Mayawati: Priorities Gone Wrong!

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”

Ambedkar_Park_Mayawati1These lines aptly describe the governance of Mayawati in most populous state of the country Uttar Pradesh. She recently inaugurated 685 crore Noida Memorial Park and used the platform to settle the scores with her political rivals. Mayawati has special love for these parks and she has spent thousand of crores on building these parks. She has even said that if she gets fresh mandate she would like to have such parks in each and every district of UP. But the basic question remains that does the parks in any ways solve the problems being faced by the people of the state. A state which has shortage of power, schools, infrastructure, industries, hospitals, road networks, etc would have been happy if these problems would have been addressed. She brazenly says that she has spent just 1 pc of the budget on the park. This would have been ok if the remaining 99 pc would have been spent on the welfare measures and development of the state. But sadly that has also not happened.

Now let me take you 750 km away from the park to Gorakhpur in eastern part of the state. More than 430 people have died of encephalitis virus and mostly children. This is not the first time that epidemic has struck in this part. It has been active for last 33 years and yet the state machinery and health dept has failed to check. The hospitals are overcrowded and there are no beds available for admitting new patients. At least 2 multispecialty hospitals would have come up with the amount spend on the construction of park. And even if they would have been named after Dalit icons or Mayawati herself it would have done a world of good for the people and state. This is where the chief minister has faltered. It is the simple case of wrong pririties. In her term also she is witnessing 4th outbreak of this virus and yet she and her government is as inefficient as it was a year prior. Now if someone tells her she says that she has been targeted for being a Dalit and would point out the mistakes of earlier govt. I wonder how long she can get away by giving these lame excuses and how long the people will fall prey to her reasoning. There is no denying that Dalits have been ill treated and it is very much required to uplift them but i have doubt if that can be done by building parks and installing own statues. They need more than just statues and CM who is self obsessed.

The point is that sincerity is missing and thus she has failed the people of UP. SARVJAN HITAY SARVJAN SUKHAY is as hollow as UTTAM PRADESH slogan of previous government. She was lucky to have got absolute majority in last polls and has golden chance to work for development of state but failed miserably. She had opportunity to work for oppressed section of the society by opening schools, improving connectivity, tackling law and order chaos, higher education, providing health care and employment. It would have helped in building better image of the state and would have established her credibility as a CM.

But….

Apart from parks and her kitty she hasnt added anything significant in her tenure as CM of Uttar Padesh in last four and half years. I just hope that people of the state will look for someone who delivers on the development and solves core issues when they go out to vote next year.

Reforming Education Part 4: Single Entrance Examination for admission

In current scenario if you want to get admission to various colleges/universities then you might have to appear in many entrance examinations. Let us say that you want to get into an engineering college then you will write many entrance exam for various colleges. The autonomous colleges/deemed universities conduct their own exam. This is perhaps only the money making exercise as the cost of form is around thousand rupees. This in turn not adds pressure on students but also financial burden.

The best way out should be that their should be only one entrance exam per course. Eg: one for Engg, one for medical, one for law, etc. Consider that a student wants to get into engineering after 12th. Then there should be single entrance for admission into all engineering colleges in India and the syllabus of this entrance should be based on class 12th. The marks scored in this entrance should be the sole qualifying criteria for admission into all colleges. This will reduce the reliance on coaching institutes and also save on the time for many students who drop year or two to get into best college. If the syllabus is made common then the playing field is also made level for students belonging to various section of the society.

The government has intended of making common entrance examination from the year 2013 onwards.

If it is implemented in the best spirit then it will be a step towards reforming our education system.

Reforming Education Part 3: Teachers and Shortage

We have observed and known that our teachers are paid meagre compensation. This is one of the reasons for not getting talent to train the future generation of the country. It is not that we don’t have talent. We have few best brains teaching world in few of the best Universities across the world. We have failed miserably in retaining the talent which can redefine our nation. We make lot of fuss of having biggest pools of doctors and engineers but equal fuss should also be of not being able to train this pool by the best brains. The meagre salary which we pay to our teachers from primary to higher education leads to brain drain and private teachings. This is one of the reasons of the boom of coaching institutes.

This is worrying trend because the advantage which we have in terms of youth may become our biggest disadvantage if our students fail on bigger stage or lose out to other students of the world. Quantity and quality of highly specialized human resources determine their competence in the global market.

  • Why is that we don’t have any Nobel prize after CV Raman?
  • Why is that our best institutes fail to deliver world class researches and papers?
  • Why is that there has been perhaps no reckonable contribution from our country in any stream of education in past 3-4 decades?

The simple reason is that our students don’t get requisite guidance and support which is quintessential for them to do research and other things. India needs to wake and pump in funds to retain the best talent in teaching and creating world class infrastructure.

An idea of having Indian Teaching Services (ITS) on similar lines of IAS/IPS is also worth giving a thought. If we can have ITS on similar lines of civil services then we can attract best brains and teach them to deliver a punch to growth of the country. This also can solve the case of paying low salary to our teachers. The idea may appear naive but if worked out properly is very much possible and can set a trend of attracting and retaining the talent to our educational institution. It may take some time to give results but we should make a start at the earliest. This can also be one of the solutions to the problem of having uneven teacher student ratio in our colleges. The shortfall of teachers can also be countered by investing more money into education. The biggest challenge faced by higher educational institutions in India is the acute shortage of qualified and competent faculties. “Lamenting the shortage of high quality faculty for prestigious management and technical educational institutions in the country, a mechanism should be devised to enrol and retain quality faculty by providing them more incentives and research facilities. (N R Narayana Murthy).” The returns of the educational investment are may be late but it is cute and best for the nation building process and personal development also.

I would like to end with a line by MK Gandhi-

“Hesitating to act because the whole vision may not be achieved or others do not share it is an attitude that only hinders the progress.”

Reforming Education Part 1: Food for Thought on Teachers Day!

Marva Collins once said, “Don’t try to fix the students, fix ourselves first.  The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior.  When our students fail, we, as teachers, too, have failed.”

Teachers_PrayerThe parallel and commercial education in the form of tuitions and coaching has made deep inroads in our education system and is really detrimental for the future of the youth and nation. I still remember my school and engineering days when we use to rely heavily on the coaching given by some renowned teachers from various colleges as private tuitions for which they charged a handsome amount. The attendance at school and college was merely for fun and getting admit card to sit in examination. The professors and teachers were also aware of this attitude of students and they will also teach during lectures for the sake of it. Very few teachers showed the interest in making their students learn.

This is where a student coming from a economically backward section looses out and eventually hampering his growth as an individual and professionally. Moreover, majority of the students who go to private classes also succeed by rote learning and not understanding of the concepts. Due to this reason majority of our graduates are considered unemployable by the industry. The practical application of the concepts has taken a back stage and the success merely depends on the “guess papers”. Even Narayan Murthy has said that IITs are no longer the quality institutions they were in the 60s and 70s. Stating that the IITs and IIMs have had very few world-class researches coming out of them in the decade gone by, he said, “In 2004, China produced 2,652 PhDs in computer science and in that year the figure was 24 in our country. Attributing the drop in the high standards of IITs to the boom in the number of coaching classes for joint entrance examinations, he said, “Today, students prepare hard for a year solving sample questions for IIT-JEE. One of these samples matches in the entrance examination and they crack the test.”

This is perhaps the biggest drawback of this commercial education where education has become a business and is looked upon as a “golden egg laying hen”. Historically imparting education was considered as most pious and noble profession, but over the period, this system too has got influenced by commercialization and now teaching is no longer a profession of dedication and devotion towards building better people and country; it is all about money and status.

At this point, I would like to ask the teachers,

  • Is it correct on their part morally? I believe that most of the teachers choose this profession because teachers hold the candle of enlightenment, knowledge and prosperity. And if the money lures you away from your duty then the very meaning of word teacher diminishes.
  • Why is it that a teacher who takes so much effort and pain in private classes doesn’t show that much interest while delivering lecture in colleges and schools?
  • Isn’t a failure on your part if a student has to join private classes to succeed?
  • As a morally responsible teacher, aren’t you playing with future of our nation for the sake of money?

My respected teachers whatever India will be in the next generation will depend upon what you do to your students today in the classrooms!!!!

Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s visit to K. J. Somaiya college of Engineering

Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam – the ex-president of India, will grace the closing ceremony of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of K. J. Somaiya College of Engineering (KJSCE) on the 26th September, 2009. KJSCE is an institute that has transformed learning into an art; and technology into a culture. There couldn’t have been a better occasion for Dr. Kalam’s visit than the completion of twenty five glorious years of the college. Young engineers at KJSCE will be displaying their innovative projects on this occasion. Definitely, it will be a Techno – exhibition to watch out for! Dr. Kalam’s interaction with the young minds will provide them with insights and unleash their potential which will help them flourish and reach greater heights.

A major highlight of the year was the accreditation of all the five courses in the college by the National Board of Accreditation. The college also acquired permanent affiliation to the University of Mumbai in the silver jubilee year. Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, the ex – Director General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), at the opening ceremony of the 25th year of KJSCE on 12th September, 2008 emphasized the fact that technology is in concurrence with society and humanitarian causes. He echoed the theme of the college for the 25th year – The Human Face of Technology; sensitizing the budding engineers with their environment and urging them to take technology to the masses; an idea reflected every October at Abhiyantriki, the technical festival of KJSCE. Last October had robots abound, classrooms turned into gaming arenas, debates on nuclear technology over canteen tables and project intricacies as the latest gossip! The silver jubilee year has lent a golden sheen to the students’ technical abilities at KJSCE. It would be interesting to hear Dr.Kalam’s views on the theme during the 25th year closing ceremony celebrations.

Prakalp, the platform for young technicians of Mumbai, saw engineers competing and innovating on their pet fields in form of futuristic project models. The National conference on ‘Emerging Trends on Computers, Communication and Information Technology’ conducted in March 2009, jointly by the Information Technology, Computer Engineering department together with IEEE Bombay Section, IETE Mumbai Centre, ISTE KJSCE Chapter, CSI Mumbai Chapter and University of Mumbai definitely set the ball rolling. It saw some of the best ideas come up. It was followed by another National Conference on ‘Global Challenges for Deemed universities in Indian Education by 2020’ on 4th April 2009.

Adding a feather to the cap was the Orion Racing India -a team of engineers from KJSCE. The team is into automobile design and fabrication for the past three years. Orion Racing India is the most successful Indian team to participate in an international engineering design event. Orion Racing India participates in Formula Student Germany, an international car designing event held at the Hockenheim ring, a renowned Formula 1 racing circuit.

Symphony, the annual cultural festival was literally a ‘symphony’ of different elements-of culture, of young enthusiasm, of budding talent; each lending its own individualistic beat. With seventy-five institutes from all over Mumbai getting in above five thousand students, the celebrations scaled new heights.

Well, if technology is human, then culture is the force that binds it into a society. At Somaiya, traditions which are both centuries old or young are cherished. At ‘Garba Nite’, Somaiyaites donned their traditional outfits, picked up their dance sticks and threw in some traditional beats on the dance floor. If Garba had Somaiya on its feet, then the Dahi Handi celebrations had its own pomp and fervor.

The 25th year closing ceremony of KJSCE, blessed by the presence of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam will surely be an event to look out for.

Lets’ be the Change that we want to see in our Nation!

According to one of the statistics, 70 per cent of India’s population falls under the youth category ie, below 35. The questions arising at this stage is – can the country’s largely youth population, change India? The obvious answer to this is YES if one uses the ideas, has the ambition to do something, has the confidence to win, and has a righteous heart. Everywhere we hear people complaining about lack of amenities, increasing crimes, sky rocketing food prices, corruption, red tapism , terrorism, injustice etc. – but do we ponder on how can we change it all?

The 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai saw people coming to streets demanding some action. Less than a year later, we cannot even compel the government to take stern action against the culprits. Why? It’s high time every individual realises that we should raise our voices demanding action. Youth are the leaders of tomorrow, so it’s our duty to raise ourselves with the goal to serve the nation, however petty it may be. Remember each and every Indian can make a difference. You need not belong to the Gandhi family or be a descendant of the Scindias, Ambanis or the Birlas. You just need to inculcate intellectualism, human values and observe a commitment to service. With everyone following this, India will surely become more tolerant.

Our politicians are using the British policy of “divide and rule” in their selfish interests Let us remind them “United we stand and we will”. We crib of our government not providing world class solutions and facilities, but how many of us follow our fundamental duty to vote? Remember, to vote is a right and a duty. It is the building block of tomorrow. If we do not use our franchisee, we have no right to complain of corrupt people in the political arena.

It’s on account of our apathy that our farmers are dying out of debts when agriculture is said to be India’s prime sector. We keep on complaining about rising food prices but we do not give any thought that it may be due to agriculture land being converted to SEZ (Special Economic Zones). Can’t we raise our voices for thepoor, uneducated farmers rebelling against SEZ and demand irrigation facilities. Can’t there be a hundred Medha Patkars in a population of billion plus. We believe corruption is the root of most problems, but we don’t hesitate individually when we bribe a peon just to avoid long queues? We, the face of India tomorrow, should practise what we preach.

Self realisation is important to an individual and there are millions of alternatives if one wants to really do something. One can be a part of a NGO and can at least give physical support if not monetary help. Join the armed forces to protect our motherland. Create an environment of sound health facilities for those who cannot afford health facilities. Feed the poor, encourage parents to send their children to schools. Practice and preach family planning which will help keep population growth under control. IT companies can create IT solutions for upliftment of villages to reduce the urban-rural divide. Use public transport which will help India maintain environmental standards. Stop deforestation and plant more tress for a greener India. Raise voices against crimes against women, children, or anyone for that matter. Use the Right to Information (RTI) to get answers from the government. Be a law-abiding citizen. Use the media constructively. Join the IAS and be an active part of society. And there are numerous other options available.

Albert Einstein once said,“Problems cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them”. Youth, its time for you to wake up before it’s too late.

Sex education for Children, education for Politicians.

I still feel dazzled by the recent drive of politicians across all spectrums, stuck in an age when the change of thoughts could be near impossible, to ban sex education in schools. Even the likes of Baba Ramdev speak boastfully about the need to have yoga than sex education in schools. But Mr. Baba is almost 50 years old, went to school till 8th and then to ‘Gurukul’. He doesn’t even have the slightest of idea of the s**t going on in schools today and speaks like a top-level marketing man on a role to promote his product/service. Sure yoga is great for an individual. But letting it be a substitute for sex education is like trying hitting a six with a plastic bat.

Just the thought of not having sex education in schools in this age, filled with negativity in the digital air and one click access to mind corrupting pleasure moments on the Internet, sends me in the state of excessive jadedness and paramount tension. India, with people high on the thought of sex and eve-teasing (not all), cannot be safe or even think of reducing the rise in no of cases of molestation, rapes (indignity towards women) or in young (below 16) people indulging in sexual encounters (a view supported by the SC).

Over the past 5 years, with the high intensity in the sales of video and camera enabled devices, there has been a huge surge in the exposure of privately held sexual proceedings, watched by millions worldwide quite to the embarrassment of the victims and their families. Curbing these exposures has been almost impossible for mostly it’s the victims themselves taping the exotic times, sure to be leaked. But the waves of curiousness generated to watch this brain triggering moments has seemingly surpassed the encouragement to be morally educated and professionally thoughtful. Sex, as a thought if imbibed in a child at a young age, could hamper his growth in being socially matured and his stance in differentiating when placed with options.

The stand that these politicians take to ban sex education is first that it will teach and encourage students to have sex when they are in schools. Gosh! I had sex education in my school when I was in the 10th grade. All we boys in that grade were simply bored by the biological terms that the educators were using. The reason! We all knew what sex was. It just shows the degree to which these politicians are ill-informed and are going ahead and ill-informing the society. The only good thing that apparently happened, is that we actually happened to see a condom and know the importance of it. Imagine. You are high in those last 3-4 years of your school with the thought of girls & sex and you do not know what a condom is. During my time (I graduated from school in 2002), sex was known to most of the boys right from the 6th grade. When I say sex was known, I do not mean all the technicalities and all the right-wrong stuff, but sex in its basic sense is. It was a knowledge shared even amongst the girls. And today in this high bit-rate internet generation, we are talking about introducing it in 8th grade. More than 90% (could be an understatement) of the students in that age would know what sex is. The only thing remains is to tell them whether their full knowledge about it is factual or not.

World Health Organization(WHO), way back in 1993, had carried a survey in which it found that the people who have been imparted with sex education in the school are more likely to delay the indulgence in sex compared to those not given sex education in schools.It also found that it reduces sexual activity among  young people and encourages the one who have already indulged in sex to have safer sex.Researchers found “no support for the contention that sex education encourages sexual experimentation or increased activity. If any effect is observed, almost without exception, it is in the direction of postponed initiation of sexual intercourse and/or effective use of contraception.” Failure to provide appropriate and timely information “misses the opportunity of reducing the unwanted outcomes of unintended pregnancy and transmission of STDs, and is, therefore, in the disservice of our youth,” the report called Effects of Sex Education on Young People’s Sexual Behavior says. This report was commissioned by the Youth and General Public Unit, Office of Intervention and Development and Support, Global Program on AIDS, and the WHO.

So the basic argument about sex education through this political mindset tends to be so misguided.

The other argument they make is that our cultural values and heritage cannot allow sex education to be part of the curriculum. Let me get this straight. So according to these politicians, killing people on the basis of religion, hating people on the basis of caste and differentiating them on the basis of region and language fits our culture, but educating the kids of this nation with proper knowledge so as not to allow them to be victims of HIV and STD’s is disgraceful to this culture,especially in this land of ‘Kamasutra’, whose drawings and sculptures one would find around the caves and temples in India. The height of narrow-mindedness of these politicians is evident and as much as I hate saying this, I do not think I would even respect such a ‘Indian culture’, described by these politicians, let alone follow it, which puts the life of its own kids on the edge, especially being in a society where sex is given such a negative posture and sex talk is avoided as much as one would avoid standing on the edge of a 1000 ft cliff. Even the rape victims here are blamed for being raped, rather than the person who raped her and socially isolated(in a way tortured), not able to find a husband (those bloody man’s always want a virgin,no matter how much they f**k other women before marriage) and physologically disturbed(they have to accept  rape as an unfortunate event instead of a crime). I still do not know what ‘Indian Society’ these politicians keep babbling about.

“Message should appropriately be given to school children that there should be no sex before marriage which is immoral, unethical and unhealthy,” said the parliamentary committee report. So having sex before marriage is immoral and unethical? Who are these politicians to decide what’s immoral and unethical. These are the same group of corrupted, extremist, vote-bank gamers who have made the culture of Divide and Rule thrive. Morality is an individual’s virtue and not a guideline to be labourously followed. And talking about health, I have never heard the issue of hygiene being raised and pushed by these politicos in this land where diseases flow as easily as a fly by the wind of a storm. This should not be a country where everything has to be decided by ethics, morality and traditional thoughts. The moral police that guard’s the behaviour of people are the same that takes bribe in huge amount. Rather truth needs to have a dictatorial stand. Truth needs to be embraced and put into effect. Only than can we expect desired positive results.

Whether sex education is important or not is not a debate which should involve the politicians or their survey,but the youngsters and their experiences (there are issues the youth can address better and clearly). Its the youth which has to address this issue,while the media being responsible and approaching and addressing their concerns.I am a youth and I know the importance of sex education,something which i have tried to express in this article. I can just hope that reality makes its present felt, and our kids would have a better and healthy life in the coming times.

Views of an Australian professor

Prof. Isaac Balbin is a programme director and professor at the school of computer science and IT at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.
A regular visitor to India and a mentor to lots of overseas education seekers in India, Prof. Balkin expresses his views about the recent incidences in Australia.
As @Asfaq terms it, this is one of the most sensible & practical posts we have yet read about the issue.
This post was originally published in Indian Express (found via @Asfaq)

I have frequently visited India and have mentored Indian students for over two decades. I have supervised 11 Indian postgraduate research theses. Recent events compel me to pen these words.

The easiest part of my visits to India is convincing good students to join my school’s well-regarded programmes. My central aim is to speak with better students and offer these partial scholarships so that our school continues to flourish, and they may become global leaders in their profession. Indians proudly value quality education and the international experience.

I confess: I love India. I love the people. There is much goodwill and diversity and I am always treated with reverential respect. I have sat with family members and discussed their children’s prospects; I have always given an honest appraisal of their child’s suitability for overseas study. I am not a salesman. I advise with both a professorial and parental hat firmly on my head. Also, I have a keen perspective on racism, as I am visibly Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors. People of my faith have been persecuted since their beginnings.

To be sure, there were times when I was not able to travel to Ahmedabad because of religious violence, and warned to avoid questionable Indian taxi drivers because foreigners had been robbed, murdered or abducted. I commonly read press warnings to female Indian university students about the possibility of rape upon returning to Delhi hostels in the evening. Pockets of violence are an unfortunate abnormity of our world, but my overall perspective, however, was and remains one of confidence and contentment.

I sojourned at Nariman House exactly 2 weeks before terrorists in cosmopolitan Mumbai murdered my good friends, Rabbi and Mrs Holtzberg. I saw the bullet-riddled and bloodied room that I had slept in. I frequented the Taj Hotel in Mumbai. In Melbourne I spoke and wrote about these events and my comments were reported in the Australian Parliament; they continue to shake my core. I know I will return to Mumbai soon, but this time, apart from the psychological trauma induced by that memory, I will have anxious parents asking me whether they should send their beloved to study in Melbourne, or indeed any other city in Australia.

It is counterproductive to generalise about Australians in the same way that it is counterproductive to generalise about Indians. Indian students in Australia are not all the same. Some are serious and highly motivated, seeking international educational excellence; some are opportunists who knowingly enrol in programs from nefarious institutions and whose primary concern is to find a way, any way, to stay in Australia. This second type of student can sometimes be seen congregating in centre of cities as if they have little to do — that is, until they commence night-time employment as taxi drivers, cleaners, guards or door-to-door salespeople. It is demeaning. Why do it? Students should come for real educations by all means, stay if they choose by all means — Australia is in need of qualified professionals — but “purchasing” paper diplomas is not a sound aim.

Some sober realities:

  • Australia is a great and relatively safe country with an exemplary but currently challenged police force. I consider it the multi-cultural success story of the world. Melbourne, in particular, is a rich tapestry of culture and tolerance.
  • There is a real problem with some members of “Generation Y”, especially in certain suburbs. This may relate to a lack of proper parenting, drugs and alcohol. One should not assume they are “white Anglo-Saxon Aussies.” They do not go after Indians per se, in my estimation. Rather, of late, if they identify someone as a “vulnerable target” they have exercised unjustified and mindless violence. Ironically, one member of a gang was himself clearly from the sub-continent and involved in perpetrating recent train violence against an Indian. Idiocy knows no racial boundaries.
  • Australians care. When a young Anglo-Saxon father came to the aid of someone in distress in the dead of night he was stabbed and later died. Where are those perpetrators? They immediately fled to Thailand. It is easy to guess their origin. We don’t blame their country per se. There are rotten eggs everywhere. To blame a people or besmirch a city can be construed as reverse racism.
  • Some student agents in the sub-continent are irresponsible. They send students overseas when they are well aware that the students don’t have the intellectual capacity and/or the parents don’t have the financial capacity. They make unpardonable promises that students can work (almost full time) to pay both their living and tuition fees. These agents should be exposed and marginalised.

It is great that Indian students protested both last night and this morning, but I think that they should not have done so solely as Indian students. Let’s stop the mindless sensationalising. There is a problem, yes. I am equally confident that this is a transient issue that will pass, perhaps even quicker than swine flu. Let’s enhance cooperation, not work against it. I’d like it if more local students spend a semester in India, at least performing quality work integrated learning. Are there any companies out there who are listening? This will help to further bilateral cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

In summary, this issue is primarily one of delinquency. It is not about a particular race. Surely, we are well past the spat between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds?

I can only speak for myself but I live in a wonderful, unique, multi-cultural, exciting and friendly melting pot. As a father of five children, two of whom have studied overseas, I am confident that any student who studies here will be in an environment that gushes tolerance and oozes love and respect. I will personally continue to “look after” any student that knocks on my door, be they Indian or otherwise. My campus has had, thankfully, close to zero incidents and we endeavour to keep it that way. This issue will pass if we stick together, forcefully and effectively, but without unnecessary rancour and aggressive finger pointing.

The Berlin Wall of India

It’s a show of greatness that a land of billion, with diversity stretching through the depths of cultures, traditions, languages, religions, thoughts, intellectuals, landscapes and conflicts has been successful not only in being strongly unified, but also in constantly refreshing the dignity of democracy. Today this land where poverty once scratched the streets in numbers almost entirely, has defied the notion of ‘failed state’ once inflicted on the rejuvenating wounds of its freedom fighters. India has come a long way, through many generations, with revived human spirit each of whom has added its touch of significance in the making of this ‘Brand India’.

But as paradoxical as it may seem, India still seems to be in a state of eternal bleeding. An era, when millions once walked together in attire as white as the thought of the person who led them, crushing the barriers of religion and untouchability has long been doomed by the curse embedded in our thought and actions by the new era politics. Its ripples have long been felt and destroyed the new rays of hope that seemed to appeal to the mass at large. India, for almost its entire existence as a sovereign republic, has dreaded the rise of conflicts formed largely as a catalyst of divisive politics. It has driven India on a path, led by the vigour of violence, into constant consolidation. What remains is the growth of the economy with the courage of its people in an environment unknown when to burst into the fires of ideological conflicts.

Today a new era of regional politics has sprouted in lands which once lay resistant to the forces of language based theories. The people, once respectful to the ways of others standards, have now gripped themselves into the trap which lay open to any unfortunate souls. These political parties, who juggled into the politics of ‘Indian Culture’, are the same breed going against the principles of this very culture, characterising on the basis of language and region. What’s harder to digest is the way people have accepted this stain to fit themselves into a frame, not first as citizens of this nation, but formerly as that of their communities. Rather than encouraging people to empower themselves with the skills required for survival in such competent surroundings, these so-called leaders rather prefer to enlighten their minds with their hate speeches, trying to provide them with skills just enough to get away with the policies of reservations.

The ‘Berlin Wall of India’ had been destroyed long back, but its brick by brick construction had also started soon after. The forces which were once made to sway away during the struggle suddenly got a highway soon after independence (mostly as a result of the partition). Today’s politicos have become the Brand (or rather Grand) ambassadors of the ‘divide and rule’ philosophy. The very basic principles of our struggle have been squashed by the greed of a few people desperate to make their mark in a world of coalition government. What remains to be seen is how the country manages to stay afloat with peace and harmony, avoiding the gimmicks posted by these politicians, encouraged by the TRP-centred media and let off too loosely by the judiciary.

India’s borders may not ever be stressed any further, but its people’s outlook, attitude, thoughts and actions have already been affected by the swift rise of the ‘Berlin Wall’ in their minds.

Chai, sutta, politics & the Marathi Manus

Tired of communal politics & mudslinging in Maharashtra?
Tired of debating endlessly on communal tension in Mumbai?
Have you started religiously hating someone because of him being a localite or vice versa?
Why do you think this is happening?

Around a week back, I was chilling in my balcony, sipping delicious masala chai, enjoying the 3 am breeze, before being rudely interrupted from my ‘half awake’ state by one of my roomies.

“I hate all of this communal bullshit in Mumbai” he proclaimed.

I turned to find P, M & Patty engaged in a rather heated conversation involving Mumbai’s political scenario, complete with facts & figures thrown around, with swearing loud enough to make my rather docile gujju neighbors raise an alarm. Having a sizable number of Maharastrian & ‘non-Maharastrian’ friends, I’d been through this situation so many times! A wave of déjà vu hit me as I sat there silently thinking about all the hate & paranoia encompassing us.

As I sat there listening to P joking about declaring Mumbai as an independent country, my mind raced back in time. It brought back innumerable questions put forth to me by my Marathi friends. I’ve listed down a few which actually seemed justified to me.

  • How does a localite, with a family to feed, compete with low cost laborers from other states?
  • Mumbai is bursting at its seams! We’re at each others faces! What do we do?
  • Why don’t we get as many opportunities?

To make it very very simple, locals are unhappy. Why? Now that is `the` issue we need to address!

I see every minute and not-so-minute issue been taken up and blasted way out of proportion everyday by the media.
I see politicians with magnetic personalities give inflammatory speeches which drive people into a violent frenzy!!
Why glorify or hate people who misuse civil unrest?
Instead, why not address the core issue.

Till date, I have only seen hefty accusations & anger-invoking insults being flayed.

I hope this post does not invoke similar responses here. Rather, I would like to open up this forum so that people can talk about what’s bothering the ‘Marathi Manus’ and probably come up with some useable and feasible solutions for the same.