October 29, 2015

The politics of awards

In the period since my last blog post over 25 authors, 12 film makers and the latest is a Padma Bhushan awarded scientist have returned their awards to the respective institutions that awarded them. The question that arises is why now?

The Dabholkar murder happened when the UPA government was in Delhi. The murder of other rationalists and a few writers and journalists and a few unfortunate events involving some literary and cultural events happened in recent times.

The people who seem eager to appear as the upholders of liberal values were quiet when the Congress led government was in place at the centre but seem to have woken up from their deep slumber all of a sudden. Have they forgotten that Law & Order is a state subject in India and Karnataka is ruled by a Congress government ?

The people who enjoyed state patronage under the Sonia Gandhi led dispensation and won awards many a time for less than good reason and for sub-standard work now seem keen to discard those awards fearing that this government might somewhere raise questions about the quality of previously awarded work. They forget that India is today a Congress-mukt country. Even Sonia and Rahul Gandhi can not hope to revive this dead colossus.

So my suggestion to these guys is wake up and smell the coffee. India is a society in a fluid state and such events though not excusable are something that has to be seen from a suitable perspective. Those whose hackles are raised every time a member of the minority community is touched by someone who happens to be a Hindu are unperturbed when a member of the Hindu community is brutalised. Isn't it being selective in your condemnation.

Raising questions about the society's intolerance is always important but how we register our protest is equally important otherwise we end up giving a handle to the saffron brigade that moves public glare away from the events.       

October 9, 2015

From Babri Masjid to Dadri

The recent happenings in Dadri, barely 50 kms away from the National Capital, have cast a serious doubt in many minds as to where our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi stands on such an emotional issue. The Bhartiya Janta Party which will take a few millenniums to live down the shame of Babri Masjid demolition by 'karsevaks' on 6th December 1992 has added the Dadri Beef controversy to its Hall of Shame.

No one in his right mind will believe that a crowd of around 200 persons entered the residence of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri prodded by a mere announcement by a priest in the local temple that he was consuming and storing beef in his fridge at home and lynched him. Our people may be poor and unlettered but they are not fools. The first question anyone would have asked the announcer is 'How do you know?". Our natives are sufficiently intelligent and can smell a vested interest from miles away.

So it is quite obvious that someone with an agenda was at work and thus it becomes imperative for our administrators to uncover this conspiracy and expose the culprits at the earliest. But trust the Uttar Pradesh police, under the 'Dynamic Leadership' of the emerging Yuva Neta, Akhilesh Yadav to make a complete mess of it. Instead of hounding out the mischief-makers they took pains to collect samples of the meat found at the site and launched an investigation to see if it was indeed beef. Even that would have been laudable had they publicized the report in a matter of hours and cleared the air. Politicians being petty politicians can not allow any event to subside till it has been milked for all it is worth, so the administration's announcement that it was 'mutton' and not 'beef' cam exactly after 10 days of the unfortunate incident.

The significance of Bihar, which is next door to Uttar Pradesh and has a sizable Muslim population, going to polls is not lost on anyone. Anyone with an iota of grey matter can see it is the handiwork of agent-provocateurs of the political elite who think that an electorate polarized on religious lines will improve their poll prospects. Anyone, but the shameless spokespersons of the political parties who come on TV every night and want us to believe that they are angels who are being demonized. Who will tell them that even they can bow to their conscience once in a while. It takes courage even to keep quiet when you don't agree with the party line on any issue.

Our Prime Minister who takes pride in his various initiatives for India's Growth and Development could not find the time to either mourn Mohammad Akhlaq or comment on the shameful occurrence for 11 days. I am sure that had he wanted our 'karmayogi' prime minister who starts his day around 5 AM and doesn't call it a day till 10 PM could have at least tweeted or issued a press release. He has a large number of staff at his disposal for such small jobs. That instead he chose to ignore the Dadri events shows either of two things - Either he was also among those who wanted to milk the events for their political gain Or he was naive enough to believe that a statement by his ministers was all that was needed to pacify enraged emotions.

Whichever way one looks at it Namo now has a somewhat jaded and faded halo ! 

Dear Prime Minister, if you really care for India first demonstrate that you care for Indians be they Hindus or Muslims. Catch the trouble-makers, even if that means sacking the UP Government. Silence all the rabble-rousers of your own party and let the rule of law prevail.

Then and only then will any talk of growth and development make any impact. I hope we see a new, improved Namo soon. Amen !!!    

September 28, 2015

God's gift to battered souls !!!

Have you guys heard of Anuradha Koirala ? Even if some of you have, her heroic saga is a story worth repeating a million times.


It all started on the auspicious day of Poila Baisakh i,e. 14th April 1949 when she entered this world as a baby born to Col. Pratap Singh Gurung and his wife Laxmi Gurung of Rumjatar, Nepal. The proud parents who regarded a good education above all else sent the young Anuradha to St. Joseph's Convent at Kalimpong in India, one of the best English medium schools they could find and she ended with a good education and an excellent command over the English language which was a rarity in the Nepal of 1950s. Her years spent in convent schools also gave her a mindset that placed service to humanity above personal gain.

She was married to Dinesh Prasad Koirala but the treatment and abuse that was meted out to a young Anuradha forced her to take the harsh decision to separate and lead life on her own terms. She   decided to take up a teaching job which she continued for almost 20 years, having taught in the best schools in Kathmandu.

It was during this phase of life that she encountered withdrawal of young girls from school, their early marriages and often abuse at the hands of the husband and his family. She also saw a large number of young Nepali girls being forced in to the flesh trade in India, often the poor parents in rural Nepal lured by touts offering attractive jobs in big Indian cities. These sexually exploited girls would be abandoned by the society after they had a child or two, mainly for want of timely medical intervention. Many of them contracted AIDS and were left homeless after their commercial sexual exploitation was over. Most had no home, family or a place they could go to and most importantly they had no money or any skills to make a fresh start in life.

With a view to stopping this heinous trafficking of young girls and even children, she founded Maiti Nepal ( Maiti is Mother's Home in Nepal ) in 1993. Over the last 22 years she has, with help from the Police and other like-minded NGOs inspired by her, managed to rescue over 12,000 young women from brothels in India often at a great personal risk.

Maiti Nepal conducts a large number of activities like Conducting awareness campaigns, Community sensitization, Rescue operations, Apprehending traffickers, Providing legal support to the needy, Women empowerment, Giving Anti-Retro Viral Therapy (ART) to children and women infected by HIV.

Anuradha has no children of her own but considers all the women and their children as a part of her large family and unhesitatingly has spent all her money for them. The cash endowments received along with all her global awards etc have gone into making Maiti Nepal a better home for all its inhabitants at the various shelters and hospices. At last count the 10 shelters and hospices had almost 3000 inhabitants.

Due to her continuous struggle, the Government of Nepal recognized 5 September as anti –trafficking day. This endeavor was initiated by Maiti Nepal. She was also appointed as a state minister  as an honor to her contributions.

Ms. Koirala loves spending time with children, they say that they get a warmth of mother and a father. She is self motivated person relishing new and dynamic challenges with a leadership role if required in a team environment or independently.

On 25th  November 2010 she was declared as CNN - HERO OF THE YEAR through global on-line voting . Her victory as a CNN Hero was the  result of her struggle, compassion & determination to fight the social evil of human trafficking and is a matter of pride to all the sensitive souls out there.

All her activities are funded by her own meager resources, her winnings from over 30 International honors and the small products made by the inmates of her shelters but she still needs all the help we can extend to this great soul who herself on various platforms has credited Mother Theresa as her guiding light.  

If you wish to know more about her noble endeavors please contact 
Maiti Nepal, 
83-Maiti Marg, 
Pingalsthan, Gaushala, 
P.O. Box 9599, Kathmandu, Nepal. 
Phone:                977-1-4492904 
Fax:                    977-1-4489978 
E-Mail:   info@maitinepal.org or program@maitinepal.org 
or visit their website at www.maitinepal.org

In case you wish to make a donation please contact (please do the necessary homework to ensure the money reaches the rightful people) 

Standard Chartered Bank Nepal Limited
Kathmandu, Nepal
Name Of Beneficiaries: MAITI NEPAL
Account No: 01-0184012-10

September 26, 2015

Value of Human Life 

The tragedy that struck Mina, near the Islamic holy city of Mecca on 24th instant, adjoining the Pillars of Jamarat where the believers cast seven stones at the Devil left over 700 dead and over 1000 injured, some critically, was a disastrous calamity in a series of such man-made disasters over the last few years. 

A look at some of the images seriously disturbs you and you start wondering if this is indeed the will of God. Can we just take it in our stride and move on as if nothing has happened ? I seriously believe that this was an accident waiting to happen.

That two million faithful would assemble like in the past was no secret yet the authorities in Saudi Arabia, the Guardians of the faith, were caught napping. Can the rest of mankind ignore the severe lack of preparedness exhibited by the Saudis ? Just look at the way the dead bodies are piled up and the families of the deceased left to fend for themselves ? These images (courtest : Getty images) are rather gruesome and disturbing.

It makes me resigned to accept that there is no value of Human Life in our part of the world and that a white man's life is more precious than another. Had even a fraction of so many people died in a man-made disaster in US or in any OECD country, heads would have rolled but not so in a dictatorial regime like Saudi Arabia. They are the benefactors of the bounty they collect from the millions of believers every year who throng to perform once-in-a-lifetime mandated Hajj pilgrimage. And for what ? For such shoddy treatment of the very people who shower their hard-earned money on them ? 
Look at the picture above and you see dead bodies piled as if they were some garbage awaiting the municipal truck.

When we forget that those who died were somebody's children, parents, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters we are just ensuring that we meet with a similar fate.  God may be benevolent but He is not suffering from Amnesia. The Royalty in Saudi Arabia need to wake up fast and act as the real guardians of the Holy Mecca.

September 7, 2015

Salute this old war hero, now a warhorse for the less fortunate !!

One has been seeing the visuals of Gen Satbir Singh, a war hero and a veteran soldier who has been spearheading the OROP battle at New Delhi's Jantar Mantar despite his advancing years and failing health.
The victory on Sunday when the PM had to intervene and which resulted in the fast-to-death by three war heroes being lifted was just the latest feather in his cap. I salute you sir for your doggedness.

Gen Satbir Singh is the gentleman with the white beard and sporting a maroon turban in the picture above (pic courtesy The Indian Express)
That the veterans had to sit on a dharna (a peaceful agitation) speaks volumes about our apathy to the cause of the ex-servicemen who risk their limb and life so that we may sleep in peace. They are often poorly equipped and enjoy inadequate logistical support while in the fore-front of the nation's borders. Even after they die their families lead a life that is not really ideal. Not something that a grateful Nation owes its fallen soldiers.
To add insult to injury are some stupid politicians who say that when they enrolled they knew the fate that could befall any one of them. That a driver in the civilian world sometimes gets a higher salary / benefits while in service and later after superannuation as compared to the ex-servicemen speaks highly of our misplaced priorities. That a politician can call them 'Paid Chowkidars' (watchmen) speaks of the said politicians ignorance and nothing else.
A nation that does not honour its heroes is destined to meets its doom. I appeal to te PM not to engage the ex-servicemen in any negotiations and to grant all that he had promised. They ask for nothing more.

Back in action !!

Hey guys. Its been nearly 6 years since I wrote last, But now that I have come back in action, I promise to write a lot more regularly. Do share your thoughts, Remember there are no stupid ideas its only how we react to them that may be stupid.