I go to bed with excitement to excel, I wakeup listless enough to even limp

July 24, 2014

The man who made the world sing – Pete Seeger

January 30, 2014

Nehru said on Gandhi’s death “the light has gone out of our lives” and then in the course of his speech, delivered ex tempore, he added  ” The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years.”

I’ve similar thoughts, with Pete Seeger “Music has gone out” (and no it’s not an exaggeration) and yet what he sang, remains forever, the music that struck an emotional chord with millions.

I woke up to the sad news of Pete’s demise and just now I discover that he passed away on 27th and I came to know it this morning, the 29th. I think I was waiting for this news to come. In his last performance, on his B’day along with Bruce Springsteen, he looked extremely frail, but what wasn’t missing was his enthusiasm to ensure that people sang along.

I am an imbecile to all matters music, but I beg to say that I haven’t come across anyone like Pete, who unfailingly & unconditionally made people sing along. At his concert in Melbourne, while singing “Down by the Riverside” he said something like “Sing along, don’t worry about the melody” (I am trying hard to locate that video on youtube but can’t). Guantanamera, a beautiful spanish song, and a supposed national anthem of Cuba, was popularized by Peter. He made his audience sing Guantanamera, notwithstanding the fact that hardly anyone spoke Spanish.

It’s so romantic to listen when Pete recalls his days, crisscrossing the States, along with Woody Guthrie, hitch-hiking on every possible mode of transport and picking up America’s folk music all along.

Pete’s joy didn’t lie in his audience listening intently to him, his joy laid in making people sing with him. For other singers, it’s clichéd to say “I grew listening to XYZ” but for Pete it can be safely said “One grew singing along with Pete”. It would be sacrilegious to not sing along! And very sadly, I discovered Pete exactly 5 years before he left us. I am an ordinary mortal but this one regret I’d carry for my life that I didn’t get to meet this great soul. He looked so charmingly affable. Never one to touch alcohol or resort to swear words, he was admirable in his casual bearing.

Pete sang protest music, and as is often the case, today’s protesters are tomorrow’s politicians. But despite Pete’s strong political opinion, he never ever tried to dabble in politics, other than the membership of Communist Party of America, which killed his music career in the days of Mccarthyism. But then Pete was never in it for money, he survived those harsh times, and went on to become the greatest folk music/protest music icon that America has ever had.

This world is surely a lesser place without his presence. Never in my life I’ve felt a void at passing away of a public figure. In fact I am crossed at not being able to put down my feelings into words and youtube isn’t letting me watch my favorite Pete’s videos. When I first came to know of Pete I was overwhelmed with emotions, tonight I’m overwhelmed with numbness.

Hope the world does change for better to have Pete rest in peace. Long Live Pete Seeger and his music!

Manekshaw, National Anthem, *my musings’

April 8, 2013

I couldn’t wait posting this clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-tgRl_VK_Q). The clip from 2:00, where Manekshaw is describing an interview he gave to a young woman Journalist. One may or may not take everything that he says on face value, but one has to admit, that today, nobody can dare to be so figuratively correct and politically incorrect. Today, the elites and the influential strata of the society may have people from business, politics, bureaucracy but none can match the charm of old war horses of the army of the yore.

Also today, I watched the reception given to Modi at FICCI by women entrepreneurs. Well, they were all well done up for the occasion, at times one wondered whether it was a Business Leaders meet or a modern day Ladies Sangeet  (I am referring to the ladies who received him). Never mind that… one could have given that a miss but what irked one was when national anthem played out, some had their hands wrung out, some with hands clasped, some were busy dealing with their wardrobe malfunctions (could they not put on a safety pin to account for the solemnity that dans a the playing of National Anthem) and some went to the farcical extent of clearing the face off the hair falling over. Some were trying to sing as if they were singing a chorus in an Antakshri Game show, some could hardly lip sync and then there were the smartest, who kept their lips sealed. Hope my comments are not misconstrued as misogynist for my comments would have been of similar nature or rather harsher, had I observed men not keeping up with the spirit of the National Anthem. It’s actually not about men or women it’s simply about we know something has to be done but we have forgotten the essence of it. We’ll play the anthem and we’ll stand up.. that’s not where it ends. I took the national anthem to my heart for sure, heard it and sung it all along for every day of my school. I still feel my hair stand on one end when I hear the old form of it. I don’t know what was the need to fiddle with the original version by bringing in various singers who lent their own hue and tune to something that was supposed to represent unity.

Coming to Modi… It doesn’t reflect good on the governance when one sees strong regional leaders making convincing argument using erroneous solutions. He reduced the MEA to the ministry of trade and suggested that every state must be linked to one foreign mission. In his opinion, such a measure would boost and ease international trade, for all the trade or investment finally goes to a particular state. Now on the face of it, all sounds fantastic but if this approach were to be put in practice, then with my limited foresight I could see another bickering point among the states, over who should be allotted which mission. When states start interfering in foreign affairs, then things only get messy.

We already have the example of TN-LTTE in front of us, where the GOI had a lot of trouble in deciding what course of action should or shouldn’t be taken against Sri Lanka. Though it goes to the credit of GOI that they maintained their friendly relations with SL and also firmly put across their unpleasantness over the treatment of Tamils in SL. This step would indeed  prove it’s worth if GOI can keep SL from warming up to China. In the current environment opportunities are indeed given to IAS cadre officers to work in MEA and foreign missions. So far the PM Dr. Singh, has done a commendable job at Foreign Policy, the best since Mrs. Gandhi. In the times of Coalition politics he stood his ground and let the domestic politicians know that foreign affairs is his turf where no one is allowed to interfere or ‘intervene’. Be that during the Indo-US nuclear deal or the Indo-US air exercise in Bengal. PM issued a stern warning to the Bengal government, when communists said they may not be able to control the people’s sentiments for protesting against the exercise. PM in his right wisdom let the Communist govt. know that defence of the realm is the responsibility of the center and if the state government were to be incapable of maintaining law and order in the state, the defence preparedness would stand hampered and then the center would be within its right to impose president rule. What followed was an assurance and full support by CPI (M) for the said exercise!

Why Ramdev, Team Anna, BJP and all self proclaimed anti-corruption crusaders must support FDI in Retail

September 20, 2012

At the outset I must make it clear that I am not a blue eyed boy of capitalism on the contrary I admire Indian PSUs and strongly believe that BSNL/MTNL made it possible for India to have the lowest calling rates in the world. Also I believe that Nehruvian era policies were right for the period they were implemented. But I strongly believe FDI in retail will bring in systemic transparency in the system and therefore, anyone seriously concerned about uprooting corruption in the country must support FDI retail.

I don’t have the prose, the eloquence or even the brevity to put forth my point. I earnestly urge you to bear with my belabored explanation.

My first Argument is why the organized retail set up will put a tab on black money. My second argument will be why we need FDI in retail to aid growth of organized retail sector. Third argument is of how to cushion the effect on the ones whose lives will get affected.

Argument 1: The current unorganized retail sector offers very limited transparency. Most of the time, we don’t get a proper bill/receipt of the goods purchased and we all pay the MRP that includes the sales tax. Now I pay my sales tax to the retailer but what is the mechanism to ensure that he pays the right sales tax to the government. After all he doesn’t issue a proper bill and in all probability his books are prone to manipulation in the absence of any water tight billing system. Though the amount of sales tax due per individual shopkeeper might be minuscule, but if we consider the fact that we have one retail store for every 25 families in the country, an exceptionally high density of retail stores, the sales tax recovery amount might be bewildering. And moreover, it will not be an economically sane exercise to go after humongous number of all and sundry retailers for checking the books. And even if the sales tax dept were to go after individual retailers, it will not gather water tight documentary proof to nail the culprits who siphon off sales tax collected from consumers.

Now compare this scenario with an organized retail store that will issue you a computerized bill irrespective of whether you buy one item or you make the entire month’s shopping. This computerized bill transaction will be stored in a software application that cannot be fudged. The software application cannot be fudged because the reputation of large international software application developers will be at stake, names such as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, JDA etc (I can elaborate further on software safeguards but that will divert the attention). There are legal compulsions on the companies to keep the record of all business transaction for a particular number of years. Therefore, if the sales tax department wishes then it can go through the software records to ascertain the tax evasion.

All I am trying to say, that we keep harping about transparency through technology in the public services. Though retail doesn’t qualify as public service but in the absence of any water tight technology in the existing unorganized retail set up, how is the public to ensure that every paisa of sales tax given by public to the retailer reaches the government for development purpose. The public indeed has a right to know, after all it takes sweat of brow to earn money and how am I to hold a retailer as custodian of the money that is supposed to go as sales tax and aid in cleaning of the nullah (open sewage) that passes next to my street and emanates unbearable stink as it cannot be covered due to exorbitant cost involved!

Moreover our dear Baba Ramdev once commented that we should abolish higher currency bills to keep a check on the money spent.  I am sure even the maid would prefer her monthly salary in crisp Rs. 500 bills for ease of handling! But the technology in the organized retail will ensure that every paisa transacted at a retail store of an organized retail chain, is well recorded. Baba Ramdev must see through it. Baba Ramdev and Team Anna talk about bringing constitutional amendments to kill corruption. Shouldn’t these crusaders also look into that how existing unorganized retail sector is prone to tax evasion?

The existing system, in the unorganized retail set up, of ensuring remittance of sales tax from buyer to retailer to government, is not fit to ensure or prove accountability. Having registered my vehement support for organized retail, I will not shy from the possibility that there will be tax evasions by big retail corporates. However, it will be systemically manageable and more rewarding to go after a big fish than chasing millions of small flies.

Every year massive amount of food grains are wasted because the Food Corporation of India doesn’t have enough storage space. Such wastage leads to shortage of grain and inflation. Organized retail corporates, would invariably build and own storage space and save tonnage of grains from rotting. Such a situation will not only fetch the farmer the right price at the right time but also go a long way in controlling inflation.

Argument 2: FDI in retail is needed to sustain the growth of domestic organized retail. In the absence of required wherewithal needed to support pan India retail chain, domestic organized retail will find it hard to sustain the growth. In order to ensure economy of scale, the global organized retailers, such as walmart, directly procure from the manufacturers and farmers. To effectuate such procurement, Indian retailers will have to develop an integrated supply chain, cold storage and adopt the best of the retail practices to cut down on costs. After all supermarket sale is all about topline, as the bottomline is very thin. Indian organized retail made a very late start and is still at a fledgling stage. If we wish to develop Indian retail Industry so that it can reach a competitive level to acquire retail business abroad, then we will have to have allow FDI. To give this argument that within due course of time Indian Industry can develop the wherewithal on its own without FDI, is akin to saying that until India can develop Boeing/Airbus Aircraft, the growth of Indian civil aviation sector must suffer!  Currently the Indian retailers are unable to procure directly from the farmers and vegetable produce comes from the local mandi. Such a procurement process ensures that the middle man is still active and thriving. Retailers can procure directly from farmers only if retailers can develop the infrastructure for centralized distribution. Moreover, because retailers still continue to procure from the middleman, we need to question the possibility of a future nexus between the middlemen and the retail corporate houses, leading to institutionalization of the role of the middleman even in organized sector. The entire idea of organized retail is to get the middleman out of the scene. And the more slowly the organized sector develops in India, the stronger the middleman might become. FDI in retail will fast track the established of firm organized retail sector in India.

Argument 3: My heart does go out to my subzi wallah who has been regular for last 3 decades, since I was a toddler. And his livelihood will be affected. But I take comfort in the fact that this subziwallah worked very hard and got his children good education. His son is an engineer and his eyes twinkle when he talks of how the son takes care of the father. The daily wagers will be affected. What is required is that government conceptualize, formulate and implement a scheme in which local subziwallahs will register themselves for employment in the upcoming organized retail sector. Then the government will impose some kind of an obligation on every store that comes up, to train these daily wagers and to employ them. FDI retail is going to be big and massive and industry will need the manpower for variety of backend jobs. This way we can cushion the affected. Moreover think about the helpers employed in the stand alone retail stores. Such helps, of course don’t enjoy any of the benefits of an organized sector. These people don’t get provident fund account, medical insurance, life insurance, regular work hours and the necessary standing to exercise their rights. The shifting of workforce from unorganized sector to an organized sector, the process would entail empowerment of the workforce.

Crying foul that many shopkeepers will be out of business, do we tend to forget the fact that such an upheaval would also involve betterment of the irregular work force employed by these store owners? Are we being too sensitive to the traders and less sensitive to the have nots?

Having said that, I also wonder whether the shopkeepers and traders are going to go out of business overnight. My thoughts on displacement of shopkeepers are as follows.

In Indian cities, where town planning is hardly effective in the implementation of segregation of residential and commercial areas, it’s a common sight to find next door retail stores of all and sundry. We will continue to approach the kirana wallah for odd needs and at our convenience. Moreover, we forget that these retail stores are going to come up in the existing market areas, which are currently occupied by someone. The people who already own shops in the market can’t be thrown out. Rather such owners will either become franchise of big stores, or let out their spaces or probably sell their shops. So considering such facts, I am sure that at least the current generation of retailers will be able to take the onslaught of FDI in retail. Yes the future generation of these retailers will have to think of some other business or job to earn their livelihood… so is that the concern that we are too worried about what the future generation of existing well to do store owners would do? Well then would it be all that bad to think what the future generation of all the people who don’t have a business would do as in most cases the future generation of service class would not get jobs of their parents by inheritance, which is largely not the case in business! As a person who has no business background, I feel slighted in the milieu of store owners and their political patrons, who play with the emotions of the farmers.  We are so concerned about maintaining the status quo of the ones who are involved in an unhealthy economic practice (1 store for every 25-30 families!), and we are too ignorant about the benefits that FDI in retail augur for the masses.

I am in my early thirties, and in my growing up days I had experienced and witnessed a wide chasm between the lifestyles of service class and business class community. However, post liberalization, the day to day life style standards differences between these classes started blurring. Though the effects of liberalization haven’t proportionately trickled down to underprivileged folks of India, but liberalization did establish wide Industrial complex in the country. The resultant impact was that instead of brain drain, we started experiencing reverse brain drain and greater number of professionals graduate from our universities. Greater and better opportunities have been made available to professionals. Not only that but also a lot of skilled and semi-skilled workers, who were earlier working in unorganized sector, were employed in the organized sector. As an inevitable consequence, the workforce in organized sector enjoys certain benefits/rights such as labour rights, provident fund, saving accounts, regular shift hours, medical coverage, insurance etc. The effectiveness of these rights and the extent up to which these rights are exercised, can be challenged. But what can’t be challenged is the fact that in the unorganized sector the workers hardly have any of the aforementioned benefits and a standing to exercise their rights.

If the government can formulate a policy of absorbing the local subziwallah/thelewallah into upcoming stores, then not only will the effect of displacement due to FDI be cushioned but also we will move a large part of workforce into the organized set up, resulting in greater benefit for the workers.

Bottomline: FDI in retail is necessary to chuck out the middleman, greater accountability of money spent at retail stores, control on inflation in due course of time, development of an organized sector that would augur good for workers currently employed in the unorganized retatil sector.

A heartfelt Appeal: Nehru the greatest Indian after Gandhi

June 22, 2012

It is an APPEAL. I request all Indians to please go through this message and please read as soon as you get it… it’s long but spare 10 minutes… it’s a heartfelt request. It’s disheartening to see that Nehru’s name hasn’t even made it to top 10 in the CNN IBN poll for the greatest Indian  since Mahatma Gandhi. (http://www.historyindia.com/TGI <—- go here to vote)  Is today’s India totally ignorant of the contributions that this modern architect of India made? Is today’s India is only interested to punish him for China, Kashmir and Socialist Policy? (though licence raj was introduced in 1967 after his death). Or has India become too Jingoistic and parochial by focusing on leaders of their own community (Baba Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram), or leaders of recent past and has India become completely oblivious of the fact about who laid the foundations for the leaders of recent past to excel, or are we Indians confusing the individual achievements of a sports person as his great work towards the spread of the game (Sachin tendulkar)… or are we just being too subjective and getting swayed by our emotions for the achievers in the field of music, cinema, sports, politics etc. AND losing the sight of objectivity and forgetting what qualifies for the greatest. Greatest is the one who sacrifices himself and his parochial interests of everything related to him for the greater human empowerment and harmony, which assume larger importance in today’s time when there are multiple unresolved conflicts and despicable poverty.

Consider the list of the ones who have made it to top 10

Baba Saheb Ambedkar – The great activist for social equality and justice. Maker of the Indian Constitution (though largely inspired from the British’s). Not many people would know that in the aftermath of India’s Independence there were talks from influential people within the cabinet that only graduates be allowed to vote in general Elections. Certainly had that proposal been accepted, all the socially backward classes would have largely been left out of the democratic process. It was Pandit Nehru who prevailed upon the proponents of the said proposal with the emphatic argument that the ones who supported us in the freedom movement cannot be left out to elect the government of this free nation. Thanks to Nehru that unlike the oldest & strongest democracy USA, India did not have civil rights movement in this country for grant of universal suffrage. Wasn’t this one of the greatest accomplishment by Nehru for ensuring the integration of the socially backwards classes with the all of India? Baba Saheb, himself from socially backward class, worked relentlessly for the upliftment of the poor, but at the same time Nehru did something similar. And one wouldn’t do justice to the cause of complete social integration if only the contributions of the leader of socially backward class (Ambedkar) is taken into account, and the contributions made by Nehru are totally ignored. That’s how we divide the nation along the cast lines, regional lines, communal lines by being just focused on our area of interest, on our person from our community. My request to Baba Saheb’s followers is that, as much as Baba Saheb’s deserves your vote, so does Pandit Nehru deserve.  What is it that India is totally proud of today. Democracy! We are a corrupt nation, many political leaders are corruptible but our democracy has stood the test of time. It goes to the credit of Nehru, who had all the dictatorial inclinations but steadfastly he taught the masses (I am talking about masses not the elites) about democracy… he established those institutions that will preserve the democracy… an executive, the legislature the judiciary. You have two examples in your neighbourhood. China grew more than India but they don’t have freedom to even comment of facebook as much as we can do and then Pakistan where less said the better. It’s the democracy in India that has given voice to Dalits through political parties such as BSP (though BSP is not the sole representative of Dalits).

APJ Abdul Kalam – Missile Man. People’s President for 5 years. Dr. Kalam – a dedicated scientist for my generation and an inspiring figure for millions who dare to dream. But one mustn’t forget that it was Nehru who laid the foundation in this country for science, technology and research. The greatest scientist of India – Homi J Bhabha (he addressed to Nehru as Bhai ji) was given full support by Nehru to establish Department of Atomic Energy and allied facilities in India that later on made Pokhran II, in which Dr. Kalam played a key role, possible. ISRO, from where Dr. Kalam started his career, has its genesis in Dept of Atomic Energry. It was Nehru, who despite his strong dislike for excessive expenditure on defence, laid the foundation for DRDO. I repeat, that by ignoring Nehru, we are ignoring the man who laid the foundations for these great institutes, which in turn gave a platform for the greats like Dr. Kalam to shine. I am not saying Dr. Kalam is all because of DRDO and not because of his own calibre. But even Dr. Kalam would agree that it were ISRO and DRDO that gave him the platform to work for the nation and be recognized by the people of this country. Dr. Kalam received a lot of love and affection from the people of India and he truly deserved it. But the love and affection that Nehruji received in his lifetime, could be paralleled only with that received by the greatest Indian the Mahatma.  Please do vote for Dr. Kalam but please don’t forget the Man who cultivated the interest in Science and technology in an agrarian country, and who faced criticism for his forward thinking and establishing of scientific institutions. He gave us the IITs…

Vallabhai Patel – Played the role of Integrating India. The India as we know of today did not exist before independence, because then India was ruled by different princely states. But think of India, divided along the cast lines, religious lines, regional lines and what not… who kept intact the fabric that connects India even today. Unity in Diversity. Pandit Nehru is often blamed for J&K trouble but is never credited for liberating Goa, or peacefully dealing with France to leave Pondicherry. And mind you, both these countries were NATO allies. But one forgets, the times in which the decision was taken. From day one Nehru was clear in his mind that Pakistan and India are two new nations, world had just seen the end of World War II and the perils and futility of war, the UN was formed with the hope of everlasting peace, the country had overcome 200 years of foreign yoke, now in these trying and nascent world and national circumstances, wasn’t it only wise to ensure that both these two poor countries Pakistan and India don’t get embroiled in an expensive war, which would have been a strain on the already stretched resources of the two countries. With the benefit of hindsight, India from its inception focused on governance, growth and development, whereas in Pakistan every government has survived on anti India factor & the Kashmir factor, paving way for the establishment in Pakistan to make financial allocation to defence. Results are for us to see. There is Pakistan the failed state, here is India a Vibrant democratic and progressive country. Yes we still carry the J&K problem… but we must ask ourselves that as Indians of today are we willing to trade our lives with those of Pakistanis to get the entire J&K. I can tell you the answer will be overwhelmingly NO. J&K problem is a tumour, we must get rid of it… but J&K problem at the time of Independence should be seen in the context of problems and world scenario at the time of India’s Independence.

Kanshi Ram – I doubt if I have to make a case here, when I have already invoked Baba sahib earlier.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee – It was a good fortune of india that despite a Right Wing government we continued to have a PM who was secular. A PM, who commanded respect across the party lines. A very able parliamentarian whose rise to the post of premier was prophesized by none other but Jawahar Lal Nehru. Please bear in mind that even though Vajpayee ji was a great admirer of India’s first PM, the former was also one of Nehru’s harshest critics in parliament. And it was in spite of Vajpayee’s criticisms on Nehru, that Nehru considered Vajpayee a capable leader, capable enough to be PM! Does this act of Nehru not speak of his greatness to rise over personal criticisms? It’s a quality that you would hardly ever find in any leader. Churchill said of Nehru “He knows no fear and has no hatred.” It was because of strong institutions of governance and democracy, that emergency could be overruled and democracy be reinstated with throwing out of the congress govt. for the first time since independence. Followers of Shri Vajpayee, you are voting for him but not for the man, whom the Vajpayee considered his role model. When Atalji became the Minister of External affairs, there was an attempt to remove nehru’s portrait from foreign ministry. Vajpaypee said “tara doob gaya hai par roshni ab bhi hamara marg darshan karegi”. Atal ji ensured that Nehru’s portrait remained in the foreign office.

Sachin Tendulkar – The most accomplished Indian Sportsman. To see him play, there is certainly an adrenaline rush I feel, more so when he is lashing out at the opposing team. It is a true delight to watch him play with dexterity and finesse with which he places his shots. And above all he inspires me to excel in my chosen field of profession. But I take a pause here, and ponder, that does he inspire me only to excel in my individual life or does he also inspire me to work with same dedication, perseverance, passion and spirit to work for larger good of society? The answer is no. Sachin inspires me to have the sense of self sacrifice to achieve my set goals but he doesn’t instil in me the sense of sacrificing my goals and ambitions for the betterment of society. No he doesn’t. We are talking about the greatest Indian Since Gandhi…. Gandhi sacrificed self, his family life, for the nation… someone who has to come after Gandhi should possess those attributes in a similar manner. The founding fathers of Independent India sacrificed their personal lives for establishing India. Pandit Nehru left his palatial and Luxurious home but slept on hard floors of British jails for good nine years. Sachin is a great player, maybe even the greatest sportsman, but it will be a shame on all the voters if he were to lead Pandit Nehru in terms of great Indians.

JRD Tata – I am proud to say that the most ethical company that I ever worked in was an offshoot of the Tata Group. And I had the best time of my career in that company, though the pay was low, but it was high on every other front. What inspired me to join that company was because my boss, a professional of a certain vintage, told me “we follow the ethics established by JRD”… I needed no further persuasion to join. There was an instance when a young enthusiastic CA figured out a loophole to save tax and JRD’s polite but pointed rebuke to that young CA was “It’s legal but not ethical”. Here I would like to put a word about Nehru’s economic policy. At the time of Independence there were only two big industrial houses that could have carried out large scale projects of industrial and development projects. Birla and Tata. For all those critics of Nehruvian Economic policies, must remember that we didn’t have a strong private sector, like we have today, to have taken the onerous task of building this country. And of course the sentiment in the country, after being freed from 200 years of British raj, was against foreign investment. I agree the Nehruvian’s economic policies should have not been taken forward beyond his life time. But his policies were right for a newly independent poor country, ravaged by centuries of looting.

Mother Teresa:  The country shall remain always indebted to this lady for all the selfless service that she has provided, for years on to this country. The task that mother performed is unparalleled. She adopted those whom (the lepers) we abandoned. But all those who have voted for the mother, please remember that a hardcore secular Indian PM did ensure that people of all religions could come to India and freely spread and practice their religions and indulge in service to the humanity.

Rajnikant –I am a north Indian and I enjoy Rajni’s movies, his action and theatrics; specially the ones from 80s. I am also aware of the fact that Rajni is revered in South India. And more than anything, I admire his humility… he is absolutely down to earth… even after attaining the near god like status in southern India. He is a role model of how a celebrity must conduct himself in the public. But let us not confuse our adulation for an individual for the greatness of that man.

My Closing remarks: Nehru was a leader who possessed the qualities of greatness. We are talking about a national leader, not a business leader, not a sports leader. A national leader has to be essentially a person, who has done remarkable work in all spheres of national interests such as social empowerment, development of infrastructure, establishment-functioning-independence of the institutions of governance. A national leader is one that inspired and motivated the masses. Nehru did that. Somewhere Nehru himself said “Many a great men have been in this country, they have been loved immensely, but the love I got nobody else got.” the focus of this poll is on the “greatest Indian”. Greatest is the one who sheds the parochial view of every thing related to him and focuses more on larger world view and harmony and human empowerment. That is what Gandhi did by sacrificing his family life (he may not have been the best husband or father but certainly he was the greatest Indian) that’s what Mother Teresa did by devoting all her life to the leprosy patients in India (she abandoned Poland to adopt India’s poor). Pandit Nehru of course never relinquished India’s interests but at the same time he never relinquished the dream of his world harmony and solidarity for insular gains of his own country. This generation has to understand that in today’s globalized world a country cannot lead an insular existence. It was Panditji who talked about Globalization decades ago and that is a reality today. The country didn’t understand Globalization in Nehru’s era but today the country is embracing Globalization with open arms. Country may take a little while more to understand why world peace is more important than hegemony of a single nation in a region or on the planet. But Nehru realized it a long time back. And that is his greatness. It was not his folly that China attacked India and endangered the Asian Solidarity. It’s easier to think this way that it was not a folly of apostle of peace Gandhi, when he and millions of his followers were lathi charged by British. These thoughts need more articulation and I would love to write more but for the paucity of time (poll closes on 25th June 2012). Greatness is not in fighting wars … greatness is in avoiding conflicts and making the world aware of vainness of such acts.  That’s what Nehru tried to do when he took Kashmir to UN and halted all conflicts to prevent wasteful expenditure and heavy burden on two newly independent poor nations. Panditji, did just that. For him the world peace was of as much importance as the safety and security of India. He showed greatness when he refused UNSC seat because he argued that China should be brought in the UN. I emphatically say that no that was not a folly, that may not have been the right thing for India but that was the right thing for world. How could the world expect UN to avoid major conflicts if it were to rule out a country (China) that constituted 1/7th of the world’s population. Panditji believed in Asian Solidarity and Asian Emergence he worked towards that goal by laying down Panchsheel agreement and by taking tough decisions such as refusal of UNSC seat. It was China’s folly that it launched an attack and avoided the table and thereby endangered the solidarity between the two greats of Asia.

A great leader is not the one who has an accomplishment in one sphere. No other nominee can proclaim to have had wide accomplishments from laying the firm stones of democracy, building national infrastructure and economy, governance institutions that continue to function till date amid all the impropriety in all walks of life , foreign policy (don’t curse him for China’s folly). What India are we talking of today…. In his time India weighed more than our punch. Despite being a staunch socialist, Nehru commanded request from both the USSR and USA. Here is an example. In 1958 when Nehru wanted to resign the then US President Eisenhower (a republican) wrote to PM Nehru “it will be unfortunate if you resign”… when Nehru reconsidered his decision and under party pressure decided not to resign, the Russian leader Khrushchev “I am glad that you have reconsidered your decision.”

This generation is ignorant about Nehru. They have been fed with lot of wrong information leading to wrong notions. And if we fail to realize even today the greatest jewel that India ever had, then as a nation we will continue to be more ignorant and India will move from the path of unity in diversity, harmony and peace to a path of diversity, jingoism and hegemony.

GET NEHRU in top 10 to atleast have a GOOD PUBLIC DEBATE ON WHY HE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED THE GREATEST. The last date is 25th JUNE 2012

This Land is Your Land (From Brahmaputra to Gulf of Cambay (Khambhat))

January 24, 2010

The other day I stumped on this song “This land is your Land” by Woody Guthrie and I came to know of this song for it was Obama’s campaign song. And the first version of this song as I heard it is on the following link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5KnYADCSms&feature=related  and a clearer version is on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE4H0k8TDgw&feature=related . It was was sung on Obama’s inauguration in front of a crowd of 400, 000 people, all standing in wintry freezing chill of Washington DC. I would not dwell on the point on how Obama administration is doing now, but his advent was promising. Anyway, what really struck me was, of course the song, but also the majestic scene of all singing together.

The background goes somewhat like this, when Woody wrote and sang, only 1000 thousand records were sold, the song was never played on radio, nor sold on music stores but then somebody heard it and included it in school text book and in matter of few years every school was signing this song. The genesis of the song lie in biblical and American folk music but the lyrics are so true for a nation like ours.

I heard it once and I couldn’t help it hearing over and over again and at the same time I was hopelessly wondering that can India ever have a scene like the one depicted in this video. From the moment I heard it I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by emotions. It only made me find out more about this song and I came to know about Pete Seeger (the lead singer), an avowed communist in capitalist America. I am not a communist and neither do I believe communism can do any good to India but at the same time I cannot deny that in many ways it is the voice of the masses. Pete is over 90 and as Bruce rightly described him “The Father of American Folk Music.” Pete has traveled the US from coast to coast, lived with people in different places, understood their culture their folk traditions and inculcated what he learned from them, in this songs. He is also described as the person who has been making America sing. In most of his shows he insists and, I wouldn’t be wrong to say, extols people to sing along with him. His India connection is that he is the one who made “We shall overcome” famous world over which was later translated in Hindi as “Hum Honge Kamyaab.” I would suggest to hear this first http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PIPUbQ4lA4 which gives an interesting anecdote of how the song evolved. After that you can hear to the version with which , we are all familiar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhnPVP23rzo .

If one listens to his song then it is not difficult to realize that the sentiments expressed by him are universally relevant and no wonder I could connect with it. India has got great many singers and with all due respect to our singers, I would love to find out one who has made India sing for one cause shared by all.

There was this interesting incident ( Ref http://cfs.osu.edu/activities/pastActivities/ProtestMusicAsResponsibleCitizenship/seeger.htm ) when he visited a village in Bengal, a guy standing outside his mud house recognized Pete, the guy went inside came out with his daughter in his arms and his family and sung for Pete the Bengali version of We Shall Overcome and another very relevant song of Pete “What did you learn in School” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VucczIg98Gw&feature=related ).

His song “Bring ’em Home” stands at somewhat contrast with what I have strongly stood for so long, that is utmost respect for Military but still this song speaks nothing but common sense. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4-w2FYIJbw

BEcause of his association with Communist Parties in America, Pete was banned from singing on Radios and TV Shows. NEvertheless he continued signing with School Kids (and he later said that Singing with High School Students has been the most satisfying experience). He gave his voice to the Civil Rights movement and it is to his credit that We Shall Overcome was adopted in Civil Rights Movement song. Here is a video in which a Civil Rights activist admits that Pete brought the sense of unity among the members of the movement http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh0elZi0KG4 .

India is abound with Social Issues and needs Pan India singers who can make socially relevant songs and make this nation sing. Bruce springsteen is another singer with whom one can identify different phases of one’s life if one listens and understands those songs. The country is only seeing the widening of gap between Haves and Have Not. Can we make the affluent ones think about this lesser privileged India?

The title song was written by Woody, another communist, and the song went on to be so popular that different versions of the song were adopted by other nations viz. Canada, UK, Ireland, Sweden and more. In fact there was a rendition of this song suited to Indian version (From Brahmaputra to Gulf of Cambay) sung by Susmit Bose, when Pete visited India. I cannot find that song anywhere but here is a mention of it (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/article652997.ece) . This is an evidence that the song has a universal theme and today when India is deeply divided, though India has always been, by caste, religion, region, we need a song like to put back the feelings among Indians that this is one land that equally belongs to every Indian and not to demagogues or divisive figures.   India is a socialist country by constitution and I would say that today USA is a socialist country by culture. Unlike India, USA is truly a melting pot where everyone is accorded the same human dignity and respect.

Since hearing these songs, reading about Pete and Woody, I have been having mixed emotions inside and thought the best way was to put my thoughts here and just try and reach out to the like minded ones. Any takers?

There is a movement going around nominating Pete for a Noble Peace Prize. I am sure he deserves it more than Yasser Arafat (I am all for The Palestinian cause but not the means).

My Musings on Environment

September 9, 2009

Driving down to office everyday I often curse my destiny that to earn my livelihood I have to drive for 2 hours to office but then if I look at things around me, I can’t help but wonder that I am lucky enough to drive through the greenest areas in the city. There is so much to admire about these green places amid the concrete jungle of the city. You see them in the different seasons, they look so beautiful in a sunny morning followed by heavy rains. Those bright green leaves reflecting the sunlight. When you see those flower bloom in the spring time… that natural pattern of flowers in various hues and colors.  And suprisingly, I never get bored of admiring them. Everyday there is something new to observe and appreciate. This also makes me think quite often, that why have we paved great breadths of the pavements that are hardly used by the pedestrians. Why dont we plant grass, the bushes, some small trees. In cities like Delhi, we often see trees falling down in a heavy downpour. It happens because we the area around trees is paved and that restricts the water seeping down to the roots; as a result of which roots weaken and cannot hold the ground beneath around them and the tree just fall down. Now instead of paving the areas around trees, why dont we plants grass, the grass will serve dual purpose of stopping the soil erosion and at the same time ensuring the seeping of water to the needy roots. And we can pave a strip broad enough to allow smooth passage of pedestrians.

Greenery is must if we have to save this planet then let us plant as many as we can and let us plant it right and plant the right plants for the right places. It can be a good business.. isn’t it?

Another thing that often intrigues, and does truly intrigue me, that why can’t we have street lights running on solar cells. What the hell on this planet is stopping the governments of the metropolitan cities from implementing solar lights. If anyone dare say that cost is an issue then cost is a NO ISSUE. The economy of scale in replacing the existing light with solar lights will heavily bring down the cost and moreover we should go in for those LED bulbs that would take much less energy and last longer. These are drastic times that require drastic efforts. Can I look at this blog of mine as some kind of intiation to bring people forward who have similar ideas and wish to do something. I don’t wish to get involved into an effort that is already taking place. The reason is that getting involved with an organisation means that I will be doing more of transactional work instead of analytical work; I will be implementing someone’s else policies.. I think something is wrong somewhere, because we all know that the threat of environment degredation is looming large on our heads and we do experience the effects of global warming in our day to day lives… summers are hotter, rains are are abrupt and unusually heavy and winters are chiller, so why don’t we see significant tangible changes in our lives to curb this menace.

Leave a comment, if you agree with my views, maybe we can do something collectively…

How to stop drunked driving menance

August 29, 2009

This evenining on a late night drive, my brother and I were wondering whether there is any way to stop drunken driving. The bad point, as pointed out by my brother, the drunk driver often escapes unhurt while his victims have to pay a very serios price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So no amount of checks can probably stop drunken driving. But if for a moment we think out of the box, how about all cars come fixed with a gadget that can detect whether the person on the driving seat is drunk and if the guy on the driving seat is drunk then an inbuilt mechanism should lock the engine. And this gadget should be able to take snap of the driver and be linked to Police Control room via satelite so that the driver can be arrested for attempting to drive while drunk.

If someone tries to play with this gadget then again the engine should get locked. Now it can be a good business for someone who can come out with this gadget and convince the governments around the globe to make it a law that all vehicles be fitted with this gadget.

Hello world!

February 1, 2008

Hi, I am gonna start blogging from today. I will try and jot down down my everyday thoughts on this blog. Each day has something new to offer and maybe I will try to mention what new I’ve learnt. This might give my blog an appearance of a journal and wonder if should think that blogging is about: “a comprehensive diary writing”.. Besides, what I mentioned above, my blog should be about my views on Military affairs, world wars, International Conflicts or anything interesting that I feel is worthy of exhorting my senses to write on.