Monday, November 9, 2015

The Bihar Massacre

I cannot remember the last time when I was so excited by a state assembly election. The blame squarely falls on BJP for turning a Bihar state election into a national event. It was horrifying to see the entire government camped in Bihar for a state election campaigning. Perhaps, never before had such a thing happened in the history of free India.

When the much anxiously awaited day finally dawned,  there was an air of excitement and suspense all over the cyberspace. As the counting started, BJP party members and supporters started celebrations as their party took initial lead. Then it turned into a big confusion when various Indian news channels started flashing different results. Everybody was tweeting only one question on the net “which results to believe”. The situation was so tense in the cyberspace that one netizen tweeted “I cannot take it anymore,  wake me up when it is all over”. The whole event turned into one big thriller.

After what seemed like tense, confused couple of hours, the final results were announced. It turned out to be an absolute massacre of BJP by the RJD-JDU-Congress combo. The so called “Modi Wave” was a damp squib.

Diwali celebrations started early for the Biharis! As for me, 8th November 2015 turned out to be one of the most enjoyable Sundays. It felt as if my favorite team had won the match, hands down. Such was the euphoria!

Unfortunately, it was not such a joyful day for BJP and its supporters. Especially on social websites, it was all very quiet and subdued. It looked like deserted empty streets of a town that was hit by a cyclone. Social media was conspicuous with the absence of the usually abusive BJP supporters. The trolls were  nowhere to be seen, perhaps back in hiding, licking their wounds.

Most of these trolls are cowards with fake ID’s, hiding behind fake pictures, some even hiding behind masks of Mr. Modi. No doubt, they would be back, if not already, when the Bihar massacre effect wears off. They will be back to their old dirty ways, using the most filthy and abusive language one can come across on the social media. They use the most despicable communal and sexists innuendos, especially against female netizens who happen to be brave enough to take a stand for their beliefs or against government policies. The filth and the profanities they use is disgusting, to say the least.

As for the government, they should ask themselves, was it worth wasting the entire time of the government for a state election. They tried every trick/strategy they could use but in the end nothing could fool the people of Bihar. Offer of crores of rupees worth packages, fears of reservation being given to communal groups, concerns of celebrations in Pakistan if BJP lost the election, personal attack on Sonia Gandhi and her family members, and finally concern for cow, nothing worked. They forgot the one simple mantra that always works "never take the people for granted". If they can put you on the pedestal, it will not take much time for the very same people to bring you down.

It is the time of introspection for BJP. They should understand by now that while some people may be impressed with their speeches and Congress-hate campaigns, it cannot go on forever. They should at least now understand that they came to power on the promise of good governance, welfare and development of the country, not for spreading their party colors all across the country. Perhaps, it is time for the PM to delegate the PR management of BJP and other associate organizations to someone else. It is time to get out of the election mode and get back into governance mode and deliver the promises. Most importantly, the party should stop indulging in useless allegations. If there is enough evidence, prosecute the culprits, put them in jail and throw away the key. But stop the futile allegations. 'For God sake, realize, you are in power, not in opposition'.

One would have thought that the decimation of the BJP in the Delhi state election would have taught them some lesson. Unfortunately, it was not to be. After the miserable loss in the Delhi election, the members of government were mostly busy with Sonia Gandhi family bashing, communal bashing and of course raking up cow-row at every opportunity. It was so silly and unfortunate even to try to obliterate history by manufacturing a new one. More unfortunate that foreign visitors had to remind us of our history during the recent Indian African summit. The way some people were telling everyone they didn’t like to go to Pakistan, it sounded as if they had become self appointed Tour Operators for Pakistan tourism. So silly and immature!

Will the BJP learn its lesson from the Bihar debacle? Will the cow-brigade cease its anti-communal crusade? Will there be end to the unforgivable wastage of time by some union ministers who indulge in abusing and casting aspersions on non-Hindu communities and making cheap personal attacks on political opponents? Will they stop the useless rhetoric of "go to Pakistan"? Will they come out of election mode and start governing and deliver their promised development and prosperity?

Only time can give the answers. Let us hope, wait, and watch.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Oh, how my country bleeds!

I doubt very much that there is any Indian whose head will not bow in shame at the mindless rapes and barbaric killings that are going on in the country. The public lynching of fifty year old Mohammed Akhlaq, a few days ago in Uttar Pradesh, is yet another shameful act committed by self righteous bigots.

It was a shameful and inhuman act committed based on flimsy grounds. Yet there is a section of Indians who are brushing it aside just as “usual mob frenzy, unfortunate incidence, it happens all the time”. Powerful people who should be condemning the shameful act with strongest words appear to be mute, blind and deaf to the incidence. It is as if, value of human life is measured  only based on religion, community and political preferences.

Our beloved country has come a long way since it was ruled by the various kings and rulers. For over two hundred years the country was under the yoke of the mighty colonial power of the British Empire. It took the bravery of a frail old man and many brave men and women to dare the mighty British Empire. After years of struggle and sacrifices, some with their lives, the country was redeemed of the colonial powers.

Since then, the country has come a long way to being one of the most developed countries in Asia. We should be proud of our heritage, our history and our struggle for freedom from slavery. The world wondered in awe on how the country stood as one strong nation, in spite of its diverse culture, languages and religious practices. “Unity in diversity” was the strong mantra for the country in becoming an economic force to reckon with, in the region.

Yet, what do we see today! The very fabric that bound the people together has been torn into shreds by fanatics. For some years now zealous bigotry started rearing its ugly head. People started killing each other in the name of religion, community, culture, region or political preferences. Social tolerance, which was once the strength of the country, has been torn apart. It seems that being Indian is not enough, it seems to be the least of concerns.

Who can forget the day when a place of worship was torn down by frenzied mob lead by group of bigots who stood by watching the shameful incidence with obvious sickening glee on their faces! Who can forget spate of explosions and mass killings of innocent people that have taken place at various public places, carried out by handful fanatics all in the name of retribution. Since then, there have been spate of incidences of murder and mayhem.

Irresponsible people are going around instigating gullible people with their hate speeches, spewing venom, casting aspersions on a section of the population and exhorting people to resort to divisive methods. They are even trying to dictate how one should live his or her life.

On the other hand, the number of gullible people who seem to be falling for the barbaric rhetoric of these hate mongers is frightening. Suddenly there seems to be an overwhelming atmosphere of distrust and intolerance among people. How easy it has become to incite violence!

Every drop of blood sacrificed by all those brave men and women must be asking with anguish, why did we let the country reach such a deplorable situation? Is this what we fought for and redeemed the country from the slavery and yoke of invaders and colonial powers? What happened to “free India”? Why are some forces wanting to take country back to the dark ages? Why is there so much hatred and intolerance and so much wanton frenzy to kill each other? Oh, why, why is my country bleeding?


Monday, April 20, 2015

Travel of bat and jerseys to Mount Everest!

The unfortunate death of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes on the cricket ground must be still fresh in the minds of cricket lovers. 

For days following that unfortunate incidence, when he was hit on the head by a bouncer that lead to his death, we saw outpouring of pain, sorrow and tributes from his family, friends, his cricketing mates and from the entire cricketing fraternity all over the world.

It is very sad and heart breaking for any family to lose a member of the family, especially at a young age. Another family must be going through similar pain and sorrow at the death of their 21 year old son.  Ankhit Keshri, a first class Indian cricketer, died a few days ago from a collision with a team mate on the cricket ground. 

My sincere condolences to the bereaved families of Phil Hughes and Ankhit Keshri at their loss! May God bless them with comfort and peace!

The game of cricket, once called a “gentleman’s game”, has become dangerous since pace bowling and other aggressions were introduced into the game. It has become more cut throat due to the gross commercialization of the game by rich businessmen and corporations.

A recent news item caught my attention. It was reported that Chhurim Sherpa, who was the first woman to climb Mount Everest twice in the same season, has started a third attempt to climb the Mount Everest. It is a very praise worthy and very inspiring news. I wish her God speed and success in her venture!

But what made the news more interesting, or rather very intriguing, is that she is carrying with her a cricket bat and two jerseys that belonged to Australian cricketer Phil Hughes. She will bring back these items with her when she returns from the conquest of Mount Everest. The items would then be placed in Australian Embassy in Kathmandu.

I do not really know what is the significance or sentiment behind this gesture or in what way it is a tribute to Phil Hughes. I do not even understand what is the connection between Chhurim Sherpa and Phil Hughes. She is a Nepali, a mountaineer, no way connected with cricket or with Australia. Nowhere have I seen even a mention of the interest of Phil Hughes in mountaineering, with Nepal, with Mount Everest or with Kathmandu

One thing is for sure. This time Chhurim Sherpa is going to be known not just for the third conquest of Mount Everest, but more for carrying the bat and jerseys of Phil Hughes! For, we all know the power and magic of cricket on people all across the world!

Sometimes it is beyond one’s normal reasoning to understand why certain things are done. Either people get carried away by the euphoria of the situation or there is an unexplained reason or sentiment behind the actions or it is simply done because someone thought that it should be done.

Whatever the reason behind the bat and jerseys travelling up and down Mount Everest, I find the whole business quite intriguing!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Could it be a Catch-22 syndrome!

The number of air accidents and other incidents that have been taking place in recent times makes me wonder “What ails the airline industry, is the airline industry suffering from Catch-22 syndrome!”. 

Most of these air incidents had one thing in common. The investigations invariably pointed fingers for the disasters at the pilots!

The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH370 was surrounded in mystery. No one could figure out if it had crashed or landed somewhere.  Based on investigations, the pilot and the co-pilot became center of focus. It was revealed later that the aircraft’s tracking devices in the cockpit had been switched off. A number of other revelations pointed to a possibility of deliberate attempt to crash the flight.

Investigations into the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH17 raised similar concerns. Based on the last communication with the pilot, it was revealed that the pilot changed course of the flight into danger zone into Ukraine simply because he was not comfortable with the original course.

In the case of Germanwings aircraft that crashed into the Alps recently, a lot of disturbing facts were revealed about Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot.  It was reported that he was undergoing treatment for mental illness, neurological problems, and even impaired vision.

It was reported recently that the pilots of an Air India flight had a punching match in the cockpit, and still the aircraft took off. We could well imagine the mental condition of the pilots during the flight. Luckily for the passengers, the aircraft landed safely.

Many other air accidents and incidents were linked to deliberate acts of the pilots.

It was reported that a study funded by European Commission revealed that "stressed out" pilots warned air chiefs well before the Germanwings aircraft disaster about possible rise in cockpit suicides. The report also highlighted that some pilots were becoming "ticking time bombs".

If so, how come these airlines were not aware of the mental conditions and other fitness problems  of the pilots? If they knew about it, how did they allow these pilots on flying duties, putting lives of hundreds of passengers in danger? Is it just carelessness, indifference or because of severe shortage of pilots?

I am reminded of the situation as described in the best seller Catch-22 written by  Joseph Heller. A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules. Such situations often result from rules, regulations, or procedures that an individual is subject to but has no control over it because to fight the rule is to accept it. The author coined the term in his novel, which describes absurd bureaucratic constraints on soldiers in World War II. 

In the book, the term is introduced by the army psychiatrist who invokes "Catch 22" rule to explain why any pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity—hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions—demonstrates his own sanity in making the request and thus cannot be declared insane.

The catch-22 situation involves the case of a U.S. Army Air Forces bombardier, who wishes to be grounded from combat flight. This will only happen if he is evaluated by the squadron's flight surgeon and found "unfit to fly". "Unfit" would be any pilot who is willing to fly such dangerous missions, as one would have to be mad to volunteer for possible death. However, to be evaluated, he must request the evaluation, an act that is considered sufficient proof for being declared sane. These conditions make it impossible to be declared "unfit".

The "Catch-22" is that "anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy". Hence, pilots who request a mental fitness evaluation are sane, and therefore must fly in combat. At the same time, if an evaluation is not requested by the pilot, he will never receive one and thus can never be found insane, meaning he must also fly in combat. Therefore, Catch-22 ensures that no pilot can ever be grounded for being insane even if he is.

Coming back to the spate of recent airline accidents and other incidents, one may be tempted to ask several questions. 

Is the airline industry suffering from human resource management problems? Are the pilots being forced to do flying duties even after knowing about their mental illnesses, neurological disorders and other such conditions which should normally make them unfit to fly? Is the airline industry enforcing a rule like Catch-22 to overcome their human resource problems?


Sunday, March 29, 2015

"Cup Michael Clarke leke gaya" :(

Celebration time for the Australian cricket team and the Australian people! The Australians play cricket as a well knit team, not as individual cricket stars,  they play with passion, to win! That is why they are so successful most of the time.

Well done Team Australia, you deserved to win, you deserved to lift the world cup!

Yet another disappointing, one sided world cup finals! New Zealand lost the match when the first wicket fell. Ross Taylor put up a fight, but it was just not enough! The defeat must have been very disappointing for the ailing Martin Crowe, the ex-captain of New Zealand! But all is not lost, New Zealand played some good cricket throughout this world cup, especially the semi final thriller with South Africa.

There was a joke on the Internet when India lifted the World Cup in 2011. The joke was that the losing captain was sitting at a tea stall looking morose and drinking tea from a saucer. When someone asked him why he was drinking tea from saucer, he answered “Cup Dhoni leke gaya”!

This time around, the joke is reversed, “Cup Michael Clarke leke gaya” L


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Oh, what a way to give it back!

The dream run of the Team India finally came crashing down on Thursday, shocking millions of Indian cricket fans. The curtains finally came down on  #WontGiveItBack euphoria. Boy, how we gave it back, without even a semblance of a fight, not even a whimper! So much for the promises made by the boys in blue (#MenInBlue)!

Sure, when a game is played there can be only one winner and you cannot always win. Losing a game does not matter as long as you lose it by putting up a respectful and concerted fight till the end and lose gracefully. What we saw on Thursday was a show of spineless surrender, not even worthy of a world cup semi final!

Few days before the match, some experts said that India had advantage over Australia due to the low morale among the Australians after Wahab Riaz’s blitzkrieg in the quarter final match. But it was not to be! The Australians came out with all guns blazing!

Perhaps, the Indian Team should have watched that bowling spell of Wahab Riaz again and again. They could have got loads of inspiration on how not to get intimated by the Australians and how to put up a decent fight. For then, their slogan would have been “WillGiveThemBack”!

When the Indian run chase started, the way Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started batting with ease, it felt like India was already in the finals. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Soon the Indian players started falling like nine pins.

First of all, the Australians put up a mammoth and imposing total. On top of that, It looked like our boys were out there for a walk in the park! what we saw was a parade of Indian batsmen walking on to the pitch and quickly trotting back to the pavilion. It was like watching models doing the “cat walk” up and down the ramp! Some of them looked clueless about what they were supposed to do. I did not even know when Virat Kohli came and when he went back.

By the time I realized it, I saw Ravindra Jadeja at the crease lazily trying to nudge the balls. It looked as if somebody woke him up from his slumber and said “you are next”!  Finally he decided that the best way was to get run out. It was all over for India half way through the Indian innings. Dhoni gave some late hope with two sixes but it was just a flash in the pan.

The performance or non performance was so shocking, we cannot even console by saying “it is OK, they tried their best”! In the post-match interview, Dhoni said 329 was a “gettable” total. Unfortunately, he and his boys forgot “who had to get those runs”!

I felt very sorry watching the disappointed faces of the Indian supporters in the stadium. They came all prepared to watch a cracker of game but what they got was a display of spineless and irresponsible performance.

It was just like you get ready to light the fire cracker. You set it down on the ground carefully with the fuse extended. You take a careful stance to pull back in time after lighting the fuse. Everybody around brace themselves to hear the resounding sound of “boom”, some covering their ears. You hear the “hisss” of the fuse lighting up and then it is all very quiet. You wait and wait and it is still quiet and then you realize, it is a “dud fire cracker”!

Fourteen teams played in the world cup 2015. Most of them lost, went back to their countries, end of story. Unfortunately, it is not the same for India, for we build so much hype and euphoria around it. The whole country gets involved, right from the Prime Minister to the man in the street, except for few odd individuals. We sit in our homes and offices and literally play the game for our heroes. So, when India loses, it is no less than a national catastrophe. The loss leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Anyway, World Cup 2015 is over as far as India is concerned. For me, the thrilling match of India beating Pakistan and the nine over’s of fiery, spellbinding and adrenaline pumping display of fast bowling of Wahab Riaz will be the highlights of this world cup .

On 20th March 2015, Wahab Riaz owned the 22 yards piece of ground at Adelaide cricket stadium with his incredible bowling. The mighty Australians had no clue how to face his bowling. Especially, Shane Watson, who cut such a sorry figure, with him mostly trying to fend himself from getting hurt. He is certain to remember that day for a long time to come!

Poor Bangladesh! They fancied their chances after successfully qualifying for the quarter finals, especially after their comprehensive victory over England. But their dream ended with India beating them in the quarter finals with a huge margin, though with a bit of a controversy. Over the years, they have played so much cricket in all formats of the game and have even beaten many big teams including India. Still they are considered among the minnows!

The Petrol Filling Station where I usually fill petrol in my car, has few Bangladeshi fuel attendants. I found one of the boys having a slight resemblance to Shakib Al Hasan. When I told him about it, he was thrilled, he was over the moon. Since then, whenever I went to the filling station he would come running towards my car, enquiring “how are you sir”, very happy to provide the service.

Few days after Bangladesh was ousted from the World Cup, I joked with him about the “Moka Moka” songs some Bangladeshis circulated on YouTube taking potshots at India by reminding India’s ouster from 2007 world cup by Bangladesh. He gave an embarrassed smile and said “no problem sir, world cup is over, I am waiting for 8th April”. It took some time for me to realize that he was referring to the upcoming Indian Premier League. It was quite evident that his interest in IPL was because of Shakib Al Hasan playing for Kolkata Knight Riders.

In India, a villager takes a loan from the bank of as little as Rs. 20,000 and when he is unable to repay it he becomes desperate and even takes extreme steps. Most people have to struggle very hard to make a simple living. On the other hand, there are people indulging and playing with crores of rupees, sitting around tables, sipping beer, buying cricket players like commodities. It does not matter if they make money or lose, they are safe, they take steps to protect themselves! Such is the hypocrisy!

Yuvraj Singh has been yet again bought for the highest bid, this time for Rs. 16 Crores. Millions of rupees are paid to players. All they have to do is enjoy themselves playing cricket for 60 odd days, wearing multi colored dresses, hitherto you could have only seen at the circus. Perhaps that was the idea of Kerry Packer when he introduced the shorter form of the game and breaking the norm of wearing white dress, to turn the game into a circus, Cricket Circus!  Cannot help seeing a conspiracy in everything these days, for It is so hard to understand what is true and what is not!

Soon we will forget all about the world cup and all the hype and rhetoric built around #WontGiveItBack. After all, most of us Indians have only two passions, films and cricket. How can we afford to be critical or angry with the film stars and cricketing heroes!

Sometimes I wonder, could this be the reason for the sad and deplorable state of social conditions in our country? Could this fanatic craze and obsession with the film stars and cricketing heroes be overshadowing our social and civic responsibilities?


Thursday, February 27, 2014


Couple of years ago they said "watch out for BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China)". Thousands and thousands rushed  to invest in "dream schemes". Thousands of so called "asset managers" became rich and richer.

Now they say "watch out for MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey)". No doubt, many more thousands and thousands will rush to throw-in their money into these "dream schemes".

The greedy "asset managers" successfully dangle the  "tax exemption" carrot and even show you a glimpse of that huge returns you would get at the end of investment term! The gullible investors fall prey just to avoid paying few thousands of rupees tax to the Government!

It is said that we learn from our mistakes but do we really learn!!!