Saturday, November 15, 2014

Life at crossroad

How does one describe the feeling of having reached the end of one journey which is not really the end of the road. The last journey was good. The next one is unknown. For some time there is not even the realisation whether there is a next journey at all. Such moments do appear when a distinct chapter is turned, a milestone is reached. I am going through such a phase currently and facing intense unanswerable questioning. This is a period without purpose, period of void, a vacuum without any gravitational pull. This is a time in one’s life to either recoup, or to learn a new trick, or to go berserk in being lost.

This is also a time to take stock of life so far, both in qualitative and quantitative terms. What has the sum total of all the journeys been like. How has life treated you and how have you treated life till date. Have you earned friends and goodwill, have you merited love and compassion. Could you respect and accept the multiple shades of emotions and behaviour patterns in fellow beings. Did you see the morning sun escaping out of the clenched fist of darkness or getting trapped and losing itself in the evening. Have you noticed the diverse world of birds, insects and animal, on a tree, dependent and yet at peace with its environment. Have you contributed selflessly towards a smile on a strangers face. Do people contort their faces at the sight of you, wishing they had never met you. Are you going to leave any worthwhile remembrance behind. Or are the people who would remember you after your death only the inheritors of your monetary assets.

This is also a time for introspection. How well do you know your own self. Can you predict your own reaction to every circumstance accompanied with the true reason. Can you predict what is going to happen to you in the times to come. Do you know your own bandwidth, the limits of your capability. Can you commit to restrict your activities and your desires within your own limits. Do you know your own passions, given it a chance to flower. Or do you still continue to keep the self under wrap, afraid to touch and unravel this grey area believing that the devil alone knows what surprise it could spring.

This is also an excellent opportunity to evaluate one’s work. Is it wholesome and honest. Are you doing something which makes everyone smile with approval, though not necessarily ecstatic or contented. Or does it bring an unhappy frown, a worrying crease on the forehead of some. Can you go to bed with an admission that you have done the best possible or does the conscience make you sleepless. Does your work permit you to balance a healthy personal life or is it decreasing your age. Are you too busy making a living that you forego to make a life.

How does one answer such difficult questions without a sense of failure. How does one keep the spirits flying through this when the soul expresses distress signs of flagging. How does one make course corrections in the midst of speeding wheels without the fear of imminent accident and collapse. How does one secure a release from this trap.

This phase does offer such a wonderful window of opportunity to change, to make amends. Yet it would take a brave and trusting heart to seize it and a shipload of luck to see it through.  

Friday, September 12, 2014


I am not a successful man who owes it all to his parents and so sets out to thank them publicly. Nor have I inherited great wealth which since the inheritor obviously doesn’t help create and so there is cause to be grateful, in material terms so to say. So why would I want to write about my parents; the question had been propping up in my mind since the time I wanted to write this piece. Well, I have not found any obvious answer to that yet but since the subject won’t go out of my head I have decided to throw reason out. As a matter of fact this is not a great story. So please do not be misled into believing that I am going to disclose certain hitherto hidden feats of endurance or lessons on spiritual accomplishments. Sorry. This could most likely turn out to be a boring rambling on a lazy Sunday afternoon by a mediocre guy who vainly imagines that he has something worthwhile to say. So those of you who have something better to do, please proceed. Don’t waste your time and that’s a request. Finally this is not a judgmental piece about my parents. I have no rights whatsoever to judge them even though I am their son. However I wish I had known more about the childhood of both my parents. What were the circumstances and events that shaped their behavior, what kind of life did they live as youngsters and as they grew up. That would have given me a better handle to understand the how and why about their manner of coping with the mishaps during their adult life.

Babuji was from erstwhile East Bengal. Their family finally chose to give up their native land after witnessing senseless bloodshed. Having seen sectarian killings during his childhood, needless to say he grew up hating them. I have seen him make uncomfortable sounds in sleep and sometimes wake up with a frightening shriek. I have also heard him tell about how as a kid he used to move with his friends with knifes in their procession. Apparently to kill if the need arose, such was his mindset. But since he never mentioned, presumably he never did; kill. His brothers however vouch for the fact that he was a lively, fun loving and a jovial guy, a far cry from the person I grew up knowing. Babuji often was very bitter about his father. I heard from him that my grandfather was a freedom fighter and had to go into hiding often away from home and so could neither make for himself a career nor provide for his children. My grandmother died when Babuji was hardly about five or six years of age. Such a childhood devoid of parental love and support would have been disastrous for any boy had it not been for all the uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters. Theirs was a huge joint family. Inspite of such a troubled phase in his life he grew up to be sufficiently balanced in his views. He was reserved, yet fiercely independent and forthright; sadly tactfulness was not his forte. Partition and migration into West Bengal seems to have affected him badly. All the needs of the entire family were looked after by his eldest uncle. Not wanting to be an additional burden Babuji opted to forego higher education and straight away launched into a job, to become self-reliant. Initially it seemed worthwhile but in the long run he paid the price for lack of a college degree when all his brothers moved ahead in their lives while he remained blocked in his small job. The love hate relationship with his own family left him a sad and lonely man. He loved his brothers, hated his father, distanced himself with a job at a faraway place and yet occasionally tried to maintain contacts through letters, his was an unhappy existence. The absence of reciprocity in belongingness, love and support which he craved for from his family rendered him confused, bitter, afraid and short tempered, strongly self-protective and a stand-alone.  Very soon he took to alcohol to drown his sorrows. Money was wasted, emotions were not shared, feelings were suppressed, anger ruled, misunderstanding and confusion ruled, and every bit of this affected us. Ma was from a similar yet better placed family. Similar because her parents and grandparents had moved in to West Bengal a shade earlier and so could settle down better. Her father was educated and employed in a government job. She too had a number of brothers and sisters and it was a happy and loving household where the fancies of the children were entertained. I personally vouch for this fact because I have been a major beneficiary of their love and pampering. Ma was rather too simple, wasn’t sharp at all and so did not pursue education. She grew up to be fun loving, playful, very talkative and extremely friendly. She had no inhibitions and was not afraid of anything or anyone. She had an amazing ability to get friendly with new faces; she could liven up a conversation, she was gregarious, and also loving and caring. There was yet another thing about her and I don’t know from where she got it from but she has a phenomenal capacity to bear physical punishment as I came to realize later on. As was the custom girls were married off earlier and so Ma got married when she had touched early twenties while Babuji was about thirty three years old. There is a story here; because of his difficult nature all the elders in his family were not very certain whether he would be keen to get married and so did not broach the topic, until he himself questioned them whether they were interested in seeing him settle down in life. Only then did the search for a girl for Babuji really start. The difference in age was not alarming in those times but with the aid of on hindsight which I have today the difference in individual psychology was tremendous or rather tragic. 

Their marriage did not have the tiniest speck of a chance. It was a cruel joke by fate on them. They were two very different personalities, not emotionally equipped to support and nurture each other and as was inevitable, they destroyed each other. The marriage not taking off was understandable and yet they could not give up. They repeatedly made efforts towards picking up broken threads and to locate common grounds. It was funny as well as painful because they never succeeded. When too much bad mouthing happens, when the desire to emotionally hurt the other reigns, when the past cannot be forgotten or forgiven and when egos do not bend, then the same lousy story gets frequently re-telecasted and life at home becomes a loud torture cell for everyone living in it. Babuji was a minimalist while Ma was extravagant. Babuji was an introvert while Ma was an extrovert.  Babuji lived in his own agonizing world unable to walk out of his mental prison. Ma could never relate to this because for her to talk, to be transparent and to simply ask for help were very ordinary things. Babuji felt that she taunted him and which added to his pains. He retaliated in excessive anger which left her numb and confused. She retorted too but childishly. Actually they both very deeply craved for acceptance, love and understanding, while all that they could give each other was fear, pain and sorrow. They were both very capable adults and rising above circumstances could have done them a world of good, but that was not the plan which providence had for them. However without doubt both of them were absolutely passionate people. As it is often seen with such people, they physically wound themselves rather than abuse their partner. Babuji took to alcohol while Ma took to not eating. Both suffered immensely. The other things about which they both were equally passionate were their three children.

Babuji had joined a British company selling and maintaining heavy mining industry machinery. He was a trained maintenance mechanic. The company was very soon acquired by the Birla group. When I was born, Babuji was posted in West Bengal. But since he was constantly on the move I was born in Mas’ parent’s place and spent a considerable part of my initial three years with them. Being the first grandchild I was spoilt silly. Soma my sister arrived in two years and when she was hardly a year old, Babuji was transferred to Goa. I wouldn’t go and made a lot of fuss. As I was pampered and very obstinate, I didn’t want anybody else except Didama my grandmother. But to Goa, we went. Both Babuji and Ma tried their best to turn me around, to forget my Didama, sometimes with kind words and sometimes with sharp ones accompanied with slaps on the face and back. I guess my inner sadness began in those days. I couldn’t understand why I had to be uprooted and thrown into a strange place with people without my Didama. I used to cry a lot and I still remember those lonely moments. Soma had no such hassles and soon she became the darling of Babuji. She developed asthma and needed extra care and attention. I apparently lost out during this bargain. Somehow Ma managed to befriend me and I reciprocated but I could never regain the lost grounds with Babuji. The distance between us continued to widen. Bikram my brother arrived after a long time. We were still in Goa at that time. Once again when he was hardly a year old Babuji was transferred to Chennai. We moved again.

Initially in Goa Babuji was relatively relaxed, was young and felt that he had a future to look forward to in the organisation. Over the years a lot of this changed after he felt being discriminated when younger qualified engineers were promoted and he got superseded. His frustrations increased and so did his drinking. There were several such bouts but on one occasion I have seen him at home; stone drunk, talking loudly to himself, cursing everyone, and on seeing me he started crying and pleading. I was too small to understand but Ma held me back tightly, not allowing me to go near him, as I wanted to hold and console him. To be fair to him, Babuji was an exceptional father during our Goa days. He loved cooking and eating and he most certainly was an exceptional cook. The taste of his non-veg preparations refuses to leave my tongue even today because I have never ever smelt such aroma nor tasted such a fare. Being Bengalis both my parents were partial towards fish, but Babuji could do magic even with dry fish. Once a month he took me along to watch an English movie. I remember watching movies like Tarzan, War of the Worlds, Hercules, Enter the Dragon along with him, just the two of us. On a couple of occasions he took me to restaurants for good food. He encouraged me to play football and cricket with the village boys. He took me along for the weekly shopping into the sunday town market. He taught me to distinguish between fresh and stale fish, to choose vegetables. Once at the weekly market I encountered huge strange creatures, he explained that they were tortoise and were being sold for meat. I was introduced to the ‘Illustrated weekly Of India’ by him. He used to buy various comic books exclusively for me. He inculcated the reading habit in me. However over time he became short tempered and I slowly started to avoid him.  He was promised a promotion along with a training stint in America provided he shifted to Chennai. He grabbed it with both hands, and things improved slightly for him at the office, but then slightly. Babuji’s oft repeated declaration was “I can give my children only two things, good health and good education”. On numerous evenings after dinner he used to lecture the three of us about life in general. Those were not conversations and we just had to listen. Biki (my brother Bikram) took a heavy brunt of his dosages being the youngest and hopelessly without reasons to escape. After about nine years at Chennai, we shifted to Nagpur where he finally got a table job away from field duty but he was nearing his retirement. After his superannuation, Soma got married. Thankfully she chose her life partner because he would never have been able to. His life ended a bit early due to high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis and severe diabetes. He developed gangrene on one leg. The end of his life was lonely and painful.

Ma was a mixed bag. She had several great as well as weak qualities. At times she would soar with the eagles high in the sky and then on another moment you could find her crying in anguish at all her troubles. Over the twenty-five odd years that I had come to know her, I developed love and respect for an amazing woman. Finally I saw her disintegrate in front of my eyes. Language was never a barrier with her. She knew Bengali well, and a few words of Hindi but that much was enough for her to strike friendship with the local women folk in Konkani Goa, Tamil Chennai and Marathi Nagpur. She could talk for hours at a stretch, understand and make herself understood, with gestures and other means. Astonishingly the local ladies would always meet up with her and liked to talk to her.  The initial years in Goa were her best years. Atleast twice a week in the evenings she took Soma and me to the only garden in Margao by bus. Once a week she had to run along with Neela didi with us in tow to the movie theatre. The rest of the week was reserved for visiting some Bengali friends place or they would come over. After the initial years the difficulty of living with Babuji got to her. She started to sink inside. She started to skip food, she would remain unhappy and tense, she lost her sleep and moved on to sleeping with the aid of pills which later turned into an addiction, she took to chewing betel-nut leaf with zarda (tobacco) so as to induce a sleepy state, slowly she progressed into chronic depression. The shift to Chennai brought out the best in her. Babuji dropped us off and proceeded to America for the initial few months. I remember moving with Ma from school to school for mine and Soma’s admission. The three of us did not know Tamil, but we travelled by local city bus or just walked kilometers after kilometer with Biki in her arms. Ma learnt to operate the Bank account, got to learn the Tamil equivalent names of essential commodities, to shop and cook and take care of all three children on her own. When Babuji came back home, Ma relapsed into depression. At Chennai Babuji suffered his first heart attack on the eve of the day when we all were supposed to leave for Ranigang (Ma’s maternal place). He simply accused her of poisoning him. She fought back vehemently against the accusation but ultimately gave up. Chennai was a huge city and the cost of living was high, so she had to give up her love of Hindi movies. Ma taught me to laugh at mistakes, to accept things as they are, to cook, to sew, to wash and clean. She also took a lot of anger and frustration from me, without a murmur of complaint, when infact they were directed at Babuji. She was the person by my side when I shaved for the first time just to appreciate the clean after shave look. She was the one who arranged cash to buy my first bicycle by asking her father to send it. She was the one who every year without fail organized the Bhai-Phota celebrations between us siblings, which we still continue. Ma was a shadow of herself when we moved into Nagpur.  She wanted me to grow up fast and become self-dependent, so that she could stay with me and away from Babuji. She was at her breaking point when I decided that I wanted to take up the CA course and study for another three years. I never realized this but she saw her only chance of survival evaporate in thin air. One day soon after, she simply set herself on fire, to put an end to her agony. I continue to remain with the guilt that I lost Ma because of my selfish reasons.

I end this piece here. It has been a story of ordinary human beings, of their tearful memories, of my paradise lost.  It has been an attempt to shed some load of my chest. It does not matter whether anybody reads this, nor does it matter if anybody mocks. I have gained by writing this, some insights and some more space to absorb.

Friday, August 29, 2014


After a fairly long time, a topic had struck me to be worth writing about and then again after a long period of dilly-dallying I could muster the interest to sit down to write. Please don’t question me about this time of hiatus, as it has mostly to do with my feeling about being some sort of good-for-nothing and of course some minor distractions like work.

Now-a-days whenever I look at any adult face, I try to locate the face of the child within. What would have this man or woman looked like when they were a school going kid, in their pre-teens. Then I correlate their present face, their present behavior, to their child face and thereby deduct their child behavior. It has kind of become a game for me. The genesis of this game has been my own awareness about what I was during my school days. Try it, you will never be bored irrespective of whether you are sitting and waiting for a scheduled appointment or you are in a bus, train or plane journey or just sitting in a park.

I realized two interesting things about myself one fine day. First one is that I am a very different character or person today from the one I was during school. The second one is that though this new person calls all the shots in my life, the initial person, mutilated, disfigured and ignored, still lives inside. I had successfully fooled myself into thinking that I had evolved, had grown up, turned mature and have started behaving in tune with my responsibilities vis-à-vis the expectations of family and society. The truth is that this second person, whom I didn’t know till then, simply jumped into my life and took over the reins.   I just morphed from being one person to another. The fact that this new person was acceptable to everyone including my father, helped. Yet sadly this change wasn’t organic. Woes upon me, it was a crime of snuffing of identity which I didn’t even protest but rather tacitly supported. However inspite of all these years, thankfully the first person is not dead but yet alive. It takes a bit of introspection to distinguish and identify these two personalities. The first one still is a child while the second one is the so called worldly wise adult.

At times I am blank, smiling for no reason, sitting and staring without a thought at the horizon, trusting someone to arrive and love and take care for me, wondering with amazement about events around me, without any notion about etiquettes and cunning, engrossed in a song or a comic or story book and satisfied with its most intriguing and rather more interesting world, and remembering the laughter and fun times with friends. This character is the child, the first me. The kid has not grown up; it still lives for the moment, the same as it always was, even though life has changed.

Then again at times I am worried, critical of self and others, temperamental when it comes to mistakes, planning, thinking about the future with expectations, thinking about the past with discontent, rolling from one thought to another without concentration or focus, never satisfied even if something remarkable happens as it dwarfs in comparison to the expectations, living and exercising and generally taking care of self. This character is the second me, the hard working adult. This commercially fretting person is the one who chose my profession albeit the wrong one for me.   

The thought did cross my mind that would I be able to pin point the exact time when this usurping took place. I guess, and it’s just a guess, that when I was in the 11th standard, after having secured some low second class marks in the 10th Board exams, when I realized that I am at the threshold of adulthood and was not going anywhere, the child in me gave up and passively withdrew for this new alter-ego to take charge. I was sixteen years of age and pretty much a dumb wit. But from there onwards a sense of responsibility crept in. In the 12th standard I joined a Mathematics coaching class and my world changed thereafter.

Even a blind bat can sense that both these persons are not exactly compatible. The child didn’t grow up while the adult didn’t have any childhood. While one is meek the other is pretentious nonetheless both are cowards. If you ask which one is the true me, I would most certainly be at a loss to answer honestly. The child appears on the surface with some very close people and generally stays in the shadows. The adult takes most of the decisions. I am the union of a divine mix-up; together both these characters have come to represent me. They are both ruled by my life’s bandwidth. They are both the cause and the victims of everything that has happened in my life. Today whatever I am for x, y, and z reasons, it gives me some satisfaction to be able to place events and their aftermath in the right perspective, and to understand the how and why of it, with some amount of humility and gratefulness. I recognise and reclaimed the child inside and am proud of it. I recognise and know the adult too and hope and pray that it can take me to my destination.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Why do some friends stay together through decades? Why do some bonds succeed? Why do we feel attracted towards certain people? Why do we like to meet some few persons more frequently? Questions like these have no simple answers. Great minds dabble into physics or chemistry or even spirituality to explain this. However, to be a segment of such a hallowed affiliation is a blessing unexplainable, undeniably.

We all are from the Jawahar Vidyalaya Chennai batch of 1984. Some sixty odd of us cleared the 12th CBSE board exams in that year and embarked on our personal journeys into this materialistic world. We all went our individual ways to various parts of the globe, either to study further, to work, to marry, to earn, and generally to stand on our own legs. Each person’s journey was unique, bursting with numerous ups and downs, difficulties and successes. After 1984, for a couple of years we maintained contact by exchanging letters, expressing how much we missed each other. This desire of comforting friends was very soon overtaken by the crushing circumstances  and barring a few, most of us drifted apart being battered by the flow of events in our own lives. But the memory of warm feelings of time tested friends associated with the trials and tribulations of childhood would not die nor vanish. Later on with the advent of mobile telephones things started improving and internet helped immensely. The warmth of old friends was once again kindled with our own 84 Javaa Roots blog, then the Javaa Facebook group and now Javaa WhatsApp group.  More than half of this motley crowd managed to keep in touch through all the thick and thin. We have been meeting each other, in various groups, at various locations, at random intervals. Each such minor meeting sends a surging wave of euphoria throughout the group and a major meeting creates a longingness of catastrophic proportions in the heart of each one to travel long distances just to be able to meet and hug our old school friends.

Some friendships are very special. Friends with such depth of relationships and who have been lucky to retain their connection over the years, move into a more mature sphere where they can plan to share even their future lives, investments, occasions and eventualities together. However those friends who once shared a strong rapport but subsequently lost it, when reunited; their ecstasy is a joy to witness. They become like lunatics talking together, talking about old times, talking loudly, and laughing for no reasons. Without probing into the nature of each individual friend, I would just venture to describe the impression which the group as a whole creates on the individual. Every friend cannot be equal and there are bound to be some favorites. Therefore the interaction of each with every other friend is expected to be different. Knowing and accepting this, still the expectation levels for bonhomie are phenomenal. The fever is also contagious. During any meeting, be it minor or major, looking at the excitement etched on the face of one, every other friend loses their self-control.  Then everybody starts behaving like kids that we once were, goofing around, being silly and pulling pranks. Every cultivated mask falls off and everyone is their basic essential self, naked and uninhibited. When this sort of happy occasion is held along with spouse and children, the happiness of sharing multiplies in every heart. This becomes a gratifying period of stress relief, a medicine of immense effectiveness. We all end up wishing that we get more such opportunities to surface and breath.

There are still a few friends who chose to remain concealed in their own environment away from the reunited group. There are a few others whose identity has not yet been revealed and nobody is aware of where they are. For reasons best known to them, they have decided to stay hidden. Sometimes I do wish I can reach out to them, tell them of the happiness which school friends bring to my life, show them how to open the doors to become a part of the whole group, and to multiply the joy of living this tiny lifetime together. I guess each one of us who are already together feels the same and each one is trying to bring the others around to be a part of the old 84 batch once again.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


When a Tiger is convinced that it is a Sheep, then it creates problems for itself. But when someone else is convinced that the Tiger is a Sheep, then it creates problems for everybody. Of late members of the Hindu brigade are aggressively trying to protect the interest of the faith and making the wrong news in the process.
84 year old Dinanath Batra who managed to pulp the remaining copies of a published book on Wendy Doniger’s understanding of Hinduism and in the bargain exponentially increased the circulation of its soft copy, declares rather shamelessly "Freedom of expression cannot trample our identity, culture, religion and tradition. It has to have a limit. We cannot allow anti-national writings". Priceless! Old man, thank you very much, the great Hindu religion which has been in existence since the past several thousands of years desperately needs shoulders like yours to protect it from the evil intention carrying westerners. I had seen the book “The Hindus by Wendy Doniger” a long time back at the book-store and after going through the back cover I had opined that it was not worth reading. But now because of this controversy I felt that I probably should read the book. Definitely! I myself downloaded a soft copy. To my disappointment Wendy Doniger is not the villain that she has been made out to be. I would rather place the blame squarely at the doors of the great Hindu religion itself. It is so vast, so multi-faceted and multi-layered, so deep in its meaning, so full of parables and metaphors, so doctrinal and simple at the same time, that anybody and everybody reading a part of it is bound to experience a different understanding a different meaning. And also each time they read it. Therefore it is not strange and new when someone reads sex in the images of Hindu gods. We Indians do it, so why fault the foreigners. In fact to put it squarely, when you feel that you have understood the correct meaning of the scriptures, precisely at that moment you should tell yourself to stop fooling around and to look deeper.
A religion and culture that survived not one not two but many thousands of years, that survived the fall of Indus and Saraswati river civilisations, that survived numerous popular religions which sprouted in its wake like Buddhism, that survived foreign invaders like the Mongols, the Turks, the Mughals and the British, that survived numerous language changes like Sanskrit, Hindi and English, does it really need protection. If it was to have been extinguished, then it would not have survived for so long. However let nobody remain in the misunderstanding that it has survived in its original form. The current Hindu religion and culture is not the same that was practiced during the time when the Saraswati flowed. It also was very different at the time when the Buddha lived and preached. It has evolved, it has reinvented itself, several times. Every time it has come back strongly, become more relevant to the times, to show people the way to live. In fact, if it had remained unyielding, uncompromising, unchanging, then it would certainly have been discarded by the very people of this land. The people of this land have no dearth of religions to choose from. The soil of this land is spiritually fertile. Therefore for the same reason, the Hindu religion needs no self-appointed protector. It is capable on its own.
Essentially change is an evitable must. The Hindu Brigade should understand this. Recently the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha went on record proclaiming that it would not compromise on moral values, social systems and traditions in the name of individual freedom and would not accept homosexuality and live-in relationships. It seems to me that the days of RSS are numbered. They better not be so rigid in their stance if they wish to remain relevant. They should be more nuanced in their response to the reality of the environment.
While nobody denies the ills of society, one has to accept that society has never been free of ills right from the day humans started living together. Neither do we live the same life style that existed thousands of years ago. Indian society has seen rituals like Sati come and go. We have seen customs change, we have seen attitudes change. We have changed from joint family to nuclear family. While our religion exults the story of Shravan, today we cannot find place for our parents in our homes. While our religion glorifies a vegetarian diet, today we finance poultry and fisheries as a business to grow and kill life for food. Times change and people change.
Sexual inclination has changed. Rape or forceful sex has become rampant. Homosexuality is also a human condition. Live-ins have become more common in the present times. These are symptoms of social ills and social changes. The Hindu Brigade should instead rather focus on the root causes instead of addressing the symptoms. Today a father cannot marry of his daughter for the want of dowry money. Khap Panchayats won’t permit same gotra marriage. Marriages between different religions are also looked down upon. Life in the villages has lost its charm and people prefer the hazards of urban life. Economics has scored over the quality of life. Why don’t we hear anything from the Hindu Brigade on these matters. Banning a book, deriding freedom of speech, ridiculing homosexuality and live-in relationships is taking the easy way out to oblivion.

Monday, February 17, 2014


It is after a very long time that I am writing again for the blog and I wish to write on a subject that is latent and waiting to explode, which is, India on the brink. The signs of mess are all over the place for everyone to see. People responsible for the mess are still hoping that things will work out, finally, somehow. However the seriousness of this dormant disaster is neither getting heard, nor getting discussed by the calm and intelligent brains. We do have political bigwigs shouting at the top of their voices, half of them about the precariousness of the problems and the other half assuaging fears of any devastating fallout, but today very sadly the voice of the politicians is discounted one hundred percent.
The decision non-making enmeshment crafted and perfected by the present government at the center has hurt the manufacturing, mining and infrastructure sector very badly. The pitiable condition of these industries can be best seen from the non-performing assets (NPA) list of the public sector banks. The Finance Minister raises a hue and cry about willful defaulters but not a word is uttered about the defaulters who are victims of gross governmental economic mismanagement. Truly the willful defaulters amongst the NPA lists are much lesser compared to the huge other list.
Businessmen are a breed apart, those who are willing to take a financial risk on the expectation of earning wealth in the future. If it was so simple, then everyone could have easily become a businessman. But the majority of people wish to live on a riskless yet certain monthly remuneration. The businessmen also like to restrict their uncertain factors to the minimum but when their uncertainty increases exponentially and goes beyond his capacity of tolerance, and then they give up. To add to their woes the political establishment questions their audacity, their fight to survive, their pricing policies, and calling for unprecedented audits. Today all businessmen who have become victims of colossal governmental bungling are on the verge of giving up.
That brings us to the immediate next problem, that of the public sector banks. If the domestic industry unable to bear any further harassment decides to throw its hands up, the banks would face an extraordinary dent in their Balance Sheet assets. Such a dent can only be covered by the central government who is the owner or the public depositors of the banks. Either ways it will be the citizens of this country who will take a hit on their past and future earnings. The imagination of the catastrophe if it really unfolds is enough to turn my stomach inside out. Yet I don’t hear anybody on this.
Next is inflation. The Reserve Bank is working overtime to make bank funds availability scarce and the costs of such funds disproportionate, in a general manner and due to which all sectors of the economy are feeling the pinch irrespective of whether they are contributing to the inflation or not. The government on the other hand has over the years increased all wages, increased the minimum procurement prices and distributed cash in rural regions through social projects like NREGS. Now if these two are not working at cross purposes, please call me a fool. The consumer price and the wholesale price index are both high because people are able to afford, they have the purchasing power and the willingness to spend. The deficit of the government is bound to exceed the budgeted specifications by the year end. But for this we the people of the country are also to share the blame because of huge domestic demand for gold, petrol and diesel that we have to import. The lack of a unified concerted action by all governing bodies is going to cost us dearly.  By the time the elections are held, the international rating agencies are going to call India non-investment grade and we in one voice are going to crib. Unfortunately that is all that we can do.
The question that comes to my mind is why we have brought ourselves into this situation. Is it that we are governed by fools? I think barring the political class every other sector whether it is the bureaucracy, the industry, the judiciary, all select people based on their talent and mind power. Only the profession of politics gives preference to money power over the power of the mind. And that exactly has been our weakest link, our failure as a nation. Our political system is rotten and beyond repair. It makes no difference whether the Congress or the BJP is in power. Both are of identical mindset, indistinguishable twins. The past five years, BJP has disrupted parliamentary proceedings. In case they win the next elections, then it will be the turn of Congress to disrupt the working of the parliament. I don’t know who wins in this bargain but definitely the nation loses. Supposing no single group or party gets an absolute majority in the next election which incidentally is the most likely scenario, then we are in for another period of chaos, of non-governance, of a definite downward spiral.
 However blaming the politicians is too simplistic. As citizens of this once great country, we the people have become increasingly narrow minded, fearful and intolerant. Everybody has started having such strong opinions that we have become intolerant of any dissenting views. We have become so parochial territorially as well as through customs that we have bounded ourselves into small groups and distrust every such other group. We have become so fragmented that practically we don’t see ourselves as a single country, we don’t want to share our local resources even for a common good cause. We have become a bunch of short tempered and fearful individuals, unsure and insecure about our own lives and living conditions, that corruption has become a reasonable and real option. Historically we never were one nation and therefore today in this difficult times find it impossible to define and identify ourselves as Indians except in the field of cricket. The real meaning of the word Hindu and Hinduism has been lost and buried deep under multiple layers of false teachings that today even if anyone criticized these false teachings we are offended.  Today any glib talking god-man can fool all of us and take all of us for a ride and we most usually blame him rather than our own gullibility. Over the years anyone with the means and the ability has had the desires to deport and stay put in a developed country to live far away from the pitiful situation over here.  Our urban cities have become too costly yet pathetically lacking in good living conditions. Yet while we yearn for the simple rural landscape at the same time do not have the desire to live there.
It’s time that we see ourselves as what we have made ourselves into. Let us stop blaming others. Let us accept our own mistakes and work together towards a better tomorrow. Greed and selfishness has brought us here today but broadmindedness and intelligent work can set us back on the road to the common development. The immediate future looks difficult but with perseverance we can most certainly overcome them.