood. For them, whatever it is, it should be a movie actor or actress's name. A subset of them is very clear about which actor's name it should be as well. Some are slightly different. They choose their names from movie characters. Some want to have names from epics, literature, popular novels, etc. Some want to keep only god or goddess's names. Some people have been having the grandparents' names for many generations. It will be the same two names that continue for generations. A's son is B, B's son is A, A's son is again B, and so on. Some people keep names of revolutionists and popular leaders that worked for the people. This is prevalent in any culture that goes through a phase of political transition or revolution. In Indian context, it happened during the freedom struggle movements. People in political parties use this opportunity to please their leaders. They go to their leaders to get their kids named. The leaders suggest their own parents' names, pets' names, etc. and please their followers.

Some people go with their girl friend or boy friend's name if their love didn't succeed. Some keep their bosom friend's name. There are some people who are adamant about one thing while deciding a name. Their only condition is, that name should not have any meaning in any language. They just concatenate few letters. One of them letters would be 'J' mostly. Some just go with names that are most heard in news and current affairs when the baby is born. So, there are many such categories and the list is not complete.

Even in my house, you could see that all our names were influenced by one of the above phenomenons. Since my grandfather was a freedom fighter, he brought home all his inspirations in the next two generations. Starting from Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagath Singh, we have all sorts of names including some local Communist leaders. As a family that ran into many troubles because of this strange naming convention, I would like to have a quick discussion around it today. The most affected of them all is Bhagath Singh, I guess. To make matters worse, he looks like a North Indian, too. :)

The most problematic of them all is the names with confusing surnames. In many parts of South India, the concept of surname is no more now. It's not that we don't have it. We had it till few generations back. It was consciously removed by our leaders and then common men for a reason. Our people decided not to use it as it indicated the caste in most cases. So, if you look at our grandfathers or great grandfathers they did have surnames. It's only in the last few generations we have stopped using it. As a replacement, we decided to use our father's name or husband's name as surname. Most people in the current generation don't even know this history. They think we never had this concept in this part of the country. I even heard that some North Indian activists are suggesting to implement this in their states. Because, this is the best starting point in the efforts towards removing caste from our society.

One of the problems of this change is, our people don't even understand the difference between first name and surname, especially with Sanskrit names. So, what happened is, people just kept the full name including the surname if they liked a name. That's how names like Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagath Singh, etc. came. It's not just these names, Sharmas, Guptas, Mehtas, Kapoors also came in. World leaders like Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao also came. They should have just taken Monandas, Jawaharlal, Subhash, Bhagath, etc. if they liked their names instead of using the full names.

You would be surprised to see the number of Boses in some parts of Tamil Nadu. It is as common as Senthils and Saravanans. All their fathers or grandfathers would have been ardent followers of Subhash Chandra Bose. You would have seen this in the movie 'Indian' ('Hindustani' in Hindi). The old Kamal Hassan is a freedom fighter and his son young Kamal's name is Bose. There is no dearth of Gandhis, Nehrus and Tagores as well.

So, when our North Indian friends hear these names in South India, it would sound very funny to them. I know, it is as funny as a North Indian having his name as Kamaraj Nadar, Deve Gowda, Chandrababu Naidu or Krishna Menon. Comparatively, this is more in Tamil Nadu than in any other South Indian state. That is where surname is a completely extinct concept.

Some people also try mix and match. That's when the confusion gets multiplied. The first name would be a typical South Indian name and the surname would be a pure North Indian one. Something like Munusamy Kapoor! Isn't it funny? :)

It was all fine till the last generation. Because, people mostly didn't come out. Only the affluent families sent their kids outside for studies and jobs. So, those names were used only within a village or town. People would have exclaimed, "Wow, what a novel name?!" and boosted their pride. Even the holders of those names would have felt very proud about their names and thanked their parents. But, things have changed now. Our current generation boys and girls go all around the world. They go through a lot of teasing and become a laughing stock. Though they laugh with others, it indirectly affects their self-respect also. I personally know some people who go through such painful experiences. There are some others who don't even realize that they are being made fun of. They just take it as a compliment and move on. :)

So, my request to my South Indian friends (especially the Tamil friends) is - Never allow anyone around you to copy someone else's surname for any reason whatsoever. We have got rid of our surnames long back. It's time we start doing it with other surnames. If you love someone so much, please take their first name. Taking just the first name doesn't reduce the degree of admiration or love.

And, to my North Indian friends - If you ever come across someone with such confusing surname, it may not mean that they migrated from some part of North India to South India or you don't have to be puzzled about the reason why they use someone else's surname. It was just a symbol of their pure love or admiration for someone that doesn't belong to the same land of theirs. And, we actually don't care too much about surnames. Not sure if it is one step ahead or otherwise. :)

Post Script (A later addition based on Sahana's suggestion): How did I get my name - Bharathiraja Ramachandrabose? I am Bharathiraja and Ramachandrabose is my father. How did I get my first name? I was named after the popular Tamil poet and freedom fighter Subramanya Bharathy (They call him the South Indian Tagore!) - as Suresh Bharathy. This was done by my grandfather, who was a freedom fighter and an ardent follower of Bharathy. But, my father later changed it to Bharathiraja from Suresh Bharathy. In any case, just 'Bharathi' sounds girlish, I guess (My friends call me 'Bharathi' and those who haven't interacted with me think I am a girl until they meet me and get disappointed looking at a tall, dark and handsome boy with a girl's name when they meet me!). An additional info - Subramanya Bharathy's native place and mine are very near. It was walkable at 'that time'. How did my father get his name? Subhash Chandra Bose was my grandfather's inspiration. I have heard that his first involvement in the movement was when Netaji was in Madurai for a demonstration during his school days. And, when my father was born the freedom movement was in its peak. It was 1942. As I had mentioned somewhere, he also did a mix and match with his father's name and leader's name and named his son Ramachandrabose (Rama from his father's name and Chandrabose from his leader's name!). So, in our chain, my grandfather was the last one to use our surname and I would be the last one to use someone else's surname. Unlike my father or my cousin Bhagath Singh, my first name itself doesn't contain a surname (though Raja is a very common surname in Rajapalayam - a town in my region - the town of Rajas - Rajas' palayam!). So, my cousin Bhagath Singh will have to bear it for another generation. His kids would be called Nivedita Bhagath Singh and Naren Bhagath Singh. :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Culture Surprises: 3 Weeks With A Spanish Friend!

Like 'Culture Shocks', this is 'Culture Surprises'. 'Culture Surprises' is my travelogue and peoplogue. Travelogue to discuss about all my experiences in every new place I visit and peoplogue to discuss about all my experiences with people from different cultures I meet. So, it is not necessary that I talk about only cultures here. It's about everything new that I come across. So, purists... please bear with the coinage of the title!

This is in continuation to the last post on my journey towards west. Just before starting my journey westwards, I fortunately had an opportunity to spend some good time with a westerner in India. It helped me prepare for the journey. I also wanted to show him the best of India. But, I couldn’t take him anywhere to do that. Instead, I tried to be the best of myself with him so that I do my bit to build the brand India.

I also made it very clear to him upfront that I am very crazy about learning new cultures and hence I would ask him a lot of questions (many of them would be crazy) to understand his culture. He also appreciated it and answered all my questions with the right spirit. I also encouraged him to ask me as many questions as possible without being hesitant about anything. At the end of the day, both of us, I hope, gained tremendous insight into each other’s culture.

Spanish are special for the reason that their language is the second most natively spoken language after Chinese. You could see them all over Europe and Americas. He also explained me about the differences between the Spanish language spoken in Spain and in Latin America. The same word that means "grab" in Spain means a bad word in Latin America. By the way, most of Latin American countries are Spanish except for Brazil. In fact, the Spanish population is more in Mexico and the US than in Spain.

He had spent good amount of time in Latin America and visited China before coming to India, which made him more interesting to me. He could compare Europe, America and Asia on many aspects. He was the second person to tell me that India and Mexico are similar in many ways. It is worthwhile recalling now that Indians are the second highest illegal immigrants to the US after Mexicans. The similarity is confirmed with a clear case. It’s not just illegal immigration. There are many other things as I understand. It seems the roadside selling is another similarity.

First of all, I used to think everything was perfect (rather, more things were more perfect, to be precise) in West. He said that that is exactly what the people in Latin America also thought about Europe. As we try so much to imitate them and are trained to be like them thinking that theirs is the better civilization, I thought he would have a lot to crib about India and he would look down on us. Surprisingly, he had a lot to admire us for and he also explained me why he won’t look down on us and who actually does it. May be, someone else in his place would not have been so mature. It was indeed his ability to adapt to and respect the foreign culture that made him special to me.

I used to think we were trying to get westernized with all our trainings to say ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’ and ‘How are you?’ with an artificial smile. He said, “I love India because people are so friendly here. They smile every time you go to them for something.”! Now I have changed my stand. It’s worth smiling every time someone comes to you for something. It makes you look friendly and elevates your culture to next level. Good I didn’t take him to our government offices. And, luckily he hasn’t seen our street fights in the three weeks he stayed here on silly things like traffic problems.

But, he wanted to know why we use the horns so much while driving. He was wondering so genuinely, “Who will take it seriously if you overuse it so much?”! As I have been having the same question for years together myself I couldn’t give him a good answer. I just told him that it’s because of our over-population we are used to too much noise and hence we have to overuse our horns for them to be heard properly. He looked convinced with the answer. I am not sure if he really was. He was also scared looking at the potholes on our roads and was scared to drive on our roads after the dusk because of that.

I was always thinking “keep right” is only on American roads and the whole of Europe kept left. Only now did I come to know that “keep left” is only in UK and the whole of America and the rest of Europe keeps right. We also talked about which side the driver seat is, how they overtake and what the pros and cons in both methods are.

This is a regular surprise for the westerners who visit us and those of us who visit the west. I have already heard this from a Brit in Coimbatore once. He said, “You guys pee in public and consider kissing in public as indecent whereas it is reverse in our place”. This new friend also had the same surprise and told me, “You may even be put in jail if you pee in public in our place”. So, I should be careful when I go there. :)

He was not able to understand on what basis egg is non-vegetarian when you don’t kill a life. “Egg is egg. How does it become a life?” is his question. I told him, “It is between vegetarian and non-vegetarian these days” to easily get away. I didn’t attempt explaining him as to how it qualifies as non-vegetarian. I have been thinking myself that the animal abuse is more in milk and honey than in egg. I even tried to avoid milk and curd for few months in 2005, but unsuccessfully got back to square one or two in a short while.

He loved our Tandoori chicken. I wanted to buy him some Tandoori chicken masala packs before he left, but was unsuccessful on that also. He missed his other meat items throughout his stay here. He showed me in what proportion one has to eat meat. Our guys just eat a few pieces of them when they eat a full plate of rice. Instead, one should eat meat and rice almost in equal quantity. Otherwise, you don’t get any protein. It’s just carbohydrate. We eat more for taste than anything else, right? He was also surprised at most of our supermarkets having everything but meat. He was shocked by the hygiene in our meat shops. I could understand how difficult it would have been for him though he didn’t express it as a problem. I should salute him for his ability to eat our meat even after seeing that.

He was surprised at the way our guys eat rice with hand. I asked him if he could do it. His hand didn’t come anywhere close to our style. May be, he should have stayed here for few more months to learn it. Fortunately, we never went to any typical south Indian restaurant that serves food in plantain leaf and considers eating with spoon and fork as against the culture. I did show him how to eat with hands at ease although he was not comfortable doing it or even looking at it.

He asked me if curd rice is our dessert as I was having it every day as part of my lunch. I nodded and thought if other things that we usually have after our meal such as saunf (fennel seeds), beeda or petal leaves, payasam, or any other sweet could be qualified as desserts. Some other time, he asked me why we don’t eat desserts after meal and I asked him why they do it when my turn came. Both of us had the same answer - “It has just been our culture”. I was happy when I heard that pizza mania is not part of their culture. It seems they have their own foods. I was happier when I heard that buying guns like cigarettes is not part of their culture.

This is the highlight of all our discussions. On the day when we tried to discuss about the most complex issue in any part of the world, i.e. men-women relationship boundaries in both our cultures, he simplified the whole thing with a simple sentence. “It is very common for a girl to have had three or four boyfriends at the age of 25 in our place. If a girl says that she hasn’t had any boyfriend so far the girl is considered to have some problem there and boys run away from her, whereas here if a girl says that she has had three or four boyfriends so far she is considered to be having some problem and your boys would run away from her.”! What a wonderful observation and simplified way to express the cultural difference?! :)

I was telling him that even shaking hands with opposite sex was not there in our culture two generations back. He smiled mischievously and said “Oops. I did something else with your girls in my batch on the first day.”! What is that? Kissed all of them and said “Don’t worry. I am from Spain. It is very normal there!” looking at their uneasiness. I had heard from someone that he was very popular among his batch-mates. Now I understood what made him so popular. :)

He was amazed by the way our construction workers stay in the quickly made ad-hoc homes. He found their dress (lungi) interesting. I told him only a small number of people wear it in our cities and he has to visit our country side to see the popularity of that dress. He couldn’t understand how we complete constructing our buildings without using any of the tools that are used in their place. “Everything is manual here and yet they are completed and usable!?”!

He said that the Europeans wear all light colors and tight clothes unlike some of us and Americans who wear hard-hitting dark colors and loose clothes respectively. Good he hasn’t seen some of our movies. He may have had another reason to admire us looking at some of our actors wearing orange pants and shiny green shirts.

He was amazed by the advertisements for creams that help one get fairer in so and so weeks, as he takes sunbath to get his skin darkened. He wants to know why we want to look fair. I had no politically correct answer. A simple commonsense based answer I have is, “the fair wants to get dark and the dark wants to get fair” though I didn't tell him. It's still not a complete answer. To put it simple, we could say that it is just an attraction towards the opposite. Let both meet somewhere in a midpoint at the earliest and all color based problems get solved forever.

I was surprised to know that he was aware of the caste system in our country. He said, “I heard that though it is not there in workplace or schools it is given lot of importance when it comes to marriage.”! I guess it’s mostly or partly correct depending on ‘who we are’ and ‘where we come from’. And, I heard from him that there is no such inequality in his place based on the work one does and I am still wondering how it was possible there and not possible here.

Like eating with hand, he also talked about some immigrants in his country staying in huge numbers together in small houses and sleeping on the floor and how difficult it is for him to even imagine doing it. Good he hasn’t seen some of our platforms in the midnight. Thanks to his fear of potholes.

It seems praising people just to make them happy is very common in their culture. Like we say ‘hi’, ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ when we meet someone, it is their custom to call every girl (irrespective of how she looks) ‘hey, gorgeous girl’, ‘hi, pretty girl’, ‘hello, beautiful girl’, etc. He was worried if our girls took it more seriously than required. Anyways, he was happy to have made them all happy!

It was an interesting news for me that all country names and place names are called by different names in different European languages. For example, London and Spain are called so only in English. They are called Londres and España in Spanish respectively. In fact, Spanish itself is called Español in Spanish.

I knew that the superstitions were not just our birthright and it had strong presence in the West also. Still, I was surprised to know that sitting under the staircases bring seven years of bad luck in Spain and dropping the comb accidentally brings many years of good luck.

I understood the European map better. I understood how close Europe and Africa are. Morocco and Spain are in just swimmable distance. I understood that their country also has the problem of terrorism. I understood that they also have a lot of villages and small towns where everybody knows everybody and farming and agriculture are the main businesses (like the place that I come from). I also got to know that they have some kind of custom in which they spend an entire year making some idols and burn them all on a particular day and celelbrate it as a major festival. I could see some similarity with our Ganesh Chathurthi.

At the end of the day, as he himself said once, we both understood how different we are and yet how similar we are!!!

* I still feel that I have forgotten a lot of stuff. Will keep updating the post as I recall each of them one by one.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Write, Write, and Write...

There are winners and losers in all walks of life. There is also another group of people. Those who have all the talents to succeed in a particular line of work but never made any attempt to do something about it. There are many reasons. It could be laziness. It could be timelessness. It could be the issue of not knowing one's own abilities. A reason for that could be that the time they have is enough for their regular work. Unlike in some developed countries, our education and profession are not decided based on our talent and interest. The reason for that is our economic condition.

All those who are enjoying the success are not enjoying their own success alone. It includes that of those who never tried also. Their inability to try shouldn't demean those who tried and succeeded. That is the price they give for not trying. This is the prize that the ones who tried got. All we are trying to do here is to wake up the ones that never tried and not degrade the success of the ones who tried. Not only that, by making all those who never tried try, we could raise the overall standard. May be, those who have won today would have won more convincingly. Just because there was no good competition, they might have stayed complacent. As per the laws of consumerism, due to the less participation and competition it is the users that lost. Had everyone participated, may be, we would have got the benefits by 20-30 years earlier. Isn't it a wonderful thing?!

Even the writing world is not exception to this law. Today, after the concept of blogging came, the whole view about writing has been revolutionized. "Where were these people all these days?" is the painful question that arises out of the pain of having missed so much for so long. Quest for the answers to these questions has become inevitable - "What is keeping them away from the limelight? What is keeping them away from the title of 'writer'?".

One group of people can't even imagine doing anything other than what they are doing as their mainstream profession. Or, we can say that they have no time for all these. They may get some time that they wanted all along before or after it becomes too late. It's good if they do before. Else, they have to find their ways to make some time for all these.

There is another group of people that just write for the sake of their own satisfaction and to read this to the loved ones and the ones in close circles and get whatever appreciation they could get from them. They don't go beyond that. They are not interested or are hesitant to do that.

Another group of people have been writing volumes without even knowing their true potential. They wonder if what they write could be called writing. These are the people that have to be dragged inside immediately. I think it is easy to infuse confidence into people that have everything but that. The benefits of doing that are as huge as mountain.

There is another group of people who write in a manner that only some can understand and not all. They lose their confidence and abandon the habit of writing just by getting stuck with wrong people as they don't know where their real readers are. Before they lose confidence, even if they get a single reader or a leader, they are saved. Their life will go on. It may go on to any height.

I have a very simple tip. When you read someone's writing, if you frequently feel, "What crap is this guy writing? All non-sense!", then it just means that you have a hidden talent to write better than him. Everything else will fall in place automatically. If you are feeling that right now, then you have a very strong reason to start blogging right away. :)

If you are someone who thinks, "Who has the patience to write such huge volumes?", then I don't think I have anything to offer you. Just try to comment in few lines about everything that you read. If you think lines are too much, then try in words. Even that could take you somewhere. You never know...

So, all I wish is that all readers should not remain just readers. They should also attempt writing about whatever they feel like. Even if there is nothing new, you could just discuss (in writing) about what you have read. It would be a good starting point. You can write diary everyday. If you just try writing like that in any form that is possible for you, there are two benefits. One, your writing skills would get sharpened. If you are asking, "What will I gain by doing it?", OK, then leave it. There is one more benefit. Your thinking itself will get sharpened. Is there anyone on earth who is not interested in sharpening the thinking?

So, All I request you to do on this wonderful Saturday night (all Saturday nights are wonderful, right?) is - just start to Write, Write, and Write...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Westwards…

I used to be often told in my childhood that I would be sent to Russia for higher studies if I studied well, as my grandfather was in Communist Party of India. It was very common those days that the children and grandchildren of communists were sent to Russia for higher studies, especially for medicine. That not-so-serious dream went for a toss when the Russian collapse happened in 92. Even otherwise, I don’t think it would have happened as we were not so serious about it. But, that did help me dream about flying to a foreign land and being with them. Other than that I have never had to think of working with any foreigners on a daily basis ever in my life, until I chose to study computer science in graduation. By that time, a cousin of mine had done computer science, entered into software industry and started travelling abroad, which triggered me also to dream about travelling all across the world. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened till date.

There were two big churches (Roman Catholic and Church of South India) in the small town (or a big village) where a good share of my childhood time was spent. Both the churches were comparatively bigger than the ones in nearby smaller villages. Our village used to be like a capital for surrounding villages. The churches we had in our place used to be like headquarters for other village churches. A good number of priests used to stay there and visit the surrounding villages regularly. We used to see some foreigners visiting the churches once in a while. That was my first opportunity to see foreigners, which was just synonymous to westerners at that time for us (We would have laughed if a Sri Lankan or Pakistani had claimed that he was a foreigner).

We also used to hear sometimes that they were from Germany (or some other western country) and we could also fly to Germany (or whichever country) for higher studies if we convert ourselves to their religion. Some locals, who looked very much like us used to accompany these foreigners, take them around and explain about everything that was absolutely normal to us but were abnormal or special to those foreigners. We used to admire those locals for the way they spoke English so fluently despite being locals and looking just like us or at times darker than us. :)

Whenever a foreigner visits our place we would have a lot of resource shortage in our play grounds. All my friends used to follow those white-skinned different looking guests throughout their stay until they leave for their next place as per their itinerary. My friends were so thrilled looking at them, shaking hands with them, and following them wherever they go. However, I have never had a close contact with them. It was only looking at them from far.

Then, here and there, I used to see some foreigners. Once, a foreigner had come to our college hostel to meet one of our college mates. Even then I didn’t go close to him for the fear of speaking in English. Only two or three guys spoke to him and many others surrounded him to watch our friends (the same guys who were studying with us in the same classrooms that we studied in and staying with us in the same hostel that we stayed in) speaking in English, with awestruck amazement. Some of you may find it hard to believe it. But, that was truly the kind of environment we had. I am sure my college mates who are reading this would vouch for it.

Then, when we went to Kanyakumari as part of NCC inter-collegiate cycle expedition, we saw a few foreigners there and took photographs with them as wished by one of our co-cadets. I don’t know why, but this has been a custom with our people for a long time. Even there, only one in the entire group spoke a few sentences with them. Rest of the crowd was just wondering how he alone could speak such good English. We didn’t even know if they were all English speaking foreigners. It was always English that came to our mind when we looked at any westerner. It is only now we realize that for most westerners, English is as strange a language as it is for us. For some of them, it may be stranger than it is for us.

Then, the first software company where I worked did not have much overseas clients. Most of our customers were domestic ones. Even the few overseas projects that were executed there were done by the cream of top talents. Unfortunately, I was never part of that lot to get an opportunity to work with foreign customers.

Then, in the second company, I joined as a quality professional, which shut all the doors to work with overseas customers. From then on, I had to work only with the so-called internal customers, who are more demanding than the end customers themselves at times. It is only now after moving to the consulting group that I have started getting the hope back. Exposure to international culture was the most important factor (more important than the monetary aspirations) for the desire to go abroad. At some point in time, I was even ready to go to Sri Lanka or Pakistan. But, I wanted to go out.

In the second company, there was an opportunity to have a brief discussion with a customer representative, who had come down from France. That was an easy experience as the other person was not very good in English. That day, I chose France as my favorite destination as I could speak better English than them. What I comfortably forgot at that time was that I can’t manage with them so easily with better English in their land. Instead, I need to speak their language like them if I really want to feel comfortable there.

Another opportunity that I had in my second software company was with our CEO’s American secretary over phone when he asked her to coordinate with me for an article in the internal magazine. We had to disconnect the call in between as both of us couldn’t understand each other’s accent with the following decision. Instead of me speaking to her and her writing on my behalf based on my inputs, I would write the article myself as I felt my written English was better, which actually turned out to be a better move. But, this experience was repeatedly creating some kind of restlessness. I was always worried about meeting the first native English-speaking westerner.

Then, in the third company, I never felt part of it. It was a short period. Leave alone, interacting with foreigners. I didn’t even interact with people in nearby cubicles properly there.

Then, in the current company, first three and a half years have been into internal quality function, which never had any scope for customer interaction. Once in a while, I could be part of some international calls as observer. Often I found it very tough to follow what the person at the other side was saying. I had to meet some of them in person also at times when they visited our offices. But, the interactions have been very short and sweet.

Only now, after moving to the consulting group, have I started interacting with a good number of westerners on a daily basis. First day, when I had to attend the first call, it was such a different feeling. Now I know that I am going to have lots of western friends and all this is going to be a day-to-day affair. But, the first day was a different experience. I only regret that I had to wait for 12 years to have this feeling followed by the rich experience. Now I am working with many of them and it has become a very silly thing to have longed for such an experience for so long.

I also had to work with a Spanish colleague for three weeks when he was in Bangalore last month. I would say this is the closest association I had with a foreigner so far. It was a great experience to start with. We had plenty of time to discuss and learn about each other’s culture during the three weeks time we worked together. It was not a surprise that we had many surprises as we discussed about everything under the sun. I started off this post to discuss about all such surprises, but ended up only with an introduction. So, let me do that in a separate post shortly and let this post be a generic one on my journey towards west… Westwards…

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Caste Census and Its Ultimate Goal

Reservation has been one of the most selfish political topics of our time. It is advocated only by those who benefit from it (either a direct beneficiary or the political beneficiaries) and protested by only those who lose because of it. Both the parties are not ready to look at it objectively. It is very evident from the way our upper caste friends use their caste to establish their superiority in every possible way and being worried about the problems of caste only when it comes to reservation. It is also evident from the way our lower caste friends protesting against the benefits that are given to those who are in lower state than them and being worried about social justice only when it comes to their own reservation. So, considering the sensitivity involved on the topic, I am fixing the scope of this aimless discussion (like sweet nothings in romantic discussions I love this aimless discussions in blogging) only to caste census and its ultimate goal of eradicating caste differences. Isn’t so funny to say that first I will find out what caste each one of you belong to and then I will abolish it from all our minds? It is. But, it does seem to have some plans to make things better. Let’s hope it happens with the true spirit.

First of all, the caste census will put an end to one crazy thing in our country. At least after that people from all castes would quote the right number. Today, the sum of all quoted numbers in India is much more than the world population itself. Everyone says “my community has three crore votes”. After the census some may stop using numbers. Nobody is jailed for quoting a wrong number. Just like that people say 90% in Bangalore are Tamils and 60% in Chennai are Telugus. It is just to say that we are in a sizeable number here. The numbers really do not carry any value. Someone said 95% of the times the percentages are decided on the fly without having any backup data. So true!

Another beneficiary by the census is going to be the politicians themselves. Their strategizing will be different post that. They would decide their candidates based on the new numbers. They would also decide the number of seats for some of their allies (caste-based parties) based on that. It may not be vastly different from what it is believed to be now. But, we may have some surprises, too. We will have press reports with the right reasons for the defeat in some constituencies in last many elections. We will also know which castes have helped the government to reduce the population and which have increased it to gain better share from the government. Unfortunately, the governments will not punish those who increased. It would instead pamper them with more freebies to garner their votes. That way, I like their decision to not do delimitation of constituencies across the nation based on the current population figures. Otherwise, that would have become a punishment for those who obediently controlled the population.

As an addition, the government can also look at the number of castes in each category now. Most of the castes have gone down in their status in the government records in last 50 years. Many forward communities in 50s have become backward, backward have most backward (some of you may not have heard this ‘most backward’ stuff as it is there only in few states), and so on. I am not sure how much of most backward have become scheduled. It is such an irony in a developing nation like ours all castes are going down in status. But, everywhere else most fellows are trying to prove their superiority over the others as the protests to gain lower status continues. There should be transparent criteria to decide each category. Sadly, we have both oppressed and oppressing communities in backward category in many states though I wouldn’t like to use caste names here. Please waste numerous sessions in parliament to agree on the criteria and publish them with all party leaders’ signature (some would even deny signing irrespective of whatever the criteria is!). Then, tell us who falls in which category. After that we will have many cheap political rogues shouting in streets asking for downgrade for their communities or some of the majority communities who would help them continue to loot the country irrespective of the systematic mapping done by computers. We should just ignore them. It is not that our government doesn’t know that technique.

Another idea if our whole idea of doing this is to remove the caste differences is, have some new categories for inter-caste children and inter-category ones. The inter-category one has to be encouraged more than the inter-caste one. You may have multiple layers within the new categories also. They have to be given more if the government is really interested to dilute caste barriers. Like urbanization, this is another thing that would automatically bring in the change that we want to achieve by force.

Finally, the whole of Tamil Nadu and some parts of the other southern states have something to teach to the rest of the country on this aspect. We have successfully abolished caste from our names if not minds. Today, you ask anyone from our region what our surname is. We just say our father’s name. You may think we do not have surnames and that is the reason we use our father’s name as surname. You are so wrong, my friend! It was conscious effort by our Dravidian movement to stop using the surname as part of our names a few generations back. No exaggeration. You are simply seen as an uneducated country brute if you add your surname to your name here. Our forefathers (from all communities including the uppermost ones) decided not to use surnames as they in some way indicate the caste. It was not that the surname was the caste name in all cases. We had something called titles also, which may or may not indicate the caste. Today, three or four generations later, we don’t even understand the concept of surname though we understand caste. It was partly a success because the ultimate agenda is not achieved yet. But, unlike in other places, you just can’t find out someone’s caste by asking the full name in the first introduction itself.

It is just being used by those who migrated out earlier in order to preserve their identity in the outside lands. We have this problem only when we come out. Instead of us laughing at others, sometimes the others laugh at us for not having a surname. Our current generations in Bangalore and Chennai don’t even care about caste. It was a surprise for me when I came from the country side! The urbanization is diluting caste in a great way. So, let’s please encourage urbanization also. Even the guys from the upper castes feel ashamed about talking about caste in public here, which is not the case with many of my friends from other parts of the country. The point that I was trying to make here was that, the central government should have some plan to encourage those that are ready to shed their caste-based surnames as well. If you want, use your place name or father’s name or any other title which in no way gives an indication of what your caste is.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Top 3 Problems That Can Topple India

We have a huge list of problems. I don’t have to be innovative to list them down. Whether I include or not, they are going to be the same. They feature in every similar article or poll. But, what perhaps matters here is that the way in which a problem is being looked at by an individual and the way they are being prioritized. Many intellectuals even opine that the prioritization is our biggest problem.

Looking at the number of issues, I am afraid if I would be able to make my posts smaller as mentioned in the previous post. Let me check if grouping multiple related issues into one and choosing only the top three from that list would help.

Do I have solution for each problem? No. It would be madness if I say ‘Yes’. If a common man sitting in the outskirts of Bangalore has solutions for all the national issues, then why would we have governments, elections, politicians, bureaucrats, and millions of other people who are paid by the government and are meant to do this in their own tried and tested ways.

At the max, we could discuss about possible solutions, but what is more important for ordinary people like you and me is to keep discussing about them so that we become more aware of such problems. It is these discussions that keep us aware of things to whatever extent we are today. What is the point in just being aware? It would just take us collectively to the next level. It does help in many ways.

The first and foremost benefit is that it helps us do our bit to our society or nation, or align our actions in a way that doesn’t conflict with the larger interest at least. The second one is that it helps us identify the right people and elect them based on their background and their stance on the issues. The other “not so practical but can’t be ruled out” reason to keep reminding about such things as a society is that someone somewhere in a corner would come out with a surprising solution some day. This has been the mother of all inventions, always.

If you say “don’t talk about it if you can’t solve it”, then I can assure you no problem would ever get solved by anyone. If we should only be worried about our daily routines and weekend outings, it would take us nowhere as a society. All bad things would get worse. Someday, we may have to stop doing everything else and just talk about these things that we failed to talk about.

OK. Let’s get started.

Corruption
This is the biggest obstacle to any initiative that we take to address any of our problems. ‘No corruption’ would not have solved all problems. But, less corruption would have surely helped us handle them better. Things would have been prioritized properly and done in a streamlined manner. It is like a neurological disease in human body, like short circuits in electric lines, like infrastructure problems in our highways and like big fishes eating small fishes for food. They are cracks in the life line. Nothing reaches the place they are intended to. It is a very basic problem to be fixed before talking about anything else.

It is part of politics all over the world. It is there in all governments across the world. But, how much is allowed is the question. A milkman can add water to milk but not milk to water. Will you pay the price for it? Actually, he will pay the price for it. How to fix it? It is only in the hands of electorate. The argument of educated entering politics doesn’t help here. They can only enter. But, the voters have to support them. They should at least reject the worst so that the next in line would have some respect for the democracy.

I am reminded of a small story about a dialogue between a north Indian MP and a south Indian one. The former asks the latter when they meet in the latter’s housewarming function “hey, why is that flyover not completed?” showing an incomplete flyover in vicinity, to which our man replies “the rest of the flyover is this house!” Next time, when our man goes there, his friend asks proactively “hey, do you see a flyover there?” Our man surprisingly says, “No, I don’t see any flyover there. Something wrong with my eyes…”! There comes an answer with a grin, “No my friend, you can’t see that. Because, that is this beautiful house”! Please don’t look for an opportunity to create a south-north fight here. All we want to convey here is that we are okay with incomplete flyovers for now until the ‘no flyover’ guys are eliminated. If we keep electing them for meaningless reasons like caste, color (the colorful campaigns they run) and cash (note for vote stuff), there is no way that it could get better.

Poverty, Hunger and Unemployment
Poverty, hunger, unemployment are obviously the next major areas that any government has to take care of on priority. To put it simple, all economic issues! We are surely on the right direction though slow. Compared to few decades ago, the poverty is certainly on decline, at least in our part of the country.

I have played with friends that couldn’t afford to have food all three times in my childhood. I have heard a lot of stories of successful businessmen who struggled for food when they reached their dream city in pursuit of their dreams. I don’t see or hear that kind of a problem these days. It is not just because I have changed my place or friends. Actually, my place also has changed and my friends also have changed in last two decades. I mean, things have really changed for them in last two decades. Thanks to the globalization. There is large number of opportunities for everyone to take care of their basic amenities. Today, the rich and poor are divided more based on the luxuries they could afford; not based on whether they could afford the basics or not.

Even then, I can’t deny the fact that economy is still a major problem. It can’t be denied that all forms of terrorism are gaining ground due to the widespread economic issues like poverty, hunger and unemployment. If everyone had a job in hand, wouldn’t it become little more difficult (if not impossible) for those who recruit militants? So, poverty is not just a problem but a root cause of many problems. Considering that, it certainly needs immediate attention.

May be, we are growing as a country but that growth does not mean anything to our cousins in the country side. What we need to ensure is a more inclusive growth, which is the tougher phase of globalization. If we don’t handle this carefully, we are in for a major trouble. But, I am more than sure that these issues would be solved faster than we think. At least, faster than the previous issue and the next one!

Internal and External Security
Both internal and external (state-sponsored or otherwise) security issues have become a major cause of concern in recent times. What is more worrying is that even the victims of terrorism are giving them too much room (place for hideout!).

The external religion based terrorism (though there is sizeable internal component in this as well, let’s call them external for more clarity sake) is not just an issue for India but for the whole world. Ours is a country whose majority is a minority in the world and our minorities are the majorities in the world. And, ours is a secular state. So, we will continue to be a soft target and we can’t align with anyone based on religion. We have to remain secular at all costs. We have been more secular than required most times than any other secular country could have been, except in case of two major incidents.

But, if they want us to run our country the way they want, it is just not possible. They have to win elections here then, which is simply not possible for those who are involved in faceless anti-national, anti-people, and anti-religious (no religion on earth teaches to kill innocent women and children in fight against the states) crimes.

If the state or a particular group of people harm you, it is simple commonsense that you should attack only those who did it in retaliation. Instead, if your retaliation targets innocent people, who don’t even know why they are being killed, it is not justified. It is truly cowardly. It doesn’t have any end, too. You just can’t have any discussion with them. It sounds so basic that the political issues have to be dealt with politically. A sword or gun can never be the solution. But, how do we make them understand? I am short of ideas.

The terrorist organizations are being run so professionally like governments (better than governments in many senses) all over the world. They are not at all ready to discuss anything. They may think it is not worth talking to these people. But, do you achieve your purpose by killing innocent people? They may say yes. They wouldn’t listen even if their god comes and tells them not to kill people. They are just obsessed with killing people more than anything else. They are just sadists or perverts (need a better word) who enjoy doing it. I don’t think they have any demand. Their only demand is to kill innocent people and lick their blood.

Will we be able to put an end to it? I am doubtful. Where is the end? To me, it seems like end of the world is the only end. Like day and night, light and dark, good and bad, we are going to have this new form of evil with us for centuries to come. We just have to handle them from time to time as required. There is no question of eradication, which means wiping off something completely without trace. If that has to happen, there has to be huge losses from both the sides. Something like a world war!

Relatively, the internal groups like Maoists seem to be an easier lot to handle. They at least have specific demands. If a good negotiator (someone who is liked by them) is put on the job, we might get somewhere instead of nowhere. Unlike the other group, these guys think a lot and have some amount of reasoning ability. If persuaded hard, they would come to the table. But, they may not move even an inch initially. How can you make someone listen when he is not even ready to listen or when he has decided not to listen? What is lacking may be the trust. The government has to find out how to win that.

But, even their style of mass killing is getting worse by the day. I keep hearing from people that they have a well-laid plan in place to capture the country in so and so years. They have actually captured a good part of it already. If that is their plan, how do we handle it?

We also hear a lot about them being pampered by the neighbor who is surrounding us in all directions. If superiority is the only thing that China wants to maintain, how do we handle it? We may need some radical change in the way our external affairs is being managed. But, will it surely cure? Not sure!

Imagining India

Two ex-Infosysians are forcing me to write a piece on the current challenges of the country.
1. Mr. Nandan Nilekani, ex-CEO of Infosys.
2. My friend Shambu Nashipudi (no title required!), ex-employee of Infosys, Wipro and another small company.

How Mr. Nilekani? Just finished reading his book Imagining India. It took months to finish it as I don’t read more than 5 pages per day. It is such a heavy book, literally as well as in terms of its content. Starting with a bit of history, he has explained every major problem of this country in his own corporate style. Thanks to the globalization for bringing in a new perspective to look at things. The corporate world has brought in that. He doesn’t talk about emotionally weakening subjects. He actually talks about some of them in a politically correct tone. We are just used to the kind of people who don’t talk about issues because they would be viewed politically incorrect. Else, there is another group that politicizes everything that they talk about. He instead has chosen to talk about everything with a boardroom tone that we are not used to, especially on public issues.

The war rooms were the places where strategies were made. Both the words war room and strategy have their origin in defense. Next to defense, all such terms are being used only in business now. Only business is being fought like a war. You have to do things on war footing as your survival is in question every day. You have to keep strategizing not to lose ground. Wish our governments (not politics) were run with such seriousness!

He also talks about how business’s role in governance has changed over time in our country. Business like any other profession was meant for only few communities and families at some point in time in the past. Today, it is absorbing all kinds of talents into it irrespective of their caste, creed and background. It would eventually become democratized some day. I was astonished by the amount of observations he has made about things that are not in his domain. He himself has talked about it. About how we see businessmen! It’s good that some of them are disproving all our beliefs about them and have started doing more to the society than the ones who are meant to do it.

May be, he wanted to be in politics. He might have realized at the right time that it was not his cup of coffee and he could do more than what a politician could by being away from it, sometime later and more easily. Today, perhaps, he is in the place where he wanted to be.

He has also shown a way to those of us who want to do a variety of productive things to the society that produced us. Becoming a Narayana Murthy or Nandan Nilekani wouldn’t have been the dream of so much middle class boys in the last generation. Today, even those who want to serve the nation look at them as their role models. It's a new way of serving the nation, like Robin Sharma's 'Leader without Title'.

‘You don’t have to ruin your valuable youth in running behind your favorite leader with a colorful flag in hand for decades; you don’t have to ditch your family and risk your life with your political rivals and corrupt contractors; you don’t have to entertain people to win their hearts in order to float a political party of your own when you retire from movies; you don’t have to be born in a political family to come in through the backdoor; you don’t have attract and marry a political heir; just succeed in whatever you do as part of your job and keep an eye on everything that happens around you with a sincere care; there would be a time when you would be able to do much more than what the others couldn’t do by dedicating themselves to the society from childhood’.

Having finished his book very recently there would surely be a lot of his influence in my thoughts. It’s okay. It’s okay even if you view it as a synopsis of his book.

How Shambu? After posting the last one on promising personalities from Congress party, he asked me “why not a post on the challenges that the country is facing today?”! It is a result of that question.

Where is the result?

It would come in the next post.

Again, as a mark of respect to the friend, who constructively offered a brick of advice to reduce the size of the posts with more frequent blogging…

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...