Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Conversations with a Roadesian-2

He met me again today. Nose held high, tail swaying gently, there was a spring in his step.

Wassup? I asked.
Can’t you breathe the fresh air? he said.
I can only smell fear, I replied.
Yaar, you humans are such idiots. You’re scared of anything new. Fresh air for you is something not experienced in ages.

I was getting sick of his taunts.
Change of subject was called for.

Hey, do you know we have started social distancing. Not to talk of quarantine, testing, washing hands, work from home. The way we collectively respond to emergencies is something you guys can never understand. You dogs always keep fighting, I taunted.

He looked at me with pity.
Emergencies? Paah! You and your human arrogance.
So an earthquake would be an emergency for you, yes?
Of course, I replied.
Ok so you start rebuilding, yes?
Yes indeed. We join hands to build houses.
Aah! So whose houses do you build as your human social commitment, my friend?
For those whose houses have been destroyed, I said.

Did everyone have a house before the quake?
He asked looking at me intently.
Of course not. I replied.
So there were some who were houseless before the quake and some who became houseless after the quake.
Of course you oaf. Can’t you understand?
I was getting impatient.

So my dear great, evolved, developed human, who was first in queue?
Obviously the one who was houseless before the quake!
And yet your great, noble, generous, philanthropic, social work ignores them, and looks after the ones who joined the houseless queue, later.
You call that fair?

And yes one more thing, he said slowly.
What now? I was squirming now.

Just some 5000 guys die over a couple of months and you call it an emergency.
In the same two months almost 100,000 children died of malnutrition related causes in India alone. And you call 5000 deaths an emergency? Give me a break boss!

Your priorities are zany, your actions and response most unfair. You guys are the most selfish species on earth.
Ah to be a dog! At least I don’t carry the ignominy of being unfair and a cheat.
And yes please change the idiom from ‘dog eat dog’ to ‘human eat human’. You guys do it on a daily basis.

Grinding my toes on the ground, unable to face him, I wanted the earth to swallow me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Conversations with a Roadesian.

I see him often in my morning walks. Usually morose with one ear drooping, he looks sheepishly at me, fearing a rebuke, which he gets from most.
Today he was grinning from ear to ear.
Surprised, I tarried and gazed.
Finally breaking the silence I asked him ‘Kya hua?’
He stopped grinning and said ‘finally we have managed to stop you guys’.
We? Who is we?
‘Us dogs and cats and birds and Corona.’

‘Yup mon ami, it’s nature’s reply to your shenanigans. You guys had crossed all limits in exploiting resources. This thing called wealth and money. I wouldn’t even raise my leg to do, you know what, on it. You guys kill each other for it. Make others of your kind into slaves. And die empty handed.
Ever seen a dog holding another in chains?You guys are the limit.
And you call each other kutta?
Well, we tell pet dogs-It’s a mans life.
Anyway Corona, my friend has immobilised you and all your exploitative stupidity.
All activities have slowed down and we find the air better to breathe.
You guys are mad if you feel you can make the world spin faster.
Corona has slammed the brakes and now you will find time to rediscover your family, friends and children.
We’re not your enemies. We’re doing you all a favour by making you pause.
And yes Corona my friend, kills only 2 out of 100 of you jokers. Yet kaisi phati hai sabki.
You guys are real cowards. Kicking weaker beings, and seeking strength from imaginary gods.
That’s why I grin.’

I stared stupefied.
A talking dog was a wonder, but talking rationally, intelligently was something I hadn’t seen anyone do in years.
I touched my fingers to my forehead in a silent salute, and left him smiling.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Puzzle pieces reveal the picture

Visits to two places in Delhi revealed a strong undercurrent which can be felt, but not seen; simply because the so called mainstream will neither accept, nor talk about it.

The first was the World Book Fair in Delhi.
Among the very many stalls of publishers, societies, authors, what surprises; is the crowd thronging the stalls having literature of Dr. Ambedkar, Phule, Periyar, Bhagat Singh et al. These stalls are having what is commonly called DBA (Dalit Bahujan Adivasi) literature. Having got used to sparse interest towards such stalls in similar exhibitions earlier, the crowds and the brisk purchases being made there, was an eye opener.

The message of Dr. Ambedkar was "Educate, Agitate, Organise". What can be seen now is that his advice of 'Educate' has started showing results. The youth among the DBA has got educated in huge numbers. They have focussed on the rational and scientific thoughts of Phule, Ambedkar, Periyar instead of  romantic and imaginary thoughts dished out by the so called mainstream. Slowly and steadily India has seen a rise in the  number of the educated & enlightened DBA all over, in all states, more so in the Ambedkarite segments, who are fuelled by the self respect accorded by his philosophy.

In sheer numbers, the educated and enlightened DBA, seem to outnumber the entire population of the so called mainstream, which consists mainly of members from 15% of the elite upper caste population.This 'mainstream' survives on a binding force of hereditary privileges, and always seeks to keep all narratives within its fold. Any and every movement in society is sought to be appropriated by this group, which has representatives of different hues, from Left to Right, from enforcer to agitator, from soft to hard... a system of mix and match exists where the appropriate representative takes over and tells the affected- 'Bhai logo ab aap ghar jao, mai sab dekh leta hoon'!(Hindi) Loosely meaning, return home my brothers, for I have arrived to fight your battles for you.

The second visit was to Shaheen Bagh.
It's the location of an unprecedented sit-in movement, in India, with predominantly Muslim women (many with children) occupying an arterial road for the last 25 days. They are protesting against the CAA-NRC combination. The energy was immense and infectious. The participants were well aware of the provisions of the CAA, and had an astonishing level of determination. The power of citizens dawns gradually upon you, as one moves and talks to the members of the crowd.

The three traps of Pad, Paisha & Pratishtha (Marathi) loosely meaning High post, Money & Fame, usually employed by the system to defuse any confrontation, if force doesnt work, does not seem to be deployable here. And the same seems to be the case in all anti CAA-NRC protests. Force by itself is not proving to be a deterrent, and the protests have become pan-India.

The reason for the three traps not working, appears to be hidden in the composition of the protesting groups. Minorities, Muslims and DBA are in high numbers, and the initiative is not being yielded to the members of the 'mainstream', as is wont, in similar cases hitherto. There appears to be a surge of distrust towards the media, Govt., and other institutions. As such there is no negotiator or representative who appears to be acceptable by the protestors.

A distinction is being made here between Minorities and Muslim, terms which are generally taken to mean the same. The largest minority in India are the women. The attitude of the 'mainstream' has ranged from very patronising to demeaning towards women. Caste based society has striven to keep caste purity intact by controlling women. Even today they don't have complete control over their mind and body.  Successful and ideal women portrayed by literature, films, media etc are predominantly either those who are servile to the men in their lives, or those who appear to demean their womanhood and act as men.

The presence of larger numbers of women, than men, in protests from Assam to Shaheen Bagh does indicate something. Women have greater patience, greater love & concern for their home & hearth, and greater resilience. They reacted with alacrity when the question of the future of their children, security of their home & families, in fact their locus itself; arose. They seem to have abandoned the role of the traditional Sati Savitri and accepted the role of the modern Savitribai who fought doggedly for womens' education and succeeded.

As such the 'mainstream' is flabbergasted and having failed to defuse the agitation by use of force or diversion by employing tactics like the JNU attack, it seems to be clutching at straws. What appears to be in the offing; is that a few more attempts to use force or to divert attention will be employed. If the emerging new mainstream of the majority of Indians; digs its heels in, then yielding to it, will be the only option available.

India is awakening to the participation of this vast majority, who were hitherto never actively involved in the process of nation building.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The real mainstream is asserting itself.

In Nov 1949, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had declared that social democracy would have to be the bedrock for the success of political democracy. 

He said -“...If we wish to preserve the Constitution in which we have sought to enshrine the principle of Government of the people, for the people and by the people, let us resolve not to be tardy in the recognition of the evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer Government for the people to Government by the people, nor to be weak in our initiative to remove them.

He emphasised in having a Govt. "by" the people as against a Govt. "for" the people, and to remove the evils which induce people to prefer a Govt. for the people.

Since Independence, have we had a Govt. by the people or did we always have a ‘Sarkar mai baap’ Govt. for the people? If we had  the latter, then what are the evils that have induced people to prefer a Govt. for the people over a Govt. by the people? Can we view the present uprising from this perspective? 

The process of 'first past the post' elections always threw up a Govt. supported by merely 30-35% of the electorate which voted. This means that almost 60% of the electorate was against the Govt. of the day.

Nation building requires the participation of all sections of society, not merely of the elite. From farm labourers, to craftsmen, from judges to peddlers, from bureaucrats to mechanics, from ministers to housewives, from businessmen to farmers, from journalists to nurses, from tycoons to the unemployed, it has to be all inclusive. 

During the last 70 years, we have witnessed that only the elite has controlled the five pivotal pillars  of democracy- Politics, Bureaucracy, Judiciary, Business and Media. This was because of the hereditary factor, as entry was strictly restricted by birth. Only the upper castes gained entry, excepting in the legislature and bureaucracy where reserved seats ensured a minimal participation of the lower castes.  It was aristocracy in disguise. The difference between a democracy and a monarchy/aristocracy is that there is a genuine level playing field in a democracy and anyone can reach any level in any sector by virtue of his efforts. In the last 70 years, we see a denial of this level field, as the hereditary concept of caste barricaded all elite sectors.

The present caste composition in Judiciary, Media and Business is so lopsided that the upper castes (merely 15% of the population), control these three sectors by virtue of heredity. 90-95% of these posts are manned by only upper castes. Thus, 85% of the population has minimal or nil representation in these three sectors, even after 70 years of Independence. Even in the sectors of Legislatures and Bureaucracy; where representation is ensured by reservations, the upper castes manage to keep all important posts to themselves.

The present uprising stems from this denial, as the youth today are aware of their rights and want to take part in nation building. It appears that the attempts of major opposition party/leaders to join the protests, are being stonewalled silently. The angst of the populace is against all the established parties of the past 70 years. The composition of the protestors, mainly consists of those; who have been denied a role in nation building. Students, unemployed youth, women, lower castes, minorities, have come together and made it their common cause.

The past few years have shown us how a de jure parliamentary system can be made de facto into a presidential system. All this was done, without the backing of law. So you have a handful people running a de facto monarchical system, which is designed to be a parliamentary democracy.

Indians are by and large tolerant and accommodating by nature. The immediate spark may be the CAA-NRC, but the angst runs deeper. It is the feeling of having been taken for a ride. The state’s turning a blind eye towards  the crumbling economy, rising unemployment,  brutal and cruel response to complaints and protests, are adding fuel to the fire. The biggest insult to a student, is to be named as a misguided ignoramus.

The casteist, chauvinistic, elitist "so called" mainstream, treated the masses as morons, all along.  In fact the real mainstream of women, students, OBCs, SCs, STs, Minorities, is now reclaiming its position on the streets of India.

Merely repealing the CAA may not stop the uprising.

Some  suggestions:

1) The hereditary system will have to be abandoned, and the doors of the palaces will have to be opened to all sections of society in real terms, for participation in nation building. 

2) Practice of discriminatory Caste system along with Scriptures propagating the same, will have to be declared as illegal, and deterrent punishment for proclamation of caste will have to be imposed.  

3) Women will have to be given complete freedom as individuals, having complete control over their own mind and body.

4) Primary education will have to be strengthened and  teachers will have to be given high salaries to draw excellent talent.

5) Govt. will have to be a real service provider to the citizens.

6) Media will have to be with the citizen and not with the state.

7) Citizens will have to be treated with respect not suspicion. 

8) Reform instead of punishment will have to be emphasised.

9) Revenge cannot be treated as justice.

The list goes on...

We face a long winter!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Good parenting for Business.

If you have taken years of pain to grow your business right from its infancy, till the time it gets matured; and have instilled your righteous values and ethics in it, protected it from getting exposed to the roots of dishonesty, then it is bound to act and function the way you have structured it to be.

Often, during teens, when there are sporadic clashes between you and your child, do you simply cut off your ties with it and choose to give up on "parenting"?

If your connection is built on the basis of truthfulness, you can surely reach a positive agreement between the two of you.

The same way, if you have maintained a transparency in your business and with the people associated with it, then you can handle it well enough during your downturns.

Many of us believe that, in this money grabbing world, there is no way to go from rags to riches in a whirlwind, without gluing in a little chicanery.

However, believe you me, when you attach your business with the strings of dishonesty, you would not only hit pay dirt faster, but also face an equally fast and early deprivation.

When your business walks on the path of authenticity and patience, there might be a negligibly slow growth, but never a defeat.

Entrepreneurship is all about experiencing recurrent success and failure, but is often wrongly juxtaposed with ‘Winning and Losing’. And this is the root cause of depression, aggressive behaviour, even suicides, that happen after a business pitfall.

You may fail many a times, but that doesn't mean you’ve lost the game of life.
Failure is not defeat.

The problem is not when an entrepreneur faces bankruptcy, but when he builds a pyramid of false wealth and can't hold onto it for a longer time.

It all starts when a child steals a five-rupee coin for the very first time to buy a toffee and enjoys the trick. When you take no action against it and allow it to happen, it becomes his habit.

So, 5 rupees multiply by 365 days! And well, your stealing value in business reach lakhs and crores. And in this process of enjoying easy money, you forget the pile of risks that you have been building up all this time.

A better scheme is to religiously focus on your business with utmost diligence and veracity, because only then will you sustain yourself in the business for a longer duration, without having the fear of losing yourself completely in the game. Think of your business as your son, as a separate entity. You don’t steal from your son! And you always want your son to tread the path of honesty.  

While a business where the resources are honestly earned by you, might not necessarily bring you 100% superlative outcome; but will ensure a seemingly undisturbed sleep at night.

And well, during the pitfalls, simply channel your grief in a professionally meaningful way and make peace with your mind. Because, only your voice from within will give you answers for everything.
Including the solution.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The need to kill

Evolution has ordained that each living being has a relationship with nature; and all other beings, in a delicate balance. As time passes, the DNA of those who survive get passed on, and the traits of the parent DNA get replicated. Each of us have a great common feature. We can trace our lineage to the earliest living organisms. The line is uninterrupted; and the evidence is that you, who are reading this, is alive. The others simply couldn’t make it.
The traits you carry, are those that enabled your ancestors to survive, and these have got passed on to your DNA. The only mismatch is that while evolution of physical traits happens slowly over millennia, development in the human mind has been much more rapid. The instincts we have may hark back to the stone age, but our surroundings no more contain the source for the instinctive reaction. For instance, the fear of predators may have made our ancestors behave in a certain way upon hearing a loud sound. While we are no more faced with predators in our cities, yet we cringe and feel afraid if a loud sound is hard. We get startled and start looking around to understand the source of the sound, similar to how our ancestors would have done.
Having said that, I must take you back; to the early days of existence of our Homo Sapiens’ ancestors. It was a time when everything was in harmony, with each living being taking only what he required, from nature. There was abundance of everything. And then, one of our ancestors killed a bird/animal for the fun of it. This was the original earth shattering event. It was from then onwards that imbalance in nature stared. This event led to fear in the minds of others, that there is likelihood of shortage. Hoarding and accumulation became the insurance against such shortages.
The lives of people moved from the present to the future.
Violence is a part of existence. Every living being has to devour someone, whether of plant or animal origin, to survive. Is violence the way of life? The Buddha comes to our rescue and answers the question. He says that we must understand the difference between” Need to kill” and “Will to kill”. While the first is essential, the second is needless and creates sorrow.
In an expanding Universe, resources are increasing, so we have to set our fears at rest and live happy, healthy and peaceful lives. The negativity created by the first act of needless killing has led us to this state, where our fears have led to exploitation, which carries on to this day.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The unfinished agenda

Reactions to the Pulwama event made me think that we seem to have lost the plot since 1987.
Allegations of widespread rigging in the elections in 1987, created massive disaffection in the Kashmiri populace against the Government.
This was exploited to the hilt by Pakistan, wherein the same Kashmiri people who supported India in 1947, 1965 and 1971, were brainwashed against India. 
This was a carefully played card wherein infiltration was not by armed men, but by soothsayers who infiltrated the mind. Money for this came from Pak and the seasonal infiltration by armed terrorists was a decoy to give cover to the real infiltration- the infiltration of the minds of the youth.
We could have played the same game by isolating such elements and counter infiltration of the mind, by creating a love for India.
The opening up of the road to PoK was one such move by the Vajpayee Govt.
I recall that during my tenure as Election Observer in Kashmir in 2008, all those who had visited PoK were massively disappointed and said “We are much better off in India. Life is hell in PoK”.
The hard line adopted by the Govt against disturbance was not accompanied by a soft parallel approach to win over the populace sitting on the fence.
The Army did conduct some great outreach programs. Some students were taken to visit other parts of India. But the vigour with which we rallied against attacks was missing.
The covert game played by Pak should have been met with equally well funded counter measures. But this requires painstaking efforts by nameless, faceless people. It’s a thankless job with no glamour attached.
Harsh vigorous josh wala battles may be glamorous but are passé now. 
We have to defeat the enemy in the mind game he is playing.
Such battles are not fought with swords or guns or fighter jets.
They are fought with brains.
Hysteria will lead us to further alienate the Kashmiri which is what the Pakis want.
After the punishment which our Armed forces are definitely going to mete out; to avenge Pulwama, we have an unfinished agenda - to win over the Kashmiri Indians, who stay in PoK; by offering them a better life  in India, than the hell in which they live presently.