Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Understanding the Nuances of Domonetisation in Simple Language

Reproduced below is a very interesting take on the impact of demonetisation, which is considered as a multidimensional project by the legendary economist and Chartered Accountant who writes regularly for various news publications. This one was published in the Indian Express.


De-mon — a multidimensional project

By S Gurumurthy  |   Published: 05th September 2017 05:00 AM  |  
Last Updated: 07th September 2017 07:28 AM

That 99 per cent of the de-legalised Rs 500/1,000 denomination notes was returned back to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been cited by opposition parties, experts and the media alike as the sole test of failure of demonetisation (which, for brevity, I shall henceforth refer to as de-mon). But it is a less than fair assessment of what was essentially a multipurpose project. The one-line conclusion certifying it as a failure judges a multidimensional corrective venture on the basis of one single parameter: the quantum of notes returned. This conclusion has become popular due to the tempestuous and irrational political debate we witnessed at the end of 2016. The media epilogue that Narendra Modi’s de-mon is a rout, based on superficial logic, is a bluff. But to call the bluff, we need a surgical analysis of de-mon, which was missing in the debate then and is missing even now.
The background to de-mon
A flashback to November 2016 when demonetisation was announced. The background to de-mon was the unprecedented rise in the circulation of high-value notes (500/1000) from Rs 1.5 lakh crore in 2004 to almost Rs 15.5 lakh crore when de-mon was announced — with their share in the total currency in circulation going up from 34 per cent to over 88 per cent. The Reserve Bank of India had told the government that a third of the high-value notes which moved out of the banking system, some Rs 6 lakh crore, never returned. They circulate outside the system — the inference being that this huge unmonitored cash was financing and building a massive black economy.
This was manifest in the steep rise in gold, stock and land prices by almost ten times in the six years from 2004 to 2010 as compared the previous five years, 1999-2004. That asset price rise was not stoked by any matching real growth. It was the other way round. The spurious rise in asset values generated the mirage of high growth in India like it happened in the USA prior to 2008. This was evident from the fact that despite the high growth of 8.6 per cent recorded in the six years [2004-2010], jobs rose by just 2.7 million as compared to the job growth of 60 million in the earlier five-year period (1999-2004) on the strength of a medium growth rate of 5.4 per cent.
And moreover, while the latter high-growth period witnessed an annual inflation rate of 6.5 per cent, the earlier five-year average growth period recorded an inflation rate of just 4.6 per cent. And further, the external sector did well in the medium-growth period with the closing years posting a current account surplus of $20 billion after 25 years of relentless current account deficit. But the latter six-year high-growth period accounted for a current account deficit of hundreds of billions of dollars.
It did not need a seer to say that the hyper GDP growth in the latter six years was just wealth-led growth — a mirage that yielded neither jobs nor gave external or internal comfort to the economy. The reason for this spurious growth clearly was the high asset prices, which were fuelled only by an unprecedented rise in high-denomination notes. No economist or commentator has disputed either the figures or the conclusions based on them. And yet none of these critical facts was noticed in the politically and ideologically surcharged debate on de-mon which was reduced to a single-point issue to the exclusion of its other critical dimensions.
Politics reduced de-mon to a single test
The debate on de-mon became utterly political, casting economics aside. Economists and camera-holding journos looked at people queuing up at banks to exchange or deposit the old notes and turned populist in opposing de-mon like politicians and media. De-mon was such an India-specific issue that it had no parallel elsewhere in the world. Foreign experts, who had no knowledge of India-specific issues, lambasted de-mon as a disaster. Local experts led by Dr Manmohan Singh said Narendra Modi has destroyed the economy. With the powerful national and global guild of economists, media and the opposition launching a war on him, Modi singlehandedly led the de-mon politics from the front, withstood the assault and went through the ordeal by fire.

The above is an article from a newspaper. For more details one can click on the link below.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Journey from Shah Bano to Shayara Bano

1. The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 [Act No. 26 of 1937 dated 7th. October, 1937] 
An Act to make provision for the application of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) to Muslims 
2. The Constitution of India, 1950.
It was decided to add the implementation of a uniform civil code in Article 44 of the Directive principles of the Constitution specifying, "The State shall endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India."
3. Indian Express; New Delhi | Published:August 23, 2017 2:05 pm

The Mohd. Ahmad Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum & Ors. or the Shah Bano maintenance case is seen as one of the legal milestones in battle for protection of rights of Muslim women. While the Supreme Court upheld the right to alimony in the case, the judgment set off a political battle as well as a controversy about the extent to which courts can interfere in Muslim personal law. The case laid the ground for Muslim women’s fight for equal rights in matters of marriage and divorce in regular courts, the most recent example being the Shayara Bano case in which the Supreme Court invalidated the practice of instant triple talaq.

Here’s all you need to know about the Shah Bano case
In April 1978, a 62-year-old Muslim woman, Shah Bano, filed a petition in court demanding maintenance from her divorced husband Mohammed Ahmad Khan, a renowned lawyer in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Khan had granted her irrevocable talaq later in November. The two were married in 1932 and had five children — three sons and two daughters. Shah Bano’s husband had asked her to move to a separate residence three years before, after a prolonged period of her living with Khan and his second wife.
Shah Bano went to court and filed a claim for maintenance for herself and her five children under Section 123 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The section puts a legal obligation on a man to provide for his wife during the marriage and after divorce too if she isn’t able to fend for herself. However, Khan contested the claim on the grounds that the Muslim Personal Law in India required the husband to only provide maintenance for the iddat period after divorce.
Iddat is the waiting period a woman must observe after the death of her husband or divorce before she can marry another man. The length of the iddat period is circumstantial. The period is usually three months after either of the two instances. In case the woman is pregnant, the period carries on until the childbirth.
Khan’s argument was supported by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board which contended that courts cannot take the liberty of interfering in those matters that are laid out under Muslim Personal Law, adding it would violate The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937. The board said that according to the Act, the courts were to give decisions on matters of divorce, maintenance and other family issues based on Shariat.
After detailed arguments, the decision was passed by the Supreme Court of India in 1985. On the question whether CrPC, 1973, which applies to all Indian citizens regardless of their religion, could apply in this case.
Then Chief Justice of India Y.V. Chandrachud upheld the decision of the High Court that gave orders for maintenance to Shah Bano under CrPC. For its part, the apex court increased the maintenance sum.
The case was considered a milestone as it was a step ahead of the general practice of deciding cases on the basis of interpretation of personal law and also dwelt on the need to implement the Uniform Civil Code. It also took note of different personal laws and the need to recognise and address the issue of gender equality and perseverance in matters of religious principles.
Justice Y.V. Chandrachud said in his decision: “Section 125 was enacted in order to provide a quick and summary remedy to a class of persons who are unable to maintain themselves. What difference would it then make as to what is the religion professed by the neglected wife, child or parent? Neglect by a person of sufficient means to maintain these and the inability of these persons to maintain themselves are the objective criteria which determine the applicability of section 125. Such provisions, which are essentially of a prophylactic nature, cut across the barriers of religion. The liability imposed by section 125 to maintain close relatives who are indigent is founded upon the individual’s obligation to the society to prevent vagrancy and destitution. That is the moral edict of the law and morality cannot be clubbed with religion.”
The following events were unfavourable to a great extent with the then Rajiv Gandhi Congress government, elected in 1984, passing the Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act), 1986. This law overturned the verdict in the Shah Bano case and said the maintenance period can only be made liable for the iddat period. The new law said that if a woman wasn’t able to provide for herself, the magistrate had the power to direct the Wakf Board for providing the aggrieved woman means of sustenance and for her dependent children too.
Shah Bano’s lawyer Danial Latifi had challenged the Act’s Constitutional validity. The apex court, though upholding the validity of the new law, said the liability can’t be restricted to the period of iddat. One of the key points of relevance in the verdict that set it apart from previous cases was the recognition of women’s claim for treatment with equality and dignity, particularly in cases of marriage.
Significantly, Shah Bano later withdrew the maintenance claim she had filed.

4. News 18; OPINION By Arif Mohammad Khan 

What Does Triple Talaq Verdict Mean? Analyses the Man Who Took on Rajiv Gandhi in Shah Bano Case

This verdict will bring about a paradigm shift and I foresee a changed scenario in the days when women will no longer accept instant talaq as a fait accompli.

It is a historic verdict and I honestly feel that none of us can make a realistic assessment of the positive impact that this judgment is going to have on the Muslim community.

It will not only liberate Muslim women but also provide them with a sense of equality. It will provide them with a sense of empowerment.

This verdict will bring about a paradigm shift and I foresee a changed scenario in the days when women will no longer accept instant talaq as a fait accompli. Empowered by the Supreme Court verdict, they will answer and retort back.

They will tell their spouse that “This triple talaq is unconstitutional. I am not going to leave the house, you can leave the house.”

Muslim women will seek protection from the police and other authorities. They can, like any other citizen of the country, report the case of mental torture and the husbands who pronounce unconstitutional triple talaq will be arrested.

Four to five such cases will set the precedent and send a strong message to the whole community.

This is going to be a game-changer for Muslim women. This verdict is not just about divorce but about giving a sense of equality of status and empowerment to all women.

Even the non-Muslim women, wherever and whenever they feel they are being subjected to injustice or being suppressed or being treated unequally, they will take inspiration from this judgment that Muslim women under such heavy and adverse situation and circumstances could successfully fight this unjust practice and win. It is a great milestone.

Our society is dynamic, it is changing and evolving. In 1986, when the Shah Bano Case happened, nobody was ready to speak. Even those who had submitted the petition to the then Prime Minister against the stand of the Personal Law Board never spoke in public. But Rajiv Gandhi government decided to enact a law to negate the apex court order in the Shah Bano case. The same set of petitioners who had earlier endorsed my stand later came up to me, requesting not to drag the matter any further.

I was told that I was up against a set of very powerful people.

There has been a sea change in the last two decades. In 1986 nobody was willing speaking. Everybody was scared of them. Not today. The women are now speaking freely. Women are more aware and this change has come because of education.

Also, today the All India Muslim Personal Law Board knows very well that its stand is unacceptable.

I don’t look at this as a victory or triumph of any one person or party. This is a great achievement for the women of India and not just Muslim women. This is not the end of the battle. In fact, the real battle has just begun. It is a battle for securing equality at home, workspace, politics, judiciary, business and every walk of life.

(Arif Mohammad Khan is a senior lawyer who argued on behalf of petitioners in triple talaq case. Former Union minister, he has advocated abolishing of All India Muslim Personal Law Board)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Let's All Focus on Nation building

A very thought provoking  post that I received in my whatsapp group. Made a lot of sense to me and thus sharing.

Shared from Gen Prakash Katoch's wall...

*My problem with what's happening in the country* :-  is not about BJP
and
Congress,
Or
JNU
and
anti-nationalism,
or Jats
and
reservation,
Or
Hindu Extremism and
Muslim Extremism, Or
Beef Ban
&
Porn Ban,
Or
Kejriwal
and
Modi,
Or
Ravish
and
that 'India wants to know' guy*....                                      
*My problem is our mind space being occupied* with futile,
useless,
fruitless,
negative,
 regressive thinking.....

*In an age when this country should be thinking of INVENTIONS and IDEAS* ,

we are discussing subjects mentioned above....

*Why isn't the government
and media talking about it?*

*Why the subject of debate is not DEVELOPMENT?*

*Why isn't
 RSS
talking about it?*

*Why isn't every Hindu talking about it.*

*Why aren't the Muslims talking about it?*

*Why the news channels aren't focusing on it?*

*Why Indians on face book not discussing it?*

*Or spreading that idea to the world?*

*Saffron or Green,
Beef or Chicken,
Porn or Sanskari channels,
Temples or Mosques,
Jats or Kashmiris

aren't tools of development*...


*These subjects of conversations are ANTI  DEVELOPMENT*

*And anything that's anti-development is anti-national

at least for me.....*


*I want to see my India look better than Switzerland.....*

*I want my India to do better than the US in the Olympics.....*

*I want to see my India more civilized than the most civilized country in this world.....*

*I want my India to be more innovative than Japan.....*

*I want my India to be more safe for woman than Copenhagen, Denmark.....*

*I want my India to be more open minded than Canada....*

*I want my India to be better than what it is today....*

*And not worse...*
*And that can only happen when we start thinking productive....*

*Else we will all be wasting time doing something that is useless,
futile,
and infertile.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Killings in the name of Religion

I find it very distressing to read/ see killings of innocent human beings, that too on a daily basis these days, and all in the name of religion. My mind starts to question the very basis of religion in such cases. I have always believed that religion was meant to protect the human beings, and not the other way around. I believe that religion is required to make me understand the unity of this Creation, of how each and every thing in this universe is interconnected and essential for the survival of this finely balanced and beautiful creation. I believe that no religion teaches the killing of others in the process of imposing one's beliefs on them. I definitely feel that such cases need a more holistic re-interpretation of the basic tenets of the religion, by wise and more knowledgeable people, rather than going by the interpretations of the people who make a livelihood by preaching these religions. I believe that we have come to a time in history when it is too dangerous to leave religious interpretations solely in the hands of our pandits, moulvis, granthis, priests, and other worldly religious leaders.

Image Courtesy: Google Images


What is religion?

Dictionary.com defines religion as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs". As per this definition, religion consists of 'a set of beliefs'. 

What is a belief?

Belief is the "feeling of being certain that something exists or is true".

Where does one get these beliefs from, as far as religion is concerned?

The person acquires these beliefs from ones immediate surroundings that are based on a person's family, place, and time of birth. I got my beliefs from my parents; I trusted them; they cared for me and looked after my every need; there was no reason to distrust them or even distrust their beliefs; they always had my best interest in mind; I could not have survived without their care and affection. I knew they had my best interest in mind; they had proven that by ensuring my survival, and growth against all odds. 

As I look back at my life I find that I was born in a Hindu household and was thus exposed to my immediate family's conception of Hindu beliefs, from birth. In case I had been born in a Muslim household, I would have been exposed to Islamic beliefs. I had no say in the matter of my birth, and thus of my belief. It was, I believe, pre-ordained. 

Pre-ordained by whom? 

By my Creator, who also happens to be the Creator of every one and every thing else on this, and other planets. How else could we all humans have been designed in the same mould, with very minor and superficial variations, of course. The evolutionary process has put us in the top of the heap, or so we think. We have evolved to have a very powerful brain; however, the power of this can be quite different in different human beings. And fortunately or unfortunately this is where our beliefs reside, by design. 

Whose design?

The Creator's design; a very intelligent design that can store vast amounts of data of the material world acquired through our five senses. However, this data can only be the one that we pay attention to during our experience of life, and our learning from life. We have the capacity to plug in to the cosmic energy field of consciousness too, from where we can draw major lessons of our existence. Since every individual has an independent brain that is a repository of his/ her own experiences and learning, then each individual's brain will interpret and perceive the same facts differently, based on his individual history and geography.
  • Newton saw the apple falling from the tree (a fact), and with great thought and deliberation came to 'discover' the phenomena of gravity. Gravity always existed, but he plugged in to the super consciousness and 'discovered' it for the future human generations. 
In case each individual's brain is hardwired differently, based on one's own experience and learning, then it stands to reason that no two individuals would be able to conceive the same facts in an identical manner; or in short 'every thinking individual would conceive the same facts differently'. Same is the case with religion, or God, or any thing else in this universe.

Over millenia, many belief systems have come in to existence and have been codified in to religions. As per Swami Vivekananda, every codified religion comprises of rituals, mythology, and philosophy. The rituals and mythology in any religion, I believe, are with the sole intent of developing faith in the individual. There is no proof provided for the mythology; some rituals make sense, some don't, but religious leaders of most religions do not permit one to question these. This goes against the grain of the Creator's intention of giving each individual his/ her own individual brain with which he can experience the material world, and if required, also to delve deeper by invoking the super consciousness, which is directly linked to the Creator, through contemplation. Religious leaders rarely talk of the philosophical part of the religion, as most are not competent to discuss that, as they are in the profession of religion to make a living.

Any thinking individual should be able to visualise that in case we are all the Creation of one God, and all available evidence points to that, then we should all be living in harmony. However, our brain loaded with divergent belief systems create a divide. This divide is strengthened by people who benefit from the profession of teaching/ imparting of different beliefs - be it the Pandit, the Moulvi, the Priest, the Granthi, etc. They cannot trudge your path for you. They can only teach you the rituals and give you the mythology. Their interpretation of the religious texts maybe at total variance to what was intended, as their brains may not have evolved to the level that is required to interpret those texts.

Once an individual has developed faith that a God exists, then it is an inward journey, as all questions and answers are within your own consciousness. No external help is possible, as no one can trudge the path for you. You have to develop your own link with your Creator, in whichever form that you wish to. There are no intermediaries is my firm belief. Once you develop faith, I do believe that you would then respect all of God's Creation, and would be very averse to violence/ killings, as no faith can profess destruction of the Creation of the One Creator.


I believe that there are many paths (religions) to the same destination; each chooses his own. Belief just happens to be the starting point, and that I believe is based on our birth, by design. This belief is strengthened through rituals and mythology, so that one can undertake the final journey alone by turning inwards, where the communication is between you and your Creator only, without need for any ritual, mythology, or external help. Religion is a very personal affair of an individual with his/ her own Creator. No religion is better or worse; right or wrong; no one needs to impose his/ her beliefs on others; and it is my firm belief that religion should make us more tolerant of others, because if we believe that we are the creation of One Creator, then we have no reason to kill any part of that Creation.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

India's Freedom on 15 August 1947 - Role of INA

All these years, I was convinced that India gained independence as a direct result of the non violent approach of the 'naram' dal under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. However, I have now changed my views on the subject after being exposed to certain facts that have not been public knowledge thus far, due to reasons beyond my comprehension. Getting to know these facts has led me to further exercise my grey cells. This exercise has now convinced me that as far as India is concerned, both 'naram' and 'garam' dal were equally important players in the achievement of our independence on 15 Aug 1947, and it thus stands to reason that equal importance should be given to each for their role in our birth as a free nation. Our history that is taught in schools, colleges, and universities would thus need to be updated to reflect these realities. 



Image Courtesy: Google Images


Gandhiji and the 'naram' dal had prepared every Indian mind for Swarajya (self rule), but the 'naram' dal approach would not have convinced the British to give us independence in 1947. My thinking convinces me that I would not have been born in a free India by just the 'non violent, non co-operative' approach, which I have been made to believe this far by my education and political systems. I feel the soil of Indian nationalism and the idea of independence had been sown in every Indian's mind by the efforts of the 'naram' dal. However, the independence would not have come about as long as the Indian forces and police remained loyal to the British. Many events that happened during those years led to the Indian police and defence forces loyalty being called into question. Thus it was rightly assessed by the British government that it would not be possible for the few thousand British citizens stationed in India to control millions of Indians without active and loyal support of the Indian police and military personnel. 

I believe the red fort trials of the personnel of the INA between November 1945 and May 1946 were the trigger that awakened the British Indian forces to Indian nationalism. The British joint trials of three stalwarts of the Indian National Army (INA), Col. Prem Sahgal, Col. Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Gen. Shah Nawaz Khan on  charges of murder, abetment to murder, and “waging war against the King-Emperor” did not go down well with the people of India, as they considered these three individuals, practicing three different faiths, to be patriots. Nationalist emotion was awakened which led the then Secretary of the War Department, write that "in a matter of weeks ... in a wave of nationalist emotion, the INA were acclaimed heroes who fought for the freedom of India." 

The British Indian forces revolted as a consequence of these red fort trials and some unrelated minor incidents in Bombay, in February 1946. These spread to the other forces as well. The revolt which started in the Royal Indian Navy soon spread to the Air Force and Army units and the loyalty of the the Indian troops could not be taken for granted by the British. This coupled with the fact that there were only 40,000 Britishers, who were fed up after the world war, and were also not considered adequate to handle this volatile situation. This fact also coincided with the demobilisation of about 25 lakhs battle tested Indian troops. The British felt that the situation in India could only be controlled with the declaration of independence, which was announced by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr Clement Attlee on 20 February 1947.

I now firmly believe that the role of Netaji and the INA has not been suitably highlighted in our historical texts and school text books. I am also convinced that Indian independence in 1947 is a direct result of a number of factors, which prominently includes the activities of the 'naram' and 'garam' dal both. The 'Naram' dal had instilled the idea of Swarajya in every Indian's mind, but that by itself would not have been adequate grounds for the British to give us independence in 1947. The Red Fort trials were the needed trigger to awaken the nationalism in every Indian, and the nature of the trials were the spark that led to revolt of the British Indian forces, leading to insecurity in the minds of the British top brass in India, which finally accelerated the independence of India.

We need to suitably amend our historical records to bring out the fact that Netaji and the INA too, a defeated and forgotten Army, had a major role to play in our achieving independence on 15 August 1947.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our Media needs to Introspect on why they believe that they are 'not out of touch with the news'!

  •  An interesting article published at 06:52 PM on Jun 19, 2017 by Mayuresh Didolkar  at www.myind.net. The article is reproduced from the mentioned website, as it makes a lot of sense to me. Sharing.

Modi does a Modi and picks Ram Nath Kovind as NDA's presidential nominee


Earlier today, BJP President Amit Shah announced the name of Bihar Governor and two time MP Mr. Ram Nath Kovind as the party’s nominee for the Presidential elections due next month. This was a completely unexpected move that no major media house could even hint at in advance. The reaction of the same media houses and their representatives, however, was completely on the expected lines.
 “BJP’s Patil moment?” one asked. Another tweeted “And you thought Pratibha Patil was the worst choice yet”. Off hand, I don’t remember either of the two ever criticizing Mrs. Patil before. Rajdeep Sardesai called it “Uninspiring but strategic”. Shekhar Gupta called the Bihar Governor ‘an unknown’.
The people who are using sarcasm and scepticism to welcome the person who is probably going to be our first citizen very soon, are, largely, staunch opponents of the NDA government. Therefore, their cynicism about BJP’s choice should occasion us no surprise. But if you scratch beneath the veneer of urban snobbishness and elitism of the media elites, I am certain you will detect visible signs of unease. Unease about a model of business that is rapidly changing around them.
I have often said, that since 2014, media’s ability to control narrative has been at its lowest in the history of modern media. BJP’s victory in 2014, Brexit and Trump’s victory last year being just three examples where media went all out to pitch for a certain outcome and that outcomes was rejected in overwhelming numbers.  And now, with Modi government at least, their insider access and ability to stay ahead of the news is completely lost. From successor to Dr. Raghuram Rajan to the surgical strike and from demonetisation to the Chief Ministerial choice for Uttar Pradesh, the mainstream media has been largely clueless about the eventual outcome.
While it is easy to give credit to Modi and his team for the tight ship they are running, I also suspect media hubris has some responsibility to this embarrassment too. A few days back, a columnist in USA had written about how the media bubble that is the geographical and ideological concentration of journalists along certain lines is causing them to lose connect with the masses and how the ‘groupthink’ was partly responsible for their inability to predict Donald Trump win in November. The problem is not too different in India too. If you are part of the mainstream media, you are likely to be located in one of the two large cities, you are likelier than not have similar thoughts on issues such as terrorism, secularism and economic development. Even worse, the stories you are chasing are likely to be restricted to the so called Lutyen’s circuit and thus while an IT raid on the house of Pranoy Roy becomes a cause of much alarm, a fellow journalist being burnt alive in a small town is almost not a news.
If you see the names being thrown around as potential presidential picks, you will realize that cutting through the ideological fault lines, they all had one thing in common- they were all big names that one could imagine being the talk of the cocktail party circuit. No wonder the name of the former chairman of the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Research Foundation never came up.
 The reaction to Mr. Kovind’s nomination points to a surliness of sore losers. To dismiss him out of hand just because he was not well known indicates an arrogant refusal to deviate from the narrative. Media’s take on this can largely be summed up as – if we were not tracking him then he must be somebody not worth tracking.
Can we instead ask our media houses what kind of tracking they did on this important news item and in light of the spectacular failure, what corrective action they plan to take? Can the media absolutely, in good conscience, assure us that there were no signs whatsoever of Modi-Shah duo considering Mr. Kovind’s name? If there were, why those signs were not read and reported more prominently?
They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Every time Indian media gets a development about this government’s actions wrong, their typical response is either mocking the action or raising alarm over it.
This insanity has to stop!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Citizens of India - Some Random Thoughts

1.     What comes first for us as members of a society - the nation-state that sustains us and facilitates an organised life with other human beings born in the same geographical area; and that which provides us the wherewithal required to live in the material world

OR

Religion, which provides us individual sustenance in our personal spiritual quest, based on certain belief systems. Belief systems that have been inherited based on our birth in a family, in a geographical area, and at a certain time in history. A majority of us had no say in our belief systems, except for a miniscule minority that took the bold step to convert on to another belief system.

In case we were living secluded in a jungle with no one else around then the answer would be pretty obvious, but living with other human beings, each with his own set of beliefs, the answer is not so obvious to the unthinking mind.  

The law of the land in which one lives should take precedence over any of our personal beliefs, I believe, else there will be conflict on a daily basis.

Constitution of a nation is the guiding force for all our laws, and has to be above all personal belief systems.

2.    As a proud member of the defence forces of India, I swore to protect the integrity of the country, even at the cost of my life; the lawful orders from the lawfully elected government of the day was all that mattered. Political parties in power were of no consequence. It was always, 'nation first'.

So, the question is, Is India more important than which party is in power? What is the role of political parties when in power, and when in opposition?

I find hardcore Congress politicians finding fault with everything that the present NDA government is doing, and every person who supports the Congress, even from outside the political party support that. The Congress is hard pressed to find a leader from within 1.3 billion Indians and is bent upon imposing some one who does not even understand or comprehend India as a prime ministerial candidate, and there is not a single politician from the party or supporters from outside the party who can voice this concern of the people of India. Being born to the family which has made many sacrifices cannot be the sole criteria for leading the nation in the 21st century. No wonder the Congress is in a serious decline; it has lost credibility with the people of India. Only introspection can save it from permanent decay, like the Communists.

The BJP on the other hand has not been able to control the ultra nationalists; who are so only in slogans, and raising tempers of the gullible people by mouthing half truths. There is a law of the land and every one has to follow that irrespective of who is in power. No one has the right to take the law in to their own hands, not even the 'gau rakshaks', as they do not have the constitutional mandate to do so. The governments, both at the national and state level, has to send a message with its actions that the law of the land is supreme.

Political parties come and go, but the nation and its citizenry should prosper - that I think is the whole aim of the political process and the systems so designed by us, under our visionary constitution.

Friday, June 16, 2017

FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES - NATIONAL FLAG AND NATIONAL ANTHEM

Government Brennan College in Thalassery in Kerala has published their annual magazine, which contained some objectionable hand drawn picture, which contained a scene of a couple having sex on a cinema hall seat while the national anthem is being played, with the national flag fluttering on the screen, as per the Supreme Court order. The magazine, named 'Pellet', was published by the college students union, which is headed by the Student's Federation of India (SFI) - a pro-CPI(M) students union. 



Image - Courtesy Google Images

This was possibly as a reaction to the Supreme Court order dated 30 November, 2016, which had ordered "cinema halls to mandatorily play the anthem and had directed all those present there to stand up to show respect". The court order stated that this practice would instil a feeling of committed patriotism and nationalism, amongst the citizens. 

Going a step further, the order also ordered cinema halls to display the national flag on the screen when the anthem was being played. The playing of the anthem in cinema halls, it said, was to be conceived as an opportunity for the public to express their “love for the motherland”. “It is time people feel ‘this is my country’,” Justice Misra had remarked. 

It is absolutely shocking that educated Indians could drop to such a shameful levels in living up to their responsibilities; the same educated citizens who are very quick to demand every right as guaranteed by our Constitution. It seems they do not even know their 'Fundamental Duties' as citizens of the country. The Constitution is our binding force, and has defined certain fundamental duties for every citizen, vide Article 51A. No right comes without responsibilities; this should be intuitively understood by any sane individual. However, it seems that even educated Indians don't seem to know their duties as citizens. The following is a reproduction of our Fundamental Duties as citizens, as per our Constitution.

I am not sure if the individuals who do not live up to their fundamental duties can be charged and tried in a court of law, under the said article. In case some one knows please do enlighten me too.


FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES, as per our Constitution

51A. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India — 

(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem; 

(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom; 

(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; 

(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so; 

(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women; 

(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture; 

(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures; 

(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform; 

(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence; 

(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement;] 

(k) who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.]

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Damaging Public Property

It pains me every time I see public property being vandalised, destroyed, burnt, or broken, and it keeps happening every day in some part of our country. It could be due to a protest march that has turned unruly/ violent or it could be little children in a public park uprooting the swings/ slides or other equipment or grown up children smashing cricket balls through public/ private buildings. Private properties are defended by the concerned individuals, but public property has no defenders, as it belongs to the government. Most of us have not been able to establish the connection between taxes and public property; maybe because very few of us pay taxes. I have tried to stop people from damaging public property but have invariably been asked as to who I was and in what capacity I was telling them, since it was not my private property.

I have not seen this behaviour in any other country in the world, and have always wondered why is it so rampant in India. This thought has always led me to the Indian freedom struggle in which Gandhi ji taught us the great power of non-cooperation and civil disobedience against the colonial government of those days.

However, all this should have changed after 15 Aug 1947, as we achieved Swaraj; we formed our own government. The reason could be that Gandhiji did not live long enough thereafter to help teach us that now we should co-operate with our own government and be obedient to the government 'of the people, by the people, for the people', and safeguard our own government property/ assets. We even vandalised the brand new Tejas Express on its first ever journey, and mind you none of the people travelling on it came from uneducated or underprivileged back grounds, I believe. What can be the reasons for the apathy of our citizens towards anything that is publicly owned?

Our first PM coined the phrase of 'public servants' to signify the change from 'rulers' to 'servants', wherein it was implied that the citizens are the new masters of the country, replacing the Queen. This has however not happened practically. The elected representatives and government servants still behave like rulers at most times, except for a few months before the elections, when the citizens are made to feel like destiny makers by the various candidates and political parties. Our political parties have been party to bringing down the quality of our public discourse, and behaviour.

The quality of our elected representatives has been going down with every election, wherein politics has become a profession for a quick rise in wealth and status, without requiring any formal qualifications or training. Politics now appeals to a large number of people with criminal back grounds/ intents. There are hardly any selfless 'public servant' leaders who can instil values in our citizenry.

Our school curricula also does not teach students about the need to protect public assets, about the need to follow rules, and about the equality of all citizens in the eyes of the law, without fear or favour, irrespective of position, caste, creed, religion, status or any thing else.

How do we bring about a change in our own mindsets?  Will we have to wait for the birth of a leader with Gandhiji's values who will help us learn that India and all its assets do not belong to the government, but belong to each one of us?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Thought to Ponder on

Stomach Empty - Only one problem
Stomach Full     - Hundred problems ---- Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our trip to Japan

Our Japanese trip was planned so that we landed in Osaka by air, stayed for two nights in Osaka; move to Kyoto by train, stay two nights in Kyoto; and then travel to Tokyo by the Shinkansen (Bullet) train, stay for two nights in Tokyo, before flying out of Narita airport in Tokyo.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip on many counts, some of the reasons are: - 
  • The weather during our trip from 06 May 2017 to 13 May 2017 was just perfect; neither hot nor too cold, we missed the famous spring 'cherry blossom' season by a few weeks.
  • The Japanese people were the highlight of the trip; very conscientious, very helpful ( as a matter of fact some of them went way out of their way to help), very punctual, friendly, honest, etc. 
  • A non English speaking developed country where the basic human values are still intact.
We were looking to go to Dotonbori street in Tokyo after finishing our ride on the Ferris wheel. We took the underground subway and reached the closest station, but did not know which exit to go out from to reach the street. We asked the Japan Rail personnel; they told us the exit number. The subway was crowded; it was around 9:30 pm. We could not figure out and thus stopped a gentlemen in tie who we estimated knew English. He seemed to be returning from work with a brief case in his left hand. He stopped, listened to us, took us to a nearby map and tried explaining to us. After a few broken English sentences, he stopped and asked us to follow him. Despite our protests that he needed to go home and it was late, he persisted. He took us out from the underground subway and walked us down about 1/2 a km to the street, despite our loud and genuine protests. He left us speechless at one end of the Dotonbori street, and this is at 9:30 pm and the man was returning from work. I cannot find myself to have even thought of doing this to a stranger, specially if I am returning after a long day at work, and that is what makes this act great. I have a lot to learn about being human and lesser informed people friendly.

Not only this, many a time we have asked complete strangers about certain directions, help and they have all responded favourably. Young professionals have all taken out their cellphones and got the google directions, and have been willing to walk us in the direction. One girl who did not know the directions to the place felt guilty in saying so, and was nearly in tears saying sorry to us. This is what makes Japan a great developed country for me, with truely Asian values, way beyond what we in India can even think. 'Atithi Devobhaya' needs to be re-learnt by us from the Japanese.





The Osaka Castle with Poonam in the foreground
A battlefield display with minitiature soldiers and horses in the Osaka Castle

The Ferris wheel in Osaka

The Kinkakuji (Golden) shrine, which I call the Shangri-la

The Shinkansen (Bullet) train nose inspired by the Kingfisher birds beak.

The Shinkansen is like a normal express train and runs between major cities from Tokyo. We enjoyed travel on this train with the 7-day JR pass. The trains are capable of speed that are upward of 300 kmph. We traveled from Kyoto to Tokyo on the Hikari bullet train, the second fastest shinkansen. The train covered a distance of 452 kms in 2:35 minutes with 5 or 6 halts in between. The trains arrive and depart on the dot; arriving in to the platform at over 60 kmph; have 16 cars on the long distance routes; hurtle out of the station at over 60 kmph; once outside the train picks up speed and one can feel the acceleration; the turns are banked; the nose of the train has been inspired by the beak of the Kingfisher bird, so as to create least ripples when traversing tunnels enroute. 

The seats recline and are in a 3-aisle-2 format. I noticed that all Japanese people recline their seats and ensure that they leave them vertical before leaving, unlike us who leave it as is for someone else to do the needful.

The Skytree in Tokyo engulfed by clouds

Comparison with other man made structures.

The second tallest man made structure in the world, after Burj Khalifa and also the tallest free standing tower in the world. Leap day 2012 saw the completion of the world's second tallest structure, the Tokyo Sky Tree television transmitter and observation tower. At 2,080 feet (634 m) the tower stands nearly twice as Japan's previous tallest frame, the 1,091-ft (333-m) Tokyo Tower transmitter. It's an audacious technological feat when one considers this is at the heart of an earthquake zone. Nikken Sekkei, the design practice behind both buildings, effectively doubled its personal best in the construction of the Sky Tree, and in doing so employed the latest technology, not to mention the expertise of "more than 100 architects, engineers and planners", to build the capital city's striking quake-resistant giant - a super-tower its designers claim offers "better safety" than any other. It has a 9:1 height to width ratio - a narrow, almost needle-like form. For more details please go to http://newatlas.com/tokyo-sky-tree/21682/  

The Sensoji Temple in Tokyo

A pet Eagle Owl. Japanese have many unconventional pets.

The Cable car on the Mt Fuji circuit tour. One rail track shared by two cable cars, by design, moving in opposite directions

Mt Fuji circuit, an ancient boat ride

Tokyo by night from the 45th floor of the Metropolitan Government building in Tokyo

The moat bridge on the outer moat around the Imperial Palace

Rhododendrons on the main road in Tokyo